Polyamory and Swinging

Polyamory and Swinging

There is a difference in philosophy between traditional swinging and real polyamous relationships. Many people are much more interested in polyamory than just the fun of in swinging. However at times, the difference can be more of attitude and they overlap in many areas. Also some people may want polyamory relationships with some people, and just swinging with others.

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The primary emphasis of polyamory is loving relationships with more than one other partner. The primary emphasis of swinging is “casual, non emotional sex.” In reality, there is a large overlap between the two. However, if you get on a swinger newsgroup ,dating site or list, most polys find the conversation too forward, too aggressive and more sexually explicit oriented for comfort. On a poly newsgroup or list, most swingers will find the conversation too focused on relationships, and organizing various family combinations. Also it seems many poly’s are seeking bisexual relationships. Swinging is often more heterosexual couples looking for other heterosexual couples.

Many swingers are really looking for polyamory, but since swing clubs and swing publications are far more numerous than polyamory, many people looking for real relationships identify with swingers but seek more than what traditional swinging offers. This is especially true of couples who only want to meet other couples for a more meaningful relationship that may include picnics and non sexual activities with the entire family. Swinging is more exclusive. Polyamory groups are often open to all, although many groups seek relative gender balance.

Traditional swinging is based on the “Playcouple” philosophy.The key to successful swinging is to remain “uninvolved” and to only have a recreational sex, short-term attitude. You play the game, then disconnect and go home with your primary partner. Swinging is not about personal sex, which is what a couple have in their own, private, one-on-one relationship. It is instead, about recreational friendly sex. Swinging is about protecting a relationships not risking them. Approached as recreational activity there, is no more risk than you find in a mixed bowling league or at a Saturday night card club… just far more pleasure, excitement and stimulation.

Swinging and polyamory may be dangerous

Both swinging and polyamory can be dangerous to your prime relationship if your relationship is not built on a firm foundation of true love and honest communications. In polyamory, you may have all equal relationships or you may have a prime and other secondary relationships. Open relationships magnify existing conditions within a relationship. If trust, love, commitment and openness exist, then the relationship is usually further strengthened. If, however, there is jealousy, insecurity and lack of honest communications, these problems will be painfully magnified in an open lifestyle. Working through these problems, however, in an open lifestyle, can help all aspects of the relationship, since issues may come up that are never dealt with otherwise.Many examples of this happen and sometimes relationships break up because of these issues. But that may even be good, since it uncovered problems that may have eventually doomed the relationship anyway.

Women, typically but not always, are the most reluctant to explore open relationships. However, once exposed to loving intimacy and perhaps sexual variety in safe, caring groups, they often become the strongest supporters of the lifestyle. The joke in swinging is that its the man who drags the woman into the lifestyle and also the man who has to drag her away from the swing club. Often it is the man who becomes more possessive and jealous.

“Love” Makes The Difference

The difference between traditional swinging and polyamory is the word “love” (amory). The “love” doesn’t have to even involve a long-term commitment. Although some would disagree this is “love”; I can honestly love the spirit and soul of a person I’ve just met. If a women wants to share sensual or sexual pleasure as two wonderful human souls for the moment it can be very loving, even if its just for a one time pleasure sharing experience. But some of us also want long-term lasting loving friendships that unlike most of our regular friends, can also include wonderful sexual pleasure sharing.

“Responsible” Non-monogamy

“Responsible, particularly in the context of talking about responsible non-monogamy, which includes swinging, has to do with responsibility to one’s partners and to agreements that one has with them, especially with your primary relationship. Responsible means honestly in communications, not cheating, as well as being responsible for protecting against pregnancy or STD’s. It means both being responsible for YOU to say NO, if you don’t want to do something and the responsibility to respect the desires of your various partners.

“Conscious” vs. “Assumptive” Relationships

In a polyamory group a benefit for people is exploring responsible, non-monogamy has been that it forces us into in “conscious relating” especially to our primary relationship or spouse, based on honesty not just the usual “assumptive relationships”. Too often in relationships, little honest communication takes place about jealousy for example. This is because these ideas are never challenged in a traditional monogamous relationships until cheating occurs which is often devastating to the relationship. Open relationships force couples to deal with these issues and be conscious of them instead of just assuming the other will never have an interest in anyone else. Many couples tell me, by dealing with these issues honestly, it has made their relationship much stronger.

Couple-Centric & Bisexual Issues

Whether swingers or poly-couples, many couples primarily seek other couples. They often want to relate as couple friends not just sex buddies. Couples are heterosexual with bi females very welcome but bi males, for HIV and other reasons often have to be in the closet. This is not fair since many bi males are not anally active and often are more safe sex conscious than most couples. But the fact is the only ever known HIV case in swinging was the result of a bi male having anal intercourse with women and giving them HIV.

The couple-centric nature helps overcome jealously issues. Once in a group we encourage couples not just to be couples but individuals free to relate to others as people, since it is so hard to find 4 people that are compatible.

Many polyamory folks tend to get very upset with ideas of having gender balance or excluding anyone. Therefore, they tend to attract the bi males that swingers reject. Gender balance is important not couple relationships.

It is interesting that studies of sexual orientation come up with men tending to identify at the polar extremes -fully heterosexual or fully homosexual – while women cluster more in the middle of the scale – bisexual.

In the mainstream population, bi women fall into the “arousing sex toy” category these days, as long as nobody messes with the larger societal structure (i.e. occasional threesomes are OK as long as everybody still gets married). Bi men are still in the “that’s pretty gross” category.

There are exceptions and a more open group can avoid the too much male energy problem since they would prefer this over couples only.