Versatile (sex)

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Versatile also known as switching refers to a person who enjoys both topping and bottoming, or being dominant and submissive, and may alternate between the two in sexual situations.[1][2] Flip-flops are very common; partners may switch roles based on mood, desire, or to allow each partner to experience their preferred activity. It is also common for people to switch with different partners, such as when a person acts exclusively as a top with one partner and exclusively as a bottom with another.

Life style

Versatility is a concept of life style.[3] Most men who have sex with men do not fit the gay stereotypes.[4] They are neither effeminate nor openly gay.[5] "In large cities in the United States, gay men are for the most part expected to be versatile, not only in top versus bottom roles (if any) but also in the choice of particular acts (e.g., oral, anal, masturbatory)."[6] Versatility though is not limited to the simple acts of oral and anal penetration, but also includes the splitting of duties and responsibilities in the relationship.[4]

The reciprocal scenario, where both men turns fucking each other, is often exercised as a celebration of equality. What sets this scenario apart from the others is the versatility of the men involved. Versatility is a unique and important feature of male anal sex. Some men consider it liberating; (...) Versatility to them is akin to speaking two different languages. It requires a special kind of playfulness, creativity, curiosity, and coordination.

Steven G. Underwood, 'Gay Men and anal eroticism: tops, bottoms, and versatiles, Harrington Park Press 2003

Living a versatile life style implies a certain openness to new things and an opposition to labels, stereotypes and generalizations. Therefore this concept differs from straight relationships where sexual compatibility does not begin with guessing who will end up as top or bottom.[7] In self descriptions of men seeking sex with other men they may refer to themselves as a versatile top or versatile bottom in addition to other commonly used terms.

Sex Acts

Flip-flop commonly describes the switching from top to bottom during one sexual encounter between two men.[8] Both participants penetrate the other and get penetrated. Lately a growing number of heterosexual couples engage in flip-flops as well, with the lady using a strap-on in order to penetrate her male partner anally.

See also


  1. [1] Role versatility among men who have sex with men in urban Peru. In: The Journal of Sex Research, August 2007
  2. "Männer, die sowohl passiven als auch aktiven Analsex praktizieren, nennt man versatile." Georg Pfau, Präventionsmedizin für den Mann, Linz 2009 [2]
  3. Levine, Martin P.; Kimmel, Michael S. (1998). Gay Macho: The Life and Death of the homosexual Clone. New York: New York University Press. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Jay, Karla; Young, Allen (1979). The gay report: Lesbians and gay men speak out about sexual experiences and lifestyles. New York: Summit. ISBN 0671400134. 
  5. Stangor, Charles (ed.) (2000). Stereotypes and Prejudice: Essential Readings. Philadelphia, Pa.: Psychology Press. ISBN 0863775888. 
  6. Human sexuality. An Encyclopedia, edited by Vern L. Bullough, Bonnie Bullough, New York, London 1994, 280
  7. Underwood, Steven G. (2003). Gay Men and anal eroticism: tops, bottoms, and versatiles. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press. ISBN 1-56023-375-3. 
  8. Michael D. Smith, David W. Seal: Motivational Influences on the Safer Sex Behavior of Agency-based Male Sex Workers. In: Archives of Sexual Behavior, Volume 37, Number 5, October 2008


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