One of the biggest misconceptions from those outside the swinging arena is that women are forced into the lifestyle by their husbands or partners. This ideal that women are conceding to swinging in some feeble attempt to either keep their marriage together, or the feminists’ belief that they’re the epitome of submissiveness, simply isn’t true.
Granted, one spouse might bring up the subject of swinging, but maintaining an active role in the swinging lifestyle is definitely a consensual agreement between both partners. Would I have ever given swinging a try had John not already been involved? Probably not, as I never even knew there was such a thing. Am I glad I gave swinging a try? Absolutely! I have learned so much about myself and my sexuality that I had never been exposed to before.
I began to understand the benefits this open relationship concept brought to my marriage and how loving from a compersion base actually created an even deeper level of love for myself and my partner. Most importantly, I learned about me, what I bring to the table and how swinging actually benefitted me as a woman.
What are some of the benefits for us women?
Confidence: According to non-swingers, confidence would be the last way they would ever describe what happens when a woman becomes involved in the swinging lifestyle. However, it has been my experience (as well as the experience of thousands of other women) that opening up a relationship to incorporate swinging can do wonders for a woman’s confidence.
Think about it, not only will a woman have the affirmation, love, attention and affection from her husband, but she’ll also receive some of these same benefits from others, both men and women. Now I’m not saying a woman’s confidence is based on outside confirmation, but I do know that when I feel confident about a decision and this confidence is affirmed by my partner, I come away feeling even more vested in my choice.
It doesn’t take much to think back to the beginning of our own relationships and recall those pangs of excitement and self-confidence on those first few dates when we were paid all kinds of attention to how we looked, during those all night conversations and those new adventurous experiences with our partner. Have the image in your mind?
Now, imagine having the opportunity to experience those same “pangs of excitement,” those moments when we meet someone, that wonder in experiencing something new and different. Having the opportunity in swinging to experience this newness isn’t because you don’t love or take comfort in the steadfast love you have with your partner, it’s because you do! In swinging, you’re actually encouraged to participate in cultivating new intimacies with whomever draws your attention.
By doing so, you’ll be reminded of how wonderful you are, how wonderful your partner is and how compersion (happiness in our partner’s sexual happiness) can bring about a much deeper union. I remember well that first night I experienced being in an intimate situation with John and another man. The attention draped on me was empowering. I FELT my potential in those moments. Suddenly I was proud of myself and my capacity for owning all the decisions in my life!
Acceptance: Women in the swinging world are all about building each other up. If you walk into a swingers club in that sexy outfit, you’re not going to be critiqued or be the recipient of any “shaming.” Instead, you’ll have women asking you where you purchased that amazing outfit! You’ll be exposed to open arms and love. This was one of my favorite revelations upon becoming involved in the swinging lifestyle.
Another memory I have when being introduced to the swinging lifestyle is the first time I visited a swingers club. I was excited yet nervous. I knew the first thing I needed to do was go shopping. My closet at the time was full of business attire and uber casual wear, not sexy outfits. So, even though I’m never one to turn down a shopping excursion, I realized not long after arriving at my local department store that finding a “sexy” outfit had me somewhat intimidated.
I vacillated between thinking I was too old to be sexy to being convinced that if I walked into the club in something too revealing that I would be the subject of criticism by others. Unfortunately, women are very quick to criticize other women because we’re taught or we think that women are the enemy. You can imagine my sheer joy and relief when I was completely accepted. Yes, these other women loved my outfit, shoes and handbag, but more importantly, they made me feel special, accepted and beautiful!
Sexuality: This for me was the clincher in embracing the swinging lifestyle. Having grown up being taught that a man’s sexual appetite and need for release was paramount, you can imagine my awe when I was accepted as a sexual being with just as many needs and wants and releases as my partner. I wasn’t a woman with “male tendencies” because I enjoyed sex but a healthy, natural, normal woman. No longer did I have to carry around all the shame and guilt of being sexual.
As a matter of fact, in the swinging world, I was encouraged to find out who I was and what I wanted from a sexual standpoint. It was okay for me to experiment. It was okay if I said I liked porn or that I found it arousing to watch my husband make out with another woman. I was encouraged to leave any embarrassment at the door. Sex wasn’t just intercourse anymore, it was about calling on all my senses: touching, tasting, smelling, looking and hearing what was happening to myself when I was making love as well as turning off that portion of my brain that wanted me to feel “bad” about what I was doing.
All those years I was taught that because I was a woman I had to live my sexual life by a different set of rules that enslaved me to a code of conduct: Have sex, just not too much, don’t enjoy sex too much or you’ll look like a whore, but don’t be a prude, don’t have sex before marriage, definitely don’t get pregnant, make sure your husband’s wants and needs are fulfilled…
The list goes on and on. This list for me is beginning to fade. All those “standards” I felt as though I had to uphold are being stripped away thanks to swinging. I no longer feel a responsibility to sex, instead, I embrace those “vacation” moments I have with my partner or another play partner—those occasions when I can put away the toil of the day and be primal, when I grant myself permission to be me.
I hope those women who are out there sitting on the fence struggling with being honest with themselves about how they feel sexually, those women who so desperately want to say YES to who they are sexually, will find comfort in what I’ve learned. I hope those woman whose partners have brought up the topic of swinging will take the time to look into this viable relationship model. If you’re anything like me, you’ll enter swinging with a little trepidation, but you’ll come out the other side stronger, more self assured, confident and more vested in the power of you!
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.