In the last few years, there has been an increased amount of media attention on swingers and polyamorous relationships. While many may lump the two plural encounters into the same jar, they could not be more different.
Polyamorous is a term used to describe the one person in a loving relationship with a number of other individuals. We generally hear the word polygamy, which refers to multiple female lovers or wives, or sometimes polyandry, meaning more than one male lover or husband. Relationships like this can develop from swinging, when a couple creates a family with other lovers they have met over the years. Typically, though, polyamorous families are created with the intention of a permanent relationship based around a family unit, rather than purely for sexual desires. There are a number of religions that encourage polyamorous relationships, but the laws in most States in the USA do not recognize marriages other than the first as legal and binding.
The typical ‘swinger’ couple is made of two committed individuals who enjoy having sex with people outside of their relationship. Sometimes this involves finding other swinging couples and swapping partner for partner, while other times it takes on the form of including a third party into the original pairing. These relationships are often informal and temporary, but some groups do form longer lasting bonds that may develop onto a polyamorous relationship.
While swinging relationships can involve ‘vanilla’ sex, there is a level of fetish involved in many swapping couples. Some lovers enjoy watching their partner have sex with another person or being watched while engaging in sexual activities with another. The voyeuristic aspect of swinging is quite a common one. Other couples who take part in the bondage and dominance lifestyle may also engage in partner swapping or plural sexual encounters, both on a temporary basis, as well as in a longer term basis more akin to polyamorous relationships.
Swingers can meet in any number of ways. There are many web sites out there that cater to the swinging lifestyle, many that are designed after more mainstream dating sites, where couples or individuals can register, create a profile, and seek out a person that matches what they are searching for. They can also be contacted directly by other web site members to communicate. Other swapping couples meet like minded individuals at swinger’s clubs. These tend to be private in nature, and most require a paid membership. Many have restrictions that single men cannot join – only single women and men in a relationship with another woman, although clubs that cater to more than just heterosexual couples tend to not have that rule in place. Another way that swinging couples can meet are through private parties. These are a bit more difficult to find out about, as they are generally spread word-of-mouth, so you have to know someone who is already involved to get in an invitation.
Many polyamorous couples do not like to be referred to as ‘swingers’, as it implies some sort of sexual priority in a relationship. On the contrary, many polyamorous families view children and their upbringing as the main focus of their union. Alternatively swingers tend not to associated themselves with those with ‘multiple wives’, as they don’t want the sense of commitment that a truly polyamorous relationship has. While the two lifestyles may have a few underlying aspects in common, they are on opposite sides of the plural relationship coin.