Line up 100 D/s couples side by side. Walk up and down the line and take a look. You'll probably see every gender, every sexuality, every race and many religions represented. Talk to those couples and ask them about their power exchange. Everyone does it a little differently. No two couples are exactly alike; there are very few “norms” in D/s other than staying safe and always gaining consent.

Knowing this, it’s a little unfair of me to say that Daddy Doms (or Mommies) and little girls (or boys), better known as DD/lg, are somehow different from other D/s relationships. However, because I practice this type of relationship myself, I can tell you that there are some commonalities in DD/lg that can set these relationships apart from other power exchange dynamics. Whether you’re curious about this dynamic or worried that the “hardcore” D/s relationships aren’t for you, it’s good to know some of the key differences.

And yes, you can practice this kind of Dominance and submission without ever using the term “Daddy” or “little.”

Read: Being a Daddy or Little Isn't About Children

DD/lg: Kinder, Gentler Form of D/s

When people ask me to explain the difference between DD/lg and D/s relationships, I say it’s a kinder, gentler form of D/s. Are there other power exchanges where the Dominant isn’t very strict and the submissive has a lot of freedom without calling themselves DD/lg? Absolutely. In my opinion, it’s the intent that’s different.

DD/lg is designed, by the very nature of the kinksters involved, to be a softer side of D/s. Yes, littles are expected to listen to their Dominants, do what they’re told, and follow the rules. However, when we slip, the punishment will often be much different. Instead of no orgasms for a week or a painful spanking (or lack of spankings completely - the horror!), we may be sent to a corner, made to go to bed earlier, or denied some fun treat that fits with our little persona.

While crops, floggers, and rope are part of my relationship as a masochist and a submissive who enjoys bondage, I also have stuffies, blankies, Disney movies, and cute pajamas because these things allow me to enter a space where I feel my most babygirl self. My partner is always Dominant, and in my mind, always Daddy, but when he joins me in these activities or gives gentle reminders for tasks and behaviors, he’s tapping into a gentler part of his nature.

Doms are Nurturers; Littles Want to Be Cared For

What often sets the DD/lg (or other gender variations) apart from what people think of as the “typical” D/s relationship is the way the power exchange occurs. In many D/s relationships, a Dominant gives a command, sets a task, or has an expectation for his or her submissive, which is agreed upon and consented to by the submissive, of course. The reasons for this vary, but while it may be to help the submissive achieve a desired goal, outcome, or learn new habits, one reason most often cited is that it pleases the Dominant.

Daddy Doms want to be pleased too. Littles want to serve, but there is an undercurrent in many DD/lg relationships that takes it a step further. This Dominant also wants to take care of the submissive, nurturing them through tough times or personal growth. At the same time, a little may have a deep desire to be taken care of. A little wants to be coddled, tucked in at night and given rules to follow (although we may resist them), among other things.

In some dynamics, the little doesn’t “serve” the Dominant, especially if (or while) they identify with a specific age. They do what they’re told. They listen to their Dominant, but they are not always called upon to anticipate needs or take care of their Dominant in the same way other power exchange relationships require.

The Rules Aren't As Strict

I always consider myself a hybrid (and many other DD/lg kinksters do too). I’m both a little and a submissive. My rules as this kind of submissive are a combination of doing the things that are good for me and the things that please my Dominant. We have rules within DD/lg, but most of them are for our own good, similar to the way parents create rules for our children. The Daddy Dom (or parental figure) knows what’s best for the little (or childlike figure), and creates rules and guidelines with this in mind. This is not dissimilar to other D/s relationships, but the big difference is in the response.

In most D/s relationships, obedience without question - once consent is established - is expected. That’s not strictly true in DD/lg. Oh sure, there are Daddy Doms who are stricter than others, but many littles feel safe enough to whine, complain, beg for a different outcome or, in the name of "funishment" (or just a really bad day), say “No!” While there are consequences for these actions, littles are rarely, if ever, labeled “bad submissives” for this behavior. Like dealing with children, defiant behavior is not always welcome, but it is expected.

Whining is (Sometimes) OK

I mentioned “whining” earlier. As a parent, I hate it, but as a babygirl who sometimes really doesn’t want to do what I’m supposed to, it’s definitely a tool in my arsenal. Can it be used too much and create problems in a DD/lg relationship? Of course it can. However, if I’m having a bad day and whining about my rules, my bedtime, or my life in general, I also know that my Daddy Dom will comfort me or look for ways to pull me out of my bad mood. A spanking always works for me.

However, because Daddy Doms are Dominants, one look, a specific tone, or a word can make even the most difficult little swallow our words and meekly reply, “Yes, Daddy” (or “Yes, Mommy”). Many submissives in other D/s relationships can’t imagine “talking back” or complaining about an established rule or protocol. The childlike behavior of a little almost guarantees whining at some point.

Playfulness Is Encouraged

I would never say that other D/s relationships don’t have their own level of playfulness. Of course, they do. We’re people in relationships, and a sense of humor or enjoying a laugh together doesn’t belong to any one group of people. That being said, it wasn’t until DD/lg that I ever had a tickle war and laughed until I cried, teased my Daddy Dom mercilessly, or felt comfortable doing any of the childlike antics that had always made me laugh (funny faces, silly voices, and being playfully sarcastic or, as he calls it, "sassy").

It’s not that DD/lg relationships are happier or that these couples are having more fun. We simply show our enjoyment of one another through silliness. Most Daddy Doms have what their partners would call their “little side” too. How else can they have so much fun with us in a Build-a-Bear or at the playground? Just as I get in touch with my younger self when playing with my kids, a Daddy Dom taps into that part of himself when spending time with a little who’s in a playful mood. Of course, it’s important to choose the time and place wisely. Being playful at the wrong time usually gets a little in trouble, and possibly sent to the corner or their room, which is no fun for anyone.

It is often assumed that DD/lg is filled with people who want to have sex while pretending the submissive partner is a child - a cover for wanting to have sex with children. Age play is a fetish that can seem similar to the DD/lg relationship. However, the intent is different. For many of us who call ourselves Daddies, Mommies and littles, it’s not about sex. It’s a mindset and a set of behaviors that we identify with, and that we therefore want and need to experience in our relationships. If we’re fortunate enough to find someone who lets us be our nurturing or childlike selves, forms a power exchange relationship with us, and is someone we want to fuck, we usually consider ourselves very lucky.