Love, honour & swap!

When I first met Pete, it was in the last place I'd expected to find a hubby

Published by: Laura Hinton
Published on: 14th April 2011

Love can be so many things; a look, a touch, a passionate kiss – and it seemed I’d lost touch with what it truly meant. After two failed marriages, I wasn’t sure I’d ever been properly in love, and wondered if I ever would, but at least I had the love of my close friends…
‘I know what will cheer you up,’ said my pal Steve, 48. ‘A night out.’
‘Whatever,’ I shrugged. ‘I could do with a laugh.’
‘I know just the club,’ he winked. Oh God! It was bound to be full of couples smooching and huddled in dark corners.
When I strolled into the club in Coventry that night, I pasted a smile on my face, and there it froze – in shock.
I was in my best party frock and a woman in front of me was wearing… well, it was so skimpy it was hard to see if it existed! And she wasn’t the only one. I looked away, and got another eyeful.
Blimey! There was a couple in the corner… Fancy acting like that in public! Had they no shame?
Steve obviously clocked my shocked look. ‘Okay… so we’re not in a normal club,’ he shrugged, handing me a glass of wine.
‘Where have you brought me?’ I hissed back at him.
‘Seeing as you’d not had much luck in love,’ he said, ‘I thought you should let loose, have some fun.’
Looking about, I saw a woman go behind a velvet curtain with one man… and reappear with another.
Then it dawned.
‘W-w-we’re in a swinger’s club?!’ I gasped, stunned.
Here I was, broken hearted, looking for love – but this place had nothing to do with love. How could it, when people swapped partners? If you loved someone you didn’t go looking for it with others! It was all so sleazy.
Huddled in the corner, I didn’t take my eyes off my glass until there was a tap on my shoulder. ‘Hi, I’m Pete.’
‘C-Claire,’ I stuttered, without thinking, barely able to look at him.
‘Let me show you about,’ he said.
Yeah, right! I finally looked up, ready to tell him where to go… Actually, with his blond moustache and blue eyes, he looked normal, even kindly. Taking his hand, I almost forgot where I was.
Pete was 63, and also had two failed marriages under his belt. We had so much in common. What’s more, he didn’t make a move on me. At the end of the night, he just asked for my number. Surely there’d be no harm meeting for a chat, I thought.
‘Okay,’ I smiled.
Next day, I realised I hadn’t thought about my heartbreak all night. But, I certainly wouldn’t be going to that club again!
Still, when Pete called a week later, curiosity got the better of me.
I could grill him about his hobby and why someone as nice and normal as him did something so… disgusting.
‘I’ve been doing it for years,’ he said over dinner. ‘I want to experience new things, and this way I can, without hurting anyone.’
I couldn’t get my head around that, and when Pete leaned in for a kiss, I felt regret, not butterflies.
Who would he be kissing tomorrow, and the next day?
Still, the more we saw of each other, the more I felt I was falling for him, which left me in turmoil.
How could it be true love? When you loved someone you devoted your life to them. You didn’t let them go off with others.
‘I’m questioning everything I ever believed in,’ I told him. ‘But I think I’m falling for you.’
‘Me too,’ he confessed.
‘There’s only one thing for it,’ I sighed. ‘I need to go to a club with you if I’m to understand this.’
In the club where we’d met, I watched Pete chatting to a strange woman. Laughing at her jokes, putting his hand on her knee.
Soon they were kissing, but I didn’t feel jealous. This wasn’t the Pete I knew at home, this was sex. What we had was something more… we had love!
Every belief I had about love was being turned on its head. I knew whatever he did at the club, stayed at the club. I had that special place in his heart, and he had a special place in mine.
But I was still curious about what he did. Suddenly it dawned – I’d have to try it, to understand it!
The first time, we spoke to another couple and one thing led to another… It was embarrassing, but exhilarating. I was experiencing something new and exciting, while knowing I’d be heading home with a loving man.
Alone with Pete that night, he looked deep into my eyes.
‘I love you,’ he whispered.
‘I love you too,’ I told him. And I knew we both meant it.
From then on, we started going to swinging clubs together, meeting new couples and trying new things.
It might sound mad, but swinging made our relationship stronger. We trusted each other totally, and love was completely separate to sex.
When, five years later, Pete asked me to marry him, I didn’t hesitate. It may seem hypocritical for swingers to vow to forsake all others, but we were pledging to love only each other. And that’s the important vow.
But there was a close call at the disco after our wedding at Northampton Register Office.
‘Fancy a swing round the dance floor later?’ I heard Uncle Jim ask someone. Oh heck, he was talking to one of my swinging pals!
‘Dancing’s a passion of mine, do you have any?’ he bumbled on.
‘Well, I…’ she began, but I cut in. ‘Another drink, Uncle Jim?’
Some of my family know about us, but others wouldn’t understand.
I’ve found true love. It means so many things to so many people, to us it’s unconditional.
Claire Hannis, 41, Northampton