PO Box 55045, Phoenix Az 85078-5045
Promoting Intimacy and Other-Centered Sexuality
COPYRIGHTED 1997-2000 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED - MAY BE REPRINTED OR QUOTED FROM ONLY IF CREDIT IS GIVEN LIBERATED CHRISTIANS, MAILING ADDRESS IS SHOWN AND WE ARE SENT A COPY OF PUBLICATION.
Polyamory vs. Swinging
There is a BIG difference in philosophy between traditional "playcouple" swinging and real polyamous relationships. We support both as legitimate, but at Liberated Christians we are much more interested in polyamory than just the fun of playing in swinging. However at times, the difference can be more of attitude and they overlap in many areas. Also some people may want polyamory relationships with some people, and just swinging play with others.
The primary emphasis of polyamory is loving relationships with more than one other partner. The primary emphasis of swinging is "casual, non emotional sex." In reality, there is a large overlap between the two. However, if you get on a swinger's newsgroup or list, most polys find the conversation too forward, too aggressive and more sexually explicit oriented for comfort. On a poly newsgroup or list, most swingers will find the conversation too focused on relationships, and organizing various family combinations. Also it seems many poly's are seeking bisexual relationships and the predominate (but only slightly) spiritual belief of poly's is often Pagan. Swinging is often more heterosexual couples looking for other heterosexual couples and you will often find more in the closet Christians than Pagens.
Many swingers are really
looking for polyamory, but since swing clubs and swing publications
are far more numerous than polyamory, many people looking for real
relationships identify with swingers but seek more than what
traditional swinging offers. This is especially true of couples who
only want to meet other couples for a more meaningful relationship
that may include picnics and non sexual activities with the entire
family. Swinging is virtually exclusively couples, other than groups
out to make money off of the many single men who just want to watch
people have sex. Polyamory groups are often open to all, although many
groups seek relative gender balance.
The "Playcouple" Foundation of Swinging
Traditional swinging is based on the "Playcouple" philosophy which was coined and is promoted by The Lifestyle Organization and NASCA, which is the largest worldwide organization for "the Playcouples of the World". As one traditional swing leader said in an article The Swinging Couple, "The key to successful swinging is to remain "uninvolved" and to only have a recreational sex, short-term attitude. You play the game, then disconnect and go home with your primary partner. Swinging is not about personal sex, which is what a couple have in their own, private, one-on-one relationship. It is instead, about recreational friendly sex. Swinging is about protecting our relationships not risking them. Approached as recreational activity there, is no more risk than you find in a mixed bowling league or at a Saturday night card club... just far more pleasure, excitement and stimulation."
At Liberated Christians we totally support swinging, but our real interest is real intimacy, polyamory and overcoming jealousy by love not by avoiding any real intimacy. But this is much harder than just having recreational sex with relative strangers.
Dangerous To Weak Relationships
Both swinging and polyamory can be dangerous to your prime relationship if your relationship is not built on a firm foundation of true love and honest communications. In polyamory, you may have all equal relationships or you may have a prime and other secondary relationships. Open relationships magnify existing conditions within a relationship. If trust, love, commitment and openness exist, then the relationship is usually further strengthened. If, however, there is jealousy, insecurity and lack of honest communications, these problems will be painfully magnified in an open lifestyle. Working through these problems, however, in an open lifestyle, can help all aspects of the relationship, since issues may come up that are never dealt with otherwise. I've seen many examples of this happening and sometimes relationships break up because of these issues. But that may even be good, since it uncovered problems that may have eventually doomed the relationship anyway.
Women, typically but not always, are the most reluctant to explore open relationships. However, once exposed to loving intimacy and perhaps sexual variety in safe, caring groups, they often become the strongest supporters of the lifestyle. The joke in swinging is that its the man who drags the woman into the lifestyle and also the man who has to drag her away from the swing club. Often it is the man who becomes more possessive and jealous.
"Love" Makes The Difference
The difference between traditional swinging and polyamory is the word "love" (amory). The "love" doesn't have to even involve a long-term commitment. Although some would disagree this is "love"; I can honestly love the spirit and soul of a person I've just met. If a women wants to share sensual or sexual pleasure as two wonderful human souls for the moment it can be very loving, even if its just for a one time pleasure sharing experience. But some of us also want long-term lasting loving friendships that unlike most of our regular friends, can also include wonderful sexual pleasure sharing.
"Responsible, particularly in the context of talking about responsible non-monogamy, which includes swinging, has to do with responsibility to one's partners and to agreements that one has with them, especially with your primary relationship. Responsible means honestly in communications, not cheating, as well as being responsible for protecting against pregnancy or STD's. It means both being responsible for YOU to say NO, if you don't want to do something and the responsibility to respect the desires of your various partners.
"Conscious" vs. "Assumptive" Relationships
In our Phoenix group, especially from our communications workshops one big benefit for people exploring responsible, non-monogamy has been that it forces us into in "conscious relating" especially to our primary relationship or spouse, based on honesty not just the usual "assumptive relationships". Too often in relationships, little honest communication takes place about jealousy for example. This is because these ideas are never challenged in a traditional monogamous relationships until cheating occurs which is often devastating to the relationship. Open relationships force couples to deal with these issues and be conscious of them instead of just assuming the other will never have an interest in anyone else. Many couples tell me, by dealing with these issues honestly, it has made their relationship much stronger.
Couple-Centric & Bisexual Issues
Whether swingers or poly-couples, many (and in our experience almost all) couples primarily seek other couples. They often want to relate as couple friends not just sex buddies. Couples are heterosexual with bi females very welcome but bi males, for HIV and other reasons often have to be in the closet. This is not fair since many bi males are not analy active and often are more safe sex conscious than most couples. But the fact is the only ever known HIV case in swinging was the result of a bi male having anal intercourse with women and giving them HIV. I also hear complaints from couples regarding some swing clubs where they say most of the single men that are allowed are bisexual. They simply have no interest in single men, much less the risk of bi single men. I totally support bi males (although I am an extreme heterosexual), but am simply reporting what is reality.
The couple-centric nature is almost forced on swinging due to the huge oversupply of single men interested in sex, and virtually no single women (until they are first in a solid prime relationship as a couple). Also single men tend to be desperate for sex, while couples often seek emotional and physical intimacy not just sex. The couple-centric nature also helps overcome jealously issues. Once in a group we encourage couples not just to be couples but individuals free to relate to others as people, since it is so hard to find 4 people that are compatible. But this is much different than allowing in single men who have no prime relationship.
Many polyamory folks (see alt.polyamory newsgroup) tend to get very upset with ideas of having gender balance or excluding anyone. Therefore, they tend to attract the bi males that swingers reject. Recently the only poly group in Phoenix, The Phoenix Community, to expand its members decided to participate in the Gay Pride parade and seek alliance with more bisexual groups. Unfortunately they folded shortly after that. Other poly groups have tried to form but have found too little interest in traditional polyamory. We totally support gays in all ways, including our extensive biblical support. But at Liberated Christians, we find gender balance is important not couple relationships. However, the practical results of this has been the same as with most all swing groups - couples and singles women welcome but not single males since they are almost no single females that participate long-term in our groups. Some single women, wind up coupled by bringing in a male relationship.
It is interesting that studies of sexual orientation in North America come up with men tending to identify at the polar extremes -fully heterosexual (like me) or fully homosexual - while women cluster more in the middle of the scale - bisexual
In the mainstream population, bi women fall into the "arousing sex toy" category these days, as long as nobody messes with the larger societal structure (i.e. occasional threesomes are OK as long as everybody still gets married). Bi men are still in the "that's pretty gross" category.
There are exceptions and I'd love to see how a more open group can avoid the too much male energy problem since I would prefer this over couples only. But here in Phoenix we tracked 2500 replies to us and found the ratio as 200 single males for 20 couples for 1-2 single females (some were dominatrix's looking for male slaves!).
Prime Resources For Polyamory & Swinging Information
We have a very good relationship with The Lifestyles Organization, have presented at Lifestyle conventions, and get many referrals from them, especially regarding Christian issues. We also present at many other swing conventions. We totally support swinging, even though it is not our primary interest. In addition to our extensive swinging section of our web site, and the many links we have, we primarily refer you to The Lifestyles Organization at http://www.Playcouples.com.
In addition to our workshops (no longer active) and vast materials on web site, we highly recommend publications of Loving More, especially:
BRAND NEW! The New Love Without Limits by Dr. Deborah Anapol. This book is "must have" reading for anyone interested in a polyamous lifestyle. Deborah and Loving More teamed up to reprint her original classic, now with updated chapters, resources, and new material combined with the best of the original book. Perhaps the most widely read book on polyamory ever and certainly one of the best.
Loving More-The Polyfidelity Primer by Ryam Nearing Ryam's classic "how to" on group marriage and poly relationships in general. Focused primarily on polyfidelity with many good tips, worksheets, and advice on how to start a local group. Very good definitions of different styles of poly relationships.
Both books as well as Loving More Magazine are available at http://www.lovemore.com
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