Thursday, December 13, 2007

BDSM for Beginners (part 8: aftercare for dominants)

First published on Mistress160's Abode 2007


"aftercare is so very important. People say
after care is for the sub but personally it
reassures me that Mont and I are still okay"
(Jadetiger)

"for me giving her aftercare afterwards
is like giving myself aftercare,
it lets that caringness soothe me as well"
(anon)

"we both needed aftercare and while I know
pet needed it, I think I benefited more so
from that aftercare session than any other"
(
Sensual Sadist)

This is the second in my educational series about aftercare. The first explored aftercare and subdrop issues for submissives. The next will look at how switches deal with these issues, and the final post will provide instructions for emergency self aftercare. This post examines aftercare for dominants, and addresses the following readers' questions :
  • What is domdrop?
  • What is top guilt?
  • What is Mistress fatigue?
  • If my Dom/me needs aftercare, what do I do?
  • Advice for fledging Dom/mes on "drop", guilt and aftercare
  • Aftercare for D/s couples

AFTERCARE FOR THE DOMINANT
"When submissive guys are forging their ideal cruel
relentless Dommes I suspect the idea that those ferocious
icons may need care after a drain session never passes
through their mind. It wasn’t part of my fantasy life"
(Richard Evans Lee)
Richard's words are SO true, lol. The subject of aftercare for dominants is rarely discussed. Most kinksters hold a similar view to Wikipedia:
"the dominant is responsible for helping the sub through subdrop ... for the dominant, the care of their submissive should be paramount, and maintaining control of oneself at all times is integral to taking that care".
Wiki's aftercare entry reconfirms this:
"aftercare is the process of attending to an s-type (submissive, slave, bottom, etc) after intense activities of a physical, and/or psychological nature relating to BDSM activities".
While terms like subspace and subdrop are commonly recognized and utilized in the kinky community, "domdrop" is a much more rarely heard term. If you try and raise the subject around my friends Carrie Ann and cyndi they'll happily hijack your thread ("the word domdrop with a small "d" just looks ... like a piece of candy. Something sweet to stick in onnes mouth. Lol. It brings up visions of willy wonka and candyland *giggles and scoots off*" ... " like a yummy little piece of your Dom to keep with you in case of emergencies ... mm mmm good! *giggling*") (subs ... sigh ...lol). But domdrop is very real indeed.


ABOUT DOMDROP


"didn't have the label for it, had no-one
to talk it through with, didn't expect it
... but it hit me like a runaway bus!"


"Drop" is an extremely personal experience. We discussed subdrop in detail in my first aftercare post, including how many subs never experienced it. Domdrop is the same (Torvea writes: "as a Dom, I have not experienced any ill effects after the ride. My focus is entirely on my sub and her needs. I am tired or drained but that is it").

The problem is that
so little has been written about domdrop that kinksters don't recognize it when it occurs (RavenMuse: "The day after [a great session] I got the Domdrop. Didn't have the label for it, had no-one to talk it through with, didn't expect it... but it hit me like a runaway bus!") or realize the need for it ( Keri: "I remember bottoming to a Top and afterwards we were sitting together and I said, "I'm fine. I don't need aftercare." and he looked at me and said, "Yeah, but I do." It was quite thoughtless of me to just think that because I was okay, he was to").

Fetish Diva Midori (in her essay "Aftercare: healing better to play harder") is one of the very few writers to discuss domdrop:
"One would think that after care is for the bottoms and submissives, but it's also for the tops, sadists and dominants. Tops go through similarly intense changes in their body chemistry, leading to the potential shock-like emotional and physical crashes."
cc writes in "Before care, during care and aftercare":
"In the case of dominants and tops consider that you often have been expending a great deal of not only physical energy but mental energy as well ... and keeping yourself in check with the responsibilities of your submissive's state of mind as well as their physical condition. Do not discount the drain this can have on a person both physically and mentally.

"It is not uncommon for dominants to find themselves having "dom drop" without recognizing the symptoms for what they are. It can be manifested in an emotional drop, lethargy as well as physical exhaustion up and above what would be considered "normal" for the type of play involved. It can last a short time or days in the same way that sub-space can have lingering effects"
You can see that domdrop has similar symptoms to subdrop. asdf123 writes of "definitely encounter[ing] dom-drop: physically feeling sick and wobbly enough to have to sit down, shaky hands and a need to hold somebody", while Aradia observes in the comments to this post:
"today I have Domdrop from My intense session last night with whore. I worked him over hard and ended up on Domspace for the rest of the night. I did get a good night's sleep, but it just seems that it was not enough. I feel lethargic, tired and like I am suffering from the dregs of an all night drinking binge"
Now these sorts of symptoms may occur for many reasons. Your body may still be awash with what Midori calls "adrenaline, endorphins, seratonin and other yummy body chemicals". Or awash with hormones, lol, as Collar'N'Cuffs' Miss Bonnie experiences:
"I've found the week before my period I get very horny and need more play time, but on the down side I experience more 'top drop'. I find, if even the simplest things goes wrong, I drop at rapid speed, become all emotional and I'm the one that needs support after the scene ends ... the thing is I know its going to happen, but I have this hunger to play".
Your symptoms of 'drop' might be caused by concentrating too hard during a scene. Or not eating beforehand. You might be suffering physical exhaustion from impact play. You might be suffering emotional overload, or be fretting that something went wrong during play, and need reassurance and validation from your play partner - as Midori points out "beyond the fundamental physiological concerns, most often the top has their sense of self-wrapped up in the scene as much as the bottom does".

However, some people believe these types of symptoms directly relate to an energy transference that occurs during play - in fact Mistress Steel defines domdrop entirely in these terms:
"one of the least visible aspects of a Dom/sub relationship is also something widely talked about but poorly understood. Exchange. Many people equate this to an exchange of power by the enforcement of roles (especially in scene). This exchange can be better understood as not an exchange of Power but an exchange of energy.

"By creating an artificial arena or environment, the 'forced' introduction of requirements, rules and boundaries you are also constructing the identical requirement, rules and boundaries for yourself. You become trapped within a performance role whenever you are with your submissive..."
[BDSM resource detour:
want to read more of Mistress
Steel's thoughts on domdrop?]

Mistress Steel makes a good case for this. Especially when you consider that this kind of energy transference fallout can occur immediately post scene, or can have far more long reaching effects, possibly impacting on another negative state of mind experienced by dominants...


MISTRESS FATIGUE:

"I just can't cope. How dare he write like that,
making such demands. I just can't cope"

"there's no joy in domming anymore"

"please. Leave me alone"


Mistress Steel observes:
"Many submissives 'feed' on the energy of the Dominant. A great submissive / Dominant relationship 'passes' or 'exchanges' energy. However, especially in new Dom's and subs there tends to be a more focused need emanating from the submissive. The submissive wants to experience everything they have imagined inside of them ... to a large extent their submissive response forces or attempts to force the Dominant into Domming them"
This can result in:
"a sudden withdrawal [of the dominant] coupled to a unsubstantive reason for the detachment or withdrawal. The submissive may go into a panic or 'frenzy' bombarding that Dominant with gifts, cards, flowers, phone calls...etc. Each of these will compound the problem and make it worse, adding stress to the Dominant. These are demands for attention that the Dominant is simply unable to give at that time. That inability can be driven to the point of a complete severance of the relationship in order for the Dominant to 'retain face' or their internal image of themselves."
Mistress Steel defines this as a component of domdrop. I call it something else: Mistress (or Dom) fatigue. It rarely occurs in the aftermath of a single scene. More likely it strikes after an escalating series of stressful events (either real life and online) and is usually also linked with an over commitment of dominant responsibilities, including a fear of letting "everyone" (subs / new subs / mentoring relationships / online communities / etc) down.

The end result is exhaustion and a feeling of complete burn out with any BDSM related activities. It's especially common online. The only cure is often complete withdrawal. It might take days. Weeks. Or months. If a complete withdrawal is not achieved - if, for example the dominant suffers what Mistress Steel terms "frenzied bombardments" from subs or if others continue to push with demands - the dominant may disappear online or (as Mistress Steel points out) permanently severe relationships.

A little further down this post I discuss how subs can help dominants with Mistress / Dom fatigue. For now, here is a list of possible solutions to help dominants conserve energy and avoid virtual burn out:
  • Delegate: have a trusted sub handle your daily mail - or even just the unsolicited mail that collects at various online kinky communities. This immediately and drastically improves personal stress levels - your mail sub will delete all the abusive / junk mail, can write back to subs making enquiries to serve to inform them whether you are taking anyone on or not, and can bring to your attention the few remaining messages from true and sincere subs. I highly recommend this for ANY Mistress who receives a lot of unsolicited mail.
  • Delegate MORE: have another trusted sub take over your blog / website maintenance / handle daily junk registration and spam deletions / act as a moderator on your forums etc. Again: instant (daily commitment) stress release.
  • Limit your online BDSM commitments - just a little: Be honest: you really can't fit another sub into your online stable (start a waiting list - sincere subs will understand). Remember to enjoy those subs you currently have, both online and realtime - if your time with them feels a burden you are heading for Mistress / Dom fatigue FAST. Cut down the time you spend at online kinky communities. Limit your time in chat. Cut down your blog list and your personal blog posts. Do not waste precious online time with people who are abusing that time: if your time and involvement with a community are not appreciated, go elsewhere.
  • Just ended a relationship with a sub? Whether realtime or online, whether you initiated the breakup or not, losing a sub is a time of considerable stress. Take your "aftercare" as seriously as you would the recovery process after any other relationship. Allow time to experience all the usual end of relationship emotions. Then allow time to heal.
  • Nurture yourself: boring but true: eat healthy (include indulgences and comforts of course). Take daily exercise (I find a daily flogging works wonders). Walk. Spend time near large bodies of water (the sea preferably but a bath will do). Meditate. Breathe deeply. Ban your laptop from the bedroom: read a book. Listen to music. Go see a movie with friends.
  • Nurture your significant other: treasure your relationship (how cold and lonely was life before they came?). Tell them everyday what they mean to you. Save water and shower with them. Buy the foods they love (even the ones you dislike) and share them. Indulge in the kinks they enjoy most (even the ones you dislike). Above all: never take them for granted.
  • Think of other ways to change your stress levels in your realtime and virtual lives. Work on making these changes happen. Burnout / Mistress fatigue is far less likely to take hold if you are able to avoid feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities.
Mistress Steel also offers the following advice regarding conserving energy and preserving dominant integrity:
"I am a Domina all the time for it is simply an overt part of my nature but I am not dominating all the time. It is essential that all aspects and parts of my personality live. ....

"To address Dom Drop in my own life it became necessary to view my primary relationship in other terms. It is my desire to control when and where I turn on (or become 110% Domina). To accomplish this the most simply I elected to construct my relationship with an ON/OFF switch. When I am with my partner we are both in neutral space. This allows open flowing conversation, debate, humor, the sharing of ideas, doing things together etc.

"When I feel a desire to engage or take control then I do so. I may do this physically by touch or verbally by shifting from neutral language where I use his proper name to 'scene' language where I use my chosen 'private' name for him. This simple construction is quite effective. It blockades the submissives potential desire to 'force' me into role, it negates the building of stresses by offering open exchanges of conversation and at the same time allows me total control over when and where I exercise my nature to its fullest...".

LETTING THE MONSTER OUT
(TOP GUILT):


"Sometimes when I'm prepping for a scene, getting into
the right headspace, I have a twinge of fear that I will
not be able to get back OUT afterwards. That I will
unleash something inside myself that can't be recaptured"

"it feel like every stroke is ripped the wrong way
though every bit of social conditioning I’ve ever had"

Midori notes a further contributing factor to domdrop:
"In the act of sadism or dominance the top has exposed their desires and hungers that aren't necessarily socially acceptable. We've been taught not to hit those we love. Now we do it for fun. It can take a bit of mental contortions to reconcile the cognitive dissonance with this. Many tops want to know that they are still loved and desired after exposing their darker desires to the other'
As usual, Midori is spot on. Chris M acknowledges something similar: "sometimes, when the heat of the scene has passed, a top can find him or herself exhausted, exposed and feeling guilty about doing bad, nasty things to someone they care about" while Sensual Sadist's Alexandra observes "sometimes, exploring the assertively dark aspect of your psyche can ironically leave you feeling lonely and vulnerable".

Some call this domdrop, others call it "top guilt". I call it "Letting the Monster (inside me) Out" - as in "I'm hurting the person I love and I'm enjoying it .... how can I feel this way? I'm a monster. What if I can't get the monster back in the box at the end of the session?" I know this insidious feeling well, as does Darkly:
"Sometimes when I'm prepping for a scene, getting into the right headspace, I have a twinge of fear that I will not be able to get back OUT afterwards. That I will unleash something inside myself that can't be recaptured"

"Play can be transformative, and has often been so for me, usually in a very positive way. I have learned a great deal about my inner self, my ability to heal old wounds, take pain, create situations, etc. At some level, I fear that one day I'll cross a line - inside myself - that I won't be able to recover from having crossed."
RavenMuse writes of how he came to terms with top guilt:
"I had deliberately caused [my sub] pain, choosen to hurt her.... and enjoyed it. Not only enjoyed it but was suspecting that I in someway needed it. It had opened up a whole new visa of emotions and feelings... discovered what I have over the years come to accept about Myself. That to get Me to want to give her roses.... I need her to want and need the thorns that go with them.

"But what did that mean about who I was, what I was....The culture I grew up in, nobody batted an eye if two lads faced off and beat each other to a bloody pulp... But you so much as raised a hand to a lassie and woe betide you. You where the lowest of the low, scum, subhuman and treated as such.

"It took a long time to get over that hurdle, to adjust to the whole issue of consent and shake off the weight of that conditioning".
Bitchy Jones has also written of this, guilt being linked to:
"the most dangerous part. The hitty-hurty part ... Sometimes I fight all the way through. Sometimes, when it’s bad it feel like every stroke is ripped the wrong way though every bit of social conditioning I’ve ever had. All my life I have been taught to give, to nurture, to soothe, that I shouldn’t damn well hurt people to get myself off.

"You know that whole line about, This hurts me far more than it hurts you .... then my whole world will contract in a big rushing implosion of the fuck! and – wow - I am the tiniest loneliest person in the world. And I hate myself. And I hate what I just did. And I hate that it got me off so hard. And this happens every time. Every. Single. Time".

Bitchy - and many other dominants - find solace in their post orgasmic emotional responses. For me, that's about the time I begin my lion tamer's routine to try to get the monster back into the box. Sometimes you see, the monster REALLY doesn't want to go....

Keri suggests several ways to deal with this:
"consistently checking in with yourself is so essential. Power can corrupt. And for a Top/Dominant to remain humble, to admit his/her mistakes, and do whatever is possible to correct those mistakes is what makes a good Top/Dominant in my opinion. When a Dominant is able to say to me, "I'm sorry" he or she has so much more of my respect..."
Janet provides further reassurance:
"I'd be hesitant to play with a top who *didn't* experience this. This sort of guilt, or aftershocks, or whatever you call it, is your internal check-in to make sure you're basically OK with what you did, that the monster is safely back inside its box, that your scene was driven by fundamental concern for your partner's well-being. It gets easier with practice"
You really won't know how you will deal with top guilt until you encounter it. Even if dominants are forewarned, advises RavenMuse :
"some bits they simply won't understand fully till they experience it, till they themself get sideswiped by that self same runaway bus.

"When that happens, remember, you are NOT the only one despite how it feels at the time. A great many [dominants] have faced that bugbear. Dealt with it, adjusted and accepted it - you will too!"
EDIT: since I published this aftercare series, MrsClaudia has published a post on Top Guilt that I highly recommend. She poses the question: how do you cope with top guilt when something unexpected goes wrong:
"I never expect something to go wrong, but I have prepared myself ... I am very careful to never leave my subby alone when he is in bondage, especially if I am mixing sensory deprivation with it. I practice with any new toys I get first, to make sure I don't misuse the device. Well, so far, so good. But what about when something happens that is completely out of your control? What do you do when a decision you have made negatively affects your submissive? While I don't have all the answers, I do have some experience in this arena.

"It is easy to tell others what to do physically when something goes wrong. If bondage has somehow gone wrong, then use your emergency medical sheers to cut the person out. If it is serious enough, call an ambulance or get your submissive to the ER immediately. You would rather be safe than sorry. My focus with this article is how to handle the guilt when a decision YOU make as a Domme causes an injury..."
Definately worth a read.


ADVICE FOR FLEDGLING DOM/MES:
PROVIDING AFTERCARE

"where do I start?
what if I get it wrong?"


OK, so let's say you are a new dominant reading this. What are the most important points about aftercare you need to keep in mind?

Some important tips:
  1. Chris M: The scene isn't finished until aftercare is over!
  2. Midori: Reassurance. Gratification. Validation!
  3. Mistress 160: Don't forget about Virtual Aftercare, or about being able to handle your own emergency self aftercare!
Keep in mind:
  • there are several good articles on aftercare (especially Chris M and Midori) but as a dominant you should also take the time to read others in the Reference list at the bottom of this post
  • everyone's aftercare requirments are different: can you provide the aftercare your play partner requires? if not, who can? don't be offended if a play partner tells you during Pre Scene Negotiations that they prefer their regular play partner or significant other to provide their aftercare (read up on Third Party Aftercare with Midori)
  • you need to prepare an aftercare kit not only for yourself but for your sub's use, "just in case" they don't have one (for example, put two blankets in if you both get cold after play)
  • remember to allow enough time after play for aftercare. Not budgeting your time and having to run off to other appointments without attending to your play partner will not win you friends (or a good reputation)
  • read up on Virtual Aftercare in the first post in this aftercare series
  • enjoy this special time with the sub who has given you so much! Afterwards request they write honestly about the experience. This will provide a useful learning tool.
  • avoid what Chris M calls Over Friendly Aftercare: "aftercare as a non-negotiated grope session is not respectful unless its welcomed by your partner ... hands-all-over gooses, gropes, and tonsil hockey seem less a conclusion ... than an independent scene on its own, snuck in, un-negotiated, on the sly".
  • you'll want to check in with your partner over the next few days to talk over the scene and check for subdrop symptoms. You can also use this time to go over the scene
  • Chris M writes "some tops, even magnificent ones, don't do aftercare". If you feel you are going to be one of those dominants always remember "you have a responsibility to arrange aftercare for your partner if they don't have someone to take care of them"
(don't forget your aftercare kit!)

ADVICE FOR FLEDGLING DOM/MES:

YOUR OWN NEEDS


"I sometimes need [aftercare] when
things go wrong in a way that hurt
me, even if it's just a minor thing"

"thank you So MUCH for covering this subject,
Ms160. It helps as a newer dominant to know I'm
not alone in my experiences and I really appreciate
the comprehensive nature of the Aftercare series"

Your own needs and aftercare requirements will become clearer once you play. If you are a switch (you enjoy playing both sub + dom roles) read my next post, which documents how switches deal with "drop", which they experience from both sides, and aftercare.

For now:
  • familiarize yourself with the other posts in this aftercare series, especially the first (which provides background and examples of aftercare and "drop")
  • familiarize yourself with the "Aftercare Practicalities" section in the first post (which covers working out your aftercare needs, ways to inform your play partner of them, and how to assemble an aftercare kit, etc)
  • before play: make sure you provide your play partner with details of your aftercare requirements during Pre Scene Negotiations
  • after play: watch out for: domdrop and top guilt symptoms
  • Chris M : "familiarize yourself with self aftercare, just to be on the safe side. Depending on your self-image, and style, you may not want to receive aftercare from your submissive partner. Or, you may be with a bottom that does not wish to see you as needing nurturing or care". Check out my emergency self aftercare instructions. Select a friend who can act as your Third Party Friend during aftercare / domdrop crises.
  • longterm: watch out for: Mistress / Dom fatigue

WHAT CAN A SUB DO TO HELP THEIR

DOM/ME IN TERMS OF POST SCENE AFTERCARE?

""I know what [my partner] needs ... I
hadn't thought of this as aftercare ...
[it] just seems the natural thing to do"

"thankyou thankyou! [Ms160's post] was so
helpful for me, to see what my top goes through"

"Does my top need help - can I help?" is something many subs ask me. The answer is definately: YES!!

As Midori points out:
"many tops want to know that they are still loved and desired after exposing their darker desires to the other. Their pride as a technician and lover may also be involved in this. The top wants validation that they were a "good top." Telling a top that "Your flogging sucks" just might crush them. Even if they look pissed off, they're actually hurt".
So take Chris M's advice:
"remember to express gratitude and respect to the top who has spent the last hour or so being bad to you. Flattery is good ... a foot massage might be much appreciated for a Domme who has been busily abusing you while in high heels, or for anyone in hard leather boots...

"if you are a bottom 'on loan' from another dominant/top who plans to provide your aftercare, don't forget to express gratitude to your partner in play. A thank you, a kiss on the cheek and a hug is almost always good form"
Some of you have written to me, confused by your Dom/me's "fussing" over you at the end of a scene, and were surprised when I responded that it was important you allow them to do this. Midori explains why:
"here's an interesting insight into Top psychology: there are times when the bottom needs very little aftercare, but the top insists upon it. For many tops, providing aftercare for the bottom may be exactly what they need. The act of providing help and healing allows many tops to feel whole, compassionate, kind and validated. This may be how they balance for the darker side that they expressed earlier in the scene.

"So what do you do if you're the bottom and you feel like you're done with your aftercare but your top is still fussing over you? If you can, let them and understand that you're doing their aftercare in letting them provide for you".
Do keep an eye out for this. Its extremely important to let yourself be nurtured, if you can. Also, if you think your dominant may be experiencing top guilt, make sure you reassure them - as asdf123 points out:
"hitting somebody you love is a bit of an arse-backwards sort of thing to do, and I guess wanting some reassurance that you haven't done any permanent damage to either them or your relationship is natural"
Sometimes you will provide the reassurance they need without even knowing it. Jadetiger writes:
"aftercare for Mont is so simple. He snuggles under the covers and is fast asleep. I do enjoy watching him as he sleeps and running my fingers through his hair. The aftercare is so very important. People say after care is for the sub but personally it reassures me that Mont and I are still okay"
Providing your Dom/me with aftercare is especially important after a 'broken" scene (for example a scene stopped due to accidental injury, use of a safe word, unexpected visitors etc).

[BDSM resource detour:
want to read more about what type of
"broken" scenes require aftercare?
Click here]

Sensual Sadist's Alexandra noted, after a session with her partner went wrong:
"We both needed aftercare and while I know pet needed it, I think I benefited more so from that aftercare session than any other.

"When things go wrong it’s easy to let the baggage pile up. “He’s not being truly submissive”, “He doesn’t understand my needs”, “We aren’t going to be able to keep this thing going” are all natural thoughts to pass through your mind after something has gone wrong or you feel let down. It is when these thoughts become persistent that they become corrosive".
Wise words, indeed. Make sure you talk through the scene, especially if something went wrong. If you don't know when the best time is to raise the problem with your dominant, why not write to them about what occurred, and ask if a time can be set aside for discussion.

If your dominant doesn't check in - especially after a broken scene - then contact them yourself. They may be experiencing domdrop or top guilt and need your support.


WHAT CAN A SUB DO TO HELP THEIR
DOM/ME IN TERMS OF MISTRESS FATIGUE?

"hello My Lady, just wanted to write to say
hope all is well ... we miss you but are doing fine,
you would be proud ... the roses are blooming ... "

"Help" comes down to one word: patience. Mistress / Dom fatigue may go on for some time. And controlling your own panic won't be easy. Remember (and this is important, trust me):
  1. You have NOT failed as a sub
  2. You have NOT let your Dom/me down
  3. Your Dom/me is NOT upset with you
  4. YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG
  5. This is your dominant's issue, NOT yours
If you find yourself in this position, then I'm giving you a direct order as a Domme: I want you to repeat these words to yourself every morning and night. Reassuring yourself is important.

Under no circumstances flood your Dom/me with correspondence and gifts. I agree with Mistress Steel that this truly will make things worse, as will sending demanding messages or complaints. You are simply adding to the many commitments they currently can't cope with, and making them feel even more guilty about letting everyone (including you) down. Absolutely, drop them a line now and then, but keep it brief, light ("thinking about you") and above all, positive and reassuring ("I'm doing okay, looking forward to seeing you soon").

Remember: patience! Give your dominant time, and you will be rewarded with the thing you most desire: their return.

The question then becomes, how can you help your Dom/me avoid something similar in the future? Keep in mind Mistress Steel's words for new subs:
"a new submissive should consider the act of alleviating the stresses of the Dominant as a priority in their life. Learning to be patient and await the natural waves of energy that all of us produce is something that makes more experienced submissives such a joy to be around. A submissive should seek to blend seamlessly into their Dominant's life, sharing in that 'excess' of Dom energy when it is available and 'feeding' their Dominant with ease of spirit when that Dominant is low on energy"
Think practically, in terms of how you might help alleviate stress. If you are in a real time D/s relationship there are a million daily things you can do. Virtual relationships are more difficult but not impossible. You might, for example, offer to handle their unsolicited mail (a popular Mistress can receive hundreds of unsolicited messages from subs a week).

Think creatively, if you don't want to be left behind again next time this happens. You might consider something seriously radical: making friends with your dominant. If you become more than a sub your relationship widens - this may result in your not being excluded if Mistress fatigue occurs again.


"THIS IS WHERE LOVE LIVES FOR ME"
(AFTERCARE FOR COUPLES)


"we all have our times when we
need that little extra aftercare"

"returning to the romantic love we share
allows us to put things in perspective"


I find it wonderful to observe how D/s couples move within minutes from violent scenes of torment, degradation, coersion and intense pain, to the comfort and closeness of aftercare. It shows extraordinary love. Bitchy Jones writes of being:
"so fucking grateful to [her play partner]. Who came on this journey with me. Who took me to this place. *This* is why d/s is *always* better with an emotional bond.

"I don’t want to really call it love, it is though, it’s love. This is where love lives for me. Play games with pain and you’re playing games with emotions. And this is why my heart is always getting broken. It soars too high"
Aftercare becomes an extremely important component of play for many D/s couples, for whom it provides (as described by Chris M) a time:
"when the participants come together in mutual affirmation that something special was created and shared ... when affection and closeness is offered and sought ... it can be, and often is, the most beautiful part of a scene, and it is part of the scene"

MissBonnie's partner oz knows (writes MsB) when she'll turn into a "hormonal mess" that desperately desires playtime despite knowing the hormones will increase domdrop:
"he's gotten to the point he knows in advance and buys me chocolate for after-wards, and of course he always has the hugs on standby waiting. LOL. We all have our times when we need that little extra aftercare"
Sensual Sadist's Alexandra observes:
"Dominants rarely speak of enjoying aftercare and for me it’s usually a time of quiet motherly leadership and reassuring affection, but I’m lucky in that my pet has a nurturing, almost motherly streak of his own ...letting me squeeze him possessively and having him rub my worries away has always been a blessing for all aspects of my psyche"
Parttimeswitch discovered something similar, her Dom partner desiring:
"gentle loving lovemaking followed by cuddling and small talk. The cuddling and small talk is most important. I think the confirmation that I love and want him without coersion and that I appreciated the scene is necessary ... Gentle love just seems the natural thing to do".
My own aftercare also involves "gentle love". My needs require that solipsist and myself leave behind our D/s roles and slip back into being equal partners / lovers. This is partly because my needs are similar to Lavender Scorpion ("I want to be validated and appreciated in a sexual way, for more than just what I have to give as a Domme. And I want the expression of that to be physical, as well as verbal and emotional") but also because this provides reassurance I have not allowed the monster too far out of the box. This time.

If we come together in love, fall asleep wrapped around each other in love, then all is right with my world. Mistress160 - the world famous Monster Tametress (photo below) - has tamed the monster; her beloved remains her beloved. Alexandra experienced something similar:
"Returning to the romantic love we share allows us to put things in perspective. So that the next day I still don’t look at him and feel that something is unfinished, still not set right..."
Sometimes love is all the aftercare a dominant needs....

A(NOTHER) FINAL WORD

(Ms160 the monster tametress + fierce pet)

As I wrote in the first post in this aftercare series, while all this may sound a bit dire - it describes situations you may never have to face - it's important to know what to do if/when BDSM problems occur. Which is what this BDSM for Beginners series is all about.

The last few lines of this post are to remind you that aftercare is usually a wonderful experience. A time to draw close to the person who has given you such intense pleasure, to affirm together the extraordinary experience you just created together - a time (as parttimeswitch describes) of "hazy sweetness while all my nerve endings are still singing".

To quote Chris M, "I wish for you to explore it and revel in its languid joys..."

OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES:
BDSM for Beginners (part 7: aftercare for submissives)
BDSM for Beginners (part 9: aftercare for switches)
BDSM for Beginners (part 10: emergency self aftercare - instructions)

REFERENCES:
cc Before, During and After care
Chris M Aftercare
Female Artists of Domination The Endorphin Levels in BDSM: a short primer on sending a subbie into hyperspace
Jersey Girl Aftercare
MasterMono Subspace and Subspace Drop
Fetish Diva Midori Aftercare - Healing Better to Play Harder
(one quote above comes from the longer version of this essay in Midori's book "Wild Side Sex: the Book of Kink")
Miss Bonnie - Aftercare
Mistress Steel Aftercare , Dominant Drop and Sub Rebound
Mrs Claudia Domme Guilt: when something goes wrong (post: 5 June 2007)
Ooooohhhhyesss Sub physiology: aftercare and sub drop
RavenMuse Reclaiming our morality (on domdrop and top guilt)
Richard Evans Lee Aftercare 31 jan 06
Sensual Sadist Aftercare for the dominant
Sir Real 10 ways to fight subdrop + BDSM Science (on drop related chemicals)
Wikipedia - entries on subdrop, aftercare

You can join an ongoing discussion on the issues of aftercare for dominants on FetishLore (here).

For the BDSM for Beginners: Aftercare series

Many thanks to:

Nikita, elise, WickedAngel, Carrie Ann, cyndi, aria and
other members of FemSubStartingPlace,
littleone / morningstar (the journey)
Wolffie, Siannyn, Torvea, TWs_MsSquirt, Satyrblade, Icky,
mont2002, Jadetiger, Pet + Saffron (all from MyDungeonSpace)
Lavender Scorpion, Miss Bonnie + parttimeswitch (FetishLore)

sexslavealexa, snarkly71 + slavejamie2 (alt.com)
RisiaSkye + Private Label (Literotica Forum)

Richard (DownOnMyKnees) + Alexandra (Sensual Sadist)
Mrs Claudia (Starting a Femdom Marriage)
who all kindly contributed their thoughts and advice to this series,
and to the many other kinksters who wrote of their
experiences on the internet

Photos:
provenances unknown
(details of titles / photographers
would be sincerely appreciated)

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