Vanilla Etiquette

by Chantelle Austin - 04 January 2017 - 27 Comments

This article was prompted by a post I read on a swingers forum. 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 worry about what other people thought or she could choose not to go to functions when they are all there.  She could also catch up with people individually, or choose to let those friendships go and make new friends that have similar beliefs.  She has choices…

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 its added fun!


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  1. summahlovn111

    More than a month ago
    Great article. I would be totally uncomfortable in that position, and would wish they had more respect for our differences. But i like your suggestions, all great options to help maintain friendships and avoid further awkward situations.
  2. Clickable

    More than a month ago
    I've always wondered about that. Where is the line you don't cross or dare to? All depends on the situation and the company I suppose. If you think your "vanilla" friends maybe curious about swinging how do you broach the subject? Sometimes it's the little hints. A subtle suggestion. Friendship is the glue that binds us all no matter what our kinky desires. Thanks Chantelle
  3. soosexyguy

    More than a month ago
    I believe in the saying that "manners cost nothing" ... why would you deliberately make others feel uncomfortable? Everyone has different values and beliefs and should be respected. Its not that hard to be in public and not offend others ... subtle sexy flirting is arousing and might pique curiousity in others who are emotionally aware enough to pick up on it.
  4. krazykempsey

    More than a month ago
    having moved to the swinging scene occasionally, we keep it to our self and the partners we are with at the time, discretion all around thanks,
    I know a lot of my friends would not agree with it at all
    we have socialised with as you say vanilla and our play friends, we just say its not a play date just socialising and its worked out well for all
  5. veness01

    More than a month ago
    Swinging is a choice, having friends is a choice too.
  6. allinmymind

    More than a month ago
    Very provocative article.
  7. 1DoorMan

    More than a month ago
    I the male, you should not put vanilla friends in a situation that makes them uncomfortable they may lose respect for you for not respecting them.. My new partner has learn t the etiquette of Swinging and Dom sub relationship very well and when not sure will ask how to ask or respond in a conversation with people we meet.
  8. voodoo660

    More than a month ago
    Great article and excellent analogy. Really makes one think.
    I used to be on the extreme vanilla side AND then moved to the "spicy" side. But not because of my non-vanilla friends, but because my lifestyle and circumstances changed. Who knows? I might switch again when I'm (much) older, ha!

    Everyone has choices. Leave or stay. Observe/enjoy or curl your lip and judge. State and stand your ground or develop a thicker skin. There is no right or wrong, but bear in mind, is keeping/losing these friends worth it? Only you can tell.
  9. AtomicCouple

    More than a month ago
    We were recently in an awkward situation where we met up with Swingers (first meet) and they had invited their non swinging friends too. I jokingly responsed by text. Oh so, no flirting ;) That's okay, we can briefly chat and check each other out. She had too much to drink and was openly touchy, feely with us. Even unzipped my man's pants and was feeling him up. Behind the friends back, but this was a dance floor and they could turn up any second. I know it sounds hot, but we felt this was unacceptable behaviour, considering their circumstances.

    P.S. This is the second time a couple has invited us to there usual meeting with friends event. It is actually rude not to set aside time for a proper exclusive date. Me thinks.


    More than a month ago
    Wow...I find that really wierd
  10. Scorleo2

    More than a month ago
    I see being a swinger in a public world as similar to being gay.
    The judgement is there, and it's palpable. How many swingers have come out to their parents? Friends? Do you believe it is safe for your career if your colleagues knew what you do in the privacy of your own home?

    This to me seems similar - "hi. I understand my friend is gay, but why do they have to kiss each other in public? Couldn't they be respectful of my feelings and not do it in front of me? What is other people think I'm gay too?"

    Let's be serious here - I mean no disrespect for the horrors the gay community have gone through. I'm glad now that it's more socially acceptable to be gay than it was 30 years ago - and we still have a long way to go. But I think people should have the right to be themselves. I think as a society we need to decide what the limits of acceptable public behaviour are - then apply it to everyone, equally, regardless of who they decide to partake in that with.

    If it's okay for a married couple to kiss at the supermarket - a dating couple to hold hands as they walk down the street - but not okay to kiss your partner at the office if you happen to be colleagues, not okay to be topless at the bus stop - well, whatever we decide should apply to everyone. Equally.


    More than a month ago
    Phew, I'm glad you added paragraph three

  11. Leolady727

    More than a month ago
    I don't think I have any "vanilla" friends, if vanilla means prudish and judgemental :-)
    Account Closed

    Account Closed

    More than a month ago
    Word from the wise: you're the JudgeyMacjudgeson, mate LOL ;) like Bare old matie one gives a shit about your proclivities cause the article is about Joanne's 'friendship'.


    More than a month ago
    But you don't like or approve of ANYONE, do you? I don't think my comment was judgmental, just a statement of fact. I have plenty of friends who are not into swinging, bi play etc., but they are quite cool with my lifestyle.
  12. FoxyOne001

    More than a month ago
    respect is respect.. simple as that........
  13. bare037

    More than a month ago
    Mutual respect should rule, and keeping things enjoyable for *everyone* in mixed company means behaving within everyone's limits. If you were to take it to another extreme (bdsm), everyone operates within the agreed comfort levels of those in the group (extreme as they might be). Anyone who tries to take things further doesn't get welcomed back. I reckon it's a shame Joan finds flirting amongst friends obnoxious and disrespectful, but I guess that may just lead her to a reduced or entirely new friendship circle.
    Account Closed

    Account Closed

    More than a month ago
    I reckon it's weird that you reckon it's a shame that Joan has issue with PDA at unknown levels, locale and audience. You're not the subject and she's a grown arse woman, so who cares what you think as related your sexual proclivities.


    More than a month ago
    Clearly you care enough what I think to bother telling me to pull my head in sweeth3art. Like you, I was just stating my view ;)
    Account Closed

    Account Closed

    More than a month ago
    Actually post was less for your education and those men reading this who might not understand the concept of misdirection. I reiterate (imagine I'm signing this for you like you're deaf and dumb) one cares if you're a swinger whose disappointed the world offers you one less playmate.
  14. sweeth3art

    More than a month ago
    Mate...there is nothing grey about this situ. Joanne's being harassed by a fake user friend. And author's analogy demonstrates this through analogy. When the cornerstones of all relationships are trust and respect, these two have none. The point is, ball's in Joanne's court. If you can't assign your own personal and professional values, and create and enforce relationship boundaries - then it's ultimately your own problem.
  15. nativxxx

    More than a month ago
    its like playinn kiss catchinn inn scool all ova again onlee we not as carefree now as then...u can play nd hav sex with multiples doesnt mean ur swinginn jus enjoyinn diff dynamix nd bodees.. yes swinginn maybe a lifestyle but if a human wants a human wooz deniyinng it...shit happenz wen u get naked
  16. Jayvon

    More than a month ago
    Wow. We keep Both sides completely seperate. Discretion is essential for our naughty play dates and it adds to the sexiness. We love swinging but equally love our vanilla life.
  17. abcplus1

    More than a month ago
    We don't identify ourselves as swingers, and we probably are what most on this sort of site would consider vanilla as we are not involved in the scene at all. We are fairly private about what we get up to behind closed doors and in public, a kiss or a cuddle in a public place with a partner is as far as we tend to display that we may be more than a twosome lol. We wouldn't want someone to 'out' us to family or friends who don't know about that side of our life by their behaviour.


    More than a month ago
    It's funny, my friend told me about a guy that swings that I went to school with. I would never have known :), nor do I care what he does :)
  18. Melody2973

    More than a month ago
    I've got a friend who swings and I respect that I've even been to parties with him but I don't participate. I'm certainly no prude but that ' scene ' doesn't work for me. I woundn't be cool babysitting or having someone flirt like that in public. I'm not vanilla but that's just my view on it :)

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