The Holiday Season can be incredibly stressful for anyone, and having multiple partners sometimes adds to the stress of the season. How should you split your time? What are reasonable expectations in a relationship? Is it possible to celebrate the holidays with everyone?
An important thing to remember when trying to answer these questions is the fact that time is limited. In addition, something that works for one polycule may not work at all for another. For example, people in long-distance relationships might not be able to spend the holidays together, and might not even expect to. They may mail their partners gifts, set aside some time to video chat, or celebrate together the next time they see one another.
Depending on whether you practice kitchen table polyamory, parallel polyamory, or something in between, some of the following options may or may not work for you. However, these are some common ways that people who have multiple partners may choose to celebrate the holidays or other special occasions.
Spend the holidays with your primary partner and family. This may be a popular option for those practicing hierarchical polyamory, for partners who have children together, or for partners who feel it is not safe to be out as polyamorous with their families.
Spend the holidays with your local partner(s). If you have multiple local partners, try to split up the day(s) in a way that makes sense to you and creates the least amount of stress. This may mean spending Christmas Eve with one partner and Christmas Day with another, and New Years Eve with yet a different partner. On the other hand, it may mean spending Christmas morning with one partner and Christmas afternoon/evening with a different partner.
Spend the holidays just with your family, if you have a good relationship with your family and feel this would not negatively impact your mental health.
Spend the holidays with a group of friends. Everyone can bring a dish to pass to decrease the level of stress on whoever is hosting the party.
Spend the holidays with all of your partners. This option may be ideal for those practicing kitchen table polyamory or in cases where multiple partners are living together.
Spend the holidays with your pets. Try to enjoy the time to yourself and make it a day for self-care. Don’t try to get ahead on work projects or homework; take the time to do some fun reading or engage in a hobby.
Travel for the holidays, and visit your partner(s) and their family. Or, just travel somewhere new on your own!
Volunteer. This may take some planning ahead, but you may be able to sing carols at your local hospital or serve meals at your local soup kitchen. You may even find that you really enjoy doing this, and begin to volunteer year-round!
Check Meetup.com for polyamory meetups in your area. If the holidays are difficult for you and you do not want to spend them alone, there’s a good chance you will find others who feel the same way. You may be able to find others who are opening their homes to like-minded people who would otherwise be alone for the holidays, and you may even meet a new best friend!
A note on polycules with minor children: it is important to remember that, if your partner has children with someone else, those children always take precedence. Whether they are nesting with their coparent, have a custody agreement, or simply split time with their children, those children’s lives can and should be most important, especially during the holidays. Try not to feel hurt or jealous if your partner chooses to spend their time with their children over you.
The holidays can be very difficult when trying to navigate family engagements, friendships, and romantic relationships. Come up with the option that feels right to you and your partner(s), and try to understand when your partner has limited time, or if your partner wants more time from you. Even if you can’t see everyone on the actual holiday (Christmas Day, New Years Eve, etc.), just remember that you can celebrate separately with that partner on another day. This doesn’t make your time together less special or less meaningful; it simply means one or both of you had a scheduling conflict. And that’s okay.