The holiday season can be relaxing and stressful in equal measure. Who doesn’t dread last minute shopping after a crazy day at work, or sitting down at the family table and rehashing the same old arguments year after year?
The holidays are also a time of love and peace. When all the preparations have been made and you’re finally able to relax, there’s nothing more heartwarming than the time shared with partners, friends and family.
Being in a poly relationship definitely amplifies feelings of love at this time of year; but if you’re not ready for it, the holidays can also be overwhelming and even lead to feelings of exclusion. Here are some suggestions for how to make holiday festivities run smoothly for everyone in your polycule.
Start Planning Early
Try not to leave all your decision making to the last minute. Think about where you plan to be over the holidays and with whom. Talk it out as a group. If you’re married and have only recently opened up your relationship to others, you might feel obligated to keep your traditions in tact so as not to upset your families.
This is a legitimate concern, but as you grow closer to your new partner(s), gradual shifts may need to take place. Just check in early on to make sure that no one will be left without a place to go and feel connected during the holidays.
Don’t Expect to Please Everyone all the Time
You can’t be in more than one place at a time, so even with careful and thorough planning, you’re bound to disappoint someone. Try not to be too hard on yourself. Think in terms of the long game. Maybe you can’t be with your girlfriend this year because your wife’s family has something special planned that you just can’t miss, but next year will be different.
Last year my partner and his wife went on a tropical vacation over the holidays. This year, we’re all renting a cottage close to my family so we can be close (but not too close) to all the holiday dinners they will be hosting. The key is to balance things out over time.
Be Mindful of Gift Giving
Speaking of balance, it’s kind of obvious, but you want to try to give each of your partners gifts that will make everyone feel included and valued. If it’s easier, you might want to do a Secret Santa kind of thing within your polycule, or decide not to give gifts at all.
I’ve never been one to really care about that stuff, but some people really do, and if you know your partners will be sensitive to it, try to choose gifts that don’t give the impression of favoritism, especially if your relationships are egalitarian. (e.g., Don’t get your girlfriend slippers and your wife a diamond necklace.)
Be Patient with Family and Friends
Finally, try to make peace with the fact that not everyone in your circle of friends and family will support your poly lifestyle. They might not want to hear about the plans you have with your girlfriend’s family this year, or welcome her into the fold for a taste of Grandma’s turkey and Aunt Abigail’s famous Christmas cake.
Sometimes it’s best just to keep things on the down low and let the holidays unfold happily for everyone. We can always hope, right?
Leave a comment to let us know how your polycule handles the holiday season!