Can Swinging Improve your Marriage?

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Ever tried swinging?

No, I’m not talking about enjoying playground equipment with your kids. I’m talking about humping others’ husbands!

Seriously.

A 2005 study conducted by The Kinsey Institute, a leading sex, gender, and reproduction research institute, revealed that 2-4% of married couples in North America (that’s approximately 4 million people) are swingers.

And as of 2012, studies suggest that as many as 15 million Americans engage in swinging on a regular basis. So why has swinging become so popular, how is it different from cheating, and should you try it?

Swingers are defined as either single individuals or people in committed relationships who engage in sex (or activities of a sexual nature) with others as a recreational or social activity.

And it has occurred for centuries.

Some of the first documented cases of swinging in the US occurred during World War II, with married couples seeking both emotional and sexual companionship.

Today, swingers connect through the power of the Internet. There are a growing number of people – close to 10,000 registered members – in my own city, Vancouver, B.C., that belong to private-members’ club Eden.

“People still have this conception that it’s this place where you walk in, there are mattresses on the floor, you throw your keys in a bowl, and go upstairs with somebody, whether you want to or not,” says Eve, founder of Eden.

“But the truth is, it’s nothing like that,” she adds. In fact, during sexual encounters (known within the community as ‘play’), couples operate within strict rules of etiquette. “When you go to a club scene, there are couples at all different levels of play,” explains one couple who have been swinging for more than five years. “And there’s all this lingo that goes with that. Some say: ‘oh, we’re soft swap,’ ‘we’re full-swap,’ or, ‘we’re girl/girl,’ ‘boy/boy.’ There are so many different possibilities.”

One couple, named Jen and Ben, talk about their experience with swinging.

“Jealousy is the biggest thing,” says Ben, “but really, it doesn’t exist. And it’s only in the first few seconds of your first experience that you realize that. Jealousy is all tied into the idea of someone else winning over you, or beating you. But if you’re in a situation where they don’t have the ability to beat you, then there’s no sense in being jealous.”

Jen agrees: “The number-one way of avoiding jealousy is just simply checking in with the other person. And, not checking in for the sake of checking in, but actually wanting to. It’s up to everybody to be mindful. You’re not so lost in the situation that you become unaware of everything around you. You’re still in a relationship. You’re going into this with your life-partner.”

For me, this would never work.

While I have no moral opposition to swinging (I’m classy that way), I just know jealousy and rage would ensue, killing all the trust and respect in my marriage.

Listen, I’ve seen Indecent Proposal. It seemed like a fine deal at first — they talked about boundaries and tried to make it just about the money. And who wouldn’t want to sleep with Robert Redford — and not to mention keep that little black dress?! But wasn’t your heart aching for poor Woody Harrleson in the end?

Wouldn’t the jealousy kill you?

I have a friend, who, unbenounced to her, was invited to a swinging party. As the evening progressed, she soon realized the nature of the soiree and promptly left – fully clothed – with her husband.

Of course we had to debrief about this, over copious amounts of wine, and we came to the conclusion that swinging would be a lot of fun…for people not like us. As it turns out, casual sex was never her thing – or mine – and emotions and sex simply go hand-in-hand for both of us.

But we both agreed, there is something to be said about animal instincts and the irrational nature of marriage. Is life-long monogamy the best decision for everyone? Absolutely not. So I can definitely see why swinging would work for some couples.

SOUND OFF: Do you think swinging is smart? Would you try it? Have you?

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