Key points

  • Sexual aftercare can take the form of cuddling, talking, or sensual touching.
  • Sexual aftercare helps develop more intimate bonds in a relationship.
  • To get the aftercare you require, you have to communicate what you need emotionally and physically after sex.

Many people attribute sexual aftercare to the BDSM (bondage/discipline, domination/submission, or sadism/masochism) community. And while it is true that sexual aftercare is an important component in BDSM play, it is also vital to every other sexual encounter. Regardless of the kink factor or mildness of the sexual interlude or the type of sexual relationship, casual or committed, one must attend to the well-being of their partner. That is what sexual aftercare is all about— attending to the physical and emotional needs of your partner in a recovery period following sex. In fact, it is important to establish care before, during, and after sex.

BDSM aftercare is an often-discussed practice in the BDSM community. But sexual aftercare is often forgotten, overlooked, or simply ignored in other sexual activities. The same after-effects with BDSM can occur after vanilla sex. Regardless of the style or intensity of the sexual encounter, individuals can experience feelings of detachment from their partner following intercourse. Feelings of frustration or vulnerability are also possible. What may excite a lover in a state of arousal may turn to embarrassment or shame in a post-arousal state. Postcoital dysphoria (feelings of sadness) is also a possibility following a sexual encounter. Aftercare is beneficial in reducing feelings of frustration, sadness, detachment, or vulnerability following sex.

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What does sexual aftercare look like? It can take many forms and is dependent on the individualized emotional and physical needs of you and your partner. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming. For some people, five minutes of aftercare is sufficient. But caring for your partner is not about immediately rolling over and going to sleep or jumping up to make yourself a sandwich (although, getting a snack together can be a form of care). Aftercare can be as simple as cuddling and kissing. It can take the form of talking. You can talk about how you are feeling at that exact moment with your partner or discuss the sex you just had or what you would like or need in future sexual encounters. But talking doesn’t have to be about sex at all. You can talk about anything, whether its tomorrow’s plans, a movie you recently watched, or a restaurant you’ve wanted to try. For some people, they just need to recover with a conversation—so, talk about anything at all.

And don’t be afraid to laugh. Humor and laughter can be a wonderful way to recover. Clean-up can also be part of aftercare. Help your partner clean up. It’s an intimate and bonding aspect of care. What about sensual touching? That’s another intimate and bonding practice that can reassure your partner. And, who knows, sensual touching, after a while, can spark things again. What’s most important, regardless of the form of aftercare you use, is that you are making sure that your partner is OK, both emotionally and physically. That’s what aftercare is really all about.

Sexual aftercare does more than ensure your partner’s well-being after sex; it is also good for developing stronger intimate bonds in your relationship. You must remember, however, that your partner is not a mind reader and no one should assume the needs of their partner. Sexual aftercare relies on an open and transparent conversation. You have to let your partner know what you need after sex. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own sexual well-being as well as the well-being of your partner. That responsibility lies in telling your partner how you feel and what you need. Unless both individuals address their aftercare needs with their partner, sexual aftercare is ineffective, if existent at all. When the sexual interlude comes to an end, it’s all about being good to your partner—and yourself.


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