Aftercare is caring for yourself and your partner(s) before, during, and after any form of sexual exploration. It is commonly undertaken by those exploring kink and BDSM in particular, but I recommend it for any sexual exploration with a partner including visiting for sensual massage as a couple.
It applies if you are exploring alone or in larger groups too, but the focus here is on couples exploring together. It allows each of you to plan, process and reflect on the experience, and to ensure that you're both feeling physically, mentally and emotionally comfortable.
What is Aftercare?
At its most basic, aftercare is a check-in between partners following any form of sexual exploration especially when involving kink, BDSM or when involving others in your intimate life. During aftercare, partners give time and attention to each other to make sure each is feeling heard, safe and comfortable.
There are no fixed rules defining what you must do for aftercare; everyone’s needs are different and may change depending on what activities are being explored. The main aim of aftercare is to communicate and make sure everyone is feeling good about themselves and taken care of.
Why is Aftercare important?
Failure to address aftercare properly can be damaging for both individuals and their relationships. At best this may result in one or both of you not wanting to repeat an experience or try anything new. At worst it can lead to complete relationship break down.
Feelings of jealously, being out of control or unsafe, if left unaddressed, can lead to feelings of resentment and anger. It's important to be able to communicate these feelings and feel heard and reconnect to avoid this happening.
Excitement, Compersion & Jealousy
When planning and anticipating sexual exploration we can get caught up in the excitement of it all and be thinking only positive thoughts. Compersion too is a factor, the idea that your partner will enjoy him or herself is a very loving thing to feel. However we shouldn't overlook jealousy, you may not feel it before or during any activity, but it can come out of nowhere and bite you.
Jealousy isn't something to be frightened of or even to always avoid, it's a natural and normal emotion. It's powerful but can also inform you of what you are feeling. It is, however, essential for a healthy relationship to be aware of it and be open and honest about your feelings and factor it into your aftercare.
If part of the reason for exploration relates to a fantasy of seeing your partner with another, jealousy is something to think about as you can feel it unexpectedly. Read more in Rise of the Cuckold article.
If you do find yourself having negative thoughts, try very hard to avoid putting any blame on your partner. If you had an open and frank conversation before doing anything, and assuming boundaries agreed were respected, you both went into this with your eyes open.
If you now find yourself with negative thoughts it isn't your partners fault, and making them feel like it is will likely just cause anger and resentment. Any negative thoughts are valid and should be aired, it's okay to seek reassurance but blame will push you apart and make things worse.
Aftercare, or perhaps Precare, should begin before any exploration takes place. Communicate openly about what you would like to happen and what you wouldn't. We may not always be in the same place as our partners so it's important to negotiate and agree boundaries where applicable.
It's possible that you may conclude from doing this that one or both of you are not ready, and thats okay. You can always revisit at a later date.
Finally agree what your aftercare will look like in advance. Simply knowing that you will have time together after any exploration can help you feel safer and more relaxed about the whole experience.
What does aftercare look like?
It's important to remember that aftercare can look different for different people and can involve different activities, depending on individuals preferences and needs. The most important thing is that aftercare is tailored to the needs of each person involved, and that you create a safe and supportive environment.
Aftercare can involve, but is not limited to:
Time: Most importantly don't be in a rush to get back to 'normal' life. Make time to be with one another. Allow yourselves time to process your feelings and express them, both the good and the bad.
Communication: Open and honest communication is key to effective aftercare. Talk about what you enjoyed and what you didn't. Share any feelings you had, be that uncertainty, insecurity, enjoyment. All feelings are valid.
Reassurance: If you hear your partner expressing feelings of insecurity and doubt, be there for them. Reassure them that they and their comfort and happiness are important to you.
Self-care: Look after your physical and emotional well-being. Take time to relax and sleep, as well as practical things like having something to eat and getting plenty of hydration.
Reconnect: Spend time kissing and cuddling with your partner to reinforce the emotional bond between you. Taking a bath together can be great for this.
Reflection: Take the time to reflect on the experience over the coming days. This can help you to better understand your desires and boundaries in future sexual encounters.
Communication can be easier when not looking directly at each other. Discussing in the car on the drive home can be good if there is anything pressing to say.
Taking a bath together can be a wonderful way to reconnect. Making it special with candles and bubble bath is a great addition.
While communication is vital, it's not all about talking endlessly. Watching a favoutite movie snuggled on the sofa can be another great way to come back to reality and connect.
Reflect, Communicate, Care, Repeat
In conclusion, aftercare is important and can help to ensure that everyone involved is physically and emotionally comfortable after engaging in sexual activities. Remember to take care of yourself and engage in open and honest communication with your partner to help ensure a positive experience now and in the future.