Re (from Murasaki
"What rules, privileges, responsibilities, and expectations do you have in your various relationships and did those relationship start with those rules? or did they grow to include them, or did you have a relationship that had to adjust itself to accommodate changes to the rules it had?"
I guess I'm in luck for this particular thread since I have a poly-fi relationship, and it has been a trio from the start. I guess I did have a "phase of exploration" where I attempted to get somewhere on a couple of dating sites, but that all basically fizzled.
The basic deal in my V is that there's no sex outside the V, and if we ever become an N or M or whatever, it will be a gradual process, and depend on all four (five, etc.) of us getting along well together. These are rules that the three of us agreed to right from the start. Since then it has kind of been clarified that any "outside dating" any of us does, the new person must be introduced to the whole V right away, emails are to be openly shared with the whole V, and everyone must be kept updated on how the dating is going.
All of these rules/agreements were basically negotiated between all three of us from the start, and though I am the unmarried member of the V and the other two persons in it are married to each other, they don't have anything I'd call "couple privelage" per se. We consider all three of us to be "primary partners," and my two married companions have worked hard through the years to make me feel like a co-primary with them. So it has been, right from the beginning.
On the other hand, "the beginning" was in 2006: that's when the three of us decided to join forces as a poly unit. Before that, we had been friends, going back about as far as 1995. So it's not like we were just barely starting to date and get to know each other. We already had a strong base of trust and commitment towards each other.
Our poly life together has been turbulent at times and we've had to learn some things the hard way, but what's important is that we always learned and grew together. There was never a dynamic of two (married) people telling the third (unmarried) person how it was going to be -- nor the other way around. We have always tried to make all our major decisions together as a three-person unit.