Aftercare is usually thought of as after kinky or rough sex. While this concept originated in the BDSM community, it is helpful after any sexual encounter. In fact, it can help stave off the feeling of low spirits that can be experienced after a sexual encounter. Aftercare is not just for BDSM, and it's not just for couples. Every sexual encounter can benefit from some aftercare.
Sex releases a number of feel good chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin. As these chemicals fade in the brain, aftercare can be utilized to help you get back to a normal, even state of mind. Aftercare helps you come back down from those intense feelings of pleasure slowly and in a safe space. In the BDSM community, aftercare is used to come back to reality after a "scene" which may have been out of the norm for the participants. After more tame sex, aftercare can still be used to come back down from the height of pleasure for both partners. Aftercare is the door between sex and being in bed together. Even if it is your first time with a partner, this time can be used to touch base with each other to bridge the gap between orgasm and relationship, even if the relationship is a one night stand.
Aftercare can also be used to help build closeness with your partner. This continued intimacy of touching and communicating after sex can be the building block of a healthy relationship. Creating a feeling of safety and comfort after sex can help you and your partner relax with each other and carry on the intimacy long after the orgasm. Not everyone wants cuddles and sweet talk after sex, so communication is critical. If your partner needs some space after sex, try to meet them in the middle with a little snuggle, then alone time. As long as both of you are getting what you need in aftercare, any combination of activities will work. Talking about what you each want is its own aftercare. Communication is always key with sex and afterwards as well. Pay attention to the mood of your partner. This can help you open the door to talking and searching out what kind of aftercare they may be wanting.
Examples of aftercare could include holding each other and talking, and a nice couples shower. Some people might want a play by play of what they liked or a snack. Some people want more touch like a light massage or to even put on comfortable pajamas and snuggle in the blankets. The possibilities are endless, and it is up to you and your partner to come up with what works for both of you. Any act of respect and kindness between partners is great for aftercare. You want yourself and your partner to feel good about what just happened and who it happened with. These respectful acts could even be as simple as offering to help them clean the area, allowing time to redress modestly, going to get them a drink or offering to light a smoke or candle.
Aftercare is just as important as orgasm when it comes to satisfying sex. Taking some time and effort to engage with your partner can make the entire sexual experience more pleasureable and satisfying. The connection with your partner is worth the time and effort.