5 Surprising Facts About Polygamy You Never Knew!

Polygamy, a practice that has been around for centuries, continues to be a topic of intrigue and controversy. Despite its prevalence in certain societies, many misconceptions and unknown facts surround this marital arrangement. This article aims to shed light on some surprising aspects of polygamy that you may not be aware of.

1. Polygamy is Not Just Polygyny

When people hear the term ‘polygamy’, they often think of polygyny – a man having multiple wives. However, polygamy is a broader term that encompasses several types of marital arrangements. Here are the three main types:

  • Polygyny: One man is married to multiple women.
  • Polyandry: One woman is married to multiple men. This is less common and is practiced in some parts of Nepal and Tibet.
  • Group marriage: A marriage that includes multiple husbands and wives.

While polygyny is the most common form of polygamy, it’s important to understand that the term ‘polygamy’ is not limited to this arrangement.

2. Polygamy is More Common Than You Think

Contrary to popular belief, polygamy is not a rare practice. According to a study published in the journal ‘Evolution and Human Behavior’, polygamy is practiced in more than 75% of the world’s cultures. This includes parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Even in countries where it’s illegal, polygamy often occurs unofficially.

3. Polygamy and Bigamy are Not the Same

People often confuse polygamy with bigamy, but they are not the same. Bigamy is the act of entering into a marriage with one person while still legally married to another. It’s considered a crime in many countries, including the United States and Canada.

Polygamy, on the other hand, involves having multiple spouses and is often practiced with the full knowledge and consent of all parties involved. However, it’s important to note that while polygamy is a cultural or religious practice in some societies, it’s illegal in many parts of the world.

4. Polygamy Can Have Economic Benefits

While the idea of sharing a spouse may seem strange to some, polygamy can have economic benefits. In societies where wealth is measured by the number of children or wives a man has, polygamy can be a means of accumulating wealth and social status. Additionally, in agrarian societies, having multiple wives can mean more hands to help with farming and household chores.

5. Polygamy is Not Just a Human Practice

Humans are not the only species that practice polygamy. Many animals, including lions, gorillas, and deer, are polygamous. In fact, according to a study published in the journal ‘Nature’, only 3% of mammal species are monogamous. This suggests that polygamy may be more ‘natural’ than we think.


Polygamy is a complex and multifaceted practice that is deeply rooted in the cultural and religious fabric of many societies. While it’s often misunderstood and stigmatized, understanding the nuances of polygamy can help us gain a broader perspective on human relationships and societal structures. As we continue to explore and understand the diverse forms of human relationships, it’s important to approach topics like polygamy with an open mind and a willingness to learn.

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