Empowered Sex Asks: Variety is the spice of life – but can swinging improve a marriage? I’ve already voiced my opinion on monogamy in a previous article – it’s not human nature, it’s a choice. So what other choices are there? Last Friday on Renegade Talk, we interviewed a married couple in Denver who are living an alternative lifestyle, and talked about one option.
So what is swinging all about anyway? If you don’t personally know any swingers, the term might initially conjure up some interesting images. Like: flashbacks of B-rated movies from the 70’s of couples in tight polyester and flowered shirts making out in hot tubs or throwing their keys into the center of the room to see whose wife or husband they are going home with. But the swinging couples I’ve met and spoken with don’t fit that image at all. In fact, they are quite normal, happy, intelligent, healthy, attractive couples who come from all walks of life.
Recent studies show that 20% of American married couples are swinging. These couples are middle to upper class, work in professional or management careers, and are well educated. In our simultaneously sexually obsessed and sexually repressed American society however, the swinging lifestyle is certainly not something you’re going to discuss at a PTA meeting or a church social (even though studies show that a high percent of swingers do have a religious affiliation). As a result, I suspect the percentage of swinging couples in this country could be even higher than 20%.
Similar to the behavior of the animal kingdom when it comes to monogamy, swinging couples are socially and emotionally committed to one another. They are not, however, sexually monogamous. They just simply leave the nest together or with one another’s blessing when they decide to branch out sexually.
Unfortunately the most recent statistics I could find about swingers were from a survey taken in 2000 by Dr. Curtis Bergstrand and Jennifer Blevins Williams. According to the survey, the number of swingers has increased exponentially in the last decade evidenced by the membership to swinging websites such as Adult Friend Finder and Kasidie. The October 2000 study showed that the happiness quotient of couples who opted into the ‘lifestyle’ as it is called, increased significantly. And based on my own unscientific research, it seems clear to me that these couples are on to something that could solve the problems that tend to crop up in long-term traditional marriages and committed relationships. Problems like boredom caused by routine sex, loss of passion and excitement, and dealing with the issue of physical attraction to others – even same sex partners. After all, it is really not the act of sexual infidelity that breaks up a marriage. Infidelity is typically a symptom of other problems that already exist in a marriage. It is really the lying, betrayal, and cheating that causes the pain when infidelity occurs.
The research study mentioned above indicates that swingers are generally much happier and describe life as more exciting than sexually monogamous couples. While this study also shows that happiness rates increased dramatically for couples who switched from a ‘vanilla’ relationship to a swinging relationship, it would be interesting to know what percentage of today’s swinging couples entered into their relationship with this understanding, versus those who decided to change their marital agreement in order to improve satisfaction in the marriage.
Since the success of the lifestyle depends on the strength of the foundation of the committed relationship, it is impossible to say that swinging is the cure-all for any marriage in jeopardy. But in my opinion, it is certainly a viable alternative to divorce court – being much less disruptive, less expensive, and a whole lot more fun!
For more information listen to our recent interview with a swinging Denver couple on Renegade Talk FM – and stay tuned for more discussions about the swinging lifestyle on future shows!