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Ask John & Jackie: Self Love And Swinging Lifestyle

By April 22, 2019 April 25th, 2019 Swing Lifestyle Articles

Hi, I need advice. I’ve watched all you videos but I still can’t get into swinging although my partner does (by that he says he needs it and is a big part of who he is) I am by most standards very attractive but I can’t get turned on during swinging. I feel a deep self hate during or even on the “hunt” at swing clubs. I end up spending the next few days not eating and determined to gain what I apparently am lacking. I’ve tried taking the me out of it and tried focusing on making him happy but I become more convinced that I am not enough. I want him to be happy and I tried viewing it that way..but I can’t stop feeling less than. Sorry for the long note, but I’m desperate to be okay with this but everything I’ve tried has just broken me down And extremely lonely and depressed. I am hoping you can articulate a way to get past this and enjoy this life.

Desperate to be Okay

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Dear Desperate to be Okay,

I appreciate your courage to write me and I empathize with your plight. Before I jump into any response, I want to point out a recurring theme in your email. I want you to take a moment to look over this list of self descriptions:

deep self hate

lacking

not enough

feeling less than

desperate

broken

extremely lonely & depressed

I am struck by the deficit in each sentence. I don’t think I would be too far off the mark in stating that the concept of swinging for you is viewed as a loss. Not a loss in general, but a shortfall about you. With this negative narrative swirling around in your head, it’s no wonder the thought of swinging has you frozen. I wouldn’t be interested in an open relationship either if it meant the above.

But how to get to the root of the issue? How to peel back the layers in order to expose our fears? How to look at ourselves from the standpoint of enough? I learned a thing or two in my own journey from monogamy to consensual non monogamy that might help.

HONESTY. Sure, being honest sounds simple enough, but what about speaking our honesty in the midst of fear? Most of us aren’t eager to reveal our deep seeded fears to our partner. The last thing we want is to have those fears confirmed. “I’m afraid you are going to like so and so better than me and leave me?”

Most of us aren’t beating down the door to say this to our partner, because what if our partner looks us straight in the eye and says, “yes, you’re right, I am leaving you for so and so.” Our fear of confirmation is so great we never give ourself or our partner the opportunity to confirm or deny the fear. This lack of confirmation means we keep the fear alive. We are in effect telling ourselves and our partner that neither of us are worth the truth. If I wanted a relationship steeped in truth and trust, I had to be willing to embrace all honesty, even the times I was in fear.

FEAR. I struggled (and still do to a degree) with this one. There is a side of me that lives outside the lines and another part of me who is a rule follower. I will take the time to walk all the way to the corner to cross the street for instance, yet I live my day to day life on the outskirts. My consensual non monogamous relationship probably the most glaring societal pushback. My relationship with John pushed my fears to the surface for sure.

Since I had no previous experience in the world of swinging, meeting and falling in love with a swing club owner, meant I was going to put my teachings to the test. I had this neat and tidy life planned for myself and John came into my life like a bull in a china shop. He upended everything I thought I knew about relationships. I hadn’t realized until John and I were together that I brought with me a pretty impressive stack of fears. Fears about myself and my adequacy. Fears about boundaries and who I was.

John taught me not to fear my fear. He taught me to ask it to lunch. To get into a conversation with what lived deep within me. I learned that often times my fear was really a mask. A covering I wore to hide a deep seeded excitement and curiosity about something I had been taught not to do. Was my fear really just an excuse to stay nestled in what could go wrong? Had I ever considered what might happen if I ended up loving the experience?

I realized my fears were also challenges. Challenges against the norm. All the teachings I carried around with me, I simply assumed were true. I figured all the times I struggled with a concept or a “truth” that the problem must lie with me and some fault in my ability to follow the rule.

But, what if the problem was with the rule itself? How much did I really know about what I had been taught? Was monogamy really the only relationship format?  Could an open relationship hold answers to a stronger more self assured woman? Was I brave enough to take a look?

Acknowledging my fear and vocalizing those fears gave John and I the chance to work together. I’ve always said that knowledge is power, and power is what feeds our resolve and our self assurance. These were “powerful” lessons I learned in my journey through fear. While I practiced courage, John practiced empathy.

RELATIONSHIP WITH SELF. Oh boy, this one was a tough one for me. I had spent the better part of my life concerned about everybody but me. If you asked me what I wanted, it was usually followed up with something like, “I don’t care, what do you want?” My husband was the first person who ever asked me what I wanted. What I really wanted. What I desired, what I fantasized about, what I wanted to try. He was the first person who said, “I want you to be the best version of yourself no matter what that means.”

Did you know taking responsibility for your own life is incredibly freeing? I got tough with self defeating talk. I told myself it was okay if I was turned on by something that maybe in my past I would have struggled to accept. I realized that I was perfect just the way I was. I wasn’t in competition with anyone, nor was I saddled with the responsibility of being someones everything. I began to see my value and to view life from a much more half full narrative.

What if I started focusing on everything I DID have instead of all the things I thought I was lacking? Didn’t this obsession in fear and less then, really mean I was living in a past and future space? Did I really want to sacrifice my now for some kind of false assurance?

But I get it. Like you, I too came up against comparison. I too, wondered if John might leave me for some curvier, sexier, taller, shorter, thinner, heavier woman. To add insult to injury, I took all the qualities I thought all these other women exhibited and sandblasted myself. All I ended up doing was making myself miserable.

You see, in the beginning I couldn’t grasp the concept that swinging wasn’t about some list of deficits I encompassed. John wasn’t having sex with other women because there was something missing in me. I had been looking at swinging as some personal reflection, and in doing so not only was I ignoring my amazing qualities but I was also discounting all the wonderful qualities of all these other women. These women weren’t my competition, they were different from me sure, but that didn’t automatically mean they were better.

Being loving towards myself, my husband, and these other women opened up a whole new view. I resolved to pack away my self judgement, my inward view, and instead look at life through the lens of self assurance and love. The first few times I did this, it felt odd, I realized how often I had nestled myself in the negative of a situation instead of the positive.

“Okay, Jackie, you are going to be consciously loving,” I would tell myself. The more I did this, the more amazed I was by the results. Instead of thinking I needed to protect my position in the relationship, I began to interact with these women as friends. They weren’t in my life to take, they were in my life to give. I began to see that each time I lived in fear or competition or control,  I became the culprit in the story.

There’s a quote I love:

“It is not what you are that holds you back, it is what you think you are not.”

I would encourage you to have a heart to heart conversation with yourself and then your partner. Look, swinging may not be something you ever want to do and that’s okay. Not everyone is going to reach the same conclusions about what works for them relationship wise. Not everyone is a swinger, or in an open relationship, or in a traditional monogamous one. We all bring our beliefs and thought patterns to the table.

Sometimes we can compromise and other times we decide the compromise isn’t worth it. Either way, what we choose should be established from a secure self base. One steeped in knowledge, a healthy dose of curiosity, a beautiful self image, and a clear understanding of our boundaries. Knowing we bring with us strength, courage and fortitude into the arena of life will help us in those times we face challenges. Having this secure base also opens us up to doing things for others as well. We learn to practice compersion. The ability to be happy in our partners happiness.

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8 Comments

  • David Loucks says:

    Wow…great response

  • Lynn says:

    Hi Jackie,

    This was definitely one of the best answers to these questions I have seen you provide, and as usual, I think this can be valuable to both the swinger and non-swinger. Thank you guys for just being you, and so open and sharing.

    Lynn M.

  • KSS says:

    Superlative response!

  • Susan says:

    Indeed a great response…you put so much thought into your answers and make us all think! I agree this is a note I wish more non swinging couples could read and perhaps have a better insight into this world of such different relationships.

    Thank you Jackie !

    Susan

  • JOHN says:

    I agree with Jackie’s response, but as a long time swinger and stepfather of adult daughters, it seems to me there’s a big piece missing.

    What about that boyfriend? The OP seems to be bending over backwards for him, but what does he do for her? Is he helping, or is he part of the problem? What does he do to make her feel better rather than worse about herself? Is he just using her to get into clubs and parties? Of course I can’t on the available info conclude that she ought to dump the shmuck, but it bears some consideration. She needs to answer those questions for herself.

    It might be that swinging isn’t the right choice for the OP at this time. We swingers aren’t a religion, we aren’t a cult. We don’t need or want to prevent anybody from ever leaving. Instead, we want only those who enjoy it at our clubs and parties. It sounds to me like the OP should be on her own for a while, figure herself out, explore her sexuality, and then decide whether to come back to swinging. Of course, in that process, she should return to this form for advice when she has questions we understand.

    Maybe this could be the birth of a unicorn?

    — J.S.

  • Chip C. says:

    I loved reading your response. Just wish I could get my better half to read it and think about how it might apply to her. We tried the swinging scene. I loved it. She hated it. That said, we did make one tremendous friendship in the process so she was happy about that. But, in the end, we have ceased our involvement for her mental health. A bunch more to the story but probably not best to air it all here. Just wanted to say thank you for a wonderful answer to a difficult question.

  • LSS says:

    Dear Jackie, I want to truly thank you for the response you gave to the OP. As someone who is the monogamist in an open relationship, your words are really what I had to hear today. My partner isn’t in the swinger lifestyle per se, but he certainly enjoys variety and goes out to play alone. I, on the other hand, stay home and try not to cry. It sounds pretty miserable, but I end up taking the time to identify my fears and the negative associations I have with ex-relationship affairs. Him having sex with another women means I’m not good enough, he’s going to leave me, he doesn’t love me, he’s neglecting me, etc–some of the main thoughts that spring in my mind and cause deep fear. I completely relate to the OP. I have talked with my partner multiple times (he knows all of this), and he’s been so wonderful in helping me work through it and reassure me. If I weren’t good enough or he didn’t consider me as his best fit, he wouldn’t have chosen to be with me. Anyways, our relationship is still young and we haven’t established the habits/familiarity yet (he also put it on hold for me when I was dealing with other stressful life factors). We agreed to being open from the beginning and we’re currently testing our agreed upon boundaries. At the moment I’m trying to bring some positivity to replace all the negative associations I have with his desire for variety, which is how I found yours and John’s blog/videos. I have more questions to ask him now, like how this enhances our relationship. I don’t understand at all how sex with another person results in him loving me more, but I supposed that’s another future conversation I’ll have with my partner. As for my own interest in participating, I truly have none. He’s encouraged me in this direction, but apparently I’m the most monogamist person he’s ever met! Once I find my favourite restaurant, that’s the only place I want to eat. Joking aside, in my personal reflection, I realized that I’ve always been a very one-track mind type of person and exceptionally private. I’ve never wanted or craved variety, nor cheated or felt the inclination to do so even in my share of subpar relationships. Perhaps this will change over the years, who knows! I’m keeping an open mind.
    Long story short, THANK YOU for this post. It added much insight to my quest for self-love and understanding my partner, which I hope only deepens our love and trust.

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