How do you transition from a monogamous marriage into an open sexual lifestyle? My Life on the Swingset, by Cooper S. Beckett, attempts to answer this question in a series of inspiring and humorous personal essays. writer Zoë Tersche takes a look.

A journey into non-monogamy

Cooper S. Beckett, a podcaster, anal sex enthusiast, and budding educator, loved his wife and seemed happy enough in his non-swinger life. But a tension was growing in his relationship that could not be quelled by the traditional. Consequently, he and his wife embarked upon a voyage of sexual discovery, opening their relationship up.

My Life on the Swingset does not dedicate all of its pages to what one may exclusively consider kink. But at the time Cooper Beckett began this journey-turned-book-turned-lifestyle, it is safe to assume that anything outside of his then monogamous marriage likely seemed non-normative, or “kinky.”

Spotlight on intense emotions

My Life on the Swingset gifts readers with a humble glimpse at dealing with jealousy, struggling to initiate pick-up play (with actual strangers–i.e. people you don't meet through friends). Additionally, it explores the other totally normal stuff non-educators go through, but never consider that sex educators have also experienced first hand.

It is this egalitarian author/reader relationship that allows for a lot of empathy. Crucially, Beckett isn't this higher being having exotic sex that nobody has heard of in secret locations. He's an average dude who at one point, didn't know that a sexual lifestyle different than his own existed, let alone that there was a place for him within it.

Members of the swingset in action: four pairs of feet poke out from under a bed sheet.

Frisky feet - but who do they belong to?


Throwing yourself into the swingset

If people like Cooper Beckett can join the swingset, so can we - this is the central theme of the book. Having the impetus (and experience) to write this book suggests Beckett always held some capacity for what we refer to as “sexual open-mindedness”. He comes off as quite clueless before that mindset had any real-life application. His pre-conceptions, fears, and blunt questions that accompanied his pre-swinging/poly/kinky lifestyle initiations are a guilty pleasure to read.

I say “guilty” pleasure, because, at times (okay, a lot of the time), it feels like you've swapped My Life on the Swingset for Beckett's private diary. Indeed, Beckett's prose often reads as completely raw or unedited in how deeply personal his confessions and musings are.

Yet for how honest and transparent Beckett's thoughts read, it's also apparent that with each confessional truth comes a great deal of overthinking and hefty self-analysis. His internal dialogue is never self-deprecating, but occasionally harsh in how he dissects the very character traits that make his portrayed self lovable and quirky.

What starts out as a reflection on initiating conversation with a stranger (be it on a plane or at a sex party), often quickly evolves into a ramble-y spiral of self-doubt mixed with regret and/or sentiment. Furthermore, Beckett puts a lot of importance on individual moments. Some of which never actualize beyond the realms of his imagination.

Sweeping swingset generalizations

For anyone reading this book as an introduction to any sex-positive lifestyle, do so with the mindset that My Life on the Swingset is as equally an exploration of societally perceived “non-normative” sex as it is an exploration of a nerd's neuroses. But don't expect a lot of statistics and sex science just because I said “nerd.” At least, don't expect any statistics from citable studies.

Beckett is a man of theory, and luckily for the reader, he is very honest about which generalizations are theories and which theories are generalizations. To quote: “behold as Coop makes sweeping generalizations with his bare hands!”And he makes a lot of them. Particularly as they pertain to bisexuality, having non-monogamous thoughts in monogamous relationships, and a good percentage of everything else he talks about.

While My Life on the Swingset is an insightful read for anyone curious and/or trepidatious about opening up. However, it is essentially a collection of personal essays based solely on experience and opinion. For a more data-driven read on similar topics, check out Come as You Are, by Emily Nagoski, or Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá.

Zoë Tersche is a New York-based writer focusing on fetish sexuality and the freedom of sexual expression. Follow her on Twitter @ZoeTersche and find out more about her here.


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