It seems like everyone is asking this question lately. What exactly is the difference between polyamory and swinging? Some people seem to think that they are one and the same, while others see them as two completely different things. So, what's the truth? Are they different or not? Let's take a closer look at both lifestyles and see what sets them apart.
If you're not sure which category you fit into, read on to learn more about the difference between swinging and polyamory. You might be surprised to find out that you're a little bit of both!
Polyamory and swinging are both lifestyles that involve consensual non-monogamy. However, there are some key differences between the two.
Webster's describes Poly as being the practice of engaging in multiple romantic (and typically sexual) relationships, with consent of all people involved.
This couldn’t be truer. Generally, people who identify as poly have an aptitude for adding love into the relationships they have outside of their primary. This is a key differentiator between poly and other consensual non-monogamous dynamics.
It can be time-consuming, and sometimes emotionally exhausting, although many find it to be highly satisfying. Advanced calendaring skills are a must have to be successful. Polyamorous relationships allow for a lot of love and intimacy to flourish when practiced properly.
The practice of engaging in group sex or the swapping of sexual partners, especially on a habitual basis.
Swinging doesn’t typically involve a loving relationship outside that which you have with your primary partner. That doesn’t mean you can’t care about the additional people you’re playing with, but the goal is not to establish a romantic relationship. Instead, swinging is more about sexual exploration and adventure. This can range from one-night experiences to regular occurrences.
Swinging is less complex than poly. Partners involved in swinging typically only have sexual relationships with each other and do not form emotional attachments. Swinging can be a fun way to spice up your life, but it doesn't offer the same level of intimacy as polyamory.
For lack of a better term, we call this “friends with benefits”. This is where we fall for the most part.
Meaning we care about the individuals we’re playing with, enjoy connections, and it’s less likely to be a one-time thing. We spend time with partners both in and out of sexual scenarios, generally all together rather than separate although that’s not always the case. We enjoy friendships the way we might with those we’re closest with and fully trust them with all aspects of our lives, including much of the most vulnerable parts.
The main difference is rather than it being platonic, sex is involved. Sure, the lines are blurred a bit when compared to polyamory or standard swinging, but if all parties are on the same page, it can be wonderful. The key here is that no one is leaving anyone for another partner. No one is falling in love in the traditional sense.
Obviously this isn't an exhaustive list, and even within each dynamic there are dozens or more versions of what it can look like. That being said, it is a general starting point for those looking to understand what might be best for themselves.
Those who practice consensual non-monogamy should pride themselves on doing so in an ethical way. This means having honest, clear, communication with all their partners. There is no cheating when everyone is on the same page. Without that you’re destined for pain, frustration, and failure.
When making the decision to partake in one of these options, remember you should be very clear upfront as to which you plan to embark on. This should be the case with yourself, your primary partner, and every other individual you plan to be involved with. All works well if boundaries and expectations are set from the beginning. We’ve personally seen relationships crash hard when people aren’t honest about what they’re looking for, or when couples aren’t on the same page between each other. Don’t be those people.
The important thing to remember is that all consensual non-monogamous lifestyles are perfectly okay - there is no "right" or "wrong" way to do things. Ultimately, it comes down to what works best for you and your partner. Do some research and chat with other people who are involved in them. This may help you figure out which is just right for you.