A million thanks to the 1,072 swingers who shared insights about their lifestyle experiences with responses to the Attraction and Connections edition of the State of Play survey! As you read through the results, please keep in mind that the survey was conducted during early 2021 while the COVID 19 pandemic continues to influence the environment and people’s behavior.
Swinging During COVID
We asked how many sex partners survey takers had in the previous 12 months, a timeframe that roughly tracks to the first declarations of a global pandemic. We were surprised to see more than a few responses reporting fairly high numbers of play partners in the era of social distancing. Given that there were some polyamorous respondents in this survey, having three sex partners could very well mean not having any play partners from outside of their committed relationship for some survey takers. As tempting as it is to focus on the small percentage of active swingers on the right side of the chart, we think it important to note that almost two-thirds of lifestyle community members had no or very few sexual contacts outside of their household in the last year.
As with our first edition, it was nice to see a wide range of ages, from 18 to 80, share their swinging experiences & preferences. The age group most represented in the survey is 40-49 year-olds (33.6%). Bracketing that group, people aged 30 to 39 make up 26.8%, and those 50 to 59 comprise 21.8% of respondents. Younger swingers (people under 30) accounted for 11.5% of our survey takers. People aged 60 & up were 6.3% of the total. We can’t know if this survey accurately sampled the lifestyle’s actual age distribution since there isn’t a reliable census for this community, which tends to stay largely underground due to stigma associated with non-monogamy. We can say this survey skewed a bit younger than our 2020 survey. Perhaps older swingers who tend to be more at risk for severe COVID complications have stepped back from the lifestyle for now and thus were less likely to participate in this survey. Another possibility is that younger people have used some of the free time from COVID lockdowns to do more exploration of the swinging lifestyle. We’ll have to explore those and other possibilities in another survey.
In-Person vs. Virtual Swingers
Our 2020 survey asked about how long people thought about swinging before their first experience. With COVID & the explosion of virtual swinging, we wanted to take a look at how many self-identified swingers have had in-person experiences. More than 15% of survey takers are part of the lifestyle community but have not done any in-person swinging.
Length of Swinging Experience
Interestingly, approximately 26% of survey respondents had their first in-person swinging experience during the pandemic. That doesn’t necessarily mean they were reckless, as some comments mentioned how they were isolating and being tested regularly to feel comfortable socializing with new people. Multiple comments from long-time swingers noted how they are taking an indefinite break until they get vaccinated and/or feel that the overall risk has diminished.
Personal Body Types
When asked to classify their own body type, 54.6% of respondents chose “carrying a little extra weight.” If you aren’t completely comfortable with your own body, you should know that most swingers feel they aren’t in their best shape either, so don’t be too harsh on yourself. Accept and love your body; the results from the next question suggest plenty of people find you sexy AF.
Partners’ Body Type
Weight and body issues tend to be a common struggle within the lifestyle and the world at large. Confidence goes a long way in making a person appealing, and this survey data could serve as a confidence booster for many of us who worry about how others perceive our bodies. According to swingers, good things come in packages of many different shapes and sizes. Roughly 90% of our survey takers say they are as comfortable swinging with people carrying a few extra pounds as they are with toned or athletic body types; slightly more than 15% report being comfortable swinging with heavily overweight or obese people. Younger female swingers had the highest percentage of respondents labeling themselves as thin (15.7% compared to 8.4% overall) but were also the most accepting of obese people (23.6% vs. 15.1% overall).
We asked participants to rate their own physical appeal and the lowest rating they would accept for a swinging partner. The community had a relatively modest opinion of themselves, as the average self-rating was 6.5 out of 10. When it came to accepting others, the lowest appeal rating deemed acceptable on average was actually slightly below average at 4.7 out of 10.
Partner Age Range
We asked what the youngest & oldest age a person would feel comfortable with for their swinging partners and discovered the community reported an average comfort range of more than 30 years. Swingers aged 35 & under had an average range of 21.5 to 50.1. Swingers aged 55 & up had an average range of 31.7-70.4. Many people commented they see age as just a number and not a good tool to screen potential partners. Personality and personal appearance were far more important factors than age to many participants.
It’s not as easy as you might expect to group swingers in precise relationship buckets. Again, we see that most swingers are in loving & committed relationships. Many of the survey takers included comments about how they are married but with an asterisk for an open relationship, or special friends with benefits, or in a grey area that might be more polyamory. We are happy to see people figuring out what works best for them, even if it might not be simple or traditional.
We used a modified Kinsey scale to ask about respondents’ sexual orientation. The inclusion of additional options helped uncover a more diverse landscape than shown in our previous survey, which had 57.6% selecting straight as their orientation. In the current data, 39.9% of survey takers identify as straight. Some of this shift is likely due to a somewhat younger population sample as younger people consistently indicate more openness to bisexual exploration. Even with some generational attitude shifts, men are still much less likely to identify as bicurious or bisexual than women (45.6% vs. 86.4%).
Bisexual Comfort Levels
Even as more people identify as gay and bisexual, discrimination persists. We asked survey takers about their comfort engaging in play when a bisexual person of the same gender is present. The vast majority of respondents reported being either Comfortable or Very Comfortable. That’s good news on its face, but somewhat skewed since 58% of the swingers surveyed are themselves bisexual or bicurious. Among survey takers who identify as straight, 13.6% admit they feel Uncomfortable or Very Uncomfortable with the idea of playing when a bisexual person of the same gender is present, which is disappointing for a community that prides itself on being open and welcoming to all.
Ease of Socializing
You do not need to be a social butterfly to enjoy the swinging lifestyle. Among survey takers, younger female swingers were most likely to identify as shy (47% compared to 41% overall). We noticed as data started coming in that early respondents were more likely to identify themselves as outgoing. We don’t have a large enough sample size or question set to explore this topic in-depth. Still, we suspect that the survey may underrepresent shy community members. They may be less likely to share their opinions and participate in a swinger survey (or surveys in general).
Judging Online Profiles
If you are trying to improve the performance of your online profile, start with better pictures. It was the most important factor identified by respondents and was closely followed by written descriptions. It makes sense that swingers would want to get a good sense of what you look like and a sample of your charming personality through a well-written description.
It isn’t surprising that the community is welcoming to many different body types because personality ranked as the most important factor in attraction, followed by physical appearance then intelligence. Age & availability tied for last place in the list of factors most important to attraction. When we looked at age & gender, we didn’t find significant differences in ratings.
Repeat Play Factor
Personality is even more important when it comes to deciding on repeat play or not. There was a bit of a difference between younger and older swingers. Swingers 35 & under chose good sex 36.9% vs. swingers 55 & up choosing it 30.1%. Even with this generational difference, it is still in the minority. If you like a swinger couple, worry less about your god-like sexual prowess and worry more about your friendly chemistry.
It was again a big challenge dealing with more men being the online gatekeepers than women. Men outnumbered women two to one in the survey.
The overrepresentation of men revealed that many straight men do carefully weigh the physical attributes of other men on behalf of their partner. Women, bisexual men, & straight men acting as screeners sought out these attributes in potential male play partners. Please note they do not equal 100% as most people identified multiple attributes as desirable. Guys, it appears you can skip leg day at the gym, but you might want to start a moisturizing regimen for your face.
What is good for the goose is good for the gander. By far, face and body shape were the most highly ranked attributes by respondents looking for female play partners.
Swinger Play Styles
Our previous survey found most swingers (62.2%) preferred full swap/same room. This time we followed up to see not just what was preferred but also what was acceptable. We found most swingers are open to most scenarios. Players want to play, right? If you are a soft swap couple or prefer parallel play, there is no reason to compromise your personal boundaries. The biggest drop-off was for separate rooms, but even those options still had about half of swingers being OK with it.
First Date Swinging
It is common to see on dating profiles that a couple will not play on the first date, and this survey confirms it. Of our respondents, 39% never or rarely become physical on the first date. This is why trying to relax and just enjoy the first date without any expectations is usually the best plan. If anything does happen, it will simply be a happy bonus.
While you are on your first (or third or 100th) date, remember that not all swingers are comfortable with drugs or alcohol. Of our survey takers, 3% are only comfortable with sober swinging. Almost all (96%) are comfortable with alcohol, and almost 3 out of 4 are okay with play partners using marijuana. Roughly a quarter of survey takers say they are okay with partners using MDMA/molly, and 15.1% say they are okay with cocaine use. There were some large disparities with swingers aged 55 & up. Marijuana acceptance among this age group was 59.4% vs. 71.7% overall; for MDMA, it was(13.8% vs. 25.4% overall; and 6.3% vs. 15.1% overall for cocaine.
While exploring attraction, we also asked about the turn-offs. Not surprising, with so many swingers putting great importance on personality, that a negative attitude would be the most important turn-off, closely followed by being untrustworthy. The good news is that it is easy to avoid both of those issues. It was interesting to see “untrustworthy” have a generational difference. Swingers 35 & under chose it 39.0% of the time vs. swingers 55 & up, choosing it only 15.6% of the time.
The lifestyle community hates ghosting (when a couple stops responding without any explanation), but it happens. Almost half of the respondents claim to have never ghosted anyone. The other half blamed their ghosting most often on rude/annoying behavior. The least common reason was bad sex. If you are ghosted, you can take some solace that it probably wasn’t because of bedroom skills.
The survey contained a large percentage of non-religious swingers. It seems the lifestyle might be outpacing the general trend of the overall population moving away from organized religion. That is not to say there isn’t a significant amount of religious people. 38% of respondents were practicing Christians or Catholics. Age plays a big influence in this area. Swingers 35 & under were much more likely to select non-religious vs. swingers 55 & up (67.7% vs. 38.1%). Regardless of your religious position, almost all swingers (95.6%) said it was not important in any way when choosing swinging partners.
Most respondents (83.3&) identified as non-Hispanic White/Caucasians. Of course, ethnic/racial percentages will vary and reflect the population for each local area. We aren’t claiming 83.3% of swingers are white (we don’t know). We only know about the respondents for this survey & it is possible we aren’t properly sampling the lifestyle community, which, as we said before, tends to prefer to stay private and underground.
Openness to Different Races/Ethnicities
Racial bias continues to exist in the swinging community. Slightly under 80% of respondents selected “open to any race/ethnicity” for potential play partners. Looked at another way, more than 20% of swingers identify themselves as comfortable with only “certain races/ethnicities” or chose not to answer, which we think is its own answer. Some people will argue that not being open to all races and ethnicities is the same as preferring redheads over blondes or curvy figures over waifs. To us, it seems if a person can’t even conceive of being attracted to someone based purely on race or ethnic background, maybe their “type” is actually a harmful stereotype.
Personal Education Level
Swingers are a well-educated group, with more than 75% having a post-secondary degree.
Education & Attraction
While some swingers care about their play partners’ education level (32.6%) to some degree, most felt it wasn’t important (66.4%). It looks like as long as you have a fun personality and can participate in a good conversation, there is no reason to worry about what degree is or is not hanging on your wall.
Household Income Level
Participating in the lifestyle is not cheap, and many people have wondered how swingers can afford all of the resort & club fees, sexy wardrobes, hot dinners, etc. Our survey takers report earning much more than the general population. This isn’t surprising since respondents also tend to be more educated than the general population.
Importance of Income
Swingers tend not to care all that much about their play partners’ income level. As long as you can cover your share of dinner & a hotel room on dates, most swingers show little interest in how much money others make. We’re not suggesting that money never matters, and we can imagine scenarios where it would maybe be a consideration for some folks. If we ever win the lottery and find ourselves sitting in the lap of luxury, for example, we suppose it would be nice to have lifestyle friends who could afford to join us on ridiculously posh vacations ;).
While collecting data, we received several requests to ask about political leanings. Unfortunately, two-thirds of respondents had already completed the survey before we could add this question, so the data for this question comes from a significantly smaller subset of respondents and is not as robust or reliable as we would like. Another issue with this question is that politics mean different things to different people in different parts of the world. For example, one respondent identified as slightly to the left of center at home in Canada but commented that they would probably be labeled as socialist in the US. We can see from this partial data that political beliefs across a wide spectrum are represented in the lifestyle, but we were surprised at how many people preferred not to answer this question.
While we attempted to include swingers outside of the United States, reaching them remains a clear challenge. We will continue to expand our efforts to provide a more global perspective.
Want more insights?
Check out the results from our first swinger survey.
We’ll do another survey later in the year when we have more time and resources. If you are interested in helping us out, please use our contact form to volunteer to participate in the next edition and/or support us via Patreon.
Additional Context To Consider
Imprecise Language – Some people did not clearly understand what we were asking. For example, when we asked about the number of sex partners, some people were unsure whether to include their spouse/primary relationship partner or not. We plan to be extra careful about the wording of future questions.
Biased Sampling – We tried to cast a wide net for participants, but it is hard to accurately sample a largely underground community. We recruited survey participants from email newsletters, podcasts, Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and swinger dating sites. The swinging lifestyle community values their privacy, so it is hard to know if we are reaching a balanced sample.
COVID Impact – The world is still not back to normal, and it is hard to estimate how much impact COVID is having on the results. Perhaps more cautious swingers, people who have been directly affected by illness, and/or those who are juggling increased family responsibilities are underrepresented in the data as some swingers have disconnected from the lifestyle during the current upheaval. It will be interesting to compare these results with post-COVID data.