When you hear the term ‘Lifestyle’, generally the concept refers to alternative sexuality—alternative to vanilla. But if you used the word when speaking with an aficionado of the BDSM world the mental image is much different than the one a swinger would immediately call to mind.
Both worlds are cornerstones of each end of the spectrum. If I were to use a colour wheel, BDSM would be a deep, almost black shade of red, while swinging would be orange tiptoeing into yellow.
I’ve experienced both sides in the dynamic of ‘Lifestyle’. It’s been my experience that the BDSM folks characterize their play as deeply sexual and erotic, involving the largest sexual organ in the body—the mind. TRUST is a huge element in the dynamic between a Dominant and submissive. A paradox that I noticed in BDSM, involves the power exchange. While the submissive person, bound and whipped appears to be the least powerful in a BDSM scene, they actually hold the most power. Either of the two parties can halt the scene at their discretion but in order for the scene to happen, the submissive needs to trust and surrender for it to begin in the first place.
Okay, so what has this got to do with swinging? This is a blog about swinging, right?
Trust is a huge element in the Swinging lifestyle as well. For a couple to delve into sexual activity with other people, they must trust in the strength of their relationship. Both people in that couple must desire the experience as a way to enhance their relationship. Like the BDSM participants, both hold the power to halt further action if the trust or attraction isn’t there.
For many purists in the BDSM lifestyle, physical sex does not enter into a scene. Yet, ask a person who’s been involved in BDSM for a while and they will tell you it is HIGHLY sexual, the interplay between a Dominant and submissive. The act of surrendering power, allowing yourself to experience pain, at the hands of another is the ultimate sexual release, involving your mind and soul. I have witnessed the powerful state of a submissive beaten to the point where they ‘fly’ or enter sub-space, so I believe this to be true.
For me, the feeing most akin to this in the swinging lifestyle is the closeness a couple experience when they watch each other achieve orgasm at the hands of another. What could be a devastating scenario if done in a strictly monogamous, vanilla couple relationship, becomes a powerful connection between partners in a swinging couple. The foreplay and afterplay in the weeks before and after such an event are like shock-waves, that bond and excite the swinging couple.
Although the BDSM world and the swinging stage seem to be polar opposites, there are elements of commonality in my mind. People in the Lifestyle, and please note I use the term as an umbrella term that encompasses both ends of the spectrum, tend to be open and accepting of diverse behavior in the sexual realm. Of course, consent between adult people is a given—anything other than this cannot enter the picture.
I’ll always remember an incident when I first discovered the BDSM side of the Lifestyle. An older man responded to my question about one of the guys at the party, who wore what appeared to be a leather skirt. It was my first party, okay? Anyway, his answer was off-hand, casual and accepting of the guy’s kink. Oh wow! Would, that society as a whole be so non-judgmental… Maybe gay bashing and other narrow, mean spirited behavior would never occur.
People in the Lifestyle usually don’t advertize that fact. Just as homosexual men and women once left the closet at their peril, the public acceptance of Lifestylers isn’t quite there yet. I foresee a time when it will be. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that being gay carried a huge stigma. Today, there are popular television programs where a gay couple is the star of the show. Who would have guessed thirty years ago that this would happen?
Styles change, morals evolve over time. Does it mean we’re all going to hell in a hand basket? I don’t think so. Perhaps we’re just growing up as a society, learning that there are alternatives to the ways and experiences of the past.
I think Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said it best:
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
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