I often have the same feelings about things you write.
I think the fact that our poly relationships are almost same "ages" factors into it. I do think there are some common patterns, though they do probably vary a lot between individuals, too.
I thought some more about the equality issue. Mya pointed out that it can serve as a good tool when starting out a poly relationship. I think I agree with that. When I think about it, the goal of equality may have been one reason that the transition to poly has worked out well for us. And I don't mean to say that other paths cannot work just as well.
But I do think it has been useful, because in the beginning it's difficult to know very well what people may want or need in the relationship. And I think some concept of fairness is a good starting point for negotiation. Another option might be to change things only when somebody expressed a want or need. I think that can work from the beginning if people are experienced in poly (or have spectacular communication and relationship skills), and have a quite good grasp of what they want already. However, I think it has been beneficial for our relationship to start from "what we have felt is fair". And at this point, 8 months into it, I think it is time to let go of that, and continue building more direct communication. I think all of us are ready for that.
I was thinking today about what else there is that has made our poly journey go smoothly. Sometimes when reading other people's experiences I feel that there are odds against us, since we have two marriages opening up to poly simultaneously (even as both of them have had varying degrees of sexual or/and emotional freedom). Also, Alec is pretty much mono, and apparently that often makes poly way harder. But then again, it's all just statistics, or really we don't even have statistics (would be cool, though!
)... It's just the picture you gather from poly-related writings around the interweb. Yet, well, quite a big proportion of the active writers on this forum have well-working relationships that are mono/poly, so what do you know. I digress..
Yes, I was going to write that I think one approach that works for me personally is that in certain respects I don't put "romantic relationships" in any special category. I have never held my relationship with Alec to be somehow categorically more important than my other relationships just because it's a romantic relationship. (This may seem obvious to many here, but I feel it's something many people in romantic relationships do.) And I've never put his needs above the needs of other people I care about just because he's my partner. I've always made plans with other people individually and treated all my relationships as separate entities. Thus, it doesn't occur to me to change any of that when entering into poly relationship. Why would I suddenly start asking him permission (ouch at even the wording) for going for a coffee with a person I have a relationship with when it's a romantic relationship? Or for scheduling an overnight visit? It doesn't make sense to me that any of my practices would change merely because it's a romantic relationship instead of a friendship. And I think that makes for a healthy basis for my relationship with Mya: the fact that both me and her give the relationship the room to grow in the first instance independently of the whole poly configuration.