The Difference Between Polygamy and Polyamory

What is the difference between being polygamous and being polyamorous?

Polygamy is having multiple wifes or spouses and is usually associated with certain cultures or religious groups like fundamental mormons.  Polyamorous on the other hand is counter culture and focuses on having multiple loving relationships.


Someone is being polyamorous when they feel love for multiple people.   This is common in young people who tend to date multiple people at the same time.  If they adore and become attached to several people at once they are being polyamorous and in polyamorous relationships.

Being polyamorous is about having love for multiple people, not necessarily craving multiple sexual partners.  In some cases people find that they need more than one person to meet all their intellectual, physical, and emotional needs.

One common ethical concern is that polyamory can often hurt many peoples feelings.  Someone who is monogomous (the opposite of polyamorous) may deeply love the polyamorous person and get very hurt and jealous when they date other people.  This is why it is always important to date other polys or be very clear from the beginning that you are not looking for anything too serious.

In the lesbian and feminist communities during the 1970s committed relationships were seen as patriarchal and even Suppressive.  One solution was open relationships which was a defining characteristic of the movement and seen as feminist and radical.


Polygamy on the other hand is seen as much more radical right and has to do with the suppression of women.  The most well known polygamists are the fundamental mormon’s who practiced having many wives at once.  Many times these women had very little rights and were forced to do whatever the man wanted.   Sometimes these men would marry underage teenagers as well.

One of the original strongholds of polygamy was in Utah, where the Mormon church started taking root in the 1850s.  For decades men practiced having multiple wives, but other states did not like this one bit.  By 1890 the U.S government created a law banning official unions between one person and multiple partners.  However many people in Utah still practice unofficial polygamous unions.  In Canada there is a severe 5 year prison sentence for anyone caught being married to multiple people at once.

In other countries polygamy is deeply ingrained within the cultural norms.  For example in Islam and the Muslim religions people can have multiple wives.  Therefore you will find many Muslim countries in Africa and the middle east fully recognizing polygamous marriages.  Some diverse countries in Asia also recognize polygamous relationships for their muslim citizens.

polygamous vs polyamorous
countries that allow polygamous marriages are shown in black

So hopefully this clears up any confusion out there.  To be clear this websites name torontopoly is short for Toronto Polyamory.




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