Q&A: How Common Is the “Swing” Lifestyle?

E-mail Email Icon Print Print Icon
Reddit Digg StumbleUpon Delicious Bookmark

QUESTION: My husband of 12 years and I have recently joined the "swing" lifestyle. We have always talked and fantasized about it but now that we are actually doing it I wonder how common it is. Are there any studies or stats on this topic?

Subscribe to the Kinsey Confidential Podcast: iTunes | RSS

Swings Sunset

Photo: smcgee (flickr.com)

Some swinging takes place in club settings in which people may private membership dues to belong to the club. Other times, swinging takes place in the context of private parties that may occur in people’s homes or in privately rented space at a club, bar or hotel.

How Common is Swinging

There are very few good studies on the swinging lifestyle in the United States let alone population based studies that would allow us to guess at just how common or rare swinging is. The data that we do have suggest that swinging is relatively uncommon in the United States.

However, uncommon doesn’t mean that it’s right or wrong – it just means that a minority of men and women engage in it.

From Clubs to Living Rooms

Swinging is also practiced in different ways. Some swinging, as you may know, takes place in club settings in which people may private membership dues to belong to the club.

Other times, swinging takes place in the context of private parties that may occur in people’s homes or in privately rented space at a club, bar or hotel.

There are also swingers conventions that take place in cities around the world and that may draw as many as a few hundred or a few thousand adult women and men to come to a resort or hotel, to learn about what’s new in the swing lifestyle, and to possibly meet new friends and partners.

Rules and Regulations

There are also different ways that swinging takes place. Some clubs or parties do not allow single men into the scene whereas others do. On the contrary, single women are more often allowed into swing events as they are, quite frankly, more often in demand for sex play.

Couples themselves have their own rules on what will or won’t work for them. Some couples decide that they will only engage in sex that occurs together whereas others enjoy splitting up and having sex with other people in private settings at the club or party or in their own home.

Joining a Group

There are also swing organizations that work in different ways. Some groups are open to anyone who is willing to sign up, join in and/or pay for an entry fee or a membership.

Others are highly restrictive and may require that you be invited by an existing member or that you submit photographs or write essays before you are allowed to join.

Risks and Rewards

So while swinging is not entirely common, it is not terribly rare either. It is practiced by enough people that there are events that consist of hundreds or thousands of attendees.

And while some people find that swinging is not for them, that they are too worried about sexual infection risk or unable to comfortable handle issues related to jealousy or communication, others very much enjoy the novelty and pleasure found in a swinging lifestyle.

And aside from the sex, some women and men appreciate the new friendships that come from being sexual with others.

More Information

To learn more about swinging and having more than one lover, check out the book Opening Up.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
More posts by this author »

Comments