Aftercare is an elusive beast. Sometimes I need it and sometimes I'd rather be left alone. I'm never very sure which mood I'll be in when we begin playing but aftercare is always on standby because I take what happens in scene very hard. It goes with my very emotional self.
What exactly is aftercare? Reading some of the popular online resources will tell you that aftercare is the attending to the emotional and physical needs once a scene is over. Many others will say that it's just for the bottom, which is flawed in my opinion. Aftercare is, in fact, the care given to all individuals in the scene once it is over. It is not limited to immediately after the play is over, but can last hours, days or weeks later. Oftentimes it involves reaffirming each other that everything is well, getting some food and water and taking care of possible wounds and bruises. Later, aftercare may involve comforting words while distressed, calming confusion or showing love and affection.
There is no one way to provide aftercare. It is as unique as the individual. As a submissive, you should try to learn what you need after a scene so that you can add that to your negotiations when you play with others. Do you need a blanket and some snuggle time? Perhaps candy and a water? What else might you need? Learn these things and remember to ask or at least discuss them before playing.
Why do we need to talk about it? I know many Dominants that do not provide adequate if any, aftercare unless requested. Some still will not give aftercare to a casual play partner or a party scene. In these situations, you may need to find someone else that is willing to provide you the aftercare you need to recover.
How do you know if you need aftercare? This is definitely subjective. How do you feel after a play scene? Do you need a nap or some food? Do you crave some hugs and snuggles? What about someone to lotion your aching skin? All of these things are aftercare items. Not everyone has a need for aftercare, and some only need it occasionally. Let your body and mind tell you what you need and make sure you fulfill the needs if not with the Dominant you played with, then on your own.
Does the Dominant need aftercare? Perhaps. Ask them what you can do for them after a scene has taken place. Negotiate it before hand if possible. Dominants might not even know that they too might need some relaxation and comfort. In the least, you can offer to massage their aching shoulders or hands. They've worked hard to give you what you want or need and they will have to recover themselves.
So the next time you play with someone make sure you negotiate some aftercare if you need it or else you may be left to your own devices for that. Remember that the scene isn't necessarily over in your mind once the play is done. Take care of yourself.
Other Thoughts on Aftercare