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BDSM Beginners: All About Aftercare

If you’re curious about exploring BDSM with your partner, it can seem like there is an endless list of considerations. It’s not quite as simple as dressing up a certain way and tying your partner up; you both need to discuss what fantasy you’re interested in, set your hard and soft limits, pick your safe words… and then the step that many don’t think to prepare for: aftercare.

Even though it takes place ‘after’ a scene, aftercare requires forethought and conversation. But what is it exactly?

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What is Aftercare?

Aftercare is, very simply, the time you and your partner take after play time to recover and also to see to each other’s emotional and physical needs. Certain role plays and kinky acts can be both physically and psychologically taxing, so this time is a great for relaxing, as well as getting ‘back to reality.’

Why is it Necessary?

LELO WhipOur fantasies don’t necessarily correlate with who we are in our regular, day-to-day lives. While we may want our partner to dress as a demanding authoritarian who exacts humiliating punishments on us during kinky play, that’s not how we want them to treat us during the normal course of our relationship. Aftercare functions as a ‘recalibration’ for the normalcy of your relationship.

There can be a physical toll as well. Many people compare the sensation immediately following a scene (sometimes called a ‘sub drop,’ though it happens to tops as well) as being similar to sensations felt after an intense athletic performance. The rush of endorphins coupled with potential physical exertion can leave you feeling weak, fatigued, or dazed, and you may be slightly dehydrated depending on the intensity of the scene.

Types of Aftercare

Aftercare can be generally put into two categories: physical and emotional. Physical aftercare includes things such as helping remove any paraphernalia like restraints or blindfolds, getting your partner something to eat or drink (blood sugar levels can be important to pay attention to), providing a blanket or warm clothing, kissing or caressing any part of their body, or specifically to area that may have been marked during play, or  providing affection and comfort in a quiet place.

An intimate massage can be a great way to connect with your partner while offering a comforting touch, and a warm massage oil can sooth both your muscles, and the skin if you were engaging in impact play. A bath or shower is also great; it serves a practical clean up purpose as well as letting you both share an intimate and relaxing moment!

Emotional aftercare involves discussing the scene and how you both felt about it, good and bad, which is integral for ensuring that you both understand each other’s needs and expectations from play. You also may want to give your partner assurances about their kink, reminding them that nothing they did or enjoyed makes them ‘weird’ or ‘perverse.’ Making a conscious point to continue this conversation after a couple days also makes sure you’re both aware of any negative feelings that have lingered, and can also serve to make you excited about the next time.

Does Everyone Need Aftercare?

Some people might be completely okay without aftercare, or may prefer to be left alone rather than kiss and cuddle. That’s why it’s important to negotiate aftercare before getting started. If you’re just starting to experiment with BDSM and not sure what kind of aftercare you or your partner may need, discussing your feelings after the scene serves as your jumping off point for the care you or your partner would like to receive in experiences to come.

Additionally, many assume that aftercare is exclusively something that a Dominant must provide for a sub, though that simply isn’t true. Someone in a Dominant role may experience the same ‘drop’ from physical exertion as a sub, and can similarly desire the emotional connection that re-establishes the normal, loving and affectionate roles of your relationship.

There is no one way to provide or receive aftercare, the only real guideline is to be open, accepting, and attentive to the emotional and physical needs of your partner, while also making sure that your own needs are met as well.

About Katy Thorn

Katy Thorn is a post-grad writer with a passion for - and a history of - writing about sex, sexuality and all that it entails. She spends her time running, reading, writing and socialising. Katy has a cat named Feargal, she loves coffee and hates writing bios.

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