The gentle path to sexual exploration
Part 2 - Swinging With Safety
Same Bedroom or Separate?
When the question card goes around the room at our seminars, we are constantly impressed at how many couples will answer differently when it comes to the same room or separate room question. This is because, while you may be in the lifestyle as a couple, what makes the sex act work for you is highly individual. Unless each one of you is totally enjoying your experiences, you will eventually drop out of the lifestyle. And, unless each of you is willing to give the other room to enjoy what makes sex good for them, you will have negative instead of positive experiences. Peculiarly enough, as it has been expressed over the years to us, the same problem can require dramatically opposite solutions for different individuals. We would urge you to be flexible when it comes to swinging together versus swinging separately. A fixed position on either style of swinging can be terribly limiting to your potential for having a good time. However, we completely understand the basic reason for either position.
Take jealousy for example. There are those who are totally happy having their partner swinging in another part of the house, but absolutely cannot see them with another person without being involved in comparatives and jealousy. That person should always swing in a separate room from their mate (closed). On the other hand, there is the person who goes crazy when he or she does not know what the partner is doing or with whom, and cannot concentrate on anyone else unless the partner is there beside them. That person should always swing in the same bedroom or bed (open). The problem that cannot be solved exists if one has jealousy one way, and the other has it in reverse. If that is the case, you are going to have to work out a compromise.
For those who prefer to swing separately from their mate have many reasons. “I like focused love-making, having my husband or wife there is distracting." Or, "I want a partner to focus on me and I get furious when I find his or her attention is focused on his or her mate." Or, "I can handle my mate having sex with someone else, I just would prefer not to see it." We have heard terrible arguments built around a couple who were together in the same bedroom to that effect. "You did such and such with him or her, how come you don't do that with me?" Or, "You certainly acted like you enjoyed him or her more than you do me."
Those who want to swing in the same room or same bed with their mate have equally as many justifications. "We came into the lifestyle to do it together. I find it exciting seeing my mate have pleasure with someone else." Or, "I don't feel comfortable unless I am with my mate." Or, in reverse, "I feel uncomfortable and insecure if he or she is in a room with someone else alone." Stimulation is another case in point for the males. There are those men who truly believe that they cannot perform without the presence of their partner to help turn them on. This obviously will not trigger the jealousy syndrome on the part of the wife, as she knows she is needed and wanted. But it can create another problem if the man is not careful. If his focus is so much on his wife that he cannot focus on his partner, soon there will be no woman who will go with him. He becomes a vicarious receiver from his wife's enjoyment, and gives little in return. In this instance, the man must learn to be aware of and enjoy his wife's presence but still devote his entire attention to his partner of the moment.
Female bisexuality is another factor in whether or not a couple chooses open or closed. Some women truly want bisexual experiences and enjoy playing with the other woman when the men are finished. Others accept it passively but don't seek it out, and about 40% of the women don't want it at all. But all too many times a threesome or foursome situation is engineered in the hope of creating a bisexual experience. We have seen too many bad experiences when this happens because a woman who is not interested in a bi experience is coerced into hands-on activity with another woman. If you are a woman who does not want bi activity, be sure to make it clear before you go into a threesome or foursome situation that, if the woman touches you, you are going to leave. Don't wait until you are trapped into doing something you don't want to do. If you want it then it is not a problem, but the Rule of No extends from woman to woman as well as from woman to man or man to woman.
There is no right or wrong as to which is the best scenario. Some groups tend to be more open, other groups tend to be more closed. Couples tend to follow the leaders, but the choice is entirely up to you. There are many factors to consider but we urge you to be flexible. Once you have chosen one way over the other, the preference has been cast in granite. It then becomes a limitation to other wonderful opportunities. I am going paint you a few graphic examples to show you what I mean.
Example one, you are sitting next to a couple socializing, and after a half hour or so you all realize there is a tremendous attraction between the four of you. The other couple is more than interested in going to bed with the two of you, and you both can hardly wait to get your hands on them. Whoops!! Suddenly you find out that they only like to swing separately and you only swing together. Quandary: you have met one of the most exciting couples you have ever met. Do you give ground? Do they? Or, does everybody stay stubborn and you miss out on what could have been a wonderful, exciting, fulfilling experience?
Example two, you are sitting with another couple talking, and your mate is clearly attracted to the other's mate and it is obviously reciprocated, but you are not interested in the other partner and you always swing together. Do you tell your mate, "Rules are rules, and no way are you going to go off and have a good time without me!"? Or, do you say, "Oh damn!" and go to bed with that person who so totally turns you off? Or do you say, "It's OK dear, go and have a good time. We'll just talk until you get back."? In other words, is it OK to release your partner for an hour out of a whole evening?
Example three, you only swing as a couple. You have had one or two good foursome experiences this evening. One of you is finished for the night. The other has energy to spare and would like to play some more. It happens, you know. Sex drives and staying power are not always equal on a given party night. Do you really tell your mate, "I'm out of it, and because I've had enough you can't continue."? Or, are you going to be compassionate to your mate's desires and needs, and say, "It's OK. We have had a good time together. I just don't want any more but you go ahead if you feel like it."?
The moral of these stories are, the couples who have the most fun at swing parties are those who have learned to be flexible. We are speaking from years of personal experience and observation. We believe that preferences of all sorts have a positive place in the swinging lifestyle, and there are many times you can have those preferences fulfilled, perhaps two or three times in an evening. But there are other times when you may not be able to fulfill them at all in an evening, or perhaps only once, just because of the mix at a particular party. Yet you will meet people at the party who are exciting, neat, turn-on people to you. Are you going to forego those beautiful people because of your stuck-in-granite rules? A party is a place and time where you can safely enjoy new experiences. Make your preferences exactly that: preferences only, not hard and fast rules. If you are flexible, you will not only have your preferences fulfilled, you will get much more out of the party than you expected. Accept those opportunities that come your way based on attraction rather than on pre-planned rules.
How To Approach A Potential Partner
While it is true that in swinging situations the time spent between first introduction and invitation to bed is tremendously accelerated, even for men, a crude approach is really a turn-off. And while all of the people at a swing party are there for the same reason, and the normal fencing of a straight world seduction is not needed, still, the basis for the yes-no decision is no different than in ordinary life. The process is merely speeded up.
The person you approach for the first time at a swing party still needs to find out if you are a nice person before going to bed with you. Are you an interesting person? Are you a caring person? Are you interested in them as a person or just a body? And finally, are you an exciting person? Is there a chemistry? Do you stimulate them enough to make them want to go to bed with you? Sex, after all, does require some form of chemistry to make it work, whether that chemistry be physical, mental or emotional.
In order to find out, it requires each person to be on their best behavior, from the time they initially begin the approach, to the end. It requires focused attention and an alert mind to engage in a courtship, no different than in the so-called straight world. Be interested in the other person as a person. Your interest will spark their interest. Ask them what they like and don't like in swinging situations and in sex. These are two different subjects and people expect to be asked. It is the reason you are here. And if they don't ask you in return, offer the information. Learn about each other. It shouldn't take long, once this is done properly, to move into the bedroom phase of the courtship.
Most important, don't ever be grabby or touchy in the wrong areas at the beginning. We have seen so many men ruin any chance they might have had by probing intimate places before any conversation has occurred. Just because it is a swing party does not mean women want their breasts fondled by strangers. Maybe not even by friends, except in the privacy of the bedroom or the foreplay area of the hot tub. It is possible that a rare woman might be in the mood for that, but trust me: the majority of women are not.
This also applies to kissing. While it is okay to kiss a stranger hello at a swing party, limit it to a friendly hug and a nice kiss. Approach them as a person, not a sex pervert. Again, just because it is a swing party does not give automatic license to swab a perfect stranger's throat with your tongue within the first minute. Give your new acquaintance the fun and pleasure of being seduced even though the whole process might take only thirty minutes. Arouse them slowly. It's a process that starts from top to bottom, first with the head in mental discussion, followed by displays of affection, and the stirrings and yearnings. When these steps are taken, the physical turn-on happens, automatically.
Prove that you are a nice person and a great lover by following this procedure. Enjoy the experience of watching them turn on instead of freezing you out and leaving you bewildered and rejected. Try different seduction techniques. It is worth it if only for your own happiness. The words "crude", "uncouth" and "pushy" are words used to define people who dive for the physical without acknowledging the mind and feelings of a person. They are the ones who keep sex on a shallow level. Many men think that they are keeping their relationship safe and their wives and girlfriends happy by not allowing themselves to be affectionate towards other women. They may not realize that by avoiding warm, caring and meaningful connections in this lifestyle, they are destroying their chances of becoming truly accepted by women, their own mates included. Being barely tolerated in this lifestyle is not very exciting.
We urge the ten, twenty or thirty-minute foreplay with everyone for just this reason. Find out for yourself what kind of lover you have been. If you have been doing it wrong, you will notice a vast difference in response. It is commonly known that most women want some non-sexual affection and caressing before sex begins, but what is not commonly known is that many men want it, too. As a man, what do you feel when a women grabs your genitals when you're not at all excited or prepared for sex? What does it feel like to have a body opening probed by someone when you’re not aroused? If you want to be a good and successful lover, refine your approach. You will love the results.
Don’t Be A Gossip
Because our intimate activities bring us inordinately close to one another, when a couple begins to have problems within their relationship or change their relationship status quo, we feel that disturbance. It bothers us and often the result is negative judgment and gossip. Maybe two couples have swapped partners for many weekends, and they only go with each other at parties. That is their prerogative. We might advise against it, but who are we to tell them what to do with their lives? Even though we might feel that their relationship is in danger, as club owners we must deal with these couples as human beings, not as officers of the law. If their behavior is not overt or offensive to anyone else, we may permit a couple to continue to attend parties while they are working through their situation. In other instances, we may ask them to stay away until they decide what they are going to do and with whom.
While these situations are going on, it is important not to cast stones at these couples. Allow them the compassion of understanding. It might happen to you some day, and then you will wish that someone would be your friend. They are not hurting you, or putting your relationship at risk. They are too busy dealing with their own lives and with very traumatic circumstances. They could end up coming back together again with their relationship stronger than ever. We have seen this happen in our club. Or they could end up with separations or divorces. The gossip about these people is due to the fact that there are so few of them that their shaky situations become bigger than life in our little Peyton Place of society.
Established couples in the lifestyle have learned not to be disturbed when a couple from their group is going through a relationship problem. They remain friendly but detached. If it happens, they remove themselves and do not engage in unnecessary gossip. They will treat them with courtesy and respect but not become involved with them. While it is human nature to be interested in what is going on with friends you have been intimate with, the general rule of thumb is, if you don’t have anything nice to say about them, don’t say anything at all. Instead, take a “wait and see” attitude. Human beings do change and evolve, learning new lessons to arm them with a new perspective. Sometimes members wonder why we allow a couple with a shaky personal situation to continue to attend parties. The reason is, that we as club owners believe in the law of live and let live. We do not want to be dictators of a law, but rather to judge and weigh individuals by a code of ethic which is wiser than the letter of the law.
Generally speaking, we discourage couples with shaky relationships from participating with us. This attitude holds true in most of the good couples-only clubs in the country. But this is not a law with a hard lined edge to it. A code of etiquette is not a book of rules. People in this lifestyle are not known for their ability to follow rules. That’s what makes our club and other lifestyle clubs so vitally alive and interesting. The fact is we are a select, elite group all cut from the same mold, but a true cross section of the economic, professional, white collar, blue collar and ethnic population of the country. There are older couples with grown children, younger couples with babies in diapers, couples who are monetary disasters, couples who have more money than most, couples who must separate from each other because of their careers, couples who are care-givers for someone, couples who have family illnesses and pressures, terrific job stresses, lawsuits, bankruptcy, couples with drinking problems, and couples going through any one of the gamut of human traumas that beset all of us at one time or another. Welcome to real life. Swingers are not perfect.
One of the nice things about this lifestyle is that it is a lesson in trust. When a couple find they have trust between themselves, which they put to the test as soon as they enter swinging, they find that they can trust others better, too. Where at one time they might have been judgmental, now they are more tolerant and flexible in their attitudes towards someone’s unfortunate situation. Compassion and understanding are commonly found among people in the lifestyle. As trust grows stronger, their bond grows stronger which results in unmarried couples who have been admitted into the group, tying the knot within months of joining the lifestyle. This phenomena is pervasive throughout the lifestyle. It was happening so often in our club that our members dubbed us “The Love Club".
But it is true that in the same period of time there were couples who broke up, and another half dozen who engaged in some level of relationship with a person or couple outside of their marriage. Some of the breakups and re-matchups were because of people they met in swinging. We never said it doesn't happen, it just doesn't happen often and we have to believe that in most of those instances the underlying dissatisfactions at home would have ultimately dissolved those relationships anyway, with or without swinging. The most important statistic is in the very real factor that over 91% of all the couples who have become part of this group since we started counting in 1987, are still very solidly together. So we are hugely beating the national odds.
So, if you should run into a couple in the lifestyle who appears to be on shaky ground, offer them a welcome hand and support, not gossip. They could be working through the beginners’ ups and downs of adapting to the lifestyle. Trust the club leaders to deal with these situations. We try to make decisions that will be the most realistic, as demanded by the circumstances.
Group Room Etiquette
Each of us comes to a swing party with hopes, desires and perhaps expectations of what we would like to have happen on that particular night. Sometimes it works out perfectly, sometimes partially, and sometimes not at all. Generally, the failures are not our own fault. We have to recognize that every other couple arrives with their own package of hopes, desires and expectations. Meshing theirs and ours sometimes happens and sometimes doesn't. Sometimes our timing is off and here it is 10:30 p.m. and each person or couple we've talked to already has a bedroom date lined up. We feel rejected and frustrated and don't know what to do. We know the group room is there, but we are afraid of it because we think we will be put into a situation over which we have no control.
Don't be afraid. The reality is that you have as much or more control in the group room as you have in the social areas, with greater certainty of participation. Let's create a scenario. You and your primary mate go into the group room and lie down on the mat together and start hugging and kissing. If you keep your eyes alert to the goings on around you, the first thing you will notice is that there is a continuous procession of other guys and gals wandering through the room, and perhaps one or two people staying back along the sides, quietly watching. Some of those people on the fringes of the group room may be looking for some action. They are yours for the asking. They are waiting for a signal from you. You do not have to worry that people will join in where they are not wanted. In fact, the opposite is more likely to be true: how to get those people to join you.
Very few people know how to play the group room game. That is why it is not as active as we would like to see it at our club. The wanderers are making themselves available by wandering back and forth hoping that someone will wave them in, afraid to interrupt out of fear of not being wanted. The couple on the mat is hoping that someone will come and join them, but fearful that someone they don't want will approach. The end result is that very few get what they want out of the group room. The fact is, it is the couple on the mat who has the control most of the time. It is their responsibility to wave people in. There are far more who are afraid to join in, than there are those who are intrusive.
Let's take a closer look at both sides of the playing field in the group room. There are those down on the mat, and those off to the side waiting. For those who are waiting, there is a proper way to join in and an improper way. The improper way is to drop down and start nibbling right away. The proper way is to approach very quietly in a sensitive and aware manner. How? We asked Jay how he does it because he uses the group room more than most people, and in fact is becoming a legend in his own time. Jay’s method of operation is masterful and proves successful more often then not. He looks over the scene from the side until he sees a situation he would like to join. Then he moves quietly down onto the mat beside them but does not touch. He waits to see what kind of response he gets from his just being there. What does he feel from them? If there are no negative feelings, he reaches out and touches an arm or leg - no breasts or nipples at this point - and waits to see again what kind of response he gets. This requires a great listening ability, and intuition. If there are no negatives, he starts caressing the arm or the leg, aware that he could still be rejected so his movements are tentative. If there are still no negatives by now, he considers himself accepted end moves gently to more intimate areas.
Now let's reverse roles. What if you are the couple on the mat in the group room when Jay sits down beside you and gently starts touching you? The control is yours. You either touch back with warmth, indicating acceptance, or with coolness you take his hand off of you. That subtlety will get through to 99% of all people. For the 1% who is obtuse to subtle messages you simply add, "Please, this is a private party!" Most people are extremely sensitive to not being wanted and will take the hint.
It is better not to verbalize a question when joining in the group room because it could be an unwanted intrusion, where a non-verbal, caressive touch would be less intrusive and more welcome. The important part of Jay’s method is, don't presume. Go slowly and tentatively and wait until you have had some sign of acceptance before becoming intimate. Most problems in the group room occur when someone assumes and does not wait for the acceptance or rejection signal.
The Rule of No is always in effect in the group room. If your group is there first, you are entitled to say, "Please, this is a private party!" whether you are asked verbally, or if someone discreetly tries to move in on you. However, once your group grows to five or more bodies, it may be hard to control who joins you. At that point it is an orgy, which is the main reason for the group room. Then if someone touches you who you don't want touching you, you must roll out or away. It's too late to control it. But so long as it is a small group, four bodies or under, you have the option of responding with warmth and acceptance or coolness and rejection. You may also say, "Why don't you go get your partner (or a partner) and come back. We would love to have the two of you join us."
When you are on the group room mat you are in control. You can wave to someone in who is sitting nearby, you can wave to someone who might just be walking by, and you can reject. You are in charge. When you lie down on a group room mat, you have put yourself into the position where people will be coming to you. But remember, the group room is there for playful multi-partner sex. It is not for one-on-one encounters. The one exception is when, once in awhile on a big party night, a mat will be taken by a couple or a foursome who are only there because it was the only bed available. So don't presume. Be sensitive. And even though you are allowed to take the initiative, wait for an acceptance before reaching for the intimate parts. The group room is not a place to be afraid of. Once you learn how to operate in its environment, you will have fun.
Alcohol and Drugs
There is nothing wrong at a party in having a couple of drinks for the purpose of relaxation. But there are an awful lot of reasons not to drink too much. We have had incidents over the years that only occurred because someone had too much to drink. People who are drunk generally have a total personality change. They can become nasty, argumentative and obnoxious, and when they do they create major problems not only for themselves but for the other people around them.
First, the target of their personality change often becomes their own husband or wife, and the next day they hate themselves for what they have done to their relationship. Secondly, drunks tend to talk incessantly and are oblivious to the people around them, so everybody perceives they are drunk while they themselves do not think so. And because that constitutes obnoxious behavior, they find themselves sitting alone. They just are not fun to be around.
Third, sex is an activity that requires every nerve in your body to be alive and receptive for full enjoyment. In the case of men, you have to be able to have an erection and alcohol is a depressant. Women who reach the level of being drunk feel very little and are uncoordinated. So on top of everyone avoiding you because you’re drunk, another problem is created in that you can’t perform in the bedroom even if you can find someone to go to bed with you.
A party is a place where couples go for fun and light-hearted sex play. They want to be around people who are happy and in control. A swing party is not a bar where you go to get drunk. We suggest you think about this and understand it, because if you drink too much you will lose out in the end, and you will cause others to lose too. Feel free to have a couple of drinks for relaxation, but stop there. Don’t arrive at a party with two or three drinks already under your belt and carrying a bottle. You will repel some very nice people and you will end up having a bad time. And if you have too many bad parties you will drop out of swinging, which is not only sad for you, but sad for your partner and sad for your friends who could have become lifelong friends. Go to swing parties for friendship and sex, but don’t go there to get drunk.
On the subject of drugs, our members have applauded the stand we took in the early 80’s against bringing drugs, including pot, onto the club premises. There are a few who really enjoyed smoking pot at swing parties in the past, and are today unhappy with our position on the issue. They properly point out that alcohol, which we do permit, is no less harmful to people and can alter attitudes and behavior just as marijuana can. However, there is one primary issue involved that we all have to be aware of: alcohol is legal and controlled substances are not. That is the reason why most clubs today have a hard and fast rule against drugs of any kind, and violators are expelled immediately.
The reason for this is because the war on drugs has moved into the crusade stage. This means that, just as in cases involving Internal Revenue or Customs cases, among other new tools for fighting drugs, Congress can easily mandate substantial rewards to people who inform on their neighbors who use drugs. If this happens, it could mean that when you have your friends in to socialize and you all smoke pot together, you could be subject to being reported, arrested and convicted. And anyone in the vicinity, such as your family, could also be caught in the web. All because an irate person holding a grudge can turn you in with the extra inducement of a reward.
The better swing clubs today are drug-free. So if you do use drugs in the privacy of your homes, leave the stuff at home when you go to a swing party or to another couple’s home on a private date. Don’t even have it in your car while parked on their premises. If you can’t live without it, then stay home yourselves. Don’t put your club or your friends at risk.
Don’t Be a Couch Potato
A swing party is a discovery party. Friendships blossom and invitations occur for those who show an interest in interacting with others, whether it be one-on-one or couple- to-couple. If you and your mate plop down on a couch or at a table on the patio and wait for something to happen, it won’t. It is as though you have strung a rope around yourselves with a sign on it that says Do not disturb. Others will not approach you when you are take on the appearance of couch potato. Don't ask why. The only way to beat off an attack of the couch potato blues is to force yourself to get up and move around and talk to people. Shake it away. As long as you are on the move, speaking, listening and being involved, it can't get you.
The couches should be used as active conversation locations, or if you are truly in need of a seat because you are tired, but they shouldn’t be used as an escape hatch to drop out of the party and disappear. You would drift to a couch, for example, with a person you just met at the coffee pot and you want to keep on talking but not in the middle of the kitchen. You would sit down on a couch if you saw someone sitting there whom you hadn't seen for several months and you were eager to give them a friendly hello and hug, but you would get up and leave when you were finished. To get the most out of the party atmosphere, keep on moving around so you can bump into people. Put yourself where people are, but not in a pushy manner. Just be there in front of them, and around them. Spend a few minutes in different locations. Nod and greet those who catch your eye to show you are open to conversation. If nothing more happens, accept it and move on to another location. Find a bar seat if there is one in the middle of a traffic area and let yourself get swept up into conversation. Then, if nothing significant happens there after 10 or 20 minutes, get up and go to the hot tub, if there is one, and soak for another 15 or 20 minutes.
Wherever there are groups of people talking, it is because they are extending themselves. They are showing their eagerness to meet others, where the couch potatoes are not. Pay attention to their body English. They are making themselves available. And watch how they handle someone they don't want anything to do with. How do you know they are rejecting that person? Learn how to read others and you will find yourselves copying those you think are the most effective. But you can't do this sitting down on a couch.
And, even though it means letting go of a security blanket, try moving around alone. Leave your primary partner and do your own scouting, then come back and report in once in awhile to each other. You will have lively stories to tell each other. Though you and your partner may prefer to go to bed together as a couple, if each of you goes out exploring alone you double your chances of meeting a potential bed partner. If as a woman you meet a man with whom you would like to go to bed, you can always say, "I would like you to meet my husband and maybe we can both meet your wife." Or, vice versa in reverse. And if you have no problems going to bed one-on-one, you increase your chances by moving around alone rather than clinging to your mate. Many men hesitate to strike up a conversation with a lady if she is obviously hanging on to her husband.
Since swinging is a sport of opportunities and choices, the more opportunities you create, the more choices you will have. The less you make yourselves available, the less opportunities and choices you will have. Don't be a couch potato. Move around and let your body tell the group you are interested. You will have many more interesting parties.
How To Be Guests At a Party
What is acceptable behavior at swing parties is always a big question at the seminars. What do you do? How do you behave? What do they expect of us? These are the types of questions that new swingers have foremost in their minds when they first begin to branch out into the lives of other swingers, and these subjects are being individually addressed in this book. Because behavior at a party is so important to your reputation and how you fit in, this chapter is a summary in a nutshell of how to be a good guest at a swing party. There are no established rules, per se, but there are traditions that have grown out of common behavior. It is these traditions that we write about here. So, if someone invites you to a swing party, here's what you should do.
First, ask if you can bring something, like a cake, or your own towel. Usually the host will tell you to bring your own bottle and maybe a dish for the buffet table. They may tell you to bring along some sexy under things to wear after you get out of your street clothes. At every party there is a time when dressing down takes place. Buy a small to medium sized traveling bag, just large enough to carry whatever you need such as toiletries, cosmetics, changes of clothing and whatever personal items you might want such as sex toys.
Ask for directions to the house and where to park when you arrive. You don't want to block a neighbor's driveway or cause a problem that would interrupt the party later. Ask what time you should arrive, and the latest that you can arrive. Some couples have a cut-off time beyond which they don’t want to answer the door.
Ask if it's for couples only or if there will be singles invited. If single men are attending the party, there could be three or four single men for every woman at the party, which will be uncomfortable for the women. Don’t come to a couples swing party alone without your primary partner if you’ve been invited as a couple. Call and ask first. Some couples don’t mind a special friend coming as a single, but there are many who don’t like it. This is a couples lifestyle and single people are generally not accepted. If your husband or wife is out of town, decline the invitation.
When you arrive at the party, arrive well-groomed. If you are not in the habit of dressing up, if the type of job does not demand you to have an ample wardrobe, make it a habit to at least be clean-shaven, clean in body, with freshly washed hair, hands and nails. Many people are not aware of their own body odor. Check your spouse and have your spouse check you. Take a shower before leaving for the party. Uncircumcised men should wash under the folds, and women, douche with just plain water several hours prior to the party so there will be time for natural body fluids to return. Use deodorant, brush your teeth and use mouthwash. Shave just before the party so there is no stubble, and use lotion or light perfume. And women, if you shave the pubic area, shave just before the party. A bristly mound is more serious than you might think. An enthusiastic oral session can cut a man’s face up pretty badly. Overall, be an attractive and sweet smelling sex partner, but no heavy cologne or perfume in the genital area.
We are including here a quick word on douching by Nancy. Many women are not in the habit of douching, especially if they have not been into swinging for long. But women do have an odor that emanates from the vagina and the best way to eliminate that is by douching. We have found that just plain water with no chemicals will not upset your body chemistry. It is like swishing your mouth with water after eating. It is natural to the body. And a gravity fed douche bag like an enema bag is much more effective than a disposable one which contains at the least vinegar. The fountain of water can go further up inside. Some women get a reputation for being unclean when they do not douche, but men are hesitant to say anything. Douche the morning or early afternoon on the day of the party to be fresh and clean, which allows enough time for natural bacteria and fluids to regenerate which protects you against disease and infection. And then douche again after the party is over before going to bed. This washes away any foreign bacteria that might have crept up inside, including your own bacteria from other locations, which could cause an inflammation or infection.
Don’t come to the party while under the influence of mind-altering substances, or too much alcohol. You won’t be good for anything except as a bookend, or to hold up a wall. People will avoid you. Drugs and drunks are not common among swingers. Most swingers drink soft drinks and occasional light alcohol. Drugs are not acceptable in the lifestyle. And never, ever, never bring drugs to someone else’s home.
Be aware of what you eat before coming to a swing party as some foods cause gas and body odor, such as beans, garlic and some vegetables. Don’t bring any uninvited guests with you without getting permission. If you happen to have house guests who have dropped in at the last minute and they are also in the lifestyle, don’t assume. Call the hosts and ask if you can bring them along. They may not have room. It goes without saying, that you should never ever bring non-swinging guests to a swing party.
Arrive at the party together with your spouse, or date, and leave together at the same time. Never be at a swing party without your mate without prior permission. If you’re not in the mood to participate, don’t go to the party. In the traditional house party you are expected to swing, even though you have choices as to whom you participate with. Once a night is sufficient to pass this traditional requirement. Women, if you have your period and you don't plan to swing, don't go. Even it your husband wants to go, remain firm in your decision because a woman who does not swing at a party of only four or five couples, throws the whole party out of kilter. If you do attend and don’t participate, you will build a poor reputation for yourself as a ticket to get your husband into the party. In a larger party of say 15 or 20 couples you might be able to get away with it. But even then you should only go to the party if you can be a happy and sociable participant, and not one who sits sullenly in a corner hoping no one will notice you. Many women on their periods will party in a partial way by engaging in other-than-penetration sex. About half of the men will accept a woman with her period.
Arrive at the party on time. The hosts have set the party up carefully. Call if you’re going to be late. This is more crucial at a swing party than at a non-swing party, because people will undress and the hosts will not want to answer the door once the party starts. Most swing party hosts set a close-off time for arrivals.
Be attentive to your hosts rules. Party hosts seldom read a list of rules, but by being watchful you can determine what’s expected of you. For example, if there’s no smoking in the house there will be no ashtrays. You want to be invited back and it is always noticed which guests are sloppy and inconsiderate of their home and their other guests. Do not answer a telephone if you are a guest in someone’s house, unless you are requested to. And do not answer the door.
Be sociable. Move around among the other guests. Don’t sit tightly clinging to each other on a couch or no one will approach you. Get over your shakes and try separating for a while for social talk and coming back together to compare notes. Get to know people, and get to know your potential bed partners. Talk first and ascertain where they are coming from. Don’t just jump in bed with a stranger. Find out whether they only go as a foursome with their husband or wife, or whether they go separately. Don’t be afraid to ask. This is to prevent what you thought was going to be a nice one-on-one encounter with someone, from turning into a threesome when their spouse comes in to join you. Or what you assumed was going to be a foursome and have it turn out that the other couple always party in separate rooms. Asking questions first helps to avoid negative experiences.
If there are some acts you will not do in a swing encounter that are commonly accepted by most people, let your swing partner know before going into the bedroom, or at least before you get into the more crucial stage of love-play. The most common practices that are traditionally expected at a swing party are kissing, giving and receiving oral sex, and giving and receiving full penetration. Anal sex is not expected and lies outside of the norm. Female bisexuality is expected in perhaps 50% of the situations, and male bisexuality is not expected at all, or in perhaps one to two percent of the situations. However, by explaining your limitations beforehand you will not disappoint or frustrate anyone who expects it. If a man is afraid he won’t be able to achieve an erection, that’s OK. But if you do not even try to penetrate, then tell her up front so she won’t expect it. But even a soft attempt is better than refusing to try at all. Women will understand and connection will have been made between the two of you. Most people will honor your requests if you are direct with them. What creates negative experiences is when what is expected to happen does not happen. There is a traditional behavior expected at experienced lifestyle parties, unless their are newcomers involved and everyone understands. Communicate what you expect out of the encounter. If you expect one thing and your sex partner expects another, you will have an awkward encounter.
Don’t place heavy rules on each other. Sometimes a husband or wife gets carried away under certain circumstances which can’t be avoided easily, and are guided into breaking their private agreements with their spouse. For example, if you have a private agreement between you that neither one of you will engage in group activities, if one of you should find yourself in a group situation unavoidably, it will cause problems later on. You will have control over most of what you do, but there will be instances where you will each get “carried away” because that is the nature of the lifestyle. Ask a couple how they normally swing and you will have the most important information you need about another couple. You in turn should let the others know your limitations. If you don’t tell others what you don’t want to do, they can’t honor it. People are not mind readers.
Women, if you’re asked by a man with whom you don’t want to go into a bedroom, remember the Rule of No. Just say, “No, thank you,” with a smile. You should not give explanations as to why you don’t want to go to bed with someone. That turns it personal and emotional. You might want to add “No, thank you but I appreciate the invitation,” as a nice way of ending the conversation. Or, “Ask me again sometime.” Women, men love to be asked by a woman. We hear this comment often: “Why don’t women ask more? I love to be asked by a woman.” While men, too, have the right to say, “No, thank you,” the chances of this happening is so small as to be almost non-existent, and if he did say No, it probably would be for practical reasons like he just finished with someone and needs time to recuperate, or that his wife is dressing to go home, or some such reason. Ask, ladies, and the chances of you having a great time because you took the initiative increases by leaps and bounds.
Men, if you ask someone and you’re turned down, don’t take it personally. Remain impersonal and humor will go a long way in bowing out gracefully. Practice some humorous responses. This is a game of consensual selection, not demand. Sex is not a power game here as it often is in the non-swinging world. Move on and keep it light. Don’t fondle breasts and crotches of women you have just met, or give them deep tongue-sloshing kisses. That does not turn a woman on, it turns them off. You will build a bad reputation for yourself if you do this. Start out with women on a social talk level. Let her feel you out and observe you for awhile, as women tend to do. Let her body language guide you. If she is feeling sexy, she’ll let you know by touching you, or batting her eyelids at you and responding to your attempt to communicate with enthusiasms rather than one-word responses. If she is not meeting your eyes, that is the first and most important rejection signal. Watch for signals. If there are none after a certain time, move on to the next person. Most men need more practice in this area. I have seen men miss obvious cues from women who finally left in desperation to go find someone else. And I have seen men miss the obvious turndown, totally oblivious to her body language.
Check in with your mate from time to time during the evening to make sure he or she is OK and having a good time. If there’s a problem, catch it early. If nothing is happening for either of you, go into the group room area and make love with each other. Even if there is no problem, spend time with your mate and assure them that you care. Your love bond is important and this will strengthen it. If there is a problem, go aside and talk it out. If the problem persists, go home. If you have a family feud at a party, your reputation may be at stake. You may not be invited back.
Have a game plan for what time you will leave to go home. This is often a problem area between a couple when one wants to stay and party and the other wants to go home. Talk it over ahead of time. When it starts to get late and you know it is approaching time to go home, make sure that the last encounter for the night finishes in approximate timing with your mate. It might prove to be a wrong decision if your spouse wants to go home and he or she has to sit and wait for you to come out of the bedroom. If the hour is late, ask before going into the bedroom one more time. Remember that your spouse has feelings, too. And if you are tired and want to go home, please don’t do it the way Hal did one day in our early days of swinging. Everyone heard him as he yelled out from the kitchen, “Hey, Betty, when are you going to be done? Finish him off so we can go home.” You will never be invited back again. Likewise, don’t go into a bedroom in a surly mood and tap your mate on the shoulder to give them a hint. This is not acceptable behavior. It shows that you do not have your act together and other couples will avoid you.
Give each other permission to swing separately even though you might prefer to swing together. And vice versa. Most couples prefer to swing separately because it is easier finding partners, but you may find yourself talking with a couple who want to stay together because they are new. If you insist on only doing it your way, you just might be left out of the party all together.
If there are more people at a party than there are beds, don’t hog bed space. This means, you don’t have to hurry through the sexual encounter, but when you are finished, don’t lie there chatting. Be aware that others may be in need of a bed. If you tore the bed up and the sheets are all off and the mattress cover too, tuck it in and make it neat for the next couple. This is the responsibility of the couple who messed it up. Light damp spots are acceptable, but if the sheets are sopping wet, see the hostess about getting a new one to replace it. This is acceptable. It happens on enough occasions that more hostesses are thinking ahead by putting out a few extra replacement sheets where people can find them, and hampers for dirty sheets.
If you are in a room with another couple who are also engaged in love-making, keep your voices down to a low murmur. Don’t tell loud jokes or exchange idle gossip so the couple next to you can hear. This is a real no-no because it breaks the mood. Be considerate of the lovers next to you. Private bedroom spaces are more intimate and romantic, and require more quiet than a group room.
Find out where the private rooms are, versus the multi-couple room. Don’t enter or interrupt a private bedroom scene, not even to stand and watch. You’ll get a bad reputation. Never crawl into a bed with another couple at a swing party unless you are invited. This is a common problem that is hard to control. It causes resentment. Don’t hover near a bed trying to signal for an invitation. Leave couples in a bed room scene alone, unless all parties have agreed that at a certain time you will join them. This does not apply to an area allocated as a group room where anything goes. Don’t interrupt a bedroom scene for any reason unless the house is on fire or the police have arrived. Or with the possible exception that you are suffering an insecurity attack or a sickness attack, and you need the comfort of your mate, in which case it is perfectly acceptable in the lifestyle to interrupt. But do it modestly and gently, not with anger, and only if it is an emergency.
In-between sexual encounters, shower. If you can’t shower, then wash your private parts, face, beard, hands with a washcloth. Every hostess puts ample washcloths and used washcloth container in the bathrooms to throw it into when done, so you do not have to look for the same washcloth a second time. Use mouthwash or brush your teeth. Women, use disposable douches if they are available in-between encounters. If not, swish some water up there. Swingers are overly aware of body odor and cleanliness, and go to great lengths to be clean.
If you are sleeping over, never go to sleep with someone else’s wife or husband for the night. This causes jealousy. Even if there is common consent at the time, someone is usually pressured into it and leads to arguments later when a couple goes home. We have seen this happen time and time again. Likewise, never call someone else’s wife or husband for a private date, or to give sexy love talk over the telephone. This is a most explicit no-no in swinging. Swinging is recreational sex, done together as a couple out in the open, with nothing to hide. If you prefer that your spouse doesn’t know what you are doing, then don’t do it.
Exchange phone numbers with those couples you really like and want to see again. That’s what parties are for. But don’t expect the other couple to ask you for yours because they probably won’t. It’s a no-no in the lifestyle to ask a couple for their number because everyone knows that it puts them on the spot. Before giving their number out, which is their identity, which means exposure, they have to first check with each other in private. So you give them your phone number instead and tell them you both have enjoyed them, and would like to meet them again either for dinner out or at your house. Have social cards made up with your first names and telephone number on it, to give to people you like. If you try to get a number from the host later, they will probably not give it to you. Discretion and privacy rules heavily over swingers and they do not give phone numbers out.
How to Give a House Party
After you have been in the swinging lifestyle for a few months and met four or five couples whom you enjoy very much, and after you have attended several of their house parties of your friends, you may decide that you want to reciprocate. There is probably nothing you could do that can be more fun or more gratifying than hosting a house party if it is done right. You have discussed it between the two of you, but you lack the confidence to host a party. Let’s build an imaginary party for you around an ordinary two or three bedroom house in a residential neighborhood. In this case, there is no pool, hot tub or privacy fence. Let’s look at some practicalities. First, this party is going to be a sex party. You do not have to pretend otherwise. Couples will come because they want to swing. Some of the worst swing parties occur when the hosts do not understand that.
There are certain rules of thumb in planning a swing party. The social area and the sexual activity areas should be separate. Your guests should not feel coerced into sexual activity just because there is no area in which to socialize, plus they will need an area in which to rest after a sexual encounter. The first question that needs to be answered is, how many couples can realistically be comfortable in your home for this type of party? Let’s assume that between your living room and dining areas you can comfortably seat ten to twelve people (five or six couples). In this case, you will want to invite eight couples, two more than your seating will hold. In the early stages you want the atmosphere to be more like a cocktail party, with guests circulating, talking and playing musical chairs, rather than sitting in a fixed seating arrangement which immobilizes them.
So from a standpoint of the social aspects of the party we now know you can handle a seven or eight couple party. But can your bathrooms? We now have to look at the number of toilets. This is a very real problem as everyone will be imbibing. The basic rule of thumb here is one toilet per five couples, if people are not tying up the bathrooms primping. If you have two toilets you will be able to comfortably handle the seven or eight couples. If you only have one, you had better cut your plan back to five couples including yourselves.
The second consideration is bed space. At our parties we feel comfortable with one bed for three couples, but that is because we have enough couples who will swing as a foursome. That means three beds can handle six couples. If a number of your guests prefer one-on-one encounters, then your safe rule of thumb is one bed for every two couples. If you have two useable bedrooms, you can purchase or borrow a foam mat to supplement your beds and expand your facility to three or four beds. If you are thinking of an air mattress, forget it. For sleeping they are OK, but not for sexual activity. The important factor is that you need enough bed space so the waiting period is minimal. When people are ready for sex, they are ready now!
The third space factor that is critical is parking. How many cars can you park in your own driveway or yard? Is there always open parking space on your street? The one thing you don’t want is your neighbors knocking on your door or calling the police because one of your guests has parked in front of their driveway. If you know you can only comfortably get four cars parked legally, then don’t try to stretch it. That is your limitation.
Now you know how many couples you can handle. Don’t allow yourself to exceed that number. You can ruin your own party by having more couples than your house can handle. Now comes the fun questions: who are you going to invite? A successful house party revolves around couples who share the same sexual interests and attitudes. Example: If you know three couples who only like to swing together in a threesome, foursome or moresome, and you have another couple whom you like very much but only swing separately, that last couple will not have a good time with the others. They should not be invited with the other group. If you like a couple where the man is exceptionally grabby or pushy, reconsider. The fact that you can handle him does not mean that other people can. He could make it very unpleasant for the other couples.
If you want to spice up your party and meet some new couples you have never met before, ask each couple you invite if they know a couple they particularly like whom they think you would enjoy. Since you are building the party around couples who share your interests, that couple would probably fit the group. Have your friends call their friends and ask if it is OK for you to call them to invite them to a party. If they agree, then your friends can give you their number. Don’t try to get the number and call them cold. They will be suspicious and reluctant to talk to you. On the other hand, they will be far more receptive if they expect your call.
Tell your potential guests what time to arrive, and be firm about that. Your party will never get off the ground if you have to wait around till 10, 11 or 12 o’clock for late arrivals, so set a very specific arrival time. Tell them, “Please don’t arrive before 7:30, nor after 9 p.m. The doors will be locked and not answered before or after that time.” People will honor that if they understand you mean it.
Now let’s talk about food. There will always be some expense to having a party, depending on how you want to host it. It can be very expensive or only minimally so. You can have as little as a bowl of potato chips and some cheese and crackers, or you can provide a full buffet dinner. Potluck is common among some swing groups, each couple bringing a dish. We provide cold roast beef and ham, cheese and crackers, raw veggies and dip, a pickle tray and cake at our parties, but we charge a door fee. Private parties do not, which is why potluck parties are popular to help with the cost of food. If you do not ask guests to bring a dish, then definitely provide something to munch on because active sex makes one hungry. When you talk to your guests, be prepared to give them a list of what to bring. Do they bring their own bottle? Their own mixes? A snack or a covered dish? Their own towels for showers? Most private swing party hosts ask their guests to bring all of the above, but there are the more elaborate party givers who provide everything except liquor. We provide the mixes, sodas and tonics. And be sure to tell them to bring dress-down clothes.
Remember, when you invite someone, it is your party and you make the rules. Since so many swingers cannot entertain, they will appreciate the fact that you are opening up your home to them and will want to know how to be a good guest. Plan what house rules you are going to tell them: Can the bedroom doors be closed? Locked? A few inches ajar? Can they smoke in the house? In the bedroom? Write them down on a 3x5 card. Regarding doors, we recommend that you tell your guests to never lock a bedroom door at one of your parties. If your husband or wife is with another person behind a locked door and you are prevented from entering, the mood will sour rapidly. Some party givers go so far as to remove the bedroom doors prior to a party, but that is pretty far reaching. We allow our guests to close the door but not to lock it, so that a second bed or mat can be reached while a couple is on the first bed, and so a husband or wife can open the door and check on their partner.
Once you have your guests selected, call them and invite them to your party. Ask them at that time if they have one special couple they would like to invite, too. After a couple of weeks you will find that you have ten couples lined up for your party. You will have told them what to bring, when to arrive and where to park. You have a list of house rules you want to tell them, you know what type of food you are going to provide, and that you are not going to allow locked bedroom doors. But there are a few other things that you need to consider before the first guests arrive on party day.
Have the bedspreads on all your beds turned down so the beds are ready to be used. Have clean sheets on the beds and mats, and have low, attractive lighting in the bedrooms. If possible, have music in each bedroom, low romantic music, not rock ‘n roll. Be sure the drapes or shades on your windows are tightly closed. You don’t need to titillate or embarrass your neighbors. For the same reasons, when a couple leaves your house for their car make sure they are fully dressed. Set up some low lighting in the social areas to create a more comfortable mood. Bright shining lights are not conducive to a romantic atmosphere. Turn on some music of a selection to match your guests’ age and interest, but not too loud. Watch the volume on your stereo or radio, neighbors really do complain about noise.
Have a stack of clean washcloths on the bathroom counters, and a plastic container on the floor to throw the used washcloths into. Also, provide mouthwash and plenty of soap for washing up after a sexual encounter, plus extra hand towels. If you are providing bath towels for showers, put these out where they can be found and hampers to throw them into. You will find that the more personal hygiene items you provide, the more you are stating a message: please be clean and sweet smelling. Make yourself an attractive partner. More elaborate party givers provide disposable douches for gals, condoms for the men, shampoo, hair conditioner, deodorant, disposable razors and toothpaste, but this is not a necessity. Most swingers bring their own in small cosmetics bags. Plan on which closet you will have your guests put their bags, clothes and other personal belongings when they get out of their street clothes. Swingers can be inventive if there is no assigned storage space, like under couches and behind chairs, but it is nice to be able to show them a closet or shelf.
The success of the party will be determined by what you do in the first couple of hours as your guests arrive. As the hosts at your party, mix, mingle and socialize with your guests. Greet each person and let them get to know you so they can size you up, but don’t let yourself be tied up by any one person or couple. You and no one else should answer the door. But to take some of the burden off of you, you can ask one or two of your friends who know your house to take some of the new couples around and show them the various locations, where to put their bags, where the bathrooms are, the private rooms, the group room, where the food and bar area is set up, and to introduce them to each couple already there. Keep your eyes open and if you notice a couple sitting alone and having a hard time mixing socially, go to someone you know and quietly ask them if they would spend a little time with that couple to draw them out.
As you look around you, it is just like any very social cocktail party, except you can see the couples talking and touching more intimately than at a straight party. Your guests have stayed in their street clothes because you are opening and closing the front door and you don't want your neighbors to accidentally look in and see partially clad bodies. You are planning to lock the doors at 9 o'clock, so around 8:30 you announce “Would you please dress down out of your street clothes into party clothes and meet in the living room for last-minute introductions and announcements.” They will go to where they have placed their bags and change into their skimpy wrap-arounds, sexy teddies or other type of party clothes, and the two of you should be the first to change and return to the living room. Now is the time to start turning down the lights, light the candles for a seductive mood and greet everyone formally in the living room. It will be 9 o’clock by the time you are finished and you can announce. “Everyone is here who is going to be here, the door is going to be locked and the party can begin.”
Some party hosts don’t bother with meeting in the living room for announcements or introductions, but we think it is a nice touch to bring everyone together so they can see who else is at the party all at one time, and to assert your presence as the authorities at the party. And some party hosts don’t require guests to get out of their street clothes. But if no one starts the dress-down process, your guests could end up sitting in the living room all night. Some disappointing parties have resulted from not dressing down. They need your guidance and direction and will look to you to provide it. You will be surprised at how easily this one act changes the atmosphere from social to sensual as they remove, layer by layer, the facade of their street persona and reminders of the outside world. If you as the hosts change into your lingerie or sexy stuff, everyone else will follow suit. If you do not, no one will change. The party will turn out to be an ordinary “straight” party, not a swingers party. After the introduction in the living room, you should then try to pair up with someone go into a bedroom with that person. Once your guests see you do that, others will follow and your role is finished as host and hostess and you become a guest at your own party, ready to have some fun. A good party goes the best for the guests when the hosts are having a good time. If you do not participate in the swinging or spend your time fretting over the food and the guests, they will not be nearly as free and as loose as you would like them to be. So this is the time for you lighten up and let go.
From that point on, the party should pretty well take care of itself. You will notice that, after the first session of partying, like magic around 10:15 or so, the social areas are full of people again, milling around the kitchen table. The buffet which looked at the beginning of the evening as though it had too much food is suddenly a third empty as twenty people replenish their energy. A pleasant laid-back social time occurs for about an hour, and then you look up and see there is no one around as people have made new contacts for bedroom activity. By 12:30 a.m. the group reassembles socially to consume another third of your buffet.
Around 1 or 1:30 am., two or three of the couples have left, and the remaining couples have paired off again with other partners. The rest of the night to 3 or 4 a.m. is spent in happy, laid-back talk and munching up the rest of the buffet. And much to everyone's surprise there are those couples who sneak off for one final session of sexual joy. Seldom does anyone go home from this type of house party without being totally happy, satisfied and fulfilled. You will feel immensely proud of yourselves. As party hosts you will find that it adds an entirely new dimension to your swinging experience.
Fear, Jealousy and Morality - The Killers of Swinging
There are few normal, red-blooded, sexually liberated males or females who have not engaged in absolutely wonderful personal fantasies about multiple sex partners and shared sexual adventures. In comparison, there are a vast number of couples who have used group sex fantasies simply as fantasies, at home between themselves, never getting so far as putting them into actual experience with other people. Since we are dealing with an almost universal urge here, why aren’t more couples doing it in real life?
The three key words are Fear, Jealousy and Morality, and these are killers. That is why we are devoting one whole section to just these three issues. We have close to 100 calls per month from men and women (80% men) who would like entry into our swinging lifestyle. In virtually every case, the caller has been discussing it with his or her partner to one degree or another, but in more than one-half of the cases, the partner is reluctant. They can play the pretend fantasy game between themselves at home, but the thought of real life encounters evokes fear, jealousy and/or morality stumbling blocks. Then we have couples who decide to enter the lifestyle who never conceived that they would have problems beyond nervousness, only to find that after one or two experiences they are in deep trouble. Why? Because one or the other finds he or she is dealing with fear, jealousy and/or morality to an unexpected level.
While this chapter will hopefully give you suggestions as to how to deal realistically with these problems, we cannot give you solutions. You have to work on those yourself. Fear, jealousy and morality are highly personal emotions based on mental tapes implanted from infancy. We cannot erase them for you. We can give you some new ideas for creating new tapes. But you have to slip them into the recorder of your body all by yourself. So, now, let’s look at the first of these three killer words: fear. We will deal with jealousy and morality in the next two chapters.
Probably the first element of fear is the fear of the unknown. You have established a relationship, a security blanket and a sex life that, if not wonderful, at least exists as a stable, ongoing lifestyle. It is safe and consistent. A fear crops up when you weigh future unknowns. What happens if you enjoy other men more than you do him? Or what if he enjoys other women more than he does you? And in his mind, what happens if he can’t perform with a woman he takes to bed? Or what, as a woman, do you do if you find yourself in bed with a man who turns you off? How can you be comfortable that you are not exposing yourself to venereal disease? What would you do if your mother, son, boss, or neighbor showed up at a swing party at which you were present? What if they were to find out you were a swinger? On and on the fears go, all fears of the unknown.
As human beings we all fall into one of two basic categories: those who like to explore and those who don’t. While some of us crisscross the line, we are either people who go through life doing the same thing day after day, going to the same restaurants, bars, and places of entertainment week after week and year after year, or we are people who enjoy exploring new restaurants, new neighbors and new stores as we jaunt through our daily lives. I am one of the middle-grounders who crisscross. There are certain restaurants that have a hold on me and I return time and again. My breakfast is the same every morning, and the route that I travel through the day is the same. But some of my effort is expended in discovering new eating adventures and new sexual adventures, learning from new people. So, while I am rooted in day-to-day habits, I retain an openness for the unknown. The one adds the necessary spice to the other.
A couple who is locked into a life of sameness, going to the same stores, restaurants and places of business, feeding off of the same minds, the same problems, the same people, will suffer from fear of the unknown when faced with the idea of swinging. The fear is very real. It threatens to break the sameness. What will happen? Sexual openness is a lifestyle that brings change, growth and liberation from old ideas. Each new encounter is a new adventure that must be entered into eagerly if it is to be successful. Each new sexual encounter is an adventure in exploration, and the couple who does not want to explore will not make it in swinging.
The second element of fear, different than jealousy, is the fear that your partner, male or female, may find a sex partner he or she prefers over you. This is a real and inherent danger for new swingers who are looking for that “one special couple” with whom to establish a personal relationship. If this is what you are looking for, forget it. Your odds of divorce are over 60%. The successful swinging couple does not look to expand its marriage. The partners in a successful swinging couple retain their two-fold status and hold onto it even more tightly than before swinging. They learn through the enhancement of swinging encounters that the solid, stable and consistent aspects of their own relationship are paramount to having a good time. Their relationship grows because of it. So they end up having both sides of the fence, stepping out into the unknown to explore only once a week, or once a month or once every six months -- a small percentage of time out of the whole, but just enough to add spice.
By going into swinging as a multiple-partner, recreational sex activity, it becomes almost non-risk. You don’t swing alone, you don’t sleep with someone else alone, and you don’t spend time alone with any of your swing partners without your mate present, because your swing partner has a mate to consider too. The major difference between singles in swinging and couples in swinging is that the single will always tempt you to spend time “alone” with him or her, which turns it into an affair-type game. Swinging has developed as a fine, recreational, sexual art in order to avoid affairs and cheating, which are real dangers to marriages. There are rules of behavior that are respected by all true swingers. There is no opportunity under the swingers code of ethics for that “closeness which makes the heart grow fonder” problem that you find in the straight world.
Since you arrive together, leave together and sleep together, and you only do it on an occasional basis, a swinging encounter, whether it is with one other couple or ten other couples, becomes a light, fun game where each occasion is a social, sexual adventure rather than a potentially emotional adventure. You create a high for yourself that you bring back home with you when you leave, to talk about for days and weeks to come. It is a momentary encounter only, that you leave behind and exhume totally by discussing it afterwards with your mate.
A third area of fear is the fear of performance failure. While it is a very real fear to most men, and there are few who do not experience failure once in a while, it is not a real problem. Male swingers find out soon enough that there are many other ways to please women and that penile performance is not really that necessary. In fact, many women in swinging enjoy the attentions of men who can’t get an instant erection because that requires the next best thing: exploratory play, oral sex, caressing, fondling and fingering, which women take great delight in, more than men realize. A man goes into encounters worried about erection performance when she is more interested in his abilities to arouse her in whatever way possible. Worry is the real culprit, not performance, in the inability of a man to obtain an erection and worry should be let go of as soon as possible. Worry affects the nervous system by restricting blood flow to the groin which only makes the problem worse. As the new male swinger lightens up, he finds he has fewer performance failures.
The fourth area of fear has to do with the woman who is afraid of being placed into a position of having to go to bed with someone she doesn’t want to be with. Among the swingers code of ethics is one called “The Rule of No”. That’s all it takes. A “No, thank you,” and no explanation. If you are a woman who has never been in a sexual group before, you probably do not know this. This is a whole new game from the one where you had to fight off a man in the back seat of a car. In swinging, women must take responsibility for their actions and verbalize clearly what they want or don’t want. Men are known to misinterpret signals but will respect your words if they are told. Just don’t expect them to read your mind. As a woman, you are not a submissive in swinging, but an equal. Some say that women are the real dominant force in swinging because what they say goes, meaning what they say out loud. If it were not for the wives and girlfriends in swinging, there would be no swinging, and so the men do everything in their power not to offend. We are speaking now of a code of behavior used by the more select swing groups, for there are swingers who do not follow any ethics at all, other than their sexual impulses. Men experienced in the swinging lifestyle know that when a woman says, “No, thank you,” she is to be respected and not coerced. After all, they want their wives to have the same right, and you will find most men in a couples swing group are honorable.
The fifth area of fear is that of sexually transmitted disease, and it is a proper fear. However, in couples swinging, with proper screening methods in place, that risk can be virtually eliminated. A couple who only has sex with each other and other couples who only have sex with each other, ad infinitum, are dealing in a practically zero-risk environment. People who use drugs are a higher risk. Male bisexuals are a higher risk, and singles are a higher risk. Even if you have no fear yourself, you owe it to yourself and to your swinging friends to totally screen each new couple you meet as to their sexual habits before risking sex with them. Maintain strict cleanliness habits including showering and urinating after an encounter, and for women, douching with just plain water within two or three hours after to wash away any misplaced bacteria.
The sixth area of fear relates to the fear of running into someone you know, or having someone find out about your swinging activities. In couple’s swinging, neither should be feared. If your sister, mother, fellow employee or minister should see you at a swing party, they are there for the same reason you are. So you are starting dead even. On the negative side, you each have the same information on the other. On the positive side, you both know you share the same interests, and having a common bond can enhance the relationship. Under those conditions, they know you are not going to talk about them any more than they would talk about you. As to swingers talking, couples are far more stable than singles. They have their own privacy to protect. They will expect you not to reveal anything about them to others and, therefore, they are not going to talk about you. It is the honorable thing to do. Discretion has always been a major plus in swinging. This, unfortunately does not always extend to singles. Singles do like to talk about their conquests.
The bottom line is that most fears about swinging are groundless if you understand the realities of the lifestyle and play by the rules. Swinging would not be as popular as it is if this were not the case. There are many very important people in swinging who would not want their actions to be known, and yet they trust. We are impressed with the level of decency inherent in the lifestyle.
While fear has to do with “things” and is essentially intellectual, i.e., when the facts are known they can be dealt with, when we start talking about jealousy we are dealing with an emotional problem. Mental problems can be dealt with mentally, but emotional problems must be dealt with emotionally, and this is a much tougher ball game. While some people are able to work through emotional problems, the fact that these emotions are not based on logic or intellect makes them almost irrational, and therefore beyond rational solution.
When someone says to you, “Why are you jealous?”, your reality answer is, “I don’t know, I just am!” That’s emotion, and emotion is irrational. Back in my dating days, when some girl would have me turned on after a few dates, I felt all sorts of things but they were feelings and I would say, “I love you”. If she would ask me “Why?”, as many did, I couldn’t answer except with some lame gobble-de-gook that had nothing to do with my emotions. The simplistic reality is that you cannot explain emotions in any rational sense. And jealousy is an emotion. Let’s now look at jealousy in the framework of the swinging lifestyle.
Few if any of us in couples swinging, are totally immune from occasional twinges of jealousy. Relationships are built on caring, and ability to participate in swinging as a couple is built upon caring plus trust. After eleven years as active swingers, Nancy and I truly let each other go at a party. Yet, if Nancy spends two hours in a bedroom with another man, which she never does with me in lovemaking, I find myself pacing and having those twinges. Don’t ask me why because I couldn’t answer. Fortunately, the twinges only last until she shows up again, and then I am OK.
One of the primary reasons that threesomes continue to happen is built around jealousy. Many couples who would like to expand their sexual/sensual experiences start with threesomes and find that, for one or the other, it is not totally fulfilling. However, when the husband or wife is driven crazy with jealousy upon seeing the other going to bed with a person of the opposite sex, it becomes not a choice, but the only alternative.
For most adjusted couples, threesomes are only a beginning mode. A man finds that seeing his wife with another man is fulfilling up to a point. Then he wants the adventure of another woman, too. Or vice versa. That’s why couples who start out with threesomes will generally move to couples swinging after a moderate amount of time. But if there is a jealousy problem on one side, if she can’t stand to have him go with another woman or if he can’t accept her going with another man, then they have to stay with threesomes or drop out.
Interestingly enough, we have seen about fifty couples over the years who have adapted to the lifestyle differently. What they see drives them crazy with jealousy, but what they don’t see, if it bothers them at all, is all right with them. These couples, whether at a party or on a date with another couple, will insist on swinging one-on-one in different bedrooms. The sight of their mate or lover with another person triggers violent emotional responses, so they eliminate the problem by fully participating out of each other’s sight. Amazingly, for many couples, this does work well.
Then we see the reverse syndrome. There are many couples who, as long as they can see, hear and touch each other, have no jealousy symptoms at all. However, if one should go alone into a bedroom without the other, all hell breaks loose.
Then there are those couples where one or the other, or both, can totally handle a situation as long as their partner is engaged only in mutual masturbation, oral sex, or almost anything else except penetration. That is the boundary that, if broken, brings forth the outbreak of intense jealousy.
Sometimes, among even well-adjusted, normally non-jealous couples, there are special situations that create jealousy problems. I may not care if Nancy goes with a hundred different guys under swinging conditions in the course of a year. But there may be that one, or those two men who make my hackles rise every time she goes with them. I go nuts. I don’t like it. I don’t know why, but I don’t.
There are couples who feel very strongly that if the other wife “won’t go with me, you can’t go with him”, or vice versa. And if it does happen, watch the jealousy sparks fly. And, since the jealousy syndrome is a couples syndrome, this obviously does not apply to singles in the lifestyle. Quite the contrary, singles can be the cause of jealousy.
So how do we deal with the problem? First of all, the primary ingredient is communication. And in this instance, listening rather than talking. You will get nowhere by intellectualizing the subject if one of you really wants to get into the lifestyle and the other has perceived jealousy problems.
Jealousy is an emotion, as I stated earlier. To try and make your partner explain why, will get you nowhere. He or she only knows how they feel. They can’t explain why. Saying, “You will get over it”, is like saying, “You will get over terminal cancer.” You don’t intellectualize your way out of jealousy. What you can do is ask realistic questions like, “Could you handle a threesome with another man if I don’t go with another woman?” Or vice versa. Or, “Could you handle me with another woman if you didn’t see me, as long as we were in a safe environment?” Or, “Could you handle us together with another couple so long as you could see, hear and touch me? Could you be happy so long as you had veto power over who I went with?” Or, “If I only stayed with her for a half hour?”
Maybe you can find a middle ground. But first, you must accept the emotion of jealousy as a real, no-cure disease. Our reality over the years has been that if your partner finds no acceptable way in which you can swing, and he or she will not still be jealous, forget it. Your foray into the lifestyle will be both brief and disastrous. Jealousy is an emotion as strong as love and hate. You can’t fight it but maybe you can find terms under which it can be dulled.
Swinging works as part of a successful, trusting relationship. It is a fun, enhancing lifestyle. But if your relationship is the most important thing, as it is to most swingers, to try to force your mate into the lifestyle, knowing that he or she has the emotional problem of jealousy, could end your relationship.
So now we come to the third of the killers for those who, for proper reasons, would really like to explore and participate in the swinging lifestyle: Morality. Where jealousy is an irrational emotion that borders on fear, morality is a function of carefully developed responses that lead to an emotion called “guilt”.
These guilt feelings are the results of tapes that have been deliberately implanted into our brains by other people. The reality is, there is no right or wrong. Right and wrong, good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable behavior are not knowledges that we are born with. There is no such thing as an instinct for these things. We only have to examine other cultures to realize that. The very things that we are taught are wrong, in other cultures are right and good. Many things that we believe are right, in other cultures are wrong. Other cultures contain people just like us. They are only different from us in that they have been given a different set of rules to live by. And, because of those rules, many of the things that we have been taught are OK to do, they would feel guilty for doing them.
The rules of society that are imposed on a human being from infancy become so deeply impressed on the brain cells that they become like the cassette tape that plays the same song over and over again. So deeply are they impressed that eventually they trigger automatic responses so that we need not question why. It becomes habitual and accepted without question. Even when we grow older and wiser and circumstances change, some tapes never die until they are questioned. These tapes will continue to play the same old song forever, or until the owner decides he is tired of hearing it and makes an effort to change the tape.
So, let’s examine some of the more common tapes to be found and, as we do, recognize that most of us have been deliberately conditioned to deny our God-given urges and capacities and to sublimate them to someone else’s rules. Let us also recognize that this was done with a good intention but that such thinking was erroneous, resulting in much harm done to individuals.
The primary victims of well-meaning parents are the girls. Some boys have been equally restrained, but girls are the primary targets when it comes to sex. Most boys are told by their fathers, with a smirk and a wink, that “boys will be boys”. But from the beginning of their awareness years, most girls are told by their parents, “only bad girls do those things”. In our culture, sex has always been labeled “bad”. Girls are told that sex with anyone but a husband is wrong, that if there is no love involved it is wrong. Many women relate how they hated coming home from a date because of the level of interrogation they had to go through with a parent. And, in the churches, when the Sunday School teachers and ministers talked about sin, they had little concern about robbery or murder. Sin seemed to be defined as having sex. The only thing that was possibly worse, was the enjoyment of it.
Nowhere in the animal kingdom does nature require love prior to stirring the sexual urge, nor does it limit the species to having one mate, so far as we know. And while we would like to deny it, the physical human body is no less a member of the animal kingdom and subject no less to nature’s cycles. Even though we are destined to realize a higher consciousness, and there is much to say about this, though not here, we still inhabit an animal body with urges built in. So the first step is to accept that the sexual urge is going to be there whether we like it or not, that it is natural, and far healthier to accept it than to fight it. If we deny it and repress it, the sexual urge will show itself in one or another of the many unpleasant forms that we are accustomed to seeing in our society. Once the sexual appetite is accepted as a natural function of the body and used as such, the higher elements of understanding can come into play as they are released.
Thus far for many women, and some men, the wrestling match in their minds between wanting to experience the fun of variety in the safety of the swinging community, which is far more honorable than cheating, versus the guilt generated by those childhood tapes that say, “If you do, you’re bad, bad, bad!”, begins with the first encounter. In fact, for many, it begins just at the stage of contemplating an encounter.
Parents and religious teachers have done an effective job of indoctrination on most of us when we were growing up and impressionable. We were literally trained to feel guilt over any sexual activity outside of marriage, even though that is not a natural part of our humanity. And some are even conditioned to feel guilt if they actually enjoy the marital bed. We have watched over the years many, many cases of guilt reaction, and it comes in different ways. For some people it is triggered on the way to the bedroom: “I just can’t go through with this.” In others, the tears begin after a wonderful, enjoyable experience. Not tears of joy, but rather from the “What have I done?” syndrome. And yet others will go all the way through a multi-orgasmic, multi-partner evening and then have the tapes start the next morning as they wake up hating themselves and ridden with guilt.
There is no question that if it were not for those brainwashing morality tapes implanted into the majority of the minds in the United States, there would be ten times the number of active swingers as there are today. Fortunately, there are many people who refuse to accept guilt based on brainwashing. They are able to reprogram the tapes in their minds to accept their own feelings of self worth as being stronger than the stored admonishments of mother or teacher. That is what every person has done who has freed himself or herself from the psychological bondage of other people’s conditioning. All it takes is persistence, insistence, to change old habits. But there are also many others who, try as they may, find themselves miserable day after day following a sexual encounter, eaten up by those carefully imposed morality controls that were put there for the very purpose of creating guilt feelings.
We wish we had easy answers on how to remove fear, guilt and morality, but we don’t. Perhaps if people would be able to recognize the symptoms in themselves, as aware adults they could make peace with themselves and enjoy that which they really want to do. Maybe just knowing that others have battled the same issues and won, they too will be able to emerge victorious and be able to enjoy their own bodies. Until that happens, sadly enough, fear, jealousy and morality will continue to be the swinging killers for far too many people.
Attitudes That Enable Swinging To Work
Attitude: The Key To Swinging Success
In our ten years of lifestyles involvement, both running our seminars for new and hesitant couples and holding our club parties, we have welcomed close to 2,000 different couples to our home. By the first, second or third visit, we can virtually tell you which couples will still be swinging in five years, and which couples are going to fall by the wayside in a relatively short time.
One of the areas in which we see errors repeated, unfortunately, far too often is attitude. Those who are successful in a sexual-sharing lifestyle, approach it as a light, recreational activity. In other words, they treat it as a sport. On the other hand, those who take these encounters seriously make any of a number of mistakes and, in the end, can’t cope with what they do to themselves. Sadly, since they don’t understand what they are doing wrong, they can’t change it. One truism you must understand: Virtually all bad experiences in this lifestyle are self-generated. Your expectations and intense desire to succeed or compete can turn a humorous situation into a personal disaster. Sex is not a serious thing. Sex is for fun. Lighten up!
Let’s imagine some scenarios of the kinds of things people do to themselves because they take swinging too seriously. Scenario number one. You have been answering ads and finally you find a couple who wants to get together with you. You are so hell-bent to get on with the experience that you don’t really ask the other couple any questions, except to make sure that they are equally as hot as you are. Since they can entertain and you cannot, you confirm the date and start out on the 90-mile trip to this couple’s home, full of anticipation and very nervous.
When you arrive, the wife is so warm and inviting that you want to take the lady to the bedroom right away. But her husband is drunk, pushy and grabby, and your wife wants to leave for home immediately. Since she knows that this encounter is so seriously important to you, rather than have a fight your wife goes along with your desires. End result: She submits to this drunk, is subjected to rough and demeaning treatment in bed and there is hell to pay all the way home. Not surprisingly, it dawns on you that this may be the last swinging experience you will ever have.
What could you have done differently? Several things. Had you agreed to meet at a neutral bar or coffee shop with the understanding there would be no commitment, you could have made that 90-minute drive with less serious intent, making the whole thing fun and exciting. You would have said to each other, “Tonight we will meet some people who may or may not attract us. But it will be fun either way.” It would have been a social occasion with no expectations or hopes. Then you would have been able to size up the other couple, learn how they swing, and find out what they like. Also, you should have had a prearranged agreement that if either of you didn’t want to party with those folks, you would gracefully bow out and leave. That way there would have been no relationship-threatening recriminations. Your attitude would have been, “It is just a lark. If we don’t do anything else this evening, just socializing with these people will be fun.”
Scenario number two. Another situation in which attitude can destroy a whole evening for you is at a group party scene. It may be a small private house party of several couples or a large, commercial club with many couples, but at this party there is only one person or one couple who attract you. That is who you want, and you go for it. In essence, you put blinders on to the rest of the people, and you do not see anybody else at the party. No matter how dynamic or attractive the other people are, your tunnel vision has obliterated them. You’ve turned that party into a deadly serious chase and competition with a single target in mind. What you have done is reduced the party to a win-or-lose situation, and your odds of winning are ridiculously low. That person or couple you are chasing have their own agenda and standards of attraction, and the chances are you are not even on their list. And if the person or couple is particularly attractive, there will be others besides you strenuously competing for their attention. Win or lose? If you lose, you have had a miserable party. And if you have a miserable party, your partner is going to have a miserable party. You will see to that. We can’t count the number of people we have seen at parties wallowing in their own sense of rejection when a perfectly great party was happening all around them. And the reason is almost always the same. They took it all too seriously, setting themselves up for the to-be-expected rejection.
A swinging party is not serious. There are many people who are attractive, sensuous and exciting in their own special ways. Instead of targeting one of them, if you lightheartedly open yourself up to all of them, you will inevitably have exciting encounters every time. Swinging is not a competition, nor is it goal-oriented. It is fun-oriented. We deal with stress and competition in our day-to-day lives. When we go to a swinging party or event, it is to relax and have a good time, not to re-create stressful conditions. In summary, regardless of the circumstances, if you have a negative experience in swinging, you probably did it to yourself with your own attitude. If this has been the case, you really have to step back and evaluate what this lifestyle can realistically bring you. It can bring you expanded sexual experiences. It can create friendships that are more fun and more open than those you enjoyed before swinging. It can create lighthearted fun and tremendous sexual excitement for you and your partner. But for these things to happen, you have to make it a recreational activity, not a win-or-lose chase.
If it becomes a deadly serious game, you will pile up enough disastrous experiences to make you want to drop out, never knowing the fun you could have had. If you go with the flow of those around you, you will have a wonderful time; but if you try to control the flow to suit yourself, you will continue to find unhappy experiences. Others are not at fault. Your own attitude is to blame, You hold the key. Lighten up and enjoy the variety. That is what swinging is all about. What’s relevant is not what you are accustomed to, not what you want, not even what you are seeking but, rather, what is available. All of these people at the party are available. They are here for sexual excitement. Look at them with a new attitude, and enjoy the variety.
How many of you, as you were driving home from a party, found yourself complaining that "Everything went wrong tonight!" When I hear people complaining about having had a bad night at a party and wondering whether they should quit the lifestyle, or maybe try to find a better club somewhere else, I can only shake my head in amazement. How do they build such enormous expectations in this lifestyle? Do they have such expectations in other areas of their life? Do they expect perfection in their work? In their relationship? Where can you go and what can you do anywhere in life that will guarantee the same perfect results over and over again? Anyone who has bowled knows that you have good days and you have bad days, but you don't throw your bowling ball in the ocean when you have a down day. You know that, as your skill level and knowledge of the game improves, you are going to have more successful days. And, as your confidence grows, you're going to have far more good days at the bowling alley than bad days.
For goodness sakes, the greatest batters in baseball have days when they are blanked 0 for 4. And a golfer doesn't throw away his golf clubs and quit the course when he has a bad day. The reality is, it isn't the fault of the golf course or the bowling alley. There are just days that you are in sync, and days when you're not. Days when you have it and days when you don't. In your job, regardless of your position or profession, there are days when everything seems to go wrong, and you come home talking to yourself. And in your primary relationship, is every day a perfect day between you? Of course not! You don't quit your job or give up on your relationship just because you had a bad day. You keep on trying to figure out where you went wrong and try to make it better. Somehow in swinging we expect every party and every encounter to always be perfect. Perhaps it is because we come from a puritanical society and as much as we want to enjoy sexual variety, we carry some guilt over participating. If we feel guilty, then we feel we deserve to have these bad experiences, and they are the proof that we are wrong to be in swinging.
Obviously, things can go wrong at a party. But our experience after many years and some 1,000 plus couples who have been in our home, is that in an extremely high percentage of those cases there is a root cause. The words that describe that root cause are "anticipation" and "expectation". A lot of people spend days before a party pre-planning and working themselves up over what they anticipate is going to happen that night. By the time they arrive at the party they really expect it is going to happen exactly the way they have imagined it.
But it doesn’t happen that way at a party where there is such a mix of personalities and other agendas. And once you get to the party and those things don't happen the way you planned it, everything else becomes a disappointment. And all the wonderful things that could have happened for you, don't. The reality is that a party has a life and spirit of its own. One of the reasons that we are able to enjoy the parties in our home week after week after week, is that the dynamics change with each combination of people. Each party is an adventure and we go into it without expectation. But we have had to learn to do that. There have been nights when I anticipated all week a non-stop group scene and it simply didn't happen. There were other nights when I expected a long tender two-hour love-making session with some lady and the whole party took place in the group room.
If I go into the party thinking, "Tonight is my night to finally get together with Mary," I have forgotten that Mary has her own agenda. She may have one, two or three other guys she had planned to get together with, me not being one of them. So there I am sitting and pouting on the couch, forgetting that there are any number of other women I could have had a wonderful time with. In effect, I attempted to control the party to make it come out a specific way just for me. That is setting myself up for disappointment.
We bring a lot of what happens to us upon ourselves without even realizing what we are doing. Another imaginary example: at the last party I had a couple of great experiences with two different women. It was a great party for me. Now I am back and those same two women are present. I naturally assume they are eager to repeat the experience with me. Not true. The problem is I forgot they are here for variety and they have their own agenda that probably does not include me. And because my expectations are shattered, I feel rejected, angry and confused. To make matters worse, my partner is having a great time and not feeling sorry for me at all. And because it's all her fault, the next time she comes out of the bedroom I tell her to get her clothes on, we're going home. Which means now we're in the middle of a fight. I have succeeded in changing my expectations of a perfect evening into a perfectly ghastly night.
What could I have done to avoid it? First, it was perfectly okay for me to want to get back together with one of those two girls with whom I had a good time before. But the disaster happened when I expected it to happen. Because if you expect something to happen and it doesn’t, something inside of you breaks. Second, I have to remember that I had an encounter with both of those girls because at a previous party I was looking for exciting new adventures and was lucky enough to have found then. My mistake was in cultivating a desire for those two girls, instead of letting them go and moving on to other new adventures, and letting them move on, too. So I have to stop making those expectations or desires important, but rather look around and recognize the half a dozen or more provocative new experiences in the room awaiting me. Perhaps some of them will be women I have been with before, who knows? But variety is the key to my good time.
It's amazing, always amazing, when I move around and talk to a lot of people, how everything falls into place, and there I am on the way to a bedroom and a stimulating event with someone I hadn't even planned to be with that night. Maybe to me it would have been more perfect if I had been able to connect with that person I specifically wanted, but the spontaneous encounter turns out to be surprisingly nice, and sometimes really good. Sometimes even fantastic. The bottom line is that no one else makes a second-rate night for us. We make it all by ourselves because of our attitudes. If you don't expect and don't assume, you won't be disappointed. Instead, find joy in the new and unknown. Make every party an unexplored frontier. Make each person you talk to a trail-blazing, unprecedented event. Don't reengage the bygones. Stay in the party and make the party materialize for you. Don't mope and feel sorry for yourself. As you move around, you make yourself available. You will find fun and adventure every time. If you sit still in one spot all night, you will probably have a terrible party. Every party can't be perfect but every party can be good by following this formula. No party has to be bad unless you yourself make it that way.
A gathering of other like-minded people is fun only because it does have its own Now Time, which translates into its own flow and dynamics. No one person controls the party, including you. It is therefore an open page yet to be written on. If it does not turn out that way for you, that only means you are anticipating, or expecting, or targeting. To make a party work for you, the only anticipation you should permit yourself is to promise yourself a good time. If you turn on to someone who wants to make love to you one-on-one, go ahead and enjoy. If you find yourself in the group room and you are invited to join in a wide scene, join in. Have fun. But for heaven's sake, don't plan it. One of the great truisms that fourteen years in this lifestyle has taught me, is that every swing party or social is not going to be perfect. Even if you should hit a party where nothing seems to go right and you are feeling really bad, the question is, can it be rescued? It is never too late to toss out your expectations and anticipations, which are forms of mind control (your own), and open your mind to the flow going on around you. Watch the opportunities that suddenly make themselves available to you.
We can bash ourselves all we want to, or switch the blame onto our club or partner or other people as much as we want to, but we won't improve our lot in swinging until we face reality. The reality is that swinging is no different from any other activity, endeavor or sport. In whatever we do, we are going to live with the emotional roller coaster of good experience/bad experience, good day/bad day until we learn to accept ourselves. If you enjoy the sport, be it golf, bowling, or swinging, and you stick with it, you will eventually develop friends and the social skills that will make more and more of your occasions wonderful. Accept the roller coaster as a part of the game, and you will find your enjoyment growing to the same degree as your experience. You are on a course of learning.
An Active Party is a Good Party
We are all part of a lifestyle. That lifestyle is swinging. Our club, Club Sensitivity, is one of the unique ones in the country insofar as membership is only extended to those couples who have not only completed the seminar, but also demonstrated that they can party, handle it and enjoy it. Some outsiders would say that that makes us a hard-core club. Perhaps. We think just the opposite. We believe that people are far more sensitive at our club, and more comfortable and laid back when they know that every other person present is specifically there for exactly the same reasons and desires. It is far more stressful to have to work your way through a group of people and spend time trying to find those who really are there to swing. So, really, the only question that exists at one of our parties is not, "Do you swing?" but rather, "Do you want to swing with me?" "Or us?" In addition, the partying here begins between 9 PM or at the latest 10 p.m. There is no excessive sitting around that creates the problem of people being too drunk, which happens too often at clubs where dancing, drinking and socializing is the main theme of the evening and sexual activities do not begin until midnight or so. So, essentially, the ingredients are all in place for a couple to be able to have an easy and comfortable encounter with someone you like, and an active party.
The question is, what is the definition of an active party? One of the fallacies we keep seeing is, there are those who have different definitions of what “active” means. For example, if you visited a town a thousand miles from home, and met a couple with whom you got together and had a fun sexual encounter, you would be raving for months about how great it was. But at the club where you go every few weeks, if the same thing happens where you meet a nice couple and have a fun sexual encounter, you go home depressed because you didn't get the three or four encounters that you expected. The realities seem to get warped the more people there are at a party. One of the negatives that sets in is the green-eyed monster of comparatives. "I had this one wonderful encounter, but Joe had five women. So obviously Joe had a better time than I did ." The train of thought would then conclude that "If I came to a party and have less than five encounters, I have had a lousy party." Isn't that a dumb train of thought? Here you are depressing yourself for not achieving goals, when goals have nothing to do with parties. Goals are what you have at work. FUN is what you have at parties.
An active party is a good party, but it is the definition of "active" that is important. If you want to always feel good with yourself and pleased with what happened at a party, think of a party as a place to have a wonderful, fulfilling encounter. The difference is that at a party you have many more choices as to Who. When you and your chosen partner go off, whether as a twosome or foursome, with the idea that "This is my encounter for the night, and I am going to make it great!" When you come out of that bedroom feeling good and happy and fulfilled, you have already had an active party, therefore a good party. If you are relaxed and not under self-induced pressure to see how many people you can go to bed with, on many nights other opportunities will come your way, and you well might have several encounters. But if a good encounter is the goal, and any extras are merely a bonus, every party for you will be an active party - and a good party. If many encounters is your goal and definition of an active-therefore-good party, you will have a lot of disappointing parties. But your own attitude will have created that disappointment. Try changing your attitude towards thinking one great encounter can make an active and great party for you. Your only competition is yourself and your attitude. I promise you, do this and every party will be an active and great party for you.
Lighten Up, It’s Fun!
Maybe it is conditioning, I really don't know. But all too often I see our club members and guests acting out what the philosophers of the religious right preach. How is that? If it is fun it must be bad! I watch members of a couple time and time again beating each other up because one was having more fun than the other. I watch them put rules on each other that in many cases are absolute guarantees that the partner can only do what is expected, not what he or she would want to do. That is no way to have fun! I see men totally destroyed by one rejection, failing to look around to discover how many other opportunities might exist at a party. I see both men and women running a competition, and feeling somehow cheated and distraught if someone else has had more experiences than they have had, rather than savoring the wonderful experiences they did have. I can go on and on talking about what so many, maybe most, people in our swinging lifestyle do to themselves and each other to turn their swinging evenings and their aftermaths into something heavy and deadly serious. Let me point out here that this seems to be a trait that is not exclusively limited to swinging. It is true in almost any activity. I used to play golf. Golf is supposed to be fun. Virtually all of the friends I had in my golfing days came off of the course miserable and frustrated. I quit playing golf because I almost killed a caddy one day when I threw a club in my anger at myself over a bad shot. How could I have been so stupid as to take what was designed to be a fun recreational sport, and make it so serious that it was no longer fun? And that is what an awfully lot of people are doing with their swinging activities. And that is why an awful lot of the couples who have dropped out are no longer swinging.
Sex is supposed to be fun. It is supposed to feel good. If it didn't, people wouldn't do it. If you have sex and it feels good and is fun, why try to make it bad in your mind? If your partner has sex and it feels good and it is fun for her or him, why should you feel bad? Why should you feel angry and make them feel guilty? Making a living is serious. Raising a family is serious. Maybe even making election year choices is serious. But you did not choose swinging as a serious business. You chose it as a recreational activity because you thought it could be fun. And then so many people turn right around and make it serious and frustrating. Believe me, it can only exist if you keep it a fun, light recreational activity. If you have fights because of your rules, maybe you should blame the rules instead of each other or swinging. If you don't get a "yes" from every person you ask, the world has not came to an end. Just be happy with the wonderful times you can have with the ones who do say "yes". The bottom line is, you can have, and probably will have, a wonderful time tonight, no matter what it is that you are planning to do, if you don't take it seriously. The same goes for this lifestyle. Lighten up. Relax. Have fun. This is a recreation. Let it remain a recreation.
Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
One of the hardest adjustment areas we all have to deal with in the swinging lifestyle is that it is not a level playing field. There are ups and downs in our moods. This is one of the reasons why couples who have rules have such a hard time. Our capacities are not only different in general, they are different on any given night according to our individual moods. Yet we tend to judge ourselves by what we see going on around us.
We simply can't compare ourselves to those other people. Each of us has to be “me”. And understand, ME is what makes any evening a success or failure. There are both men and women in every group whose capacities far exceed their partners, but even they are not immune to having an “off” night. And if they compare themselves to others, they are miserable. If they can accept themselves and focus on their own feelings, they have a good time. There are women who can go non-stop with unlimited orgasms, whose husbands or partners are really done after one to three encounters. There are men who can go four to six times a night, whose partners are totally satiated after a couple of encounters. And there are bisexual women who can continue on after all of the men are out of business.
What we all have to understand is, that's OK. You are okay just the way you are. You don't have to change yourself to meet the standards of others. Swinging was never intended to be a competition between partners, between men or between women. Its success is assured by the pleasure each person finds in the encounters they engage in. The number of encounters is far less important than the personal pleasure each encounter can give you.
Somehow, too many of us seem to feel we are being judged by our activity. The reality is that the judge is yourself. The need to prove something is only personal. Nobody else cares about your ego trip. A partner who goes to a bedroom with you has to assume that you are ready, that you want to go with him or her and that they are not just a number on an achievement chart. There really are, at any given party, five or six men who between all of them can satisfy thirty ladies. And there may be ten men who can satisfy two ladies each. And there may be fifteen men who can only satisfy one lady. That means in a thirty-couple party, every lady is going to have at least two, probably three, encounters on an even basis.
But we equally have the other side of the coin. There are ladies who only want one encounter. There are those who want a couple of encounters, and those who want all they can get. Amazingly, it all comes out even. But it has to do with more than physical capacity; it has to do with mood and how you feel today, tonight. There are headaches, PHS and other illnesses. There is job-related stress and personal stress that just can't be shaken at a given party, so someone who normally is tremendously active may do practically nothing on some nights. Thus, the reality is that in swinging we are not equal. On different nights we are even different people in who we desire. The only area where we are all equal, is in our opportunity to enter the flow of a party and play as much as our feelings will allow. We are equal in our ability to have a good time doing it. The person who has five or six encounters does not have any better time at a party than the person who has one great encounter and is satisfied. So, since we are not all equal, please don't drive yourself crazy comparing yourselves to others. You are okay the way you are. We wouldn't want you to be any other way.
It happens virtually to every couple sooner or later, if they have been swinging in a group or at a club. So, don’t take this personally. This applies to many. The scenario goes something like this: you have met this really nice other couple at a party and went on to have a sexual encounter with them, which turned out pretty good. The next time you returned, that couple was there again, and, remembering that it worked out pretty well the last time, you indulged in a repeat performance which was also enjoyable this time. The next time you planned to come to a party at the club, you received a phone call from that other couple checking on when you were going to be at the club so they could be there too. Their joy at seeing you again and being with you again was exciting and flattering, except for one problem: you really wanted to try someone else for a change that night. Now you found yourself trapped by their need to be with you.
By the next party you realized that you were no longer dealing with light recreational sex and social activity. You now had dependants on your hands. They sat around waiting all night to be with you to the point where you felt obligated, and you ended up going with them to assuage your conscience. Over a period of time the other couples started avoiding you. They have you pegged as being at the party only to spend time with that other couple. You may be a group within a group, but you no longer are part of the club as a whole.
This situation is another example of the type of thing that can evolve that makes the Rule of No so important in our lifestyle. This Rule of No is not just something to be invoked when someone you do not desire approaches you. It is also something that, even though painful to do sometimes, must be used to tell people whom you really like, that, as much as you like them, you do not want to be with them that night. The Rule of No is the only method by which you can take back control over what you do; it is about choice and refusing to be entrapped by the wants of other people. The failure to use the Rule of No will succeed in ruining the party for you. And, once parties cease to be fun, you will tend not to want to come back. What makes swinging work is having many friends and lots of variety. Having dependants who require your personal attention party after party can only create a very negative situation. The best thing you can do for them and yourself is to tell them like it is. You have enough dependants in the rest of your life, you really don’t need any in swinging.
We join this exciting lifestyle because it helps remove stress from our lives, not cause it. But unless and until we learn how to read body English and grow to understand the subtle behavior and etiquette of how the lifestyle works, stressful situations can develop and catch us off guard. I have to smile when I remember the incidents from the party the other night, none of which needed to have happened but nevertheless did happen and were extremely stressful to the parties involved. What we are going to try to do in this chapter is point out how to be prepared for stressful situations and to avoid those situations because you now know better. These are all true stories that just happened to take place at a single party.
Example one: a young lady whom we will call Karen was on our patio giving her husband a massage with another lady when Jack came up and started talking to her. Their conversation evolved to the point where Jack asked Karen if she would like to party with him. The incident that followed took place because Jack and Karen both forgot that one of the basic precepts that makes swinging work is the "Rule of No". Simply, this means that if an individual asks another to do something and that person does not choose to participate, a simple "No thank you" without further explanation is considered sufficient. The asking person should then withdraw. Generally speaking, this works. If the asking person hears the "No, thank you", no further explanations should be required. In fact, further explanations can, as occurred in this instance, complicate the situation instead of helping it.
Our club requires both members of a couple to participate equally, though not necessarily together, in sexual activities. Jack did not accept Karen's NO, and because Karen was new to the lifestyle, she decided she needed an excuse. She said to Jack, "I don't go with men:". Within minutes Jack came running to us to report that Karen did not participate sexually with men and should be removed from the premises. Although we knew differently we could not persuade Jack; he chose to believe Karen's lie rather than accept that he had been rejected. What is the moral of this story? Because she had tried to create a fictitious explanation for what should have been a simple "No, thank you", Karen created for herself (and Jack) a tremendous amount of stress. She knew that her words had been reported and she spent the rest of that night in fear that she was going to be asked to leave for having violated a club rule. Instead of removing stress by merely turning the man down, she created stress because she felt constrained to give an explanation.
Explanations are not only never required, they almost always create problems. A psychologist in the Tampa area once told us that if you tell people how you feel they can never argue with you. They are YOUR feelings, how can they argue with that? But if you try to give them a reason why you feel a certain way, they can find reasons of their own to argue with your reason, and instead of having stated a simple truth you now have an argument on your hands.
A little later that evening an angry husband reported to us that his wife, let's call her Susan, was in the hot tub and some guy angrily dunked her after she refused to go to the bedroom with him. This couple was new to swinging, this being their third party. When we talked to Susan, her hair was indeed wet and she looked traumatized. She did not know who the man was but once we located him (we'll call him Larry) we explained the situation to him. Larry's response to Susan's accusation was that it was all true except that he had not dunked her. Rather he had been sitting next to her in the hot tub holding her shoulders and she must have been resisting, pulling away from his hands because when he let go of her shoulders she slid off the seat and her head went under the water, and he reached over to grab her to help her. Knowing Larry, we realized that we were dealing with a matter of two different perspectives. Yes, he had been there, yes he had had his hands on her, yes he had asked her to go to the bedroom. Our conclusion was that he had not deliberately dunked her, rather she had slid in. He did not realize how upset she was, and for the next couple of hours the party turned from a joyful, fun event into an extremely stressful situation for both Susan and Larry.
What is the moral of THIS story? First of all, unlike at homes, condominiums, gymnasiums and nudist resorts, hot tubs during party hours are not places in which to relax alone, believing that you will be left alone. In a swinging club situation, by and large, the Jacuzzi or hot tub area is a foreplay area. Had Susan, who was an extremely inexperienced swinger, been aware how the Jacuzzi operates as a playground, that it is a lot of fun if you are there with a predetermined partner or if you’re prepared to have advances made on you, she could have remained in control and merely said, “I am not interested” when he first touched her.
What each person has to learn who is attending a swing club, a house party or any premises in which sexual activity takes place, is that there are areas where sexual advances and physical touching are expected and there are other areas where hands-off or neutral behavior is the rule of the game, and to find out where those areas are. Because Susan was not prepared, her experience in the Jacuzzi turned into a momentarily devastating event and for a couple of hours was extremely stressful for all concerned.
The third incident that occurred that evening involved two major awareness factors. It was approximately 1:30 in the morning and we had just finished dealing with the Susan incident, when we heard shouting in the kitchen. We came in to find a group of people milling around with several of the men restraining one man, whom we shall call Jerry, other people comforting a second man whom we will call Scott, and several women comforting Jerry’s wife, Donna. Jerry had, out of the blue, walked up to and delivered a right uppercut to Scott’s jaw. He was very fortunate that Scott showed great restraint and did not hit him back, for it could have turned into a much worse situation than it already was. There are two things that Scott did to irritate the situation, when he could have prevented it.
First and foremost was the excessive amount of time Scott spent with Donna, which was over two hours. Swingers must remember the philosophy that makes swinging work. It is a light, frivolous, fun activity that involves no emotional connection between the participating parties, except for the intensity of the sexual experience while it is occurring. Therefore the normal sexual encounter at a swing party will run thirty minutes to an hour including foreplay, exploration, and finally sexual culmination. We in the swinging lifestyle, at least 95% of us, are part of committed couples. When I take a lady to bed, I always have to be aware that she also has a partner who may be concerned about her. If I keep her too long, her partner begins to worry, and wonder if I am romancing his wife instead of just having play sex with her. In that case, I have violated the trust of that man who permitted me to spend time with his primary partner. The same is true in reverse. When Nancy is with a man, she must always be aware of the man’s wife who is concerned about her husband.
What led up to the blowup was the fact that Scott had been sexually involved with this woman at two previous party occasions and both times he had spent in excess of two hours in the bedroom romancing her. When this occurred for the third time, which was at our party last weekend, Jerry was fuming after the first hour had gone by. He was already thinking of vengeful things that he could do to Scott. So the first moral of the story is: keep swinging light, fun and recreational, not serious nor romantic. You will seldom have stressful encounters with angry husbands or wives if you remember this.
The second factor that could have prevented the blowup, was the failure to read body English. If Scott had remembered to read Jerry's body English, something we are constantly reminding individuals in the lifestyle to do, the ugly scene could have been prevented. The necessity to read body English is there at all times. Its function is to be aware of the state of mind and emotions of the people around you as the evening progresses. It is by reading body English that you find people who would like to swing with you, and those who are not interested in you without going through the embarrassment of being rejected. Many stressful situations can be avoided by reading body English. If you are talking to a lady, be aware of her husband and see if he is agitated, morose or acting angry. The same in reverse. If you are a woman talking to a man, see if smoke is coming out of his wife's ears as you are talking to him. In the Jerry/Scott/Donna case, at the previous encounter between the two couples, Jerry had given Scott every indication that he was immature, unstable and paranoid when it came to his wife's sexual activities. The moral of the story relative to THIS point is, had Scott not let his horniness and desire for Donna override his objectivity, he would have noted Jerry's agitated behavior and probably would not have gone with her that particular evening at all, let alone for over two hours.
We could go on for pages with story after story of incidents that turned what could have been pleasant evenings into highly stressful times only because the people involved did not know how to read signals. Or how to act or react in various circumstances. In short, they did not recognize that swinging has very clearly defined rules of behavior and action. We read articles on how wonderful swingers are and, underneath, most of them are pretty nice people. But somehow, we forget that they are just normal human beings who have fears and concerns, who misread what is happening around them and, in most instances, have expectations that exceed reality. And because people with expectations try to make their dreams become reality, somebody is usually set up, and whenever there is a "setup" there is a reaction to the setup. And it is then that you have a truly stressful situation.
Once you learn how the game really works, you can have an absolutely marvelous time in the swinging lifestyle. Those of us who are survivors really do. What we are trying to accomplish with this book is to help new swingers become more aware of the stress potential that exists, how to read a situation and how to defuse growing negatives they have a chance to explode. If the rules of behavior are followed, everyone can have a wonderful time.
Keep The Excitement Alive
Some people are bored with swinging, but they let it become boring. If you look at sex like Gertrude Stein looked at a rose (a rose is a rose is a rose) and you look at a party as a party is a party is a party, then swinging can become boring. If you look at your job as a "day is a day is a day", then your job can become boring. Your hobby can become boring. If you're a diver and you say, "a dive is a dive is a dive", then your diving can become boring. Golf can become boring. In almost everything that we do in life it is a constant struggle to keep what we are doing from becoming old and stale, dull and boring. The mystery of excitement, renewal and fulfillment, is one that we are trying to solve in every aspect of our lives. How many of you have embarked on a new job and found it exciting and challenging and somehow had it sink into a routine that had you looking in the want ads for something new again? How many of you, in your own relationships, have found the thrill and excitement of exploration, discovery, and learning the nuances of that other person, fading into some sort of an OK state and having that nagging feeling that maybe with somebody else the excitement would not only be recaptured, but maintained? For whatever reasons, for almost everybody, early euphoria seems to dissipate into feelings of dissatisfaction, complaint and, in many cases, depression.
But each of these facets of life can be perpetually exciting if you yourself make them that way. If you make each golf stroke a challenge, each dive an adventure, each day at your job a recognition of new challenge, each morning that you wake up beside your partner a day of gratitude, life cannot become boring. It is constantly new and exciting. The same holds true with sexual encounters and parties. The excitement lies in your attitude. If you are willing to accept that each encounter with a new partner is an adventure in exploration, discovery and sharing new vibrations rather than “just another sex partner”, swinging will be constantly new and exciting.
A party is an exciting occasion to experiment with new people or to see if you can renew the same feelings with someone you have known before. It is like reading. If you read the same book over and over, eventually you're going to be bored. But each new book is a new set of pages to be explored. That is why billions of dollars of books are sold each year. Boredom in swinging is only a result of the individual approach to it, not a result of the party itself. As individuals we can make every aspect of life either titillating or boring. If you are bored with swinging, you have to look at your own attitudes. You cannot blame swinging, for rich opportunities abound with each encounter.
Probably the underpinning of this lifestyle of ours is based on a recognition that it offers the opportunity for new and varied adventures unlike almost any other lifestyle in the world today. One of the most heart-warming and exciting things for us, who receive hundreds and hundreds of phone calls and letters every year from couples who recognize that they need something to spice up their lives, is to watch them make the crucial decision, as frightened and nervous as they might be, to go for it at the party after the seminar. And to watch them sparkle with the euphoria of recaptured excitement as they are about to go out the door to go home.
At that point in time, these couples are totally caught up in the adventure of what is happening to them and the adventure is almost fantasy land. What amazes us is that while there are many couples who retain the fantasy land attitude and find every swinging adventure new and exciting, there are, unfortunately, many other couples who miss the whole point of what swinging is all about and become as bored, discouraged and depressed with this lifestyle as they have become with all of the other things that they have done in their lives.
Swinging as a lifestyle is built around the excitement of variety. Thousands of attempts have been made over the years to form closed groupings of a few couples, and all have collapsed within a year or so, sometimes less. Because once encounters with the same people become regular, no matter how exciting they were in the beginning, the adventure ends and the activity becomes routine. Close to 90% of the couples that we have known who have attempted a closed grouping, such as whole weekends with another couple, have found that the initial excitement wears off after a short while. After rushing together at the beginning of the weekend, the very thought of having to have sex with the same person for the rest of the weekend, becomes at best uninteresting and at worst something to be avoided. The exciting flow of the beginning couples comes to an abrupt stop.
It would be a good exercise to remember the attitude of when you first began swinging. The beginning swinging couple expects nothing, because they don't know what to expect. They plan nothing, because they don't know what to plan. In short, what makes it such a fantasy is, they just can't believe all the wonderful adventures that are happening to them, over which they had no control. For those of you who are wondering why the fantasy and excitement in swinging has been replaced by a sense of routine and boredom, look again at your approach. If every time you go to a party you start to create expectations of what is going to happen, you will find your expectations shattered enough times that you will start to suffer depression.
If every time you go to a party there is only a small select group of other couples or individuals that you repetitively want to go to bed with, sooner or later you are going to find the parties routine. If you try to control what happens at a party, you are going to find that every other couple or individual there has their own agenda, and very few people are interested in your agenda. The net result is going to be frustration. If you come to a party and your only goal is how much sex you can have, you will find that you have missed the best part of the party, which is the people. Recognize that sex is merely a tool of interaction with people, and if you permit yourself the time, you will find that there is much, much more to them than just their bodies.
The bottom line reality that we are trying to express here is that everything about the way swinging and the party scene is structured, has been created to sustain an on-going excitement, adventure and sense of fantasy for those who understand it. If you can come to every party, to every gathering, to every encounter in this lifestyle the way you came to your first seminar or to your first swinging adventure, with a sense of "I wonder what's going to happen tonight?”, then those new adventures will be there waiting for you. If you try to make every party the same, by coming in with expectations and controlling the outcome, seeking out only those people with whom you feel the most secure, then you will leave fantasy land behind and swinging will indeed become routine. Allow yourself to approach every party the same way you did your first one, and swinging will be a never-ending excitement, fulfillment and joy in your life.
Regular Attendance at a club
We have observed in our club a few couples move from the position of shy, reserved and on the fringe of things to that of assured, comfortable and an active part of the party in a relatively brief period of time. When you belong to a social club of 200 couples, of whom 15 to 40 couples attend the club every weekend, if you attend only once every two to six months, the chance of your finding people you know and are comfortable with, is rather remote. This is true with any large social club, not just a swing club. For example, if you were going to be involved in a bowling group, your bowling scores would go up if you bowled regularly, and stay mediocre or worse if you bowled only once in awhile.
Like any other social activity that people engage in, the reality is that some people have more fun than others. It does not have anything to do with better sex or better personalities, it has to do with basic social planning. In our club we don't have one party a month to which almost everyone comes. The house is too small. So we have spread our functions out to include every weekend of the month. This means that our 200 couple family has eight selections to choose from every month, every Friday and Saturday, plus two more on the fifth weekend months.
A number of popular couples at our parties were once shy. They quickly reversed the trend of dealing with strangers to dealing with friends just by coming a few times more over a two or three month span. They will all tell you that the more often you attend parties, the easier it is to mix. One couple had been very active for many years, and then they dropped back to a couple of times a year and found those two parties difficult to mix. Then they attended two second Saturday parties back to back, and at the second party suddenly found themselves having a truly great time. They once more had a group they were comfortable with.
This is normal for any social or recreational group of people. Even where there is no sex involved, the events you most enjoy are the ones where you are among people you know. That does not happen by accident. It requires that you attend the function, whatever it is, regularly so you find the same core group present each time. It is no different at a swing party. Whether you choose the first, second, third or fourth Saturday at a club like ours, you should make that Saturday your regular monthly night to attend. It should become a part of your monthly activity calendar, no different than your bowling night, or your night out with the boys or the girls. Certainly you should plan to come every other month if you cannot make it every month. Within three months you will begin to recognize certain couples among the regulars with whom you can strike up a conversation even if you haven't partied with them. In return, they will get to know you and feel the same way. All at once, instead of being perpetual strangers because you are not regular at any one party, you become part of the core group of that one party.
As regulars, you will now feel more eager to come to a party with less palpitations of the heart from nervousness. You will be more comfortable because there are a certain number of couples who are also regulars with you. You may even start to talk with them on the telephone prior to the party. You can't help but get to know people when you are in close proximity to them. At a party, while you look forward to meeting new couples each week, you can retreat to these regulars for social conversation when you need them. You can use them as your base of operation as you venture out to meet the new people, who are now the strangers at your party. Soon you will gain the confidence to make the first gestures to the new couples, and as you extend yourself you will enjoy yourself all the more. Plus you will have more sexual encounters in an evening. When you are turned down by a new person, you will always have your friends to fall back on, people with whom you enjoy partying and who enjoy partying with you.
This lifestyle is built around a feeling of intimacy, friendship and a sense of belonging. This is not to deny that you could come here once a year, find a neat encounter and go away satisfied. That could happen. But the real fun in a group activity also has in it a sense of belonging, participation, and having a cadre of friends who are happy to see you and vice verse. New adventures are always there at the parties, even among strangers. But the joy of seeing people you already know when you come in the door, makes it so much more fulfilling.
A bad party is one in which you feel left out. A good party is one where you belong. You have friends around you, friends you are happy to see and who are happy to see you. They serve you as a family, a warm and safe cushion to surround you and make you feel wanted. You can have both sides of the fence, new friends and old friends, and it is fair that you should have it. The word we use is comfortability. You really will double your fun and halve your apprehensions if you make it a must to attend one Saturday every month at the club of your choice. You will find that every party is a joy if you schedule it into your life. If you participate only occasionally, swinging is still fun, but every time is a re-start with strangers. When you make a visit to the club a regular event, it becomes a truly rewarding lifestyle of friends. Not just for sexual encounters, but for the warmth of the camaraderie, acceptance and mental stimulation. We tend to schedule everything else in our lives because that is what makes most things work, but we often forget that fun and relaxation are equally important. Fun, too, needs to be scheduled into our lives.
We have observed that the more satisfied couples follow this pattern. Parties are tailored to provide an environment for fun. A club owner can provide the facilities, the amenities, and the people. But for you to make it a fun party with friends instead of a party with strangers, you have to own it by making it yours.
The Singles Attitude
The swinging lifestyle is not a homogeneous entity in which any of us can refer to a rule book on how it should or should not be done. The commercial swing clubs, while keeping some semblance of order about couples, do try to allow single men into their clubs. But the vast preponderance of clubs are non-commercial in the sense that they were not founded to be profit centers or to make a living for the directors. Each club represents the philosophy of the owners and that of the personal friends around whom the club was formed. These clubs were formed mostly because there was a need in the area and someone was dedicated enough to try to do something about it.
It happened that when we started in 1981, there was an off-premises club in our area that for four nights a week permitted entry to single males. That club was doing very well then. But there were also a number of couples in the area who were looking for something more than sex. They wanted an atmosphere that permitted them to socialize, meet other couples with whom to spend evenings, create friendly rapport and if the spark was there to enjoy sexual variety.
These couples believe that couples should stay together in the sense that they arrive together and leave together. They are in swinging because they choose to include swinging as a part of their relationship. Single men think we are missing the boat by sticking with the couples-only rule, but to our members their relationship is far more important than having an extra male organ to replace the husband who dropped out. That is why we don't want singles in our club, because they THINK like a single. Single men think sex is more important than the relationship. A committed couple, man and woman, believe in the relationship first.
Single men assume that once we are at a party we have to swing as a couple with another couple. I have been to a number of couples clubs around the country and I have never been to one where pairing up, couple to couple, was a requirement. I go with the ladies I choose and Nancy goes with the men she chooses. If they happen to be from the same couple, that is a coincidence, not on purpose. And threesomes are plentiful. Some men like to go to bed more times than others and so do some women. God did not make us all equal in our sex drives or capacities. This is accepted in the lifestyle.
No woman has ever told me that she couldn't go to bed with me unless Nancy went to bed with her husband. Because we care about our own personal relationship, we treat the others that we meet the same way, the way we would want our wives or companions to be treated. When the singles are around, women are many times made to feel like a piece of meat. The caring and sensitivity are not there. Pursuit becomes the game, just as it is in the singles dating scene, and the goal is sex.
Our Club Sensitivity is constantly growing because there are an awful lot of couples out there who want a relationship-protective environment and social contact with other open, sexually free couples who are looking for friendships with couples of like mind. The couples swinging lifestyle is growing, not diminishing. The only way singles are accepted into a couples-only group, and it does happen on occasion, is when a couple have developed a good rapport with someone and they get permission from the others to bring him along to a party. This is rare. Threesomes occur privately at home, but couples do not intrude their single friends onto their couples-only friends because they know themselves, that they would not be comfortable in reverse. That is the way for a single man to find his way into swinging. Some couples-only clubs have formed “bring a friend” night where a couple can bring along a single friend, male or female. These evenings work out well because it is understood by all the players that singles will be at the party. More important, each single there has been pre-screened as to attitude.
The subject of sex has been on a moral roller coaster from the beginnings of recorded history. Like political correctness, moral correctness has been a guiding influence on what people do in any period of history. The question that we face when we deal with the subject of morality is, whose morality do we let be the judge and jury in our lives?
One gentleman in our club has served as a Methodist minister in excess of fifty years. We had a discussion on the subject of morality one day, and he said to us, “The truth is the churches follow public opinion rather than the other way around. They do not create public opinion.” The example that he used was the example of the divorced person. Fifty years ago a divorced person would not have been permitted to attend most of the churches in the United States. Thirty years ago a divorced person could attend a church but could not be a member of the board of directors, deacons or serve in any leadership position. Today a divorced person not only can be in a leadership position and attend church, but there are a substantial number of churches that even have divorced persons as ministers. This happened because of a growing public acceptance of divorce that forced the churches to change their morality definitions to meet the definitions of the public at large.
The studies that were made by both Kinsey and Masters & Johnson showed that twenty and thirty years ago a preponderance of the married population, both male and female, had in fact admitted to having engaged in at least one extramarital sexual experience at the time of the surveys. What was the morality fact of life? Sociologists have declared that the sexual revolution was caused by the evolution of the birth control pill. It was not morality that kept women from having sexual variety, it was the fear of pregnancy. Once the fear of pregnancy and the stigmas that went with it were eliminated, people as individuals felt free to make choices relative to whether they wanted to share their bodies and enjoy them, or not. So we get to the bottom line question that many of the couples raise who attend our seminar on swinging. It is a dilemma which they want us to solve for them. Is swinging “right”? By that they mean, is it moral?
Since swinging is, by our definitions primarily a couples activity, we have to deal with the perceived sanctity of the marriage vows. If an individual can feel free to have an affair and not feel that they have created a great moral sin, why is it more of a moral sin to enjoy sexual variety as a shared activity with your spouse? Our basic moral position is that adultery implies a breach of trust with your marital companion by committing an act behind his or her back, and it is the breach of trust that is the immoral act and not the sex.
We feel that there is nothing immoral or strange about a couple being able to totally love and respect each other and have, as a shared recreational activity, sexual interchange with other couples of like mind. What goes around comes around. Up into the 19th century there were societies who believed that the marital relationship could only successfully exist if the parties were well trained in the sexual arts, and therefore family members or designated members of the tribe or society actually trained the children after they had reached puberty in the joys and techniques of sex. And, though rare today, there were indigenous societies who believed that to be a good host you shared your husband or wife sexually with your visitor.
Today in the United States and in a number of western countries there is a rebirth of polyfidelity, which is the community style of living where, regardless of legal husbands and wives, all members of the group share each other sexually, according to attraction. We have to recognize and always be alert to the fact that no matter what it is that we do, or what it is that we read, or what it is that we see on television or in the movies or on the stage, there will always be those who will see it as immoral. Our moral philosophy is to a great extent built on the certain historic knowledge that what is looked upon as immoral today will be treated as moral in some tomorrow. Perhaps we are simply ahead of our time.
In the lifestyle of sexual sharing you will seldom hear people discussing politics or religion. These are emotional areas that have nothing to do with our fun. However, we want to be sure that what we do here is still OK five or ten years from now. We believe freedom of choice has no political party. It is a universal issue.
We seem to be in a new wave era where politicians are grasping on issues that would close down all of our freedoms if carried to the extremes. We really do not like pornography at all, mostly because so much of it is tasteless. However, there is no virtue in politicians banning it and eliminating the free choice of adults to read it in their own homes. We do believe laws against child pornography are valid because children who are not mature enough to make free choice judgments are being exploited. But consenting adult entertainment is not the same thing. Sexually explicit music and movies are under attack. Frankly, again, our view is that most of it is tasteless and dull. But people still are entitled to choose what it is they want to listen to, or see, whether in a theater, night club or their own homes. Recent polls have shown that most people are terrified of losing their freedoms, even more than they are of acts they consider repugnant. The flag desecration issue is, of course, a case in point. When people burned the American flag in a show of protest and were subsequently arrested for desecrating the flag, the case went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that, on a first amendment basis, burning the American flag might be immoral, stupid or unjust, but it was not illegal and that in fact you have the right to express an opinion without hindrance.
But some politicians want to try to legislate every part of our lives. We have to even deal with those who want to dictate what you can wear at a beach. We certainly are not suggesting being political activists in defense of our rights to pursue our lifestyle. But we do think that we should all listen well to the published positions of candidates from city to county commissioners, to sheriffs, to legislators in the areas of first and fourth amendment rights. And, regardless of party, support those who are not trying to impose their moralities on us at the expense of our basic freedoms of choice in what we do or see or hear.
Negative Self Worth
One of the ongoing problems we are constantly made aware of in this lifestyle is that of the man or woman who perceives himself or herself as unattractive and unwanted. This problem is amplified when that person's partner is an outgoing and extremely active member of the group. This is the problem of negative self worth. "I'm too big." "I'm too old." "I have no hair." "I have no breasts." "Everyone else is so much more attractive than me, no one will want me." That type of thinking is inevitably a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think you are a nerd, you will act like a nerd, and you will be treated like a nerd.
Women act out negative self image differently than men but the result is the same. They will find other gals who suffer from the same negatives about themselves and hang out together laughing, talking and pretending to be having a good time. Thus the clique develops. No guy is going to break into a circle of women who seem to want to be with each other rather than be with a man. In essence, a wall is put up that men think they should not penetrate. These girls with negative self image will not risk sitting in the areas where they are exposed to being asked because they are afraid they will not be asked. Here they are at a party where every man has arrived because he wants intimate contact with a receptive woman, and these girls send out every possible signal they can to tell the guys they are not receptive.
Men who have the same problem of low self image, express themselves in a different manner. A man with no confidence in his acceptability will generally shrink away from any contact at all, neither men nor women, and hang onto his wife. This now takes two people out of the party. The logic is impeccable and beyond argument. If you sit in a corner with an unhappy look on your face and you never try to talk to a female, you will never have to face rejection. Stated simply, you make it clear to those around you that you have chosen to be a nerd, and the people around you will let you be exactly that.
The reality we have seen is that there are no real nerds in our club. Wonderful times are had by all because they choose not to be controlled by self doubts and negative self image. Engaging in playful sex with others is a great way of boosting self esteem. Only those who have chosen to remain out of the party tend to be unhappy and remain unfulfilled, which is not the case in our club. Each one of our members, because they proved themselves up front and passed the test for themselves, is a warm sensuous lovable human being, and because they project themselves that way they are received and accepted that way.
If you project yourself as a smiling happy person, you will get smiling happy responses. If you project yourself as warm, sensuous and sexy, you will get warm, sensuous, sexy responses. But be realistic. Even the so-called prettiest people don't get positive responses from everybody. All we can ask for in this lifestyle is that we consistently get positive responses from some people. That already is going to be more people than most of us can handle in a night of lovemaking activity. If you allow yourself to love yourself and project that love outward, instead of projecting a negative, withdrawn image which is not really you at all, you will project a positive desirable image. When people see your smile and happy demeanor, and when they feel your warm, sensuous and sexy vibes, they will sense a vital, alive, desirable person and be attracted to you. Love yourself and exude that feeling of well being, and at virtually every party you will taste the warm glow of success.
Create a Party Goal
Some people are goal-oriented, where others, like Nancy who goes with the flow, are not. I am a goal-oriented person and my goals have changed over the thirteen years we have been swinging. Looking back to the beginning of my experiences with the lifestyle, I guess my primary goal was to see that Nancy had a good time. Very early on it became clear to me that if she had negative times, my time in the lifestyle would be cut short rapidly. Later on, as Nancy became more comfortable and adjusted and I saw that she was creating her own good times, I realized that I did not have to worry about her and I could put my time to better use. The reality was she was a big girl and she knew exactly what she wanted and how to get it.
So, then I moved on to phase two in my swinging career. When I realized I no longer had to worry about Nancy having a good time I began to take care of me. I then created a new goal for myself, namely how many girls could I go to bed with in one evening? Quality encounters were happening for me here and there, but that was not the goal. My goal at that point was quantity. There was a time in 1985 or 1986 where I could look around the room at a party and smugly say to myself, "I've been to bed with every woman in this room." But, I soon realized that that was a stupid goal. Instead of truly enjoying the encounters I was having at a party, I was spending a lot of my time worrying about the ones I didn't have or couldn’t have.
So, finally around 1988 I moved into phase three, which is the phase I am still in and suspect will remain in for the rest of my swinging days. Now I think I am working with a set of goals that, for the first time are mature and fulfilling for this lifestyle, fulfilling to me, fulfilling to Nancy and fulfilling to my partners. These are my goals today:
1. I try at every party to spend quality social time with at least two couples I have known before, and two couples I have never had a chance to get to know. The goal is to really try to get to know and understand them. If it turns out that a sexual encounter happens, that is neat, but that is not the goal. The goal is getting to know them.
2. I try at every party to have a quality encounter with one lady with whom I have been to bed before and, from experience, know there is great excitement and chemistry between us.
3. I try at every party to have one new experience with a lady with whom I have never been before, and to enjoy the excitement of a quality, long-lasting exploration.
4. I try at every party to find the opportunity to spend some quality loving time with Nancy.
If those four goals can be accomplished, and they are accomplished today most of the time, I know that I can wake up the next morning saying to myself, "Boy, that was an absolutely wonderful night!" Many times the flow of the party will put unexpected opportunities in your path that create joys unrelated to your goals. And that is neat, too. I have learned to go with the flow in terms of who I end up talking to and having an encounter with. But I also have observed that people who do not know what they want at a party, can really end up confused and in the end find they have gotten very little out of the party.
It is not important that my goals be your goals, but know why you are coming to a party. Then when opportunity comes your way, you can seize upon it. If you don't have a set of goals for the three, four or five hours you are in attendance at the party, opportunity may come and go and you will miss all of the fun because you were not sure what you wanted. Don’t have expectations, fantasies or pre-plans. Just knowing your goals is sufficient. Then let the flow of the party place opportunities in front of you. If you have been confused or unfulfilled at swing parties, try creating goals for yourself. This approach could enhance your experiences.
Take Time to Know People
In our lifestyle, Nancy and I have found that swingers fall into two broad categories when it comes to approaching a party situation. There are, of course, gray areas in between, since obviously none of us can be totally stereotyped. There are those couples who come to a party to meet a couple and after ten minutes of vibing, find themselves in a bedroom. And, fortunately for them, there are many other couples who share that space. The other side of the coin is that there are just as many other couples who feel they need to get to know potential bed partners prior to intimacy.
It is important to understand that the reason each of these couples is at a party is that they do intend and want to swing. But, the differences of approach can create bad experiences on either side unless there is a level of understanding of these differences. Some people have a great need to feel that they are known and understood as individuals, as couples, as people, before they have sex. To do otherwise makes them feel like objects. They want to like that other person as a person, and want to be liked by them in return. That can take a half hour, an hour, two hours or it could take five to ten parties before they feel ready to have a sexual encounter with that person.
In a party that runs six to seven hours, that really is not an impediment to having multiple experiences. But it does require awareness. And for those who do not want to be coerced into an encounter, it does require exercising some control. If you are approached by a person or couple who are hot to trot and you want more time, say so. If the other couple doesn’t want to spend time socializing first, they will move on. The only way your experience will be somewhere between good and great is if you refuse to go along with the powerful forces of the other. Verbalizing your thoughts is essential.
In real terms, over a period of time you will develop two levels of swinging behavior, as viewed by an observer. With couples or persons with whom you have developed a rapport, many times you will go to bed with them with few preliminaries because you are already comfortable. But on an initial encounter with strangers you will put it off and merely socialize with them until you are ready to go to bed. Secretly you are trying to gain a grip on their space and that is OK. But when you are finally ready, be aware that they may be afraid to approach you again and you may have to make the counteroffer. But retain your desire to get to know them better, if that is your way. It will guarantee you a better experience.
Nancy and I, because of the seminar, have the opportunity to get to know most new couples fairly well, and they us, so we don’t face the problem. But we recognize and respect that it is a very real and continuing problem for many. If you want to be recognized as a person, not just serve someone else’s need at the moment, you must make your desires known. A club only exists to offer the opportunity to meet people and have a variety of experiences, and these are personal growth experiences as well as sexual experiences. But you do have to exert yourself. Success does not come easy. Only you know what you want. If you want time with someone before you go to bed, then ask for it. If you don’t want to spend time on preliminaries, clearly state it. You can have exactly what you want if you ask for it. Another person cannot honor your wishes if you are mum and remain cordial. That can only be interpreted as assent. A meeting of the minds can only happen if you both honestly express what you want.
Bad experiences are mostly the result of people failing to express their needs and finding themselves in a situation they could have avoided by honest expression. This is merely another facet of the one commandment in swinging: The rule of No. It means you retain control until you are ready to say yes. You have final say in what happens to you, but only if you say it. Unfortunately people are not mind readers.
The Primary Relationship
The Love Connection
Swinging is a positive force in the relationships of those couples who participate in the lifestyle. It is a relationship-enhancing form of recreation. The proof of the pudding shows up in our records over the period June 1987 through December 1988 when twelve couples, all of whom attended our seminar as either dating or live-together singles, took the big step and got married. We saw twelve weddings in eighteen months.
Getting married is an exciting element in our lifestyle and reveals a lot about what swinging is all about. Swinging is a true test of trust, something a marriage must have to be successful, and the willingness to share on the deepest of levels. It is a test that, if passed, offers a couple the opportunity to grow and expand in many different ways that are not only sexual. It creates areas of communication that goes beyond the norm. It creates the opportunities to take responsibility, and it is done in an environment where other people are equally protective of their own relationships, so it is safe. Swinging provides an atmosphere that can nurture and help a budding relationship grow.
It is exciting to be part of such a movement that turns temporary relationships into permanent ones. It is fun to watch couples grow closer, happier and freer as they attend parties month after month. We were so close to the forest at first that we failed to take note of the trees. When we began to count up the numbers of weddings within our little club, we were amazed. We at Club Sensitivity were so impressed that we decided to honor the ceremony of marriage. In essence, marriage is an initiation into greater life by merging with another human being. And so we held a group reaffirmation ceremony. Immediately upon announcing that, an unmarried couple came forward and said, “We’d like to be married for real on that day, too!”
The group ceremony was heart-warming and pulled the group together like nothing else. It included a group of 22 couples who joined verbally in an exchange of vows in our large backyard within a circle of flowers under an arch. One of the members buried 23 crystals beneath the flowers and later gave one to each participating couple, including the bride and groom. Another member played the key board, and another member performed the ceremony as a minister from a major denomination. There was a group wedding cake, an outdoor sit-down dinner, and a swing party afterward. The whole thing was recorded on video. And yes, the bride and groom came out of their honeymoon suite of a motor home later in the evening and partied with the rest of them.
This most interesting phenomena has been taking place in other clubs, too, in recent years. It only solidifies our belief that couples swinging is a real movement, not a superficial one. The first glimpse we had of it was at the Lifestyles Convention in 1988. During the masquerade ball a young couple was married by a justice of the peace before thousands of onlookers. Many were astounded, including us. When asked why, they said, “This is our lifestyle and these are our friends. This is our family.” Then at the In-Touch conference in Nashville in November 1988, a couple was married among a crowd of 300, followed by eight other married couples who stepped forward to reconfirm their marriage vows under the eyes of the minister. Shortly after that, two other clubs around the country held group reaffirmation ceremonies where couples re-affirmed wedding vows alongside other couples with whom they had been sexually intimate.
This bears a remarkable similarity to group marriages. There have always been attempts at group marriages throughout history but because they were linked with attempts at communal housing where families shared spouses, bedrooms and children, they have failed. Or if they were led by a single leader and that leader died, the group died too, if its policies were too restrictive to allow outsiders to join. On the opposite side of the fence were those movements that were too free, with no rules to protect sensitivities, a la the flower children of the 50’s, or the drugged-up hippies of the 60’s. It was in the early 70’s I believe that the California-based Synergy movement first began to flourish, but today that too is beginning to flounder. Too much time is spent philosophizing to actually live it. They are too careful.
The practicalities of setting up group families are horrendous, but a little known book entitled “A Compilation on Sex”, which contains extracts from Alice A. Bailey’s writings (early to mid-1900 esoterica) speaks about humanity evolving in the next century out of possessive monogamous sex into group conscious sex with an emergence of a greater sense of responsibility for the group. According to Bailey, the Western civilization will be well on its way by the year 2000 to resolving the problems caused by the culture’s restrictions of the sexual urge. While she frankly admits she does not know how this will take place, we believe our lifestyle is providing the quantum leap through sexually uninhibited groups evolving responsible sex. It is the dawning of a new age and a new way of thinking.
At the root level couples swinging is expanding, working its way into the main stream of society. The dark corners where covert sex previously took place, the sleaze bars and cheap one-night motels, are transforming into lovely homes, bright lights and pool parties. Economic barriers are breaking down as truck drivers are going to bed with judge’s wives and meeting for Sunday afternoon picnics with the children. No matter what you call it, it is becoming establishment. Just barely, but it is happening. That couples want to reaffirm their wedding vows to each other in group ceremonies is a fresh new approach to past attempts at communal love relationships. It is as if these couples are saying, “It is not sexual anarchy that we want, where everybody is everybody’s wife and husband. And it’s not a dictatorship, we don’t want to follow a leader. Nor is it a church where we have to believe one school of thought. We just want to be ourselves, have fun, and make our own choices. We are not a group. We are only two, a husband and wife and we come first above all else. We are committed to each other first. No group is going to take that away from us.” And these couples apparently need to say it publicly: “Yes, I’ve gone to bed with you and I’ve enjoyed it. And Yes, I’ll go to bed with you again, and probably with lots of others as well. But this man, this woman, is my first love. I’ve chosen him, her, to live with and I have not forsaken that commitment, no matter how many others I go to bed with. We love the group, but this person right here beside me comes first. And if you love one another and feel the same way that we do, then we can be friends because then you will be no threat to us.”
To those who think swinging is a low-grade superficial sex style, this tells the true tale of what it’s all about.
What Swinging Means to Us Personally
In the twelve years that we have been active in the lifestyle, Nancy and I had more than a thousand encounters. Our enthusiasm never waned, though we had many discussions to bring ourselves back together on the same page. We held a monthly eight-hour seminar in which over 700 couples participated in the after-party for their first time experience. We are truly interested in assisting people who want to try the lifestyle to have a proper entry into its potentials and pleasures.
At the end of our era, our club had just over 200 active member couples who were attending house parties in our home on any weekend of the year, though not all on the same weekend. We have a combination of both our own personal view and an impersonal overview with which to look at swinging. For us, swinging is a special glue in our relationship. First, it constantly reaffirms our trust in each other. We know that for each of us it is a recreation that we can enjoy at a party or a private couple-on-couple encounter. We arrive together, we leave together and we sleep together. Neither of us is going to become emotionally involved with our sex partners because we talk after every party, telling our thoughts and feelings. Nor are they individually going to become emotionally involved with either of us, because they too are a couple who have their own relationship at stake,
Is the sex unemotional? No way. Our sexual encounters are intense, loving and fulfilling, but when they are over they are over. There is no subject more exciting than talking about sexual experiences and fantasies after we have lived them. The communication that we have built between ourselves because of swinging far outweighs any other subject in excitement. After a weekend of sexual swinging delights we can talk and probe each other about every detail of the adventure we had. But, even better, because swinging has helped us learn to talk to each other, we can now talk about everything else under the sun. With communication, relationships flourish.
The friendships that evolve through swinging have been super special to us. In the straight world we had good friendships, but they all had boundaries around what you could say or do. With our delightful swinging friends, even if we have a non-swinging social evening, we can be open, talk about anything, touch, look into each other’s eyes, and never worry about condemnation, either from each other or our swinging friends. This is perhaps one of the most fulfilling aspects that the lifestyle has brought to us.
Since swinging means so much to us as a couple, we would like to share some observations as to where and how swinging is going to go, grow, survive and continue to evolve into the 21st century. The media scare of the 1986-88 period on AIDS changed the game totally. Since the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Public Health have categorically stated that AIDS is not a high risk problem for the white, middle class, heterosexual, non-drug-using population, and that anal sex is the primary mode of sexual transmission, there has been a huge resurgence of interest and participation in swinging.
But the mode is different than it was in the ‘70’s and early 1980’s. In the 1940’s to 1970, swinging was almost 100% couple activity. Later, in the “anything goes” period of the sexual revolution of the ‘70’s, the clubs like Plato’s Retreat in New York and Playhouse South in Miami, now long gone, which allowed singles in and indiscriminate so-called “couples”, including prostitute partners, became the overcrowded “in” thing. As we tracked over 240 clubs throughout the country, what we saw happening is the well-screened, couples-only clubs growing beyond their wildest dreams. Clubs that admit singles or don’t screen their prospects are disappearing from the scene. We are getting back to the original version of swinging, which is a selective couples-only sport with responsible sexual behavior.
I expect that trend will intensify. Events that are created for couples only, if well planned, will be highly successful, while events that include singles will increasingly fail as tons of single guys come and find not enough women. Those women who are present will feel uncomfortable enough that they will not come back to that particular club or event. And without the women there is no swinging. This trend was reflected in our own highly restrictive, fully screened, couples-only club. More new couples joined us in one month in 1993, than we saw the whole year in 1987. From what these couples told us, the primary reason for attending our club is that they wanted a protective environment in which to live out their sexual fantasies.
The Role of Education in the Lifestyle
The Attrition Factor
In a lengthy survey on swinging conducted among swing club members across the country in the early 1980’s, Paul Miller of Chicago found that only 25% of all swinging couples who belong to clubs renew their memberships at the end of the year. I had the privilege in 1989 of leading a symposium at the club owners meeting of the Lifestyles Convention in Las Vegas, where Paul was a member of my panel. Representatives from many clubs from the United States and Canada were present. Each person present had compiled a list of clubs in their area to discuss at the forum, including many different factors that made up the profiles of those clubs. Membership renewal was one piece of information that was shown. The information that came out that day in 1989 showed that the representative areas of the panel, probably over 200 clubs, had a median renewal factor of just under 27%. Four years later, it had not improved and may have gotten slightly worse in the area of retaining members in swing clubs in the United States.
This means that a swing club, in order to just stay even, has to replace 75% of its entire membership each year prior to being able to grow by even one member couple. This is a task that is beyond the means of most clubs over any period of years. That is one reason why, in the state of Florida where we were located, only one club owner operating in 1981 when we began is still in the swing club business today. At that same convention in 1989, following the panel presentation, we gave a presentation to the some 65 club owners in attendance about our seminar on swinging. We explained to them that it was a requirement for membership in our club, Club Sensitivity. What we tried to show to the club owners was that, while they were fighting a 27% renewal rate, we had enjoyed an in-excess of 65% renewal rate for eight consecutive years at our club. Simplistically, that meant that we only had to replace 35% of our membership before we could start to move ahead and grow.
While only a handful of clubs around the country after that point tried to establish an educational seminar as extensive as ours, we were gratified to find two positive things happened in the ensuing period. First, close to 40% of the clubs who put us on their reciprocal mailing list, were in fact running educational meetings of one or two hour duration every time they had a party. A number of these even went so far as to make this mandatory before a couple could actually come to a party. The second thing that happened on a positive note is that a number of the swing publications began to devote a portion of their space to educational rather than frivolous articles for the benefit of the would-be swinger.
The real problem that creates this low line renewal of couples in swing clubs is not couples moving around from club to club, but sadly couples dropping out of the lifestyle. The dropout factor is, to a great extent, the result of expectations not being fulfilled because they were allowed to be unrealistic, and couples finding mediocrity rather than excitement. These two things occur because the couples who drop out do not understand what swinging is and why it exists. They were not prepared for it properly, either mentally or emotionally.
Swinging has grown and survived as a lifestyle because some of the more responsible people involved have recognized that, like driving a car, there are rules of the road that, if gone unrecognized and therefore violated, can kill them. While there are clubs who do not have rules, there are those swing club owners who take the time and make the effort to create a set of rules of behavior for their membership. When they go a step further and teach those rules carefully and enforce any violations of those rules, they create a safe and comfortable environment in which the swinging couple returns over and over again. In essence, they create a level playing field for all participants equally. A level playing field is a safe environment because it implies that everybody is playing by exactly the same rules which does not allow stronger and more aggressive individuals to take advantage of the weaker or more sensitive ones. If you know the rules and the club enforces the rules, there should seldom be unpleasant surprises.
There will be a number of readers of these words who are just beginning to explore the idea of swinging. And there will be those who have had limited experience, most of it bad, and there will be those who have been swinging for awhile and never found an environment in which they could be totally comfortable. We would urge any such couple, if they are struggling to find a group to join, to ask the club or group leader the following three questions: (1) Do you have a well-defined set of rules of behavior that we can see before we come there? (2) Do you teach how to recognize and deal with situations that could be unpleasant so they do not actually occur? (3) Do you limit your membership to people who have agreed to follow those rules so that we can have a level playing field in which to enjoy our swinging?
We did that in Club Sensitivity. We guarantee that virtually all of those clubs who do have rules and do enforce them will still be around in five years, and none of the others that you talk to will even exist. That is the way it has been in the past, and that is the way it will be in the future. The bottom line is, for good and happy swinging experiences, a little education goes a long way. If you are going to choose a swing club or group, find one that has standards of behavior, teaches them and enforces them.
A School on Swinging
As the final chapter of this book on swinging, we would like to give the reader a peek into what was a typical seminar day at our house. Our seminar, which was mandatory to joining Club Sensitivity, is the reason why we enjoyed a 65% retention rate as compared to the 27% renewal rate in other clubs, where couples drop out of swinging due to bad experiences. Swinging is not sexual anarchy as many beginners seem to think and many club operators fail to inform otherwise. An informed presentation is extremely useful to the beginning couple so they can adjust and revise their expectations to better fit the realities they are about to face. Unlike the picture presented by the general media and television documentaries, the lifestyle is not one continual orgy. We include this brief glimpse into our seminar so that other couples might design their own educational forum from it, if they have an interest.
The couples arrived between 11:30 and noon on the day of the seminar, which was always held on a Saturday. They were given name tags and a tour of our home to see where the bathrooms were, the bar area and the shelves onto which they placed their bags and personal belongings. We told them “This is your space. You own it for as long as you are here.” Our host couples introduced them to the other couples present and left them in the kitchen for coffee and Danish pastry to socialize and relax. At 12:30 they were invited to come into the living room to find a seat on one of the many sofas and chairs available, which was supplemented with additional chairs.
We always started with a welcome by Nancy followed by an introduction of the experienced co-host couples present, usually two, who had special name tags to identify them. Then there was a review of the agenda by me of just what was going to happen during the day. They were assured that the entire day would be fully clothed, that there would be no pressure put on them, that they could get up and go to the bathroom without asking, and they could leave at any time they choose. They were told they did not have to do anything that would make them feel uncomfortable. It was strictly a rap session.
On the first round, each person answered a series of questions on a card that was passed from hand to hand. This was done as a consciousness-raising exercise, meaning each person was given the freedom to speak without interruption for as long as he or she held the card. The card had two parts to it. The first part was personal description, vocation, hobbies, marital status and children. The second part was sexual, asking them about their experience in the lifestyle, what made them want to consider swinging, what their fantasies were, what do they wanted from the workshop, and did they want to be in the same room with their partner or a separate room, if they chose to have an encounter with another couple or person.
The result of this exercise was twofold. First, the couples started to know each other and began to feel more comfortable. They begin to realize, much to their surprise, that they had a lot more in common with these other people than they suspected. Second, as they spoke to the group they revealed more about themselves, and we were able to pick up on basic fears and concerns about swinging which fueled the next phase of the seminar.
As we moved along, the discussion addressed subjects such as the effects of swinging on their relationship, the friendships they would make, how to meet and approach people of like mind and not make mistakes, jealousy, male and female performance, and more. It was not limited to this. We then went around the room and asked each person to give us their biggest question, concern or fear about the lifestyle. Invariably the disease factor came up, and how to say "no" if they did not want to accept an invitation to a bedroom, how to deal with rejection, about the legalities of the lifestyle, pregnancy, hygiene, social and sexual etiquette and many other related subjects. Once we had those questions on our list of notes, we took a thirty-minute lunch break. This usually was around 3:30 p.m.
After lunch we had our first touching exercise. Everything during the seminar was fully clothed, including this exercise. It was a sensuous exercise done with their own primary partner. It led them in a guided journey touching hands, arms, shoulders, hair and neck and ending in a long embrace and kiss. It was a way of bonding together before branching out to include others. The feelings of warmth, reassurance and sensuousness aroused by this exercise was deeply intimate. In one session, a husband broke apart from his wife of 35 years with tears in his eyes. This exercise set the tone for the balance of the seminar.
From 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., we discussed all of the various questions raised by the group earlier, plus a few they didn't think of because of their lack of experience. The key ingredient to success in the lifestyle is finding out that you are not alone in your fears and, as a matter of fact your fears are quite normal. Our experienced co-host couples offered further support and feedback on how they had learned to cope in their early swinging days. At 5:30, we broke the group for one hour into separate men and women talk sessions. There, more gender-specific matters were raised. Both men and women had areas of concern which they were reluctant to bring up in front of their partners and the opposite gender. The women especially found this to be one of the highlights of the day.
From 6:30 to 7 p.m. the subjects of party etiquette were discussed, like "Don't use the bed as a conversation area if other couples are waiting for bed space." Then at 7 p.m. we had the second touching exercise. This was the first real test of how ready a couple would be for a swapping encounter later. Each member of the couple did this with a person not their partner who was chosen by the co-hosts during lunch. It was a sensual fantasy trip while fully clothed, with some intimate touching. Without having to face the trauma in a bedroom, each person rapidly learned their own reactions to their mate touching another person and them self being touched by someone else. We observed these reactions, even though we were involved in the exercise too. Following the touching exercise, we asked each person to talk about the feelings they had during the exercise.
This completed the seminar program. We wrapped it up by explaining that each couple would be interviewed privately during the serving of the dinner buffet, and that a hugging circle and party would follow dinner for those who felt ready to stay for their first experience with another couple. In the interview, the debriefing consisted of three parts. First, feedback from the participants themselves, what they liked most about the seminar, and what they liked the least about it. Secondly, a discussion on how they felt about their readiness to engage in a swinging experience, and our observations. Third, we asked them if they would like to stay for the party. If they both said yes, we asked them to please sign a legal disclaimer.
The disclaimer stated that they were over 21, that they understood there would be nudity and sexual activities on the premises, and that they were not here to cause harm to anyone else through media or law enforcement affiliation. Couples who did not feel to stay, were invited to return on a party night in the future to try again.
It was highly social from them on with nervous anticipation filling the air. Nine o’clock was the witching hour in our house. Some couples went home before 9, while others changed into more casual clothes in preparation for the hugging circle at 9 when the lights went down, candles were lit, and music turned seductive. Nancy then led the women to rotate by each man who remained stationary, and give them each a greeting and hug. After the hugging circle, some headed out to the hot water whirlpool in the enclosed back yard, or took drinks over to the little cocktail tables on the patio, or paired up for the bedroom. In back of our house there were no neighbors to see us. Pine and oak trees surrounded the property along with the privacy fence. The formal preparation had now been completed and personal contacts were being initiated after making eye contacts throughout the day. This was the graduation ceremony for each attendee. They knew that they would have to prove themselves before they could be invited to join the club, if not tonight, then on another party night. Everyone was free to make their own connection, sometimes with a little help from the co-hosts.
In the morning, over an informal breakfast, we and the co-leaders discussed who did participate and who didn’t, and compared notes on what we each had observed during the party. Graduates received a welcome letter and a wallet-sized, lifetime card of certification which entitled them to join the club for the lifetime of their relationship. Those who didn’t participate were sent a letter inviting them to return to another party and try again.
At our 80th seminar we had 16 couples present and three couples revealed emotional problems with the idea of swinging. One other couple made the intelligent decision to go home to talk about it some more because they felt they were not quite ready. With each of these couples, seminar interaction exposed underlying problems that had gone unnoticed, or had been denied by the parties involved. But at least they found out they had a problem before going to bed with someone, where it could have blown up in a violent explosion of anger. The purpose of the seminar is to help couples face the reality of swinging and to avoid negative experiences. A bad experience is a setback. It takes between five and seven good experiences to override a bad one. These wounds are hard to heal. The twelve other couples attending that same seminar confirmed for us once again that our swingers’ school served a positive function. As we watched those happy couples play with each other in the group room in the glow of subdued lights, hearing their moans of pleasure and their giggles of social ease afterwards, we felt really good with ourselves.
But there was something else here too that is pretty hard to define, a side effect that outsiders did not see that made what we did so rewarding. It was watching those couples let go of heavyweight programming and censorship and lighten up. It was listening to them talk openly and candidly about their new feelings. It was hearing their honesty when they talked about their mistakes and recognizing their courage when they asked for critiquing. It was seeing them hug, childlike, in genuine acts of bonding. They are more free today, not just sexually, but emotionally and mentally too. This is what made us feel really good about what we were doing. We were seeing more responsible, more caring, more loving, community-conscious human beings emerge from the other end of the tunnel, who were not only willing to participate in the world around them, but eager to do so.
The Sensitivity Seminar Group, known as SSG, disbanded in April 1993 when the author and founder died of congestive heart failure. His widow, (Diana on the Anakosha website) met her current husband that same year and, together with three other couples from SSG, founded Anakosha to carry on the tradition of lifestyle education. Anakosha was founded as a not-for-profit corporation in Florida in July 1994. Diana and Brian married in November 1994, and are still together in 2014 living in Naples, Florida. They may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.anakosha.org.
A Tribute to Bob Adler
The Passing of a Giant
Listen to the silence in the trees,
Feel the stillness in the air,
Heaven is holding its breath,
A giant is passing by.
Which of us has not felt the power,
The warmth of humor,
The cutting intellect,
The overwhelming friendship,
That is Bob Adler?
How many of us came here,
With fear and trepidation,
Mingled with excitement and hope,
That changed the rest of our lives?
What one man,
Has changed so many lives,
So much for the better,
Changed so many strangers,
What one man has given so many,
Permission to be themselves,
Freed so many from their own limitations,
And made them better lovers...
Brothers, sisters, spouses, friends?
We are all here today,
Due to one man’s vision,
One man’s energy,
One man’s willingness to give...
Of himself, his home, his time; ... his love.
We are here today,
To say our thank-you’s,
To show respect,
To share our love,
To help him on his way.
Listen to the silence in our hearts,
Feel the stillness in our heads,
Heaven is holding its collective breath,
Our giant is passing on.
May 8, 1993
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