A sex educator explains 'soft swinging,' the open relationship practice that's caused a high-profile feud on Mormon MomTok
- A Mormom TikToker made waves when she said she was part of a "soft swinging" group.
- It caused drama in the "MomTok" community, with people debating how the arrangement worked.
"Soft" swinging or "soft" swapping, where couples swap sexual partners but don't have penetrative
On May 25, Taylor Frankie Paul, a 28-year-old mother of two with 3.5 million TikTok followers, said in a livestream that she and her husband were involved in a "soft swinging" community — they were in an open
However, Paul went on to say that she slept with another member of the community without her husband's knowledge, and then developed feelings for that person.
Paul, who refers to herself as Mormon in her TikTok videos, is also a prominent figure in a TikTok subcommunity known as "MomTok," where women share details about their lives as mothers.
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When Paul became embroiled in online controversy, several influencers in the MomTok community denied any involvement with swinging, leading to speculation about what transpired.
The online fallout seems to have brought Paul, and "soft" swinging, under intense criticism on TikTok, but it's a practice that many couples say benefits their sex lives, sex educator Gigi Engle told Insider. Still, if a monogamous couple attempts to open up their marriage in order to solve relationship problems, or acts outside their agreed-upon rules for swinging, it can lead to trust issues or relationship dissolution, Engle said.
"Opening your relationship doesn't end your relationship. Opening your relationship when you're not ready can be a contributing factor to an already broken relationship," Engle told Insider.
Taylor Frankie Paul started the controversy when she posted about 'soft-swinging' on TikTok in May
Paul, who typically posts dance videos with other "MomTok" influencers and vlog-style content with her children, initially went viral on TikTok on May 20, when she posted a video of herself with an online caption that said she was "getting divorced." The video currently has 12 million views.
On May 23, Paul posted another video, which now has 9 million views, with an on-screen caption that said her life was "falling apart," followed by another which said, "And I can't even speak on why… without bringing them all down with me."
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Paul hosted a TikTok livestream on May 25, where she said she and her husband, Tate Paul, who has not spoken publicly about the situation, were in an open marriage and sometimes invited other sexual partners into their relationship. However, the individuals all agreed not to have sexual intercourse with anyone other than their own partners. She referred to this agreement as "soft swinging."
"I guess soft swinging is when you do other things but you don't go all the way," she said.
"Soft-swinging" describes having non-penetrative sexual relations outside of one's marriage or primary relationship, according to Engle. The sex educator went on to say people in the swingers' community use the term "soft" swap to denote when they switch partners to kiss or have oral sex but not penetrative sex.
Paul explained she broke the rules of the group's arrangement when she had sexual intercourse with another member of the soft swinging community who was not her husband. As a result, she has now been shunned by the group and feels like she is "losing everything."
She also said she was not the only person to break the rules, saying, "No one was innocent. Everyone has hooked up with everyone in the situation."
The drama led to speculation about 'soft' swinging and its impact on relationships
Though Paul said the majority of "MomTok" influencers — who have millions of followers between them and often post videos together — were not involved in "soft" swinging, many also made their own public statements denying involvement in the situation.
On Reddit, various users spread unverified rumors about who participated, suggesting they believe other influencers were involved. The MomTok community has also criticized "soft" swinging as a result, with many online commenters suggesting that an open relationship caused the end of Paul's marriage.
Taylor and Tate Paul did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
'Soft-swinging' can be a way to 'test the waters' of non-monogamy, according to a sex educator
People who are new to the swinging
Since penetrative sex is often placed on a pedestal in opposite-sex relationships, it could explain why people characterize any sex act but penetration as "soft," said Engle.
According to Engle, non-monogamous dynamics, whether swinging, polyamory, or an open relationship, work because both partners agreed to the specifics of their arrangement, which they discussed beforehand. But if one partner acts outside of that agreement, it can lead to distrust.
Couples who try any form of open relationship, whether swinging, "soft" swinging, or polyamory, aren't doomed for relationship failure, according to Engle.
She said couples who decide to try swinging together, and who already feel stable and secure in their relationships, often say the practice improves their bond and sex lives. But if a couple decides to open their relationship for swinging and only one partner is on board, or if it's being used as a Band-aid for other relationship problems, it could lead to more issues or the end of the relationship, Engle said.
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