Cheers Sexy People!
Happy Friday, you sexy beasts! Several times in the last week or so, poly-curious peeps have used the word “polygamy” with me when discussing my lifestyle and the contents of this blog, website and the Loving Without Boundaries movement. I see that there is quite a bit of confusion surrounding the words “polygamy” versus “polyamory” – the latter of which is what this blog and information here is focused on. This blog serves to educate as one of its primary functions as well as create community for us ethically non-monogamous / polyamorous folk. So I would like to take a moment to discuss and share information about the differences between these two terms to the best of my knowledge.
First, feel free to check out the awesome Map of Non-Monogamy chart here (generously created by Franklin Veaux) that shows all of the various nuances and types of open relationships including how they overlap.
It’s definition time:
Polygamy – the practice of having more than one wife or husband at the same time. It is based on “marriage”; “polygyny” is a man being married to multiple women while “polyandry” is a woman being married to multiple men.
Also, in cultures that practice marital monogamy, bigamy is the act of entering into a marriage with one person while still legally married to another. Bigamy is a crime in most western countries, and when it occurs in this context often neither the first nor second spouse is aware of the other. Whereas…
Polyamory – the practice, state or ability of having more than one loving relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved; the relationships may be sexual or may not be sexual – the focus is mainly on “love” which is why the word “amore” or “love” is the root of the word – so literal translation is “many loves”.
Note that the word “marriage” is not used in the above definition of polyamory, nor is organized religion associated with polyamory.
Does this help clear it up? I did some research and will share the below as well for further clarification and learning tools. Here are some highlights of each with a link to the full article below each excerpt.
What is problematic are the various words used to define multiple partner relationships and how often they get confused.
Polygamy is the blanket term used to describe any form of multiple marriage, perhaps with the exception of bigamy, in that bigamy can occur without some partners knowing, while Polygamy generally is classified by all partners knowingly being involved in a multiple marriage. Ergo, while we often think of polygamy as a man with multiple wives or “polygyny,” it also can include a woman with multiple husbands, or “polyandry.”
Switching over to polyamory, another blanket term, polyamory differs in that while there may be a marriage, all participants are not necessarily attempting to be involved in a form of marriage, but rather a supportive mutually agreed upon relationship.
Read the full blog post for the above excerpt here.
The below is from a blog that advocates for the right of consenting adults to share and enjoy love, sex, residence, and marriage without limits on the gender, number, or relation of participants. I thought the post brought up some interesting points…
Equality in relationship rights and marriage necessitates that consensual polyamory and polygamy not only be legalized, but protected from discrimination and persecution. Current inequality in the law is harmful. For example, in the US, it is legal for people to have a different sexual partner (or several) every day, have children with multiple other partners, and (in most places) live with multiple partners, but it isn’t legal to be married to more than one at the same time. A man can have children with five different women, but can’t be legally married to more than one of those women at the same time, even if all are agreeable. What kind of sense is that?
Some people are polyamorous as part of their identity, and can’t be monogamous no matter how much they are punished (loss of marriage, loss of money, loss of employment, bullying, etc.) As long as they are with consenting adults, why should their relationships be denied equal treatment? With full marriage equality, fewer people will enter into what is supposed to be a monogamous relationship under pressure to be in the closet, and then hurt the other person.
Most people are not lifelong monogamists. Why it is better to have causal sex with a different person every few weeks or months, or get married and divorced over and over again, with or without affairs on the side, than to have honest polyamory and polygamy? If someone wants or needs monogamy, they should be free to have it; if someone wants or needs polyamory, they should be free to have it. People should be free to choose the relationships in which they will best function.
Read the full article here. Interesting stuff!
Recently a lovely lady JYW posted in the Polyamory forum on Facebook her excited news about the following:
Last night, my boyfriend asked my husband, if he could have my hand in marriage. After a brief man to man chat, they came out smiling together and we spent the rest of the night celebrating. I can’t explain how excited I am!!! We’re getting married this summer!!!!
When she was questioned “how that works legally” due to marrying more than one person at the same time being currently illegal, she stated so eloquently:
To clear this up… I don’t believe in involving the government in my personal life. My word means the same to me, whether I sign a paper agreement or not.
Love that! In the same FB forum, a gentlemen pointed out to me:
The majority of people who consider themselves in polygamous relationships (in the US at least) are NOT religiously based and the number of polyandry relationships seem to outnumber the number of polygyny relationships.
Note – that while marriage between more than two people is illegal in the US, MANY polycules have chosen and continue to choose to live as if they were legally married. They have ceremonies, exchange vows, have rings etc.
I would also point out that many if not most Native American tribes in the US either used to have polygamous marriages or STILL have polygamous marriages.
Thanks so much for that clarification and joining in on the conversation, my friend!
What say you? Are any of my readers here in a form of “group marriage” or living under the same roof with multiple consenting adults? Has anyone here had a “hand-fasting” or other type of commitment ceremony outside of their legal marriage? I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter as the concept of multiple committed relationships and how to honor them has always intrigued me.
Wishing you peace, love and happiness!
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)
If you would like to have an authentic, clarifying conversation with me so we can discuss ways to help you create loving, happy, secure, and exciting open relationships, feel free to learn more about my coaching services here. Then the button at the bottom of that page will offer you the opportunity to book a FREE Breakthrough Session with me – taking you directly into my calendar. I look forward to speaking with you!
I consider myself a polyamorous polygamist. I have one legal husband, and one I am hand-fasted to as well. We would gladly make our status legal, if offered that option. Right now we cohabitate and share finances and retirement plans – there are many ways to “validate” a relationship without the marriage certificate. At this moment, I also have a long term boyfriend, and he will be moving in with us soon. I consider polyamory vital to my continued happiness, and would not consider returning to a monogamous lifestyle.
Amen to that, sister! 🙂
I love that you consider yourself a “polyamorous polygamist.” Who knows, maybe I will count myself in that category someday too! I welcome it. How lovely that you have two+ wonderful partners and have honored them and your relationship with two ceremonies. I love to hear that! I think that’s incredible that your long term boyfriend may also move in as well. You are quite busy! I am totally with you that I consider polyamory vital to my continued happiness as well. I find so much freedom and joy in living this wonderful lifestyle. I too would not consider returning to a monogamous lifestyle as that is not who I am and it would contradict my values, thus causing me strife. I deeply love two men and I think it is beautiful and feels quite natural. Thank you so much sharing for your experiences here. I love hearing about it. You sound like a lovely and happy person with alot of self-determination. You go! xoxo Kitty
GREAT COMMENTS !
They really are great, aren’t they? What an awesome community!
We Canadians had an interesting time in 2011 when the BC government launched a reference case on section 293 of our criminal code; the section outlawing multiple marriages. The BC government has long been trying to prosecute the polygamist FLDS (Mormon) sect in Bountiful, BC for polygamy. Mostly because of the issues of child marriage and other social issues surrounding it.
The case put polyamorists and polygamists into an odd synergy. Both arguing against upholding 293. And yet, at the same time, the polyamory community wanted to distance ourselves from this very controversial group. So there was a need to differentiate between these terms and to educate the public in general about the differences.
In the end the judge in the case upheld 293 on the grounds of protection of women and children despite the fact it violates our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He did, however, qualify his decision by stating that consensual, egalitarian multi-partner relationships were not caught by the law. *As long as there was no official ceremony involved in the relationship*.
The last bit kind of makes things like hand-fastings a little legally shaky in Canada. Although nobody has ever been charged under 293, the general advice is to tread cautiously because it could be used to make life miserable.
So, personally, we know who we are and what our relationship means and we continue to consider the possibilities… 🙂
I would think that an “official ceremony” refers to legal officialdom, considering that the statement was made by a judge. Just because a ceremony seems/feels official to you does not necessarily make it official legally.
Very interesting point, Jim. I wonder about that as well now that you brought it up. Any additional thoughts on the matter, Blair?
I’m going to qualify my answer first by saying I’m no legal expert. That said, I was involved with the court case to some degree. The position of the Canadian Polyamory Association is that the judge’s decision was vague enough that anything that made the relationship “official” was risky. A hand-fasting might be interpreted as being Wiccan, for example, and therefore “official”. They were advising people to proceed with great caution.
In my personal opinion I suspect that this would only ever be a problem if things like, say, child custody issues came into play. Someone might be able to use the criminal code to make it very difficult on a poly parent.
Hi lovely Blair. I am so thrilled that you took the time to comment and add your thoughts and experiences here. I was hoping that you would frankly, being my polyamorous friend from Canada! I appreciate all of the detail that you pointed out with section 293 of the Canadian criminal code. How fascinating and illuminating! I get the issues of child marriage and women’s rights, but what a shame that the outcome is outlawing all multiple marriages, even if they are ethical and loving. How interesting that this issue forced you all to differentiate between the terms “polygamy” and “polyamory” that much moreso. The whole thing about not having an official ceremony involved in the relationship is so bizarre. It makes me think how odd it is that others try to dictate what we can do in our homes, hearts and lives. Good for you and your family that you don’t let these things bother you much, and you have created such a happy and loving home for you, your nesting partners and your children.
I had a commitment ceremony with a wonderful woman quite a few years ago. My wife and children also participated in the ceremony. I had not worn my wedding ring in years because I didn’t like rings and think they pose a danger of ripping a finger off, so it became my wife’s whose fingers had gotten too big for hers, and hers went to the other woman with an inscription on the inside linking the three of us. We had a website about the ceremony as an example for others to use, but it has long since gone away. I may possibly be able to find some of the elements that went into it if I felt like searching. We were together for 5 years before we had a dissolution ceremony. We still have Thanksgiving together.
Bye the way, since you appear to have stopped posting links to your blog posts on Polyamory Network, and since I thought this was a pretty important topic, I posted a link for you.
Hello Jim! I have missed you! Thank you for reminding me that we met through the Polyamory Network. Incidentally I had stopped posting there because for many weeks, I could not get the website to work properly from my laptop – it appeared to be having some kind of issue. Since you reminded me about that site, I just tried it now and it seems to be working again. So I will go back once again to posting there. Feel free to reach out to anytime through any means though. I love hearing from you! And thanks for posting my link for me. You are such a sweetheart.
Thank you so much for telling us all about your experiences both with your commitment ceremony and then the following dissolution ceremony. I have never heard of such a thing. I am fascinated and I love to learn how others manage their polyamorous lives and relationships. I appreciate you sharing your story. I love how you all handled the ring with the inscription. What an inspired idea! If you ever care to look up the information about your ceremony, I would certainly be curious. I am glad to hear that you see your former partner on Thanksgivings. That sounds quite amicable and lovely. Enjoy!
Yes, you are right that for a good while there, the site was for all intents and purposes pretty nonfunctional. To make matters worse Kotango was down at the same time, and Beyond Two had pretty much proved themselves to be not very poly despite claiming to be. I was starting to get a bit depressed that there was no poly social site available, and was quite pleased when Polyamory Network started working again just before Christmas. I thought I had sent you a message that it was back up, but maybe I didn’t. Kotango is still MIA, and I have no idea of when or even if they will be back up again.
I really like hearing that you love hearing from me, it gives me sort of a warm fuzzy feeling, and you can call me sweetheart anytime. I make no promises or commitment about trying to find the ceremony information, but if I do look, then I do promise that you will be the first person I will share it with.
Thanks for letting me know the status of the different poly-friendly websites. I will put publishing my articles on Polyamory Network back in my rotation. It sounds like you liked Kotango when it was working? I have not heard of Beyond Two before. With a name like that, one would think they were poly-friendly!
It made my day to know that I gave you a warm fuzzy feeling. I’m elated to know I can call you sweetheart! Yes no big deal if you can’t find the ceremony information. But yes if you do, I’d love to learn more about it and your history on that front. It’s fascinating!
Take care! xoxo
Just to be clear, Beyond Two is a poly site, but they are not very polyminded when it comes to sharing poly resources. It seems that they would like to be the only poly resource, and kicked me off when I shared other poly resources there. Their Terms of Service clearly state that it is not allowed, but it is hidden in an awful lot of very small print, and why would they prohibit it if their goal is to help poly folks. Also I was not allowed to talk to the owners about it, only to a volunteer moderator who turned out to be extremely rude in addition to kicking me off.
I did a cursory search for my web site information, but was unable to locate it. My Yahoo email account where I stored it is very jumbled with things that should be in one folder located in others. I have no idea how that happened, but it is a total mess, and I suspect that some things may also have been deleted.
Hi Jim! Thanks for the information and clarification. I appreciate it as do the peeps in the community, I’m sure. That seems odd that Beyond Two kicked you off for sharing information! Wow! Not very inclusive or open-minded, eh? No worries on the commitment ceremony information. Thanks for taking a look for it though. You rock! Have an awesome day, Jim!
Another super, multi-faceted discussion, Kitty! I continue to love the topics you address, and how you address them. Thank you!!!
I think the topic of polygamy vs polyamory is a fascinating one. Ultimately, whichever dynamic consenting adults choose for their intimate lives should of course be up to them and should fall under the “pursuit of happiness” umbrella, but it’s far from an ideal world out there (the fact that men can dictate women’s reproductive health options, for example, and most hypocritical of all, male members of the clergy to whom any sort of sexuality is supposed to be forbidden). So it seems that governments and rubber-neckers yell the loudest, much to my chagrin.
It seems crazy to me that non-traditional forms of marriage or co-habitation inspire so much nuttiness in the traditionalists. Why are they so threatened? How can they honestly say that any union other than man-woman is an “attack” on marriage? Huh? First of all, a 50% “success” rate for two person, hetero marriages ain’t all that successful. So is it really those who live alternate arrangements that are eroding what is seen as somehow sacred? Hogwash!
I think when people hear “polygamy,” they think of cult leaders who kick other males out of the compound so they can have all the underage girls for themselves. I can’t help but think back that show, Big Love…even though both sides were fueled by religious beliefs, the central family was just like any other, albeit “bigger.” They dealt with all the same challenges that any other relationships do. They all loved each other, even when they were annoyed by each other. But then you had the self-proclaimed prophet on the compound who was raping young girls and calling it holiness. I think the show made a good, important distinction between adults choosing love and megalomaniacs calling it religion but trampling the human rights of others. Still, I think if most non-poly or non-poly-curious people were asked for an off-the-cuff reaction to polygamy, they’d mention the cult aspect they’ve seen on TV, and would probably see little-to-no-difference between that and polyamory.
It’s amazing…with as big as the human brain is, we choose to fit very little into it the way we so often close ourselves off to other’s truths. Or maybe it’s our hearts we’re closing off, more than our brains?
Sorry to wax philosophical there–I got carried away!!
Thanks again, Kitty, for the excellent work you do in promoting awareness about ethical non-monogamy. You do it in such an expansive, thoughtful way, and one that’s respectful to everyone.
Celeste, your comment really made my day so much, I had to read it several times. So thanks for your patience waiting for me to respond. You are just such a lovely person whom I am so happy is now in my life! You rock! I am so happy to address this topic, as it has come up several times recently for me, and now I can point people to this article and these lovely comments!
Oh my goodness, I loved this statement:
“Ultimately, whichever dynamic consenting adults choose for their intimate lives should of course be up to them and should fall under the “pursuit of happiness” umbrella” = YES! You go, girl! That rocks!
I agree with the lovely woman I mentioned in this post that the government really has no place in one’s personal life. And when we speak in the vein of polyamorous relationships, whom I / we choose to love is our business, eh? And how we choose to celebrate that should be our business as well. In terms of co-habitation, how on earth should anyone be able to speak to whom I / we choose to co-habitate with? Who is paying the mortgage afterall? Who is cooking the meals? I once again agree with everything that you so eloquently stated here. Thank you so much for adding your awesome thoughts to this discussion.
I agree that there is confusion as well as assumptions made when we use the word “polygamy”. That’s partly why I wanted to make the distinction here about the literal definition of the word. It simply is referring to marriage in multiples, which some places on the globe is illegal. The cult-ish or religious affiliation is not all that relevant to the actual definition – but at the same time, I don’t think we can ignore people’s impressions and what the media is putting out there. I just want to also put good and accurate information out into the world as well.
Wax philosophical away! I love reading your words and your thoughts! They are so well-thoughtout and profound! I love it!
You are incredibly welcome, Celeste. I can hardly wait to have you back on the podcast for more enlightening discussions, laughter and love! It is absolutely my pleasure to promote awareness about ethical non-monogamy, all of the nuances that go with it, and do whatever I can to support this lovely community. Thank YOU for being a part of it!
I am pretty positive that you are THE most generous, gracious, completely awesome blogger in the history of bloggers, Kitty. No joke! Only you would thank me for my patience while waiting for you to respond to my comment. First of all, no patience was required–I wasn’t expecting a response, so I wasn’t waiting. And the fact that you give one anyway, even though you don’t “have” to, shows how great you are. (I know you are one VERY busy lady, and yet you do things like take the time to respond to your responders.)
You are what Malcolm Gladwell calls a “natural connector.” You connect people in ways that may feel natural and organic to you, but ways that most of us wouldn’t have a clue in how to do. I feel lucky to be in your orbit!
So…thank you for your response to my response (hee, hee)! I loved reading it, and rereading it, and I too look forward to our next podcast fun-time and all the laughs and “ah-ha!” moments that might bring.
I wish you every happiness, K–you certainly deserve it!
Hi Celeste! First, as always thank you so much for your incredibly sweet and kind words! You make my heart sing! Thank you! And to be fair, when I started this blog, my husband very quickly told me that if I wanted it to be a success, I had to reply to every single comment that came in, or I shouldn’t even bother doing it. I pondered and tried to think if I could do that. I decided why YES! I want to talk to people, build great relationships, and help this awesome, under-served community! So away I went. I credit him with teaching me that. Also when I started my entrepreneurial journey, I took a class called “How To Connect With Anyone” by one of my mentors Scott Dinsmore. And it helped change the way I “show up” in the world and how I relate to other people – all for the better. I can’t thank him enough. Here’s a post where I honor Scott and all he taught me and continues to teach me every single day. So I credit him with my “natural connector” abilities as it can be learned, Celeste! I love him and miss him…
I wish YOU every happiness, fun times ahead and many laughs and “a-ha” moments, and I hope that we enjoy many more together! Yay! I look forward to all that is ahead! You rock!
I am so glad that you enjoyed it! Yay!
YES ME AND MY GIRLS READ ALL YOUR MESSAGES TOGETHER !
Awww, that warms my heart, Carmelo. How many girls do you have? I’m curious. xoxo
You’re welcome. 🙂
I have stumbled onto your blog through a post a friend made on FB. I will figure out how to finally enter the world of blogging.
I like what you posted and the responses are truly amazin and insightful.
My husband and I have been poly for 15 years. We have had partners live with us and even a few rings exchanged. We are currently with my new partner who did not know this world existed till December. Things have progressed very quickly, by direction of my husband, ironically. So my ‘boys’ get a long amazingly and we all co habitats (the progressing quickly) mainly due to my partner’s financial issue that he needed a break to get on feet. He has done so and is contributing way more than we ever expected.
I do a discussion series on polyamory and if you don’t mind incorporate some of your blogging ideas into it. Thank you again for your insight and topics.
New to blogging