A Chicago swinger offers advice for starting nonmonogamous relationships | Bleader

Friday, June 3, 2016

A Chicago swinger offers advice for starting nonmonogamous relationships

Posted By on 06.03.16 at 04:48 PM

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click to enlarge Swinger Cooper S. Beckett is the author of the novel A Life Less Monogamous. - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • Swinger Cooper S. Beckett is the author of the novel A Life Less Monogamous.

Chicagoans
is a first-person account from off the beaten track, as told to Anne Ford. This week's Chicagoan is Cooper S. Beckett, 38, swinger, pegging enthusiast, relationship coach, host of the Life on the Swingset podcast, and author of the memoir My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging & Polyamory and the novel A Life Less Monogamous.

"I went to Catholic school until I was in sixth grade, and they really didn't get into sex much, but I do remember them taking the time to say if you masturbate, you go to hell. Thankfully, I transferred to public school, where I didn't get good sex education, but at least they weren't threatening me with damnation. Just STDs.

"I got married at 23. Once we decided not to have kids, that led to 'What do we do now?' We both wanted to have sex with other people, but we didn't think there was a way to do that that didn't involve cheating. As a joke, we said, 'Well, there's always swinging,' and that joke became our reality for four years.

"What nonmonogamy has given me is the acceptance of who I am. I was always so worried about the fact that I wanted to have sex with other people, because I was told that if I was happy in my relationship, I wouldn't want to do that. But I think that's a lie. Look at the number of people who fantasize about other people, the number of people who cheat on their partners. Now, I don't believe for a moment that everybody should be in an open relationship. The point is, I didn't know I had a choice.

click to enlarge Beckett's lapel - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • Beckett's lapel

"Swinging sort of muted our problems for a while, but nonmonogamy is not a fixer, so ultimately they came back, and we recognized that we were better off not married. Swinging gave us four years that we wouldn't have had otherwise, and I consider that a big win. Even though our relationship didn't survive, swinging is who I am now. It's not that having sex with people is the saving point. It's the change in perspective that has made a source of guilt and shame OK.

"There is definitely a subset of swinging that's about the anonymous quick fuck, but generally swinging has evolved into a community development engine. Because of the Internet, people can meet other people like themselves, and when they do that, the temptation is to come together. What I see in swinging is people desperate to find people like themselves, and desperate to be told they're normal, and if not normal, at least that there are others who do the same thing.

"I recently started doing coaching for people in nonmonogamous relationships. A lot of newbies try to work through every possible scenario instead of actually doing anything. No amount of talking will prepare you for the moment you actually see your partner having sex with another person, and that is a point you need to get to, because that will determine whether swinging is something you can actually do. So a number of my coaching sessions have been about, 'OK, how do we get you into a first experience?' Once they've been in the lifestyle a little while, they tend to be lifers.

"Why do I include 'pegging enthusiast' in my brand? Because it shows I'm willing to put myself out there as saying, 'Look, I tried a bunch of things, I fucked up all over the place, this is what works for me. I tried something that society tells me I'm not supposed to do, and I love it.' You never know when you're going to encounter that thing that defines your happiness, the thing that makes everything different."

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