For this installment of our weekly interview series, Love, Actually, about the reality of women's sex lives, we spoke with Vera (a pseudonym), a married woman who unexpectedly got into swinging during a tenth-anniversary cruise.
Last spring my husband and I were looking for an adults-only vacation to celebrate our tenth anniversary. I came across a "clothing optional lifestyle takeover cruise." The materials talked about dance parties, clothing-optional areas, and playrooms, including a dungeon. We assumed "lifestyle" meant BDSM. It was only after we'd booked the trip that we realized it meant swingers. We figured we could still go, even though we didn't plan to participate.
Leading up to the cruise, though, we got to know some of the other couples online and began to change our minds. It started with talk of me being interested in playing with other women and evolved into "Let's just go for it and enjoy all this cruise has to offer."
We really didn't know what to expect when we got there, and were definitely surprised. Some people were completely nude, some just topless, some in tiny outfits, and some fully clothed. We kept our swimsuits on. No one seemed to mind, or even notice, what anyone else was or wasn't wearing.
The first evening there was a toga/gods/goddesses party. My husband dressed as a Roman gladiator and I made a toga out of a sheer purple fabric. We danced with a couple we'd chatted with online, who were in white togas. We didn't get naked, but there was some flashing and roaming hands. My husband and I are "full swap," which means that we are okay with penetrative sex with other people, but their rules were stricter than ours.. They do not kiss or have penetrative sex with others.
After the dance club closed, we all went to the 24-hour outdoor play area. There were beds spaced about every six feet with small tables between them. We all went to one bed and started by getting undressed and making out with our own partners. Soon I felt the woman's hand caressing my breast as I was kissing my husband. Then her husband, while still kissing her, started to finger me.
At one point my husband went to the restroom. While he was gone, the other guy went down on his wife while I kissed her and played with her breasts. Then we shifted and I went down on him while she went down on me. When my husband came back, he watched for a minute, then joined us.
The atmosphere of the cruise made us more open to trying new things.
After a little while, I started giving my husband head while the other couple had sex. He'd had a lot to drink and to his dismay wasn't getting hard. We tried a couple times, but it wasn't going to happen. We played a little while the other couple finished up, and then we all went to the hot tubs.
The atmosphere of the cruise made us more open to trying new things. Throughout the week, we had two more play sessions with other couples, including a six-way group session with the same couple from the first night.
There has to be some physical attraction when we decide who to play with, but the connection we form with a couple is the bigger factor. We want to play with people who are fun and stable in their relationship. We have a very low tolerance for drama. Since we play only as a couple, there has to be a four-way match in terms of attraction.
One day we were talking to a couple and the woman stripped down to nothing but a smile and just kept on chatting. This was very awkward for us, but we tried not to let it show. Ten minutes later, her husband stripped down too. He suggested that we do the same, but we declined. He asked us about making a playdate, and I told him that I didn't think we had the four-way match we needed for us to be comfortable. For the rest of the week she was cordial when we'd run into them, but he wouldn't even say hello to us. I felt bad for possibly leading him on. Unfortunately, that's the way it goes sometimes.
Before the trip, I thought swingers were people who would have sex with any random person. But those we've met want the same thing that we want: friendship with like-minded couples, and if we happen to have fun in sexual ways from time to time, that's a bonus.
Now we play with others about once a month. Unfortunately, there is not a single lifestyle club in the entire state where we live. We play only as a couple and only together in the same room. We like to be within reach so we can play and talk to each other at the same time. It's about group play, not just swapping partners.
Condoms are a must. We both have veto power, meaning that if there is a man I want to play with, my hubby can say no at any time for any reason and it will not happen, whether he's not comfortable with the guy or isn't interested in playing with his wife. We rarely play at our house, but if we do it is only with a couple we know really well, and never in our bed-that is only for us.
We talk to several couples we met on the cruise on a weekly basis. One we've become really good friends with, and we get together often with our kids. We do the same things other families do but sometimes, after the kids are in bed, we lock the door and get naked. Sometimes we start with a dinner date and drinks, or just hang out with the kids until they're all asleep. We might play a game like sexy dice or watch a movie with sexual undertones.
We haven't had a successful session yet with another couple where we both had penetrative sex. My husband overthinks it and can't maintain an erection. We have talked to several other men in the lifestyle and they all said that it is very common in the beginning, especially if you've been exclusively with your partner for a long time.
Neither of us have any romantic feelings for our play partners at all, but we do see them as friends. There are definitely people we are attracted to, both mentally and physically, but romance and love are just for us.
Other than the couple that we said no to on the cruise, no one has ever made us uncomfortable. We have been asked to do things that we have rules against. For example, there is a couple who generally play separately, but we play only as a couple. We've made this clear to them. We still talk to them and joke around; we just know that we won't be play partners and that's okay.
Swinging has helped our sex life, because after a night of playing with others we always come back and talk about the experience and have really hot sex with each other during the conversation. I don't know if we will stay in the lifestyle forever, but we are definitely having fun for now.