How do you do aftercare in a long-distance relationship?
This is a question that comes up now and then. More people than usual have found themselves in long-distance relationships over the past couple years. Maybe they never expected to be, but Covid forced the issue, so LD relationships have been a big topic.
I was asked about it again recently and I realized I hadn’t done a stand-alone blog post on the subject. I think there was some discussion on aftercare in the main Long-Distance D/s series I did, but it’s probably worth doing on its own.
So, how do you do aftercare when your partner is far away, and you can’t really touch them? Short answer: the same way you do everything else from a distance—with adaptations. The long answer is a little more complicated so let’s dive into it.
No matter what kind of long-distance scene you do, it will probably require some special adaptations. There are a lot of ways to do them. Some people use video calls, others use the phone, and then there are some people who mostly stick to text.
It’s really all about what works for you—but in general you do want some kind of continuous contact to happen during any kind of scene.
By which I mean, sending an email with instructions is fine for some things, like a daily routine, or chores, or if you are setting up a headspace. But when it comes to an actual D/s scene it doesn’t really work for most people, especially if it’s punishment. Long distance can feel lonely sometimes, and doing a scene on a time delay makes it a lot worse.
On top of that, you can’t really prepare or be ready for mood drops, or problems. Aftercare is fairly impossible if you aren’t present in some way to handle it. Let me give you an example of a punishment scene. Obviously this is only one type of scene you can do long-distance, but punishment can be especially emotional so it’s a good one to focus on.
Because you didn’t complete your list of chores yesterday you are going to be punished. You will start by undressing completely. You will then set a timer and go to the corner where you will stand for fifteen minutes facing the wall.
After which you will get your hairbrush and deliver fifty hard swats to your left cheek, then your right. Finish up with fifteen to each thigh and then you will go back to the corner for ten minutes to calm down. When you finish all of that you will go straight to bed.
Tomorrow you will sit your naked butt down on a chair and write out a very detailed description of everything you just did and felt while doing it. Remember I love you and be good.
So, the sub gets this, and he does his best to follow the instructions, but halfway through he starts to breakdown. He gets upset—there’s no one there to comfort him so it turns into a panic attack. He ends up going to bed miserable. The next day he has to confess to Sir that he never finished.
Maybe Sir will comfort him. If he’s a good Dom that will be a priority. But maybe he’ll be mad that the sub didn’t finish the punishment that he’d earned. The submissive is already upset and anything critical the Dom says will make it worse.
And none of it was his fault. Submissives cannot predict when they will get overwhelmed by emotions. They can’t plan in advance to save panic attacks for later. And punishment tends to be an extremely emotional event for submissives.
It’s not the things he had him do. It doesn’t matter whether it was severe or not. For me that would be a small punishment, for others it would be very severe—none of that matters. It’s about the emotions that surround being punished.
There are multiple reasons that people use punishment. To feel like the slate has been cleared, to reinforce rules and discipline, and to help a submissive get over their mistakes so they don’t beat themselves up—those are the top reasons for me.
If the sub was left alone and couldn’t complete a punishment it’s not their fault, but that doesn’t matter because it still means the punishment failed at all of those things. The submissive won’t get over what they did in the first place. They will feel worse. It won’t reinforce anything, and it certainly won’t clear the slate.
And while a regular scene might not be quite as intense emotionally, these crashes can still happen—so the first way to make sure you can provide aftercare from a distance is to be PRESENT in whatever fashion you can. Be a voice they can hear, a face they can see, or in a msg where you can instantly reply to anything that comes up.
By the way… text is the only option some people have, but if you do have other options, I wouldn’t recommend it. If the submissive is struggling it can be very hard to type. Also, it’s easier to hide reactions and more difficult to know what responses you are getting.
But however you do your scenes be there and don’t be distracted by other things. Make the scene your focus, because when you are doing it from a distance building up the emotions is important.
The sub needs to feel like you are with them. They need to know they have all of your attention while the scene is happening because otherwise they can’t let their minds go. So much of a long-distance scene relies on the sub being able to focus on the connection and not the distance between you.
If done right, a good LD scene can be very effective because it can feel like you aren’t apart at all. The sub isn’t just your partner in the scene, they are also your tool acting under your command. If a bottom doesn’t feel that then they won’t get nearly as much from what’s happening.
Your bond is a tangible connection between you both and even at a distance you should be able to feel that connection during a scene. To a certain extent the sub should be able to let go of the fact that they are doing things at your order, and immerse themselves in the feeling that you are the one controlling the scene.
And that spills over into aftercare as well. Don’t wrap up the scene with a quick goodnight and off you go. Just because you’re not physically present doesn’t mean they won’t need aftercare. Most of what you can do for them is … be that presence as they wind down.
But let’s talk about some practical physical things you should do too. Before you start a scene, you would normally have the sub/bottom/Little prepare for it by gathering the things you want them to use during the scene. Part of that preparation should include getting things together that they might need for aftercare too.
While they are laying out implements or whatever you will be using for the scene, have them set out a glass of water, a snack, a warm blankets or stuff—whatever they need. Those things should be right within reach for them.
Your sub should have a good idea of what they need for aftercare if they are experienced players. Have them talk to you about what they are getting ready so that you are part of it. It’s important for you to know what they have set up because you’ll be walking them through using it after.
If they aren’t experienced, then you can tell them what they should get ready. You can fine tune these later as you discover what helps them the most. Start with some basic physical needs:
- Something to drink. It can be water, or tea, or even soda but there should be some liquid.
- A snack, something sweet preferably because after a scene when you come down from the endorphins you sometimes get a sugar crash as well.
- Something to snuggle. It can be a stuffed animal, or just a pillow but often a submissive needs something to cuddle with after. Since you’re not there in person they will need a substitute.
- A blanket. Along with the blood sugar dropping can come a feeling of coldness that’s enough to make them shiver so you want something warm handy, just in case.
- You can have them set up a movie that they find comforting/ fun/ relaxing for after you have to leave them. It will help with the loneliness once you’re gone.
Once this is all set up you can get to the actual scene.
You will guide them through what you want them to do, paying close attention to the reactions you’re hearing, or seeing if you are using video. You will make sure they know you are present and part of things even though you are far away.
Once the scene is over things will segue right into aftercare the same way it would if you were together. You will continue to guide them. Don’t just assume they’ll remember to drink the water, eat the snack, or cuddle up under a blanket—if you do then you are not giving them aftercare. They are taking care of themselves.
If you were there in person, would you expect a sub to get up after a scene and go get themselves a drink while you just sit there and wait for them to come back? Of course not. So remember to talk to them.
Ask them if they need a sip of water, or suggest they drink something, especially if they’ve been crying. You don’t need to order them to eat a snack and get under a blanket, but you do need to offer it. Your submissive may be experienced, may know what they need/want, but things get fuzzy after a scene.
Remember when those endorphins kick in it’s like a high and it can make a sub giggly and forgetful in the aftermath. If it was a not-fun scene then being upset, emotional, crying can all have the same effect of making it hard for them to think and take care of themselves.
So gently suggest and guide them in doing the things you would do if you were there in person. Take some time to be with each other and wind down. Make sure they are okay emotionally before you leave and then check back later, or the next morning to make sure they are still okay.
A few important tips:
Remember that aftercare needs to consider the physical symptoms of the body after a scene as well as the emotional ones. Pain causes real things to happen in the body. The endorphin high can be followed by low blood sugar or chills. That’s why I suggest a snack and a blanket.
Physical drops will be a concern directly after the scene and are usually fairly easily managed by meeting the body’s needs.
Emotional crashes can be more complicated and they don’t always happen immediately. If the scene was intense or emotional the crash could happen the next day or even a few days later. When it does, you’ll want to apply aftercare again but focusing more on the feelings.
Most people don’t think of it as aftercare when it’s necessary a week later—but it is. The sub might not know that’s what they need, but if they seem moody, snappish, or just in general easily upset there’s a good chance they are having an emotional crash.
Take some time with them to talk. To just be together. Maybe watch a movie or play a game. The goal is to remind them that they aren’t alone, even though you aren’t there physically.
And I also want to remind you that if you’re a couple who can visit each other from time to time, you should expect to need to provide aftercare after each visit. Coming home from spending time with your Dom causes the same emotional drops that a scene does. You can even consider the entire visit as one long scene.
And my last bit of advice… aftercare isn’t the same for everyone. What one person needs to feel safe and secure is not what another person needs. There are some subs that will just want to be alone after a scene. There are others who will go straight to sleep.
When you’re dealing with long-distance it’s going to be important to talk about what works for them and what doesn’t. They might need to try out different things to see what helps if they are inexperienced. It’s important to remember that aftercare is about settling them and forcing your idea of aftercare on them when it’s not what they need is the opposite of helpful.
That being said, it’s still a good idea to have the basic physical needs covered by making sure they have something they can drink and snack on nearby. They may be overwhelmed and just want to go to sleep. They may want you to leave them so they can think and decompress… but there’s no harm in suggesting they at least have a few sips of water.
So if you’re in a long-distance relationship, how do you do your aftercare? Any suggestions for other people? Let me know!