Has Swinging Sex Simmered Down?
Is swinging growing or declining in popularity?
November 1975 Recently, I read a newspaper account of a rather gory murder; a beautiful Chicago model had been stabbed to death by a lover who found her in bed with his two business partners. Clearly she’d been swinging, and her swinging had tragic repercussions. But that story made me think. I wondered if swinging is still as prevalent as it used to be?
Once swingers were evident everywhere; from chic summer resorts, to bars and country clubs and everywhere in between. But was swinging only a 1960′s phenomenon, come and gone like the Neolithic age of hippies and acid freaks? Could swinging be obsolete?
“Not for me,” one friend told me with conviction. A lovely cameo-profiled brunette, Desi gave up her career as a writer to marry a moderately well-off businessman, many years older than her. She confessed, “I admit to a few impossible shortcomings that even five years of analysis couldn’t neutralize. I’d perish without variety, excitement, and the unpredictable! A husband or career, however successful, could never provide these for me. Sex with others can.”
Paradoxically, and I was compelled to point this out to her, Desi’s dependence on her husband is remarkably childlike. And when there is that intense, somewhat unnatural need for another, I’ve noticed jealousy often quickly follows. Does she never feel jealous when her husband is making love to another woman a few inches away?
“This may make no sense at all,” she answered, “but I don’t feel jealousy or betrayal if I’m there with him. I don’t see Don’s having sex with others as adultery so long as I’m sharing the pleasure. And don’t forget,” she added, laughing, “I am, and always have been, the one to choose our sex partners. Don was quite the faithful husband to his ex-wife. Straight as a die. He participates mostly to make me happy. At no time do we feel threatened.”
Playboy Tv: Swingers Get Freaky
Desi and Don may be an exception if we are to believe what Masters and Johnson report on sex outside the marriage in The Pleasure Bond: “As soon as the issue of jealousy is raised, it becomes apparent that the surface expression of the joys of swinging conceals fears that trouble one partner, if not both.”
One New York divorce lawyer recently stated a well-known fact: “Open marriage? It doesn’t work! Too many couples discover that they just cannot endure the moral strain of switching partners. That their friends okay the idea, and sometimes even participate in the sexual experiences with them, doesn’t matter. Couples punish themselves.”
What about the effect on singles? One woman I know, Vivienne, lives in a state of constant agitation if she is not involved with a man deeply involved. She experiences periods of panic when she’ll sleep with practically anyone. These supposedly fulfilling alliances, brief and sexual only, don’t calm her at all. They tend to compound and prolong Vivienne’s feelings of loneliness, her desperate need to love another. The missing ingredient is emotional involvement.
“All I do is begin yet another cycle of going from one warm body to another. It’s a sexual glut. At the time it’s happening, I truly enjoy every physical moment, I love it, but I halfway hope that a miracle will occur; that I’ll connect emotionally with a man.”
Filthy Gorgeous Exclusives
If swinging really has dwindled from a rising tide to the merest trickle, it could be simply because trends always burgeon, ideologies change, new looks come in. But psychologist Herbert Hendin believes that emotional commitment is still on the decline because of what he calls, “the significance of sensory escape.” that is, using sensation; sex in all it form, drugs, alcohol, and other artificial stimulants, to relieve momentary despair and avoid confrontation.
I asked a male friend about this, and he replied, “In some cases, yes; but sensory escape, like mindless screwing for instance, can be self-protective, when you’re feeling pain. Here you are performing an intimate act but at the same time remaining detached and invulnerable.” And eventually, detached sex can become a depressant. “I think it’s sad,” my friend continued, “when a man has to attend the next orgy but doesn’t even know why he’s really there, whether as a participant, or just as a practicing voyeur.”
“Swinging still exists,” Desi insists. “You know, as a rose by any other name. The new pop therapies, the erotic cults, the return to religion, and, of course, the woman’s movement, have influenced most of us.” l asked her for an example, and without hesitation she answered. “Women who would never have considered bisexuality are now entering into lesbian affairs. Some of them are ending marriages, and all are searching for the emotional, sexual, and political state that suits them best.”
Which reminds me; not too many years ago, a married woman who had sex with another woman would have been generally dismissed as a simple degenerate. So swinging is still here, neatly absorbed into various contemporary lifestyles. It’s quite alive. Maybe not a robust as it formerly was, but quietly effective just the same!