Updated: MAY 13, 2024

A vers, sometimes spelled verse, is someone who enjoys topping and bottoming during sex. The term vers is short for versatile. It’s typically used to describe men who have anal sex with men or people who engage in sexual power dynamics, with or without penetration. However, the term suits people of any gender and sexual orientation, regardless of their preferred type of sexual play.

What does it mean to be vers?

A vers feels comfortable in any sexual role. They may enjoy penetrating a partner, with their body or sex toys, or being penetrated. They may also feel comfortable taking control of a sexual situation or letting their partner take the lead. They enjoy giving pleasure but also enjoy receiving it.

Since verses are versatile, several factors can influence the role they take during sex. They may top if their partner prefers bottoming, or vice-versa. They may like topping or bottoming for certain sexual activities. Certain partners may make them feel more inclined to give or receive pleasure. They could also switch roles to add more variety to their sex lives.

Sexual identity is a spectrum. While some verses may be equally happy being a top or a bottom, others may have a preference. Someone who likes topping but prefers bottoming can be called a vers bottom. Someone who prefers topping but will also bottom may identify as a vers top.

Some people identify strongly with being a vers throughout their lives, while others identify as a vers in different relationships, situations, or periods and other labels at other times. Both options are valid.

Vers vs. Switch

The term vers and switch are often used interchangeably, as both denote that someone can take a versatile role during sex. However, switch is a BDSM-specific term that describes someone who can be dominant or submissive. The term vers can work for people who top or bottom during dominance and submission play or vanilla sex.

“Topping/bottoming is distinct from being a Dom or sub,” explained Kaylee Rose Friedman, a certified sex and couples therapist. “Topping and bottoming are simply ways to describe who is the giver of a sexual action, and who is the receiver. Dom/sub speaks to the psychological power position you play. You would use the label switch to describe someone who enjoys both. Vers is to topping/bottoming as switch is to Dominance/submission. This is important to clarify because the terms can be used interchangeably when they actually mean different things. You could be a vers top or a bottom switch!”

How do you know if you’re a top, bottom, or vers?

It usually takes people time and sexual experience to determine whether they’re a top, bottom, or vers. A 2017 study found the average gay or bisexual man took 15 years to identify a sexual position self-label that felt right for them. 

Someone could start figuring out what label suits them best by assessing who they’re attracted to, what they fantasize about, and what sexual dreams they have. Their conscious and subconscious desires can reveal a lot about what they want sexually. Researching what different labels mean can also help someone find a title that resonates with them.

However, Friedman says nothing beats hands-on experience. “The best way to know whether you’re a top, bottom, or vers, is to try both!” she insisted. “Experimenting with trusted partners can give you much better data than simply thinking, studying, or making assumptions about what feels good for you.”

While experimentation can be helpful, it’s important to try new things at a pace that feels comfortable rather than rushing the process. Some people never find a label that fits them just right, and that’s okay too.

How to make your preferences clear

Dating apps can help people make their preferences clear. It’s common for people to declare their preferences on their profiles so they match with sexually compatible people.

Sharing labels such as vers can help people understand their partners’ sexual preferences. However, declaring a label should be part of a longer discussion, as these terms can mean different things to different people.

“Making assumptions that everyone understands the language you’re using in the same way you’re intending it is usually where miscommunications occur!” Friedman cautioned.

Talking about specific sexual preferences with a partner before sex can be more beneficial. Sharing specific sexual likes and dislikes can increase intimacy, build trust, and lead to more satisfying sex.

Synonyms: Switch, vers bottom, vers top.

Alternate spellings: Verse


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