What is a Switch?


When someone tells you they identify as a Dominant or Master, submissive or slave – you have a pretty good idea what that means. But how about when someone tells you they’re a switch? Well, it means you need to ask more questions.
I often compare somebody that identifies as a switch to someone who identifies as bisexual. Now, before you get all upset, I understand that sexual orientation and D/s dynamic identifiers have nothing to do with one another. That is not what I compare. Here is what I mean: both identities lay upon a spectrum and there are some similar stereotypes that both groups deal with.

On one hand you can have someone like me – I personally identify as an s-type, however, I have the skills to top and do enjoy it on occasion with a handful of people. So, technically, I can say I’m a switch because I can Top and bottom for play. However, for me, I have no interest in being anyone’s Dominant or being involved in a D/s dynamic with me as the D-type. I won’t say it will never happen because I know better, it’s just not something I am interested in currently. On the other hand you will find people that feel equally Dominant and submissive and may have a partner (or partners) that they switch with – or are in a poly situation where they have one (or more) partner(s) they submit to and another (or others) they are a Dominant to. Some people may flow from one to another – go through phases if you will. Sometimes in their life they feel the need for more submission and at other times feel the need to express more of their Dominant side. Still others may lean more toward one side or another but it’s closer to a 60/40 than someone like me who is closer to 80/20 (or so). The point is that there is a very diverse spectrum when it comes to being a switch. Everyone is different and you just need to ask what it means to them.

Now I would like to address the stereotype that seems to get placed on switches that reminds me of the one placed on those that identify as bisexual. It’s the stereotype that a switch is confused about their identity, going through a phase, or just doesn’t want to commit one way or the other. While these things, of course, can be true for some people – it is not true for most.

Being a switch is just as much who they are as someone who knows they are a D-type or an s-type. I am not confused about what I like. That doesn’t mean it may not change. When I discovered this community I swore I was totally an s-type and would never be able to Top. Eventually I started exploring it because, well, why not? I believe this lifestyle is perfect for self-exploration and growth! So I explored the “Top side” of play. I had always gone to classes to learn how to use implements, etc. to enhance my play as a bottom and learn about it for safety reasons. So once I started to Top I already had some skill. I found I tend to prefer Topping s-type women. I can Top men, however, I usually do that from more of a “service Top” position. It’s not what curls my toes. I don’t know what will develop down the line. Perhaps I will come upon a woman I would like to serve me in some capacity. I try to never say never because none of us really know what the future holds. Does that change (if it were to happen) mean I’m just “going through a phase”? Absolutely not. I still feel my submission pulled from male Dom energy and believe I always will. It’s simply a matter of how my Top side will grow or with whom.

We all have our own story and our own journey. This space allows us to explore and reach in directions we never thought possible. Know thyself and then get to know others. Especially those darn switches! 🙂

Jennifer Masri is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in Alternative Lifestyles for individual and relationship issues. She also teaches the BDSM 101 class series at Sanctuary LAX in Los Angeles every Monday evening. Read more about Jennifer on her blog, A Kink Shrink.


  1. i like that you can have the best of both worlds

    • Jo (Lupe Wolf) Schansberg says:

      I agree! Someone once told me to avoid switches (back in the ’90s) and she was a lesbian! All it did was to keep me from coming out to her as a switch/or a bisexual person, for that matter. Yes, I agree that they are both on a spectrum and not just “going thru a phase”. well written article! Thanks much!

  2. If possible, could you send me links for the research you mention? I am also a therapist and am TIRED of watching other’s in my field pathalogize sexual behaviors

  3. Perfectly put ! Agree 100%

  4. Speaking as a (completely unconfused) bisexual switch, I think you got it right here. I go from Dom to sub quite easily, and sometimes during the same play session. It’s all about mood and flow. I have certainly noticed the tendency for some folks to look down their noses at switches, and bisexuals too for that matter.

    My wife and I host a munch at our house every month. Much fun is had, but always with an emphasis on education and safety. We recently had a rather good group discussion that included this very subject, and the variation in opinion even just in our small group was fascinating. Most of us are bi, and I would say around half to two thirds switch.

    We have a couple of full time hard core Dommes in our group, both amazing people whom I love dearly, but they have had some fairly lively arguments on the subject of switching. One of the Ladies is absolutely Domme through and through, but she also has a very masochistic side. She doesn’t consider herself a switch, and I agree with her. There are very few people she trusts enough to let down her guard with, and I consider myself fortunate to be one of them. While she does effectively take on a bottom role, she is by no means submissive, and is in fact still in command of what is happening to her. She knows exactly what she needs to achieve her release, and directs me along the right lines. Bottoming, but still in control.

    The other Domme (I honestly think just to get a reaction) will argue with her that when she’s getting her ass beat black and blue that she’s being submissive, and therefore is a switch.

    I swear, it’ll come to fisticuffs someday lol. Good thing they’re friends.

    I’ve dealt with the stereotype myself. A Dom that used to come to a different group we were in (he was a total douchebag in every aspect of his life, and not missed) used to try to push my buttons. He never got it done, although he did come close to getting his block knocked off on one occasion. I never got the chance, another member of the group overheard his remarks, took offense, and tore into him before I got the chance. I sat there and laughed my butt off as this tiny five foot nothing gal read him the riot act.

    He left not long after that. I thing his Domliness was offended lol.

    Unfortunately, stereotypes do tend to run rampant, and not just about being bi or a switch. All we can do is keep patiently trying to educate the uneducated.

    And occasionally, if we’re lucky, enjoy the show when a 90# girl shreds a 260# moron…

  5. I’d have to agree with the points in this article.

  6. Fi-Fi LeFemme says:

    A nice little article and explains myself very well. I thought the spectrum analogy works very well indeed.
    I have complicated matters by also being on the orientation and gender spectrums too!
    Gosh! I like to live an interesting life! :-/

  7. Neville Hargreaves says:

    Thanks this article helped me I was so confused about what I am male switch now I’m not confused is there anywhere else that I can go to learn more

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