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Swinger

Updated: NOVEMBER 24, 2021
Reviewed by Dr. Laura McGuire
on November 23, 2021

A swinger is a person who lives the “swinging lifestyle,” or just "the lifestyle." Swinging, in the context of social relations, means having multiple sexual partners with the aim or improving the quality and quantity of sex.

Swingers feel they are sexually free spirits who refuse to be bound by social norms. They embrace sexual expression and attraction and want to explore it beyond the bounds of relationships.

A swinger can be in a committed or casual relationship or unattached and have any gender or sexual identity. Couples who swing are more common than swinging singles. As single, non-coupled swingers are relatively rare, other swingers call them unicorns.

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The sexual activity swingers engage in also varies. Swingers who engage in full-swapping or hard swinging have penetrative sex with people outside relationships. Soft swappers enjoy sexual activity outside relationships but do not have penetrative sex with swinging partners. Instead, they may enjoy oral sex, analingus, or heavy petting, according to the rules they have set out with their partner or spouse. Many people start out as soft swappers and become full swappers once they feel more comfortable with non-monogamous sex. Others never explore beyond soft swapping.

A swinger can swing anywhere, including in private homes and in swinger clubs where recreational sex is the norm. Swinger parties in private homes let swingers connect with other people in the lifestyle in an informal setting.

Sex typically occurs at these parties, although people should not attend these events expecting sex and must be mindful of everyone's boundaries and preferences. Couples often attend these parties with other couples they want to have sex with, forming a quad. When people do this, they often only have sex with the other couple, and do not engage sexually with the other party guests.

Some couples attend swingers and sex clubs and only have sex with one another. While these people are in a swingers’ environment, they are not classed as swingers because they only have monogamous sex. They are more likely to be exhibitionists.

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You also shouldn't confuse swingers with polyamorous people. While both kinds of people have sex outside their relationships, swingers don’t seek multiple romantic partners. They seek sexual connection, rather than emotional connection. Swingers typically look for sex with little to no strings attached.

While it was popular in the 1960s and 1970s, the term swinger is a little dated today. While some young people still engage in swinging, they may not identify as swingers. Instead, it is more common for millennials to say they are in an open relationship.

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More About Swinger

Swinging can be very fulfilling for couples and singles. Ideally, both people in the couple enjoy the emotional benefits of a committed relationship and the freedom to explore sex with other people. They may have group sex or swap partners with another couple. For heterosexual swingers, this practice is sometimes called wife-swapping.

Couples who swing successfully are able to focus their emotional energy on their relationship and only share themselves physically with other people. It is taboo for couples who swing to form emotional bonds with people outside their relationship. When it happens, it can be damaging for everyone involved.

Swingers who are single often dislike the conventional dating process. They appreciate the straightforward nature of swinging. In the swinging community, it is acceptable and even expected that they will have sex with anyone they feel attracted to quickly. This sex occurs without emotional games or emotional or financial investments.

Being a swinger can be a lot of fun. However, there are dangers associated with the lifestyle. Swingers should be aware of these potential dangers and protect themselves against them. Having multiple sexual partners increases the risk of sexually transmitted infections. Wearing condoms and getting tested regularly helps swingers reduce the risk of contracting and transmitting sexually transmitted infections.

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There are also potential emotional risks to swingers. Swinging has the potential to improve or degrade committed relationships. Swingers also have the potential to get hurt if they develop an emotional attachment to a sexual partner which is not reciprocated, or to hurt their spouse if they stray outside the rules they have agreed to previously.

Open and honest communication with all partners can help swingers protect themselves emotionally. Many couples also set rules that protect their relationship. For example, it’s common for couples to only have non-monogamous sex when their partner is actively involved or at least present.

As with all sexual activities, consent is also vital for swingers. While swingers are sexually liberated and open to exploring sexual expression, they will not want to have sex with every person they meet. A swinger who likes soft swapping is under no obligation to have penetrative sex. Full swappers may also prefer non-penetrative sex at times. A swinger should always get informed consent from every partner they have and gracefully accept any rejection.

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