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Open Relationships, Swingers and All That Jizz

August 11, 2011

Lately, I’ve been reading quite a few blog posts about open relationships. That is, two individuals who are in a committed relationship and openly bump uglies with other people.

There are many opinions on the topic. For example, blogger Nikki B. says, “Why not?” while Feisty Woman says, “Hell to the naw!” It got me thinking about where I stand on the topic and my verdict is:

It depends.

Now, my general rule for pretty much everything in life is this: Whatever floats your boat.

If it’s between consenting adults and no one is getting hurt, then do whatever the heck makes you happy. Hell, peeps can dress up like Smurfs and fuck each other in the ear using hot sauce for lube for all I care — as long as everyone is in agreement and all Smurfs are of age.

However, while it is completely about individual choice, I do see some potential complications with the multiple genital route.

Complication #1: It’s One-Sided

Say you and your partner decide to give it a whirl. Three things can happen:

  1. Both of you are into it. Hurrah! Continue getting freaky with outside parties.
  2. Neither of you are into it. Oh, well. Return to monogamy.
  3. One of you is into it and the other isn’t.

This is where is gets complicated. If you continue with the open relationship, one person will be unhappy. If you go back to monogamy, the other person will be unhappy. Does one person make the sacrifice, or do you end the relationship to find partners who want what you want? What if you and your partner are still in love? A bit of a pickle, eh?

I know a married couple who were swingers. They would go to swinger parties and, you know, swing. This all seemed fine and dandy for a while, until the woman didn’t want to do it anymore.

You see, she really only did it in the first place because he wanted to. After she realized this, they were in that pickle I mentioned. And unfortunately, they had a five-year-old son. They stayed together because of the kid, but the husband fucks around and they are essentially living separate lives under the same roof. Poor kid. Poor adults. Nobody wins.

Complication #2: Your Partner Likes the Other Person More

I know another couple who were swingers. They swung for a spell until the woman fell in love with one of the guys they swung with. Now the original couple are going through a messy divorce. And they have kids, too. Bummer.

This can happen. Sex is an intimate act. It’s not terribly surprising that your partner could form a bond with someone else and leave you in the cold with your pants down.

Complication #3: STDs and Pregnancy

Now we’re getting into practical matters, but they shouldn’t be ignored. Of course, you and your partner should make it a rule to practice safe sex. But we all know shit happens. Maybe the condom breaks. Maybe he sticks it in during the heat of the moment. Maybe you throw caution to the wind a few times. The wrong person could get preggers and everyone could get the herp… or worse. Multiple partners means your risk goes up. Period.

But I Still Want to Bang Many!

Okay, Jack and Jessica Rabbit. Calm down. If masses of asses is your bag, then that is A-OK. But I implore you to follow the number one rule for open relationships:

Do it because you really want to.

Not to please your partner. Not because it’s what all the other kids with the pumped up kicks are doing. Not because you’ve identified yourself as a free-wheelin’ nonconformist and that’s what free-wheelin’ nonconformists do. Do it if and only if you really want to, AND if you are 100% comfortable with your partner having sex with other people. Be honest with yourself.

In sum, if an open relationship tickles you and your partner’s G-spot, then by all means, have at it. But do it for the right reasons and understand – and accept — the possible complications before going in.

As for me? I’m a one-penis gal. I get that there are temptations and that sex with one person for the rest of your life can become less than exciting. But for me, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Maybe that makes me old-fashioned and uncool, but I know what I want, and I’m proud to let my normal flag fly.

What say you? Party of two or the more the merrier?

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39 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2013 6:45 pm

    Swinging has been a lifestyle for many years, it’s great that it’s more open now and understood. Definitely not as taboo as 10 years ago.

  2. DJC permalink
    September 18, 2012 12:15 pm

    Openness in a committed partnership falls on a broad spectrum ranging from “touch another and I’ll cut it off!” to “Hey, Honey, go have fun and find some nookie tonight!”. I define an open marriage as one in which either partner can go fuck around whenever they want with whomever they want. Swinging really involves sexual activity between the two partners than sometimes includes other partners joining the pair in the experience in some way. It is crucial that the primary couple have essentially no jealousy and communicate really well. Erring on the side of conservatism is rule number 1. My wife and I moved into a more open phase of our relationship after our 2nd child weaned. We’d been married for about 6 years and began by becoming more vocal and honest in bed about our fantasies. (Actually, it took me a while to finally get her to admit the dirty thoughts and other people in her head when we’d make love, but when we got to that point of openness, POW!) We decided to take some steps to act on our fantasies and ended-up on some dates with other couples and attended a couple of meet-and-greets where I got to see my wife kiss another woman for the first time. We discussed our feelings and reactions to everything at each step. Since then we’ve come to accept and appreciate that we are a pretty special couple. My wife is completely without jealousy and is perfectly OK with it if I find someone I want to fool around with even if it doesn’t involve her. I’m almost as free of jealousy and have let her enjoy some solo encounters. I love to hear about them afterwards whereas she’s not as interested in my gory details. We’re both busy and tired and don’t find our libidos to be what they once were, so it’s not like either of us is out there on the prowl, but we do have some good friends with whom we have a three- or foursome now and then. We have allowed each other to explore within certain bounds. Our rules include: Do nothing with another unless you want to, Don’t do anything with anyone else without prior discussion. Also, importantly, we agreed that if we did something together and one of us felt badly about it later, that we’d chalk it up to experience and move on with no hard feelings. Other rules include: no secrets, no cheating, no getting into anything that becomes regular and starts to feel like another relationship. We trust each other to exercise good judgement and avoid situations that would cause one of us to lose respect for the other. There are other couples among our friends who are similarly close and open with each other and we all laugh together about how blessed we feel to have achieved this kind of marriage and wish we could show the rest of the world how good it can be.

  3. the other woman permalink
    August 27, 2012 4:41 pm

    I have been invited into a swinging relationship by a very good friend and her husband. It is not about going off alone with one of them but rather all three of us together. They are in a stable marriage and have talked about adding a third to the bedroom for years. I am new to even considering this. I am not sure about how to be the “other woman” or “third wheel” When we play together its fantastic but how do I handle the nights alone while they have each other and I am back to just single me? Has anyone been in this situation before?

    • September 4, 2012 10:32 am

      Sweetie, you have to go into this being totally okay that you ARE the third wheel – the play thing. Then you go home and do your own thing and they do theirs. Don’t go into it looking for some kind of emotional relationship, because that’s not what they want. If you are not okay with this, I’d say don’t do it. I can imagine it getting hairy if this is a good friend of yours.

      • Clearaswater permalink
        September 21, 2013 4:07 pm

        The other woman
        Don’t do it!

  4. July 11, 2012 3:06 pm

    My My My, Such Close minds. Check your history books. The world was born under the feet of swingers.
    The key is communication and safety.
    We are a visual and an emotional breed. Wouldn’t our relationship be better if I am able to openly admire that hot girl walking past, and if you were able to make that Mmmmm sound you KNOW you want to make when that hot guy walks past? Or better yet (in my relationship) That we can BOTH admire that hot sexy person climbing out of the pool!? In our relationship, as sexually charged, uninhibited people, we are insanely and irreversibly in love. Being in a sexually charged environment further charges our batteries and when we come back together – OMG. No matter what the attraction is between us and another individual I have to like and approve of someone she wants, and vise versa. And anything that ever happens, we are together (because the experience is about US, not about me and her, of her and him).
    It’s not for everybody, granted, and probably not for most – because most don’t have the ability to tell their significant other EVERYTHING. Those that do. Those that understand a true bond between hearts, and that intimate charging can be of much higher voltage when joined to more than 2 batteries, will build a bond that can NEVER be broken.
    My opinion, if it breaks – it was gonna anyway.

    Hey. Sounded good in my head.

  5. Brandi permalink
    May 30, 2012 11:49 am

    Ok… Me and my boyfriend of 4 years have been in an open relationship for 2 out of the 4 years! It is a very complicated process…its not like we woke up one morning and decided hey lets sleep with other ppl! we have very strict rules and if one of those rules are broken then u r considerd to be “cheating”.

    For example
    Always use protection….no matter what
    No sleeping with anyone on the list

  6. moi permalink
    December 18, 2011 12:57 pm

    i know wiki isnt a good source but if the first paragraph of that page is the real definition of open relationship. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_relationship . then i say BOLLOCKS! i think they are fooling themselves. if they are implying that there is main man and women with a side piece of genitalia every now and then, that sound very unrealistic. in an ideal world that situation would be great. but i think most people(women) hate the thought of them not being enough for someone. i think the need for swinging is a sign of inadequacy or boredom. i think it is ok admit that the relationship has run it course and the cost of being monogamous and committed has now outweighed the benefits of being in a relationship. however i have never experienced this so my opinion based on little knowledge.

  7. Linda permalink
    October 9, 2011 11:11 am

    Jeez. That comment about the cold sores bummed me out. I’ve had them since forever. All my life, basically. They run in my family. I have no recollection of anyone in my family, however, openly kissing anyone while they had one, though. Why would you? They hurt!

    My husband has never had one in his whole life, so go figure.

    • October 12, 2011 12:09 am

      The cold sores? You mean my reference to the herp? I was really referring to STDs in general. I know they’re common – like really common, and I don’t judge anyone who has one – but generally no one wants to get one or spread it around.

  8. zena permalink
    August 29, 2011 10:58 am

    hey I just found out that my boyfriend is a swinger!! Don’t ask me how, but I WASN’T PART OF IT. I definately can’t imagine being part of it and sadder still I can’t live with it. I too believe that being in a relationship means no fucking around.

    • August 29, 2011 12:57 pm

      Wait a second. If your boyfriend is a swinger, but you’re not involved in the swinging and weren’t aware of him doing it, doesn’t that make him a CHEATER?

  9. August 27, 2011 8:16 am

    Throw me in the sack- that sack just big enough for two.

    But then again, that’s who I am.

    That’s who I KNOW I am (thank you Nikki B)…I know my emotional instability, my lack of confidence, and lowered self-esteem better than almost anyone. I say almost, because I would hope that my lover would know these things about me nearly as well I do.

    I know I will do everything in my power to crack her nut, open her up, toss festival beads her way so she will show me her bare…soul.

    There is no better way to bust a nut than by being attentive and focused on the other lover. By knowing the Google-fucking-maps-of-her-erogenous-zones means that I know her wants, needs, desires, and yes—emotional ball of wax and what makes that ball melt into a liquid, flowing to her primal needs.

    But then again, that’s who I am.

    I have never had a fuck buddy, because I get emotionally attached via my own twisted game of soul surfing and giving. That said, I won’t lie and say I have never bumped uglies and ran. I just find that the quick (okay, my definition of quick is a one nighter, which must seem like a long term relationship in this age of 140 character, one update stands) leave me feeling like I just ate a heaping bowl of air…nothing to sink my teeth in. Honestly, it boils down to this fact- the chase is way more thrilling than the kill.

    But then again, that’s who I am.

    I know, seems like a lot of bullshit was spread above this line just to say that as long as I am confident in who I am, confident in who she is, confident she knows I understand her, confident she knows she understands me- then I am confident there will never be a question of an “open relationship”.

    I am as much as a Lone Wolf individual you will encounter- I bask in the glory of my individualism. But, as has been so eloquently stated throughout this splendid post and the accompanying thought provoking comments, true individualism comes with a great responsibilities: Compassion, Tolerance and Consideration. Anyone who doesn’t practice all three are not individuals- they are just arrogant assholes.

    I say more power to those couples who find happiness in the “open relationship”, but I also feel great sadness for those who play for fun- or who let their partners play for fun because they haven’t asserted their true feelings about the concept.

    …and Wanda Sykes perfectly summed up my personal feelings about this subject~“Why the fuck would
    would I want to piss off TWO women?”

    But then again, that’s who I am.

    • August 29, 2011 12:43 pm

      Good for you for knowing who you are and what you want. I think sometimes people get into situations for the wrong reasons (peer pressure, to please a partner, etc.), but everyone really needs to do it for themselves. Granted, maybe someone is curious and just trying it out to figure out what it is that they do want. That’s okay, as long as you are aware of the possible ramifications and can deal with the fallout, if any.

      And I’m 100% with you on the compassion, tolerance, consideration thing. We all need to practice those – essential to a good relationship.

  10. August 24, 2011 9:02 pm

    I cheat on my current love interests with myself 6-7 times a day.

    Is that what you’re getting at?

    • August 29, 2011 12:40 pm

      No one can blame anyone for cheating with Denny DelVecchio. Even Denny DelVecchio.

  11. August 22, 2011 8:58 am

    what the hell happened there… anyway, it was me who left that comment!

  12. blu permalink
    August 22, 2011 8:57 am

    The only time i can see this being a possiblity is when i want a guy just for hooking up purposes and don’t want him getting attached. Someone that I actually cared about i couldn’t do it with. neva.

    • August 24, 2011 11:53 am

      Totally. A fling is a whole different animal than a relationship. The whole point of it being a relationship (for me) is not to screw others. But to each his/her own!

  13. Oh come ON permalink
    August 17, 2011 4:33 pm

    “Herp… or worse” — Really?

    Listen, nobody wants to catch herpes. But how many people run around with it on their mouths, using the cutesy name of “cold sore”, and still wind up kissing strangers/significant others/their children? (That last one is in a non-erotic way, of course.)

    Gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphillis all pose long term, serious threats to your reproductive organs (you know, in case you ever want to have babies) but that’s dismissed because what… people sometimes realize there’s some funk in their junk and it can be cleared up?

    It’d be amazing if for once a sex blog could focus on serious medical concerns instead of social stigmas.

    • August 17, 2011 7:21 pm

      Hello Oh come ON! I’m not sure what your point is. Who said anything about social stigmas?

  14. August 14, 2011 8:17 am

    I couldn’t do it… reasons, c) all of the above.

    • August 15, 2011 6:28 pm

      Yeah, all of the above is why I couldn’t do it either. I’m an attention-hog in the bedroom. :)

  15. August 13, 2011 7:00 am

    Dr. C says “do what ye may”… or something like that. (As long as people take pics and send them my way)

    • August 15, 2011 6:27 pm

      Dr. C likes to watch, hey? I’m sure you would grade them on technique and attitude ;)

  16. August 11, 2011 5:02 pm

    I’ll admit in the distant past I engaged in swinging type activities. To my mind it’s all about the level of trust between the parties.

    On one level it has to be all about sex, and only sex. There is a great danger in mixing hearts and bumpy bits.

    In my case I was a stunt cock, a third. It was fun and we never did it again. It was not my call to do so as I was a hired gun.

    She and I went for sushi the odd time, and I never was a great threat to break them up.

    But if you play, keep them wits about you. It’s fun but it could be a bumpy ride.

    • August 11, 2011 7:10 pm

      Weh-hell, Bobby! Is that right? Who knew?

      Yep, has to be about sex and only sex. Problem is, some people trick themselves into thinking it’s only sex and then those nasty emotions come creeping in without even being invited. It’s a real bitch. Probably happens more with women than men, but I also know men who get INSANELY jealous.

      If I were ever to do it, I’d have to be the hired gun, like you. The guest is best. I couldn’t invite someone into my relationship. No, thanks. I mean, I don’t even like to share my French fries, much less my man ;)

  17. August 11, 2011 1:01 pm

    I’m more comfortable with one penis, mainly because I’m afraid of getting a STI. Plus, I’ve realized after going thru a different every single month, it’s not the same as having the same one- you know what’s comfortable, what each one likes, and it’s familiar territory. Sure, a new penis is exciting to have, but the risks involved aren’t worth my time, stress and frustration. I prefer drama-free banging.

    • August 11, 2011 7:06 pm

      It’s funny, I prefer drama-free relationships. But I LOVE drama-full banging! It’s exciting when you’re with a new person – new body, new penis, new smells, new moves! Excitement! And I think this is what draws people to open relationships and the like. Keeps the sex life interesting.

      But I’m willing to sacrifice that feeling of excitement with a new person to have the stability, trust and love involved with a monogamous relationship. It’s worth it to me. I think there’s something very special about having one person to share your life with. For me, sex with outsiders would ruin that. Man, I really do sound old-fashioned, don’t I?

      And oh, they’re calling them STIs nowadays, aren’t they? Dang, I am SUPER old-fashioned!

  18. August 11, 2011 12:17 pm

    Great post, Girlie!

    I’ve been thinking about wanting to do a follow-up to my old one, and then the ones Ivy and Feisty wrote, and some of the things I said in the comments on both. And, looky-here – you did it for me! ;)

    Basically – I couldn’t agree more. I stand up for people in open relationships, because they say it works for them. WHY does it work them?

    Because 1) They BOTH reallytrulynotevenkiddingtotall100% want it (for serious!) and 2) They’ve clearly thought about it, and weighed the risks, and they’re doing this with BOTH. EYES. OPEN. If I didn’t think they had these points? I’d question them, too.

    I think there’s a point that has been kind of missed in this discussion thus far: If we’re opening all these doors on sex, we had better be fucking responsible about it. BECAUSE sex can be so dangerous – in terms of emotions and health. We had better be crystal-fucking-clear to ourselves about what WE want and where our boundaries are, and we had better be really-fucking-honest to our partners about what that is. If we want to be free little sex birds, we need to be thinking, and processing, and assessing, and communicating, and being honest and trustworthy and safe. Otherwise? Don’t. Just don’t. Or people. get. hurt.

    It’s not about yay! do whatever you want! It’s about yay! but you had better take it fucking seriously before you do whatever you want.

    That said. The other point is that people decide they don’t actually like to do all those things together they used to do, or fall out of love with you or into love with someone else ALL. THE. TIME. And hurt each other like woah and hurt children like woah. Sure open relationships mean more sex, and sex for a lot of people equals emotions (… or for some of us less so, but whatev). BUT. That’s also… in theory. ALSO in theory, people in open relationships are more ok with allowing their partner certain indiscretions. If you ask these people, they’ll tell you opening the relationship saved it, because one or both partners wasn’t getting their all, so they found is elsewhere. And, NO, it didn’t ruin things. BTW.

    I’m NOT saying that one statement is wrong and the other is right, just saying… it’s a two-way street, here. People hurt each other and fuck up all the freakin’ time. Neither ensuring monogamy or allowing other partners is going to be a fix for it, period. It’s just life and love – and again begs the fundamental statement: Be honest, be kind, be trustworthy – and, above all, KNOW YOURSELF. And then be true about and to who that is.

    As for me personally? I am still trying these things out. What appeals to me isn’t polyamory or open dating (see Evolving Evy or Samantha Fraser) – but the idea of inviting others into my bedroom WITH my partner, does.

    And, once again, have said more than enough. Whoops. My two hundred cents.

    • August 11, 2011 6:56 pm

      As always, a very thoughtful comment, Nikki. The wheels in that brain of yours really do turn at lightning speed and I like it!

      You know, I could’ve written a post about complications involved with monogamy, too. Because they exist. You get bored, kids change the relationship, etc., etc. Monogamy ain’t perfect — whoa, far from it! People hurt each other whether or not added sexual partners are involved.

      But we kinda know about the trials and tribulations about marriage. We’ve heard about it a thousand times. Hell, they make movies and TV shows about it (of course, they are usually wrapped up in a pretty bow by the end, which really chaps my hide).

      Open relationships, swinging, polyamory and the like have been around forever, but it seems like people are talking about it more recently (or maybe I’m just noticing). I think some folks feel like it sounds super cool and exciting and hip — hey! — the answer to boring old monogamy. But they don’t, as you say, go into it with both eyes open and understand that it comes with some nuances as well.

      Then again, a lot of people don’t go into marriage with both eyes open either, do they?

      And some people go into the situation with eyes wide open and they later discover it’s not for them. In both cases. People change their needs, wants and desires all the time.

      So whether its polyamory, monogamy or whatever approach to sex and relationships you choose, there are ramifications involved. We all just have to figure out which model fits best with our needs at the time, make adjustments as needed and do the best we can.

      And really, really try the best we can not to hurt others in the process. Or ourselves.

  19. August 11, 2011 12:00 pm

    I’m not sure 100%, forever and ever Monogamy is for me (but maybe it is. I”ll get married and let you know), but I’m pretty clear on the fact that I don’t ever want to be a Swinger.

    Complicated. No matter what. It.Will.Be.Complicated.

    • August 11, 2011 6:42 pm

      It seems complicated to me, too. I think for me it would be complicated. Other people maybe don’t think of it as so. Maybe everything is only as complicated as you perceive it to be. Hmmm…

  20. August 11, 2011 11:34 am

    I’m in the party of two category. I’m not going to say never ever because things can always change but for now, serial monogamy is my game. Well whenever I decide I want to be in a relationship again that is… haha!

    i do totally agree with the “whatever floats your boat as long as all are consenting, of age and play safe”. Otherwise it really is setting yourself up for disaster.

    • August 11, 2011 6:40 pm

      Totally true – I never say never. I could totally be swinging from the trees a year from now, who knows? That’s why I try not to judge. It could be me one day.

      I just read your post on the subject – sounds like we’re pretty much on the same page.

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  1. Info You Should Know About Swinging | Desire Swingers Lifestyle
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