I wrote this when discussing non-monogamous relationships with a friend of mine, and thought it was worth sharing:
One of the wisest things I’ve ever heard about poly is that “not right now” does NOT mean “not ever”. That’s not the same as it is with monogamous dating, where “not right now” is basically a brush-off. We all have a lot of things going on in our lives, and we need to dedicate time and energy to ourselves and our current partners. That means that, even if you like someone and would like to play with them, you may not be in a position to do so at the current time. Tomorrow, who knows? And so poly people need to be OK with “not right now”; it’s not reason to necessarily give up hope.
In fact, it’s best not to think in terms of “The ONE”, capital letters. Instead, think “this person, this time, this circumstances: yes or no.”… and then treat each combination independently. So “[Person X], now, intimate relationship” is a no. You can have “[Person X], now, play partner”, maybe “[Person X], later, intimate”, “Person Y, now, play partner”, and “Person Z, later, intimate”. Everything is possible; it’s just a matter of selecting.
It’s definitely a new way of looking at things. We are taught to look for The One Person who will be everything to us forever. It comes from our parents, our community, our law, our religion, and our entertainment. It takes a lot of effort to break this conditioning… to believe that you can have More Than One and have it work out. But I think that it’s truly the path to greater happiness and fulfillment.