About those sites…

I always assumed that people just used the swinger sites.  Everyone who was swinging had a profile and they were out there.  So when I see 77,000 possible profiles on a site, that must be how many swingers there are in the U.S.  Right?  Wrong.

Not only do a lot of swingers not use the websites, but a lot of people don’t even know about them.  Or they’re intimidated by them.  Or they tried one and didn’t like it so they just quit.  Well, we currently have a profile on two different sites, and each has it’s strengths and weaknesses.  Although I do believe that one is superior to the other.

The two sites that we have tried in the past, and are currently trying, are Swing Lifestyle, heretofore referred to as SLS, and Swinger Zone Central, or SZC.  They function in pretty much the same manner, but they couldn’t look much different.

SLS 1 Circles

First there is SLS.  When you login this is what you see.  The menu bar on the left side of the screen, circled here in blue, allows you to see who is currently logged in (for the stalker in all of us), has a search button, a chat function, forums, and so on.  The indicator that tells you if you have mail or not is on the upper right, circled here in black.  It’s small and inconspicuous.  If you have mail there will be a little gif of a bird carrying an envelope there, along with a number indicating how many messages you have.  Because of the bird you will see, in profiles, that people will say things such as, “If you want to chat, send us a bird!”  There is always a horizontal bar that features one of their proprietary events, like the Vegas Exchange or a Bliss Cruise.  And there are also your newest matches, circled here in green.  Basically the site uses some sort of algorithm to determine who you might possibly like.  It’s not a very good one and seems to be predicated mostly on distance.

The SZC homepage looks like this:

SZC 1 Circles

It has a darker screen, and looks more polished and professional, in my opinion.  But you know what?  You can make just about anything look good.  It doesn’t mean it is.  I’ve seen sites more attractive than this that completely sucked.  Fortunately, along with the polished look comes a friendly interface.  It looks almost like the apps on your smartphone, and I don’t believe that’s on accident.  It’s an interface we’re all comfortable with.  One of my favorite things is the “Who’s Viewed” icon, circled here in yellow.  It allows you to see who has viewed your profile since the last time you were online.  Stalk me, will you?!?!  I’ll stalk you right back.  It’s the digital equivalent to making eye contact with someone in a club.  It’s that first sign of interest, or at least curiosity.  Below that is a gallery request icon, circled here in red.  This indicates that someone has requested to see your private photos.  You also receive an inbox indicating the same, and can accept or deny in either you mailbox or in this icon.  Gallery requesting is a fickle thing.  Most people find it a major turn off if you request to see someone’s private pictures without ever sending a message of greeting first.  It’s a sure-fire way to strike out before you even get up to bat.  There is also an icon indicating a meet request, circled here in green. I liken this to the wink and smile you give someone after you make that eye contact.  Up at the top, circled in purple, is your search button, which will take you to another screen, and finally, way at the top, circled in orange, is a really handy feature.  It tells you how many days are left in your subscription.  Unless you are a lifetime member, or are on autorenew, you have to make sure you re-up every so often.  This little reminder helps ensure you don’t lose your paid status.  SLS simply sends an inbox message.  The winner here, in my opinion, is SZC.

Once you decide to search, what do you see?  Well, it depends on which site you use.

SLS 2 Circles

The SLS search page is no-nonsense and pretty plain.  However, it is functional and has a decent level of customization.  It allows you to filter by smokers and drinkers, which can be handy if that is your bugaboo.  It also allows you to search from any location simply by specifying a zip code.  SZC also allows you to do this, but it is a bit more cumbersome.

SZC 2 Circles

The SZC search page is a bit more visually appealing.  The search criteria are nearly the same.  However, one thing I really like is the ability to not only search according to your own preferences, but also according to the preferences of other users.  Only looking for those who are interested in couples?  Then specify that in the “Will Meet” drop down menu, circled here in red.  You can also customize how many results show up per page, which is nice, but not a huge deal with our superfast internet connections.

How about profiles?  A good profile can make or break your online experience.  Don’t believe me?  Go ahead and do a search and start opening them.  Wait, why are you skipping that one?  And that one?  Notice how certain ones grab your eye while others don’t?  So does everyone else.

SLS 3 Circles

Profiles really breakdown into 2 parts.  The top part, pictured here from SLS, features username, location, height, weight, age, sexual orientation, and some pictures.  This particular user has photos, but not a profile pic.  Big mistake.  Doesn’t really grab you, does it?  A nice picture would probably grab your attention.  The menu bar, circled here in red, allows you to send mail to the person, friend request them, certify them (meaning you have either met them, talked to them, or even played with them, and therefore can vouche for them), block them if they’re a creep, take notes (this person is a douche, don’t talk to them) or even report them.

SZC 3 Circles

The SZC profile look similar, but includes a little more information.  In addition to the standard height, weight, age and orientation, it includes hair color (in case you’re a ginger lover), body type, eye color, and preferences.  It even tells you what they are interested in.  There is a tool bar at the top that is similar to the one on SLS.  They call it validating instead of certifying, but you get the picture.  Again, pictures are huge.  You can also click the thumbs up or down, circled here in green, if you are interested in meeting someone.  I’ve never used it.  If I want to meet someone, I send a message.  But I’m wacky like that.

SLS 4 Circles

The bottom portion of the profile, if you make it this far, is probably the most important, and easiest to screw up.  There are some fields to fill out.  Leave it blank, and you won’t get any interest.  Write too much and it guarantees that most won’t read it.  Spelling and grammar are more important than you think.  Have boundaries?  Put that here.  But don’t be shocked if people try to go around them.  Admittedly our profile is too long, but we like it that way. If words scare you, we probably aren’t your couple.  Plus, I’m hilarious.  But you already knew that, didn’t you?

SZC 4 Circles

The SZC written portion is pretty similar to the SLS one. It just has a few more fields.  No biggie.

Having used both of these sites for a few years now, I have to say that I like the overall fit and finish of the SZC site a little better.  However, SLS is simple, functional, and has a forum section that I didn’t mention earlier.  The forum section can be fascinating, and if you need a support group of people to ask for advice, it’s a big plus.  I’ve gone on there a few times, and it is entertaining.  But it’s not a deal breaker for me.

When creating your profile, don’t be afraid to state what you want.  What you won’t accept.  What your limitations or boundaries are.  Otherwise, how are others to know?  Ultimately it will give you a better online experience and will likely lead to a more successful attempt at meeting others.  Don’t be afraid to tell us what you think of our review!

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Where do we begin?

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!

What’s in a name? (Why polyswingerish?)

Great question, really.  When we started talking about this blog as a concept, I (Mr. Polyswingerish) immediately started thinking about names.  I mean, every blog has to have a clever name, right?  Uh, right?

Well, clever or not, I was trying to think of something that embodies where we are as a couple in this journey.  But that’s like looking around in the middle of the ocean trying to pinpoint your location.  Without landmarks, it’s impossible.

As we’ve drifted further and further from the safety of our vanilla life shore, we have felt adrift on more than one occasion, and rather rely on a GPS that we don’t know how to use and don’t feel like we can trust, we’re mapping our own course as we go.  I’ve realized that there is land in every direction, and that we just have to get there.  That takes patience, work and persistence.

If you’re not familiar with the term poly, it refers to Polyamory.  Don’t bother looking it up in the dictionary.  Chances are, it’s not there.  Essentially, it’s a form of ethical non-monogamy in which people base their interactions on establishing relationships based on love.  The physical aspect may or may not be there.  Basically, sex isn’t the focus.  But it’s a possibility.  (note:  this is a ridiculously simplified definition of polyamory that may or may not embody what that lifestyle is all about.  If this offends you as an acting polyamorist, I apologize)  These relationships can be long term, or fleeting.  Oftentimes people in the poly lifestyle tend to refer to others as their boyfriend/girlfriend, or even a 2nd husband/wife.  It’s not totally unheard of for couples to live and rear children together, though the more I read, the more it becomes apparent that this is a rare situation akin to the highly sought after “unicorn” in the swinger world.  Anyway, you get the gist.

Swinging, on the other hand, tends to refer to a sex based interaction among consenting adults.  (See my apology above if you are a swinger and this offends you)  The interactions don’t have to be exclusively sexual in nature, and often relationships do evolve, but the focus isn’t on finding a long-term extra partner.  The word “love” in the swinger world is as terrifying as STD’s to some.  It’s taboo.  We do not speak of it.  But it happens.  In our relatively short time in this LS we have seen multiple married couples split, only to later marry other people they met through the LS.  Much more common than I had anticipated.

So, short story long, I’m not sure where we fit into either of the aforementioned lifestyles.  Mrs. Polyswingerish (hereafter referred to as simply Mrs. P) tends to lean more toward the poly ideology.  I won’t tell her story, or speak for her, because it’s not my story to tell.  But suffice it to say, she’s not terribly comfortable being intimate with someone of that intimacy doesn’t involve some emotional component.  Immediate sex with a random partner?  Not on her to do list.  It’s how she’s wired.  Ultimately it becomes a matter of what she needs in order to feel fulfilled, and isn’t that what this is all about anyway?

As for me, I think I tend to identify more with the swinger mentality.  Although I’m not opposed to an emotional connection forming during the process of getting to know someone, it’s not a necessity.  I do just fine without it.  Just met you?  Hey, if I’m attracted to you and you’re attracted to me, I’m good with taking it to the next level.  However, I’m not as shallow as that statement makes me seem.  There is also an “it” factor.  There have been women who, by all accounts, I should be attracted to, and I’m just not.  Something is missing that I can’t explain.  Conversely, there are other women who don’t seem to be my type physically who I am drawn to for reasons that defy understanding.  I can’t figure it out, so I stopped trying.  I can tell you this, if I sleep with a woman, I won’t act like I don’t know her immediately after we finish, which seems to be the M.O. of some of the people we’ve met.  It pisses me off, it hurts my wife when it happens, but that is a different topic for a different day.

One thing I don’t want to happen is for this blog to become a repository for the work of other people.  I have no problem sharing articles or websites that I find interesting or relevant, but I have my own perspective that I find unique and that I would like to share, otherwise I wouldn’t be pounding the keys like I am.  So I’ll share other resources, because there are people out there far more experienced than I am, but I won’t let this become a bucket of links without my own personality and perspective coming through.  It’s just not my thing.

With that disclaimer clearly stated, there is an article I found last night that I really liked.  It was a very practical look at the differences and similarities between the poly and swinging lifestyles.  There are some interesting case studies provided, and it just reinforced what I already knew:  you can’t categorize everything.  This is a fluid and ever-changing journey, and just about the time you think you see land, it might just be a mirage.  So hunker down, do the work, and have fun!

Swinging and Polyamory: The Great Divide

What are we doing?!?!

We’ve had this thought numerous times over the past few years, and we’re having it once again as we write this first post of what we hope will be many.  What would induce us to put perhaps the most private aspect of our lives out in the open?  Why would we even begin to risk the potential fallout that being outed would undoubtedly bring about?

Well, frustration for starters.  What we have learned is that there is no instruction manual for alternative lifestyles.  Now before you point us in the direction of any of the numerous books and websites dedicated to the subject, rest assured we have explored those.  But just as every person is unique, so is every situation.  There is no all-encompassing guide on how to maneuver through a lifestyle–or whatever you want to call it–that is ever changing, both behind the scenes and in the public eye.  We’ve met all kinds of folks from all sorts of different backgrounds, different states, and at different life stages.  And one thing has become abundantly clear:  no one really has a clue what they are doing.  It’s learn as you go and finding what works for you.  The challenge comes when you try to connect your “normal” with someone else’s.  It’s a challenge to say the least.

We don’t profess to have answers or expertise, but we hope that by sharing our journey we can maybe help others who find themselves spinning their wheels in the mud and going nowhere fast.

We are both professionals from Midwest America, so being out with our identities is a non-option.  Maybe one day, when we move far away and retire, that will become an option, but we have careers and children to think about, like so many others we have met.  So for the time being, we will keep our identities secret as we reflect on the path we’ve traveled thus far, our current situation as it continues to develop, and where we plan on heading in the future.

We would love for this blog to become a resource.  A place where like-minded folks can visit, read, maybe be slightly entertained, and share their own experiences as well.  And if not, if no one listens, the process of pouring all of this out and analyzing our situation is cathartic in its own right.