Would you trade, share or swap your intimate partner with another? This is a very difficult but intriguing proposition that actually exists amidst controversies and criticisms. In today's modern, liberal and flexible world, one lifestyle has earned much popularity and, surprisingly, the preference of a lot of adults.
The sensitive lifestyle of swinging has triggered arguments among moralists and has even challenged the accepted norms of the society. Although swinging is an enjoyable and satisfying activity for consenting and open-minded adults, it inevitably generates intrigues and oppositions.
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This is because of its very delicate and extraordinary nature. However, what the swinging lifestyle needs is an in-depth and well-thought presentation of its traits and the apparent benefits that its proponents supposedly get. In doing so, a two-sided feature of swinging lifestyle can be shown to elicit options for the concerned individual: whether to refuse or engage in such kind of experience.
What is swinging?
Bergstrand and Williams (2000) defined swinging as a “non-monogamous sexual activity, treated much like any other social activity, that can be experienced as a couple." Swinging lifestyle and practice was portrayed as a sexual modification and awakening of willing people.
Engaging in such delicate yet rewarding sexual activity has started after the rush in sexual arousal resulting from the existence of a number of safe sex activities for the past decades. Swinging was simply referred to as wife swapping in previous years but was changed to its present term because of unfavorable reactions. This is because wife swapping wrongly and limitedly pictures or presents the whole scope of sexual activities that people (swingers) engage in such lifestyle may possibly do (Bergstrand & Williams, 2000, p.1).
Online sources characterized swinging primarily as a sexual act. According to swingerfac.com, swinging is a kind of social diversion and intimate physical intercourse between two or more willing grown-ups or mature people. It is an activity where one or more couples concur to get along and socialize with an aim to expressively take part in a cozy or sexual relationship or activity with not only their own mate (Swinger FAQ).
Swinging is an experience that manifests enjoyment and satisfaction. This is because swinger(s) aims to be acquainted and eventually physically involved with a number of adults who are all set to perform a lot of sexual activities with each other. This existing practice has made swinging not just sex-related, but it has become a way of life as far as its supporters are concerned (About Swinging).
The same article by Bergstrand and Williams (2000) also stated that the following activities are can be viewed as swinging: Exhibition which refers to having a sexual intercourse with one's own partner in full view of other people (audience); Voyeurism which means viewing other couple engage in actual sexual intercourse; Soft Swinging which simply means “kissing, stroking, or having oral sex” with another individual other than one's own partner; Soft Swap which constitutes threesome, sexual acts within a group and literal trading or exchanging of partners;
Full Swap which represents penetrative sexual intercourse not with one's actual partner but with another person (usually understood meaning but not necessarily the most ordinary kind); and Group Sex which means an all-comprehensive meaning for sexual practices including a number of people (multiple partners) within similar locality or neighborhood. Swinging normally happens when a married or two attached individuals take part in sexual intercourse with one or more pairs and even with an unmarried or uncommitted person. The sexual acts can be done in one or separate rooms where the swingers usually perform sex swinging not just to satisfy their physical needs but also to enjoy the act as a play (Bergstrand & Williams, 2000).
In the book “The Lifestyle: A Look at the Erotic Rites of Swingers” by Terry Gould (2000), the roots of swinging activities were traced to have started as early as the times of World War II and done by the United States Air Force pilots and their respective wives. According to Gould (2000), the close bond or brotherhood among pilots, which showed that the husbands would defend and give attention for all the wives other than their own, has resulted in even sexually satisfied left-behind wives in the event their husbands were called for duty or eventually died.
The online source Actual Swingers said that a swinger's lifestyle does not entertain and is not occupied with a feeling and condition of disappointment and doomed loves. Actual Swingers added that in reality, the swinger’s lifestyle simply renders and takes sexual delight and satisfaction.
However, there are some significant reminders if one decides to engage in swinging and have its lifestyle as a way of life. One should remember not to swing unless he or she genuinely desires. Another is nobody should never engage or take part in a swinging lifestyle if he or she is not sure of his or her personal sexual desires or of the intensity and limit of his or her affection with his or her own partner.
It is also important to note that swinger's lifestyle is founded upon more essential and vital component such as communication rather than the physical or biological need of an individual. People or couples who engage in swinger’s lifestyle must posses the quality of discussing or expressing liberally and without restriction things concerning their emotions with their partners. Learning and eventually understanding this ability should come before anyone talks about it and exercise such lifestyle (Actual Swingers).
The Actual Swingers site also stated that the three usual kinds of swinger's lifestyles are soft swinging, closed swinging and open swinging. Soft swinging is characterized by no actual sexual intercourse between non-couple. In this way, one is having sex with his or her own partner inside the same room in simultaneous with another couple also enjoying the same act.
There is no actual exchange or swapping of partners and vaginal penetration by non-partners is also not happening. Closed swinging refers to swapping of partners but the sexual act is done in separate rooms thereby allowing more freedom and intimacy among changing couples. Another type of swapping of partners is the open swinging but this time it is done in the same room or even bed. Examples of this are orgies, exhibition and voyeurism. This allows total release of sexual wishes and illusions and manifests no jealousy (Actual Swingers).
A worldwide success of swinging activities like selective swinging has emerged into what is called “The Lifestyle” as a means to cover all swinging practices. This is because the younger people who are into swinging are slightly indisposed being called swingers due to conventional meanings. The selective swinging activities are mostly done by young people in their late 20s. These same people are not yet married and still without a child. Conventional swinging activities, on the other hand, are done by people who are in their 40s. Selective swingers are usually called as the "exclusive" or "elitist” (Carey, 2006, p. 13).
Kaye Bellemeade (2003), in her book “Swinging for Beginners: An Introduction to the Lifestyle,” honestly expressed a swinging statement: “the couple who plays together, stays together.”
According to Bellemeade, there should be an understanding of information in all aspects of the swinger's lifestyle that include: dating; appropriate outfit or what to exactly wear during swinging which would serve as a come-on for other swingers; effective and right conduct or approaches by the swingers while at clubs and parties; swinging by single men and women; jealousy; having threesomes; and how to be acquainted with other swingers as well as the manner to deal with all of the components of swinging (Bellemeade, 2003).
The book stressed the importance of knowing and successfully practicing a good and safe swinging lifestyle in order to gain one's and other's sexual fulfillment. The author manifested that one's curiosity can led him or her in taking part into swinging activities and eventually enjoying the new-found lifestyle especially if it satisfy and address his or her sexual desires. Bellemeade's book exposed the secluded and secret world of the swinging lifestyle by responding to one's intimate curiosity (Bellemeade, 2003).
Broadcast journalist John Stossel's investigative report about the issue disclosed that more than four million people are engaged into such lifestyle. Stossel cited the figure done by the Kinsel Institute and the study made by Terry Gould. The Gould's study unwrapped that couples engage into swinging not aiming to cheat but rather be honest with their partners. Part of the lifestyle research by Stossel involved interview with real swinging couples where one male interviewee revealed that the reason why swingers do the acts is not to search another or fresh partner.
A female subject also told Stossel that being in control during swinging boosts her self-assurance. Stossel also learned that experts such as marriage counselors do not discourage people from having a swinger's lifestyle. They, however, warned that sexual excitement outside of marriage can jeopardize the relationship between the couple. Stossel also determined from his subjects that swinging eventually strengthen a marriage because a couple actually does not have extra-marital affair and one tends to be honest with his or her own partner (Stossel, 2006).
Arguments on swinger's lifestyles
The sensitive nature of swinger's lifestyles has noticeably promoted at least two main objections. These include the practical or health objections and moral or philosophical objections. Despite the emergence of the practice of safe sex, swinger's lifestyle has resulted in health arguments. This is because swinging involves physical contact among two or more people which poses health risks, particularly the risk of having a sexually transmitted disease such as AIDS.
The proponents of swinging responded to the health objection by explaining that swingers know that the lifestyle is literally about sexual intercourse or physical contact. Thus, they are regarded as mature and conscious enough to practice precautions or know how to protect themselves from sexual diseases and even unwanted pregnancies for female swingers (Fab Swingers, 2006).
Those who morally or philosophically object the swinging lifestyle argue or invoke that sexual acts within the boundaries of swinging cheapen sexual relations to its lowest level of pleasure. Degrading sexual connection among partners especially married couples violates the sacred nature of intimacy because swinging is a manifestation of lust satisfaction. Moralists object swinging by stating that there should always be a clear difference between having sex and making love. They added that this distinction should always and never cease to exist (Ehrenreich, Hess & Jacobs, 1986).
A fragile and controversial way of life such as swinging exists, whether we openly admit it or not. The lifestyle can be treated in a lot of manners but in the end, it would still be one's choice or preference that would surpass all its arguments and criticisms. Nobody can address one's biological needs and options but himself or herself only. In doing so, complying with his or her sexual inclinations according to own standards just upholds one's privilege.
This is because he or she would be able to comply with his or her sexual inclinations according to what his or her body wishes. In view of this, swingers should not be subjected to moral or ethical objections. In the same way, their explicit and vulgar sexual activities should not be promoted as justified actions that can essentially fill human's biological needs. What is good about swinging is that it is one concrete proof that freedom and creativity really exist.
Actual Swingers. (2005). Swingers' Lifestyle. Retrieved March 6, 2008, from http://www.actualswingers.com/swingers_lifestyles.html
Bellemeade, K. (2003). Swinging for Beginners: An Introduction to the Lifestyle.Toronto: New Tradition Books.
Bergstrand, C. & Williams, J. B. (2000). Today's Alternative Marriage Styles: The Case of Swingers. Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, Vol.3, 1.
Carey, M. (2006, October 4). Her club runs on tough love. The Metro, 9,13.
Ehrenreich, B., Hess, E. & Jacobs, G. (1986). Re-Making Love: The Feminization of Sex. New York: Doubleday.
Fab Swingers. (2006). Facts and Figures. Retrieved March 8, 2008, from Fab Swingers database.
Gould, T. (2000). The Lifestyle: A Look at the Erotic Rites of Swingers. Ontario: Firefly Books.
Stossel, J. (2006). The "Lifestyle" -- Real Life Wife Swaps. Retrieved March 6, 2008, from ABC News database.
Swingerfac.com. (2006). Active Swinger FAQ. Retrieved March 6, 2008, from http://www.swingerfaq.com/
Swinger Personals. About Swinging – A Guide for swingers. Retrieved March 6, 2008, from http://www.about-swinging.co.uk/
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