When Being a Caring Little Doesn't Mean You're a Caregiver (or a Switch)
In recent years the "switch" identity has began to flourish within the regression community. Prior to 2015 it was extremely uncommon to see a community member claim to be equally both a little as well as a Caregiver. These days it seems increasing more claimed. In understanding such an identity as the "switch" one should realize that littles are similar to that of biological children and can misidentify their capability to show appreciation and love when caring for their friends, family, and partner(s). Littles commonly enjoy roleplaying as other identities and positions, playing pretend, or even "playing house" as a temporary Caregiver without seriously taking on that identity. Ultimately, the claimed switch identity is likely much more rare, if in existence at all within the CGL community, than claims if one realizes a little's tendency to "play out" and "act as" without "becoming" other roles.
The Mistakes of Misidentifying
Many littles may enjoy "playing house" temporarily by pretending to be Caregivers to one another very similarly to that of biological children playing house with their friends and siblings. It's important to remember that pretending to be something or someone isn't necessarily becoming that person though, and one should not assume another identity simply because they like to pretend to be someone else from time to time. Assuming that playing pretend must mean an defined identity change or that the person is longer simply childlike in personality can lead to more stress for the individual. The person is likely to begin to feel pressured to perform seriously as a Caregiver by taking on the label of being a "switch" more frequently than they would have felt comfortable. This may lead to additional stress, depression, and other psychological trauma.
When the CGL community discusses situations of "ghosting" or "fake Caregivers" then it frequently leads back to the "Caregiver" having been very stressed out, strained, or unable to perform their role. It is possible that these deemed "fake" persons who may also have once identified as a little or actively identify themselves a "switch" may truly be only a little by personality. The stress of being expected to perform and act as a Caregiver at times where they are not interested in "playing pretend" or "playing house" may wear on them deeply. The individual may feel a drastic action to should take place, such as making the choice to abandon their regressive partner ("little") or neglecting core components of a healthy relationship in effort to minimize the pressure to perform.
The Misunderstanding of What Caregiving Means
It is important to keep in mind that romantic partnerships, as well as friendships, involves an exchange of emotions, and that much of the stereotypical CGL components are emotionally-based, tied to specific personality types that are often emotionally-driven. People who experience regression should strive to provide care and support toward those they emotionally care about, are bonded to, and have placed in positions of importance within their lives. It is not a receiving-only sort of role or identity. A regressor who wants to care about and for their partner(s), support them throughout their struggles or stresses, take on a responsibility on behalf of their loved ones, and even help remedy issues their loved ones may face does not mean the little has become a Caregiver.
There are times that a little will provide their care, appreciation, and displays of affection in ways that are not necessarily parental in nature but may be more childlike than that of their peers or their Caregiver. Despite being an adult the person may provide affection toward their loved ones as if they were still a developing child. This is a commonly understood component of the regressive personality trait.
Littles are very capable of providing their own version of care just like a biological child can console a crying parent, can create gifts to offer their parent in exchange for their parents' smiles, and who can lend a listening ear to their parents when their parents need to vent a little bit about their own stressors. Many biological children mimic taking care of and caring for their parent(s) in effort to experience what it's like to take on such responsibility and to learn how to become better at showing what we refer to as love.
There are other times in which a little may provide care, appreciation, and displays of affection that align with their physical maturity and social expectations. This may include things like acts of sexual intimacy, taking on financial responsibilities to provide for others, providing thoughtful feedback and perspective to important topics presented, assisting with laborious tasks, or even physically tending to an ill, injured, sick, or disabled loved one. These displays are healthy and help the relationship develop a closer, longer-lasting bond as well as reduce the feelings of neglect or seclusion for the caregiver, or more parental partner. Without this type of involvement from the regressor then the caregiver is at risk of mental health conditions such as depression.
Personalities Don't "Switch"
It's crucial to know that being a regressor is a personality trait. Just the same, caregiving within the community is a personality trait, particularly when it comes to the romanticism from care exchange. These personality types are distinct and, while often present a baseline compatibility point, do not necessarily overlap in key areas.
Personalities are the way we react, respond, perceive, and process the world around ourselves. It encompasses our temperament and general disposition toward the typical, and involves our inclinations for our hobbies, interests, passions, and even learned behaviors at times. An individual's personality helps to define and lead their preferred romantic encounters, responses to stressors, and compatibility with others. For littles, the individuals have a personality trait that utilizes responses, reactions, and interests from a previous, immature point in their lives which cause them to feel or behave childlike at times.
While one's personality matures and develops throughout one's lifetime, a personality does not fluctuate dramatically from hour to hour, day to day, week to week, or even month to month. For large changes to occur in one's personality it takes years, emotionally traumatic events, or brain injury.
The common personality sets in CGL (Caregivers and littles) are unrelated to mental health disorders such as diassociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder. While the personalities are atypical, they do not cause harm in one's life and not personality disorders. For a disorder to exist it must cause a disruption of one's ability to carry out a healthy, fulfilling life, and neither the caregiver nor the regressive personality trait prevents compliance to social norm and expectations, happiness, gratification, achievements, and personal fulfillment in life.
Using Better Self-Identifying Terms
A little who enjoys pretending to be a caregiver may also feel that they can comfortably be partnered with another little as well. They may even feel that they can become the primary caregiver of their regressed partner, and may only need to be taken care of by themselves or others infrequently. While this can be a healthy relationship dynamic as well, it's important the the little be honest and realistic in identifying that they do experience regression, even if only low-levels or at a higher, perhaps teenage, age-range. Due to the need to be understood by a romantic partner who also experiences regression so that there is an understanding of mental equality and need at times, these persons should utilize the "Big" terminology options. They are better suited to identify as a Big Sister, Big Brother, or Big Sibling, indicating that they are regressors but also have comfort in handling the responsibility of taking care of another little. Providing this clarity upfront creates healthy, necessary expectations in a CGL-based relationship.
Caring is Normal for Healthy Humans
Ultimately, wanting one's partner or friends to be happy and healthy is normal, natural, and typical. A lack of interest in the health and happiness of loved ones is a serious psychological concern. Showing appreciation toward these important people in one's life, and helping loved ones to maintain a level of satisfaction, is a good quality that most people, regardless of CGL community involvement, should strive to regularly achieve. The desire to show friends and family that you care about them by caring for them is extremely normal and natural human behavior.
Littles are not mentally incapable of caring
for themselves, pets, friends, family members, or partners. They may struggle to provide specific care tasks or may struggle to perform as a Caregiver in long-term situations. A little may require more motivation to complete some helpful tasks, but the utilization of reward methods is an option to provide that personal feedback directly. Some may struggle with some more adult tasks or keeping up with care consistency--possibly needing more or long breaks from providing care to others or themselves even. It does not mean they are not a little or should take on a different label. It does not mean they are "a switch" and not just a little who is doing their best to be a good childlike individual while managing adulthood the best they are capable. It simply means that they have matured biologically past childhood and have gained some knowledge, abilities, and capabilities of performing as a typical adult well enough.
It is not harmful for a little to enjoy playing pretend or "playing house" with other littles as long as they are honest and recognize that they are truly only a little by personality. It's not wrong for a little to show that they care for a loved one or even to step up in taking care of a loved one in need or certain tasks on their behalf. Regressors should simply never assume the "switch" identity before seriously considering if their desire to provide care to another little or loved one is simply a part of their pretend play activities or even just their expression of love. A regressor should utilize more appropriate terms, such as Big Sister or Big Brother, to better identify their comfort levels when partnered.