Swinging in the Deep End – Learning Boundaries


One of the events I was most excited for at the Swingset Takes Desire was the High School Play Party. We’ve been to a few swinger events at local clubs, but have not yet met a crew of people who do play parties the way my friends in other cities have described them. Adding the element of the high school games like spin the bottle was a fun twist and we were down to get down. The rules were first bottle match meant chaste mouth kiss, second match was frenching, third match you went into the shower stall near the hot tub for ‘7 minutes in heaven’. Either party had the option to refuse at any time.

The game started with a medium crowd of people, with all of whom I had either already established a sexual relationship or at least an intense flirt that I was happy to have lead somewhere more physical. As the bottle spun, I got the chance to smooch a few people I hadn’t had the chance to put the moves on yet, and it was a fun, light way to have that happen. The fact that I happened to be sitting in a spot that the bottle favoured due to the uneven tile floor… no complaints from me.

A few more people joined and after some dissatisfaction about the chaste kissing part, and that the game was moving too slowly, it was decided that we needed to up the ante so that the first kiss was frenching and then straight to the shower. It was a still a small enough crowd that I could go for that, and when Flick made my dream come true by frenching one of the other hot guys on a first match, I was in my happy place. I was so impressed by the guys in the game either kissing one another or opting out, without any ridiculous chest pounding or making a big deal over it.

The group grew larger a few more times and it got to the point where I no longer knew everyone in the crowd. Since we were merely at kissing, I was perfectly happy to give and accept kisses, even if that was essentially my first introduction to someone.

Everything changed when the ‘7 minutes in heaven’ started.

When I looked up to see oral sex happening in the shower as the immediate step after frenching, my stomach dropped and panic began to set in. I am exceptionally naïve to have imagined there would be making out, maybe some grinding as the next step. Admittedly, the people in the shower were people who had already established sexual connections, and so it made complete sense for them to go right to a more advanced level, but it was setting a precedent for those of us watching. Even if the players in heaven had been out of sight, so we only had to wonder what they were up to, it would have been okay, but I felt sick dread, rather than sexy fun as I watched.

If the group had remained with the initial, smaller crew, I likely would have been willing to step out of my comfort zone a bit, but as things progressed, all I could think was that I was either going to have to blow someone I didn’t know/didn’t have chemistry with, or have to reject someone rather publicly and have it be this whole awkward awful thing. I knew that I had every right to say no at anytime to anyone, but it was a different situation than someone approaching me at an event and me saying, ‘no thank you’ to their advances. This would be everyone in a large group watching me say, ‘no thank you’ and potentially humiliating a really delightful person I felt a friendship connection with. This was a high school play party, but I didn’t want to be the person sending someone back to that terrible time by turning them down in front of all their friends.

I mentioned my fears to the sexy friend in the seat next to me and he was on the same page, so at least I knew I was not alone. I tried to figure out a clever code phrase to say to Flick, but ended up just asking him to come talk to me away from the group. He felt exactly the same way I did, so we decided to opt out and leave the party. We bade our surprised friends goodnight in a rather sudden way and headed back to our room.

Leaving felt like a shitty option too, because we’d been so excited for a night of play with the people we wanted to play with. There are only so many nights at Desire, so missing out on one of them sucked. And we probably could have just gone into the hot tub for a while and popped back in on the party when the dynamic changed, but I knew I’d be overly conscious of the laughter and ruckus from fun and games we were missing out on.  Leaving was the best bad decision we could make.

We spent a couple hours lying in our bed chatting and processing, and trying to figure out what we could have done differently, but couldn’t come up with anything. We were simply out of our depths in the situation and leaving before one of us did something we really regretted was the only call. I suppose it was a good opportunity to learn a hard boundary for us. We’re just not open to play with people unless we’re really into them, and we’d rather give up the potential sexy connection with people we are into than do something we’d rather not with those we don’t know or feel chemistry with.

Another fucking opportunity for growth, as they say. It would just be nice if doing the right thing actually felt good.


Kat (she/they) is a sex-positive, geeky, Canadian, pansexual, deviant, slutty, feminist pervert who came to ethical non-monogamy 21-years into her relationship with her husband. After a quick toe-dip to test the waters (and hours of obsessive reading and podcast consumption), they dove in and they almost can't imagine they ever lived any other way. Labels never give a totally clear picture, but they consider themselves non-monogamous and polyamorous, though they occasionally swing. She's also a podcaster - On The Wet Coast Podast - and audiobook narrator for Cooper S Beckett's novels A Life Less Monogamous and Approaching the Swingularity. onthewetcoast.com @WetcoastKat on Twitter. Their first book - Yelling In Pasties: The Wet Coast Confessions of an Anxious Slut - is available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Inkterra, and Kobo.


  1. Thank you Kat for sharing yet again.

    As one of the other participants in that game, and one of the early (the order is a little foggy) ‘winners’ to end up in the 7 minutes of heaven glass bubble I have to say I read your account with some distress. It never crossed my mind that our actions (obviously, in hindsight, visible to all) could be perceived as setting precedent for those that followed us, and I’m saddened to know that it changed the dynamic for you and Flick, and pulled you out of the fun.

    This next bit is for context only, and is in no way a rebuttal of your decision:

    You are correct, when the other player and I matched for the third time, I believe we both cried ‘Yahtzee!’ We’d been flirting for a couple of days and this was the catalyst this avowed sintrovert needed.

    Though excited, I was still treating the experience as fun and flirty, and had no expectations. Once in the ‘bubble’ I was careful to check in and we negotiated how far we wanted to go – if kissing and hugging had been the decision, I would have been fine with that – we also checked in before each escalation.

    Knowing that group, I would like to believe that similar negotiations would have occurred for any of the players, and that if paired with someone you didn’t know or feel comfortable with no one would have been upset if you’d demurred. Having said that, my partner and I come to the SSDesire trips with a few extra years of familiarity with the group under our belt. A few trips ago, there is a very good chance we would have made the same decision you did.

    So, thank you for making the hard decision, and taking care of yourselves. I truly appreciate the honesty and vulnerability you continue to share on this blog, and this account has left me with some serious thinking to do about context, perceived expectations, and group responsibility.


  2. Thanks so much for your comments, D. I knew that you and the other participant were very much in the right headspace for it, and it was in fact, super hot to see you together. It was my anxious brain that shut everything down for me. I forget what newbies we are sometimes, because so much of this life feels so effortless. I appreciate you mentioning that you might have been in a similar circumstance a couple years ago. I know we’ll only get more comfortable over time, and I’m very much looking forward to next year. Even the challenging parts. xoxo

  3. Thanks Kat and D for sharing. Guess it is my turn 😉

    We were at the spin the bottle game too and also left after several rounds for much the same reason. This is no reflection on the group, the activity or anything else. We chose to opt out based upon our comfort level and our lack of more deeper personal familiarity with several in the group. The thought of having to opt out with a particular person on a particular activity was more uncomfortable than leaving quietly for the hot tub hopefully unnoticed without disturbing the game. This was a discussion between Mrs. Duncan and myself based upon what we were comfortable with, just like many such discussions when going to parties, engaging in new activities, etc.

    Now, that was a decision we made for ourselves based upon our comfort level with the express intent of also not yucking others’ yum [(c) Ophillia T Becket]. It is not a criticism of the game, its progression or its participants. My hope for next year is to:
    – Become more familiar with the participants to avoid the discomfort. Given all the sexiness in the group, this would not be a burden.
    – Become more adventurous to not care about the discomfort. This will require some work.
    Both good growth goals. The implied hope is, of course, that the game recurs so we have the opportunity to try.

    D- I would not be distressed at all, Just as we and Kat felt free to opt out at a given point, you needed to feel free to opt in to whatever was consentually appropriate between you and your partner at the time. Both options need to be open and encouraged for everyone to be free to do what works for them. That freedom lies at the heart of consent and the Desire experience. If you want to be naked- cool. If not- cool too. You want to go to the afternoon orgy- excellent. Not for you- OK too. etc, etc, etc. An individual’s decision to do or not do anything does not create any obligation on on anyone else.

    Kat, I would agree that a smaller group may have made it easier. Also, I was thinking that the anonymity of the orgy may have also made it easier. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the orgy this year, which was an unfulfilled goal, so I cannot be sure.

    So, the takeaways, as I see them, are:
    – Bravo to those who stuck with the game as it went on and sucked the proverbial marrow (didn’t think you were going to get away without a food reference, did you?)
    – Bravo to those who stuck with the game to their comfort tipping point and sucked the proverbial marrow
    – Bravo to those who chose to do something else they thought was more in line with their desires (yep, and sucked that marrow)
    – While we had some boundary pushing growth experiences at Desire this year and in the game itself (yep, just dropped that one in there), there are many more to be had. Some we already know and some we will discover along the way. More marrow sucking ahead.

    It’s all good. Now onward to even better.

    The other D(uncan)

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