So you are thinking about swinging? A Sex Therapist outlines the rules of Lifestyle play so that you don’t blow up your relationship.

It’s called swinging or what is referred to by those in the know as the “Lifestyle”. And it’s becoming one of the more common issues I see my office these days as a sex therapist. If trying to keep things hot is an ever-popular workshop seminar, then “How to have crazy, wild monkey sex (that may include your next door neighbors) without screwing up your relationship” is now topic de jour.

So how do you start? What happens? How do you dip a toe in? Agh! The worry is that that something you want to try to enhance your relationship will mess up what you already have.

I could literally write a book (and many have) on this but I think talking through venturing into this abyss is worth doing with your partner a few hundred thousand times. Swinging like most has some good things, some amazing things, some bad and some crazy things about it. I’ve seen it really enhance relationships. I’ve also seen it blow relationships up. Either way, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle once you start.

I’ve written a blog on writing a sex contract and outlining expectations before venturing anywhere near outside sexual activity. If you are hoping for a threesome with a old friend or plan on naked hot tubbing with another couple then reading and talking (with or without directed help like a sex therapist) is mandatory. I certainly always say that writing your rules, safe words, expectations and plans for troubleshooting down in a contract format. Give it a read at /

Once you are both explicitly clear on the rules of engagement, then what do you do? I’m not going to cover jealousies, safe sex or a bevy of those issues in this blog. Keep coming back there is more to come. But know that there are other things you’ll need to think about. swing3

As a starting point, You need to advertise for the right person or people with whom to play with.

For couples looking for partners it’s a bit of a mine field. It can be anything from are you available tonight, to might these people become real friends. So the steps for most couples when advertising for play partners are:

1. Talk about what you want and boundaries between the two of you ad nauseum.
2. Write the ad together and place it on one of the adult dating sites.
3. Communicate extensively about pictures and confidentiality between the two of you.
4. Volley back and forth online with the expectation that you will meet for a drink within two weeks of starting the communication. If the correspondent isn’t willing to meet you then something’s up. It’s a man who hasn’t spoken to his wife, the person is a single man pretending to be someone else, or they are a picture collector. Move on immediately.
5. Some correspondents want to skype, face time, or speak on the phone to verify that you are indeed who you say you are.
6. Meet for the drink, coffee or casual rendezvous at the club to see if there is any mutual attraction.

Important things to look for are:
a) Are they respectful to each other? It’s a HUGE flag if they put their partner down in any way.
b) Have they lied to you in any major way?. Ie age, experience or relationship status.
c) Are they authentic? Can they make eye contact, tell stories and are consistent?
d) Have they cancelled more than once with a good explanation?

Single women
Many couples are hoping to find a single woman to join them. Single women that want to play with both men and women are the elusive “unicorn” of the lifestyle world. These women are very hard to find. Single women in the lifestyle are often recently out of relationships and are only free until they find a new permanent relationship. So they are transient. They want friendship and to be treated elegantly. And they are known however to flake out. Meaning you book something with them and they cancel at the last minute. Flakey also means that single women are often only interested in playing once a month when they are ovulating and horny. So don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from them the other three weeks a month. Single women respond best to elegant, fully dressed body pictures (heads can be cropped for discretion) and NOT to erection pictures. Single women are usually not impressed by pictures and descriptions of genitalia. Women want to know who you are, not how many inches you are. So if you want to appeal to women, either single or in a couple tell them who you are, not what your sexual prowess is.

I know it seems contraindicated when advertising for a casual hook up partner, but most people (read men who do the advertising) keep pushing the body parts. However for 90% of women it’s about fun, attention, elegance flirting, looking and feeling beautiful and feeling safe. Then you’ll get the tiger in the bedroom. Yes it will take longer. But you will get more than a one and done if you take the high road. I believe in the adage that: “Men hate feeling used, and women hate feeling cheap”. So don’t imply that you are using them as a way augment your sex life, without paying attention to them and finding out what they want. If you are using them as a toy without treating them with respect, your adventures with that women (single, coupled, or play friend) will be very short lived.

Given that it is women who determine whether or not play happens it behooves you to pay attention to what women will respond to. Women will respond to funny. They will respond to words of safety (ie. Little old ladies and puppies like us). Words like discretion, smells nice, upscale, professional, comedy, and fun work. And given that most women are addicted to sugar, enticing them with wine, chocolate, ice cream etc. will always get a double glance. Try it if you don’t believe me.

Other couples
Go back and read the single woman paragraph. Absolutely make note of the fact that in the lifestyle it’s the women who move the chains or veto play partners. It doesn’t mean that you both can’t thumbs down a situation, it means that for the most part it’s the men who are driving this and women who red or green light play on any particular day. For women to feel sexy they need to feel safe, clean and supported. Many of the women in the lifestyle want the crazy sex (I’ve met prim and proper accountants by day that want to do a three man gangbang when they play), but they ALL want to be treated like ladies over coffee. From a gender point of view men are hunters. They want to meet, secure the deal, score and part friends until the next time. Women want to feel beautiful, imagine they have new friends, be admired, plan what they are going to wear (often for hours on end), and hope they have an orgasm. When you ask women in the lifestyle why they play it’s about the fun of the hedonistic lifestyle. Things like sexy costumes, feeling powerful by having men look at them with desire, great dinner parties where everyone flirts, those butterflies in your stomach when you get turned on. Men primarily want new partners, new positions, and the feeling of being virile and testing out their skills on someone different.

So when advertising for a couple our advice is to focus on the fun, togetherness and playfulness of the experience. We also suggest that you hint at the overall prowess without bragging. Gentle modesty or even self-deprecating humor is attractive to female partners. Find a tone that is inclusive of both partners, but leave something to the imagination. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard from couples that they would prefer to discover what’s under the wrapping for themselves rather than have it described and displayed upfront.

A word about pictures.
We know discretion is critical. Most lifestyle communities are very intermingled. That being said, (rightly or wrongly) the lifestyle can be a bit of a beauty contest. While there are people of a huge range of sizes, shapes, ages, and colors in this game, having a great picture is important. A selfie in the car on the way home from work doesn’t cut it. We explain that in the general dating world a common rule of thumb is that men look better than their pictures and women look worse. Meaning men simply take a picture. Women get their hair, makeup and lighting just right and then have their picture taken. In the lifestyle world, a tasteful but flirty picture is the way to go. Look good. It’s not right that you are being judged, but you are.

Single men
If you are a single man hoping to dip a toe into lifestyle play then we highly recommend the book


by Daniel Stern. It’s the pitfalls, specific stories and experiences of a single man’s few years playing in the lifestyle world without a partner.

If you are advertising for a single man to join you (either alone or with your partner) then you are in a buyer’s market. But finding the right guy to join you isn’t as easy as you think. The truth is that many men are looking for what you can do for them, rather than what they can do for you. (It is also a sad fact but this happens frequently in couples meeting couples too).

These are the nuts and bolts of extra-marital activity that have evolved after talking to couples for decades. It’s a snap shot on trouble shooting what’s going on sexually. But it isn’t the whole story. If you really want to start in this arena and want a guide then send me an email at We can do a skype session.