Last week, a swinger’s hotel for middle-class couples opened in a sleepy village in Somerset.
It joins the 200-plus swinger’s clubs already doing a thriving trade across the UK.
Six in ten swingers won’t admit to it (according to research done a few years ago) but it’s thought there are about one million Brits currently practising consensual non-monogamy.
The most popular and biggest free website, Fab Swingers, claims 200,000 people use the site daily to find other swingers to connect with. The site services the UK and the US, Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand but its reputed 25 million hits each month are 90 per cent from the UK.
Sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox reveals how to get into swinging safely, as well as the best positions for having sex with another couple
Why so popular?
Swinging is nothing new – it’s been around as long as marriage has.
If the rumours are to be believed, in the sex-mad 70s, all you had to do was invite all your neighbours over, serve large martinis along with cheese-and-pineapple-on-a-stick canapes (artistically stuck into an orange) and you’ll all be pooling your car keys before the first joint got stubbed out.
Even simpler: put a pot with some pampas grass in it outside your front door (the ‘secret’ 70s sign your neighbours swing).
In today’s climate, putting your hands up the jumper of the nice lady next door, after your second glass of red, is likely to end with you in handcuffs – but not quite the sort you were imagining.
Which is why nearly all swingers these days meet at clubs or through websites.
Not surprisingly, swinging comes with a hefty ‘try at your own risk’ warning: you need to be a ‘special’ type of person to cope with it.
Most people end up jealous and in lots of cases, motivation is lop-sided – one partner wants to try it, the other goes along with it for fear of losing them if they don’t. It can and does lead to split-ups.
On the other hand, at least a million of you out there are indulging, with lots saying it strengthened their relationship rather than ruined it.
Do you fancy giving it a go?
Here’s my guide to swinging safely (well, as safe as you can be) and a crash-course in swinging etiquette: the ‘must do’s’ and ‘definite don’ts’.
HOW TO SWING SAFELY
To say you need to tread carefully asking your partner if they’d like to sleep with others is like saying you might get bitten if you go swimming in a pool full of sharks.
Tracey Cox says new swingers should enjoy themselves, but remember to be respectful and above all ‘kind’
It’s the understatement of the century.
The majority of people will say no, so be prepared.
Make it very clear it’s not that you don’t love your partner or don’t enjoy having sex with them, you’re just interested in adding another element. But if they’re not interested, they’re not.
Drop it and find other ways to liven things up.
It’s not just men who like swinging, by the way. Men might be the first to suggest it, but it’s not uncommon for women to enjoy it more than they do, once there.
Don’t let anyone force you into swinging. If it’s not your thing, it’s not your thing. If you’re partner insists on doing it and you don’t want to, rethink the relationship. It’s a team event, not a solo affair. You both need to be happy and comfortable with the concept and reality.
Set rules on what’s permissible, what’s not.
Here’s some things you’ll need to think about:
How far are you both allowed to go? Is kissing and oral sex OK but not intercourse? That’s called ‘soft swap’. A ‘full swap’ means intercourse is fine. ‘No kissing’ is a rule most first-time swingers decide on – and drop the minute they feel more comfortable.
Anal play and anal sex are also common in swinging, so you’ll need to make up your mind about that as well.
What about same sex encounters?
Do you want to try a threesome or stick to only swapping with other couples?
What about sex with ‘unicorns’? These are single women who go to swinger’s clubs or events solo. No prizes for guessing why they’re called this: single men are far keener to swing than single women. But lots of couples won’t play with a ‘unicorn’ for the simple fact that a threesome means the attention is unbalanced. One person can feel left out and ignored.
Are you going to swing in front of each other or at the same party but privately? (‘Same room’ or ‘separate room’.)
Are you both up for group sex and orgies or only one other couple at a time?
What about ‘repeats’ (playing with the same couple on more than one occasion)?
If you’re going to swing privately, who is going to find and chat with potentials? Some couples have a ‘no solo chat’ rule.
You should both agree on ALL the rules and what you’re doing every step of the way or you risk permanently damaging your relationship.
Tracey calls swinging ‘a team event’ and suggests making sure both parties are happy to try it before giving it a go
Talk it through again.
Once you’re made a date to go to a club or make contact with another couple, talk it through again. You might feel differently once it’s clear the fantasy is about to become reality. Make certain you both have a good idea of what you’d like to do so there are no surprises on the night.
Have a pre-arranged signal that says you want to stop what you’re doing or leave. Something that’s clear but simple and can’t be misread.
THE BEST POSITIONS FOR SEX WITH ANOTHER COUPLE
These are written for straight couples but can adapt for any gender with a few modifications.
- One couple has sex, the other sits back and watches the show.
- Both lie down next to each other in the missionary position. Good to keep it simple if you’re nervous and it also means you can reach out to touch each other if you start feeling weird.
- Men behind, women facing each other. The women lie on their side, facing each other, the men penetrate from behind. Great if you all want to watch each other plus the two women can start playing together as well if they want.
- Make an oral ‘train’. One guy kneels at the front, facing the first woman. She goes on all fours to give him oral sex. The second man lies face up to give her oral sex. The second woman straddles the man lying down to give him oral sex. (Yes, the last woman misses out on receiving but you can always swap.)
- Mirror positions with one couple facing the other work well because everyone can see what’s going on.
- Doggy with the women on all fours is a swinging staple.
If one of you keeps breaking the rules, the game isn’t working. Leave immediately and have a serious talk the next day about what you both want from your relationship.
Do your research. If the place has a website, have a good look at the venue, check out the type of people who go, what everyone’s up to. If you’re swinging privately, meet the couple first in a non-sexual setting or set up a video call.
Revisit the rules as you go along. What you find acceptable will probably change as you go along and the more often you swing. Some couples want to do more, others pull back.
If you enjoy swinging, you might want to move into an open relationship where you both give permission to have other relationships or no strings sex. Or you might decide you’ve had your fun but now want to go back to being monogamous.
THE RULES OF SWINGING
Confirm your attendance. A lot of swinger’s clubs or parties won’t let you in otherwise. If it’s in someone’s home, it’s common courtesy to let them know if you’re coming. There’s a balance of guests that the organisers need to think about as well.
Ask what you need to bring. If it’s a party in someone’s house, bring a bottle. Or some nibbles. (Yes really – it’s essentially a party. People get hungry.)
Ask about the dress code. Your clothes might end up on the floor but you’re going to feel uncomfortable wearing jeans if everyone else is in head to toe designer. Or wearing nothing but expensive lingerie and heels.
Read the rules. If you’re going to an event, a club or a well-organised party, you will be sent or told the rules. Read them. Stick to them. If it’s private and small, talk about what you will and won’t do before you do anything.
Don’t bring lots of valuables. I’m not suggesting all swinger’s clubs are seedy but just as you wouldn’t leave your handbag with a wallet crammed with cash unattended in a posh nightclub, don’t do it here.
Arrive fresh. Newly showered, teeth cleaned, nice-smelling clothes. Not only is it considerate to other guests, who’s going to want to have sex with you if you don’t smell good?
Wear great lingerie. Your big old grey pants aren’t going to cut it. It’ll give you confidence as well to have flattering, gorgeous lingerie on.
Use protection. In most swinging clubs, if you don’t use a condom, you can’t participate. Do you really want to be in a club that allows unsafe sex?
Tracey suggests would-be swingers should wear great lingerie, turn up on time and, if it’s a swinger’s party at someone’s house, bring nibbles
Don’t arrive drunk. Not only is it unattractive, you need good judgement if it’s your first time and to be able to read the body language of your partner. Set a limit with your partner on how much each of you will drink.
Turn up on time. Not only is it polite, swinger’s parties move into different moods as the night progresses. It’s all part of the warm-up to meet people with their clothes on.
Don’t take a ‘ticket’. A ‘ticket’ is a friend or someone you aren’t involved with that you take along purely to get in (some places only allow couples). It’s lying, you’re likely to be rumbled and it’s frowned upon.
Arrive as a couple, leave as a couple. Walk in together, socialise together and leave together. Don’t just abandon each other once you’re through the front door.
Don’t worry about being nervous – everyone is their first time. Most swinger’s clubs are friendly places and everyone has a bit of a laugh along with the sex.
THE PROS AND CONS OF SWINGING CLUBS
Sexually curious or bi-curious couples, wanting to spice up their sex life without being unfaithful. If you both wish you had a ‘night pass’ to sleep with someone else just once, this is one way of having your cake and eating it too.
Exhibitionists. If you like dressing up and showing off, you’ll enjoy that part of it. It’s the one place you can turn up and dance topless or naked in front of an appreciative audience.
Good communicators: You need great communication, trust and a secure, grounded relationship to survive swinging.
City dwellers. If you live in a liberal-thinking city, you’ll have lots of choices of places to swing. The more rural your area and the more conservative the culture, the less likely you are to find like-minded people.
Improving your body image: Everyone is stripped bare and you get to see real people of various ages naked and sexually aroused. “It’s a great reality check in a virtual world of beautiful, manipulated, 2-D sexual images,” one veteran swinger told me.
You’re jealous types. If the thought of sharing your partner makes you want to pick up a gun and shoot someone, best not go there. Ditto if they feel the same. You need to be able to separate sex from love and both know that having sex with others doesn’t mean you no longer love each other.
Only one of you wants to do it. It’s unfair and it’s usually a disaster. Cue nasty scenes and both of you being ejected from the club or party.
You’re having relationship problems. It’s also the worst idea you’ve ever had if your relationship is in crisis or you’re going through a rough patch. This will not fix it, it will snap it in two.
Socialise. It starts off like any other party. A few drinks, people chatting and meeting each other. You don’t strip off in the loo and all walk out naked.
You can just go and watch. Lots of clubs are OK with you looking but not touching if you’re new to the scene. But if you go on a regular basis, you’ll probably need to stick to the ‘get involved or go home’ rule.
Expect a variety of people. They’re not all gorgeous (aka Eyes Wide Shut) or all old, dumpy, frumpy people (aka your fears). You’ll met everyone from office workers to CEO’s of companies.
Be friendly. Even if you have no interest in having sex with someone, it doesn’t mean you can’t have good chat.
Be respectful. Above all, be kind. If someone comes onto you and you’re not interested, don’t be rude. Be gracious. If someone resists your advances, do the same.
Don’t be pushy. Once you meet someone you want to have sex with, politely ask them if they’re interested in you. If they say no, smile and move on. Don’t ask for explanations and don’t expect any.
Don’t be pressured into doing anything you don’t want to. If you don’t want to do something, say ‘No thank you. I don’t want to’. You don’t need to say why. If the person hassles you, find the host or manager of the club and tell them what’s happening. The right to say no is the fundamental etiquette in swinging.
Don’t judge. Respect other’s kinks. Going ‘Ewwww. Look at what they’re doing’ isn’t cool. Neither is frantically nudging your partner and whispering and giggling behind your hands.
Don’t ‘take one for the team’. You both need to find the people you’re planning on sleeping with attractive. Have a code word that says ‘That person doesn’t do it for me’ that others can’t interpret. Again, play nicely.
Save the last dance for me? Some veteran swingers let their partners do whatever they want at the party but make sure the last sexual encounter is with each other.
Visit traceycox.com for more from Tracey about sex, love and relationships and lovehoney.co.uk for her two product ranges.