Many people out there have never heard of swinging, and that's not surprising because, with millions of marriages worldwide every year, it's a surprisingly little-known phenomenon in mainstream culture. But, even if you have heard of it before, you might have many questions about what it entails and why people do it. So here are several things you need to know about swinging and why some people choose to make it part of their relationship.
What are swingers?
The Swinging Lifestyle is a non-monogamous alternative to a monogamous relationship (Wilt et al., 2018). There are many different types of open connections, but most swingers agree that partners have sex with other people together. How you define together, and sex is up to you. Because it's a non-traditional sexual arrangement, some couples in open relationships don't consider themselves swingers—but they might be. Whether or not that label resonates for you, though, here's what everyone needs to know about it.
What is the swinger lifestyle?
The first thing to know about swingers is that there's no authentic swinger lifestyle. The concept of swinging is as broad as it gets, and as such, there are many different swinging styles. For example, some couples will attend regular parties or clubs where they have sex with other people together in a threesome; some do it at home with a friend or group of friends; others have multiple relationships where they keep their partners separate (known as polyamory); while others still prefer more traditional one-on-one intimate encounters.
Swinging can also be something couples try for a few months, years, or even decades without their relationships changing—it just depends on what works best for you and your partner. Every relationship has its unique dynamic, and while that doesn't mean they all work precisely the same way when it comes to swapping partners, there's certainly nothing wrong with trying out a little experimentation if you've been feeling unsatisfied by monogamy!
There's plenty to learn before throwing yourself into an open relationship, but don't worry: the chances are good that if swinging intrigues you, so does know how others deal with it!
Benefits of the Lifestyle
A large draw of engaging in swinging is thought to provide multiple benefits. First, many couples enjoy engaging in swinging as it allows them a chance to try new things and explore their sexuality together. Most couples consider trying swinging as they find their partner attractive and feel that introducing other people into their relationship will help strengthen them. In some cases, one partner may be interested in more sexually adventurous behavior than they get at home, while others are looking for a more intimate connection and experience with a different person. Ultimately, each couple must decide which benefits are most important to them when deciding whether or not to engage in swinging activities.
For example, if you value having sex with other partners over maintaining an emotional relationship outside your existing partnership, swinging may be a lifestyle choice. Another reason many people love the Lifestyle is that it breaks down cultural barriers around monogamy and permits people to explore their sexual interests without facing judgment from friends or family members. The key here is to remember the intricacies of your business are yours alone.
Who can participate in the Lifestyle?
The swingers' Lifestyle is open to all willing to engage in safe, consensual sex with other couples. The Lifestyle tends to attract people who have been rejected by or feel incompatible with a monogamous relationship, but swingers aren't necessarily singles seeking a replacement partner; they are looking for communal sexuality as long as you follow specific rules of etiquette and safety, it's easier than you might think. A crucial part of swinging is communicating your boundaries and limitations on what you will and won't do sexually; if anything makes you uncomfortable, make sure your partners respect those boundaries.
There's an essential difference between asserting yourself and being a pushover. If something feels wrong, say so—don't worry about making anyone mad or coming off like you're prudish because it's better to err on that side of caution. But, overall, mutual respect is necessary for any relationship; there must be a sense that everyone involved has given their consent freely without any coercion—sexual or otherwise—for a couple to truly consider themselves swingers.
As a nurse and thus, I must note that in any non-monogamous relationship, safety is paramount. If one partner contracts an STD or catches a sexually transmitted infection (STI), it's essential to inform your other partners. Likewise, if you plan on engaging in unprotected sex with multiple partners, it's imperative to talk about STIs and practice safe sex, such as using condoms or dental dams. Remember, the more people you have sex with, the greater your risk of contracting an STI (Niekamp et al., 2021). Therefore, I want you to practice smartly, always, and safely.
Finding a community
For many, exploring an open relationship with a partner is integral to their sexual journey. Unfortunately, that can be more difficult than it sounds because our families and friends don't understand for many of us. That's why seeking out other like-minded people to help navigate your journey is important. (Luckily, there are plenty of ways to do that!) Finding a community or group in your area can help keep you motivated and provide you with insights into local events and people who might be interested in meeting up with you—or just helping answer any questions you have.
Then, attend meetups and connect with others. You may even find that attending these events alone helps spur you forward as much as actually connecting with someone new! Remember not to take anything at face value; if something seems fishy or isn't working for you, move on. The key is finding what works best for you while still adhering to your agreements—with yourself, partners, and lovers alike!
Why would I want to do this?
If you have a partner that has been pressuring you to try swinging, then it may be a good idea to at least look into what swingers are and how their Lifestyle works. You can learn about The Swingers Lifestyle in as little as an hour or two of research. You might discover that swinging is something you'd like to participate in with your partner, and perhaps it will strengthen your relationship even more than it was before!
Or you might decide not to swing at all, which is okay too! However, having an open mind and learning more about The Swingers Lifestyle will help if your current relationship becomes a bit less monogamous. This way, you won't be blindsided by any suggestions or pressures from your significant other who wants to expand things sexually with partners outside of marriage/committed relationships. In addition, having some knowledge beforehand could save you from any unnecessary stress down the road (in both long-term and short-term relationships).
So take some time to figure out how one couple decided they wanted to start on a sex-positive journey together without breaking up their marriage while they were doing so!
How can I convince my partner?
Getting a partner to want to swing will depend on how you present it. If your partner isn't open-minded, they won't be receptive to your suggestions that you give or participate in swinging. It might seem like an invitation for cheating, which will never sit well with them. Do your research beforehand. Please don't use words such as cheating when describing swinging; instead, describe it as experimenting or exploring other opportunities.
The fewer negative connotations associated with swinging and other sexual activities, the better chances of getting your partner to consider exploring new possibilities—frame swinging as an opportunity to meet new people while strengthening your primary relationship.
Trust each other enough to engage in a sexual act outside of monogamy. Treating others as objects can build trust between partners if done right, so discuss safe sex practices before deciding what kind of play is suitable for all parties involved!
Play safe, my friends.
Niekamp, A.-M., Spauwen, L. W., Dukers-Muijrers, N. H., & Hoebe, C. J. (2021). How aware are swingers about their swing sex partners’ risk behaviours, and sexually transmitted infection status? BMC Infectious Diseases, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12879-021-05813-5
Wilt, J., Harrison, M. A., & Michael, C. S. (2018). Attitudes and experiences of swinging couples. Psychology & Sexuality, 9(1), 38–53. https://doi.org/10.1080/19419899.2017.1419984