Swinging in America: Love, Sex, and Marriage in the 21st Century

Swinging in America: Love, Sex, and Marriage in the 21st Century

Swinging in America: Love, Sex, and Marriage in the 21st Century

Swinging in America: Love, Sex, and Marriage in the 21st Century


Drawing on an extensive survey of real people and over 40 years of research, this revealing volume proposes that a nonmonogamous lifestyle may be healthier for marriages than a monogamous one.

• Includes data from a national survey, conducted by the authors, of 1100 swingers in the United States

• Offers first-person accounts from people in the swinging lifestyle

• Provides extensive bibliographies after each chapter documenting sources of information discussed in the text

• Lists a comprehensive index of terms and topics


One would expect that a book on swinging would be written by people who are themselves swingers. That is not the case here, although the authors have spent more than a decade studying them, and together we have devoted a combined total of 40 years studying and teaching about the family in the United States and its problems. But how, you might ask, can you really understand swinging if you don’t participate in it yourself ? There are two schools of thought on this. One is that by participating in the activity you are studying you gain valuable insights that you could not get in any other way—that you are able to see it from the viewpoint of the participants themselves. In the early 1970s a husband and wife team of anthropologists, Charles and Rebecca Palson, studied swinging in exactly this way. They became swingers, and the resulting research represents to this day some of the most insightful observations that have ever been made about the swinging community.

On the other hand there are those who warn that by becoming part of what you are studying you can lose your objectivity, that you become too emotionally immersed in what the experience is doing to you as an individual, that you become blinded by your own emotional reactions to what you are studying. Another excellent work on swingers, Terry Gould’s The Lifestyle, published in 2000, is an example of what can be done by a journalist who did not personally participate in what he studied but nonetheless, using disciplined research, was able to present a marvelously accurate and insightful portrait of this group.

For a variety of reasons we chose the latter approach to studying swingers. We did not want our own involvement to bias our observations and, frankly, swinging is not for everyone and everyone is not ready for swinging. We approached the topic as social scientists and asked the larger questions only science is able to answer. While there have been a few other books devoted to the swinging lifestyle over the years, we think you will find this one to be unique in the depth and detail with which the topic is explored and the scope and significance of the discussion for the future of love, marriage, and the very fabric of our society.

The book is divided into two Parts. Part I (chapters 1–5) examines the subculture of swinging in detail, based upon nearly 40 years of accumulated research by . . .

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