One night at a swingers' club can be a microcosm of larger relationship drama or a cure for whatever ails a couple, according to a recent essay in Vice. Writer Pablo Duncan gives a brief account of an evening spent with his girlfriend at a swingers' mansion in the mountains outside Barcelona, which makes for interesting reading for anyone who's ever dealt with relationship jealousy. It might sound counterintuitive, but as Duncan explains, the mysterious world of swinging and its many rules can do some good:
The rules had been clear form the start: You must always ask for the couple's permission to participate, whether that is expressed or implied, keeping in mind that "no" very definitely means no. But of course, once you get into it, "no" isn't going to be in very many people's vocabulary. With an unmistakable gesture, a guy asked for my permission to get closer to my girlfriend. Before I could remind him of the obligation to use a condom, he showed me he already had one in his hand. He put it on and as he penetrated her, I pushed her head southward, asking her to give me a blowjob.
The club had plenty of other rules, Duncan notes, including a dress code and limitations on who could enter -- "Men could enter only if accompanied by a woman, while women were allowed in either way," kind of like a frat party. But, unlike a frat party, the Barcelona swing club emphasized consent, although at times that could get a little fuzzy:
We took a break on the terrace. We smoked and talked with a guy from Seville, who spoke passionately against Catalan nationalism. That was a little boring, so we left—this time for the cinema, where we had sex with another couple. We never exchanged a word with them, but we understood one another quite easily. You see, part of the fun is looking, but also showing off.
Ultimately, Duncan and his girlfriend left (satisfied, he notes) to go home and discuss the experience, on which he reflects as being almost therapeutic for a troubled relationship:
The really interesting thing about the experience was the purely sexual connection established between complete strangers. It is also a great way for a couple to get over jealousy. You have to turn the tables and use others' sexual desire to your advantage. And if you cannot get over jealousy, you should just join in.