This blog post is going to be a little bit different from my previous ones. I talked to two different people about swingers, since I am no expert on the subject, to gain some insight about the wonderful world of swingers.
I talked to Laurie Bennett-Cook a licensed sex therapist and sexologist and Jason Major who is a writer and comedian, host of a live show/podcast called Jason Majors Sex Party, and swinger since 2000. (Check out his podcast at MajorSexParty.com)
This post is going to be in the form of a Q&A because I feel like it will be a lot more informative and come across better that way. Enioy.
Question: What is a swinger?
Laurie: Traditionally it’s a member of a couple (usually a married couple) who exchanges sexual partners for extracurricular excitement. Most couples who swing date and exchange partners with other couples. Exchanges take place at organized swinger parties and via online through sites such as Swinglifestyle.com
Many people tend to believe that anyone who identifies as being in a non-monogamous relationship is a swinger. This is not the case. There are several forms of non-monogamy and swinging is just one of many.
Jason: Swinging can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. To me, swinging means a certain level of openness in my romantic relationship which allows myself and my female partner(s) to explore outside sexual relationships. To most people in the swinging lifestyle, there tends to be some aspect of partner swapping or group sex with other people. A lot of swingers tend to only have sex or “play” with others at parties, clubs, events or on specific dates. Myself and my current partners are also open/polyamorous meaning that we not only have play time with other people at parties, but maintain other romantic relationships, as well. I personally prefer to have some kind of relationship with the women I play with, but a lot of swingers prefer the party scene specifically because there can be some anonymity.
Question: What are the benefits/drawbacks of being a swinger?
-Become an expert in communication with your partner
-Infidelity less likely
-Greater levels of trust
-Greater levels of honesty
-Safely explore fantasies
-Wake up emotional vulnerabilities/insecurities that neither partner was previously aware of.
-Face any jealousy issues head on
Every couple is its own unique design and dynamic. Only the couple themselves can determine whether or not Swinging will enhance or deteriorate their relationship.
Jason: Let me start with the drawbacks. First is the obvious. Jealousy. I think that every swinger/poly/open person still feels jealousy, but they experience this feeling differently. Rather than experiencing only the negatives, they are able to translate those feelings into a positive experience, much in the way that someone who enjoys impact play or BDSM experiences the pain as pleasure. Obviously, this is not for everyone, but I think that a lot of people would find the experience of watching their partner with someone else kinda hot, if they didn’t feel like it would be a destructive force in their relationship.
Second drawback that I can think of is the increased risk of sexually transmitted infections or any of the other health issues that can occur with sex. Obviously, the more sexual partners you have, the more likely you may be exposed to something. Condoms are very big in the swing world. So, is STD testing. I get a full battery of testing twice a year. Of course, those tests would only tell me anything after I was already infected, but it allows me to be responsible should I catch anything. For the record, I have not had a sexually transmitted infection in the almost 15 years I’ve been doing this. I have known some people in the lifestyle who have come down with things like chlamydia or gonorrhea, but there were only a couple of incidents like this and all parties involved were honest with their play partners, careful in their treatment and they did not knowingly pass the infection on. I’d go so far as to say that I have seen consistently far worse behavior among my single non-swinger friends. In the swing world, the overwhelming majority of us work hard to stay healthy and do everything we can to play responsibly.
Benefits are many. I have found that it has made my romantic relationships stronger. I’ve seen this in other swinger couples, as well. I believe that the ability to feel freedom and be sexually adventurous can make partners less likely to get bored with their sex lives. Also, having multiple romantic partners can mean that both the physical and emotional stuff gets spread out. Some people might be unhappy with this, but I feel like it takes the pressure off of my romantic relationships. I don’t have to be all things to my girlfriend, nor she to me. Plus, I don’t need to end one relationship to start another. If there is a crush or attraction, there is freedom to explore those feelings rather than bury them down deep. This includes openly talking about those feelings with my girlfriend. And often, when you actually get a chance to scratch that particular itch it kinda goes away.
Obviously, I’ve also had some pretty amazing sexual experiences. And I think that has made me a significantly better lover. Everyone is different, so each new sexual partner adds something new to my experience level.
Also, I feel like it has increased my confidence greatly. When I first got into the swinging lifestyle I was very insecure about my body and I thought that I was extremely unattractive. At my first swing party, I discovered that while not every woman might be into me, there were definitely women who did find me sexy. And they were interested in showing me. That was a game changer. And it also taught me that rejection wasn’t the end of the world. But also that I shouldn’t reject myself. I’ve hooked up with women far hotter than a schlub like me should be capable of. The key was asking and being confident in myself.
Question: Does being a swinger affect romantic relationships positively and.ore negatively?
Laurie: It depends on the relationship. For some it is absolutely detrimental. For some it has little effect. And for others it can allow for growth and closeness. Many times “swinging” isn’t what causes the problem but rather figuring out what form of non-monogamy (if any at all) works for all parties in the relationship. If a couple is struggling in their relationship I always advise they stay clear of any form of non-monogamy. It’s like Grad School relationship and requires a level of communication and understanding that most are not ready for; capable of; or willing to pursue.
Jason: I’ve really only had positive things to say about how swinging impacts my relationships. I’ve had a number of relationships since I started swinging, including monogamous relationships where my partner was not a swinger. In all cases, the swinging wasn’t the reason the relationships ended. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the swinging is not just a whim, but more of a deep part of my sexuality. Could I live without it? Sure. Would I be happier with partners who were not only tolerant of this lifestyle, but enthusiast participants? Of course!
Also, it’s pushed me to be more honest with my partners. I realize that this isn’t for everyone, so when I meet a lady who I am interested in I make damn sure to disclose as quickly as possible. Definitely before first kiss sort of thing. Not like it’s something horrible she needs to be aware of, but more like it’s a fun, sexy fact of who I am. Another empowering thing is that more often than not this does not appear to be a deal breaker. And if it is? So what. I don’t want a partner to put up with this if she hates it any more than I want to hide away this aspect of my sexuality.
Question: How and why did you become a swinger?
Jason: I sort of stumbled into it. Met a woman online that I was attracted to and she invited me to a party she was throwing. She became a good friend and I was introduced to the wide world of wonderful perversion. As to the why? That’s a difficult question to answer. I’m not a jealous person, by nature. I’m a bit of an exhibitionist. I’m a bit of a voyeur. There are any number of things that attracted me to the lifestyle, but I continue to do it because it brings me great joy. There are bad times and the occasional terrible people, but overall it’s a lot of fun. And the vast majority of the people I’ve met through the lifestyle have been great. There are people who stumble into the scene for the wrong reasons, but the ones who stick around tend to be very thoughtful people. Or giant horn dogs, of course.
Question: What are some misconceptions and stereotypes that swingers face?
Jason: That we’re all sex fiends who can’t control ourselves. That we’re sex addicts. That we’re lascivious monsters who will take advantage of anyone. The truth is that the swing community depends on making people, especially the ladies involved, as comfortable as possible. If everyone is all nervous and creeped out, then no one is having any fun. A good swing club or party will always do it’s best to ensure that everyone is comfortable and that no one is made to feel pressured from unwanted advances. In fact, there are often limits on drugs and alcohol with the understanding that consent can’t be given if you’re too fucked up.
Questions: How and where do you meet other swingers?
Jason: Most swingers hookup via the internet these days. There are dedicated sites for the swinger community. Some are better than others. I’ve also had more than a little success meeting women through an online dating website that allows people to identify as varying levels of monogamous or non-monogamous. I’ve also met other swingers a lot through swing parties. You got to the same party or club enough and you get to know the regulars… For better or for worse. 🙂 The swing population is pretty wide and varied… You’d be surprised who you meet. We’re everywhere!