What Is a Swinger and What Does Swinging Mean?

Jim Wade Author

man and womens in heels legs by a bed

Perhaps you’ve come across the term “swingers” from couples you know or maybe you’ve heard it in relation to 70’s parties that used to be all the rage. Regardless of why you want to know what swinging is or what it means, you’ve come to the right place. For some swinging is an activity, for others, it’s a complete lifestyle. So sit back, relax and let’s unpack what swinging is so your partner can determine if it works for you. 

 

So what exactly is a swinger?

A swinger is a person or a couple that engages in sexual relations outside of their otherwise committed relationship. Sometimes called partner swapping, wife swapping or husband swapping the practice can look a number of ways. Swinging is a form of ethical non-monogamy. Ethical non-monogamy takes different forms but the idea is loosely the same. When two people are in a monogamous relationship they have come to an agreement that they will not be with anyone else sexually or emotionally.

 A couple that has agreed to be ethically non-monogamous or swingers has allowed for some flexibility in their definition of monogamy. For some couples only one partner swings for others they only swing together. For the most part swingers all have one thing in common, their partner knows and their agreement is built on trust. Swinging is different from cheating in this way. 

Swinging is the actual act of having sexual relations with others outside of your monogamous relationship but with the knowledge of your partner. Some swinging is full sex with others while others are having sex with your same partner but in the presence of others. Some couples soft swing, where they engage in everything but sex with others. There are many different variations of what swing looks like to different couples but as long as they’re in agreement that’s all that matter. 

 

Who can be a swinger?

man hugging one woman while trying to kiss another

Anyone in a relationship can be a swinger as long as that is an arrangement they have come to with their significant other. In order to be a swinger, both parties have to opt into that lifestyle. This does not mean that both parties have to have extra-marital relations in some dynamics only one partner swings. Both parties do have to agree that they’re okay with their other stepping out. You don’t have to be married to be a swinger you have have to be in a committed relationship with one person.

 

What is the difference between polyamory and swinging? 

In a polyamorous relationship, one or more partners are engaged in a romantic relationship with one or more partners. This differs from swinging in that for the most part swinging is nonemotional. Swinging relationships are generally sexual in nature while some feelings may form they are usually not ones of love. Polyamorous relationships can have very similar benefits as swinging relationship. In a polyamorous relationship, the partners involved may all have equal priority. In a swinging relationship, the established couple’s relationship is the primary while the swinging partners are for fun. 

 

Where did swinging originate? 

During World War II many pilots came to an agreement that should one of them be incapacitated another would help take care of their partner’s needs emotionally and sexually. As pilots during this time were dying quite often so this swinging was out of necessity. 

In the 60’s and 70’s a sexual boom was blossoming in the United States and exploring sexuality was becoming widely adopted. Housewives began letting down their curlers and men were hungry to join in. During this period major metropolitan areas began opening sex clubs. Before this most swinging parties were kept behind the doors of family homes. The opening of sex clubs shows just how wilding accepted swinging was becoming.  

In 1985 NASCA was formed, the North American Swing Club Association. The formation of this club solidified that swinging is apart of American Culture that was not going anywhere. According to the club 2 – 4% of married couples swing. While this is a small percentage there are high chances that many couples are swinging under the radar. 

 

 Why do couples swing? 

woman showing man his phone

There are a variety of reasons why couples swing but the main one is that they don’t want to cheat. By engaging in a swinging relationship partners can be honest about their needs and wants to be with others sexually. Instead of going behind their partners back swinging couples keep everything out in the open. 

Some couples engage in swinging because it’s hot! Watching your partner be with someone else or knowing that others find them hot and desirable is a huge turn on. Swinging allows both partners to keep their sex life interesting and exciting. While swinging you can live out fantasies that might be played out in your own bedroom. 

For some swinging save’s their marriages because they would otherwise be divorced. If there are children involved and other parts of the relationship are good but the sex is not swinging can help people stay together. If the emotional bond is strong but the sex is not swinging can fill the void. 

Whatever your reasons are for wanting to swing or for getting into the community your partner needs to be on board. If they are not on board you are just cheating. While some partners don’t want to hear the dirty details of their other experiences some want to be in the room watching. Swinging is becoming more and more mainstream and the stigma that your marriage will collapse could not be further from the truth. Many couples that swing report much happier relationships and love their partners more than ever. Swinging should be used to strengthen already strong relationships, not as a band-aid for those in trouble.