Doms & Tops Get Scared, Too

Posted: September 2, 2014 by Isaac Cross in Learn Something, Philosophy

One of our earliest posts on this site was one examining the emotion of fear.

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about this thing called fear. Specifically, I have been thinking about the ways that the notion of fear within the context of kink is often linked only to the right-of-slash, s-type persons. But as someone who has had their share of dominant and topping experiences, I have come to realize that fear is an ever-present challenge that cannot be ignored and should be respected, even by the top.


When I hold a sharpened knife to a person’s throat, I see and feel their breath quicken. I know they are afraid, even if they trust me. But what they may not know is that it is often just as frightening for me to hold that knife.

On a surface level, this is healthy respect for the tool I am using and the damage it could cause. A mistake on my part could easily end their life.

But it is so much more than that. It’s a long hallway full of shadows. It’s a pit that you can’t see the bottom of. It’s the closet that’s just a bit too dark.

When I grip their hair and pull back their head, when I press that blade into their flesh, when I take their life into my hands… When I do this, there is a dark, deep part of me that enjoys that feeling. There is a savage, violent corner of my mind that wants to twitch ever so slightly and see the blood pour.

And that part of me is the thing that scares me.

I used to think I was different. I used to think that I was the only one who struggled with this. But over the last decade of exploration, and as I have talked with other dominants and tops, I have found that many of us feel the same things. In fact, for many, that chance to trip along the darkness is why we go there at all.

It makes sense, now that I am more comfortable with it. After all, the bottoms play to experience the fear and pain and vulnerability. So it follows that a top would play for the other side of that emotional coin. Empowerment, cruelty, malice. As one side drowns in powerless, the other bathes in powerful.

But while the bottom can give themselves over to that feeling, the top has no such luxury. Because if we let go, if we give in to everything we feel, any number of undesirable consequences could result. We have to maintain a balance of dancing with the demons inside of us without allowing them lead.

That dance is frightening. At times, it can be absolutely terrifying.

That fear is critically important, though. It keeps us from going too far. It keeps us from giving into the impulses. It reminds us that we aren’t actually the monster, that we only play one in our scenes. As exhilarating as it can feel to creep up to the edge and peak over the precipice, our fear keep us from tumbling over and losing ourselves.

So yes, despite all the masks we wear to hide it, doms and tops get scared, too.


  1. karida says:

    The man who I once served told me of a fear of precisely the same type that you described. He liked to tell stories and one time he told me of a time he played with a girl very rough, the details I cannot recall, but whatever actions he took, she loved it all… He said to me that he informed her that she better have enjoyed it, because he never wanted to go there again! He still tells this story on occasion to people to explain how tops can have limits too. There are some places that are just so dark that a top can fear not being able to stop at the right place… before harm comes.

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