A female perspective on swinging
Swinging. There’s something irredeemably naff about the term, evoking as it does images of saucy goings-on behind the suburban curtains; a sort of sexed-up Abigail’s Party where lube and dildos replace the Martini Rosso and cheese hedgehog.
But swinging has endured and, thanks to meetup apps and internet forums, it’s more popular than ever. You may have wondered what’s it really like? Who does it? Where do you do it? And how do you sign up? I’ve been swinging with my husband for years, so I’ll give a female perspective on swinging.
To sign up you need two things: an open mind, and a partner. The open mind part is – so to speak – a no-brainer. Embark upon the swinging lifestyle and you will find yourself in situations where more or less anything can happen and you have to be prepared to be unprepared for it.
Having a partner who fully shares your interests and enthusiasms is also key. Think very carefully about what you both want from the situation, how you feel about seeing your loved one kissing, caressing, being turned on by someone else, is that the full extent of what you are happy with? Will you be happy seeing them giving or receiving oral sex? If he is straight how will he feel about an erect penis in his near vicinity? How do both of your feel about seeing your partner’s “fuck face” when it isn’t you or at least not you alone being responsible for it? Being on the same page about your parameters is vital to a happy swinging experience, but keep a weather eye out for the couples who are not. Frequently one partner will not be as keen, which can derail the situation.
Discuss and set your own rules before swinging. One of our rules is that we stay in the same room as each other for any swinging activities, whatsoever. I have encountered men who desperately try to slip me their phone number for separate rendezvous, but on one occasion, when my partner and the other chap in the foursome had popped out for supplies the woman actually launched herself on to me, knocking me to the kitchen floor and in between kissing me told me suggested that we met up on our own. Now we had promoted me as bi-curious (although one description might just be drunk) and so was not revolted by the experience, but was by the feeling of the hair extensions coming away in my hands.
Browse any of the swinging websites and you will find that they are not exactly short of single men hoping to insert themselves into a relationship. And judging by the profiles, there’s often a good reason why they remain single.
The chances of enjoying a successful swinging life are far higher if you can present yourselves as a couple. Better still if you can present yourselves as a couple who rank fairly evenly on the attractiveness scale. There are few things more dispiriting than meeting up with a couple who do not conform to this ideal, knowing that one of you is raring to go, while the other is wondering if they can take one for the team with the reanimated corpse sitting opposite them
We once met up with a couple who had advertised on a swinging website. We chose them because they said they were both “very attractive” (not an uncommon boast), seemed to be reasonable people and – crucially – were visiting the UK from France and would be returning home the following day. Great: one night of fun and virtually no possibility of an ongoing relationship. Just how we like it.
As usual we had our “safe” word agreed in advance; a word to be deployed in casual conversation if either of us wanted out of the arrangement. We waited for them at the bar of a West End hotel.
It’s a nerve-wracking experience waiting for another couple to arrive. Your hopes rise and fall as various couples enter the room. Is it that gorgeous and impeccably-groomed couple? Sadly not. Not that couple in trainers and anoraks? Phew. Not them either. Then our French friends did arrive. Now she was not too bad. But he: short, balding, badly-dressed. We had one drink with them (top tip: don’t set up a bar tab. Pay for each drink as it comes so that your exit can be swift if needs be), skulled it, raced each other to get the safe word out and ran for it. Cruel I know (they did look rather crestfallen) but if it ain’t there, it ain’t there.
Some of the best encounters happen with no prior planning whatsoever. We once got talking to a couple in an ordinary bar and invited them back to our place. The male half took some convincing that my partner wasn’t going to punch his lights out for having sex with me but once that fear was allayed we all had a fine old time.
There are a few places that are specifically set up to facilitate the swinging lifestyle. We discovered one such in Amsterdam (naturally), a place where complimentary nuts on the bar can have a whole different meaning. Its website suggests a venue of sleek sophistication where the beautiful people gather to enjoy evenings of decadence and hedonism. The truth is rather more prosaic but fun all the same.
We had followed the website’s advice that only the attractive and “sexily-dressed” would be admitted and were buffed, polished, waxed and tanned when we presented ourselves for admission. We needn’t have bothered, or rather I needn’t have. For most of the men, at least, “sexily-dressed” had been interpreted as t-shirt without a slogan.
Entering a place like that for the first time does require a degree of courage and for the first half-hour we clung to the bar like limpets as we checked out what was going on around us. The answer was: something and not a lot really. It appeared that for quite a few customers this was a place where they went regularly to have a drink, a smoke (it is Amsterdam) and to mingle with people in various states of undress, watch them have sex, perhaps join them in sex or just enjoy the louche but welcoming atmosphere. We did a bit of all of the above, culminating in us having full penetrative sex on the bar as a small – but I hope appreciative – crowd looked on.
We’ve been back a few times since; sometimes things happen, sometimes they don’t. And that, we find, is the best way to approach swinging. Don’t assume that everything is going to click magically into place and that a night of wild, untrammelled sex is a given. If you’re remotely discriminating then it won’t happen every time. When it does, great. When it doesn’t, just accept it, go home and curl up with a nice relaxing hour of internet porn.
So how to start – The internet – it hardly needs saying – has become a useful tool for those seeking, well, a useful tool. The usual caveats apply about the rather fanciful profiles some users adopt but they can and do work. Craigslist began as a general community listing site in San Francisco in the ‘80s and though it still has ads for unwanted exercise bikes and dog-grooming services (not, for once, a euphemism) it also has a large section devoted to swinging and sexual hook-ups for every possible kind of carnal orientation. And, if you’re caught using it when you shouldn’t be, you can always claim you were interested in the second-hand Flymo rather than the “open-minded and adventurous couple” living in your postcode.
3nder (allegedly pronounced “thrinder”) is an app designed specifically to introduce singles to couples and vice versa. The app allows the user to swipe up or down the photos of potential playmates to indicate interest or otherwise. The drawback – for some – will be the photo element. There is always the lurking possibility that you might come across the all-too-familiar image of a friend, work colleague or much-loved aunt offering their services. Equally, you too could be spotted by someone you know. But let’s face it, if they do, they’re hardly likely to tell you.
So enjoy, if it is your thing, stay well clear if you are in any doubt, always stay safe, and remember to never put yourselves into a situation you can’t escape from and accept that after each adventure there may need to be a certain amount of reassurance on both sides afterwards.
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