Often when we talk about aftercare, the focus is on the submissive or bottom in a scene. While it’s important to ensure that the submissive is well cared for after a scene is finished, it’s just as important that the dominant’s needs are also met. Although the dominant is in control of a scene, they still face significant physical and emotional demands during play. Just as a submissive can enter a state of “sub drop” when play has finished, a Top can experience what is know as “Top Drop”, a feeling of exhaustion or listlessness in the hours or days following a play session. For this reason, it’s important to discuss the aftercare needs of both parties before play begins, and to create a plan in the days following play to ensure that all parties are taken care of.
Aftercare is very personal, and everyone has different needs following a scene. A person’s needs may also change depending on the type of play, the duration of the scene, whether play is public or private or whether they are playing with a new or established partner. For this reason, it’s important to think about your own aftercare preferences, and communicate them to your play partner. Some people require very little aftercare, or may prefer to tend to their own aftercare needs. Others crave connection with their play partner, and may need extra care after play. I’ve come up with a few suggestions for aftercare for Tops, but please keep in mind that these may not be appropriate for everyone, and that all Tops are unique and will have their own preferences.
Words of Affirmation
Years ago, I used to play with a Top who liked me to check in with them the day after play, to tell them how much I enjoyed our scene and reassure them that I’d had fun. They once told me “When you affirm how much fun you had, and rehash the things that you found hot, it reassures me that I’m not a monster”. Sometimes when you’re the person holding the keys or swinging the flogger, you can experience feelings of guilt or shame after the scene is done. Once the adrenaline of play has drained away, residual thoughts like “what have I done?” or “Am I a horrible person for enjoying this?” can creep in. Having your play partner reassure you that they had fun, and that you did a good job can really help to dispel those shame-filled thoughts and build up your confidence.
Tending to Sore Muscles
If you’ve done any kind of impact play, both parties are likely to be stiff and sore afterwards. Just as it can be hard on the body to take a beating, it can also be grueling to dish it out. A warm bath or shower can be soothing for sore muscles. You might like to share the shower or tub, or your top might prefer privacy to unwind in solitude. A massage can help to work out any knots or stiffness the next day, whether it’s lovingly given by the submissive or by a professional masseuse.
It’s a great idea to make time after a scene to sit down and talk it through. This is beneficial for both players to voice things that they enjoyed, things that didn’t work so well and ideas for next time. It’s a good opportunity to renegotiate any boundaries, or share your memories of particularly hot moments during play. Debriefing is a great way to encourage communication, and to reassure both parties that their experience is valid.
Act of service
After play, it can be nice for the submissive to do something for their dominant to reaffirm their devotion to them. An act of service can be a lovely way to thank the Top for their hard work, and to show them that their submissive cares for and values them. You could make your Top their favourite drink or a snack to replenish their energy after a scene. Perhaps they might like you to run a bath for them, or pack up and organize any equipment that was used during the scene. An act of service is a beautiful way to close out a scene, and reaffirm the power dynamic between you if you have an ongoing D/s relationship.
One of my favourite ways to close out a scene is to share gentle, romantic physical touch with my partner. This could mean wrapping up in a warm blanket together, snuggling up and watching a movie or sharing some soft kisses. This gentle touch reinforces the connection between you and brings you back to a place of tenderness. It says to your partner “I appreciate you and I care for you” even after an intense scene. Skin-to-skin contact is also a great way to slowly bring you both back into your bodies if you’ve entered an altered headspace during play. While some people prefer to be left on their own after a scene, for many some gentle touch is an essential part of their aftercare.
Aftercare is just as important for Tops as it is for bottoms, and both parties deserve to have their needs met after a scene has finished. Aftercare is deeply personal, and will differ from person to person. It’s a good idea to have a chat about aftercare needs before play begins, and perhaps put a plan in place to make sure that everyone is looked after in the hours and days following a scene.