Swinging is one of the most fun things you can do as a couple, especially if you’re open-minded and sexually aware. But swinging is still looked down upon by many members of our society. Indeed, it’s often seen as a taboo and has a huge stigma attached to it.
In fact, many of my close friends and relatives don’t know that I swing. The reason I haven’t told them is because I know they’re not super open to it.
- But how common is swinging really?
- Is it more popular than many of us think?
- Or is it super underground?
In this article, we are going to take a look at how popular swinging is, and we are going to share with you some statistics that may surprise you.
Brief History of Swinging
Swinging is nothing new. In actual fact, it’s probably been around for thousands of years!
Yep, our ancient ancestors were very sexually aware and there was a time when there was no such thing as marriage. Instead, romantic Stone Age couples would practice what’s known as ‘formal polyandry’ – and it wasn’t even frowned upon.
Fast forward to more modern times and it’s a bit harder to pin down the recent history of swinging, probably because it’s always been so underground.
However, there are indications that modern-day swinging began around the 1940s when American Air Force fighter pilots participating in the second world war swapped spouses, either to keep morale up when one of the men was widowed or to create closer bonds.
By the time the war was over and the swinging sixties had kicked in, the sexual revolution exploded – and so did swinging.
Indeed, the free love movement of the 60s was when swinging became more acceptable to many. Sex parties were created, as were sex toys. Couples were encouraged to swap partners and fun new games were invented, such as the infamous Key Game.
Back then, however, swinging was mostly known as ‘wife swapping. It was only in the seventies that the term ‘swinging’ became common.
Once the 70s were over, the swingers' lifestyle took a nose dive but emerged once more in the 1990s after the invention of the internet.
How Many People Swing Today?
There hasn’t been a great deal of research into how many people swing. The most recent estimate is a few years old, and it found that 4% of Americans classify themselves as swingers. This means that about 15 million U.S. citizens are swingers.
That’s quite a high number (much higher than even I’d anticipated!).
Of course, a few years have passed since the original survey was carried out, and there’s every reason to believe that there’s been an increase in numbers since. After all, more and more people are becoming sexually liberated, and terms such as non-monogamy are entering the mainstream.
Moreover, these numbers are only for the western world. When it comes to parts of the world like South America, it’s a lot less clear how many swingers there are. One thing we do know is that some South American tribes practice what’s called informal polyandry, which is when people in hunter-gatherer societies who are not married share their female partners.
This is actually a common practice, and it involves inviting men into other men’s houses so that they can sleep with their partners.
There are also African tribes who practice this sort of thing. More a form of wife swapping than swinging, husbands will offer their wives to male visitors who can either accept or decline the offer. If, on the other hand, the male visitor arrives with his own wife, the two men can swap wives for the night.
Again, this is a basic form of swapping that isn’t anywhere near the likes you see advertised on websites and apps like Adult Friend Finder and Swingers Lifestyle.
The Rise of Non-Monogamy
One of the reasons swinging has become so popular in the west is because the idea of non-monogamy is becoming increasingly entertained and accepted by couples.
You will, of course, often see non-monogamous couples on hookup sites like Adult Friend Finder. But they’re also becoming much more common on traditional dating sites like OkCupid, with a 2016 study showing that 1 in 5 American adults have been in a non-monogamous relationship at some point in their lives.
Otherwise known as open relationships, these types of relationships indicate that more and more of us are at least curious about exploring a different type of relationship and inviting others into it. This could, in turn, lead to swinging.
When it comes to the demographics, it’s easy to picture swingers as being middle-class, middle-aged, and wealthy. The research does still back this image up, with over 76% of polyamorists coming from a middle-class (or higher) background. Moreover, most western polyamorists are white.
However, studies have also shown that around 50% of millennials are now open to non-monogamy. Whilst this doesn’t mean we can join the dots and state that the same number will be interested in swinging, the results are instructive nevertheless: Swinging is becoming more common and more accepted as the traditional picture of marriage and ‘blissful domestic life’ wanes.
Further, while swinging used to be the indulgence of the middle class, middle-aged couples who had grown-up children, younger people without kids are now starting to swing. This represents a huge shift in relationship dynamics.
It’s hard to measure how common swinging is because a lot of people aren’t honest about their sex lives. It’s a private, often touchy subject for some. Many newbie swingers, for example, might not be ready to openly admit what they’ve been up to.
However, as our general view of relationships changes, and as more people become open to non-monogamy, swinging should only grow in popularity. The good news out of all this, of course, is that more swingers = more couples to choose from. That’s pretty exciting!