These days you can find an abundance of articles, videos and podcasts about polyamory, swinging and open relationships. Some caution about the damaging affects, and call it an "immoral activity." Others praise the emotional and sexual benefits and believe it to be more of an identity rather than just a hobby.
Although these alternative relationships may not be for everyone, many have maintained healthy, thriving relationships within this dynamic. I have met swinger couples and triads that have been together 10-plus years proving, for some, that this is not just a stage but a maintainable, long-term, way of life.
Once You're In, Can You Get Out?
In the last decade, there has been a growing number of people choosing ethical non-monogamy (the Lifestyle). Again, there are many resources available to learn how to enter, navigate and maintain these alternative relationships. There are websites, apps, clubs, meet-up groups, and vacation resorts catering to this growing segment. Then there’s the communities, which vary by location, but in my experience are welcoming and supportive. Finally there’s the lifestyle itself. It’s exciting.
But once you’re in, is there a healthy way out? Are there any resources to help guide you out and deal with the repercussions. Once you open your relationship and bring in others, can that door ever be closed in a healthy way that does not destroy all of your romantic relationships and leave you alone?
We All Change Over Time
It’s no surprise that people change over time. The activities we previously enjoyed, the food we use to eat, even the type of people we surround ourselves with, aren’t the same from 5, 10 or 20 years ago. Most of us usually maintain our core, the essence of who we are. Many other things like music, fashion, attraction, and even sexual interest change and will continue to change. Sometimes the excitement of being non-monogamous fades. Jealousy, if not properly dealt with, can cause insecurities that lead to anger and resentment. Other times, the inherent drama and additional effort required sours the experience.
There is also change within a relationship. Only spending a day or two a week together was fine in the beginning of a relationship, but after living together for years, a single day apart may leave you longing for his/her/their company. Change can also be negative. That odd sneeze or snort you once found cute may becoming increasingly irritating over time. Usually through communication, compromise and hard work, most relationships can get through these issues if all parties are committed and willing. But sometimes, there may come a time where you may want to stop participating in this lifestyle.
It Won't Be Easy, But It Can Be Done
Closing a relationship for a swinger couple is no minor task. You will no longer be spending your free time at the same clubs you previously did. Your vacation destinations may change and even your friends will change. Even if both parties are in agreement to leave the lifestyle, which isn’t always the case, it will likely be difficult.
Closing a polyamorous relationship can be even more impacting. Remember, these relationships are not just casual but may contain all of the emotional content and commitment, same as a monogamous relationship. To put it in more common terms, could you dump one parent for another? Now, could you do this for one parent, just to please the other? The relationship type may be different, but the love is still present. The reality is someone is going to get hurt.
My purpose in writing this article is not to discourage anyone from exploring the lifestyle. I’ve enjoyed being a swinger and a member of the kink community for years, and I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon. Nor is my wife asking me to. Instead, it’s to remind people, that choosing this lifestyle doesn’t fix a relationship nor is it always sunshine and roses. It’s a major decision that comes with benefits and drawbacks. It’s to remind us of the extra effort required, challenges, and drama that come along with being non-monogamy and once you’re in, getting out may come at a high cost.