What does the term ‘vers’ mean – and how does it compare to a ‘switch’?

Two Black men in bed kissing under a duvet

Let’s say you’ve been on a date, or two, and are ready to get down and dirty with your partner, but then they hit you with the important question: are you a top, bottom, or vers?

Maybe you know your LGBTQ+ slang and this wouldn’t be an issue, but if you’ve never heard the terms before, it might be a little panic-inducing.

First and foremost, it is important to know that top, bottom and vers are terms used in relation to a person’s sexual preferences.

Someone who is a “top” prefers to be in control during sex and this most often refers to penetration. A “bottom”, by comparison, doesn’t want to be in control and often wants to be penetrated by the top.

Despite both terms usually being associated with penetration – and used by straight, cisgender people too – it doesn’t always have anything to do with that physical act. Being a top or a bottom is better linked to the power dynamics at play during sex (oral or digital stimulation included).

Now to the important part, if that’s what a top and bottom are, where does vers come in?

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Vers, short for versatile, is usually used to describe people who like to be a top or a bottom in equal – or unequal – measures. Simply put, a vers finds both positions and power dynamics enjoyable and exciting when they’re having sex and will happily flip between the two.

What’s the difference between vers and switch?

Basically, nothing, although ‘switch’ can also refer to someone who ‘switches’ between preferring a submissive and dominant role during BDSM acts such as bondage: i.e. an individual who is a ‘switch’ might like to be the person who is tied up one day, but the person doing the tying up the next.

Vers is sometimes used interchangeably with a “switch”. Someone who is vers might also like a particular part of topping or bottoming but not want to commit exclusively to being one of them during the act itself.

It might well depend on their mood, which one they’d rather be on a given day. Actor and singer Troye Sivan has said that he’s a vers, so you’d be in good company if this is you.

So, whether you are a top, a bottom, or a vers, now you have the language to communicate with your long-term partner or hook-up dates. But it’s important to remember that everyone has their own sexual preferences and, just like sexuality, there’s not always one word or label that suits your own tastes.

The best thing to do is to talk openly and honestly about your needs, wants and preferences with anyone you’re sleeping with, rather than trying to squeeze into a box that is too small for your unique personality.