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Coping with Emotional Sub Drop
Many discussions of sub drop examine the physical aspects of post-scene aftercare but often overlook the more chronic and potentially crippling emotional effects. Too often, submissives and other BDSM partners are left to suffer in silence and often alone, the worst possible outcome.
Immediately following a scene or BDSM play, a submissive may experience an emotional high, a carefree feeling, an overwhelming sense of being free of stress and worries. However, when this feeling fades it can be replaced by other less desirable emotions. This emotional or mental drop varies in intensity and duration but often takes the form of guilt, anxiety, melancholy, depression, and/or agitation. While this may happen immediately or within a few hours following a scene, it can also manifest itself for several days to even a week or more after a hard scene.
The emotional manifestations of sub drop are often a direct result of coming down or “crashing” off of the endorphin high brought about by BDSM play. But they can also be a byproduct of physical exertion and stressors encountered during the course of play as well. These physical effects only serve to compound the psychological impact.
One of the causes of mental or emotional drop can be a sense of loss brought about by a feeling of being suddenly disconnected from a BDSM partner. During the scene, a feeling of intense intimacy is created between the Dominant and submissive and if that contact is not maintained into the post-scene environment, a feeling of loss akin to the mourning of a death can set in. During a scene a submissive looks to the Dominant for a feeling of safety and security, allowing them to feel profoundly vulnerable and exposed. After a scene that vulnerability can lead to an overwhelming sense of having been deserted if there is no continued contact between the Dom and the submissive. The result is that a submissive can be left feeling used or abandoned.
Guilt and shame are also very common feelings experienced during emotional sub drop. These can be brought about by perceptions of social stigmas against BDSM and sexual activity. For new submissives especially, societal perceptions of sexual and/or gender roles and acceptable practices can cause confusion in the days following a scene. There can also be a sense of disbelief on the part of a submissive that they would actually allow themselves to do the things they have done or be treated in the way that they have been. Shame can play a major role in emotional drop compounded by a sense of isolation. Due to a sense of shame, a submissive can feel completely alone and unable to reach out to their customary support network of family and friends because “they simply would not understand.” Here the Dominant or other BDSM partner needs to play a crucial supportive role.
Severe emotional sub drop can have long lasting effects. A serious occurrence with little or no care can damage or destroy a relationship between a Dom and sub, the trust bond having been severed between the two. As with all emotions, sub drop can also influence reactions to future scenes, the effects of which should be monitored closely. It is important that every effort be made to make sure that a scene ends as a positive experience.
The best way to cope with mental sub drop is relatively simple but the responsibility falls squarely on the Dominant, ACE:
A – after care directly following the scene
C – contact in the hours and days following the scene
E – expression of positive reinforcement to the submissive
Aftercare should be more than a Dom simply making sure the submissive is physically all right. It should also be a period of positive reinforcement, reassurance, and connection. The submissive is especially vulnerable in the period directly after a scene before they have regained their faculties. They need to feel safe, valued, and cared for during this period so that the whole scene experience is a positive one.
Contact in the hours and days after a scene is essential to ensuring that the experience remains positive for the submissive. This does not simply mean casual contact, but rather being genuinely available and prepared to really listen and allow the submissive to express what they are feeling. Many times deep emotions come up during this period and by providing a receptive outlet for them, the Dom can help the submissive explore all the feelings conjured up during the scene and afterward and prevent them from festering and causing real damage.
Expression of positive reinforcement is one of the most crucial aspects of aftercare. With a few kind and loving words a Dom can allow the submissive to feel pride in his or her self. Express honest positive thoughts and emotions to them. Compliment them on how they did and what they did well. This single aspect of after care will have the greatest affect on avoiding severe mental sub drop and resulting after effects. Making the interaction between Dom and sub a positive experience can help minimize or prevent guilt or shame that might be felt later.
Above all, be there for each other. Drop is not limited solely to submissives, Doms can feel profound emotional drop as well and for similar reasons. It is crucial that the bond that brought you together to play in the BDSM space in the first place be maintained through the scene and well into the hours and days that follow. Be kind, loving and considerate to each other. Support one another and above all be patient. Handled properly, drop can be averted or at least managed in such a way that both partners remain committed to one another and to not only continuing the D/s relationship but also plumbing its depths still further.
Treat as you would hope to be treated.
Caption © For The Love of a Submissive, 2013
Originally posted on February 15, 2013
Adapted from an article by David Williams
Image © Aedo Pultrone
Note: The above article has been re-blogged with permission from the author. More work of the author can be found here