Do you really love your partner if you are in the swinger lifestyle? The short answer is, yes. But that makes for a super short blog. The long answer is also yes, and I will tell you why I believe this to be so.
I remember years ago, before I was introduced to the lifestyle, I heard through the grapevine that a classmate of one of my kids had parents who were swingers. I also remember thinking, “those two must not really love each other if they are sleeping around with other people. Poor dears, it’s too bad they have let the relationship deteriorate to such a level as to resort to swinging.”
I have to stop at this point in the blog to talk about my own narrow, societal view of swinging and the damage we can do when our views or opinions are based on a complete lack of knowledge. When this story took place, I didn’t know anyone (at least to my knowledge) who was a swinger. I had never talked to anyone about swinging, or at least swinging in a positive light. I had no clue as to this couple’s relationship, but I did assume it couldn’t be good.
Instead, I made assumptions and characterized a group based on hearsay. I point this out for a couple of reasons, (1) It reminds me to be diligent in educating myself, so I can make informed decisions regarding anything and everything in my path. (2) It is also a reminder to me, what can and does happen when fear takes over. With fear, comes judgement and a sense of defense. People tend to turn their backs when they don’t understand.
This is why the saying, “the more you know, the less afraid you become,” is one of my most favorite sayings. Again, I point this out as a reminder to us all to be careful when we judge without knowledge.
So what have I learned about love and swinging since that fateful day so many years ago? The first thing I learned was how far off base I was in my assumptions and how strong a bond and foundation is needed in order to successfully open a relationship to the plethora of options available through a sex positive lifestyle.
I learned what I like to call, “opening the H.A.T.C.H.” (Honesty, Affirmation, Trust, Communication, & Honor) to a loving relationship. When a couple decides to open their relationship either through the swingers lifestyle, poly lifestyle, sex positive, or any of the open minded relationship models available, the one thing they all have in common are these 5 steps.
Being honest with your partner is hands down one of the most (if not the most) important element to a successful partnership. What makes an open relationship so much different, is those involved in this type of relationship are encouraged to be honest about anything sexual. They can share any and all fantasies with each other. They have the freedom to share feelings (whether physical or emotional) not only with their partners, but others as well, without fear or jealousy. If those fears or jealousy do happen to arise, those within the relationship will be able to honestly discuss the issue and work together in finding a solution.
Congratulations! Great job! Well done! You look fantastic! Thanks for listening! We all love having those pats on the back. Those moments in which someone has taken the time to see and appreciate who you are and the impact you have on those around you. When couples are in a swinging/open relationship those words of affirmation can make or break the success of those involved. I’ve said it before in other blogs on jealousy and fear and will say it again, if John had not given me those words of encouragement and loving affirmations when I was first getting introduced into the lifestyle, I’m not sure I would have come away with the same positive outlook on the whole open concept. Because our intention was to have and maintain the best possible relationship for the both of us, we understood how important it was (and is) to make sure everyone involved feels love and acceptance.
In its simplest form it is believing your partner. Of course, in order to be believed (and trusted) it is also about following through when you say you will do something. The same holds true for when you tell your partner you won’t do something. We build trust with our partner through how well our actions and words align with each other. Trust also means putting down our fears. It is hard to trust if we are afraid of something. Each time we have the occasion to put our trust into practice, we move a step closer to erasing our fears. Erasing those fears will in turn move the relationship closer. This is another reason why trust is so vital to the success of a swinger/open relationship (actually any relationship), because it shows each individual involved how important they are to the other. It also shows they are worth the truth.
Communication is not just about getting your point across, it is also about listening. It’s about hearing what is being said and working as a team to come to the best possible solution for the good of the relationship. Because after all, the relationship is the asset, the motherload so to speak, the reason you are with this person! You value who they are, they value who you are and due to this, the relationship becomes valuable! If you want this investment to grow and prosper, then our ability to communicate with each other becomes so significant. When I can go to my partner and discuss something, whether it is some new sexual experience I have been fantasizing about, or an issue we are having at home, or even a fear, and know the topic will be enveloped in love instead of judgement or anger, then the whole experience becomes one in which intimacy reigns and togetherness rules.
How do you show honor to your partner? Do you show it through your devotion to them? How about fairness? What about constancy? There are many ways in which we can honor our partners. Honor is so much more than blindly repeating the “love and honor” vows so many couples repeat in a marriage ceremony. Honor is about being true to who we are and giving that same freedom to our partner. It is about understanding the incredible gift we have through our partner. Honor is about cherishing our partner and who they are. It is about understanding that even though we are a couple, we are a couple of individuals. It is about not only wanting the best for your partner, but also encouraging them to be the best they can be. I encourage all my readers to lookup “honor” and simply take in all the references for the word… it might give you a deeper understanding when you vowed to love and honor your partner.
So whether you are curious, new, or seasoned in the lifestyle, remember, in order to have a relationship you will be proud of and be able to stand firm in, you first have to open the H.A.T.C.H.
John and Jackie Melfi are in a consensually non monogamous marriage. They have been featured in ABC News Nightline Special Report “Getting Naughty In N’awlins”, Inside a New Orleans Swingers Convention, and CNN “This Is Life” with Lisa Ling. The Melfis are the force behind the industry famous colette swingers clubs in New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, and Austin. With over 20 years of combined experience, this powerhouse couple coaches thousands of singles and couples through their award winning blog Openlove101.com.