This blog is part of a longer series of blogs on sexual desire (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four) and Part Two on swingers and swinging. In the previous blog on swinging I suggested that swinging smacks of child sexual abuse for adults and that the spouse who talks the other spouse into doing swinging is the perpetrator, the one who gets talked into it is the victim. This is new language to describe swinging behavior, but you need this background to follow today’s comments.
Swingers don’t make very good marital therapy candidates. The one who wants to do it, the one who tries to talk the other into it, the one who advocates for it, chides about it, prods the other, grooms the other spouse, this person’s mind is so far removed from the protection and safety and sanctity and respect and dignity of marriage that the suggestion from a therapist like me that opening up the boundary of protection in marriage and driving a semi-truck of evil and selfishness and chaos and trouble through it isn’t a good idea, this client is only going to get mad: Frickin’, fundamentalist, legalistic, narrow-minded, unenlightened therapist. And I’m sorry, but I’m going to have a hard time helping you be a better couple while one of you advocates for swinging and one is devastated. You can’t use me to explain to your spouse that “Open Marriage” is just fine. And if you both tell me that you love swinging, but you have these other problems and we don’t want help with the swinging, the swinging is just fine, I’m not going to believe it. You’ll get irritated very quickly with my skepticism. This is one of those times I’d really have a hard time referring you out. We’ll probably just have to shake hands and say I’m sorry.
That’s not to say ALL perpetrator spouses in swinging couples are always unrepentant. Sometimes they are very sorry because the temptation that they’d feasted on in pornography for years – the doctor is doing it with the nurse, the nurse is doing it with the patient, the patient is doing it with the housekeeper, then they all do it together and everyone is so happy, happy, happy- turns out to be a nightmare instead and the perpetrator spouse wises up and realizes this ain’t the road to happiness after all.Crap.We gotta stop doin’ this.What am I gonna do with this stupid semi-truck?But then we end up with this sad irony.The victim spouse came into swinging kicking and screaming and protesting and against her will. In order to overcome the victim spouse’s objections, the perpetrator spouse had to convince and argue, sometimes for years, that the marriage boundary is only in their hearts and sexuality is only an amoral act.It does not matter who this act is done with.It only matters that you are having fun.We’ll protect the boundary of our marriage in our hearts by only truly loving each other, but we’ll use our bodies to express our latent sexual desire and enter nirvana through this secret gate.Comeonitllbefun.Don’t be such a prude.You never want to have any fun.
The victim spouse intuitively knows it’s wrong and evil and degenerate and out-there and freaky and wants nothing to do with it, but the perpetrator spouse is so convincing and such a salesman, goading and pounding it in and showing the victim porn and on and on and on and so the victim spouse finally relents.She’s been converted to the view that sex means nothing between them.It’s just an act.If sex means nothing between her and her swinging partner, then it means nothing between her and her husband.She can’t play mental games like this.Her sex with her husband hasn’t meant anything for some time now, because he’s told her it just an act:Dogs copulating in the field while staring off into space.That’s not what he said, but she wasn’t prepared to play the mental games he was suggesting she play.Sex either means something or it means nothing.It can’t mean something with her husband and nothing with everyone else.She’d dreamed as a child that sex was special.She even wore white at her wedding and got all dolled up to show it was worth the wait and that there is something unique about the wedding bed and all her friends and her mother cried when she walked down the isle.That was all a ruse?Now he’s telling her all her ideals were a sham. Over and over.Sweetie, you gotta loosen up.You are so uptight.Lose those inhibitions.They are binding you.Her dream.What happened to her dream?You mean it’s not making love and looking into each other’s eyes and heart and soul?Not connection in love?Not tenderness, mutuality, longings fulfilled, oneness?Nothing special about it all?Nothing worth protecting at all?Damsel in distress?Forget that.The prince will join the giant and let’s get the other soldiers in here, too, and any other damsels we can rustle up and we’ll all ravish the damsel.Group rape is fun.Why are you crying?Stop it.Just loosen up, already.
Well, after you’ve been preached at, hounded and scolded and manipulated and groomed by the perpetrator for so long, pretty soon it’s all going to take hold and the victim is no longer a victim, but a willing participant—sort of. Yeah. Now this is where it gets really weird.
The only way any sane victim can be victimized and not go crazy is to find a mental game to play. They have to leave the extreme hurtfulness of the situation.Victims of child sexual abuse talk about leaving their bodies.I’ve had clients tell me it was like they were on the ceiling looking down on their perpetrator violating their bodies.It’s sounds a little psychotic, but I think this type of coping is a God-given way to keep sexually abused children from going literally crazy.It’s hard enough witnessing your dignity stolen from a distance.
Another way they cope with it is to think of something else altogether, while the act is being forced upon them. Strippers and prostitutes do this in order to stay sane and stay at a distance from what they are doing. Don’t get me wrong. It still hurts like the dickens. You can only escape in your mind so far. This is why so many of them are on drugs or alcohol. They are only acting like they are enjoying it. That big smile you see on the stripper’s face? It’s part of the act to get you to give her your money. What they are thinking instead is that this guy or these men are pervs and I’m doing this because I hate them and I’m exploiting them (it’s really the other way around, remember?). Just because you “pay” a prostitute or a stripper, doesn’t mean you aren’t abusing her. She’s been abused all along by her daddy or Uncle Bob and those pervs unwittingly trained her years ago how to survive and not go crazy. The only way that she could go through Uncle Bob’s shenanigans is to hate his guts while he did his totally perv and unspeakable thing. Or they are paying their bills in their heads or reciting a poem or a favorite song, anything other than I am enjoying this and I’m really sexual and wow this is awesome. Those interviews with porn stars and strippers and prostitutes you see on TV where they say that they are just sexual and it’s just an act and they are actually self-actualized in their sexuality and she shouldn’t be discriminated against and women are sexual beings and she’s just exploring her sexuality and it’s a good job and look at all this money? Don’t believe any of it for a second. It’s all part of the act. She’s quoting Uncle Bob! She’s really just a broken little girl acting out a script she’s been brainwashed to do. She’s anything, but happy. It’s only a matter of time before she totally breaks. She’s aging before her eyes.
How do adults cope with sexual abuse by their spouses in the form of swinging, swapping, and same-sex experimentation? Swinging opens the door to every perversion. It’s just sex, remember? It doesn’t matter with whom. Gender don’t matter squat, either. The plumbing works. It’s meant to be utilized, right?
Every right thinking victim knows intuitively that it’s not just sex. It’s supposed to be special. It’s supposed to be about love and connection and tenderness. So in order to keep from going crazy, they fall in love with their partners. Male or female. It makes no difference. Pandora’s box has been opened. The marriage vow has been deflowered and debased and debunked. There must be some love here somewhere.
And then a swinging victim asks herself why would I want to be married any more to my perpetrator? Sex didn’t mean anything to my husband, right? Just an act and all that? But it meant something when she did it with this swinger guy or gal. Finally meant something, just like she thought it should. She’s been looking for love all along and she finally found it when she swung with this guy or gal. Imagine that. He was nice. He was gentle. She looked me in the eye and soothed me while I cried. Sort of a built in revenge deal against her perpetrator. It’s a cruel world.
If her perpetrator has groomed her this far and this well, she doesn’t make a very good marriage therapy client, either. Sadly, no. I gotta get out of this marriage to be protected. I gotta be safe somewhere. He just throws me to the wolves. My husband is a crazy sex perv and all he thinks about it himself. Getmeoutofhere!
Before leaving this subject, I must write about how some couples end up in this semi-truck load of evil seemingly unwittingly.I don’t really think that, because the naïve are still responsible for being in positions to be duped.They took the bait.Don’t take the bait.Don’t be in a position or situation where the bait even looks attractive.Be far, far away.These people are not your friends.It’s time to leave, Honey.
Sometimes you will meet a really outgoing and friendly couple.But you notice after a while, that they are just way-way too forward about sexuality.They talk about it with both of you there.They talk to you about it when your spouse isn’t there.It’s great fun.They brag about their sexual exploits.They make crude jokes.They look at each other in this knowing sort of way.They invite you to watch porn with them…as couples.They openly flirt with you.They talk about their sexual activities in front of you.They invite you over to their hot tub.Things happen.One of you enjoys it.The other is appalled.Maybe you are both appalled.But now we’re both in therapy because one of us thinks the other should have put a stop to it before it got this far.Or that one of you was too enthusiastic and if that’s what you want Okay fine, but my marriage means more to me than that.Yikes!
Okay.Look.There are perpetrator couples out there looking for innocent victim couples to exploit.Avoid friends like this like the plague.They are grooming you just like two child molesters might work in tandem.Team perpetrating.Run away.Run away.The only person you should be talking about your sex life with is with your spouse or your pastor or your therapist.
If any couple or single starts talking to you about sexuality in any provocative way, you need to get out of there and never go back.
Your soul and the protection of your spouse and your marriage and your integrity and your commitment are worth more than a hot tub and a semi-truck full of trouble.