Have you been having great sex that leaves you feeling depleted rather than connected? What you might be missing from your erotic routine is aftercare. Taking a little time to care for one another’s physical and emotional wellbeing can be transformative. Couples who build aftercare routines together co-create a ritual that brings them closer together and focuses more attention on genuinely connecting with one another.
Sex is a heightened state of existence, meaning that the intensity of physical or emotional states can increase. This feels different for every person, but many describe the experience as lightheadedness, euphoria, shortness of breath, tingling, even expansion of the soul outside the body.
Biologically speaking, your body is going through a major crash post-coital. Adrenaline, cortisol, and oxytocin quickly surge during erotic experiences and drop again once finished. This rapid change is responsible for our ecstatic state and can send emotions into overdrive. It is not uncommon for people to have feelings of shame, guilt, sadness, or loneliness emerge, even after a really blissful session.
In fact, the practice of aftercare first evolved in the BDSM community and has become standard when engaging in a scene. Scenes often involve types of play that cause psychological or physiological discomfort. Some activities may lead to participants being overwhelmed with emotion as the body and mind undergo pressure. This community saw the need for aftercare as a way to bring partners back down from riding that high, grounding back into the body, and help
sort out tough emotions that arise.
While some people are affected more than others, having an aftercare plan in place helps to close this energetically charged activity so all playmates end feeling more restored than scattered.
If you’re not sure where to start, there are a few practices that create a great baseline.
1. Tend to your body by rehydrating with water.
2. Nibble a snack to renourish.
3. Always pee after sex to prevent UTIs.
4. Clean yourself and any toys to avoid infection.
**Pro Tip: If you want a quickie- just say so. When you know what's on the table everyone can work with those expectations and know the limits around aftercare.
If your basic needs are already being met and you’re ready to go deeper with yourself and your playmates we can consider breaking down aftercare into two main components: comfort and communication. Essentially, what brings you comfort and how will communication be handled after the experience? This takes a bit of self awareness and understanding because what works for you may not work for your partner. Aftercare is as unique as the sex itself.
Consider how you want to feel after the experience. For now, stick to the tangible aspects of comfort, think soft blankets, warm tea, cuddles.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What makes me feel cared for?
When do I feel most safe?
What did my last great erotic experience look like?
Once you have some answers to these questions, you can incorporate them into your aftercare routine. Maybe you want a massage, or to watch an episode of your favorite show, or simply bask in each other’s presence by candlelight. There’s no right or wrong here, so feel free to take some creative liberty. Do some connective breathing, dance to a song you love, or lay in a warm bath together. Go ahead and ask for the thing you’ve always wanted after sex but have been too
afraid to voice.
Intimacy starts with the clothes on. Talking about your emotional needs, learning what each other desires, and how your partners feel most safe ahead of play is what building true connection is all about. Afterall, if you’re not willing to be vulnerable with your clothes on, you’re not ready for sex.
Sex can bring up difficult feelings for people, leaving them feeling exposed and anxious. While some might want to chat about the experience and recap all the highlights, others might feel better taking some space to reconnect to themselves before further engagement. This may be especially true for someone who has experienced sexual trauma and tends to withdraw when triggered. For these folks, aftercare can be a form of therapy where they can feel safe to process anything that arises. And, I promise, pillow talk is even sexier when the topic is
To understand yourself better, consider these questions:
When faced with tough emotions, do I prefer to be alone or with others?
Do I want quiet time to process or do I prefer to talk it out immediately?
What kinds of touch, if any, feel safe to me when I am triggered?
To sum it all up, aftercare is the final act of the play, the recessional, the grand exit. Without it the loose ends are left untied, the plot can never truly come to resolution. Aftercare not only wraps up the present erotic experience with a beautiful bow, it also lays a foundation of safety and understanding in your partnership. When safety is created, expansion can happen. Be it a
simple routine or a multi-hour performance, developing an aftercare routine will allow you and your partner to savor the joy of connecting with one another.