Floating Back to Earth - AfterCare
Aftercare: the final phase of an SM scene transitioning both players from scene-space back to everyday reality.
It’s Purpose: To ease the transition from the elevated states created in a scene and the everyday reality we must return to when the scene is over. To avoid "Crash" "SubDrop" and "TopDrop" (the SM equivalent to the post coital blues: feelings of anxiety, exposure, embarrassment, guilt or emotional overload once a scene has ended).
- Aftercare is a critical phase of a scene, after a scene one or both partner may feel terribly exposed vulnerable, shook up, emotional touchy-feely.
- Aftercare is poorly documented in print, and rarely addressed in educational forums so there is little available in the way of educational resources
- There is no general-purpose approach to aftercare guaranteed to be effective. Different scenes, different tops, different bottoms will require different levels of aftercare and what may be just right in one instance may be ineffective, even harmful, in others. Even the same two people engaging in the same activities will find their aftercare needs vary from one scene to the next.
- Bad aftercare can mar, even ruin, an otherwise great scene
- Good aftercare can rescue a weak, poor or broken scene, and make it worthwhile.
- Aftercare is usually viewed as for the submissive/bottom’s benefit, but tops often need aftercare as well
- Aftercare is usually viewed as the tops/dominants responsibility, but bottoms should make a contribution as well
- Aftercare is more important when:
- A scene has been intense and demanding,
- It involves punishment or humiliation
- A scene has resulted in tears, screams or emotional release.
- A scene has resulted in orgasm
- An accident, injury or fainting has occurred as part of a scene
- A scene has "gone bad" resulting in anger, or upset (both top and bottom may well need/appreciate some reassurance if this happens)
- A scene involves new partners or new techniques
- Playing with sensitive people who may see you as callous if you seem uninterested in them after the "play" phase of a scene has ended.
Why aftercare is often done poorly
- It is highly subjective. Different personalities, tools, techniques, intensities will produce different requirements for post scene closure.
- Because of its subjectivity, there are no standardized methodologies for how to do it right (as there are for flogging, needleplay et al)
- One or both players may be in a hurry to move on to another scene.
- One or the other players may have a partner or date waiting for them.
- Because it is often more intimate than the scene itself, one or both players may not feel comfortable hugging and caressing a partner they feel happy to take a flogging from.
- Benign ignorance. Some may simply not know how important aftercare is in making a scene better.
Aftercare for Bottoms (what it can entail):
- Removing the submissive from bondage, blindfolding
- Treating any first aid issues that need to be tended to. Cleaning and dressing any wounds.
- Talk - Inquiry: "how was it? Did you like that? Are you sore? Did the ropes make your hands tingly? What was the best part? Did I scare you?, Was it a bad scare or a good scare? Do you want more? . . .
- Let heart rate and breathing return to normal
- Talk - Affirmation: "You suffer so beautifully . . . You really turned me on. . . I really love the sounds you make. . . you look so great on that cross. . . your eyes are incredible when your tied up. . ..I hope I didn’t go too far. . . I’d love to do this again sometime . . ."
- Intimacy: Holding/Cuddling
- Food & Drink (water is always good, or fruit juice for energy)
- Light Play as a closeout
- Hot bath
- Sleep together, Sex, bath, shower, go out for dinner, watch a video,
- If the bottom is "on loan" from another dominant/top, they may want aftercare from their partner and not from you. Be understanding if this is the case.
- What is affectionate and sweet to some may be mushy and silly to others, and may be overly forward to others especially if it involves kissing and groping.
- Even if your bottom belongs to someone else, a thank you, a kiss on the cheek and a hug is almost always good form.
- If cuddling is too touchy-feely for you, at least staying in your partners presence is good form (have them sit with you, at your feet, fetch you drinks, stroke their hair, etc.)
- Always be ready to change approaches if your aftercare doesn’t feel like its working
Morning After Aftercare:
- Next Day/Week Follow up (to anticipate and deal with the morning after effect) A Phone call, email, personal note or visit is always a good idea, to express friendship gratitude, concern on how you’re mending. It will reassure the bottom and make you look responsible and mature.
- Ask your partner to write about the scene, as a basis of later discussion or an activity in its own right.
Self Aftercare (If you don’t get it from your partner):
- Eat something healthy
- and have a nice talk to friends check in with partner
- Seek it from a friend, sleep pamper yourself.
- Have a good cry and go to bed early.
Top drop and its treatment (aftercare for tops):
- Top drop: an energy drop after having been in the drivers seat of a scene, due to exhaustion, relief, excitement or all of the above.
- Bottoms: you too have a responsibility to be thankful and courteous to the top. This does not mean you are obligated to be pawed or tongue kissed (off course if you’d like that, don’t hesitate)
- Talking- Affirmation: "Your so dominant . . . You really turned me on. . . I didn’t know you were that good with a whip (or flogger or rope). . . I’d love to do this again sometime . . ." You don’t have to say anything you don’t mean but if you can find something nice to say, it will almost always be appreciated.
- Is you are a bottom "on loan" from another dominant/top, still be grateful and expressive to you play partner. A thank you, a kiss on the cheek and a hug is almost always good form, and will almost always be appreciated.
- Tops should give thought to who to get aftercare from:
From partner: Can build intimacy between partners, but may reveal more vulnerability to the bottom then you (or your bottom!) wishes.
From other top peers, or other friends: Recommended by Joseph Bean. This allows the dominant to preserve his/her dominant mystique (if you feel that sharing your aftercare needs might make you appear needy weak), but requires a peer group with whom you can share companionship second opinions, trade secrets etc.
Aftercare for the viewing audience:
The viewing audience of your scene might appreciate a little reassurance that all is well, particularly if a scene was loud, heavy or appeared non-consensual.
An idea: let yourself be seen as happy with the scene (especially if you are). A crowd may be spooked if a scene appears to have damaged the well being of one or the other partners.
Example: Peter at Delta 96
- Leave time after a scene to be with the person you’ve played with. Fifteen to twenty minutes is a decent time budget but more or less may prove to be what’s needed. If you have a one hour play window, bringing the play to a close at forty five minutes leaving fifteen for aftercare is probably appropriate.
- Prepare to move from the more polarized roles of play (top/bottom, master/slave, etc.) into more equal roles of mutual friendship, and nurturing.
- Touch, hold, cuddle, talk, bathe together, shower, sleep
- Express satisfaction, (or at least gratitude) after a scene.
- Offer water to drink or fruit juice for a little post scene pick up.
- Include at least mention of aftercare in your negotiation
- Dealing with a broken scene Hey there were parts of that scene I loved.
- Stuffed animal (or rabit fur or soft flogger)
- Fruit Juice or V-8
- Stories to Read out loud
- Snacks (especially favorites!)
- Oops look at the time I’ve gotta be somewhere in a half hour.
- Well! The first place you messed up was….
- Jennifer can handle much more than you.
- Was I as good as Larry?
- Linda hits much harder than you.
- I like you
- You play Beautifully.
- When is the scene over what if you can’t come, what if you can’t get it up
- Fix with Food,
- Stay in touch in bottom
- White about scenes
- Go clean up the dungeon
- Sub taking care of other sub, have someone else there for aftercare, no general purpose approach will work.