Aftercare 101

So the time has finally come. You’re prepared to transform your BDSM fantasy into reality by playing it out in a scene. You’ve acquired the toys you need and the skills to use them without injuring your partner; you have the space and the equipment for the scene to take place, and you’ve taken safety and consent into consideration. You’re brimming with excitement. But what happens after the scene is over? After your arm is tired from throwing a flogger and your hands are sore from spanking your partner’s derriere until it’s turned a delicious shade of red? Now is the time for aftercare.


Aftercare is the process of decompressing or “coming down” after a scene—returning to the real world and your normal, civilized self. BDSM can be a very emotional, sometimes psychologically intense experience. The bottom needs to be reminded that their Top never actually want to cause them serious harm; that they still value and care for them, and the Top may need to be reminded that they are not in fact a horrible, callous bully. Aftercare can be done in various ways, and the length, type, and duration may vary depending on the intensity of the scene. Not everyone wants or needs aftercare in every circumstance, so check with your partner before the scene begins and again after, to ascertain their expectations for aftercare.


How you do aftercare is entirely up to you and your partner, but some good things to start with are:

• Cuddling (fuzzy blankets are great for this)
• Having a drink of water and a snack (I recommend chocolate)
• Giving verbal praise and reassurance
• Talking about the scene a bit, now that you’re out of role
• Gentle touching; giving each other a relaxing massage
• Taking a shower or bath together

Aftercare can also potentially extend into the next day or two. It might be a good idea to check in with each other about your emotional and psychological states. Occasionally, especially with physically or psychologically intense scenes, a feeling of weirdness or dissociation can show up some time after. Top and bottom may both need further reassurance that all is well and that both parties enthusiastically consented to everything that happened.

BDSM is in many ways a thrilling ride—an exploration into the mysterious parts of ourselves we don’t encounter in most day-to-day life. It’s important to care for ourselves and our partners when participating in these explorations. Be safe, be kind, caring and considerate, and have fun.