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Should I try swinging?

Should I try swinging? | Jo Divine

The image of swingers has long been set in the minds of society as a comical stereotype: The middle-aged couple, long-married and bored, wife swapping with their friends at a hot tub party. There may be a fondue set on the patio. There is probably pampas grass in the garden, and they holiday at naturist colonies. The swinging icons of the seventies’ suburban liberals.

Is this really what ethical non-monogamy is all about? It seems to be the self-elected role of the mainstream media to cast disparagement on anything and anyone who falls outside of the most dreary and conventional of interests. For a couple to explore their sexuality and indulge in variety, even now and then, is portrayed as a caricature.

Who really swings?

Actually, a lot of people. From the young to the elderly. From the photoshop & filtered-Instagram plastic ‘beautiful’ to the nondescript. The gym bunny to the plus-size. The respectable professional you meet in the bank. The man who empties the bins. The highly educated, the vocational, the disabled, the straight, bi and gay, the married, divorced, widowed or single. Your child’s teacher. Your doctor. Your local MP. That’s not to say that you would necessarily run into them all. Some people are very discrete about it.

Let’s have a look at the ways you can toy with the notions of swinging.

Talk about it to your friends. Perhaps in an abstract way. You might know people who are already very involved. Even if you aren’t attracted to them or feel that that might make your friendship difficult, they could invite you to events or introduce you to others. Don’t forget to ask your single friends! Single people can swing too.

Look at some websites and try some apps. There are a number of ways to connect to people who are interested in casual sex and/or swinging online. Different sites have different focus and styles. Avoid spending lots of money or signing up to dozens of them. Just pick a few that you feel reflect your attitude and what you are looking for.

Take some nice pictures that show roughly what you look like (even if you don’t want to show your full face publicly) and take the time to write a profile as though you were selling a product. What is great about you? What would your strapline be? Who would you be suitable for? Try to check in once a day or so to handle responses, but don’t let them take over your life. It easily can!

The joy of the swinging world is that you don’t have to narrow it down to your favourite. You can have them all! After you’ve chatted for a bit and checked you have the same things in mind, you could arrange to meet them privately. Use the same caution you would in meeting any stranger. Although a lot of the libertine world is lovely, there are always predators posing as house pets, just in any other sphere of life.

Consider attending an event. There are a huge array of events available now, especially in London and the larger cities. If you are further out, you may have less choice or need to travel. It can be fun to get a hotel and make a nice weekend of it.

Many events will have criteria for who may attend (based on age, looks, size, sexual orientation) but some are very open. You will usually need to apply and buy tickets well in advance. I’d suggest planning a month ahead. If you don’t feel ready to attend a full-on sex-party, there are often ‘taster’ nights for the larger events companies, where you can dress up and mingle with likeminded people, network and build your social circle within the swinging world.

Bear in mind that no party should ever require or expect you to participate indiscriminately. Even at full sex-party events, the need to socialise, build rapport and ask consent for anything you’d like to do is still absolutely vital. If there is a problem with someone’s behaviour (even if it seems a very slight infringement) notify the organiser or security immediately. Your legal and human rights do not vanish when you attend a party.

Consider attending a swinger holiday/resort. These are expensive compared to the other options, but in terms of value for money, you’ll have a week to settle in and get used to the vibe, make connections with new people and enjoy yourself. If you’d like to dive in head first, there are a number of cruises and holiday resorts that have specific take-over times by swing scene events organisers, such as SDC.

Good reasons to try swinging:

  • You trust your partner and enjoy seeing them happy
  • You want to experience some sexual variety
  • You want to make friends
  • You want to have an adventure
  • You want to experience physical luxury and pleasure
  • You want to get to know yourself better
  • You want to increase your ability to experience sexual pleasure
  • You have some things on your bucket list that would be nice to try out
  • You are sexually attracted to people you would not necessarily want to have a relationship with

Bad Reasons to Try Swinging

  • You have read/seen something in a book or film that turned you on and you want to recreate it for yourself – this is unrealistic
  • You are worried your partner might cheat on you if you don’t – swinging needs more trust than monogamous relationships, not less. It is possible for a partner who swings to cheat on you AS WELL. It is an entirely different issue, it will not prevent it from happening.
  • You like the idea of picking up a woman to share together – it’s a very common desire, but fraught with problems. If you want to do this, bear in mind that the woman has wants, needs and desires of her own. She’s not there for what you want. I wrote a whole book on this very issue. If you attend an event or even try to arrange something private, consider that other couples and singles may want something completely different. They may be into ‘full swap’ (same room or separate room?) or ‘group play’ or ‘cuckolding’. They may be into anything from the very hardcore to just the men watching the women kiss each other. The women may be bisexual or straight. The men may be too. Although there are a few same-sex couples on the swing scene, the vast majority are heterosexual. Some couples may be long term partners, married with a house and children. Others may just be ‘play partners’ or ‘party partners’– a couple only for events, not even in daily life. How would this affect your attitude?
  • You want to be able to walk into a venue and just have sex with other people without all the hassle of talking and chat up lines – No, no, no. Treat people the way you would in any other venue. Don’t grope, don’t expect, don’t demand. Talk to them, be charming and try to win them over just as you would anywhere else. You may see people at ‘play’ at the venues. That doesn’t mean you can just join in. They’ve arranged it between themselves. You just didn’t see that part. Always keep a respectful distance and ask consent. No means no. As with anywhere.
  • You want to use it as a one-off experience to write a book/host your own events/make money in some way – You can’t just be an expert after one event, especially when your motives are to use the community as an outsider without being part of it. Try an event. If you like it, carry on. If you don’t, don’t carry on. Unless you have a lot of experiences and come to view yourself as part of the community, you will never have the level of insight you would need to make use of it in this way. A trip to the hospital doesn’t make you a surgeon. A visit to a party doesn’t make you an authority on the swing scene. There is a great deal of nuance. There is a lot to learn.
  • You think you might be gay – firstly, the ability to experience sexual pleasure with another person of any gender does not necessarily affect your identity. These are two separate issues. Secondly, being messaged by someone who tells you that they want to use you as an experiment to test this out is not actually flattering. Single women on the swing scene, especially, get this all the time. It’s very dehumanising. Always talk to people first and build a connection. Whether you are or are not gay or bisexual is not nearly as important as building a connection with someone as a human being.
  • Your partner really wants to do it – The problem isn’t that they really want to. The problem is that they really want to and you don’t. Forcing yourself into a sexual situation that you are uncomfortable with and don’t enjoy is not only awful for you – it is awful for your new playmates who see the sadness in your eyes. Rather than be yet another reluctant partner, grinning and bearing it to please your spouse, consider if you might prefer for them to swing alone. It can be done. It may feel initially like having your partner with you sanctifies the act, so it’s further from ‘cheating’ and you retain a sense of control, but it is this very need to hold onto arbitrary indicators of your own value and status that makes swinging with them the worse option. Consider just giving them a hall pass to an event instead. Like you would a night out with the boys/girls. Alternatively, arrange to go to an event together and just enjoy the atmosphere. There is no obligation to partake in frolics with anyone else. You can chat and mingle, watch other couples, be watched by others, and never stray to any of them at all. This is perfectly fine, acceptable and great fun.
  • You think it will be a great place to find a sexy partner and develop a relationship – it never is. It’s a one in a million occurrence. People go to these apps and events largely to avoid this (especially the men). Women tend to go to explore their sexual selves. In any case, however-well you might fit (no pun intended) in the atmosphere of the party, cold hard reality is a different thing. At a party, you are your Id- your primal self. You are sexy and confident and free from everything in your day to day life. These connections never transfer to a domestic situation. Sex party excitement and the thrill of new sensations from an exciting, mysterious lover disappear when you are dealing with smelly socks and the dishes after a day at work. Just forget about it. You will do yourself a great deal of psychological damage if you allow yourself to expect otherwise