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A Swinger Lifestyle
The Basics of Swinging

Swinging, (a.k.a.: polyamory and the lifestyle) are terms that refer to a couple that has an open relationship in that they have sex with other couple(s) or additional individual(s). The rules are determined by each couple and there is no right or wrong way to do it, rather it is what is comfortable for each couple.

Some couples that swing choose to have the same partners while others can bring in new couples into their relationship with the frequency of that varying.

Lisa Lawless
By Lisa S. Lawless, Ph.D.
Psychotherapist & Sexuality Expert

CEO & Founder of
Holistic Wisdom, Inc. & NAASAS

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Swinging can refer to couples of any sexual orientation and again the rules of those relationships are determined in a unique fashion that is dependent upon each couple. There are swinging clubs, but like couples, they too all have different rules, norms and themes. Some clubs focus on a certain sexual preference or fetish and while most swingers clubs are open to people of varying ages, appearances and size some are more controlled with stricter criteria depending on the preferences of it's members.

Swinging was first coined as a term in the 1950's and was often arranged through personal ads. However, as the practice became more accepted in broader circles, swingers parties and clubs became more popular. There is even a swinging organization called the North American Swing Club Association (NASCA.com). 

Swingers are able to explore their sexuality in an environment that feels comfortable to them. It also provides an opportunity for people who are bi-curious to determine if that is something that is appealing for them and satisfy their desires for the same sex while they stay in a heterosexual relationship or vice versa.

Both men and women swingers enjoy the opportunity to be with other partners while enjoying the benefits of a traditional relationship. Those who choose a swinging lifestyle find that they require a high level of communication and honesty within the relationship. It also requires a strong sense of security, self esteem and trust.

Some swingers choose to engage in sexual connections with other people only when they are together, while others prefer having privacy away from their partner. In some cases watching their partner can be part of the erotic draw.

Swingers tend to establish friendships that are close as they share the same beliefs and tend to be protective of maintaining anonymity outside of the swing groups. Swinging is not meant to promote unsafe or indiscriminate sexual encounters.  Most swingers typically look for quality sexual experiences and not just anonymous partners or frequent sexual encounters. 

Those that want to try swinging often confuse what a fantasy of swinging is compared to the reality. In some cases people who try it find it emotionally upsetting and it must be something that is discussed in great detail and continually monitored throughout the process to protect the relationship.

It is not okay for a swinger to cheat on their partner just like it is not okay for an individual involved in a monogamous relationship to cheat.  Therefore, it is only all right to have sex as a swinger if everyone involved agree to the terms of the relationship.  Swinging is not about cheating, closed communication, dishonesty or lying, rather it is about two people choosing an alternative sexual boundaries than that of monogamy. 

Swinging should typically not be attempted in a brand new relationship as it is better for a couple to establish their own sense of connection first. Swinging is definitely not for those who are in a relationship that is unhealthy or unstable as it can destroy the relationship.  Trust in the relationship is crucial and if there is a lack of it or honest communication then swinging is is definitely not appropriate.  Bottom line is that swinging is not for everyone.

Those that partake in swinging are by no means more evolved or sexually skilled. Many monogamous couples have very satisfying sexual relationships and do not need or desire having any outside involvement from others. It comes down to defining what you want in your relationship and then negotiating the terms of that with your partner. Once the terms of your relationship are agreed upon you must honor that agreement in order to protect the relationship.

Couples may find as they continue together that they may want to renegotiate the terms of their relationship boundaries. This is something that requires thoughtful and careful communication and appreciation for one's partner not wanting to or wanting something different.


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