Personally, I think it is important to build each individual relationship, as well as the group relationship.
There are sooooooooooo many forms of practicing poly out there, and I know I still haven't heard them all, nor can my mind possibly conceive each form. And it really depends on a person's definition of what poly is and isn't. I suppose it is possible for one man or one woman to have several wives/husbands who do not live under the same roof and never interact, but that doesn't really fit my personal definition of poly living.
The relationships in poly can be as rich if you are willing to cultivate them. My sisterwives K and S each live in separate abodes; Bud and I are living with my MIL. We can't all be under one roof--but we have talked about it over the years. We complement each other; we share strengths in common, and we each have our unique strengths as well. I keep joking that "when I win the lotto, we will finally be able to live under one roof..." We have spent hundreds of evenings together, talking, sharing meals, laughing, crying, arguing, supporting. When asked, "who is my best friend?" My answer is always hubby first, followed closely by K and S. It is because we have forged an intimacy with each other that goes beyond common friendship--we are family. We each have unique bonds with one another. We lean on each other and lift each other up. In fact, K has spent the night here the last two weekends, and often stays with S as well. There is comfort in our time together. When one is hurting, we all hurt. When one has a triumph, we all celebrate.
I don't think this would be possible if we didn't forge the individual relationships. Trust has to be established in each partnership. When we are all together, it is comfortable. We can safely blow off steam, and we can speak our minds without judgement. We never say anything behind each other's back that we wouldn't say to each other's face. That is how we roll.
It is funny, as I never really thought of us as poly until Bud commented on it. For me, poly meant living under the same roof in a committed relationship. It wasn't until after we had been on the Sisterwive's board that we realized we had forged a poly relationship with K and S long before we really knew what it was.
It would have taken a long, long time to bridge ES into the relationship with K and S. I don't think ES was really vested in a relationship beyond Bud and I. And while we all suffer health issues, ES's spiralled out of control quickly. And I am not sure that ES and K would have been able to forge the same kind of relationship as K, S and I have forged. I have to take blame as well, as when we talked about searching for a house big enough for all of us, I had huge reservations that really hurt ES's feelings. I honestly felt that having all five of us under one roof would have been disaterous for all parties involved, especially Bud. We will never know.
What does everyone else think about this subject?