Aftercare: It’s a thing (and so is chocolate)
So you and your partner have been adventurous lately. And overall it’s been exciting! It’s sweetened your personal sex life and given you lots of things to talk about and fantasize about.
The only thing is, you often feel melancholy over the days following your scene or experience, and maybe even a bit depressed. There have been tears and neither you or your partner really understand what’s going on. Now your partner is suggesting maybe the two of you should not be quite so adventurous. You feel like you’re a disappointment.
OK I’ll stop there. I’m writing this little article because I want to make sure that you understand these feelings are very common and even to be expected! There is nothing wrong with you or what you and your partner are doing.
It’s called Subdrop
After any kind of intense sexual scene, and in particular a BDSM scene, people can experience an endorphin or adrenaline crash that is often referred to as a drop, or a subdrop. Although all persons involved can experience this, it is more common with the submissive or bottom partner of a pair.
This drop will likely appear 24-72 hours after the scene. The BDSM Wiki has a list of symptoms which include
Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
Fatigue and decreased energy
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
Overeating or appetite loss
Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
Most couples heading out into the wild world of kink will likely have talked about their hard limits and soft limits and agreed on safe words but there’s one thing that isn’t as commonly discussed and that is Aftercare. Jessica Renae on the webzine Slutty Girl Problems describes Aftercare as “what a submissive requires to feel safe, appreciated, and comforted after undergoing an intense scene.” She goes on: “A good, compassionate Dom will understand that a Sub’s sexual boundaries have been pushed and that the submissive will need to rejuvenate and recuperate post-coitus. Aftercare is a way for a Dom to say “thank you” to a sub for opening up and giving the Dom full control of their mind and body. Limits have been tested and role-play might need to be balanced with positive affirmations.”
Good Aftercare can cushion the onset of drop. It can include talking, massages, baths, candlelight, nice music, yummy food and lots of cuddling and spooning. Check to be sure all parties are ok and encourage each other to talk it out. If you are playing at a party or established dungeon, there are always areas designated for Aftercare. Feel free to use them!
It’s important that you and your partner, and any other involved persons, have a discussion about Aftercare. Will you spend the night together? Will you drive them home? Will they need anything from you in the following days? If yes, will you be available to them?
Even long-term partners devising and experimenting with scenes need to discuss Aftercare and understand that one or the other might experience drop and that this is ok.
As Sophie Saint Thomas, writing for Refinery21, notes: “while communication needs to be happening before and during sex as well, having these discussions afterwards comes with an added bonus: You can learn from the experience so that the sex is even hotter the next time.”
So add Aftercare to your pre-adventure discussions and make sure everyone’s needs will be met. And did you know, some experts suggest chocolate (if you’re not allergic) can help you release those endorphins again. So make sure you have a good supply on hand before that next adventure!