Aftercare – An Important (though often overlooked) Step
One of the most important aspects of sexual intimacy is often forgotten, missed, cut short, or has never been there from the beginning. Many people have never even heard of sexual aftercare.
What is Sexual Aftercare? You might be asking.
I find that most things in life are often best with bookends. It seems to work best for most of us when we start the day off with a morning routine and then end it with a nightly ritual to help with sleep (bookends). There’s often a process – beginning, middle, and end – to most things worth doing – right? Well, sex is no exception.
The sexual bookends are foreplay and aftercare.
In the beginning, we take time to ramp up, get our blood / juices flowing (arousal) and interest peaked.
The middle…well you know what goes on there.
Afterward, it’s important to take the time to care for one another, wind down, catch your breath, continue to play/feel/touch, be sensual with each other and take good care yourself and partner(s).
As you have probably experienced, often sex can have quite the abrupt ending. An orgasm is often achieved for the man/men and sometimes (though not as frequently, generally speaking) for the woman…but I digress.
Then you might roll over and go to sleep or get up and leave or get up to start cleaning things up.
Sex may also end without climaxing, of course. Sometimes that’s totally okay for everyone involved, while other times it may leave you or your partner(s) feeling frustrated and alone. This is when aftercare is especially important and often ignored (due to hurt feelings, embarrassment or shame), unfortunately.
Ideally, aftercare is an essential part of most sexual encounters.
No matter if there is a climax or not, sexual arousal and both giving / receiving pleasure include a huge rush of hormones, feel-good chemicals, and emotions. You have to come down off that high at some point and you don’t want to just crash…that’s where aftercare comes in.
Aftercare can include, but is not limited to…
Cuddling, Holding, Pillow-Talk, Sensual Touch, Laughter,
Taking Care of Your Partners’ Physical and/or Emotional Well-Being,
Discussing Things That Went Well (Giving Positive Re-Enforcement)
Overall, it just means you aren’t taking each other for granted. You’re showing your partner you care and are now at least slightly more deeply connected with them than before you had sex.
Why is Aftercare Important?
Sex is intimate and often makes us feel vulnerable. Aftercare is a way of showing kindness and caring to your partner.
Physical intimacy is one way of you feeling special and appreciated. Aftercare helps create this feeling of closeness and intimacy. It helps people feel like what they just did was special.
Sex can still be casual, even when aftercare is included. After all, it is still a relationship!
Aftercare can help you feel less left alone directly after sex. It can make it obvious that you are cared about and cared for instead of feeling tossed aside or left alone.
Sexual aftercare feels good.
It helps you to feel safe and more secure.
It starts/continues the process for the next time you have sex whether that be in 10 minutes, 10 days, or 10 years.
So, go ahead and take a page from the Kink community. Yes, that’s right. There are many helpful tips we could learn from the Kink/BDSM world, and this is one of the most important. Make time/room for aftercare…it is essential. Try it on and notice the difference.
Kimberly Atwood is a licensed psychotherapist and certified sex therapist working in private practice in Princeton, NJ. She also provides online therapy with clients living in Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. She specializes in sexual health, intimacy and relationship issues. For more information, please check out her website.