Thursday, February 25, 2016

Women Swingers Talk About Their First Introduction to the Lifestyle

From the Women: 

Couple early 40’s: Wife is not a native English speaker and grew up in another country: “I heard about this swinger club called Trapeze on the Bert Show (popular FM radio). I was curious. I thought it was literally ‘swinging’ as in the jungle gym or some sort of imagined Cirque du Soleil antics. My husband knew about swinging and Trapeze from friends of his, who were in the Lifestyle. When he told me what it was. I said: ‘That sounds great. Can we go check it out?’ “

Couple, late 40’s: “We were driving in the car together. My husband brought it up. I cried. I wondered what was wrong with me. Was I not enough?”

Couple, early 40’s: “We met and got married when we were both young. He was my first lover. We’d been married many years and I felt very secure in our marriage and our family. I started looking back on my teens and twenties and regretting that I got to miss out on my high-potential slut years, and experiences with other men, and potentially women. We decided to identify a man for me to have a ‘safe’ consensual extramarital experience with. This happened to be his work colleague. It did not work out, for various reasons, many of them due to the other man being freaked out by this. My husband and I decided maybe we should go to an environment where the other people had already overcome this hurdle.”

Couple, early 40’s: “My husband asked me what kind of porn I might be into watching. I told him that I liked the ones where the couples switch partners. He asked whether I wanted to actually do that. My response was, ‘That’s an option?’ ”

Couple, mid 40’s, late 30’s: “My husband asked me on Mother’s Day. I remember thinking, ‘Whoa. Some sense of timing. Our kids are under five and we don’t have sex enough as it is. How is this going to improve our sex life?’ “

Couple, late 20’s: “The first time I kissed a girl was at a pool party at age 15, with the encouragement of many of my male classmates. I really liked it and my bisexuality was an important part of my high school experience growing up. I met my husband in college and got married soon after graduation. I kept bringing women home to bed with us, but the problem was that many of them were my friends and this often became awkward afterwards. My husband researched swinging and the local club. He suggested that we try this. I did not know it could be an option for me to have other men as well. That was a plus. Our local swinger club became the equivalent of Cheers for us.”

Couple, early 40’s: “I had been in a lesbian relationship for five years in my 20’s. Having been married to my husband for 10 years, I found myself missing a woman’s touch. Swinging was an opportunity to have sex with women again. From there, my husband and I progressed into couple swapping in addition to girl/girl.”

Couple, early 50’s, mid 40’s: “We met in a swinger club. It was his first time there and he was nervous about how to act. For me, I started going with a girlfriend a year earlier and had progressed to going on my own. I was getting a graduate degree and going to the swinger club about once a month was my stress relief, my reward to myself. He and I started kissing and we didn’t stop all night. We’ve been together ever since.”

Couple, mid-20’s, early 30’s: “I had been married for 10 years to a man who had no libido. Coming out of that marriage, I was frustrated and wanting to explore my sexuality after years of deprivation. When I met my first boyfriend after my husband, and he was open to it, we jumped right in after dating just a few months. Being a free spirit at heart, I was excited for the opportunity to explore this side of myself.”

Woman, early 30’s: “After getting divorced, I dated a couple of guys, some of whom were into non-monogamy and I decided that this was something I was comfortable with. I’m a single woman, in the dating scene now. I usually bring up non-monogamy early in the dating relationship. You would be surprised how many men are not comfortable with this. I’m dating a guy now. He hasn’t been in the LS, but he’s ok with this being part of my past and is interested in exploring if it can work for us. Right now, we’re just concentrating on our relationship with the two of us as a couple.”

Couple, mid-20’s, late 30’s: “A bit of a wild child, I had threesomes with teenage couples in my high school years. In my mid-20’s, I shared this with a boyfriend, who suggested we go to a swinger club.”

Couple, early 20’s, early 30’s: “I had lesbian relationships throughout high school. By the time I reached my early 20’s, I was with a boyfriend who was sexually excited, to a great degree, by my having sex with other people, especially other men. He took me to the local swinger club and watched while I took my pick of the single guys.”

Couple, mid-30’s: “My husband and I were highschool sweethearts from strict religious families. We were each other’s first and only sexual partners. We began watching porn 15 years into our marriage and had long since broken away from the conservative values of our upbringing. Watching porn inspired our erotic fantasies. Having no sexual experience with others, we saw swinging as an opportunity to explore this side of ourselves.”

Couple, mid-20’s: “My husband and I were highschool sweethearts. He had slept with other women before me, while he was my first and only sexual partner. He wanted to make sure that I had the opportunity to be with other men. He didn’t want me to wake up one day and ask, ‘What if?’ So he arranged for me to hook up with a single guy...and from there we became swingers.”

Couple, mid-40’s: “My husband and I had a single male friend, strictly vanilla. Somehow things progressed, and I found myself in bed with him, in front of my husband, at my husband’s urging. My husband continued encouraging me to explore my fantasies with our single male friend.  This man became close with our family, even attending outings with our children, where he was referred to as ‘Uncle Chip.’ “

Couple, early 50’s: “We were best friends with another couple. Our children were friends and we would hang out all the time and go on vacations together. It just naturally evolved. When the children would go asleep, we started to fool around and ultimately sleep with each other’s spouses. Ultimately the other couple ran into issues and drama, but we continued to do this, as swingers.”

A Few From the Men:

One of the authors talking to male half of couple in mid-40’s about her desire to write a book on swinging and the different stories of people who do it. His response: “Why in the world would anybody ever want to read a book about that? It’s basically the same story. We’re all a bunch of horny suburbanites.”

Male half of couple, in late 40’s: “I had a lot of women as sexual partners in my past. My wife had had very few. I felt that this would be a way for us to explore our sexuality as a couple together. Also, I thought about it from a scientific point of view and decided that monogamy was not natural.”

Male half of couple, in early 30’s: “She kept bringing women into bed with us.”

Man in mid-50’s: “I am 25 years older than my wife. I was in a higher management position in the place where we both work. She seduced me. At the same time, she is a lot younger than me and she wanted and I wanted for her to have more experiences with other men. I’m happy to swap with the wives where it works out, but this is mostly about her.”

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Outing Yourself as a Swinger

For most swingers, whose “vanilla” lives do not broadcast their membership in a non-mainstream subculture, whether or not to “out” themselves is answered with a resounding no. The typical reasons are that they don’t care what other people think, they don’t think other people will be able to understand the Lifestyle, and/or they are afraid of negative judgment or reprisals. If they do think about outing themselves, this is typically to parents, siblings, children, and close vanilla friends. 

Divorced swingers, whose exes are not in the Lifestyle, have a lot to lose if this aspect of their private life comes up in a child custody dispute. Oh, and did we mention we live in the Bible Belt? Audrey knows of a couple in the Lifestyle in which the male half, an engineer, was outed as a swinger after his employer discovered sexually explicit text messages on his work cell phone. The privately held company, owned by fundamentalist Christians, had a morals clause in their employment contract and terminated him on this basis. He looked for a new job in the area, but ultimately was forced to move across the country when he could not find employment locally.

PRO TIP: Keep your sexting and nudie pictures off of your work phone and email. Many employers explicitly state that they have the right to monitor you, while using company equipment or on their time.

Most people do not make the conscious choice to out themselves to their kids. This usually happens by accident.

PRO TIP: Kids are notoriously nosy with electronic devices. Keep your cell phone off limits and be very careful about your computer. Delete those profile histories and browse swinger dating sites incognito. If your kids discover your sexy profile pics and HAWTCPL69 alter ego, we suggest this handy cover story used by friends of ours: “Mommy and Daddy decided to spice up their sex life with a little fantasy role play…” As anybody who has ever thought of their parents having sex can attest, this will send most teenage children gagging and running before any further explanation is required.

The good news is that certain emotionally and psychologically mature children, usually in later teenage years, will handle this better than their parents imagine. The child’s first concern is usually the stability of his parents marriage. Once you reassure them that 1) you are not cheating on the other parent 2) the other parent knows about this and this is something you do together 3) you are not getting divorced and FOXYMILF77 is not going to be their new stepmom, the typical teen reaction is: My parents are crazy. This is just a new iteration of their craziness.

Not surprisingly, how well your child handles the news about your little hobby will probably have a lot to do with the child him/herself and how you have raised them. Are they generically angry with you at this point in their life, and thus prone to be judgmental? Are they the kind of child who is confident being different from the crowd? Have you raised them to be tolerant and accepting of others? Are there major contradictions between what you do in the Lifestyle and the religious and social beliefs with which you have raised your child?

If you go to a very fundamentalist church with negative views of adultery, premarital sex and a very judgmental view of “who will be saved,” your kid is wearing a purity ring and their social life revolves around Christian Camp and Youth Group, they may not have as easy a time accepting your participation in the Lifestyle as the kid whose parents regularly have discussions with them about safe and healthy sex, accepting other viewpoints and whose idea of a family outing is going to Pride to support their gay allies.

Neither of us has much to say about outing to vanilla friends. All of Audrey’s close vanilla friends know about her participation in the Lifestyle. In fact, a vanilla friend inadvertently prompted her entry into the Swinger community when he pointed her to a writing assignment covering a swinger’s club. Her other primary vanilla friends were all volunteers for a non-profit that sought to eradicate global poverty. In most cases, these friends were already to the Left with counterculture leanings and open-minded viewpoints, a few of them having had experience in non-monogamy.

Claire talking here. I have not disclosed this to many of my vanilla friends. My close friends are people who are open minded and non-judgmental. However, some of them are a bit more religious or socially conservative than Audrey’s friends. They are not religious fundamentalists or ultra right-wing politically. However, I don’t choose to bring this up with them because I think it would simply be confusing and there would be no upside to them knowing. If they found out through other means, I hope that my evaluation of them is correct and that they would not negatively judge me for this. I tend to feel people out and only want to disclose this if I am very close to them and other aspects of their identity indicate they would be favorable. One such exception was a very good friend who happened to work in the Arts, who was open to me about his bisexuality. He told me: “I am done with love. I just want to have lovers. Lots of them. Male and female.” This was a pretty good lead in for my revelation about swinging.

Parents and Siblings
Most people’s parents are not former commune-dwelling hippies. And even those who profess more liberal social or political beliefs tend to hit a wall when it comes to marriage and family. When Claire asked a good friend what his mother would think if she found out he was a swinger, he responded, “I have no idea and I don’t care to find out.” She pushed: “But you must have some idea. Maybe this is why you are reluctant to tell her?” He answered: “I frankly don’t care what she thinks. The only person whose opinion counts in this matter is my wife.”

In contrast, the two of us felt the need to be “authentic” with our parents. For us, not telling them we were swingers felt like the equivalent of hiding some key aspect of our identity from them. On top of that, we both fundamentally, from our teen years on, have resisted conformity. For us, being honest about our participation in the LS (Lifestyle) is about “owning” our identity and having the courage to say: our choices may not be mainstream, but they are the right choices for us. We are not ashamed of this community or of our actions. We do not hurt people, we do not cheat on our spouses, we are not hypocrites. If other people feel that our actions (which have nothing to do with them) make us “bad” people, then that is their problem and not ours. 

Audrey’s Reveal
In my own (Audrey’s) experience, being inauthentic with my parents had a stifling effect that seemed to suck away vital energy. The phoniness and the lies I told to maintain the fiction of monogamy created an inner conflict within myself that immediately was resolved upon telling the truth.

The actual reveal came during a thirty minute break on day two of a four day personal development seminar. I had shared my inauthentic relationship with my parents, as it regarded the Lifestyle, with my workshop partner that morning and he inspired me to grab the bull by the horns and stop putting off the conversation with my parents. My heart raced out of my chest as the phone dialed their number and when my mother answered the phone, I found out that only she was available. Nonetheless, the time had come. She was the one to whom I was the most afraid of telling the truth. This is due to her more conservative, Midwestern perspective, where being judged by other people for being different is very negative and frightening.

After finding out my father was unavailable, I went immediately into my confession. The seminar leader had provided the format for it; essentially you start the conversation by revealing something that you have been inauthentic about and from there explain how being truthful can help the relationship evolve. My mother’s reaction: “I’m surprised, yet I’m not surprised...Your Facebook friends seemed normal...I don’t approve of that lifestyle because I love your father...You could be doing worse things, I suppose...I want you to know, though, that no matter what I still love you...Your father and I, we’re not hicks from the sticks; you should never feel that you can’t talk to us.”

I had asked her not to tell my father as I wanted to reveal the truth myself when he was home later that evening. I called him during the middle of his favorite team’s hockey game, asking him if it might be okay if he took a minute to talk to me. He replied in the affirmative and I proceeded to rehash the confession I had made to my mother. His reply, very simply: “You are who you are.” My father always had a bit of a Zen attitude, so this came as no surprise. Still, I was a bit anxious to extract more of a response so I continued to blab about how he had raised me to be an independent thinker who could make decisions for myself and consciously question the dominant social norms and values. His response was mostly quiet but clearly accepting.

Interestingly, in taking the lead establishing authenticity, I opened up the conversation for further intimacy with my parents. This conversation snowballed into other realms, including the revelation that both of my parents, like my brother and I, had been bullied as children. I had previously been unaware that the entire family story centered around both generations, my parents’ and my brother’s and mine, having inferiority complexes. It was amazing to see how authentic sharing on one topic could unleash the floodgates for greater connection with my family. I felt liberated and closer to them at the same time.

Claire’s Reveal
I have been always close to my family, which consists of my two parents and one sibling. I chose to open up to my parents at a point in my life when I was experiencing stress and self-doubt. My parents had always provided me with support, stability, and unconditional love. I felt that I had made some mistakes in other areas of my life and I wanted to talk to people who had known me since the beginning and would not judge me. I wanted to know that they would still love me, even if they did not approve of all the decisions I had made in my life.

I live close to my parents and it is a lot easier for me to see them in person, than it is for Audrey to see hers. I had been wanting to tell my parents for a while. One day, I was visiting them. I really wanted to talk about it and kept looking for the right lead-in. We were joking about my sister’s and my teen years and her rebellious phase. I brought up, with my mother, the inconsistency of her having been the Junior High and High School youth leader at our church and leading a discussion on sex with a group of other people’s teenagers, yet her never having been really receptive to discussing sex with us when we were in high school or college, including one occasion when my sister sought her out. I asked them, “What would you say if I told you that my husband and I both had lovers.” They both paused and were clearly startled, not expecting me to drop this bomb on them.

My mother’s response: “Infidelity is rarely the problem. It’s usually a symptom. This would leave me to believe that something was wrong in your marriage.” My father’s response: “I know that this would really hurt me if I learned that your mother had a lover, and I have never wanted to hurt her. This has never been an option for us because we don’t want to hurt each other.”

I tried to explain that my husband and I were not “cheating” on each other. This was something we decided to go into together, that we were honest and open and supportive of each other. I do not think my parents really got it. They still loved me and were supportive of me, especially in the other life challenges I was facing, but it was clear that they thought that what I was doing was harmful for my marriage and my family and that they hoped this was just a passing phase in my life.

A few days later, my liberal Catholic mother sent me the write-up for a talk she gave to her Bible study group that she felt “might be helpful.” The title was “Repent or Perish.” She had helpfully highlighted the passage about Jesus coming upon the townspeople who were about to stone the adulteress to death. If you know the Bible, it’s the one with the line: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” It was not a hell-fire or brimstone Bible commentary, but was full of Jesus’ love and capacity to forgive us. I wondered if this was her attempt at empathy.

I shared this incident with my sister, to whom I am very close, via text. I had already told her about my husband and me being swingers and she was non-judgmental and supportive. We both love our parents and laugh about their peculiarities. Her one line response: “Code Name Jezebel.”