I remember my introduction to the lifestyle quite vividly. Sitting at home, on the couch watching T.V., I receive a text message from my best friend from college.
“I’m going to tell you something and I need you not to judge me.”
Intrigued, I urge her to continue.
“I went to a sex club.”
My response is immediate. “TELL ME EVERYTHING.”
It is a truth, that should be universally acknowledged: one person cannot meet another’s needs entirely. It’s just not humanely possible and frankly, it’s exhausting. A 2000 study found that swingers, on a whole, were happier and more satisfied in their relationships than monogamous couples with 60% noting that swinging improved their relationship. ‘Swinging’ or ‘being in the lifestyle’ has been a large part of American culture since the 1960s. The taboo of adultery transformed into a relationship affirming experience that allows couples to fully realize their needs. I’ve had friends tell me for years that it’s a turn-on watching their partner masturbate or how arousing it is watching porn together. Why shouldn’t that desire be taken one step further?
Getting dressed to go to a lifestyle club for the first time, I choose a timeless cocktail dress that hugs my curves and a pair of black heels that elongate my legs and lift my derriere. I glance over at my friend and do a double take. She is in a black bustier that ties in the front, allowing an impressive amount (and I mean impressive) of cleavage to show and a leather skirt with matching leather boots.
“Am I dressed alright?” I ask tentatively.
“Oh, you’re fine!”
I stare at her chest again and think, doubtful.
But as we arrive at the club I see she’s right – it really doesn’t matter how covered up you are just as long as it looks like you care about your appearance. The rules for dress extended to the rules for socializing as well. People are encouraged to wander up and talk to each other, remark on how sexy you look, or ask where you got that bedazzled thong? But there’s no forced sense of politeness. You are either genuinely interested in getting to know someone or not. As I rebuff yet another couple who’ve asked me to accompany them to play in the back room, I’m amazed at the graciousness everyone has displayed. A firm, but respectful “I appreciate your invitation but I’m not interested,” is met with smiles and good natured sighs. So different than when I’ve gone to mainstream clubs! Several times resorting to hiding in the bathroom so I won’t run into the angry frat guy who didn’t like that I declined a drink from him. I mention as much to my girl-friend. “Oh yeah!” She enthuses. “Consent is a huge part of the lifestyle. Couples agree on rules for themselves and of course anyone else joining them for ‘play’ has rules too!” She’s just returned from being invited to one of the private rooms. “No touching, but they asked if I would be interested in watching.”
I’ve been back several times since to that club and others besides. I’ve talked with people inside and outside the lifestyle and the key points brought up are always the same: honesty and consent. Two virtues that seem lacking in most ‘vanilla’ relationships. Communication is a key aspect of every encounter. Agreeing on who to bring to bed, who is allowed to touch whom and where, if partners are allowed to seek separate entertainment – only a relationship with absolute trust and transparency could ever survive, nay thrive, in such an atmosphere. One of my best gal pals from school, a bi-sexual, frequently expressed her wish to bring another woman into bed with her and her husband. “Woman are much better kissers,” she would say, winking.