The Lifestyle means real talk, that’s for sure. Once we decided to create an online profile, we had several discussions that made our relationship instantly stronger and more connected.
These are the types of sex-and-emotion conversations that lots of purely-monogamous couples do not have, often taking things for granted and/or making assumptions about their relationship and feelings along the way. Opening our intimate lives to others in a thoughtful and loving way means we get chances to understand one another and ourselves as a couple in far more profound ways than we did when adhering to monogamy.
…we get chances to understand one another and ourselves as a couple in far more profound ways than we did when adhering to monogamy.
Beyond the usual and sane limits such as “drug and disease free only” and “condom always” and “we don’t take one for the team,”1, here are some of the key guidelines we set out for ourselves before we stepped into the couples dating pool:
- We come first. Not necessarily physically, but definitely when it comes to emotional care-taking and relationship maintenance. The Joneses’ rule akin to this goes something like, “We are beholden to no one but ourselves.” This is about us and our relationship. We will be mindful of others’ feelings and needs, but we will strive to make sure ours guide our decision-making and actions.
- This will serve us, we will not serve it. We may be entering the Lifestyle (LS) 2, but we don’t want the LS to become our sole or even most important defining facet. We want it to be an exciting, fulfilling addition to our already full life that helps us grow and connect, not the motivating drive behind who we are and how we live. This is to say — we won’t be slaves to the keyboard/screen, our vacations won’t start to revolve around the LS (not to say it won’t get sprinkled into our holiday-ing), and we won’t invite others into our intimacy more than a couple times a month at most.
- Go with our gut. We know a lot of couples move into this thing more-or-less sequentially in baby steps that look something like this: voyeurism/exhibitionism to parallel play to soft swap to full swap, perhaps with a unicorn or single male tossed in there along the way. And there are probably very good reasons for incremental acclimation to the Lifestyle. But if both of our Spidey senses (and a discussion between us) tells us that full swap works for us on our very first date, we’re not going to ignore that inclination in favor of adhering to a prescribed path.
- In for a penny, in for a pound. While we respect singles and couples who have rules or boundaries for themselves such as “no kissing,” we know that we don’t operate well under those kinds of limitations, for ourselves. This goes hand-in-hand with #3. We will do what feels right in the moment, respecting the others’ boundaries if we have chosen to be intimate with them, and agree not to place restrictions on what is physically allowed for ourselves – counting on lots of checking in with each other throughout.
- We won’t be the world’s first perfect swinging couple, and that’s OK. If we make a mess using these guidelines, we are strong enough as a couple to clean it up together, and learn from it.
- We can do our own thing. No, we don’t mean hall passes (at least not yet). We are finding our thing3 together, but that doesn’t mean we both have to approach it in the exact same way. Ess likes to lurk, look, laugh, and lust, but he’s busy with lots of professional online-based and social media heavy ventures of his own and so prefers not to take on profile maintenance, tweeting, and community chatting. He does browse profiles and brings couples or singles to my attention, but I serve as our online figurehead. If you’re communicating with us, it’s likely me. He prefers getting to know people in person over Kik or MeWe. I like to chat and flirt on those platforms or Twitter. So long as we are openly and routinely communicating with each other, sharing what’s going on, and not secret-keeping — we are OK with approaching LS communication and online interactions the way each of us feels most comfortable and inclined.
Once the big, heavy discussions were out of the way, we got to do the FUN parts of putting together an online swinger profile — and this part we did do online together — picking out photos, figuring out how to express who we are and who we’re looking for, learning about each other and ourselves by checking boxes for things we like and things we don’t (and things about which we’re not quite sure yet). We did this fun part, along with a sexy photo shoot, while spending a weekend away at a hotel. It made for a hot time together, some great fucking, and a lot of relationship growth.
We aren’t going to go through the ins and outs of how to choose and set up a swinging profile because there are others who have already done that far better than we could, notably our good friends at We Gotta Thing. Truly, their Creating a Successful Online Profile mini-course is well-worth your $49 (or, better yet, you can get it at no additional cost when you join the WGT Community — where you can also interact with and learn from others (including me) in real time.
We won’t be the world’s first perfect swinging couple, and that’s OK. If we make a mess using these guidelines, we are strong enough as a couple to clean it up together, and learn from it.
We are on just one dating site, as of now, having selected Kasidie as our starting point. In deference to guideline #2, we may never expand beyond one dating site (though we aren’t ignoring/ruling out all of the advice we’ve heard about trying out more than one).
It was a little overwhelming at first. We didn’t fully understand the concept of being “fresh meat” until we pushed the button to go live. There was lots of initial interest in us — to the point where I almost shit-canned the entire endeavor — but things evened out and we have made some solid connections despite that initial frenzy.
Our next post will be all about our first sexy couples date. We are calling it The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
There was lots of initial interest in us — to the point where I almost shit-canned the entire endeavor — but things evened out.
[You won’t find us listed on a dating site under profile names like Elle&Ess or FusionCouple. We prefer to keep our dating name different and separate from our blogging and twitter presence. If you would like to find us on Kasidie, send us a note with your Kasidie profile name.]
1 There’s taking one for the team (when one partner is somewhat less into it) and then there’s taking one for the team (when one partner is completely unattracted, disinterested, or even repulsed). Seems the first one is bound to happen (maybe often) — otherwise we couldn’t refer to the magical 4-way connection as “elusive” anymore — and the second one should never happen.
2 Full disclosure: We dislike the term Lifestyle for two reasons: (1) It carries the connotation of being a couples’ most defining trait and (2) web searches for Lifestyle will turn up polyamory stuff, but also Martha Stewart and her crafty Pinterest minions. And that, friends, is nothing but a boner killer. We still use the term, for variety and because it’s more concise and often less cumbersome in a sentence than our preferred term: Ethical Non-Monogamy (ENM). Stay tuned for an ESSay on “Lifestyle words and phrases that we dislike but use anyway.” There’s a growing list.
3 Finding Your Thing™ | It’s not, but we feel as if this phrase should legit be trademarked to Mr. and Mrs. Jones at We Gotta Thing.
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