I’m frequently asked, by people who have never explored open relationships, why I do this, the swinging thing. I mean, the main reasons are obvious. I’m not so much into the whole monogamy thing. But the secondary reasons are pretty interesting as well. Friends. Connections. Social group expansion.
My circle of friends is very different than it was before opening up.
But for me, one of the best parts of this wild ride is very simple moments of contact. Perhaps it’s because I’m a tactile person, and touch means so very much to me. There are these little moments strewn throughout our lives where we touch others. As vanillas, you touch your family, you touch the innermost circle of friends, and there it stops. There’s so much that could be misinterpreted, taken out of context. Your hand on someone’s arm or back when you talk to them, for instance. The wrong person sees that and suddenly, there’s rumors flying and feelings are hurt.
God, I don’t miss that at all.
Touch and Being Open
I’ve always been close with my female friends. I’ve always been a hugger, and, with select few, a kisser. It’s who I am. I’ll admit that it has likely always been indicative of that deeper personality (you know, the swinger) trying to claw his way out. Instead of exploring “touch as a swinger,” for this instance, I’ll simply go with open. Being open allows for so much more of that touch in a world that finds itself deprived.
As a man watching women with their friends, it’s easy to feel that we somehow got the short end of the stick. Women touch, and kiss and hug so often, and with little regard for looks or murmurs, because society doesn’t disapprove. But a man gives the same type of greeting or farewell to a woman, and people start wondering what he’s really after. And men that hug? Usually, they have to do that thing where they shake hands and pull it in and slap like crazy on each other’s backs so as to say, “I may be hugging you, but I’m sure as hell hitting you, too!”
Upon opening up, I found that there’s so much opportunity for that wonderful bit of contact.
The Importance of Casual Intimacy
One of my favorite moments, of the entire time I’ve been open, was at my first house party. I was having a glass of wine and talking to Hannah, a playmate I’d met up with, and we were joined by Kay. She and Hannah had known each other for a long time but hadn’t seen each other recently, so they began to catch up. Kay was telling a story about her eldest son who’d announced, “I know you’re lying to us about what you do at night.” In the middle of this story that had both Hannah and me laughing, Kay put her hand on my leg, just above the knee.
This was the first moment where someone had done something like that to me outside of a play date. No pre-conceptions, no planned “first we will have small talk, then we will have touching, and then we will have the sex.” It was such an innocuous thing, the hand on the leg as she talked, the slight lean in, but that small gesture had a profound effect because it was so alien in the vanilla world.
Which is a damned shame, really.
Because having intimate touch in our lives is something that so many of us crave, even though we don’t realize it…someone’s hand on your shoulder, or brushing some hair out of your eyes. These are little things that we can’t do because of the privacy bubble. Even if we asked, we’d get a crazy reaction like, “Why would you think you’d be allowed to do that?” I’m not talking about “capital I” Intimate touch here, just slightly more intimate touch than we’re allowed in polite society. Nothing scary, I promise!
I’ve had some great sex in this lifestyle, with amazing people, and have done many things I never thought I’d do and wouldn’t trade for the world. At the same time, when I look back at year one, that moment with her hand above my knee stands out as the far favorite.
For the first time in my adult life, the pieces seemed to fit. For the first time, I felt like I’d found home.
This article is an excerpt from my book, My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging & Polyamory.