Picture this. You and your long term sweetie have ventured beyond the realm of vanilla sex and into your very first spanking scene. In the heat of the moment, it was all lust and searing pleasure mingled up with a nibble of pain, but now you're feeling a little...out of sorts. You might be in need of a little aftercare.
Aftercare has been a well-documented practice in BDSM activities and plays a crucial role in kink scenes, where communication is encouraged, emotional support is desired, and wounds may need tending to. But, there's something we can all learn from this common practice in our everyday sexual scenarios – not just the kinky kind.
If you've had sex for the first time, hooked up with a new lover or just tried something different with your long-term partner, you might be left feeling vulnerable and needing reassurance after the act. For a whole range of physiological reasons, when sex is over, it's common to experience feelings of guilt and uncertainty.
After all, sexual experiences can be intensely emotional and this can vary from individual to individual, from one experience to the next. Some of us are happy with an enthusiastic high-five after sex, whereas others may have more vulnerabilities, more needs and require greater reassurance.
The bottom-line is that we all deserve aftercare and some folks need more care than others. If you feel you're not getting the support you need, speak up and ask for it before engaging in sexual activity, especially if it's with someone new or when you're trying something different.
Here are a few situations where you might want a little aftercare (or a lot):
- You're with a new partner - Maybe you haven't had sex for a long time or it's the first time with someone new. You're flooded with wonder about whether you're 'good enough' and need some encouragement.
- You're trying something new - Perhaps it's the first time you've tried anal sex or used a sex toy. Unfamiliar territory can bring up feelings of displaced guilt, so you might want some shame-free assurance.
- You've introduced some kink into your play - Your partner has spanked you and called you names. You liked it but can't help but feel a little lingering humiliation and want to restore the balance.
- You're a unique soul - Perhaps you're experiencing body dysmorphia, have a body part you don't like or isn't doing what you'd like it to. Maybe you make loud noises during sex or require something unique to get off. Or maybe you've tried out that striptease you've been practicing. Either way, you're feeling a little embarrassed or disappointed about the situation and need some validation.
- It's your first time - Maybe you've felt pressured to have sex or feel regretful about this particular experience. You might be looking for a safe space to be heard, and to communicate with your partner(s).
- You're experiencing stress, grief, hormonal fluctuations or health challenges - You're feeling extra vulnerable and want a higher level of aftercare.
AFTERCARE IN A PERFECT WORLD
In a perfect world, Aftercare would be incorporated into all of our sessions and would hold the same importance as foreplay. Imagine if after your first-ever sexual encounter your partner had checked in with you, cuddled you, told you how beautiful and amazing you were, made you feel a million bucks? And then, checked to make sure you got home safely?
So many of us are often left confused, broken, humiliated, ashamed or belittled after a sexual encounter and continue to drag this feeling with us throughout our subsequent relationships. It's time to make aftercare a priority so that we can safely explore our own sexuality, build and strengthen healthier relationships and feel liberated in our daily lives.
Here's our PERFECT WORLD VANILLA AFTERCARE CHECKLIST:
- Tissues, wipes and towels for cleaning up
- A fluffy or silky robe or blanket for comfort
- A big hug, plus sweet reassurances and loving gestures
- An offer of a drink and snack
- Perhaps a warm bath or shower with fresh towels and body lotion
- Help with dressing, undressing, brushing hair etc
- Talking and laughing
- Disposal of used tissues, sheets and towels
- Cleaning and putting away of toys and accoutrements
- Making the bed
- A call to make sure they got home okay if you don't live together
- Sweet texts the next day
- A check in after a few days to see how they're feeling or if there's anything they need to talk about. Issues can arise that aren't immediately obvious.
AFTERCARE IN THE BDSM COMMUNITY
Generally, aftercare within the BDSM community is a given, making it a more communicative and consensual space than non-kink communities where few guidelines exist.
Aftercare is best negotiated at the beginning of a kink scene. Many scenarios will require deep submission or vulnerability and can be physically, emotionally and mentally draining. It's common for either partner to experience intense emotions and hormones while these acts are taking place. The subsequent drop in adrenalin can exhaust both parties, so support and care are essential.
Aftercare is the time for partners to bring each other back to reality and readopt their day-to-day roles with one another. During a scene, consensual humiliation and degradation may have taken place, fantasies may have been acted upon and a detachment from the ordinary world might be experienced. Aftercare is a time to reset the relationship in the real world and return to an equilibrium. Sex might be over, but it's not really over until the aftercare happens. Care must be taken to reassure, recalibrate and refuel.
EXAMPLES OF AFTERCARE
PROVIDE PHYSICAL COMFORT AND SUPPORT
After a rigorous session, physical contact can boost oxytocin. If cuddles aren't your thing, wrap your lover in a cosy robe and warm socks. You might feel like you've just run a marathon so your muscles may be sore and your body depleted. If this wasn't already part of your scene, a sensual massage or some gentle lovemaking, might be in order. In short, an orgasm might be nice.
CARE FOR WOUNDS AND INJURIES
A long, rope session, sensation play or pain from a sustained spanking can result in bruising, abrasions and other wounds. This might mean sterilising and bandaging, rubbing soothing ointment on an ass that’s been spanked raw or applying an ice pack to reduce inflammation of any body part.
A first aid kid should be part of your BDSM aftercare kit as well as remain on hand in the event of any mishaps during playtime.
A small snack like some fruit or chocolate will rebalance the hormones and help to ground you. Hydrate with water, tea or a sports drink to introduce some much needed electrolytes.
A short nap or an entire night's sleep after a hardcore session can be all you need to replenish mind and body. Check in afterwards to see if any other form of self care or support is needed.
LAUGH AND TALK
What better way to reconnect than a good laugh? You might feel you need to talk about what's happened and how you felt. Both partners can feel unsure about what's transpired so communication is crucial. Tread gently because vulnerability levels can be high. Ensure your partner feels supported and cherished.
If your play scene has involved name calling or degradation, has been particularly close to your limits or especially humiliating, you may need more reassurance than usual. Explain to your submissive that you don't really believe that they are what you might have called them. Alternatively, the Dominant may be experiencing feelings of guilt that they have hurt the one they love the most. Reassure them that they are valued as a human.
You might like to run a warm bath or shower for your partner with mood lighting, dreamy, sensual bathing products and a clean, fluffy robe. Do the full pamper and wash and dry their hair, apply body lotion and finish with a soothing tea.
Winding down and getting in your comfort zone is a brilliant way to get back in the real world. Put on some comfy clothes and do what you'd normally do to wind down, whether it's Downton Abbey, video games or a good book. It's a great way to ground yourself.
Even if you're practicing self love, ensure that you provide yourself with reassurance and self care if you need it. It may be as simple as cleaning your toys, having a bath, rubbing lotion on your body or even writing your feelings down in a journal, especially if any feelings of shame or guilt arise.
Providing aftercare is part of being a good lover. We all deserve nurture - even in casual hook-ups. In a BDSM relationship it's essential. Write it into a formal contract or at the very least, discuss it first. If you're not one who usually needs much aftercare, be sure to ask for it if the need arises.
Let's include intentional aftercare as part of our sexual life. Bring it up, talk about it alongside the importance of pleasure and integrate it into our sex education.