asking out of curiosity. how do you manage to maintain more than, say, three partners? like i can barely keep more than two close friends at the same time idk
Every poly person handles this differently! If you don’t want to have more than three partners, that’s totally fine - you don’t have to! Some people find that they’re happiest in a closed triad with two other people. Some people have a large network of partners and lovers and friends-with-benefits. It’s not a requirement that, if you’re poly, you must constantly be open to new partners and willing to juggle an unlimited amount of partners.
If the “you” in your question refers to me, specifically, I can answer that: I date people who fit into my lifestyle and who invite me into theirs. Right now, I have two serious partners. One lives with me, and the other lives ~10 minutes from me. Both of them are relative homebodies, and both of them get along, which means I get to see them a lot - we hang out at my house, watch TV, cook, play board games, etc. I can casually pop over to my partner’s house, he can casually pop over to mine. Because we have a lot of mutual friends, we get to spend time together as part of larger plans, like going to the movies or out to dinner.
I also sometimes see other guys more casually, which means less time commitment and less expectation that they’ll fold into my friends and fold me in with theirs. Instead of just flopping around each other’s houses and living our lives in each other’s company, with those guys, we tend to Plan A Thing To Do (a date, sex, etc.), schedule a time, get together, Do The Thing, and then go on with the rest of our schedules. Most of the time, new partners start out in this ‘category’ and then fold into my life/fold me into theirs.
If someone takes too much time or energy to date - if they are flaky, live really far away, don’t get along with my friends - it doesn’t shift into “live life together” style partnership. And that’s okay with me! I am fine having a low-key, sex-and-date-when-scheduled type of partnership indefinitely and don’t hope or expect that they will all eventually become long-term, life-sharing partners. So that’s how I do it - I use casual dating as a way to screen for people who will be low-effort, high-reward. If I find someone who is high-effort, high-reward, then I put in that high effort less often, but am still willing to do it on a less committed basis.
But I am not everyone! All I can do is provide one example of how one poly person does it. If I wasn’t an introvert, didn’t live with a long-term partner, didn’t live in an area with such gnarly traffic, didn’t have a car, worked different hours, didn’t live in a big community house, etc. then I’m sure my process and partnerships would look a lot different. So don’t generalize from me!