I’m hardly the first person to mention it, but tops need aftercare too. Quick disclaimer: not everyone, top or bottom, needs or wants aftercare. That said, needing aftercare as a top is actually really common and we should talk about it more.
First, let’s talk about physical aftercare. Topping often involves a lot of physical effort. Hitting people with things is tiring. I’m not a rope top, but I hear that rope work can be tough on the hands. What I need physically after a scene is to sit down, have a drink of water, and a snack (in my case, something savory with protein and carbs). Once I’ve cooled down, I might also need to put on a sweater.
Emotional aftercare can be a bit more complex. From the time we’re tiny children we’re taught not to hit, not to call each other mean names, not to be bossy or rude or selfish. While violating those taboos can be super hot during a scene, they also make it easy for doubts to creep in afterwards. “What kind of person would treat someone like that?”, we ask ourselves. Or “Oh god, what if my bottom hated the scene, hates me, and never wants to speak to me again?” What I need emotionally after a scene is to cuddle with my bottom, and to check in a day or two later to make sure they’re okay. Physical touch is one of my most important love languages, it goes a long way to reassuring me that my bottom had a good time and still likes me. Checking in a day or two later helps me squash any doubts that might have crept in – I often feel great immediately after a scene, then in a day or two I start wondering if my bottom really had a good time (even when I know perfectly well that they did, I’ve played with people who are really great at giving feedback and setting boundaries) and need a little extra reassurance.
Conveniently enough, my aftercare needs get met by providing my bottom with aftercare. It would be so easy for me to pretend I don’t need aftercare at all, that I’m just giving my bottom aftercare because that’s what decent human beings do. Talking about having needs and feeling vulnerable kind of ruins the illusion that tops are effortlessly in control of all of the things all of the time, so I understand why more tops aren’t shouting from the rooftops about their aftercare needs. However, that’s a big part of why I think it’s important to talk about aftercare for tops.
I really, really hate the idea that ‘real’ doms don’t have emotional needs, never doubt themselves or need reassurance. I’m a person, not a life support system for a whip. I will not deny my own needs just because they don’t fit your fantasy. While I’m venting, I’m also not going to try to measure up to some fucked up ideal of stoic masculinity just because dominance is seen as masculine in our society.
Not only is it obviously cruel and unfair to try to shove me into a tiny, airless box like that, but letting that expectation stand puts an extra hurdle in the way of people trying to get into domination. Just trying to accept that you want to do ‘unacceptable’ things to people is hard enough without also being told that if you ever need someone to hold you and tell you they still like you, you’re a failure as a dom.
How many people have you heard of who looked at the stereotype of the icily perfect bitch-goddess and thought, “I can’t measure up to that, I guess this whole kink thing just isn’t for me.” How many more people would be willing to try adding a little kink to their lives if they knew it was not only okay, but common to need some reassurance afterward?
Readers, let’s talk about aftercare. What kind of aftercare have you or your tops needed? Did you always do aftercare or did it take some time to figure out you needed it?