No, CGL is not necessarily a form of BDSM.
No, being a little is not a form of kink expression.
★ A little can also be a part of the BDSM too if their sexual needs involve acts or desires of BDSM or personal kinks.
★ A CGL relationship can also be a part of the BDSM community where one partner is traditionally "dominant" and one partner is traditionally "submissive" when it comes to something related to sex
The Beginnings of Misunderstandings
There is a misunderstanding based on the BDSM community (where some adult people roleplay as having childish or childlike qualities for erotic situations or sexual arousal only
) that all people who identify as age regressors are always participating in a form of kink through their forms of self-expression. It further perpetuates this misinformation when the age regressor partners with someone who takes on a caregiving role, as the BDSM community remains under the assumption that there is sexual tension between the identities and that the caregiver must be identifying as a BDSM-based "dominant" due to their inclination to provide structure for the little. We disagree that caregivers must be a dominant personality
It is important to realize that there is a clear difference between roleplaying as a type of person and actually being a type of person. An example of this is that actors choose to roleplay parts, sometimes for leisure or for acting development, but those acting experiences do not make the actor become genuinely the part or person they are acting out.
CGL is not a relationship based on two people roleplaying parts even when a little chooses to roleplay out their inner feelings, qualities, emotions, and desires as a form of self-expression
. Self-expressive roleplay is genuine as a little. A little is a little because they are an atypical adult with a special personality type, and some of their feelings and emotions must be "acted out" since they have biologically matured past childhood.
Regression During Adult Activity
The BDSM-based misunderstanding of CGL
is that it's believed a little who is engaging in sexual activity regression in the moment, is becoming sexually charged by externalizing their childlike qualities during the sexual act. Regardless of how the person appears to be, it should be noted that just because someone has a peculiar personality doesn't mean that their quirky interests, demeanor, or thought processes are firmly tied to sexual arousal or motivation. If a little remains in a childish state during sexual interaction it does not mean that it is a driving factor in the interaction and does not mean the couple is engaging in kink, BDSM, or even sexual deviance at all. It is likely that displayed regression during adult activities, such as sexual encounters, is a natural display of comfort for the individual.
The common little trait of our community is entirely personality based and could have been developed through environmental factors and experiences or even more simply a born quality. It is not something someone can turn on or off even through years of being taught to suppress and minimize it's externalizations. There is the misunderstanding that littlespace experiences are strictly BDSM situations or kink interests--"bedroom only time" where you can do something to get "turned on". The little personality trait is not a light switch though and this isn't inherently a situational thing. A little is always a little regardless of their current actions, language used, outward demeanor, or physical appearance.
It is very important to remember that a little is still not a biological child and has experienced growth, maturation, and adulthood. This means that they may not appear, act, feel, or be perceived as childish or childlike at all times in their daily lives. They have had years of repression, being taught to buffer their childlike qualities and reduce them to being private, shameful, or unimportant.
One should remember that littles have biologically matured, grown, and developed into having adult bodies with adult cognitive capabilities. They have surpassed puberty and have likely developed sexualities and sexual relief methods, preferences, or desires based on their natural hormonal fluctuations and drives that most adult bodies naturally experience. A little who may engage in sexual situations (either during or not during their regression) is not sexualizing biological children and are not false, fake, or roleplay-only littles. Adult bodies have adult needs and most adult bodies need periodic sexual relief.
Kink, BDSM, and (Non-)Traditional Relationship Structure
Kink, in the way that it is commonly used in Western society, is always sexually based. Kink relates to sexual arousal which is directly connected to sexual activity and sexual situations. It is a term used in the American English language to describe sexual deviance against "traditional" or "typical" sexual behaviors, desires, and actions. As an extension, the BDSM community has labeled "typical" and "traditional" sexual behaviors, desires, and actions as being "vanilla"--the flavor to often describe "plain" or "most common"--and nontraditional sexual interests and acts as kink.
While a CGL relationship is not necessarily "typical" or "traditional" since the caregiver partner is naturally more parental when displaying love than traditionally thought of when partnering, it does not necessarily mean there is sexual motivation in their acts of care. Just as a little has an atypical personality trait of regressing, a Caregiver also has a personality type that is drawn to heavy parent their adult partner as affection. Personality types are not sexual.
Power dynamics in the BDSM community are atypical relationships between two(+) adults. The relationships are often entirely sexually based, as BDSM is a sexually based community, and take on the kink label since they are not "vanilla". These power-dynamics have sexual intention and are often expressed with a variety of Dominant and submissive pairings.
Since power dynamics exist in the BDSM community then it is easily misunderstood to believe that all power dynamics must be within BDSM.
Power-dynamics exist in both romantic relationships and non. There is a developed hierarchy in the workplace that involves power dynamics and structure. Many platonic friendships are of power-dynamic pairings where one friend schedules, organizes, plans, requests, and takes initiative over events the two experience together.
In the romantic world it is common to see a power dynamic between the coupling too. The difference in this power dynamic couple being kink or BDSM-related and not stems from sex though. If the power-dynamic involves the two people having sex but the sex is not driven or related to the power dynamic structure then it is not a power dynamic kink relationship. If the power-dynamic involves the two people having sex or becoming sexually charged directly because the power dynamic between them exists then the power dynamic relationship is kink (thus also connected to the BDSM community).
So, a power dynamic in a relationship is not "inherently" BDSM or kink then if no sex, sexual tension, sexual motivation, sexual intent, sexual gratification, or sexual arousal occurs. If the structure of your relationship does not affect your sexual situations, desires, motives, thoughts, or feelings then it is not kink-related.
Lastly, to provide a clear, generally understood example in America:
The traditional Christian-based family structure of a husband financially supporting and becoming the "head of household" leader of his family while the woman--his legal and spiritual wife--gives birth to his children and provides emotionally and educationally to them while tending to the physical household at all times, obeying her husband's choices in their structure and activities--does not make their relationship kink. It is not kink even though that structure is now much less common than it was in the 1950s. Though, it does clearly indicate that there is a power-dynamic actively existing between the adults where the woman intentionally follows his guidances and leadership for the family unit. This would change into being twisty if their motivation for having this structure, where the husband becomes the financial provider and family leader while the wife takes perceived lesser roles and relied on her husband's approval to take actions, was sexually heated, driven, or fulfilling.
Just because one person is in a leadership position in a relationship or takes on the primary roles of guidance or even authority, does not mean that the relationship is twisty (again, using "twisty" as the way we generally understand it in American English). That is what we must keep in mind.