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I often get letters from guys who are in the throes of dating relationships with men of the same sexual role preference (two tops, the ones doing the penetrating during sex, and two bottoms, the ones being penetrated) and find themselves experiencing frustration and conflict when their sexual fulfillment takes a hit and their needs are unmet.
This is a common scenario and can create strain in an otherwise perfectly compatible partnership when everything is aligned just right except the bedroom satisfaction element.
I often hear more from tops in this arrangement and it leads one to the question, “Can these types of relationships actually work in the long run?”
If you are in one of these relationships, or are contemplating one, here are some questions and tips to consider as you decide whether this coupling is something you want to take on.
The relationship will oftentimes become defined by this conflict and could potentially sabotage a good thing.
Your relationship is much more than just about sex, and you’ll want to redirect your energies into those areas that are your strengths and create more positivity and connectedness between you.
You’ll also want to clarify your values in terms of how much importance and primacy you place on the sexual aspect of your identity and needs.
Getting into a pursuer-distancer cycle will only serve to create more distance and anger.
Sometimes pulling back can create a scenario where trust, curiosity and desire builds to the point where experiencing more vulnerability and experimentation sexually can occur.
Sexuality is a very important aspect of a relationship for many, and you’re going to definitely need to sit down together and communicate your needs and feelings.
Relationships are about compromise and exploring with each other the possibility of both of you switching sexual roles from time to time.
If you remain resistant to this, explore with each other what being a top means to you, as well as what your concerns are about bottoming and what that role means to you.
Perhaps all that’s needed is some education and correcting misperceptions about what this entails.
And perhaps it goes much deeper than this, bringing out potential issues with internalized homophobia, masculinity, fear of surrendering and letting go or vulnerability and trust issues.
The two of you can work together to address these matters and resolve them so they no longer pose as psychological blocks to your sexual intimacy.
“If no one is willing to be more
versatile, this can be a telling sign.”
Do either of you have fear/anxiety or discomfort around your masculinity or gay identity that gets triggered during gay sex, or are there power and control issues at play within your relationship?
You’ll want to identify the etiology first so you truly know what you’re dealing with.
Talk with each other about your turn-ons and the conditions that spark the most eroticism and arousal for you.
Discuss and act out your fantasies with each other, use pornography or sex toys to spice things up and play around with different ways of being sexual with each other that doesn’t require anal intercourse.
Creativity, “edging” your partner’s desire and arousal and keeping him on his toes can go a long way toward satisfying one’s libido.
But from a more controversial yet realistic standpoint in our community, many couples in these arrangements have successfully created a relationship contract in which outside liaisons with men of the opposite sexual role are acceptable or a third partner is brought into the sexual domain to help meet this need.
You will want to be clear about your values about monogamy versus nonmonogamy, always keep the channels of communication open with your partner and check in regularly to ensure this arrangement is still mutual and pleasing.
Recognize the risks involved when going outside your relationship in terms of the potential for STIs and emotional attachments that could lead to sabotage.
If you try these suggestions and you still find you and your partner at a stalemate, you may need to discuss how important a role sex in this way plays in your life and if this is truly a suitable partner match for you knowing you will likely have to make this sacrifice if you stay and neither of you are willing to budge on this issue.
“Total” top or “Total” bottom limits and restricts what can be done and becomes a rigid and absolute black-and-white issue that will keep you locked in said roles.
If no one is willing to be more versatile for the sake of the relationship, this can be a very telling sign about each person’s needs and values and can help you with your assessment about the viability of what you’re wanting to build.
What do you think about this issue? Do you think two tops or two bottoms can make a relationship work? What are your experiences with this?