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-   -   Polyamorous vs Swingers (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=69813)

Jens1968 04-27-2014 05:35 PM

Polyamorous vs Swingers
Being relatively new in polyamory I have a hard time accepting that many full-blown swingers describe themselves as polyamorous. I have known a few swingers, and all of them say that they would not feel comfortable living in a "real" polyamorous relationship. Seems to me that they are only "in it" for the sex.

How do you see this issue?

KC43 04-27-2014 06:00 PM

I don't see it as an issue, because I don't consider it my business how other people identify themselves, even if I don't agree with their self-identification.

That said, polyamory does not necessarily equal sex with multiple partners. To me, polyamory involves emotions beyond sexual attraction, and there are those on this board who don't even have sex with some or all of their romantic partners. Whereas to me, swinging is intended as sex with multiple partners without emotional attachment.

Those are *my* definitions, and others might have other opinions.

I have also known people who are both swingers and polyamorous; they have no-strings, non-committed sex with multiple partners but also have or want to have love/romantic attachments to more than one person. The two are not mutually exclusive, nor are they mutually inclusive.

tnt 04-27-2014 06:31 PM

I find it all very confusing myself.
I guess that's why I don't like labels per se. I can't even figure out what 'category' to place myself in half the time, lol.
Since I have started parusing the forums about various lifestyles I have discovered so many new terms for this that and the other thing, that I am now more confused than ever :eek:!

Marcus 04-27-2014 07:14 PM


Originally Posted by Jens1968 (Post 265779)
Being relatively new in polyamory I have a hard time accepting that many full-blown swingers describe themselves as polyamorous.

'Swinger' (in this context) generally refers to a couple (married or just coupled) who have casual sexual relations with people outside of the established couple. These outside relations are notably 'sex only' and emotional enmeshment is typically avoided or forbidden.

'Polyamory' generally refers to the relationship arrangement in which multiple romantic and emotionally connected relationships exist (or can exist) simultaneously with all parties being aware of the other relationships.

While these two paths are very different to me, it seems likely that they look similar from the outside. I hope that people using these terms interchangeably is related to ignorance and not just because they like giving words new meanings.

LovingRadiance 04-27-2014 07:24 PM

Something to keep in mind, is that we don't live in an "either/or" world, even if we like to pretend we do.

Some people are poly. Some people are not.
But just because someone is (or isn't) doesn't mean they aren't something else ALSO.

Some people are poly AND swingers.

I don't happen to identify that way, but I know people who do AND whom it makes sense for.

Example; I am poly. My husband and I have a poly relationship (meaning we agree to HAVING other loves). But previously we had a mono relationship (I was still poly, I just wasn't LIVING poly).

Additionally; we have had casual sexual experiences with other people, these were not poly situations, but they don't change the fact that we are poly.

Currently, I have a husband and a boyfriend. We have a poly Vee. But-if for example my bf and I opted to participate in a swinger group; that doesn't change the reality that we are part of a poly V.

Make sense?

A person can be poly AND a lot of things.
Poly and bisexual. Poly and straight. Poly and gay. Poly and swinger. Poly and geek. Poly and intellectual. Poly and crochet queen. Poly and drag king. Poly and knitting fanatic. Poly and biker. Poly and....

Inyourendo 04-27-2014 10:20 PM

It only bother me in the way that swingers claiming to be poly gives people a negative view of what polyamory is. I find myself consistently explaining the difference. Even sam was very hesitant for a couple years because he thought I was just some swinger looking to get laid when he wanted a girlfriend.

JaneQSmythe 04-28-2014 02:26 AM

Everyone interprets labels slightly differently.

To me "swinging" implies casual sex as a couple - I DON'T consider myself a swinger.

To me "open" implies casual sex as an individual - I DO consider myself open.

To me "poly" implies emotional involvement with more than one person with everyone's knowledge and consent - I DO consider myself poly.

So? I describe my current relationship config as "an open poly Vee-plus" - I have a husband, a live-in long-term boyfriend, a girlfriend that we share to various degrees and several FWBs...and I am open to sexual encounters with others that I am not interested in pursuing an emotional relationship with (such as my girlfriend's husband).

kdt26417 04-28-2014 03:14 AM

Swing and poly are two different things. It they're conflated, then that's a misconception.

However, Chess and baseball are also two different things. They shouldn't be conflated, and yet, a baseball player can also be a Chess player. They just have to play the two games separately.

Swing and poly don't (in principle) intersect by way of similarity -- but they can intersect by way of sharing space in a person's life. For instance, let's say you have a triad -- three romantically connected and emotionally committed adults -- two bisexual men and one heterosexual woman just for argument's sake. They're handfasted, live together, and intend to stay together for life. Obviously, they're polyamorous (as a three-person unit).

However, let's say that one of the activities they like to do together (as a triad) is to visit a swing club together. At the swing club, they have casual random NSA sex with strangers (or acquaintances). No one falls in love (outside their triad), but all three polyamorous adults are engaging in a swing activity. They're swingers who also happen to be polyamorous. Swing and polyamory are two different things, yet it's possible for a person to engage in both (separately and/or distinctly).

Does that make sense? Their swinging activities and their triad relationship are essentially two different things. They are distinct even though they can overlap. Their polyamorous relationship persists with each other even while they are having casual sex outside their triad. In a case like that, it would be correct for them to say they're both swingers and polyamorists. Just as any person can be both a baseball player and a Chess player.

Now, could hypotheticals be concocted that would make the distinction between swing and poly less clear? Probably. Could a slider be set up between extreme poly and extreme swing? Probably. But at the extremes, we'd still have the basic principle that poly is about romance, whereas swing is just about sex. We can still talk about poly and swing in a way that recognizes the difference between the two.

My two pesos,
Kevin T.

london 04-28-2014 06:01 AM

The reason people usually have a problem with swingers is because they don't want to be mistaken for someone who has sex outside the confines of a relationship or a potential relationship, at least. If you don't want casual sexual relationships, say so. You don't need to build up this resentment of swingers in order to be poly. You be poly by having multiple loving relationships.

GalaGirl 04-28-2014 02:28 PM


How do you see this issue?
I see it as a vocab use thing more than anything.

Not an issue for me. I think people are all different and can be how they want to be.

I also think it sure makes being X and communicating with others a lot easier when people take the time to calibrate/clarify their vocab use when talking to each other. "Chips" in the US is different than in England. ;)

To me? In the briefest way I can make it?
  • Monosexual -- desire or capacity to share sex with one partner
  • Polysexual -- desire or capacity to share sex more than one partner
  • monoamorous -- desire or capacity to share love with one partner
  • polyamorous -- desire or capacity to share love with with more than one partners.
  • Monogamous -- desire or capacity for relationship structure with one other partner only
  • Non-monogamous -- desire or capacity for relationship structure with more than one partner. And there can be many open relationship models.
    • Swinging -- a type of open non-monogamous relationship model. Partners in a committed relationship engage in (casual, no strings attached sex share) with other people for recreation/socializing.
There can be some honest, ethical swingers who are (monoamorous and polysexual.) They want to love the one partner, but enjoy recreational sex with several partners.

There can be some honest, ethical swingers who are (polyamorous and polysexual). They love many partners, and also enjoy recreational sex with several partners.

There can be some honest, ethical "not sure, questioning, experimenting, exploring" people trying new stuff on.

There can be some "less than honest/ethical swingers"
  • People not really into it, but going along for partner's sake on the one one side of the spectrum. They are hurting themselves doing that.
  • People who are predators on the other end of the spectrum. They hurt others.

Nothing wrong with honest/ethical (exploring, swinging or polyamory) -- but could remember all people are different.

It's not just (either/or) toggles at play here. Like "either polyamorous or swinging."

It could be (either/or/both/neither/some/none) depending on the person! :D

Hope that makes sense.


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