Advice – How can I accept the swinging lifestyle?

“My husband want to swing together. He was in the lifestyle before we met and I always knew about it. So I promised him to try it. However, I’m having a really difficult time seeing him have sex with other girl. I am so jealous. And I don’t want to be. I know he loves me, and I love him more than anything. I want to make him happy and find a way to get through this.

I believe the problem is on me, I should be more confident. But I am afraid of him potentially finding someone with whom he has a deeper sexual chemistry with then subsequently fall out of love with me. He promised that it will never happen since we have a beautiful relationship. But I keep feeling that there are limitations on what he can promise since he can’t control how he feels. It feels very risky and exposing for our relationship. I tried getting drunk to avoid overthinking. It was almost okay but it was still so painful to see him with the other girl. I feel my heart burning and automatically start to feel like he likes to have sex with her more than with me. I never enjoy the sex with the other guys. And really wish my love would be enough for my hubby to feel happy and completely satisfied.

Where or how could I find any help to accept this lifestyle without hurting this much?”

– Condy Curious Lady, /r/swingers.

Dear Condy Curious Lady,

We ask so much from love.

In this column today, you will not receive advice about how to accept swinging as a lifestyle choice. You will also not be advised to end your marriage with your husband. Instead, I’ll talk about what this all means to you so that you can make a more informed decision yourself, whether that is to embrace swinging with your husband or to stop swinging altogether.

First. I am really sorry to hear that you’ve been having such a difficult time swinging with your husband. It sounds like you are experiencing a lot of envy and jealousy in regards to his style of non-monogamy, and struggling to manage all of your negative feelings. You shouldn’t continue to do that which inflicts you significant and ongoing emotional pain. I hold to the idea that there are some necessary growing pains when it comes to any new transition. But you do not have to subject yourself to that which could traumatize you over and over again.

You did not say in your post how long you’ve tried swinging with your husband. And while you did say that your husband has always been involved in swinging, you did not say in what kind of aftercare he has engaged with you after these swaps. I am assuming based on what you’ve shared that you and your husband mostly engage in hard swaps in the same room – which means that you and your husband swap partners with another couple in the same room and subsequently engage in intercourse in front of each other.

Photo by George Sistonen on

Today, we ask so much from love.

We demand from our partners an undying, unwavering adulation and trust. We celebrate unconditional, self-sacrificing affection and appreciation. We cherish mindless, codependent habits and behaviors because we are so deeply convinced that those behaviors reflect the true healthy relationship mindset.

I sense a pretty common but dangerous anxiety around being replaced. The words you used – “I wish my love was enough for my hubby to feel completely satisfied” – is something I’ve heard echoed around a lot of monogamous-minded friends and partners practicing non-monogamy for the first time. I ask you to reframe your mind out of necessity. Complete satisfaction in any one relationship is a major, major ask. To ask someone to be their everything, to ask them to be your everything are two massive questions to ask of anyone. Who told you that you needed to be someone else’s everything and that that same someone else had to be your everything?

All this being said, swinging – or non-monogamy in general – is not always going to work for you. Not everyone who claims to engage in ethical non-monogamy actually engage in love ethically. Different people love differently. And your husband might just love too differently from you to accept each other in whole and exclusivity. Only you have the answers to the questions you ask. It just happens to be coded in your emotional landscape and only you can get the keys to cipher your own internal language.

Photo by Vladislav Vasnetsov on

And you ask so much from yourself.

Instead of asking “how can I accept swinging on behalf of my husband?”, the better question to be asking yourself is “do I want to swing? If so, do I want to swing with my husband?” I know it’s hard to re-imagine approaching non-monogamy on a blank piece of paper, since your husband is the channel through which you’ve encountered non-monogamy. But would you have ever considered non-monogamy yourself if you had never met your husband?

If you decide you want to work on your jealousy independent of your marriage with your husband, then there are a couple ways you can go about doing that. I am really curious what kind of work you’ve already been doing to deconstruct and compartmentalize your issues with jealousy. If you haven’t been seeing a therapist for yourself or a couple’s counselor with your husband, now might be a pretty good time to approach a professional’s direction on unpacking and managing jealousy. If you want more immediate input, I wrote a couple previous columns about jealousy that might benefit you. I haven’t read it myself, but I’ve heard a lot of great feedback about the Jealousy Workbook.

In specific regarding the swinging lifestyle, you don’t necessarily have to participate in the lifestyle yourself to accept that in your husband as a price of admission to be with your husband. If you don’t feel comfortable watching him have sex with other women, don’t. If you don’t feel comfortable having sex with other men, don’t. You don’t have to do anything that which feels inherently wrong for you in your body. You don’t have to swing with him for him to be a swinger.

But you also do not have to accept swinging as a price of admission to be with your husband. It is not at all a big ask for your partner to not have other sexual/romantic partners, especially if it is wholly incompatible with your life after you’ve done your due diligence. And you’ve been doing your due diligence already.

Photo by Retha Ferguson on

I really like writing. My nesting partner has no penchant for writing and doesn’t particularly enjoy reading what I write. And I am very engaged in writing when I write. But she enjoys that I can enjoy my own hobbies and lifestyle that takes up a bulk of my free time.

In the same way, you don’t have to enjoy swinging yourself for you to accept that your husband enjoys swinging. Instead of overwriting his reassurances with your inner anxiety about how he might replace you with someone “better”, why not choose to take a leap of faith and actually believe him when he promises you that he wants to stay in your beautiful relationship together? Isn’t it wild to think about? To wholly give someone else your entire heart and hope that they treat it with kindness and respect? How dare we expect so much from one person?

Good luck!

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

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