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-   -   Recent Poly History? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3069)

sage 06-25-2010 11:44 PM

Recent Poly History?
Until last year I had never even heard of polyamory but my X and I had often discussed having an open marriage. It struck me as I was trying to write about having affairs on my blog that if we had had a decent understanding of polyamory we probably would have had a successful marriage.

Which got me to thinking about how long it has been around in its current form. I know there will have always been private arrangements but does anyone know how long it has actually been recognized?

According to Wiki there was research done in the early 80s, and there was all the 'free love' of the 60s and 70s but it was never called polyamory as far as I know.


clairegoad 06-26-2010 12:20 AM

May 20, 1993
Okay, this is the kind of challenge that brings this lurker out of the woodwork...

The USENET group alt.polyamory was started in early 1993: The word Polyamory was not used on USENET before 1992. Here's an early reference, and discussion of word usage. This is an early time Polyamory is used on usenet (as far as the Google archives) was 5/20/1993. in the following post. There's not much geek speak.The poster is responding to an earlier question.

And the alt.polyamory FAQ is quite familiar to many on this forum. Apparently the questions are the same, the answers have changed, a bit, as clarifications have been needed.

(Google is choking for me right now... If you want, I'll post the FAQ... later..)


References: <1993May18.204226.1875@midway.uchicago.edu> <C7C2Kq.B60@unix.amherst.edu> <1993May20.185703.478@midway.uchicago.edu>
writing in article <1993May18.204226.1...@midway.uchicago.edu>:
<>>can we come up with another term that doesn't mean polyamourous
<>>(many loves) but mean not monogamous?

Tim Pierce <twpie...@unix.amherst.edu>
writing in article <C7C2Kq....@unix.amherst.edu>:
TP>Isn't this one of the meanings of that old word, "polygamous?" Before
TP>someone decided to coin "polyamorous"?

Alan Jaffray <jaff...@dent.uchicago.edu>
writing in article <1993May20.185703....@midway.uchicago.edu>:
AJ> Actually, no, I don't think so. "Monogamous" has been taken, by a
AJ> twist of logic, from meaning "one wife" to meaning "one sex partner",
AJ> but "polygamous" (which logically *should* be the opposite) still has
AJ> the definite connotation of multiple wives. i.e., it's *stronger* than
AJ> "polyamory", not weaker.

From my on-line Webster:
1: marriage in which a spouse of either sex may have more than one mate
at the same time -- compare POLYANDRY, POLYGYNY
2: the state of being polygamous
po-lyg-a-mist n -- po-lyg-a-mize vi
[Gk polyandros, adj., having many husbands, fr. poly- + andr-, aner man,
husband -- more at ANDR-]
:the state or practice of having more than one husband or male mate
at one time -- compare POLYGAMY, POLYGYNY
poly-an-drous adj
:the state or practice of having more than one wife or female mate
at one time -- compare POLYANDRY, POLYGAMY
So I think "polygamy" is indeed the word we want (or as close an
approximation to the word we want as our culture has permitted to evolve).
BTW, just as the Greek "andros" = "man" gives us "polyandry", so
Gk "gyne" = "woman" gives us "polygyny". The "gam" in "polygamy",
"monogamy", "bigamy", "gamete", and "gamosepalous" comes from
"gamos" = "marry" or "mate". Any union in which one takes but one
mate is "monogamous", with no twist of logic required. Having but
one wife would I suppose be "monogyny", but I don't know how to make
the affixes harmonize to make a decent word out of "mono-andry"
(any takers?).
I mean, after all, if we're going to be sicko perverted queers we can
at least be well-informed, literate sicko perverted queers with good
vocabularies, right? How else can we be precise about our aberrations? ;-)
== Aspen (who likes both men and women, but *loves* words!)


sage 06-26-2010 01:22 AM

Thanks Claire
I appreciate your efforts. I'll check out the site.

just one thing about your reference: the guy seems to be saying that polyamory is just a weak off-shoot of polygamy.
Common usage and connotations of a word are much more important to me. Polygamy is an immediate turn off. It's illegal for one thing (i.e. being married to more than one person) so it starts off from a negative place. For me it brings up images of women in headscarves and long skirts all producing off-spring and taking day about with some controlling religious zealot. Or I suppose also the traveling salesman juggling a few wives in a few different cities who have no idea the other exists.

It seems we are creating a new paradigm?

redpepper 06-26-2010 04:11 AM

'polyamory' is illegal in Canada as it is seen as "polygamy." The difference is religious in nature... in polygamy men take on young wives to add to their households because they believe it is their right... the women are not consulted and are often very young.

Big difference.

there is a thread on the court case going on etc...


From what I know the word "polyamory" has been around since the early 90's... when I came out about 15 years ago it was just "non-monogamy" as far as I knew. I didn't know the word poly until 4 years ago.

sage 06-26-2010 10:02 AM

wow I had no idea
That's really interesting and concerning. Am I reading it correctly that you are not legally allowed to live in a sexual relationship with more than 1 person? It seems really unfortunate that you are having to work with polygamists just to be left alone to live as you please.

We have legal civil unions here in New Zealand now for homosexual couples and legal protection for de facto couples after a few years. I suppose having legal rights for polyamorous partners is another step down that path.

SourGirl 06-30-2010 02:23 PM

I first heard 'Polyamory' as a label in 2001. My husband and I were 'bad' swingers, because we had 2 couples we were exclusive with, and did things outside of the bedroom. Our kids hung out, we had them around our families, friends, 'feelings' were involved, etc.

I, like Redpepper, always refered to myself as 'non monogamous',...Then someone in a swingers chatroom called me a polygamist, and someone else corrected them, and said I was polyamorous.
I tend to shy away from labels, and stayed with the 'non monogamous' until this past year.

I do know when I was first 'labeled' I looked it up, and found information and writings, from the early 90`s and onward. I didn`t pay to much attention at the time though. Wish I had.

MonoVCPHG 06-30-2010 02:44 PM


Originally Posted by sage (Post 33799)
Am I reading it correctly that you are not legally allowed to live in a sexual relationship with more than 1 person? .

It's also illegal just to watch a polyamorous union ceremony if you look at the details of the law.

Ariakas 06-30-2010 03:24 PM


Originally Posted by MonoVCPHG (Post 34140)
It's also illegal just to watch a polyamorous union ceremony if you look at the details of the law.

:O...does that also mean its illegal to watch group sex...oh my :D...there sure seem to be a lot of people breaking the law...

Edward 06-30-2010 04:32 PM

In defense of polygamy....

It's illegal (now) in most WESTERN countries. By Shar'ia (Islamic religious law) it is permitted (although monogamous relations are also acceptable by religious doctrine, and more socially acceptable these days).

The marrying of very young women (often socially/psychologically coerced) is technically wrong under most religious codes, although that rarely stops men from doing it. (I will point out that from a historical perspective, women in Western countries often married young; you were an 'old maid' if you weren't married or engaged by 19-20!)

It's safe to say that only the most dramatic cases get media coverage. A polygamous relationship (legal or not) where the women are equal in the marriage to the man and everyone is happy is unlikely to get reported to the authorities. It would be more correct to say that polygamy is one type of polyamorous relationship.

A term for the concept 'polyamory' (where the multiple men/women are equal partners in the relationship) seems to be fairly new. (As opposed to the idea itself, which I suspect may be rather old.)

Polyandry, although rare even historically, did occur (Mongolia, I think).

In short, every single possible type of relationship possible between men and women (and men and men, and women and women...) has been tried at some point in human history. Different societies have regarded different types of unions as 'natural' and others as 'forbidden'.

What polyamory is doing now is confronting a societal belief that this type of relationship is 'wrong'. Opposing commonly-held beliefs always results in conflict and controversy.

Ariakas 06-30-2010 04:38 PM

I think the bigger difference is the removal of a gender bias within the context of a relationship definition. Polyandry and polygamy assign a role to the genders which implies a lack of choice.

Polyamory does not. There are no gender roles, in fact no set rules to design. There are endless configurations possible, straight, LGQBT etc. Its a big step forward and far easier to accept and explain than the gender restricted variations. You still find polygamy in the world of poly...but it doesn't need to be defined that way.

Thats my take anyways.

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