So you’ve had an intense play session. If all has gone well, then you’ve both enjoyed yourselves, and will no doubt have exerted yourselves as well. With the scene all wrapped up it’s time to rest, relax, and start clearing up your play space. But there’s something else you should be considering too. It’s called aftercare.

Aftercare is everything that happens after a scene has concluded that is geared towards making sure both participants are happy, healthy and well. This may involve calming down or de-pressurising from what might have been an extreme scene. It may also involve taking some time to meditate over what has happened, or recover physically from the exertion of the scene itself.

Everybody has slightly different aftercare needs, and it’s up to you to work out what your own ones are. Some common ones include food, water or warmth. This may mean having a few squares of chocolate so as to raise your blood sugar once again, or wrapping up warm in a blanket. People quite often become dehydrated without realising it in the moment, and so water is always a sensible thing to drink.

Aftercare needs can be more esoteric as well though. A lot of people I know have a strong need to feel some human contact and connection after an intense scene. Part of their aftercare is some time set aside for hugging or holding one another. Other people require a private, quiet space in which to recover themselves – or alternatively a friend to talk to about the experience as quickly as possible. Whatever your needs are, recognise and indulge them – it is important to take care of yourself after what may have been a draining and intense experience.

Even if your partner doesn’t need anything specific, it is still wise to schedule in some quiet and peaceful time after a scene. Often people can enter altered mental states when playing particularly heavily (colloquially this is known as “subspace” and will be covered later on in the guide) and require a while to come smoothly out of this altered mental state, and return to the real world. Don’t rush them, don’t force them, and don’t try freak out – they are on a high, and very much enjoying it while it lasts.

Taking time for aftercare is important even if someone appears to be completely themselves right after playing. It may take them a little while before they are able to talk about the experience, and indeed the effect it has had on them may develop over time. Always take ten or twenty minutes to dedicate to after care.

Bear in mind also that aftercare is not just for the submissive partner in the equation. On the contrary – the dominant partner may also need some time and attention afterwards in order to recover. Even in a dominant role, a BDSM experience can be very intense, and they are entitled to have their own needs met after giving a lot to a scene. Aftercare for a dominant may look a little different from aftercare for a submissive – it may involve isolating themselves, or taking a little time to reflect on the play session. It is nevertheless just as legitimate.

Aftercare can also extend some way beyond the immediate aftermath of the play session. It may be that if you’ve tried something new with a partner, or played near a boundary that they were unsure of, that you wish to give them a call a few days later on and see how they are coping with their emotions surrounding it, and whether their feelings have changed since the night in question. Sometimes it can take a day or two for things to percolate through, and as such it is often valuable to make a follow up call of some sort.

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