Polyamory vs Polygamy

Polyamory vs Polygamy: Differences Based on 5 Key Parameters

Many individuals mix together polyamory, polygamy, polygyny, and polyandry – which is understandable given that most of us are unfamiliar with these terminologies!

While they are various types of relationships involving more than two people, there are some significant differences between them.

So, what do you mean by Polyamory vs Polygamy? And, what is the difference between Polyamory and Polygamy? 

Short Answer:

Polyamory comes from the Greek word for “many” (poly) and the Latin word for love (amor).  

Polyamory is a consensual and ethical relationship where multiple people are involved in a relationship – physically, emotionally & mentally. 

In a polyamorous relationship, each person is aware of the other parties in the relationship. It is like your regular monogamous relationship but involving multiple partners. The members of the relationship are not married to each other.

In contrast to monogamy, polyamory is not about exclusivity; rather, it involves openness and transparency. Polyamory can involve multiple romantic partnerships (polyfidelity), multiple sexual encounters (polysexuality), or both. 

Polygamy on the other hand is a practice where one person is married to multiple partners. In short, Polygamy necessitates marriage whereas polyamorous people can be married and have partners outside of their marriage

Polygamy can be further divided into Polyandry and Polygyny. 

Polyandry means a single woman having multiple husbands and Polygyny means a single man having multiple wives. 

How these relationships work depends totally on each individual relationship. Various factors like the place of living, intimacy level, love, and emotions can change depending on each individual relationship. Therefore, we can’t describe the characteristics of such relationships.

What is the difference between polygamy and polyamory – 6 key differences

What’s the difference between polygamy and polyamory? If you’re not sure, you’re not alone. These terms are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences between the two.


Both polygamy and polyamory are gender-neutral terms. They may refer to a man having multiple female partners, or a woman having multiple male partners. Nonbinary people who identify as neither exclusively masculine nor feminine can also engage in either type of relationship.

When it comes to polygamous relationships, one person can have more than one spouse as his/her married partner. Polygamous relationships are classified into two types – Polygyny and Polyandry. A man having more than one wife is called Polygyny. On the other hand, a woman having more than one husband is known as Polyandry. 

For polyamorous relationships, it is when a person is romantically linked with more than one partner (both men and women), or when a person has more than one partner (either men or women). Regardless of the combination, all participants are aware of each other and so it is as open as it gets.


When it comes to love, the difference between polygamy and polyamory can be quite clear. In polygamy, two people get married and they each have a legal commitment to the other person. 

In polyamory, however, two people may date and decide to live together without getting married. They do not have a legal commitment to each other.


Religion is another important issue to consider when comparing polygamy and polyamory.

Some people engage in polygamy because their religion permits it. Some Muslims, for example, are involved in polygamous relationships. However, there are some Muslims who oppose polygamy. 

Polyamory is something that everyone, regardless of religion, can engage in. If their religion bans it and they are caught in the act, they may be considered sinners.


Another distinction between Polyamory and Polygamy is the legality of the relationship. When it comes to the legal status of a polygamous relationship, not all countries have made it legal. This is why anyone interested in a Polygamous relationship would plan a wedding ceremony that the state or region does not recognize.

Polygamous marriages are legal in various Middle Eastern and African countries. However, what really applies in this circumstance is polygyny, which allows a man to have multiple wives. Most governments and states, on the other hand, do not acknowledge polyandry.

The unconventional nature of a polyamorous relationship makes it a viable alternative. If everyone involved is on board, many people are permitted to have many relationships.


Polygamy is most popular nowadays in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, where religious conventions restrict women’s access to many male partners while allowing certain men access to several wives.

In certain circumstances, women are also barred from entering public spaces or driving, making it difficult for them to attend school or find work that allows them personal independence and control over their own lives.

Polyamory (as opposed to polygamy) is expected to be more prevalent in locations where women have greater access to education and personal independence for the same reasons. 

Polyamory is most widespread in Australia, Canada, the United States, and Western Europe, all of which have gender equality laws and high rates of female literacy.


Morning Glory Ravenheart coined the term “polyamory” in 1990. As a practice or concept, polyamory is presently in its third wave of obscurity. 

In the first wave, utopianists, feminists, and anarchists advocate consensual non-monogamous relationships as a solution for everything from the capitalist oppression of women to men’s tyranny over them. 

In the second wave, free lovers, swingers, and discophiles flourished among hippies, swingers, and disco dancers. And in the third wave, the greatest by far came the spread of internet communication.

Polygamy, on the other hand, has been around since the invention of marriage. Notable Torah/Old Testament males like Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon took several wives and had a lot of children with them all. 

Wealthy males have had access to several women in every community that anthropologists and sociologists have discovered, past and present.

How to know the right relationship for you?

In a polyamorous relationship, you may find yourself wondering if you should choose monogamy or polygamy. You might wonder whether your partner wants to be exclusive or not. Or maybe you’re just curious about what it would be like to date multiple people simultaneously. 

Whatever the case may be, you’ll want to consider the following factors before deciding which kind of relationship is best for you.

You are comfortable with all the parties:

Since both- polygamy and polyamory involve having multiple partners, you’ll know if it’s right when you’re comfortable with each person involved.

There is trust in the relationship:

Keep an eye out for the trust feature if you’re wondering how to know the correct polygamy relationships or the ideal polyamorous union.

You must ask yourself key trust-related questions. If you realize that the answers to these questions are favorable, you can proceed with the connection. If it is the other way around, you should discuss some of your secret worries with your partner.

Your partners excite you:

No one wants a partner who does not make them feel butterflies in their stomach. You should feel excited about your partner because it means that they love and care for you.

You resolve conflicts easily:

One important factor you should consider in polyamorous relationships vs. polygamous ones is how quickly you make up with your lovers after an argument. If they spend time before walking through quarrels, then there might not be any understanding and love in the union.

You can see a future for everyone:

Do you think that there is a future in your relationship? If so, what does it mean to you? Are you satisfied with the current state of affairs? If not, why not? What can you do about it? These questions should help you determine whether or not you are happy with your relationship. 

 You may also wish to consider how you feel about your partner. Is he/she treating you right? Does he/she care about you? How much do you trust him/her? If you answered yes to these questions, then you probably shouldn’t worry too much. However, if you answered no, then you need to take action before things get worse.

Are there any misconceptions to consider?

As you can imagine there are plenty of popular misconceptions and myths about the above relationships — mostly due to the stigma attached to them and the media misrepresentations of Polygamy and Polyamory.

It’s a form of cheating:

Polyamory isn’t the same as cheating. The difference between polyamorous relationships and cheating is consent. When one person consents to another having multiple sexual partners, it’s not cheating; it’s polyamory.

It’s not possible to cheat or break the boundaries of your relationship:

That is not to imply that polyamorous individuals cannot cheat.

Polyamory does not imply that “anything goes.” It’s critical to respect your partner’s boundaries in any relationship. Overstepping certain limitations may be deemed cheating.

For example, if your partner only allows you to date individuals they know and you date someone they don’t know without informing them, that’s cheating.

Polyamorous relationships are recipes for disaster:

All relationships have their upsides and downsides. Polyamory is no exception. Some couples may find it easier to stay together if they aren’t committed to each other. Others may feel safer knowing they have options. Either way, polyamory offers benefits to everyone involved.

It’s a disorder:

It is not a disorder to be attracted to (and wish to date) numerous people. Some people can love several people at the same time.

It’s the same as having an open relationship or swinging:

Allowing your partner to have sex with other people is part of having an open relationship. Swinging is typically associated with couples trading sexual partners.

While polyamorous people may have open relationships or be swingers, they are not the same.

Many polyamorous persons do not swing or have closed relationships, which means they may have several partners but do not date or sleep with anybody outside of the group.

How do they compare to other relationship dynamics?

Most people have never witnessed anything other than monogamy in action.

The reality is that monogamy is just one type of relationship. There are many different connection dynamics available.

This various nonmonogamy could include:

Monogamy: This is where someone may be mostly monogamous but might also be open to sex or romance with others.

Casual sex: This is where your sexual partners have no expectations about monogamy or exclusivity. It can be an ethical non-monogamous relationship because you’re consenting to have relationships with multiple people.

Casual dating: This is where you date numerous people while explicitly emphasizing that there are no expectations regarding monogamy, similar to casual sex.

Open relationships: This type of relationship allows couples to engage in sexual activity outside of their primary relationship.

Triad: This is a situation in which three people date each other. It is also known as a “throuple.”

Quad: A quad, like a triad, is a four-person relationship.

Vee: This is also known as a “V” relationship, in which one person is dating two people but they are not dating each other.

Polyflexible:  Someone who is happy with being in either a monogamous or non-monogamous relationship is called Polyflexible.

Polyfidelity: This is a situation in which all partners in a group are treated equally and agree not to engage in sexual or romantic relationships outside of the group.

Conclusion: Polyamory vs Polygamy

After reading through this article on polyamory vs polygamy, you now know what each type of relationship involves. 

There’s plenty of information online about polyamory, and if you’re interested in exploring this lifestyle, we suggest doing some research beforehand. You may find helpful resources such as:

  • Speaking with Potential Partner(s) to Establish Boundaries
  • Managing Jealousy
  • Communicating with Your Partner(s)
  • Time Management
  • Informing Your Friends and Family About Your Relationships

When a partner expresses interest in nonmonogamy, it’s common for many people to feel that they’re not “enough,” which is a completely understandable feeling.

Explain your interest in ethical nonmonogamy in detail. Tell them that it’s not because you don’t like them or aren’t happy with them, to put it another way.

If any of the partners aren’t deliberate about the relationship, then it may not last. You can seek help from relationship counselors to get advice on how to handle a relationship properly.


Are there any health risks associated with having multiple sexual partners? 

People who practice polyamory report taking extra precautions before engaging in sexual activity with new partners. They often use condoms during intercourse and get themselves and their partners checked for STIs.

What’s so great about having multiple partners? Isn’t it just another form of cheating? Why would anyone want to do something so selfish?

Not really. The point is not sex; it’s love, romance, intimacy, and affection with more than one person, openly and ethologically by mutual agreement all around. Polyamory is about sex as much as any romantic relationship is about sex. Some people view sex as a driving force in relationships. Others see romance and emotional or spiritual connection as more important. The term ‘polyamorous’ means that the focus is on open, ethical relationships.

How can you find time for more than one relationship?

This can be challenging. Children, work, and other responsibilities will put a strain on any relationship, let alone two or more. “Love may be infinite, but time is not,” many polys argue. Time management is a necessary skill in polyamory, as is discovering what you truly desire so that you can prioritize your time. You will have to make increasingly difficult decisions regarding where and how you spend your time.

Is it necessary to be bisexual?

No. Furthermore, you don’t even need to be bisexual to form close bonds with other loves. It’s simple to forget in our sex-obsessed culture that historically, long-lasting partnerships between persons of the same gender have been universally accepted as normal. 

What is a 3-person relationship called?

It is called a Throuple. You can read more about 3-person relationships & understand if it is for you or not.

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