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You may have heard about the “top shortage” or even feel like you’re experiencing it yourself. You’ve had a few dates with women who seemed like promising lesbian tops, only to find yourself leading the conversation, reaching for the check, or leaning in first for a kiss (but let’s be real, there hasn’t been any kissing). Or you may be staring at your dating app matches and asking yourself: Why aren’t they making a move?
Here are some tips for dealing with these situations:
Before you start thinking about getting involved with a top, ask yourself this question: When you say you’re looking for a lesbian top, what do you really mean?
“Top” has such a broad definition that it’s practically meaningless. Are you looking for someone who wants to chase you, while you sit back and enjoy the attention? Are you looking for someone who will open doors for you and order your favorite drink without even asking? Or, in the more classic sense, are you looking for someone who will be physically on top and take an active, penetrative role in sex?
Take a few minutes right now to get clear on what you mean when you say you’re looking for a top. In the middle of a piece of paper, write and circle the words “my dream lesbian top.” Without self-judgement, fill the space around the circle with words you associate with your dream lesbian top.
Are they more sexually dominant than you? Are they comfortable strapping on or gloving up? Are they more experienced in relationships than you? Are they taller than you, in or out of heels? Maybe the physical attributes don’t matter as much as their steady, sultry voice? Or the fact they always pay on dates? Or the fact that they own lots of sex toys?
Once your piece of paper is filled with words describing your dream lesbian top, draw a double circle around the five attributes most important to you: the dealbreakers without which you wouldn’t consider a second date. Then look at some of the other factors, and really consider which are important to you and which may be coming from your idea of what a lesbian top should be.
Who says lesbian tops have to be taller than lesbian bottoms? Or more able-bodied? Or butch? Who says they’re the ones who talk to the server when you’re at a restaurant together? Who says they can never, ever switch from a top to a bottom? Once you’re clear on what you want in a lesbian top, and not just what you think a lesbian top should be, it’s time to try to connect with one.
There are as many definitions for tops as there are of definitions for bottoms. If you normally sort potential dates, sight unmet, into “tops” and “no thank yous,” widen your search.
Be open to connecting with a lot of people, acknowledging that you may only get to know one or two. “Toppiness” is made, not born. Plenty of shy, quiet people are killer tops — just as many confident, outspoken, successful people are huge bottoms.
Do you, a bottom, make the first move? Isn’t the whole point of dating tops that they do that? Not exactly.
If you want to get serious about connecting with and dating tops, you have to get comfortable with approaching them. Just because the top shortage isn’t real doesn’t mean you should sit around batting your eyelashes and waiting for the right top to pluck you from the sea of bottoms.
Being proactive, whether that means sharing details about their profile that caught your eye and asking a follow-up question or walking across the room to offer to buy them a drink, will help you stand out and increase your chances of connecting with quality tops. After all, you know how to treat them like a hot, whole person.
No one likes to be reduced to a set of skills and parts. You wouldn’t like it if a partner thought of you as just a hole (unless you have a safeword), so thinking of a potential partner as a set of body parts attached to some fingers or a strap-on (again, unless you have a safeword) is a great way to quickly alienate potential partners.
Do not under any circumstances say “You’re such a top!” when they tell you about their job or exes or cats. Pretend you’re just two people — because you are — on a date trying to learn more about each other and feel for a connection.
Healthy relationships involve everyone acting as partners and equals, with energy flowing both ways. Energy can include attention, emotional support, sex, touch, time, and money.
Maybe your dream top takes the reins in bed. Being their dream bottom doesn’t mean laying back and falling asleep afterward. It means being a co-conspirator in your pleasure together, and probably getting everyone water and a snack afterward.
I have a friend who’s a top who won’t even consider dating a new bottom until they clean their whole house. Their reason? Too many dates were exoticizing my friend for being a top, and expecting them to make contact, set up dates, host, top, provide aftercare, and pay for dinner later.
By asking new bottoms to clean their house, they were guaranteeing reciprocity and weeding out leeches.
You don’t have to offer to deep-clean a top’s whole house before you ask them out. But you do have to know what you bring to the table, and be prepared to show up with it.
Dating and relationships are all about balance, compromise, and give and take. Just because you may be a bottom doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an effort to show a top some attention and courtesy.