Ruminations from PolyFulcrum:
In any process that is repeated, there is a high probability that a pattern will emerge over time. One of the aspects of poly that I particularly appreciate and dread at the same time is the attention that one must give to assuring that patterns aren't becoming ruts.
With relationships of a certain "vintage" there are typically going to be some default settings. What are your "normal" ways of interacting, dividing responsibilities, and giving to each other? This can be a great thing! It provides a degree of predictability in emotional and domestic landscaping.
On the other hand, as situations and people grow and change, patterns can hamper that growth process when you're running off of old settings in new situations, what I think of as being in a rut. It takes focus and energy to break out of a rut and establish a new pattern that fits the changed scene.
With poly, there are so many changes to the landscape that staying on top of your patterns to prevent rut formation becomes pretty critical. It can be as drastic a contrast as pre and post baby household types of things, or someone going from an on the road job to a local position. Those are the easy ones to spot. There's been a big change, so patterns must shift to accommodate that change.
When the changes are more subtle, it becomes harder to recognize a pattern that has become a rut until someone feels that lack of balance in the system. How do you get on top of those less obvious shifts before there has been a pain-threshold reached?
Check-ins are a good place to start. That's something I try to do on a regular basis with all my direct connections. This helps to establish smaller, less traumatic shifts in patterns before a huge amount of energy is required to do so. More tricky can be indirect connections, like metamours.
When you don't have an extremely open dialogue with someone, calling them up to ask if they have any issues, or letting them know there is something you want to work on, can be really out of the blue. No one likes getting "The Talk", so is there a good system that any one's come up with to keep even the more loosely connected people in the loop and open to sharing their challenges? Let's hear what tools you've found useful in preventing poly relationship ruts!