More than ever, people realize that there is no single “right” way to maintain a relationship. What works great for one couple could be disastrous for another.
Friday night. A dimly lit venue. Nicely groomed couples greeting each other. People on the dancefloor in lingerie. Why are they there, you wonder? Maybe they are interested in being naughty together or expanding their sexual experiences or party in a safe environment. It is common to want to add a bit of spice to a long-term relationship and to see your partner with fresh eyes.
Whether it is about keeping a spark or experiencing sexual freedom, these are but a few examples of the reasons why a couple might try out a swinging lifestyle. One question begs to be answered, though, irrelevant of motive: Is swinging healthy for your relationship?
What research says
A 2000 online survey of swingers found that swinging appears to make most of their marriages happier. These lifestylers rated their satisfaction with life and their marriage higher than non-swingers in the survey. Data from a 2018 study found consensual non-monogamous relationships to be as satisfying if not more than compared to monogamous relationships. Even though there have only been a few studies on swinging, the findings have been quite positive towards ethical non-monogamous swingers.
Increasing your chances of happy swinging
Simply because a majority of swingers are happier does not mean it works for everyone. There are definitely different encounters ranging from mind-blowing, memorable all-nighters to absolute horror stories. So what can you do to protect yourself and your relationship? Is there some magic formula?
We asked veteran swingers for their suggestions and elaborated on these topics from a psychologist’s point of view:
- Mental preparation
Happy hedonists consider it wise to put in some serious self-reflection before embarking on your swinging journey. Mentally preparing yourself helps you avoid unpleasant surprises.
- Consider beforehand what you want. Some swingers like watching and being watched. Almost all enjoy the chat and the flirt. Others are attracted to the conquest. A few are only interested in bed sports and action. Whatever you feel fine with is fair.
- Think about the physical actions (what you want to do and have done to you), the format (clubs, parties, intimate dating, etc.), and the type (soft swap, full swap, bisexual, threesomes, orgies).
- What are you okay with on an emotional level? Will you be able to let go of control, or do you prefer to stick to a narrow script? Are you fine with your partner being close and intimate with another sexual partner? Or rather not? At which stage might you feel insecure? What about kissing?
Contemplate the consequences and run over your ‘what if’-list until it is right for you. Feeling insecure, doubtful, and nervous at times is normal. It proves you are putting in the necessary mental energy.
Once you have thought it through, talk to your partner. Listen carefully to their needs, worries, observations, and insecurities. Talk it through, ad nauseam, until you find common ground. Agree on what goes and whatnot. This is the starting point to lay down the ground rules, which is a kind of couple’s code of conduct. These rules are not cast in stone; they merely assist you both in finding your feet in a new setting. Rules can offer both safety and security, yet they work best if they evolve at the same pace as your wishes and goals evolve.
Happy swinging couples stress that communication is key, but too many couples perform poorly in that department. Even if you have been together for many years or a veteran swinger, it is wise not to assume you know what your partner is thinking or feeling. You do not have a crystal ball. Problems at work, worries about family, or finances can impact mood and desire. It is important to be able to meet eye to eye with your partner and talk about anything.
- Formulate Expectations
Knowing why you are doing this, and being explicit about it, forges a strong bond in the couple. As mentioned in the beginning, couples join the lifestyle for many different reasons. All those reasons are wonderful and make for interesting connections and experiences.
Every dating experience is unique, and different expectations might be in place. It is wise to regularly check with your partner on how they feel and what they want. Enjoy the anticipation and arousal of talking about and planning your next date night.
- Couple First
Happy swingers find a way always to put their relationship first. They are in there for the shared experience and work together as a team. They are not there to fix a broken relationship, avoid deep-rooted problems, or escape their life partner. They are in it together. No one takes a hit for the team.
Having a strong and loving relationship provides a strong base for swinging. All the other couples are simply a bonus to your already amazing relationship and never come before your own relationship.
Sometimes the people you meet in the lifestyle can make a mistake or cause an awkward situation. Having a partner who looks out for you and gently reminds the other people of your rules can make you feel safe and protected, giving you both the comfort and confidence to move forward.
- Take a breather
It is wise for swinging newbies to take it slow. Start by going to a meet-and-greet or a swing club only to check out the scene, chat with others, and discover what you both like.
However, finding your own pace can be tricky. Some taste and never come back; others dive straight in, date intensely and frequently, and then allow it to taper off. What often works well is to allow both you & your partner to settle in without feeling any pressure. Better to go slow and do more next time than rush into a potential mistake. Allow yourself a breather once in a while, ensures you move at the right pace for your own relationship. After all, if you are not enjoying it, then why are you doing it?
- Evaluating & Adjusting
Talking through your experiences with your partner is highly recommended. Share what you saw, felt, and heard to ensure both of you are on the same page.
It is important to give yourself time for mental processing. It can be a lot to take in. You might need to pick up the conversation at a later time. Discuss and analyze: What did you like? What could be improved? When did you not feel okay? What can your partner do to support you? If you were to do it again, what would you keep, and what would you do differently? Try and learn something from mishaps, unpleasant or uncomfortable instances.
It might sound dry to read it like that, but it is exactly this type of mental labor that forges a more solid bond in a couple.
What swinging does to your relationship
Researchers and swingers seem to agree that swinging can be beneficial for your relationship and quality of life. Swinging will not work to fix pre-existing, long-standing relationship problems. It is healthy for a relationship when both partners perceive their joint lifestyle choice as an opportunity for growth, a chance, and a shared challenge to take their relationship to a new level. A meeting of minds resulting in a couples’ code of conduct and a healthy starting relationship are pre-requisites for successfully navigating the muddy waters and rapids of swinging life.
But what is it exactly in swinging that strengthens the bond?
Being intimate is one of the most private and sacred experiences, where you are sharing aspects of yourself that you normally keep hidden. You connect with something primal and tap into your sexual energy. Sharing each other’s deepest darkest desires requires complete trust and surrender, making you vulnerable and powerful at the same time. It is a privilege and a source of strength if you can have that kind of connection with your life partner. Being able to open up intimate moments to other people moves the game up a notch. It implies you trust each other and love enough to share these vulnerable yet powerful moments with outsiders and allow your life partner to see you in a different light. Likewise, you might discover surprising aspects of your partner’s personality, adding more depth to your view of each other. Involving other people in your loved life is only possible given good communication. You are forced (in a good way) to brutal honesty regarding your inner life as well as asserting your sexual desires and needs. This leads to communication on a deeper, opener level and forges a stronger bond. Moreover, the sexual grounding, the liberating energy release, leaves you feeling alive, vibrant, and aroused.
Any healthy relationship entails shared values, compatible interests, and excellent communication. A fulfilling sexual relationship serves as the glue that bonds you together and helps you overcome the day-to-day obstacles and minor frustrations. Yet, sometimes the glue has gone a tad stale. For those who are open to it, swinging can revive ‘the glue’ and bring it back to its desired viscosity. By putting in the time and effort required to make swinging successful for you both, you nurture your relationship. In that respect, swinging is a labor of love.