Swinging is a very large subculture estimated at about 15 million people, and it seems to be at the epicenter of the sex-positive movement—an idea that suggests all consensual expressions of sexuality are good and healthy, and how you choose to govern yourself in the bedroom (or a hotel suite full of strangers, for that matter)
shouldn’t be scrutinized.
Adultfriendfinder.com, an online sex and swinger personals community website, reported an increase of nearly 5 million swingers joining the site in the last five years. On Ashleymadison.com, a dating and social networking service marketed to people already in a relationship, upwards of 14 million people in 22 countries are online looking for hookups of the extramarital kind. Once considered a pastime enjoyed by dispirited, middle-aged, upper-class white couples stuck in a rut, swinging has become a growing trend among the young and the restless—and is brimming with diversity.
“Sexual expressiveness in African-American culture has long been very taboo,” says sexpert and psychotherapist Dr. Tiffanie L. Davis Henry. “There have long been things that we don’t talk about, things we don’t do, positions beyond missionary we don’t bend over for. In more recent years, however, we’ve chosen to be a bit more inquiring about our sexuality and explore new things, realizing that there is a whole world beyond missionary and plenty of other ways to get turned on.”
For Dreads and Exquisite, pledging allegiance to a lifestyle often steeped in judgment and subjected to the moral impositions of others was a no-brainer. Sure, their wanton adventures and sexual conquests are thrilling, but the pair says it’s the transparency and frankness that comes along with having sex with other people that makes their union even stronger.
“Neither my wife nor I believed that we’d be interested in one sexual partner our whole life,” admits Dreads, who started swinging in his late teens and recruited his wife two years into their marriage after she expressed interest in hooking up with a woman he had swung with before they met.
“The lifestyle has made us have a much stronger relationship. Once you stop the fallacy that you aren’t attracted to other people and can admit to your mate that you want to have sex with someone else, conversations about finances and other reasons people divorce become child’s play. No subject is off limits. The honesty is an amazing byproduct.”
He says the lifestyle, which has nothing to do with their decision not to have any children—“it was just never an option as our careers took precedence”—is a hobby and provides great foreplay for him and his wife. “After a party, we will have sex for hours. We love telling each other about all the nasty things we’ve done.”
According to Chris Thrasher, director of the Center of Excellence for Sexual Health at the Morehouse School of Medicine, the communication skills that are required to have a successful open relationship cannot be learned from partaking in one but must be already in place, as the lifestyle will only enhance effective communication, not develop it. “It is important that couples who choose to participate in the lifestyle have a strong foundation beforehand,” says Thrasher. “Clear, open and honest communication is the key to making it work.” Another tip: Establish ground rules ASAP. “I would advise any couple to start slowly and discuss everything in advance, including expectations and hard limits,” says Dr. Michael Aaron, a New York City–based sex therapist. “Typically a couple may first just go and observe without participating, or they may just engage sexually with each other, which may be enough to satisfy their exhibitionistic desires. I suggest a couple discuss everything in advance and then process their experience with each other afterward. They may realize it’s not for them, or they may be intrigued to move further.”
What’s Next? Is Swinging A Hobby For Sex-Crazed Nymphomaniacs? Find out here.
Words: Shydel James