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What Is Drop?

This physical and psychological phenomenon is common in BDSM, but poorly understood

By Lacey DoddrowPublished 2 years ago 5 min read

It’s no secret that intense physical experiences can flood our bodies with hormones like endorphins, oxytocin, and dopamine. Some people experience a “runner’s high” when pushing their bodies to extremes, and many religions, from Catholicism to Hinduism, include spiritual practices that take advantage of the body’s natural responses to pain.

But, as they say, what goes up must come down. Not everyone realizes that the “highs” of these practices sometimes incur a “hangover” the next day. In kink and BDSM, this is known as “drop,” specifically “sub drop” or “top drop.” Here’s everything you need to know about this totally normal neurochemical phenomenon!

Drop Is Different For Everyone

Not everyone who practices BDSM experiences drop, and that’s okay! If you’ve never felt this, that doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. Drop doesn’t indicate that things were especially intense, and some people just aren’t that susceptible to drop.

For other people, some types of scenes cause them to drop, while others don’t. For example, a scene that pushes physical limits while staying very psychologically familiar, like a hard spanking in a playful context, might cause drop in one person but not another. Other people might be more likely to drop after a scene that had serious psychological elements, like fear or humiliation, even if the physical aspects of the scene weren’t that hard on their body.

And sometimes, it’s just unpredictable! Brains and bodies are very complex, and things like diet, sleep, hormone cycles, and overall mood can all influence whether a person experiences drop after a scene. For some, it can set in right after they come down from the scene; for others, it takes a day or so to creep up. When it comes to drop, it’s important to keep a gentle, curious eye on your own feelings, cycles, and patterns.

The actual experience of drop is also very different for each person! Some people feel drained or foggy. Some feel clingy and needy, missing the scene and wanting tons of their partner’s attention. Others feel shame and confusion about the taboo nature of the things they enjoyed. When it comes to drop, never make assumptions. Be open with your partners about how you feel during and after sex, and be curious and receptive to hearing about their experiences.

Sub Drop

Sub drop is experienced by anyone who took a submissive role during the BDSM play. Often, this is a more physical type of drop, as your body recovers from whatever it went through during the scene. Headaches, fatigue, and dehydration are common, so make sure you get good rest and refuel with water and satisfying meals.

Sub drop is also emotional and psychological, of course. Sometimes, people in sub drop miss being in the submissive role, when they were being cared for or controlled by another person. They may feel sad about having to return to ‘real life,’ and crave more time with their dominant partner. Good aftercare is important for staving off this type of sub drop, both immediately after the scene and later on if the sub is still feeling the drop.

Other things that can help sub drop are cuddles with their partner if possible, or with stuffed animals, heating pads, or weighted blankets. Ritual and routine can help, as well - for example, if your partner always brings your favorite candy to a scene and gives it to you to eat later, or if you always get a check-in call from your partner the morning after.

Top Drop

Top drop (also called dom drop) is just as common as sub drop, though it can be more difficult to talk about because tops, or dominants, aren’t as used to feeling like they need something from others to feel okay. But even the person who is typically in the “caretaker” role needs some care themselves!

Top drop tends to be more psychological than physical, as the person’s mind comes down from the highs of control, ownership, and even violence. Even after a fully consensual scene that was enjoyed by both partners, it can be hard for the deeper parts of our minds to process the fact that we’re still loving, caring, good partners after the things we may have done and said while in role.

Aftercare also serves tops and can help prevent top drop, by giving the two partners a chance to reconnect outside of their in-scene roles. Spending time on quality aftercare reassures the dominant partner that they are still loved and that their partner remains connected to them. It also gives them a chance to soothe and care for their partner, acting out their more loving instincts.

Many tops find that a positive “debrief” after the scene assuages their top drop as well. Hearing their partner describe their favorite parts of the scene, and discussing what worked well, as well as creating a healthy space to discuss anything that may not have been perfect, is a great way to shift out of the guilt or rumination that top drop can cause.

Should Drop Be Prevented?

It’s not generally possible to completely prevent drop, unless you refuse to engage in any play that you know causes you to drop. Rather, it’s best to have a plan for drop and be ready to address it in yourself and your partner.

In long-term relationships between partners who get to know each other, it’s much easier. You’ll learn how each person likes to be treated before, during, and after a scene, and you’ll develop patterns and traditions that feel good for both partners. Drop isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just one more aspect of BDSM play. In fact, drop provides partners an opportunity to draw closer together and care for each other, to deepen their sexual and emotional connection, and to gain information about limits and preferences.

When it comes to casual or pickup play, the question of drop can be trickier, but it’s still worth talking about. As you’re negotiating a scene, let your partner know if you’re prone to drop, and how you like it to be dealt with. If you share contact information, it’s generally good etiquette for the top to check in the next day and open a conversation about how things went and how both people are feeling.

You can also plan for self-care if you know you’ll be at a party or on a date where you may end up playing out a scene without maintaining a longer term connection to your scene partner. If there are certain snacks or drinks that help you bounce back, or special things that comfort you, make sure those are on hand for the next day.

So there you have it - the down-low on drop. As with all things kink, there’s always more to say and more to learn, but now you know the basics of top drop and sub drop. Now, go forth and play!


About the Creator

Lacey Doddrow

hedonist, storyteller, solicited advice giver, desert dweller

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