Polygamy vs Polyamory

Some couples, including men and women, practice polygamy and polyamory, but they are not the same and are commonly confused and sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably. However, polyamory and polygamy are practiced very differently, and a man or woman would choose one over the other for many personal and ethical reasons, which can make it stand out from other relationships. So, what is the main difference between these two relationship styles? It all comes down to the level of commitment and the values that people within these relationships hold, according to research.


Polygamy is the practice of having multiple spouses, which is a significant difference from polyamory. This relationship format tends to focus on the idea of commitment and building a life together with multiple partners.

Although it has been shown in a religious context on TV shows like Big Love and Sister Wives, most polygamists, both men and women, are not doing it for religious reasons. Rather, the reasons are deeply personal, and these people have made a conscious choice to follow this path. A lot of them believe that polygamy encourages more stable relationships and stronger families. Thus, it can be seen as a preferred option for some individuals.

3 polygamous women and 1 man.

The growing popularity of polygamy is largely due to the belief that it encourages building more stable relationships and stronger families for both men and women. This line of thinking makes polygamy stand out as a choice for those who value long-term intentions and the potential for plural marriage and a lifelong deep partnership.

Polygamy is all about commitment and building a life together, with records of it going back to our earliest understanding of historical events. Although generally practiced by more conservative people, the practice of polygamy is not attached to a specific ideology and can involve both men and women equally.

Throuple vs Polygamy

A throuple is a three-person 'couple', including men and women. This can be in the form of a polyamorous relationship with no commitment or a polygamous relationship with multiple intimate romantic relationships between themselves but in the context of a closed relationship. People will commonly call themselves a throuple or triad when there are only three members in a relationship.

What Are The Advantages Of Polygamy?

Polygamy, which may include both men and women, was practiced throughout history for the simple fact that it has many benefits over monogamy. With more love being felt and expressed, more parents caring for the children, and a wider support network for each spouse, plural marriages are generally happy with the biggest issue being jealousy. However, having good communication between all parties from the beginning is absolutely critical to maintaining a healthy polygamous relationship. This is where the concept of commitment stands out and plays a vital role in making polygamy work.

How To Find A Polygamous Relationship

Join a dating site for polygamy to meet other people, including men and women, from all over the world. It's free to join and dedicated to helping people get started in polygamy.


Polyamory means having multiple simultaneous relationships, usually without any meaningful commitment, making it different from polygamy. This is a more open and fluid relationship format in which people, men and women alike, may not seek the same level of commitment as they would in a polygamous relationship.

Polyamory's rise in popularity is mainly political and ideological. Prior to this shift, if someone, regardless of being a man or woman, just wanted multiple partners they called themselves swingers and went on about their lives. But, the polyamorous community has clear and distinct ideological drivers and is not simply a "because I want this" kind of thing.

To understand the ideology and politics at the root of polyamory, refer to https://www.reddit.com/r/polyamory/.

The word polyamory written on a wall.

Polyamory is also, generally speaking, non-committal and even anti-relationship in the traditional sense for both men and women. This style focuses on individual desires and the freedom to have multiple romantic or sexual experiences without the need for commitment. This makes polyamory a much more volatile issue due to its political and ideological connections as well as a lack of, and disdain for, coherent family units in the eyes of some people.

Non-Monogamy vs Polyamory

Non-monogamy covers every type of non-monogamous relationship including polygyny, polyandry, polyamory, open relationships, and swinging. The term doesn't so much have a definition of what it is as much as what it is not whereas polyamory is consensual non-monogamy but without being in the context of a committed relationship, applicable to both men and women.

What Are The Advantages Of Polyamory?

Polyamorists, including both men and women, wanting to promote the lifestyle will generally argue that it fights the patriarchy (which they view monogamy as a part of) and lets individuals express their gender identity and sexuality without cheating. At the same time, you never really see them happy and the culture does not tend to stop and question why.

Are Poly Relationships Legal?

In the United States, poly relationships are treated the same way as any sexual relationship between adults, regardless of the genders involved. While only people who love each other in a monogamous relationship can get legally married, polyamorous people are free to live the lifestyle of their choice.

The Key Differences

The difference between polygamous and polyamorous relationships is commitment. That is what really separates the two, drawing a clear line between them. When looking at how these relationships work, it becomes apparent from research that the values and intentions of the people involved, including both men and women, play a crucial role.

While polyamory is essentially rebranded swinging or open relationships with emotional support, the basis of polygamy is the exact opposite. Polygamy values commitment, closed relationships, and working together to build a strong family unit.

Where having random "relationships" with one-time or regular partners is celebrated in the polyamorous community, polygamy is an entirely closed relationship for both men and women. And that is kind of the point if you want to date a polygamous couple. Polygamy, as mentioned earlier, is more in line with traditional values and the idea of long-term commitment for both genders.

It also seems to attract very different people, both philosophically and politically.

Polygamists are more likely to be traditionally minded and want a more traditional dynamic, or at least a "marriage" and commitment for both men and women.

In contrast, much of the poly community abhors any kind of obligation between partners or compromising your own desires for what's best for your partner, especially if you are happy doing that. In this sense, polyamory is all about personal freedom and exploration, for both men and women, rather than commitment and working together found in polygamy.

What you will find they do have in common is supporting the right to choose to be married to more than one person at a time for both men and women.

In that regard, polygamists share an interest with the polyamorous community and one that both should embrace, as both lifestyles cater to different people with diverse preferences.

A Rebuttal To Our Take On Polyamory

We were contacted by a kind reader who is in a happy polyamorous relationship and took issue with our description and impression of polyamory.

With permission, we quote her comments below:

"I identify as polyamorous and live an ethical polyamorous lifestyle. Polyamory is also sometimes called consensual non monogamy. In my case, I have two loving, long term relationships. One of my partners has another loving, long term relationship. My other partner is free to begin a relationship with another if he chooses but is only in a relationship with me at this time. We are, in fact, all free to have other relationships, or non committed sexual partners, as long as we respect the agreements we have made with one another.

However, there are a variety of ways to "be" polyamorous. In my mind, the biggest consistency is that each polyamorous person embraces the freedom to construct a lifestyle and relationships that are right for them without regard to the 'norms'. There are those who maintain no commitments as you assert is most often the case. However, there are many other ways to engage in ethical polyamory. Many polyamorists have spouses or life committed partners which may or may not be 'legal' spouses. Many do not, or may be divorced. Some polyamorous individuals have 'nesting partners' that they live with and may share finances with. These may or may not be spouses. Some obviously have children with one or more partners who they may or may not live with. Polyamory also includes same sex relationships which is not at all the case with polygyny or polyandry. Another type of polyamory is an open relationship which is often described as one in which there is a primary committed relationship in which each partner also has the freedom to have sex with others outside of that relationship. There are also those who are asexual (meaning they have no sexual impulses or interest in sex) but may or may not maintain committed relationships. Sometimes, swingers consider themselves to fall under the polyamorous umbrella or sometimes not. A swinger is someone who is in a committed relationship but may 'swap' spouses/partners with another couple.

These are but a very few examples of the widely divergent ways that individuals might choose to be polyamorous. There are also a wide variety of individuals who might choose polyamory; differing in their sexual orientation, romantic orientation and gender identity, and certainly in their age, ethnicity and spiritual, philosophical and political beliefs. Also, I should note that polyamorous individuals themselves do not entirely agree on what constitutes polyamory and what does not."

Elena T.

We appreciated her eloquent perspective and wanted to share her viewpoint so that our readers could form their own opinions.

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