A lot of people fantasize about having sex with a relative stranger while their significant other watches with pleased approval, perhaps while also fucking someone they too just met. Fewer people have actually played out this scenario in real life.
But not as few as you might think.
According to a study published last year in USA Today, there are roughly three million swingers in the United States. Todd Claxton knows better. As the owner of lovevoodoo.com, Claxton caters to a customer base of 400,000 and estimates that the actual number of American swingers to be closer to nine million.
Although still a relatively underground phenomenon, swinging, or "the lifestyle" as it's referred to by the people who do it, is a populous community composed of doctors, lawyers, school teachers, parents, young people, old people, middle-aged people, and yes, attractive people. Wealthy people. Interesting people. You know, people that you'd actually want to sleep with.
Although single folks swing, the vast majority of the population is composed of heterosexual couples that have decided to play outside the rules of traditional monogamy. Typically, couples get involved when the female partner expresses an interest in being with another female. The inclination to experiment generally grows from there, with most couples eventually participating in "four way matches," that is, sex with another couple.
Lifestyle websites like lovevoodoo.com, facilitate these matchups, as most newbies are unsure of how to actualize fantasy without the assist of a reputable resource. "A lot of the lifestyle is about casual sex," Claxton says. "If you are a single, you can be fairly confident that other singles are looking for some sort of sexual experience. However if you are a couple you wouldn't have any way of knowing what couples are interested and what couples aren't, so a site like ours can be a big help."
It was for Susan Lee, a Washington DC-based business owner who got into swinging seven years ago when her husband approached her with the idea. Although initially reticent, Lee says she "humored" the idea and in her research, came across lovevoodoo.com.
"We saw all the hot people on the guest list and decided to give it a shot," Lee says. "Just talking about it just heated up our sex life considerably. We talked more openly about our fantasies, and the pillow talk became reality when we went to one of the parties. "
Held in private homes and clubs, parties are a foundational element of the lifestyle, as they serve as meet and greets for swingers, most of whom have scoped each other out online before the event. Parties generally include ten to thirty couples and are often themed. (Lingerie, sexy school girl, sexy rock star, sexy you get the point....).
"At some parties, it's down and dirty by 9:30. In and fuck and run," Lee says with a laugh. "I wonder if they even find out the other people's names. But mostly, parties commence like any other cocktail party or gathering. The advantage is, if you happen to hit it off with an individual or a couple, the opportunity is there to take it a little further and hook up with them, but that doesn't necessarily happen every time."
"We have slightly different tastes," Lee says of the people she and her husband encounter at such events, "but at the end, before we act on anything, we agree."
Group vacations, cruises and swinger conventions are also popular ways for swingers to meet, greet and let loose. Such events happen internationally --cruises to the Galapagos Islands, trips to Jamaica's Hedonism resort, etc.-- with the number one lifestyle market in the US being Florida, "probably due to a large amount of people vacationing there and feeling open to doing something they may not normally do close to home," Claxton says. The Sunshine State is followed by Mid-Atlantic region, Texas and California. All regions of the country have an active swinger community.
The country's largest lifestyle convention, Naughty In Nawlins, (happening in NOLA this July 11-15), attracts a crowd of about a thousand swingers between the ages of 21 and their early seventies. Here, attendees immerse themselves in lifestyle culture and get it on with folks from around the world. Typical matchups include full swaps, (when a couple swaps partners, including intercourse), and soft swaps, (when the swap action is limited to oral sex). Girl on girl, the primary point of entry for most lifestyle neophytes, is where the women play but without any contact with other's male partner.
Claxton recommends that couples agree to set of limitations and expectations before jumping into bed, (or pool, hot tub, etc.), and sticking with them. "There will always be another opportunity to do more, but you cannot go back."
In the last seven years, Lee and her husband have gone from newbies to well-known members of their lifestyle community. "We've done cruises and conventions," she says, "and it's not unusual for party people to call and invite us to act as hosts and give us stuff to come. We've made a huge transition from putting our toes in it to being very involved. We hardly have any vanilla friends."
Still, like most swingers, they do have a reputation to protect among the often-judgmental non-swinging "vanilla" population. Thus, it's not acceptable to disclose anything about "fucking your friends" with people outside of the lifestyle. "Posting pictures isn't okay," Lee says. "Facebook isn't okay. I have two separate profiles, and I keep those very separate."
While swingers tend to keep their sexual habits separate from their daily lives, Claxton says that "surprisingly, most swingers are Republican, and in many ways very conservative. Sexuality is the one area most of them are liberal. Many swingers just want to go to a sexy place, dance flirt, have a good time, but at the end of the night, they just want to go home with each other."
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Indeed, Lee says that swinging has actually strengthened her marriage "even just from the perspective of communicating and verbalizing fantasies. It made it okay for my husband to say that the girl walking down the street was hot, or vice versa, because we do it together. We really opened up to going at it as a unit versus doing our own thing."
Claxton affirms that most couples in the lifestyle have rock solid relationships. "Swingers," he says, "are normal folks other than two differences: They have marriages based on trust and honestly and are not running around behind their spouses backs so they rarely get divorced. They also just do not believe in monogamy. "
"If you are having marital issues, the last thing you need to do is get involved in the lifestyle. Without trust and a solid relationship, it's is not for you."
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