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Swinging: Meaning + 19 Symbols and Signs to Spot a Swinger

upside down pineapple symbol of swingers
The upside-down pineapple is a symbol swingers often use to let others know about their lifestyle

It’s possible that your lawn decorations could be broadcasting a lifestyle preference to your neighborhood — whether you know it or not. Most of the signs and symbols of the swinger lifestyle are meant to subtly signal to other non-monogamous community members.

You might even have swinger signs in your life without knowing it, which could lead to an awkward conversation or two if you’re not down for an open relationship, a partner swap, or a multi-partner relationship. 

What Is a Swinger?

You might be wondering what defines a swinger. A swinger isn’t a singular lifestyle. Preferences depend on individual interests. Swingers can be single or in a relationship.

They might choose to have group “encounters”, or they might be open to swapping partners.

For those in a relationship, swinging represents an open relationship dynamic, but the couple typically will have rules surrounding acceptable and unacceptable behavior. 

While swingers might have different relationship rules and preferences than people who prefer monogamous relationships, it’s important to remember that they still have the freedom to choose which relationships they engage in and which they decline.

Understanding the symbols is important, but it’s equally important to understand that spotting a symbol isn’t a guarantee that the individual or couple is open to engaging with anyone at any time.

The symbols might be an ice breaker, but you’ll need to talk to the person or persons involved in the lifestyle before you fully understand what swinging means to them. 

Why Learning the Swinger Symbols Can Be Useful

If you want in on the lifestyle, recognizing the symbols is helpful to identify potentially interested parties.

If you’re not interested in swinging, it can be helpful to know what symbols to avoid if you don’t want to send a mixed message to that community. Either way, it’s helpful to understand what these signs and symbols mean.

“One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.” ~Robert Frost

19 Signs and Symbols Swingers Use to Identify Each Other

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In my research, I’ve found at least 19 signs and symbols that swingers use to let others know about their lifestyle. These symbols might be specific to a particular neighborhood, and they can change over time.

Communication is key to the swinger lifestyle, and it’s important to understand the signs that identify the local swinger scene.

1. Black Ring

black ring on a piece of white marble, pool and palm trees in the background
Black ring

Wearing a black ring can be a fashion statement, but it’s one that is linked to the swinging lifestyle. A black ring on a person’s finger is a subtle way to signal that they are open to swinging.

It might not be obvious to everyone, but it could communicate the message to the parties who are aware of its hidden meaning. 

2. Upside-Down Pineapples

decoration made with pinapples, eyeglasses and lights
Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

One of the most well-known swinger signs is the upside-down pineapple. Putting an upside-down pineapple in your grocery cart could let other people know you’re up for some consensual adult fun.

But there are other ways the pineapple can be used. You might see them in household decor, door mats, door knockers, flags, and other signs around a person’s home, office, car.

Also, as Jenni Fielding explains on Cruise Mummy, it’s pretty common for swingers on a cruise to use this symbol to identify each other.

If you just love pineapples, you might be familiar with the awkward misunderstandings that can happen when someone mistakes your enthusiasm for the fruit as a special code of your preferences.

3. Unicorns and Dragons

unicorn in a pool
Photo by James Lee on Unsplash

Another symbol you might not be aware of involves unicorns and dragons. Unicorns are women, and dragons are men. Both unicorns and dragons are open to encounters with the man and woman in another heterosexual couple.

Seeing a unicorn or dragon represented in clothing, tattoos, or stickers could be a symbol letting couples know their interest in participating in the swinger lifestyle.

Additionally, a couple using these symbols could be considered unicorn or dragon hunters, or couples who look specifically for a third to join them. 

This is a bisexual designation that has some controversy attached. In some cases, the unicorn or dragon is considered a full third in the relationship — otherwise known as a throuple.

This is considered an equitable relationship for all members.

The controversy attached to the unicorn and dragon lifestyle is when the third member is just that — an extra with secondary rights and benefits to the primary couple.

The primary couple is protected, and the unicorn or dragon becomes expendable. This hierarchy can make the unicorn or dragon a controversial position in the swinger community. 

4. Loofahs

loofahs are a common symbol in the swinger community
Photo by Tofan Teodor on Unsplash

Loofahs is one of the newer signs of the swinger community. It all goes back to a neighborhood in Florida. Hanging a loofah on the roof of your car is a sign you consider yourself a part of the swinger lifestyle. 

Different colors have different meanings. For example, white is for newbies to the swinging lifestyle. Purple is for people who enjoy watching but don’t want to participate.

Pink is considered a “soft swap” or people who like to do their thing with other people in the room.

Blue is considered the sign of partner swapping. Yellow instead, is partner swapping but with those who are nervous about doing it.

Black is for full partner swapping and could mean they are open to other kinks. A teal loofah is used for bisexual swingers. 

5. Pink Flamingos

Two pink flamingos

Pink flamingos are another popular symbol swingers use, and they’re most often used as lawn decorations in gardens.

There was even a trend some years ago with organizations fundraising using pink flamingos left on lawns, which makes you wonder if they had any idea what they were advertising with this seemingly good-natured prank.

Pink flamingos are a well-known sign used in swinging communities. 

6. Pampas Grass

decoration with pampa grass
Photo by Hannah Golden on Unsplash

If you’ve ever seen the decorative feathered grass as a part of landscaping, you might think it’s simply a gardener’s preference.

You might not realize that pampas grass is also related to lifestyle preference. If you see it in a lawn, it’s possible a sign that the residents are swingers. It’s one of the lesser-known symbols of the swinging lifestyle. 

7. Garden Gnomes on Front Lawn

red garden gnome
Photo by Gabriel Vasiliu on Unsplash

Garden gnomes might seem like adorable lawn decoration, but a strategically placed garden gnome in the front lawn could let other swingers know that you’re in the lifestyle.

As a parent with children who think gnomes are adorable, this one gave me pause. Putting a gnome in a garden might seem innocent enough until you realize you’ve just signaled to the swingers that you’re available and interested. 

8. White Rocks in Front Landscaping

white rocks in a garden
Photo by Matt Chen on Unsplash

One of the lesser-known swinger signs is having white rocks in your front garden landscaping. You might think it’s just a personal choice to use a particular color of rocks in a garden bed, but white rocks in particular are a subtle sign of swingers residing there.

When you’re landscaping your lawn, you might want to keep in mind the symbolism of the choices you make and how it might be interpreted beyond your property. 

If you’re open to swinging, this can be helpful. You can be subtle about your lifestyle while letting other interested parties know. If it’s not your cup of tea, you might want to opt for different color rocks instead. 

9. Pink and Purple Lawn Decorations

pink house with pink flowers
Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

Lawn decorations can range from tasteful to tacky, but using certain colors could be a signal to other swingers that you’re ready to play.

Pink and purple lawn decorations in particular are related to swingers. While you might be trying to brighten up your landscape with some of your favorite colors, you could unwittingly signal to area swingers that you’re open for business. 

10. Metal Star on Front of House

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

Metal stars are a staple of rustic and farm decor. They’re also a sign of swingers. If you put one on the front of your home, you might be giving a wink and a nod to other swingers to let them know you’re interested.

You might love the look of the star, but you have to decide if you want to communicate a particular lifestyle to others in your community. 

“I reserve the right to love many different people at once, and to change my prince often.” ~Anaïs Nin

11. Red Ball Cap

man with red cap on the beach drinking water
Photo by Jean van Wyk on Unsplash

Bad news for people who don’t swing but find themselves wearing a red ball gap: It’s a symbol of the lifestyle. Red ball gaps are considered synonymous with swinging.

You might assume this isn’t a universal rule if you happen to be attending a sporting event involving primarily red ball caps, but outside of a specific event or team allegiance, the red cap can be a clue you’re a swinger. 

This swinger symbol can be used for any gender. Interestingly enough, research has found that male swingers tend to have higher than average self-esteem while female swingers tend to have levels comparable with non-swingers.

While this isn’t relevant to the decision to wear a red hat to attract other swingers, it does make for interesting food for thought. 

12. Fruit Door Knocker

Photo by Elena Rabkina on Unsplash

Speaking of food for thought, it’s interesting that fruit of any kind used as a door knocker can be construed as a swinger symbol. It’s not just pineapples.

Using other fruit could be a more subtle way of signaling without letting the whole neighborhood know. 

13. Anklets

anklet, black and white image
Photo by BenMoses M on Unsplash

While anklets certainly trended in the 90s, they’ve come back as a subtle swinger symbol. Before you pair one with a sun dress, consider if the message you want to send involves swinging with other couples.

If so, wear your anklet with pride in hopes that a fellow lifestyle member will seek you out.

14. Wristbands with Gender Symbols 

blonde woman with wristband
Photo by Callie Morgan on Unsplash

Wristbands can be another way of communicating the swinger lifestyle. These wristbands are specific to the wearer’s lifestyle preferences.

The primary symbol includes the international male and female signs placed horizontally with intersecting circles.

It should contain three plus signs on both sides to indicate looking for partners as a couple. If it has three minus signs on each side, it means that they are open to joining without a partner. 

15. Toe Rings

Toe rings are another older trend that has been repurposed for the swinger lifestyle.

Wearing a toe ring with your open-toed summer shoes could be a hint to other polyamorous individuals that you’re up for an adventure.

If you just like the look of one, you might want to politely decline any overtures that your toe ring accidentally attracted. 

16. Thumb Rings

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Thumb rings can also be a fashion statement you might enjoy.

Did you also know that it’s a swinger symbol? Wearing a ring on your thumb could let other swingers know what you’re all about and create a conversational opening that allows them to issue an invitation. 

17. Wedding Ring on Right Hand

wedding ring in a glass
Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

Wedding rings worn on the right hand are another sign of the swinging lifestyle.

You might find it odd that a couple would do this, but this is a way to clearly signal other swingers that they are open to invitations and inquiries.

While simply wearing the symbols aren’t a guarantee that they’ll swing with you, it’s a sign that it’s a lifestyle they enjoy. 

18. Yin Yang Tattoo

yin yang tattoo
Photo by Jack Prichett on Unsplash

If you see a yin yang tattoo, there’s reason to believe it could be swinger symbolism. While this is not always the case, it could invite certain invitations of a polyamorous nature if that’s how it’s interpreted.

If your yin yang tattoo doesn’t represent a lifestyle choice, it might help to deter inquiring couples if they ask about it. 

19. Two Adirondack Chairs on the Front Lawn

Adirondack Chairs
Photo by Brad Weaver on Unsplash

One of the more surprising signs of the swinger lifestyle involves Adirondack chairs. If you see two facing each other in the front lawn or on a front porch, it could indicate that the residents are swingers.

Because of the popularity of these chairs, you could immediately begin wondering if all your neighbors are swingers.

While it’s possible they simply enjoy relaxing in these seats, it’s also another indicator that they enjoy a more adventurous private lifestyle. 

“The point for me is to create relationships based on deeper and more real notions of trust. So that love becomes defined not by sexual exclusivity, but by actual respect, concern, commitment to act with kind intentions, accountability for our actions, and a desire for mutual growth.” ~Dean Spade

Reminders

It’s possible that your neighbor who has a garden full of gnomes, pink and purple decor, flamingos, Adirondack chairs, and pineapples is completely oblivious to the swinger symbols surrounding her and simply enjoys a boisterously decorated lawn.

But it’s also possible she has a secret lifestyle that might not be such a secret anymore. 

Most swingers aren’t going to take out an ad online or put up a clear sign.

They might try to be subtle about their interests in hopes of attracting the right kind of attention and passing beneath the notice of the wrong (read: judgmental) kind. Even if you don’t want to swing, you can be respectful of those who do.

Research has found that the swinger lifestyle positively impacts most couples’ sexual satisfaction but has little to no effect on their overall marital satisfaction.

In other words, it won’t save a marriage that is struggling, and it’s unlikely to improve it.

By the same token, a strong and healthy marriage is unlikely to be negatively impacted by the decision to involve one or more additional partners in the bedroom.

While there is still judgment of this lifestyle, researchers haven’t found that it’s detrimental to marriage.

If someone invites you to swing after misinterpreting your home decor, you can choose to be flattered rather than offended while you decline their advances.

If you’re open to the swinger lifestyle, you can use these symbols to subtly — or not-so-subtly — advertise your own interest for available parties.

Whether you swing or don’t, knowing these symbols could help you either avoid a social faux pas or find the people you’re looking for.

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Featured Image: Hannah Golden on Unsplash

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