Why do single male swingers have such a bad reputation?

I did say that my most recent post was a Part I, and this one would be a Part II. I’m going to put off the Part II of our baby steps story since this topic came up today on the Kasidie  forums and got me writing.

A lot of couples and single women in the swinger scene complain about the behavior of single men. If you listen to some, meeting a single man for a threesome is basically hopeless, not because there are no single guys around, but because all of them classless, clueless and unappealing. 

Lifestyle folks (including us) will tell you stories of getting messages from single guys who, with a bit of inductive reasoning, are really coupled and are trying to play without their partners’ knowledge. Or guys who set dates and just ghost at the last minute. Or guys at parties behaving very badly, touching people without permission or being excessively pushy. And especially you hear stories of guys and their poor behavior online. If you have a couple or a single woman profile, you will get emails from guys you have never heard of before with only a crude come-on, repeated and increasingly angry messages after being declined politely, or getting you in a live chat and being insistent on meeting in two hours. And the couples and single women on the receiving ends of these complain about them a LOT, frequently writing off the entire demographic of single and male as unfuckable, antisocial boors. This is why most swinger sites have an option to categorically block single men from viewing or contacting your profile.

If you listen to more than a few swingers, though, you will find the defenders of single guys. I tend to be one of them. We have talked to, met and played with several who were great, respectful guys. So clearly all single guys are not hopeless. Also, there is a very obvious double standard in swinging where single women are almost universally desired and under-represented, are catered to, their bad behaviors overlooked or forgiven. So, what’s all the hating on single guys about?

I’m going to argue that while there are plenty of undesirable single guys in swinging, the general level of undesirable behavior of single guys is exaggerated in lifestyle chatter relative to dumb things that couples and single women do. Here’s my theory on this general phenomenon, in the usual several parts.

1. Some non-trivial number of men are simply rude, unsophisticated or ignorant and write or say dumb or rude things. There’s a start for you.

2. Men feel more freedom than women to express their sexual wants and desires, due to diffuse societal programming and gender expectations. This leads more single men than single women to become interested in, investigate and ultimately give swinging a shot. Therefore more single guys have swinger profiles than single women, and therefore we would observe more poor behavior from single men than from single women even if the incidence of being a dope is equal between the two groups.

3. Tightly related to #2, general societal programming gives the expectation that men are the ones to actively approach women, and women are supposed to be more passive and let the guys come to them. Therefore swinger men, especially single men, throw out vastly more emails, chat requests and solicitations than do women. I think this is a good chunk of the explanation for why men manage the majority of couples profiles as well.

4. Couples tend to be looking more for threesomes with single women than with single men, and single men get repeatedly brushed off even when they are behaving appropriately. This leads to men writing more messages, starting even more chats, and sometimes acting desperate. At the same time single women just sit back and wait for the invites to roll in (sometimes being overwhelmed by it). Also couples that are not interested in single men have a much lower bullshit threshold for single men, while allowing all sorts of BS from single women, and do lots of complaining about the men but less about the women.

5. A significant number of couples and single women in the lifestyle have adopted the strategy that they only or mostly meet people at events and parties. This can be a perfectly valid way of doing things. However, single men are usually limited, can only attend if specifically invited, charged much higher entry fees or excluded entirely from almost all swinger parties. So single men don’t have the option of ignoring online profiles and messages and just meeting people face to face at events, and thus have to mostly make connections through emails and chats. The couples and single women who don’t prefer to meet people through profiles (and thus frequently have never developed good online communication skills themselves) still get emails from single men, since that’s the only way single men can meet anyone. Especially because some of these messages are crude, the fact that they receive any communications whatsoever from a demographic they aren’t interested in, on a platform they don’t like to use, seems to enrage a lot of people. And people are much more likely to complain about what they see as horror stories than talk about unwanted but generally polite and appropriate inquiries.

5. While society in general makes it clear men are supposed to do the approaching, it does a bad job of teaching how to do this appropriately and effectively. Therefore most men have to use trial and error and figure it out. And they make a LOT of errors. And we see endless repetition of the same mistakes, because there is always a flow of newbies who never start out with any more skills than the previous batch. And continuing to see the same mistakes tends to grate on couples, who then are more likely to chastise and block single guys making the mistakes than to help them out.

So I think is true that various men are boors, and act like it online (and in person). But I think the reasons above explain why the male boors are more visible, especially online, than the female boors and therefore give the relative impression of greater male boorishness than female boorishness. I think a lot of it is that women (and couples with women) do less communication online, and we see fewer mistakes as a result, but that’s really not because men are worse at it but that the opportunities and expectations are different. And swingers get really pissed off at seeing poor behavior from groups that they aren’t trying to meet, while easily forgiving similarly bad behavior from groups they are trying to meet. I think most swingers will agree that women in person make plenty of blunders and bad behavior and that it is generally tolerated more than when men do the exact same things.

Baby steps into swinging

How does a couple get started in the lifestyle? What if one partner is interested in going farther than the other? How do you get your spouse to try “more advanced” things? I’m sure this is a topic I’ll come back to regularly and give more general advice, but for now I’ll give our version of how this happened for us.

I am a think things through slowly and then act person, and Mrs. is a jump-into-things person. Most of the time she is trying to impulsively do something and I am attempting to slow her down. However, in the case of the lifestyle, I been researching things for quite a long time (see Our Origin Story) and had come around to understanding some of my desires before she even considered it seriously. I first brought the idea up to her kind of out of the blue, while we were driving in the car. My hope was that she would be willing to try going to a lifestyle club and case the place. I knew she was in general sexually adventurous, secure in her concept of her sexuality, and comfortable with her body because of our history of visiting nudist resorts. I had no expectation that we would engage physically with other people, and made this clear. She did agree to go, and as I expected she had absolutely no interest in having sex with anyone else. I was very excited to have the possibility of simply going and enjoying some voyeurism and exhibitionism, and wasn’t focused at all on playing with other people, though I think I would have been interested and willing to.

I’m pretty sure that I felt more ready to jump into swinging because we had differing levels of security in our relationship at the time. This wasn’t about problems we had between us, really, but instead it was a side effect of experiences she had before we met. As it turned out, we both really enjoyed the first experience we had at a lifestyle club. We literally didn’t talk to anyone else, we watched a lot, and eventually settled down in the middle bed of the orgy room and had sex right there. I had exhibitionist fantasies and this was great fun. I loved seeing other groups have sex in other parts of the room, as well. Mrs. enjoyed the whole experience, too. As it turned out we were not able to do that again for a number of years for vanilla life reasons, so the question of whether she and I were comfortable doing more remained unanswered for a long time.

When we revisited the idea again years later, things between us were a little different. She had done some significant work and was more comfortable with our relationship and the idea that I was there for her and wasn’t going anyplace. Still, she wasn’t ready to jump in and play. The first time “back” we had the same rules as the first time – we were going to enjoy each other and just watch the other people. We had a great time and, unlike the first time, we had more opportunities later that year to do the same time again. I was still interested in being more adventurous, and we talked about taking little steps. The next time we wanted to be social, talk to other couples in addition to having our private sexual experiences. Would we be interested in touching someone else with our hands while having sex? She’s consider it if the possibility came up naturally. She definitely wanted to be more social than the previous times, and the step to interacting with other people in the club was in retrospect a fairly big one. While we weren’t particularly successful in engaging other couples in conversation we did end up playing in a group room again.

We were having sex on a long bed and another couple came in and colonized the space next to us. This wasn’t by our design; they were making use of an open spot. They stripped down and got started playing, and we kept going and watched. It was a great thrill to have live sex right next to us. After a while the man of the couple made some arm gestures, indicating that he was interested in us doing some touching between couples. I reached out and touched the wife on her side, and her breast. The husband did some touching in our direction, as well. I have a memory of taking the Mrs. from behind, while one of her hands was extended and the other man held it for a while, which she accepted and surprised me. A bit later I touched the wife again, but she gently slapped my hand away and then both of them moved away out of reach. They got up and dressed before we did; she was clearly unhappy with him as they left. I have always been curious exactly what she was unhappy about. It seems likely that he had done something they had not talked about before hand, and she was angry with him.

It was both exciting to me, because I had touched different woman in a sexual way for the first time in well over a decade, with my wife right there with me. Still, I found the experience kind of awkward, because this all just happened there in the dark room without talking to them before or afterwards. We never knew their names, or anything about them. I voiced this in the car later, and Mrs. agreed with me. Several months later, we had a chance to visit a different club. This time, I asked her again about what we might be willing to try. We definitely wanted a social connection with someone; we realized we had felt isolated the last time, even though we lay there and touched people while they fucked. We thought that if we got to know someone a bit socially, then they might be willing to have sex on the same bed with us, and we might find that more fulfilling because we knew them a little. We also talked specifically about touching, and we were both OK with touching more or less anything or anyone while we were both there on the same bed. I was pretty excited by this because this felt like another big step.

We went to the party, which helpfully was in a private house rather than a club. This was helpful because there were more areas of the house available for conversation rather than dancing. We ended up in a conversation with three people (a m/f couple plus a man), and Mrs. had a great time because one of the main topics was one of her favorites, classic rock. She definitely felt a social connection with these folks, after an hour and a half or so. Later in the evening we walked by a play room and saw the three of them on a bed, playing. This seemed to me to be just the opportunity we had talked about before the party, so I stuck my head in and asked if they minded if we came in. Someone said sure, so we stripped down, I lay the Mrs. down on her back and started going down on her from the foot of the bed.

The other threesome was shifting positions around, and the woman was very happy for me to touch her in the middle of everything else that was going on. They touched Mrs. some, as well. At one point one of the two men was kneeling with an erection. He turned around, and his cock swung over Mrs.’ head, as she was still reclining on her back. His cock was just a few inches above her face, and I could see her looking at it. I wanted her to take it into her mouth… but she didn’t. Instead she took the cock with her hand, stroked it a bit, and kind of swung him away from her face. We then kept going with some more touching between couples, but nothing else that X-rated.

The next day, we were talking about our evening. We were both really happy and really excited; nothing had happened to make either of us jealous, and we had thoroughly enjoyed everything we did do. It really had happened essentially the way we had hoped for. I remarked on the moment when the man’s cock was over her face, and admitted that I kind of had wanted for her to give him a blow job. She looked a little surprised, and said that she had wanted to also. Well, we learned something that day, that suddenly both of us were up for soft swapping (playing with others in various ways including oral sex, but not vaginal or anal). And a few days later when we got home we posted a profile and set about trying to make another experience like that happen.

This takes our story right up to the point where we decided we were both interested in actually swapping partners with another couple. We’ll continue in the next post.

What do swingers mean by Friends With Benefits (FWB)

If you read swingers profiles, you see a lot of the same terms and phrases used by different couples. A big one is “we are looking for friends in and out of the bedroom.” Or, alternatively, “we are looking for FWB.” FWB of course stands for “friends with benefits,” which is a term that has been around for awhile. [How long? I probably became aware of it about 15 years ago in the early 2000s.] OK, that’s what the term stands for. But what does it mean?

Unfortunately, like with many slang/popular culture terms, different people mean a range of different things by invoking FWB. And this can cause a lot of difficulty in swinger-land. Let’s see how many different definitions I can come up with.

Out in the popular culture, “friends with benefits” generally is understood to refer to a sexual relationship without a romantic relationship. The top definition from Urban Dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com) is “Two friends who have a sexual relationship without being emotionally involved. Typically two good friends who have casual sex without a monogamous relationship or any kind of commitment.” (edited slightly for typos) In other words, two people have sex repeatedly but don’t think of themselves as “a couple.” You hear about individuals looking for FWB because they want sex but don’t have time for “a relationship,” or similar. In stories frequently one of the couple wants a romantic relationship and is hoping for that to develop, or maybe both other them have feelings for each other but deny it. That is roughly the plot of the 2011 movie “Friends With Benefits.”

In swinger-land the distinction between “friends who have sex with each other” and “people who have sex with each other and also have romantic feelings” is a very important one. Many swingers define what they do as having sex with people other than their spouse, but not having “feelings.” In online discussions swingers often become defensive and insistent that they hold their feelings within them and their married spouse, and don’t have any feelings for their lifestyle friends whatsoever. So “friends with benefits” becomes a popular word to use to denote this.

OK, but so then it depends on the meaning of the word “friend.” Yes, I am being picky, but bear with me here. Do you think the word “friend” refers equally to your best friend who you have known all your life, and also to that person who knows someone in common with you and asked to be your “friend” on Facebook? Of course not, because there are different kinds of friends. Or a spectrum, even. And swingers have different categories of “friends,” too.

There are the swinger friends who you say hello to regularly because you attend the same parties, but you have never had an in-depth conversation with them. There are the friends you hooked up with once at one of said parties, but haven’t again and now you say hi to them when you see them. There are the swinger friends who you have had long, interesting conversations with but you haven’t seen each other naked, either due to lack of the right opportunity or because there isn’t quite the right attraction. There are the friends you look forward to chatting with at every event, and sometimes play with them, but you don’t talk to each other in between. There are the friends that you meet for socializing and/or sex privately, and keep doing that because all four of you get along so well. There are the friends that you play with, but also have integrated them into your lives to the degree that you get together sometimes and don’t have sex, and they have met your children. There are the friends that you have a sexual connection with and also a deep intellectual connection, so that you text them daily and keep each other up to date on your vanilla lives. And finally there are the swinger friends who are all of the above, plus you admit secretly that in an alternate universe where you were either single or polyamorous, you would give them a shot as a primary relationship partner.

So, you see? There is a whole spectrum of “friends” in the lifestyle. I frequently assert that swingers and polyamorous people are not two states of a binary, but actually are points on a spectrum. Pure swinger: go to club, have sex with people anonymously and never meet them again. Pure polyamory: you have opened your relationship to a degree that you not only love people in addition to your spouse, but they move in, share your money and help raise your kids. It should be pretty easy to agree that whatever swingers mean by “we want FWB” they are looking for something in the middle of that big range. But we need people to explain more about exactly where in the middle they mean.

I suspect that anyone who uses the term friends with benefits is referring to an ongoing relationship where they have sex, and also get to know the people as individuals. Whether it goes as far as learning about their everyday lives, or meeting family members, or being a source of emotional support is going to depend on the user of the term. Another wrinkle is that, as before, swingers can be very emphatic that they aren’t having “relationships” or “feelings” with their ongoing sex partners. So they might be emotionally relatively close to the polyamorous end of things (not the moving in together part, but the part where they have emotional connections and care about each other) and still use the term FWB to keep their rhetorical distance from polyamory.

That is kind of what happens in our own relationship. We have always wanted to make swinger friends who we enjoyed physically, but also shared things about our daily lives and were close friends in other ways as well. Over time we realized that when we found the right couples we really did have “feelings” for them. At least “friendship feelings” for sure, but both of us have met partners we admit we would consider dating if we didn’t have each other. And now that we have ongoing partners that we have separate one on one dates with, we have to admit that’s more than “just friends” or “just FWB.” I have concluded that this type of relationship is really “where swinging and polyamory meet in the middle,” and gradually am becoming more comfortable with the idea of being some kind of poly, at least in some of my behaviors. Mrs. seems to agree with me when describing in detail what kind of close relationships we enjoy, but is reluctant to use the term polyamory, possibly because she doesn’t think herself as interested in the “deeper” kinds of poly. But we largely mean the same thing, even if we use different terms.

So, what are friends with benefits in swinging? As we have seen, there’s a range of definitions, and you really need to ask someone to define their terms.

Do you agree with me? Disagree with me? Please let me know by leaving a comment. I always am happy to discuss with people who disagree with me, as long as we stick to the subject and it doesn’t get personal.

Why do swingers play in the same room only? Part 2

In the last post I gave some reasons that swingers use to explain why experienced couples have same room-only rules for hookups. You can do a lot more different things with three or more people than two; one or both of the couple are bisexual, and want the opportunity to play with both of their friends; frequently at takeover parties there’s nowhere else to go; it’s really fun watching your spouse play.

We definitely identify with some of these reasons. It is fun to have many people having sex all at once, and the possible combinations are awesome. We both enjoy seeing each other have pleasure. On the other hand, we’re both largely straight, so there is generally only one of the other couple each of us is interested in. And we don’t go to takeovers that often; we prefer to meet people at house parties and in our homes, where there are usually multiple options for rooms to have sex in. But we do definitely see the pros of same room play. But we also enjoy different room play, different house play, different state play… each of them have their own thrills, advantages and downsides. We really enjoy separate room or hall pass play (when we do it) because it allows a more intimate experience and a deeper (i.e., not merely sexual) experience with our partner. That has become the reason that I tend to want separate room experiences with playmates with whom I have a really good connection. Separate room play can be really great, for entirely different reasons from same room play. Thus, for people to completely rule that experience out, even after having been in the lifestyle a long time, there must also be additional explanations for why “we only play together,” as many couples put it.

1) Lack of interest in one half of the couple and/or associated insecurities within the couple. Some couples have one of them who is more vivacious, socially skilled or attractive than the other. If they play separately, one of them is going to get more attention, more dates and more sex, and the other may be jealous or insecure about that. I also think female bisexuality is a factor in this, as well; bisexual women married to straight men will get orders of magnitude more interest than their husbands. While I will agree that a physically fit wife with a less hot husband is more common than the other way around, it isn’t always the man who is less attractive. Also, the straight couples we meet outside the club scene tend to be generally equal in attractiveness.

2) Concerns about safety. One partner (usually the husband) may be worried about his wife’s safety, if she is out of his sight.

3) Insecurity about emotional connections or sexual performance. Probably more often, one partner feels he/she will feel left out, anxious about his/her partner making TOO GOOD a connection with someone else when out of sight and earshot, or worried that the other partner will be better at something. Separate play lends itself naturally to not just sex, but extended periods of snuggling and pillow talk, and potentially intimate emotional connections. We find that a big benefit of separate play, but when couples are worried about being supplanted by someone these insecurities make separate room play scary.

4) Plain old jealousy and/or insufficient trust. People simply don’t feel good about their spouse engaging in a certain sex act or something else that might happen during a play session, and it is impossible to make sure that doesn’t happen when you aren’t there.

#3 and #4 are the flip side of experiencing joy in seeing each other’s pleasure. We experience that joy too, but I am certain that a significant chunk of this pleasure is insecurity or jealousy that is eroticized into a strong desire to see your partner have sex with you there. From my wide reading in human sexuality, it is very, very common that people may turn something they are worried or scared about into a sexual interest of some kind. For some people (but not others) certain forms of BDSM play represent a sexualization of fears or taboos. Many women report having fantasies about being grabbed and forced to have sex by a stranger. Do they really want to be raped? Not likely, but they have discovered something sexy in the idea so long as it is only a fantasy. It is quite common for men (and occasionally women) to be very turned on by watching their partner fuck someone else, at the same time being humiliated by being told their cock is too small, they are not desirable enough, and see how this other person is doing a much better job of pleasing their partner. To me these “cuckolds” have to have a part of their brain that really thinks they are inferior for some reason, and they have turned this fear into a sexy ritual that now gets them off. I think the desire to see your partner have sex is sometimes (frequently, but not necessarily always) a mild form of the cuckold fantasy, where the fears about their partner finding someone better or leaving them are turned into a sexy pleasure, where they can then “reclaim” them afterwards.

So, I definitely think couples who play only in the same room have this rule to some degree because of some jealousies or insecurities. After all, pretty much all swingers will agree that newbies who have the same policy are “still figuring things out” or “just starting to push boundaries,” which basically are sanitized ways of saying they might be a little jealous. Can’t we agree that if this same situation continues, it probably has a bit to do with jealousy?

By the way, I am NOT saying there is something wrong with wanting to play only in same room – we had that guideline for us for a while, and each couple is entitled to design their own lifestyle experience. But it is impossible for me to explain the “same room only” phenomenon without concluding that there is some insecurity and jealousy mixed in. In fact, if you buy the idea that wanting to watch your spouse fuck someone else is a sexy manifestation of jealousy, I would argue that that is a very successful way of minimizing and resolving jealousy (even if it never completely is gone).

Personally, I am not a jealous individual. I thought I would enjoy watching the Mrs. play before we tried it, and it turned out to be true. These days, we sometimes do hall pass play, and when she is out fucking one of our friends I don’t have negative feelings about that at all. I enjoy having a little me time, and think about the next time I might get to have a similar experience myself. When I do get jealous of something, I notice it is not that I have a problem with what the other person is doing, but that really I feel left out or want to do it too; for instance, it is March when I write this and many friends of ours are going on some kind of spring break trip to a tropical resort or similar. I don’t want to deny them that experience at all. It is simply that I want for us to be able to do that too, and we can’t at the moment. Last year for a few months I was a bit jealous of the attention the Mrs. was getting from some guys, and setting up hall pass opportunities when I wasn’t getting any. But thinking about it I didn’t resent her having the fun; it made her happy, and that helps to make me happy too. Instead, I simply wanted to have similar opportunities myself, and soon the tables turned and I got some play myself.

I want to be very clear about something. I don’t view myself as being “better” or “more evolved” because I am not a jealous person, and I don’t view the two of us as a couple as being “better” because we do hall passes. I am just naturally that way – I can’t claim any more credit for that than being tall, or being good at math. Maybe I think about these things a lot and that helps, but… still it’s just the way I naturally am. So, if you want to have same room only play, and that works for you, great! You’ve figured out what works for you, and that’s what matters. After all, it doesn’t make you a worse person for being a little jealous, even when you are a swinger. Especially if you have turned that into an advantage, which I think a lot of swingers have. It just makes you human.

Why do swingers play in the same room only?

I have been having an email conversation recently with Paige from the Swinger Diaries podcast (see their website at https://swingerdiaries.wordpress.com and find their podcast on ITunes or your favorite app). They have asked their listeners (which include me, obviously) for opinions on several questions which they would then discuss on a future episode. One of the most interesting questions they brought up was, “Why do experienced swingers frequently only play in the same room?”

If you are a new person to “the lifestyle,” let me explain what this means. Obviously, one of the central parts of swinging is where a couple meets other couples or singles and decides to “play” (have sex). But there are innumerable variations on exactly how this works. One key distinction is “same room” versus “separate room,” and most swinging couples have a policy about this. If they are “same room only,” that means when it is time to get it on that couple has a policy that all sexual activities need to happen, well, in the same room where they can see and hear each other. They might also expect everything to happen on the same bed, right next to each other.

Other couples prefer “separate room,” where the pairings split up into different rooms for sex, perhaps closing the door for privacy. Some couples go so far as to set up dates completely separately from their spouses, which are often called “hall passes,” but can also be thought of as a version of “separate room.” [Or separate house, separate city, separate state… etc.]

But back to same room play. It is very common for newbie swingers to have a policy that they are going to have sex in the same room, only. It is also common for couples to relax that policy over time, and go with the flow about same room/separate room, or even develop a preference for separate room sex. It is generally accepted that relaxation of a same room only policy comes from increased comfort with being apart from their spouse, or discovery of and/or increased interest in the benefits to separate room play.

But a significant number of lifestyle couples keep their same room only policy, even after some years and a lot of experience. It is not surprising that couples will continue to enjoy same room play, because there are a lot of reasons why it is fun and enjoyable (reasons coming up, below). But it is more surprising that they will maintain a policy that precludes doing anything else, because many couples that initially were same room only (including us) discover that separate room play has many advantages and pleasures as well.

It is particularly noticeable that experienced same room only couples frequently go out of their way to say that their policy is NOT because of jealousy or insecurity, but solely because of the things they like about playing in the same room. I am probably telegraphing that I don’t entirely buy this position, for reasons I will explain later. But for now, let’s go through a list of reasons that same-room play can be fun and enjoyable. These explanations are not mutually exclusive, and a given couple might identify with any or all of them.

1) Four (or more) people all on the same bed is a lot of fun, and there are many sexy positions and combinations that can only happen with a group playing together. If you have more than two people together, one person can experience a four, or six, or more-handed massage. Or get to have oral and vaginal sex at the same time, with different people. Or get to take turns playing with one person, than another. Or simply get to see a whole writhing pile of bodies all engaged at once. There are lots of other sexy things like this, but you get the idea.

2) A large percentage of couples have wives who are bisexual, or less commonly, husbands who identify as bisexual and are public about it. If someone is bisexual and wants to have sexy play with both halves of a couple, they are going to have to be in the same room (or same bed). We also have other observations which support bisexuality as a main motivation for same room play. It is easy to get the idea that basically all women in the lifestyle are some flavor of bisexual – just scan a bunch of profiles on a swinger dating site, or listen to anyone who likes the lifestyle club or event scene. However, we are both basically straight, and we have come to enjoy both same room and separate room play (as well as hall passes). In our adventures we have encountered a lot of straight or at most bi-comfortable women, and a clear majority of couples that we do separate room and hall pass play with have straight (or bi-comfortable) wives. When the desire to play with both is not there, the advantages of separate play become much more compelling.

3) Many swingers are voyeurs and get a thrill out of seeing life sex in front of them, and particularly live sex with their life partner in it.

4) Pure logistics. If you are swingers who mainly meet people in clubs and at hotel parties, you have to leave the party to go play. You are probably going to a hotel room – it might have more than one bed, but usually just one room. If you want to play in a separate room or even building and only one of you has interest from the other couple, where is other the partner going to go? It is true that the partner could stay at the party and independently look for his/her own experience but it is easier to just say “we only play together.”

All of these reasons are very legitimate and understandable reasons to enjoy playing in the same room. But, going to the next step and excluding all other possibilities? There has to be more going on. I’ll give my ideas about that in the next post.

How do you meet swingers?

How to meet new people, surprisingly, seems to be one of the more controversial topics within the swinging and lifestyle community. Time after time I have seen a new profile join one of the swinger dating sites, and ask some version of “We’re new here. How do we meet people?” And some number of more experienced people will jump in and give some advice. And that advice varies a lot. Sometimes other experienced people will even start giving different advice and tell the first responders that they are wrong.

Fact is, there are a bunch of viable ways for naughty would-be and experienced lifestylers to meet new friends. Let’s make a list, with pros and cons.

1) Online profiles and swinger websites. There is a long list of sites in this market, including www.kasidie.com, www.swinglifestyle.com, www.sdc.com, www.lifestylelounge.com, and many others. The above are some of the sites that are most widespread around the country. One of the big issues with swinger sites is that the market is highly fragmented, with many, many sites that are popular in a small area only, and it can be difficult to find the “right one” as a result. All sites have a function where you create a profile with photos and descriptions of yourself, and you can meet people online by sending emails and chat messages.

Pros of meeting through profiles: Memberships are relatively low-cost and most sites provide an option to have a profile completely for free, or at least a free trial period. Profiles are organized geographically and you can search by area, age and any number of other characteristics. In theory communication back and forth can be rapid. Profiles can work for you if you take good photos, are good at writing, and are patient. It can be lower stress to approach people electronically than in person. If you do arrange a meet-up, it can be private and intimate, either in a restaurant or at your home. Also sites frequently have listings of parties and events that you can try out.

Cons of meeting through profiles: Most newbie swingers are frustrated at how poor communication on profile sites is. On the whole you should expect somewhere between 50%-80% of initial messages you send to be ignored or not responded to, and you become pleasantly surprised when someone writes you back in a timely fashion. People are disappointed when they do not quickly get a lot of invites, or invites from profile types they are not interested in. There is an endless list of ways that people might lie or misrepresent themselves on their profiles, including giving inaccurate information about their age, height or weight, or even pose as a couple when they are in fact single. Photos can be misleading, old or unrepresentative. In general you should expect to do a lot of sorting and expect the process to be slow when meeting folks through profiles.

2) Attending events at swing clubs and large hotel parties. There is a significant industry of for-profit lifestyle parties, at permanent club locations and in hotels, where a group has rented out some or all of the facility for the evening.

Pros of meeting at clubs and events: At least on the right nights, large numbers of people attend and you have the opportunity to encounter many potential friends at once. Clubs and events usually have a dance floor where you can dance for fun, and use dancing as a means to attract others. Many people are staying overnight at the hotel or club so that you may be able to hook-up right there, or at least in the same facility.

Cons of meeting at clubs and events: I have long thought the ease of meeting people at events is often overstated. Yes, there may be lots of people around. But those people are usually engrossed with their own partner, their established clique of friends, and it can be hard to start conversations. Also if the music is loud and the lighting is low, that can add to the difficulty of talking to people. In general I think events work great for outgoing and party-animal types, but not so well for shy and introverted people. Also, events can be expensive! Membership fees, entry fees, additional costs for your hotel room, meals, transportation, clothing to match a party theme… we could easily be talking $200 or more for a night and sometimes much more. The transition from party to your room for playtime can be awkward, because you usually need to leave the party entirely. Finally, there are a number of states and many areas that have no landed clubs at all, due to demand or local laws. Hotel parties are somewhat more common but are also irregular.

3) Travel to lifestyle resorts and on cruises. There are various permanent resorts in warm climates that cater to lifestyle destination travel. Swinger cruises are also available.

Pros of resorts and cruises: They are destinations, so you know most people there are pretty invested in the idea of meeting other lifestylers. The experience is very intense, and you can immerse yourself in the lifestyle culture 24 hours a day. If you make repeat visits to the same resorts, you can make friends in other parts of the country or world. You may be able to be casually nude in most or all of the facility. And if you aren’t successfully meeting other swingers, you are in a warm weather resort with beaches, luxury, etc.

Cons of resorts and cruises: The biggest one is cost. Resorts and cruises are expensive to start with, and lifestyle-dedicated ones tend to be even more expensive. Some are couples-only, so if you are single you aren’t allowed in. If you make friends, you probably can’t see them again for a very long time.

4) Bar meet-and-greets. Swinger websites often adverse casual meet-and-greets in bars or restaurants where you can meet new people and catch up with old friends outside of a sexually charged environment.

Pros of bar meets: The mental bar to entry is pretty low, since you know there won’t be any nudity or sex at these events. Just people mingling and talking with each other. Sometimes bar meets are well attended and there are lots of potential friends to meet casually. You can easily post your own meet-up if nobody else is in your area.

Cons of bar meets: Some of the same cons as events. If a meet-up is crowded, people will again be engrossed in their cliques and old friends, and it might be difficult to break in. Bars can be loud and it can be difficult to hold a sustained conversation. It helps a lot to be socially confident or outgoing. Of course, they are not set up for hook-ups if you find you would like one. Also the number of attendees varies, and you could end up in a small group with nobody you are interested in.

5) House parties. People will throw parties in their own homes, or occasionally host a small party in a hotel room. These fall in two general groups: larger parties with open invitations, frequently announced on swinger sites, and smaller parties that are invite-only. Larger and more open parties often expect you to pay a modest to moderate “donation” at entry.

Pros of house parties: You can meet people in a casual social setting. Most house parties have a social area and a separate dedicated play area where open sex happens. Conversation tends to be easier do to the casual and quieter setting. Cost of attendance is relatively low. There is usually a potluck or snacks available, though you are generally expected to bring your own alcohol. Sometimes the hosts will allow a limited number of guests to stay overnight. And if you want to play, you can play right there at the party, and uninhibited orgies can develop.

Cons of house parties: They can be pretty intense experiences for newbies, if they are not used to seeing nudity and sex right in front of them. Nevertheless, nobody is required to participate in any activities and can say no to any invitation, and just hanging out and watching is completely acceptable. Heavy drinking is a temptation at house parties. And they are obviously a lot of work for the hosts.

6) Introductions from other friends.

Pros of introductions from friends: If you like someone, and you also like another couple, you can use your judgement about social interactions to introduce your friends and see if they get along. You can potentially build small, tight-knit groups who might all be socially and/or sexually compatible and could have highly enjoyable group parties.

Cons of introductions from friends: You or your friends might not have good judgement about who might like who, and you might be introduced to someone inappropriate for you. Some swingers are territorial about their friends and aren’t interested in sharing them. It can take a while to build these social networks and this is rough going for newbies.

7) Combinations of the above. For instance, you can message couples through their profiles, and instead of meeting privately in person you could arrange to meet at a party or event. This has the advantage that if you don’t click, you can move on to other people at the party. You can also invite your friends to a party with you, and create a party-within-a-party.

I will expand on most of these in the future, but please let me know if you have any comments so far.

Our origin story

Our journey into ethical non-monogamy involves Star Trek and the President of the United States. But before that we need to go back to the beginning, because when I first saw my wife, I was naked and she was taking off her clothes.

I had recently discovered the hidden nudist camp in a conservative region of the U.S. The summer was hot, I was a voyeur and exhibitionist, and the lake water was refreshing. One afternoon I looked up the beach and saw a young woman my age walk, disrobe, and open a can of soda. It was not actually love at first sight, but when we later started dating monogamously we began with body-positivity in common.

Some years later, in 2004, I viewed from afar as a political scandal rocked the state of Illinois. A U.S. Senate candidate named Jack Ryan was disgraced as divorce records revealed that he and his estranged wife, Star Trek: Voyager actress Jeri Ryan, had visited a sex club in Europe. Ryan attempted to explain that they had not broken any of their marital vows, but his candidacy was through. With the leading candidate out of the race, a then unknown state senator named Barack Obama won the seat, and the rest of that story is history.

But we then knew that swinger clubs exist! Because Mrs. had always been sexually adventurous and comfortable with nudity, I asked her (in a Home Depot parking lot, no less) if she would consider visiting a local one and she was surprised but said yes. We didn’t speak to anyone else but enjoyed each other very publicly (we were nudists, remember), and wanted to go back. However, shortly after that we suddenly became parents through adoption, and subsequently far away. In our new home we were overwhelmed by new jobs, a new house and a very small child, and there weren’t any clubs nearby. The idea went into dormancy for some years.

Eventually we found ourselves planning our first weekend vacation ever, since we had become parents. I remembered the fun we had had on our visit to that club years earlier, and looked to see what might be available in the area we would be in. Happily there was a swinger or lifestyle club similar to the first one with a party on the right weekend, and Mrs. was enthusiastic about trying it out. We again barely talked with anyone else, but had a great time watching the other guests play and ended up naked in the middle of a very public area again.

This was an inspiration to us, and over the next year we visited additional swinger clubs while out of town. In between then and our very first visit, Mrs. felt more secure in our relationship and we decided to be a little braver each time. We concluded that a friendship connection was important to our comfort in playing, and at one party we had an extended conversation with three people and ended up invited to share a bed with them. We were mostly having fun with each other, as the other three swapped positions on the other side of the bed. Hands roamed back and forth. I very clearly remember that one of the men moved towards the Mrs.’ face and offered her his cock, while I went down on her. Inside my head I thought “Do it! Do it!” as she paused, looked at the erection in front of her face, and deflected it with her hand. In the car later we found out that she was interested in giving a blowjob, but that was more than we had discussed for that party. I replied that I had hoped in the moment that she would do it, but hadn’t said anything.

Of course, that conversation told us something important about our desires and we wanted opportunities to have fun at home too. Since there weren’t any clubs in our small city, we posted a profile and went about trying to meet couples. Two weeks later we had our first dinner date, and two weeks after that our first play date. That was a story all by itself, but I’ll save that for another time. A few months after that we had our first full swap, had jumped into our first house play party, and became a happily non-monogamous couple.

A brave beginning

Welcome to Sensual Intellectuals, my new blog about relationships, sexuality and non-monogamy. I am a married man in my 40s, living with my wife in the midwestern United States. I have decided to start this blog after several years of experience in swinging and a non-monogamous relationship, and a number of people telling me they value our advice and our stories. I hope you will find my thoughts and experiences interesting and perhaps helpful. For more information about me, please check out the About Me page at: