“It’s so much easier to be on the giving side. To receive is much harder — one actually has to be more delicate, if I may say so. One has to help people to be more generous. By receiving from others, by letting them help you, you really aid them to become bigger, more generous, more magnanimous. You do them a service.”
It’s not only straight guys who worry about it, either. Some top-identified gay dudes think that they can’t bottom because of what that might mean. Of course, for lots of gay and bi guys, it’s simply a matter of preference- there’s a difference between “I don’t want to because I don’t enjoy it/I don’t want to do it right now.” and “I don’t want to because that would make me less macho.” After all, recent research shows that fewer than 40% of gay and bi men had anal sex the last time they had sex. So I’m certainly not going to suggest that everyone has to try it or has to like it or has to do it every time. And yet, if someone won’t do it because he’s afraid of what it might imply about him, he’s missing out on some potentially amazing fun and I think that’s unfortunate.
Part of what I find so important to bring up around this is that the messages that say that receiving penetration is unmanly are all inside our heads. They’re part of the “Act Like a Man” Box and they keep a lot of men from discovering new ways to experience pleasure and have fun. And a lot of men’s partners have told me that they wish that their guys could get over that.
There’s something incredibly powerful about a man who can be fully present in his masculinity while also being open and receptive. Something life-changing happens when you realize that you can let go of the shame, relax, and receive without worrying about being less of a man. In my experience, that’s often part of the process of letting go of the performance model of masculinity and learning to pick and choose which facets of your gender are authentically yours and which are externally imposed. Sure, you can certainly engage in that work without receiving anal play, but there things that the embodied experience can teach you that no amount of talking or processing ever can. It’s a profoundly transformative experience that can’t really be described- you just have to lean into the scary places and see for yourself.
And let’s not forget that learning to receive makes more room to discover the amazing pleasures of prostate play. When it comes to sexual pleasure, the prostate is very similar to the G-spot. Men who have tried prostate stimulation often say that the orgasms feel more expansive or bigger. They might learn how to have multiple (non-ejaculatory) orgasms, riding wave after wave of pleasure. And lots of men have discovered that it has made them better lovers and more attuned to their partner’s bodies and desires. If that’s not a great incentive, I don’t know what is!
Letting these inflexible notions of what it means to be a man keep you from experiencing something so amazing seems like a pity to me. I know that it can be scary. And I’ve also talked with enough men of all sexual orientations who have discovered incredible pleasure once they let go of these ideas to know how powerful that experience can be. So my suggestion to you is to try it out. You might really be surprised by how much fun you can have and how much it can change your entire perspective on what it means to be a man.