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How to Have More FUN and Less DRAMA at Lifestyle Events

Lifestyle Party
Lifestyle Party
How to Navigate Sex Parties & Events so that you can have More FUN and Less Drama.

While many new couples are excited about participating in the Lifestyle and attending parties and events, countless couples who enter this brave new world often find themselves experiencing more drama than the fun they were expecting. The drama almost always comes from a case of not knowing what they don’t know. Many couples find their way into my Lifestyle Sex Coaching practice after stumbling out of the gate and realizing that participation in the Lifestyle and sexual engagement with others requires a lot more communication skills than they're used to. Believe me, the last thing these couples want to do is mess up the life they've built outside of the bedroom when all they were looking for was a little sexual excitement and spark in the bedroom. In this article, I'll provide my advice on how to prepare yourself for this exciting (and delicate) new chapter in your life. To enjoy all the amazing benefits the Lifestyle has to offer your relationship... you'll want to keep reading so you too can start to have More FUN and less Drama.


How to Have More Fun at Sex Parties


Do you have a desire to re-ignite your sex life outside the box of society’s monogamist norms? If so, you’re not alone! As a Sexologist, understanding how individuals and couples get their sexual needs met is my business. One of the biggest trends I’m seeing in my Sex Coaching practice is professional couples embracing progressive open relationship styles like Swinging, aka The Lifestyle, and other varieties of Consensual Non-Monogamy (CNM).

In 2014 and again in 2018, researchers estimated that 4-5%¹ of the United States and Canadian population was involved in Consensual Non-Monogamy relationships. That might sound like a small number of people, but that’s over 16 Million people! To put that number into context — there are more participants in the Lifestyle than the entire bisexual, lesbian, and gay population combined. From my vantage point, I think that number is conservative and continues to grow year over year.

While many new couples are excited about participating in the Lifestyle and attending parties and events, countless couples who enter this brave new world often find themselves experiencing more drama than the fun they were expecting. The drama almost always comes from a case of not knowing what they don’t know. Many couples find their way into my Lifestyle Sex Coaching practice after stumbling out of the gate and realizing that participation in the Lifestyle and sexual engagement with others requires a lot more communication skills than they're used to. 

Believe me, the last thing these couples want to do is mess up the life they've built outside of the bedroom when all they were looking for was a little sexual excitement and spark in the bedroom. There is a lot at stake: emotional intimacy, assets, family, and friends. Sex (yes, even consensual) can be a polarizing issue that puts everything a couple has built at risk. That said, for those pioneering couples who enter the Lifestyle with an attitude of learning as much as they can at the beginning of their journey — attending sex parties, clubs, hotel takeovers, and Lifestyle resorts can become an exhilarating way of life. In this article, I'll provide my advice on how to prepare yourself for this exciting (and delicate) new chapter in your life. 

Keep reading to learn what elements you should understand more about to enjoy all the amazing benefits the Lifestyle has to offer your relationship, so you too can start to have More FUN and less Drama.

Dr Cari Oneal Glow Party


How to Navigate Sex Parties & Events


Ask Questions & Learn — Knowledge Builds Confidence

Questions surface when a couple decides to attend their first sex party, club, or event, which I will collectively call “Sex Positive Events” for the rest of this article. 

Popular questions include:

  • Will I be safe?
  • What will others expect of me?
  • What if I get jealous?
  • How do I say YES or No to sexual offers?
  • What will we do/not do? 
  • What goes on and what kind of people attend these events?
  • What if I meet someone who knows me from my normal vanilla life?
  • What should we know going in to make sure we have a good time?

I like to think of Sex-Positive Events as the Sandbox for Grownups. Fun will be had, mistakes will be made, people will grow, and let’s try not to do any harm while we’re making new friends. Knowledge and communication light the way for you and your partner’s confidence. 

By asking questions beforehand, you and your partner(s) will have an easier time enjoying yourselves because you are coming from a solid foundation. If there are questions you don’t know the answer to, take the time to discuss and do some research! Being well-informed will go a long way in your ability to relax and have a good time. In doing so, you are less likely to be surprised, caught off guard, or in a situation, you aren’t sure how to handle.

Take care of yourself and your relationship BEFORE you go by knowing what to expect.


Understand Consent


Consent is an essential skill you will need if you want to have a good time at Lifestyle events. Consent is what gives you physical and emotional safety. It’s is not just about the GIVING of permission to do something to or with someone, but also the GETTING permission to do those things.

In the context of attending a Sex Positive event, you’re very likely to meet people who are interested in playing with you or who you’re interested in pursuing. How you handle those delicate and exciting conversations speaks volumes about you. So, what do you need to do? Master your ability to give a clear YES or NO. When you do, you are advocating for your own physical and emotional safety. Being able to confidently give a yes or no will help you feel safe and in control. And believe me when I say, if you feel safe, you are going to have a much easier time enjoying yourself. 

When you are clear and quick with your yes’s and your no’s, you will find people at the event who want what you want and have a good time. 

An important element of consent that many of us don’t learn, is how to ACCEPT someone declining your invitation to touch or play.


Can You Accept a “NO” Graciously?


You can tell a lot about a person based on how they respond to a “no” and I highly recommend people practice giving a potential playmate a “no” before too much escalation. 

Practice saying no! Here are some examples…

  • No, I don’t want to change location. Can we just stay here for a bit longer?
  • No, I’m not up for another drink but I could go for a bottle of water. 
  • No, you can’t touch my (fill in the blank), but I would love a kiss/back rub/dance.    

When a person’s consent skills are clear, they are better play partners in and out of the playroom. Being able to confidently receive a “no” shows your respect for others and their safety.

Not sure how to accept a no graciously? A person’s yes/no is their way of communicating what makes them feel comfortable. If you receive a “no,” recognize that this is their way of taking care of themselves and their wellbeing. In the same way that you want to feel safe exploring, so does everyone else. For these events to be fun, everyone needs the freedom to express their needs. Don’t take it personally. Be respectful and move on. 

Master your yes’s and your no’s! This will go a long way in your ability to have a good time.

Couples Checklist


Develop & Practice Healthy Boundaries


Think of boundaries as consent with yourself. What are your clear yes’s and no’s for what you are comfortable with happening at an event? Define these for yourself before showing up. Once you’re at the event, COMMUNICATE those boundaries. Tell other people what you're interested in doing and not doing; especially as it pertains to sexual play. Without strong, clear boundaries you can feel overwhelmed, even manipulated, by the vibe of the event, what the “cool kids are doing,” and your desire to fit in. Your abilities to have clear “yes’s” and “no’s” with YOURSELF and others will go a very long way to you having the experience you seek.  

Conversely, it’s also important that you listen and respect others’ boundaries as to how they’d like to be treated. (Reread above about accepting “no” graciously.) Setting boundaries is an invaluable skill that will benefit many other areas of your life. Just like any skill, it gets easier with practice. So, dig in and learn how to define and express your boundaries!

LS Couple Communicating


Check in With Yourself & Your Partner


Your goal is to have a positive experience together. So, what do YOU need before, during, and after the event to have a good time? What do you need to create physical and emotional safety? What does your partner need in those same categories? Equally as important are the “relationship needs” (it’s the third vote between you). 

In the world of consent, we love the phrase “communicate early and often!” By communicating readily and frequently, you are likely to avoid a whole lot of potential pain. Checking in with the physical and emotional safety of you, your partner, and the relationship will determine the success of your event. In fact, this is such an important component that after launching my Sex Positive Event Essentials online course, I created an additional Check-In worksheet to help you navigate these very important areas of review and negotiation.


Review the Details of Your Event


Yes, believe it or not, this is often overlooked and can make all the difference between a crash and burn experience and a fun one. Venues, attire, themes, what to bring, what will be provided, who’s coming, and knowing the event agenda if there is one, will go a long way to helping you and your partner feel more comfortable so you can have more fun. 


It Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult


In closing, I want you to know that attending Lifestyle or Sex-Positive Events can be an incredible way to generate more intimacy with your spouse or lover. It can open new lines of authentic communication and create experiences you’ll remember for a lifetime. That said, many couples mistakenly jump right into the Lifestyle thinking they got this… only to find out the hard way that it’s more complicated than meets the eye.  

I remind my coaching clients and students to remember the hobbies they love best. At first, these same hobbies probably seemed awkward and forced. At some point, these hobbies became second nature and fun after enough practice. Attending sex parties, events, and resorts can be the same way. Stick with it until you find your emotional stride and confidence.


Want More In-Depth Lifestyle Event Knowledge Without Having to Read Dozens of Articles or Listen to Hours of Podcasts?


Sex Positive Event Essentials

Click on the image above to learn more about the online course!

Yes, there’s much more to learn: how to behave in and around sex scenes, the types of people you’ll meet, how to approach someone you’re interested in, basic relationship agreements, field tips, and cautionary tales haven’t been covered here in this article. If you like what you have read and you want to learn more — consider enrolling in my very reasonably priced online class. You will learn all you need to know so you and your partner can be ultra-confident at your first or next event!

Cheers to having more FUN and less DRAMA at Lifestyle Events!


Article References


  1. “Updated Estimate of Number of Non-Monogamous People in U.S.” Psychology Today, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-polyamorists-next-door/201905/updated-estimate-number-non-monogamous-people-in-us.


Dr Cari Oneal

Dr Cari Oneal, a Lifestyle veteran for over a decade, earned a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality in 2015. As a certified Clinical Sexologist, she runs a private practice dedicated to the Sex, Psychology, and Intimate Relationship needs of individuals and couples active in the Lifestyle. She loves working with people who identify as in Open Relationships, Swingers, Lifestyle couples, and otherwise “Sexual Experimenters” because they are highly motivated and want results and information that works! In addition, Dr. Oneal has taught Lifestyle courses to thousands of students looking to Have More Fun and Less Drama over the years and in person at Hedonism, Las Vegas hotel takeovers, and in Salt Lake City where she resides. Online digital Lifestyle Education courses can be found on her website at https://drcarionealonlinecourses.thinkific.com/ Dr. Oneal prides herself on being in the Human Behavior and Brain Science business. It's difficult if not impossible to develop self-confidence and enjoy the pleasures of sexual expression(s) when elements of trauma, shame, and beliefs that you “can’t or shouldn’t” are present. It is quite common for a person to have had their sexual beliefs hijacked at some point rendering them unable to “just do it” (whatever that may be) by sheer force of will. Cultural and Self-limiting beliefs that hold you hostage are real and will keep you from moving forward until rooted out and processed. I am an EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique/Tapping) practitioner, and we can rewire your beliefs about who you are to make it safe for YOU to determine what’s right and safe for YOU. I work with HUMAN BEHAVIOR - sexual and non-sexual because often they are entwined. What is healthy for YOU? YOU decide what that is, and that’s where we'll go. Reach out, you’re worth the effort to heal and so are your relationships! Dr. Cari Oneal www.DrCariOneal.com Sex, Psychology & Relationships Cari@DrCariOneal.com (435) 200-5682 Is Lifestyle Coaching right for you? Let’s meet: Schedule a free call at www.drcarioneal.com/schedule
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