Developing Your Own Aftercare Ritual
If you’re into some kinky stuff, you’re probably already aware of the importance of aftercare. In the BDSM community, aftercare refers to the time and attention given to yourself and partners after playing. Below we’ll break down some of the best ways to practice aftercare and why it’s so important.
Pushing your body to its limits or trying something new can give you a rush of adrenaline and endorphins. When these feel-good chemicals leave your body after sex, it can leave you experiencing something called Postcoital Dysphoria (PCD). PCD can manifest in a variety of ways including crying, irritability and feelings of loneliness. Understanding this can help you pre-empt these negative feelings by indulging yourself and your partner/s in some TLC.
Aftercare should start before getting down and dirty. Start by having a conversation with your partner and develop a plan for things you can do afterward. It doesn't matter if you're regular fuck buddies, a random Grindr hook-up, long-term partners, or freshly dating; aftercare is important. Aftercare is about making sure everyone is cared for with respect and tenderness so that you can all leave a sexual experience feeling good about yourselves – or at least supported and safe if it brings up negative feelings.
See our list below for some things you can incorporate in your new aftercare ritual.
Depending on the activity, you can exert a lot of energy that needs to be replenished. Increase your water intake and get some electrolytes in you – keep some Powerade on hand.
- Deep breaths
Grounding yourself and practising mindfulness can be useful to bring balance back to your body. Take notice of your breath and try to slow it down. Below is a useful technique for this.
Box Breathing Technique
With your hand on your stomach:
- Take a deep breath through your nose while counting silently to four. You should feel your stomach rise.
- Hold that breath for four seconds.
- Count to four again as you release your breath through your mouth feeling your stomach flatten.
- Hold that for four seconds.
- Repeat four times.
- Physical Touch
Grab your cosiest blanket and curl up together. Have some skin-on-skin contact cuddling. This is important for both Doms and Subs, even the mystery person you invited to join you and your partner that night. Make sure everyone’s emotional needs are met and for some this involves a good snuggle. If any injuries occurred during BDSM play, this is the time to tend to them with bandages or icepacks. Taking a shower together and washing each other's bodies or hair can also be part of aftercare – also a fun way to clean up.
This is undoubtedly the most important part of aftercare. Communication can be as simple as asking “How are you feeling about that?”, “Did you have a favourite part?”, “What worked for you? What didn’t?”. Talking about your play (the good and the bad) is important, as you need to ensure everyone enjoyed themselves and was 100% comfortable with what went down. It'll also help you understand if anything needs to change the next time around.
It’s important to note that aftercare is not about trying to apologise or make up for crossing boundaries or hurting someone outside of the rules of that scene. There is a huge difference between using aftercare to come out of a kink scene that traded power or pain in a controlled, safe way – and making sure someone is safe after any physical or psychological abuse. If lines were crossed the priority is keeping the person who was harmed safe - while you should absolutely make amends with the person, if appropriate, when that person is ready. But you can’t use the safe, decompression space of aftercare to deal with that harm. Give that person space to decompress and you will need to deal with those transgressions in a less vulnerable place for that person.
The bottom line is that everyone will have different needs after sex – especially in a BDSM scene. The priorities are always the same though - everyone should feel safe, cared for in a way that’s appropriate for them, after any sexual experience you share. Some people might prefer to partake in self-care for a while afterwards and others will want to spend quality time together. Figure out what your needs are and communicate them to your partners, while listening to and respecting theirs.