DEAR LADY A: My husband and I have been married for almost 12 years and we have an extremely strong marriage. I just came out as bisexual last year (at almost 32 years of age), and am now looking to have sexual encounters with women. I have been open and honest about this with my husband and he says he’s fine with it. We have discussed swinging. However, here’s my question — if you and your spouse are swingers, doesn’t that mean that you have to be open to having sex with both genders? I ask this because I am in no way interested in having sex with any other man except my husband. I only want sex with women. Because this is so, do we need to just have an open marriage instead of being swingers? I hope this isn’t a dumb question — I’m new to all this and want to make sure I get it right.
DEAR BI: Well, honey, I must admit I don’t know as much as I’d like to know about the subject (so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, kind readers) but as far as semantics go, I believe it works like this: If you choose to swing, you’re being consensually non-monogamous which means you would technically be in an “open marriage.” But “swingers” have rules and thresholds they will not cross; they generally agree on their chosen sex partners as a pair, usually at a one-time event or gathering of like-minded individuals. Whereas those in an “open marriage” — without the swinging classification — might have license to sleep with, or sometimes even carry on a completely separate relationship with, someone their life partner may never have met or officially condoned. So, you can be “in an open relationship” and not be swingers; or you can be “swingers” which automatically puts you in the “open relationship” category, but with more guidelines and without the option to pursue other partners when you haven’t agreed on those partners as a couple. With your intentions, I’d put you in the “swingers” coterie. But that’s only if you feel you have to use any label at all.
The good news for you, kitten, is that the tradition of swinging — otherwise known as “The Lifestyle” — has come a long way since the infamous days of 1970s wife-swapping and key parties. Gone the way of disco (I miss hot pants and rollerskating parties) is the concept that one heterosexual couple must pick another heterosexual couple and literally trade spouses for the night. These days, there are swingers hookup clubs and online meetup groups, and most of these organizations go to great lengths to cater to various tastes, principles and sexualities. So, no. Neither of you will be obligated to have sex with both genders, and you should have no problem finding a swingers online organization with the perfect “Looking For” section on their website. Or a club with one or two nights a week designated for FMF (female-male-female) threesomes or FF “Soft Swaps” which might include, for example, a married couple and a single woman who has oral sex with only the female while the man watches. As for your desire to never sleep with another man, the thing about successful modern swinging is that open communication with potential partners happens before the swap so that couples can know that they never compromised on their individual needs. All you really need to do is find a sexy single lady who likes ladies (some call them “unicorns,” but in reality, there are plenty) on a swingers site and start a chat.
My dear BI, I hope I answered your technical questions, but I feel I’d be lax if I didn’t tackle just one more aspect of this discussion. I have a personal policy to try not to second guess my readers, so when you tell me you have a strong marriage and that this is what your husband wants, I believe you. But I urge you to talk about it long and hard before you act. Please discuss the potential risks and the anxiety each of you undoubtedly feels; the possibility of unforeseen jealousy and the safe words you’ll use if things should get uncomfortable at any time. Because the lifestyle can be an incredibly fulfilled and happy one to be sure. But only if you’re equally invested in it, incredibly honest with each other, honest with yourselves, and in it for the right reasons. And to put it bluntly: Simply being bisexual is not the right reason, for you. And simply not wanting to lose you is really, really not the right reason, for him. That said, if you both come at this with honesty, the best intentions, full disclosure and the agreement that you’ll stop — no questions asked — if one of you should change your mind, I think you two might just have yourselves one hell of a good time. Congratulations on coming out, kitten, and good work on your marriage to one hot, open-minded guy! Whatever you ultimately decide, remember how fortunate you are to be with someone who accepts every amazing thing that you are. Have fun out there, you lucky lady! And don’t be surprised if you occasionally run into a familiar face … Ahem.