A comment on a recent post I did got me thinking of the differences and relative computability of swinging and polyamory (thanks Spunky80 for the idea).
I have made the argument that popular media attention has resulted in a popularization or mainstreaming of the swinging lifestyle. While I think this is a generally positive development, it has brought with it a lot of people who are new to swinging and the inevitable confusion of this newness.
An issue I am seeing frequently is a blurring between swinging and polyamory. To get the definitions straight (my interpretation here) – swinging is consensual sexual activity outside of your primary relationship; polyamory involves having multiple, loving relationships at the same time. You can quibble over the exactitude of these definition, but the point I am trying to make is that they are two very different lifestyle choices.
It is quite common within the swinging community for couples to seek ONLY sexual openness. It is fairly common for a swinging refuse to enter into friendship relationship with play partners. Similarly, many swingers will not play with the same couple more than once or twice for fear of developing “feelings”. I am not judging – sexuality is charged and emotional – if this is the line some people require, that is fine.
Poly folks, on the other hand, seem to be primarily about the relationship, with sexual openness being only a part (and sometimes a logical consequence) of the multiple loving relationships they have.
I am certainly not saying either of these lifestyles is better than the other. My point is, as more people become peripherally exposed to swinging, it is important to understand what it is and what it ain’t.