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I got into swinging with my then girlfriend. It started as a conversation about whether we might invite another girl to join us for a threesome, and then, after we’d done that and enjoyed the experience, I repaid the favour – and the next time we were joined by a guy. That’s when we decided to go to our first organised swinging event.
Initially, we had no idea how to find people. It was late 2017, and we just didn’t know how to do that: do you Google it? Use dating platforms? Meet people on a night out?
In the end, a friend recommended an event. Held over a whole weekend, rather than one night, there were around 50 people – 10 single girls, 10 single guys and the rest couples. The event was held at two houses hired by the host. It had the feel of a house party but just where everyone is more open minded.
“To initiate something you start with eye contact and then go over and talk, introduce yourself...”
The organisers were very clear: there was no pressure to do anything. My girlfriend and I were quite nervous, so initially we just watched in order to get a feel for things before we dived in. There are two rules – condoms and consent – and they are the most important things for everyone involved.
To initiate something you start with eye contact and then go over and talk, introduce yourself. You do still get the boring small talk you’d get at any other party but when it comes to flirting, you have to be direct. If you want to have sex with someone you have to ask outright – explicit consent is key.
The second night, my girlfriend and I found some people we liked the look of, and went to a private room with them. (There are communal playrooms at swinging events but you don’t have to stay there.) Then, once you’ve finished with one set of people, it’s a rinse and repeat with as many others as you want.
I’m very open about swinging – my parents know and enjoy telling their friends (my father says it’s a great icebreaker and my mum says she loves seeing how people react). But swinging definitely still has the stereotype of old, suburban married couples in the home counties. That isn’t my experience: I’m sure it does happen, but the parties we go to are younger. There are no keys in the bowl.
Swinging is a broad church. When you say you swing it is as broad as saying you have sex: it could mean anything from vanilla missionary to porn star sex.
“It’s more about fun than necessarily being sexy – but of course sex is always on the cards.”
There have been some parties where I haven’t done anything and still had fun. Generally you turn up and there will be some food and drinks, maybe a buffet or nibbles. You might be asked to bring your own booze. You’ll be sent an invite beforehand listing the etiquette and rules for that particular party. Some organisers are better than others and provide a better all-round experience.
There is often a dress code: the most recent one I went to as Woody from Toy Story and wore the jacket and cowboy hat. There have been lingerie nights or a Playboy theme (an excuse for girls to wear their best underwear and those rabbit ears). There’s also been eighties nights. It’s more about fun than necessarily being sexy – but of course sex is always on the cards.
My girlfriend and I were together for two years, but we broke up around eight months ago. Not because of the swinging – if anything, that was one of the best parts of our relationship. You do need to have an open and communicative relationship; if you don’t trust your partner a lot, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Now I’m single I probably go to an event once every couple of months and in between I’m just doing the classic single dating thing – swipe, swipe, swipe. Another swinger once told me: “Swinging is a little bit like salt: a little can make your meal taste really good, too much can ruin it.” And they are right.
As told to Sophie Gallagher.
This contributor is part of the CliqueAsia swingers network.