When TikTok star Taylor Frankie Paul revealed that she and her Mormon MomTok friends were allegedly involved in a soft swinger situation, the internet couldn't look away from the trainwreck, and many people were left with questions about their arrangement.
With more than 3.5 million followers on TikTok, Taylor Frankie Paul is used to being in the spotlight. She and her MomTok crew of several other Mormon influencers used to routinely post content together—until she blew the lid off in a livestream where she unveiled the truth about their friend group. Taylor claimed that she and all of her other Mormon girlfriends have been hooking up with each other's husbands and they all had agreements and rules about how they were going about it. Apparently, she broke the cardinal rule—don't hook up with someone else's husband unless your spouses are present—by running off with one of the husbands to have a private rendezvous.
It sounds like a shallow story but people are invested. Even more importantly, though, this drama has opened up the door to discuss the rise of non-monogamous relationships in mainstream society. More people than ever are opting in for a marriage or relationship that allows both partners to engage in sexual behavior with others. It's a cultural phenomenon that's worth talking about.
What Exactly Is Soft Swinging?
Back up for a second so we can define what swinging is: couples who exchange partners and/or engage in group sex. There are often swinging parties where everyone comes to hook up with each other. You may have heard other terms like polyamory, polygamy, non-monogamy, etc. But swinging doesn't necessarily relate to those terms; it's an act that couples usually partake in together, regardless of whether they are monogamous during the rest of their time together.
Soft swinging is a form of swinging that means you don't have intercourse with the other person. Everything else is on the table, though, including kissing and other, er, oral activities. This is the activity that Taylor referred to in her livestream about MomTok (although the rest of MomTok has vehemently denied that any of them partake in this behavior). So when she broke the rule of sneaking off with another husband and having intercourse with him, that is technically a move away from soft swinging.
If you're a bit grossed out right now, you're not alone. But non-monogamous choices like soft swinging have become more mainstream over the last several years as our culture is becoming much more open to discussing open relationships all in the name of "sexual freedom." The percentage of people in the U.S. who engage in any kind of swinging is likely very low, but the fact that we're seeing so many more TV shows and movies that feature non-monogamy is indicative that the cultural conversation about it is shifting.
How Does Soft Swinging Fit into the MomTok Drama?
When Taylor revealed that she was getting a divorce from her husband Tate, with whom she has two children, she did a livestream in which she revealed that she and her MomTok friends were into soft swinging but the primary (and perhaps the only) rule was that you weren't allowed to hook up with someone else's husband unless both your spouses were present. She wasn't clear about whether it turned into a group activity, but one can only assume it had to have arrived there at some point.
Taylor also said previously on her TikTok that she and Tate were sleeping in separate bedrooms leading up to their divorce, and as of now she has moved out and is living on her own. Taylor admitted that the catalyst to her divorce was the fact that she hooked up with another guy (one of the MomToker's husbands, but we don't know who) in private. Technically that was considered cheating for them.
There were a fair share of comments from people who live in Utah that say this is not uncommon to hear about among Mormon couples. Apparently there are many Mormons who find soft swinging to be some kind of loophole that allows married couples to technically not cheat on each other since they're not having intercourse. This is similar to another supposed loophole in the Mormon communities called soaking, which is when a couple will engage in penetration but just lie there and not move at all. Sounds weird, we know, but apparently it's a thing.
Of course, Taylor's actions don't reflect on all Mormons, but it's interesting to read all the comments that say their non-monogamous shenanigans aren't uncommon.
How Does Soft Swinging Affect Relationships?
Well, judging by what happened to Taylor and Tate, it doesn't look like much good can come of it. As wonderful as it may sound to some, having the "freedom" to sleep with other people (even if your partner is in the room) doesn't usually garner the best results in a relationship. It's a fast track to jealousy, sadness, instability, and emotional pain. You think you could be totally cool with your husband making out with that one girl, but deep down you know that you'll have a visceral reaction, no matter how much you try to hide it.
Besides, one of the most important things that separates your relationship with your spouse from your relationship with your friends is physical and sexual intimacy. That's one of the reasons your marriage is so special; you're able to share each other's sexuality behind closed doors and this is the very thing that boosts intimacy and bonding. Many people hate to admit it, but women are wired for monogamy. We are biologically built to find one man, mate with him, and bear his children.
Speaking of children, engaging in swinging when you have kids is especially a recipe for disaster. There's so much more at stake, and the more you put your marriage in jeopardy, the more you risk your children's lives being uprooted for the worse. Two-parent households are the absolute best thing you can give your child if you want them to be happy, well-adjusted, healthy, and successful. If you're sleeping with other people, you're directly putting your life and your kids' lives in harm's way. No amount of rules or boundaries can change that fact.
While people may be glued to the MomTok drama because it's a juicy trainwreck you can't look away from, the sad truth that nobody is talking about is that Taylor and Tate's two children will now be raised in a broken home. They will be carted back and forth between two houses, and they won't have a life with both parents anymore. It's devastating for them. Living in a society with all of our basic needs met and so many luxuries around us, humans will always try to find yet another way to increase self-pleasure. Unfortunately, when we find that added self-pleasure in things like swinging, there are very real consequences that have a ripple effect on our families and our communities. Taylor and her MomTok scandal is the shining example of that.