I was talking to a partner of mine a while ago about dating/fucking other people, and made a connection I hadn’t made before.
A couple of weeks prior, I’d had date with a girl. It was the first time I’d had a date with someone else since my partner and I had gotten together. We talked it over beforehand—how we were both feeling about it, anything either of us was nervous about, etc—and she asked if we could talk about it afterward as well. We did. A part of that conversation was my reassuring her that my feelings toward her had not changed on account of interacting with this new person.
Fast forward a few weeks. We’re talking about any boundaries that might need setting for the convention she’s about to go to, since there’ll likely be lots of kink. After the basic STD rules were laid out, we got to talking about the emotional aspect of it. She asked me if I was okay with her playing with this guy who had asked her to play. I said she could, but that I would want to talk to her about it sometime afterward, to process, and to be reassured that she still felt the same way about me.
It was about this time that I realized that what she had asked for after my date, and I was asking for now was, in a way, similar to aftercare in BDSM. A partner doing things with another person can be an emotional experience for someone. It can be uncomfortable, trigger insecurities, etc, just like BDSM scenes can. Just like scenes, reassurance and support after the fact is sometimes the best way of ameliorating those feelings.
The same way we often need support from people after doing anything emotional, or after anything emotional happens to us. Presentations, fights, break-ups, skydiving, performances, that big exam, whatever. Sometimes the simple, “You were awesome” or “I love you” or “It’ll be okay” or “I still want to fuck you every hour on the hour” is all you need.
So if you’re just trying poly out, or just get those pesky insecurities that pretty much all of us do now and then, ask for aftercare when your partner is doing something that makes you feel icky. One of those useful tools to add to your Relationships Toolbox, along with Communication and Honesty and Being All Thoughtful About Your Feelings And Shit.