From Fantasy to Reality: A Grounded Theory of Experiences in the Swinging Lifestyle

Arch Sex Behav. 2017 Apr;46(3):789-799. doi: 10.1007/s10508-015-0621-2. Epub 2015 Nov 23.


Swinger couples-committed couples who consensually engage in extra-relational sex for recreational purposes-are difficult for researchers to access due to the social stigma associated with swinging. This study builds upon the limited research on swinger couples by examining personal experiences with swinging. Specifically, 32 semi-structured interviews with swingers (16 husband-wife dyads, interviewed separately) were analyzed using grounded theory methods to understand the process of transitioning into and maintaining marital satisfaction in the swinging lifestyle. The model formed included (a) antecedent steps taken to enter into the lifestyle, (b) types of desires fulfilled, (c) stated benefits of being in the lifestyle, and (d) rules that guided couples throughout the process. Although variations were found across couples, the effective use of verbal and non-verbal communication to increase sexual and marital satisfaction within these non-monogamous couples was paramount to their experiences.

Keywords: Consensual non-monogamous relationships; Grounded theory; Swinging.

MeSH terms

  • Fantasy*
  • Female
  • Grounded Theory
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Motivation
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Spouses / psychology*