To Explore New Worlds
When it comes to the topic of relationship health and swinging, you will run into two polarized viewpoints. Some people claim that swinging (and other forms of non-monogamy) can in no way be beneficial to the health of a relationship. On the other side, some people will claim that non-monogamy will strengthen your relationship. Lilly and I feel that the true answer is…well…it depends! Swinging is an amplifier, it will take whatever subtle trajectory your relationship is heading on and multiply it by 100. It’s a lot like firing your main rockets from low earth orbit. If you are pointed out at space, you will soon be leaving the gravitational hold of everyday experience to explore new worlds. However if your ship is pointed down at the earth, you are going to exit your stable orbit and watch hopelessly as your fragile relationship burns up and eventually explodes over Russia.
Houston, We Have A Problem
We’d like to address something right up front since we have seen it frequently with new swingers. If you and your partner have experienced issues with infidelity, and you think opening up your relationship to other couples is going to fix everything, you are mistaken. This solution may appear to have some logic to it. After all, the problem was caused by one of you having sex with another person, so if you simply move the goal posts and make this an allowable behavior for both of you, then hey, no more problem, right? Wrong! Cheating is less about the sexual act, and more about a breech of trust between partners. It contradicts the one thing that could be called the magic bullet to successful swinging: trust.
Swinging found us when we least expected it, and boy were we surprised! Lilly and I were attending a weekend long cabin-camping trip with a running group, and we were sharing a room with friends of ours. During the day our friends told us that if Lilly and I felt the need to have sex, we shouldn’t worry about their presence in the room and just go for it. We took this as a friendly joke at the time. That night we were curled up in our sleeping bag. One cot over, our friends were curled up in their sleeping bag. These cots were close enough that they essentially made one bed, with Lilly and me far off to one side, and our friends on the other. We had our heads inside the sleeping bag, using it as kind of a warm fort. We could feel movement next to us, and we started hearing moans coming from our friends. “Guess they weren’t kidding earlier!” I whispered to Lilly. The flashlight we had tucked into the sleeping bag illuminated half of her horrified expression.
Lilly: I was shocked! We had known these friends for a long time. Though there had always been quite a bit of sexual humor between all of us in the running group, this is the first time it was real. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I peeked out from the sleeping bag to see if maybe they were pulling a prank on us. That’s when I realized the situation was a bit more intense than I had originally realized. Not only was there sex going on next to us, but there was an extra person in the sleeping bag in addition to the two I had expected! Many complex emotions struck me all at once (shock, denial, and even a little disgust). It was unexpected, and I was uncomfortable. I started thinking about all the playful flirting we had done with this couple over the years, analyzing every comment I could remember. I expressed to Max quietly but urgently that I wanted to go home. I couldn’t stand to look at our friends the same way anymore, and I just needed to go to what I felt at the time was a safe place.
Max: I was surprised, but not quite as shocked as Lilly. Part of having Asperger’s (see: The Carnal Chameleon: Exploring Sex in an Alien World) is that people seem to act in unpredictable ways and it’s next to impossible to tell when they are telling the truth or being sarcastic. After all, they had told us earlier that if we wanted to have sex “go for it.” Lilly seemed distressed, and I didn’t blame her, this was new and uncharted territory. Home was a 4 hour drive and it was after midnight so I suggested that we go to the car where we could talk in warmth and privacy. She explained to me how uncomfortable she was and I suggested that we get some sleep in the car and then we could leave early in the morning. We would be missing a good half of the running weekend but she was far more important. On the drive home that next morning we talked quite a bit. I suggested that we never go back to that running group. We could run on our own and not have to worry about any awkward situations.
Lilly: A few weeks had passed since the camping trip. Max and I had not talked much about it since that drive home. When I would broach the subject, Max kept saying to not worry about it, and that we never had to go back. I was perplexed, I didn’t want to stop going to our running group, and seeing our friends. At the same time I couldn’t let go of what had happened. Having sex with another person outside of your relationship is cheating…isn’t it? Even if the other person is right there? These sorts of questions kept running through my head. I thought for sure that something would have changed between the couple, but the next morning when we saw them they were still together and happy. Even doing very cute couply things together! I felt what they did was wrong, but I didn’t know why, and every time I tried to justify my feeling of wrongness I would come up empty handed. Threesomes are something that I thought only happened in porn; they’re sexy and hot, but that’s not real life. Then I realized why I felt so passionately about it.
Max: I was busy working when Lilly suddenly came into the room. “Honey, we have to talk,” she said….This can’t be good! I thought I had been getting better about putting the seat down but maybe I had forgotten…She said “It’s about what happened at the running weekend, you know, with our friends.” I immediately jumped into action “Oh, don’t worry about that, love, it happened but it’s over and we don’t have to see them anymore. You and I love each other, and sex for us will remain private. What they did was…” Lilly interrupted, “I want to tell them I’m not upset with them.” She continued, “I want to remain friends and continue running. I’m more upset at myself than at anyone else. I realized that I’m not disgusted with their behavior. On the contrary, I’m turned on by it. I found it really sexy.” My brain imploded, and I’m pretty sure my eyes crossed…”Wha?”
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