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Do Dominants Really Need Aftercare?

Friday, May 13 2011 @ 12:43 AM CDT

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by Midori

Aftercare is a much debated topic among those who are into the rough and tumble play of BDSM. Whose responsible, what is needed and how long it should last are often discussed, but with the submissive in mind. Dominant aftercare is a phrase you almost never hear.

Dominants don’t need no stinkin’ aftercare! They just dish out the sweet nasty and life’s all set. Tops need nothin’ from no one, ‘cause they’re tough. Being in control makes everything instantly easy. Dominants always know what they want, especially after play, so no one should bother asking.

And if you bought all that, I have a fine little slightly-used nuclear reactor in Japan to sell you.

Tops need after care too. It drives me nuts that we don’t talk about this.

“Aftercare” is the term pervy folks use to refer to the set of actions and attention a person needs after kink play to return to a state of stability in mind, body and heart. It can be as short and simple as a glass of water and a moment to sit. It may be a complex combination of emotional processing, physical recovery and a period of intimacy. Soothe the sweetly savaged skin and gently come down from that adrenaline high to be able to rejoin the world without being too jarred. For many, aftercare includes some sort of sensual or sexual time.

The word aftercare conjures mental images of basic beat-body care, emotional comforts, snuggly blankies, water and validation — all for the bottom. The idea that a top might have aftercare needs is completely overlooked. She’s supposed to go from super-top to super-caretaker and then back to super balanced everyday person, all on her own. It’s just not realistic.

I don’t know where this myth came from, but it can potentially do much harm to a top or bottom’s mental well-being, as well as to their relationships. Perhaps the assumption is that aftercare is primarily about injury or body-damage care, and since the top isn’t hurt, she doesn't need anything. This, of course, dismisses any exhausted flogging arms, feet tormented by sexy shoes, tired legs and rope burned fingers. Aftercare can be about grounding a bottom from a place of emotional rawness and vulnerability, but feeling raw and vulnerable isn’t the exclusive domain of bottoms. Any new top, or even an experienced top trying new things, can feel uncertainty. Exploring intense emotional states can leave any good person who’s topping in a place of potential roughness. Dominants or tops unleashing their inner beasts, that part of them which society disapproves of, may leave them in need of validation of their humanity and desirableness.

Ignoring the aftercare needs of dominants and tops may lead them into a pretty bad place. Negative repercussions can include self-doubt, exhaustion, resentment of the other, self-loathing, overcompensation with domineering behavior, loss of interest in play or even physical ailments. If SM is supposed to be fun, this isn’t going to work.

On the other hand, excellent aftercare, for all parties, can leave everyone in a much better place. It can make the difference between a good play scene and an amazing play scene, in retrospect.

So what does aftercare for a top look like? Maybe you already do your aftercare. For some dominants, providing serious care to the bottom is their own aftercare. For others, the ritual of putting away their toys and cleaning the space is another form of aftercare.

But if you’ve never considered your aftercare needs and don’t feel you’re getting the post-play balancing and care that you need, consider these points to figure out your after care needs.

From whom do you want the aftercare?

Would it be from your bottom partner in the scene or not? It doesn’t have to come from the bottom, it can come from someone else entirely. If you need sex as part of your aftercare, but the person you play with isn’t someone you have sex with, then you need that special sex-care person for your après-play. The person caring for you doesn’t even have to be a bottom; they can be a top. Some of the best top-aftercare I received was from other tops and dominants with similar style of play and mindset.

When I’m going into a particularly intense or emotionally boundary pushing experiences, I’ll arrange for one of my exquisite dominant cohorts to witness my scene and be there for me afterward. They’re particularly suited to relate to my highs and lows. If I want to talk about techniques, they know the details I need to gab about. If I want to bare my heart, they know the emotional challenges that come with topping. If the aftercare is from someone else, top or bottom, arrange for it in advance. Since I like to BYOA (bring your own aftercare), I make sure to arrange this well in advance.

When and how long do you need it?

The duration and timing of aftercare for a bottom varies widely. It can last minutes or hours, take place immediately after a scene, or possibly even days afterward. A top should consider as well, about how long she will want her aftercare to last and when it should take place. Will this be immediately after the scene, hours later, a day later or many days later? Will this be over several hour or just minutes? Let your aftercare provider know, so they can prepare.

What does it involve?

What will your specific needs involve? Will you desire food, water, chocolate, a blanket or any other items? Will you want to talk or be quiet? Maybe you’d like to wail and break things or break down in tears or hysterical laughter. Would you want people around you or not? Again, the more you can share with your aftercare provider, the more this helps them prepare.

It’s important to recognize that a dominant or top, who behaves tough or completely in control of any scene may not be on such steady ground afterward and can be just as in need of aftercare as the bottom. No matter of your play partner or another person provides your aftercare, it’s vital prepare for and discuss your needs in advance. If they’re not used to Top Aftercare, they may look baffled, but carry on.

If you’re a bottom, consider bringing up aftercare for your top or dominant play partner before a scene.

It comes down to this — tops are people too. They have strong emotions, desires, vulnerabilities and physical stresses during play, just as bottoms do and it’s just as important to take care of the top, after a scene, as it is to take care of the bottom.


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