Vanilla Etiquette

I was on a forum website just recently and in the swinging and threesome section. It was an interesting post and it prompted this article to discuss boundaries and acceptable behaviour when we’re out with our non-swinging friends. A lady, let’s call her Joan, had added a post about this. Joan was a vanilla and wanted the opinions of other swingers as to how to handle her friend, with her new lifestyle choices. It was a bit more complicated than that though…

It was a long post but let me summarise. Joan had been friends with her for over a decade before she and husband started swinging. Joan’s friend is a social butterfly and quite happy to talk about swinging to anyone and everyone, including their mutual friends. Joan was against the idea of swinging, she even felt guilty for being initially judgmental; it wasn’t something she believed in but thought that as long as her friend didn’t involve her or talk to her about it, that she could just ignore what was going on.

The problem was that her friend was telling everyone and some of their mutual friends became involved and they all started going to swinging events together. Joan admitted to feeling very uncomfortable and one thing that really bugged her was being asked to baby-sit knowing it was “so they can go have sex with each other.”

Joan’s friends would sometimes openly flirt and kiss the other couples, which Joan described as “obnoxious and disrespectful” behaviour, because it happened while they are out with her. She was concerned that if she was seen out with them, that other people in her community would incorrectly assume that she is also a part of the lifestyle.

She felt that by her friend talking about it and behaving that way around her, it meant that her friend was “non-consensually involving me in her kink and it’s wrong to do that to someone.” To which her friend disagreed.

So is it disrespectful and obnoxious?Is Joan being non-consensually involved?And what is the best way for swingers to be themselves and not upset their vanilla friendships; where is the line between the freedom of what they get to experience and being “appropriate” in vanilla company?

I think Joan’s friend was unintentionally involving Joan and perhaps she (and their mutual friends) could have been more discreet, especially knowing Joan’s concerns around the association in a public arena. That said, Joan could absolutely choose not to go to functions when they are all there and catch up with people individually, or choose to let those friendships go and make new friends that have similar beliefs.

In all honesty, this is one area that is very grey and there are no strict rules either way, but there are a few things to consider and understand.

Let’s look at it in a different context: If I had a friend that was highly religious (which I’m not), then I wouldn’t want to hear about her god or his teachings when we caught up. Nor would I want to be around while she was preaching to anyone who walked by or to be there while she was trying to convert someone. I’m not saying that’s what swingers do, however, to a vanilla it can come across that way and it’s something just to be mindful of.

I always suggest a mutual respect for each other’s lives and boundaries. While I’m completely comfortable with what I do, I know that some of my friends are not so we never talk about it. I would also never dare kiss/grope/flirt with playmates openly in front of them if we were out. I respect them and their beliefs as much as they respect mine, even if they don’t want to know about it.

I’d suggest if you are going out with swingers, don’t invite your vanilla friends unless you are planning to be vanilla for the event. Go out with swingers to venues or events where swinging behaviour is readily accepted, or entertain at home.

Funnily enough I don’t have an issue openly flirting with playmates in public when my vanilla friends aren’t around, but that does depend on the environment. It’s never that raunchy that we’d be asked to leave the premises… There’s playful and there’s, well… you know what I mean.

While none of my vanilla friends have joined me in the swinging world, it doesn’t mean they don’t ask me questions that they wouldn’t dare ask other people. So it’s worked out well in that respect – by being open myself, I give others permission to be open which is a good thing.

So you can tell your vanilla friends or don’t tell them, but either way please respect their views and beliefs as you would want them to respect yours. Where necessary, behave in alignment with your environment and the people in it to give being a swinger a good name. There is a time and a place for everything, and being sneaky about it has some added fun!

Copyright © 2010 Chantelle Austin International
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