What is Swinging?

Swinging is a polyamorous practice in which partners in a committed relationship engage in sexual activities with another couple. Swinging is a consensual practice, and many swingers consider it to be more acceptable than an extramarital affair. Couples may engage in sex separately by exchanging partners or they may experience sex together, as a form of group sex. Swingers can include couples of all genders and sexual orientations.

History of Swinging

The oldest form of swinging was referred to as 'wife swapping'. It began in the 16th century and gradually evolved over time. Tales set in the 18th century often convey the exchanging of spouses as a ritualized practice, however these tales may not reflect the reality of the time. In the 20th century, swinging became popular in America, especially during World War II, when it was more common for Air Force pilots and their wives: Since the mortality rates among pilots was so high, many pilots developed bonds with each other that entailed a commitment to take care of each others' wives if one of the pilots died. This commitment included emotional support as well as sexual fulfilment.

Although swinging in America was most popular during during WWII into the 1960's, it is still prevalent in society today and is often associated with wife swapping parties. With the rise of the internet, swinging became even more popular over the course of the 1990's. The internet made it much easier for couples to find other swingers and decide on places to meet. Swingers account for about 2-4% of married couples, or 2 million people in North America.

Reasons For Swinging

People engage in the swinging lifestyle for many reasons. These reasons may include:

  • An increased quality of sex
  • More frequent sex
  • Increased novelty and variety
  • The possibility for experimentation
  • The fulfillment of fantasies

Some couples may view swinging as a healthy outlet for their relationship and may even believe it can strengthen their bond. Many also may regard such activities as simply social and recreational, claiming it is simply a fun way to experiment.

Staying Safe While Swinging

If partners decide to engage in swinging, it is important to plan ahead and be sure all partners use barrier methods of contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy or the contraction of STIs. It is also highly recommended that partners involved in this lifestyle get tested for STIs regularly to ensure they are in good sexual health, as a greater variety and frequency of sexaul contacts carries greater risk. Finally, some people choose to make a "fidelity agreement" and make a committment not to have sex with anyone outside their circle of friends/swingers.




Bergstrand, Curtis; Blevins Williams, Jennifer (2000-10-10). "Today's Alternative Marriage Styles: The Case Of Swingers". Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality 3. Retrieved 2012-05-24.

Terry Gould, The Lifestyle: a look at the erotic rites of swingers. Vintage Canada, November 23, 1999.



Created April 6, 2003, last updated June 1, 2012