Polyandry us when a female has two or more husbands to promote sperm competition and increase genetic variability. However, this is seen as largely unstable in real life due to the fact that two males would not like to share. One will end up dominating the female and the other male in the relationship. I believe I have found a way around this.

In this world exists a nation that is ruled by a matriarchy. This nation is always led by a queen, and passes to her first born daughter. One way to encourage relations with other states is through marriage. The queen marries a king, prince, or some member of the royal family from a far away nation through a form of exogamy. The couple continue to rule in their separate lands, with the husband staying in his own country. The child that results from this union will be raised by the Queens family as a part of that nation. However, he/she will be what links both countries together.

The queen may marry individuals from other nations to secure alliances with them, with the same procedure as tradition. With each ruler staying at home, it prevents any problems resulting from that long distance marriage while still joining both kingdoms as allies.

Would this form of polyandrous marriage provide stability as a system and make it function long term? What more is needed to make this work?

  • $\begingroup$ From the perspective of the king/prince from the far away nation, I can think of some problems: 1) He loses the possibility of a more interesting wedding, unless all religions allow bigamy. 2) He dilutes his bloodline, because he won't be implied in the education of his child. The child won't probably bear the father's family name and so he will be forgotten after his death. 3) The groom doesn't get anything, because he is from far away: his country doesn't get trading rights, he doesn't end a war, he doesn't get personal wealth. Why would he marry? $\endgroup$ Jul 28, 2019 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ Isn't this question pretty close to your own question How can a polyandrous society maintain its stability over the long term? from less than a year ago? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jul 28, 2019 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ @CVn different goals. This is how to maintain relations between kingdoms. $\endgroup$
    – Incognito
    Jul 28, 2019 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think this is really a question that would come up in a honest attempt at building a world, but please, how do you know that an answer provides you with a "stable system"? $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Jul 28, 2019 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlosMartin Your comment sounds like a basis for a frame challenge answer. $\endgroup$ Jul 28, 2019 at 17:57

2 Answers 2


I feel that this entire question is built on a fallacy--that is, the assumption that men don't like to share. There is a growing amount of evidence that men's hostility to each other when it comes to sharing women is cultural, though the jury is out on to what extent. However, bloodlines and inheritance rights (power and money) factor heavily into our western culture's hostility about shared mates, problems other societies don't have.

There is an existent matriarchal society in China where men have no issue in sharing their women, and in fact, know for a fact those women are never "theirs" to begin with. It's expected that the women will choose them to breed with, but may or may not choose them as a mate in the future. It's normal, accepted, like we accept monogamy as a default.

There's also a more primitive tribe who truly believes that every man who has sex with a woman is adding their genetic material to the created child. They share happily because more genetic material = stronger, healthier children, and the children always belong to the entire tribe, not just one man. This belief could easily be a spiritual one in a fictional setting, as well, that every man is adding his "essence" if not his physical features. If a child is raised by an entire tribe or group of people, that would essentially be true in a nurture sense.

The Hawaiians were real big into free love before the Christian missionaries wandered onto their island and taught them how to behave "properly." And they were, by far, not the only native peoples that had to be bludgeoned into monogamy by missionaries--the examples of such are many and vast. And if you look at erotic art from native americans, you'll find a lot of tribes were really open to threesomes, foursomes, and moresomes (as well as not having the body taboos we now have).

In fact, you can even see it today, right here in the west, with open relationships, polyamorous relationships, and men who just like watching their wives laid by other men.

So yes, a man born to the idea he would likely have to share a woman, with a culture that backs that idea, a man who knows doing so is part of his honor and duty is probably going to be just fine with it. Just like women have been for centuries, when told it's what they have to expect out of life and that's just the way life is. Even if they all had to share a bed (gasp) together.

I really feel before the question can be answered, it needs to be asked with more a bent to the facts that already exist. While yes, I think your system could work, basing it on "men don't like to share" is going to feel not only unrealistic to a lot of readers (historians, anthropologists, people who've been in alternative relationships, people who went to college and took an anthropology class), but honestly more than a little demeaning to men, with sexist undertones to women as well (women are cattle to be owned).

It's just...not a good scene.


A big aspect of pair bonding is for the male to know that the children he is supporting are biologically his own. Any situation where a man tends to expend effort raising children not his own will, on an evolutionary basis, get out-competed by a situation that is otherwise similar but where the males don't raise other men's children. There is no morality involved. It's simply gene selection. The genes of men who raise other men's children will not get passed on. Pretty soon the tendency will die out.

It's different for women. They can be quite confident of who their children are. It means their behavior is under different evolutionary pressure. This is not always going to be in perfect harmony with male desires. The result is that different patterns can arise under situations where the male or the female is the limiting partner.

According to this Wikipedia article, polyandry is rare but does occur in some circumstances. The two most common are scarce resources and fraternal polyandry.

Scarce resource situations stress cultural features that give offspring a higher chance of survival. In such situations the possible strategy of having large numbers of children and hoping some survive is unlikely to be successful. Polyandry effectively means that a child has multiple fathers. Because not all women can attract multiple men in a culture where women can have multiple husbands, it means that some women don't get husbands, and so will not reproduce. So polyandry concentrates resources and effort on fewer children. In some scarce resource situations this can out-compete other possible strategies.

Fraternal polyandry is the case of several brothers marrying one woman. This is also most likely in scarce resource situations. However there is also a genetic component. Your brother's children are still fairly closely related to you. So from an evolutionary point of view, there is some benefit to expending resources and effort to care for them. A culture that followed this pattern might well out-compete a culture that followed other mating patterns, especially in a limited resource situation.

So, a monarchy in a situation where there were scarce resources might develop polyandry. For example, if they had strictly limited land, such as valleys between mountains. It might be, from an evolutionary point of view, advantageous to concentrate resources on fewer children to give them the maximum chance of survival.


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