That seems to be the biggest problem is that to many try to put the definition of 'poly' into a little box. Saying this is exactly what it means for everyone. And that just isnt the case. I like to akin it to the word 'love' (try to stay with me on this one).
If I say "I love my partner" and I say, "I love my mother." and I say " I love cats." does the same definition apply? (yeah I know there some of you thinking 'maybe'. *wink*)
The reality is that it is different for not just every peron, but every relation too. I have a very comitted relation with a submissive who lives me, but I have also had relations with play partner who live alone or with others that are no less commited, no less devoted, no less loving than the relationship I have with the sub who I share a home with.
These poly relations are all built on what those involved need or desire. To say that only a triad (three people living as one family) is the only real poly relation seems kind of narrow minded to me. Like wise to say that anything else is just a 'wham bam thank you ma'am' is exteremely closed minded to the infinite possibilities.
Now understand that I am not judging those in a triad. With the right person we are just as open to having someone live with us as a family (actually we use the word 'tribe'.) But just like members of my blood/birth family (ie mom dad sister brother), not of my poly family/ tribe live with us. Some have other families of there own( such as vanilla famillies), and living together is not practical. Does that mean they are no less loved or cherished, simply because we do not share the same roof? You might be the recipient of harsh words from them should you try to convince them of that.
To me being a part of a poly relation comes down to a sense of 'belonging'. To know that this person loves cares and respects me, regardless of whether or not we share the same roof. I have seen many cases (cruise this board, there not that hard to find) where the people all live together, but there is no family unity.
It saddens me sometimes when the idea is dismissed without even learning what the idea IS. I know that there are many that have been burned, and are jaded to the idea because they assume they are being the asked for the samething that burned them once before. This saddens me even more because isnt or doesnt have to be the case.
Just once I would like to the response, 'What did you have in mind? or to be able to reply 'What would you like it to be?'
Like everything else in bdsm relations, poly relations are open to and interpeted by negotiations. Just wish more could see it that way too.
*graciuosly steps down from the pulpit*