We Were All Newbies Once


“So…” we ask in as roundabout a way as we can, realizing that this question will change the direction of the conversation, which thus far has been about things that most people talk about, and by most people, we mean vanillas. And we straddle two worlds, the vanilla world that would be shocked at what we’re here to do and the world beyond, the world of openness, of non-monogamy, of swinging. “How does this work?”

We asked it on our first date.

Well, I did. Marilyn was far less talkative back then.

And since that first date we’ve been on dates with three newbie couples, just dipping their toes in, just seeing how the water feels over here, unsure if they’re ready to buy some white rocks for the front yard, all asking that same question. Because we like plans, don’t we? This is what separates our experimentation with that of the wild college years that are sort of a hazy testing ground for the new and different, where it’s perfectly societally acceptable these days for girls to have trysts with their female roommates when drunk/high/otherwise out of their gourds.

How does this work?

And what we really wanted to know is: DOES this work? Can you look us in the eye right now and actually confirm to us that you’re happy, that you enjoy this thoroughly, that swinging is a boon for your relationship, a positive addition to your lives. How does this work is also a question that asks, is this ok? Because it’s a process question, we want to know the process of swinging, what happens now, what happens next, when do we kiss, get naked, start fucking. We want to know all of that, but we also want to know how on Earth this wild thing that spits in the face of 2000 of marital tradition WORKS. How could it possibly?

So it’s with a certain bit of desperation that we ask that question, “How does this work?”

Because I think we want so desperately for it to work. We have this idea in our heads that’s pushing out the fears of jealousy and finding another lover, the idea of real happy swinging with all the supposed perks, the communication boost, the redirection of wanderlust. Some of us just want to do it like rockstars.

But the answer to “How does this work?” is quite different for everybody. For some, this date stage is skipped entirely, and even the newbies walk into a sex club and get right down to business, sometimes with nary a name exchanged, just a thanks afterwards, perhaps a pat on the ass and a fare-thee-well. For others, the discussion process is almost interminable, endlessly running scenarios and plotting next moves the way a grand master plays chess.

For us, the best path has always been fairly middle of the road between those. We won’t jump into bed without names or chat, but we won’t make them fill out a complete sexual history either. For Marilyn and I, how this works, especially at the beginning, was letting fantasy guide us.

We’d met our first couple, asked them how it worked, and they told us how it worked for them. In the week between our first date and our (far more adventurous…with the soft swapping) second we fantasized together, which is something we never really did before that. Asking each other, while in the throes of ecstasy, what we wanted to do, what we wanted to see, how we wanted to act, where we wanted to go, and how we wanted them to fit in with our lives.

This prep work helped ensure that the jealousy monster could be held down at least, maybe with tape over his mouth. So when we did get together with them the next time, we were able to (giggly perhaps) articulate where we might want things to go, or at least were far more willing to be led.

Now, how this works is always left up to our friends.

We’ve gotten to a point in this lifestyle where there’s really very little that makes us uncomfortable or take pause. After all, we’re cool with same rooms or separate rooms, full swap or soft swap, girl/girl, guy/guy, all in the bed in a pile. Nothing bothers us, and we’re willing to try pretty much everything once…or twice in case we got it wrong the first time. So because of that, it’s a very easy for us to cede the lead to the newbies, of course perfectly willing to push them a bit on their way as well, but we let them dictate the level of play, knowing full well that we’ll be able to have enough control to redirect if anyone seems uncomfortable.

Our new friends we met Monday are just beginning their journey, it’s just a twinkle in their eye right now, a fantasy in their sex life. So, “How does this work?”  Well, we shall see.

Or, put another way:

“How does this work?” “It works GREAT!”

How about you? Does this question come up on dates? What’s your answer?


About Author

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.


  1. Well said, Cooper. That is the beauty of the Lifestyle is that we can reject the mainstream notions of relationships and negotiate and renegotiate as we have experiences. Newbies should indeed ask questions of the more experienced swinger set [ahem], but then use everything they learn as points of discussion for how THEY feel about it and what works for THEM. Freedom from cultural shackles is a beautiful thing.

  2. We started out in the late 70’s not knowing how to start. We weren’t a disco couple. I started it off by asking my wife if she thought she would like to have sex with a mutual friend we both used to work with and after a while she said she thought she might like to do that. Not long after that she had noticed the husband of her cousin who had a particularly large bulge in his pants so she made arrangements to do him too. Once she had conquered both of these mounts expanding into a threesome seemed only natural. Until then I had never seen her “in action”, but I couldn’t wait to. I have to say that the first time I watched another man penetrate my wife was the high light of my life. She never let our friend wear a rubber. I still get an erection thinking about it. Since those early days we have had only a few threesomes and foursomes. But the experiences have only made us closer. We haven’t done anything in a very long time because she isn’t in to it any more, but I sure wish she was. For being in her mid-50’s, she still looks really good. For my part I was fairly well endowned and loved to eat pussy. Still therre was nothing as good as watching my wife get totally sweaty having her lights fucked out. Our experiences were very limited as swinging goes, maybe only once or twice every year, but the quality of the sex was outstanding.

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