Swingers and open marriages in Singapore: Secret lives of the married and the restless
"We fell in love hard and fast when we were young and I love my husband for it. But there are still so many things I want to experience."
When Singaporean Asha Jacob and her Canadian hubby Eddy Azar got married, it was a mutual decision to “open ourselves up to others”. This is a couple who believes in open relationships in Singapore, and have no issues with swinging. They let each other date other people.
“On a philosophical level, I don’t believe in the concept of monogamy because people aren’t like that,” says Azar.
“But I wanted to keep Asha in my life always because there is no one like her, so we got married.”
The couple finds dates for each other on Tinder.
Azar once told The New Paper (TNP), “If we were at a bar and we saw a guy she would like, I would try to get his phone number for her because she would like the experience.”
In Asha’s words, “We fell in love hard and fast when we were young and I love my husband for it. But there are still so many things I want to experience.”
“We understand each other at such an amazing level and we know we both have this desire to experience life.
“As long as we keep talking, it works”, says Azar.
To most of us conservative parents, the very notion of open relationships in Singapore may sound blasphemous.
“Why get married if you can’t be loyal to each other?”, asks mummy Joanna.
To Asha and Azar though, the “arrangement” makes perfectly good sense. It is their normal. And yes, they do have some rules.
“We have one rule – no lying or hiding”, says Azar.
Rule no. 2: They can do whatever they want on dates, as long as they go home to each other by the next morning.
“I love that we both get to have fun, but know that we are each other’s soulmates and no one can replace us”, says Azar.
Welcome to a little known world of conservative Singapore where rules are meant to be broken and boundaries, destroyed.
There are at least 10 swingers clubs in Singapore. Most of them are private, while some of them are online.
Couples who engage in swinging or spouse swapping are usually looking to explore their sexuality, or a spark to reignite a relationship, or simply want to break the monotony of marriage.
Swingers are excited by the idea of having sex and realising their fantasies with someone new, while staying in the secure confines of their own marriage.
Singaporean Mac Seah, 35, who founded Undertable Swingers Community five years ago, tells South China Morning Post (SCMP), “We are a small community who wish to explore the possibilities that exist beyond hand-in-hand relationships with one’s spouse.”
Today, his website hosts more than 50,000 members (Mostly in the 26-45 age group), that sees couples and individuals organising most of their meet-ups in fancy hotels or in their own homes.
“Our biggest issue is the misconception of what it means to be a swinger. The misconception here is that we are sex addicts. I cannot stress enough that this is so far from the truth”, says Seah.
All this may seem shocking and sinful, and the big question is, “Is swinging and open marriages legal in Singapore?”
“As per the autonomy of individuals, if both the man and wife agree to consensual swinging, it is merely a decision that both adults take rationally.”
“If one party unilaterally cheats on the other, and the latter party comes to find out with evidence, only then may a claim for adultery in divorce be filed,” Singaporean lawyer Geraldine Ong tells SCMP.
Experts in Singapore though, are skeptical when it comes to the success of open marriages. And then, there are also health and sexual risks with all the promiscuity involved.
Marriage counsellor John Vasavan from Congruence Counselling Service Singapore tells TNP, “Marriage is supposed to be a bond between two people. How can it be open? The legal bond of marriage means that two people are bound morally and religiously to one another.”
“You can be as open as you want, but their actions are going to offend the other party for sure.”
While psychotherapist Simon Neo predicts no future for such relationships. He tells TNP, “It will come to a point where they feel insecure and their spouse might feel more emotionally involved with someone else.”
“Jealousy and miscommunication happen in every marriage or relationship, but this makes it worse.”
What is your honest opinion, mums and dads? Are open marriages just a recipe for disaster and betrayal? Or could they help bring back that spark to a fading relationship?