Q&A: Were Interested in Swinging

Question: What do you think are the long-term disadvantages to the swinging lifestyle? My wife and I were thinking of getting involved in it, but I'm not so sure it'll turn out well.

Steve says:
Don't do it -- swingers usually strike out. Most of us (including me) couldn't handle the jealousy, insecurity and fear of abandonment.

Why? Well, try this on for size. Imagine your wife in the arms of another lover. Now imagine her being more sexually satisfied than she has ever been with you. (Are we having fun yet?) Add to that the chance that they hit it off emotionally, and she finds in him the soul mate she's long desired. If you're not prepared for those possibilities, then you're not ready for swinging.

A key question here is how important is your marriage to you. If it's important to you, then you risk eroding trust and commitment, two cornerstones of an intimate relationship. If your marriage isn't that important, this will likely be the linchpin that destroys it. Either way, you lose.

Sexual intimacy is the potential bloom of a well-tended friendship. Many couples don't grow deeply enough together. Besides trust and commitment, it takes ongoing courage to risk being vulnerable. You certainly won't get there by undermining the foundation.

I've been in the counseling business for nearly 30 years, and I have yet to meet a couple that has successfully pulled off swinging for any length of time. Play with fire, expect to get burned.

Cathy says:
We are sounding conservative here, but I agree with Steve. Don't go up such a treacherous road. You add the risk of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and AIDS to the risk of ending your marriage.

If you do decide to go ahead, you need to address a few things. First, both partners have to be equally interested. I've worked with couples who tried this -- only to find out afterward that one partner went along out of fear they'd lose their marriage. Swapping ended those relationships.

And don't suggest this as a way to legitimize your attraction to another person. It's an affair no matter how you wrap it. Once you swing, it's beyond your control; the boundaries will be blurred. For instance, can you have sex with another couple even if your spouse is not interested? Can you have dinner out with a woman other than your wife?

So clarify the rules. Do you both have control over whom you swap with? Is it just sex? What goes on, and for how long? Who ends the swapping relationship? As you can see, this is quite a can of worms.

Better to examine your relationship and ask yourselves why it alone is not enough. Then develop what you have and create new ways to stimulate excitement. Short-term thrills such as swinging do not enhance long-term intimacy.

The Bottom Line From Cathy and Steve:

  • Swinging stirs up too much anxiety and undermines the cornerstones of trust and commitment.
  • Intimate relationships need clear boundaries. Swinging has none.
  • Better to develop what you have and explore new ways to spice things up in the bedroom.

Source: Relationships & Love

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