The Doctor (is that a Dr. Who reference? Be still my, beating heart) recently opined on the judgmental swingers he comes across who don’t care for his asymmetrical style of play. You don’t have to be in the lifestyle very long before it is quite clear that swingers are a judgmental lot. They also judge poly folks and poly folks judge them. Both camps seem to think those of us who are both are some sort of freaks. As a general rule, pretty much everyone judges those who don’t play the same way as they do as some sort of weird deviant.
It’s pretty ironic considering we are all deviant from mainstream culture. Even being monogamous and sex positive is fairly deviant.
That said, a certain amount of judgmentalness is necessary in swinging. Once you open up you suddenly have thousands of choices of sexual partners, maybe more if you travel. You have to use some heuristics find good playmates. If you aren’t familiar with that fun science term, it means “experience-based techniques for finding a solution which is not guaranteed to be optimal, but good enough for a given set of goals”.
These heuristics will probably always be a work in progress but one that we have is that we don’t play with people who have rules against kissing. First, we don’t play with people like that because not kissing is definitely sub-optimal. We like kissing. We like kissing people who like kissing back. It is a necessary part of the foreplay, during play, and afterplay.
Second, to me rules against kissing are a red flag. I am not ok with couples who want to use me as a warm blow up doll and have zero emotional involvement. I am not ok with controlling men. I am not ok with insecure couples who might blow up in drama. I am not ok with women who want to experience the awesomeness of my husband without making him feel attractive. While my rule may be weeding out couples who don’t fall into those categories, it primarily rules out people who are going to be incompatible.
There are some other heuristics that I use to immediately determine if people fit what I’m looking for. Other people have their own decision making rules. If you are going to be a swinger you need to learn to be ok with people judging you. They are looking for their own definition of compatible. If you don’t fit that definition, it is ok to mutually agree you aren’t compatible and move on.
The unfortunate thing is that if the swinger/poly world where you live is small, then people often don’t just move on. They can make it clear that they look down on what works for you. They can be gossips, backbiting, spreading rumors and lies. Ultimately that reflects more on them than it does on you but that doesn’t really make it any easier to deal with. Unfortunately, shitty people exist in the vanilla and swinger world.
In conclusion, you are going to judge, you are going to be judged, try not to be a dick about it.
It most certainly *is* a Doctor Who reference. 😀
You’re right that it’s important to distinguish between judging done by necessity or compatibility and judging done just to differentiate yourself from (and put yourself above) other people. Insofar as you’ve got to limit your choices, dividing people into groups based on what they offer makes sense, and one of the many differences in what people offer is what they’re up for. I think that’s all totally fine; I hope I didn’t make it seem like everyone choosing not to play with us because of our boundaries was in the wrong! (though I do think some of them are missing out by focusing too much on one difference)
But as your kissing example shows, the distinction between good and bad judging is not necessarily clear; some boundaries or rules can justifiably be ‘red flags’, and people are going to disagree on what is a red flag and what is just being snobby and narrow-minded. It’s your right to be concerned about what you have decided is a red flag, whether based on experience or intuition. I’d just caution that those kinds of judgments be made sparingly and carefully after lots of thought, which it sounds like yours definitely was.