What do you do after a particularly intense scene – apart from, obviously, regaining your breath, checking your genitals are still intact, and hoping fervently that the neighbours didn’t hear anything? For a lot of people energetic BDSM shenanigans can be both physically and mentally demanding, and it can take a while to readjust to the regular world afterwards. After a scene you might find yourself feeling: tired, sad, isolated, physically weak, irritable, cold, hungry or headachey… although it’s an unlucky individual who encounters all of those at once.
Aftercare (aptly named) is anything you do for yourself or your partner after a particularly full-on scene to help with calming down, feeling okay, and recovering. Aftercare preferences are as varying as sexual ones, so depending on who you’re dealing with good aftercare can be anything from making a sandwich to giving a hug, to meeting up the next day to play board games and drink some tea.
Some people know what they’re going to need when it comes to aftercare before they even remove their shoes. Some people are still figuring it out. Mainly for that latter group, here are some ideas of things that might help you transition smoothly from, for example, having your genitals whipped with a leather strap back to, for example, reading the newspaper and brushing your teeth before bed.
By the way, don’t be surprised if you routinely feel like shit after a super great scene. Lots of people get this. It’s called dropping (“sub-drop” or “dom-drop” depending on who’s experiencing it) and it is, essentially, a by-product of the big old high your body gets to enjoy when you play. Unfortunately for most humans, it’s a process that is usually a little bit weepy or depressing.
Feeling bad in the hours or days after an intense scene is not a sign that anything is wrong. But it isn’t pleasant, and it’s something you can learn to manage and mitigate if you know yourself well enough. Try some of the strategies below and see if they do it for you.
… Or Not
Not everyone needs aftercare. Most people do in some form or another, but some people can stroll away from a violent, seething fuckfest and never feel an ounce of down. Kudos to you guys. If you ever manage to bottle that ability, let me know, okay?
In the immediate aftermathglow of a scene, there may be some minor physical injuries to take care of: anything from rope burns to cuts and abrasions to places where whipping has broken the skin. For anything serious you’ll no doubt have stopped and dealt with it as it happened. For everything else, there’s aftercare.
Being warm, let’s be honest, is just nice. That’s why I presently live in Edinburgh, the most inhumanely cold city I could find without getting on a plane. After a scene – as you go from intense physical activity to lying like a starfish on the bed gasping and trying to remember your own name – you may start to feel a little chilly. If that happens, get under the duvet and get warm.
As well as providing warmth, bodily contact is usually pretty good for your emotional landscape. Cuddling helps calm you down, and alleviates feelings of on-the-edgeness. If one or other of you is feeling spacey, contact can help keep you grounded, and remind you that there’s someone sympathetic there if you do start feeling weird.
The adrenaline and excitement of a good scene can leave you feeling more on edge that an overdose of espresso. Some people find that stretching or focussing on controlling their breathing really helps with this. A warm shower is another good way to relax and dispel any fluttery or jittery sensations.
The human body uses a lot of water, especially when it’s engaged in anything strenuous. It’s easy to get dehydrated during a scene without really noticing, and so when you do wrap things up it’s a good idea to drink a glass of water and have a light snack. If you want to get super serious about it, electrolytic sports drinks are even better than water when it comes to rehydration.
Returning To Reality
You may end a scene feeling somewhat isolated from the world of the ordinary and the everyday. Having to plunge straight back into your day-to-day life is a bit of a nightmare. Some people find a buffer zone useful – an hour or two spent with their partner doing something basically ordinary. Read to one another, do some colouring in, play a board game, or… I don’t know… talk?
Talk It Over
Even once you’re both grounded again, it can be valuable to talk over what went down during your scene. You can pick out things that went well, things that didn’t, and things that you’d definitely like to try again. This is particularly useful if something didn’t pan out so well. Talking about it can help ease any tension over the subject, and settle any heightened feelings about it, allowing you to return to normal more quickly.
Particularly the day after playing, you may wish to schedule in something pleasant for yourself. Whether that’s watching a favourite film, having an exorbitantly long wank, avoiding human contact altogether, or getting your nails done is up to you, but self-care is important. Don’t wait until you feel bad to do something nice for yourself.
Enjoyed this? Found it useful? Tell me about it so that I know how many people my words have corrupted.