Swinging and Wife-swapping
Swinging, sometimes referred to as the swinging lifestyle, is "non-monogamous sexual activity, treated much like any other social activity, that can be experienced as a couple."
The phenomenon of swinging (or at least its wider discussion and practice) may be seen as part of the sexual revolution of recent decades, which occurred after the upsurge in sexual activity made possible by the prevalence of safer sex practices during the same period. Swinging has been called wife swapping in the past, but this term has been criticized as androcentric (taking a male-oriented point of view) and inaccurately describing the full range of sexual activities in which swingers may take part.
Swinging activities may include (but are not limited to):
Soft swinging: having sexual intercourse with a partner while two or more other people perform sex acts in the immediate vicinity.
Soft swap: having oral sex with someone other than one's partner. Often a type of swinging that new couples choose before eventually trying full swap, although many couples stay "soft swap" for personal or safety related reasons.
Full swap: having penetrative sex with someone other than one's partner. Although this is the commonly understood definition of swinging, it is not necessarily the most common type.
Group sex: An all-inclusive term for activities involving multiple partners in the same vicinity.
Typically, swinging activities occur when a married or otherwise committed couple engages in sexual activity with another couple, multiple couples, or a single individual. These acts can occur in the same room (often called same room swinging) though different or separate room swinging does occur. On these occasions, swingers will often refer to sex as play and sex partners as playmates. Occasionally, one party of a couple will not be interested in joining the swinging lifestyle. This party is typically referred to as the "hold-out" while the other party is referred to as the "desirous party". Thus, the "desirous party" is the one party of a swinging couple who seeks to be in the lifestyle as opposed to the other party who does not.
Temporary spouse-trading was commonly advocated and practiced among occultists, particularly alchemists, in Europe (such as at Prague) in the 17th century.
Some such occultists were the Frankists who in the mid-18th century established in Salonika (Thessalonia), Makedonia, the Dönmeh cult : "The Donmeh now converted the Shabbatain Purim into an annual orgy, when members exchanged spouses for a ceremony called 'extinguishing the lights.'"
"Once a year [during the Doenmes' annual 'Sheep holiday'] the candles are put out in the course of a dinner which is attended by orgies and the ceremony of the exchange of wives."
"The Dönmeh and the Frankists each had sexual-religious rituals, ranging from wife-swapping ..."
From collaboration of the Frankists with Zizendorf of Moravia derived the "initiated sea captains sailing for the Swedish East India Company", who set up a liaison with oriental Tantrists; in a similar manner as in the 20th century Air Force pilots were involved in introducing "swinging" to the United States.
The sobriquet "Communist" was applied (especially in Germany) to some who advocated spouse-trading in the mid-19th century onward.
While contemporary swingers look to earlier practices, such as ancient Roman acceptance of orgies and alternative sexual practices, swinging in the 20th century began differently.
Swinging began among United States Army Air Force pilots and their wives during World War II. The mortality rate of pilots was high. Gould reports that a close bond arose between pilots, with the implication that husbands would care for all the wives as their own, emotionally and sexually, if the husbands were away or lost (thus bearing some similarity to levirate marriage).
By the time the Korean War ended, swinging had spread from the military to the suburbs. The media dubbed the phenomenon wife-swapping.
Bisexuality and same-sex activity
Attitudes to same-sex activity and bisexuality vary by culture and locale, and by gender.
As a rule, female bisexuality and bicuriosity are common in both the "selective" (see below) and traditional swinging scenes and tend to be the norm amongst participants; by contrast, male same-sex activity has a wider variation in its handling, and may be welcomed, accepted, frowned upon, or forbidden.
Swing clubs and other facilities exist for gay and bisexual interests for both genders, but differ – for example bathhouses and the like for gay males, sometimes described as being "controversial" even in the gay community due to safer sex concerns, whereas women's clubs are "comparatively rare" and tend to be organized as private events, or niche clubs with high popularity for their events.
Dogging is a British term for swinging that takes place in a public but reasonably secluded area (often based in cars, but not necessarily). There are many known dogging spots across the UK where people go after dark, typically to engage in voyeurism and exhibitionism but also to take part in group sex.
The term hot wife refers to a married woman who has sex with men other than her spouse, and/or women with the husband's consent. In most cases the husband takes a vicarious pleasure in watching the pleasure of his wife and the man or men, or enjoys watching, hearing, or knowing about his wife's adventures. Husbands may also take part by engaging in threesomes, or arranging dates for their wives. And often, if not an active participant, the husband take photos and/or video of his wife's sexual encounter. Also in many cases the husband/wife enjoy private sexual relations afterward.
One variant of the hot wife phenomenon is when two men (one generally the husband and the other perhaps a close friend) take turns pleasuring his wife, each immediately taking over from the other as soon as his orgasm is reached. In effect one man is recovering while the other is active, but the woman effectively has continuous intercourse. In this way, particularly if the woman experiences multiple orgasms, this game can effectively provide her with a very extended sexual act that she could not experience in any other way.
A distinct threesome subculture is cuckolding. Cuckolding is a subgenre where open relationship and threesomes meet. In a cuckold experience one partner has sex with another person outside of their primary relationship for a limited number of times and the person who engages in the experience generally shares that experience with their partner after the encounter has ended.
Generally cuckolding differs from an open relationship as it does not involve an ongoing emotional relationship that is commonly found in open relationship nor is it an ongoing relationship that is commonly found in an open relationship. Though the nonparticipating partner is not involved in the sexual act they may be involved in preparation and selection of the third person. Cuckolding is not always done for sexual humiliation as it may be done to allow sexual exploration, the opportunity to live out a fantasy, fulfill a desire, or sexual fulfillment that cannot usually be obtained through the normal boundaries of a relationship. In essence cuckolding seeks to 'fill the gap' that is left by other threesome or group sex activities.
Polyamory is the desire, practice or acceptance of having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time with full knowledge and consent by everyone involved. Poly lifestyles vary, with some being open relationships and others being polyfidelitous.
Many people involved in polyamory are not swingers. Some are openly critical of swingers, contrasting their committed relationships with the recreational sex that, in their view, swingers practice. Others are not critical of swingers but simply do not regard themselves as belonging to the same group.
Traditionally swingers' clubs accept all ages and body types, and the average age of swingers is 39, while the ages when people first enter the swinging lifestyle average 31 for women and 34 for men. Younger swingers who wish to swing with their own age group find that this isn't always possible in swinging clubs.