Swingers: The Historically Misunderstood Subculture

Swingers: a term that encompasses many different ways of life, even though it is most regularly associated with social activities and events within a certain lifestyle. Since the term hit its peak recognition in the late 1990s, many misconceptions and myths have been associated with the lifestyle. Discourses surrounding swinging have been intertwined with myths, as well as a misunderstanding of the motivations and rules behind it. Here, the history, motivations, and rules related to swingers are discussed.

Swinging has a long, complicated history. Swinging began to take off in the 1970s, in response to the sexual revolution. The ‘sexual liberation’ movement of the 1960s (which was nutured in educated circles) began to spread to the public and consequently, more and more people began to explore their sexuality, and, in some instances, it resulted in them exploring non-monogamous relationships.

Initially, swingers were a small, but vocal, group. Typically, these were people normally living a life of conventional sexual behaviour who were curious about exploring different ways to express their sexuality. This initial group of swingers were mostly white, college-educated and financially well-off. Over time, the lifestyle has opened up to a wider range of participants, with the main focus being on creating a safe, respectful atmosphere.

The main motivation for people engaging in swinging is pleasure. Many people within the lifestyle understand that when it comes to relationships, they are not in a race to the finish line, but where the journey that leads them there is just as important. People engaging in swinging are often more interested in the opportunity to explore their sexuality with their partner(s), and while seeing other partners and gaining pleasure from the experience, it is seen as a way to strengthen their commitment and connection with their primary partner.

Rules and agreements amongst swingers vary between couples, but there are some common rules and agreements that most accounts consider. Most swingers follow a policy of sincerity, respect and openness. Swingers believe that by engaging in this behaviour it should be respectful to all involved, and communication can help build that trust. Additionally, swingers often do not allow members whom they have not previously met into their social circle. Furthermore, feelings and emotional issues are kept outside their sexual activities. Additionally, commitment remains with a primary partner.

In order to create a safe and trusting environment, swingers adhere to certain rules such as choosing safe locations for their activities (e.g., an exclusive swingers club as opposed to a public place). They also typically develop signals or an agreed upon code of conduct, as a way of creating a safe space and providing opportunities to explore sexual features such as touch, negotiation and consent.

Currently, there is an increasing number of swingers who use the internet to connect with like-minded people and, thereby, expand the visibility of their lifestyle. Social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, have provided a platform for swingers to communicate and, many argue, have made the lifestyle more accessible and socially acceptable. Moreover, this has helped reduce the judgment and stigma associated with swingers.

However, despite the growing visibility of swingers, many people still have an incorrect and often misunderstood view of this lifestyle. The most common myth is that swingers are promiscuous, when in fact many couples engage in swinging in order to solidify their relationship and strengthen their bond. Additionally, many people have an assumption that sexual relationships outside of marriage are damaging, when evidence actually suggests that it can be beneficial.

Overall, the swingers lifestyle has changed much since its conception in the late sixties and, while still stigmatized, it is becoming increasingly accepted and understood in society. Perspectives towards swingers are changing and, with the help of social media, it is becoming more visible. It is important to strive for more awareness and understanding of swinging, as everyone should be free to enjoy their sexuality in whatever form they choose.