The Dos, Don’ts, and Politics of Swinging
So, you want to swing?
As a sexually active adult in the 21st Century, you have more opportunities to explore this fascinating lifestyle than ever before. Conventions, clubs and the Internet offer everything from informative seminars on the subject to exotic international resorts dedicated to bringing your richest sexual fantasies to life.
IN THE BEGINNING…
While there’s little agreement on the origin of modern American swinging, Terry Gould’s foundational study The Lifestyle posits the intense bonds forged between military couples during World War II led to popularization of “wife-swapping,” as husbands sometimes made agreements to look after each other’s wives romantically if one were to be killed in combat. Just such a relationship was subtly hinted at in, of all things, Michael Bay’s Matt Damon / Ben Affleck blockbuster Pearl Harbor a few years ago.
Regardless of its origins, public interest in swinging exploded in the 1990s, with suburban couples across the nation discovering there were a host of alternative lifestyles just clicks away.
Given the ease of digital access, it’s important to know what to expect, how best to enter the lifestyle and how to behave (etiquette is all-important). Along the way, I’ll do what I can to torpedo popular myths, dispel misperceptions, and offer some constructive advice.
TALK BEFORE YOU ACT
Despite what our more conservative pundits may insist to the contrary, all tested research suggests swinging is healthy for relationships; in one recent study, fully 60% of the men and women interviewed maintained that their relationships were strengthened by the lifestyle, while only 1.7% claimed negative effects.
In most cases, it was revealed that couples “eased into” swinging by discussing the possibilities on a fantasy level, just to test their partner’s feelings and interest in the topic.
In my opinion, and regardless of whether you and your partner decide to explore the lifestyle, you’ve already scored a “win-win” by having just such a conversation, because anything encouraging couples to open up and speak more frankly about their sexual wants and needs is ultimately a positive thing.
And while it should go without saying, I’m going to lay it out right here in black & white: If there are elements of jealousy, mistrust, or possessiveness in your relationship, make sure you and your partner candidly discuss all the potential ramifications swinging will bring into the relationship. Determine in advance both your personal boundaries, as well as the “lines in the sand” you are willing to draw, as a couple, to keep your relationship happy, healthy, functional and prosperous.
LET’S GET TO WORK
Once you’ve discussed the possibilities, established boundaries and found a mutual comfort zone, your quest can take many forms.
Since you’re reading this article, you’ve likely already done a Google search on swinging, only to be swamped with a nearly endless list of options. From professional resorts to social networking services, informal gatherings and traditional swingers’ clubs, I advise you and your partner to go with the option that seems best suited to your particular situation and comfort level.
Many opt to join an online community that will allow them to make their initial connections in cyberspace (just like a traditional singles dating service). This allows one to browse local options, whether it is with a recognized and established club or simply other like-minded couples.
I can’t emphasize enough the need to be as specific as possible about your interests, your desires and, if needed, your boundaries to those you interact with online. And frankly, don’t expect perfect chemistry the first (or second, or even third) time you communicate with other couples. And that’s fine; you and your partner will quickly discover there’s something – and someone – out there for virtually everyone in the world of swinging.
The bottom line is, whether you are simply looking for like-minded couples or interested in attending a large scale swinger’s event and fully immersing yourself in the lifestyle, maintaining a concise yet specific and, above all, honest online presence will prove invaluable as you enter this brave new world.
And remember…whether you strike a lust connection or not the first few times, always be kind and courteous, and never “flame” anyone online. Word travels fast in the world of swinging, just as it does in any established subculture. As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Hopefully I’ve given you some useful advice to keep in mind as you and your lover contemplate your options. In Part 2, we’ll look at how to behave and what to expect as you embark on your first swinging adventure!