A couple months ago, I was at a poly meet where many newbies were present. A strong theme was regarding how to keep yourself, and your existing relationship, safe as a person exploring polyamory. One experienced soul said that safety was an illusion, and to just let go of the idea of having a "safe" environment. On the surface, that kind of bothered me. Part of our job as individuals is addressing our own safety, right?
Watching high trapeze artists, one notices the athleticism, the coordination, the sychronicity, the skin tight outfits, the grace, and, perhaps less obviously, the net. You see, even with a seasoned professional who has been practicing the art of trapeze for many years in coordination with others, the reality is that someone, someday, is going to fall. There will be a misplaced hand, a slightly under/over powered maneuver, an off day. The more complexity, the more people involved in the act, the more likely it is to have a missed connection, the more important the net becomes. No one really wants to be at the show where a smashed skull is part of the entertainment. No one wants to BE that show!
For me, polyamory is managed risk. I've tried some pretty freakin' challenging things, and sometimes the hands were there to catch me, and other times, I've fallen on my ass. I want that net!
But what is a net in polyamory? It's the skills you learn to support yourself, even when things don't go according to plan, because they won't always. It's building the tenacity to climb the ladder again, grab the bar, and swing yourself into space in rhythm with other people, knowing that some days, some months, some years, are going to be spent falling over and over, as you attempt to learn a complex sequence together. It's learning to assess who is going to catch you, and who isn't. It's being honest with yourself about who wants to put the work in, and who isn't going to train hard enough to be capable of the more complex stunts. It's knowing when you need to swing out there on your own, and just practice hanging onto the bar, finding your own rhythm.
The net isn't external. It's internal. When your internal net is strong, it's easier to try challenging, but highly rewarding things in your relationships! You can fly, knowing that, even if you fall, you'll catch yourself.