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Graphic by: Gwyneth Gravador

Sex is a deeply intimate act that requires so much more than just a physical connection. Whether it be just a hookup or a relationship it is very important to respect your partner and provide them a safe space leading up to, during and after sex.

Aftercare can be seen as the unofficial “cool down” period after sex. Let’s get into it.

What is Aftercare?

Think of aftercare as the “post-move” after sex. Typically after any period of sexual contact, you are left feeling very vulnerable. Sex itself is a deeply open act, leaving you completely open to your partner.

Regardless of the type of sex you have, it is important to practice aftercare.

“Aftercare is a way of showing kindness and caring to your partner,” according to Kimberly Atwood, a licensed counselor and a professional sex therapist. This is because sex releases a huge rush of hormones, feel-good chemicals and emotions. You don’t just want to crash, so aftercare plays a huge role in cooling down.

For this article, I asked one of my past partners to describe what aftercare is to him. He described lying next to a partner and cuddling them. Touching them all over, playing with their hair and talking to them. The big part was talking to them about anything and everything while still flirting and complimenting them as well as telling them how much they mean.

How Can Aftercare Vary From Person To Person?

Aftercare is typically associated with the kink scene. This is mainly because it is commonly used among those practicing BDSM within their sex life. Dr. Jenni Skyler, resident sexologist of Adam & Eve writes BDSM usually involves some form of role-play or more hardcore scenes, so aftercare can be used to bring their partners back to reality and readopt their day-to-day roles with one another and it’s a way of resetting your equilibrium.

However, not everyone practices BDSM within their sex life, so that raises the question of why practice aftercare to begin with?

A friend close to men mentioned how important the partners reassuring each other about feeling good with what they did together and hanging out was. Having hour-long gab sessions after a hookup can keep the mood fun. Making sure the other person gets home safe is part of it when it’s a hookup, that can mean a lot.

My past partner also added, “For me, I feel very happy and safe and secure. I like aftercare because it shows that we’re not really using each other and we both genuinely care for each other.”

What Are Some Ways To Provide Aftercare?

Well, this varies from person to person. When I asked my friends to list out how they provide aftercare I received a variety of different actions.

Some ways include showering together, stroking or playing with your partner’s hair and discussing the sex had just before.

Other methods given were mutual clean-up and showing affection in more gentle ways like kissing and lying together.

Others mentioned holding each other close, letting one’s heart rate cool down, drinking water and reassurance that it was a good time. It never hurts to have reassurance and something to eat.

How Should Partners Ask For Aftercare?

In any relationship, it is super important to speak up and advocate for yourself. It is especially important during sex because of how vulnerable it is.

“Communicate! Just tell them directly what you want and how you want it,” my past partner said. “Set a time that you both agree to be done having sex so you can have enough time to have proper aftercare…don’t rush sex and don’t skimp on aftercare because it will negatively affect the experience.”

The best way to ask is to be direct with your partner and ask to lay together for a bit instead of leaving immediately. Sometimes, it is a given and does not have to be asked for if you are comfortable enough with your partner to initiate certain types of aftercare.

How Does Aftercare Benefit Sexual Experiences?

Aftercare can allow people to feel comfortable and ease nerves after sex. Even if it’s just a hookup, it means a lot to the partners involved to just be held or spoken to.

“I really like it because it’s another way to show care and love,” a past partner said. “It enhances the sex we’ve had because we can bask in our afterglow and just be happy together.”

It’s important to show someone that you’re being intimate with you care about them beyond the sexual pleasure they give you. If you want your partner to have a good time you need to provide for them emotionally as well.

A lot of women can be especially insecure about their partners or hookup partners only liking them for their body or the sex they have. Aftercare can help to dissuade that.

Overall, aftercare needs to become more normalized. It does nothing but bring positive energy to a sexual encounter no matter how big or small. It is more than just a kink and can be massively beneficial to any relationship.

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