There is a fine line and it’s a pretty clear one if crossed. Here is the best way to define the difference, at least for me:
It’s swinging if both partners are fully aware of EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING!!! It becomes cheating if you find yourself or your partner hiding things; doing things in secret and behind each other’s backs.
Basically if you feel you have to hide something, you’re cheating. Now this could be as simple as hiding some naughty text messages you’ve received from someone, it could be an email or the fact you are meeting them for a quick chat on the spur of the moment, or stealing a kiss. If you find yourself doing any of these and not sharing them with your partner, you need to be aware that you’re crossing the line from swinging to cheating.
The key here is knowing what your partner considers to be part of having fun and when they feel a boundary has been crossed into cheating. I’ve met some couples where one partner felt that just kissing is an act of cheating but having a quick romp would be ok, whereas the other partner is guilty of “party pashing” and could quite happily let his partner kiss whoever but draws the line at sex. While this is a more extreme version of different boundaries, it’s important to know whose boundaries are where, preferably before anything happens.
One way to find out is to have both of you sit down and finish these statements: “I will feel like they are cheating on me if …” and “I will feel like I’m cheating if…” then fill in the blanks. This will make it abundantly clear where the lines are for you in your relationship, and where the line is for them. Make sure you both know what they are so there are no misunderstandings.
In the swinging game there are numerous ways you can keep your partner in the loop. I’ve found that there is typically one partner that does more of the chatting or arranging to meet so there are opportunities for that person to have conversations with potential playmates when the other partner isn’t there, and in that situation you both need to have a way of catching each other up. Find out from each other what is ok and what’s not ok when you aren’t together. Then the most important part of this is actually sticking to those arrangements.
I’m the one in our relationship that does most of the communicating, filtering and initial meeting and I’ve built the trust with my husband to be able to do that. One thing I do is throw him my phone or show him my laptop if I’ve been sending messages to a play mate, especially if they’ve turned into a very stimulating conversation and I tell him to “catch up”. At any time he is allowed to look at my phone and read any messages, or MSN conversation. There were times early on that I thought it might have been borderline on what he’d be ok with but the fact that I shared it openly made a difference, it built his trust in me.
The transparency and consistent respect for boundaries is what builds a stronger bond between you and a greater trust to be given the freedom to do more. Get caught out just once and you will do damage that might not be repairable. Enjoy the freedom of having your cake and eating it too but play by the rules so you can continue to enjoy it!
(Excerpt taken from The Essential Guide for Adventurous Couples.)