Aftercare – The time after a BDSM scene or play session in which those involved calm down, and slowly come back in touch with reality.
When I first joined the kink community the concept of aftercare baffled me. As someone who would not consider themselves tactile or overly affectionate I decided that aftercare wasn’t for me. I am not embarrassed to say I was wrong. I think aftercare is for everybody, and what some of us are saying when we say we don’t ‘need aftercare’ is ‘my aftercare looks different to yours’. Whether we have discovered that for ourselves or not.
The go to thought for aftercare is often cuddles with the other participant/s also involved in the scene or play session. Many of us may not be playing with a regular partner though, and many more of us might not feel that comfortable with cuddles. This makes it really important to think about the follow things:
- What does aftercare look like for you?
- What does aftercare look like for the other person/people you are playing with?
- Who Do You Think Aftercare Is For?
- What aftercare can you provide for yourself when you are alone?
What Does Aftercare Look Like For You?
Aftercare can come in many forms. Often depending on whether the type of aftercare needed is physical or emotional. Some of the more common aftercare needs I’ve come across are:
- Physical closeness – both with the person you played with, but often also with those you are close too and feel comfortable with.
- Words of Affirmation – it can be comforting to hear the scene was enjoyed, you are loved, your rosy bum looks beautiful and whatever other affirmations work for you.
- Hydration and Nourishment – a glass of water is probably going to be no bad thing for most people, types of aftercare snack seem to vary greatly, but are often well received.
- Peace and Quiet – many people enjoy finding a quiet space post play, sometimes alone, sometimes with a partner/friend. If someone isn’t familiar with a venue it’s always a nice idea to point out where the quiet spots are.
- Low Lit Areas – Bright lights, similar to loud noises can be quite jarring when you are coming round from a particularly intense scene, finding somewhere with low lighting may ease the transition into reality.
- Keeping Warm – aftercare blankets, cosy jumpers and onesies all seem like popular choices for those people who feel a bit chilly post scene.
- Sleeping – sometimes if a scene was particularly intense or draining and sleeping is an option is often a great way for your body and mind to wind down.
Your aftercare might include some of those things or none of those things, whatever works for you is valid though and you should never be afraid to voice what aftercare it is you need. If someone doesn’t take your need for aftercare seriously, belittles the type of aftercare you need or tries to enforce their own aftercare needs, then it may be worth taking a step back from play until you are certain you will be able to manage your aftercare needs on your own.
I would encourage everyone to discuss their aftercare needs as part of their pre-scene negotiations.
What Does Aftercare Look Like For The Person/People You Are Playing With?
If cuddles are your go to and much loved form of aftercare and you start playing with someone who needs minimal physical contact after they play then aftercare needs are going to clash. Like me you might find that you grow to love your partner’s aftercare preference, what happen if you don’t though? What can you do to minimise the chances of drop for all involved without anyone feeling they need to neglect their own aftercare?
- Compromise – with long term partners or friends, whether they are romantic partners, play partners or both. Some kind of compromises is usually going to be best for everyone. Maybe cuddles is a bit much for one person, but smaller amounts of physical affection could work. Holding hands, gentle petting, affectionate kisses can all go a long way to reassuring someone post play.
- Outsourcing – this is a lot more caring than it sounds. At events and play parties, especially if playing within groups of trusted friends, it’s not uncommon for aftercare to be found with a person who wasn’t involved in the scene. If this works for everyone involved there is no reason why this isn’t valid.
I’m not a great cuddler, because physical affection isn’t my go to way to express myself. I am however exceptionally happy to spank someone who needs aftercare cuddles. My partner is a great cuddler and is quite often happy to engage in cuddles and hair strokes with our friends. That said if one of my awkward cuddles would help someone out I’d be happy to give that a go.
Who Do You Think Aftercare Is For?
I know at least one person will be reading this thinking ‘but surely the person getting aftercare is the bottom/submissive’, so why is compromise and outsourcing even an issue? The reason being is that Tops/Dominants need aftercare too. Perhaps not always, perhaps not all Tops/Doms, perhaps not with every bottom they play with. At some point though there is a good chance you will play with a Top/Dominant who will need some form of aftercare, or you may experience it yourself as a Top/Dominant.
It takes a lot of energy, both physical and mental to both plan and execute many of the scenes as play sessions we love to partake in. While those scenes can have a Top flying high in Topspace, it also means that Top Drop is a very real and is every bit as unpleasant as sub drop.
What Aftercare Can You Provide For Yourself When You Are Alone?
Aftercare immediately following a scene is great, and we all hope that this eliminates the effects of drop should be susceptible to them. Sometimes though we may need aftercare in the days following a scene or play session, and in these cases we may need to do a little bit of self-care. Solo aftercare varies as much as partnered aftercare does, some of the more popular things that come up though are:
- Warm Baths and Showers – the perfect time for nice bubble baths and fancy shower gels.
- Good Food – this might be healthy foods or it might be the biggest bar of chocolate going.
- Hobbies – Reading, computer games, crafting, the gym. Whatever your hobby of choice is for relaxing or recharging it could be perfect for incorporation into your solo aftercare.
- Talk to Friends – Sometimes just having someone to talk to can help alleviate some of the systems of drop. Having a support system you can talk to on days you need aftercare can be invaluable.
- Surround Yourself With Things You Love – Cuddly toys, pets, your favourite mug, whatever makes you smile is worthy of aftercare inclusion.
- Sleep – Get enough, make it good quality and don’t be surprised if you sometimes need extra in the days follow a kink scene or play session.
I would imagine a lot of Kinksters have neglected their aftercare needs at some point, but the difference good aftercare can make is amazing. Not only is it good for us as individuals, it can also be an important part of building and maintaining trust and support with a growing or established dynamic. Those moments that follow a scene are just as important as what happens within the scene.
Remember, there’s a difference between an aftercare plan and a trigger plan. An aftercare plan is for when everything goes right. A Trigger Plan is for when everything goes wrong. -Princess Kali, enoughtomakeyoublush.com
Above is one of my favourite pieces of advice from Princess Kali. All the advice and thoughts I’ve shared in this article refer specifically to aftercare. I’m coming from the point of view that scene went well. If a scene ends abruptly, if someone uses their safeword or if in any other way the scene doesn’t go to plan, I highly recommend having a Trigger Plan.
My final recommendation for aftercare would be that while immediately following a scene is great, following up with someone a day or two after you’ve played with them is also a wonderful part of aftercare. It can often take us days to process some of the scenes we embark on, especially if we are new to kink, or we are playing within a new dynamic.
This is the third instalment in my ‘A Switchy Girl’s Guide to Kink, Fetish and BDSM’ series of posts. The next instalment will be published on April 9th and is titled ‘Do You Need a Trigger Plan’. If you would like to hear more of my thoughts you can tune in to the #ProudToBeKinky Podcast, or you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram or you can send a friend request on Fetlife through _Floss_.