Aftercare—because sex ain’t over ’til it’s over

I recently wrote a blog post about how the BDSM community has devised communication protocols that aren’t just for kink. These conventions have incredible utility in even the most vanilla sex play and transform a mediocre sex life into a stellar one. I’m talking about safe words, consent protocols, modes of clearly expressing what you want, and much more besides. 

If you’ve seen any of my Sex Hacker Pro course, you’ll know that I put a lot of emphasis on foreplay but just as important to good sex is what happens after the fucking is over. 

See, when sex is winding down, it’s important to give your partner a smooth landing so they can safely get off the ride. BDSM aftercare is designed to avoid a phenomenon called sub-drop or post-coital dysphoria. It’s a result of a massive drop in the feel-good hormones produced during sex. Throw in some cultural shame or negative feelings about your body or your sexuality, and an after-sex crash becomes more likely, especially in the wake of an intense BDSM scene

There are a lot of things happening within our bodies during sex and orgasm. Chief among them is the release of endorphins—neurotransmitters that act to increase feelings of pleasure and well-being and reduce pain and discomfort. There’s also the release of dopamine—another neurotransmitter that plays a role in how we feel pleasure.

After we orgasm, we get a big oxytocin release. Oxytocin is a powerful bonding chemical. Like it or not, it tends to make us feel intensely connected to our partner after sex. If the sex is good, we’re literally high on brain chemicals. It takes time to transition back to a normal state. In this transitional state, we can give sexual aftercare to our partners in a variety of different ways, which we’ll describe in a moment. For me, aftercare is an indispensable part of sex. It’s is a great time to create a deeper loving connection with a partner and check in on their well-being. It’s also the worst time to be an asshole. 

A brief side note here: the intense emotional connection that tends to happen after sex can cause some people to freak the fuck out. Unfortunately for a lot of men, even though our neurological wiring is the same as women’s, and we are set up to connect deeply through sex and bond in the post-orgasm afterglow, social scripts can prevent this from happening. 

Our culture encourages men to be emotionally steady and constantly in control, which is impossible when romantic feelings get involved. This kind of vulnerability is foreign to many men, and when they don’t know how to handle it, they often end up pushing the woman away, both physically and emotionally, after sex. This can look like falling asleep, running away, or immediately turning on the TV. Disengagement is easier for some men than embracing the vulnerability inherent in these moments.

I’m actually one of them: my internal desire to disengage is super high after sex because of my avoidant attachment style, which I’m not proud of. I have to keep my emotional brain from hijacking me into shoving my partner’s clothes and some cab fare into her hands and asking her politely to be on her way. Nature can be shitty like that. While my automatic response may be to detach, my value is to care for my partners, and when it comes to aftercare, I make conscious choices to align with my values. 

Even with the most casual of sexual encounters, our partners still deserve respect and care. Being purposefully uncaring is not the most ethical way to prevent her from catching feelings if she is, in fact, even in danger of that. There are more appropriate ways to establish boundaries than by being an asshole. Having proper post-sex etiquette is extremely rare these days but very important.

Sex is one of the most vulnerable experiences we can share with another human and the nuances of how we treat our partners after sex matters. In the transition period after orgasm, as we start to down-regulate from our love chemical high, we begin to form the narrative of what happened. The neurons that fire together wire together, so our partner’s experience after sex will color their perception of the sex itself. 

Check in with your partner to see what she needs. Offer her a glass of water, see if she needs to use the bathroom, or if she just needs a moment to rest and cuddle. I love to cook for my partners as a way to nourish them and transition from sexual partner to gracious host.

Sensual Shower

One of my favorite ways to care for my partner after sex is to take a sensual shower together. I love washing my partner’s body, and a shower gives an opportunity to combine lots of different sensations:

  • The smell of the shampoo
  • The temperature of the water
  • The feel of touch on wet skin  

Adjust the water temperature to your partner’s liking, and you can stand behind her to let the warm water fall on her chest while you caress her. Ask if she would like you to wash her hair, and you can use it as an opportunity to give her a scalp massage. Give head scratches and a little gentle hair-pulling; just be sure to gently pull large handfuls rather than small locks, which can give a sharp twinge. Connect with your own senses as the giver, feeling the texture of her hair. When it’s time to rinse, tilt her head back, so shampoo doesn’t drip into her eyes. Work conditioner into her hair and let it sit as you wash the rest of her body.

I have bars set up high in my shower on commercial suction cups, so I can stretch my partner’s arms overhead and have her hold onto the grips. Then I wash her body, sliding my hands across her arms, torso, hips, and legs, and because her hands are anchored, she can really let go and let me do the work.

Sometimes, after BDSM play, where she might feel a lot of humiliation or degradation, it can be a super loving gesture for you as the dom to get on your knees and wash her feet. You can say words like, “Thank you for sharing that part of yourself with me. I really appreciate it.”

You can reapply the conditioner to her hair right before rinsing it out, just to bring the smell back to your partner’s experience. Bonus points if you have a warm towel to wrap her up in as soon as she steps out of the shower.

If you want to build intimacy with a partner that you have romantic feelings for, this is a wonderful way to do it. Washing someone is an act of incredible sweetness, nurturing, and care that men usually do not display. It can be an incredibly touching act for women to receive. 

The Goddess Bath

I love to create a special pampering session that allows my partner to fully relax and revel in a sensory experience. The Goddess Bath takes a bit of prep work and some creative supplies, but it’s well worth the effort. 

This experience was shared and inspired by Omorphy, who captured his incredible process in the photo series “Bath Disturbed.” He taught me how to make the person who models for him feel like they themselves are a beautiful piece of fine art. 

With this experience, I share the ultimate integration of my favorite philosophies of peak experiences, curation, and pleasure. The Goddess Bath is a ritual that incorporates all of the senses and is meant to pamper your partner. 

To begin, you’ll want to gather several sensual elements for the experience:

  • A bouquet of flowers picked or bought with your lover in mind—think of her favorite flowers or her favorite colors
  • Bath bombs to give fizzy or foamy effects to the water
  • Biodegradable glitter, color tablets, or other body-safe products to decorate the water
  • Sensual foods for her to enjoy, like chocolate, honey, macarons, small candies, or fruit
  • Candles to create soft lighting and fill the air with a scent she likes
  • Optionally, you can have a camera on hand to take pictures of her in the midst of the beauty you create

Fill the bathtub in advance, and check that the water temperature is good. Light candles around the bathroom to create a soft, warm lighting effect. Play music in her taste that will enhance the mood. Have the vase of flowers and the other supplies to decorate the water close to the tub.

Then, when you’re ready to bring your partner into the bathroom, adorn her in a sensual robe and a silky blindfold. Tell her you’re excited to share an experience you’ve curated just for her.

Walk your partner into the bathroom and slowly remove her robe and caress her body. Explain that you want her to just enjoy this experience, luxuriate in the sensations, and focus solely on herself.

Walk her over to the tub and let her touch the water. Tell her you’ll help her in. Lightly caress her body as she settles in and give her time to acclimate to the water.

Dip your finger in the honey and give her a taste; use your fingertip to tease her lips. Feed her some chocolate and invite her to savor the flavor. Then give her a kiss with your own lips.

Remove her blindfold and show her the beautiful bouquet of flowers, letting her know you picked these out just for her. Select one flower and pull it from the bouquet. Let her smell it and feel it. Trace the petals across her skin, encouraging her to take a deep breath and just focus on the sensation of the flower. By encouraging her and guiding her focus, you give her a sense of grounding and meditation that lets her drop fully into the moment, release any hypervigilance, and open her body to pleasure.

If you’re using a bath bomb, drop it into the water and let it swirl and fizz. Then begin dropping flowers and petals into the water, telling your partner that she inspires the art you’re creating in the water. 

Use high-contrast flowers of different colors and vary between scattering petals and dropping in the whole head of a flower. Rose petals create a beautiful effect because of their size. 

If you’re using glitter, pour a little bit into your palm and blow it across the water. Don’t sprinkle it, or it will simply sink. 

Take your time and enjoy the process of scattering the petals. Don’t rush—this is a mindful experience of beauty and creativity.

Know your partner’s favorite color and pick up a bath color tablet in that shade to have ready in your hand. Then ask your partner’s favorite color and create magic as you draw the color across the water.

Offer to take a photo of how beautiful she looks. Tell her that she is a work of art, your goddess, and your muse.

If there’s room, get into the tub behind her and give her a massage, connecting to your partner skin to skin. You can also wash her hair and body.

Hold her against you and continue to caress her. Let her know you want her to just receive this gratitude; it doesn’t have to be reciprocated.

When you’re both finished, help her out of the tub and dry her off. Tell her how beautiful she is and how amazing it was for you to pamper her this way. Thank her for allowing you to experience this with her.

Afterward, spend some time simply cuddling or having some quiet time to highlight the moment. Let her enjoy the relaxation without feeling she has to immediately be responsible again.

The definition of a peak experience is one that is unexpected, novel, pleasurable, and multi-sensory. The use of surprise, blindfolds, chocolate and honey, colors, temperature, and more, qualifies it as a peak experience. The effect of the bath is a “heartgasm”—the deep delight of being spoiled, worshipped, and cherished as a muse. You’ll be crafting an overwhelmingly delicious encounter that will leave her in awe. 

Notice What You Love, Love What You Notice

This appreciation exercise is adapted from horizontal with lila, a podcast, and blog by Lila Donnolo, and it’s an excellent way to verbalize your appreciation of your partner.

By hand, write out one thoughtfully chosen compliment for each of the categories that follow. (This only works if your praise is genuine!) You can bookend your compliment with this simple sentence frame: “I notice… and I love it.”

  • Your body
  • Your work
  • Your art
  • Your energy
  • Your emotions
  • Your values
  • Your ideas
  • Your aspirations
  • Your fantasies

If you’re giving these compliments to a long-term or live-in partner, you can also add compliments about your life together, such as:

  • Our family
  • Our kids
  • Our home

Read these complements to her in a shower of admiration. Accompany each compliment with a physical gesture, such as a teasing kiss.

Afterward, give the handwritten compliments to your partner so she can re-read your tribute to her whenever she wishes to. Bonus points for making the presentation special—you can nestle the compliments in a mason jar full of LED twinkle lights, slip it inside a wallet full of cash, or frame each compliment with hand-drawn illustrations. The best time to do this is in the goddess bath experience while you’re in the bath with her.

Casual Intimacy Etiquette

Especially because the sex afterglow is stewed in bonding chemicals, it’s important to continue communicating clearly about what you want, especially with a new partner. This is pillow talk with purpose! One of the side effects of giving a great curated sexual experience is that the experience feels really special to the receiving partner—and may cause the receiver to assume their personal, romantic connection is as special as the sexual connection. This can be problematic for people who are dating around: your partner can feel attached when you don’t. 

I play with lots of different partners, and I usually only play with the same person once or twice. I have to carefully and kindly set clear boundaries with my partners. I make sure to tell my potential partners clearly at the beginning that I love playing with new people, and I don’t fall into long-term sexual relationships very often. People who don’t want what is essentially a one-night stand can then choose not to sleep with me. It’s important to be clear about those boundaries after sex as well; sex is an emotional experience and can cause people to feel differently after it’s over.

Check in with yourself and your desires and do your best to communicate what you feel as the afterglow subsides. It’s a great way to safeguard your own sexual health and sexual wellness.

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