What is Love? – Considering Feelings Amongst Swingers

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Holding HandsI tend to fall in love fast. Not necessarily hard, but definitely fast. I knew this about myself, but had honestly forgotten until Anne and I got into the lifestyle. After all, we had been happily dating/married for nine or so years before getting into the lifestyle, I was not actively seeking another life partner. I still wouldn’t say I am. Anne initially said she was interested in exploring polyamory if she found someone she had feelings for. I have stated before that polyamory freaks me out and, honestly, it still does.

I over-analyse everything, especially things about myself. The other day I was talking to Anne about polyamory. The thing that got my thought train moving was this video. Thoughts started rolling around in my head. So, I asked Anne, “How are secondary poly partners different from couples we regularly have dates with?”

“Well I don’t have romantic feelings for them.” Anne replied.

“But what does that mean exactly?” I asked.

“If you don’t know I can’t really explain it.”

Well, I suppose I do know. My lifestyle friends live in a different place in my heart than my vanilla friends. Sometimes I catch myself thinking that I would really like to snuggle with her or even after recent events, him. Do I love them all? I really don’t know. I certainly care for them, but I don’t know that I care for them more than my vanilla friends. However, I never catch myself wanting to snuggle with a vanilla friend.

Anne says she doesn’t have thoughts of randomly wanted to snuggle with a play partner when they aren’t around, but I am much more of a people person than she is. I suspect platonic love and romantic love are, like most things, not binary. They live on a scale. Anne is far at one end. My vanilla friends near the other end and my lifestyle friends floating about in the middle. Though I think for me the lifestyle friends float closer to romantic love than they do for Anne. Maybe it is just how we are wired, but I find it oddly ironic that I am the one freaked out by polyamory and also the one who seems to fall in love (is that what it is?) faster and more often.

I grapple with all kinds of questions in my mind now. What does it mean for someone to be a girlfriend or a boyfriend (fuck that sounds weird) when you have a wife? Early in my life a girlfriend was someone who was trying out to be my wife and partner forever. Is that still what it is? Do I need that? Do I want that? How are they really different from a good friend that you fuck? Probably romantic feelings. What does that even mean? I really have no idea. Ahhhh. God, I am just getting more lost in my own head.

So, that is where I am at. Wrestling with thoughts of people and trying to determine what they mean. I am in waters that I suspect few dread to enter. I know I am here and it freaks me out. But I am keeping my eyes and heart open to see what lays beyond. Is it certain disaster? Is it untold treasure? Am I brave enough to find out?

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An average suburbanite barely into his 30s, Jack has recently begun a more exciting secret sexy life with his wife, Anne. These experiences have led him to preach the gospel of sex positivity and safer sex to anyone who will listen.

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Hi Jack,
    This is such a great post.  Some claim that swinging is all about sex, with none of the emotion.  If that were the case, I guess I’m not interested.  I crave the chemical connection!  Emotions are part of the excitement.  I don’t know if its love exactly, but in a way it is.  I think our language needs more words to describe the emotion(s) we call Love.  I love my husband, my kids, chocolate, my dog, nature, my mom, my playmates, and my husband’s playmates, but all in very different ways!  Hoping to blog on a similar topic soon. 

  2. Avatar
    Jason Kleinberg on

    It seems to me that the real difference between swinging and polyamory (though fine), is the base focus. Polyamory is a situation where the base unit of relationships is individuals, where as swinging is mostly about relationships where the base unit is couples. I don’t see it as anything other than how multiple relationships are engaged. I doubt that you would see much difference between two really close swinging couples, and a poly quad with primary relationships between 2 pairs, and secondary relationships crossing them.

    When you are talking about people that are questioning the boundaries of societal expectations of relationships, the regular rules don’t apply. Falling in love with someone does not mean that you have to eventually cohabitate with them. There is absolutely no reason that you can’t be in love with someone that you only get to see every so often, especially when you are already in an established loving relationship. 

    Love takes on a different meaning and role. It isn’t about sizing someone up for future plans, but about caring for them, and appreciating the time that you have together. It’s about a shoulder to cry on, and providing a sympathetic ear. It’s about the empathic connection where you share their happiness, sadness, and all other aspects of your shared emotional lives. 

    Love isn’t an obligation. It’s a gift.

    • Avatar
      Diana Nguyen Pham on

      Hi Jason.  Thanks for your insight.  I’m new to the lifestyle, and am still hoping to get my husband of 10 years to see that my interest doesn’t change how much I love him and our children.  I did recently realized that I was falling for a couple, and care for them deeply.  This confused me because I thought that it would affect my love for my husband.  After reading your post, I feel reassured, especially when I do want to continue to meet other like-minded friends.  As another person said too, I do crave the emotional connection in addition to fulfilling my sensual needs.  It isn’t just about the sex for me.

    • Avatar
      Little Tazmanian on

      Hi Jason.  Thanks for your insight.  I’m new to the lifestyle, and am still hoping to get my husband of 10 years to see that my interest doesn’t change how much I love him and our children.  I did recently realized that I was falling for a couple, and care for them deeply.  This confused me because I thought that it would affect my love for my husband.  After reading your post, I feel reassured, especially when I do want to continue to meet other like-minded friends.  As another person said too, I do crave the emotional connection in addition to fulfilling my sensual needs.  It isn’t just about the sex for me.

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