The Information Exchange

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Perhaps I'm a bit paranoid, but I never know when it's a good time to have “the information exchange.”

Tonight, at the bar we frequent that is, shall we say, Lifestyle friendly, I had a conversation with a good friend of ours about the information exchange.  This can be at any number of points in the “getting to know you” relationship as a swinger, and some people may NEVER do the information exchange.

As Marilyn and I are primarily seeking friends with benefits, we will often exchange phone numbers, share last names, spend time at each other's houses.  It's a hard thing to do, though, to be the first to ask for the number or the first to offer since we are partaking in what many might be slightly embarrassed.  The number of closeted swingers really speaks for itself in fact.

So when I meet a new couple at the bar, the first piece of information I ask for from them is their website username (as we all come from a group on a certain lifestyle website that has banners all over this website, including one a few paragraphs down…::WINK::) and even this always comes with an attached: “If you don't mind us looking you up…”

It may be me, of course, as I've still got any number of lingering high school popularity and “cool-ness” psychoses coursing through my brain at any given moment; but to avoid the chance of later awkwardness, I try to give everybody an out if they need it.  Rarely does anyone take it (thankfully) but it's there if they need it.

So what follows is often several emails back and forth, the unveiling of the private photos, the fingers crossed panic when they haven't responded back when you can SEE VERY CLEARLY THAT THEY'VE READ YOUR EMAIL!!!   (Deep breath…be smooth Cooper)  And this will lead, if we're lucky, to the “let's meet somewhere other than that wacky bar that knows we're swingers and doesn't say anything even though the waitress has seen fisting in the VIP room…” (Oh yes.)  Then one of you has to ask for the phone number.

Phone numbers aren't as hard anymore, unless your phone leads to a voice mail that's clearly identifiable (as mine did most of last year before that business went bankrupt, thank you very much, economy!) and even then, you can usually give out one of your two connections.  (We actually chose plan B entirely, which involved getting a Google Voice number with the word SWING in it so when I tell it to people they think I'm giving them a fake number until I implore them to call me…then I get mucho swinger points!)

It's beyond the phone number that gets into the gray area.  Addresses, last names.  For many this isn't a problem as they might wind up at a hotel or at a club, and good for them if that's their groove.  But for us, having had a creepy drunk texter last year, we get cautious and ask to EXCHANGE info rather than volunteer it.   Even if their coming to our place, we ask for their addresses for our books.  Of course they could be lying, but you can't go through your entire life believing that other people are lying.  (You can just quietly suspect it.)

I'm pleased to say we have not been burned.  (Knocks wood, tosses salt)  And I've gotten more free about The Information Exchange.  But the moment when you first ask for a number, I completely understand that moment's hesitation, that teensy bit of fear.  Because this isn't just a bar pickup for us.  We live in the (relative) sexual underground.  We're deviants and perverts. (I'm told.)  Certainly not normal people indulging our wanderlust.  No sirre.

But I think there's a lot of validity to the fear of exposure.  Especially for some.  Teachers, doctors, lawyers (well, maybe not the lawyers) but they all have a lot that could go south should their secret get out.  So if you're ever not comfortable sharing and participating in the information exchange, say so, and say why that is, and offer an alternative contact solution.  (Like a Google Voice number with the word SWING in it!)

How do you all deal with the information exchange?  Or is this just another case of Cooper making a big deal out of nothing?  Let us know in the comments!

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About Author

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About Cooper Cooper S. Beckett is the co-founder and host of Life on the Swingset: The Podcast since 2010, author of swinging & polyamory novels A Life Less Monogamous and Approaching The Swingularity, and memoir My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging & Polyamory. He teaches and speaks on swinging, polyamory, pegging, play parties, and coloring outside the boundaries of your sexuality. 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 two instructional non-fiction books, one about beginning non-monogamy, and another about pegging.

3 Comments

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    I never really gave this much thought, Cooper. I think maybe your last observation might be true.

    We use our profile email as a point of first contact. If I'm setting up a date, I give out my number out. Obviously, we give out our address when people are coming over. Thats about the extent of it.

    I think we do our screening on the front end, we've long decided whether its safe to engage with someone before setting up a date… If anything, the nervous part, the part where you put yourself out there, the part where you're vulnerable, is when you're asking for a date. After that, the contact info just becomes part of the process.

    One thing we don't do is go out of our way to collect last names. If they become friends, we'll learn their names eventually… but I rarely found it to be a pressing concern.

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    I think information exchange is definitely a topic – I don't use my Real Name because it is Very Very unusual and I am in a position that means I need to stay "closeted". We do generally share my real name upon meeting people but it is unusual enough that many still use my pseudonym after we meet – it's easier to pronounce! *smile* We have recently gotten a Google voice number as well… although I am generally ok with giving my personal cell number out. How much info that you share is another one of those conversations that people should have with their partner.

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