2 min

Poly & jolly for the holidays

Multiple partners doesn't have to mean more stress

Credit: Maurice Vellekoop illustration

The holidays are a stressful time for everyone. It’s ironic, given that it’s hyped as a time full of joy and cheer, but it seems as though we all heave a sigh of relief when it’s all over and done with. Part of the pressure is just finding the time to share the festive season with all of our loved ones amid holiday parties and visits to family, let alone visits to the in- (or out-of) laws.

So then how much more complicated is it to be celebrating the holidays when you’ve got multiple partners — and multiple partners’ families — to find time for?

“It is harder at this time of year because you have more time off from work, more time to spend with others and there is the pressure of the holidays being special,” says Samantha, who has two partners. “But, I just had to base which partner I spent more time with on something other than emotions; I based them on time.

“I plan on spending equal time with both of them. I planned something special with A and planned something special with B. As far as actual Christmas Day, which I celebrate, I plan to be with my family. My family is great, not bringing a girlfriend has nothing to do with them…. It is just a way to make things fair and to avoid hurting feelings.”

Maggie, who has been in polyamorous relationships in the past, says competing demands from multiple partners can certainly add to holiday stress.

“Oh, was I ever dreading the holidays,” she says, of her holiday experience while dating two women a few years back. “First off, my parents are not thrilled about my being gay… so one girlfriend is awkward, I couldn’t imagine them knowing about two.

“Then came the questions from the ladies. ‘Are you coming to my house for Christmas dinner or are you going to hers?’ ‘Can we open presents up together on Christmas morning or will you be spending the night at her house?’ So, I did what many said was a cop-out…. I broke it off with both of them and spent Christmas with my family, with no girlfriend by my side.”

Mark, a 35-year-old videographer, has managed to make it through the holidays with multiple relationships in tact in past years, though this time he’s spending the season with just one sweetie.

“I love relationships, I love men, I love the holidays,” he says.

“In terms of multiples I do lay ground rules because I have learned from past experience that multiples can get messy,” he says, explaining that whoever he feels closest to — his primary partner — gets the invite home.

“Guy number one gets the trip up north to meet the family and open presents,” he says. “Guy number two can party with me New Year’s Eve.

Maybe those in nonmonogamous relationships should start negotiating their Valentine’s Day plans now.