In reading a chapter from Different Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission, I had a sudden realization that Ageplay may have a practical application within the confines of even vanilla relationships. 

As children, most humans come from a place of vulnerability and a cycle of needs/wants. As adults, most people who care for various forms of children have an underlying empathy, compassion, and understanding for these tiny people. As well, said adults have a higher degree of consideration for meeting those needs. When adolescents go on the journey toward adulthood they are often building a cycle that culminates in a catch 22 scenario: 

1. Adults do not voice their needs as strongly as children, though they may fluctuate through times of intense neediness. This may be due to quite a few factors, which include the desire to uphold an image in their partner's head of their self-sufficiency, strength, or ability to "handle it."

2.  The unmet emotional needs become points of contention, which flare up during angry blowouts. Because the unmet needs are painful and upsetting – a pain which doesn't dissipate – the reaction will eventually become anger and resentment. Despite the fact that a person may not voice their needs, they have an expectation that the partner should know what they want. And a smaller percentage of people voice their unmet emotional needs but they are met with various forms of rejection, which is arguably more painful to them than never opening their mouth to initiate.

3. The angry flares and blowouts lead to emotionally isolating from a partner. Two (or more) folks who love each other will retreat from each other for varying degrees of time – or they may even threaten each other about this period becoming increasingly longer or more damaging in order to cause the opposing party to back down. In a married relationship, one party may threaten divorce. Escalation is generally consistent.

4. Emotional isolation will eventually lead to an entire breakdown of that dynamic. Whether or not that culminates in a separation is generally unimportant, as emotional dissociation is in itself a violation of relationship terms. Going outside the terms of a relationship is common at this point.

5. After that breakdown, there is a fallout. Whether that's one party moving from a shared habitat, or retrieving their property from the ex's domain. Ranting, gossip, vengeful acts, and further destruction (usually of reputation) happens at this point.

Whereas it may be apparent to a decade-long pro-Domme that the unmet needs are the core of the problem, and that an emotionally healing experience may involve reverting to a childlike state to engage in play from when you were the sort of person who was looking for an unlimited bounty of love/support and (may or may not have) had a person from whom you could derive it... the average vanilla couple isn't usually equipped with the type of security and courage to experiment with each other in such an intense way. Ageplay is one of the most sensitive areas of D/s because it includes many taboo forms of sexuality, including possible sexual responses to incest, large age gaps between players (Mommy/son, Daddy/daughter, Mommy/daughter, etc), and other situations that are considered unacceptable in mainstream society. 

But what if the sexual component were initially (or always) missing? If one party could behave as a child, without fearing rejection or pain, and the other party responded to that with an unconditional amount of love and an understanding that meeting needs was of utmost priority, could the bond between them be restored? I contend that it could be, and should be, for the relationship to progress past a stalemate leading to an undesirable end. 

Becoming children hearkens back to a time when it was acceptable to voice all of the unmet needs the child may have experienced. It allows for a liberation of the self-consciousness of quieting your voice, in favor of "being a man" or "pulling yourself up by the bootstraps." One can freely cry, express sadness or fear, need hugs, love, and support before an emotional event, and simply allow someone to take over and do things for them – all without feeling like they're incapable, weak, or pathetic. When this vulnerability pushes through, and the other party sees these parts and responds to them kindly, the potential for building trust is massive. When the other person takes the reigns, doles out (without desire for immediate reciprocity) affection and support, and protects the vulnerable party, and affirms the emotional state of the "child" – there is a profound appreciation. As far as closeness, seeing the most vulnerable parts of someone without judging them is a necessary step for intimacy. Some women may fetishize a strong man (I don't include Myself in that group), and men may see vulnerability as shameful, but if you slough off those antiquated and frankly stupid ideas, you can reach levels of bonding that seem impossible, prior. 

As a Dominant, I see a potential for personal growth within My submissives. I am your Mommy. I will see your sadness, grief, pain, weakness – and I will do one of two things, whichever is more beneficial: I will acknowledge it and encourage you to further surrender to your child self, where I will aid you in a psychological journey toward a greater happiness, or I will create (or recreate) a discipline scenario, where your deepest secrets or shame can be punished, in an effervescent way – once the spanking is over, you are absolved. Free from the embarrassment. Let loose from the shackles of guilt. And your life may be forever changed. But I will own you, either way. 

In the end, Mother is the word for God on the lips and hearts of all of you little children.