Because You’re Worth It

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

“Nobody dies from the lack of sex. It’s lack of love we die from.”— Margaret Atwood

“Do you provide aftercare?” This is a question a dear friend once asked me, that caught me off guard. I think I would have been less shocked if she’d ask me, “Do you breath air?” How anyone could reach a place that this needed to be asked was beyond me.

For the uninformed, aftercare refers to an act of service comprised of time and attentiveness which is done after typically a BDSM scene, but also can include post-coital cuddling and communication. It’s a period of bonding with an intimate partner after exploring physical intimacy together whether plain vanilla sex or something much more hardcore.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with it, I keep seeing a focus on hooking up, the all too familiar DTF (Down To F***) paradigm. We are all very much animals, physiologically speaking, and we all have sexual needs. The experience of a visceral coupling with someone you barely know, based on primal physical attraction, does have it’s allure to even me, but the basic humanity of your temporary partner is often lost. I’m speaking to men, women and non-gender binary people in this appraisal. It is common to view your partner in this situation as nothing more than a means to release, but something precious is often lost without accompanying aftercare. The sentiment of losing respect for someone because they had sex too quickly can often become an ugly side effect of this thinking.

Physiologically speaking, attention to your partner is necessary as post-coital tristesse can occur, often called “drop”, following sexual intimacy, largely connected to adrenaline rush and endorphins crashing. This is particularly the case after an intense scene or a particularly aggressive lovemaking experience. A state of mild shock is not completely uncommon. Your partner will need to be cared for, as will you.

I’ll break down common components of aftercare, that may or may not apply to a particular intimate coupling, BDSM or vanilla. I’ll try to use appropriate terminology, but these points refer to any gender, any position or any role in play and sex. Even a dominant partner often needs these too, where applicable:

Comfort and safety: If restraints or particularly athletic positions where explored, simply reaching a place of comfort is typically the first concern. Moving carefully to a comfortable couch or simply lying down in bed together can instill a stronger sense of connection, even if only on a human level. If a partner was blindfolded, make sure it’s removed carefully so as to not startle them with potentially bright lights. If orgasm occurred, the person may be a bit dizzy and unsteady. Cover up your partner if it may be too chilly.

Attend to injuries: If play was rough, attend to any injuries that may have happened. Antiseptic ointments can be used for cuts and abrasions, as well as perhaps bite marks and scratches. Muscle cramps can often happen at this time. Taking a few moments to massage out a cramp in a partner can be very beneficial to establishing trust and a healthy connection. Learning first aid, personally, is always beneficial regardless of to whom it’s applied.

Hydrate: It almost seems silly to mention, but have fresh water ready. This helps both you and your partner, as even gentle love making can often dehydrate a person. I often have drinking straws too, as an intense scene can make shaking hands and full glasses a soggy disaster waiting to happen.

Be present: This is a time to hold your partner, lie beside than and simply be there for them. Maybe they need to be held. Maybe they need you to not touch them at first. Taking the time to be present with them will help normalize their mental and emotional state and help bring about closeness. Running to jump in the shower now can often humiliate a partner. Waiting will not harm you and can greatly benefit your partner.

Communicate: When you are both ready, after a bit of afterglow perhaps, start communicating. It can be as simple as caressing them and reminiscing about what was done together. Did you try something new? How did it feel? Did they reach orgasm, and if not does that matter to them? Should something be explored more or has a limit been reached? How do they feel about what you did together? Perhaps, in many cases, just lying together, holding each other close listening to each other’s breathing, is enough communication.

Round two?: Often, meaningful aftercare can become foreplay for a second encounter. Perhaps you both (but not limited to just two person couplings in this) shower together, or simply go to sleep together. If it’s morning, maybe it’s time to make or get breakfast. This all can be part of aftercare and help instill a deeper bond.

But, what if this was just a hookup? Aftercare isn’t just for your partner… it’s also for you. This is a powerful time to reflect on your own experience and what you’ve learned about yourself as a person and a lover. I might add, without judgement, that a hookup can become much more in time, and even a friendship could be very beneficial to both partners. I am both demisexual and polyamorous, so I view physical intimacy through those lenses. Even the most casual of sexual encounters can often have an element of deeper connection, and purely sexual relationships can be nurturing, too. A person’s body is just a part of them, and the sexiest part of anyone is their mind. Aftercare can lead to better intimacy, better connection and just plain better sex. The communication that comes out of it can make it like Captain Hammer said, “… better the second time.”

Better relationships, more communication, more openness and more love is better for everyone, and you really are worth it.

The Care and Keeping of Your Demisexual

When the Friendship is the Doorway

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Photo by Christiana Rivers on Unsplash

“If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends. Make it last forever; friendship never ends” — Spice Girls

“Would you like to come back to my place?” she asked with a clear intention. We’d danced half the night away, and had enjoyed our evening together. She was a woman that I’d met only that evening, and while I was only 19 years old she was four years older. She was visiting from out of state and would be leaving after the weekend. It was the kind of invitation most young men would dream of with no expectations beyond that night, but I realized I knew nothing about her. I enjoyed spending time on the dance floor with her, and she was objectively attractive, fit and beautiful — but I felt nothing for her. She was fun, but she was just someone I had danced with. “Sorry, I can’t… I have to work early tomorrow.” I had lied to her as I didn’t have work the next morning. She looked hurt and we parted ways. I didn’t realize then what I was, and for a long time I thought there was something very wrong with me.

Human sexuality is a complex thing, and there are many spectrums to it. While orientation, gender identity and even monogamy/polyamory plurality are among them, the capacity for sexual attraction is a spectrum many don’t understand. For the vast majority, they see some people as sexually attractive. They see someone, that they may know nothing about, and the idea of them as a sexual partner is something they imagine and desire. This is called primary sexual attraction, and is normal for people who are allosexual, or simply sexual humans. Other people never experience sexual attraction to others, or to a lesser degree. These people fall on the asexual spectrum, some in between identify as grey asexualgreysexual or grey-a, but those on this spectrum can be called an ace.

Another ace type is demisexual, of which I am. Demisexuals don’t experience primary sexual attraction, except sometimes in very fleeting temporary cases. We experience secondary sexual attraction after a strong emotional bond is formed, typically through close friendship. No, this doesn’t mean we want to have sex with every close friend, but that sexual attraction for us is only truly found after friendship is formed. Allosexuals often feel sexual attraction to coworkers and people with whom it would not be appropriate to pursue, but we need to know someone and have an emotionally intimate connection with them for the same attraction to occur.

Some things that are very common for demisexuals is that we are typically baffled by flirting. I can recognize when I’m being flirted with, and can even emulate the activity on an almost psychologically academic level, but I really don’t get it on a fundamentally personal level. This can also give mixed signals to most people and make us appear to be prudes, or even belonging to other sexual orientations. I’m far from a prude, being very sex positive, and when in a close sexual relationship we can be very passionate and often times quite adventurous. The games people play, the subtle dance and sexual politics are exhausting and uninteresting to us. I can see an objectively attractive woman and recognize that she is aesthetically attractive, but to me she’s as sexy as a ham sandwich unless I form a connection with her and get to know her on an emotional level.

In a very connected manner to flirting, hook up culture is also lost on us for the most part. Casual sex and no strings attached rendezvouses are not typically something we want. Yes, it’s possible to just need to feel the enjoyment of human contact and the endorphin rush of a good orgasm, but much of the attraction would need to be faked and can kill any benefit from it. As a demisexual man, faking sexual attraction can have physical limitations in most cases. Sensual attraction, the desire to kiss, cuddle and touch, is often separate for demisexuals, and a good make out session can feel wonderful, but the desire for getting butt nekid and do the horizontal mambo is usually for a later date after an emotional bond has been formed. At least apps like Tinder have started to recognize that demisexuals, and other orientations exist, giving hope to those of us that do want to date and meet prospective partners.

So you may be asking yourself, why would dating a demisexual be worth it, if it require this much work and there’s no guarantee of a connection? Here’s the thing, we may be an investment in time, emotion and energy, but when a demisexual loves you, you have no worries. We don’t cheat as almost a rule, and why would we? As long as the relationship is healthy and mutually reciprocal, meaning not abusive, suffocating or neglectful, we would never stray. When we form that connection, the attraction for us is powerful. We adore and dote on our partners passionately, and are very giving by nature. We also are not keyed into your physicality as much, so if you’ve developed love handles, wrinkles or a little extra here and there, we’ll find your body very sexy still. To quote the movie Don Juan Demarco, “… I see these women for how they truly are… glorious, radiant, spectacular, and perfect, because, I am not limited by my eyesight.” We will see your insecurities as endearing, and be reassuring and supportive in how much we love and desire you. We tend to be very attentive lovers, often spending a great deal of time learning how to be adept at lovemaking to help keep people we are building connections with happy while we get there.

What if it doesn’t work out? What have you really lost, if you’ve gained a good friend? We value you, and when we look at you, we see you, the real you inside. We are also investing our time and energy in you, too. Some people refer to being stuck in the friend zone, a rather misogynistic concept formed by people expecting sex as a result of being, more accurately pretending to be, a friend. But by being a real friend, you can likely win our hearts.

Being a demisexual is complicated. Along with other aces, we are under the umbrella of the LGBTQIA+ label (hint: the “A”). As a sexual minority, we deal with our share of discrimination. We are often called freaks, damaged and needing therapy, mindless robots or are simply accused of lying. We are erased as not existing at all by many. A 2005 ace community survey found that approximately 43.5% of aces have experienced sexual assault, something I’m all too familiar with personally. We are topics of jokes and often dehumanized. But we are real. I often wear a black ring on my right middle finger, a common ace pride symbol. Some of my closest friends are aces and demis, because we understand each other. I struggle with male friendships because I don’t vibe with the traditional male views of sexuality. Heck, the couple of times I’ve ended up in an exotic dance club, I spent more time talking to the dancers than anything else.

Many of us don’t actively pursue relationships. I’ve talked to many demisexuals who go years, even decades, without a single date. I’ve done multi year long stretches of non-dating too. Still we desire friendship, then companionship, then the other things that involve the naughty bits. We get there, but not at a fast rate. To make a joke, how many demisexuals does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but it’s going to take a while, so get used to the dark. But you won’t be alone in that dark.

We are worth the time it takes to get to know us. To have us find you attractive means you’ve given of yourself to us, and we adore you. We don’t undress you with our eyes.

We look for your heart.