In the context of the sexual practice of BDSM, aftercare is the process of attending to one another after intense feelings of a physical or psychological nature relating to BDSM activities.
BDSM experiences can be exhausting; and drain the participants of mental, emotional or physical energy. As a result, one or all participants may require emotional support, comfort, reassurance, and/or physical tenderness. Along with this, he or she may experience everything from an exhilaration to traumatization. Aftercare also may include a review or “debriefing” of the activities from experiences of both the dominant and the submissive.
Some participants may wish to be left alone or have other means of processing the experience. While the desire to be left alone could stem from just needing rest, it could also result from no longer feeling safe in the current environment or situation.
Common aftercare practices may include hugging, kissing, hair-stroking, cuddling, words of praise or gratitude, or general affirmation of an emotional bond between partners. Occasionally, more “vanilla” sexual activities such as intercourse or oral sex following an intense scene may also be considered as part of aftercare.
It is often thought in a submission/dominant relationship, only the submissive requires aftercare following BDSM activities. However, a dominant may require less, just as much, or more aftercare depending on the scene, person, experience level, and other factors. The role of submissive or dominant is unrelated to the amount of aftercare someone needs and should not be thought of as a metric in this regard.
In long distance relationships, a potentially useful practice when engaged in remote BDSM activities is to facilitate aftercare by the exchange of emotionally significant items which can be clung to for reassurance, though success of this depends on both parties’ level of emotional investment in the relationship.