Swinging vs Polyamory: The Great ENM Divide

Both swinging and polyamory fall under the umbrella of ethical non-monogamy. So what’s the big deal?

Can’t we all just get along? Polyamorists and swingers often set themselves in opposition of one another even though they both operate outside the confines of mainstream culture, choosing to love differently in non-monogamous relationships.

Read: ENM Relationships: 10 Examples of Ethical Non-Monogamy

Swingers vs Poly People

A Difference of Commitment and Intention?

Poly people will say polyamory is all about love and relationships; and swingers are all about sex and wild swinger parties. But swingers do engage in longer than one-night stand relationships and complain polys don’t respect or are jealous of their swinging lifestyle. In fact, swingers typically have a very strong primary relationship from which they explore.

Read: Swinger Lifestyle 101: All About Swingers

Four happy poly swingers taking a selfie together.

Private vs Public Ethical Non-Monogamy

Swingers are often scrutinized and feel a need to hide their practices while poly people are often more open about their relationships (pretending you don’t have two wives can be difficult.) Polys and swingers, you would think, should be compatriots, but often the decision to be out about one’s lifestyle is what separates them.

Read: What Swinging in Marriage is Really Like

Poly Swingers

Swingers often see themselves as normal everyday people that crave a little excitement now and then. They don’t see their lifestyle as anything unusual, perhaps just more adventurous than most. And some of their relationships with other swinger couples do become long-term, not unlike those of poly people. Some people that begin experimenting with swinging end up in polyamorous relations.

Read: Swinger Relationship Basics: What to Know

Both Polyamory and Swinging are Part of ENM

Polys are often people that live many aspects of their life apart from what is considered mainstream – the types of work they do, other social activities they enjoy, and the environments they choose to live in. Very much like their swingers who also have their own subculture.

I don’t understand the judgements I hear from one group to another as I see more similarities between swingers and poly people than differences. These two ethically non-monogamous groups should be championing one another and encouraging a wider acceptance from traditional relationships and lifestyles.

Read: A Guide for Swinging Beginners

Swingers vs Polys: How do view one another as a subculture? Is there a crossover?

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