Exploring Non-Monogamy: How Swinging and Polyamory Differ

couple talking on a balcony

Discussions surrounding non-monogamy continue arising both in media and social circles where we might not expect it. In some cases, it’s a passive, subtle mention that goes unnoticed. In other situations, people unexposed to the benefits of a swinger lifestyle experience surprise.

One of the biggest trouble spots with non-monogamy is the misunderstanding and misinterpretations of swinging vs. polyamory: what is the difference and how meaningful are those differing attributes?

We’ll dive into all of that and more.

To begin, the confusion between polyamory and swinging as concepts is fair. Their differences aren’t substantial when we consider the high level concept of open relationship dating. But on a more granular level, the uniqueness of each certainly amounts to substantial impact, particularly for those who are swinger-curious, or new to swinging. This is because when a couple embarks on an open relationship journey, they should fully understand the technicals and how they’ll play out for each partner. In this case, mincing words and definitions and especially, concepts, would potentially harm the experience.

What is Polyamory?

In Polyamory, couples accept an understanding that both partners may experience physical and mental connections with other people on a consensual level.

Like all things open relationship, couples define boundaries for those additional connections and relationships. For example, can a partner form a connection, albeit physical or mental, with someone both partners know? How much communication can each have? What physical acts can they partake in? Will both partners partake?

By definition, polyamory means “many loves.” That alone signals a rather high level concept. When we look closely at the definition, the word “loves” prominently decides a critical difference between swinging and polyamory. That’s because polyamory may offer less physical connections over swingings more physical conquests.

Polyamory is broad, but includes more avenues that offer less-physical relations.

And this is an excellent segue into what is swinging and how does it differ from polyamory.

What is swinging?

Swinging is a more physical undertaking often guided by a couple’s prior set of rules. Couples typically partake in swinging in a cohesive manner. In polyamory, this can also be true, but polyamory is a broader stroke where open relationships are the primary focus. Those might involve love, whereas in swinging the romantic inclinations are less apt.

Swingers are community driven folks who typically congregate in brick and mortar, or online swinger lifestyle communities.

Swingers are organized and often, connected to groups. In polyamory, that’s not always the case. Polyamory more institutes a high-level open relationship concept that could be numerous types.

While there are a growing number of singles who enjoy partaking in swinging, the primary force that drives swinging is couples. Couples pursue other couples or singles. But it’s almost always couples who partake and encourage the interactions.

Swingers organize well, typically attending large events throughout the year and also enjoying online and local event fun.

The differences aren’t much, but enough

Overall, the differences between the two impact the more granular experiences of what a couple or individual may pursue physically and emotionally with others. Its important to gain basic knowledge over these concepts because in open relationships, knowledge is the power that keeps everything from falling apart. In marriage, assumptions often form the base of the relationship which is why things tend to fall apart half the time.

When you pursue an open relationship either alone or with a partner, you must define what’s happening. You must communicate your wants, needs, and desires. If you fail to understand the basics of open relationship concepts, you’ll struggle in this imperative department.

So do your reading and ingest as much information as you can. Exploring the swinger lifestyle will help you learn what it is you want from your partner and outside partners. But it will also help you understand that communication between partners is non-negotiable.