Sex that involves some type of power dynamic requires a lot of vulnerability. Communication and trust between partners when engaging in BDSM is necessary for a safe and enjoyable dynamic, so it is crucial to choose a play partner wisely. In the BDSM community, the importance of negotiations and discussing boundaries are talked about often. Is the submissive partner likely to enjoy humiliation or physical pain as a part of their submission? What kind of toys are on the table for use during sessions? What are each partner's hard and soft limits? And of course, the very important discussion of a safe word. These conversations are all important and necessary when establishing this kind of unorthodox relationship - where physical and mental boundaries are frequently being pushed and each partner is putting a huge amount of trust in the other person to take care of them in their state of vulnerability. An essential aspect of a BDSM relationship that is sometimes missing from the negotiations, be it a romantic partnership or otherwise, is aftercare, or how you can best take care of each other after play.

During intense BDSM sessions, particularly when pain is at play, a submissive can feel spikes of endorphins and adrenaline that put them in a state of being that is often described as “floaty” and “dissociative.” The BDSM community coins this as “subspace.” Subspace can not be defined in a 'one size fits all' narrative. On the contrary, it is very complex and subjective, experienced entirely differently by those who reach it during sessions. Generally, however, most agree that it is an out of body experience that renders the submissive less verbal and reactive, making it challenging to make decisions. This can be euphoric or terrifying - depending on what you aim to achieve from your play. The point is that with subspace, typically comes sub drop. Sub drop is the crash following the high being felt during a session. This also looks different for everyone, but many people experience feelings of guilt, anxiety, laziness, worthlessness, etc, and these feelings can manifest anywhere from immediately after the session, to days later. This is where aftercare becomes an important next step in ensuring the well being of your partner.

It goes without saying that aftercare is not exclusive to a partner who experiences sub drop. Subs that enjoy humiliation and degradation in the bedroom may experience insecurity in the aftermath and require reassurance that they are loved and respected. Dom(mes) May also require some type of ritual after a session so they, too, feel comfortable and assured. Some dominant partners may feel intense guilt, especially if their submissive safeworded or the play was particularly intense. The important thing is that a discussion about aftercare is had before any type of play begins! Discussing mutual needs continues beyond the sex itself is necessary, and you should feel comfortable asking your partner to do the things that make you feel safe, respected, and happy. Your aftercare rituals should be customized to suit your needs, but here are some ideas of activities that might make you feel good after a BDSM scene.

- Cuddling or physical intimacy

- A bath or shower

- Food and water

- Some type of distraction, like a book or movie

- Affirmations and words of reassurance from your partner

- Proper clean-up practices

- Comfortable clothes

BDSM relationships are all about reciprocity. It is in your best interest to choose partners who care about your needs, listen to your boundaries, and have your health and well-being in mind, as you do theirs, even after play.

- Ash