How I Learned to Love ‘On the Bottom’ Sex Positions

Suzy Berkowitz

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Being single and living alone undeniably has its perks, but being single and living alone as a chronically ill person during the coronavirus pandemic has forced me to quarantine solo, which means I’ve been sexually inactive for almost four months. Being in this position has forced me to dwell on DIY positions while thinking wistfully about previous encounters. While thinking about other sex positions, there’s one in particular that gets a bad rap and I’d like to wipe its slate clean once and for all: being on the bottom!

What I call being “a sexual starfish,” this is a catch-all to refer to being the bottom partner during (mostly) missionary-style sex. The starfish has long been perceived as the copout position, the less sexy companion to cowgirl(s) or other “penetratee on top” positions — and while there are a myriad of maneuvers that give the bottom partner more power and control than initially assumed (which I will elaborate on later), the starfish position deserves a bit more love.

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Starfishing is an opportunity to get comfortable with receiving pleasure (and to let your top partner get comfortable giving it)  — something that women especially often feel selfish or guilty doing.

Starfishing celebrates relaxation, indulgence and gratification — it’s all about pleasure, baby! And offers the bottom partner the chance to feel sexy, desired and worthy of affection. It is a supportive position that allows the starfish to experiment with talking dirty and offering words or whispers of encouragement.

Starfishing is also a perfect opportunity to experiment with being dominated, if that’s your thing. There are few moves more powerful than relinquishing control to a partner you know and trust. Establish boundaries, a safe word and figure out what does it for both of you and then give in to your partner’s desires.

Now, a common misconception about the bottom position is that it is always a passive position. This is far from true and, beyond the verbal control that a bottom partner can take, there are multiple maneuvers (also toys!) that heighten pleasure on both ends and help evenly distribute the workload between the bottom and top partner:

  • If one partner is penetrating, more depth control can be achieved with the bottom partner placing their legs either on the shoulders or around the torso of the partner on top (which brings them physically closer and allows the top partner to exert less energy.)

  • The bottom partner can also take control through touch: light strokes let the top partner know to be more gentle, while more dominant scratches heighten the top partner’s sensitivity and illicit an almost bestial and heated experience (just make sure your partner wants that!)

  • The bottom partner can also increase sensation by working on their kegel muscles —the same muscles that tighten when you need to pee. Routine kegel exercises can up the blood and oxygen flow which makes sensations a whole lot more powerful.

Whether you choose to dive headfirst into the starfish lifestyle or ease into it with some power bottom moves, communicate with your partner and lean into being the recipient sometimes — even if it feels uncomfortable at first. And whether you embrace the lifestyle or not, know that you are worthy of receiving pleasure as much as you give.

Into embracing and experimenting with a few more sex positions? Here’s 69 of our favorites to add to your bucket list:



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