Not the front porch kind...
May 6, 2014 6:09 PM   Subscribe

A friend is considering dipping her toes into her local swinger scene. Help me offer non-judgmental help.

She's a single mom whose peer group includes a few couples who have introduced the topic. She wants to explore the possibility but has no frame of reference or comparable experience. I hesitate to offer my opinion because I'm hoping she doesn't do it. !! But don't want to seem unsupportive. I'm the only one she's opening up to about it and I feel obligated to at least provide an informed sounding board.

Are there any "for dummies" level websites or resources I could objectively review, in order to have at least a base level conversation?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton is a good place to start.
posted by munchingzombie at 6:16 PM on May 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

The first swinging couple I met was willing to discuss all of this (in exhausting detail). I think you should go meet some swingers and just talk to them. Ask them your questions. Tell them your fears for your friend. Then listen.
posted by Houstonian at 6:51 PM on May 6, 2014

Also, I think there may be swingers on That's a community for kinksters but may include swingers as well. It may feel safer to reach out to an online community first.

You're being a good friend!
posted by Bella Donna at 7:29 PM on May 6, 2014

Louis Theroux did a doco on the subject (filmed in the us). If your network screens his stuff it's worth a watch. (I'm in Australia.)
posted by jojobobo at 9:39 PM on May 6, 2014

What problem in life is she trying to solve by swinging? The dating scene can be brutal for middle-aged single moms and if she just really needs to have a sexual outlet, the middle-aged and mostly married swinging scene is pretty accepting of the scheduling problems of parenthood and not having the time to have the body and fashion sense of a gym rat.

On the other hand, if she's looking for a real relationship and having sex with someone is going to make her get attached and want that with them, it's not likely to be a good thing for her.
posted by Candleman at 6:07 AM on May 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Is there any chance she's using this as a way of flirting with you?
posted by Carol Anne at 6:49 AM on May 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think it's okay to say that you're uncomfortable with it, but make sure you tell her that it's because you're uncomfortable with it for YOUR life, and because her life is different, you trust her to make her own decisions. To that end, you can surely say that you are perhaps not the best person to give her advice on this topic.

But tell her that the best thing that she can do in this situation is think fully about what she wants out of it and where she is in her life, and how she can concentrate on doing what will be the best for herself. If she feels like this is it, that's cool. But if she's looking for some sort of fling that won't spill into other parts of her life, she needs to think very carefully about it, because it almost certainly will.

Of course the swingers she meets will tell her this, in (as mentioned above) great detail. But she needs to be very clear about what SHE wants, not what other people tell her. There are people who have always known that they can't be monogamous; there are people who dip a toe in and end up liking it a whole bunch; there are people who dip a toe in and are really turned off, and there are people who would never think of doing it. All of those are valid.

And there are people who think that it'd be great, but for all the wrong reasons, but try to convince themselves (and others) that it's the greatest thing ever.

Just make sure that she is safe and knows her own boundaries, and that those boundaries include having a good friend who cares about her whatever happens.
posted by Madamina at 7:28 AM on May 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

You might also want to check out the NASCA website. They have a FAQ page and quite a few resources. For example, your friend may be more interested in having a more anonymous experience than with her friends, in which case she'd like to find a swinger club... and those are listed on the NASCA website. It also links to the Swing Lifestyle website, which has an online forum, articles, a blog, and so on.
posted by Houstonian at 8:02 AM on May 7, 2014

If she is interested in swingers' clubs, this recent interview (and the comments, in which the interviewee answers a few more questions) might be a worthwhile read.
posted by dizziest at 8:17 AM on May 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd not recommend you go to Fetlife. For someone who doesn't personally approve of swinging, it would be... a lot.

Try this podcast episode. It's from the perspective of people who are pretty much totally on board with swinging, but it's meant to be informative to laypeople too.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:14 AM on May 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, to be honest, it makes me a little uneasy that this is something other people are trying to get her to do, rather than an idea she came up with and then pursued. And I say this as someone who is 100% fine with swinging. Make sure she knows that any discomfort she feels is valid, no matter whether they tell her something is "normal" or "just how it's done."
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:17 AM on May 7, 2014

Opening Up is a great book that talks about a variety of polyamorous styles, including swinging, and takes a calm, reasoned tone. It's a bit more nuts & bolts than The Ethical Slut (also good).

You might also google "monogamish," a word Dan Savage coined to describe couples who have some amount of freedom to be physically intimate with other people. It isn't exactly swinging, but there's overlap.

If your friend plans to get involved with couples as a single woman, especially if she's bi, read a little bit about unicorns.

These are more tangential, but looking specifically for secondary or solo polyamory will help weed out the various "Should my partner and I open our relationship?" articles and other couple-focused writing.
posted by orangejenny at 4:41 PM on May 7, 2014

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