Married couples indulge in sexual adventures, swap partners as part of polyamorous 'swinging' culture
Even couples in small towns are taking to swinging, an informal term for a lifestyle which entails swapping of partners in a sexual relationship, cutting across age and social classes
Even as the Bajrang Dal burnt a copy of the Kamasutra in Ahmedabad and threatened to burn down the bookstore if the illustrated book continued to be displayed or sold, married couples not only in metropolitan cities but even in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities have been enthusiastically swapping sexual partners without inhibition.
Their number is in thousands, if not higher and the swinging couples seem to be everywhere, in Bareilly and Bhavnagar, in Guwahati and Gulbarga, from Kanpur to Kota and from Rohtak to Ranchi.
The evidence is to be found on social media platoform Facebook and MeWe, a social media app, commonly used by consenting couples and singles to interact. Most people use pseudonyms and take their time after establishing first contact to see if the couples are comfortable with each other.
The profiles typically consist of a male-female combination. The profile pictures and images on their timelines are suitably blurred to ensure anonymity. Most have hundreds of ‘mutual friends’, if not thousands, indicating the widespread acceptability of the 'lifestyle'.
Even more surprisingly, most couples don’t belong to the elite class. Virtual interactions held with several couples over a month revealed there is no age bar. Even recently married young couples are eager to meet other couples, as much as those in their forties, seem eager to swap.
These encounters, depending on the comfort levels of the couples in question, could take place in the form of SRSP – same room, same partner, SRDP – same room, different partner or DRDP – different room, different partner.
Shuma Raha, a journalist and author who has penned a novel titled ‘The Swap’, which explores this ‘lifestyle’ to an extent, said her research into the subject threw up similar findings.
“I too was surprised to find even married couples from small towns, cutting across age and social classes, engaged in swinging. Clearly, Indians are more liberated and sexually adventurous than one would have imagined,” she said.
Asked if she thought the practice of swapping could be categorised as emancipation or hedonism, she said she did not wish to categorise it at all, nor judge those who indulged in it.
“It’s a matter of personal choice and individual sexual preference. These couples are probably trying to spice up their marriage, which may have become monotonous. They are probably looking to inject some excitement into their lives by indulging in such relationships,” Raha said.
Astha Ahluwalia, senior psychologist at Gurgaon-based Reboot Wellness, says, “You can’t see it from a moral compass. It is a choice made by consenting adults, who are just looking for thrill. From a psychological point of view, they are seeking excitement by stepping over the boundaries imposed by society.”
Anonymity is the key in such encounters. Beginning with casual meetings over coffee or drinks at a public place, couples decide to take the next step if they find ‘personal chemistry’ among all the four. ‘Swap parties’ are also in vogue among couples who have known each other for some time. Some couples get so well-knit that they go for holidays together, with the kids in tow.
“These activities are held behind closed doors and between consenting adults. It is nobody’s business but theirs,” Raha said.
But she also felt that such encounters were like ‘playing with dynamite’. “Nobody knows how it may turn out. I think you need to be quite hard-headed and a bit cynical to be able to indulge in serial swapping and not suffer from any emotional blowbacks,” she said.
Ahluwalia said entering into such a dalliance could possibly turn life upside down in some cases. “Human sexuality is such a complex subject that we still don’t understand several aspects fully. Couples must be able to handle the emotions it could trigger.”
A Dubai-based Indian couple, who claimed to be swinging for several years, had another take.
“Live-in relationships in our society have been around long enough to gain social and even legal acceptance. Premarital sex is fairly common, with even school going kids and teenagers known to be indulging in sexual experiments. As for extramarital sex, it too has been around since long. It is not cheating if the partner knows about it,” said the female partner.
“It is also not just about having sex but about having fun. Couples hang out together, have meals at nice places and generally have a good time, with some of them developing lifelong friendships,” she said.
"As long as care is taken to protect privacy and toxic people are not allowed, we firmly believe in the maxim that ‘a couple which plays together, stays together’,” she added.
Published: 05 Sep 2021, 5:26 PM