When you talk to someone in the swinging community, chances are one of the questions you will hear is “Full swap or soft swap?” While that question may sound confusing to rookies, they are simply trying to figure out your boundaries to know you better. It’s not an intentionally coded question.
People new to the lifestyle often just need a little help understanding insider jargon like this.
Much like defining your sexuality to let people know what appeals to you, determining whether or not you are into full swap swinging or soft swinging will help you define to potential playmates what you are looking for before getting in too deep. But, what is the difference, and how do you decide which is best for you?
First things first, let’s define and explain these two terms.
A soft swap refers to a swinging encounter that does not include penetrative sex. Oral sex & touching are the primary focus in a soft swap encounter. Soft swapping can be a great way to dip your toes into the swinging waters, and it can be an excellent option for veteran swingers who want a somewhat more casual encounter with fewer things to worry over.
While it’s simple to remember that soft swapping does not include penetrative sex, it can still be different for everyone you talk with. Some things may or may not be allowed- examples include:
Oral sex, giving, receiving, or both.
Kissing, caressing, and other playfulness
Flirting, sexting, and sending pictures and videos
Penetration with toys if everyone involved is comfortable with it
This list covers the basics, but it will be up to you and your partner to decide what is and is not off-limits for you when it comes down to it. There is no right or wrong answer. There is only what you are comfortable with. While some people may love knowing that their partner is sending a sexy picture, others will want something like that to remain just for them. The same may also be said for swallowing during oral sex.
While soft swapping is often seen as a way to dip your toes in the water and see if the lifestyle is right for you before moving to hard/full swapping, it’s important to make it clear that if you are comfortable with soft swapping and would like to keep doing it- that is valid. Stick to the things you are pleased with and make the lifestyle enjoyable for you.
Sometimes also called hard swapping. And, just like everything in the community, there are basic definitions, but the nitty-gritty will depend on each individual.
When you engage in full swapping, you can have full sex, aka penetrative sex. You aren’t limited to foreplay or oral sex. It is important to remember that full swapping doesn’t grant blind consent for anything. Each person has their preferences & boundaries. Make sure to discuss these boundaries with your play partners. Common boundary topics to ask about include:
While full swapping may sound fun, it is not for everyone, which is okay. Remember that swinging is about being part of a positive, supportive, and open community when it comes down to it. And that includes being respectful of everyone’s boundaries.
When considering a full/hard swap, there are a few extra things to consider.
Birth control is one of those things.
Pregnancy prevention is a critical conversation to have with your partner. How will you handle birth control? What if you or one of your play partners ends up pregnant? Remember that condoms help prevent STIs and reduce the chances of conception. They also may give partners peace of mind about their significant other having sex with others.
Whatever your choices are, clearly communicate your expectations and your needs.
Take the sexual health of yourself and others seriously. When you are in a monogamous relationship, it is easy to take care of quickly, without much hassle. Still, when you begin to introduce others into your sex life, the risk of both pregnancy and STIs increases. While these two things are a significant con that makes couples choose to go Soft, there are benefits to full swinging- the primary one being, of course, penetrative sex.
Jealousy is another issue to contend with full swapping.
It is common for couples to reserve something special to only share with each other. Plenty of swingers reserve penetrative sex or sex without a condom for only themselves. If you are unsure how you feel about this, start with soft swapping and reflect on your feelings afterward. Were you happy it was limited, or are you excited about the possibility of expanding your boundaries in the future? Safer to take small steps & do more later than go too far and have regrets.
Now that you have basic definitions…
Take the time to figure out what boundaries work for you. It is worth talking about what both of you want and don’t want. Bring up some scenarios and roleplay them together. It is beneficial to communicate with each other throughout your lifestyle journey.
When you sit down and talk to your partner about their needs and boundaries, bring a pen with you and write down your “Swinging Rules” for the relationship. That way, there is no confusion in the future. If you don’t want to feel limited with constricting rules, agree to general guidelines & principles.
Be clear about what exactly everything means to you.
If you will have a No Penetration rule, does this include toys? Does this include vaginal and anal? If oral is allowed, what about swallowing?
While some of this stuff may not be comfortable to talk about, it is wiser to deal with it before there is a misunderstanding or problem. Drama is fun in the movies but not in your real-life relationships.
It’s important to remember that things can change. Just because you write down your rules doesn’t mean they can’t change. Best not to change rules in the heat of passion. Safer to wait till when you & your partner have a moment to reflect & discuss rule changes without feeling pressured.
As stated above, swinging is about being open and accepting of everyone. That includes being able to say, “You know what, this rule isn’t working for me. Let’s discuss revising it,” and that being an acceptable possibility.