Swingers 2: Polyamory Drift


Disappointment is a bitch.

But Cooper, you say, you just got through your expectations revelations I thought. Made you one with the stuff and everything, didn't it? All zeny… Well, my expectations issue was more to do with parties and meeting new people, had nothing to do with established relationships going south. And why I'm starting to think Marilyn's “no more newbies” request might be a pretty good idea.

More, however, I think we're drifting closer and closer to poly in the level of emotional involvement we have with some of our friends. So that when something dramatic changes, it's disappointing enough to unleash grumpy Cooper for an entire evening. And let's be clear NOBODY likes grumpy Cooper. So, I figure, if I'm looking at it as a relationship (and why not) I may as well analyze it as such. My disappointment comes from a change of status. Where we were planning to swap, now that's no longer seeming likely. Wouldn't be a big deal except we feel as though we've been led on. Sounds selfish, doesn't it? The more I look at it, the more I feel like the asshole whining because he gets to fuck one less pussy. But that's not it. We sorta feel like we were left out of the loop, led to believe all was well, that all cylinders were firing…then nothing. And it happened twice last week, almost the same situation with two different couples. I guess that's what really magnified the frustration as I tried to look back to examples in my early dating life of “we need to take things slower” and the like. It's usually grounded in fear and apprehension, so I can truly sympathize. But I'm afraid when both of these couples independently hit us with the same thing I didn't react in the calm cool Cooper mode you all know and love. I took out my frustrations, regurgitating to them the thing they just told me was the problem in a rough way: “you both need to figure out what you want and let us know.” They knew this, of course, and I was putting needless and unfair pressure on them to realize or decide, or…I dunno, peer pressure everybody else is doin' it.  Unfair, for sure. But made me realize that we'd reached another level in our growth. And that's the poly drift. Swinger couples are magnetically charged to either be attracted or repelled by the great magnet known as poly. We've been sliding perhaps more steadily than I'd noticed in the past towards an eventuality of a poly relationship. (or, relationshipS, thanks to the nature of the lifestyle.) What really needs to be kept in mind, though, is the fact that we may indeed be on different levels and have different needs than some of our other swinger friends, and because of that the ever important communication needs to flow like water. And we need to really see how every one of us are on our own journey, with our own timetable and destination. As swingers with multiple partners, unicorns and hall passes, and the inklings of love with certain special friends, we may well be further down that yellow brick road than others. And that's okay, because we have our own Hippocratic oath, to first do no harm. Whether our needs are met or not, we must support our friends in their needs. And down the line, perhaps, the needs will align and my the sex that will be had then could wake the dead. The relationship and emotion we can share will be truly something mind-blowing. If they don't, doesn't matter, because we still have very cool people in our lives. Which is what it's all about. That's sorta zen still, isn't it?


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. Hi Cooper, I have just a few random observations on your article.

    You have every right to avoid anyone who leads you on, whether experienced or newbie, swinger or poly. I personally dislike feeling like I've been the victim of a bait-n-switch, so I completely understand your position. If people are unsure what they want out of the lifestyle, they should probably step back and work out why they are dipping a toe in to begin with. Pulling out because of "cold feet" happens in regular dating, poly dating, and swinging, but it's never a good sign about the emotional health and maturity of those who jump back out of the pool. I've always maintained that even when a couple dips only the tip of a toe in, they must both be completely committed to being swingers (and all of the necessary legwork and preparation that entails).

    Just remember that patient, experienced couples are what newbies need most, to help them get the most out of a lifestyle that can seem very weird, intimidating, and even frightening to the uninitiated. You've been an invaluable resource for many who are interested in the perks that swinging can offer a well-grounded couple, and I would hate to see you divert your evangelical intentions because of a few uncertain inexperienced couples (who were, perhaps, encouraged to join the lifestyle by people very much like you).

    As for poly drift, I have high hopes for you and your wife. You have a lot of great tools at your disposal for dealing with the vagaries of polyamory, and a lot of friends who will support you as your relationships develop. The lines between poly and swinging are becoming more blurred each day, it seems, and as more people from our generation join the lifestyle and make it our own, the nature of swinging—what it brings to a couple, why people do it—may actually shift more toward polyamory, or at least a mixed subset of ethical nonmonogamy. Swinging as an institution is whatever its members need it to be, and that membership is slowly cycling into a younger demographic—with a different culture, a different view of relationships, and a different set of goals.

    Times, they be a-changin'. I'm eagerly looking forward to the future; it seems bright.

  2. Is that "no more newbies" as in no more new people that you haven't met before, or no more people who are new to non-monogamy? We've been avoiding those who aren't quite settled into non-monogamy for a while – much, nuch less chance of drama that way.

    As for the drift towards poly, we've experienced exactly that. Once we had a few dear friends who we were also intimate with, given a choice between sharing time with them, or on more casual encounters, we realised that the time spent (and the sex) in the relationships with a base of caring was much more important to us.

    • it’s giving people time to figure out what they want BEFORE swinging with them. I think it’s a better plan moving forward, while communicating with them to help them in their journey.

  3. I agree with Brian above — as more and more experienced couples shun the newbs, how do we expect the newbs to learn without any stable models to emulate? If two sets of newbs get together and have the same drama with each other, how do they ever learn that swinging isn't supposed to be like that?

    When we started out, we were shunned by those who saw that we only had a few weeks/months experience, hadn't been to many parties and didn't have a reputation. So we started fudging some numbers… combining our experience from long ago until now… and magically, we weren't shunned anymore.

    We'd love to find a couple or two that we click with as friends and lovers. The guys can drink beer and discuss guy-topics while the girls do girlie things… and then when the clothes come off it's all fun. Alas, that seems remote. But we keep hoping.

    • I agree with all that, and this isn’t an idea taken lightly. We’ve been with quite a few newbies, some have grown into full blown swingers, but most with potential just did their best to drag us down with them. Don’t forget, drama in one couple’s lives can EASILY seep into their playmates.

  4. Ok, much as understand your idea about no more newbies, this is a problem for my husband and I. Because we haven’t had alot of experieneces, most of the people we are interested in, aren’t. It is me more than him though, I really want to know someone and like them and most aren’t willing to take the time. So like Wren, we hope there is someone we CAN have as friends and lovers.

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