The Next Evolution – Swinging-Open Marriage-Polyamory


hot-tub-trioI don’t believe that the polyamorous are simply swingers who’ve seen the light.

Nor do I believe that swingers are somehow smarter for realizing that sex is very often less complicated than love.

I’m thrilled at the amount of polyamorous content currently streaming down the Swingset pipeline. We’ve truly taken great strides towards our SOP (swinger-open-poly) ideal that we first floated the month after Shira B. Katz joined our crew. Not to mention the fact that both Dylan and I are currently flirting with the edge of polyamory in our daily lives.

I call this The Next Evolution. But not because I believe we’re evolving towards some sort of non-monogamy nirvana that might be labeled with one of the three letters in SOP. Instead I go back to the one message I took away from Tristan Taormino’s Opening Up over any other: be open to change in your relationship, be willing to adapt, be willing to evolve. Not all evolution is forward, some is backward, and most is tangential and sideways. Currently, Marilyn and I are sliding across the spectrum, dabbling here and there.

We’re building our future. We’re building our lifestyle. One that’s firmly called Non-Monogamy, because it cannot be contained by any of the boxes anymore.

In the traditional paradigm, swingers don’t love their playmates. Or at least they’re not “in love” with them. Hence why we so often refer to them as playmates. It’s just playing, just funning, just fooling around with these awesome extra parts we were given that do such wonderful things when they interconnect. On the other end, the vast majority of polyamorists (sorry Shira [she hates that word]) don’t plan for their next orgy, house party, club visit. They don’t make dates as couples. They don’t go out for the fuck.

But am I generalizing? Of course I am. This is why I’ve always felt our labels are only good enough to point people in the vague direction of who and what we are, but are ultimately worthless when you get RIGHT DOWN in the thick of things. I have always felt capacity to love many people. I have often felt strong love towards friends. I have felt that connection with people, despite being a 100% monogamous guy for a long long time. Therefore, this has always felt like the next step for me.

When we first began, sex was easy, love was hard. It was actually unbelievably easy to turn off that sex=love switch that society tried really hard to hardwire into us from the beginning. Love just seemed messy. Feelings could and would get hurt, most likely. But now Marilyn is in love. With two people, in fact. And she didn’t know.

“What? She didn’t know?”

I’m sure she knew that these feelings she had were different from those she shared with our other playmates. These feelings were far more akin to how she felt with/about me. I, on the other hand, knew it was love. Because it’s far easier to see things from the outside sometimes, as an objective party.

There are many in the swing community who would immediately say that is unacceptable. That love, really for real love, only belongs within the confines of their relationship. And are they wrong? Absolutely not. For them, in their arrangement, that is their love. That’s what it is and means to them. And more fucking power to them.

The Next Evolution for all of us has to be about determining our spot in the world, in this life, in this lifestyle, in the non-monogamy and sexuality spectrums. We are all creating our little homestead out here in the raggedy open space beyond what our traditions, and upbringing, and societal norms suggest is right and true. If we’re rejecting those constructs of life and love and sexuality, why should we impose a new set of rules upon ourselves by determining that since we are now “A Swinger” we must behave as “A Swinger” does. Or a poly person. Or a cuckold. Or a Dom. All these are simply constructs of given communities in the same way that monogamy is.

Therefore we can determine our own flavor. It’s never been about black and white, no-matter how much the government tries to tell us it is. It’s always been shades of gray. But we’ve found the crayon box, and it’s that spectacular 64 crayon collection with the sharpener built right into the box. I’ll take a little blue, and a little red, and when I’m done I’ll find that which describes me. To be able to always be discovering new things about yourself could truly be the greatest gift of all. To never find yourself in anything approaching “routine” would be to sidestep one of the most significant sources of misery in this life.

I LOVE that after a few years of doing this we’re discovering TOTALLY brand fucking new things about ourselves, our interactions with each other, and our interactions with the outside world.

I had a conversation with a friend about our exploration towards the poly side of the spectrum, and he intimated that he was concerned, because we’d taken breaks, and because we’re taking such risks. What I realized from this discussion was yes, we have hit walls, and broken rules, and pushed boundaries too far. Yes, we have pulled the “shut it down” hand brake. Yes we have had to regroup, refocus, draw inward to the couple again. BUT there’s no reward without risk. And the things we’ve learned about ourselves in this lifestyle since we began with the greatest risk of all have been spectacular. Our trajectory isn’t a steady flight-plan through “swingdom” because we’re not interested in spending the rest of our life settling into a new kind of monotony that, instead of a two person relationship, involves several relationships that never grow, or change, and are themselves just a larger web.

We’re willing to take that deep breath, and jump from the edge of the precipice because we know the potential for reward grows greater proportionately with the risk.

And because we’ve made the agreement that Tristan suggested we should nothing will end our relationship. It will only evolve. Every action we take has consequences, which will be dealt with if they need to be. They’ll be evaluated, and we’ll determine the path to follow.

Evolution is freedom. Knowing that you are unbound, that you can and do change, that change shouldn’t be a cause for alarm, but should be seen as an opportunity to learn more about yourself. To become more and more complete, while not feeling the need to ever achieve this artificial notion of actual completion.

Because maybe it’ll be a never-ending evolution.

Wouldn’t that be something?


About Author

Cooper S. Beckett is a relationship coach specializing in non-monogamy, author of  My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging & Polyamory & A Life Less Monogamous, and the co-founder of Life on the Swingset & host of its swinging & polyamory podcast. He speaks and teaches classes on pegging, swinging, polyamory, play parties, and non-monogamy. He is a graphic & web designer, photographer, and voice over artist, has been a guest expert on Dan Savage’s Savage Lovecast, & is the announcer of Tristan Taormino's radio show Sex Out Loud. He is currently working on his next novel: Approaching The Swingularity.


  1. Absolutely awesome article. The “movement” (though I hate to call it such) supporting polyamory, and non-monogamy in general, should be about people exercising their freedom to define their own relationships. Societal “norms” have ranged from wives being purchased to family-arranged marriages, to the Roman-influenced structure most of the western world abides by today, and it’s difficult at best to change those norms, even slowly. What has troubled me is the lack of acceptance that, say, swingers exhibit towards those with an open marriage, or polyamoriats show towards swingers. We’re all in this together, in a sense, and we should be all working towards the same goal: establishing the idea as fact that only you (and your partner) can define the “rules” of your relationship.

  2. Fucking awesome article Cooper! I can totally relate to exactly where you are right now. When we started swinging, it was not me but my wife who thought that she would have the most trouble turning off the switch sex=love. We’ve both found that we were able to turn it off, and we have had, and continue to have great sexual experiences with other couples. Interestingly though I’ve found recently that I have a much better experience when I am (at least partially) emotionally invested in the experience with my female partner. And I’m still a little hesitant to say that I am falling in love with our current couple, but it is damn close. I have been totally unprepared for the depth of feelings that I’ve had recently. I find myself reading “Opening Up” and learning so much. I am beginning to see how one person could possibly have room in his/her heart for another person besides thier primary partner, and that it does not necesasarily mean that there is a deficiency in your primary relationship or that the primary relationship has to end. I never imagined that I’d be drifting toward the Poly end of the spectrum but I keep moving in that direction. I think that your podcast as well as Pedestrian Polyamory has opened up my mind in this direction and I keep seeing infinite possibilities. Keep up the great work.

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