Polygamy vs “Open” Marriage vs Polyamory vs SwingingJuly 16th, 2012 at 4:55
The primary difference between polygamy vs polyamory vs “open marriages” vs swinging is the exclusivity of the marriage partners.
While relations of the wives w other women besides each other would be at the husbands’ discretion, sex w a man other than the shared husband would most certainly constitute infidelity & be grounds for divorce. Even as sex w a woman other than his wives could likely be grounds for their divorce of him.
Further the process by which additional wives (or husbands) are added to the family would be set by each individual marriage. Violation of the agreed process make life difficult for those violated if not become grounds for divorce.
Further, in polygyny (multiple wives) & polyandry (multiple husbands), the multiplied spouses are not ‘married’ or obligated to each other. Instead, they merely ‘share’ a common spouse. While multiple wives might enjoy bisexual activities w or w/o the husband, multiple husbands are generally much less willing to engage in sexual activities w each other or even share the common wife at the same time.
Thus, at the death or divorce of their common spouse, they are under no obligation to have another common spouse or stay together in any form at all.
As recently publicized by Newt Gingrich’s comment, “open marriage” seems to be a bit easier for people to accept. The marriage is only the “one man, one woman” as is attempted to be legislated, but the members of the marriage are free to have sexual relations with other people with no repercussions from their spouse. So the husband could have a regular girlfriend or a one-night stand and feel ‘open’ to tell his wife about the relationship and know she won’t divorce him rather than try to hide it like so many men in “closed” marriages currently do.
Polyamory – While considered by its practitioners to be a marriage, polyamorous relationships are free-flowing and unplanned. Most polyamorous groups have no restrictions or planned criteria for adding members. If the husband or wife finds a man or woman they like, they can pursue the relationship without the others’ permission. Further, the relationship doesn’t even need to be enjoined by the other person or be a permanent commitment extending into sexual relations w boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. Further, a man could be considered a “husband” when he’s not even in the same state or country as the rest of the polyamorous group and is only seen once a year or less. These relationships seem to me to be more like “friends with benefits” and often grows from “open marriages” where the “side action” got serious.
“Swinging” isn’t a marriage per se as much as a variation of “open marriage” since it involves mutual adultery at the same time in parties with other couples. Swinging is all about “recreational sex”: sexual activity with other men and women without any emotional attachment. When emotional attachment does occur, it usually results in the dissolution of the core monogamous marriage.