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When people become interested in non-monogamy, swinging, or lifestyle clubs or parties, some are concerned about what they need to be in the lifestyle. I’m here to tell you what that is; the answer might surprise you.
While I write this mostly from the perspective of swinging, the concept really does apply to all of non-monogamy. When people are looking at swinging from the outside, what they most likely see is a lot of sex. If they don’t actually see it, they imagine it — in fantastic detail. It’s why many (most?) people are attracted to ENM, swinging, or the lifestyle in the first place: more sex, sexual variety, and sexual adventure. Fair. According to one academic report, the other reason is increased social connection. Some would say it’s an extreme way to make more friends and go dancing. I would say you haven’t been out with a lifestyle crowd yet.
Do I Need a Big Cock?
When people become interested in swinging, or sex clubs, or lifestyle parties, some are concerned about what they need to be in the lifestyle. Do I need a big cock? Do I need to get a boob job? Do I need go to a therapist because we must be crazy to be thinking about this? Well, I’m here to tell you that there is not much that you do need, physically speaking. Grooming is preferred, but not even necessary — no one is checking your chest hair at the door. There are, however, some other things you’ll want to have in plenty: a respect for others, good manners (dammit, your mom was RIGHT!), and consent, to name a few. I’m also here to tell you that possibly one of the most important things you’ll need in the lifestyle, and non-monogamy in general, is self-awareness. This will get you much further than a doctor, plastic surgeon, or esthetician will. The Oxford definition of self-awareness is the following:
“conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.”
Another summarized definition I found of self-awareness is the following from an article by Meredith Betz, “What is self-awareness and why is it important”¹:
“Put simply, those who are highly self-aware can interpret their actions, feelings, and thoughts objectively.”
For example, rejection and being rejected is part of the game. If you can’t manage your feelings around that without getting defensive, you are going to have trouble. Whether you know it or not, whether you want to or not, ENM is going to send you on a journey of personal growth. It’s a lot more fun than self-help books (well, this is debatable in my world), but you will grow as a person, or you will graciously bow out. You don’t need that therapist — or coach — because you are thinking about swinging, but you MIGHT need one when you are in the midst of a breakdown.
You’ll Always Start With You
One of my mantras is that ENM or the lifestyle is whatever you want to create, as long as everyone knows about it and is consenting. Some people participate a couple of times a year, others a couple of times a week. For polyamorous folks, it’s around the clock. I can confidently say that the more you do it, the more chance you’ll hit some snags. I’m also here to tell you that working through the snags is ultimately what will bring you and your partner(s) closer or make you a better person in general. And by better, I mean happier — with yourself. Working through the snags is not just blaming your partner each time you feel bad, and that’s where self-awareness comes in.
Example: You are out with your partner, and she dances a little longer with that one guy, and you feel a little left out. Or, you hook up with another couple, and he makes sounds in bed with her that you’ve never heard before! The key in either one of these situations is not to say, “What does she see in that other guy,” or “Why doesn’t he moan like that for me?” but to say, “Why is this bothering me?” Yep. That’s where you’ll always start: you.
Your partner isn’t totally off the hook. You might look at the situation and say, this is bothering me because he is breaking a boundary we put in place tonight. And if he is breaking a boundary (and it’s quite likely he doesn’t think he is — boundaries can somehow seem a bit gray in the moment), then there is a conversation to be had. An apology. Repair. But if your partner’s actions are well within bounds but, for some reason, it’s just bothering you, then there is more work for you to do. You don’t have to do it alone. Sharing your true feelings with your partner is important. It could go something like this in an ideal world (not that we live in one of those, but bear with me):
“Babe, the other night when you and Melissa were together, I got really jealous hearing the sounds you were making. I feel like you don’t make those sounds with me.”
“You did? Oh, no! That must have been hard.”
“It was. It made me feel like I don’t satisfy you in bed.”
“Baby — I love our sex — you know that. You are my person. She just gave really great oral, and I was enjoying myself. I wasn’t even aware of the sounds I was making.”
“I know. I want you to enjoy yourself, and it was HOT, but this time, I just felt jealous.”
“I get it. I’ve felt jealous before too. Let’s keep talking about it and see if anything else comes up about that.”
Now, it is not your partner’s obligation to check his sounds while in bed with someone else (and hopefully, you wouldn’t want that). It is your job to check your own insecurities. Contemplation and journaling can do wonders in unearthing fears. Or even just conversing openly about it — but you do have to ask yourself the questions. There are lots of different outcomes to the findings. In some instances, boundaries are created, even if temporary. After my and my husband’s first experience, I learned that I loved it when he was fucking another woman — I did not love it when I heard him call her Baby. We talked about it after, and that was easy — we decided to keep that pet name for me. Making certain things, especially yours, can be a great strategy in navigating these wild sexual experiences. Years later, that doesn’t bother me anymore. He ‘babies,’ I get ‘babied,’ we all ‘baby baby.’
You Are an Amazing Start
There is a lot for you to bring to the lifestyle: mostly, the essence of you. You will be able to express yourself, most likely, more authentically than ever before. Not just in a sexual sense, but in the many interesting conversations you’ll find yourself in with fellow lifestylers. I don’t have a lot of explanation for that other than to say lifestyle folks don’t really sit around talking about the weather. Thank God. So, what do you need to be in the lifestyle? You and your own self-awareness. That’s an amazing start.
“What Is Self-Awareness, and Why Is It Important?” Www.betterup.com, www.betterup.com/blog/what-is-self-awareness#:~:text=If%20you.