I ended my last blog with a question: What are some reasons that couples take a break from swinging? Over dinner with the Wonderfuls, we learned their answer – they were not stepping toward monogamy again. Instead, they had stepped in the opposite direction toward polyamory.
Since we saw them last about four months ago, the Wonderfuls had begun an exclusive relationship with another couple. They took turns having wild overnights with their new boyfriend and girlfriend, and occasionally all getting together, but all play is in separate rooms. They each loved having a new girlfriend and boyfriend, including long hours of texting, sharing themselves emotionally, the secret meet ups. “Such fun!” they said. “Such a close connection to new people!”
I was surprised by my reaction to their new status. We were at dinner at a fancy restaurant. I was sipping a fabulous red wine. Their confession made me take a big gulp while my cheeks and ears burned. It was fascinating because my mind harbored no jealousy about their new status. Indeed, they had made some gestures toward us previously to become coupled with them, but we were not interested. Yet my body seemed to have its own opinions. It seemed to be shouting, “We had some great times together!” But my head was shouting “Get me out of here! This is creepy.”
As I process the evening from afar, the conversation explained much of our own confusion and with the Wonderfuls that I have blogged about previously. Very hot sex, but ultimately leaving me feel vaguely uneasy – no doubt because they seek out that emotional connection with others. I realized that we, the Wonderfuls and the Doubleplays, have very different goals in our extramarital pursuits. They are seeking an emotional connection. Romance and “love-making.” Pairing off separately from partners. We want hot sex with no strings attached. And to play as a team. And, frankly, I don't care if I remember your name tomorrow in most cases. No emotional drama, thank you. And when the tryst is done, no promises of future plans.
Our relationship with the Wonderfuls is further complicated by the fact that we have become friends in the vanilla sense. We love hanging out with them. And our kids became fast friends as well. I like hearing about their romps with other couples as much as their jobs and their families. But as friends, not as lovers. Given our sexual history, I wonder if we can be “just friends.” now. Because that is all it can be now. Mr. D and I do not want the emotional entanglements that they seek. Even when they know our rules and interests, it is still what they desire in small and big ways. In ways that make us uncomfortable. We enjoy the Wonderfuls as friends. And yet, the more we talked, the more unattractive they seemed to me as swingers.
Beyond the philosophical difference, I have to admit that they were not selling us on the polyamory situation at all. While I am sure there are positive examples out there, the emotional connection and loyalty to another person seemed to put a strain on their primary relationship as a married couple. Mr. D and I struggled to respect their choices. They both gushed about the fun of the newness of a “boyfriend and a girlfriend,” as they called them, but then went on to list the many ways in which it was not working:
“The sex is great but the texting and ongoing drama in between the rendezvous are a real pain.”
“She is gorgeous but so possessive.”
“In the end we don't share their broader values or goals in life.”
“It's starting to become too ordinary and annoying.”
“Please don't post on Facebook that we were visiting. They get so jealous.”
“She gets jealous when she knows that I have shared things with Mrs. Wonderful, and she gets angry when I mention having sex with Mrs. Wonderful.”
“It's so much drama. We need to end this.”
“Mr. W will text for six hours when he gets home from work. I need him. The kids need him.”
“She is so needy and we spend days resolving arguments.”
But then Mr. Wonderful pulls out phone to text the girlfriend. “It's been an hour since she sent me a message. She will get suspicious!!”
I think if they had come to us glowing and happy, I would have been happy for them. But they were miserable and being faithful out of obligation to these people they had known for a few months. And for what reason?
Part of me wanted to run away. Fast. I felt like just by spending the evening with them we were getting sucked into the drama. And swinging is a way for Mr. D and I to escape our everyday lives. To be audacious and to feel fabulous. The conversation felt dangerous to me and not at all a part of our play book. It turned lifestyle choices into the worst parts of everyday life. Plus, the longer we discussed the matter, the more I felt implicated in their choices. If loyalty is important, then why did they come to visit us if the truth of the visit would hurt their new relationships? The conversation put a dark cloud on the evening. I wanted to return to our swinger bubble where everything was audacious and fun again.