Swinging in America
Love, Sex, and Marriage in the 21st Century
Is the monogamous ideal of romantic love—that one person can meet all of our needs forever—a realistic standard or an unrealistic fantasy? In fact, significant social science research suggests that the standard of monogamy has become a destructive force both on marriages and parenting, and that nonmonogamous relationships actually provide a more viable blueprint for relationships today.
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Drawing on an extensive survey of real people and over 40 years of research, this revealing volume proposes that a nonmonogamous lifestyle may be healthier for marriages than a monogamous one.
Based on an exhaustive survey into the lives of real people, Swinging in America: Love, Sex, and Marriage in the 21st Century concludes that nonmonogamous relationships such as swinging and polyamory offer a new blueprint for combining sex and love—one that may prove more in line with the way people actually live their lives in our society.
Swinging in America begins with what we know about swingers and the swinging lifestyle, based on personal narratives and over 40 years of sociological research comparing swinging and non-swinging couples on factors such as personal happiness, marital satisfaction, psychological stability, and personal values. The second half of the book explores the historical rise and contemporary decline of monocentrism—the sexually monogamous marriage as the organizing principle underlying our culture—and the implications of this decline for new nonmonogamous relationships and marriages.
- Includes data from a national survey, conducted by the authors, of 1100 swingers in the United States
- Offers first-person accounts from people in the swinging lifestyle
- Provides extensive bibliographies after each chapter documenting sources of information discussed in the text
- Lists a comprehensive index of terms and topics
- Centers on the largest survey of swingers ever undertaken, comparing married swingers to a national scientific sample of married nonswingers on 40 questions about their lives
- Offers an alternative psychological theory of human development that does not define the desire for nonmonogamous relationships as pathological or immature
- Reveals some surprising facts about swingers, such as people who swing tend to be white, middle class, Republican, and career professionals
- Shows how U.S. Supreme Court decisions going back 150 years have a hidden bias favoring monogamy
- Author Info
"Specialists in swinging, Bergstrand (sociology, criminal justice, and anthropology; Bellarmine U., Kentucky) and special education teacher Sinski explore the phenomenon of established couples having consensual sex with each other's partners, and ponder its implications for society and monogamy. Their topics include who are swingers (no phone numbers!), entering the lifestyle, effects on marriage, monogamy and the moral architecture of the law, psychological science and the therapeutic narrative, and the heretical narratives regarding sexuality and monocentrism."
"Swinging in America is an excellent read for those interested in alternative relationships and the social institutions that work against their success. ... I wanted to read the first half for the same reason I shamefully buy People magazine before a plane flight. But it was the second half of the book that really made me think, and which I strongly recommend to marriage and couple therapists."
"This highly readable book represents a huge step forward not only in the analysis of swinging but in questioning our strictly monogamous view of the family. The authors present a thorough review of the extant theory and research on the topic of swinging, a topic that has not been widely investigated in recent years. Incorporating their 2000 study, they not only looked at the responses of almost 1,100 swingers, but added a much needed dimension - a control group in order to compare swingers with non-swingers. The authors then discuss the institutional arrangements which have supported the moncentric view and conclude with applying three of Loevinger’s nine stages of growth to the swinging movement. Using a non-judgmental approach they argue that the basic institution of the family in our society needs to be reassessed and that swinging (along with other forms like polyamory) should be included in a discussion of how the family should look in the future. I would highly recommend this book not only for the general reader but for courses in sexuality, the family, and social problems."
"Dr. Bergstrand’s new book Swinging In America: The Social Deconstruction of Monogamy, is a welcome contribution to this little understood but growing social-sexual recreation. Swinging or 'The Lifestyle' as many adherents use in conversation, has impacted our culture in a variety of ways from the marriage relationship to where and how to vacation. Dr. Bergstrand provides clarity through fact and detail not previously published."