What Is the Difference Between Polygamy and Polyamory?

Dec 1 '2022, 12:54 PM | By Chris

Perhaps you overheard about it over brunch on Sunday and want to learn more, or perhaps you're wondering about a lifestyle involving numerous loves. Whatever the source of your interest in polygamy vs. polyamory, you've certainly wondered what the distinction between the two terms is. The interest in polyamory and other alternative lifestyles seems to have exploded, and it nearly seems to be ubiquitous.

Although we can only guess, the rise of dating websites and hook-up apps, as well as a growing awareness of the drawbacks of monogamy, may be contributing factors to the growing interest in a polyamorous lifestyle. Simply said, more individuals are receptive to fresh ideas. Read along to learn about the difference between polygamy and polyamory.

Polygamy Vs. Polyamory: What Do They Mean?

When a man has numerous wives at the same time, it is known as polygamy. Polygamy is another term for plural marriage. Meanwhile, the act of having numerous partners is known as polyamory. When someone practices polyamory, they have a desire for numerous people in an intimate connection. To be in such a partnership, all of the parties in the various relationships must agree to it. People who engage in polyamory see it as a responsible, moral, and mutually beneficial alternative to monogamy.

For good reason, many people mistake polyamory for polygamy. Both polyamory and polygamy are quite uncommon in modern Western civilization; neither is even known to or practiced by the majority. 

Differences Between Polyamory and Polygamy 

• Gender

The gender of the partners is where polyamory and polygamy diverge the most. Anyone of any gender who practices polyamory is free to have several partners—either as themselves or as their partners. Only one individual engages in polygamy, which is nearly often heterosexual, and they have many spouses of various sexes. The marriage in which one man marries numerous women is known as polygyny and is by far the most prevalent type of polygamy. When one woman marries many men, it is a practice known as polyandry.

In much of human history, having several partners meant a man had several women. Because so many types of gender expression have become more visible and because more individuals are expressing gender variation or dating gender-diverse people, it is relatively new for people to have partners of all genders, regardless of their own gender. 

Furthermore, it has never been common for women to be upfront about having several men as companions. Previously, only extremely wealthy, eccentric, or anarchist women would engage in it; but, in today's global North and West, women from all walks of life can engage in polyamorous relationships and have several men.

• Religion

At the moment, polygyny is typically a feature of religious communities that regulate affluent men's access to numerous spouses and serve as a conduit for poorer men without women. In the US, polygyny is mostly practiced by two religious groups:

• Muslims, who predominately comprise African Americans, immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, and a small number of white converts. 

• Fundamentalist Mormons/Latter-Day Saints who are virtually invariably Caucasian. Several Christian groups in the United States permit men to have numerous wives. 


Dawn Glory In 1990, Ravenheart first used the word "polyamory." Polyamory is presently experiencing its third wave of enigmatic popularity as a theory or way of life. First-wave utopians, feminists, and anarchists promoted consensual non-monogamy as a remedy for anything from male tyranny over women to capitalist oppression. The "free love" phase of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s marked the beginning of the second wave, which flourished among hippies, swingers, and disco dancers. With the growth of Internet communication came the third and greatest wave to date.

Contrarily, polygamy has existed since the invention of marriage. Famous males from the Torah/Old Testament who married several wives and had many children with all of them including Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon. In every community that anthropologists and sociologists have been able to identify, wealthy men have had access to several women, both in the past and the present. 

• Region

Today, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa are where polygamy is most prevalent because of religious practices that restrict women's access to many male partners while allowing certain men access to several spouses. It may be exceedingly challenging for women to attend school or find the sort of job that would allow them to have personal independence and control over their life because they may also be prohibited from driving or having access to public places. In many cases, family members negotiate the women's weddings on their behalf with their future spouse and/or his family, especially if he is a very young man.

Polyamory (as opposed to polygamy) is probably more common in regions where women have more access to education and personal independence for the same reasons that polygamy is. Australia, Canada, the United States, and Western Europe are the regions with the lowest percentages of female illiteracy and legislation enshrining gender equality where polyamory is most prevalent.

Published By: Sister Wives 

Matchmakers Inc


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