In the mainstream media the impression of swinging is of a secret underworld. Academic websites and articles comment on the difficulty of obtaining adequate representative data about the type of people involved in swinging and the effect it has on their relationships and family life.
In general swingers are a secretive lot. As a rule they hide their identity from the general community. This is done a number of ways; using aliases when meeting people, not showing their faces in profile photos on adult dating websites, separate email addresses for play mates, carrying a separate mobile phone for play purposes, the list goes on and on.
As we journey along this path we find ourselves changing our ideas about the importance of secrecy. When we started out we didn't put face pictures in our profile on dating websites and we were secretive about where we went when we went out on dates or to a club.
These days we are more relaxed about things. We have a face pic on the front of our dating profile, we include our play friends in our regular Facebook account and we have introduced our play friends to some of our vanilla friends. I must admit I never thought of having a separate phone or anything that clandestine. I just couldn't deal with that level of complication!!.
We don't push our lifestyle in people's faces, it is just there. If you look closely you can see evidence of it. If you ask a question you might get a direct answer or, if we think you are not quite ready to digest the honest answer, we might reply a little cryptically. Most of our more vanilla friends and family members know enough to know that they don't want to know anymore.
Our point of view is not the same as everyone we know. There are many, many people who are paranoid about certain people finding out about what they get up to on there secret dates. The reasons for this vary widely. Some people are afraid of recriminations from their parents, some people are afraid of being shunned by the people in their church. Others are afraid of losing life long friends or of having repercussions to their career prospects.
The cynic in me believes that for some people the secrecy is part of the attraction to the lifestyle. The excitement of doing something clandestine makes these meetings irresistible. I have met some people who admit this is part of the whole thing but on the whole most people will deny this.
Another thing that the cynic in me believes is that a lot of the reasons people put forward, especially ones about people in church or at work are merely excuses covering up a lack of conviction that this lifestyle is morally right. I can't help asking myself. If you don't believe this is wrong why are you hiding it from people in your life? Surely if you believe in this kind of thing you would be proud of doing it at least to the point of not lying about it.
I cannot know everyone's circumstances or families. I do know that the majority of times I have openly talked about my lifestyle to friends or the hairdresser or the beauty therapist etc the reception has been one of two options;
a) Rabid curiosity. Oh My God!! That is awesome. What do you do, how does it work, how do you meet people, how did you get started and so on. Once someone starts asking questions like this they generally have a positive impression. I like to think that my answers in these situations have helped people to have a more open mind and the general population is more educated about swinging as a result.
b) Careful neutrality. For some the idea of their partner being intimate with someone else is very challenging. They don't have any desire to mix up their sex lives with other people and this is cool. These people often ask questions about the mechanics and also about jealousy but finalise the conversation with a statement like. "Well I can see that you enjoy it and all power to you but I don't think it is for me."
I can honestly say that I have not had someone be openly hostile about the lifestyle or end a friendship because of a discovery they made about me. I will admit that I am a little circumspect with SOME acquaintances I have made through my children's school. This is not because I particularly care about the repercussions for myself but rather the effect if could have on my children's school life.
For me the sexual relationships and moments I have with people are an important part of my life. I feel that hiding this from the other important people in my life like my relatives and good vanilla friends is hiding a part of myself. Honesty is important to me. The other side of this is the concept that if people don't accept me for me, with my bisexuality, multiple sexual partners, smutty stories and relaxed attitude about nudity, cleavage display and skirt length then are they the right friends for me? Probably not.