It was suggested on the Taboo puppy play episode that one big reason for pup play is that it allows pups and Handlers to openly display affection in a way that might normally be hard for them. I’ve heard others say that they are rather stoic by nature but found an ability to be more emotionally open through BDSM in general or puppy play in particular.
Speaking of myself now… I can run somewhat towards stoic. I’m a very analytic thinker – INTJ. “Personal relationships, particularly romantic ones, can be the INTJ's Achilles heel ... This happens in part because many INTJs do not readily grasp the social rituals ... Perhaps the most fundamental problem, however, is that INTJs really want people to make sense.” —Marina Margaret Heiss. INTJs tend to be pragmatic, logical, individualistic, and creative and have a low tolerance for spin or rampant emotionalism.
Nature or nurture? As I grew-up, the people in my family are not huggers – not given to overt displays of affection or emotion. I wouldn’t say we’re “stiff-upper-lip” b/c we laugh and joke very freely (although Max once said that on his empathic radar I was all stealth)… but we don’t (as I said) hug… we don’t say “I love you” very often – almost never; I can’t think when the last time was I said, “I love you, Mom.” I was probably seven. I’m not a “physical” person normally. Hell, I generally don’t even like to shake hands! Being a puppy is a way I can just let go of all that armor (if that’s what it is) and be very affectionate and loving in a way that, outside of that space, doesn’t come naturally.
Getting in-touch w/ my pup-self has been a process over the last 6 or 7 years that has made me better able to connect w/ my own emotions and display my feelings (particularly feelings of affection) more easily… especially w/ regards to my Owner (obviously). She says that I’ve become more emotional from when she first met me... when I had the emotional range of a salad fork.
I particularly find that w/ other pups I can be more affectionate, more physical (cuddling, scritching, licking… occasionally making-out), and… “open.” And I find this particularly true w/ other pups (and my Owner) more so than in any other kind of BDSM activity that I’ve engaged in (which is a pretty extensive list, by the way). My puppy headspace is very much about physicality (touch, smell, and taste), affection, and loyalty to my Owner and pack.
I’ve written before about my home club, CAPEX, and for all its wonderful points its most significant drawback has been that it doesn’t really cohere as a family – due to the high turnover rate. Most people in CAPEX come around for 2 or 3 years and then don’t come around anymore. NC Master and I are about the only two people who attend regularly now who attended regularly 10 years ago. So nobody knows the club’s history… so there’s little sense of shared identity… and so many people come and go that it often feels like, w/ CAPEX, if you skip a few months and come back then the room is full of strangers (i.e. new people). So it’s a good club… but it’s not a "leather family."
I’ve found, in 2012, that after 10+ years in the lifestyle, my puppy pack has helped fill a void that was there by providing a feeling of brotherhood that just isn’t there w/ CAPEX. There are folks in the community I’ve known longer and know better than the pups… but it’s not so much about knowing as feeling. It’s a headspace I find myself in when I’m w/ the pups.
My best friend, Max, has an almost-black belt… and one thing he’s said is that there are two types of martial artists: thinkers and feelers… and that to become a black belt, tinkers have to learn to feel and feelers have to learn to think. Recently he and I have talked about how this can be extrapolated out to a general life lesson.