One of the special things about the BDSM community is how it embraces self-definition.True, dominants are often given control, while submissives, on the other side of the spectrum, are usually the one’s giving it. Yet, what type of top and what type of bottom is up to those involved. Even the basic idea of tops and bottoms can be blurry because of all kinds of new forms of play appearing all the time. Vive la différence!

Always Play Safe

As long as those involved adhere to the basic fundamentals of BDSM, that play should always be safe (both physically and emotionally), sane (done with a clear head), and consensually (without any doubts), then go for it. Make your play yours.

That being said, there are some tips and techniques that tops (whatever form they take) can use to hopefully locate a fun and responsible play partner. One that, for them, will be the warm bottom they’ve been looking for.


The Where

So where does a dominant actually locate a submissive? The first answer to this is usually the internet: kinky dating sites or BDSM community ones like Fetlife. The second way is to get out there in the real world: at social BDSM things (munches and classes and the like), or at kinky conventions.

The thing about meeting anyone, online or in person, is that you must understand not just how to act, but also how to develop good instincts, and so begin to be able to read what potential playmates are saying … or not.

One of the biggest mistakes tops make when trying to find a bottom to play with is treating everyone as just that: as bottoms. You might be a top, but that never gives you the right to treat others as if they are already your submissive.

Instead, approach and deal with people as equals ... not bottoms, not subs, but as people. Not only is this respectful and polite, but it also keeps the lines of communication open. As we will be discussing shortly, that is crucial to creating a fun and safe BDSM experience.

It’s actually a kind of a joke in the leather scene that you can tell an inexperienced top, or one that hasn’t learned manners, if they wear their domination on their sleeve. Actually, calling it a joke is a bit too light. It would be better to say that they are often viewed with scorn. In short: don’t be that "guy" (or "girl" or "person").

Instead, if you find someone interesting, introduce yourself politely and respectfully. Ask if they might be interested in talking with you. If they say no, then thank them and leave them alone. Do I need to say that again? I shouldn’t, but the sad fact is that far too many dominants think they should never be told no.

This is not just disrespectful. It's also a flat-out dangerous mindset. If you think that being a top is about never being wrong or respecting the physical and emotional well-being of others, not just your submissives, then you have no place in the BDSM community. No means no, whether in person or online.

So, let’s say things are going well, and you’re having a good conversation. You feel it’s time to start to negotiate. What happens next?

Communication, Communication, Communication

I might sound like a broken record, but the absolute first thing a top should look for in a bottom is their ability to communicate. I know a lot of dominants use almost ridiculously long checklists of things for their potential submissives to fill out. This might include things they must have in a BDSM experience to have a good time, things they might consider doing and things that are hard limits for them.

There is nothing wrong with these lists. In fact, I thoroughly encourage tops to do just this. However, a list is a just a list. It’s much better to get more detailed information - and not just what is wanted, what might be wanted, and what isn’t wanted in a scene.

A great question to ask is if they have any play experience. This will help you see what you might learn from them or, if they are new, what you can teach them about BDSM play ... or learn together. Another great question is asking them to share any good, as well as bad, experiences they may have had. The idea behind this is to get an understanding of not just what happened, but also what lead up to it - and what happened after.

It’s also really important to be clear and upfront about yourself. Say what you want, might consider and don’t want. Don’t ever lie about any of this. Do not lie about your experience level. There is nothing wrong in saying that you are new and want to learn. Kinky people love to teach and a lot of submissives would leap at the chance to teach a new dom!

Not to sound negative again, but a top who hides something important about themselves, what they want in a scene, or tries to trick or manipulate their submissives to do something that was not negotiated has no place in the BDSM community. This is not kink. This is sexual assault. Period. (To learn more, read Dominance, Discipline and Abuse: Where to Draw the Line.)

If a potential playmate isn’t comfortable talking to you online, suggest meeting in a neutral location. The thing here is to make things comfortable and clear with each other before any play occurs. A great way of adding to this comfort and clarity is also to do something social together, like a kinky class or attending a munch, so you can continue to get to know each other better.

Embrace Flexibility

Another common mistake new tops make is thinking that if a potential playmate isn’t a perfect match to their fantasies then they are not worth considering. The whole point to the opening of this article is not to get stuck in the trap of unwavering expectations, of thinking that a top has to be this and a bottom has to be that. A major strength of BDSM is in discovering, learning, growing and especially about gaining experience.

Throwing away opportunities to grow as a top because you think kink in reality has to be the kink in fiction or your fantasies will do nothing but limit your potential - as well as prevent you from discovering what could be a whole new vistas of kinky possibilities.

Trust Your Instincts

On the other side of this, many of us have made - and will make - major mistakes in our lives that only in hindsight do we realize that a little voice was screaming NO in the back of our heads the whole time. Even so, do try and listen for that wee voice before something bad happens. If you have doubts, concerns, or hesitation with anyone you meet and might play with, there is nothing wrong with slowing things down or just politely walking away. Don’t let your eagerness to get to play lead you down a dangerous path for both you and the people you play with.

The Important B's

If I could leave you with a summation of how to go about finding a submissive, it would be to practice your B's: be respectful, be honest, be patient and be understanding.

Be respectful: No one is your submissive until they agree to be. Even then, treat them with dignity and compassion.

Be honest: Be clear and open with who you are and what you want.

Be patient: You are not in a rush to do anything. Take your time and move at a good pace for all those concerned.

Be understanding: You might be a top, but the universe does not revolve around you. See your playmates as human beings and not just playthings.

Now go forth and learn everything you can about BDSM, meet all kinds of fun and interesting people, have hot and beautiful experiences, practice your B's, and before you know it you might very well have a happily warm bottom to share kinky play with!