Our daughter took up figure skating a year or so ago, and it's been going swimmingly well! She's very enthusiastic about it, and, although I don't relish freezing my ass off on a regular basis, it seems that the things that she's learning in the sport are applicable to many aspects of life, and to poly, particularly if you have any perfectionist leanings, as I do! ;)
So how, you may ask, is figure skating like polyamory? Well, even when some one's enthusiastic about it, there's a distinct learning curve involved. A common way to learn a skill is to flub it. Repeatedly. Continue to analyze what could have been done better, and keep trying. Persistence and resilience are absolutely key. You will fall down, you will get hurt. It's the getting back up and continuing to try that is important.
Skills build on each other, so this is why going through the early stages of poly (OPP's, lots of rules to maintain the "safety" of a specific relationship, unicorn hunting etc) is almost a needed step in the process. To learn what does work, often one must try out what doesn't work first. Some people are very happy learning a few basic skills, and like skating at that level. If you're really happy and content with knowing a couple of spins and a small jump or two, is there really a reason to push yourself to be able to throw a double axle? Perhaps not, but for some, the drive for a high level of performance is there, and finding a good "coach" to help you learn and fine-tune skills will accelerate the speed at which you are able to learn new things. In poly, that can look like mentors, support and discussion groups, books, and counseling. I feel driven, as a teacher and student, and often learn by sharing with others.
In skating, even the most accomplished of skaters crash and fall on a pretty regular basis when trying something complex. At other times, even an unseen divot in the ice, or small break in concentration can be detrimental. In poly, no matter how good your relationship skills are, there are factors that are still beyond control, and beating yourself up over a crash isn't the most useful response. There is a program, elements that must be performed. When a fall happens in a competition, getting up and continuing forward is met with applause, because we all recognize how challenging it can be to just pick yourself up and keep going, particularly when people are there to see you fall. It's not the fall that is appreciated, it's the courage to keep going when embarrassment, disappointment and pain would make it feel much easier to slink off the ice. It's making yourself vulnerable by having people observing.
To those observing here: I am dusting the ice off my shapely bottom and going forward with my program. Some day, I'm going to land that stinking triple axle, and maybe a triple/triple combination, then spin until I puke! There are many things that I still have to share, and to learn.