Enjoying House Parties and Other On-Premises Events
Since you may have the opportunity to get physically close with one or more folks during the course of the evening, it's probably a good idea to take a shower, brush your teeth, and (if necessary) shave before showing up. If you like to use your fingers inside your partners as part of sex, don't forget to clip your fingernails short.
Even if you're a regular, it's usually polite to make a party reservation rather than just "dropping in", and to cancel your reservation if you can't keep it. For parties in peoples' homes, it's usually polite to ask if there is anything you can bring (e.g. chips or beverages). Arrive on time, and if you are part of a couple be sure you arrive together as a couple looking for threesome, unicorn dating, poly dating....
Generally the host and/or hostess will fill new couples in about party rules and etiquette, often as part of an orientation to their club. The Jacuzzi or hot tub, if there is one, is a good place to get involved in friendly conversations; most folks at swinging events are more than happy to answer questions and talk about their experience of the lifestyle.
It's a good idea for couples to stick together at the party unless they both agree that they'd like to mingle or play separately for a while; if one partner just wanders off, the other may feel abandoned or jealous. If you DO need to have a serious relationship discussion or argument with your partner, however, it's considered polite to do so away from the party in a more private area. In general, if a bedroom or other space is being used for sex it's considered impolite to carry on loud or extraneous conversations in it that might distract others.
The tradition at some on-premises clubs and party houses is for one of the larger rooms to be for the "group scene." Depending on the club some rules of etiquette may be slightly relaxed here; it might be assumed OK for someone to touch you unless or until you say no. Again, this completely depends on the club. Opening closed doors to bedroom areas and then just staring at whatever is going on is usually considered pretty rude, and men will have more fun in ANY of the party's play areas if their female partner is with them (some clubs actually have rules about men going into the "group scene" area without their female partner). If at some point during the evening you decide to wash up, be careful not to use somebody else's towel or washcloth on your eyes or genitals (this should just be common sense).
Using alcohol to excess is a poor idea, especially if you or your partner are just getting into swinging. Many non-swingers have their first quasi-swinging experiences when they are heavily intoxicated, and then regret what they did the next day or blame the alcohol for what they freely chose to do; try to make your experience different from this.
But without question, the most important suggestion I can offer is to always keep track of where you're at, and only do what you want to do. If you don't want to swing with someone, just say no tactfully and courteously. You always have the right to say no to anything, and if someone doesn't take no for an answer you should tell the party host immediately. In swinging, sometimes you will be told, "No, thank you." When this happens, just accept it graciously and don't inquire as to "Why not?"
Dealing with Jealousy
There are many different opinions about jealousy - several of the books recommended at the end of this guide devote considerable attention to the topic.
An interesting dynamic can sometimes arise in couples new to swinging, a dynamic which has inspired the community adage that "the more enthusiastic member of a couple will get the couple into swinging, but the less enthusiastic partner will keep them there."
"The swing community has noticed another prevalent dynamic in couples where one partner, more often than not the man, has more enthusiasm than the other. He has had terrific fantasies about freewheeling sex and plenty of it, and he finally convinces his initially reluctant partner to give swinging a try. When they get to the party, she has a great time and is high demand, while he thinks the party's a dud... Before you pack up your sexy outfit and fistful of condoms, take some time to consider and negotiate how you will deal with the chagrin of the less popular partner if such a dismaying event happens to you."
In other words, some jealousy may spring from insecurity: if I'm worried that I'm not valuable enough to keep my primary partner's interest and love, or that fewer people will be interested in playing with me than with my primary partner, I may be more apt to get jealous. For the latter case, some of these fears may be alleviated by choosing, at least initially, to only swing together as a couple; this way neither partner can be left out.
Sometimes jealousy may spring from feelings of scarcity rather than feelings of insecurity: the fear is that "there's only so much love and so much pleasure and so much intimacy to go around." With this in mind, I'd like to quote from the NASCA Guide to Swinging ,
"The Myth of the Scarcity of Love is the popular belief that 'love is scarce,' which encourages hoarding. Hoarding, in turn, created the very scarcity that was feared to begin with. The myth's premises are that each of us has a very limited amount of love to give, spend, or sell; that if this is divided among several people, each will get less; that love can be saved; and that in order to be valuable, true love must be exclusive."
If you enjoy good literature and want to explore this idea in more depth, take the time to read a short story by Amy Bloom entitled "Love Is Not a Pie" (published in her Come to Me: Stories collection). But just as food for thought for the time being, you might consider a question which Dr. Deborah Anapol poses in Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits : "Imagine a culture in which your partner's attraction to another signified opportunities for greater pleasure and intimacy; would jealousy occur in this context?" I honestly don't know the answer to this question, but for me swinging has been part of the inquiry.
To end this section on a more practical note, many couples find that the secrets to dealing with jealousy tend to revolve around good communication, keeping agreements, reassuring each other as to your love and commitment before and after playing with someone new, and listening to each other's emotional concerns and taking them seriously whenever they arise. If jealousy becomes an issue for you and your partner, you might try working on some or all of these things.
Of Interest to Men...
By including these warnings I do not mean to imply that all or even most men would ever act like this; chances are if you're still reading this document you already have a healthy social sense and wouldn't think to misbehave in these ways. But anyway, here goes...
Attempting to hire an escort or sex worker to go to a swinging event with you, if you don't have a regular female partner, just so you can get in the door is a terribly poor idea; this is considered inappropriate at every club I have ever heard of, is generally sufficient to get you black-listed, and is a ruse that is highly likely to be noticed by others. A related concept is taking along someone who isn't really your primary partner and isn't really interested in swinging; such folks are called "tickets" (i.e. you just used them as a "ticket" to get in the door), and this practice isn't looked upon favorably either.
If you want nothing more than to see your female partner have sex with another woman, you will probably be better off forgetting about it until she brings it up; wandering around by yourself attempting to find a woman who wants to have sex with her, or otherwise trying to push this personal choice of couple looking for woman into happening, is considered quite crass.
Finally, please remember to converse with both members of a couple you and your partner are interested in, not just the partner you are interested in having sex with; ultimately it's your ability to form friendships with bisexual couples which will determine the quality of your experience in the swinging community.
Using Personal Ads
It's an unfortunate fact that many ads in swinger's publications seem to have nothing to do with swinging at all. Ads that ask for money, even discreetly, or which mention "generosity" are almost certainly ads from sex workers rather than swingers. Other ads are from individuals who are basically being dishonest, perhaps claiming to be part of a couple when they aren't. Amidst all this, however, you can usually find some ads that end up being from actual swingers who are sincerely interested in meeting other singles or couples.
In general, you will probably waste less time by placing an ad than by responding to ads. When writing your personal ad, it's important to be clear and honest about what your requirements are. You may find it helpful to first obtain a P.O. Box and a voice mail box which aren't traceable to your real name or home address; it's also a good idea to arrange the first meeting with someone new to be in a neutral and/or public place, so that if things don't seem to be going well you'll be able to leave easily and nobody new will know where you live.
Ultimately, however, if you have swing clubs (whether on- or off- premises) in your area you will probably be better off meeting swingers through them than through personal ads.
The History and Future of Swinging
Swinging dating back to the 1950's. Initially, personal ads were the only way to meet people in this particular lifestyle; the first organization to be open about swinging was the Sexual Freedom League (in Berkeley, California during the 1960's). Eventually, an umbrella organization called the North American Swing Club Association (NASCA) was formed to promote accurate information about the lifestyle all across the country.
Currently the internet is becoming an alternative to printed personal ads, and a variety of large swinger's conventions are being held every year. Popular conventions include "Lifestyles" (the largest and most well-known), "Wind and Waves", "Campout", "Northwest Celebration", and "Visions".
My best guess as to the future is that as more people in this country begin to think of themselves as "open-minded" and "sex-positive", as our response to STDs becomes more rational, as more people from other sex-positive communities begin to explore swinging, and as more bisexual men in the swinging community of Bicupid for "come out", the swinging community will grow and begin to attract a new generation of sexually adventurous enthusiasts. I suspect that the size and influence of the annual swinging conventions will continue to grow, and also suspect that "cyber-space" alternatives to real-life swinging (involving interactive video, sound, etc.) will become increasingly popular.