What Is A Swinger

Lesbian Dating

What Is the Swinger Lifestyle?

Ashayla Blakely

Written by: Ashayla Blakely

Ashayla Blakely

Ashayla Blakely is an experienced storyteller who has fun writing authentic and relatable content for DatingAdvice.com. As a hopeless romantic, Ashayla has always enjoyed sharing good conversation and advice about dating. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Telecommunications from the University of Florida. She is currently enrolled in the graduate program at Florida State University's film school. You can often catch her with a script in her hand, calling out the shots in her many directorial roles on set.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Reviewed by: Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks is a dating and relationship expert who has penned over 1,800 lifestyle articles in the last decade, and she still never tires of interviewing dating professionals and featuring actionable advice for singles. She has been quoted by the Washington Times, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, and AskMen.

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The dating landscape is diverse and constantly evolving. Thanks to poly culture, people are getting to experience dating the way they want with no shame. Swingers are defined as people who are married or in a long-term relationship having consensual sex with other couples or individuals. 

Let’s be real — a swinger’s lifestyle is often misunderstood and judged. Some people will blithely pass judgment on ethical nonmonogamy and open marriages, but I like to think the phrase “whatever floats your boat” still stands. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of a swinger lifestyle and how swingers navigate the dating culture that we know today. 

Characteristics | Types | Misconceptions | Healthy Practices | Tips

Key Characteristics

Swingers share some key characteristics. Many people confuse swingers with cheaters, but swingers actually have consent for their extramarital affairs. One common thing all swingers share is that they are open-minded and transparent in their relationships. 

1. Consensual Partner Swapping

Swinger relationships differ from other relationship types in the way they’re structured. Swinging partners engage in consensual sexual relations with people outside of the relationship. 

The consensual aspect of swinging is what makes the relationship work. Both partners agree to invite one partner or multiple partners into the bedroom, and they talk openly about their desires and expectations.

According to Match’s Singles in America study, non-monogamous relationships are becoming popular. More than half of single Americans in the survey said they are interested in sexual relationships with non-traditional structures.

Screenshot from Singles in America
Match’s survey found that many online daters are open to non-monogamous dating.

Rarely will you hear a swinger story where the relationship ended due to infidelity. In fact, some people become swingers because they struggle with monogamy’s commitment requirements. 

“It all started when I realized I was ruining other people’s lives with my actions,” said Matthew Lyons in a Quora testimonial. “My counselor concluded, “If you can’t change who you are, change the environment”. Changing the environment for me meant looking for a lover who also found excitement in sleeping with a new friend from time to time. I found that person and I’ve lived free since 2012 and I’ve personally never been this happy, honest, and free.”

2. Sexual Exploration and Openness

Sexual exploration is key to a healthy sex life in any relationship. Getting to explore other people sexually is a necessity for some people. Being able to find a partner who understands this is just as important as dating someone who knows your love language is quality time. A lot of relationships suffer when sexual exploration dies. Swingers side things up by adding a partner to the bedroom. 

Psychology Today reported that sexual exploration can strengthen relationships by enhancing both sexual and relationship satisfaction for couples. Swingers’ openness allows them to go on an ongoing journey of discovery. They can experiment and determine what arrangement makes them happiest.

3. Clear Communication and Trust

Although swingers agree to experience other sexual partners, there still can be trouble in paradise at times. Just like any other relationship, swingers have to learn how to become excellent communicators. Swinging couples can experience negative feelings such as jealousy and insecurities depending on the situation. Maybe you’re OK with inviting one couple to the bedroom but with another couple, you recognize feelings of jealousy start to arise –– and that’s OK! 

Speak up

Regardless of their experience level, swingers should seek professional help from therapists to strengthen communication and trust. Therapists’ unbiased perspectives help swingers navigate and understand the emotional and relationship dynamics of their non-monogamy relationship. 

“Swinging is not for everyone. It should never be a tool utilized as a last-ditch effort to ‘save’ a relationship,” advised therapist Jennifer Reeves. “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.”

4. How It Differs From Polyamory

Swinger relationships differ from polyamory relationships because they’re typically sexual. Swinger couples aim to share a sexual experience. It’s a way to spice up their love lives and create a memorable moment for the couple instead of an ongoing one-on-one experience. 

A polyamorous relationship is non-monogamous as well but it can go beyond just sexual encounters. Polyamorous relationships are intimate and committed relationships with other partners. 

Types of Swingers

It’s common for swingers to all be put in the same category. There are different types of swingers that have different comfort levels and needs. Learning what kind of swinger you want to be can help you and your partner set clear boundaries.

Soft Swinging Versus Full Swinging

Although swinging allows you to explore a ton of sexual activities, at the end of the day swinging is more enjoyable when both partners are comfortable. In the beginning, couples can determine whether they want to practice soft swinging or full swinging based on their comfort. Soft swinging doesn’t entail any penetration but manual stimulation, flirting, kissing, and sometimes as far as oral sex. 

Full swinging includes all sexual activities. Most of the time couples start with soft swinging because it allows you to explore your fantasies while also serving as a great sample for the couples to see if they’re ok with the new transition in their relationship. People usually can tell whether or not swinging is for them by trying soft swinging. 

Same-Room Versus Separate-Room Play 

Swingers partners can choose from same-room or separate-room play to suit their preferences. Same-room and separate-room play offer different experiences. As you may already assume, same-room play is where both partners are in the same room with their new partners. For a lot of people, this is a bold move that can make or break a relationship. 

“It’s important to remember that playing in the same room can intensify the shared experience, but it also requires a heightened level of communication and respect for each other’s comfort zones,” said an anonymous writer in SwingTowns blogs

Separate-room play is where couples go in separate rooms and have intimate experiences with their new partner. A lot of swingers prefer this form of play because it brings them peace of mind to not see their partner performing on someone else. 

Online Spaces Versus In-Person Events

Swingers aren’t holding a big sign saying “Hey, I’m a swinger” so it can be pretty tricky to find other swingers at times. But thanks to online dating sites and apps, there are online spaces available such as 3rder and Feeld. Some swingers are more private and don’t want everyone in their business. The online web makes it easy for swingers to connect with other swingers without having to worry about the world knowing so. 

Feeld homepage
Founded in 2014, Feeld is a popular dating app for poly dating.

But then you also have other swingers who prefer to meet people the old-fashioned way: face-to-face. Different locations have in-person events that are great for networking and connecting with local swingers. Swinger events are popular for being exclusively locations such as private hotel rooms, houses, and clubs. 

“When venturing into a swingers club, you don’t have to take part in any sexual acts right away, and that’s ok. You can simply go together to see how comfortable you both feel,” said Izzie in a Metro article

Misconceptions and Stigmas

There are common misconceptions about swingers that are still relevant today. Knowledge about swingers is limited within our society. That has caused many people to stigmatize this particular group and their relationships. 

Married With Benefits

The misconception that swingers aren’t happily married because other people are involved is false. Some swingers have some of the strongest and healthiest relationships. One of the advantages of the swinger lifestyle is that there is enhanced communication and sexual exploration. 

Swingers get to come home to a partner who loves them while not having to compromise their desire to be with other people. A lot more marriages would not end in divorce if they were honest from the start about their desire to explore other people sexually.

Cheating With Permission

Let’s get one thing clear: Swingers are not cheaters, but swingers can still cheat! Outsiders falsely believe that swingers can do whatever they want in their relationship, but that’s not true. Swinging partners agree to stay within the boundaries the couple set. For example, if a couple agrees to soft swinging and someone engages in full swinging, that’s considered cheating in the swing community. 

Explore together

Swingers can find themselves heading in an unhealthy direction when they start omitting information or lying about their interactions with secondary partners. 

“It’s important that we not confuse ‘non-exclusivity’ with ‘dishonesty.’ No matter what type of relationship you’re in, exclusive or not, honesty is the key ingredient,” said Suzie Johnson in her blog

It’s Complicated

According to Houston Relationship Therapy, the divorce rate for swinging couples is lower than for people in monogamous relationships. But that doesn’t mean the swinger lifestyle is always blissful. Swingers have to navigate complex relationship dynamics with primary partnerships and secondary connections. It can feel overwhelming, especially when multiple people’s feelings are involved. 

Despite the complications, it is possible to swing happily. Mature partners should respect one another’s boundaries and always communicate when problems arise. It only gets more complicated when couples try to hide how they’re feeling for the sake of trying to avoid tension. 

Healthy Swinger Dynamics

Healthy swinger relationships do exist, but they don’t just happen. You have to establish and practice healthy behaviors. Learning how to respect your partner and voice your feelings can be a great start in maintaining a healthy and fulfilling swinger lifestyle. 

Communication and Consent

It should go without saying that communication is a vital part of being a swinger. Multiple conversations need to be had to ensure that you and your partner are comfortable with the swinger lifestyle. Talking things out will benefit both of you in the long run. Remember to keep trust as the foundation of your partnership, and that will make the process easier. Your relationship will enter a new stage where communicating needs, boundaries, and even reservations should be prioritized.

“While we know this life isn’t for everyone, we have found the entire experience rewarding!” — testimony from a swinging couple

The communication needs to be consistent in the swinger lifestyle. Swinging has encouraged a lot of people to be upfront and honest about their needs in their relationships. Some couples have said that becoming swingers has improved their communication and trust with one another. 

“Our communication skills are better too. We are both very secure in our marriage. We love each other passionately! And while we know this life isn’t for everyone, we have found the entire experience rewarding, fun, and exciting,” said an anonymous person in a Quora testimonial

Communication has to be extended outside of your relationship as well. People need to know what they’re getting themselves into, even if that means having an awkward conversation. There could be disastrous consequences from hiding your marital status and going against the code of conduct in the swinger lifestyle. By being honest and vulnerable, you open more doors for you to pursue other people with the support of a receptive and willing partner.

Emotional Considerations

Swingers have to consider their partner’s emotional needs at all times. Finding the right balance between physical and emotional connection is essential to swinger relationships. 

Fitst, we should acknowledge that feelings can change during the swinger experience. One moment your partner may be OK with same-room play but then later on discover they aren’t comfortable with it anymore because they’re feeling insecure. Considering your partner’s feelings during these moments can strengthen the relationship’s trust and overall well-being. 

It’s important to recognize your emotions as well as those of your secondary partners. Trying to hide or ignore certain feelings (jealousy, insecurity, or attraction) can cause a hindrance in the relationship. At the end of the day, swinging is an emotional risk. There have been cases where swingers have found deep emotional connections that compromise their feelings toward their primary partners. As difficult as this may be, these conversations must be brought up as well. 

Safety and Wellness 

Swingers need to plan ahead to be safe and cautious in all scenarios. Don’t be too hasty when choosing secondary partners. Instead, they should feel comfortable enough to bring a new person into the bedroom without worrying. Couples can come up with code words that they can use if they feel unsafe at any moment of the night. 

Consent is sexy

Swingers have to remind themselves that having sexual relations with people can put their health at risk. Oftentimes people get caught up in one night of fun, and they forget to protect themselves. BMC Infectious Disease did a study on swingers and discovered that swingers underestimate the positive STI status of their alters. This has caused people to overlook STI prevention. 

The data collected showed that out of 299 people, 22% of them said they had an STI during the past six months. Swingers should practice safe sex and get tested regularly for their sexual health. 

Tips for Newcomers to the Lifestyle

Diving into the world of swinging is not always easy for a newbie. There’s no official rulebook to being a swinger, but a few tips can help you on your journey. 

1. Share Your Expectations

First things first, knowing your audience and how to communicate is key. Not everyone will be as open to the concept of swinging, so you and your partner have to make sure to be honest about your lifestyle and visit venues that are swinger-friendly. 

When you find couples with potential to swing, be transparent about your intentions. Just as you will need to continuously talk with your partner about your desires and reservations, that same courtesy will have to be extended to potential suitors. Don’t leave anyone in the gray area. You should always specify the boundaries you and your partner have set.

“Talk about what you each want and don’t want,” said psychotherapist Tammy Nelson, PhD. “Talk about it before you do it. Talk about it to death. And then talk about it some more.”

2. Have a Safe Word

Safe words are great for sexual partners who want to explore their desires responsibly. It’s important for you and your partner to maintain good communication in different spaces. By creating a safe word, you and your partner have a way of checking in with each other and ensuring that you both are still having fun while feeling safe. 

When you and your spouse are in the swinger’s spaces, things can get a little carried away, especially engaging with other couples who may be interested in taking things further. When creating a safe word, think of something unique to you and your partner for easy understanding. There can be code words that can imply that you’re feeling unsafe or not really into it anymore without having to say it in front of invited partners. 

3. Be Realistic About Your Prospects 

Having good judgment when choosing your prospects is just as important as choosing a primary partner. You want to make sure that you’re picking other swingers who have similar interests and expectations. Remember that just like there are certain expectations that you and your partner have, other couples have them as well. 

There can be moments where other couples are interested in one partner but not the other. In this case, swingers have to be realistic and understand that this isn’t a good match. 

“We discussed our borders one more time and found some minor disagreements. So we decided to postpone our first experience and work on better plans and terms to meet our needs and make the experience pleasant,” shared an anonymous swinger on Reddit

4. Seek Support in the Community    

A swinger’s lifestyle does not have to be a lonely one. Thousands of couples participate in the swinger lifestyle and have much advice to share. There is a strong swinger community on the internet. Curious people can connect with local couples online, ask questions, and share ideas and experiences. 

Swinger party
The swinger community is a vibrant place to explore fantasies.

Some apps where you can connect with nearby swinger couples are Swapfinder and Kaside. Connect with a more experienced couple who can guide you through the process and make your experience more safe and enjoyable.

The Swinger Club Invites Experimentation

To take things up a notch, swingers can take full advantage of local swinger clubs. Swinger clubs offer swingers the freedom to date and experience sexual exploration in a unique and fun way. Swinger clubs are where a lot of couples experience sexual non-monogamy for the first time. 

Whether you end the night with a new sex partner or just a nice conversation, swingers find comfort in these open-ended spaces. The swing lifestyle offers couples time to be themselves and explore. 

“When we go, most of the time it’s with the goal of socializing in a sexy and sex-positive environment. We don’t expect to play with anyone there, although we do sometimes when it works out,” said writer Katie in a testimonial.

Swinging may not be for you, but the truth is that monogamy isn’t for everyone either –- and that’s OK! Finding out what you need in a relationship and conveying that your partner will be the best route for true relationship success.