Everyone’s pretty much experienced the highs and lows of a roller coaster – the excitement and anticipation you feel as you reach the top and the thrilling rush afterwards.
But as you also know those feelings dissipate afterwards and you might even need time to process what you just went through. For example, it might have felt really good in the heat of the moment but now you’re not sure how you feel. While not exactly the same as a roller coaster, the highs and lows of sex in the kink community can feel the same. This is known as sub drop and top drop – “sub” referring to the submissive partner and “top” being the dominant partner.
“‘Top drop’ is a term used after a very high, fast-paced BDSM session, when the dominant partner experiences a major mood shift, such as guilt and/or depression, once the high-high of the experience has settled down,” Megwyn White, Clinical Sexologist and Director of Education at Satisfyer , explains to SheKnows. “‘Sub drop’ is a term also used after a very high, fast-paced BDSM session, but when the submissive partner experiences a major mood shift after an intense session.”
White says it’s common for both dominant and submissive partners to experience feelings of guilt and irritability during the after-stages of BDSM and intense mood shifts are “completely normal.”
“This is because the body is on such a high-high during the session, and afterwards, when moods are back to normal, it can feel depressing when that euphoric feeling goes away,” she says. “This is a common feeling for BDSM participants because of how intense some sessions can get, the major high wears away after activity is complete.”
To help prepare for the sub drop and top drop, including after-care measures, read on for White’s tips.
Always communicate with your partner
To best prevent the feelings of intense sadness after a BDSM session, White says it is critical to openly communicate with your partner. “Sharing how you feel, whether it’s positive or negative, will help both partners feel safer with one another and build their level of trust,” she explains.
“Open and honest communication at all times is always most important. It can also help you in understanding what you are getting out of BDSM and what it means to you, which can support evolving your play in a more conscious way.”
She recommends having these conversations before and after sessions. She says speaking beforehand about what you may experience afterwards, will help your partner better understand the situation and can be prepared to help, while reconnecting after the session is important too “as these check-ins can make sure your partner is feeling stable and where you can help them, if asked to support.”
Consent is crucial
In addition to communication, White says partners can prepare themselves beforehand by reconfirming their consent in the BDSM activity and having a safe word planned beforehand that is respected when/if it is used when one partner is feeling uncomfortable. “That being said, verbal and non-verbal communication and negotiations can continue throughout the session to ensure safety and pleasure for everyone involved,” she notes.
“For instance, if you are exploring different levels of pain through spanking, you might agree on attuning to each other through a scale of 1-10 in terms of pain thresholds to better understand where the edge is. Or use your hand to help guide your partner in a non-verbal way to an area of your body you feel more comfortable exploring.”
White points out there is never a wrong time to speak up or shift the session. “Negotiating some of these additional verbal and non-verbal communications, along with a safe word, can increase safety and clarity for all involved,” she says.”
Talk about your after-care procedures
In addition, White says it’s important to make sure you have openly communicated your aftercare procedures to your partner(s) and that it is understood by all involved, as well as that you understand their aftercare routines.
“Aftercare is essential for all partners involved after intense BDSM sessions, as it helps you process the intense activity that just took place, as your hormones level back to your normal feelings,” she says. “Some people like to stay close to their partner(s) after activity, through quality time, such as cuddling, taking a bath, watching a movie together, or relaxing. On the other hand, some people prefer to be alone post-BDSM as it gives them space to recover.”
By communicating with your partner(s) what makes you feel the best after an intense session before participating, White says “a more positive experience is facilitated overall,” which will surely help with the drop.
A version of this article originally appeared here on sheknows.com