Swinging - an overview

Swinging - an overview

Friday, 10th January 2020

Swinging is not a new activity, but research suggests that it is enjoying a revival in the UK. Whether you're curious about what swinging is, you're keen to find out more about what actually happens when you experiment with others, or you're eager to find people who have similar interests and a desire to live out their wildest fantasies, this guide to UK swinging should come in handy.

A brief introduction to swinging

Swinging is a phrase that describes enjoying sexual and amorous relationships with people outside of the relationship with your partner. If you're open to intimacy with others, swinging might appeal.

Swinging is not a new concept, and it is thought to have become popular during and after the world wars, with the ‘free love' movement of the 1960s contributing to an increased appetite for open relationships and sexual exploration. Today, swinging remains a subject of great intrigue, and while it might not be the kind of thing you chat to your hairdresser about, it isn't the taboo topic it used to be. People are more open when it comes to talking about swinging, and those who do enjoy swinging might feel more comfortable about sharing their experiences with others.

Swinging in its broadest terms means enjoying sexual relationships or intimacy with another individual or a group of others, but there are different types of swinging. Everyone has personal preferences within the swinging community, and some people will have very different experiences to others. As swinging has become more commonplace and more widely tolerated, dedicated sex clubs, themed parties and apps and websites that promote swinging and celebrate sexual freedom have popped up in the UK. Now, if you want to indulge your kinky side, or try something new in the bedroom, it's easier than ever before to find and meet like-minded souls.

How swinging came to be

Most people have preconceptions about swinging and swingers, usually as a result of film scenes or old wives' tales that have been passed down the grapevine. The history of swinging is open to interpretation, and swinging as we know it today is very different to the first instances written about in articles and magazine features. Open relationships and wife swapping gave way to free love in the 1960s. During this decade, swinging became more popular. Although the era is known as the swinging ‘60s due to a youth movement that promoted modernisation, peace, love and hope, this period is also significant in the history of swinging. After the 1960s, the popularity of swinging diminished, and it's only relatively recently that it has become more commonplace. The rise of the Internet and feminist movements that promote equality and freedom have undoubtedly fuelled the second coming of swinging.

In times gone by, swinging was an activity conducted behind closed doors. Today, discussions are more open and people who are interested in trying something new or living out fantasies can use apps, visit sex clubs or attend themed nights and erotic parties. According to research by the Sun on Sunday, there are currently around 1.5 million swingers in the UK. This equates to an increase of 50% in the last decade.

Although millennials have been branded the ‘hookup generation' due to the popularity of dating apps, research suggests that older people in their 40s, 50s and 60s are more likely to swing.

Types of swinging

Everyone is different when it comes to their sexual preferences and how they want to interact with others. The swinging community is made up of a diverse range of people, and the beauty of swinging is that you can try different things, meet different people and explore sexual activities and themes without feeling like you need to do anything that doesn't appeal to you.

If you're not familiar with swinging, it might seem like a black and white concept. In reality, there are lots of grey areas, and it's useful to find out more about the different types of swinging and familiarise yourself with commonly used names and terms before getting involved.

Soft swapping swinging

Soft swapping is a term used frequently among swingers. Soft swapping is an alternative to full swapping, and it involves engaging in sexual contact and affectionate behaviour without actually having sex. Many people who enjoy the idea of swinging want the opportunity to engage in foreplay and live out fantasies with other people at the same time as reserving intercourse for their partner. Soft swapping varies in terms of what couples or groups do. It may include kissing and cuddling, foreplay and fondling or oral sex, for example. Some swingers are comfortable with a soft swap, but they don't want to cross a boundary they have put in place and engage in full sex.


Voyeurism has been around for centuries. Most of us have been exposed to sexual scenes in films and TV shows, and many people get turned on when watching erotic or pornographic movies. If you find that you enjoy watching others, you might choose to attend a sex party or to link up with members of a swinging community as a voyeur. Some people who are interested in swinging start out as voyeurs so that they can see what goes on and decide whether it's for them or not.

Full swap swinging

Full swap swinging involves having sex with an individual or a number of people who aren't your partner. Full swap swinging often progresses from soft swapping. Some people might not be comfortable with the idea of having penetrative sex with another person, while others may not want their partner to have intercourse with anyone but them. Each couple should decide what works for them.


Swaying is a term used to describe people who are mostly ‘vanilla' (this means that they only engage in sexual relationships with their partner) but sometimes like to dabble in the occasional hookup or night of passion. This is often the case when individuals go on holiday or they attend a party, for example. Swayers can enjoy the thrill of trying swinging without committing to the lifestyle. If they enjoy it, they might decide they'd like to do it more often, but there's no pressure to make this decision.

Separate and same room swapping

This is an important term for novices to learn. Same room and separate room swinging relates to where you choose to position yourself. If you opt for same room swapping, this means that everyone is in the same room. This could mean that several couples are all playing at the same time, or that group sex is taking place. Separate room swapping occurs when couples or groups of people decide to go into a different room. If you're with your partner, for example, you might prefer to get intimate with your swinging playmate in a different room. This is a matter of personal preference.

Other useful swinging terms


Most of us know unicorns as mythical horned beasts, but in the swinging world, a unicorn is something very different. The term unicorn is used to describe a single female. Unicorns tend to be sought-after.

Single men

Swingers aren't always in couples, and lots of singles like to enjoy a piece of the action. Unlike single females, males don't have an intriguing, alluring name, and they're simply known as single men.

Sex clubs, parties and themed nights

If you like the sound of swinging, or you're up for broadening your horizons, you might be wondering where and how you can meet other like-minded individuals for fun between the sheets. In the UK today, there's an array of options, including:

Sex clubs

Sex clubs are specifically designed to promote sexual exploration and experimentation in a safe setting. Sex clubs celebrate fetishes, they bring people with similar preferences and approaches to sex together and they encourage revellers to let loose and indulge their deepest, darkest fantasies. There are sex clubs all over the UK and you can find details online. It's worth noting that you don't have to engage in full-throttle erotic adventures if you don't want to. Many people who go to sex clubs do so out of curiosity.

Sex parties

Sex parties have become more popular, as people are more open to talking about sex and considering the possiblity of engaging in sexual activity with others. The UK swinging community is thriving, and parties provide an opportunity to hook up with others who are looking for the same thing.

Themed nights

Many people have fetishes and fantasies, and themed nights offer a chance to explore these in more detail, try new things or recreate experiences that you've enjoyed in the past with other people. Themed nights are intended to be fun, and they cover all bases from bondage and submission to rubber, food and sexy lingerie.

Online hookups

The Internet is one of the main reasons swinging is prolific in 2020. Dating apps and websites, and apps designed to connect swingers and the sexually adventurous have made it easier to find new partners and playmates than ever before. Although we're not as frisky as our European neighbours, over 20% of couples in the UK have tried swinging, and numbers are increasing at a rapid rate.

UK swinging is on the up. If you're keen to meet new people and fulfil your sexual desires, now is the time to get involved!