This week, we had the pleasure of chatting yet again with with the amazing Eleni Gabrielides - Australian sexual health promoter and sexology student - about all things related to bacterial vaginosis. Eleni loves talking all things sex, bodies, relationships and everything in between with plenty of curiosity. She spends her days smashing taboos with enthusiasm and a smile. Read on as Eleni helps us smash stigmas around aftercare!
Flossy: What is aftercare?
Eleni: Aftercare is something that has been adopted from the BDSM world. In BDSM, aftercare is a period of time after a play session that allows for a check-in, care, and a safe space to come down from the emotional high that may have come along with play. It’s a really great practice that anyone can use - even if you’re not into BDSM.
Aftercare provides an opportunity to discuss what you liked about the experience, what you would have done differently, and how you’re feeling. The most important thing to leave out of this convo? Shame.
Flossy: Why is aftercare it important?
Eleni: Sex can bring up a lot of feelings. Things like vulnerability, connection, love, and trauma are among some of the things that can be present before, during and after a sexual experience. It’s important to check-in with your sex partner to make sure everyone’s okay, and also okay with what went down. It’s also an opportunity for you to check in about how you feel the sex went!
Flossy: What are some common barriers to people practicing aftercare?
Eleni: There are a few reasons aftercare can be challenging:
- Sex is pretty vulnerable and has a lot of ego attached to it and often people don't want to hurt each-others feelings with poor feedback.
- If there are already feelings of (uncertainty, lack of safety, dissatisfaction) about the relationship in general, sex can amplify this feelings. If this is the case, you might explore the question "Does the sex reflect how you feel in your relationship?
- There may be feelings of shame about what went down during sex - e.g. was it rough? Was there power play involved? Do you feel that power play impacts how you see yourself?
Sometimes, aftercare can simply be not popping straight up after you've had sex and taking a moment to connect and be present with the experience you just had. Aftercare also doesn't have to mean hours of conversation, it can be as simple as taking some time to stroke your partners back while some music plays.
Here are some tips from Eleni for setting the aftercare tone:
- ‘There’s an album (make it calm and lovely) I really want to listen to, can we take turns giving head massages while we listen?’
- ‘Stay there (in bed), I’m going to make us both a cup of tea and we can chat about how that was for you
- ‘Would you like anything from me right now? I can rub your back?’
- ‘What snack are you craving right now?’
- ‘Want to have a bath? I can wash your hair for you.’
And a few aftercare conversation starters...
- When communicating dislikes, make a compliment sandwich. ‘I loved it when you (X-rated content that you loved), it was so hot I nearly died. I’ve never experienced (insert what you didn’t like) before today. I don’t think it’s my jam but oh my god let’s do (another X-rated content you loved) again, the way you did it is my new favourite thing about you.’
- Communicate what you liked! This is the only way your partner(s) will know how you feel
- ‘How was that for you?’
Flossy: How can people navigate aftercare sans shame!
Eleni: Aftercare is all about being kind to yourself, your sex partner(s) and the space you created together. It allows for a moment to navigate shame and talk it out - which squashes it’s power. If anyone shames your want to share a lovely moment with them (unless they raise a compromise) then that’s pretty rude. Reflect on what you want from that sexual relationship if they don’t value a sexual boundary that you have.
Flossy: Anything else you want people to know about aftercare?
Eleni: That it looks different for everyone. Some people want to be in a lovey, cuddly space, others want their own space. Some people want a snack, others want a shower. It’s all about being open about what you want and compromising to find the best aftercare that suits you and your partner(s) the best.
For any questions or thoughts about aftercare, connect with us today 〰️email@example.com.