No, seriously. Where do we begin? How do we find people? Where do we look? How do we explore this without outing ourselves and jeopardizing our careers, families and small town life?
That was the question we were asking ourselves early on in this whole process. Our beginning actually stemmed from a late night conversation–hypothetical situations and the like–and turned into an experiment with friends. But that is a different story for a different day.
After our experiment failed we were left standing there wondering what had happened, and where we should go next. There was a feeling of near panic involved, at least on my part, due to the fact that you can’t undo what you’ve done, and you can’t un-know what you know. How do you get a glimpse into a world that is new and exciting and fulfilling, and then have the door slam shut and just walk away?
So, I Googled it! I mean seriously, you can Google anything. So I did. Something along the lines of “swinger websites” or a phrase to that effect. And I wasn’t surprised to see that there were plenty of options out there. Almost too many. Where do you look when there are so many options? Where do we begin?
Initially we tried out a website called Swing Lifestyle. I looked around the site one night and it seemed simple enough. Basically it is a dating site for swingers in which they can set up a profile, include some pictures and as much information as they are comfortable with, and look for like-minded folks who meet their criteria. All while remaining anonymous! Seems simple enough.
So, I set up a free profile, didn’t include a picture because it was too risky, created a pretty standard profile that included a little bit of information about ourselves and sat back while the messages, requests and propositions came pouring in. Except…they didn’t.
Turns out during the search function users can filter by paid members, as well as members with pictures. Add to that our admittedly vague and bland profile information, and we didn’t exactly come across as a very intriguing prospect. Turns out being coy isn’t as big a turn-on as we had hoped. Lesson learned.
About the time I was ready to revamp the whole thing we got our first message. How exciting! This is it! These are the people we will play with. According to their profile they meet our preferences. He’s taller (which she likes), and she has a vagina, which is a big plus for me. So, what’s not to like? Well, OK, they are into camping. Not really our thing. And they like to ride motorcycles, which is cool except we don’t own one. And they’re smokers, and we explicitly stated we aren’t interested in smokers. But hey, we can look past all that. Right?
All that was left was the exchange of pictures. They were willing to go first. Their profile picture, like many we’d seen, was taken in such a way that faces weren’t visible. But that’s cool. Gotta be discreet. I get it. So we get our first picture of their faces. Wait for it…..uh, who in the hell are these people? They are at least 10 years older than they stated in their profile. Maybe 15. They look nothing like they described themselves. Nothing.
Let me take this moment to say what a lot of other people will tell you: looks aren’t everything. This is true. Kind of. But while they’re not everything, they are something. I mean, there has to be at least a little bit of physical attraction. Could it be that these people lied to us? Were they being disingenuous with their profile? Had they fudged the numbers a little bit? Maybe got a little liberal with the adjectives? Yep. You bet your ass they did.
Sadly, I was shocked. Mrs. P? Not so much. She’s much more cautious and skeptical than I am. Careful. Discerning. And soooo much less impulsive. I responded with some lame excuse about why we couldn’t get together, maybe something about a sick aunt out of state on her deathbed or something along those lines, and ran for the hills. They didn’t pursue. It wasn’t their first rodeo. But it was my first exposure to the “buyer beware” mentality that one must have while using online services.
Ultimately we purchased a membership, added some tastefully provocative pictures and fleshed out our profile with courteous, yet frank, language that explicitly states our boundaries and preferences.
After fishing in that pond, and coming up with very little, for over a year, we noticed someone referencing a different site in their profile. They were careful, for obvious reasons, but they kept mentioning being in a different “zone”. Over and over. Hey, I’m no dummy. I mean, after seeing that word approximately 10 times in their profile I got curious. So I visited my friend Google again and searched “swinger zone”. That led me to Swinger Zone Central. Different site. Different look, feel and interface, and different results, kind of.
The take home message is that online services such as Swing Lifestyle and Swinger Zone Central can be useful, but they take a LOT of time. You can literally search for hours, scouring profiles, reading information, looking at pictures, and sending messages, and ultimately come up empty handed. I’m not a fisherman, and this is why. I’m impatient. I need immediate gratification. Or at least some kind of results. I don’t relish the process, like the man who sits at the edge of a creek for hours, casting his line and just enjoying the experience. I want to get something out of it. And we have, on occasion. Is the payoff worth the time invested? That’s debatable. But not really. But you’ve gotta start somewhere.
This is getting long, so I’m not going to post it here, but I will do a review of both of these online services in the near future, complete with screen shots and a list of pros and cons, at least in my humble opinion. Until then, happy hunting!