September 15th, 2011
09:49 AM ET
Would you ever swing?
Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.
No, I’m not talking about ballroom dancing. This is a sex column, after all.
With buzz-terms like “monogamish” and “negotiated monogamy” making headlines, many couples are discovering that they have a shared appetite for sexual adventure, and that getting it on with another couple may be the golden ticket – not just to thrills, but also to staying together and surviving another day in the life of a relationship.
While the term “swinging” may be a throwback to the 70s and the days of Plato’s Retreat, more and more modern couples are hooking up with other couples, either informally or through networks or clubs. And, of course, like all things online, the Internet has amplified these opportunities and made it easier to find couples and clubs in a neighborhood near you.
As with most sexual activities, there haven’t been many studies into the prevalence of swinging - and many people who do it don’t necessarily want to admit it - but some experts believe that there could be as many 15 million Americans swinging on a regular basis. Chances are you have a friend or neighbor who is swinging.
As I’ve written about previously in this column, I often run into two “sexual types” in my work as a sexuality counselor: “comfort creatures” and “thrill seekers.” The former takes a “less is more” approach to sexual novelty, while the latter often have a “more, more, more” attitude. Usually this dichotomy isn’t an issue when two people find themselves at the same end the spectrum.
For two comfort creatures, for example, swinging isn’t probably high up on their sexual bucket list, although it might well be a fantasy. Exhibitionism, voyeurism, watching a partner have sex with someone else - these are very common fantasies, and, in many cases, sharing a fantasy can lead to an actual exploration of fantasy, especially when one partner is hankering for a bit more sexual adventure.
“My husband and I had some confusion that we had to get straightened out,” a client whom I’ll call Kelly told me. “I feel very comfortable in our relationship, and I have a vivid fantasy life. I think of myself as a very sexual person. But when I mentioned my fantasy of watching him get it on with another woman, he wanted to make it a reality. At least he thought he did. We perused some sites, which was fun, but in the end, neither of us decided to pursue it. It just looked too sleazy. Luckily, the subject was dropped.”
But for couples with a genuine appetite (and stomach) for sexual novelty, swinging might not be a big deal and might even be a counterintuitive way of strengthening their sense of fidelity and identity as a couple. It’s monogamy on shared terms. In fact, many couples who swing together paradoxically have even stronger sexual boundaries than couples who do not.
But swinging can backfire, too. I worked with one couple who liked to swing on a regular basis, but the reason they ended up in my office was because she had major problems with all of the stuff he kept to himself: flirty friendships, porn usage, his enjoyment of strippers. She had no problem with swinging, but in every other way she demanded more exclusivity from the relationship than many far less sexually adventurous women would require. From her perspective, swinging was just another way of sharing everything, including sex.
And for many couples, swinging is by no means a replacement for sex; it’s an augmentation, and very different than actual lovemaking with their partner. Many couples use occasional swinging as an opportunity to jumpstart their sex life and break out of a rut. “Swinging strengthens us,” says Jenny, a mother of two. “It’s something we do once or twice a year. We enjoy the scoping out of another couple, the flirtation, the sex, but also the way we talk about it for weeks after and incorporate into our fantasy life. We love having a secret life together – a whole different community than the ones we see at PTA meetings – although we’re just waiting for those worlds to collide.”
But swinging certainly doesn’t work for everyone, especially couples in which one partner is going along for the ride with another partner, like when a true comfort creature is paired with a thrill seeker. Then it becomes a form of sexual pressure, and can lead to disastrous results.
And sometimes we think we know what we want, but the process of discovery has unintended results. Ken, who had to convince his wife to give swinging a go, said, “I was prepared for everything, except seeing my wife kiss another man - out of the whole experience that’s the image I can’t get out of my head: her kissing another man. The moral of the lesson for me: Swinging is something a couple should work towards in their relationship, not begin with.”
Ken’s wife wanted to give it another whirl, this time with the rule of no kissing. Meanwhile, Ken wanted to drop the whole thing.
Monogamy: what a concept.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
You've made some really good points there. I checked on the net to find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.
erectile creams walgreens kayamy erectile pills
erectile dysfunction when trying to conceive slilicy erectile pills online india
erectile pain sicAdofs top erectile dysfunction supplements
hydroxicloriquine what is clonidine hydrchloroquine
Everything is very open with a precise description of the challenges. It was truly informative. Your site is very useful. Thank you for sharing!
erectile dysfunction clinic kayamy best erectile medicine
is erectile dysfunction common slilicy erectile vacuum pump costs
erectile master sicAdofs is erectile dysfunction treatable
Good site you have got here.. Itís hard to find high quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate people like you! Take care!!
is erectile dysfunction normal kayamy is erectile dysfunction a chronic condition
can erectile dysfunction be corrected slilicy comparing erectile dysfunction drugs
erectile function cocaine abuse sicAdofs which erectile dysfunction pills work
which erectile dysfunction foods work fast kayamy do erectile pills permanently increase size
discount erectile medication slilicy erectile doctors
erectile pills china sicAdofs erectile
buy cialis brand cialis viagra levitra samples cialis doesn\'t work
Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Many thanks, However I am having problems with your RSS. I donít know why I can't subscribe to it. Is there anyone else getting the same RSS issues? Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!!
does erectile dysfunction cause depression kayamy erectile rehabilitation therapy
erectile discharge slilicy best ways to help erectile dysfunction
erectile enhancement pills sicAdofs erectile malfunction
best erectile medicine kayamy best erectile dysfunction drug
erectile transplant slilicy erectile dysfunction reviews
can erectile dysfunction caused by guilt sicAdofs what erectile dysfunction pill is the best
Everyone loves it when folks get together and share views. Great site, continue the good work!
best erectile dysfunction treatment kayamy erectile stimulant
who treats erectile dysfunction slilicy erectile pump youtube
erectile transplant sicAdofs erectile surgery
Aw, this was a very nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to generate a very good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I hesitate a lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.
erectile tissue histology kayamy erectile jelly
erectile dysfunction treatment slilicy erectile creams walmart
erectile prescription pills sicAdofs top erectile dysfunction doctors in tx
Great post. I will be experiencing some of these issues as well..
Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday. It's always interesting to read through articles from other writers and use a little something from other sites.
Hello there! I could have sworn Iíve been to this site before but after browsing through a few of the articles I realized itís new to me. Nonetheless, Iím definitely pleased I stumbled upon it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back often!
is erectile dysfunction common kayamy online doctor erectile dysfunction
erectile disorder dsm v slilicy erectile injection therapy plan
erectile reflex sicAdofs erectile clinics cleveland
That is a really good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very precise informationÖ Thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!
Watch my home video extreme orgasm denial
does erectile dysfunction go away kayamy do erectile pills work
solutions to erectile dysfunction slilicy treating erectile dysfunction without drugs
antidepressant without erectile dysfunction sicAdofs erectile diet
erectile enhancement pills kayamy erectile meds
erectile hopeless slilicy erectile function with age
youth erectile dysfunction sicAdofs erectile problems
erectile implants kayamy erectile medication over counter
erectile medication over counter slilicy is erectile dysfunction life threatening
when does erectile dysfunction start sicAdofs erectile creams walmart
erectile vacuum pump for sale kayamy erectile function after prostatectomy
erectile disease quiz slilicy what erectile dysfunction solution works best
erectile bands sicAdofs erectile disease quiz
Hi, I do think this is an excellent website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will return yet again since I saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.
Itís hard to find well-informed people in this particular subject, but you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks
I every time used to read paragraph in news papers
but now as I am a user of internet therefore from now I am using net for posts, thanks to
erectile pump implant kayamy do erectile pills work
erectile meds slilicy erectile disorder dsm v
discount erectile dysfunction sicAdofs is erectile dysfunction real
Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post and also the rest of the site is really good.
May I just say what a relief to uncover somebody who truly knows what they're discussing over the internet. You certainly understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people should look at this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that you are not more popular because you definitely have the gift.