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Dispatch From an Open Marriage: So, You Want to Attend a Sex Party

They’re happening. They’ve been happening for as long as sex has been sex, and people have been people. Groups of people have gathered in various locations, in groups of various sizes and various vibes, with the intention of having sex with each other.

Of course, there are many different iterations of the sex party—the gay sauna; the all-gender dark room at the queer club; swingers parties in tiny villages in the unlikeliest places—and then there are Bacchic orgies on nudist beaches all across the world. There are impromptu sex parties, highly exclusive sex parties, invite-only affairs with themes like “lace and leather.” (Personally, I find these the most cringe of all, but whatever gets you off.)

So, you or your partner has expressed interest in going to a sex party together—perhaps because you’ve always wanted to, perhaps because you’re looking to spice up your sex life, or perhaps because there seems to be a growing cultural interest in non-monogamy, polyamory, and good old-fashioned swinging. Whatever the reason, there are a few key things to know before you go.

Start with figuring out and discussing your intentions. It might sound simple, but there are many different geographies to group sex: Are you going to watch? Are you going to share each other with others? Or will one of you watch while the other is shared? Are you into voyeurism, cuckoldry, group, or are you just there to experience the atmosphere, have a cocktail, then go home and fuck in the privacy of your own kitchen? Allow yourself to imagine what could happen, and what you want to happen.

The next thing worth discussing is where you differ on the things you’re seeking from this experience. It’s in poorly communicated differences that the ties between sex-party-goers can fray, and while a fray isn’t unfixable, it seems important—not just in the context of the party, but in your sex lives more generally—to understand where you and your partner’s desires depart. It’s a hard conversation to have, but in taking the step to go to a sex party, you’ve already established that you both want something other than what you’ve been doing together thus far. Indeed, it’s in our varying curiosities and desires that I have found new sexual spaces open up between myself and my partner. I’ve found that when a partner expresses a sexual desire, my impulse to attend to that desire reminds me of our sexual compatibility. It makes me think of all the worlds our sex could travel to, and that makes me feel excited for my own, and our shared, sexual future.



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