Hi everyone, Dylan here with a quick foreword:
We’ve been working on putting together the pieces necessary to post transcriptions of some of our podcasts for a long time. We still have some process kinks to work out and we’ll need to ask for your help to make this happen but for now… I’d like to release the first of three transcribed podcasts to all of you, with our love.
Every transcript will be “sponsored” some how, whether in money, time, or both, and we’ll thank whoever contributes to make this happen. Until we have a more formal process, if you’d like to help transcribe or contribute to a transcription some how, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what your level of interest and ability is.
Thank you to Ginger, who generously contributed to have the episode transcribed.
Thank you to Belle (the Desire Newbie Ambassador) for taking the time to edit (as in, being the editor) for this transcript.
I did a little cleanup work for the post + adding links to previous podcasts and Twitter.
Life on The Swingset the Podcast: Episode #000 / Episode #59
Hello there I’m Cooper Beckett and I know you came here looking for episode 1 of Life on the Swingset the Podcast. Well this is not episode 1 of Life on the Swingset the Podcast though it is the first one that is downloadable. Our show has grown a lot in the three years we’ve been doing this and well let’s just say episode 1 was a bit scattered. So last year we revisited a lot of the topics from episode 1 in a series we called Swinging for Dummies. And since many of our first time listeners are just realizing that they are non-monogamous and are looking for this type of information, we wanted to share episode 59 with you Swinging for Dummies Number One: Realizing You’re Non-monogamous. If you still want to check out episode 1 feel free to download it, but we think episode 59’s topic The Realization of Non-Monogamy is the perfect way to start with Life on the Swingset the Podcast. Hope you enjoy.
Cooper: Fifty-seven episodes have passed since last we talked about the beginning of your journey as a non-monogamous person. Since then we discussed any number of advanced topics that Dan Savage would likely term Varsity League. I happen to know however based on a lot of the comments I receive on Facebook and Twitter that we have a large number of listeners you are still in what they would term monogamous vanilla relationships. Maybe they’re trying to get up the courage start the journey or maybe they just learned there was something like this out there. In any case tonight on Life On The Swingset the Podcast we’re going back to the beginning. Tonight it’s Swinging for Dummies.
Cooper: I’m Cooper Beckett and with me tonight I have…
Ginger: Hey everybody it’s Ginger.
Dylan: Hey nobody it’s Dylan.
Shira: This is Shira B Katz.
Prof: And this is the Professor.
Cooper: The professor is back for his return to January podcasting with the Swingset.
Prof: On sabbatical one time a year.
Several: Yay the Professor.
Cooper: So before we get started does anyone have any business tonight?
Prof: Let me tell you what happened since last year.
Cooper: OK encapsulate it for us.
Prof: So I can tell you what happened at the end of last year which will be business for Ginger. I hope it’s okay if I say this. But we went to a party for New Year’s Eve and Ginger looked absolutely spectacular. She had on a red dress. It was kind of a vintage looking dress that was very clingy and tight fitting. And for the business portion, the very first party that we’ve ever gone to where she was not wearing any undergarments.
Prof: No panties. It was amazing.
Cooper: It sounds amazing.
Prof: And it worked. Totally upped the score
Ginger: How did it up a score? Oh that’s adorable.
Cooper: I’m imagining Prof wandered around pointing at you and saying “Yeah her, no panties”.
Cooper: And it helped you score. I can totally see that.
Ginger: I’m not sure how it helped us score but it was… I have to be honest I really love lingerie. I love panties. I love bras. And I’d love the chance to where sexy ones that other people might get to see. But the dress was unforgiving. And so there was no… I couldn’t wear panties or a bra because they would show through, because the fabric was very shiny and clingy. And it just didn’t look right. So it was purely a practical decision although after the night progressed I may be sold on the no panties angle.
Cooper: It makes a lot of things easier
Prof: You’ve had many opportunities to not wear panties. And this is the first one that you took so I thought it was fantastic. It was really… it made my 2011 complete.
Dylan: All I know is that when I grab a woman’s ass, I generally like to trace the panty line and if there’s no panty line being able to just go for the full grab.
Prof: And Ginger got the full grab too. There was plenty of full grab. And there was plenty of stuff to grab.
Ginger: Oh boy I think I may spend this whole episode blushing.
Cooper: Do we need to get the bell?
Shira: Oh gosh JV would love that!
Cooper: He would love that. Ding!
Ginger: Seriously. I mean it would just be a constant din of ringing behind since Prof’s on tonight.
Cooper: Then perhaps it’s not a good idea because that would move from charming to…
Ginger: …wickedly annoying.
Cooper: Really, really, just obnoxious very quickly.
Ginger: Right. Well, I’m honored that Prof thought me not wearing panties for New Year’s Eve was business worthy, so there we go.
Shira: Sounds business worthy. I have just a quick little business note since we’re on this topic.
Cooper: A business note.
Ginger: On the topic of no panties?
Shira: Oh god no. On the topic of guides, beginner’s guides and no panties. I guess I could put together a guide for that…
Shira and Cooper: …step 1 panties remove panties.
Shira: No but, but truly I just wanted to throw it out there since we are teaching everyone about Swinging for Dummies that on my other show Pedestrian Polyamory, Episode 10 happened to have been a beginner’s guide for polyamory. Gavin threw a coup and didn’t like my pedestrian business. So he went and taught all the newbies about polyamory. So listeners after you hear about swinging and you want to know more about polyamory I do hope that you go and listen over there as well. It’s a little bit different.
And tonight just to finish up this bit of business I’m going to be the Dummy for The Swinging Dummies. Because I’m not going to be able to teach you anything about swinging, guys. But go over there I might be able to teach you a thing or two.
Cooper: And had Shira taken a break until we got to the actual meat of the show, I would have acknowledged that this show only exists because I heard the Poly for Dummies thing and I thought well jesus we haven’t talked about that in a long time. So maybe we oughta do that.
Shira: See how much good Gavin’s doing for the world.
Cooper: Indeed he is.
Ginger: He is.Absolutely.
Cooper: Before we get started though, I do want to talk about we had a little present arrive in the mail from The Smitten Kitten. It was the Mystic Wand, which anyone who listened to our big toy episode will remember was Claire’s favorite toy of the year. And it is really an awesome little piece of machinery. It’s about half the size of the Hitachi Magic Wand, does the exact same thing and more. First of all it’s cordless, takes four double-AA’s. It is I would say, it is almost as powerful. It is not quite to the jackhammer levels of the Hitachi Magic Wand but it is really close. It’s got a silicone head and body so it’s really easy to clean. And has multiple variations on speed, pulsing and intensity..
Shira: And you can get it through SmittenKitten Online
Shira: Their site is really sexy. Have you looked at it recently?
Cooper: I have. They did an overhaul a few months ago that really just…
Shira: It’s so classy, like I don’t feel at all skeevy going there.
Cooper: Nor should you.
Shira: There’s this really sexy picture on the front page. People should definitely check it out.
Cooper: You should in fact go just there right now Smitten Kitten Online and type in Mystic Wand. And buy it and then put in the promo code and then tell them how much you love us because we told you about it.
Shira: And then once you get get it, go back to the website and jack off to the really awesome picture on the front page, because seriously sexy.
Ginger: OK, you guys are laughing but seriously I did while you were talking about that like I was being hypnotized by your voices and I’m looking at the very sexy picture…
Shira: Isn’t it fucking hot?
Ginger: Yeah, it’s pretty hot…
Cooper: Now I do feel compelled to mention that just because this is a promo for the Smitten Kitten does not make it any less valid that we fucking love the Smitten Kitten.
Ginger: Right. And just because they have pictures of sexy pinup women sucking on popsicles that has nothing to do with the fact that…
Shira: Yeah, that one too, right. It looks like something Marilyn would wear.
Ginger: It does, but the fishnet… Yeah, I’ll leave a little bit to be surprised for those who pop on over there.
Cooper: I will say again though the Mystic Wand is a valid replacement for the Hitachi Magic Wand which is something. I know a lot of people have the cult of Hitachi and because it is awesome. But the Mystic Wand was unlike the Hitachi, Marilyn and I could put it between us while fucking without worrying about killing ourselves on that ridiculous cord.
Ginger: Getting wound up in the cord.
Cooper: ‘Cuz it is ridiculous. You can’t roll around with the Hitachi. So check it out.
Cooper: OK so Swinging for Dummies is a book that should exist and I’m actually surprised it doesn’t. I think the first thing that I always like to start with discussing is that moment you know you’re different. Because it really is often an internal aha moment: The “I don’t think I can do monogamy” or “I don’t think I care to do monogamy for the rest of my life”. And unfortunately often that aha moment is while you’re within a monogamous relationship that you’re probably scared will implode if you mention, “You know I don’t think I can do that whole monogamy thing that we talked about and are currently doing.”
Dylan: It also occasionally creeps up when you happen to be in the midst of thinking about somebody else when you’re in the midst a relationship, “Oh no this can’t be happening. Why do I keep feeling this way? Ah, there’s a pattern going on”.
Cooper: And the programming tells us that any thoughts of someone outside your relationship are completely unacceptable.
Dylan: Well, I tell you the moment for me, and I think I’ve talked about this a little bit before, maybe not in excruciating detail.
Dylan: Excruciating detail. But that moment came for me when I realized that I was in a very happy loving relationship with Tonia and I felt like I was slowly falling slah lusting after someone else and realizing “You know what? I can’t believe that I actually want to be with this other person, but I still love and desire Tonia.” You know what? I don’t think this is wrong anymore and I don’t think I can deny that I’m always going to feel this way. I had ten plus years of having different levels of feelings for different people or different sexual feelings for different people while being in a monogamous relationships and hating myself for it, denying myself even the possibility thinking about this again. And doing all sorts of different mind twisty exercises to keep myself from feeling a certain way and tell myself I was bad. At some point you kind of have to stop saying you’re a bad person and just accept that you feel a certain way. And there are a lot of movements in society right now going on right now that are telling people just accept who you are. And then go for it and so I decided that I just needed to accept that for whatever reason in the completely unorganized state my mind was in at the time, I can feel like I want to be intimate with somebody else and not have to feel bad about still loving my wife. Or at the time, you know, the partner I was with. It’s kind of a lot of self-acceptance. It started me on a long journey of being able to accept that I’m okay this way.
Cooper: I spent a long time looking at it as a character flaw that I liked other people, that I was interested in other people. And then tried to rationalize it that maybe it’s a functional issue with my relationship because if my relationship was successful and right, I clearly wouldn’t be interested in other people. But once I realized that’s silly because that IS silly, things changed then. It’s a paradigm shift.
Dylan: I went through a little bit of that too, I started to think am I not happy in this relationship? And the answer was no, I’m actually really happy in this relationship. Am I greedy for wanting more?
Cooper: Well yes.
Dylan: Oh my fuck.
Cooper: You, yes.
Dylan: But that aha moment really got me changing the way I was looking at other relationships and other people’s relationships and my own. It allowed me to think about things. And I think it’s important to have that aha moment before you actually decide. To be sure that this is actually what you want that there aren’t some major damning issues with the relationship that you’re in. ‘Cuz you know people are not happy in relationships and replacing one unhappy relationship with another or substituting…
Cooper: Or adding more relationships to an unhappy one, that is not a good plan either.
Dylan: Adding complexity to a bad situation doesn’t help things.
Ginger: Right, right.
Shira: But if you have that aha moment early enough like I did.
Cooper: Like at 4 or 5 years old.
Cooper: When you played house there were several people living there.
Shira: No, no, no, no. But as a teenager just during the initial dating period, you know, I really thought it was something that I would grow out of after I found the right one. I thought it would be different.
Cooper: So you used it as a barometer also.
Shira: Say that again.
Cooper: You used it as a barometer in your relationships. That if you are still interested in other people well, this must not be the right one. But hey I’ll hang out and see if it happens.
Shira: Well sure, I’ve always kind of been in the moment and I decided very early on that I wouldn’t play by whatever societal rules were out there and that eventually I would pick… one. Eventually. But that was a long time away, right. I’ll deal with that then. And eventually I did. I did go down the line and narrowed down the boys I was dating and the girls I was dating at the time and you know I picked one. And I became immediately unhappy, like immediately, and then I was… I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about this on the show. I was a terrible cheater for a little while because I just couldn’t hang. I couldn’t hang with containing emotions for people, ‘cuz I’d never had to do that previously. So trying to be monogamous was incredibly unsuccessful for me because I still had emotions and feelings for all these other people. And I ended up being a terrible, terrible cheater as a result. And it took me a couple of years to figure it out and get my shit together and figure out that there was a thing called polyamory, and pull it all together. And figure out that there was, you know, a way to do it ethically.
Ginger: I had that ‘looking back at my pattern’ realization. And Prof you can weigh in on this if you want because it was actually just this year, when we were talking. We were traveling together and I was looking at my patterns from the time I was a teenager on and realized that monogamy wasn’t really something I valued either. And it was always in the context of “Oh, this relationship was ending anyway”, or “We had an understanding” and so it wasn’t wholly honest but it also wasn’t totally unexpected that I would be, you know, looking for someone else, or you know have a friend with benefits or something of the sort. But I didn’t notice that until this past year. And so you know that’s after long… you know, many, many years in the relationship with Prof, but also a number of years living in our open relationship. That only then did I look back on that pattern and go, “Oh. No way! Like that’s amazing”. I had never noticed that before, but only because I had kind of justified that behavior in a way that it was kind of outside of the monogamous constructs. Because the relationship was ending or the person was far away or you know, whatever.
Dylan: So you ended up doing some mental gymnastics, that it was okay to be a serial monogamist.
Ginger: Correct. Exactly.
Shira: Yeah, it’s tough.
Prof: I was just going to say, Ginger’s a self-aware person and it’s amazing how when we started talking about the cultural aspects, how that does condition us so strongly that even when we are in an open relationship, that we haven’t revisited that past, in a way that we could have a truly fresh perspective. And so, in the sense of how do people come to the place, where they’re ready to become non-monogamous, it’s almost always an accident.
Cooper: Uh, huh.
Prof: It’s almost like one of those moments where, like the V8 moment, you just hit yourself upside of the head. “Oh, yeah. That’s what I have to do.”
Shira: Yeah, and that’s one of my goals in life is to make that not happen to people anymore. It sucks that it has to happen as an accident or something. You know, that people always default to monogamous and then they have to be struck by “Oh my god there’s another way.” I’d like people to have the option right away rather than…
Prof: Yeah, I mean I think that the earlier you can kind of raise some of that awareness, but you can only be in one paradigm. I can get all professorial here. It’s like you have to move from one paradigm to the other. So you can’t be in-between. And I think that’s the V8 moment that we have when we become non-monogamous. It’s like “Oh. Yeah. This is who I am”. But two minutes before, I was monogamous. I just had monogamy with maybe bad behaviors or… bad thoughts.
Dylan: I feel lucky to have had that aha moment because let’s say I had had that aha moment three months down the line. What might have happened is, I might have been cheating on the side with somebody while I was still in a supposedly happy relationship. I’d much rather have had the aha moment where I did, which was sitting down, thinking about why I had these feelings for another person, as opposed to in the midst of cheating or doing something constructive. I mean I had a very long string of serial non-monogamy, very unhappy serial non-monogamy to look back at and say “Wow if I had had an aha moment before all that had happened then some of those relationships may have worked out”. People think about things before that happens, before a crisis happens.
Prof: Or tune into some of the signals. I think this is where Ginger, being the very self-aware person that she is, she wasn’t even tuned into some of the signals in her own body, that when we would be playing from a fantasy perspective or talking about things that turned us on, her body would be responding in a way that she wasn’t even completely aware of. Her pussy would get really wet, when we started talking about other women.
Cooper: It’s hard to convince your body that society says no.
Ginger: Right. That’s so true. That’s totally true.
Cooper: And that was a problem for Marilyn as well. One of the big things that we encountered when we became non-monogamous is that hey now there’s an outlet for all these feelings that she’d been really, really trying to ignore about women. Because, you know, the biggest thing that you hear about monogamy is that you can’t be a monogamous bisexual. Because it doesn’t matter. So why be bisexual? It does not actually matter if you’re bisexual and monogamous because you’ve chosen your one.
Ginger: Well you can be a serial monogamist.
Cooper: Well, I mean in a long-term monogamous relationship.
Ginger: Right, right.
Cooper: If you’re getting married and you’re bisexual and monogamous, it doesn’t matter.
Cooper: I mean it matters in the sense that, hey down the line, it’ll probably cause you a little trouble.
Shira: Well, it matters to people’s self-identity to some extent, you know. People might…there’s bisexual people who are monogamous who still want their queer identity to be acknowledged.
Ginger: Agreed, Shira, I think what I’m hearing Coop say is that you’re still gonna have those urges and therefore the behavior aspect is the tricky part. So, I mean I agree with what you’re saying that there are people that are bisexual that are in monogamous relationships with one partner and still want to have that sexual part of their identity acknowledged. But the idea of acting on their urges creates issue if you’re going to maintain monogamy with that one person… whichever
Ginger: Yeah so I mean , it does lend itself to being problematic in the sense of, if you believe that you need to act on those urges to be sexually fulfilled, you have to pick and choose, what your priorities are. Is it your priority to be monogamous? Is your priority to that one partner? And it goes to that place then of that… I guess I can speak from my own personal experience, is that’s where Prof and I came out of our discussions around why we’re open… and why we started to be open, because we had conversations about me being bisexual and me coming into that reality and then opening ourselves up in that way, because he wanted that for me and I wanted that, and then going to that next step of well “Why would we do that with women and then exclude men”. That just seems very arbitrary and almost bizarre. At least in our world it felt that way. .. to limit ourselves. So then we took that next step of acknowledging that that was just a very… to just choose, you know, a gender construct for who you can be intimate with and who you can’t. Or who you open yourself up to a loving relationship with or you don’t, just didn’t seem to make sense for us.
Cooper: Well, I do think that’s a lot of the reason why even progressive people often attack bisexuality so far as claiming it doesn’t exist: because it exposes the fundamental flaw in monogamy. By acknowledging bisexuals it invalidates the concept of monogamy a little bit.
Shira: Are you sure?
Cooper: I think so.
Dylan: I had a pretty intense discussion last night about this actually. I said something a little surprising.
Cooper: Dylan is often surprised by things he says. It’s a wonderful moment to watch, in fact.
Ginger: I love that.
Cooper: When he says aha, almost as though he’s going to then say “And yes, Dylan is right when he says this”.
Dylan: What I actually said was, I’m offended that this couple’s getting engaged to get married. And it was kind of… I said I was offended that this couple was getting engaged because the woman was bisexual. And I didn’t mean it as an indictment of all bisexuals that she was being monogamous or monogamy. I followed it up pretty quickly with, “I don’t have a problem with people that are monogamous but this is somebody that’s been an acknowledged bisexual and a happy non-monogamous person for awhile that ended up in a relationship with someone that was monogamous. And while that man didn’t go up to her and say you can never, ever, ever explore your bisexuality again or your non-monogamy again, it’s implied because he doesn’t approve of these things when they’ve had discussions that she’s never going to able to do that again. And so she gave up her bisexuality and her non-monogamy in order to be with this person, which was offensive to me. That even though she’s making a decision, a life decision, a big decision that she’s happy with. It’s that instead of standing and defending who she’s already acknowledged to be as this bisexual woman and this non-monogamous woman and saying “I love you and I want to be with you, but you’re going to have to love me for who I am.” She decided to shut those parts of herself off, in order to be with this person. And so I don’t think monogamy and bisexuality are necessarily polar opposites of each other, but I do think that you do have to prioritize one or the other once you decide that you’re both bisexual and monogamous. Do I prioritize my expression of bisexuality more than my expression of monogamy with the one person that I choose whether it’s male or female?
Cooper: It is shutting off the same way getting married is theoretically shutting off the possibility of ever being with someone else. So that I completely agree and that’s why I say it invalidates it, is because yes you can identify as bisexual, but if you never act on it for the rest of your life aren’t you by rote. I mean it’s sort of like common law marriage at that point.
Dylan: It depends on how you’re defining sexuality though. Is it how you express the way you feel or how you actually feel? Because if you define it as you express how you feel then I guess it doesn’t really invalidate it. If it’s how you actually feel, how you’re attracted to people, whether you can actually ever fall in love with them, it does.
Cooper: We’ll be right back with Life on the Swingset the Podcast.
Kasidie promo, Smitten Kitten promo.
Ginger: Well I think that… it’s important… you do have to acknowledge that the way somebody identifies, sexual orientation is different from the sexual behavior. Because, like we’ve talked about in past podcasts, I mean how people behave and how they identify are often not congruent. And so you have to acknowledge like someone who chooses to be celibate, still has a sexuality. Someone who chooses, or someone who has chosen to… you know, someone who’s a virgin, I mean they still have sexuality. And it still…
Ginger: …manifests within them through fantasy life or, or however they choose in solo sex. But there is something to be said for, making a very distinct and we could broaden this to just choosing to be monogamous.
Cooper: Oh absolutely.
Ginger: When you’re choosing to be monogamous, however you’re choosing that, whatever your sexual orientation, that’s a pretty heavy duty decision. And I would argue that there are few people who truly, completely, totally wrap their mind around that before they take a vow of monogamy, whether it’s within marriage or whatever else. I mean it’s big.
Cooper: Cuz it’s just sort of accepted that’s endgame.
Cooper: That why they don’t think about it. It’s that you’re going to date, and date, and date, and date until you find the one you’re gonna be with and then you’re done dating. And that’s it.
Shira: One point I want to put out there. I think that there are monogamous people that do it by choice and people who are monogamous, they… that have really thought about the decision… I mean I just want to contend with the thought that you know … everyone is defaulting and that everyone is, you know, kind of pushing aside their sexuality when they make these choices. Because there’s a Tim … you guys know who Tim Minchin is?
Shira: He’s a singer and he’s wonderful. He’s just brilliant. He’s a brilliant man. But one of my favorite quotes about him is him dismissing soulmates. He says that the idea of that kind of mysticism is not as beautiful as the idea of choice. And when it comes to that with monogamy, even, especially for bisexual people, you know you’re making a beautiful choice to be with this one person forever and that you’ve chosen to forgo all these other things. And you’ve chosen, and in his point of view, you know you’re not soulmates. There are other options out there. You know, you’ve chosen to try to make it work with this person and it’s kind of beautiful.
Cooper: I completely agree with that. I’m not saying people don’t make a choice. I’m saying that people often don’t think about alternative. They are choosing to be with that person for the rest of their life, whether or not they actually will be…
Cooper: But what I’m saying is maybe they’re making that choice without ever even considering an alternative that isn’t just dating people for the rest of their life. I know I never considered anything but endgame equals marriage monogamy.
Shira: And that makes me sad. But just to say that I want to stick up for the bisexual people out there who are making a choice. And to say that their sexuality is moot, I think sucks.
Dylan: Okay and I wanna parse just for myself for a second. When I said I was offended by her choice, it was specifically because the man in that relationship did not really accept her being non-monogamous in the past or her being bisexual. But that he accepted and loved her for being the monogamous straight girl she ended up being with him. When you talk about a bisexual person making that beautiful choice to be with one person for the rest of their lives, that, that is, a beautiful thing. It’s not sacrificing one thing for another. It’s just them saying I just wanna spend my love and energy and affection with you because I love you that way, and I don’t think I will end up loving anyone else. I get that. And so I didn’t mean to imply that bisexuality always means, you know, you’re cutting half of yourself off if you decide to be with one person.
Shira: It’s a funny topic, right? Especially as a bisexual female and bisexual females in the queer community have a notoriously difficult time…
Dylan: So I’ve heard.
Shira: …because we get a particularly bad rap from the lesbian side of things, and a particularly over-sexualized rap from the straight male side of things. So it’s hard to find a place. A lot of the lesbian culture has a hard time dealing with bisexual girls because, you know, there’s the thought that we can’t be monogamous. And they’re out there. And they’re out there making the choice to do so. So you gotta stick up for them.
Prof: I’m a guest. May I speak. (Ginger laughs)
Cooper: You’re not the guest, you’re on the panel.
Dylan: You are the Professor. You can do anything.
Prof: Well, let me just… It’s very interesting to listen to how we start a conversation around the idea of non-monogamy and how we got into it. We so quickly go into a conversation around identity.
Cooper: Um, hm.
Prof: And I think it’s reflecting on, it really does question ones identity. And we, being the experienced poly-swingers that we are, still continue to talk about our identity as being such a key aspect of our experience. And, I just wanna kind of bring this back to at, least in my mind, one of the open questions which is, as we as individuals start to question our identity and we’re in a monogamous relationship, but we’re not sure we want to be in the future, how do we create those conversations with partners and do that in a very healthy way. What have you guys done?
Cooper: Well that is the most important question because when you don’t have that conversation with your partner you’re just the cheating partner. And that’s how a lot of the United States and the world experiences non-monogamy. Is by cheating on their partner.
Prof: And it’s more culturally accepted…
Cooper: Which I find fascinating.
Ginger: Oh, that makes my head hurt.
Dylan: Actually Ashley Madison… Newt Gingrich
Shira: I have a partner who I discussed non-monogamy with before I cheated on him.
Cooper: So I see you gave him the opportunity to take the right pill… and he chose the other one.
Shira: Yes, so the thing was, he said that he wasn’t into the idea whatsoever. And when I discussed it with him again he said “ You know if non-monogamy or at the time polyamory… I just would not want to know. You know I don’t want it to happen. Don’t ever do this. But if it ever did happen, I would never want to know about it.”
Cooper: That’s like tacit approval.
Shira: I guess so…
Ginger: That’s so interesting.
Cooper: So he would just be resigning to spending the rest of his life wondering if you’re cheating on him, and self-loathing because of it. Sounds like a wonderful plan on his part.
Prof: Shira, when it came back to having… I presume at some point you disclosed that you cheated on him.
Shira: I ended the relationship after having done so.
Prof: So you never went back and told him that you cheated on him?
Shira: Hmm, no, but I should say that this is one of the smartest, wisest, sweetest people I’ve ever met in my entire life. Wonderful person, but I never had the discussion because it was just too much for me. I felt terrible. I felt horrible.
Prof: Sure, sure. It would be interesting to see what his reaction was after having had some of those pre-conversations. Not you were right to do it or he was wrong to say no.
Shira: Oh yeah it’s really funny because I still have a standing relationship with this person today and you know having it been the case that he told me that he would never want to know, I still have never, all these years later said a goddamn thing to him about it.
Cooper: Well, you’re respecting his wishes.
Shira: Precisely. He set the boundaries in that situation.
Cooper: And I think a lot of our listeners have heard me talk about how Marilyn and I just held it in, both of our desires to be with other people until it almost self-destructed our marriage. And then when both of us came out with the fact that this is really the only thing we don’t like about our marriage is the lack of sexual experience due to getting married very young and with very little in the way of partners. We quickly determined well there is another thing we could do about that besides breaking up. And then it led to actual legitimate discussion about what it would mean to be non-monogamous in our relationship.
Shira: And that’s interesting for me to think about, because when you guys came against this option you all chose swinging as being the answer. Did you know about other options like polyamory or was this something that everyone thoroughly weighed and said this is what we want. We want a sex-based relationship with other people.
Cooper: We were not actively aware of polyamory but we were having a great… we have a great loving relationship, so we were looking to fill a very specific hole in our relationship. And that was sex.
Dylan: I had no idea what even swinging, current swinging was. And so we gravitated toward “Hey let’s go get an erotic massage together and see what happens.” So no
even when we did find out about swinging, polyamory wasn’t even in our world view because we hadn’t even heard the term. Who knows maybe if Cooper and Marilyn had introduced us to polyamory first maybe we’d have our own little web of interesting relationships right now. I don’t know.
Shira: And that’s a really interesting viewpoint on polyamory and swinging to me. Because I think that most poly people go into polyamory aware of swinging. I’m not sure that most poly… oh I’m sorry…that most swingers go into their relationships aware of polyamory.
Cooper: I would say you’re definitely right on that.
Ginger: I would agree with that too. And I’d be interested to hear what Prof has to say about that too because that is one thing that, when we were in our first relationship as three… it was very poly-like. But we had no language for what we wanted and we often talk regularly it happens all the time still about … not really what if… we’re not really what if types, but we think, gosh, if we had our acts together, and knew what we wanted. We knew we wanted what we wanted and had language to put it out there to her if she would have been open to it… and if she would’ve been up for that. And we just didn’t have language. So Shira, I totally hear what you’re saying
Ginger: because we felt it as a phenomenon like living it as the relationship we had with her, but we didn’t know you could do. It’s kind of like we didn’t know you could do that. We didn’t learn. You know you look online and you find the local swing club or whatever and you’re like, “Oh, well people do that. Sure.” But the idea of…
Cooper: There’s no club where people get together and love each other a lot.
Ginger: Well not where we are anyway, but certainly…
Cooper: Maybe in San Francisco.
Ginger: Right the phenomenon is just, it’s just …more out there.
Prof: It’s a more distinct scratch to itch when you’re talking about changing your relationship, and you’re thinking about physical? You know kind of opening yourself up physically to other folks as opposed to opening yourself up emotionally.
Prof: And I would say that Ginger’s characterization is very accurate in the sense that we were really looking for a physical and it became emotional and we enjoyed it and embraced, and didn’t really have a sense for what it was until after it was over. But from a how do you get started standpoint… um… the concept of opening yourself up both physically and emotionally would have been very intimidating given our life and family circumstance.
Shira: What do you mean ‘life and family circumstance’?
Prof: Well I think that we have our lives. And so when you think of how that life is going to change when you’re talking about being non-monogamous. So talking about kind of the moment where you’re with your partner thinking OK what do we really want. One thing we didn’t want was to bring a whole slew of folks in, or bring anybody else into that life and family circumstance. That this would be something that would be physical and would be separate.
Cooper: Sort of external.
Prof: But… external, right. So I’m just trying to get at this topic of why might folks think more about swinging vs poly, not that one is better than the other.
Shira: Well, there’s media exposure issues.
Cooper: One of the reasons… ‘cuz early on I read “The Ethical Slut” and “Opening Up” within the first month of being swingers.
Cooper: And you know what? Opening Up’s polyamory stuff? Bizarre and terrifying.
Cooper: I totally got the “It doesn’t have to be a deal breaker if we fall in love. I didn’t get, when you got to the chapter about raising children and living… It all seemed so different from our lives. And I think that’s what it is because there has been really no media exposure to a loving group relationship at all.
Shira: We’re getting there.
Dylan: You can be successful swingers and still maintain plausibility deniability or maintain a public strait-laced face where…
Cooper: It’s harder to do as a polyamorous person.
Dylan: It is because you’re making not just a lifestyle decision you’re kind of changing your public face too. I guess you can be a closeted polyamorous person, I’m not saying they aren’t out there but to me it would be a little harder. You’re putting yourself out there more publicly, and trying to date more. And the thing is dates in general are one-on-one, or are assumed to be. It’s easy for me to take somebody out and have it look like a date, than it is for —- Especially in a group of friends, let’s say a friend invites me out to do something, do I take my wife or do I take this person that I’m seeing? At least if it’s swingers I can say hey by the way we have a couple of friends that would like to come along, that looks completely normal. But to say, by the way, there’s this friend of mine that also wants to come along. It’s perceived a little bit differently.
Cooper: In fact that was a conversation we were having back before… The girl that led to the breakup show was the closest we were becoming to polyamory. And that was a discussion we had a lot of… she’s a single girl. Do we bring her to Thanksgiving? If we develop a polyamorous relationship… then… it almost by definition encourages you to be out with your family.
Dylan: You wanna honor that relationship.
Cooper: Because otherwise it does feel like “OK I’m gonna do the important things with my wife and when nobody’s looking and the curtain’s drawn, I’ll be romantic with you sometimes.” And that was a big concern, ‘cuz you don’t wanna do that. You don’t want that person to feel like they’re an accessory, obviously. But it just sort of almost pulls itself in that direction. And that’s why polyamory just seems a lot more complicated.
Shira: It is a lot more complicated. And I want to backpedal for a moment, and just say that I think that Tristan Taormino’s book is amazing and did really good things for the community. But generally a lot of the information out there about polyamory can be a little bit scary, I guess for just the general public. When they receive information about polyamory usually it’s like, “Here’s all the things that could possibly go wrong. Be careful. Good luck.” And I don’t think Tristan Taormino’s book was necessarily like that but I have heard a lot of feedback when people hear about polyamory like “Oh my god that’s too much. There’s too many problems.” And so I do try to approach, you know, teaching polyamory to people… teaching people about polyamory from a point of view that’s it’s just like, hey this is kinda normal and it can be whatever the fuck it is, you want it to be. And in my mind all four of you to varying degrees are polyamorous. Just like every single person I know out there in the actual polyamory community are just varying degrees of polyamorous.
Dylan: You’re a swinger though.
Cooper: No, no he said you’re a swinger, and then gave you the raspberry. So if…
Shira: There ya go, that’s fine. But no I mean it. So I can understand where polyamory would feel overwhelming. Because the information out there is really scary.
Ginger: It’s interesting you say that Shira, because for me when I read that… read about… in whether it’s Tristan’s book or Ethical Slut or any other… anything out there I read. I think to myself… I don’t know maybe I gloss over what other people find scary, but I thinks it sounds amazing.
Shira: Oh yeah…
Ginger: And, and, and for me I think about the practicalities and yes complex, but I think about that and you know Prof and I have talked about this before… well and regularly again. It seems to be a theme that continues to come out, that feeling of… feeling comfortable and… expectant’s not the right word… feeling comfortable and open to if that person or people come into our lives in a way that allows for a closer connection, whether it’s living together or regularly vacationing together. I don’t know what that would look like but in terms of coming home to… I don’t know… someone cooking dinner or cuddling during a movie with everybody or… you know we certainly have a set of dear friends that we have known for years and years that when we were together last time she said, this feels like, she actually said the word, this feels like such a relationship. Which was such a revelation for them to say that it did feel like and it felt awesome and it made me kind of crave that being able to be with them in a way that is comfortable, just beyond dating them. And so I hear what everybody’s saying about the scariness, the complexity, and the fact that it’s, you know, exponential when you have to start communicating with people on such a level. But when you go to just the feelings of it and the emotion it’s pretty awesome! I mean it pretty awesome.
Shira: This is why you’re an A+ pedestrian.You win but the gist of the matter is like Gavin just recently came out to his family and when we were talking about it with one of our family members, on his side of the family, they said… we were just talking about it and I said “Well it’s a lot more about the relationships and not just sex”. And immediately they said “Oh god I’d be more comfortable if it was just about the sex because at least then it would just be that and over. And we don’t have to deal with it after that”. I went “Huh, yeah, I guess that’s true.” But polyamory’s kinda beautiful. And it’s all because it does allow for the other options like you were saying Ginger.
Shira: It’s bigger. And then you can do fun economic things in your life. And think about like multiple incomes and who gets to be home with children. Ahh. It gets very exciting when you go into utopia land.
Dylan: I think that the possibility of having six to eight people living under the same roof and then only one parent has to stay with all the kids is pretty cool.
Shira: Isn’t it? Imagine what you could do.
Cooper: I’m just imagining that poor parent stuck home with all the kids.
Cooper: I mean that’s like a daycare at home.
Shira: Well, I don’t think we necessarily have to breed like the fucking Brown family, right?
Cooper: I assume six people… I assume each of them are having kids of their own and probably…
Shira: I don’t think so.
Cooper: No? Are certain people not allowed to breed then?
Shira: I just don’t think that many…
Cooper: … crossover kids and
Shira: If you look at the demographics of people that are polyamorous, these are people who are highly educated and that have… I know this sounds terribly haughty. Hold on. Let me get through it.
Ginger: Actually it goes across the board for anyone who’s ethically non-monogamous and the iteration, it’s totally true, and bears it out.
Shira: People who are better educated breed less. And so I don’t think there’s going to be as many children out there in the sort of little poly… poly households necessarily as you’d see in the polygamous household, like the Brown family.
Cooper: I totally was not going to the polygamous household. But I was just pointing out, you have two children, and let’s say another couple you get in there two children and the other couple you get in there have two children, that’s not crazy breeding… that’s six kids.
Shira: Well sure six kids, that’s normal. We’re still talking one to one ratio.
Cooper: I think we’re way off the Swinging for Dummies topic.
Shira: You’re probably right and I apologize. I love you all.
Cooper: I wanted to point out that one of the things Ginger says I never said polyamory is scary, I saw it as complicated and advanced. And it did not look like something we could jump into. It looked like something that could develop over time. So we were both very open to the idea of maybe this might develop. But we were not saying okay so, we’re going to do this whole thing, so let’s go start dating people. Because that looks like a recipe for failure because…you are… It’s like you know how to be intimate and have a relationship with one person at that point in your life. Let’s assume monogamy. Going ahead and adding, probably not one more person, but two more people if you’re both going to have relationships or possibly more, right out of the gate, seems very difficult. Swinging seemed easy because at the end of the day, they go home.
Shira: Yeah here’s where I’m gonna voice a non-poly opinion in that I think you’re very right in this. I feel like a lot of people who are polyamorous initially do so because feel like they’re getting away with some sort of ethical feat. Because they’re having actual relationships. But it is a lot more complicated. And maybe just having outside sex first would be simpler and maybe you’d have a higher degree of success at some point. I don’t know. I have to put some thought into that.
Cooper: Well, on that note, I think we’re going to wrap up this week’s episode.
Shira: Now that Shira said I’m right. It’s all over folks.
Cooper: You know how I play it. And since we got through Starting the Conversation in our first 50 odd minute episode of Swinging for Dummies. I promise things will move a little quicker once we get to you know, swinging.
Dylan: Well, in all fairness, discovering who you are, acknowledging it, and deciding what to do with that new found realization is pretty instrumental in doing anything else.
Ginger: Here, here.
Dylan: You need to be comfortable and accepting of yourself.
Cooper: Even before you bring it to your partner. So I mean a lot of what we’ve talked about tonight is the internal realization for yourself, that we so often even fight against ourselves with. And so once you get to there, well then the only thing left to do, the last litmus test is bringing it to your partner and seeing what they say. And so we’ll talk a little bit more about that next week.
Outro: So you can like us on Facebook at facebook.com/theswingset. You can follow us on Twitter @CooperSBeckett, @GingerandtheProf. And both of them follow that Twitter. See it’s convenient, it’s two for the price of one. @shirabkatz, @dylanthethomas.
You can email us at email@example.com. You can give us a call at 57355swing, that’s 5735579464.
Thank you guys for starting this conversation here tonight.
Dylan: You’re welcome.
Cooper: And thank you listeners for swinging by.