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Swinging is a form of open relationship in which the partners in a committed relationship engage in sexual activities with others at the same time.
Swingers may regard the practice as a recreational or social activity that adds variety or excitement into their otherwise conventional sex lives or for curiosity.
Open relationships include any type of romantic relationship (dating, marriage, etc.) that is open.
The term open relationship is sometimes used interchangeably with the closely related term polyamory, but the two concepts are not identical.
Cultural pressure may also dissuade initiating or switching to an open relationship.
There is a commonly held societal stereotype that those involved in open relationships are less committed or mature than those who are in monogamous relationships.
Films, media, and self-help books present the message that to desire more than one partner means not having a "true" relationship.
In the post-WWII 1950s-1970s, it was traditional to "date around" (with guidelines such not going out with one particular suitor twice in a row) until ready to start "going steady" (the onset of exclusivity and sexual exploration); since then, non-exclusive dating around has lost favour and going directly to steady (now known simply as exclusive dating) has been elevated instead.
Many couples within open relationships are dual-career, meaning that both primary partners have a stable job and/or a career.
The "open" in "open relationship" refers to the sexual aspect of a relationship, whereas "polyamory" refers to allowing bonds to form (which may be sexual or otherwise) as additional long-term relationships.
Some believe that open relationships occur more frequently in certain demographics, such as the young rather than the old in America, including, more specifically, the college-educated middle-class, rather than the uneducated working-class, or people of certain ethnic and/or other racial minorities.
A 1974 study showed that male students who either cohabit or live in a communal group are more likely to become involved in open relationships than females, and are still more interested in the concept than females even if not participating in open relationships.
A survey taken by gay men's "health and life magazine", FS Magazine, of the 1,006 gay men they surveyed 41% are in, or have previously experienced, an open relationship.