Catherine Townsend: You don't need a key ring to swing

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I'm not surprised that wifeswapping has become so popular in Italy because, in Britain, swinging is everywhere – and the old cliché of bored, middle-aged dumpy couples circling a bowl of keys no longer applies.

Exclusive sex parties such as Fever and Killing Kittens have brought swinging from the subculture into the mainstream. On any given night, behind unmarked doors in the capital, attractive young couples are stripping off to watch their partners join writhing orgies on beds as big as swimming pools.

Though I've never taken the plunge with a long-term boyfriend (I still think I'm far too jealous), many of the swingers I've spoken to buy into the philosophy that the couple that shags together, stays together. Their reasons for entering "the scene" are varied, but many talk about how watching their partner go down on someone else has actually brought them closer together. "My husband is my soulmate, and we have a fantastic sex life," one thirty-something friend of mine told me, before confessing that she has brought two couples home to play. "But after we had been married for five years and pushed every sexual boundary together, the thing that scared both of us most was the idea that neither of us would ever be able to experience another person again. We love each other totally and neither of us wanted to have an affair, so we posted our photos on a website, and we've never looked back."

At least swingers are open about their erotic needs: I doubt my friend will be in shock after catching her husband in a Max Mosley-style scenario 50 years down the line. If anything, she will be in the dungeon with him. Swingers prove that sexual exploration can be a great thing, as long as both partners are on the same journey.

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