What Is a Soft Swap in Swinging, and Why Is Taylor Frankie Paul Talking About It?

TikTok drama alert! Over the past few days, the world of #MomTok — a niche but popular group of Utah-based, mostly Mormon moms — imploded when their de facto ringleader, Taylor Frankie Paul, claimed that she and a group of her besties were swingers. It's a subject matter the TikToker (whose account seems to have been deleted) has joked about before, but it was never clear whether there was truth behind her humor or if she was playing to the (generally false) stereotype of polygamous practices among Mormon communities.

In a TikTok live, Paul decided to address that ambiguity head-on by alleging that she and a group of her friends and their partners have been engaging in "soft-swap swinging" but that a boundary was crossed and everything has fallen apart. Names were named then recanted, divorces were announced, and everyone is left wondering what in the hell is actually going on. There's even a whole subreddit dedicated to figuring it out.

What's followed has been a torrent of face-saving posts, explanatory but contradictory live videos, accusations that this entire saga is a made-up ploy to gain views, and no shortage of confusion on what "soft swapping" is — or what upside-down pineapples mean.

No amount of speculation on my part will reveal any new information, and only time will tell whether the story unfolding online right now is real, scripted, or some combination of the two. But as your resident swinger, I can at least provide a little context about what soft swapping really is.

Soft Swap vs. Full Swap

First, let's talk about swinging in general. Swinging is the act of a couple swapping partners with another couple in a sexual manner. These couples typically identify as romantically monogamous but sexually open, with the rule that their partners participate in the swap or be present in some way. There are typically rules against catching feelings, even if that can be difficult to prevent.

A soft swap is a form of swinging in which penetration (generally referring to penis-in-vagina sex) does not occur — we're basically talking manual and oral sex, although the details of the boundaries may be up for each participant to decide. A full swap, on the other hand, is one in which full sex is on the table. Swingers typically introduce themselves in terms of what kind of swapping they do in order to make the most compatible connections.

Of course, the concept of soft versus hard or full swapping can be problematic, given its emphasis on penis-in-vagina sex, which shouldn't inherently carry more weight than other types of sex, penetrative or otherwise. But regardless of the need for terminology to evolve, this is what these terms mean at this moment in time.

Soft swapping allows couples to establish certain boundaries, whether their goal is to avoid pregnancy or STDs or they want to dip their toes into the nonmonogamous waters.

Is There Something Inherently Wrong With Swinging?

Any time swinging or nonmonogamy makes the news, it draws a lot of opinions. This is only due to our culture's ingrained ideas about sex. In a perfect world, consenting adults wouldn't be judged for their sexual practices with other consenting adults. So it needs to be said that nothing is inherently wrong with swinging. (That said, it's never OK to divulge another person's sexual preferences without their full and enthusiastic consent.)

The Importance of Communication in Any and All Relationships

In her TikTok live, Paul talked about breaking or "step[ping] out of" an agreement that she'd established with her partners. Regardless of what actually happened in this particular situation, it's impossible to overstate importance of Communication with a capital C when it comes to romantic entanglements, whether they be monogamous, swinger, polyamorous, or anything else. Identifying as a soft or full swapper is moot if you don't feel comfortable being clear about what you want from the swinging experience. Frequent conversations are essential between potential partners — and everyone else involved — to avoid hurt feelings and actual harm.

You Said Something About Pineapples?

Swingers use upside-down pineapple motifs to signal their identity to other swingers. It began in the pre-internet days when swingers would put a pineapple upside-down in their shopping carts while at the grocery store, and now it shows up more on T-shirts, jewelry, and even tattoos. Not every pineapple is that kind of pineapple, though — it may just signify a fondness for Hawaii — so be mindful when approaching people in tropical decor.