Could You Handle More Than One Husband?

by Arielle Loren

: noun \ˈpä-lē-ˌan-drē\: the state or practice of having more than one husband or male mate at one time.

Over the last year, I’ve challenged myself to learn more about love and relationships that don’t consider monogamy as a prerequisite for meaningful partnership. When it comes to polyamorous lifestyles, the public at large tends to stereotype these relationships as being bliss for men without considering the benefits that it affords many women. It’s so rare to hear the stories of women who openly love more than one man, not because they don’t exist, but primarily because these narratives are ostracized for going against everything we’ve been socialized to believe about women “needing” monogamy to experience “authentic” love. A woman who enjoys life partnerships with more than one man is either seen as a harlot or fallacy. But neither of these classifications takes into account the historical roots of women practicing polyandry in indigenous societies nor the benefits that contemporary women could receive from experiencing love simultaneously from more than one long-term partner.

Historically, the Seneca tribe of the Iroquois Nation is one of the many indigenous societies to practice polygamy and polyandry as the standard for human relationships. It was normal for men and women to have more than one life partner, creating a family structure that wasn’t simply dependent upon two-parent childrearing or relationships, but rather a network of support between all partners. Having more than one husband or wife wasn’t simply about sexual relations, as many contemporary critics of polygamy and polyandry tend to assume. But rather it was about love, partnership, and sex being experiences that didn’t have to remain restricted between two individuals. And yes, women valued these experiences too.

Receiving love, partnership, and sex from more than one man is an experience that most contemporary heterosexual women have yet to experience. When I talk to my single hetero girlfriends, I get the response, “It’s so hard to find one man to deliver all of those experiences. I couldn’t even imagine having two.” Indeed, times have changed, and even those of us who are descendants of polyamorous indigenous societies have adopted monogamous relationships as the norm in our pursuits for love. There’s nothing wrong with monogamy, as it certainly has its benefits. But I do wonder if women closing themselves off to considering polyandry are missing out on the power of love coming from more than one source.

What would it be like to experience long-term love, partnership, and sex from more than one man? In my casual dating life, I’ve personally felt more grounded when dating openly without monogamy being a requirement. As dating should be, it takes the pressure off the connections I’m forming with each individual. And it reduces the expectation of one person having to fulfill all my romantic desires until we reach a mutual aspiration to be “it” for each other.

I’ve tried monogamy and succeeded in maintaining the lifestyle for years. But I will admit that I have found myself loving more freely, without restraint, when there’s more than one man in the picture. It’s not a matter of past insecurities, as I’ve succeeded in giving my heart to just one person post-heartbreaks and relationship disappointments. But rather I just enjoy having more than one teacher and a larger classroom to explore the intricacies of human love. I’ve considered that perhaps I would benefit from a long-term polyandrous lifestyle, and experience a deeper understanding of love than what might be afforded to me by monogamy.

Regardless, I know all of these lessons and relationships with the men who have entered and/or stayed in my life will assist me in being a better long-term partner. But I do believe that love is rarely limited at its purest form, and living a life that benefits from more than one source of romantic love might just be bliss.

Have you ever considered a polyandrous lifestyle or life partnerships in non-monogamous form? Speak on it.

  • LAD86

    “Have you ever considered a polyandrous lifestyle or life partnerships in non-monogamous form? Speak on it.”


    I don’t even want one husband, let alone more than one.

  • Chrissy


    I have considered being in a somewhat ‘open’ relationship but not polyandry. I’m a lil on the gay side of things so multiple husbands….not really. Multiple wives…nope. I do think about having someone I am committed to for life just the two of us.

    I have however considered being in an open relationship with a gay (mostly) man. I tend to click with them really well almost on the same level as women. So to me we could possibly be good friends, have great companionship, have some affection, but still see the same sex. I think that’s as close to multiple husbands I’m going to get.

  • Jayne Dirt

    I would be open to having a couple husbands in desirable locations to become a citizen.

    But I often like to pose the question of polyandry to men who like to justify the necessity to have multiple women…what’s good for the goose is good for the gander!

    good article!

  • Joan

    What if they were both really good providers? I can only imagine my shoe and handbag collection.

  • African Mami

    Ariiiiiiiiiillllle STOP IT!

    Me with more than one husband/partner?! Jesus. I would have a field day, trying to keep up. Now in the eventuality, I ever considered more than one h/p-it go something like this:

    Husband #1: The one I truly love
    Husband #2: Monied like nobody’s business.
    Husband #3: Mandigo warrior
    Husband #4: Emotional baggage remover-I’ll dump all my problems on him.

    But to be honest, I’d forget which is one meant for what! Lawwwwwwd hammmmmmmmercy! All I know is that I’d be going crazzzzzy.

  • African Mami

    oh mi gosh!!!!!!!! I’d be a friggin millionaire!!!!! Girrrrrl stooooooooopppppp!!!! You and Arielle are driving my imagination nuts.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    most american women can handle more than they think they can…..

  • Jayne Dirt

    Husband #2 monied like nobodies business…so would you be having sex with him for money…what is that called again?…lol(-_~)

  • African Mami

    @ Jayne,

    Who talked about sex?! That is the reserve of the Mandigo warrior husband. And in my defense, all these transactions are taking within the confines of marriage so yeah….but please…..let’s not intellectualize this ..I thrive in being SHALLOW!!!

  • Missie

    I couldn’t handle more than one “real” husband. The multiple lovers thing I can do, and multiple semi-serious rel’ships. I am certain I couldn’t hold up my end of the deal for more than one man. Alone time and friends time is too high a priority for me. All my husbands would leave. The one best in bed would be my favorite anyway. I’d dump the kids on the nicest one. The list goes on and on in my head. We knock monogamy around a lot but I think there are some practical reasons it has lasted so damned long.

  • daniela134

    I haven’t had more than one husband (one was enough!) but I have been in polyamorous relationships before and there are most definitely benefits to this. It’s not just about the men getting what they want out of it, because I surely got what I wanted.

  • Dalili

    No, God NO! LOL!!

  • F78

    After several monogamous relationships, I have openly decided to practice polyamorously in a somewhat limited scope. Please note that polyamorous relationships don’t necessarily connote a sexual relationship with every man I’m involved with.

    I did this simply because, to date, I have found it impossible to find a single person who meets all my needs, and respects my personal life goals the way I would his. Since most of the Black men I have met won’t (or can’t) meet some of my emotional, physical or other desires from particular aspects of my life. I have a diverse set of interests, and for that reason, I have a diverse retinue of persons with whom I like to spend time. They range from lifelong, strictly platonic friends (that I plan on keeping that way), men with plenty of redeeming qualities who have expressed sexual interest but that I have no intent of indulging (now or ever), a mentor in business, scholarship, etc., a man with whom I experience what I’d like to call “romantic love” (talking in cafe’s, poetry, etc.), one with whom I indulge (safe) sexual desires, one with whom I indulge (occasional) kink desires, and a few dance partners.

    It is freeing for me to not expect each of these individuals meet my every need, and them not to expect me to meet theirs. We go about living, and nothing else about my life differs from the norm in any remarkable way.

    Everyone involved in my life knows that he isn’t the only one and that he may not ever be. Is everyone I meet automatically cool with my idea of a relationship? Of course not. That’s fine. Many men seem to take my choice as a euphemism of promiscuity. Others sometimes decide that they want more than just an emotional connection. All of that is understood and respected by me, and yes, it is a first date topic.

    Lest one be motivated to think that I have no standards and thus will accept anything that comes my way, I assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. Though it isn’t this way with everyone, polyamorism works both ways for me. I have to accept that most men, even if they think of themselves as having the male privilege to command the attention of women monogamously, often dislike finding themselves in a situation in which those women tell them not to expect monogamous fidelity of any sort.
    It’s a shame how sometimes such situations devolve into an image over man’s perception of dominance over me.

    Truthfully, it usually forces the men I’m with in whatever capacity to reevaluate the quality of their own love lives. Some decide that they’re monogamists after all, and act accordingly. I let them go in peace; after all, if he was right for me after all, didn’t he have an opportunity to show me?

    Others are more…accommodating, at least in the short term. They figure that, at some point, I’ll settle for them. While I’ll never say what I won’t do, I’ve been through enough in life to understand that, in this regard, I’m too happy to change for now.

    I don’t put up with negativity about this as a lifestyle from anyone. Thankfully, I really don’t have to. Most of my friends recognize this for what it is: a personal choice.

  • F78

    *** It bears mention that most of these people are not transients in my life, and our interactions, such as they are, trend toward long term and monogamist in practice, meaning that I never “entertain” more than one at a time, and that most of these relationships do NOT have a sexual component.***

  • sholla21

    I could never respect a man who would find it acceptable for me to have sex with other men while I’m married to him.

  • F78


  • jamesfrmphilly

    spike lee : she’s gotta have it

  • Jah Manifest

    The author fails, miserably, to illustrate the structural and sociocultural basis for the practice of polygamy and polyandry and as a result, it becomes forever lost on those commenting. In fine, these social organizations were formed as a result of the “Matriarchal” system where the Black Woman was considered the “Sustainer of Life” as all “life” transcended from “Her” — the “Feminine Principle.” To be sure, this is the reason marriages were ‘matrilocal’; inheritance, including but not limited to, political rights were in effective ‘matrilineal’. Examine, if you will, the “dowry paid by the husband” in marriage.” Because women held a high degree of independence and privilege in the society it is she who received the guarantee in the form of a “dowry” in the alliance. In fact, what proves she is not bought like a slave is that she is not riveted to the conjugal home by the payment if the husband is at fault in a particular matter the marriage can be broken within a few hours to his disadvantage and she keeps the initial offering. With respect to “polygany” it was the Black woman who shaped this structure as the prevailing social view was that ‘She’ considered herself nothing without a man to defend her and the man in turn believed that ‘He’ was nothing without a woman and a family to defend. Thus, it was adopted by Black Women to ensure every woman in the society had access to a man, whose primary role was protector, guide, provider and keeper of the realm. So the underlining basis for polygany, from the African perspective is the “Sustainer” of the family, and by extension the village” The same is true for ‘polyandry’ as this practice and social structure resulted when there is a scarcity of women or in which there is difficulty supporting a family. It was NOT as a result of “SEX” but the idea of the “Extended Family Structure” and “Procreation” to “Sustain” the continuity of the “Family, Tribe and the Village!

    A list of selected readings on the subject: “African Origins of Civilization: Myth or Reality”, Cheikh Anta Diop; “The Cultural Unity of Black Africa:The Domains of Patriarchy & Matriarchy In Classical Antiquity”, Dr. Diop; “African Presence in Early Asia”, Edited by Dr. Runoko Rashidi & Co-edited Dr. Ivan Van Sertima; “Sex & Power in History”, Amaury de Riencourt

  • Chrissy

    Even though I haven’t experienced it

    I feel and understand a lot of what you say.

  • Jinx Moneypenny

    The answer is no. Living and procreating with one I can do. Living and procreating with two? Not in this lifetime.

    And yes. But not polyandry.

  • arlette

    umm its hard enough finding a good guy but finding two who are ok about sharing i dont think so. i can only imagine desperate men with nothing going for them accepting this kind of relationship.

  • G

    Yes, I think so. I often find multiple men I like or vibe with. Their personalities are complimentary, meaning what one man doesn’t offer or exhibit (in personality, etc) another does. So between the two, I’m perfectly happy.

    For example, many women like ‘bad boys’ etc but want marriage eventually. Marriage calls for stability, interdependence, reliability, etc these are exactly the opposite of the qualities of a ‘bad boy’. So I think many women feel like no one is the “whole package” but it just isn’t reasonable to have all those qualities in one person. Just like when a man wants a virgin with porn star sex skills. What? How does that happen??

    I think at some point we all want certain qualities in a mate that may be contradictory. In certain rural areas of Asia they practice polyandry presently, because there is a shortage of women, so often one woman will be married to two brothers (or relatives).

    In modern Western society, I think finding two men who would be satisfied/okay with this situation is the difficult part. I think I could deal with it just fine personally (as the woman/wife).

  • arlette

    yeah but would they be ok with sharing someone that they lve? what if you get pregnant and you dont know who the dad is would they be fine with that?

  • LaLA

    I asked my honey if I fell in love with another man, would he allow me to marry him? He told me that he would, but he would secretly try to kill him every time I turned my back.

  • arlette

    yeah i think most men would do that. but then again i would do the same if he wanted me to share him

  • kenny bruxlyn

    ~ I think that this “polyandry” may be suitable for people who are passionate and about one another as well as mutually respectful … but are not the type who function well in the confines of “traditional marriage” ~ Howeva … i simply don’t see the sense in getting married with one having such a “freeeee and open spirit” in approach to love and relationships ~ I think marriage would just complicate an already clear and simplified solution to one’s unique preferences for LoVe ~

  • OneWord



    I think I could handle it….just need my husband to get on board…:/

  • EbonyLolita

    Ummm No!! Dealing with one man is hard, multiples….. too wearing on the mind/body/spirit. Let’s not even discuss the HIV/AIDS rate. I don’t have time for these types of shenanigans.

  • Jasmine T.

    lol, I agree though, I feel the same.

  • zenzibell

    Monogamy has not prevented STD’s. I’m guessing that being forced into a monogamous relationship, might just contribute to folks having unprotected sex outside the marriage. I’ve been in polyandrous relationships, they were completely safe, and I felt more like “myself,” than I ever have with just one dude. I don’t believe it works for everyone, but as long as no one is forcing me to live in a way that’s not conducive to my mental health, then I’m all good.

  • zenzibell

    Wow, a lot of judgemental folks in this thread! Anyway, I’ve decided to live my life in this way, as well, and being a full-grown adult woman, I answer to no one else, but myself. Of course, I’m used to folks telling women what to do, as if it’s their birthrights to do so, but that doesn’t move me one bit. I don’t owe anyone a justification; neither do you.

  • Mark Bailin

    Sorry, but I’m irritated by your constant usage of the word “love” as though it was an interchangeable synonym for “sex” or “sexuality.” People are different, right. I’m happy to see that you’re open-minded enough to realize that not everybody finds monogamy desirable, but would you be open-minded enough to consider that romantic love isn’t universally desirable, either, and that love is not the same as sex?

  • Andrea

    When I look back on all my experiences in life, and how I came to be in the later years, I feel that I have given so much to the men that I fell in love with, without feeling that I can achieve the same level of respect and love in return. I always ended up cheating on my partners. Yes, I have had experience with more than one woman involved and everytime, I felt I was lowered on the totem pole due to my smaller breast size. I feel for me, a polyandrous relationship would definitely work because I haven’t yet found one man that can honestly say he can handle my womanly power, brains, goals, etc. Two men yes, and bonus if they love each other too.

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