Updated: Aug 22
Aftercare is a frequently mentioned idea in kink/BDSM classes and touted as “important” for safe, sane, and consensual play. Most of the time, class instructors will say to “make an aftercare plan” and mention things like blankets, snuggles and food.
However, figuring out what aftercare plan works for you is rarely discussed! Further, many instructors fail to mention any type of aftercare for D-types. So, how do you figure out what aftercare you and your partner(s) need? How can you tell if your needs change? This post has your answers!
Myths About Aftercare
Like many topics which everyone seems to mention but few really talk about, there are myths about aftercare.
Myth 1: Aftercare is needed after every scene.
Reality: People differ widely in their aftercare needs. While some people will always want some form of aftercare, others will only want it sporadically.
Myth 2: Aftercare is just for submissives.
Reality: Aftercare is for everybody! Regardless of the side of the slash you occupy during a scene, you may want aftercare at the end. The focus too often is on submissive’s only. Make sure to check with dominants and switches to see what they need at the end of a play session.
Myth 3: Rejecting aftercare is a sign of strength.
Reality: Asking for the aftercare you need is a sign of strength. You do not get any extra gold stars for rejecting aftercare. In fact, claiming you do not need/want aftercare when you do is a sign of weakness. Ask for what you need and want. It is important to help build trust and healthy relationship skills.
Myth 4: Aftercare always involves cuddling.
Reality: Everyone has unique aftercare needs. While some people enjoy and need snuggling and cuddling after a scene, other people may want a shower, quiet time, food, or an episode of Drag Race.
Myth 5: Aftercare is the same if the scene is good or bad.
Reality: You may need different types of aftercare for a scene that goes well or one that goes poorly. Make sure to talk about trigger responses and what you need if you become very upset during a scene.
Figuring Out an Aftercare Plan– Good Scene
If you do not have aftercare plans in place, you will want to figure out one before you engage in a scene. There is no “one-size fits all” plan. Here are questions to ask yourself to help you build an aftercare plan.
–When you are finished with sex (kinky or otherwise), what do want or crave?
–Do you enjoy cuddling?
–After sex or play, are you hungry?
–Do you need reassurance after a scene? Do you want praise?
–Do you have physical needs which should be addressed after a scene? This may include, food, hydration, bathing/clean up, pain killers, ice packs, and more!
–Does the type of play you engage in change the type of attention you need?
Once you have answered the above questions, you will have a rough outline of what your aftercare needs may entail.
Getting to the Specifics
Aftercare needs may vary based on your partner, the type of play you engage in, the time of the month, and how stressed you currently are. Here are some specifics to consider:
Type of Play
Impact and Bondage
Are there physical needs to attend too like bruising, bleeding, skin abrasions, rope burns?
Are there muscle concerns like strain, overuse, or pulled muscles?
Humiliation, Forced Feminization, Mind-fucking, Etc.
Emotion-based play may require people to need to re-center and reaffirm they are okay.
Do you need your partner to praise you?
Do you need your partner to tell you that you are still okay with them?
Do you need to reaffirm your identity after the scene?
What do you need to re-ground in yourself?
Piss, Blood, and Other Body Fluids
Are their cleanliness issues to deal with immediately after play?
Are there first aid issues (especially with blood play)?
Do you need a way to re-connect with your primary partner post-scene?
Do you need group-based aftercare?
Do you want a teddy bear, soft blanket, or other comfort item?
Do you like more child-based foods (juice boxes, animal crackers) to eat?
Everyone should pee after any scene involving the genitals. This helps prevent UTIs.
Pre-emptive pain killers. After a scene, you may feel quite elevated and unaware of physical strain. If you have been flogging or tying up someone, you probably have exerted quite a bit of muscle effort. If you have been a bottom for impact play, bondage, or other physically intensive play, you probably have some physical strain too! Wearing high heels all night? Your feet will most likely ache. Taking an aspirin, acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), or NSAID (e.g., Aleve, Advil) pre-emptively can be a great idea (as long as it is safe for you to take these).
Aspercreme, Biofreeze, and other topicals. These pain-killing topical creams can be really helpful for achy muscles. I strongly recommend them for tops who engage in impact and rope.
Socks: This may seem odd, but your circulation can change during a scene. As blood flow to the genitals or area of stimulation increases, blood flow to the extremities can decrease. Warm socks are a great way to keep your toes from freezing after a scene. Also, if you have Raynaud’s Syndrome (associated with many autoimmune conditions) it is really important to keep your feet warm post-scene.
Food and Drink
Kink play (and sex in general) can be physically tiring. This was never more clear than when I was backstage at a porn studio and saw the bank of energy gels, nuts, and energy bars stocked for the performers! Make sure you have access to water to drink for any type of play. I take a large water bottle to play spaces to make sure I have it available and ready for me asap.
As for food, you may want to keep an energy bar, nuts, or candy bar in your play bag for a quick energy boost. You may want to make a post-scene meal part of the aftercare. Grabbing a bite to eat on your way home (or at home) and decompressing with your partner(s) can be an enjoyable option for aftercare.
Planning and Building an Aftercare Kit
Once you know what you and your partner(s) want for aftercare, start to put together a bit of a kit. This may include blankets, stuffed animals, warm socks, energy bars, a first aid kit, and other items you regularly use. Add a good water bottle to keep something to drink nearby. Toss in a $20 so that you have cash to grab a burger or other food after a play party just in case you forget your wallet or ATM card.
Over time, you will get to know your post-play needs better. You can refine your aftercare plan as you learn.
Additionally, as you play, your needs may evolve. Just because something worked as aftercare in your 20s does not mean it will work in your 30s or 60s. As your needs evolve, talk to your partner(s) to update the plan.
Figuring Out an Aftercare Plan- Bad Scenes
The longer you play, the more likely you or a partner will have a scene go poorly. This may be due to a physical mishap or stepping on an emotional trigger. Having a good aftercare plan means also talking about what to do if something goes wrong.
You or Your Partner Get Emotionally Triggered
While most of us know some of our emotional triggers, we all have ones we are blissfully unaware of until someone trips over them! In planning for aftercare, you should plan for what happens when things go poorly.
How do you normally respond when you become very emotionally upset?
Think about your emotional response history to when things go badly. Do you become angry? Cry? Yell? Go silent?
You need to be clear with your partners about what the signs are when you are in a bad emotional spot. If you go silent during a scene, is that a sign you are deep in sub space or is it more likely you are very angry? How can your partner tell? You should discuss this with them.
Some people have panic attacks. These can be terrifying. Many folks will feel like they are dying (with a heart attack or the like) or like they must flee. If you get panic attacks, be specific about what that looks like and what you need to become grounded.
The word “trigger” is vastly overused. Triggers, when we talk about psychology, are tied to traumas. Something will happen that sends a person back to the state of the original trauma and they have a difficult time separating what is currently going on with what has happened in the past.
Triggers are often tied to the stimulus of the original trauma. For example, I was raped while modern country western was playing on the sound system. Today, the combination of sex and country western will cause me to panic. Therefore, I ask partners not to play country during scenes.
When you are talking about your triggers, be as specific as possible so that a partner can make sure to avoid these “landmine” areas.
Sometimes triggers are unknown to us. Something will happen in a scene and we will be pulled out of our sexy headspace. Often we will feel angry or like “something is very off.” If you experience these emotions, let your partner know something is wrong. Even if you don’t have the language at the time to say exactly what is wrong, redirecting or stopping a scene when a trigger is hit is important.
Stumbling over someone’s trigger (or having you trigger tripped) can be scary and painful. This does not have to have long-term negative impacts on your sex life with a partner. If you plan for the worst and the aftercare plan is followed when someone goes wrong, you and your partner(s) can heal and move on with a healthy relationship. This is why having a plan for a bad scene is as important as a good one!