We are swingers.
I hate that word. It has seedy connotations that make me think of rumors of "key parties" from the 70's. We use the term Consensually Non-Monogamous or CNM. It means that if we so choose, my husband and I can have sexual relations with another person(s). We don't identify with any religion so we aren't governed by the religiously imposed laws that say marriage is A) only between a man and a woman and B) must be monogamous. In fact, marriage as an institution is, in my opinion, a failure.
If you split the U.S. by region, the Bible belt has the highest divorce rate, and this has been the case for over a decade. I was not surprised by that. I can walk into my kids high school football game and watch the other parents interact or should I say "not" interact with each other. Yet religion has told them "till death do they part". To be honest, many of them look like their souls have been dead for years.
I was in their shoes. For almost 18 years I was in a marriage where neither of us were very happy. Don't get me wrong. There were happy times and we loved our kids. But we were roommates for years. I turned to religion for help because that's what you do in small town Alabama. You pray it away. Only for me it didn't get better. It got worse and I got better at suppressing my wants, needs and my emotions. Looking back it would have served everyone better, including the kids, to have ended it sooner than later.
I'll dive into the religious aspect of this another time. I gave you this backstory so that you can understand, or in many cases, misunderstand, where I'm coming from.
My hope is that the same people who are spreading rumors about us will continue to follow our blog, podcasts, twitter and instagram. How else can we educate them? And that's exactly what they need. Education. They have been misunderstanding people for so long that it has become an art. They gossip about things that scare them. A woman and a man in a consensually non-monogamous relationship scares the hell out of them. Anything outside of the white heterosexual norm challenges their belief system that they've been spoon fed from birth. Religion and the purity/shame culture has conditioned them to believe anything outside of a marriage (most of the time a sexless marriage) is wrong. They don't even question why.
It all comes back to religion. Again, I'll save the deep dive into religion for another day. So, religion aside, let's talk about humanity.
According to Merriam-Webster:
HUMANITY: the quality or state of being kind to other people.
We started Naughty Gym because we love the people. We love the fitness world and we love the sex-positive world. It combines two of our favorite communities. What we have found in both of these communities is a core group of people who are the most kind, accepting and loving humans we have ever met. These are the educated, the people who ask questions and are truly seeking answers.
When confronted with something that they don't understand an educated person would do their due diligence to research, go to the source, ask questions and explore.
We have found the opposite has happened in our small town. Where does the lack of humanity come from? It comes from misunderstanding or apathy. Very few people have come to us directly. That would be okay if they didn't care but it seems they care greatly. It has affected them in some way that I can't comprehend. Though if I get the chance I'll ask them.
We on the other hand, are less affected. We are in love with our life. We love our kids, our family and our jobs. We look forward to spending every single day together. Any outside conflict has made us stronger and closer. Our communication with each other is beautiful. And given the chance we would happily sit down with anyone willing and answer questions.
Business Insider reports that "About one in five Americans have engaged in some sort of consensual non-monogamy, or CNM, in their lifetimes — it's about as common as owning a cat, researchers say."
I would say that judging by the amount of DMs I've received from locals, that this is true.
With real world issues plaguing our world like half of the world's population lacking access to essential health services, natural disasters, spiking hunger rates and a global pandemic. You would think someone's sexual proclivities wouldn't be news. Maybe it comes down to a lack of humanity or maybe they have perfected the art of misunderstanding.
The people we have met in the sex-positive world have been so genuine. They are the ones that while my parents were in the hospital with Covid sent them cards. Even though they had never met. They are the ones who after my parents passed sent flowers, cookies and daily messages checking on me and my family. They are the ones who I still get random messages from checking in on me or asking if my son has picked a college yet, or how our dog was after a minor surgery. They do this because they are the type of people who are focused on happiness and invested in other's happiness. They are compassionate, sympathetic and generous with their love.
The day my step-father passed (5 days after my mother), my son had a football game. I pulled myself together and went to the game to support him. I was surrounded by people from my home town who knew what had happened and only one person offered their condolences. I don't point this out so you will feel sorry for me. I point this out to highlight the lack of humanity. At what point to we disagree with someones lifestyle so much that we forget that they are a human being with real emotions and real feelings?
If you're in the sex positive world and you feel the need to hide your life and your beliefs from your family, friends and small minded, small town folks, take heart. You're not alone. The culture is slowly changing but it's going to take more education. We are not the first to be "outed" in such a malicious way. We know people who have had it far worse. However, there are so many positive voices in the sex-positive community. Focus on those voices. Focus on spreading kindness and compassion and empathy. Focus on learning and growing and understanding.
There will always be people who won't understand. To me it's clear that it's a willful act of misunderstanding.