Are couples having sex with their friends but not calling themselves swingers?

Having been in the lifestyle for many years, we obviously have met many swingers.  We have spent time with swingers in clubs, on vacations, at our home, at their homes, etc.  Over time we have gotten to know many of them quite intimately.  One of the most common questions that seems to be asked of couples who meet each other in the lifestyle is how they started to swing.  Like any other group of friends,  they tell stories of different experiences along the way.  I discovered that something we hear frequently are stories about sexual encounters with friends and neighbors prior to couples entering the lifestyle.

If couples are having sex with their friends, is this not swinging?  When I asked those who had experienced this with friends or neighbors, oddly, they did not consider themselves swingers at that time.  They knew what swinging was but did not see these encounters as anything more than erotic nights with friends.

I was reading an issue of Glamour magazine and came upon an article that was discussing a sex survey.   The answers to the survey revealed the sustainability of a couple’s relationship.  Imagine my shock when one of the questions asked if the couple ever had sex with other couples.  What?!  When did swinging go mainstream?  It was just thrown in there with other questions about their sex life as if this is something most couples engage in.  If I am a swinger, why did this question shock me?  Did other’s find it as surprising?

Perhaps there is a whole movement of people out there who actually engage in swinging but choose not to call it such.  Let’s face it, swinging has a pretty definitive definition.  Swinging, also known as wife swapping or partner swapping, is a non-monogamous behavior in which both singles and partners in a committed relationship engage in sexual activities with others as a recreational or social activity (Wikipedia)  If you and your husband  are out  in the hot tub fooling around with your neighbors, news flash, you are swinging!  I can’t help but wonder how these couples view those who are in the lifestyle, after all, what they are doing is exactly the same thing that people are doing in a swing club.
My curiosity got the best of me so I went online determined to find these “non-swingers” who are having sex with their friends.  It is truly amazing that you can really find anything you want on the internet!  There was a feed on a “friendship” website that talked about married couples fooling around with friends.  I casually entered the conversation and asked them if they consider themselves swingers.  After all, I pointed out, isn’t that what a swinger is?  The person who first posted the thread declared that calling them swingers was a long shot.   This was not something they do with other people, just this one particular couple.  Others from the thread agreed that just because this couple was fooling around with their friends, that did not make them “swingers.”  I asked what constitutes a swinger and got quite a bit of feedback.  Apparently, according to the experts on this particular thread, swingers are people who have indiscriminate sex with anyone and usually with more than one person at a time. They do not use protection and are mostly people in their 60s who were hippies back in the day.  When I mentioned that I had actually been to a few swing clubs and this was truly not the clientele I saw there, I was told I did not go to a “real” swinger’s club.
What is it about the term “swinger” that frightens people?  Let’s be honest, if a couple is swapping with their neighbors or anyone else, they are swinging.  There are no hard and fast rules as to what constitutes actual swinging other than couples having sex outside their marriage with permission from each other.  It is truly a misconception that people believe that swingers are a bunch of  perverted old hippies.  A visit to a swing club would prove that many people in the lifestyle are young, attractive professionals who very well could be the children (even the grandchildren) of former hippies.  The majority of people in the lifestyle are adamant about the use of protection and generally are pretty particular about who they will play with.  Certainly there are exceptions to every rule but for the most part, swingers are like everyone else.  They are doctors, lawyers, teachers, repairmen, gardeners, professional athletes, etc.
Perhaps regardless of whether or not couples reject the term swingers is unimportant.  There is really no need to put a  label on people who engage in certain activities.  The whole point here is that it seems that swinging is perhaps much more common than we think.  Maybe the term “friends with benefits” has a farther reach than we know!