Associated with copulation of more than one partner outside their shared monogamous bond, as in "wife-swapping" (why don't they ever call it "husband-swapping"?) or couples who have sex with members of other couples. (Not quite the same thing as polyamory, though -- at least from the point of view of most polyamorists, who say that polyamory is about loving more than one person and swinging is about having sex with more than one person, with love discouraged outside the monogamous pair.)

Refers to the act of using a swingset. People seem to forget this, but there are relatively few activities more fun than forcefully pumping your legs to use that extra bit of inertia, to go a little higher, a little faster. It's (regrettably) the closest you'll ever come to growing wings and taking flight under your own power.

The feeling of whipping over the ground at high enough speed to turn the wood chips into a grey blur. All the hair on your head and body feeling cool air rush through it. That moment of vertiginous weightlessness as you reach the apogee of your ascent. The satisfaction that comes from seeing the park and the people in it from above instead of from beside. It's not an experience to be missed, no matter how long you've been out of grade school.

Popular variations on the theme are being pushed and jumping from the swing. Getting pushed is cool if only for the bursts of acceleration as your friend runs along with the swing with hands pressed against your back. It's more of a rush than self-propulsion, if not strictly as satisfying. Jumping off is discouraged, since if you're swing fast enough for it to be fun, your probably also going fast enough for it to be dangerous. If there is a suitable wood chip pile to land in, though, those fleeting milliseconds of hurtling through the air (Look ma, no wires!) make it worth the risk.

An alternative lifestyle involving the swapping of sexual partners with another couple without straying emotionally from your current partner.

That's the boring, textbook definition. It's much more fun than this. First, some terminology is needed, though.

  • Open Swinging -- swapping partners with another couple or group, and engaging in sex acts in the same room or area; essential to "open swinging" is seeing your partner with another lover, and being seen by your partner with someone else. Generally requires a stronger degree of trust between a couple, since everything is in plain view.
  • Closed Swinging -- swapping partners with another couple or group, and heading off to separate rooms for the sex romp. Typically how the average couple's first swinging experience will go down (yes, the bad puns are here to stay), since there's less to concentrate on (you don't see your partner with someone else while you play with someone else this way, so you're not worried at the moment how your partner is enjoying things).
  • Group sex/orgy -- swapping normally requires exactly four people; group sex happens when five or more jump into one pile and play with the nearest physically compatible genitals. In a swinging party setting, these are surprisingly frequent. An orgy is generally easier to get into (bad pun count: 2) than a group sex event; an orgy is pretty much a free-for-all, while group sex is generally a more "closed" session with each participant known at the start, and staying to the finish.
  • Swinging Party -- a gathering of (hopefully many) couples, where they socialize, swap partners, and get busy. Usually held in a converted house, or another private venue large enough to hold at least fifty people. These also normally have assorted rooms of differing sizes available for different types of hookups. There's usually a couple of private rooms for closed swinging, at least one room with enough bed space for at least four people for some good open swinging, and always a group room for groups of six or more people. Sometimes, these venus throw in a dance floor and a live DJ, too. Hot tubs make for great fun at these parties as well.
  • Date -- just like your bachelor days, only involving more people. It's a date, and not a party, when one couple visits another couple (rarely, when one person visits a couple, for a threesome; oh yes, folks, ever been in a threesome? Congrats; you're swingers!) for a private union. Either closed or open swinging is possible here, but nobody but the couples involved is invited. Usually held in a private residence. "Dating" a couple seriously can begin to blur the lines between swinging and polyamory (emotional attachment between more than two people), but that's not a bad thing.

Is Swinging for You?
Short answer: probably, unless your relationship is already strained.

Long answer: this depends on your relationship, your beliefs, and your partner's beliefs.

  • What do you and your partner think about swinging? Everybody involved in any swinging event need to be involved willingly. Everyone involved needs to trust everyone else involved -- after all, this is, by definition, a very intimate act. If you suspect your partner will have jealousy issues during or after a session, talk about it before you get started. Once you've started copulating with someone other than your normal partner, there's no taking that back, so you need to talk about these issues before permanent damage is done to the relationship.
  • How strong is your relationship? Read this sentence several times: swinging will not fix a broken relationship! Did you read that? Did you read it again? Good. It's important. There are plenty of warning signs that you shouldn't be swinging, including frequent arguments over petty stuff (if you fight about where your dirty socks should go, imagine the fight that will erupt when you see each other test driving other people), suspicions or accusations of infidelity (swinging is infidelity, plain and simple), or financial woes (swinging isn't free unless you've got really good friends).

If you or your partner are religious at all, you should probably attempt to reconcile the idea of having sex with someone who isn't your normal partner with your religion's doctrines. I don't mean "ask your pastor" or anything like that, but think about how your churchgoers would react if they found out you're swingers. If that reaction is negative, and that reaction bothers you, either keep it to yourself, or don't do it at all. You may find your beliefs contradict the idea. I sure hope not.

Are either of you infected with a sexually transmitted disease? This will severely hamper your efforts in finding other partners; it's ethically unsound to play with someone and expose them to your illness without telling them about it, and you're unlikely to find a healthy person willing to toy with HIV or even crabs.

Otherwise, if you've discussed potential issues and hangups and you still feel up to trying it, get ready to dive in.

You'll notice I didn't mention your physical appearance. That's because it doesn't matter very much. Sure, we've run into people at swinging clubs who just go for looks, but those people tend to suck (not in the good way), and weren't very popular. This is fun to watch, as people who expect lots of attention because they're "pretty" get shot down since their attitude is horrid. Willingness to swing is the primary requirement for being a swinger. Good looks are just a bonus.

Getting into the lifestyle can be awkward; it's up to you to decide how to start. Has a friend or couple you know ever offered to have a night of wife-swapping? Maybe you should take them up on it. Familiarity helps; as you already trust people you know, at least more than you would trust strangers. Your other option is to find a swingers club, explain to its owners that you're new and want to try it out, pay the fee to get in, and give it your best shot.

There's some Swinging etiquette you should know before you start (that writeup contains many useful tips) so you're not as surprised when goofy stuff happens.

Issues You Will Encounter
When you first get started in swinging, you will encounter two main issues -- first, shyness, and second, jealousy. Don't bother swearing "I won't be jealous!" because you will be. It's impossible not to be. No matter how open-minded you are, guys, you will not enjoy seeing your wife or girlfriend riding another man's lap cowboy style, giving head to another man, receiving head from another man, or being drilled like an oil well by another man. And ladies, you will be very annoyed the first time you see your man rolling in the sack with another woman.

Shyness is an emotion that goes away quickly; for our first time, it just took an attractive woman five minutes to change my mind from "this isn't a good idea" to "they'd better leave me alone with this beauty for at least two hours!" You should find the nervousness and shyness are quick to vanish when you finally get a chance to swing.

It's the jealousy that's harder to deal with. It's best handled by reaffirming your feelings for your partner, before and after the party or date. As corny as it sounds, make sure your partner knows you're taking her home tonight, not any strangers you meet. Or, if you both have a great time, and invite people back home with you, it's still your own partner who will share the bed and be in the relationship. The rest is just sex.

Speaking of sex, remember that you're having sex with strangers (even if they're friends, it's likely you've never seen or been exposed to their genitals before), so take all the usual precautions. In a perfect world, everybody in the lifestyle would be tested monthly and carry their test results with them. This world is not perfect, so use condoms during intercourse of any kind. Some folks are comfortable not using protection for oral sex, but if you're not comfortable with that, insist. Nobody worth having sex with will ignore or deny such a request.

The last issue of note is safety; in a swinging club environment, you're very safe. Usually there's at least two or three very large bouncers milling around who will cheerfully throw out any assholes. In our years of swinging, we've only seen this happen once. He was drunk. His wife was very pissed off that she had to leave with him when he got thrown out. I was, too, because she was pretty damned cute, and seemed willing to leave him to mill about while she played with us herself.

In a private home, though, it's more important to screen potential partners. Swingers are a pretty pleasant bunch, but like everything else in this world there's a few jerks scattered about. Meeting for the first time in a public place is a widely-accepted way to get the introductions out of the way and determine "comfort level."

Whether during the introductions, or right in the middle of a good romp in the hay, if anybody decides they're uncomfortable with things, it should stop right away. Yes, it sucks to stop when you're this close to an orgasm, but a bit of physical pleasure isn't worth wrecking a relationship.

If you can get through this introductory crap, you'll discover a very fun, sexually satisfying, relationship-strengthening lifestyle awaiting you. It improves your sex lives by adding diversity and giving you new experiences, and new visuals to put in your head while you're having sex with your own partner. It's great conversation, too, and it can give each of you new ideas to try together in bed. You know each other's hot spots better than anyone else, but other people may have better/different ways of tweaking them.

It's not a bad way to meet people, either. At least at a swingers club, you know everyone's there to get laid, and nobody's trying to hide it. Unlike a damned nightclub, where the motivations are still the same, but there's tons of social crap in the way. And you can't just decide to throw down right there on the dance floor at a dance club either.

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