How to Top Guide | 8 Tips to Be a Better Top
Bespoke Surgical has always been about the butt, but when it comes to anal sex, why should all the responsibility fall into the hands of the bottom? Tops should come to the bedroom with a full understanding of the ins and outs (pun intended) of the proper mechanics and the science behind bottoming. Bottoming is no easy feat–it takes a lot of practice, preparation, and stamina. And to be honest, the same goes for being a top. There’s more to topping than just thrusting. That’s why we decided to create a guide, walking through the essential tips to being a good top.
1. Takes One to Know One
The best way to fully understand what someone goes through, is to put yourself in their shoes, or, in this case, have someone put a toy (or the real thing) up inside you. Suddenly, you’ll realize that spit isn’t actually lube, that you can’t just shove it all the way in, and that patience, communication, and trust goes a long way. You’ll also know what works, what doesn’t, what makes you orgasm, and what you should definitely avoid next time. But we understand that some tops are total tops and that’s OK. Instead, keep reading.
2. Being “Ready”
Over and over again, we hear of unrealistic stigmas and pressures that bottoms have to be “ready” (or “clean”) to bottom. Tops need to take a step back, realize that accidents do happen, and stop shaming bottoms if they aren’t porno-ready. This was the impetus for me forming a company called Future Method. I realized through seeing client after client with injuries or STDs that actually stem from improper anal douching techniques. In our research, we evaluated standard cleaning out regimens and found that many people use water with large refillable douche bulbs or a shower hose. Then, we analyzed whether it was the actual liquid or the delivery mechanism. We found that it was actually both that cause issues. The water basically strips the protective lining of the ass, exposing the underlying cells to injury. Then we have sex and we’re already irritated before we’ve gotten pounded. Future Method addresses both of these issues: providing the first-ever isotonic formula that doesn’t disrupt the cells within the rectum, using a delivery mechanism that is much smaller than others in the market, preventing over-douching.
Sometimes, you just want to get to the main event. Other times, you want to savor the moment and take your time. Both situations have their time and place. But let me tell you, when foreplay is involved, it sets up both parties, especially the one(s) bottoming, for a smooth ride. Besides kissing, touching, and blowjobs, rimming is a fantastic way to relax the bottom and get them comfortable before you penetrate them. Of course, rimming isn’t for everyone. However, it’s amazing how much a little licking or skin-to-skin touching, like your penis grazing the hole, can help calm the bottom’s mind and also warm them up to relax the sphincters. Some people also enjoy fingering, but I tend to tell my clients to skip this. It may seem like a perfectly safe foray into anal play, but I find the multi-faceted joints of your fingers, the potential for long or jagged nails, along with potentially weird angles of insertion, can lead to localized injury. A better alternative is incorporating butt plugs or toys. This not only will help to relax the sphincters, but also will help lubricate the anal canal from the inside, out. More on this in the next section.
4. There Is No Such Thing as Too Much Lube
Lube is a complete necessity and one of the main ways to maximize pleasure, while minimizing injury. Contrary to what you may have heard, the external anal skin and the walls of the anus are relatively thin and they are not self-lubricating. If you use spit or an insufficient amount of lube, cuts and tears (anal fissures) and irritated dilated veins (hemorrhoids) are more likely to happen, which, in turn, increase everyone’s risk of injury and contracting an STD. When choosing the best lube, I always reach for a silicone because of their unmatched slickness and endurance. Because it provides maximum lubricity, there’s less of a chance the surrounding thin tissue of both the anus and the rectum will tear or get irritated. That said, you do have to be careful because they can easily stain sheets and other surfaces and it requires some good scrubbing in the shower to get it off your body. Also, silicone toys aren’t compatible with silicone lube. If you are introducing toys into foreplay, either be sure to use glass toys (which are compatible with silicone lube) or have some water-based or toy-safe lube on hand. Also, not all silicone lubes can be used with all types of condoms, so if you’re using them, please make sure they are compatible.
When the time comes for penetration, tops tend to just lube up themselves and then stick their penis in. However, the key is not only lots of lube on the anal opening, but also the entire shaft of your penis. A lube shooter is also great for the bottom because it places a sufficient amount of lube internally to effectively lubricate the entire anal canal.
5. Anatomy Lesson
There are three main muscles of the anus that need relaxation. Two of them – the superficial and external – make up what’s called the external sphincter and the third is called the internal sphincter. The external sphincter is voluntary, however, the internal sphincter is non-voluntary. Upon initial entry, as soon as you encounter resistance (internally), that’s the first set of muscles or what’s defined as the external sphincter. Once you hit that resistance, please just hang out there for 3-5 seconds, allowing this muscle to relax. Then–trust me–pull out, relubricate, and do it again. This time, though, if your bottom says they’re OK, continue on until you hit the third group of muscles, again, called the internal sphincter. Sometimes it takes a few times of inserting, stopping, and pulling out at each musculature before you can thrust repetitively. However, if you keep experiencing resistance and your bottom isn’t ready, please do not force it. Take it out and try again. It may take 4-8 times to pass the third muscle and finally be able to completely enter.
This is where anatomy also comes into play. Everyone’s internal mapping is different and certain positions are better than others. Some bottoms may have sensitive bowels that not only elicit a pleasurable response, but also painful ones–and no one wants that unless consented for. Also, it’s important to take into consideration the angle of your penis. If it’s pointing down instead of up or to the side, it may actually mean different positions are more optimal. For instance, if you’re engaging in doggy style and your penis points down when you’re erect, you may be pounding the bottom’s prostate, which can be quite painful and end up causing both prostatitis and blue balls (not being able to ejaculate) for the bottom.
Lastly, height discrepancies may also prevent you from entering the center of your bottom’s anal canal. It’s no fun for anyone if you’re slamming the side walls of the anal canal and, even further yet, into the bowels. It’s important to remember that the abdominal and pelvic cavities retain both the small and large intestines in the surrounding regions and with significant thrusting and/or weird angulation, this may also cause an unpleasurable response, including pain, irritation, and/or cramps. Taking all of this into consideration allows for fruitful engagements for all parties involved and, more specifically, shows the bottom that you do know what you’re doing.
6. Give Up Control
Even though most tops prefer that they are in control and the bottom is more submissive, when starting out, it’s essential that you relinquish control to your bottom. This is best achieved with the bottom on top, which allows them to control how deep and fast you’re penetrating them. As the top, it’s critical to understand the appropriate mechanics and relaxation stages of the bottom, as well as proper pelvic placement. The more you rush, the more likely you are to run into problems. By starting out slow, you allow the bottom to get to a mental and physical state of total relaxation. Another key tip is constant, open communication. You must listen to the bottom through both verbal and physical cues and once they’re comfortable, and if you both want to change things up, now you can go for it.
7. Ready, Sit, Go!
During any sexual encounter, both parties need to step up to the plate. It’s a symbiotic experience that, when following these tips, can allow for tantalizing emotional and physical orgasms. Once the flow and rhythm have been synchronized, and if both parties consent to it, you can pick up the pace, deepen penetration, or experiment with more adventurous positioning. There is no such thing as too freaky. However, by having a thorough understanding of what it means to be a great top, you’ll create fruitful, yet safe sex for all parties.
8. Honest Feedback
Lastly, this may sound crazy, but I encourage partners to have conversations about how things went, without judgement. It will allow for a thoughtful approach to what not only felt great, but also what didn’t or what could be improved (or avoided) next time. The partners who walk into my office with successful relationships are the ones with a complete understanding of open and honest communication.
Dr. Evan Goldstein is the Founder and CEO of Bespoke Surgical. Dr. Goldstein has extensive experience educating and shedding light on health care issues relating to the gay community, and has been published in several national publications including The Advocate, OUT Magazine, Vice, Refinery 29, NY Mag and more.