Reasons for Swinging
It is generally felt that you can divide swingers into two catagories; those who participate for recreational and those who participate for utopian reasons. Recreational swingers see swinging as a social activity much like bowling, playing tennis and cards. Utopian swingers have a general philosophy of communitarianism and wish to share not only sex but all other aspects of life with their fellow participants. At this time there is relatively little scientific data that indicates what long-term effect swinging actually has on marriages. Nevertheless, there is a general belief among swingers that swinging has a positive effect upon a marriage. They believe that sexual fidelity is harmful and breeds jealousy and a feeling of ownership between a husband and wife. According to them swinging does away with jealousy and helps each mate see the other as an individual and not as a possession. Another reason for swinging is boredom with marital sex. Swingers feel that it is impossible for one person to satisfy another sexually over an extended period of time. Swinging is seen as a method of adding new excitement to the marriage, perhaps even salvaging it. Most swingers know couples who have tried to salvage a bad marriage by swinging and they observed that this generally has not been successful. Most swingers believe that swinging alone cannot save a bad marriage. They do believe that it can strengthen a good marriage. There may be deeper psychological reasons for swinging. It is believed that men may need to translate early sexual fantasies into reality and that women may be fulfilling social-romantic needs. Some believe that because of the marginality of the new middle class, they seek experiences with others in order to feel they belong. They participate in swinging to develop social ties and to satisty the need for sexual fiulfillment that is a result of their restrictive middle-class backgrounds. Swinging gives them an opportunity to do both without disrupting their general lifestyle. All reasons, whether social, psychological, or sociological are, at the present time, only speculation. One could easily conclude that the reasons for participating in swinging are as varied as swingers themselves.
Jealousy In Swinging
Generally, swingers do not show jealousy on the surface. Most swingers argue that this is because by going to parties together and leaving together, they realize their commitment to each other as a couple. Thus, they do not feel threatened because the other partner has gone into another room to have sexual relations with another individual. One such swinger said, "We both know that each of us have experiences with other people and, yet, we come back to each other because we want to be together" They feel that this gives you a feeling of security that you never had before because you feel and know that the partner is coming back to you even though they have had a sexual relationship with someone else. They feel that this builds up selfconfidence and security. For a couple to engage in swinging, they must throw off the belief that having sexual relations outside of marriage is improper. They must break the shackles of the double standard. That is, the wife will be having sexual relations with other males much as the male may have had sexual relations outside the marriage with another partner previously.
Advantages of Swinging
Sexual variety, sexual fulfillment and the potential of carrying out of one's fantasies are among the advantages of swinging. Sexual excitation increases for both partners as a result of the new types of sexual experiences and there are discussions of actual sexual experiences. Women recieve a great deal of positive reinforcement. They may begin seeing themselves as more desirable. Women uniformally report that they have bcen able to shed sexual inhibitions that they were raised with. According to many swingers, you have more of a feeling of your own "personhood". You think of yourself as a person and not a thing. Many swingers say that swinging creates stronger bonds between couples. Married couples find that swinging increases their ability to communicate with each other. Many couples believe that if a married couple can discuss swinging together they can discuss anything. Generally, swingers believe they experience individual growth and develop an ability to communicate better with other people. Generally, swingers believe that swinging has a positive effect on their marriage. About 85 percent of both husbands and wives feel that swinging is not a threat to marriage or love between spouses. None of them reported that their marriage became worse since they began swinging and the marjority feel their marriages have improved. Husbands, in particular, consistently reported a high level of marital happiness and adjustment. Apparently, swinging has had no negative effect on the sexual lives of the couples, in fact, swinging couples have sexual intercourse more frequently than the general population. More than half of the swinging couples have sex together more than four times a week as compared with only 16 percent of the general population. Many swingers reported that rather than dampening their ardor for each other, swinging often caused an arousal of sexual interest for each other. Many of them often engaged in sex together immeditely after returning home from a sex party. The effects of swinging most often reported are the following: (1) Couples experienced an increased feeling of warmth, closeness, and love, often most intense immediately after swinging when the couple got together and discussed their experiences. This is as if the swinging experience was proof of their love. (2) Knowledge and confidence regarding sexual technique was more fully developed. (3) Social life was enriched and active. (4) Couples became more open and honest with one another in all areas of their relationship. (5) A benefit for some was that sexual behavior was taken out ot the dark and became a normal activity. Another effect of swinging is that there is a change in the meaning of sex, that is, of what is appropriate sexual behavior, in what situation, and with whom. Sexual behavior in swinging becomes more broadly defined to accommodate a wider range and choice of behavior than in a typical monogamous relationship. Sex takes on a different meaning for a wife and her spouse when she engages in oral-genital sex with another swinger in the presence of her husband. In addition, the idea that sexual exclusivity between marriage partners symbolizes devotion, trust, security, and love no longer exists and nonexclusivity comes to symbolize these things. Further, sexual behavior loses its mystery, its secretiveness, and its aspect of "something done in the dark" and takes on more the character of normal everyday activity.
Swinging is an alternative that is emerging within the traditional structure of marriage in this country. Except for their participation in comarital sex, most swingers are living in a traditional nuclear family. One advantage for many people involved in swinging is that, except for sexual behavior, little change is required in major values related to the traditional family form. Swinging requires changing basic values related to monogamous sexual behavior or admitting values that are different, at least from what individuals have paid lip service to in the past. Families who swing find that, except for sex related areas, it does not require substantial changes in behavioral and functional roles. There is some evidence, however, that such sexual activities sometimes require changes in how couples handle jealousy, power, and so forth in the marriage. Swinging marrieds probably represent the least revolutionary of the emerging alternative lifestyles examined in this book. Generally, swingers challenge traditional beliefs only in the area of sexual monogamy. Strong relationships outside the pair bond are still, for the most part, regarded as threats rather than potentials for personal growth. Generally, contemporary swingers view sex as a recreation, which is relatively consistent with a consumer-oriented society, although there is development of personal growth and change through swinging. Swinging may be a preservative rather than a catalyst for change in the basic structure of the family in our society. Swinging may be viewed as a bridge between old and new values for persons who need old values to feel comfortable in our changing society. Swinging, for the most part, only violates the sexual exclusivity value and not other basic values revolving around the traditional nuclear family. Rules on sex, paternity, and social relationships among swingers make it an adjunct to marriage rather than strictly an alternative. Swinging supports rather than disrupts monogamous marriage as it currently exists in our society.