I must confess that I really enjoy the act of aftercare. Of all the skills that I have acquired and practiced along this journey I have undergone to be an SM top, this is one of the skills that I think is often most overlooked. Folks are very eager to learn the ins and outs of a wrist cuff, or just the right way to snap your wrist in order to make a single tail crack like a gunshot. But aftercare? Who needs to learn how to do that? Heck, you be mean to them, roll ‘em around for a bit, untie them, give them some water, pat them on the head and send them on their way. Right?

Well, maybe for some people. But if that’s your version of aftercare, you might find yourself lacking many return play dates.

So what is this aftercare thing then? Bottoming is hard work, both emotionally and physically. Aftercare is that time spent after the scene is over. The quiet, reconnecting time you spend with the bottom when it is your job to bring them back to earth. This can be a very different thing for different people. Some want to be held, to be sheltered and reassured while others are so wound up that they need to just be alone, to sit in the dark and collect themselves in private. Others are perfectly happy with a late night visit to their favorite diner and a plate of waffles. Regardless of the type, aftercare – sometimes called postcare - is often a sort of last minute gesture, an almost forgotten thing done afterwards. Yet it should be an integral part of the SM experience.

Negotiate postcare along with the scene.

We tend to just assume that aftercare is part of the package. Again, everyone has a different thing that works for him or her. Just as you would ask them about what sorts of play they enjoy, and what their personal limits maybe, also ask them, “What do you like to do as aftercare?” Now don’t be surprised if some of them look at you funny and blink fast, trying to recall if anyone has ever asked them such a question. Why ask this upfront? Saves the awkward moments after play when she blurts out, “Oh by the way, I tend to suffer from massive depression after I play and will require lots of attention in the next 5 days” Yes, this has actually happened to me before. I’ll admit that this is an extreme example, most folks are perfectly happy with an e-mail the next day or a cup of coffee later in the week. The thing is to ask upfront and save the shock.

Don’t deny yourself (or the top) that postcare buzz.

I have a bottom that I play with from time to time who thought she never needed postcare. Thought that sort of thing was for “wimps and drama queens”, and figured that she could just bounce back from anything I threw at her. Wrong. After our most recent scene, she tried unsuccessfully to stand on her trembling legs and gather up my ropes after the last piece of rope came off her body. Reaching out and grasping her by the nape of her neck like an errant pet, I pulled her back down onto the ground next to me and pressed her body down to the floor next to me. Only there, wrapped around my feet did, she relax. The tension in her body ebbed and she lay there, face down and wept silently in my lap. No words needed to be spoken as I kept one reassuring hand gently, yet firmly around the back of her neck. These, these are powerful moments for a top; do not deny yourself or your top these moments.

The amount of post care should reflect the intensity of the play

Much like the adage “Let the punishment fit the crime”, so goes the amount of post care. If you think of SM play as taking the bottom on a journey, pushing them into a new space. A scary place, a place that may leave them emotionally raw and spent. This, this is going to require a LOT more post care than say a quick “hey you’re cute, wanna get tied up?” pickup scene at your local rope-n-grope. Conversely, if you are on the receiving end of a pickup scene, don’t expect hours of tender coddling after a 20 minute hog-tie scene.

One parting thought.

Perhaps one way to look at this is to ask yourself, “Is the play worth the postcare bill?” There have been many times when I have been presented with the opportunity to play with someone, someone who wanted me to utterly devastate them and leave them a blubbering, snot-covered mass when I was done. However the postcare required for that scene would be more than I could deliver. This would be something better served by an ongoing partner/lover who could give them the physical and sexual attention needed to re-center someone after such intense play.

As an experiment, Monk once spent an entire year wearing only Birkenstocks sandals every day. These days he makes the worlds best hemp bondage rope (and wears Dr Martins boots, everyday). See if for yourself at www.twistedmonk.com