Swinging through the Decades


Swinging, also known as “spouse exchange”, or “wife swapping” is something that has been around for hundreds of years. Even as far back as the 18th century wives were swapped during festivals in some Jewish sects, however the majority of swinging done back then was kept secret and hidden just between those in the know. It wasn’t until around the 40’s that swinging became more exposed, particularly in the USA.

It was said about The Lifestyle that men going off to war in the 40’s vowed to take care of the wives should one of their comrades die in combat (which was a high possibility), and not just emotionally.   How very gentlemanly of them!  One wonders where that those old world values are today (in some ways anyway).

Swinging in the 50’s and 60’s

During the 50’s swinging was commonly seen in many military communities and it began to spread to the rest of the community (more so in the USA but UK and Australia were also partaking) after the war.

When the sixties rolled in and the idea of free love was combined with widespread use of drugs, the swinging lifestyle began spreading far and wide outside the military communities particularly as many younger couples wanted to explore their sexuality.  Some things haven’t changed.

For swingers to meet other couples, they would often have to find alternative ways to communicate and reach out. Underground newspapers and magazines were one way to connect with other swingers.

Swinging in the 70’s

The seventies were a huge era for swinging and were dubbed the “swinging seventies”. In fact, “key parties” were quite synonymous with swinging in the 70’s where house or car keys were thrown into a communal bowl or bag and then one half of the partnership picked out the keys to determine whose wife/husband they’d be going home with (or to another room) to enjoy “sexual relations”.

Couples would often have to rely on their instincts about friends and neighbours, and knowing how well this works, there must have been many uncomfortable conversations and perhaps the loss of a few friendships as the signs were misinterpreted.

Swinging in the 80’s

The eighties were a time when contraceptive devices were improved, abortion was legalised, and other sexual repressions were being overthrown in legal ways. The eighties were not an especially important decade for swingers, and many couples who were involved in swinging still had to rely on alternative means of contact and personal connections to find others like themselves. The lifestyle during this decade was still alternative and frowned upon by the mainstream culture even with all that spandex, net clothing, studs and hair!

Swinging in the 90’s

The nineties were a huge era for swingers and the lifestyle and there was a major resurgence in interest and participation thanks to the Internet.  All praise the technology gods who blessed us with such a fun and pleasure-increasing gift!  As computers and the internet began emerging in the average person’s household, the ability to discretely communicate with other swingers, learn more about swinging, and find like-minded groups, led to a dramatic increase in participation. 

Couples who were interested in swinging were then able to begin the first steps into the lifestyle, while other couples who were already swingers had a lot more couples or playmates to choose from.  Variety is the spice of life after all, the more the better!

Swinging became more publically accepted, however during the 90’s it was still considered an alternative sexual lifestyle that was practiced by a minority. 

Swinging in the 21st Century

The 21st century has been an absolutely astounding time for swinging although now more widely referred to as “The Lifestyle”.  As people are able to learn more the overall opinion on it has shifted dramatically. Alternative sexual lifestyles are increasingly accepted by mainstream culture; they are being explored by documentaries, films, TV shows and scientific studies and the amount of couples registering on sites like Adult Match Maker is on a steep rise.  

Now we have apps, websites, clubs and regular events in most major cities around the world, conventions and holidays for lifestyle people to make it really easy to connect, meet and play together.  Thank you technology and progress!  No more hush-hush communications and difficult to find magazines, or trying to subtly see if the neighbours or friends were up for a bit.

The Lifestyle has come a long way from the days of the war and promises to take care of the widow wives, with key parties now something rare and closet swinging becoming a thing of the past, it’s not so big a stretch to think that this whole non-monogamy thing could very well become a common phase most relationships go through in the future.  Well, maybe…

I can’t wait to see how the Lifestyle evolves in the next decade!  How do you think it will change?


  • Account closed
    More than a month ago

    Hello all, I was wondering if anyone has written a book on Australian Swingers? I've read several American books.My partner & I have been to a half dozen S& S balls which were absolutely awesome and we've met with a couple online which was also fantastic. Our problem is our location. Going back to a book it would be great to have a proper hard copy with true stories & pictures, like a documentary. I love the work here but I find myself printing & saving the articles all the time.

    • AMM.Editor Photo
      More than a month ago

      Yes there are 2. Chantelle Austin wrote The Essential Guide for Adventurous Couples which is available in a kindle edition and if you look for Scarlet Black in our list of authors you can read an excerpt from her true life story, Diary of a Swinger.

    • Account closed
      Account Closed
      More than a month ago

      Thank you, I found it on Amazon but my phone number wasn't recognised out of the States. I'll try it with email. Thanks again

  • Account closed
    More than a month ago

    We'd question tagging the 90's as the decade in which the internet changed the face of swinging. The old swinging mag personal ads remained the dominant way of contacting potential friends until very late in that decade. It was really only after the Millenium with the greater spread of the internet and improvements on dial-up connections that swinging really embraced the internet.

  • Account closed
    More than a month ago

    It is refreshing that more and more people are getting involved in the swinging culture...after all monogamy is not a natural human instinct and being able to explore and experiment with different partners is stimulating. I have the view that if more couples were swinging there would likely be less divorce...food for thought!

  • Account closed
    More than a month ago

    It's great that nowadays we have so many options to get together for some adult fun. Costume Parties are a regular feature of Swinging Events but we admit we're biased as we run events in Brisbane for couples. It's like the costume allows you to release some inhibitions and spend an evening being someone else..

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