Coming to the lifestyle was not a sudden epiphany- for me and my partner, it was the culmination of years of observational understandings, anecdotal findings and personal feelings on love, life and what it means when the two coincide.
For me, the lifestyle has never been about the physicality or the erotic which seems to be the precipitating factor for many couples who need to spice things up. We didn’t discover this life because we were bored in our relationship and needed to revive our partnerships together- we baked it into the cake.
My partner and I are of the age (early 30’s) where we are already seeing our friends go through the first rounds of divorce. We’ve lost family members, friends, and parents to a variety of reasons, and we’ve mourned. We’ve also been lucky enough to be able to witness the resilience of people to live and love again after loss, and it’s caused us to question the “forever thing,” that was marketed to us as a goal in life akin to attending college or getting a good job.
My partner and I are happy in love, and I cannot imagine my life without him. Since he came into my life, first, through friendship, I simply couldn’t picture a world without him in it. We’re lucky opposites- I’m more creative, he’s more tactical. I am spontaneous (okay, impulsive) and he is more calculated. Luckily, he’s also very, very patient.
He and I are still grappling with the concept of marriage, and whether we think it’s a good fit for us. When we began dating, I had just ended a long term relationship that should have (by societal constructs) lead to marriage, but luckily didn’t. I was a serial monogamist who did what everyone does- date seriously until you marry, as that’s the “point,” of dating, and that’s precisely what I did. Going forward, I meet the concept of marriage with great trepidation. It’s not that marriage scares me, it’s just that I no longer see the purpose.
For a long time, marriage was considered a lifetime thing, and in more recent years as marriage moved away from entirely economic in nature, to romantic in nature, the idea of “foreverness” became highly romanticiized.
The concept of soul mates always sounds so wonderful when someone is selling you a $7k diamond engagement ring, but the actuality of it falls flat when our lifespans are longer and society is opening up as a whole.
Beyond the simple fact that most of us realize that “forever” is a hopeful pipe dream in the face of the current divorce statistics, but if you look at love itself unilaterally, there are plenty of quandries we fall into when we examine the concept of two souls that are perfectly matched for each other- namely, what happens when someone dies?
It’s easy to imagine partnerships falling apart, but really where loving one person forever-and-ever-amen falls short for me, is not for my friends and family who have been divorced, but the point comes home to me in the marriages I see where two are happily married for years, one dies, and the other remarries.
When you prescribe to the belief that you can have one true love, there aren’t answers for what happens to the perfectly happy couple who had to move on simply because one passed away? While we don’t condemn widows and widowers for finding another partner, it does make the whole thing philosophically messy. To me, it speaks to the needs we all have for love and companionship that goes beyond just that “one.”
I would like to believe in soul mates, but honestly- isn’t it limiting? Doesn’t it take the bloom of the rose to think that you’ve gone one shot to be happy and if it’s screwed, you could have been totally wrong all along?
I’m an eternal optimist, and instead of letting a lack of soul mates dim my happiness, it’s actually opened it up quite more. The resiliency of the human heart and the desire for companionship are powerful and beautiful things, that aren’t limited to just that “one.”
The last time I got serious with a person, I was wrong. I was wrong about him, I was wrong about us, and while that should shy me away from the altar ever again, it caused me to open up instead of shutting down. The partner I’m with now is amazing in ways I couldn’t have predicted, but I think that my expectations have also slightly changed to accommodate a more realistic approach to modern love and also, it’s given me the delightful permission to shut down the shamers that think by loving people, we own people, and if they were once ours, they are off limits to anyone in our circles.
The last few years have taught me that love is a gift. Gifts don’t have to last forever to be special. People aren’t simply trees you piss on to mark your territory. When a relationship ends, we only limit ourselves to healing when we insist on that period of time having any relevance in their happiness and choices today- we don’t own people and they don’t owe us an apology for loving who they love and finding happiness of their own. When we insist they limit their happiness, we in turn limit ours.
We’re new to swinging, but we didn’t chose this lifestyle simply because of sexual freedom- it seemed to be the only glove that fit for our more inclusive, open-ended idea of relationships & love began to form.
When we chose, together, to treat people like people, not people in tandem of their partnerships (meaning when dad & step-mom split up, we didn’t shun step-mom because she was no longer coupled with dad, nor do we treat any of our friend’s ex-es shittily just because it didn’t work out.) we hoped people would have the same respect for us…and here we are, in full swing.