Last weekend, while other couples were stuffing their faces with lobster bisque and expensive glasses of Merlot in honor of Valentine’s Day, my husband and I attended a sex party.
The location was an upscale, downtown hotel in Manhattan and when Mark and I arrived we were surprised to see how normal everyone seemed. Less than 300 people. A mix of highly attractive women in short skirts and figure-hugging dresses, hot men in suits and v-necks, and then, of course, more average looking couples. No one was ugly. Everyone glowed in a sort of flush you only get when you’re about to do something really wicked.
Mark and I had promised each other we could look, but if either of us wanted to touch we needed to reconnect with each other before going through with it.
I had been waiting for this night for over six months. I suppose it was Claire at work who first piqued my interest about the high-class swinging scene in Manhattan. Mark and I had only moved to New York a year ago and we were itching to try out a little kink, but we weren’t sure what or where to go.
Claire confessed to me over cocktails one night after work that she and her husband had been members of a sex club for over five years. I was surprised, honestly, because she seemed so sweet, so innocent. Those are the ones that always turn out to be the real freaks.
I asked Claire how it worked – her marriage – to be committed to someone, and yet, still have the ability to sleep around. Was it an open marriage? She laughed.
“I don’t know how to describe it. When we’re together, we’re together, but when we’re at a sex party all bets are off. We let each other do whatever we want and in the morning we laugh about it all over brunch.”
Could that be possible? To just fuck around for the night and then come back in the morning with your spouse and laugh the whole thing off like it was just any other night out? I was completely intrigued.
Mark and I have been married for nearly 7 years and there is nothing we haven’t done in bed. Bondage. Roleplay. Choking. Toys. Pegging. We’ve tried it all. And while I feel truly fulfilled in my relationship with my husband and I know we have nothing but love and devotion towards each other, I knew we were both looking for something new in our quest to fully explore our sexual sides. How could I admit to my husband I still thought about getting fucked by random strangers? And how could I ask him about his fantasies for other people without feeling jealous?
I decided to gauge his reaction by revealing what Claire had said to me over drinks. “Can you believe it? Her and Dave just fucking whoever they want?”
“Hope they’re getting tested,” Mark joked. “I feel naive though. I guess I wasn’t aware there was such a thing as high-class sex clubs. I thought the only people who were swingers were ugly and fat.”
“And what, if they were all hot and in shape you’d want to join?” I teased.
A smile came to his lips. “Hmm…” He paused. “I’m not sure. It sounds interesting.”
We left the conversation at that for the night but the next night I found him googling sex clubs in Manhattan. “Mmhmm…I knew you’d be interested. Should we have a talk about this?”
I was nervous about having this discussion but if I knew my husband, I knew no matter what we could talk about anything, and neither of us would never do something the other wasn’t comfortable with. There were a few uncomfortable pauses but after talking it out in length we both agreed at the very least we were interested. And if anything, this could take our relationship and sexual experience together that much further.
“There would have to be some ground rules though,” Mark said.
“The sex happens that night and that night only. No exchanging numbers. No followups. No Facebook friend request. Unless we both change our minds on that.”
I agreed. I didn’t like the idea of either of us actually have a regular person on the side. We both enjoyed the fantasy of being pursued and pursuing someone else at a party, but aside from a one night stand, we didn’t really want anything else.
The following weekend I went with Claire to get coffee and I dropped the bomb Mark and I were thinking of joining a sex club. I’ve never seen anyone get THAT excited over anything in my life. “That’s perfect! I think that’s great you guys want to explore.”
She wrote down the name of a website for me to check out and to sign up for membership. “It helps you see who’s out there and when there’s an upcoming party you’ll have an idea of which couples will be attending.”
So for 6 months Mark and I perused the site, checking out other people together, openly discussing our fantasies. Instead of feeling jealous or insecure I felt completely open. I felt safe. It felt like this was a new adventure my husband and I were going on together. Parties came and went and neither of us had to courage to actually go.
But when we saw the one coming up for Valentine’s Day we knew we couldn’t wait any longer.
I went out and bought a sheer black dress that showed just the right amount of skin while Mark went in his jeans and t-shirt.
“I’m not going to look that fancy. What’s it matter? If it ends up happening I’ll just be there with my clothes off anyway.” He had a point but still.
I wanted to walk around the party looking like sex. I wanted everyone there to want to know who I was. I wanted everyone there to want to fuck me.
3 hours in the party and Mark’s on the opposite end of the room talking to a cute blonde in a red dress while there’s a 27-year-old Brazilian born-Manhattan-raised man with the most intense brown eyes I’ve ever seen smiling at me and telling me how beautiful I am. From the corner of my eye I could see Mark looking my way. I felt hot, flushed with fever, as if I’d been caught doing something I shouldn’t have. But then he winked at me and I remembered our agreement.
Portishead was playing on the speakers and the atmosphere was filled in aura of red as dimly lit lanterns were placed everywhere to keep party goers in a heady, sublime state of infatuation. Everyone had gone from shy introductions to taking advantage of the beds and couches strewn about.
I looked back at this beautiful tan man in front of me who eagerly was ready to have his way with me. Is this what I really wanted? I wasn’t sure. I decided to take a breather and step outside into the cold Manhattan air to have a cigarette and take in everything.
After a few moments Mark joined me, draping his coat over my shoulders. “What are you thinking?” He looked into my eyes and pulled me close. “Tell me. Whatever it is. What are you thinking right now?”
“I’m thinking…” I looked away and paused for a moment. “I’m thinking I don’t want to do this. I’m not ready. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready.” I tried to gauge his reaction before quickly saying, “But you…if you want to do this then of course, we made a promise to each other. If you want to take the blonde somewhere I totally get it.”
He shook his head. “No. That’s not what I want.”
It was all he needed to say. It was all we both needed to say. We left the party shortly after our conversation, making it home just before 1 a.m. When we crashed into bed in our pajamas and with our books I laughed at how normal this all seemed compared to where we had just been an hour before.
The sex party was not our scene. At least not that night. Maybe in the future we’ll revisit again and see how we feel.
Just having that option, that openness, with my husband makes all the difference. I feel closer to him than ever and our bond has never felt stronger.
Sometimes it takes seeing all the possibilities in front of you before realizing you’re totally fine with what you already have.