Having Great Goddamned Expectations


A First DateIt seems to me that there’s a sort of swinger equilibrium that can be achieved after a few years that I am only just now beginning to understand; that of managing expectations, and being able to say the words “No Expectations” to potential play partners. For a long time this has been a struggle for me. I’ve found myself with intense desires revolving around potential playmates that lead to high level disappointment when these relationships don’t progress, or turn out to be one nighters, or simply don’t have the same level of involvement (emotional or physical) as Marilyn and I are offering.

It can become especially true when I feel a strong intellectual connection at our first meeting. When we’ve had a good talk, when we’ve flirted, when I think it’s going really well only to find…well, Coop, may have misunderstood that one… Because rather than assume that the issue is something on their end that caused the dynamic change, I’ve usually turned it inward into a “What did we do wrong?” spiral. And even as I’ve done this, I can see it’s most definitely not the healthy way to go.

Case in point. We met some newbies at our local swinger friendly bar on swinger nite. We had a couple of drinks and some good conversation, established baseline mutual interests, and there was a reasonable assumption of four way attraction, judging by the way they both looked at Marilyn and the tongue she kept pushing down my throat. As we call it a night, they insist that we’ll have to get together soon, mentioning reconnecting multiple times. So we go home, and, high on the excitement of potential, drop them a line on the swing site we all use…


Email read, no response. So we go over it all in our heads, looking for the fissure, the thing that changed everything, and this was one of those cases that we couldn’t pinpoint anything we could’ve done to take it from “we DEFINITELY have to get together…kiss me!” to no response. Friends, after hearing about the situation said we should chalk it up to newbies being newbies. They are, after all, notorious for flaking out/changing minds/being incosiderate (did I mention I like newbies?). But the advice was just don’t let it get to us.

And our friends were right…let it go…not us…etc.

But we’d seen so much potential in that interaction. We were close in age, both had no kids, looking for the same things out of the lifestyle: Friends With Benefits, and they’d obviously been into us in the moment. So it was a bummer to say the very least when we finally did hear from them with a “we’re new and didn’t know how to respond to you guys being interested in us. I don’t think we’re looking to date right now…”

So, why tell you this story?

Because we could’ve just as easily not obsessed with any of it. Stuck with the “No Expectations” mantra. And I say just as easily when this idea is anything but easy. Especially at the beginning. We still have the rejection equals bad mentality of the general dating scene where we search for a mate. As a swinger, rejection is part of life, part of the game. Show me a swinger who doesn’t get rejected and I’ll point out that you have nothing in your hands but a figment of your own imagination. That’s what the “No Expectations” realization is all about. Looking at every potential meeting as “cool people that we met one time” instead of “really bitchin’ people we want to be best friends with and fuck for the rest of our lives.”

This was about six months ago now, and in the interim, I’ve been working hard to find that “No Expectations” paradigm. It’s elusive, to be sure, but when we make plans now, we don’t assume sex any longer. The best no expectations suggestion that I’ve heard is when going out on a first date with other swingers, all you should expect is a great dinner-date with your significant other. That way, even a full fledged flake out and stand up can’t muck up your evening. If they show up and you don’t click, you got to meet new people. If you click, new friends. If you click and play, you had a great night together.

This way, if you manage to make that elusive four way connection and take it all the way to swingtown with multiple dates and a (dare I say the R word) relationship, it’ll be the ice cream on top of that brownie sundae. (I don’t usually use food metaphors…guess I just want dessert.)

This is, of course, far easier said than done. And seems to be a skill set that shows up after the couple has spent some time in the lifestyle. I think that this is due to some of the “wait, you mean we can really fuck other people?” novelty wearing off. Once you’ve really for real come to terms with this lifestyle, what it is, and the wonders it affords you, you’ll find it opens itself up to you in MANY strange and interesting ways; from the ability to dramatically lower expectations (with the goal of eliminating them almost entirely) to the ability to partake in more advanced swing-play, like separate rooms and even solo dates.

It seems to be an overall mellowing mindset that settles in between one and five years as a swinger, allowing you to push your boundaries, explore your kinks and fetishes, stomp jealousy down into an ever smaller container, and all but eliminate expectations. Because once we do that, EVERYTHING is simply about having fun.


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. Last week we got flaked but we arrived with the idea of having the night for us no matter what and boy what a great night we had just the two of us… But for some reason we did not have any expectations. Too bad for the flakes 😉

  2. This hits home for us. The obsession of that certain something that might happen took both my husband and I over the top several times, until we both came to the same conclusion….NO EXPECTATIONS…now we arrive at parties/gatherings in hopes of making our own erotic night together, to be honest isn't this why we are in this lifestyle. The relationship can be found and has been very rewarding, I encourage anyone to explore this option.

  3. There is a club we attend off and on. We both like it. It is slick well run, CLEAN, safe and from time to time extremely sexy. Something that a lot of first timers and ‘newbies’ to the club seem to expect is wall to wall sex when they walk in the door. Or they expect that a couple or (even more unlikely) a single woman meeting their requirements is going to be there waiting for them.  Consequently a lot of people are a little dissapointed.
    Whenever we visit this place it is with the idea that we are going out for a drink, a dance maybe, and to meet some nice people the same as we would at any other bar. We NEVER expect to meet someone. Consequently we have had some great nights there.
    Something that people seem to forget is that this lifestyle is not about finding your life partner, you have already done that. So if the people you meet up with turn out to be flakes, weirdos or they don’t come through does int matter? You have the person you love with you right now. Anything else is just a bonus.

  4. We’re pretty new to the scene, and are still figuring ourselves and our reactions out. At least I am, since I am the analytical one in the relationship. I’m having a hard time with expectations on dating sites, and the high non-response rate we’ve encountered. I know they’ve read our message (Kasidie tells us this), so why do they not respond at all? I don’t seem to have this problem when we have attended clubs. Maybe this speaks to Cooper’s point about being able to accept anything fun as a positive result. At a club, we can always play with each other and have a very high likelihood of at least watching something interesting. It’s hard to think what we can get out of sending messages, and waiting.

    • I feel your pain, Bill. This just happens to be the way of the world with the dating sites. You need to send a lot of messages with not a lot of responses. The best suggestion I can give you is try to make your messages stand out from the “noise” as much as possible and you’ll be far more likely to get a response. If you can find your way into a group, or a meet and greet, this is probably a better way to go.

      • Thanks, Cooper. I’m feeling OK with things, especially since we had a nice experience over the weekend arranged through Kasidie 🙂 and just yesterday, after posting the complaint above, were propositioned by a couple 15 years younger than us. So, I’m not too down due to non-responses, and just want to figure out how to do things better.

  5. Thanks, Cooper. I would be remiss in not mentioning that we did have a successful encounter 🙂 this past weekend from a website connection, and a few hours after my post we received an unsolicited invitation from a much younger couple. So, this is definitely not hopeless, and I’m willing to accept some non-responses while trying to figure out how we can improve our system.

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