How is polyamory different from polygamy?

Polygamy and polyamory are not the same.
Polygamy and polyamory are not the same. Polygamy is more commonly seen in the form of Polygyny, in which one man marries multiple women.

Polygamy

  • Polygamy is the practice of marrying more than one person, whereas polyamory means having multiple relations while being married (or not married) to one person.
  • Polygamy is more often done for sexual gratification or sometimes for political reasons, but polyamory also has an emotional aspect apart from the sexual or romantic side. Polygamy is more commonly seen in the form of Polygyny, in which one man marries multiple women.
  • In polygamy, one person has multiple partners, whereas, in polyamory, both the partners are allowed to take multiple lovers or one lover.

Polyamory

  • Polyamory means having multiple lovers and polygamy means having multiple spouses. Both are unconventional, uncommon practices in contemporary Western society. 
  • Polyamory is a form of consensual nonmonogamy (CNM).
  • Polyamory is also different from other types of CNM, such as swinging or “open” relationships, in which partners interact with each other mainly because of sexual intentions.

Monogamy

  • Monogamy is far more common than polygamy in North America, but CNM exists as well. An online survey found that 4 out of every 100 people in North America are involved in CNM. 

Is polyamory the same as hypersexuality?

No, polyamory is not a sexual disorder or personality disorder. It is simply an alternate way of living one’s life.

Hypersexuality is a sexual behavioral disorder treated by psychiatrists. It is also called compulsive sexual behavior, hypersexuality disorder or sexual addiction. People suffering from hypersexuality are always preoccupied with feelings of sex to the point that it affects them emotionally, personally and professionally.

Some may desire to enter polyamory, but they can control their feelings and can decide not to go for it. Some relationships start as polyamorous relations and later may revert to monogamy, subject to consent from both primary partners. It generally does not cause devastating disturbances in their family and professional lives as seen with people suffering from hypersexuality.

But yes, a polyamorous couple may need periodic counselling to cope with their feelings and “talk it out” about how they really feel in this relationship.

Are there any health consequences of polyamory?

Having multiple sexual partners carries the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Before people enter into a sexual relationship with any new partner, they must discuss their sexual histories with their new partners.

A study involving people in polyamory found that people practicing polyamory reported taking more precautions than those in monogamous relationships. They used condoms most of the time when they had sex and were also involved in getting themselves and their partners tested for STIs.

How to know if polyamory is right for you

Just like polygamy, polyamory is not for everyone. Like any relationship, polygamy also involves commitment with multiple partners. Effort to maintain each relationship needs constant work, a sound mental state, a healthy respect for personal boundaries and candid conversations about how both partners really feel in the long run. There must be a choice to change your preference at any point.

Polyamory encompasses more than just the physical aspect. A healthy relationship requires four things

  • Trust
  • Communication
  • Consent
  • Respect

A polyamorous relationship isn't going to work unless all partners agree with the arrangement.

To know if polyamory is right for you, you should be ready to deal with issues that may come with it. Some of the situations that you may need to handle include jealousy and emotional intimacy with multiple people.

QUESTION

Condoms are the best protection from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 12/2/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference

The Journal of Sexual Medicine


Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences


Mayo Clinic


Archives of Sexual Behavior


The Journal of Sexual Medicine