The other day, I received a message from my wife about a job her father was contracted to do. For context, her father is a ventilation contractor and tinsmith, and often takes jobs way out of town. His client is a successful entrepreneur who owns several bars and a couple strip clubs and was now opening a swingers club in Montreal. An interesting tidbit she also shared with me was an offer this club owner extended to his patrons, offering free food and drink at the grand opening party for everyone who buys a paid membership before opening day. More than 1,400 have already signed up, which kinda took my breath away. I mean, I knew swinging was becoming more mainstream among couples, but I didn’t know the lifestyle had grown so large that 1,400 people within driving distance of this club would readily sign up on such short notice. Naturally, I was curious to learn more.
Most people who have never tried swinging have this general idea that it is the swapping of partners of two couples for sex. While this is partly true, it also encompasses a larger spectrum of acts that include voyeurism, threesomes (or foursomes, or moresomes), gangbangs, and everything else in between. Anything that may involve one (or more) extra person in your sex life, regardless of their role in it, may be considered under the umbrella term of Swinging. In fact, the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality suggests that nearly 50% of the population is into some form of sexual kink as described earlier, which implies that half of the people around you are at least open to the idea of swinging. But as much as there is to learn about what swinging is, there’s just as much to discover about what swinging isn’t. There’s a ton of misconception concerning swinging couples constantly engaging in hedonistic orgies on a regular basis with an agenda to destroy our morals and send us all into the apocalyptic future of Mad Max.
The media, in particular, loves to paint the idea of swinging or any type of sexual relations outside of monogamous relationships as a path to unhappiness. Films and television shows that place characters in opportunities for non-monogamous relations often equate this with cheating by forcing their characters to feel betrayed as a result, thus painting a picture of inevitable unhappiness. Or, they can portray a couple who regularly practices swinging, but presents them as ‘freaks’ or ‘weirdos’ in contrast to the main characters to persuade them, and you, into the mindset of, “I never want to end up like them.”
People who practice alternative lifestyles like swinging are no different than you or me and are just as diverse. They’re firemen, school teachers, stay-at-home moms, librarians, accountants, fast-food employees, students, nurses, and even family members (yeah, have fun with that image in your head now). They are everywhere and can be found in any community. Hell, I’m fairly certain my next-door neighbors are swingers (there always seems to be people I don’t recognize coming in and staying the night).
But the biggest mystery to those on the outside-looking-in is this: how did they make this transition, and why? Surely, it’s not something couples just ‘start doing’ is it? Much of the information I’m about to tell you comes from Dr. Edward Fernandes, author of “The Swinging Paradigm”, who has interviewed hundreds of swinging couples over the years. I don’t have hundreds of people to ask, but I did find a couple friends who were willing to speak on their experiences in swinging.
In almost every case, the idea begins as a fantasy, either for the man or the woman. Though this is not limited to heterosexual couples or other forms of relationships either. In nearly 72% of cases, it’s usually the man who is the first to express their desire to open their relationship up to other people, and is almost always met with fear from their partner. A friend that I interviewed admitted to being the first to suggest it, and how it took a very long time for his wife to finally agree to it. It’s worth stating that fear and worry are absolutely normal in these situations. If you worry such thoughts as ‘will I be pretty enough?’, ‘will my partner no longer desire me if they start having sex with someone else?’, and/or ‘will anyone even desire me?’ I can promise you are not alone. Coming to this decision is not one anyone makes lightly, nor easily. But once the decision is made, the dynamic begins to shift almost immediately.
It’s been found that wives tend to be the ones in control when it comes to what activities they will be engaging in, and who gets to be a part of it. As one friend mentioned to me, swinging seems to be very matriarchal, and the research done by Dr. Fernandes seems to strongly confirm this. Single men aren’t allowed into private areas of swinger clubs unless otherwise accompanied, but single women are. Wives tend to be the final say when it comes to who parties with whom, and how; while men are happy to abide by their decisions. After the first experience, women admitted to feeling freer to be lustful, sensuous, and provocative without fear of societal repercussions they might receive from the public. Overall, it’s an empowering experience that gives them the confidence that comes with being in control. Women often worry about whether they should wear something sexy, or if it’s too sexy, or not sexy enough. Also, whether or not someone would look at them with desire the same way their spouse would. But once the night begins, they soon find themselves becoming part of a group they like rather quickly, and their confidence begins to grow the more they interact.
Jealousy is often the biggest monster to rear its head during this transition, but it’s also exceptionally normal for all those involved to experience. Wives are worried they will be left to the sidelines while their husband dives into an orgy, and husbands are worried their wives will be whisked away into the focus of a four-man gangbang, but these scenarios are very unlikely to occur (unless that was what you were going for).
You’ll find jealousy becomes a smaller issue because it’s fostered by a fear of losing a partner or spouse. As mentioned before, many of those in these relationships worry their partner will find someone else they enjoy having sex with, and their desire for their spouse will fade away. While this sounds like a plausible concern, in a majority of cases, it’s the opposite that happens.
Many wives have admitted to their husbands suddenly looking at them with “fresh eyes” as their desire seems to return to where it was when they first began dating. Jealousy is still going to be a constant problem, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a deal-breaker. For these couples, as long as there is communication, consent, and participation, jealousy doesn’t have to be in the way of your mutual fun.
While a kind of infidelity can occur, it’s often very rarely experienced. Swinging isn’t for everybody, and if your relationship is already starting to fail, an open relationship is not going to fix it. In fact, swinging while in a bad relationship will likely expose all the negative aspects between you. Only relationships where couples are very happy, and their bond strong, have the most to gain from trying swinging. After all, what reason would someone have to seek sexual encounters outside of their marriage when they already have stimulating, satisfying encounters with the consent and participation of their spouse?
Generally, every couple has a list of rules they establish before going into this adventure to ensure no one is doing anything that’s not approved by the other. Such rules as:
- No kissing.
- No anal sex.
- We always stay in the same room.
- No sexual play unless we’re both involved.
- No social contact with sexual partners outside of the swinger’s club.
While these rules are normal and important, it’s not uncommon for these established rules to become more and more lax, and at some point, may even dissolve altogether. This isn’t to say these rules weren’t important, but more as a comment on how couples tend to become more comfortable with opening up within the lifestyle, to the point where these rules may become less necessary. But should you and your partner decide to establish rules similar to these, it’s important that they are followed until you both decide to open a discussion over changing them.
As for how relationship dynamics change, there’s much to be gained by everyone involved. Some obvious benefits, such as the satisfaction one receives by having sexual encounters with multiple partners, and a reinvigorated connection between husband and wife, as Dr. Fernandes explains. But also the level of trust between the two that seems to grow. A friend I interviewed says he learned more about how different women enjoy different things in different ways, and that discovery helped to improve how he and his wife try new things they have witnessed others doing. His connection with her has only gotten stronger, and he’s more in-tune with what affects her mood and what he can do to improve it. He says the key is to always keep time and energy for each other, and talk with each other about everything that goes on: who you text with, flirt with, who you’re seeing, etc.
In the end, a relationship that swings is no more different than any other relationship that doesn’t. Both have a strong bond of trust and no secrets between them. Open communication means they don’t have to worry about infidelity. And while other people can be a fun distraction, their focus will always be on one another.
I was hoping to discuss this further with the inclusion of swinger club experiences, but I think I’ll delve into that in a future post. Until then, how many of you practice swinging or other forms of open relationships? What was your experience like, and how has your relationship changed since then? Do you recommend it, or do you have any warnings you want to share for the uninitiated? Tell me down in the comments below.