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The Rules Of Swinging: Do You Need Them?

Don't let a few bumps in the road spoil an incredible journey.

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The following is a question from a connection on our new Twitter account earlier today:

Backstory – my wife and I softswapped a bunch of times with friends (3 different couples) – we’d set limits with them & ourselves. All was great. However, the last time we swapped, she intentionally overstepped the boundaries we’d established as a foursome (she initiated intercourse with the other dude & he didn’t stop it) knowing it was over the line. She’s of the mindset to ‘get over it, it’s just sex’ but, until then, the 4 of us would be with our partners, all in one room, finishing off as a couple. What once was great, isn’t any more. I miss it. She says boundaries are meant to be tested. I’m not sure I agree without discussion or communication of intent. Or am I overthinking & over analyzing everything? It’s hard when that trust isn’t taken seriously. Or am I overreacting?

I don’t think you’re overreacting by being upset by this. Not at all. I imagine watching her do that felt like a betrayal, both by her and the other dude. Owning and expressing your feelings and emotions is essential for non-monogamy to work. Burying your feelings is only going to germinate them to sprout later. So get it out, communicate, move on. What happened sucks but I don’t think it’s anything to sink the ship over.

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Swinging isn’t just about sex, it’s about finding a way to make relationships work better. While swinging does do away with many of the classic pitfalls of monogamy — as well as being a whole lot of fun — it presents it’s own challenges which are important not to ignore. However, I believe that the challenges of swinging are far easier to solve that those of monogamy, which are often terminal.

The one thing, in my experience, that you can never expect from swinging is perfection. This is something that is very fluid; there’s a lot of decisions that need to be made in the moment, many judgement calls, and sometimes we’re going to choose poorly. I believe that it is essential to accept the fact that your partner — as well as yourself — are occasionally going to make transgressions and overstep boundaries. You can go in with the most airtight of plans and just have it get blown to oblivion when the action begins. This isn’t idea and it sucks when it happens, but it is normal and should be built into your expectations. We’re human and, especially when placed in sexual situations — where hormones, emotions, and desires are elevated (especially when alcohol and drugs are involved, as is the case with most swinger parties), things are going to happen that we don’t (or can’t) plan for. So have a system in place for reconnecting, repairing trust, and reestablishing symbiosis, because at some point you’re probably going to need it.

Some couples seem to think that they can use rules to avoid potential problems in swinging. They set up all kinds of boundaries, parameters, and a long list of “don’t-dos” thinking that it’s going to keep them out trouble and ensure that they both are happy. But I feel that this kind of structure actually creates more problems than it solves, because when someone oversteps a boundary it often becomes less about the action and more about the principle — you broke a rule, an agreement, violated trust, and this disrespect, belittling, and lack of empathy in and of itself really stings.

As for my wife and I, we follow the premise that a rule that is made is made to be broken, and we try to limit the opportunities that we have for doing this. We only really have one rule, and that is to be honest — to openly communicate what we are doing, thinking, planning and to always tell the truth. Beyond that, everything is processual. We have a formal meeting once a week where we bring up anything that is bothering us, tell each other about any new potential partners, and make our plans for the weekend. Where there’s points of contention, we express how we feel and then allow the other one to make their own choices. We very rarely say no if one of us wants to do something, but we also very rarely do something that we know would make the other one upset.

However, boundaries do sometimes get overstepped — even after we’ve been doing this regularly for many years. When this happens we talk about it. We say how it made us feel, we get it out, and almost invariably the other one will apologize and come up with a strategy to limit the chances of it happening again in the future. We forgive, we move on. It’s a process — a process that we’re always trying to tweak and improve.

In my opinion, the worst thing about monogamy is how unforgiving it is. One fuck up and the entire house of cards crumbles. We expect our partners to be what we want them to be — especially when it comes to their sexuality — and there is often no process for reconciliation when it’s clear that they’re not … other than divorce or, even worse, perpetual bitterness. The prime directive of swinging isn’t just to have a lot of sex but to escape the restrictions, pitfalls, and problems of monogamy, which, statistics show, isn’t really working for a huge number of couples.

Or, I’ll put it like this: if rules don’t work for monogamy, they’re definitely not going to work for non-monogamy.

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That said, I do understand why you’d want to reserve some sexual things just for you and your wife. That can be something beautiful and special. But I feel that there’s also a risk to it. It’s kind of like having a priceless vase set up on a wobbly pedestal in the middle of your living room. Eventually, some jackass — maybe even yourself — is going to knock it over. It’s inevitable. And once it’s gone, it’s gone.

We’ve tried many different strategies in our swinging journey, and we found that things work best when a platform for communication takes the place of a rule book.

Have you asked your wife why did she did it? Do you know if it was an acute mistake or does she want to move on to being full swap? Were there other things going on in the relationship that may have made her want to … for lack of a better term, stick it to you?

If it was a one time thing and you both truly want to continue playing, I’d tell her how it made you feel, get it out, and move on. From what you said, she seems a little unapologetic. If that’s the case, accept it. An apology isn’t something that you need to win. She also doesn’t have to validate your emotions. Recite your lines and get off the stage. Also, there is a slippery slope between a man expressing his feelings and appearing weak. Keep your head above water.

If she would prefer to be full swap how would you feel about this? How would she feel about you having intercourse with other women?

Honestly, I think soft swap is an incredibly difficult thing to do — way more difficult than full swap — and the fact that you were able to do this successfully multiple times with multiple couples is impressive. I’d recommend trying full swap and see how it goes, if for no other reason than it’s way less complicated … and more fun, of course.

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But other than that, in my opinion, the worst has already happened. That priceless vase has been shattered. It’s gone and there’s no use being upset about it anymore. Appreciate the fact that you have a partner that’s open to embarking on sexual explorations with you and revel in the fact that her mindset is “It’s just sex.” That’s something that many dudes would give about anything for. Your path ahead seems pretty good, man. Keep your focus on the finish line and don’t let the little things trip you up. Take what you have and run with it.

I’ll leave you with this: the best salve for a busted sex party is often another sex party.

Swinging is always a work in progress. Always try again.

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Ender Wilder
Ender Wilderhttps://swingingsolution.com
Ender Wilder is a former big media journalist and author who escaped from that world to be able to write about anything he wants. He has been actively living the swinging life with his wife for many years, and is available to coach those who are just getting into the lifestyle or have hit some bumps along the road.

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1 Comment

  1. I see this all the time. It’s the couples with all the rules that end up fighting and ruining their nights. Just talk to each other and then you don’t need all the rules!

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