Swinging, also known as “the lifestyle”, is the practice of consensual sex or sexual activities outside the normal boundaries of monogamy. Basically, it’s when a couple agrees to fool around outside the rules of a typical relationship. In other words, it’s having your cake and eating it too!
What kinds of things do people do when swinging? The (perverse) mind’s the limit, really. Sexual activities could range from a “full swap” (a couple having sex with another couple) to a “soft swap” (oral sex, touching, watching another couple have sex). Anything goes!
Pssst: For some basic swinging lingo, have a quick read here.
Single people can be swingers, but the large majority of swingers are couples. Most swingers are mid-30s to mid-50s, college educated, and have been married 11-20 years, or in a relationship for 10+ years (Source: Psychology Today).
That being said, an increasing number of young people are exploring the lifestyle now too. This is quickly changing ill-perceived views of swingers being older married couples. (Thank God, ’cause this is not diverse nor enticing picture for everyone!)
Are most swingers bisexual? One study found that most male swingers identified as being heterosexual (only 20% identified as bisexual). Women, on the other hand, mostly self-rated as being bi-curious, and only a handful were bisexual (Source: Psychology Today).
How swinging impacts relationships
The same study found that most swingers had been in the lifestyle for a long time – anywhere from 3-12 years. Clearly, the lifestyle was more than a fling. In fact, these results even loosely suggest that swinging adds longevity to relationships!
The “types” of people who swing
Are swingers sex-crazed deviants who need to fuck like rabbits at every opportunity? Certainly not (though I’ve definitely met some energizer bunnies over the years). Most newcomers to the lifestyle are surprised by how “normal” swingers are!
Without a doubt, some of my most enjoyable friendships blossomed from swinging. Kareoke, go-karting, bar-hopping, and group sex are all on the table when we hang with our lifestyle pals. If that’s not the true definition of friends with benefits, I don’t know what is!
Years ago when entering the lifestyle myself, I quickly learnt that when the label of “swinger” was removed from people, I saw them as what they really were. That is, everyday humans like me who had hobbies, interests, jobs, and curiosities. In fact, my own ventures have revealed swingers as being more respectful and aware of sexual boundaries than many of the “vanilla” people I’ve met.
What swinging isn’t
Swinging is not a sexual free-for-all where people live hedonistically without consequence. The lifestyle requires careful decision-making, checking in with partners regularly, and plenty of steamy consensual sexploration!
Swinging shouldn’t be a last resort for dying relationships (see here). Rather than a replacement, swinging should enhance one’s current sex life. It’s quite the fun and sexy journey!
Why do people swing?
I expand more on the “why’s” of swinging in this post, but in a nutshell there are three reasons why people swing:
- To experience sex with another person
- To fulfil sexual fantasies and desires
- To enrich their sex life
Swinging can have tremendous sexual benefits. It offers the chance to explore non-monogamous fantasies (e.g. threesomes, orgies, or exhibitionism), and opportunities to create once perceivably impossible experiences. In other words, it’s fucking awesome 😉
Are swinging and polyamory the same thing?
Straight up: nope. But there can definitely be overlap. Personally we’ve blurred these lines, but just because you swing absolutely does not mean you are polyamorous!
By definition, polyamory is the act of engaging in more than one romantic and/or sexual relationship at the same time. This can happen if you are seeing a couple regularly, and slowly form a boyfriend/girlfriend dynamic. Still, this type of “relationship” usually maintains more of a “fuck buddy” approach. Typically it entails your standard communication (“want to meet up again for naughty antics next week?”), as opposed to a day-to-day romantic, loving one (“I miss you baby, can’t wait to hold you again”).
Polyamory is a whole other realm outside of swinging. Sharing sex is surprisingly “easy” for many, but sharing emotions with another person and/or couple is fairly complex. Swinging does not require polyamory in any way, but it can transition this way when seeing people regularly. Open communication with all people involved is important to make sure that everyone is on the same page in this domain!
And presto – that’s (hopefully!) everything you need to know about what is swinging, who swingers are, and why they do it. Still have a burning thought or question? Don’t be shy – drop your two cents below! 🙂