Swinging vs. polyamory, the showdown
Just kidding. There will be no showdown (as far as I know). The differences (and similarities) between these two approaches to non-monogamy are often very interesting, though. Only recently did I discover this old post from poly expert Peppermint:
Border wars are identity definition struggles in the murky area between two sexual identities. In this paper/presentation, I will discuss the overlap between swinging and polyamory, the various viewpoints involved, and how the process of identification in our culture leads to tension between identity communities. I will be focusing on the view of swinging from polyamory, because that is the viewpoint I have the most experience with, and it demonstrates the idea of a border war well.
It even has diagrams!
If you'd prefer something with less academic language, there's also this March post from Polyamory In The News, Poly vs. Swingers as Viewed From 2010. One of the quotes is from the Boston Examiner, which says, for example, that
By and large, swingers seem to see themselves as normal folks who are just out having some excitement on Saturday nights.... They are often happily suburban, Christian, and ranging from working class through to wealthy. Aside from their adventures with other couples, which admittedly sometimes turn into long-term, dating-like friendships, swingers tend to fully participate in Normal Life(tm).
Poly people, on the other hand, are often life-hackers: people who are interested in doing things differently from the norm to see if they work better for them.... Many polyfolk are entrepreneurs in the widest sense: not just running their own businesses but generating the business of their lives....
... and ends by saying:
Whatever you think of the swing scene, it's way bigger and better organized than the poly world. But it usually comes into public view only for its giant conventions in Las Vegas and Florida, and for busts of party houses (often triggered by neighbors' complaints of noise and traffic).
(Turns out the Boston Examiner featured the Peppermint post this whole time. Silly me for not following the links sooner.)
Relevant posts on my personal blog:
* Review of the polyamory documentary "When Two Won't Do"
[Hat tip to Border Thinking]