Consent with Caitlin: After sex, now what?

Graphic by Haley Morkert.

CAITLIN SEGRAVES | OPINION CO-EDITOR | csegrave@butler.edu

You’ve just done the deed, danced the horizontal tango, hankied the panky, boinked — do you just roll over and check your phone? I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows that gorgeous gorgeous girls always pee after sex, but something might be missing from your post-sex routine. 

First of all, if you don’t pee after sex, you definitely should. This applies regardless of what parts you’ve got under the hood, although it is especially important for those with vaginas. After all, UTIs suck.

Hopefully, most people realize that foreplay is a vital part of having sex. It increases the pleasure of all parties involved, and it’s always important to warm up those engines. But what about after sex is over? Consider implementing “post-play,” or as it’s more commonly referred to, aftercare

Aftercare is just as important as foreplay, but it’s often overlooked. Aftercare broadly refers to taking the time to check in with your partner after sex. It’s much more common to talk about aftercare within the BDSM community, since some kinks can be mentally or emotionally draining, but aftercare is a crucial part of any sexual encounter.

Having sex, especially having an orgasm, results in a lot of wonky hormone levels. You get a rush of endorphins, oxytocin and dopamine — happy hormones that make you feel good during sex. But after finishing, these hormone levels drop and you might be left feeling like you just face-planted after finishing a marathon. 

That is why aftercare is so important to implement in your sexy-time lifestyle. Aftercare is like your partner catching you after the marathon and not leaving you to face-plant. 

Aftercare can come in the form of cuddling, just laying next to each other or taking a shower together. Remaining physically close is a reinforcement of the emotional aspect of aftercare; it’s another way to express that you value the physical intimacy you just shared.

It’s important to remember that aftercare isn’t just something to do with a long-term partner; it’s also necessary for casual relationships and one-night stands. Aftercare ensures that both partners are feeling satisfied, cared for and respected. 

What if you aren’t satisfied after knocking boots? It can be really hard to express to your partner, especially in more casual situations, that you didn’t reach that peak or you weren’t ready to finish when they were. It’s so much easier said than done, but if your partner doesn’t check in with you, it’s important to bite the bullet and just ask them if they could do a little something extra. 

Even just rolling over and saying, “How was that for you?” can start a conversation about the intimacy you just shared. It can also provide an opportunity for you to share your experience! If you’re worried about hurting your partner’s feelings like I am, you can preface your conversation with, “That was good, do you mind doing X, Y or Z? I just need a little extra to get me over the finish line.”

If, for whatever reason, your partner will not or cannot provide aftercare, try getting cozy with yourself. Throw on a comfy sweatshirt, warm socks and a good TV show. If you’re feeling crazy, journaling is also a great way to debrief on your own. 

Consider having a more serious conversation with your partner if you consistently find yourself having to provide aftercare on your own. If they aren’t comfortable with providing aftercare, that can be a major red flag. Not being willing to participate in aftercare with you can mean they are emotionally unavailable, don’t respect or value you or just aren’t very giving. Although sometimes the context of a situation — like having a roommate — can make it harder to take the time, it’s always worth a conversation.

You and your partner, regardless of the relationship status, deserve to check-in with each other to make sure you are both okay and content. You both deserve to feel valued and not like a used condom. 

All of that being said, aftercare can look different for every person and partnership. If you’re consistently with the same person or people, making a routine that is comfortable for all parties involved might be the best way to go. If you frequently switch up who you have sex with, just make sure to communicate with them and figure out what you both need! 

Of course, the sex education you got in high school probably didn’t include aftercare or the variety of ways it can be individualized to every partnership. 

Loosely translated, that means no smashing and dashing.

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