Ever hear someone call their partner "Daddy" and feel a little grossed out? Does the idea of an adult identifying as a "little" make you wonder what's wrong with them or wonder what that even means? While there are some sick people in the world, the Daddy/little dynamic in D/s relationships has nothing to do with children, pedophilia, or "Daddy issues."

Note: I call my Dominant partner "Daddy" and he calls me "babygirl." Because of choices we've made in our relationship, we only use these names when we're alone, can't be overheard, or are in a group of fellow kinksters. How other people choose to handle the titles they use is a personal decision.

The Daddy Dom/little girl (or boy) (DD/lg) dynamic in dominance and submission is often misunderstood, even by those within the BDSM lifestyle. Responsible kinksters are hyper aware of the need for consent. The idea of children somehow being involved, even as fantasy, is enough to freak people out. I get it, really. For those who identify as a Daddy or a little, it has nothing to do with children. It often has very little to do with age or age play either. So what is it all about? Let's have a look.

What are Daddy Doms and Littles?

To be fair, there are people who identify as Mommies, as well, but the most well-known term is Daddy Dom. This type of dominant focuses more on the nurturing and caring aspect of dominance. I often refer to it as a gentler form of domination. Yes, there are rules in place, and there are consequences for breaking those rules. Ultimately, no matter how bratty or sassy a little is, Daddy is in charge. The dynamic between a Daddy Dom and a little is often more playful than other D/s pairings. Daddies are often as silly, goofy, and childlike as their partners. However, they maintain control, set rules, and typically, keep a little on their toes.

Littles are a complicated bunch. Some people will identify with very specific ages from as young as those in diapers through high school. Others may connect with multiple ages younger than their biological age. Still others are like me. I don't identify with any specific age. For me, my little side is a playful, younger, more vulnerable version of the woman I present to the public. If you only pay attention to stereotypes, littles are bratty, love glitter, and obsess over Hello Kitty. Take a look around. You'll find some who fit that description and many more who don't.

The thing about these labels is that they don't really matter. I know many a Dominant who approaches D/s in a very nurturing, caring way but doesn't want to be called "Daddy." I know even more submissives with a giggly, silly, pink-loving side who are confused by those who do identify very clearly as a "little." That's why I like BDSM. You can take the parts that make sense to you and your partner, fit them into your unique dynamic, and leave the rest behind. The same applies here.

The Difference Between Age Play and the Relationship Dynamic

OK, let's get this out of the way: Age play as a kink is role playing. Both partners take on specific roles, one of which is someone of a younger age, to fulfill a sexual fantasy. Age players in a relationship identify either as the older nurturer who leads, guides, and teaches (Daddies and Mommies), or the younger, more childlike partner who is given the freedom to relinquish certain responsibilities (littles). Neither the kink or the relationship are about wanting to have sex with children. Read that again. This isn't about pedophilia.

You can be into age play as a kink and not want the full relationship. Of course, you can want the relationship and not want the age play. (I'm firmly in that category.) Some people believe you can be a Daddy or a little and not consider yourself a Dominant or a submissive. Depending on the relationship you have, I disagree. If it's just about calling your partner Daddy and coloring (or whatever little activity you prefer) or on the other side, being indulgent and nurturing with your little but having no rules, then no, there's probably very little BDSM involved.

However, if the Daddy is in charge and makes rules and the little is supposed to abide by those rules, you, my friend, are in a version of a D/s relationship. It might be D/s-light, but you've got a Dominant (Daddy) and a submissive (little) and rules (discipline).

What the DD/lg Dynamic is Really About - From My Perspective

Line up a dozen kinksters and you'll find a dozen different ways to live the BDSM lifestyle, have a D/s relationship, or be kinky. No two relationships are alike. Which is good. For me to tell you what being in a Daddy Dom/little relationship is "really" like can only come through the prism of my own perspective and experience. It does help that littles and babygirls tend to have some sort of gravitational pull between them. Put us at the opposite end of a football field filled with kinky people, and we'll find one another. Because of that, I've made many friends in the DD/lg community and witnessed a few DD/lg relationships myself.

Everyone is different, but the biggest commonality between Daddies is a need (not want, not desire, a need) to protect, care for, nurture, and make life better for their little. On the other end of the spectrum, to allow your little or babygirl side to come forth requires trust and the willingness to be vulnerable. Some littles talk about having to be "big" in the world. This is the armor we wear in order to have a career, raise children, or just deal with people in general.

The comfort that comes from being allowed to be silly, do things that make us seem childish, and lean and depend on someone who wants only the best for us is an overwhelming feeling. We are safe and we're allowed to be exactly who we are with no judgments. All kinky people need this on some level, I think. Yet, because of their childlike nature, it seems especially important for littles and babygirls.

There are so many variations of BDSM, kink, and fetish. When you're on the outside looking in at a relationship, and you hear someone call their partner "Daddy," don't make assumptions about what they're doing or what it means. Understand that for many of us, "Daddy" is simply another title for our Dominant. We're kinksters, we're living the BDSM lifestyle in the way that works for us, and we've consented to the dynamic. At the end of the day, that's all that matters.