Some people view sexual exclusivity as non-negotiable in marriage while others find pleasure and excitement in ethical non-monogamy. Swinging gives both partners a chance to experiment sexually with other people while enjoying a committed, long-term relationship with their chosen life partner. Does swinging create long, happy marriages? Let’s look at why some couples are interested in non-monogamy, how your relationship may benefit from it, and ways to deal with some issues you might face.
Why Couples Are Interested in Non-Monogamy
According to Swinging: A Review of the Literature, the most common reason couples are interested in this type of non-monogamous relationship is also the most obvious one: the variety of sexual partners and experiences available in the lifestyle. Swinging not only lets couples live out different kinds of fantasies but can also provide a spark for the home fire as well. Another reason couples are often drawn to swinging is the thrill and excitement that comes from defying social-sexual norms. The third common reason for interest in swinging is the possibility of creating new friendship circles. Other than defying social-sexual norms, these interests aren’t that different from why a couple might try out a hobby such as bowling. One it comes down to it, people are social creatures looking for pleasurable experiences with others with whom they feel connected.
So what leads a couple to take up swinging rather than, say, bowling? According to the same research, there are five keys to transitioning from monogamy to swinging. The first, and perhaps most obvious, is a strong interest in sex. This does not meant that the couple shares a particularly high sex drive or that they enjoyed unusually wild sex lives while dating. Strong interest also does not necessarily mean that a couple wishes to have sex with large numbers of people. Certain personal characteristics are the second key. These characteristics include a somewhat liberal attitude about sex and a low degree of jealousy. With those first two keys in place, the next important piece is learning about and talking with each other while considering the possibility of joining the lifestyle community. Actually getting in touch with swingers comes next and is the point at which many would-be swingers withdraw. Those who do not retreat at this point finally grasp that fifth key: participating in a swinging event, whether organized by a club/group or privately arranged. So basically, the research says couples don’t just wake up one morning and start swapping. Go figure.
Some research suggests “the seven-year itch” is a very real thing. According to Today’s Alternative Marriage Styles: The Case of Swingers, it is not unusual after three to seven years of marriage for partners to look for new stimulation to produce the same level of sexual excitation as previously experienced in the relationship. Thus, some couples choose non-monogamy to spice things up without sacrificing their emotional commitment to one another. (This “need” has been used as an excuse for why some people cheat on their significant other, but IMHO adultery is an act of betrayal and incredible selfishness.)
How Relationships Benefit From Swinging
Ethical non-monogamous relationships like swinging will give you the chance to live the beautiful feeling of compersion, which is when you take pleasure in your partner’s happiness. This is the opposite feeling of jealousy. And jealousy is not a sign of love but a lack of trust in your partner, yourself, and your relationship.
Not letting traditions and social norms define your relationship may make you a more tolerant person. According to the study on Today’s Alternative Marriage Styles: The Case of Swingers, people in ethically non-monogamous relationships are less racist, less sexist, and less heterosexist than the non-swinging population. According to Swinging: A Review of the Literature, many swingers think self-respect, family security, inner harmony, happiness, and mature love are more important values than pleasure, freedom, exciting life, or social recognition. Those are all values that contribute to a healthy relationship.
The study on The Case of Swingers also found that the vast majority of swingers’ marriages are happier. In addition to scoring their marriages as more fulfilling, swingers rated their overall life satisfaction higher than non-swingers.
The review of the literature confirms that 85 % of swingers felt that swinging posed no actual threat to their marriage. In fact, the majority indicated that they thought swinging improved their marriage. This is likely due to better communication and increased feelings of love, appreciation, and emotional intimacy with their partner.
Ways to Solve Issues You Might Face
A common problem doesn’t come from swinging itself, but by how it is perceived by society. The study on Swinging: A Review of the Literature has reported that swingers are perceived as using more alcohol and drugs than they actually do. Non-swingers also tend to think that swingers have different attitudes and feelings compared to them. They believe they have deviant sexual behavior, need more psychological counseling, and have undesirable traits. But research does not support those stereotypes.
This is why people in ethically non-monogamous relationships might want to keep it secret and open up about it only within the swinging community. Others will want their friends to get to know them for who they truly are before opening up about their private life. And some people talk openly about it to quickly identify anyone who would judge them. No matter how you deal with it, make sure your partner agrees with how you talk about your personal life.
Other problems might be caused by unclear rules. Most swingers don’t give a free pass for their partners to do whatever they want whenever they want with whoever they want. Before swinging, make sure you talk about your limits. Clear communication and respect for the rules both agreed to will prevent a lot of hurt feelings and difficult situations.
Don’t forget that a strong relationship is based on trust. If you are interested in exploring non-monogamy, speak up about your needs and wants and trust your partner to work with you to figure out what is best for your relationship. Does swinging create long, happy marriages? For many couples, it does.