130,000 Irish men and women have reportedly signed up to the website SwingforIreland.com, with 300 newcomers a week, the Irish Examiner reports.
'There’s a perception that swingers are sex maniacs,' says Steve Montague the sites co-founder. 'In reality, there’s no requirement to remove your clothes or to have sex with anyone. Those who come purely to socialise are welcome, provided they’re not there to judge others.'
Whilst monogamy works for some couples, it's not for others. 'Fifty per cent of men cheat on their wives and 40 per cent of women cheat on their husbands,' relationship expert David Kavanagh told the Examiner. 'If swinging was the norm and everyone could have sex with everyone else, there’d be chaos. Not everyone can handle that amount of power.'
'I’m not a swinger, nor am I judging those who swing, but it’s naive for couples to think they won’t develop feelings for anyone they meet this way,' says Kavanagh.
'We can’t really separate sex from emotion, although porn makes us think we can. Couples who swing play with fire. If an insecure man sees his wife having an amazing time with someone else, he may have sex with four women to get his own back on her.'
'There’s a belief that swinging parties are orgies, but this isn’t the case,' says Philip Moore, the founder of the irishswingers.ie website. That's not to say there are no risks. Even the best laid plans can go out the window, says Kavanagh. 'In social situations, we behave like the crowd, and while we may not be attracted to anyone there, we may still have sex, if that’s what’s expected of us.'
Jealousy, if it arises, is the one issue that should convince you not to participate faster than any other. 'If it becomes an issue, they should quit,' Montague says.
'Swinging is mostly driven by men, and while some women do it to please their partners, there’s no sign that they’re being physically forced to participate,' says Moore.
Kavanagh feels this is only one part of a host of potential issues. 'Bullying and harassment may come into it. Women may be told 'If you don’t come with me, I’ll go on my own.'
As for the benefits of swinging, Kavanagh says it may provide a space for men and women who are potentially bisexual to explore and express that side of themselves. 'If they do that, they have to be prepared for the implications their behaviour may have on their partners and on their relationships.'
But as all swingers know it really isn’t for everyone. Despite working in the business for years, neither Montague nor Moore are, or ever have been, swingers themselves. As for why people swing, Moore is philosophical: 'Sometimes, love just isn’t enough,' he says.
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