What Is The Difference Between Polyamory and Polygamy?


Think there is no difference between polyamory and polygamy? Think again discover the difference.

In the world of relationships, the terms polyamory and polygamy may sound similar, but in actual fact there are several key differences between the two that people need to be aware of. What follows are some of the main ones and the hope is that by the end of it you will have a far better understanding about not only the terms, but also the lifestyles associated with the terms. Hopefully by the end of it you will see that.

First, the term polygamy basically means "many marriages" but it can also relate to having a number of relationships where there is a sense of having some kind of spousal commitment to a number of people at the one time.

This is a term that is perhaps used most when people are talking about the Mormon faith or Islam where a man is able to have a number of wives at any given time and it is this aspect of a number of marriages that makes it different to polymory. In both of these religions there will, therefore, be religious doctrine that discusses it in detail whereas with polyamory this is certainly not the case.

The term polyamory instead means "many loves" and the relationship aspect in this type of lifestyle does not mean that marriage exists, but instead the person has some form of a serious relationship with a number of people at the one time. This can, therefore, mean that they may date one person whilst living with another, but there is no sense of any formal certificates or paperwork that show they are in some kind of a serious relationship with anybody. It is also worth pointing out that whilst polygamy is often linked to religion, the same cannot be said about polyamory.

Another difference between the two is that polygamy does tend to only refer to the act of a man having more than one wife and it is, therefore, based on gender. Polyamory is open to any mixture of numbers and genders so it is just as common for a man to be in a relationship with several women as it is for a woman to be in love with several men. It should also be pointed out that polymory can of course involve people of the same sex as well whereas this won't be possible with polygamy due to its strong links to religion and culture.

It is also generally true that polygamy has a tendency to last longer like normal marriages, but with polyamory it is more about the moment and living in it and this means it may last for weeks, months or even years depending on the people involved which is similar to swinger couples or open relationships. The term "till death do us part" certainly only applies to one and over a lifetime the person involved in a polyamorous relationship can have a number of partners whereas the polygamist tends to be limited to only a few.

Finally, it has to be said that people do tend to have the point of view that there are cultural differences between the two, but in actual fact this is not actually the case; however, how both approaches are viewed can be different. It is perhaps true that in certain cultures and countries the idea of having more than one wife would not cause a stir and indeed it is common practice, but the idea of having more than one relationship is one that may indeed be frowned upon. There is also the idea that even in countries or cultures where polygamy is not allowed that there is a better understanding of it whereas the same cannot be said about multiple relationships at the one time.

So those are the key differences between polyamory and polygamy and you should know see that they are not as similar as you may have initially thought and indeed those that practice either of them would certainly agree that they have entirely different approaches to life. However, it is fair to say that a number of people will still have the same negative opinion about both lifestyles, but due to now having a better understanding of the two maybe you will be able to accept why some people do indeed wish to live this type of lifestyle.


Explore YourTango