Littles and Sex – The Importance of Boundaries with Dissociative Identity Disorder

I have written about my Dissociative Identity Disorder before, and the complications and struggles it brings to my life and my relationships. One of the areas that become very complicated is sex. In this post, I want to focus on boundaries, sex and the littles in Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Dissociative Identity Disorder and Littles

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a very misunderstood condition. The public’s view is a result of wrongful depictions in the media, in movies and in books. Someone with the disorder is not dangerous, violent or lying. Instead, it is an illness caused by repetitive complex trauma during childhood that resulted in the brain’s inability to form one unified personality. It is a survival strategy for the traumatized brain of a child. However much it helped many of us survive terrible things, later in life, it can cause a lot of distress and confusion.

How Dissociative Identity Disorder works

A child needs to have experienced complex trauma where they felt helpless and did not see a way out before the age of about 8 years to develop DID. In the theory of structural dissociation, that is about the age when a child gets a unified personality. But for a child who has been through trauma, that unification is impossible. Let me explain why. When a trauma happens, the child’s brain aids the child to emotionally and mentally survive by disengaging.

The memories of the trauma get stored in a part of the brain that the child does not have access to. If similar trauma happens again, those memories also get stored in that box. That box is an alter. It is the part of the child that takes all the pain, all the bad memories, and handles them. So when trauma happens, that part is fronting and experiencing things. It is a dissociated part of the child’s brain.

The more different traumas the child experiences, the more alters get created. Once the brain starts using that specific coping strategy, an integration of alters to form one personality naturally is impossible without processing of the trauma. And the further in the past the trauma lies, the harder any kind of integration becomes even with the help of therapy. The thing is, the child has not recollection of the trauma, or doesn’t understand that the trauma is something bad, because of the lack of emotional memory.

The collection of alters is called a system. There is no original, or no one outside the system. Everyone in the system has a role, many hold specific traumas, and many are hurt. You can think of it like that. You have a glass bowl, and that glass bowl shatters into pieces because of trauma. Which piece of broken glass is the original? They are all part of the bowl, they are just not connected anymore. And they all look different, have different thickness, different shapes. They are all their own piece. But they all belong together because they are part of the bowl.

An alter is a person. It is someone who has their own memories, personality, traits, age, gender, feelings, experiences and needs. Inside the mind of someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder, there are many people, who all have to share one body. So who has sex when the body has sex? It becomes very complicated.

Littles and Other Roles

The littles in a system are alters who are children. In my system, there are littles from the age of 2 to the age of 10. There are also teens and adults (you can see a list of the alters in my system here). A lot of the littles in a DID system are trauma holders. But not only that, they are children, meaning that they don’t really have a concept of boundaries, of what is appropriate and what isn’t. I know that this idea is confusing and hard to comprehend. The body of the system is adult, but the person fronting (being out and interacting with and experiencing the world) might not be an adult. So even if you are making out with an adult body, you might by mistake be doing that with a child.

Now, there are many different roles in a system. There are the host (the alter mostly fronting and making decisions), protectors (those that protect the system from hurt through different coping strategies), there are those who know how to function, those who can handle distress, those who are professional and so on. Every alter exists for a reason, and they often come out when triggered by a situation. But sometimes they also come out in inappropriate situations. It all depends on how much communication there is in the system and how strong certain triggers are.

I don’t really communicate a lot with people in general anymore. I feel too uncomfortable making close connections because I might switch (another alter pushes out to front), and embarrass myself. So I am keeping safe that way. But when I am with my partner, I don’t really need to focus on keeping it together. He is aware of the system and every single alter. He knows their names, he knows what they are like. And everyone feels safe being with him. That is beautiful and I am very very lucky to have found someone who doesn’t mind being with someone who has DID.

Sex and Littles

But all this brings on the issue of sex. There are a lot of sexual alters in the system and that is a good thing. There are many different kinks, and fetishes, and we are having a great fun exploring all of that. But what if a little gets triggered and starts fronting? What if a little actually engages in a sexual activity without realizing what it is?

Littles, Hurt Inner Children and DD/llg dynamics

A little in a DID system is not the same as the hurt inner child in Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). And it is not the same as a little in a DD/llg dynamics. I personally think that it might be entirely possible that a lot of those who identify with the little role in a D/s relationship do have DID or C-PTSD, but are unaware of it. Many people with these conditions often take many years to become aware, especially with DID, because the system’s role is to survive, which means it is covert and is not to be discovered. But this is just my theory.

I think it is important to point out that a little in a DID system is a child,, and not to be confused with the hurt inner child or the little role. Instead, it is a child with the view of the world of a child, the memories of a child, the conceptions of a child. They do not understand the idea of sex and what is appropriate or not.

Sex, Boundaries and Littles

When I first became aware of the system and my DID, I wasn’t very much focused on who is fronting when the body was having sex. But as time went by, I started to understand the implications, and made the decision that it is in no way okay for one of our child alters to front when it is sexy time. That is a hard thing to do though, especially if most of us like being physically close to our Master, and some of the child alters are trauma holders of sexual trauma. Sadly, we also have a child alter in our system who actually becomes very compliant when it comes to sex, and offers it as a way to soothe any sort of assumed threat. It is a very confusing and terrible behaviour, and it will take a long time to teach her this is very unhealthy.

So we had to put up boundaries. My boundary is that child alters, littles, are not allowed to front when we are having sex. Mostly, they move into the innerworld anyway, when things are happening. But not always. There are a few older teens (around the age of 18), who are allowed to have sex. But anyone younger than that, needs to step back. That is hard to do.

Most people with DID struggle with internal communication, especially if they don’t have an innerworld where the alters can communicate and settle disputes and discuss boundaries. Fortunately, we have an innerworld. Most of us can communicate with each other. So we have a boundary system set up now. There is one particular alter who has the job to hold back the littles when we are having sex. She is also a little, but more mature and understands what sex is. She is also a protector and communicator in general. And she has been doing a good job.

Every now and then, someone slips through though. It is often about an external trigger, and it is not something that any of us can control much. But my Master is very aware and observant and the moment he realizes that something is not right, he stops all sexual activity. Either he is able to convince the alter to stop fronting, or we stop having sex. I am so lucky to have him in my life!

Every System is Different

I know that being in a D/s relationship and practicing BDSM might seem a bit daring if you have a group of people inside your mind that might get triggered by pain and rough sex. But I think that a lot of the needs for kinkier sex, come from our past trauma. The important thing is that those needs are met in a safe and loving dynamic, and do not escalate things into reenactment. And for once, we actually are in control, we can use the safeword and it stops. That is very empowering!

What works for one DID system, does not work for another. I personally think that no child alter should ever be involved in any sexual activity. But sometimes the amnesia between alters, or the lack of communication within the system, is so strong, that it is not something that can be controlled internally. Then it is all about the partner of the system to set up boundaries and to be aware of who is fronting. I know that for most people, issues like this seem foreign and strange. But for those of us with Dissociative Identity Disorder, it is important to be aware of what is going on when we are in a romantic relationship or have sex, to avoid further traumas.

You may also like...

20 Responses

  1. May More says:

    Wow… You have just helped with so many questions in my mind about littles, sex and littles, triggers when littles appear and all sorts of stuff. Some which relate directly to me – sexual trauma from when i was a child – and how I react sometimes to sex and can’t continue the act as suddenly I feel altered and wrong!
    Thank you DS- an amazingly informative post…
    May x

    • It would make sense that there are sometimes triggers for you that would put you in a headspace where you suddenly feel it is all wrong, being transported back to when bad things happened. Thanks so much for your comment, and sharing that experience, May <3

  2. MrsK says:

    What a great and informative post! I know many have questions about littles and the personalities in different areas of life, and this really helped me better understand!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Mrs K

  3. SassyCat says:

    Devie this is informative and personal. I admire your self-awareness and the ability to keep your littles at bay while you enjoy adult playtime.
    A wonderful post to read. This is a perfect example of why I created SB4MH. Because there are some people who have a mental illness and it can sometimes affect their sex lives. And to make those who do not suffer with a mental illness aware of what its like and to inform them, give them knowledge.
    Thank you for sharing and linking up.

    • Thanks so much, Cat! I think I wrote this post mainly so others with DID get some idea how they could make sex safer for the whole system, but it definitely is also to spread knowledge to others.

  4. Littlegem says:

    Very informative read and thank you for being so open on the topic, I know that must be hard. I can certainly relate to some aspects having a sexual little side and you have certainly opened my eyes a bit more.

  5. missy says:

    Wow. I am so glad that I read this post. As usual, you have explained so well how DID can work and how it can, and needs, to be managed. I really like the direct and informative way that you write about something which affects you so much on a personal level. You are very brave 😊

    • Thanks! It is not easy to manage, and most of the time, I don’t even want to think about having it, or I even deny that I do. But when it comes to sex, I really need to be aware, and I am glad that I am, wouldn’t want to cause more trauma.

  6. Your ability to explain this so clearly, and create more understanding for DID is admirable, Devie, and I find myself learning more and more about it every time I read one of your posts. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself.

    Rebel xox

  7. jupitergrant says:

    Your analogy of the broken glass bowl is really effective. It must be so complicated. It’s great that you and your Master have such a strong understanding, and that your alters communicate with you and each other.

  8. I find it really interesting how you are able to have that inner world where you can communicate with each other. I imagine it would be a nightmare if you didn’t have that. How do you tell children sex isn’t appropriate otherwise…

  1. April 4, 2020

    […] Littles and Sex – The Importance of Boundaries with Dissociative Identity Disorder […]

  2. June 4, 2020

    […] and fucked up. So I would just listen to myself explaining the terrible details of things in a child’s voice, with a child’s vocabulary, sensing feelings of anxiety and despair that are not mine. But […]

  3. July 15, 2020

    […] a very unhealthy thing to do for someone with DID. In our system and in our current relationship, we have strict rules about sex with littles. They are not allowed to front (interact with the world) when anything sexual is going on. And if […]

  4. December 5, 2020

    […] likely also connected to my Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). When engaging in anything sexual, no littles are allowed to front ( = no alters/parts are allowed to engage with others and be present in the front). Sex is solely […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: