Swinging is a form of recreational social sex between consenting adults, most
commonly consisting of male/female couples meeting other male/female couples for
sex and/or ongoing intimate friendships.
Swinging (otherwise known as "the lifestyle") can take a variety of different
forms. Although single women are generally welcome at swinging events, the
degree to which single men are accepted varies from club to club. Although
female bisexuality is generally accepted in the swinging community, the degree
to which male bisexuality is accepted also varies from club to club. Swing clubs
can be "on-premises" (which means that one may interact sexually with others at
that event) or "off-premises" (which means that one would generally go back to
the home or hotel room of other couples for sex, after deciding to do so at the
event). Newspapers and magazines which carry personal ads for swingers also
exist, and to a slightly lesser degree these publications may also be considered
an aspect of "the lifestyle." Swingers have traditionally been largely middle
class and tend to blend in quite easily with the general population in terms of
appearance and ideology.
What Might I Like About Swinging?
People may be attracted to the swinging community for a variety of different
reasons. Many couples find the thought of having sex with other people to be
very arousing, and may find that swinging becomes a catalyst for improving their
own sex lives and relationship. Some people may feel stifled by repressive
societal attitudes towards sexuality, and may welcome the opportunity to form
friendships and a new social network with people of like mind. Others may simply
feel that sex should be a natural possibility in any friendship in which there
is mutual attraction, and so appreciate the relative open-mindedness and
pleasure-positivity with which the swinging community views this subject.
Although the swinging community is unfortunately not always the best place right
now for het-identified men to explore their potential bisexuality, it is
currently a relatively good place for het-identified women to initially explore
sex with other women, and this sometimes plays a role in couples choosing to
seek it out.
In the past, the swinging community has been somewhat unaware of or confused by
alternative sexual practices such as BDSM or Tantra. This appears to be
changing, and these days you may find many folks in the swinging community who
are knowledgeable about such things (though forms of BDSM much more extreme than
spanking or very light bondage may make people uncomfortable, depending on the
club). If you're interested in doing so and spend enough time meeting different
people, you may actually find that today's swinging community is becoming a
somewhat fertile place to meet folks with a variety of sexual interests. It is
certainly true right now that the national swinging conventions tend to host
seminars and workshops on a variety of sexual topics, which seems at least
somewhat indicative of broadening perspectives in the community.
Some women may find the swinging community to be a welcome dose of sanity. Our
culture can be quite cruel to women who have an active interest in sex, often
derisively labeling them "sluts" - a term which stands in sharp contrast to the
less derogatory term for men, "studs". The swinging community may be especially
attractive to these women, who may feel their sex drives and/or sexual
assertiveness should be appreciated rather than snickered about or reviled.
Some people end up learning quite a bit about themselves and their sexualities
through swinging. For example, most folks find that having their partner
actively enjoy and appreciate what they are experiencing during sex to be a
tremendous turn-on; this is a realization which may stand in sharp contrast to
the attitude that "performance" is all-important. Swinging can be an opportunity
to learn to relax and appreciate sexual pleasure, and may help one view sex more
as a source of pleasure and intimacy and less as a social bargaining chip or ego
Although this may vary slightly from club to club, in general the swinging
community is quite accepting of a variety of body types, sizes, ages, and
shapes. Additionally, many on-premises events provide an opportunity to dress
sexily or go completely nude, which can be a fun and sensual experience in and
Enjoying House Parties and
Other On-Premises Events
Since you may have the opportunity to get physically close with one or more
folks during the course of the evening, it's probably a good idea to take a
shower, brush your teeth, and (if necessary) shave before showing up. If you
like to use your fingers inside your partners as part of sex, don't forget to
clip your fingernails short.
Even if you're a regular, it's usually polite to make a party reservation rather
than just "dropping in", and to cancel your reservation if you can't keep it.
For parties in peoples' homes, it's usually polite to ask if there is anything
you can bring (e.g. chips or beverages). Arrive on time, and if you are part of
a couple be sure you arrive together as a couple.
Using alcohol to excess is a poor idea, especially if you or your partner are
just getting into swinging. Many non-swingers have their first quasi-swinging
experiences when they are heavily intoxicated, and then regret what they did the
next day or blame the alcohol for what they freely chose to do; try to make your
experience different from this.
But without question, the most important suggestion I can offer is to always
keep track of where you're at, and only do what you want to do. If you don't
want to swing with someone, just say no tactfully and courteously. You always
have the right to say no to anything, and if someone doesn't take no for an
answer you should tell the party host immediately. In swinging, sometimes you
will be told, "No, thank you." When this happens, just accept it graciously and
don't inquire as to "Why not?"
Dealing with Jealousy
There are many different opinions about jealousy - several of the books
recommended at the end of this guide devote considerable attention to the topic.
An interesting dynamic can sometimes arise in couples new to swinging, a dynamic
which has inspired the community adage that "the more enthusiastic member of a
couple will get the couple into swinging, but the less enthusiastic partner will
keep them there." As Carol Queen puts it in Exhibitionism for the Shy,
"The swing community has noticed another prevalent dynamic in couples where one
partner, more often than not the man, has more enthusiasm than the other. He has
had terrific fantasies about freewheeling sex and plenty of it, and he finally
convinces his initially reluctant partner to give swinging a try. When they get
to the party, she has a great time and is high demand, while he thinks the
party's a dud... Before you pack up your sexy outfit and fistful of condoms,
take some time to consider and negotiate how you will deal with the chagrin of
the less popular partner if such a dismaying event happens to you."
In other words, some jealousy may spring from insecurity: if I'm worried that
I'm not valuable enough to keep my primary partner's interest and love, or that
fewer people will be interested in playing with me than with my primary partner,
I may be more apt to get jealous. For the latter case, some of these fears may
be alleviated by choosing, at least initially, to only swing together as a
couple; this way neither partner can be left out.
To end this section on a more practical note, many couples find that the secrets
to dealing with jealousy tend to revolve around good communication, keeping
agreements, reassuring each other as to your love and commitment before and
after playing with someone new, and listening to each other's emotional concerns
and taking them seriously whenever they arise. If jealousy becomes an issue for
you and your partner, you might try working on some or all of these things.
Of Interest to Men
these warnings I do not mean to imply that all or even most men would ever act
like this; chances are if you're still reading this document you already have a
healthy social sense and wouldn't think to misbehave in these ways. But anyway,
Attempting to hire an escort or sex worker to go to a swinging event with you,
if you don't have a regular female partner, just so you can get in the door is a
terribly poor idea; this is considered inappropriate at every club I have ever
heard of, is generally sufficient to get you black-listed, and is a ruse that is
highly likely to be noticed by others. A related concept is taking along someone
who isn't really your primary partner and isn't really interested in swinging;
such folks are called "tickets" (i.e. you just used them as a "ticket" to get in
the door), and this practice isn't looked upon favorably either.
If you want nothing more than to see your female partner have sex with another
woman, you will probably be better off forgetting about it until she brings it
up; wandering around by yourself attempting to find a woman who wants to have
sex with her, or otherwise trying to push this personal choice into happening,
is considered quite crass.
Finally, please remember to converse with both members of a couple you and your
partner are interested in, not just the partner you are interested in having sex
with; ultimately it's your ability to form friendships with COUPLES which will
determine the quality of your experience in the swinging community.
Using Personal Ads
It's an unfortunate fact that many ads in swinger's publications seem to have
nothing to do with swinging at all. Ads that ask for money, even discreetly, or
which mention "generosity" are almost certainly ads from sex workers rather than
swingers. Other ads are from individuals who are basically being dishonest,
perhaps claiming to be part of a couple when they aren't. Amidst all this,
however, you can usually find some ads that end up being from actual swingers
who are sincerely interested in meeting other singles or couples.
In general, you will probably waste less time by placing an ad than by
responding to ads. When writing your personal ad, it's important to be clear and
honest about what your requirements are. You may find it helpful to first obtain
a P.O. Box and a voice mail box which aren't traceable to your real name or home
address; it's also a good idea to arrange the first meeting with someone new to
be in a neutral and/or public place, so that if things don't seem to be going
well you'll be able to leave easily and nobody new will know where you live.
Ultimately, however, if you have swing clubs (whether on- or off- premises) in
your area you will probably be better off meeting swingers through them than
through personal ads.
Keeping Yourself and Your Partner Healthy
Each sex-positive community in this country has had a different response to the
AIDS crisis, and in the face of a very frightening disease it is hard for me to
fault people for acting irrationally sometimes. However, I believe the time has
come for a more intelligent, pleasure-positive, and long-term response to STDs
(of all kinds) than "excluding bisexual men," "inquiring about sexual histories
and hoping for the truth," "trying to reassure yourself about how few people in
your community you think are infected right now," "stigmatizing anal play," etc.
Learning to use latex and water-based lube skillfully may take a little
practice, and ultimately it is up to you and your partner whether you will
follow some or all the precautions I'm going to describe. However, try to keep
in mind some of the payoffs: increased protection from disease, increased peace
of mind, increased protection against pregnancy when another form of birth
control (such as the pill) fails, and greater ease in interacting with younger
swingers who may have never known a time when they haven't felt it necessary to