A lot of the conversations about gay sexuality hinge on the top/bottom paradigm. When you look for advice for gay guys, you inevitably run across articles that will tell you how to "be a better top" or "make bottoming easier".
The intense focus on these two poles of gay, male sexuality creates a false dichotomy that ignores the vast wilderness of sexual proclivities that lie outside of it. Smashing everything into the "top" or "bottom" classification misses an important fact about gay sexuality: Many guys don't like anal sex at all.
As soon as you read that, you probably instantly thought to yourself that only a small percentage of men actually feel that way and it's silly to make a fuss about it. While it's true that most of us gay guys do engage in penetrative anal sex, a substantial number would prefer to skip it entirely and that number is actually growing.
Many guys are waking up to the fact that they only have anal sex due to pressure to do so. The discourse in the gay community is so focused on the top/bottom paradigm- a paradigm that is centered on anal sex as a given- that most guys feel as though they have to take a side, despite the fact they literally don't give a fuck about either.
What Is A "Side"?
Simply put, sides are gay guys who don't identify as tops or bottoms because they simply don't like anal sex.
What's Wrong With Anal?!
There are lots of reasons why sides prefer to keep away from anal. Some find the sense of being "filled up" to be uncomfortably close to the feeling of having to urgently take a shit- not a pleasant feeling.
Others are so turned off by the sight or smell of human feces that they simply can't get worked up over something that promises to deliver those exact things.
Still, others simply find it to be too much fucking work. I totally get this! Think of all the effort that goes into buttfucking, especially for the bottom.
I have written a lot about how to deal with the cons of anal sex and am probably just as guilty of strengthening the Top/Bottom paradigm as much as anyone. The one theme you will see through all of those pieces I wrote is that being a bottom takes a lot of effort.
We have to keep our buttholes limber, which often requires the less-elastic among us to have an anal stretching regimen in place to keep our funholes up to snuff. Anal stretching takes a lot of work and requires the purchase of special anal stretching butt plugs, not to mention the initial pain it costs to get started.
For me, it was worth the effort, but I can understand why someone might just as soon throw up their hands and say "Fuck it!" to the whole rigmarole.
Then there is the issue of cleanliness. Anal sex often requires us bottoms to carefully manage what and when we eat while we are out on a date. Many of us are also so horrified when the inevitable appearance of the evil brown clown from downtown that we take extra precautions to keep ourselves squeaky clean down there.
Anal douching is like a religion to poop-shy bottoms like me and we pay tribute to the gods of anal hygiene with the time and effort we put into our douching regimens. Many, myself included, even go so far as to have a travel douche kit we take with us just in case we happen to get lucky.
Finally, there are some who simply don't get the same pleasure out of anal as the rest of us because their prostates aren't as sensitive as other guy's are. If I wasn't able to achieve a P-spot orgasm when I put something in my ass, I'd probably skip the whole deal, as well!
Those are just a few reasons why guys might skip anal, but I am sure there are as many other reasons as there are sides out there. While I don't agree with them about anal, I can definitely see where they are coming from.
O.K., But Why Should I Care?
The greatest strength of our community has always been our ability to band together and support others like us who live lifestyles outside of the hetero norms. We would be hypocrites to then divide our own community into exclusive conclaves based on how we like to have gay sex. Our inclusive community needs to be inclusive of our whole community or we will simply become a collection of vapid cliques.
Grindr has top, bottom, and vers options, but nothing for sides. How is this different from the days when dating sites didn't have any options for men seeking men or women seeking women? It's inherently exclusive.
Aside from the moral and political aspects, immediately ignoring someone who's dating profile states that they don't like penetrative anal sex is both shallow and ignorant of the fact that there is more to sex and intimacy than sticking your dick in someone. Anyone who doesn't understand that doesn't understand what good sex is.
That lack of understanding has led to some tough times for guys who identify as "sides" and a lot of missed opportunities to have great sex for guys whose idea of great sex is so narrowly defined.
Which is to say, you're missing out on meeting great guys who would make excellent partners, both in life and in the sack, simply because they don't like that one thing you like to do. What a waste!
So, What Do Sides Do?
You name it, buddy! Most sides are down to do just about anything else you might like to get up to in the bedroom, just not that. So, what can you and your side partner get up to that doesn't involve penetration?
Mutual masturbation is an excellent way to get off together and can be way more intimate than jackhammering your guy's hole. It's an amazing technique for getting to know your partner's body and nothing beats it for building sexual physical intimacy. It's also a great way to get some good use out of your toys!
A lot of sides are into frottage. If you aren't familiar with it, frottage is a form of non-penetrative where two men rub their penises on each other's bodies, usually cock to cock, to achieve sexual stimulation. Many guys find this to be a much more affectionate, and intimate form of sexual gratification.
Then, there's always oral! A good blowjob is one of life's greatest pleasures and a mouth can do a whole lot more for your little general than an asshole ever could. Blowjobs are often the go-to for guys who don't like anal, so your side partner is bound to be pretty fuckin' good at giving head, considering how much they have to do it in lieu of anal.
Last, but not least, we have our old friend the handjob. Most guys feel like a handjob is something of a consolation prize you get when anal is off the table for whatever reason, but there's more to the humble handy than meets the eye. If you don't believe me, check this out!
I Just Can't Give Up Anal. What Do I Do If My Partner Is A Side?
If you simply can't give up anal and you are worried because your partner identifies as a side, don't give up hope! I'm not going to lie, that level of sexual incompatibility is bound to put a strain on any relationship, but a strong, loving relationship always finds a way to survive as long as both partners genuinely want it to. It just requires a bit of flexibility on both sides.
As unsexy as it is, you can negotiate with your partner about the terms of when and how you have penetrative sex. This isn't ideal for either partner because the side will be enduring anal sex and the top- if he's not a selfish prick- will feel bad for inflicting anal on their partner. Not ideal, but workable in the right relationship.
Another thing you can consider is bringing a third party into the equation who does like penetrative sex. Obviously, an open relationship isn't for everyone and you have to seriously examine whether or not you and your partner are ready to open things up. There are a lot of questions you need to ask yourselves and honesty and openness are crucial to getting to the meat of the matter.
To the right couple, bringing in another person can be one of the most liberating and bonding experiences imaginable. To less rock-solid relationships, it means certain doom. The trick here is that any relationship that could be broken up by simple jealousy probably had deeper problems than sexual incompatibility.
Either way, it's a big decision that should never be taken lightly, but it can often be the decision that makes or breaks a relationship where sexual incompatibility is putting strain on a couple.