The Differences Between Swinging and Polyamory
Swinging and polyamory have some things in common, but they’re distinct. There will be an overlap between the communities and before you get started in either, it’s important to know the differences as well as what they have in common.
The Basics of Swinging
Swinging involves a committed relationship of two people, married or not, that allows the two to find another couple and switch partners for an hour or two. This switching may happen at a party or some club, or the two couples could go on a date and then sleep with their sex partner for the night. They may form a relationship of close friendship and sex between the two couples if it’s a consistent pairing.
The Basics of Polyamory
Polyamory or “many loves”, involves people in a constellation of relationships. One woman might have a husband, a girlfriend, and a boyfriend. Her girlfriend and boyfriend may be married or have nothing to do with either the woman or her husband. Her husband could be seeing either of his wife’s significant others, he could have his own, or he might be committed just to her but content to let her have as many romantic partners as she’d like. Polyamory is not the same as promiscuity; some polyamorous people are promiscuous, but not all, and also not all promiscuous people are polyamorous. Polyamory, at its core, is when one person has two or more romantic relationships. They don’t even need to be sexual.
In both polyamory and swinging, sex outside a single committed relationship of two people occurs. Both require a high degree of communication and honesty, and both require trust to work well. Both can lead to relationships that are happier and more committed than strictly monogamous relationships. Cheating can occur, especially if a partner is dissatisfied, lonely, unhappy, or anything else. There is no free license to sleep with anyone in the world other than your partner.
Swinging and polyamory have deep differences, and not all members of one support the other. Swinging involves a couple mutually having sex with other people; there are no emotions beyond friendship for people they have sex with other than their own partner. Polyamory involves romantic relationships with more than one person. Each person needs to be aware that their partner is polyamorous and may themselves be polyamorous; they may also be monogamous and agree to their partner’s polyamory. Swinging doesn’t involve either partner being monogamous. With polyamory, what happens with others outside a given relationship is usually agreed upon, as it is with swinging, but in polyamory, the partners in that relationship go with their own ways instead of hooking up with the same people.
Many people confuse polyamory with swinging. This is understandable, since both are forms of consensual non-monogamy, but it can be frustrating. There are so many differences that, to people involved in either lifestyle, the confusion can be bewildering.