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A guide to aftercare

A guide to aftercare

If you’re new to BDSM, you may assume it’s all whips and chains and that intimacy has no place here. However, BDSM relationships are extremely intimate, requiring a huge level of trust and communication to experience intense play scenes. So here’s a guide to aftercare – a common routine practice in BDSM play.

Aftercare is an extremely important part of BDSM and this is something I always enforce in my workshops. Aftercare should always be present as a healthy part of any BDSM dynamic. No matter how masochistic or sadistic you may claim to be, we are all human, and all need a little taking care of when our limits and boundaries have been pushed to the extreme.

I get a lot of questions about aftercare, what it is, who it’s for and how it should be given, so I’ve put together a guide to aftercare with some frequently asked questions about the who’s, what’s, why’s and when’s of aftercare.

What is aftercare?

In the BDSM world, aftercare is the act of checking in after a “scene” or play session. It is built into the Dom/sub routine as a way to ensure everyone feels safe and comfortable. Aftercare is not just present for the submissive’s benefit, but for anyone and everyone involved in a scene. Dominant’s need checking in on too. Just like BDSM play is a power exchange, so is aftercare. Make sure you’re both there for each other.

How do I give aftercare?

Aftercare can be entirely what you want it to be. It often consists of relaxing and winding down after sex, which could include hugging, talking, taking a hot bath or shower, rubbing lotion on any bruises/marks given to the submissive or a massage to sore areas. For some, aftercare could be sitting on the sofa together and watching Netflix or going for a walk. If you’re not in a relationship with that person, it may just be enough to express how you’re feeling and ask how they are feeling – it is entirely down to you to decide what helps you relax after intense play. The point of aftercare is to ensure both people feel grounded again.

I recommend discussing what type of aftercare you want/expect after a scene, particularly if you’re casual play partners. Just as you would discuss limits, sit down and discuss your expectations for aftercare. That way, once a scene is over, the Dominant knows exactly what to do. This is beneficial especially when the submissive may still be in “subspace” making it difficult for them to communicate their needs.

What is the point of aftercare?

Aftercare isn’t just for the physical wounds that may be acquired during a BDSM scene, but is about psychological wellbeing too. The purpose of aftercare is to give both sub and Dom a chance to reflect on the play session, talk about what they liked and disliked and discuss worries or concerns. This can also really strengthen the bond between Dom and sub, which is why it is a routine practice in BDSM.

With all the endorphins and hormonal changes that occur during and after, not just after BDSM play, but sex in general, it is very common for people to experience heightened emotions as their body begins to come down from its natural high. This is often referred to as a “subdrop”, which can occur particularly after a very intense scene where limits were pushed. Aftercare is in place to ensure the submissive knows they are safe and cared for once a scene is over. For more on this, see What is subspace and how do I get there?

Does asking for aftercare make me weak?

Absolutely not. Whether you’re a sub or a Dom, needing aftercare is perfectly normal and expected. If your partner says they don’t like giving aftercare or makes you feel inferior for wanting to incorporate an aftercare routine into your dynamic, then they are not genuine. Even the most experienced Dominants and submissives practice aftercare after every single scene. Saying you don’t need or don’t give aftercare doesn’t make you a more impressive sub or Dom, it makes you foolish and naïve. We are not robots, and even if you don’t have a romantic connection with your play partner, I’d expect you to still have some compassion and human decency.

What is NOT aftercare?

Aftercare is not an excuse to push through, or abuse limits and boundaries without consent. A safeword should still always be in place for all BDSM play. Aftercare is not about apologising for genuinely abusive behaviour that has caused real hurt to someone. If an accident occurs or the safeword is used, you should stop what you are doing immediately, check they are okay and skip to the aftercare routine if that’s what your partner wants. A discussion and re-evaluation of limits/boundaries may be required if this is the case.

This guide to aftercare is not just one that works in BDSM play but in all sex. It can bring partners closer together, aids effective communication, and ultimately leads to better sex for everyone.

If you’re new to BDSM and want to learn more, check out myBeginners Guide to BDSM and keep an eye out for my next workshops. 

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  1. Pingback: BDSM Punishments: Tips, tricks and ideas for punishing your sub - Sub in the City

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