Sex Advice From the BDSM Community That Anyone Can Use

They know something we don’t.

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Mar 16 2018, 6:01pm

ALYUSHIN

You don't have to hang out with a group of card-carrying kinksters for too long before a wealth of insider jargon goes flying over your head. While words like “figging,” “bastinado,” or “kinbaku” are tough for a greenhorn to understand out of context, even the most vanilla interloper could deduce that “aftercare” in a kinky context might mean tending to someone who has recently participated in some form of BDSM play. Once that neophyte learned what figging, bastinado, or kinbaku meant, they would immediately see why aftercare’s use is standard in the kink community.

The term does, in fact, refer to the period immediately following BDSM activity during which partners attend to one another's physical, emotional, and psychological needs. It’s a way to bring a “scene’s” participants back to Earth after an emotional and sensory roller-coaster ride and make sure they’re okay. This is to obviate a well-known BDSM phenomenon sometimes called “the drop”—a quasi-depressive state which happens in the wake of adrenaline and endorphin spikes and can leave submissive and dominant participants feeling vulnerable, fatigued, guilty in the 24-to-72 hours after the scene has taken place.

You’d be hard pressed to find a kink veteran who doesn’t consider aftercare an indispensable facet of any kinky play. Although kinksters are on the bleeding edge of human interaction, what they’ve learned about aftercare about can benefit practically anyone who intimately engages with another human. Neurochemical ebbs and flows aren’t peculiar to BDSM fans, after all. Here’s how you can benefit from what’s been learned the hard way.

Aftercare is different for everyone.
“People have different needs sexually and those wants extend into what people want from aftercare,” says Kenneth Play, a globe-trotting sex coach and founding member of Hacienda, an intentional sex positive community with a main hub in Brooklyn. Play explains that for some people an apres-sex high five is sufficient while others prefer to be held or hunker down for a sleepover followed by breakfast. “I find that the easiest and most direct way is to ask straight out” he says. “I usually say something like ‘what do you need and enjoy after sex?’”

That might sound a little earnest to someone not steeped in play party norms but a version of that question, massaged any way you choose, shows that you’re interested in your partner having an enjoyable experience—even if you never end up seeing them again. And that sort of thing tends to be appreciated.

Effy Blue hosts workshops in which she aims to help people get the most out of relationships, especially non-normative ones. Blue encourages people to give some thought to what they want after sex and be prepared to verbalize it to a partner, even if it’s a casual hook up. “Aftercare should be negotiated beforehand along with the sexual encounter itself,” she says. “If your play partner is not willing to take care of you after sex in a way that you need or vice versa, you might want to reconsider having sex with them.”

Aftercare doesn’t mean that you’re looking for a relationship.
We’re living in a time when re-considering who we sleep with is easier than ever after all—a multitude of potential partners are seemingly a few swipes and a quick volley of flirty banter away. One side effect of that unprecedented partner availability is that people seem to balk at the idea of showing too much consideration to the person they were hungrily rimming mere moments earlier.

“Outside of the kink community, people seem to ration out kindness to partners with whom they are not in a relationship because they are afraid that they are going to catch feelings or send out a signal that they want a relationship,” Play says. “It doesn’t matter how casual sex is—aftercare is about being a kind human being. Being naked with another person is a vulnerable place to be and feel the most vulnerable the last thing you want to do is make someone feel used or feel used yourself.”


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Aftercare can enhance an existing relationship.
It’s quite common for people in kink to have play partners that they're not in a relationship with. In this more casual context, Blue explains, aftercare is for emotionally detangling from a partner and letting your body metabolize all the bonding chemicals it just released to minimize emotional strain of post sex separation. “In relationships,” she adds. “Aftercare is a good time to celebrate the relationship and affirm your partner. It is a good time to nurture intimacy and bonding.”

Aftercare can be an opportunity to up your sex game.
The concept that’s emphasized the most in the kink community is communication—when something goes wrong within a scene, it’s invariably down to people not understanding what their partner wants or doesn’t want. This stress on communication shouldn’t be terribly surprising given that this is the group that came up with the idea of having a “safe word.” They’ve also come up with ways for differentiating and scaling what’s called “good pain” and “bad pain” and insist not just on soliciting partners’ consent but their “enthusiastic consent” when beginning or modifying a scene in any way. This is best encapsulated by an often-used mantra that begs for widespread adoption: “If it’s not a ‘hell yes!’ it’s a ‘hell no!’”

“Whether is with a new partner or your spouse, aftercare is really the perfect chance to talk about what you loved about the experience you just shared, what in particular turned you on, what you might tweak if or when you do it again,” Play says. “It’s also a good time to talk about boundaries that may have only just become clear to you.”

Sex without aftercare can feel like the ultimate Irish Goodbye.
People with experience of BDSM and parties in which kinky activities are being enjoyed are often aghast to hear of civilian sexers who don’t take a few minutes to audit, come down from or simply bask in the afterglow of a shared intimate experience. Play says that, in a casual sex setting, aftercare is an opportunity to be honest. “It’s really unfair to say that you’re going to carry on seeing someone and then just ghost,” he says. “Most people will respect your honest answer if you’ve already decided that you don’t intend to play with them again. I think you have to deliver that message with kindness and directness and with gratitude for the experience you’ve just shared with them.”

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