I've heard many times from other poly people, or every once in a while, in my own head, an expression of how hard it is to be in relationship with another person, and how hard it is to be poly in particular, due to the geometric progression of complexity when more people are involved. Is this true, or is it a construct that has been pushed upon us, to our detriment?
There's a perception that if you "Do the work." things will be better. I'm starting to shy away from the idea that relationships are, or should be, viewed as work. Instead, I'm leaning towards a model from yoga of "effortless effort". This is an idea where one strives in the direction of their personal best, without being vested in a specific goal or outcome. Rather than working on my relationships, I'm going to do my personal best, continue to grow, continue to communicate, negotiate, and enjoy those connections _without_ making them into a job, where I expect to be "paid" for the time and effort I'm expending.
“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.” -James Albert Michener (1907 - 1997) A friend shared this quote with me, and, other than the religion bit and masculine pronouns, this seems to be a great approach to life and love that would be more joyous than the work ethic that we all grew up with.
Relationships are more of a meritocracy, where achievement and excellence are rewarded by abundance in personal resources. When someone is successful in their relationship(s), it is something that others notice, and want to emulate or be a part of. (Except for the ones that want to tear down what they don't seem able to manifest in their own lives.) One of my proudest moments was at a poly group where someone was a bit aghast at our household setup as being fairly extreme, even for poly, and another person there chimed in that they'd seen a lot of poly groups and ours was "one of the good ones."
To be a part of "one of the good ones", not because I've worked so hard, but because the energy investment has lead to the creation of something beautiful that supports me well, that's something to continue to put some effortless effort towards. ;)