I wanted to find out what it is about swinging that keeps happily married women in the lifestyle.
I kissed a girl and I liked it... so go the lyrics of Katy Perry's classic song. And apparently, she's not the only one. Some married women like it, too — a lot. It's what piqued their interest in "the lifestyle" and locked them in for life.
Part one of my swingers article "The Surburban Swingers Club," took you behind the scenes of a DC-area swingers club. But the same next questions seemed to evolve for everyone: How in the world do married women get here? You might imagine it's men who are begging their wives to swing, but in many cases, it's the wives who want to try it.
I spoke with six happily married female swingers (many are moms) and several husbands (some names have been changed), who spoke honestly about their motivations, meet-ups, and ah-ha moments. Here, a peek into what interested them in the lifestyle, and what keeps them going back for more.
On a typical Saturday night at the Tabu Social Club in Catonsville, Maryland, Carolyn and Dave hit the dance floor.
They're a thirty-something, married couple from a comfortable Washington, DC suburb. They work in downtown DC, drive their kids in carpools, and may be one table over from you at Outback Steakhouse, talking about mortgage payments and Labor Day barbecue plans.
And they are swingers.
They have had sex with other couples in their home and at swinger house parties, on boats and in clubs, in threesomes, foursomes, group sex rooms, and much more.
Tonight, they are at Tabu to hook up, hang out with friends, meet new ones, and get to know others that sparked their interest in popular online swinging sites.
Across the room, they spot a couple they know and have thought about "playing" with. The women gravitate to one another and are suddenly dancing, then dirty dancing, then Carolyn's tongue is inside the woman's mouth. Carolyn often enjoys passionately kissing a fun, sexy woman — she believes a woman just knows how to please another woman and create an erotic environment.
Both husbands simply stand on the sidelines for now, watching and waiting, exchanging looks with their wives to size up who is ready for things to progress to a downstairs room. They negotiate the rules of play and find assurance that both women definitely desire one another's husbands. Like every swinger I spoke with, the husband wants his wife to truly want to do it, never to be forced or pressured.
Communication is key — a phrase people always hear about marriage, but here it's absolute.
The foursome heads downstairs, reserve a room and wait. Outside the door, they chat about regular things, as if they aren't about to engage in a significant sexual encounter and share intimate moments with practical strangers. Dave also uses this time to figure out how close the other couple is and whether or not the guy may be using his wife to get his own action. Confident, he's ready when the door opens.
The women start kissing, then progress downward. The guys approach and join in the fun, until everyone is engaged in some form of intercourse and oral sex. The men swap wives and "play" with one another's spouse one-on-one. Only during the swap part, the women are reaching for each other again and kissing. Positions change, but "it's normal sex — it's just that four people are there," Dave explains.
When it's over, they get dressed, make small talk, and go back up to the bar to drink and chat with friends.
If it sounds shocking or too matter-of-fact, that's the reaction a lot of people have these days.
It's hard to comprehend how people, especially women, end up here. There is a popular phrase, "The lifestyle is all about the woman," says Tabu Social Club owner Vicki. If the woman isn't up for it, it won't happen.
Certainly, out of almost every married woman I spoke with, it was her desire to be with another woman that drove them to swing. One said, "the lifestyle was an avenue to permit me to be with women." Another confided: "I was always a little curious about sex between two women. The lifestyle let me explore this part of me and discover I enjoy it very much. Women tend to be more passionate in many ways and being able to do this without being looked down upon has been a wonderful sexual experience."
Lori works at a Washington, DC law firm during the day, attends law school at night and is the mother of two with a third on the way. She fits swinging into her and her husband's busy schedule.
Last summer, after seven years of marriage, Lori and her husband sought out their first swinging encounter.
She had long thought about the lifestyle. "I'm bisexual and a very sexual person. My husband and I had conversations about it even before marriage, and in the years that followed he wasn't interested at all, so I dropped the topic." Six years later they talked about it for almost a year and made the decision to do it.
How did they even know where to go?
They looked online, first on adult personals websites that resulted in mostly spam and fake profiles. Email exchanges with random couples went nowhere. Then someone told them about SwingLifeStyle (SLS), which led to their first experience, who turned them on to altplayground (APG) and LoveVoodoo, where they began to really meet people.
When new online friends offered to take them to Tabu Social Club, Lori was very nervous. "It took a lot for me to finally walk through the door," she recalls. "But when I did, I quickly found it was a very inviting, comfortable atmosphere, with no pressure." The first few times they went, they stuck close to friends and just talked with people. The third time, they arranged to meet another couple at the club and ended up playing with them there.
First fears about swinging turned out to be fine: it wasn't upsetting to watch her husband with another woman (it was actually great). Neither spouse fell in love with someone new, and the marriage didn't suffer, but became stronger. They soon found house parties are happening out there, too, if you know where to look. Host couples get their homes kid-free by sending their kids out to sleepovers at a friend's house.
What is it about swinging that keeps happily married women in the lifestyle?
One woman said swinging is all about being able to pleasure another woman. Another said it frees her to be her bisexual self. Everyone says it makes their marriage better. They explain they don't swing to fill a void in their marriage, but to enhance it.
Katherine, one thirtysomething wife, tries to explain the woman-to-woman attraction. "Women are soft, sensual, and usually very responsive. They are very concerned with what the experience is like for the other woman," she says.
She also thinks the majority of women in the lifestyle and in the general population are either bisexual or bi-curious — it's just that women in the lifestyle are more willing to admit it and can explore their sexuality in a safe environment, with husbands there to witness and encourage things along.
Does the idea of doing something extra "naughty" — the wild idea of a woman being with another woman — add to the excitement, too? Absolutely, Katherine says.
Most of these couples have even found best friends in the lifestyle. They socialize together, and it's not always sexual. They have dinner parties, celebrate birthdays, and help each other move. They consider lifestyle friends better friends than most "vanilla" (people not in the lifestyle) friends they have.
"It's not all about the sex," several insist. But it sure sounds sexual.