Why Aftercare Isn’t Just Important In BDSM - Women's Health

Why Aftercare Isn’t Just Important In BDSM

The ritual is inculcated into those practising BDSM, but for anyone else engaging in sexual relationships, it would do well to focus on aftercare, too.

Many a rom-com has depicted that moment that immediately follows climax during sex. Audiences have laughed at the sight of partners rolling their sweaty body over, only to then reach for their phone and zone out as they begin another endless scroll on the Instagram feed. There are those who embrace for some time, and others who simply get up and stroll directly for the shower. It’s funny to watch because for most of us, we’ve been there: we’ve been with that person who wants nothing to do with us after sex, or alternatively had that partner who enjoys the post-sex cuddle as much as they do the main event. The fact remains, what happens after sex is just as important as it can leave many people feeling embarrassed or a sense of shame should such care be neglected. 

It makes ‘aftercare’ a buzzword worth thinking about. In the world of BDSM, the practice of aftercare is something that is non-negotiable. It refers to a post-play ritual in which partners exchange physical or emotional comfort following an intense sexual experience. While it’s grounded in the assumption that such care is essential following kink play, it also is an important factor to consider in more vanilla sexual engagements, too. 

Examples of aftercare include offering your partner a snack or something to drink, cuddling, giving them a compliment, having a good conversation, watching a movie, or even tending to any minor injuries that may have been sustained during BDSM play. It also offers a safe space to talk about what you might have enjoyed about the experience, as well as the things you might not have enjoyed. Ultimately, aftercare is dependent on the individuals at hand and varies depending on individual preferences. 

As a way of nurturing your partner, it offers the chance to come down from the neurochemical high of BDSM, and avoid the low emotional state known as “drop” in kink circles. Given that BDSM is often more risky – physically and emotionally – and involves a higher level of vulnerability and trust, aftercare is seen as just an important part of it as establishing safe words. It offers protection and care, helping partners to ease back into normal consciousness, with grounded feelings of tenderness and affection. 

With this in mind, aftercare is something we all can benefit from in casual sex. Regardless of what kind of sex you’re having, trust is imperative and good sex requires a level of vulnerability as we lower our inhibitions and seek to let go. It’s not uncommon then, for people to experience feelings of anxiety when it’s over, or simply feel a little down. As sexologist Gigi Engle explained in an interview with MindBodyGreen, “While it may seem odd to engage in aftercare with someone you’re not seriously dating, it’s still important.” 

Engle added, “It’s not about making someone fall in love with you or trying to make a more serious relationship out of something casual. It’s about making sure everyone is cared for with respect and tenderness so that they can leave a sexual experience feeling good about themselves.”

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