Your Ultimate Guide to a Non-Monogamous Valentine’s Day

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Your Ultimate Guide to a Non-Monogamous Valentine’s Day

So many loves, so little time. Experts told us how to build a non-monogamous Valentine’s Day game plan.

In a society that prioritizes long-term, heterosexual, and monogamous relationships, engaging with love and relationships in a non-monogamous way can be difficult. This can be especially true on holidays focused on romance, like Valentine's Day.


If you have multiple partners on Valentine’s Day, tricky situations can abound. What if multiple partners want to get dinner with you on the same night, or one of your loves wants to attend a queer Valentine’s Day party your other boo may be at? These are the kinds of conflicts that anyone who practices non-monogamy might encounter all year, but on a holiday like Valentine’s Day, they can feel particularly loaded with unspoken societal expectations and jealousy. Yet by finding ways to genuinely honor all our relationships, we can learn how to better communicate with our loves and make them feel held.


While it can take some coordination, having open conversations with your partners about their expectations for the day can be a great start. Understanding their needs — as well as checking in about your own — can allow you to come up with a Valentine’s game plan. Read on for a few tips from queer sex and relationships experts on how to plan the best ethically non-monogamous Valentine’s Day.



How do I honor multiple partnerships on Valentine’s Day? 

First, figure out if Valentine’s Day is even important to you and your partners. Because we are all so indoctrinated into a mono-normative society — or a society that accepts monogamous relationships as the sole model for romantic dynamics — we often apply that framework when thinking about non-monogamous relationships, explains Rachel Wright. 


“We have this thinking that all of our partners have to have the same amount of X,” Wright, a relationships and sex psychotherapist, tells us. “We feel like, because it’s Valentine’s Day, we have to see them all, give all of them a card, give them all flowers, etc. When in reality, what we actually need to do is check in with our partners about how they want to honor and celebrate the holiday.” 


Because of these mono-normative standards, you may think that if you don’t take each of your loves out for a date, shower them with chocolates, and spend equal time with them on Valentine's Day, you’ll hurt them or be telling the world they aren’t important to you. But each of your partners may care about unique aspects of the holiday, like going out for dinner or getting a gift. What’s important is to check in with your romantic connections ahead of time rather than assuming their needs and desires. One partner may appreciate something like a card or teddy bear, while another might want quality time; another might need nothing at all. Regardless, you should work to understand their love languages ahead of February 14.


“Spending time before this day learning your partners’ values around the holiday can help you understand what actually nourishes them and makes them feel loved,” says Veronica Chin Hing-Michaluk, a queer psychotherapist who works with non-monogamous people. “That way, you can share your energy with them in ways that are actually aligned with their unique needs.” 


Before you check-in with your partners about their Valentine’s Day desires, here are some questions Chin Hing-Michalik suggests asking yourself: 

  • Who feels significant in your Valentine's Day constellation? 
  • What configurations of love are you celebrating this year? 
  • Have your partners met each other? 
  • Are there any dynamics that might feel uncomfortable when gathering with multiple partners and lovers?


After you get a sense of what your needs are this Valentine’s Day, you can approach your entire constellation of relationships with this frame of mind. 



How do I gauge if my partners feel like Valentine’s Day is special? 

The simple answer is to just ask your partners how they feel. If we assume we know what our partners want, it doesn’t allow for their needs to be met as fully and authentically as possible. We need to ask if they actually think Valentine’s Day is special, as well as why it’s special and what would make it feel more precious to them, Wright says.


Not all people want to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a heart-shaped box of chocolates and their romantic boo. By asking, we may find that some of our partners want to celebrate Valentine’s Day unconventionally. Some people may want to hold space for self-love by having a self-care night of solo bubble baths and facemasks. Others may want to celebrate their important platonic relationships by having a Palentine’s Day sleepover. A few may want a cute gathering with all of their lovers and metamours together. When we have genuine and honest conversations — not just about the day, but about what makes our partners feel loved in general — we can come up with an approach to Valentine’s that works best.


“I’ve observed how healing it can be for clients who decenter some of the rigid narratives associated with Valentine's Day in favor of expansive frameworks that allow for each person's constellation to feel abundant love and gratitude for their found families and lovers,” Chin Hing-Michaluk says.



What happens if multiple partners want to spend the day together? What if they want conflicting plans? 

When navigating multiple relationships, we may find that our partners’ needs may occasionally conflict. “While love is infinite, time and space are not,” says Cory Bush, a polyamorous sex and relationship coach. While we may want to make all of our partners happy on Valentine’s Day, it isn’t possible to go to three dinners on the same night at the same time and be present for our boos. 


Wrights says you should approach this conversation by letting your partners know you want them to feel loved and cared for, and you’re trying to figure out the best way to accomplish that. Be direct about the fact that multiple partners may want to celebrate the day with you and meeting everyone’s needs might be difficult. Being honest about what we have time for and what we want, and talking directly about consent and intimacy can be powerful tools in situations like this.


Chin Hing-Michaluk says your next step to conflicting plans should be coming up with a road map for the day. For example, if multiple partners want to get dinner, you can see if it would be possible to do dinner on different nights in celebration of Valentine’s week. Having a concrete plan for the day can also be helpful for time management and being transparent with your Valentine(s).  



How do I manage all of my own needs for Valentine’s Day?

It is important to figure out your desires for Valentine’s as well as your boundaries before talking about it with your partners, Bush tells Them. Here are some questions to ask yourself before approaching your partners: 

  • What would genuinely make you feel honored on this day? 
  • How do you want to be loved or experience love? 
  • Is this day special to you? Why? 
  • What activities would feel good on this day, and with whom? 


This way, when you ask your partners what they desire, you can also be direct and honest about your own preferences and requirements and try to honor everyone as best as possible. 


Ultimately, as is the case for most discussions related to non-monogamous relationships, there is no right or wrong answer. There is only what is best for you and your unique situation. Taking the time out to find out what that looks like, even if it's unconventional, is always going to be the best approach when trying to honor everyone we love. It might be hard to work around time limitations or mono-normative mindsets, but we can still find ways to engage in love that feel more closely aligned with our own beliefs and desires. 



Written by: Adejoke Mason on Them