Managing Vanilla & Alternative Lifestyle Collisions

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Managing Vanilla & Alternative Lifestyle Collisions

Being around the lifestyles for nearly 30 years, this clinical therapist comes across lots of funny anecdotes dealing with people being questioned or found out. So how do we handle these situations?

The first step is becoming comfortable with the topic yourself.

Imagine you are at a swing club with your wife and another couple. You and your friend are standing outside a room, having fun talking about the experience you just had. The wives run to the restroom, and while you are laughing and joking, a beautiful blonde, 24 or 25, with a perky little body and smiling and giggly, is walking towards you. You and your friend start to flirt and talk with her. Behind the curtain of a play area right beside you, you hear soft moans slowly developing into what must be a religious experience from the “Oh, God” that’s getting louder and louder. All of a sudden, the little blonde says, “Hey, wait, I know that voice.” The next words out of her mouth are not something you’re ready to hear. “That’s my mom.” She pokes her head behind the curtain, and you can see through the crack that there’s this attractive lady on all fours between a couple of guys enjoying being ravished. The little blonde explains, “Yep, that’s my mom.”

Or, how about you go over to your parent’s house for a barbecue. Your dad welcomes you and says, “Come on outback; I want you to meet my neighbors.” To your surprise, the neighbors are a couple you just met at a swing club a couple of weeks ago, and their friends — another couple with them — is someone else you’ve been talking to on a swing site.

Another example is when your new wife wants to go to dinner with an old friend she ran into. At dinner, that old friend shares that she just got a new job, how much she likes her boss, and what a wholesome, good guy he is. How she knows him and his wife from church, almost putting him on a pedestal. You think to yourself, ‘Interesting… I know the guy who runs that company.’ You ask her for her boss’ name, she tells you, and you just nod. That weekend, you and your wife decide to visit a swing club, and that’s right — guess who’s the first couple you see when you walk into the swing club? Yes, you guessed it — it is your wife’s friend’s boss. He smiles, shakes your hand, and says ‘hi.’ You ask where his wife is, and he points to the group bed.

All these funny little scenarios have happened. I think it’s a common concern, “What if our vanilla life and alternative life cross paths?” So, how do we manage this?

Ways to Navigate Vanilla & Open Lifestyle Collisions

Managing the collision between your swinging and vanilla lifestyles can be challenging, but with thoughtful consideration and effective communication, it is possible to find a balance. Here are a few suggestions on how to navigate these situations:

  1. Self-Reflection and Boundaries: Take time to reflect on your own values, needs, and boundaries. Understand what aspects of your swinging lifestyle you are comfortable sharing or discussing within your vanilla life and establish clear boundaries for yourself.
  2. Open and Honest Communication: Communicate openly and honestly with your partner or spouse about your swinging lifestyle and the potential impact on your vanilla life. Discuss your expectations, concerns, and any boundaries you may have. Maintaining effective communication is key to navigating this complex situation together.
  3. Maintain Privacy: It is important to respect the privacy and confidentiality of your swinging lifestyle. Determine which aspects of your personal life should remain private, separate from your vanilla life, and ensure that both you and your partner are on the same page.
  4. Selective Disclosure: Decide who, if anyone, in your vanilla life should be aware of your swinging lifestyle. Consider the potential impact on your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. It is unnecessary to disclose this information to everyone, and weighing the potential benefits and consequences before sharing this aspect of your life is essential.
  5. Separate Social Circles: Consider maintaining separate social circles for your swinging and vanilla lifestyles. This can help minimize the chances of conflicts arising and allow you to enjoy each lifestyle without unnecessary complications.
  6. Establish Trust and Consistency: Maintaining trust between you and your partner is crucial. It is important to be consistent in your actions, agreements, and boundaries both within your swinging lifestyle and in your vanilla life. This consistency helps build trust and allows for a smoother integration of the two aspects of your life.
  7. Seek Support: Reach out to supportive communities or online groups where you can connect with others who navigate similar situations. Sharing experiences and advice with like-minded individuals can provide valuable guidance and support.
  8. Professional Counseling: If you find it challenging to manage the collision between your swinging and vanilla lifestyles, consider seeking the assistance of a professional counselor or therapist specializing in relationships and sexuality. They can provide guidance, tools, and strategies to help you navigate this complex terrain.

Remember that finding a balance between your swinging and vanilla lifestyles is a personal journey that may require ongoing adjustments. By maintaining open communication, respecting boundaries, and seeking support when needed, you can navigate this collision and find a harmonious balance that works for you and your partner.


We want to take a moment to advise you that these articles are informational and psycho-educational, meaning that they were designed to serve as teaching and guidance for you and are not couples therapy. If you wish to pursue counseling, we suggest that you visit the Art of Loving Center website at or by clicking our banner below.

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