Denver's done a fantastic job of making itself one of the most desirable places to live in the country--but that doesn't mean it's all bluebird skies, puppies playing in the park, and powder days. Scratch beneath the shiny, happy surface of the Mile High City, and you might be surprised what you find.
Getting Into the Swing
By Luc Hatlestad
To certain adventuresome locals, the Colorado “lifestyle” doesn’t just involve hiking, biking, and skiing.
Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice are among Denver’s too-many-to-count “lifestyle” practitioners, better known as swingers, couples who are open to exploring sexual connections outside their own relationships. (Denver has become a surprising mecca for swingers, so much so that Bob and Carol started their own company, Sweets Entertainment, to stage local lifestyle gatherings.) These couples say they aren’t that different from their suburban neighbors—apart from a unique definition of marital bliss—and contend that the popular image of swinging is rife with misperceptions.
MYTH: It’s just pervy husbands talking their wives into something they’d rather not do.
REALITY: The mantra for the entire movement is, “It’s all about the women.” Many swinging couples get into the lifestyle because of the wives’ curiosity about other women, and their comfort level drives most swinger events. Bob, 54, says lifestyle women have “off-the-chart” confidence and that the most well-adjusted couples don’t let jealousy intrude. “If the woman doesn’t give the OK to meet someone, or if you object to what she’s going to wear to a party, you ain’t going,” he says.
MYTH: Swinger gatherings always morph into crazy orgies.
REALITY: Most lifestyle parties don’t even permit sex on the premises; their purpose is to let couples meet and greet—and go from there. “There needs to be a four-way connection between two couples, and it can be very difficult for all of them to mesh together,” says Carol, 45. “We don’t want to get into situations where one of us is ‘taking one for the team.’ ”
MYTH: Couples get into the lifestyle to “fix” their relationships.
REALITY: “If that’s the case, you shouldn’t do it; you have to be in it because you find it exciting,” Carol says. “If you haven’t talked about boundaries, it’s not going to end well.” But once that enhanced communication is achieved, it seems to cement these couples’ intimacy. “Our closeness went from here to here because we talk about things we’ve never talked about with anyone,” says Ted, 37, who met his wife Alice through work. “We’ve found a lot of benefits from this that have helped us become better people and better spouses.”
MYTH: Swingers tend to come from a lower socioeconomic bracket.
REALITY: Many swingers are successful professionals who look notably younger than their ages, largely because swinging puts such a premium on staying fit. “We have some PTA people, soccer moms, and ones who go to church every Sunday,” Bob says. “If you were to take all the types of people in the lifestyle and compare them to a cross section of America, you couldn’t tell them apart.”