Originally Posted by PolyLinguist
As for the inevitability of hierarchical situations, in my opinion they are almost certain to happen if one of the participants in a new polyamorous relationship already has a long-standing relationship with someone else. Pretty much the only way to make it egalitarian would be to downgrade, significantly, the pre-existing relationship.
Well that depends what the pre-existing relationship was like before the new person came along. You know, not all couples are that couple-centric to begin with. You don't necessarily have to downgrade the old relationship for the old and new relationship to become equal. And remember, equal doesn't always mean the same. Equal can mean just equally important and equally considered in life decisions for example. It doesn't mean that the two people will get everything (time, attention, sex etc.) exactly the same amount. It means that no one is higher in the hierarchy than the other when making plans and decisions.
I'll take myself as an example. I used to have two partners. I had been with my husband for 8 years when I started dating my new partner. During my marriage I had lived in a different place than my husband many times and that was always fine for us. We spent quite a lot of time with our own friends and also we didn't fully share our finances. When I started my new relationship, which was an LDR at the time, I flew to see her for a week at a time every month. But that wasn't much of an adjustement to my husband since we were so used to spending time apart anyway. I never felt I was downgrading my relationship with him but still felt like my relationships were equal to me.
Everyone doesn't have the same starting point as you.