To Swing or Not to Swing
I recently had a couple come into session because several months ago they made the decision to change their sexual lifestyle to become “swingers.” That is they engage in sexual activity with other couples. They reported that they had decided to inform some of their friends about this lifestyle change and while most were not surprised and supportive, one friend “freaked out” and stated that they would get divorced, for sure.
The couple agreed that they did not want this decision to lead to a divorce and so sought therapy to make sure they were doing everything “right.” This type of reaction signifies what much of society thinks about couples whom swing; however, research has shown a different perspective. Below are myths associated with a swinging lifestyle.
- Couples who swing must be unhappy in their relationship. Actually, quite often the opposite is true. Research shows that couples in swinging relationships are often happier in their marriage than their monogamous counterparts.
- Married couples that swing will often get divorced because it never works out. Again, the divorce rate amongst swinging couples is lower than those found in monogamous relationships. Much of this is because couples that swing often have better communication with one another and are happier in their relationship with one another.
- Couples who swing don’t have sex with one another. Couples who swing see their sexual partners as an enhancement to their primary relationship. They do not need these other partners to have sex or enjoy sex with their primary partner.
- Couples who swing must be morally corrupt. Research has shown that couples who swing are more open minded and are less racist, less sexist, and less heterosexist. Research has also shown that many couples who swing attend church and there are very few with criminal records or the like.
- Couples become swingers because one or both of them is a sex addict. This just simply is not true. While there may certainly be couples where by one of them is classified as a sex addict, this is not true in the vast majority of swinging couples.
- Couples who swing are saying that cheating is okay. Absolutely not, couples that swing have between them a set of rules that they discuss on a regular basis and change as needed. For example, both must agree to being okay with swapping partners with another couple. If one of the people in the relationship decides to sleep with the couple against their partner’s wishes, it is considered cheating. Another common rule with swinging couples is that both must be present at all times. If one of them has sex with someone that is not their primary partner and their primary partner is not present, this would be considered a violation of the rules.
Swinging is not for everyone. It should never be a tool utilized as a last ditch effort to “save” a relationship. Most couples who start to swing are already in a happy relationship and are just wanting an enhancement. And the vast majority of both men and women report an increase of happiness and satisfaction in their relationship after they start swinging. The lifestyle requires being able to be completely open and honest with your partner. It requires a ton of trust and above all it requires constant communication. A situation may arise where one of the partners is not okay with what transpired and they must feel comfortable talking about what went wrong and how to fix it.
The aforementioned couple that came into session had, in fact, done so much “right.” They talked about it to great lengths before they even met another couple. And they continue to talk to each other to great lengths. They have rules set in place with the knowledge that at any point one of them may pull the plug on this lifestyle and it would be okay. They absolutely love each other and their relationship comes before any other sexual relationship. Swinging is not for everyone, but those that enjoy the lifestyle are not automatically doomed to failure.
Written by: Jennifer Reeves, MA, LMFT, CST