WRITTEN AND RESEARCHED BY ELIZA LAWRENCE.
AFTER THE PLAY
Intercourse is not the only course and it is about time that we need to cum (!) to terms with that.
This is advice with a certified GSRD (Gender, Sexuality, Relationships and Diversity) background although I come from a hetero relationship.
We finish in a heap of exhausted, trembling, parallel bodies, combining our bodies in a symphony of deep, intoxicated breath.
The two of us have just climaxed. I went first this time as he gave me his mouth for fifteen minutes of pleasure, before he began his own entry. I often don’t climax from penetrative sex, unless the penetration happens after I have already climaxed. This is a good trick for anyone who is finding it hard to orgasm with their partner, as it loosens, lubricates and lets you relax before the act of penetrative sex.
We are there, on the bed, in starfish formation, panting and crawling back to reality. One of us always comes back to reality first and this time it was him. Those first instances of movement remind me of when you move your body for the first time after yoga meditation. They ask you to slowly move the tips of your fingers and as you begin those sensations your body feels vivid, heavy, and full of blood. What he does next has changed my entire perspective on sex. He does not turn away or fall asleep. His fingers come to me. They trace the linings of my starfish body, the fingers dip into the curves to scoop out the treacle sweat that has created small fecund ponds above my linings. He watches me intensely as I react to the sensitivity of my system. He dips down lower, into my wet harvest and combs his hands over the earthquakes surface. He holds me tightly and then relaxes and folds my body, like dough before it goes into the oven. I am by his side, I am by his corners, I am on him, I am by his feet, and all the while, I haven’t moved any part of myself by myself. Once he has flattened me out and then rolled me back into a ball again, he faces me and watches my eyes, which always dilute after sex. He tells me they are a deep honey brown and I can feel him trying to lick my viscous. I begin to feel like a honey stick with every groove descending in the circumference of another and finally the golden drip descending, feeding whoever lays at this beyond its precipice. He was spending time on me, with me.
When my consciousness had finally resurfaced, still with fuzzy formations, I began to realise I had never really had this interaction in bed before. After the climax was done, I would get up from my chair and leave the auditorium and the man would most likely never make it out of the auditorium. They would be in the chair, slumped, adding a symphony of snoring to the echoed corridors of the theatre. This is all a metaphor to basically say that after the climax; after the act of penetration or intercourse, we often tend to believe that is the end of the play.
It feels like a hidden secret that there is another act. It feels like I have watched a really good film and have held out in watching the roll on of credits, to then finally be awarded another bit of acting. Some directors actually do this such as ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ where Tarantino places a 1 minute cigarette advert led by starring acting, Leonardo Dicaprio. So what I amsaying is its smart, its creative, and its ingenious to stay for the credits. Sit in your velvet seat for longer than you expect. Challenge yourself. Lick the plate. Give the ‘afterplay’ you both (or all) definitely need.
There are reasons we have forgot or not administered proper ‘aftercare’ for the ‘afterplay’ of sex, which I will discuss now. For SO long we have seemingly become so focused on sex being goal orientatated not pleasure orientated. Think of ‘goal orientated’ sex as a ladder in which each step is a position within the sexual act that you mark off to aim for the end goal of an orgasm. Goal orientated centres on male ejaculation in hetero-focused relationships. Certified intimacy educator Shan Boodram said in The Zoe Report, “Because the male orgasm is crucial to procreate, our society has built this idea that the male orgasm is crucial for sex; that sex begins with a hard penis and ends with a flaccid penis. Because women don’t have to orgasm to create life, it took a different level of societal importance.” As the world becomes more secular and procreation isn’t anymore the reason for having sex it seems we have still built our understanding and education within this old framework. This is dangerous as it means women hear the repeated verse, which they then install in their minds of ‘if it’s good for me, it’s good for me’. Women, therefore don’t feel entitled to pleasure. It is time that this cultural script is shredded. It is now time to take a pleasure-orientated approach where both needs and desires can be met and climax is not the finish line. Procreation is now blurred out and the need to ‘perform’ is banished. If you are going up a ladder, your focus is on going up and not falling. This also may intellectualize the process and put your analyzer self at the forefront of your sexual practice. Analysing and sexual intercourse don't always come hand in hand, body in the body, so instead of walking up that ladder, orient the pleasure. Forget the climb. This may be hard to do when we are enveloped with mainstream porn where bodies mechanically switch between token positions that always lead to orgasm (inverted commas). Goal orientated sex is what has got us into forgetting about the importance of ‘afterplay’. The ladder is limited and the goal has been determined: Orgasm. So what is there after? Pleasure orientated sex models allow for an after.
There is also a biological reason why we don’t always value an afterworld of climax. As does a womans, men’s body chemistry changes after having an orgasm. During the act itself, you are continuously releasing oxytocin which banishes stress and makes it easier to relax. The process of oxytocin release begins to get you in the mood for your full body and mind to become docile. Men specifically give off a biochemical called prolactin and vasopressin which makes them tired. This explains a lot of my past experiences. I have turned over to light a cigarette and upon turning back around the man is completely shut-eye and I smoke that cigarette alone, feeling like i'm in a dramatic French film cliche. I say dramatic, but that drama comes with a certain sadness. After such intense combinations of combusting energy, after sharing vulnerability and secret neural and physical pathways, it seems a bit of an anti-climax to find the man has left you solo. It can often minus the recent physical climax. In a study of 1000 female students by Laurie Meritz 80 % said that emotional connection was more important to them than orgasm. ‘Afterplay’ is when a women’s emotions are fizzing and thus if you want to protect her and nurture her pleasure, ‘Afterplay’ is something you must consider. You can be as drowsy as you want to be, just don’t turn it off completely! While men’s breathing and heart rate return to normal after an orgasm, a woman’s body remains active for much longer after an orgasm, fizzing with happy and bonding hormones. Because of this, a woman may lie awake. Post-coital depression is when a partner feels empty or unhappy after intercourse. 'Afterplay' is important in situations like this as it can reassure the partner through touch and intimacy.
I repeat, Intercourse is not the only course.
I want to rewrite my own history and encourage a different definition of sex that now includes ‘Afterplay’ being as important as the main course. I can’t believe I spent so much of my sexual life thinking sex only had one course. How unfulfilling. Like being on a cleanse forever!
So we and you can have foreplay, intercourse and ‘Afterplay’. Maybe you can even add more courses. Maybe one lasts longer than another. Maybe sometimes you leave some out. Maybe you do a couple of try outs before you have both communicated fully what works. Whatever way you do it, you know you now have more space, more dynamism, more time and less pressure in this process. Consequently, more pleasure also. By realising this, we can also banish the normalisation of our sexual conversation being centred around hetero-sex. We can banish also the centering of the penis being the one we worship. We can worship all parts of the body and some being more important in the different courses.
Back to my ‘Afterplay’ story:
When he finally had licked all my corners, I took to softening out his body which had stiffened after climax. I worked on his back which had been arched for a while during a sexual position. I also guided him to watch me put on my clothes in the same seductory way as i had taken them off. It was extremely sexy and meant that all that pleasure was suspended for way longer and even travelled into the day, sending my body into nostalgic micro orgasmic shivers doing mundane tasks.
So, how do we begin to find that treacle 'Afterplay’? I will list a few ways, but the best way to start to get the ball rolling, is to ask your partner how they would like to be received after the climax (or just after the sex has become physically satisfied).
Looking into each others eyes
Communicating about what feels good (reliving the act)
Taking a bath
Getting each other's clothes on in a tender way
Good luck and let me know, was it good for you?