December 13, 2009

Poly versus Swinging

I meet many in the lifestyle who are open about their sexual play. This is to be expected considering we live a life that is alternative to most and has a greater degree of openness than do the traditional models. Nevertheless, I see many who claim to be poly when in fact they are really just swingers.

Group sex is a wonderful thing. I cannot deny this. There are many I come across who are involved in M/s relationships who partake in this experience. Nevertheless, an open sex life does not make one poly. Instead, it makes one a swinger.

Swinging is an activity that allows couples to experience other people. Commonly the term "swap" is used where couples exchange their partners with others. In this arena, the rule of thumb is that "you leave with who brought you". People switch sexual partners for the length of the "scene" (or party) and then return to their spouses.

One of the fundamental aspects of this has to do with commitment. In swinging, the only commitment that exists is to one's partner. The interaction with others is on a completely different level. Even in those situations where a third person is added to the play, the commitment between the new person and the spouse are different. This is logical but an often overlooked point.

Poly is an entirely different matter. Here, the commitment level will exist between the different parties. In M/s, there will be a number of slaves who all have the same commitment to the Master (or Mistress). The duration of the relationships are longer since it usually involves more than just play. In the poly world, there are simultaneous relationships occurring at the same time.

Theoretically, in poly, each relationship is of equal standing. Nevertheless, there are practical issues that always arise. For this reason, there is usually what is known as a "primary" versus "secondary" relationship. The meaning of each is self explanatory simply by their definition. However, do not believe that primary is better than secondary. It simply is a distinction based upon factors such as interest, time, living arrangement, and skill level of each person involved. Usually, a secondary person will have other obligations which diverts attention. This is life. Anyone who is entering into poly needs to be aware of the differences in how each can approach the relationships.

As you can see, there is a major difference between poly and swinging. Those who are involved in the BDSM world while living openly in terms of their sex play are swingers. There are only a few who truly are involved with poly. It is a lifestyle that is difficult to handle. For most, the emotional effort is too much. Poly requires a complete reversal of mindset. Society teaches us that we are meant to find that "one" person. Yet, in poly, that "one" might be split among others. This is a radical change from what most are accustomed to.

The bottom line is that a person who is involved in poly needs to have an inclination to having more than just one person. Of course, we are referring to an interaction that deals with more than just sex. People who lead a poly lifestyle are aware of the emotional connection that is made with each person he/she is involved with. This connection is not equal among the different parties nor is there necessarily a bond between the others involved in the relationship. There are times when poly is really a series of relationships as opposed to a single unit.

I hope this helps to clarify some of the questions with this.

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Stoltz Sinatra on December 13, 2009 at 8:47 AM said...

There are actually some more aspects to poly. You are totally correct on the explination where sex with many doesn't mean that you are poly.

The equal standing is also correct, but to a certain degree. There are poly relations that can be based on a "hub" which means that one person has emotional commitement to many, but people around the hub doesn't necessarily have to be involved with each other.

Poly relations are tricky and negotiations have to be in place - But that comes natural to a lot if BDSM people.

The most important part is to put jealousy aside - Which is usually a deal breaker. It requires as you say a special mindset.


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