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What Is Swinging? Out of the Hot Tub and Into the Mainstream

All you need to know about what swinging is in a 21st-century context. Jacuzzis optional.
Editorial team
October 31, 2023
June 17, 2024
min. read
Table of Contents

Let's get real about swinging. You might've heard it thrown around at a party or seen it in some racy film (the key party scene from The Ice Storm, anyone?). But what's the real scoop? Swinging, traditionally seen as a straight-couples game of spouse-swapping, isn't just for the hetero crowd. Gay men can, and indeed do, get in on the action. 

Imagine a realm where you and your partner venture out, hand in hand, into the vast galaxy of sexual encounters with other like-minded swinging couples or singles, only to return to each other's embrace at the end. In short, that’s how swinging works. Sounds exhilarating? It can be. 

But the swinger lifestyle also demands trust, communication, and clear boundaries. It’s not everyone's cup of tea, and that's okay. 

Whether you're simply curious, ready to dive in, or just here for the naughty stories, we’ll tell you what you need to know about what swinging is in a 21st-century context. We’ve also got tips on expanding your sexual horizon with your significant other. 

The core of swinging: More than a taboo

Swinging isn't just about shuffling partners like a deck of cards. Think of it more as a chapter in The Big Book of Consensual Non-Monogamy — especially for those gay dudes in rock-solid relationships. But, here's the real tea: Diving into the swingin' scene requires some serious emotional smarts and stability. 

Before you even think about dipping a toe (or anything else) in those waters, take a hard look in the emotional mirror. This isn't some band-aid for your relationship boo-boos; it's a high-octane adventure for couples who are tight with each other. Like, super tight. And for those ready to take the plunge? The world's your oyster, boys. 

Swinging levels, from soft to hard

Want to know the ABCs of the swinging world? Let’s dive into the menu of options. You know, so you can pick your flavor.

Soft swap: Baby steps

Think of this as the appetizer — kissing, touching, maybe a bit of oral. But hold the main course. It’s perfect for testing the waters or getting a taste of another couple, a solid starting point for rookie swingers or those who just prefer to keep things light.

Full swap: The whole shebang

Whether it’s after a hot double date with another swinging couple or at an official swinger party, we’re talking the full meal deal, from foreplay to the final act. Especially among gay men, it’s crucial to lay out the terms. Who’s doing what to whom? Trust us, clear communication is sexier than you might think.

Hard swap: The wild side

Moving on to the full swap’s edgier sibling, here’s where you might dive deeper into exploring each other’s kinks or fetishes, like bondage, BDSM, or role-playing. But again, remember, constant communication and consent are a must.

The upsides of swinging: Pushing for pleasure and growth

Swinging isn't just about those spicy, fleeting moments; think of it as more of a PhD in relationship dynamics. Especially for us in the gay community, swinging can supercharge your relationship — pushing both your emotional and sexual buttons in all the right ways. It's like a journey of self-discovery mapped out in mind-blowing encounters.

But let's get one thing straight (or, you know, clear): Swinging isn't just about the sexy times. It's a relationship boot camp. It demands grade-A communication skills and some serious emotional gymnastics, especially for us gents who might already be juggling society's heteronormative eyes. But here's the kicker: When done right, with clear heads and open hearts, swinging can turn your world upside down — in the best damn way.

If you're looking for an emotional and sensual rollercoaster, hop on board. Just make sure you've packed your transparency and emotional toolkit for the ride.

Decoding the signs: Is swinging right for you?

So, you're feeling that sizzle, that pull toward the swingin' scene. But how do you know if you're just being a curious cat or if you're ready to take a walk on the wild side with your partner? Let's break it down:


Double trouble in Fantasyland

Ever catch yourself daydreaming about watching your beau with someone else — and it gets you going? Ding, ding! Maybe you're itching to see your partner flex some sexual muscles you didn't know they had. It's all about that shared spicy journey and the freedom to let your flags fly.

Adventure time in the bedroom

If you're drooling over the idea of a roll in the hay with someone new, swinging might just be your ticket. Our community's a kaleidoscope of sexual vibes. Swinging? It's like opening Pandora's box of all things delicious and queer.

Digging the deep emotional dive

If emotions fuel your fire, swinging could be the gourmet meal you're craving — a delightful mix of feels and friskiness. But think long and hard before taking that first bite. At its core, swinging is about exploring intimacy in ways that push boundaries and broaden your heart's horizon.

Trust: The ultimate relationship glue

If trust were currency, you'd need to be rich for the swinging market. Got that rock-hard foundation? You're golden. When it comes to trust in many gay relationships, it’s a multilayered beast. Whether it's about sexual health or setting the ground rules, starting on solid trust ground makes the journey smoother and oh-so-satisfying.

Swinging vs. polyamory vs. open relationships

Let’s unpack the holy trinity of non-monogamy: swinging, polyamory, and open relationships. Whether you're team swing, team poly, or team open, the goal is the same: honest, consensual fun.

  • Swinging: Think of this as the appetizer of non-monogamy. It's all about the sex, typically leaving those heartstrings unstrummed. For gay men, swinging often means some extra homework — like chatting up potential roles and dos and don'ts. It's like non-monogamy with a rulebook.
  • Polyamory: This one's got both heart and heat. Multiple partners, all above board, all mixing feelings and fun. Within our vibrant gay community, polyamory might look like a captivating telenovela, with triads, quads, and sometimes even pentads. It's a love geometry that's less common on the straight side of the street.
  • Open relationships: Picture this as your main dish, with occasional side orders. Sex outside the primary duo is cool but within some guiding lines. These setups usually come with a clear playbook — especially when it boils down to safety and spilling the beans about escapades.

How to start swinging: A step-by-step guide

So you've taken a long, hard look in the emotional mirror and think you're ready to tango in the tantalizing world of partner swapping? Let's map out a game plan for how to start swinging:

  1. Chit-chat time: First up? A good ol' heart-to-heart with your main squeeze. Lay all your cards on the table — your wildest desires, your nail-biting fears, and those oh-so-important boundaries.
  2. Draw the line: Spell it out in neon — what's green for go and what's a “hell no.” Make sure you both know where you stand.
  3. Baby steps, baby: Start slow, maybe with just a casual threeway.
  4. Join the club: Dive into online forums, skim through Grindr, or sniff out local events. There's a whole community of swing-happy folks just waiting to meet you.
  5. Prep like a pro: About to pop your swinger soirée cherry? Awesome. Have that boundaries chat again, lock down a safe word (or two), and double-check to make sure you and your partner are reading the same playbook.
  6. Afterglow chats: Once the dust settles, grab a coffee or a drink and dish with your partner. What rocked your world? What left you cold? What's on the wish list for next time?

Swinging, summed up

All the (hopefully) hot sex aside, think of swinging as more than just a steamy rendezvous — it's your love life in technicolor. But it comes with its catches. Swinging gets you to wrestle with your inner demons and societal side-eyes, leveling up your emotional game. On one hand, it's like relationship CPR, adding zing to both the heart and the hormones. And on the other, it’s a mirror image of your emotional maturity, showcasing your strengths and unveiling your areas for improvement.

Think you and your guy are ready to give swinging a whirl? Then Grindr’s ready for you. With more than 10 million active users, Grindr’s the perfect pool for couples to find thirds, fourths, fifths, and more. Get the Grindr app, or browse hands-free via Grindr Web — the same Grindr you know and love, now available on your laptop or PC with no download required.

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