The broad definition of swinging is “consensual recreational sex with others”, however most now define it as “consensual recreational sex with others outside of your primary relationship, with consent of your primary relationship”, whether it is a couple who has chosen to have sex with others together, or open the door for each to play with whomever they want. If we look back at the term, it originated somewhere back in the “Swinging 60’s” when the term swinging referred to anyone who was open sexually, or the opposite of monogamous sex. Over the years it has taken on a new meaning; it has been adopted by couples to refer to their activities, and as such they often do not believe that singles can be considered swingers. Whether or not singles can be considered swingers is an on-going debate. Those who choose to engage in swinging with singles would often say that singles are swingers too. Others (including some who swing with singles) would say that singles cannot be swingers, but the couple who plays with singles is still swinging. My personal belief is that anything that a couple does sexually involving people outside their relationship is swinging; whether they are involving a single or another couple or 10 other couples; whether they are actually together while they are doing it or have agreed to allow each other to play in private. So long as both partners are aware of what is going on and agree to it.
As you can see, the whole trying to define swinging can be very tricky. In the end the definition is immaterial to our discussion here because you have already established your own definition and your definition will probably change as you grow and learn more about your ideas and desires as they relate to “the lifestyle” and swinging.
Swinging vs. Lifestyle
This is another hotly debated set of terms. For the purpose of this book, we will use the terms interchangeably. However, it is important to understand that some people will put a great deal of importance on one term over the other. Some people feel that both terms are negative, because society has given them a negative connotation, and prefer not to use either term. So, while they may participate in the same activities that most people consider “swinging” they will declare that they are not “swingers”. Some prefer the term swinging because they feel that the term “lifestyle” means that swinging is an all-encompassing part of their lives, while just calling it “swinging” makes it more of a hobby. Use whatever term makes you feel comfortable; just understand that because someone else uses a different term to describe their activities does not mean that they are more or less of a “swinger” than you.
Full Swap vs. Soft Swinging
There are some terms that we do need to define for the purposes of this book, and also for the purposes of your potential discussions with other swingers later. The terms soft-swinging (or soft-swap) and full-swap (or full-swing) are often debated, so we will start with full-swap. Full-swap is when two couples get together and “swap” partners completely and for all sexual activities (including vaginal intercourse). Full-swap has to start with soft-swinging and sometimes what is intended to be a full-swap may stop at soft-swinging. Soft-swinging is any swinging that comes short of a full swap. Oral sex tends to be the gray area in differentiating between these two definitions; some say it’s still soft swap, others declare it part of full-swapping. When meeting other couples it is important to understand where they draw their lines; however these are the defining lines we will be using for the purposes of this book.
Both full-swap and soft-swinging can occur in either one room or split between two rooms, depending on the couples involved and their preferences. When swinging occurs with all parties in the same room, it is referred to as “same room swap”. When the participants split off into two rooms, it is referred to as “separate room swap”. Both “same room swap” and “separate room swap” could refer to either a full-swap or soft-swinging, so it is important to make sure that you clarify the intentions among all parties involved. Another term that falls into this category is “same room sex” which some couples use interchangeably with “same room swap”, but typically refers to a soft swap situation where couples simply watch another couple have sex in the same room (while they are having sex with their own partner).
The term threesome refers to sexual activities involving one couple and one single. Often that single may actually be half of a couple. A threesome can include full swap or soft swap.
While these are the definitions we are using for the purposes of this book, when it comes to meeting potential play partners it is important to make sure that their definition of these terms matches yours.
This article is an excerpt from the book The Swinger Manual by JustAskJulie