#99 How and Why to Start Swinging (Male Perspective) with Cooper Beckett
This time we're going to jump in with a male point of view. This, of course, swinging differs to polyamory in that it's a lot more focused on short-term hookups. Some of them can last months, but generally it's a relatively short time period; and more focused on sexual experience than longer term relationships and the dynamics of the relationship itself.
Having covered the basics in a previous episode, we jump into this subject in more depth. So we get to know swinging with someone who's been practicing it for over five years, longer than the Swinging MILF. We're talking about the sexual experiences, the journey of self-growth, the practical tips on how to go about this and stay out of trouble - basically - and the swinger lifestyle in general. Is it for you? Is it not for you? Who’s it for?
Today's guest is Cooper Beckett. He started a website and podcast called Life on the Swingset in 2010, and it regularly tops the sexuality iTunes ranking. So, if you are interested in the Swingset and you enjoy this interview, and you want to check that out, his podcast (Life on the Swingset - The Non-Monogamy Podcast) and website are all about swinging, polyamory, and open relationships from the trenches, from people practicing it. It's not just people talking. It's people actually doing it, living it, so that's obviously experiential; something we value a lot here also - good stuff.
Interestingly, Cooper, as many of you potentially are in this situation, he went from being really afraid of sex for much of his life. He's got a lot more comfortable with it today obviously than the average guy, even perhaps 99% of guys, as you'll see in the interview. So that's an interesting journey, or you would like to get to where he is, then obviously this is going to be a good episode for you to learn how he got from being afraid all the way to feeling very satisfied and comfortable with his sex life.
Cooper teaches classes and speaks at conferences often on all these related topics, so he is used to all of that. He has a #1 ranked amazon bestseller in human sexuality also. That's called: My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging & Polyamory. It's kind of like his journey. One of the reviewers for that said, interestingly, "It's the dirty cousin to Ethical Slut". So if you haven't seen Ethical Slut, it's a very well known book. And of course, I interviewed one of the authors of Ethical Slut, Janet Hardy, back in episode 65. If you are interested in polyamory, you'll want to check that out as well. So, again, someone says this is the dirty cousin to Ethical Slut and that's going to give you a bit of a preamble to what this interview is going to be like in comparison.
Couple of other things to set the context: Swinging MILF was relatively new to the scene, if you remember. Maybe you want to check out that interview first to get a bit of context and cover a little of the basics before we dive into this one actually, whereas Cooper has been in this lifestyle and talking about it for five years. He's done over 200 episodes on his podcast, and so we're going to go a lot deeper to more advanced topics today. So I hope you enjoy that.
Specifically, in this episode you'll learn about:
- Cooper's background and how he became involved in swinging (05:15)
- Cooper's highlighted swinging experiences (09:41)
- The importance of physical confidence (17:00)
- The negative experiences in swinging: compatibility versus incompatibility (23:25)
- Swinging as a "foreign" lifestyle without positive navigation (28:45)
- The concept of impermanence in relationships and seeing the value of a relationship regardless of its longevity (30:30)
- The biggest differences in Cooper's life since getting into swinging (35:02)
- Is there a transfer of confidence to other areas of life as a result of swinging? (38:57)
- The positive pressure put on oneself to better communicate in the swinging community: the ability to quickly access and the openness to jump in (41:30)
- How Cooper discovered his bisexuality, dealing with it emotionally, and bisexuality in the swinging community (43:00)
- The Kinsey Scale in recognizing there are varying degrees of bisexuality without identifying with being gay, as a result of having a strong sense of self and who you are (50:26)
- Interesting things Cooper has tried while in the swinging community (53:00)
- Practical tips for people wanting to get into the swinging lifestyle and make the most out of the experience (55:40)
- The possibility to learn from good, ethically produced porn that is often less traditional (58:50)
- STI / STD safety (sexually transmitted infections / diseases): handling it in the swingset, and in general (1:07:30)
- The peer pressure of introducing protection in oral and penetration sex (1:15:10)
- Recommends for finding practical, quality sex education advice (1:17:05)
- The best ways to connect with Cooper to learn more about him and his work (1:18:53)
- Top three recommendations for guys starting out in their sexual exploration (1:20:08)
Items Mentioned in this Episode include:
- My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging & Polyamory: Cooper's memoir of personal essays, stories, erotica, and prescriptive "how-tos" about his adventures in swinging and polyamory.
- Swingset.FM Podcasts: Featuring a number of Cooper's sex-based podcasts.
- The Kinsey Scale: Cooper referred to the Kinsey Scale while discussing his bisexuality. Developed in 1948, the Kinsey Scale shows how people do not fit into neat and exclusive heterosexual or homosexual categories.
- Kinsey: Angel noted this movie starring Liam Neeson about the life of human sexuality pioneer Alfred Kinsey.
- Desire Resort & Spa: While discussing interesting things Cooper has tried while in the swinging community, he mentioned his taste for nudity and going to this clothing-optional resort with extensive sexuality.
- Don Jon: Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Angel mentioned this movie while discussing the possibility to learn from porn, as suggested by Cooper. In the movie, the main character (Levitt) develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn.
Cooper recommends the following sites for ethically produced porn:
Crash Pad Series: A mix of everything, but mostly queer sexuality oriented.
jessica drake's Guide to Wicked Sex: Recommended by Cooper as a great way to learn about sex. Includes educational videos.
Tristan Taormino: Offering educational porn.
Marriage 2.0: Available on Adam & Eve Video on Demand, this film is a documentarian of a woman longing to love unconditionally while pushing the boundaries of her relationship with her boyfriend into non-monogamy.
For sex education expertise, Cooper recommends:
Charlie Glickman, PhD: Sexuality educator and author offering workshops, lectures, and coaching towards creating fulfilling sex lives.
Books, Courses and Training from Cooper S. Beckett
Full Text Transcript of the Interview
[Angel Donovan]: Cooper, thank you so much for being on the show.
[Cooper Beckett]: Hey, it's my pleasure.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah great. So, give us a quick background about yourself. How did you get into swinging briefly. How old are you, those kind of like details to set the context a little bit.
[Cooper Beckett]: Well, I'm in my late-mid-30s and I got into swinging because my ex-wife and I had realized that we had very little sexual experience beyond each other. We got married very young and we realized that one of the most significant issues that we were encountering in our relationship was the desire to fuck other people.
Of course, since we were good vanilla people, we didn't talk about that because, you shouldn't talk about that. Once we did talk about that, we thought, "Well then, the only way to process that is to get divorced and move on or, I suppose there's always swinging."
[Angel Donovan]: So, you just said one word...I do want to make sure people understand vanilla. We have mentioned it on the show before but, it's always good to give a quick definition.
[Cooper Beckett]: Well, vanilla is a somewhat derogatory term for non-adventurous people.
[Angel Donovan]: Okay.
[Cooper Beckett]: And that's why it's a somewhat derogatory term. Really, it's funny because, every faction of sexuality, like the BDSM people, the kink people, poly, swingers, they all seem to gravitate to the term vanilla as being people who don't do the thing that I do.
[Angel Donovan]: I guess it's referring to monogamous...that's become monogamous, marriage situation mostly or perhaps a monogamous couple, girlfriend/boyfriend kind of stuff.
[Cooper Beckett]: Mainstream, middle of the road, that kind of thing.
[Angel Donovan]: There you go.
[Cooper Beckett]: And there's nothing wrong with that. It's just I recognize that as we say a word like that, it does sort of imply a derogatory point of view. I think.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah, we could just call the norm.
[Cooper Beckett]: The norm.
[Angel Donovan]: But then, it wouldn't make us sound as cool.
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah, lately my friend Reid Mihalko is an amazing sex educator is calling them muggles...
[Angel Donovan]: Muggles?
[Cooper Beckett]: ...like Harry Potter.
[Angel Donovan]: Um, yeah one of my friends is a big fan of Harry Potter and an ex-girlfriend. I never understood but, there you go. Maybe I was just born in the wrong generation.
[Cooper Beckett]: Well, that could be.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah, it could be.
[Cooper Beckett]: Once we realized that we both wanted to fuck other people by having that conservation (an off-handed comment on my part), "Well, there's always swinging," actually very rapidly became, "Well, let's try this."
[Angel Donovan]: So how long have you been married.
[Cooper Beckett]: I had been married seven years at that point.
[Angel Donovan]: Great and so, it kind of runs its course a little bit and you felt...
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: So, you're in your early 20s was it, when you married?
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah, oh yeah. We got married. I think she was 21 when we got married.
[Angel Donovan]: I've had quite a few friends who got divorced from marrying at that kind of age. They're kind of young. I mean, I don't know if you look back? Getting married at that age, did you know anything about yourself? Did you know that you wanted these kinds of relationships in life and...?
[Cooper Beckett]: Oh no, I was following the script. Everybody follows that script. You meet someone, you date for a while, you get married, you have children and eventually, you die. It's amazing how easily you get on the track and then just stop looking at everything outside of the track.
What we realized is that as soon as we started looking beyond the acceptable way to live your life, we found this amazing community. We found this amazing, emotional and sexual fulfillment that we'd never experienced anything like in the past. And it's why I'm an evangelist honestly for swinging and for non-monogamy.
It's because, it's not for everybody and I don't think everybody should do it and I don't think it's better than monogamy if monogamy makes you happy. What I think is that most people are monogamous because it's the default, not because they want to be monogamous, not because they should be monogamous. It's the exploration that tells you who you really are and the discovery of who you really are is one of the most fulfilling things in life and so few people ever actually go through that.
[Angel Donovan]: Absolutely, that's somethings someone's come up with on this show before. We're definitely on board with that. I think most of the guys have had it pounded into them a little bit on the show already which is a good thing. Become ourselves which isn't easy journey.
To give a highlight of how swinging has been for you, could you tell us a couple of your best experience or like the best memories or the things that stand out most for you? It's been five years now, is that correct?
[Cooper Beckett]: It's been five years doing the podcast and website. It's been six years swinging. Man, that's longer than you think sometimes.
[Angel Donovan]: It's a long time and there's probably a lot of experiences packed into that six years. As I understand, it's quite an active lifestyle.
[Cooper Beckett]: Well, especially when you're going from having a single other sexual partner to now, there's the buffet in front of you. It's real easy to just leap and start experiencing life. I always like the quote...the carp diem quote, "You suck the marrow out of the bones of life." It quickly becomes that and so there's...
The most significant moment for me actually wasn't even sexual. It was very early on. I think a month after we started swinging. It was our first play party that we'd gone to and I met someone at the party who was friends some other playmates of ours.
She was telling a story and just talking and leaned forward and put her hand on my knee and I realized that besides our new friends that we were playing which is part of the script, I'd never actually as an adult been touched by another adult because, adults don't touch each other.
You know, we have this weird...there's a lot of boundaries. There are a lot of walls that we put up and so, there's a dearth of touch, be it emotional, be it sexual. There's just...we're not touching each other. We're touching only these limited people and the funny thing is how meaningful that touch on the shoulder, touch on the arm, touch on the leg can be when there's no sexuality attached to it and we close ourselves off from that.
So, that really stood out for me. That was like eye opening. Like, "I belong here. This is it..."
[Angel Donovan]: So that was...
[Cooper Beckett]: "...here."
[Angel Donovan]: ...because you felt comfortable with that.
[Cooper Beckett]: Mm-hmm.
[Angel Donovan]: That was someone you'd only just met.
[Cooper Beckett]: I had met her that night, yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: Right, right great and it sounds like the main thing is there because, sometimes people touch each other but, they don't have a lingering touch on something like the knee where they...so, did she...she left it there for a while.
[Cooper Beckett]: She did.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah.
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah and at that point, it was still just all about our conversations.
[Angel Donovan]: So, you felt she was more comfortable with touch because of the swing set lifestyle.
[Cooper Beckett]: Yes, yes definitely and I noticed that the nice thing about being in a community of sex-positive people is they are far more likely to hug and kiss hello and not everybody has to do that and that shouldn't be a barrier for entry. You shouldn't be afraid of that but, if you are that type of person. If you like that type of interaction, it's really just great to be able to engage like that with people.
[Angel Donovan]: Absolutely and it's something that takes a while to get used to. I don't know if you were very tactile. You mentioned in your book, you're quite a tactile person?
[Cooper Beckett]: I am, yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah, so you've always been a big tactile but maybe, you inhibited yourself because, you felt you were in this world where people don't do that.
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah exactly and I inhibited myself without even realizing I was inhibiting myself. That was what it was. It was this eye-opening thing. That, "Oh my God! I can do this and this is me and this is what I want." It was such a little thing and mind-altering.
[Angel Donovan]: It sounds like a little thing but actually, I know also that it's actually a big thing you're talking about being comfortable with this physical and presence. It was something I went through in a different life because, I lived aboard in some Latino countries like Spain, Argentina where people...
I've actually had an experience where I was at a business meeting and a girl put her hand on my knee. Just like, it's funny because, it's just like your story but, we were in a business meeting and it shocked the hell out of me. I was like, "Is she hitting on me? Like, I'm talking to the director right now. It's a really uncomfortable situation for me."
So, just to put it into perspective, you can come from this place where it's really inappropriate to be touching other people and it actually inhibits your dating lifestyle, your relationship lifestyle very extremely, I'd say. It takes a while to get over that and become comfortable with it.
But, to go back to why you feel you're a tactile person and that was inhibited. Is that because, in relationships you were very tactile like naturally when you were comfortable with a person?
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah, when I developed these relationships where that was agreed upon as being okay. I'm a big fan of hugging people hello and goodbye and I had a few friends who that were cool with. So, I was very happy about that and to be able to go from just this tiny circle to a lot of people that I see on a regular basis that I can just embrace hello. It's funny. Vanilla people don't know how to hug either.
[Angel Donovan]: I'd love to hear the details on this. This is an interesting line of conversation.
[Cooper Beckett]: Well, okay like you like at two men hugging and two men hugging usually involves that, "I'm going to shake your hand first and then, I'm going to wrap one arm around you so the hands are in the middle and I'm going to pat you on the back a bit." That's not a hug and it has nothing to do with my bi-sexuality that I like receiving hugs from men and women.
It's that you can experience this nice connection. I have a really good friend in this lifestyle and we're barely vanilla-ish friends but, we can give each other that nice warm hug. It's often said that men lost in the bargain.
Women are allowed to have really, really close relationships with each other and men really aren't for fear of, "Well, what if that means I'm gay or what if people think I'm gay?" I think that's a real shame because, you can bond really closely with another man and not have it be sexual or romantic at all and just have it be an intense relationship and I think physical contact is indicative of that, when you can have physical contact with other people.
I also go to things called cuddle parties and it's kind of an abstract and odd concept but, it speaks to the same thing that we are a touch-deprived society and because is so strongly wrapped up sexuality, that sort of limits it if you're monogamous, if you're not in a relationship. So, something like a cuddle party is a place for you to go to touch and not have to worry about what else it implies and I think that's really what I'm very rambling trying to get at here is that touch does not have to imply things beyond. You know, a hug does not imply more to come and once you can recognize that and be in a community that recognizes, you can really engage with that.
[Angel Donovan]: Absolutely, we've talked about a fair number of times how physical competence is important just in the dating, relationships context.
[Cooper Beckett]: Oh yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: We're talking about being comfortable and everything in lots of situations but, if you're not comfortable physically in the dating context, it kind of hurt you. Makes a situation weird. It makes them awkward, all of these kinds of negative side effects. From that perspective, in your relationships and so on, can you look back and like, it's your physical competence planed out...I don't know like, balanced out to normality as you see it today, things have got easier?
[Cooper Beckett]: Things have definitely gotten easier. I'm still tremendously unconfident. I had really poor experiences in junior high, middle school and high school and I've always had some tremendous body-shame because, we...you know, that's something that's instilled in America is being ashamed of your body. I'm a bigger guy so, that factors into it because, who's attractive? Well, not the fat guy.
It just started to click fairly recently. Maybe in the last two years for me is that the confidence is the most important thing. Far more important than attractiveness because, confidence is attractive and a lack of confidence is distinctly unattractive. That's a hard thing to hear because, if you're not confident and you're told lack of confidence is unattractive, I'd go into a mental spiral where it just gets worse and worse and worse but, if you take that as a goal...
What really changed things for me is one of my favorite conclusions I ever came to was (I wrote an essay about it in the book) called Sexy Schrodinger. The Schrodinger's cat is a mental exercise and it's quantum physics and it's a number of different things but, it's the idea that if you have a cat in a box and the box is closed, the cat actually exists in both states, living and dead because, you don't know. Until you open the box, you won't know. So before you open the box, the cat is both living and dead at the same time.
It's a very heady thought but, I boiled it down to how it actually applies in dating, in approaching people and what it comes to is it seems like an binary. The cat is alive or dead. So, it's a 50/50 thing but, if you take it and give it an actual real-life application, there are three options.
Either one, I open the box and the cat's alive and I get to play with the cat. Two, I open the box and the cat's dead and I don't get to play with the cat. But, there's also the third option where I don't open the box and I don't get to play with the cat. It doesn't matter. So, two out of these three options lead to me not getting to play with the cat.
If you apply that too approaching people, one, I approach the girl and ask her out or to fuck or whatever and she's says yes, I get to play with the girl. Two, I approach her and she says no and I don't get to play with the girl but, three, I don't approach the girl and I don't get to play with the girl.
I think a lot of people who lack confidence are choosing failure because, they're doing number three. They're not approaching. So, rather than risk getting a no but also risk getting a yes, they take all risk out of the equation and give themselves the no.
Once I recognized that, it perplexed me why I would ever take the 100% chance of no which is not approaching instead of going and taking the chance of yes. Once I realized that, it was a big change.
[Angel Donovan]: It flipped it for you. It was basically a mental switch.
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: I think everyone has to find their own mental switch and hopefully, some of the guys can relate directly with the one you found, right? Basically, what switched it for you.
[Cooper Beckett]: I think what really got me there was I was chatting with a girl that I was completely in love with in high school. I told her that I was completely in love her and blah, blah, blah. She said, "Why didn't you ever ask me out?" So, that was me choosing the no by not asking her out and that made me realize, "You know you what? I have lots of opportunity in this lifestyle and if I can accept what a no might be because, I'm choosing it for myself, really there's no reason not to try at that point."
[Angel Donovan]: Actually, I would even take it up one more degree is like, at least if you ask you learn as well.
[Cooper Beckett]: Absolutely.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah, so you're actually gaining a benefit even if it is a no.
[Cooper Beckett]: And the key is it gets easier every time.
[Angel Donovan]: As well, right. Well, not for everyone. We can't say that for everyone. Some people take rejection quite hard but, if you have the right mindset about it, which you obviously do then, it becomes not a big deal. As long as you have the right mindset, the more you do something then, it becomes easier from what it was.
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah, absolutely. Now, I will say I talk a good talk but, I'm still afraid to approach people some of the time.
[Angel Donovan]: You know, it's interesting that it never 100% goes away. I don't know. I used to be a pickup artist and I would approach girls all the time and it became a thing that was really, really easy. Then, I got into relationships and stuff and I didn't do it for a while and then, you know, I broke up in a relationship and it was slightly difficult.
Not for very long. Just of a couple of days or whatever but, it does come back or it can come back in a different context. Like I don't know, if you had some kind of hit in your life, a negative hit, I don't what it is like. It could be financial. It could be whatever it is, right? We all get negative hits from time to time.
It can affect your competence in other areas and all of a sudden you're like, you feel a bit more wary of doing this and in this case, where talking about approaching. Where in fact, if we hadn't taken that negative, whatever it was, we wouldn't think about it at all.
So, you've had a lot of good experience and it sounds like it's taking you on quite a sort of life journey. Have you had any negative experiences? Like what would be your worst experience to give people an idea of what could...what terrible thing could happen if I decided to go swinging?
[Cooper Beckett]: Well first of all, you're not going to be compatible with everyone and you're going probably try to force yourself into compatibility with some people just because you think you should. I did that a lot at the beginning because of my major self-image issue and self-worth issues. I fucked a number of people early on in swinging that I probably...I'm not even going to say probably, I guarantee if the same option was given to me now, I would not have sex at least five of them.
[Angel Donovan]: That's a pretty big deal.
[Cooper Beckett]: It is. It's another emotional growth thing. It's another learning experience. It feels like to me that I would say because I would get that little voice in my head that would say, "Who the hell are you to say no to this person?"
[Angel Donovan]: Would it be when someone asked you?
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: Was it social pressure or what?
[Cooper Beckett]: Or situationally like, my partner was playing with this woman's husband and she was here and I was here and well, we better do this. I should be fine. I should be happy.
[Angel Donovan]: Because...but you would be the party pooper if you said no in that situation?
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah and that's called taking one for the team in swinging and it's something that anyone's who's ever done it says don't do it and I firmly agree. Don't do it. You should never yourself in a situation because, you feel obligated to be there. That is not a good plan.
[Angel Donovan]: Would that damage your relationship with your partner, like your wife in this case?
[Cooper Beckett]: Well, I think it's...the fear is, "Okay, so we're on this two-on-two date (which is how most swinging happens). She really likes that guy. I don't really like his wife but, look at how much she likes that guy. So, I don't want to be the guy who shuts it down because, she's going to be so disappointed and he's going to so disappointed but, I think that's the same thing as the self-selecting no. It's, "I'm giving myself the bad situation. I'm taking all the disappointment on myself and I'm forcing it." That's the reason we say don't do it.
[Angel Donovan]: To give people a little bit of background, when you go out on a double-date, basically which is as you say is the norm in swinging then, it's not for basically...say in this case, your wife and the other guy who liked each other to go off and you guys to just have coffee or something because, you're not into each other. That kind of set up doesn't happen or...?
[Cooper Beckett]: Oh, it does happen actually to people who communicate well and the problem in general is it's really hard to communicate. That would happen if you're able to say this other person, "You know what, I'm not really interested but, I'd like to hang out with you." That's an incredibly self-aware place to get to be able to reject but then, figure out how to make the best out of it because, rejections hard to give and hard to receive.
We encourage people to give open and honest rejection but, we don't always because, it's hard and we don't always take it well because, it's hard to take it even though we want it. Like, I want to be told if someone's not interested in me so I don't sit there wondering because, that moment of Band-Aid rip is much better than if I'm at party and I'm spending the entire night wondering, "Okay now, is she interested in me? I actually have no idea" because, I'm afraid to ask I don't find out or I find out in the worst possible way where she goes off with someone else. It's like, "Oh, I guess not. Okay."
I've been very lucky that I never had any really bad experiences. There was one party. It was very early and my wife at the time was getting this tremendous amount of attention and it was because she...you know, we were very new and she was realizing this, "Oh my God, I'm this attractive to this many people and Oh, my God. This is so much fun." Really, it is much easier for the women in non-monogamy because, the men are all over the place.
So, she was having a wonderful time and she was playing with a lot of people and I was just getting angrier and angrier because, I wasn't playing with anybody but, in hind sight, it was completely my fault that I was playing with anybody. I wasn't asking anybody either. I was just sitting and being the victim in the situation and she was having a great time. So really, why on earth would I be mad that she is having so much fun, except for the fact that I wish I was having that much fun but that's not her fault. That was my fault.
[Angel Donovan]: That sounds like as I understand, that's something that commonly comes up in the swing set lifestyle which of course is arguments especially for newbies, I guess?
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah, it's a foreign lifestyle because, we don't have any good examples of it. We don't have any...media doesn't show us this in positive light. When it does should us non-monogamy, it's usually on like CSI or Special Victims Unit and the non-monogamous people are the bad guys. So, we don't have these positive examples of how to navigate our way through the issues that can come up with non-monogamy.
That's the number one reason that I started the podcast and website is because I felt like when I was coming up, there was no resource that really was honest with me that there are problem and was still welcoming to me as a newbie. I felt very distinctly that most of the resources on line were, "Hey, it's awesome and there's never any problems and it's probably not for you."
One of the number one reasons I felt like it was probably not for you is I did get into to fix a problem in my relationship. That problem was we wanted to fuck other people which is actually the number one problem non-monogamy can fix in a relationship but, all the website say, "If your relationship's not perfect first. If you're sex with your partner is not the greatest sex in the world first and then you come into non-monogamy, it's going to destroy your relationship."
[Angel Donovan]: Which might be a good thing. I mean...
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah absolutely, if your relationship is fragile enough and...
[Angel Donovan]: In my fast track, what was going to happen anyway...
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: ...over a longer time and then thus, enable you to get on with life and...both of you. So, I don't know if it's such a bad thing.
[Cooper Beckett]: It's not. What's really interesting is I learned about this concept called impermanence and impermanence when it comes to relationships is the recognition that we've been sold this line that the only successful relationship is the one that lasts forever which is bullshit all...at the beginning because, no relationships last forever.
That takes us to the next level which is the only successful relationship is the one where one of you dies because, that is a relationship that lasted until one of you actually died. That's really what we tell ourselves especially in America and if that's really judge of a successful relationship, isn't that a horrifying thing that it only works if one person dies?
So, the idea of impermanence is the recognition that just because relationships end (and the vast majority of relationships that anyone gets into are going to end), that's the nature of the game especially if you're monogamous. You know really, all the relationships end until one doesn't, right?
So, there's value in every one of these relationships and some obviously don't have a lot of value but, even if the value is learning something new about yourself or learning, "I'm never going to do that again," that's value. So, if you embrace the fact that things aren't permanent and relationships do run their course...I think we throw ourselves into the end of relationships being based almost entirely around fights and we demonize our exes because, that's the easy to deal with the fact that our relationship failed which is the worst possible way to look at it because, it if we don't look at it as a failure, we can actually be okay with it ending.
I talk about my divorce as being...my relationship with my ex-wife was like a vacation and like any long vacation, it is amazing for big periods of it but then, vacation-fatigue starts to creep and you start thinking about the stuff going on at home and maybe you're getting snippy because, you've been in close proximity for too long and God forbid if you go canoeing with her. So, it's just because the vacation ended and even if the vacation ended badly, it doesn't mean that the first seven days of that vacation weren't amazing and that there are tremendous memories coming out of that vacation.
The majority of my marriage was really good especially the years of non-monogamy. Those were the best in our entire marriage. What ultimately happened is we had issues that non-monogamy didn't solve and those issues are the same that everybody has. We had issues with finances. We had issues with each other's friends. We had issues with each other's likes and dislikes, obsessions and non-obsessions and ultimately, those things don't easily get solved.
So, rather than stay in a relationship that we were starting to just lose each other in, we realized that we are much better off separately than together and we split and we are both very happy now. We are both still non-monogamous and I don't regret a moment of my relationship because, without my relationship, I wouldn't be where I am right now.
I wouldn't know most of the people I know. I wouldn't be living with the people I'm living with. I wouldn't have the amazing partner that I have right now. That is all due to my ex-wife and that relationship and so, looking at the positive is gratifying and it keeps us from despair.
[Angel Donovan]: How long were you in the swinging lifestyle while you guys were still married?
[Cooper Beckett]: We were swinging for four and a half years.
[Angel Donovan]: Okay so, it's a recent divorce?
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah so, you were married over ten years. That's a big achievement I'd say.
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: I was interested, if we try to take a snapshot of immediately before you got into swinging and we took another today, what would be the biggest differences in your life?
[Cooper Beckett]: Um, I...well, I'm a much happier person now, simply by virtue of being open and open doesn't need to be open sexually. It's just being willing to see what comes. I feel like I'm a lot more Zen now. I don't obsess about outcomes as much because, the journey is part of the value.
[Angel Donovan]: How do you think you've got there? It kind of connects with what you were saying about relationship why it really does. It's being open to the uncertainty, right? So, a relationship can just end and it's going to be okay. How did you get there via swinging? Is it something the swinging lifestyle helps you with or...?
[Cooper Beckett]: I think a lot of it is just point of view and what I recognize about non-monogamy and really any alternative lifestyle is you're looking at yourself and saying that this thing is not working for me and this thing can be monogamy. It can be a religion. It can be any mainstream societal thing that you've been living.
"This thing is not working for me. Let me explore what else there is." Once you recognize that you are not part of that mainstream, you continually sort of are looking at what other options are out there for you and what paths you can look at and I was pretty convinced that the ripe old age of 29 that I was done growing and changing. I was the person I was always going to be and that's the snapshot before non-monogamy.
I was a suburban husband. I was probably not interested in children but, you know, keep it open. These were my friends and this was my life and this was what it was going to be until the great light switch turns off at the end.
Opening up to non-monogamy was such a side-line. Like, we veered into this other direction and then, exploring the possibility that I was bi-sexually, veered into another direction. Once I started opening up my mind to new things, I start exploring BDSM and I realize I'm a switch. I'm both Dom and sub but, it's not my thing. I enjoy it but, it's not my thing.
But then, I explore over here and I explored new avenues to work and new ways to produce content and new ways to make and new ways to interact with people in a business environment and that's an off ramp over here. Once you realize you're not actually finished growing and developing then, you can start actually growing and developing because, you don't feel you're perfect as you are.
You have to want it. You have to want to learn more about yourself obviously but, if you do want and you do explore, there's so much more to life than we've been told there is. We don't really find it until we try and I love the fact that I'm finished right now. I love the fact that I don't know what I'm doing because, that means there's more to learn.
[Angel Donovan]: I think that's a great two snapshots there because, it really sounds like it's really all-encompassing the way it's changed your life, right? So, it's kind of impacted the way you look at the world and your exploratory nature. Would you say there's been a transfer of confidence as well to other areas whether it's business or where ever because, this is something I've seen a lot in the dating industry.
A lot of the guys for instance who were mentioned in The Game and I knew over 10 years ago have all got their own businesses or are all entrepreneurs, all doing all these other things which they weren't doing before that time. So, it's definitely something that I've seen in many, many people that exploring this part of your life and not necessarily swinging but, just sexuality in general definitely helps with that.
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah because, it flips the perspective and I think we often settle. We realize, "Okay, this where we are and this is it." If we're settling, we're not trying to change ourselves. We're not trying to learn more. It's such a wonderful thing to apply these new revelations and use them in everywhere and the number one thing I learned to do is communicate. We also have this script that you don't talk about things that are unpleasant and that's actually the worst thing you can do with things that are unpleasant is not talk about them.
[Angel Donovan]: I thought this came out in your book actually. You were talking about the first time you went to a swinging date and you went to the date and you know, it was this conversation. It was quite straight forward but then, you went away and you and your wife, you had a lot more sexual communication, conversations that week because, you knew you were going to meet the couple in a week's time.
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: I mean, this is what I felt. I'm kind of like putting the view on it but, I felt it forced you to start talking about it more because you knew. Like, in a week's time, you were like, "Oh, we're going to be talking to this couple again and they've got an expectation. There's an expectation of this situation and we got to really know what we want out of this."
[Cooper Beckett]: I often say that non-monogamy forced me to learn communication, like forced because, it will blow up in your face if you don't learn how to communicate. The best part of that is communication helps you everywhere. Being willing to say what you actually mean and being willing to ask for what you want is probably the most valuable lesson of communication lesson because, people don't ask for what they want and people who do ask for what they want, by and large, are able to get it some of the time.
[Angel Donovan]: Absolutely, absolutely. In other aspects of life and we're trying in self-development they say, "Look at the people around you because, they define you." It's kind of interesting the mechanism you brought there is because, you started interacting with this new community that started forcing to learn to sexually communication as you said or it would blow up in your face, right?
So, you've got this positive pressure that you put on yourselves for good reasons but, it's always been there since, I guess, this positive pressure in your life to learn to better communicate and so on because, you're getting, given new situations. Could you explain kind of how that works in the swinging community?
[Cooper Beckett]: It comes down to you're being presented with things that you have no idea how to deal with and you have to quickly be able to assess them and figure out a way to deal with them. You know, deal with sounds negative. I mean, some of the things you're being presented with are, "Hey, would you like to have a threesome right now...?"
[Angel Donovan]: Right.
[Cooper Beckett]: "...on the floor?"
[Angel Donovan]: You just say yes or no.
[Cooper Beckett]: "Yes, I do and let me figure out logistically how that works. Let me figure out emotionally how that will work for me." I think it's not about blindly throwing yourself into anything because, that's a way to make mistakes that are not overcome-able. It's about learning to access things really quickly and then, being willing to take that leap. You know, being willing to jump in because, you can say, "Yes, okay this pings all these things that are positive and it pings one or two that are negative. I'm going to outweigh the negative with the positive and go. Yes, let's have a threesome right now." Does that even come close to answering the question?
[Angel Donovan]: Yes, it's fine. Yeah, that's good. You brought up also that you discovered your bi-sexuality. I don't know exactly how this happened or is it because of swinging that you discovered that? Like, basically some guy proposed to you and you're like, "Actually, I'm more interested than I thought I would be," or how did the situation come up and how did you deal with it emotionally?
[Cooper Beckett]: Well, I'd always had inklings that I was interested in men as well and because, I was mainstream monogamous person, I incredibly added shame to it and internalized it and said, "I shouldn't do that" because, that seems to be the way most people deal with that. When we started swinging, I looked at it as, "Look at how much enjoyment my wife is getting out of this stuff with women that she was interested in and now, she gets to do it and it's amazing and she's loving it and it's a life-changing thing for here. Why not explore this little inkling I've had. This little thing that has kept coming up over time."
I made the initial mistake of wanting to just get that first experience out of the way and have a Craig's list hookup thing with a guy and it was not a good experience and he looked nothing like he said he would look and ultimately, it was one of the saddest hand jobs I've ever gotten and I got out there and really was not happy with the situation. I realized that for me, in general (I say in general only because, I haven't had this disproved yet), my bi-sexuality presents when it's in a situation with women as well as men.
I think that's just because I'm not as interested in men. So, I'm not firmly bi-sexual. I'm not that, I could go either way relationships, sex, dating. I look at as I'm a two on the Kinsey scale. I'm more sexually interested in men than anything else.
[Angel Donovan]: In women?
[Cooper Beckett]: No, I'm more sexually interested in men as opposed to relationship-ly interested in men.
[Angel Donovan]: Oh, oh, just for the Kinsey scale you mentioned, how does that work?
[Cooper Beckett]: Kinsey scale is...so, Dr. Kinsey did this great sex survey in the 50s and his scale started at zero and zero was heterosexual and went to six and six is homosexual and three is exactly in the center where you are 50% heterosexual/50% homosexual. Just as likely to be with a man as a woman. So, I put myself as a two which mean, I'm not just as likely but, I am likely to do it. A lot of people consider one to be bi-curious. "I'm interested but, I don't know" and zero is "I have no interest whatsoever in being with the same sex."
I am very careful not to limit myself. Like, I still think there is a possibility that I will meet a guy that I am interested in having a romantic relationship with that. So, I'm not ruling anything because, why rule things out? Life's way, way too short to rule things out.
The second bi-sexual experience was sort of a surprise because, it was me, another guy and a female and she was very interested in sucking both of our cocks at the same time. So, if you have never been in that situation, it does require a lot of maneuvering because, if you're standing, hips are in the way. So, you can't really be next to each other and oddly...I mean, the ideal position for this is sort of legs over legs, balls pressing against each other, cocks pressing against each other because then, it's one big mouthful...
[Angel Donovan]: You're painting a very crazy picture.
[Cooper Beckett]: So, you're immediately...I mean, you go from...and swinging, bi-sexuality is just really, at best not done often, at worst, not approved of. So, when you get your balls against another guy's and your shafts against each other and both of you are trying to help maneuver. So, you're already touching each other's cocks. It was a situation that just sort of developed from there.
It was a great experience and I realized, "Yeah, I do enjoy playing with guys." It happens far less frequently than I'd like and it's only because, male bi-sexuality is very, very, very invisible. The only way I often find out someone's bi-sexual is when they hear that I'm bi-sexual because then, they feel I'm a safe person to tell and that's one of reasons I'm so up front about it.
[Angel Donovan]: You were saying in your book everyone on the swinger websites list themselves as heterosexual?
[Cooper Beckett]: Most of the bi-sexual men I know are listed as heterosexual on the swinger dating sites and I was too because, I was told that. You know, if you want to get dates, you shouldn't be bi-sexual and the reason... I've recently come to this reason and it's kind of a distressing is I really feel like the very, very hetero-men who are afraid of bi-sexual guys because, that's what it seems to be is they don't want a guy coming there and coming on to them.
What that says to me is they are afraid of being treated the way they have been treating women for their entire life. They are all about, "I'm going to come on to people whether they're interested or not. I'm going to ask to fuck people whether they're interested or not." What would be the most terrifying thing be to that person, is a guy who they're not interested in coming on to them when they're not interested and wanting to fuck them when they're not interested.
It's offensive to me the idea that just because I'm b-sexual, if I'm in a situation with a guy who's not bi-sexual, I will be unable to help myself and I will leap on him consensual be damned and fuck him whether he wants to be involved or not just because I'm bi-sexual.
[Angel Donovan]: Is there a large percentage of guys who are bi-sexual? Is it like 10% in the swinger community or...?
[Cooper Beckett]: Well I mean, we really have no idea but, you know, if Kinsey's numbers are to be believed, 15% of the population is bi-sexual and with the percentage of swinger, female swinger who are bi-sexual being sky-high, it really stands to reason that the percentage of male bi-sexuals in swinging would also be higher than the general population.
[Angel Donovan]: Right, right of course it would and so, women is at 80%? You said it was like sky high. Is that virtually all women?
[Cooper Beckett]: Again, it's...I would say yeah, probably 80% but, I have no facts to back that up. In people I have met, I think I've met 2 swinging females over the years who are hetero and I've met a lot of swinging females.
[Angel Donovan]: That's...yeah, that sounds like a pretty incredible stat there. So, I guess where I wanted go over that point is I think...first of all, you brought up Kinsey. There's a great film, like Hollywood film style with Liam Nessan about the Kinsey story. If you don't know about Kinsey and about the work he did to open up sexuality, discover ourselves, check that out.
But, this scale is interesting and I just wanted the guys at home to kind of get a feeling for that in you can be like 10% homosexual, whatever you want to call it. You can move from this zero to six. In case there's any guys at home who feel...you know, have some of these inklings and they feel like they're homosexual and they don't like it or they don't like the feelings and the shame and stuff out there.
So, I just wanted to bring that up so that they're kind of highlighted as to the reality of the situation that a lot of people are a little bit bi-sexual in some areas and as you say in some situations. You've been in specific situations which kind of worked for you in that area.
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah, situationally bi-sexual is a thing. That's okay and what I really like to try to tell swinging males is that if you want to try something, if you're in a situation with another guy and he's cool with it and you want to go down on him, you're flipping a switch. You're suddenly gay because, you had a cock in your mouth. You're just not.
Gay is about how you identify. So, unless you wake up the next morning and suddenly identify as gay, you're not gay. I really believe that if you have a strong sense of self, a strong sense of who you are, you can try absolutely anything and come through it being the same person and you may discover something that you really like. You may discover something that you like a little bit and can add to your repertoire.
[Angel Donovan]: That's something I noted in your book actually. You said, a lot of swingers have a rule. They should something once to see if they like it and then again just in case they did wrong the first time.
[Cooper Beckett]: In case they did it wrong, yeah because, if we immediately jettison something that we didn't like because of one instance, like that bad first bi-sexual I had, I never would have tried it again and I wouldn't have that wonderful extra part of my sexuality. So, I recommend if you have any inkling, find a way to explore because, you may not like it and that's okay. Then, you'll know but, you may love and that's awesome because then, you know.
[Angel Donovan]: And of course that goes for innumerable things that you've tried?
[Cooper Beckett]: Oh yeah, really, really anything is long as it's safe, sane and consensual.
[Angel Donovan]: What are the most interesting things you've tried in like...I don't know what's interesting but, like the things you would never have thought that you would try and they turned out to be pretty cool things that you do more routinely these days?
[Cooper Beckett]: Being naked outside was one.
[Angel Donovan]: So, that's like having sex outside?
[Cooper Beckett]: No, being naked outside and having sex outside. I do an annual trip to a resort in Mexico called Desire which is...I like to call it Savile's for Swingers. It's a resort that is perfectly fine with extensive sexuality and so, I remember the first time I was there. You walk out the door and you're naked.
I was holding on to the door knob. The door was still open behind me and I was standing out in the public area naked and I realized that once I closed that door and let go of the door knob, I was naked outside. It was bizarrely terrifying at the moment. It has become one of the most fun things I do and I love being naked and again, for someone with body-shame issues, it's a major to be willing to be naked, to be willing to expose yourself.
On our most recent trip, because we lead a trip every year, on our most recent trip, we had 150 people in the welcome atrium area of the resort. There was a stage there for another thing they had going on but, we were doing our welcoming and we were using the stage because of that and I went up on stage in thigh-high rainbow socks, Chuck Taylors, a top hat and a feather boa and nothing else to welcome people to this resort.
The message I wanted to give them is "You can be absolutely anyone you want to be here and you shouldn't allow any preconceived notions of who you are to get in the way of your exploration" because, that's limiting and why limit yourself? Why take yourself out of monogamy which is the biggest box we put ourselves in in society, the most heavy box we put ourselves in and put ourselves in another box?
Why leave that shackles behind only to shackle yourself in another direction. It's perplexing to me. It doesn't make any sense. I can tell you that I have had the most amazing experiences because I've stopped prejudging situations.
[Angel Donovan]: Just letting it flow. So, you're talking about things you're using to make the most of the lifestyle. How would say...you know, what would be the practical tips if someone was to get into the swinger lifestyle on how to make the most out of it, get the most out of the experience?
[Cooper Beckett]: Communicate constantly, over communicate with your partner. Talk about everything. You know, "I felt this came up and I feel like something...I feel like...I'm feeling a little jealous here and I'm trying to figure out how to process it. I don't expect you to do anything about it but, I'm feeling it."
The communication thing is enormous. Practicalities for swinging is don't prejudge your potential playmates. You know, I had a very specific, rigid age range in mind when I started swinging. So, I started swinging at 29 and I put a 10 years in either direction age-range on it.
Three weeks later, the first woman I actually had penetrative, penis in vagina sex with was 46 at the time. Still later, the greatest playmate I've ever had just turned 60 and is absolutely amazing and I never would have experienced that had I stuck with my rigidity.
I never would have experienced being a sub tied to a St. Andrew's cross in a party in San Francisco had I stuck to my, "I'm not really into BDSM" thing. I never would have been able to suck a cock had I stuck by my, "Oh, this didn't work for me" thing.
So, the more you can let go of "This is what I want"...you know, obviously do that because, that's one of the reasons you're exploring. So if you have a list, go for it. Find the people who can help you do the list.
You want to experience an orgy, find it. Make it happen but, don't limit yourself because, there are so many things you'd have no idea you want until you see them presented to yourself. If you decide that, "I'm not interested in that person because, of these things," but then they present you an amazing opportunity, you'll immediately go, "Ah, no, no. I'm not going to try that." The most value I've ever gotten out of anything is trying new things and trying things I thought I wouldn't like because, that's where surprise lives and surprise is awesome.
[Angel Donovan]: It is. It's exciting. It's a necessity for learning. I think, the guys who listen to this podcast and get more stuck than others, I think it's because they're not willing to try something new. That it's one of things that holds them back or they sometimes have really kind of rigid narrow views of what life should be like or you know, or what a relationship should be like and so on. That lack of flexibility seems to be one of the bigger things holding them back from developing a [inaudible] life and getting over all sorts of things like confidence and learning and new things and new ways to do it, better ways to do things.
One of things you mentioned in your book was you can learn from porn and I wanted to bring that up because, it's an interesting idea that we've had people on here, scientists who have explained how there's a lot of men today who have been damaged by porn by overuse of it. I'm sure you saw the film from one of the actors from Dark Knight Rises. Can't remember his name right now but anyway, he made this film where you know he was...
[Cooper Beckett]: Oh you're talking about Don Jon.
[Angel Donovan]: Yes exactly that's the one.
[Cooper Beckett]: The Joseph Gordon-Levitt...
[Angel Donovan]: There you go. He's got a long name as well.
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah, that was great.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah and it kind of illustrated exactly what we've experience with some of the guys listening to this podcast and some of these academics have seen is that these guys that are getting all sorts of hormonal and motivational issues and also like distraction and like inabilities to have communicative real relationships with women and even good sex with them due to overuse of porn. So, it was kind of good to hear that you've found value in porn and you've been using it to enhance your life. So, I wanted you to kind of bring that up and how it's worked for you.
[Cooper Beckett]: Well, the real thing that you need to think about with porn is first as a consumer, I think too often we'll just slide over to one of the many porn tube websites like www.YouPorn.com and just call up something and watch and jerk off and be done with it. That's very disposable and there's some value but, really it's all about, "This is what I do to jerk off today." That's really it.
The problem with those sites is that they really reinforce ethically shaky porn and by ethically shaky, I mean under paid women, difficult to work with producers, all the way up to really bad experiences where people are being blackmailed to continue in porn or aren't being paid or are being filmed without their knowledge and then coerced into giving consent. So, there's a lot of darkness in the porn industry and a lot of that is produced right here in America and it's troubling.
So, the best thing you can do is to reinforce the good porn producers and find someone who does things ethically and there's a lot of amazing porn coming out of California right now. There's a lot of amazing porn coming out from feminist porn production companies essentially.
Feminist is a scary word for a lot of people but, it's just...when it comes to feminist porn, what it means is the women there are there because they want to be there and they're doing things they want to be doing in the porn they're being treated well in the porn. So, why wouldn't we want any of those things?
There's so much to be learned from that kind of porn because, I also find that it is progressive. It is exploratory. It's unexpected.
[Angel Donovan]: Do you have any examples of sites?
[Cooper Beckett]: Some of the best porn I've seen has been on...there's a site called www.CrashPad.com which by in large is fairly queer porn and...
[Angel Donovan]: Do you have anything hetero.
[Cooper Beckett]: Well, by queer I don't mean just gay men. I mean, girl-on-girl, girl-on-guy-and-girl. There's a lot of trans porn on there. It's one of my favorite sites but, one of the greatest ways to learn from porn is to look at Jessica Drake (which is...she's an amazing porn actress and now writer and director) has a series called Jessica Drake's Guide to Wicked Sex which has education and porn.
And Tristan Taormino which is one of my favorite porn directors does educational porn which also is porn. So, she had a video on my favorite sex act which is pegging which is a girl wearing a strap-on fucking me in the ass. It's my favorite because I can have prostate orgasms which are a whole long discussion.
But, she has a video. It's Tristan Taormino's Ultimate Guide to Pegging and for about 45 minutes, she talks about the how-tos but then, you get to watch all the porn that was made while producing this video and there's an hour and a half of pegging porn after that. It's hot and it's sexy and it's educational and it's surprising.
We box ourselves in with porn too because, traditional is "Okay, the girl's going to suck his cock. Then, they're going to fuck for a while. Then, maybe they're going to do anal. Then, he's going to pull out and cum on her tits, cum on her face, whatever." That's not surprising at all.
There's really very little educational value there. There's nothing to be learned because, not only is there nothing to be learned by what's actually happening on camera. There's also negatives to be learned by what's not being shown like the extensive lubing and preppy before anal which is so often skipped in porn because, it's a longer process and we don't have time for that. We are aiming to cum right now.
But the most interesting thing I've seen recently is there's a film called Marriage 2.0 and you can get it on Adam and Eve's Video on Demand site. It's produced by the same guy...written and produced by the same guy who did Open Invitation which was a San Francisco-based, swinger-based porno. It was a story and then, it had scenes shot at actual swinger club.
Marriage 2.0 is really rather revolutionary because, it is hard core porn and there are some really, really sexy scenes in it, both straightforward sex scenes and a really intense bondage and masochistic scene in the middle. It's got a wonderful story and it's full of porn actors that I've seen and really like. Dylan Ryan is one of my favorite porn stars and she's just amazing in it.
You see a real story about a couple exploring non-monogamy and learning about non-monogamy and learning how to deal with the problems that can come up as well as really, really hot porn. So, it...I really highly recommend that one.
[Angel Donovan]: Great, great. Thank you for those recommendations. Very useful. Is it because you learn new ideas from porn or how do you use this and could it be used as a tool for others like if they're exploring their sexuality?
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah, you can see things that you hadn't thought of but, the only way you see things you hadn't thought of is by exploring porn that is less traditional because, traditional is just showing you the same thing, cookie cutter. Less traditional porn doesn't mean if you're a hetero guy you should suddenly start watching gay porn though you might learn something form that too but, it means that you should just be less afraid of the term queer porn, absolutely because, it doesn't always mean what you think it means. You know?
[Angel Donovan]: Good point.
[Cooper Beckett]: I was very much a guy who'd just would watch the quick porn and just so I could jerk off and cum and be done. Again, there is definitely a good place for that but, if we want people to continue producing better and better porn and if we feel strongly about the women in porn being treated well (and honestly, I feel we should all feel strongly about that) then, the only way to get that to happen is to continually support the people who are making the porn where these women are treated well and the porn where they're doing interesting things. The way to support them is to pay for your porn.
[Angel Donovan]: I think it's a great idea like you're saying that the women can explore their own sexual interest because then, it starts to reflect a good educational model like you were demonstrating earlier by the examples you gave where, you know, it's educational for guys as well. Whereas so many porn can give them an unhealthy bias towards stuff that a lot of women aren't going to be into. Although of course, a lot of porn sites seem to have slightly more extreme tastes.
[Cooper Beckett]: Well, that's true. Yeah, absolutely.
[Angel Donovan]: True also but, it's still way better if they've actually chosen and designed these acts themselves as something they're interested in.
[Cooper Beckett]: Definitely.
[Angel Donovan]: So, another practical topic I wanted to bring up is STI safety, sexually transmitted diseases. We've spoken about them before. A lot of people have a lot of different takes. So, I was just wondering how you handle it in the swing set today and if you've done it differently previously?
[Cooper Beckett]: By and large, at the beginning, I swang...I did my sexually transmitted infection prevention the way other swingers did it. The way other swingers did it was condoms for any penetrative sex, penis in vagina, penis in anus. Otherwise, hands, tongues, whatever free to roam how they see fit.
I'm a hypochondriac and I believe I have everything the moment I hear about a sexually transmitted infection. God forbid, I stumble on www.WebMD.com, I am convinced I have it and I notice it was happening a lot after swing dates where I would essentially be counting down the incubation period for herpes and then, feeling phantom symptoms of herpes.
[Angel Donovan]: Okay, sounds very bad, not a nice experience.
[Cooper Beckett]: To be clear, I am tested negative on HSV 1 and 2. I have conversations with my partners about their testing which is very important. Getting tested regularly and having the conversation about when you were tested and what you were tested for is very important. We all should be doing it especially, those just out dating because honestly, statistically and I don't have solid data to back this up but a lot of places have suggested this is the case is swingers have less instances of sexually transmitted infections than, monogamous young people.
[Angel Donovan]: I can believe that.
[Cooper Beckett]: And...
[Angel Donovan]: I can absolutely believe that.
[Cooper Beckett]: It's because we talk about it and that's so important.
[Angel Donovan]: I guess, as you were talking about the positive peer pressure with sexuality, there's also positive peer pressure for the sexually transmitted infections too.
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah, well we are definitely responsible for the safety of our community and the more safe we can play, the better off our community is and that's true of the entire sexual community in general but, what changed for me was a few things. First is I don't think herpes is a big deal at all and everybody I know who has herpes realized that it was a terrifying thing and there was a big stigma when they heard about it but ultimately, it has not affected their life very much.
But that said, if you don't have it, you probably don't want it. The thing is, almost all of us, almost the entire world has herpes. They just call it cold sores and the problem is, it used to be HSV2 was genital, HSV1 was oral. In general, doctors have stopped differentiating because, now HSV1 is happy to go to genitals and HSV2 is happy to go to the lips. The reason that's happening is unprotected oral sex. So, if you look at it that 80% of people have oral herpes...
[Angel Donovan]: Then there's that risk, yeah.
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah and you're not protecting your genitals when they're going down on you. You very well might get genital herpes.
[Angel Donovan]: So, how do you protect yourself today?
[Cooper Beckett]: I wear a condom when I'm getting a blow job and I use a dental damn which is a sheet of polyurethane or a sheet of latex that I put over the vulva or the anus depending on what I'm enjoying licking at the moment.
[Angel Donovan]: I've never used one of those things. I was just wondering if it...the dental damn. Is it just uncomfortable? I like...me personally, I just refrained from cutalingus, oral sex, giving the girl oral until I'm in a relationship and we get tested. That's my approach to it because, those things just looked kind of crazy when I Googled them to be quite honest. I was like, "I don't see myself pulling that out. A condom yes but..."
[Cooper Beckett]: No, honestly they're a little unwieldy and if you've never seen someone use one, there are a little confusing.
[Angel Donovan]: There's also some terrifying pictures if you Google Imagine. They look dentistry...
[Cooper Beckett]: They definitely have...I mean having the word dental attached to them is probably not in their best interest because, they are very much suggesting. What I recommend for people, if dental damns are frightening and unwieldy is you get some nonporous plastic clip wrap and pull off a big old sheet of it, press it down over the area you're working with. It's thin, it's definitely more protection than not having anything and while the FDA won't tell you that it is safe for sex, it is safe for sex. We all know that.
The nice thing about that is, you can see the entire vulva and if you have a big sheet, you can press a little bit inside so you have areas to work with. I mean, I'm not going to lie. Does it make oral sex less fun? Yeah, a little bit just like condoms make penetrative sex less fun a little bit but, just like condoms might help save you from dying because, they might. There's a thing going around right now called antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea.
[Angel Donovan]: I didn't know what that was when I read it in your book. Could you explain?
[Cooper Beckett]: Oh yeah, it's cropping up more and more.
[Angel Donovan]: Okay so, what happens for people at home like when you get antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea?
[Cooper Beckett]: Well, I mean it can do a number of things to you. It can cause sterility. It can...the worst thing it's one of those that, you know when it burns when you pee?
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah.
[Cooper Beckett]: It's one of those and the worst part is they don't ever check your throat for it and that's where it can hang out. It can be transmitted from genitals to the mouth and the throat. If it's hanging out in your throat and you don't know about it or it's hanging out in your partner's throat and they don't know about and they're giving you oral sex and they're giving this person oral sex and if it's antibiotic-resistant that means, it's harder and harder and harder to cure.
I only needed to hear that once to completely shift to, "I'm going to use protection to never, ever, ever get this because, I don't want that." You know, as much as we destigmatize herpes which deserves to be destigmatized, syphilis, gonorrhea...
[Angel Donovan]: Syphilis is a really bad one and it's been coming back and also because of oral sex. That's why it's been spreading more.
[Cooper Beckett]: I mean syphilis used to drive people crazy.
[Angel Donovan]: Right, it will destroy your brain if you don't catch it.
[Cooper Beckett]: And there is some link in oral sex to HIV transmission and it's not a big one and a lot of people use that as their reason to not worry about it. "Oh, it's such a low percentage" and that's true but, wouldn't you hate to be the .01% that gets it.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah, it's just not worth doing. So, there's a bit of peer pressure around when you talk about bringing out a condom or I imagine more if you're like...if you're just with a girl recently and she hasn't had experience with having oral sex. So, you were in a community where it sounds like the rule is it's okay to have oral sex without a condoms. I've had the same. Like, I'd say that's kind of mainstream, right? So, the rest of the world...
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah.
[Angel Donovan]: ...if you pull out...
[Cooper Beckett]: I think very few people are doing oral sex [inaudible].
[Angel Donovan]: So, if you pull out a condom when a girl says she wants to give you a blow job, her normal reaction is like, "Are you kidding?" I mean, I've had that a few times. I'm like, "No, I'm not kidding" and then, they're fine with it. So I just wondered, how do you deal with like...does that happen in the swing set community?
[Cooper Beckett]: I've been told no once and she said, "I'm not giving you a blow job with the condom on," and I said, "Okay, I guess we're not doing blow jobs then." She was sort of shocked that I would give up a blow job.
[Angel Donovan]: Right.
[Cooper Beckett]: Yeah...
[Angel Donovan]: She was expecting you [inaudible].
[Cooper Beckett]: She was like..."Oh Okay, I'll just take it off." I think that's such a bad assumption and that's such a bad precedent which is the same thing as, "Oh, I don't really like wearing condoms for penetrative sex." "Oh, Okay, let's not do it." That's bullshit and frankly, I don't want to say stupid but, I'm going to.
I'm going to say that's stupid because, you can...even having the conversation about testing and even if my partner tested last week and tested negative, there's such a thing as incubation period where things don't show up. HIV especially does not show up for a couple months and during that time when it's not showing up, it is actually its most virulent and most willing to jump from host to host. As simple as people don't test for HSV 1 and 2.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah, it's scary stuff. Have you come across any good people, experts on the topic? I've looked like...because, it seems like a lot of them are like overly academic and often, kind of specialize versus someone who's just really up to date on the research and can talk about it in a practical way?
[Cooper Beckett]: There are a lot of people in the sex-positive community that I really look up too. Reid Mihalko is an amazing sex and relationship educator. Charlie Glickman is one of my favorites. He talks a lot about male anal stimulation, prostate play.
I look at the people who write a lot about other things because, they have a way of taking the new information because, the CDC's websites are incredibly hard to comprehend and incredibly hard to get any value from because...
[Angel Donovan]: Right, it's hard to understand what the situation is [inaudible].
[Cooper Beckett]: The worst part about those sites is the way they recommend keeping safe is limiting your sex partners and that's actually something I'm just not going to do. So, give me other things, you know and condom usage definitely cuts down on the vast majority of things. While it may not stop herpes or HPV from transmitting, it gives you a much higher fighting chance.
It's just these little things that we can be doing and so you find educators, read the educators that are fun for you and that's why I like Reid and I like Charlie and I like Tristan a lot because, they're fun. They recognize that we want to have sex and we don't necessarily feel like monogamy is the solution to our not getting SDI problems.
[Angel Donovan]: Cool, we had Reid on the show actually about 50 episodes back.
[Cooper Beckett]: He's amazing.
[Angel Donovan]: He's a fun guy.
[Cooper Beckett]: I love that guy.
[Angel Donovan]: Yeah very cool. What are the best ways to connect with you? Are you on Twitter? Where are you active?
[Cooper Beckett]: I am. I'm all over Twitter. I'm @SwingSetLife on Twitter. You can connect with me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/Copper.Beckett. My personal website is www.CooperSBeckett.com and if you are interested in sexuality podcasts, I run The Swing Set FM network. It's SwingSet.fm and we've got a number of sex-based podcasts including Life on the Swing Set which is the one I host and that's the one that's predominantly about non-monogamy. I also host two goofy TV podcasts, one from NBC's Hannibal and one for Twin Peaks if you're into that sort of thing.
You can buy the book at www.MyLifeontheSwingSet.com and you can buy it other places too but, it is independently published. I did this all myself. So, if you appreciate that kind of thing and you throw a few bucks directly in my pocket go to www.MyLifeontheSwingSet.com to buy it.
I am releasing an audio book version and if you preorder it, you can get advanced chapter from it as I'm working on the project. If you preorder it, it's only $20. If you wait, it's $25. So, there's all my stuff.
[Angel Donovan]: Great, great.
So last question, quick fire here, what are your top three recommendations to guys who are just starting out in their like sexual exploration or like kind of down this path, something like you've been and you found to be the most useful for you? What have been the top three tips you would give out for them?
[Cooper Beckett]: This is going be like a recap. So first, ask for what you want because, it's always better to ask for something and not get than not ask and not get it. Second, be open to things you didn't know you wanted and third, respect the hell out of women. They've had a really tough time and it's because, men have done really shitty things to them. So, get consent for anything you want to do and just really listen to what the women are actually saying to you about what they actually want and don't want. Those are my tips.
[Angel Donovan]: Excellent. Thank you very much, Cooper and it's been great talking to you. I really enjoyed it.
[Cooper Beckett]: It's been great talking to you. Thank you for having me.
[Angel Donovan]: Great and congratulations on your book. It was a fun read.
[Cooper Beckett]: Thank you, thank you very much.
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DSR Podcast is a weekly podcast where Angel Donovan seeks out and interviews the best experts he can find from bestselling authors, to the most experienced people with extreme dating lifestyles. The interviews were created by Angel Donovan to help you improve yourself as men - by mastering dating, sex and relationships skills and get the dating life you aspire to.
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