Wild, Reckless, & Inconsiderate – A Key Party Sparks Discussion


A colleague mentioned that she was watching a movie that included a scene with couples tossing their keys into a bowl, and at that moment her teenage daughter walked into the room. Confused by the scene, the daughter asked why the couples were tossing keys in a bowl, and my colleague explained the concept of a key party. The daughter responded that the behavior they were demonstrating was “reckless” and my colleague wholeheartedly agreed.

I didn’t.

I asked her why it was reckless. She stared at me, without responding, for a few moments, before asking me how it wasn’t reckless.

I pointed out that in a previous conversation, she mentioned she wasn’t a virgin before she got married. How was sleeping with several partners while single any more “reckless” than after marriage? She didn’t have a response other than “Well, ya know…” and changing the subject.

There are, of course, risks to sexual behavior. Any sexual behavior. You can be a virgin and contract HIV from your virgin partner on your wedding night (after they contracted it through a blood transfusion). The risks aren’t just limited to disease either; sex intimately involves us with others, and that leaves open the door for emotional pain as well.

There are plenty of dangers in simply leaving your house, crossing the street, or driving your car. Though statistically you’re more likely to die in a car than you are to contract AIDS, mothers around the world aren’t condemning driving as reckless. There are ways to recklessly engage in sex (e.g. not using condoms) and there are ways to drive recklessly (e.g. driving under the influence). That does not mean that all sex, or are all driving, is reckless behavior.

We’re led to believe that monogamy is normal and all things non-monogamous are abnormal and, moreover, bad, sinful, and, of course, reckless. The idea of monogamy is so ingrained in our society that any other relationship configuration is dismissed out-of-hand. The vast majority of those who make statements about non-monogamy have given very little, if any, consideration to the subject. Pointing out the fallacies in their arguments forces people to give the subject some thought and, in turn, might make them more aware of their prejudice.


Neamhspleachas is a thirty-something American, currently living in the Netherlands. She works as a journalist and writer. If she’s not working, you can probably find her drinking a craft beer somewhere. Possibly somewhere far away from home. You can find her putting her multiple degrees to good use by blogging about relationships, economics, politics, and boobs that are and are not hers at neamhspleachas.com.


  1. HeathenDefiler on

    Random sex with people whose STI status, history, partners, other risk factors you don’t know *is* (at least *more*) reckless. That’s her judgment of the risk level. Just because you don’t agree, don’t take away her right to decide her own risk level.

    • Dan & Anna Couple on

       She didn’t take away her right to decide her own risk level.  She simply disagreed with her definition of the activity as reckless.  I agree with her as well.  You cannot simply label swinging as reckless.  Reckless means you’re completely unconcerned with the risks.  I have found far more ‘vanilla’ folks to be reckless in their sexual endeavors than swingers.  Swingers tend to be more educated on the risks of sex and take the proper precautions.

      • HeathenDefiler on

         She didn’t label swinging as reckless, she defined the key party as reckless. That’s not condemning a lifestyle, though it can feel like that when it’s part of *your* lifestyle; that’s just deciding that activity is not for her, and probably that she wouldn’t be with someone who did that. And you can say that her right to her opinion wasn’t taken away, but at no point in this writing is there anything like, “if that’s how she feels, fine” or any such thing, only “she’s wrong”. That’s invalidating her opinion. My comment (and perhaps even hers) isn’t about how “swingers tend to be”; it’s just about this girl making her own choices and those choices not being invalidated just because they don’t resonate with the blogger’s.

        • Swinging Pinoy on

          At no point did I feel the author took away the daughter’s right to an opinion but merely challenged her assumptions.  While one can argue that the mere fact the author was older (a presumption) than the daughter is in itself a means to subdue the daughter’s opinion, I get the impression that the daughter normally does not have any problems voicing her ideas.

          I agree with the author’s arguments, though I would have liked a little more discussion about the other risks, such as the emotional risks.  I myself wouldn’t recommend them to many people.

        • The definition of “reckless” is not “personally not for me.” One can decide that key parties aren’t for them, and that’s fine, and can’t be argued. To call it “reckless,” however, depends on a particular set of conditions– it’s risky, dangerous, careless, thoughtless– and this is what the OP is challenging. Provided people are using protection, consent is respected by all comers, and people know what they’re getting into, how is a key party more reckless than any other sexual activity?

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