Swinging Lifestyle - Guide to
You may think that Swinging simply means you can have your cake - and eat it too. But there is more to it than just having other sexual partners. A swinging relationship needs to have an even greater level of respect, trust and attention to one's partner in order to have it work out positively.
Before reading this article further we recommend you check out our Introduction to Multi-partner Sex, then come back here to read-on for the specifics relating to Swinging.
Here we give you the straight goods on what it means to have an open swinging relationship.
Swinging is an agreement between otherwise monogamous partners to have some level of sexual contact with one or more other people in a safe, mutually agreed upon environment. Multi-partner Sex (MPS) can include anything from the simple voyeurism of watching and being watched, to Threesomes and/or Group Sex - all the way through to full-blown orgies; the choice is yours!
Swinging is distinct from ‘Polyamory’, in that swingers have no emotional or financial relationship to others outside the Primary relationship; it is just about sex and, perhaps, friendship.
Swinging is not cheating! Involvement in this form of lifestyle is by mutual knowledge and consent. It is jointly undertaken and the integrity of the primary relationship is still paramount. The great advantage of swinging is the elimination of the deceit and jealousy associated with 'affairs' undertaken by one partner or the other.
Range of Swinging
Swingers engage in a number of ways, but style usually centers on the level of contact between couples. The style takes three basic forms, including: soft, closed and open swinging. Of course the boundaries between each form are not cut and dried; couples can mix and match what is appropriate for them as they wish.
Soft swinging is a great way to introduce yourself and your partner to the lifestyle. This is where one set of partners share the same sexual space with others, but there is little (if any) actual touching of anyone other than your own mate. It basically amounts to foreplay with others, and then intercourse with your main partner in the same room with others. Penetrative sex is reserved for your partner only. Sometimes there may even be oral sex during the buildup, but this is usually discussed and agreed to by all. If all goes well, a couple may decide to progress to the other forms, or not!
Closed swinging is for the more experienced swinger. It involves taking one or more external people into another room (out of your partner’s view), and usually includes penetrative sex. This style allows sexual freedom for each partner with new person(s), while keeping their primary relationship private. Or, perhaps for some, enactment of the ‘fantasy’ includes an extra level of ‘naughtiness’ through the physical separation from the primary partner. Closed swinging is more common at private parties and Swingers’ Clubs.
Open or full swap swinging is where partners are openly shared, often in the same bed. It may be a threesome, foursome - or more. This is often chosen by couples who want to remain in contact with one another at all times. It is usually an ‘anything goes’ style of swinging, if only because there is less room for rules once the clothes come off and everyone is revved up. This is where it is especially important to be clear and strong in communicating any limitations – and standing by ‘no-means-no’! For this reason this form is really for the experienced swinger only, as breaches of agreement between primary partners (even if unintended) can bring up jealousy and other negative emotions.
Reasons are not hard to find. Most people like sex - and more variety of it. But what drives some people to extend that interest into being swingers? The following is a list of just a few of the potential reasons:
Sex is so much fun, why limit the pleasure of experiencing it with others simply because of societal standards set by others? If both partners believe that love and sex are two separate (though connected things), then it is possible to have MPS without any feeling of risk to the monogamous love that they share.
Simply the desire to have fun with like-minded people. Swingers tend to be open-minded and non-judgmental of others ... therefore ideal people to forge good friendships with. A good swingers club is primarily a good social club - with extra benefits!
Voyeurism and exhibitionist desires are a strong contender for swingers’ motives. Folks who have these needs can often find great pleasure in seeing (and being seen by) their partners - and others - in sexual acts with various partners.
The desire to revitalize or ‘enhance’ an existing sexual relationship. Partners looking for new variety in their sex lives are often the first in line to try swinging.
The need of one partner to 'manage' a promiscuous partner through a controlled affair. A swinging lifestyle may be used in order to preserve a relationship where one or both partners' eyes wander easily.
There are any number of variations of some men needing to ‘control’ their wife by arranging for her to have sex with another man (latent pimp tendencies); and women whose interest, or need, is to have the opportunity to act out this type of scenario. This can extend to Cuckolding, whereby a male gains sexual gratification out of watching his partner have intercourse with other people … participation can range from simply watching, to being ‘forced’ to join in, or (in some cases) even ‘forced’ to give sexual gratification to the other male also. These motivations are becoming more common in the swinging world.
In a related motivation, occasionally an older man will drive swinging in order to allow his more sexually active younger partner to gain greater sexual satisfaction within situations he can control. This assists him in preventing her from wandering into more dangerous, secret and uncontrolled liaisons.
This list is as varied as it is long! People have many reasons to swing, but what matters most is what your (and your partner’s) motive is. You need to have a clear idea of why you are going into swinging in the first place and what rules will apply. This will assist you and your partner in deciding what is right for you in order for your relationship to survive (and hopefully develop from) the experience.
Who are swingers?
Swingers are ordinary people from all walks of life, all races, and all social classes - from atheist, blue-collar laborers to rich, devout Christians. There really isn’t a common string tying them all together, except for their preference in sexual habits and a desire for uninhibited fun.
However, the majority are heterosexual, although there are also homosexual and many bisexual (or perhaps bi-curious) couples who swing. The majority of participants fall between 30 and 50 years of age (though more young people are now getting involved), and most are looking to take their sexuality someplace new.
Pros & cons
The benefits of a swinging lifestyle are varied: as a method of revitalizing your sex life with your committed partner, room to expand sexual horizons, engaging safely in new relationships, even improvements to your existing relationship (provided that everybody starts off and ends on the same page in terms of their expectations and outcomes). There are many couples who claim their relationships have been saved by becoming a swinging couple and, to their credit, have deepened their own commitment to one another is the process.
On the other hand, you must be careful that your relationship is in a condition that makes it ready for taking trust levels to the next level. Open relations have a way of magnifying existing conditions and problems within a relationship. If trust is at all in question, or love is not strong and real - and commitment is on shaky ground - there cannot be the openness that is needed to make swinging work out for the best. Although some might say that working through these kinds of issues (through a gentle entry into open relationships) can help to clarify what needs to be worked on, in reality the likelihood of this is very uncertain and a very risky gamble. Jealousy and possessiveness are not traits that make a relationship a good candidate for swinging. Also, weak or strained relationships typically cannot be helped by either swinging or polyamory (having more than one ‘full-blown’ relationship at a time with the complete knowledge and consent of everyone involved), and these kinds of exploits can be dangerous to any primary relationship if there is any lack of foundation. True love and honest, open communications are basic requirements in order for this kind of relationship to work out.
Also to be considered is the social view of this lifestyle; swinging is still largely misunderstood by the public-at-large, with some stigma attached to it. However, swinging is largely a private matter and relatively easy to keep discreet (if so desired), so this might be one of the less important considerations.
Before attempting to swing
Once swinging has been experienced, there is no undoing what happens, so here are some things to keep in mind before jumping in:
Communication with your partner is vital, especially when starting out, as neither knows exactly how strongly they will react to having this new experience. Keeping each other up to speed on likes and dislikes is going to determine if they keep going with it, or stop entirely. So it is essential to be forthcoming, and encourage a partner to do the same. A great way to start is by each drawing up a separate check-list of 'Yes', 'No' and 'Not Sure' activities before your first time; compare the lists and only start with items where both say 'Yes'. Once you have settled into the lifestyle, you can re-visit these lists as often as you like to move items between the groups - or perhaps experimentally try-out mutual 'Not Sure' items.
It is also necessary to have open and frank discussions with others you are considering swinging with. You may want to have a 'no obligations' chat over a few drinks one night, just to see if this is something you might all enjoy, and whether you have similar enough rules and expectations to make it possible. Make sure to have thought about it in advance of such an evening, and even go so far as to list the things you want addressed, because once things get going, it’s hard to start throwing in new restrictions!
Keeping emotions in check is vital; jealousy is an ugly bed partner. Nothing turns off an event faster than an angry or jealous partner. Any feelings of possessiveness of your partner must be firmly in check, or agree with the group to rules that will initially protect you from the full brunt of these emotions.
Play safe … of very high importance are personal safety and hygiene issues related to swinging; they must be addressed carefully before you begin. Birth control and STDs/STIs are some of the highest ranked worry areas among the swinging community, so the use of condoms is not to be taken lightly. Be safe or you may very well have more problems than simple hurt feelings to deal with. This includes agreeing a location where you all feel physically safe and comfortable (e.g. your home or a hotel, etc.). We emphasize - these details should be agreed upon by all parties before the event occurs (especially if it is a first time event).
Partners may find that over time they can relax off their previous guidelines and let go a bit more, but this is entirely up to you both. Never allow yourself (or partner) to be dragged into something either don’t fully want to engage in, and never do this to anyone else – otherwise known as ‘taking one for the team’. Doing so is a recipe for failure, either sooner or later.
Swinging is fast becoming an accepted lifestyle choice. Where in the past it was considered an extreme alternative lifestyle, it has now become so widespread that it may one day border on mainstream. Perhaps in a few more decades it may become exactly that, but at least for now it does remain on the risqué side of lifestyle choices.
Swinging definitely fits in with living a wilder lifestyle, but it may not be for everyone. Make sure you think it through first, and consider all the things mentioned in this article before you dive in. It can be a lot of fun, but it’s up to you to make sure it stays that way!
We hope you have found this guide useful in making an informed decision as to whether this type of lifestyle is for you – or not. If you’re looking for more information regarding alternative choices, please refer to the rest of our related Multi-partner & Alternative Lifestyle articles, plus our highly active and informative Forum.