We are NOT Swingers!
When an email starts out that way, we know what’s coming next.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Jones,
Even though we are NOT swingers, we really enjoy listening to each episode of your podcast. You know, you guys sound so normal—you seem a lot like us.
We are not at all swingers but we are open minded. We have a great sex life. We did have a threesome experience a few years ago, and we do like to fantasize about being with others. We’ve been together a long time and have a great relationship. One time we went to a lifestyle club, but we just watched. Well, we watched and it was hot, so we had sex. And while we were having sex with each other we really enjoyed watching others nearby. Then we went home and continued to have the best sex of our lives….for weeks!
Anyway, from two non-swingers to you—thanks for the podcast. We really enjoy it. Keep up the good work!
Those new or curious about the swinger lifestyle often find it difficult to accept a label that in their mind is negative or far different from how they see themselves. We get it. The labels can be problematic for people. Being a swinger sounds creepy or illicit to some.
The term has been around since WWII but became well known in the 1960s. It often carries negative, seedy connotations. It makes some people think of smarmy 1960s key parties where everyone throws their car keys in a bowl and then pull another couple’s out at random. [EDIT: One kind reader has pointed out that key parties existed more as a myth than a reality. Not arguing that but the fact remains that the term swinger still evokes that kind of idea for some people, coloring their response to it].
To be honest, we didn’t originally care for the term much, ourselves. We won’t try to tell you that we never gave it a thought, in the beginning. As podcasters, we were more-or-less forced to think about what we want to call this thing we do.
There are definitely other terms that have emerged in more recent years that are less laden with historical baggage, including ethical non-monogamy (ENM) and consensual non-monogamy (CNM). Both of those are accurate descriptions of how we approach sex in our relationship now. But they are not without their problems, too. Ever try to write or talk about yourselves as “ENMers” or “CNMers”?! Yeah. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. And “we are practitioners of consensual non-monogamy” may be true, but it isn’t remotely manageable in conversation or writing. These terms may not have historical baggage, but they have lexical troubles of their own.
Our approach to the semantic problem of how to label this thing we do together is to more-or-less just let it go.
Rather than get caught up in finding just the right term or label, we continue to use the word swinger—knowing that what we mean is a way of approaching sex and our relationship that represents an evolved approach to the outdated ideas people may have of those terms. It’s an easy and convenient term to use when we discuss things, and it’s become one we’re proudly wearing for ourselves. We are swingers.
The writers of the email above are, too. They may not be as far along in their journey exploring the swinger lifestyle as we are at this moment. They may not have had sex with other couples or singles, and maybe they never will. But what they describe tells us that they are most certainly part of the swinger lifestyle community, as we know it.
Here’s how we moved beyond the perceived stigma of the word swinger: We started to make friends who were also interested in this thing. And every time we made another friend, we started to care a bit less about the label and whatever problems we had been attaching to it. Then, after starting our podcast, we heard from so many more amazing people out there! Some of them also became good friends. That made us care even less about the label. Then our listeners kept telling us how their relationships were deepening, how they were connecting with each other in profound ways, and how they were finding like-minded friends that made their lives richer.
And that’s pretty much when we stopped concerning ourselves at all with any problems we had associated with being called or calling ourselves swingers. It became clear to us that it’s not about the label, it’s about the people and the relationships.
We continue to use the terms swinger and lifestyle in our podcast and writing, without being overly concerned about whether it’s the exact, specific, perfect term for what we are doing. It works. Others may refer to doing very similar things within their relationship in very different terms and that’s okay too.
What we know is this: Whatever you want to call it, there is no shame or stigma to being a swinger.
We are Mr. & Mrs. Jones, swinger lifestyle podcasters. If you like what you read here and want to learn more about the swinger lifestyle and/or We Gotta Thing, you can find our podcast episodes and much more at WeGottaThing.com.
We love reading (and writing) about sex, sexuality, and the swinger lifestyle on Medium. It’s entirely worth the $5/month subscription. Care to join us?