"... when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."
-- When Harry met Sally

"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed."
-- Carl Jung

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Subdrop: Reflections from a D/s relationship (E)

Artwork courtesy of Bishop through the Museum of Femdom Art

Have you ever felt emotionally overwhelmed and physically shaky after very intense BDSM play, or a session where limits were pushed back? Overwhelmed... mentally vulnerable... lost... out of control... physically uncomfortable...

If the answer is yes, then chances are you were having subdrop. Or if you are a top, topdrop, although this typically happens more rarely. The mix of the physical reaction and the chemicals coursing through the body resulting from intense play and sensations, and the intense emotions resulting from the mind play and the catharsis of letting go of one's self beyond anything that had been reached before in terms of vulnerability, control, trust, self-expression, desires and fantasies, subspace, and the total giving of one's self to another, can at one point all be too much to handle once it stops.

Subdrop can be physically manisfested by reactions such as crying and extreme emotional release, shaking/trembling, difficulty in stabilizing body temperature (often feeling too cold), lack of appetite, dehydration, nausea, insomnia/restlessness or heavy drowsiness, and more.

Subdrop can be psychologically manifested by any of the following: an emotional pulling away, extreme vulnerability, disorientation, a sense of extreme attachment to the top, shame, self-doubt, self-questioning, extreme emotional states, and more.

Subdrop can take a turn for the worse if aftercare is not adequate, or too short. It may also be made worse, or relapse, if the play partners need to get physically separated after their time together.

In order to minimize the impact of subdrop after the closing of the intense physical and mental connection that developed during play, aftercare is absolutely essential for the sub, and likely necessary to both, especially if they don't live together, and one of them will leave in the hours ( or less) following. What constitutes good aftercare is a complex, person-specific issue in itself, even if there are general helpful guidelines to follow. That may be a future blog entry in the future...

Topdrop can also happen after the severing of the extraordinary connection that develops during play, although it is much rarer. I think it happens more rarely because there is always an element of control on the part of the top (safety, pace, technique, development of the scene, watching for feedback, etc...) that makes it so that they may not be so overwhelmingly letting go during the scene. While it's possible, it's more difficult, and rarer, to get one's limits pushed as a top than it is to push the physical and mental limits of the bottom.

So why am I rambling on about this? It's because I came to a realization while surfing BDSM social networking sites a few days ago that I hadn't suffered any significant/devastating subdrop since my Goddess and I started living together. And she hasn't suffered any significant topdrop since either. It's certainly not because we haven't been pushing limits. Rather, I think the constant presence of each other in our lives, the guarantee the other is not physically leaving, and in fact may be planning to catch a meal, go to sleep, or spending the rest of the day/night together, makes it so that the transition out of the scene is smoother, more gradual, with fewer worries, fewer doubts. I think the on-going dynamics of a 24/7 D/s relationship also makes it less stressful to end play... the connection is never really severed. The top will still be with you in an hour, a day, a week, a month, or forever. Play may resume at any time, the dominance will continue at any time. Nobody is pulling the plug.

And that is a great feeling. Subdrop can be devastating. I know... I've had it often... little drops and huge drops; short drops that lasted a few hours, and long drops that shook me to the core for weeks. Certainly it helps that by now, my Goddess and I have developed post-play routines of aftercare based on how well we know each other. It also helps that we are not going each our own way after play. And I think that the sheer dynamics of a D/s relationship that runs pretty much 24/7, in addition to the level of communications and understanding and trust that has been built until then, is something that helps minimize or eliminate subdrop tremendously.

This thought came back to me today reading and leaving a comment on our BDSM friend Mistress Lilyana's blog (http://mistresslilyana.blogspot.com/), as she posted about "sub shock", a subject that, at least for me, blended elements of subdrop with self-doubt caused by internal societal pressures. And as I thought even further about subdrop than I had earlier in the week, I felt more and more strongly that there was a sizeable gap between the intensity and the impact of subdrop felt after an intense scene between random or occasional or even regular partners that don't have the benefit of a live-in relationship, and those who have a committed, 24/7 (or as close as one could ever get) live-in D/s relationship.

The lesson, or reminder, for everyone, regarless of relationship status, is that a BDSM scene is only as good as the aftercare that is provided on both sides. That aftercare includes close contact, reassurances, attending to physical and emotional manifestations, and good communication the day of, and in the days following the scene. And spending quality time together, if at all possible, can only help. Or in certain extreme cases, especially when contact or communication is not possible, having a trusted, knowledgeable, and understanding friend that can talk you down...


  1. Hi Dymion:

    This is a great post. I totally agree that living with your top makes all the difference in the world. Being able to snuggle on the couch or fall asleep in her arms after an intense scene is the best feeling in the world. It pretty much eliminates the awful feelings of emptiness that can occur after a scene.

    When I was a client seeing a professional Mistress I used to suffer terribly from subdrop. After a session I used to be high for about a week. Then the corresponding crash would be horrible. I remember coming home after work one Friday evening, crawling into bed and weeping. It was awful.

    I propose a toast to exploring D/s in the context of a committed, loving relationship and living with your Mistress or sub! All in favor say; "bottoms up!" ;-)

  2. HMP,

    Here! Here! bottoms up!

    I'm glad you could relate so well. I've got some awful subdrop stories on my side also.

    While there are still transitional and needy moments coming out of an intense scene, being able to be and stay in the arms of one's beloved makes a world of difference... in contrast to dressing up a little while later and walking out.

    The unfortunate thing is that so many people underestimate the value of aftercare, and then wonder why a great scene left them feeling awkward, emotionally conflicted and physically off-balance.

    Thank you for your compliment. Your thoughts are always appreciated. And keep up the good work on your side.