Having an egalitarian application to how one treats and perceives their partner in polyamory means - everyone is equal. Egalitarianism is a favored concept that appears more ethical than hierarchal polyamorous relationships. Time in relationship, shared children, investments, nesting status, and bonded experiences do not afford a partner privilege over others in the polycule. Egalitarian dynamics can be a response to unethical (even ethical) hierarchy, vetoes, and couple's privilege. Some people practice egalitarian hierarchy because it is how they automatically perceive relationships with their intimate partners. Others see it as a way to prevent disagreements and ensure that new or partners without "vested" experience are not left out. Practicing egalitarian polyamory can also challenge the relationship escalator, removing power from that system. Just because someone isn't married or has children with their partner does not mean they get less access to intimacy or resources in a relationship. Focusing more on the person's value than what they bring to the relationship or acquired titles (spouse, co-parent, business partner, etc.). Usually, discussions surrounding egalitarianism come up with triads and/or married polyamorists but extends to all relationships built in polyamory. Also, egalitarian polyamorists can be in relationships with hierarchal polyamorists.
In many educational spaces, egalitarianism is promoted as the preference and pinnacle of successful and healthy polyamorous dynamics. Because it is seen as the automatic opposite of hierarchy, which is usually labeled as unethical, egalitarian relationships are considered ethical without much thought. When practiced correctly, it ensures everyone gets an equal and fair chance at access to love, resources, and respect no matter their time or investment in a relationship.
Egalitarian polyamory can be practiced unethically, intentionally, and unintentionally.
Your spouse feels resentment towards you and their metamour (or shared partner) because you offered to pay for one of your partner's bills. For you, it is a sign that you see them (the partner) as equal. For your spouse, it makes them feel like their time invested in a relationship is automatically similar to someone who hasn't "put their time in." This is not intentional on your behalf.
You are in a triad. Your partners were originally a couple. Upon starting a new relationship with you, they start giving you expensive gifts and sharing some of their finances with you since they do it with each other. They express that this is important to ensure "everyone is equal." While you are happy they are this considerate, you do not feel comfortable just yet with these types of gifts.
There are various ways egalitarian polyamory can manifest to make those involved very uncomfortable or feel like they are being "left behind" or lack uniqueness.
You are in an egalitarian closed triad. You were initially a couple but now a triad. Your partner's occasional sweet gifts now are identical to your shared partner. For your anniversary (as a couple), your partner suggests not celebrating to make it equal in the triad. You don't feel good about this. You are not sure if they are right in their practice or not.
What Works Best
When it comes to egalitarianism, do what works bests FOR YOU. You may not feel comfortable with hierarchy and prefer egalitarian. Egalitarian people can date people who practice hierarchy in their relationships, but you do not have to. Express this as a preference ahead of time and explain to your partners how you plan to apply this to your relationships. If you want to cancel all previous anniversaries, say that. If you believe egalitarian should be focused on what is fair versus being immediately equal, say that. Egalitarian polyamory requires thorough communication about expectations and practice in the relationship. Many issues develop due to assumptions and misunderstandings. How you perceive equality and value will differ from your other partners. Equal terms to ensure everyone is treated well are great - as long as everyone is being treated well.