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Swinging in the Media

By September 11, 2018 September 30th, 2018 Swing Lifestyle Articles

Excerpt from my diary:

John was up early (big surprise). He had a 7:00 am interview with an English production company looking to push the same ol’ song and dance storyline—hot young couples trying out swinging for the first time.

While I understand from a ratings and drama fueled motive why the media uses this same format when it comes to swinging, it’s still like fingernails on a chalkboard for me. You don’t get to the marrow of the lifestyle using this vantage point. My experience has shown me that most television outlets only want to show the surface of swinging—the first time trying something approach. I mean, if you want a true swinging documentary, you would show the couples who have a history with swinging. You would showcase the years of trial and error, joy, and unconditional love these open minded individuals invested in this viable relationship model.

But change is hard. Part of the difficulty is in how change is perceived… especially when the media is involved. Those of us in consensual non-monogamous relationships have simply tweaked a few of the ways in which we define our union from others’. Unfortunately, it would be these variations, these modifications that result in ridicule or judgement from outside opinion. This view, in MY opinion is reinforced each and every time one of these programs surfaces. We’re still not taken seriously, nor does the media combat the “oddity” view of swingers with anything substantial. The only takeaway the media gives the viewers with these tailored storylines is the same old swinger stereotype the audience already believes.

Why are we letting media/religion/etc. drive the consensual non-monogamous bus?

This is yet one more reason John and I (and everyone else who supports this community) needs to keep on keeping on.

Sure, I get it, giving the lifestyle a go can be exciting and fraught with enticing drama. The viewer will be enthralled watching couples (or anyone for that matter) struggle with something new, but it’s the underbelly of consensual non-monogamy where the true story lies. Couples who’ve “mastered” the relationship are stories the media should be showcasing. I’ve always said, “Do you realize how amazing and in-depth a partnership has to be in order to even consider swinging? The love, trust, compassion, empathy, honesty, and compersion involved?!”

Do you ever read about swinging from this standpoint in everyday media? Sometimes, but primarily you see a massive concentration on sex! What are we, giggling pre-teens who’ve stumbled upon a nudey magazine? Is it really such a stretch to expect adults to approach an alternate relationship model without such juvenile and closed-minded responses? Don’t even get me started on the whole having multiple sex partners topic. Show me a person who is confining themselves to only one sexual partner in life and I can show you a hypocrite. Splitting hairs with me no longer works. Trying to separate yourself from the similarities of CNM and serial monogamy is just semantics.

But change is change I guess, even if the modification is based in vicissitude. Sometimes simply bringing to light a different way of life can be the necessitative groundwork. An open relationship for many does run against the grain. Committed relationships with “open borders” is met with skepticism from those lacking in enough positive examples (ahem media) to reinforce a positive narrative. You can’t rely on success stories if no one (cough cough media cough) is bringing the lifestyle to light from a success viewpoint.

How can you spread the message if those professing to care about your voice refuse to take the message seriously? This would be my question to the media. What’s your intent with this story? Do you want to expose the legitimacy of swinging or continue to wallow around in the novelty? Isn’t this in large part what the LGBTQ community endured for years? The same media outlets who today stand behind these individuals and couples are the same media who fed off the controversy! Think about that for a minute.

This is the crossroads—the space between CNM staying on the outskirts of acceptance through indifference and/or the unflattering glare of the interrogation spotlight and distinguishing the lifestyle as a viable relationship model to be taken seriously. Where’s the balance? How much of this imbalance is self imposed? Don’t we have our fair share of swingers who themselves perceive their own behavior as suspect? Is this suspect perception along the same lines as a cheater in his/her bid to maintain a monogamous image? Isn’t the world victim to those who struggle to accept their own behavior? So how is it that these are the same people society wants to nominate as poster images? It’s like saying an abusive parent proves that having children is a bad idea. Most of us would say, “An abusive parent is a horrible example, not an accurate view of parenthood.” Yet we’ll pull the most controversial examples in other areas of life and attempt to portray these examples as the norm. The media does (or did) this all the time with the gay community. Portraying them as flamboyant, flighty, and very “Bird Cage.” Is this a fair interpretation? Hardly.

Ugh! Growing pains. Maybe this is what’s happening with CNM? We’re growing. Growing out of the box society has stuffed us in. While those of us inside the box understand the benefits of a CNM relationship, those peering inside don’t. So we deal with the questions, the preconceived conclusions, and the backlash of change.

While society works on scooting over to make room for yet another change, change viewed often times as a threat to a base set of beliefs generations have grown up relying on, the rest of us who embrace this change wait…

Yes, change is difficult. We go kicking and screaming into change, convinced that change will break us and devour our core. But change gets to the core of our empathy; a softening of our edges so as not to cut off those around us by our own beliefs. I should be able to live my life by the guidelines that I’ve accepted without my beliefs impinging on your freedom to believe in what you believe. For instance, someone else’s monogamy doesn’t threaten my non-monogamous life, nor should it. If this holds true, then my non-monogamous life shouldn’t be of any consequence in your decision to operate under a monogamous platform.

If the media continues to sensationalize the storyline, swinging will never be an acceptable relationship option in society. The media could be a powerful ally if they would portray the lifestyle honestly. Look at the reality polygamy shows that are on the air right now… they dig into the heart and soul of those families. These programs have given society a different viewpoint on polygamy and polygamous families. Why can’t the media do the same for us? We should all be able to come to our own conclusions about how to navigate our journey, without fear.

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  • Lynn Moorhead says:

    Hi Jackie,

    This is one of the most passionate articles you have written on the topic in a while, I believe, and it really gets right to the core of the problem. This is the story the media should be telling, but we know that drama and sensationalism sell, so they continue with the “sleazy narrative” that they are comfortable with telling, and refuse to actually admit that consenting adults have the right to CHOOSE how they live their life.

    This type of “moral high-ground” is why so many antiquated laws are still on the books in so many states, though rarely enforced, many people still hold them as the right choice or only choice. I have never believed the government, or other people, have the right to decide what happens between two or more consenting adults, as long as all parties involved ARE consenting and no actual crime is being committed. Though oral sex, anal sex, same-sex couples, etc… are all still on the books as illegal in so many places, but many of the same said people who condemn the Swinging lifestyle are guilty of one or more of those “supposed crimes”.

    All I can say is that I’m thankful there are people like you and John who continue to take a stance and try to spread the truth about alternative relationship models and give people a source of factual information on the topic(s).

    Though my wife and I have not actually taken the step into the lifestyle, we fully support those who have, and we want to know the option is there for us if we do. This lifestyle still costs people their jobs if/when the truth comes out, because of antiquated morality clauses in various employment contracts, and until some of these are successfully litigated, they may continue to exist for years to come.

    Thank you both, and please don’t stop what you are doing.
    Lynn M.

  • Hey Jackie/John. Wonderful post and subject. You stated:

    My experience has shown me that most television outlets only want to show the surface of swinging—the first time trying something approach. I mean, if you want a true swinging documentary, you would show the couples who have a history with swinging. You would showcase the years of trial and error, joy, and unconditional love these open minded individuals invested in this viable relationship model.

    You are so right. The better documentary would be something very similar to “Swingers Next Door” (S3-E10) of the 2012 series “Our America with Lisa Ling.” I usually recommend curious, interested dabblers into the Lifestyle to watch that show for a pretty fair representation from veterans of the lifestyle, particularly the 40-50 yr old couples whose children are adults living on their own.

    Yes, we must keep on keeping on fighting the naivety, shallow stereotyping, and ignorance of our Lifestyles. At least in the U.S., particularly the Bible-belt south and fringe southwest, you, John, and all of us who are veterans are probably considered the forerunners of social-relational progress that hopefully rectifies or becomes much more functional for a warp-speed evolving society in relation to “the home,” parenting, and more flexible dynamic marriages. Yes? Maybe? Hopefully? LOL

    P.S. My favorite show of Lisa Ling’s excellent series was “Shades of Kink” (S4-E1) of her 2013 shows. (wink)

    • Jackie Melfi says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Yes, I do believe journalists like Lisa Ling get it! Thankfully we have some in the media who do want to showcase the marrow of a story, not just the fodder. Of course I am not 100% blaming the media for our “struggles” to be heard. Those who know the benefits of CNM at some point will have to come out from the shadows, not so much to “expose” themselves, but to show that loving, working, successful, and highly functioning unions exist! Thanks so much for your feedback, always a joy to get your point of view!

  • David says:

    My wife and I are a monogamous couple that have dipped our toe into CNM experiences. What we found from those experiences both before during and after those experiences, was open communication, trust and honesty. Our relationship to start with is a very loving relationship and we have an amazing bond. What has helped us get through some hurdles, is this blog. I have shared some of your videos with my wife and various articles about a more open sexuality. My wife had a lot of fear and shame as result of her upbringing. What she discovered from just a few experiences is that she felt empowered and more confident. What started out as very nerve wracking experience soon turned to a positive experience for her and I was just overwhelmed with how proud of her I was and how much pleasure I got from seeing her receiving pleasure. Just amazing. The media does not understand that a great monogamous relationship and a more open relationship are very similar. Both marriage models have some key ingredients. Honesty, trust and great communication.

    The first video I shared with my wife was when you spoke with a group of monogamous women. She enjoyed the video and I asked her afterwards what she thought of you and John as a couple. She said, very normal and down to earth. Not what she expected. I then told her that the two of you have quite a bit in common. Like you, she knits and crochet and enjoys long walks and healthy food. We also live in same area of town. What the media does not portray is that if your monogamous or non monogamous we are just normal everyday folks that have a healthy, loving , fulfilling marriage and great sex life. Monogamous couples can learn a lot from CNM relationship.

    Thanks for your blog. Always great stuff for any marriage model.

    • Jackie Melfi says:

      You are so right. Those who incorporate CNM (consensual non-monogamy) into their relationship are “normal” couples. We are everywhere, whether or not others are aware. We sit next to you in church. We are involved in government, the military. We are blue collar workers and upper management. In short, we are society. I am beyond thrilled that our site was able to give a more personal perspective on the benefits of this viable relationship model.

  • Chris says:

    Interesting tie-in with real life for me. I have some friends in the lifestyle who have a plural marriage. the original male-female couple have added another female to their marriage. They live life and present themselves as husband and wife and wife. No issues, they are very happy together.
    At work today, I was talking about them to a co-worker because we are planning a work party at their house next month to e-build a porch for them. As I was explaining the “family” to her, she said,
    “Oh, I feel so sorry for those women.”
    “Well, obviously, the husband is forcing his wife into allowing him to have sex with that other woman.”
    “Ummm. No. The first wife is the one who asked him if they could try dating other women AS A COUPLE. It was her idea, and they all three have sex with each other. No one is forcing anyone and they are all very happy with one another.”
    “I just can’t understand that.”

    And this is from a well-educated, intelligent, and professional woman. This is the type of ingrained, brain-washed, learned attitude that has to be educated away.


    • Jackie Melfi says:

      I just want to say kudos to you for standing up for this triad. Showing our support towards others can be the grain of rice needed to tip the scales. Thank you!

  • Tim says:



    It was not too long ago that gay couples, lesbian couples, mixed-race couples were in the media glare. Today, such couples are not only mainstream but also compete for space on the wedding announcements pages of major newspapers. What happened? Simply put, they became part of the fabric of ordinary life. Yes, there are still vestiges of prejudice. But no one seems to care much any more about these particular alternative lifestyles.

    It was not too long ago that clothing optional activities–nude resorts, nude cruises and so on–were the subject of media stories. Now one can search for “best nude beaches” on virtually any travel site, and if one mentions that one went to Haulover or Cap d’Agde or even Hedo, no one pays much attention.

    So we come to the question of swinging, the LS, and CNM. How do we go about making our Lifestyle choice merely a choice of lifestyle? There are a few elements:

    1. Take the moral high ground. Consistently behave with integrity and respect. Condemn dishonesty, deception, cheating. Make it clear that the “C” in CNM is foundational to your choices–and ours.

    2. Respect others’ choices, even those that are counter to ours. Tell them that you respect their choices, their values. Be open and candid if asked questions, but do not proselytize.

    3. Perhaps most important, be matter-of-fact. If someone (even in vanilla life) asks what we are going Friday night, we’ll say we have a date with another couple. If someone asks us what we are doing Saturday night, we’ll say we’re going to a costume party. Or whatever. We do not discuss monogamy or CNM or our sexual preferences with co-workers or anyone else who has no particular need to know about our intimate lives. However, we will always offer honest answers to appropriate questions.

    With fair frequency, we are asked how after decades of marriage we always seem to be hopelessly in love. At that point we will start talking about the attributes that keep our relationship strong, things like honesty, affection, trust, communication, honor. We talk about compersion and joy. And we never assert monogamy. That’s our life, our style, our lifestyle choice.


    • Jackie Melfi says:

      Thank you so much for this spot on contribution. Love, love, love each and every bullet point you make and I absolutely agree! If we could all emulate the tips and steps you set out, our world would benefit indeed!

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