Most of us are unaware of the option of incorporating age play into our sexual lives below I share an overview of the aspects of this intimate world.
There are perhaps two primary groups who engage in age play- which refers to role-playing as a different age than one actually is- members of the Caregiver Little (CGL) community and members of the Adult Baby Diaper Lover (ABDL) community. While these groups include adult practitioners age-playing as younger individuals, there are other communities that feature age-playing as an older person. Individuals within these two groups may engage in a variety of activities that allow them the capability to age play.
These activities may include, but are not limited to using adult pacifiers, and adult baby bottles, coloring, wearing diapers, playing video games, and reading children’s stories.
Age Play under the BDSM Umbrella
Both CGL and ABDL are typically classified as lifestyles found within part of the larger BDSM umbrella; however, it is a common misconception that all CGL/ABDL relationship configurations are inherently sexual in nature and that all individuals within the two communities regress/age play only during a sexual context or kink-related scene. While there are practitioners of CGL and/or ABDL who may only age play, within a sexual context, or as part of a sex scene, there is a great diversity in how individual members engage in the community, with other practitioners, and with themselves.
The communities are often very misunderstood and mischaracterized by a lack of awareness surrounding the very existence of caregivers, littles, submissives, and adult babies, coupled with the overwhelmingly quick and easy ways misinformation can be shared. It is imperative that as time goes on, more nuanced, supportive discussions surrounding CGL, ABDL, other BDSM lifestyles, and misunderstood modes of self-expression, take place, for the improved well-being and empowerment of individuals and communities.
Explaining CDL and ABDL
CGL is the gender-inclusive term used to describe dynamics, sexual or platonic, between consenting adult practitioners, where one party is considered the “dominant,” (dom) and the other individual(s) is/are considered the “bottom,” “submissive,” or “little.” Within the world of BDSM terminology, exist a variety of terms used to describe differing little/submissive archetypes.
For example, there are bratty submissives, who enjoy boundary testing and punishment, and princess submissives, who may present innocence and obedience- among other expressions of submission, all of which may interchange with one another. It is also important to note that not all CGL submissives refer to themselves as being “little.” Practitioners may choose to role-play a range of ages and self-identify as being “middles” over “littles.” Overall, practitioners of CGL may choose to be as fluid as they like within the construction of their own CGL relationships and the way these identities are expressed.
Next up, ABDL refers to a lifestyle community of practitioners who identify as adult babies and/or diaper lovers. ABDL practitioners may participate in activities that they feel allow them to regress into that desired state of mind, or headspace- similarly to members of CGL, who participate in role-playing and age-play. Adult babies may wear diapers and onesies, use pacifiers, and adult cribs, and engage in a number of other activities which allow them to enter into their headspace.
Typically, there is only one dominant per dynamic who may have one or more submissives. Early on in the development of a CGL or ABDL relationship, the individuals within the relationship agree upon their shared expectations for the dynamic, as well as their boundaries and limitations. It is theoretically possible for a dynamic to start with an agreed-upon platonic nature, and later develop into more, romantically and/or sexually. Dynamics and relationships are fluid and characterized by ongoing communication.
Overall Sexual Experiences of ABDL and CDL
What remains true across all CGL/ABDL relationship configurations, is that no two experiences are the same. There is no one agreed-upon way in which a person can be a “true” or “correct” little, adult baby, or dom. Each dynamic is special and each individual is special and unique. Meaning no two experiences are the same. The foundation of any healthy BDSM lifestyle is trust, communication, and enthusiastic consent. This applies not only to sexual dynamics but to platonic dynamics as well.
Individuals within a CGL or ABDL dynamic may choose to adhere to a set of agreed-upon “rules” and punishments when a specific rule is not followed. These rules are not permanent and may change or be altered accordingly at any time, should an individual contract their consent to a rule or punishment.
It may also very well be the case that the individuals are still in agreement with their arrangement, but that their current lifestyles are not conducive to the agreed-upon practice, in which case, individuals may temporarily take a break from the dynamic altogether, or negotiate changes for the time being, that allow them to meet their responsibilities and also continue their involvement in the lifestyle.
Popular rules revolve around set bedtime and waking routines, in addition to healthy eating habits and regulated work-life practices. In addition to the misconception that all CGL and ABDL practices are strictly reserved for sexual relationships and sexual scenes, is the idea that rules and punishments are intended to exploit the submissive. This is also false.
If the rules and punishments are not safe, sane, and mutually agreed upon without the use of manipulation, coercion, violence, or the threat of violence, the relationship is not defined as a CGL or ABDL dynamic- or a BDSM dynamic, for that matter, but is in fact an abusive one. All true CGL/ABDL arrangements involve ongoing discussion, communication, and negotiation.
Violence is not BDSM. It is also widely assumed that all punishments are physical. While some individuals may decide to incorporate physical punishments such as spanking or flogging, not all punishments involve physical touching. Taking away a privilege or fun activity, or enforcing time-outs are other ways caregivers may choose to discipline their submissives. Just as there are commonly enforced rules and their corresponding punishments, caregivers, and littles may choose to create a reward system like a sticker chart, or some other method of tracking good behavior.
Both CGL and ABDL relationships are often very nurturing and affectionate, with all parties caring for one another, as well as sharing aspects of their lives and who they are as people. Being in a CGL/ABDL dynamic can provide an unexpected glimpse into a person’s inner life. Aside from the person that is largely unseen or unrecognized by other people outside of the dynamic. In the CGL dynamic, the caregiver/ dominant looks after and tends to the little/submissive, but the little/submissive cares in turn for the dominant.
Relationships are very intimate using Age Play
This mutual care solidifies the bond, bringing practitioners closer together in an established safe space. Practicing CGL and engaging in age play with a trusted practitioner, opens up a safe space for individuals to practice being vulnerable and in turn, learn how to interact with others expressing vulnerability. Romantic couples engaged in these lifestyles often report positive impacts on their relationship, trust, communication, and feeling of attachment to one another, which they directly attribute to their engagement in the lifestyles.
Age playing has the potential to show practitioners a softer, more nurturing aspect of themselves that they may not have known existed.
Apart from rules and punishments, individuals in a CGL or ABDL relationship may spend time together role-playing and participating in fun bonding activities. Going to the park, drawing, reading stories at bedtime, and being bathed, clothed, and fed are all fine examples of activities caregivers and littles may enjoy together. These activities, including punishments, may allow practitioners to enter the younger “little” mindset, or caring “parent/guardian” mindset. This special frame of mind is often referred to as “headspace.”
For some, age play is more than just roleplaying and can be a very integral, very real part of their identities and lived experiences, while others prefer to keep age play confined to certain contexts. To illustrate this point, there are littles who stay in headspace the majority of the day, or even full-time, just as there are littles who prefer to only enter into their little headspace perhaps at the end of a working day or with their partner or fellow littles in the community. Again, it is important to recognize that not all CGL or ABDL relationships are sexual and that it is up to each practitioner and their partners to decide how the lifestyle fits with their identities.
Kink-related age play is often highly stigmatized, but if the age play occurs only between consenting adults and is practiced safely, age play and kink can be a new aspect of sexuality to explore. Similarly, platonic age play is valid and normal. Age play can actually be used to help individuals discover new ways of engaging with the world, their partners, and their identities. Many CGL and ABDL practitioners describe how age play and regression help them cope with the stress of everyday life and even help them manage symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Not all CGL/ABDL relationships are romantic or exclusive. There exists a variety of relationship expressions, including romantic and platonic relationships, in addition to consensually non-monogamous relationship configurations. Some CGL relationships are formed between individuals who do not consider themselves to be romantically involved or exclusively seeing one another.
In some instances, a member of the CGL community may be in a committed relationship with a partner who is not a fellow member of the community, but who supports their partner’s identification with the community, their desire to explore CGL relationships, and the CGL lifestyle. Additionally, other individuals may only choose to be in a CGL relationship with a committed partner.
Similarly, not all CGL relationships are among heterosexuals, CIS-gendered persons, or monogamous individuals. Some may adopt a variety of roles with different practitioners. For example, a person can be submissive to a dom, while also identifying as dominant with other individuals or even that same dominant individual. Those who adopt both dominant and submissive roles are popularly referred to as “switches.”
Furthermore, how individual practitioners choose to express their membership to either group, or both, can vary greatly, and the good news is there is no “correct way” to be a little/submissive/brat/princess/prince/pet, dominant/top, or adult baby and/or diaper lover. Age play can be purely just age play enjoyed for age play’s sake, while for others, age play may be part of a sex scene or behavior.
Participating in lifestyles like CGL and ABDL can be fun and surprisingly cathartic. Historically, individuals who adopt these lifestyles or who have an interest in the communities, have been highly stigmatized, medicalized, and harmfully labeled. In recent years, there has been a push to recognize and encourage diversity in sexual expression (between consenting adult parties).
Choosing to engage in age-play only within platonic relationships, as a solo practitioner, or with a sexual partner are all valid choices. Being a little, sub, pet, adult baby, mommy, daddy, femme dad, etc. is completely valid. What is important is ensuring the use of active and open communication, trust, and boundaries between consenting individuals.