Polygamy, Group Marriage, Polyamory, Relationship Anarchy

Group relationships concentrate on a relationship with greater than two individuals in it. Folks in group relationships will generally hand around in, you guessed it, teams with one another. Relationships amongst members of the teams are likely to differ, with some amorous or sexual relationships and different platonic and (ideally) pleasant interactions. Sometimes, all members of the group can have amorous relationships with one another, and the smaller the group, the extra possible that’s (a triad or throuple can have the next chance of utterly mutual sexuality than a moresome or polycule with seven or eight individuals).

Some teams have a transparent hierarchy or construction wherein companions prioritize some relationships over others, and others do their greatest to keep away from creating any form of hierarchy. The principle consensual nonmonogamy (CNM) identities that match greatest with the group relationship class are polygamy, group marriage, polyamory, and relationship anarchy. As soon as once more, it is very important observe that these usually are not levels or unique classes—one relationship would possibly transition by way of completely different classes throughout its lifespan or exist in multiple class concurrently, relying on how individuals construction their lives and limits.


Polygamy is marriage to multiple partner, most frequently as polygyny, a heterosexual relationship with one man married to a number of ladies who usually are not additionally married to one another. Throughout historical past and around the globe, polygyny has been extra widespread (particularly amongst rich males) than monogamy. At the moment, in the USA, polygyny is mostly related to faith, both Islam and the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints/Mormons on the conservative aspect and cults on the counterculture aspect.

Wives in some polygynous households have entry to influencing the selection of their husband, schooling, paid employment, management over their fertility, and a few say in any new wives who may be added to the group. In different polygynous households, very younger ladies or ladies marry older males in organized marriages and have little to no affect over selecting their very own husbands. These ladies are additionally much less possible to have the ability to entry schooling, paid employment, contraception, or affect over further wives becoming a member of the wedding.


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There’s a clear hierarchy in polygamous households, with the husband on the high in energy and decision-making and the wives organized beneath. The hierarchy among the many wives can rely on many issues, together with the order of marriage (with the primary spouse typically being the top spouse), the motherhood of sons, the husband’s affection, and the ladies’s private energy and sources. Some households emphasize fairness among the many wives, taking care to schedule equal time with the husband for every of his spouses. Others don’t have any intention of equality among the many wives and, as a substitute, set up a transparent stream of authority and decision-making.

Group Marriage

Group marriage is technically polygyny, besides that it was largely a determine of the Nineteen Seventies and steadily included a number of women and men, with ladies having relationships with multiple man. Some individuals nonetheless follow group marriage right this moment, however the label will not be as widespread, and other people in such group commitments right this moment usually tend to establish as polyamorous or open.

Polygamy and group marriage have too many similarities and variations to checklist all of them right here, however it’s price noting that each are virtually all the time heterosexually centered and contain some type of hierarchy. Hierarchy is commonly extra fluid amongst individuals in group marriages, with fewer guidelines than polygyny. Many group marriages are constructed on two present {couples} that attached with one another and will prioritize the unique {couples} or the group, relying on how individuals negotiate their boundaries.

Even with fewer guidelines, most heterosexual marriages (together with group marriages) have a gender hierarchy that includes the ladies doing much more unpaid labor than the boys normally carry out. Girls’s unpaid labor contains not solely cooking, cleansing, parenting, laundry, driving, and sensible each day life upkeep but additionally the form of emotional labor that tends to spike in high-maintenance relationships like group marriages. Particular person relationships definitely differ, and in some teams, individuals of different genders have much more emotional intelligence than the ladies with whom they relate. In a patriarchal society, nonetheless, all genders however males are decrease within the hierarchy—and that can affect how individuals work together.

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Non-Hierarchical Polyamory

Polyamorous relationships are more moderen and far queerer than polygynous and group marriages. In a earlier weblog, I element 5 major variations between polygamy and polyamory. Now of their third incarnation, assisted by Web connections and social media, polyamorous relationships are way more idiosyncratic than the extra structured group relationships. They virtually all the time have the identical guidelines making use of to everybody within the relationship no matter gender, however past that they’ve broadly differing expressions of connection, hierarchy, equality, construction, and all of the issues.

Polyfidelity is an settlement to exclusivity amongst three or extra individuals who share a closed relationship. The form of constancy and kind of dedication varies broadly, reminiscent of triads who conform to sexual exclusivity and have deep, queer, platonic relationships with others, intimate networks of 20 individuals who share a typical STI standing (i.e., HIV-free or optimistic for herpes) and have unprotected intercourse with one another and use limitations with others, or cross-coupled quads composed of two {couples} who share companions. Kitchen desk polyamory emphasizes equality and mutual reliance among the many group members, no matter their sexual relationships. Some solo polyamorous individuals actually benefit from the group dynamic of kitchen desk polyamory as a result of it doesn’t concentrate on a major companion, which is one thing most solo polys don’t need.

Typically these group relationships don’t translate to a everlasting orgy, and many individuals in my analysis point out that they primarily have intercourse with one different individual at a time whereas group intercourse was extra occasional or by no means. Like different long-term relationships, emotional and sensible connections grow to be way more vital to constructing these lasting group relationships. Some non-hierarchical polyamorists categorize their relationships round cohabitation, dwelling with their nesting companions and individually from their non-nesting companions. Cohabitation will not be essentially the hallmark of a extra critical relationship, and different components like location, presence of kids, requirements of cleanliness, and monetary constraints can affect nesting preparations greater than emotional connections.

Some individuals in non-hierarchical polyamorous relationships are oriented in direction of that particular group, and if that they had not collected as they did, these people may not be in a gaggle relationship in any respect, however they ended up connecting with groupish people and joined in. If that particular relationship breaks up, then this type of group individual might or might not search one other group or proceed to establish as nonmonogamous. For others, group orientation runs deeper, they usually have a tendency to hunt out teams extra persistently and persistently as an ongoing alternative. Typically individuals in that second class proceed to think about themselves as group-oriented even when they aren’t at the moment partnered with anybody. In different phrases, some individuals who establish as polyamorous will proceed pondering of themselves as polyamorous even when they’re single for the second. As I discussed earlier than, this class can wrap round to the person class with a group of people who eschew hierarchy coming to worth one another as a collective.

Relationship Anarchy

Some individuals in relationship anarchy (RA) configurations choose to be utterly impartial, relating as they need within the second and permitting for change when the time for transition comes. Others are extra connected to a collective that shares mutual care and help, might mix housing and each day life duties, and infrequently maintain comparable political beliefs that prioritize the well-being of the collective above the benefit of anybody member. Some RA collectives—a gaggle that professional Mel Cassidy refers to as an anarcule—have each developments occurring concurrently, in that members craft fluid relationships that will shift or change over time, and retain an ongoing reference to one another and their bigger group whilst particular person relationships transition between varieties.

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For the extra philosophical relationship anarchists, private connections are inherently certain up of their social follow of collective accountability in a self-governed setting with decentralized energy. These RA practitioners are almost certainly to reside with or close to communities of people that take comparable accountability for the collective good and want to share decision-making by way of processes like consensus. Their relationships might or might not embody sexuality or romance, or they might embody some ingredient of intercourse and romance at one level of their affiliation however not essentially orient round that as a very powerful part of the interactions.

Mel Cassidy, a nonmonogamy educator and relationship coach specializing in Relationship Anarchy, explains the emphasis on collective interdependence and cautions that “whereas many may be drawn to discover [RA] as a method to being a ‘free agent’, it turns into very laborious to do this with out ultimately embracing Relationship Anarchy as a social follow: collectively working in direction of social fairness by way of creatively difficult hierarchies and centralised energy buildings, not simply in intimate relationships, but additionally within the wider world… Folks training RA on this approach typically uncover that as a substitute of getting the expertise of safe attachment with only one or two romantic or intimate companions, they may develop a complete community of safe attachment.”

Cassidy factors out that RA’s group orientation goes far past CNM to foster empowered, autonomous beings that “thrive greatest once we’re a part of actual group—and to create actual group, we’ve got to take motion in opposition to the issues that stand in the best way of group, reminiscent of social injustice, financial disparities, incapacity, and different methods people and teams could be marginalized.”

Thus far this weblog sequence has examined relationships based on people, {couples}, and teams. The ultimate installment of the sequence explores hierarchy in CNM relationships.