who are swingers

What Are Swingers? Answered By Long-Time Swingers

This article was written by a husband and wife who have been swinging for over 10 years. They noticed an emergence of interest in the lifestyle after the pandemic, but a lack of resources in getting started or learning more from an insider perspective. These are their experiences as swingers.

This is the first in a small number of articles addressing the increasing popularity of non monogamous relationships, and in particular, what is known as swinging. Another commonly used term is “lifestyle.” What follows is written from a UK perspective. Things may vary slightly in the U.S. and other parts of the world.

What are Swingers?

Swingers are traditionally regarded as couples who engage in recreational sexual activities, known in the lifestyle as “playing”, with other couples.

Wife swapping is a somewhat old fashioned term, not used much any more. The term implies a male-centric practice where the female partner is regarded as a commodity to be traded. Why not “husband swapping?” And, of course, an increasing number of long term relationships are between people who are not married.

But swinging is much broader than simply trading partners, which is just one aspect of “ethical non monogamy”. The important word here is “ethical”.

What proportion of the population engage in consensual non monogamy?

A UK survey showed that 8% of people have engaged in such relationships, and a further 14% would be open to the idea if the situation arose. In the U.S., 20% claim to have been engaged at some time.

How does swinging differ from  cheating?

This can be summed up in one word. “Deceit.” We all know what a typical extra marital relationship is. And the contortions that people will go through to avoid discovery, and the inevitable disharmony that results. 

In swinging, the important distinction is of mutual consent and openness. Both parties in the primary relationship have to be comfortable with the concept, and the particular activities agreed on.

Even before embarking on swinging, couples must thoroughly discuss their ideas, what they hope to get out of the arrangement, and what they expect from each other. Agreement has to be mutual and wholehearted.

Who are Swingers?

When I and my then partner were contemplating entering the lifestyle, I imagined that most swingers were young. The men all Adonises, the women all on a par with Marylin Monroe. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Swingers come from every age group, every niche of gender, every occupation, every ethnicity, the short, the tall, the thin and the not so thin. The only thing they all have in common is their consensual non monogamy.

What do swingers do?

Swinging encompasses a wide variety of practices, and the following list is not comprehensive.


People new to the lifestyle may not be ready to involve other people right from the start. They may attend a club where they can watch other people play, or play themselves while being watched. 

Conventional Swapping

Two couples trade partners for sexual encounters. The two couples, once paired off, may then retire to separate rooms to play, or both pairs may play in the same room. For this scenario to work, all four participants have to be happy with the arrangement. If just one of the four is not attracted to the opposite number, it doesn’t work. 

Bisexual Swapping

When two individuals or more of two couples are bisexual the possible playing can become more of a foursome than simply swapping partners, with a broader range of possible activities.


It is much easier to arrange a threesome than a foursome, and much more commonly practiced. The commonest arrangement is MMF (male/male/female), where the female of the couple will select a male and the couple will invite him to join them in play.

Occasionally, the female may ask her partner to make the selection, which adds a certain extra frisson. If the males are both bisexual this can add another dimension to the play. FFM (female/female/male) is less common and is more demanding on the male in terms of stamina. Bisexual women wanting to play with couples are rather rare, and are known as “unicorns” of account of their rarity.

See Also: Three Tips for Having a Successful Threesome

The “Greedy Girl” Phenomenon

A greedy girl is a lady, either single or part of a couple, who wishes to play with a number of males in excess of two. Her own partner will watch or participate. 

Parties and Orgies

A full blown free for all.

What are the types of non monogamous encounter?


You meet, you play, and that’s it. You might never see the other party again. Some couples have a rule that they never play with anyone more than once.

Fuck Buddy

Usually practiced by single lifestylers, but not always. A FB is a sexual partner who is seen occasionally, but there is no other aspect to the relationship. Some lifestylers may have a number of fuck buddies that they can call on. Rather like a string of ponies.

Friend With Benefits (FWB)

Exactly what it sounds like. Someone with whom one or both of a couple have a friendship with a third party which also includes sex.


A full blown loving relationship with more than one person. The one party may alternate in spending time with each partner separately, or play as a threesome. In some cases all three may even live together.

Swinging Etiquette

The lifestyle involves a certain etiquette. 

Personal Hygiene

This should not need to be explained!

Body Hair

This is more complicated. Many swingers, particularly females, will shave not only their legs, but also their more intimate areas. Others prefer not to. Facial hair on males is also something that can be a turnoff, or desirable. Either is acceptable. What is not acceptable is for a potential playmate to insist on the other party being shaven or unshaven. 


The strongest rule. Those who enter a swinging environment, particularly but not exclusively ladies will find themselves propositioned. This is normal and hardly surprising. But the rule here is, NO MEANS NO! Absolutely and always. Persisting after being politely declined is very much frowned upon and will not be tolerated.

Observe the Niceties

You wouldn’t expect simply to walk up to a stranger in a club and proposition them. Potential lifestyle partners often prefer to engage initially in conversation for a while before deciding whether to proceed. As well as being polite and social, it adds a certain anticipation. 


While one or two drinks can be relaxing, and acceptable, no-one wants to be pawed by a drunk. Keep it moderate.


Many non-smokers prefer not to play with smokers. Bear this in mind if you smoke.


These are strictly forbidden in clubs and will result in ejection from the premises. 

Safe Sex

The vast majority of swingers insist on condom usage with anyone other than their primary partner. It is not acceptable to try and persuade someone to go bareback (condomless), and stealthing, surreptitious removal of condom is an absolute no no. Also be considerate about disposal of used condoms.


Sex can involve a wide variety of sexual practices. Your own partner should know exactly what turns you on and off. A new or casual partner will not have this knowledge. Don’t be afraid to lay down rules about what is acceptable, and don’t ever cross lines that have been laid down to you.

Even kissing is something many don’t practice except with their partner. Anal sex requires specific extra consent. If engaging in fellatio (oral sex), make sure you know in advance where it’s acceptable to ejaculate. “Don’t come in my mouth” means exactly that. And some of the more esoteric practices also need to be discussed in advance, particularly those that involve any infliction of pain.


This is a final rule, aimed primarily at the couple. My observation over the years has been that swinging couples have an unusually strong, loving, stable and trusting relationship. Ensure the channels are always kept open. Never neglect your primary partner.

It is a good idea to have a small number of code words between yourselves. A specific word to convey how interested, or not, you are in a potential swap is far more polite than stating openly that you don’t fancy someone. And a word or phrase that can be used to convey that you’re not happy and want out of the situation immediately. Never ever pressure your partner into a situation that they are not enthusiastic about.

Have any more questions about swinging? Comment below and we’ll get back to you.

See Also:

Everything You’ve Wanted To Know About Attending a Sex Party

A Beginner’s Guide To Swinging

Swinging Tips and Advice