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A reader emailed me to ask if I’d written anything about aftercare. Below is her email and my response.
I’m a cis woman sub who has finally started her journey into the kink world. I have been interested in the lifestyle most of my life but haven’t built up enough courage to actually get my feet wet until now. Your website has been an amazing resource for me but I haven’t found an article about aftercare yet. I was wondering if you did make an article about it and can give me the direct link or if you’d be open to the suggestion of making one.Artemis
Thank you for your email, Artemis.
I’m so glad you have finally taken the plunge and are starting to explore your likes and dislikes when it comes to kink. I promise you won’t look back 🙂
You are correct, I haven’t got around to writing about aftercare yet, despite it being one of the more important topics when it comes to BDSM!
Generally, it is the Dominant’s responsibility to provide aftercare for the sub, and the sub doesn’t really have to do much except enjoy it.
Each sub is different in what they need after a scene, so this is something you might want to think about, and then let your dom know.
If you are new to a D/s dynamic then you may not yet know what you need during aftercare. That’s perfectly fine. As your experience grows you’ll discover there are things you like and don’t like, and you can relay these to your Dom.
As a minimum, most subs need their Dominant to be present in the room with them (to avoid feelings of abandonment), and to have physical contact (to be held and cuddled). Even if we take the BDSM aspect out of it, most loving, caring vanilla people would ensure the person they’ve just had sex with is held for a moment, at least.
If the person you are with claims to be a Dom but is unwilling to provide this basic level of aftercare, then you’re probably dealing with a Fake Dom and need to think carefully about if you are getting as much from the relationship as they are, and want to continue it.
If you’re with a partner who doesn’t claim to be a Dom (or is just beginning to explore elements of dominance and submission) then they may not know subs need aftercare. Because they are inexperienced this is excusable. In this situation it is up to the sub to speak up, alerting the new Dom to the fact they need aftercare.
As you can see, communication is everything. Some people make the mistake of assuming the Dom is a mind reader and will know exactly what the sub needs, or that the sub is a second class citizen and doesn’t need or even deserved to be looked after.
This is false. Both parties are equal in my eyes, they are just roleplaying a power dynamic. When it comes to communication and letting one another know what their needs and wants are, the power dynamic should be put on hold.
The whole purpose of aftercare is to move the sub from a 10 out of 10 on the physical scale (pain and sexual arousal) and mental submission scale (how submissive they are feeling) back to their natural set point. (I talk more about these two scales in my upcoming book Sensational Scenes).
For example, if the sub has just been involved in a scene involving lots of spanking they are probably feeling a heat and sting on their backside (physical scale) and are may also be feeling very subby or perhaps that they did something wrong (this depends on the scene theme that was used). Therefore during aftercare the Dom must be there to ensure his sub knows the infliction of pain wasn’t because he doesn’t care for her, but instead for both their benefits, otherwise she may feeling taken advantage of or abandoned.
It is also very natural for subs to have strong emotional releases in aftercare. The most common I see are tears or laughter. Or one followed by the other! These can be scary moments for a new Dominant who isn’t expecting this.
I believe this is due to BDSM activities being cathartic, but also due to the Excitation-Transfer Theory which shows that when we’ve experienced strong emotions, our subsequent reactions are exagerated.
In these moments the best a Dom can do is simply be there for the sub. Typically I hold her tight and stroke her hair, and give her soft kisses (but as I say, you may need something different).
I also notice some subs have a bit of a sugar crash after a scene.
During a scene, a few physiological changes happen in the body (adrenaline and cortisol levels rise and endocannabinoids can produce feelings of subspace). One of the impacts of these chemicals is to make the body more efficient at using glucose for energy (needed to make us alert in flight or flight mode). Therefore after a BDSM scene you can see why the body might be a bit low on sugar and energy.
Lots of subs pass out and need to snooze for 20 mins. Others want a bit of sugar. I try and have a can of Coke or some chocolate on hand for my sub because I know that’s what she often wants (again, not because I’m some sort of super mind-reader Dom, simply because she has told me).
- The purpose of aftercare is to help re-orientate the sub back to her natural physical and mental state, as well as for the Dom to check on her wellbeing
- What a sub needs during aftercare is dependent on her
- A sub should let the Dom know what she needs so he can learn her patterns
- If a Dom refuses to provide aftercare, even when the sub has told him she needs it, they are probably a Fake Dom
- Many subs want to be held and cuddled
- Some subs have emotional reactions such as giggles or tears
What do you need during aftercare? Let me know in the comments below.