The Rules For The Road

The rules of the road For those new to the lifestyle—especially the men (sorry, guys)—the freedom of permissive sexual exploration can be an intoxicating aphrodisiac. So before the blood leaves the brain, bound for the nether regions, there are a few rules that you should learn and follow.

The good news is there are just a few, but they are important and represent the basis for conduct at any lifestyle event or gathering.

No means No. Simple, right? If someone says they’re not interested or turns down your request, that’s the end of it. Simply say, “I understand,” and move on. In the lifestyle, the right to say “no” comes with the underlying assurance that others will respect it. You don’t get to ask for an explanation nor are you expected to offer one. You don’t have to rationalize your limits or feelings. And most important, if you’ve been turned down, don’t ask again. The right to choose—and to say “no” to anyone—is the foundation of personal respect in the lifestyle. The “No means No” rule is not only in place to insure all sexual acts are consensual, it’s actually a great time-saver. Bottom line, others will like you and want to spend time with you because they enjoy your company and find your level of play compatible with theirs—or they won’t. Those who don’t will simply move on. And remember, their decision does not require any explanation. Look at it this way: It’s best to find out about issues of incompatibility as early as possible. There’s no point in pretending another couple is going to come around to your way of thinking only to find yourself disappointed when they don’t. Ask before you touch You’ll find most people in the lifestyle are very tactile.

They love to touch and be touched. Hugs and kisses are common. However, before you fondle, grope, grab, squeeze, kiss, lick, or insert some part of your body into theirs, always ask first. And remember, until you have established an ongoing friendship or other relationship with someone, receiving permission to touch the finer parts should be assumed to be for that one time only.

Asking is polite, courteous, and respectful, and it verbally conveys the interest you have in someone, which in itself can be very flattering. The relationship you have with your partner must take priority The lifestyle is something you do with honesty and candor. Never lie to your partner about your interests or activities. Communicate your feelings openly. Talk about what you enjoyed and would like more of and, conversely, what you didn’t like and what you would like to change in the future. Set your personal boundaries and limits together, and if you decide to change them, do so with a clear head a-sexual surroundings. Altering your personal rules in the heat of the moment isn’t fair to either party, and you may regret your decision later. Finally, never jeopardize your primary relationship by putting the needs or desires of your playmates ahead of your spouse or partner. You can leave any time. If your partner wants to leave—for any reason—support them in the decision to end the encounter. You can talk about it later. Your relationship must come first, and your allegiance is to your partner—first, last, and always.

Leave the drama at home. Avoid bringing others into your personal relationship. Your playmates are interested in having fun, not “fixing” your sexual hang-ups or trying to straighten out your communication issues. Likewise, your playmates are not there to provide a sympathetic ear for your problems. If you feel there are issues to resolve between you and your partner, the lifestyle is not the place to do it. The positive aspects of the lifestyle are most enjoyed by couples who have a strong and caring relationship. Those who are trying to repair a broken heart, even the score, or use swinging as an alternative to divorce are ignoring the larger issue and are usually better off considering the alternatives of therapy or counseling. Always exercise discretion, keeping the identity of your playmates and the circumstances of your play confidential. In the vanilla world, hinting at a couple’s willingness to play or even suggesting they might be involved in swinging can be devastating to that couple. And even within the lifestyle community, your conversations should not reveal any specifics unless you have the permission of the couple you’re talking about.

This is the golden rule of the lifestyle because, after all, you will expect others to do the same for you. And while we’re on the subject of rules, it’s usually a good idea to have a working set of guidelines between you and your partner.

For example, many couples are comfortable playing with others in separate rooms, while others must be within sight of each other. When determining the “rules” between you and your partner, just remember to keep them simple and easy to follow. What if I’m asked to participate in an activity that makes me feel uncomfortable? You can handle any unwanted sexual inquiry several ways.

The first is to simply say, “I appreciate the interest, but for the time being, we’re just observing and enjoying the atmosphere.” Translation: We’re not ready to play. If you feel an attraction to the individual or couple posing the request, admit it, then explain why you’re hesitant or specifically what would have to change to make it work for you. For example, “You know, my wife and I find you guys very attractive and we’d like to spend more time getting to know you. But we also need to let you know that we’re softswap, and we don’t want anyone to be disappointed.” Obviously, this assumes the other couple has asked if you would like to join them in a full-swap (full exchange of partners for intercourse), and you and your wife or partner have softswap limits. The key is to be honest and not leave anything to interpretation. Avoid answering any request to play with vague innuendo.

For example, if the woman in the other couple is interested in Bi-play, and you’re not, don’t allude that you might, or only on special occasions, or some other answer that leaves the other couple still wondering if you’re interested.

The hit and run Occasionally, you’ll meet a couple at a resort or on a cruise that you really connect with. You’re getting along great, spending lots of time together, and perhaps even making plans to see each other after you’ve returned home. Then suddenly and without warning, they disappear. It might happen after your first sexual experience together or, more likely, on the last day of the vacation. You’ll leave a voicemail on their phone, notes on their door, and go through the day watching for them, hoping to see them one last time before you leave. You might even wonder if it was something you did or said that offended them. Don’t worry. In most cases, it wasn’t. For some couples, spending a week at a lifestyle event or on a cruise is a fantasy experience—one that must be left at the resort or on the ship. And accordingly, they maintain complete separation between their lifestyle activities and the rest of their life, never allowing the two to mix or even overlap.

While they may give other couples the impression they are receptive and interested in continuing a relationship, that’s also a fantasy. The first time it happens, it can tug at your heartstrings—not only do you feel jilted, you don’t know why it happened. You were left without the chance to say goodbye, and you need closure. Just remember that you can’t really get to know a couple in a few days. Their intentions may be very different than yours. While the lifestyle is definitely about having fun, it’s also about being able to integrate those activities safely and comfortably into the other parts of your life. And for some, that means limiting their experiences and association with other lifestyle couples to just a few hours or perhaps a few days.

There is no guarantee of a continuing relationship. There are clues that can indicate a couple is only interested in a “here and now” experience: A reluctance to exchange contact information; never mentioning their cabin or room number; talking about their future lifestyle trips and plans in a vague and ambiguous manner. In many cases, those couples with a “hit and run” mentality are not trying to intentionally misrepresent their future availability, they’re simply not interested in disclosing it. So don’t let the actions of other couples affect your attitude toward your partner.

While other couples will come and go in your life, the relationship with your partner is the one that deserves your concern, focus, and energy. Some general considerations when attending a lifestyle function The following are a few additional considerations that are good to keep in mind as you increase your activity in the lifestyle.

Taking photographs without permission is forbidden It’s only natural to want bring home a few photos of your vacation, but taking pictures at a lifestyle event or resort (including cruises) is prohibited. The management and sponsors are responsible for protecting the identity of their guests, and you’re expected to follow the rules. Of course, you can take photos in your own room and with the permission of others who are present.

Avoid possession and use of illegal drugs on lifestyle resort properties, cruises, and clubs Swing clubs, resorts, cruises, and most private “house parties” prohibit any kind of drug use, including marijuana. If you’re caught, you’ll be ejected from the property and reported to the authorities. It’s a universal policy and it’s strictly enforced. Drug usage at any lifestyle event or on any property where swinger activities are taking place puts everyone in jeopardy. And when it happens (rarely), it tends to associate the negative connotation of illegal drugs with the lifestyle— which no one wants. It can also result in severe penalties to resort owners and event sponsors, with the loss of business and even the venue, which hurts everyone. In short, don’t do it.

If the party is private, always ask the host before bringing a guest In the lifestyle, it might seem the more the merrier, but always ask before inviting a guest to a house party or other private lifestyle function. The mix and chemistry of the group is important, and bringing uninvited strangers can change the comfort level and dynamic of the regular members. Many established groups will have a process by which new members can be introduced and evaluated by the other members to insure social compatibility.

How to answer the “BIG” question—“Are you in the lifestyle?” It’s one of the most frequently asked questions on a swinger cruise or resort takeover and, for a lot of couples, one of the most difficult to answer. The problem? The question is a huge generalization. It requires a yes or no answer, with neither response accurately reflecting the specifics of a couple’s level of lifestyle involvement. We’ve heard some couples answer “no” simply because it’s safe and non-obligatory. A more frequent (and perhaps accurate) answer is “sometimes,” or “it depends on who we’re with.” Usually asked by another couple who want to know if you “swing” or not, it’s often interpreted as a rushed attempt to get to the bottom line—too much, too soon. Underlying translation: Are you going to be receptive to my advances or not? While the question can create an awkward moment or two, keep in mind that it might also be an innocent attempt to strike up a conversation or an indication of interest. So here are a few responses—based on how much you want to reveal—that will allow you to answer truthfully without obligation. You can turn it around . . . “We’ve had a few experiences and have met some really great couples. How long have you guys been involved in the lifestyle?” If you’re new to the lifestyle or are not ready to sexually interact with other couples . . . “We’re comfortable with the atmosphere and really like the energy, and we’re looking forward to meeting new people.” If you’re ready and want to reveal your level of lifestyle activity . . . “Yes we are, within our comfort level.” (Then disclose your preferences, limits, and orientation.) If you and your partner prepare your answers in advance, you can avoid being taken by surprise, and remember, the lifestyle is about having fun, so don’t take yourself—or others—too seriously