My eyes were legitimately open when I arrived in Las Vegas, albeit open as much as a guy in a dimly lit club squinting to look cool. I thought I was at veteran status given my life experiences to that point, but I soon learned that I was just getting my feet wet. Unlike Japan and Europe, Las Vegas is by reputation known for being a place of pleasures and excess. Unfortunately, with the Americanized, puritan twist applied, sex, and all things sexual are viewed in a weird way. Sex somehow becomes “naughty” or “dirty” here, when, we’re all here because of it. I won’t delve deep into that rabbit hole, but it is important at a high level.
The funny part about Vegas is it’s mainly a tourist city. People from all over the world go to Vegas to enjoy a Sin City week, or weekend. The marketing surrounding Vegas “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” and things like that seem to remove inhibitions with the greatest of ease. Men and women alike go to gamble, see the sights, and have sex with random people, or for the attached crowd, people that are not their significant other. What is done in relatively mundane neighborhoods in Belgium and many Japanese alleyways and entertainment districts, is viewed as a sinful escape from the norm here in the States.
While living in Vegas I learned what swingers were while working at my side gig. A lady I worked with said swinging saved her marriage. She and her husband met in high school, and he was her only sexual partner for 20 years. What started off as a robust sex life fizzled after 2 kids. Once the kids were out of the house, they were both actively seeking satisfaction elsewhere. Before she acted upon what she was feeling she told her husband, he admitted that he was looking and acting already. I wish I was a fly on the wall for that part of the conversation. Ultimately, they decided that financially they were better together than apart, and they were already willing to cheat, might as well give it a legit try. I met her 8 years after all that happened, but she said they became better friends afterwards and their sex lives with each other improved as well. I met her husband twice at the job and he was pretty cool, and by that I mean not a weirdo.
I am convinced different people awaken different beasts within youSerpentine Fire Boutique
In theory, Vegas is America’s back alley, strip club and land of debauchery. However, in reality, Vegas is just as normal as any other place, just with more access to the things considered taboo. The people that visit and make it this land of debauchery bring their ideas, and desires with them…they don’t just get the notion at baggage claim when they arrive. In essence, they are freely themselves in Vegas instead of the characters they play at home. Needless to say, I was fully aware after this assignment, eyes wide open and all, but not from being exposed to these actions. I had already seen them in Europe and Japan. What was different was the underlying shame associated with human nature in America that is noticeably absent in other locations.
Policy and Promiscuity
I met another lady in DC that happened to be a swinger years later. Her husband is a big shot attorney 5 days a week, dutiful Catholic once or twice a month and a swinger when time permits. She’s a lawyer as well, but more hippy than religious. Their swinger origin story was less dramatic. She said they met while dating other people, determined they were attracted to each other and their significant others as well. They got caught acting on their attraction and the significant others weren’t onboard with sharing, so they got together semi exclusively and reasoned that it’s perfectly natural to desire others. That led to marriage and a couple kids but that was always their lifestyle.
I know what you’re thinking, “Doug, did you have sex with these swinging ladies”, no, I’m just easy to talk to and I’m able to have mature conversations without judging or making things weird. Meeting normal everyday people that live this way made me think. Honestly, nothing about them was dirty, naughty or odd. Neither of them was aggressively sexual, they weren’t wearing designer dresses and things like the imagination would conjure up. Jeans, t-shirts, New Balance, maybe some shades. Visually, they were extra regular in their day to day lives when I saw them at least. One would never assume just by looking they were in open relationships.
Evolution in Thought
Considering about a third of divorces are a result of infidelity and there are no worthwhile stats on marriages that persist despite infidelity, maybe there’s space to evolve in thought in the U.S. I understand there’s a sense of ownership with marriage, but the sense doesn’t make it reality. I expect grown people to do exactly what they want to do given the freedom or space to do so. Forcing someone to not do something doesn’t make them a better person towards you, it just makes them cleverer in the attempt to conceal their truth. Even if the person never acts on their interests, those interests are still there. What usually separates actions from fantasy is a cocktail of genuine care for the partner, anticipated shame, public sentiment and what that person has to lose.
“The craziest rumor about my family…that Will and I are Swingers…Yo I wish, I wish”Jada Pinkett Smith
Forever is a mighty long time, significantly longer than a lifetime, but for all intents and purposes, the lifetime is all humans really care about. I commend people that can survive marriage for long periods of time no matter what their arrangement or entanglement situation is. I commend people that leave marriages that aren’t working for the sake of preserving own feelings too. Leaving is sometimes just as complicated as staying. Ultimately, I’m all for the personal pursuit of happiness in life. Marriage is a significant part of life for a lot of people, but sometimes can be detrimental to that pursuit.
If anyone cared to listen to my suggestions, I would advocate for term limits in marriage. The idea is that you get a base period to be married of say 4 years. If you still feel things are cool, just renew and keep it going. If things suck, you all are free to part ways without a messy, expensive divorce. From there, you’d renew every five years or so, like a driver’s license. In the event there’s a mid contract disagreement, people can venture down traditional divorce paths of scorched Earth and hurt feelings.
In the grand scheme of things, nothing lasts forever in the same form, whether that’s a galaxy, your favorite car, or your feelings for someone. Change is inevitable and people aren’t wrong for changing and/or evolving. I’m not the same person at 41 as of today, that I was at 27. My worldview is evolving because I didn’t know everything then and I don’t know everything now, but I know more now than I did then. I also interpret the world differently now as opposed to my 20’s. Ideally, your significant other evolves with you, in a similar fashion, but we’re all different.
All that to say, our relationships are like flowers in the sense that some of them renew every year and some are beautiful for 1 season. When a certain way of doing things runs its course, you still have options at your disposal if you are mentally capable of dealing with these options, and willing to deal with these options. Every relationship is unique to the people in it, so the feelings and views of bystanders shouldn’t matter. Forever is a mighty long time and until proven otherwise, you only live once. No matter what you decide to do with your seasons, I wish us all the best of luck.