Warning: This post is pretty geeky.
Allow me, if you will, to digress into gamer geek for a bit...Old school, "dice and a table, with real people" Dungeon's and Dragon's-type gaming. When Russell and I first met, some 22 years ago, it was over a gaming table. We've spent time gaming together, as friends, and later as partners. It's been a thing.
For those of you that aren't super familiar with gaming, each person has a character they are playing, within a party of adventurers. There is one person generally running the show, the Game Master, who creates the storyline that the characters operate within. Different characters have different skills, strengths, and weaknesses, and with experience, they generally get better at things.
When a player decides to do something, they roll dice to see if they are successful, or fail. If they're really good at something, they get to add bonuses to their roll, and if it's something they are not as good at, sometimes they have to subtract from their roll. Multiple characters working together at things can roll multiple dice, and use the strongest result. If someone has a phobia, or major issue going on, they roll multiple dice, and use the weakest result, being at a disadvantage.
Let's pretend poly is like gaming for a moment: I have a character I play that is really good at some things, and not so good at others. The things I've put more time and energy into learning, I get bonuses at. My partners and metamours are my party of adventurers. The closest thing any of us has to a Game Master is ourselves, but we play with the rest of the party, also running their own games.
Pooling my resources with my partners and metamours, I can roll multiple dice at advantage, because together we are stronger, and more likely to succeed at something highly challenging. When I'm sick, tired, or triggered by something, I may lose my bonus, not work well with others, or have to take a negative modifier to my rolls.
Community, communication, collaboration, coordination, sexual energy, being touch-oriented, planning, initiation: These are all skills I've spent huge amounts of time, energy, and resources to build. I have a natural aptitude for many, and these are some strengths I can bring to a party.
Because I'm so naturally inclined towards community, metamours start their connection with me rolling at advantage. I WANT to like them, get along well, be able to sit around the kitchen table planning upcoming events, and snuggle up with them and my partner, happily and comfortably. From that point, it's up to the whole party what happens next. Experiences we share together can build that up, neutralize the advantage, or tear it down.
Sometimes, things go so far awry that people leave the party, because we don't play well together. We break up, or have a shift in connection. Sometimes, they stay in a different party with a shared partner, playing a separate game together. That is the hardest for me, but sometimes, it's the best of bad options.
Part of my job as my personal GM is to decide if someone I want to add to the party will gel with the rest of the group, if their skills are up to the level we are playing at, and the obstacles we are trying to defeat. Can they handle full time play, or perhaps a recurring guest role is more suited? What are their strengths and weaknesses, and how are those likely to play out over time? Can the rest of the party compensate for some of those weaknesses, or is that overly burdensome? Are we likely to rely too heavily on their strengths, and deplete their resources doing so?
Everyone is going to do their own thing within a game together, depending on who they are, and what they want. If we are really fortunate, there is consensus about the direction we are all heading, and our skills and experiences mesh well to produce a highly productive team. When that happens, it's a form of deliberately created magic, to be appreciated, cherished, and nurtured.