Scientists reveal unusual sex habit
A pair of swinging scientists have revealed why an open marriage keeps the spark alive - and how they refuse to keep their unusual bedroom habit a secret.
Meet Angela and Bradford Atom, a couple who hails from the US but who have lived in Australia for the past six years.
The duo, who identifies as bisexual, met at work starting first as friends, before "hooking up", then progressing to a steady relationship.
They're now married and delight in the fact that from the outset they have been able to embrace an open arrangement, a situation they believe has enhanced their relationship.
"When we first met, we knew monogamy wasn't for us," Angela, 40, told news.com.au adding: "We decided we wanted an open relationship from the very beginning.
"When I came out of my previously monogamous marriage, I was bored. I realised this wasn't something I wanted - and I knew it was possible to have something other than that."
Bradford, 42, said he also knew after his first marriage ended he didn't want to go back to a monogamous situation.
"Early on we had an open and honest conversation about it and once we did, it was clear we both wanted something very similar," Bradford said.
Angela, echoing her husband's thoughts, said: "Both of us were willing to walk away from that if the other person didn't want to go along with it.
"It was just something we had both decided was very important to us."
Their arrangement, which started with them first having sex together with others, has shifted over the years and now includes more intimate relationships.
"We started as swingers," Bradford said, "then moved more into polyamorous relationships. We now have a couple of permanent partners now who we use the word love with."
Although it sounds complicated, the pair said having some rules in place helps keep them on the same page.
"You have people who follow the 'don't ask, don't tell rule' where they can bang whoever they want, as long as they don't tell their partners," Bradford said.
"It works for some, but not for us."
The pair said they prefer "levelling up", as a way to ensure both are safe, sexually, emotionally and physically.
KEEPING FEELINGS OF JEALOUSY UNDER CONTROL
"We always play safe, so it's very much condom use with anyone who isn't each other. And this goes for more permanent partners as well.
"We always know where each other is, so if one of us is going out on a 'play date', we stay in constant communication, including sharing our location on Google maps.
Keeping feelings of jealousy at bay is also a problem the pair have had to find a way to hash out.
"Occasionally one of us may feel a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) or envy," Angela said. "If that happens we talk about it and ultimately do what we can to minimise those instances ahead of time. Abating those feelings comes down to communication."
MEETING LIKE MINDED OTHERS
While swinging was an activity once very much pursued behind closed doors, today, particularly with the rise of sex clubs, meeting others is far easier.
The Sydney Morning Heraldrecently reported that in the past four years, four sex clubs have opened in Sydney: two in the Kings Cross and Darlinghurst area, and two in the inner west.
Angela and Bradford said they have been going to sex clubs for the past seven years, a set-up that allows them to meet others without fear of rejection or ridicule.
"We very much love going to the club. It's a fun environment, it's safe," and it's a good way to meet people you know for sure are like-minded and are looking for similar types of things," Angela said.
"And there are theme nights, so it's always good to get dressed up and feel good about yourself."
Bradford agrees that there is "something really nice about having a safe space where you know there isn't any judgement" and you can talk about sex.
"It's a space where we can be 100 per cent authentically us and not have to worry about the ramifications of people looking down at us or giving us the side-eye."
The pair also admit to meeting people "organically" while are out and about, or if they are at the pub they're happy to strike up a conversation with someone and see where it goes.
Being out about their arrangement - with work colleagues and friends - is also important to the pair who want to do all they can to destigmatise more fluid relationship arrangements.
However, being open with family hasn't been entirely without issue.
"Our families tacitly accept our lifestyle. While it might not be full acceptance, it is better than what many have. They understand what works for us and makes us happy," Angela said.
"As for coming out to those in our lives, there really wasn't any backlash. We both accept who we are and our lifestyle, and surround ourselves with others who do so as well.
"Our lifestyle does not affect our ability to do our jobs, and fortunately our workplaces see it the same."
When asked why swinging and polyamory work for them, despite the risk of one person falling for someone else, they both agree, spreading their relationship needs is key.
"I think it is unfair to put so much pressure on a single person; to assume your marriage partner is your everything sexually or emotionally," Bradford said.
Angela agrees: "Everybody does it a little differently. It's no different from any other decisions people make in their lives.
"It is just a lifestyle choice."