While many are experienced and good at talking about how sex is initiated and how the act unfolds, the part after sex is not talked about often enough. Aftercare is a term that covers how people care for each other after having sex.
Many people can probably recognise the idea of snuggling up together and perhaps having a conversation about random things after sex. But really caring for each other can be a good idea: when you have sex - and especially afterwards - you may find that your body is particularly susceptible to emotions of all kinds. Some may feel energized and upbeat, while others may feel sad, drained of energy, unwell or vulnerable. There is no concrete recipe for what sexual aftercare should look like. What you need and want varies from person to person - you can start by asking your partner(s) how they are feeling and if there is anything they want or feel they need.
A sexual session is very intimate, and you can extend that intimacy by considering the period after sex as an actual part of the sexual act. Aftercare provides an opportunity to feel and to regulate oneself and each other. It can also bring an increased sense of trust and connection between you and your partner(s). The purpose of aftercare, so to speak, is to ensure that everyone feels safe. In addition, aftercare can ensure that sex is oriented less towards an end, but becomes a process and an experience in itself.
What does aftercare look like?
Aftercare consists of both a physical and mental part. The physical part can be making sure you get something to drink and maybe something to eat. It can also be physical touch; cuddling, hugging and kissing - or conversely, needing just not to be touched. Physical aftercare can also be helping each other to remember to pee after sex, and maybe taking a shower together.
The mental and emotional part of aftercare can be talking together. You might talk through the sexual experience you've just shared - asking about how the person is feeling, whether there were particular times during the act when they felt really good or less good - whether there was anything that surprised, was particularly naughty or nice. Be curious about each other and your shared experience. If you have experienced having an orgasm, it might also be interesting to ask the other person if they can describe their experience of the orgasm.
Aftercare doesn't have to be direct and an activity as such - it's mostly about finding out how to make yourself and each other feel your best after sex. This can involve listening to music, watching a movie or just sitting in silence for a while. As long as you make sure to be curious, to sense and ask your partner(s) how you can help make them feel best.
Sexual aftercare is often associated with sexual experiences that explore boundaries - for example, BDSM play. Especially in those cases, it is important to orient towards each other and have a conversation about how you feel afterwards. The same is true if you have sex with one or more people who have had sexually transgressive experiences in the past.
However, aftercare can also be usefully integrated into all other forms of sex - both with oneself and each other. It can also be a good idea to take care of yourself after masturbation - by doing things that make you feel good and happy.
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