Ask Polyamory Paradigm

Check out my new question and answer blog!
AskPolyamoryParadigm

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Poly night at the Swing club!!

So here I am, merrily skipping down the poly path of life, hanging out with my friends Rickie and Lucy the other night. Rickie and Lucy are a poly couple I know and enjoy socializing with once in a while. Their poly relationship has been handled differently than I usually handle mine which is one reason I enjoy talking with them.
As usually happens, someone says something that gets the wheels in my brain spinning. This time it was Rickie saying "Yeah, we are going to head out to the swing club tomorrow night. Wanna go?"
Remember, I'm the guy who blurts out what is on his mind without thinking so appropriately my response was something like "Why would I want to go to a swing club? I'm not a swinger."

The conversation that followed (which I won't repeat word for word) basically went down the following road; Rickie believes that when poly's want sex and can't find other poly's to play with, finding a couple of swingers is a good substitute.

Now, don't take that the wrong way. Neither of us believes swing is a subordinate lifestyle to polyamory. We both respect Swing as a lifestyle and respect those who choose it.

Here is the real difference between myself and Rickie; I tend to believe that love is somewhat closely related to sex. That's to say, I need to have an emotional connection to have sex. Whereas Rickie believes love is an emotional component separate from sex. That's to say, Sex is just sex, whether there is an emotional component or not doesn't matter much. (At least with playmates).
Hence his reasoning that since he and Lucy are poly and able to have sex with others then swingers are viable sexual partners.

Now admittedly Swinging and Polyamory seem to overlap at times and the lines become blurry. Of course that is my opinion. There are plenty of folks out there who believe the two should never meet and if they do there will be sparks and an explosion of epic proportions which will cause the Earth to cease rotation. There are also those who believe the two are so similar that the terms "Swing" and "Poly" are interchangeable and use either to identify themselves. I tend to believe that people define their own relationship and lifestyle paradigms so whatever they do, it is their choice. And that's okay.

Where it does cause confusion though is when trying to relate to other people. Having my poly friend Rickie tell me he is going to a swing club with the express intent of finding a "playmate" causes me to question his categorization in my mind as "poly". At which point it becomes more difficult for me to relate to his lifestyle.

I've noticed Rickie also has difficulty relating to me at times. Particularly during the above conversation when he says something like "Don't you want to get laid?" and I respond something like "Hell yes I want to get laid. But not with some stranger!". To which he will reply, "It is only sex." and my response is "Exactly, that's only sex." Which results in us both having perplexed looks on our faces.

I really don't have a problem with having sex just to have sex. Been there, done that. I just don't prefer it and the older I get, the more unsafe it seems on several levels.

So where are you at with Poly vs. Swing? Are they oil and water, never to meet and mingle? Or is one ice cream and the other syrup, a good compliment to one another?
Are you able to exist happily in either lifestyle?
Have you in the past identified as either Swing or Poly and "converted" to the other? How did that go? Any regrets?

20 comments:

  1. I've had this conversation before. And even had it within our quad.

    We met while swinging. And we fell into poly out of the blue and were not prepared for that trip at all. Many mistakes have been made.

    We are a polyfi quad. In the beginning I was the only one of the four who didn't truly want to give up swinging. However, at that time, I had not fallen in love with my boyfriend. Now, while I understand and appreciate the time we had without swinging to build our relationships, I wouldn't have a problem with swinging again. I more than likely wouldn't participate too much even now. Simply because I don't get to see BF much and I would not give up what little time I have with him to pursue swinging. It would boil down to who I would prefer to spend that time with. And since I do have a relationship with BF, I would invest the most time I can in that.

    In my opinion, poly is a committed relationship with someone, or the chance for that to happen. Swinging was, and still is to me, recreational sex. Though I've made friends in that lifestyle, it really is about the sex. And I don't have a problem with that.

    I'm told that I am not the most normal of females (no shit...look at my life) partly because I can separate sex and love. I like sex. Sue me. And while I don't have sex with just anyone...something has to be there...I don't have to feel as if things could develop into something more than sex to participate. In fact, until we landed in this quad, it was my preference not to have feelings develop.

    Though I am not currently swinging, I still identify as a swinger. I feel both swinging and poly are mindsets more than something you have to actually be participating in. I'm a part of both the swinging camp and the poly camp. To me they are opposite ends of a spectrum and the closer you get the the middle the more you will see the opposite ends overlapping.

    ReplyDelete
  2. lovingmorethanone,
    Thanks for the awesome comment!

    I agree with you completely, the more you look at the two, the more they seem to overlap.

    I like how you are able to enjoy both lifestyles and they actually compliment one another in your life.

    A question if you don't mind: You mentioned your quad was born of Swinging. What are your thoughts about looking for relationships vs. casual sex in the Swing community?

    PP

    ReplyDelete
  3. In the circle we were swinging in, it was definitely more of the casual sex. Almost everyone I met was not interested in a relationship.

    I do frequently see on profiles the term "friends first". Those would be the ones, in my opinion, that you'd have the best chance of a relationship developing.

    Still, the swing lifestyle wouldn't be my first choice for searching out a couple for a relationship.

    ReplyDelete
  4. lovingmorethanone,
    Thanks for the response!

    Regarding your mention of "friends first" on profiles; to clarify for everyone, I believe what you are talking about are profiles on Swing focused sites. (Please correct me if I am wrong).

    The Swing community is not somewhere I typically expect to find relationships either. As we both know though, the Poly and Swing communities do overlap so I find myself in the company of Swingers at times. When I do I try to be very clear I'm a Poly. I have been fortunate to make several good friends in the Swing community over the years, and develop a few relationships as well.

    PP

    ReplyDelete
  5. On Saturday, before I left the house to go to a Swing club in our area, I read this blog entry. I had a chance to be present during the evening within context with this topic.

    Before I went to the Swing Club, my SO and I went to a BDSM gathering. Remembering the context of your blog, I observed myself at the party. I should make it clear that I do not participate in a kink lifestyle. My partner hires a dominatrix, sees other kink pals, and likes to participate in fetish activities. Although I accompany him to activities, I do not play. I assume I'm becoming known for being vanilla. That familiarity of who I am, gives all people I meet at the kink places, an appreciation for what and who we are as individuals.

    On Saturday night, while at the kink gathering, I observed how comfortable my SO feels when he is in this setting. I felt comfortable too, knowing that I am happy to support him in his pursuit of the fet life. Because he has play partners within the fet community, I fully understand the importance of being open and honest in our desires to be ourselves within our poly relationship. While at this gathering, I had an appreciation that some day, sometime, he may again have a regular OSO in this lifestyle.

    After being at the BDSM gathering for about three hours, we drove forty miles to a swingers' club. Years ago, I wanted to believe that swing clubs were about sex, and only sex. But after attending this club for two years, and another club for more than four years, I know that my understanding, context, and experience about swing clubs is that we participate in sex as if it were unregulated by Conservative scrutiny. For me, this means that there are no dirty parts of sex. Sex is good, fun, fulfilling, and a way to share intimacy with a lot of people without guilt or shame.

    Even though we've been going to this swing club together for nearly two years, we do not meet with anyone outside of the club. Yet, we look forward to our Saturday nights where we can go where people have a relatively liberal view of sex and how it is shared. Sometimes, it is all out fucking. Sometimes, groups of us gather for some very loving sex or caressing. In a way, we are a part of a small community of people who can get together for sensual pleasure, out right fucking, or genuine loving.

    I do not think that swinging and being poly are related. For me, poly is having significant relationships with other people. We participate in the daily ritual and routine of mundane living. (Trust me, even my mundane is not mundane). In my context of poly, it means that in addition to having an SO, I have and OSO; he has an OSO and an SO. And my SO has his OSOs. These arrangements sometimes command that we all make some kind of agreements or planning to make this work in a loving way. Within the context of poly living, I think we make long term plans to define the overall community.

    With swinging, there is less planning except for the moment.

    In the swinging lifestyle, I found that the people I see regularly at the parties, forge bonds. In my experience, it is not one that requires that we call each other regularly, or even play together every Saturday night. What I have experienced in the swing lifestyle is a genuine sense of caring, love, and respect.

    Without creating exact and rigid guidelines of what is poly and what is swinging, I believe that they are different.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Kameshwari,
    Great comment as always! Your insight as someone deeply involved with both lifestyles is quite enlightening.

    Not that I'm trying to pick a fight with you but I am curious; You stated you believe Swing and Poly are different. Yet you and your partner, who you are in a poly relationship with, go to a Swing club. By default doesn't that show an overlap, even a small one, between Swing and Poly?

    You also mentioned never meeting with your Swing friends outside the club. Is that by design of your relationship or by default?

    Thanks so much for your comments. I really don't feel like I completely understand the Swing lifestyle sometimes. And I know even less about kink and BDSM though I have experimented a little.

    PP

    ReplyDelete
  7. PP;

    Although I feel from my experience that Swing and Poly lifestyles are different, they do appear to overlap. I might suggest that part of the reason that they overlap is because they are outside of what is considered appropriate by conservative views of what relationships SHOULD look like. So yes, in my case, Swing and Poly do overlap.

    I think that not meeting Swing Club members outside of the club is more by design. It originally started with my first swing partner, who was also my poly partner. He was Gay. We went to the Swing clubs so that I could have sex with straight men. We avoided outside fraternizing so that my Gay partner would not be outed. Even though we are no longer living together as partners, I maintained a rule to not meet with swing pals outside of the club.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Kameshwari,

    Thanks for the response :)

    I think you are right, some of the overlap may be caused by society pushing both lifestyles into the same corner.

    PP

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yes, that is what I meant by the profiles. I've been on swing related sites (and still participate in some forums) but I've never been on a poly site with profiles. I'm sorry that I didn't make myself clear.

    Kameshwari, I understand how you feel. I see why you believe that swinging and poly are different. They are in my opinion as well. I do think they overlap at times. In fact, most of our poly group have been or still are swingers. But that's unusual I feel. I also agree that they are lumped together by some just because they are outside the societal norm.

    PP, while she may be poly and she swings with her SO, why does that make the two related or a like? How is swinging with a poly partner truly different than swinging with a mono partner? I'm not being confrontational here but more curious. For example...I don't see the difference in Dirk and I swinging now than it was before. And I also do not see how it would be different if I were to swing with Chane. In both cases, I'm swinging within a committed relationship.

    The only thing the same about them, IMO at the moment, is that they are both forms of ethical non-monogamy.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Lovingmorethanone,

    I guess I say that for a couple of reasons. As I mentioned already, because society seems to push both lifestyles into a corner.
    But also because there seems to be a greater tendency for people involved in alternative lifestyles, such as Polyamory, to participate in other forms of alternative lifestyles such as Swinging. Maybe what I'm seeing as an overlap is really just a coincidence or personality type? Or maybe a better way to put it would be to say that people who enjoy alternative lifestyles often overlap lifestyles, rather than saying the lifestyles themselves overlap?
    Really, I think the bottom line is that it is something different for each person and up to them if they feel there is overlap or if the two are independent.
    The volume of discussions I've read on this topic without ever seeing a definitive answer is what keeps the question interesting to me.

    Your comment confused me pretty good though. You said "How is swinging with a poly partner truly different than swinging with a mono partner?"
    Most common definitions for Monogamy include sex with only one partner and/or marriage to one person during a period of time.
    Given that definition, how can you swing with a mono partner? By default if you were Monogamous then decided to Swing wouldn't your relationship then be defined as something other than Monogamous because you have more than one sexual partner?

    Color me confused.
    PP

    ReplyDelete
  11. OK, I very definitely see where you are confused. I don't think I worded that well at all. I was just thinking mostly from my perspective I suppose.

    My husband and I had been monogamous for 20+ years when we started swinging. And until I read about a year after we started that swinging was considered a form of ethical non-monogamy I wouldn't have even thought along those lines. But even then I did not really consider us "non-monogamous". Sure we had sex with others but that didn't really count as not being monogamous in my mind I suppose. (Because I can separate sex and love? Most likely.)

    Now, enter emotions into the equation. A whole different story for me. While I found it easy to share my husband sexually, I did NOT find it easy to share him emotionally. That is where the concept of non-monogamy probably first entered the equation for me.

    Thus, the swinging as a monogamous person as opposed to swinging as a poly person.

    I'm sorry if this doesn't make sense. It's something that I would like to talk of in a way that makes it easy for others to understand. Maybe I'll try to write a blog post of this and not take up all your comment space.

    ReplyDelete
  12. lovingmorethanone,
    Thanks for the clarification. I thought that might be what you meant but wasn't sure.

    I'm actually quite familiar with what you are talking about. One of my loves has traditionally had Open relationships meaning they could share their bodies but not their hearts. I on the other hand usually believe in sharing bodies only if the heart is involved.

    As you can imagine we had more than a few interesting conversations in the beginning. We have both learned a lot from each other and somehow built a wonderful relationship in spite of our different relationship ideals.

    I've come to term what you are talking about as Emotional Monogamy - the idea someone can share their body with others but might not have an emotional relationship with them. (I'll put this on my Definitions page before I forget).

    Thanks for the comment! Don't worry about space. A big reason I write this blog is to generate discussions. I'd be very interested in reading an article on the subject so I say go for it!

    PP

    ReplyDelete
  13. Last night I went to the local Swing Club to enjoy the party. In light of this particular discussion of Poly at the Swing Club, I observed my behavior in the context of this topic.

    After connecting with the guests at the club for about two hours, I had sex with someone I see every time I go to the swing club. He is the party DJ. It is just during my last few visits that I noticed he might be a play participant. For one thing, his regular partner stopped attending. In the past, I noticed that she hung close to him almost as if she were staking her claim and standing guard. Even though I was attracted to him, I never moved forward to ask him to participate in intimate play. I also never thought of him as a play partner because as the DJ, I assumed he is working.

    During my last several visits to the club, I noticed that his partner is no longer attending the parties. During those times, I had a chance to connect with him through dialog. Our discussions showed that we had some interest in each other. Finally, last night, we had a chance to indulge in some intimate time together. It was satisfying for me.

    My point is that even though I'm attending a swing club, and meeting other swingers, I find that I prefer to have a chance to connect before jumping into intimate situations with another person.

    For me, there remains a difference between Poly and Swinging. I think I just like to connect with my play partner before jumping into sexual situations with another. Usually, by connecting, I find that my heart opens to my potential play partner. An open heart equals a loving heart.

    There were other people at the club that were play partners for me in the past. Although I cannot say that I am in a full blown, romantic love situation to all of them, I was aware of my heart being open to love for all of those I've connected with in the past. It appears to me that I do not separate sex from love.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Kameshwari,
    Thanks for the follow-up comment! It sounds like you had a great time the other night, good for you!

    I found your comment quite interesting and I'd like to play antagonist for a moment and ask a question.
    You said that it appears you do not separate sex from love. My question then is, must you have sex to feel love for someone?
    Or to ask the question another way, can you love someone without having sex with them?

    PP

    ReplyDelete
  15. Dear Polyamory Paradigm,

    I do not have to have sex with a person to feel love for them. Quite often, I find myself in heart-opening situations where my love is overwhelming for another. That does not mean I need to demonstrate my love through sexual actions.

    I have loving relationships with people that transcend sexual activity. But then, just what is sexual activity?

    BTW; good luck playing antagonist here at the Polyamory Paradigm Blogspot forum. Right now, we look like a cozy group that meets for civil discussion. We are going to have to get to work to find a few more folks to come into this discussion group who might upset the gentle flow of these topics.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Kameshwari,
    Are you saying you can have love without having sex, but not sex without having love?

    I'm confused because your previous comment ended with ". . . I do not separate sex from love." But your last comment started with "I do not have to have sex with a person to feel love for them."
    The two seem contradictory to me so I must be missing something. I would think if you can love someone without sex then you do separate the two.
    Oh, and I'm still trying to play antagonist .

    You are right, more people would make for more lively discussion.

    PP

    ReplyDelete
  17. I do not need to have the physical act of genital sexual contact in order to feel love for another person. Yet, I do not separate sex from love.

    In my belief system, I believe that all love comes from the root, or sexual stimuli. In my belief system, I believe that feelings begin at the base of the spine, our center of creativity. Feelings of heart-felt love begin at the base of the spine and move upward to the heart.

    When I say I love something, the source of that love comes from creativity, or sexual energy. Sexual energy is creative energy in my belief system. For me, love and sex feel like sexual energy. My sexual energy stimulates my heart energy and my heart energy stimulates my sexual energy. They are not separate. It is a hard-wiring that exists in my body.

    PP; you antagonized me enough. You might even go as far as to ask me if my love for my mother and father involves sexual energy. After a thorough investigation, and double testing my investigation, I can proudly answer that my love for my parents does involve my sexual energy. Taboo, you say? Well yes. But think of it. We are connected to our parents through our genitals. Our parent's love connection to us is a result of their genitals. It is religious and intellectual conditioning that creates a separation of love and sex, or heart and genitals.

    I still do not need to have genital sexual contact with another in order to love. But I believe that all love is a sexual act, because love is a creative act and I feel that all creative acts are sexual in nature.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Kameshwari,
    Thanks for explaining that a bit. I can't say I completely understand but I do think I have a better understanding.
    I really like what you said about love being a creative act. I think that is wonderful observation of love.

    If I upset you, I apologize. My only interest was in promoting discussion and trying to have a true understanding of your perspective. I promise not to antagonize you anymore. . . today.

    Thanks again,
    PP

    ReplyDelete
  19. PP;

    Thanks for giving me a break, for today.

    I'm getting ready to go to a four day conference in another state. Right now, I'm in a huff and everything is antagonizing.

    I'm just relieved that I think I confused you enough to keep you at bay until next week.

    :},

    ReplyDelete
  20. Kameshwari,
    Have a great time at your conference!

    Thanks for the comments, and for having a sense of humor :)

    PP

    ReplyDelete