Modern Love

Swingers Will Solve All Your Relationship Problems

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Daniel Stern fell into the “Lifestyle,” a term coined for people engaging in sex for social or recreational purposes, while searching for casual encounters to battle his sexual anxiety. He took any and every opportunity he could, and the 38-year-old author’s recounts the ups and downs of his brief fling with an alternative sex life in the new book Swingland.

In his reflections on the experiment, Stern describes the group sex mentality and the rules to play by. They’re surprisingly relatable to anyone looking for partner or maintaing a relationship. Four points stand out as basic “Rules to Live By”:

1. Expect Nothing

Stern says single men live at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to the Lifestyle (just below single women and couples). A little effort is all it took to keep him in the loop. “A lot of men think, ‘we just show up and have sex and we do what we want,’” Stren says. “And that’s not the case.”

2. Don’t Be Picky

Openness goes behind the mere idea of group sex when it comes to the Lifestyle. It’s about giving everyone a chance. “Swingers find selfishness so despicable that a morbidly obese man with full-body acne, halitosis, dandruff and malignant body odor gets laid in the Lifestyle before a selfish male,” Stern says.

3. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Stern stresses the importance of honesty in the Lifestyle. Same with punctuality. “All of these things you would do in a normal, vanilla situation,” he says. “This just has a little more physicality to it.”

4. A Gift Goes a Long Way

“Don’t come empty-handed,” Stern says in his book. “Someone has spent time and effort (and often their own money) executing the party at which you are, essentially, being spoon-fed sex. Bring something other than your libido to express your gratitude. Often, I contribute a fruit plate.”

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Matt Patches is a writer and reporter living in New York City. His work has been featured on Vulture, Time Out New York, and The Hollywood Reporter. He is the host of the pop culture podcast Operation Kino.