Polyamory & Polygamy | Sexual Behaviour | Sex Addiction Australia
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Polyamory & Polygamy


Polygamy stems from the Late Greek language and means ‘often married’, or a marriage including two or more partners. Polygamy exists in three forms, as polygyny, polyandry, and as group marriage. Polygyny is the most widely practised form of polygamy. Taking more than one wife technically requires considerable resources of wealth. In traditional Islamic societies, and Imperial China the practise of polygyny often becomes a status symbol and denoting power, wealth, and fame.

  • Polygyny describes a marriage between one man and several wives, with no marriage bond between the wives.
  • Polyandry is a marriage between one woman and several husbands, with no marriage bond between the husbands.
  • Group marriage applies if a marriage includes multiple husbands and multiple wives at the same time.

Polygamy is practised in several countries and religions around the world. However, the prevalence has lessened in contemporary societies, with more countries reinforcing marriage laws for monogamous marriages. The absence of adequate wealth may also disallow a man to marry several wives.


Polyamory is a hybrid word and stems from Greek poly = several, and Latin amour = love. Polyamory is the desire and acceptance to engaging in more than one intimate relationship at the same time and with the knowledge and consent of all partners involved. Polyamorous relationships are not sexually exclusive but partners may enter deep emotional bonds between two and more participants.

Polyamory is also referred to as ‘consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy’. Poly relationships are ideally built upon values of trust, loyalty, and negotiation of boundaries. A particular challenge lays in overcoming and rejecting emotions such as possessiveness, jealousy, and restrictive cultural standards. Highly developed skills and attitudes are needed to manage polyamorous relationships. These skills and are typically superior to the skills found in monogamous couples.

Parenting skills in Polyamorous families present an additional challenge of negotiation between the partners.


Swinging is the practise of consensual sex swapping between informed and consensual sexual partners. Swinging is an exclusively sexual behaviour with no desire to form deep emotional bonds between the participants. Monogamous couples of any sexual orientation may desire to extend their sexual practise by sharing and swapping partners. Swinging couples build their intimate bond on strong values of trust and loyalty, and a need to developing extraordinary skills of negotiating specific boundaries of sharing sex. For most, swinging denotes an episode of unfolding sexuality and uniqueness, and may be terminated when the purpose is fulfilled.

Swingers with sexual addiction will demonstrate impaired ability to stop, even if their partner shows obvious signs of psycho-sexual distress.


Open relationship is an interpersonal relationship in which more than two consenting parties form erotic sexual connections with one-another at the same time. The well-being and success of an open relationship depends on skillfully negotiated boundaries of giving permission to selected forms of sexual activities between the parties. Some parties may limit their agreement to flirting or kissing activities only, while others may include oral, vaginal, or anal sex, or other forms of sexual activities. All open relationships are different.

Participants, who are planning on engaging in open relationships should be conscious and cautious of their motivation, and weighing up the emotional, sexual health, and physical risks and benefits. Successful open relationships need to develop advanced skills in managing trust, possessiveness, and jealousy issues. If a negotiated open relationship agreement becomes emotionally distressing to a participant, renegotiation of boundaries need to be considered to avoid psychological harm.


Please contact Sex Addiction Australia for information or booking a confidential consultation if you are experiencing sexual distress. Call our office (+61) 02 9380 4486 or email info@sexaddictionaustralia.com.au