Normal Friends – Vanilla Friends in a Swinging World


foursome dateWith all of the lifestyle parties, social gatherings, monthly girls wine parties and the like, my husband and I occasionally ask ourselves, do we have any normal friends left?  Should we seek out more vanilla friends for some sense of balance, or should we just enjoy that we are fully integrated into the lifestyle community and relish the friends that we’ve made here over the years?

Living in Las Vegas, we tend to get our fair share of visitors. Actually, we get more than our fair share. Having met a number of people through our yearly pilgrimages to Hedonism, we meet (and correspond with) a lot of people. Couple that with Vegas’ reputation as “SinCity,” and all that goes along with it, and we seem to have someone to meet or entertain at least a few times per month, especially as the weather gets warmer. While it gets a bit exhausting at times, we really make an effort to at least meet everyone for a quick drink, take them to a club/party, and if we really like them, then hang out all weekend.

Last weekend was no exception, we had several sets of visitors at the same time.  Unfortunately, the vanilla visitors got the short end of the stick and we didn’t see them at all.   My husband was really disappointed about that, more so than me, and felt guilty for leaving our vanilla friends in the lurch. We were just having too much fun with our lifestyle friends out at the pool, having drinks, and going dancing (even though we didn’t play at all), and time got away from us.  Before we knew it, it was Monday morning and we hadn’t seen any of our vanilla friends.  He thought it said something negative about us that we always preferred to hang out with our “wild and crazy friends” rather than our “normal” ones.

My perspective was a little different.  I didn’t view our preference as anything negative.  When we hang out with our lifestyle friends, we don't have to censor the story of “How did you two meet?”  With our lifestyle friends, we can proudly say, “At Hedonism in Jamaica!” while with our vanilla ones, there is always an uncomfortable pause before we say, “well, we met in Jamaica…”  With our lifestyle friends, I don't have to worry about dressing too provocatively when we go out, about what the female half thinks of me (other than whether she was attracted to me or not), about whether our jokes are too off-color, or our displays of affection too overt.  We can be ourselves, without feeling as though we need to hide certain aspects of ourselves or of our lives.

I think that even the viewpoint of what constitutes a “good time” differs between our lifestyle and vanilla friends, and Vegas is the perfect place to magnify that difference.  With our vanilla friends, their idea of fun in Vegas usually consists of getting as drunk as possible, hitting all of the clubs until the wee hours, and basically trying to recreate the idea of Las Vegas pushed by television shows and movies.  With our lifestyle friends, we can have fun with just a few drinks, flirting, talking, and maybe going to a party (or the pool) and dancing (especially when the girls danced sexily together).  Playtime is often in the back (or front) of people’s minds, but it doesn’t always have to happen for us to go home thinking, “Wow, that was a lot of fun!”

As far as a sense of balance, I don’t know.  I feel as though I get plenty of balance in other aspects of my life, from work, from my relationships with my family, and from the day-to-day household activities (laundry, dishes, pets, etc). My free time should be just that—free!  I should be able to feel free and open around the people with whom I choose to socialize.  But maybe my husband has a point. Maybe we should go out with people from time to time without wondering if we are reading their signals correctly.  Maybe I should be able to go shopping with a girlfriend without buying party clothes (read: tight, low-cut, and short).

It is a grey area for us, and one that I think we’ll wrestle with for a while to come.  That sense of balance is why we don’t go to EVERY party, why we don’t go out every weekend, and why we don’t play every time it is presented to us, even if there is mutual attraction. So, maybe some balance is good, but I prefer my life to have more swirl than vanilla!


Devin has navigated her way through the lifestyle as both a married and single woman. She seeks to quiet the slut-shaming voices in her head, be present in the moment, and push her boundaries, all in the throes of friendship, community, relationships, and love... With a little submission for good measure.


  1. The thought that one must “make up” for having lots of sexy fun by spending time with vanillas doesn’t sit well with me. What’s the problem with leaning toward the non-vanilla end of the spectrum? Feeling guilty about spending time you can be yourself around isn’t productive, and I’m glad to see that you have a rather healthy attitude about the situation.

    Whether vanilla or non-vanilla doesn’t make much difference to me personally, but I can only be really good friends with people who know the whole story about me and my wife. The people who judge us, the people who feel uncomfortable about us because we’re more open than most—those aren’t people we consider very close friends.

    If you are really hesitant about telling vanilla “friends” about how you met your husband, if you don’t feel like you can dress how you want to and be the person you really are, I submit that those vanilla peeps really aren’t your friends. They don’t know you well enough.

    That being said, I think we like to make false distinctions between vanillas and non-vanillas. I’ve known a few vanillas who can be extremely accepting of the sort of person I am, and I’ve known some non-vanillas who can’t accept me. Guess who I am closer to? I think it’s best to focus on surrounding ourselves with people we can be natural around without concerning ourselves with what label they wear. At the very least it should assuage any misplaced guilt over who we choose to spend time with.

  2. To be perfectly honest, we think that you should open up to your vanilla friends. Let them know about your lifestyle and that you have couples’ (sex) parties, play and swap partners with your lifestyle friends for social and sexual intercourse between your spouse and another couple’s wife/hubby/mate. Then let them ( the vanillas) judge you for what you two are based upon your character rather than your choice of the lifestyle you are pursuing. That you enjoy sex with someone other than your own spouse should have no bearing upon their judgement if they are honest and open-minded.

  3. I have been dealing with this too, but on the flip side…I feel like I need more non vanilla friends to be open with.  I crave a life where I don’t have to worry about whether someone will find out, covering up how I met someone, or being careful that I don’t talk too enthusiastically about a new friend, gushing like a teenage girl!  I know that I should just be open with the friends I have, but that is easier said than done for me.  


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