Can a Single be a Swinger?

I have asked the question “can a single be a swinger” several times as I have navigated the lifestyle. I have asked this question of others, listened to their responses, tried to formulate my own answer, and what I have come to realize is that what I am really asking is: What is swinging, and can a single be part of it. My examination of this question has led me to a new perspective that I would like to share.


From my perspective swinging is a culture; more specifically swinging is a sub-culture of alternative sexual lifestyles. The most prominent and most talked about sub-culture of alternative sexual lifestyles is the LGBTQ lifestyle. We have all been exposed to the LGBTQ lifestyle in some form, it is a popular subject in everyday life now, but it still does not exist without resistance from the mainstream. In my opinion there are several other sub-cultures of alternative sexual lifestyles that co-exist with the LGBTQ lifestyle. Many of these sub-cultures overlap with each other, share members and ideas, and are common by the fact that they are not openly and universally accepted in our society; thus, they carry the stigma of not being accepted and many members hide or resist coming out as members of alternative sexual lifestyles typically to protect themselves from the public’s ridicule and judgement should there be open knowledge of their lifestyle choice. Currently there are state and federal laws that protect against discrimination of the LGBTQ, but other sub-cultures do not enjoy the protection these laws afford. We can still be fired or denied a job for being a part of these alternative lifestyles, not to mention the social punishments that can exist in our families, friendships, and communities.


Mainstream relationship beliefs are seated in the values that we are taught in our childhood homes, in our extended families, in our religion and/or spiritual beliefs, and in our code of morals that we learn through work, school and community. Monogamy, abstinence outside of marriage, and traditional male – female relationships being the cornerstones of mainstream love and sexual relationships. Anything that differs from mainstream sexual relationships then becomes an alternative sexual lifestyle. While my knowledge of each culture is limited, I believe that there are at least eight sub-cultures of alternative sexual relationships: Non-Monogamy, LGBTQ, Kink, Polyamory, Sex Positive, Open Relationships, Swinging, and Nudism / Voyeurism / Exhibitionism. Each of these sub-cultures are considered alternative because they are not widely and openly accepted in our society, and to some degree can carry penalties to members in the mainstream of society. I further believe that an individual can be a member of more than one sub-culture at the same time, and I see this in my mind like a circle color diagram with the colors overlapping to make new colors. An example of this is a swinging couple that is bisexual and enjoys Kink.


Swinging in a definition form from my perspective is: People participating in consensual non-monogamous recreational sex outside of their primary love relationship as a couple. An example of this is a husband and wife that have sex with another couple; swinging couples can also be same sex partners/spouses and long-term relationship or common law couples. I feel that the critical elements for being swingers is first having a committed primary love relationship that both members of the couple seek and gain love through, second having a consensual agreement to have recreational sex with others, and third that both halves of the couple seek recreational sex together or through mutual actions. I do not feel that singles that pair up as “play partners” fall into my definition of swingers because they fail to meet the primary love relationship threshold. Using this model, I feel that when a couple involves a single, they are in fact still “swinging”, however I do not feel that the single is swinging. It is my belief that the single is participating in both Non-Monogamy and Sex Positive sub-culture activities though. And again, singles may exist in more sub-cultures such as LGBTQ, kink, and so on just as couples do. So, in my opinion, the reason that a single is not “swinging” is that they have nothing to lose from the stand point of a committed relationship. There is no partner to consider, no jealousy or trust issues that are risked. I feel singles do face unique challenges when playing with swingers, and they are at risk because of these challenges, but their primary love relationship is not at risk, so they are not “swinging”.

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