Caveat: I am not a therapist, counselor, or in any way have any training in mental health. If you see anything on here that makes you believe you are in an abusive relationship, then please contact someone.
Also, although I am a mod on this site, this is my personal opinion as a daddy, and Moondust as a little, and does not represent any official position taken by littlespaceonline.
Before discussing how to set up a CGL relationship, it is important to understand what a CGL relationship is. CGL is a subset of BeDeeSeM. This does not mean it must include sex, restraints, spanking, etc. The primary focus of CGL is domination in which the CG is the dom and the L is the sub. Like any BeDeeSeM relationship it follows the three basic tenets of safe, sane, and consensual. If your CGL relationship, or potential relationship, violates any of these three tenets it needs to be seriously reconsidered. Consensual is, to me, the most important as safe and sane are built off of this. Consensual means that both of you have a say in the relationship. It is not just the CG setting the rules. You have a right to set the hard limits / what is prohibited. For me, some of the things I won’t permit in a CGL relationship, but would in a BeDeeSeM scene (if agreed by both people), are things like face-slapping, yelling, calling the other a derogatory name, etc. These are hard limits for me in CGL, but acceptable in BeDeeSeM. As little, you have the right to say these are not allowed. Remember, it is not the CG taking control, but the little giving control that establishes the dynamics of the relationship.
Safe and sane are equally important but are also controlled by consent. A CG should not be doing things that undermine a little’s mental or emotional state. An example of good vs. bad behavior in this regard a bad example would be a CG tells a little they are a bad person, worthless, etc. because they did something wrong, while a good example would be a CG telling a little they made a mistake and telling them how to fix it. The good example focuses on the behavior, not the person. Likewise, safety is important. A lot of littles will have spanking as a punishment, but the CG should never spank beyond what the little’s limit is. Some littles may enjoy having bruises, while others don’t, but it is up to the CG and little to set the most restrictive limit.
It is important that a little get to know their CG before getting too deep into a relationship. Datecgl.com is the site for meeting potential partners, and even though the potential relationship is the focus, you should still get to know what your potential partner is like outside of the relationship. Moondust and I chatted for a long time before we knew we had enough for a good relationship, even outside a CGL dynamic, so we set up a google doc where we could record important information about each other. This includes mundane topics such as foods each of us like, type of TV/movies we like, music, and other things that will be present in our lives on a constant basis. Other ideas such as ideal vacations, hobbies/pastimes, and the like were put in there to get to know the other person. My personal belief is these should be discussed before talking about the dynamics of the CGL aspect of the relationship. If you like comedies and your partner only likes horror movies, what are you going to watch when you sit down together, or are you even going to sit down together to watch TV/movies? I think this is an aspect that gets overlooked too frequently.
One thing that should be discussed, especially if you are afraid that they will scare a potential partner away is medical issues. For me, I have a kidney disease. I have to do dialysis and that takes up 18 hours a week. This is almost half a work week on top of the fact that I work a full time job. There are also other minor side effects (like foods and drinks I cannot have, low blood pressure possibility, etc) that my partner needs to know about and what to do if it comes up. Even after getting a kidney transplant, there will be issues that affect the rest of my life.
A potential partner needs to know about issues like this as it will impact their life also. And if you are hesitant to discuss it, remember it will come up sooner or later, and would you rather your partner know now before you get deeply involved or later when it will be a lot more painful to break up?
Open and honest communication is key to any healthy relationship, not just CGL, and if you don't feel comfortable being so, then that might be a sign you need to step back and consider things carefully before moving forward. TRUST YOUR GUT FEELING!!
Something else that needs to be discussed is what are the expectations for the length of the relationship? Do each of them see this as a potentially permanent relationship, or does either of them see this as a temporary thing. If a permanent relationship, is marriage a potential option? Also if there is potential for sex in the relationship, what about birth control and what happens if pregnancy occurs? These are a few questions that many don’t consider when entering into a CGL relationship, but could have a huge impact on their expectations.
This list is by no means a complete list, and every little should add to it whatever is important to them. But if it is important, then it should be discussed before the relationship begins, and not afterwards/
Red Flags / Things to consider -
There are a lot of red flags when dating IRL, and several of them are hard to see online, but one of the biggest ones is when a potential partner wants you to refer to them by a CG name (like daddy, mommy, etc) before you've both agreed to wanting a relationship. A CGL relationship, like all relationships, is a consensual one, and if your potential partner is expecting your acceptance of his/her status before you've agreed, that is commonly indicative of how they will treat the rest of the relationship.
Another one is how often you and your potential speak. There should be some agreement on frequency, and if your partner doesn't talk frequently now (and not due to external circumstances like work), how much are they going to talk when you're together?
Also listen to how your partner talks. Do they primarily talk in a you/I type manner, or is it a we manner? A subtle difference, but is indicative of how they view the relationship.
Setting up a CGL relationship -
This seems to be the hardest issue a lot of littles deal with, especially those who are new to being a little or who have never had a partner before and are looking for one. While I make no claims that the way we did it is the right way, I will walk through some of the steps Moondust and I took when deciding on whether or not we wanted to pursue a relationship.
The biggest issue that will come up are the rules for the relationship. A CGL relationship, like any healthy relationship, is built on rules that keep it healthy. The big difference is in a CGL relationship the rules are more formalized. I will walk through the process that Moondust and I went through. When we first decided to become partners, I set up a google doc to write down the rules. You can use whatever form of documentation you want, but I believe it is important that the rules be written down somewhere. Currently the document takes up about four pages worth of information (takes up a lot more due to spacing and formatting). Initially I put down all of the rules I thought would be appropriate, and then I sent the document to Moondust who went through the rules herself and divided them into three groups. Rules that she agreed to 100%, rules that she didn't understand or wanted to discuss before agreeing to, and rules she absolutely would not agree to. This is an important thing to consider, and one of the areas I see a lot of littles not thinking about. All of the rules that we have in our relationship have been agreed to by both of us. It is not a case that I, the daddy, get to tell Moondust, the little, what the rules are. These are agreed upon rules, and if a potential CG tries to tell you what the rules are and doesn't seek your agreement, then that is the sign of a bad, potentially toxic or abusive relationship. Unfortunately, in my opinion, there are too many CGs that don't see it as a mutual, consensual relation.
The rules were also divided into categories. One category was the mandatory little rules. These are rules that I absolutely insisted must be in place, or I could not be a daddy in this relationship. There are only two. One is regarding absolute authority of safeword dynamics (for both of us) so we can discuss things outside of a CGL dynamic when necessary, and the other is a prohibition on smoking, vaping, and illegal drug use. If Moondust had not agreed to either of these rules, then I would have backed out of the match. Most of the other agreed upon mandatory rules concern behavior, such as how to talk, when/what/where to eat, chores, bedtime, etc. And while these rules are mandatory for little, I also consider them to be mandatory for me. I cannot see requiring someone to do something I consider to be a healthy behavior if I myself am not willing to do it. I would caution any little who has a potential CG who expects something from them in this area that they themselves are not going to do. But not all rules must be two-way. Some are for little only, and one such category is housework / chores expectations. These expectations are based on how much work each of us does outside of the house. And these rules (except the two I will not agree to change) are always open to us discussing and modifying as needed. We use the three light system to indicate when there are issues that have arisen and those issues may cause the rules to be modified.
Since Moondust and I have agreed that physically intimate activity is a possibility, there are rules for those times, but those I don't feel it is appropriate to talk about here. This is just a reminder to littles that they too have a right to set rules and limitations on any physically intimate activity. It is not a case that the CG is the only one who decides them.
There are also rules for daddy (me) in this document. This is something else I would suggest littles look at when considering a partner. Are the rules all geared towards little behavior and expectations and none towards the CGs? If that is the case, that is a warning sign. An example of the rules that we set up are: little's bedroom is her safe space and daddy will not punish, yell, rebuke, or the like while little is in that room; daddy will not make little's phone inaccessible (I can put it on a table or shelf, but must be within little's reach); daddy will keep little informed of adult information (financial, insurance, etc); and several more.
After setting up the rules, we decided on appropriate punishments / discipline. These are very much determined by the two in the relationship and we can't tell you what is / is not correct for you. The only two things I would consider are: are the punishments mutually agreed on, and do any of them seem excessive. Some common punishments are: spankings, time-outs, loss of privileges (electronics commonly, but maybe loss of dessert at dinner, etc), being sent to room, and the like. I would caution against any punishment that could be mentally, physical, or emotionally harmful. An example I've seen used that I, personally, disagree with is throwing away a favored toy. It's ok to take it up for a period of time, especially if it was the cause of the rule breakage, but I think throwing it away damages the relationship.
Next we have a section on appropriate rewards for little. These are things that help daddy choose things to give or do for when little has been especially well behaved (based on the rules). Again, these are specific to the little, so there is no set of good ideas. Some of the more common ones I've seen are: allowed to have an unhealthy treat (e.g candy), allowed to stay up later, allowed to choose an outing, and the like.
The last section we have is on chores. These are expectations of what little should do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. My personal philosophy is that chores should not take up more than a couple of hours of the day.
Also, these rules are the standard household rules for living together. We have variations and changes for special situations, such as around family and friends who don't know about the ddlg relationship. A lot of little families don't know about the little side of the person, so they may be uncomfortable showing it around the family. Moondust and I have subtle things we do to remind us of the relationship, but anyone who doesn't know what they mean would see them as nothing important. Also, these rules are built on the belief that Moondust will not be working and so there are more expectations in the chores area. If she were to take a job, the chores would change and I would pick up some of the ones she currently is expected to do.
Escape Rules -
Something I believe every little should make sure are in the rules are escape rules. Talking online and being together in person are two completely different environments, and a person's behavior can be radically different between the two. So the little must make sure there are rules in place that help prevent abuse. I put these in place for Moondust and I, even though I know I am not abusive. But then again, every abuser believes they are not, so my saying it does not guarantee it is true. However, to help ensure Moondust's safety, some of the rules that have been put in place are: daddy may not take away and secure Moondust's cell phone (can put on a shelf within reach if necessary) or excessively restrict access to computer (no using during bedtime is acceptable restriction), Moondust must contact family at least once a week (and she has been given techniques to signal she needs an escape that I can't realize she has used even though I told her how to do it), she can request me to not be present when talking on phone, she cannot be prohibited from having friends outside of the relationship, cannot take away her car keys, she will have her own financial accounts independent of me, etc. If a CG balks at any or all of these, that could be a red sign. My personal opinion is I'm going to be the best daddy I can be, and if I'm not, I'm not going to force Moondust to stay in the relationship. If both of us are not happy, then we either need to fix it or move on. My preference is to fix it, and with the talking we did before settling into a ddlg dynamic, I am comfortable we can.
(Moondust) – Daddy put the escape plans in place because of my past. I went through 18 year of physical, mental and emotional abuse from an ex-husband, who called himself daddy and me his little. I know daddy would never hurt me but he wants to make sure I feel safe at all times when we move in together. Daddy and I talk about everything every day he makes sure I am always good with everything we talked and have gone over. I just want no one else to go through what I did and that they find the right daddy or mommy the first time.