Love and Relationships

[FIRST PERSON] Celebrating Valentine’s Day as a polyamorous person

John Pucay

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

[FIRST PERSON] Celebrating Valentine’s Day as a polyamorous person

Alyssa Arizabal/Rappler

'Friends often wonder if it's pricey to have multiple partners. Last Christmas, I splurged on multiple gifts, and now I'm shelling out for multiple Valentine's.'

Three years ago, I wrote a Rappler article about being potentially polyamorous. At the time, I was attempting my first ethically non-monogamous relationship with a partner. Fast forward to 2024; I continue to celebrate Valentine’s Day with that partner. I also have one (or two) other partners to celebrate with.

This partner, Dee, and I were making plans for Valentine’s. We were arguing about who to spend the day with. Dee and I have celebrated the past three Valentine’s together, so I figured I could spend this year’s Valentine’s with another partner, Rane, who I’ve been with for almost a year now.

But Dee has a thing for specific dates. Things like Christmas on December 25, or Valentine’s on February 14, etc., mean a lot to her. I suggested celebrating “our own Valentine’s” on a different day so that I could celebrate the 14th with Rane instead. And Dee was open to the idea.

“But I honestly can’t say I’m totally okay with not celebrating the 14th with you,” she said.

Dee explained that she was happy about how we spent the last three Valentine’s.

“I’m confident we will celebrate another Valentine’s in the future,” she said. “But this is just me sharing my honest feelings. I’d prefer if we could celebrate on the actual 14th.”

I thought for a moment.

“What if none of us celebrate on the 14th? So it’s fair for everyone and there are no resentments.”

Dee pouted. She wouldn’t be happy with that at all. Then, her face lit up.

“Or, you can just invite her to spend it with both of us,” she said. “If she’s okay with it, then I’m good too.”

I raised an eyebrow. Dee and Rane know each other and are on relatively good terms. But with their contrasting personalities, they never hang out.

Rane likes to wear light-colored frilly dresses in the gothic, Lolita-core fashion. She’s soft-spoken, demure, and into sewing and cute cafés. Dee, on the other hand, prefers to pursue the eradication of human rights problems. She sports either artsy or corporate aesthetics. And she’s not soft-spoken or demure at all. “Strong-willed” would be more suitable.

“I’ll ask Rane,” I said.

“No,” Rane answered later, when I asked. “I’d prefer to spend Valentine’s with you only.” She explained that, as long as it’s within February, she’d be happy to celebrate on any other day. “I don’t put weight on the actual day,” she said.

Finally, the Valentine’s dilemma is solved! I tell Dee that we can have the 14th together.

“What makes you think I don’t have a date with another person on that day?” She demurred. “ASK me to be your Valentine. Then, I’ll CONSIDER it!”

“Okay. Will you be my — “

“Actually, never mind that,” Dee interrupted. “Let’s avoid the man-asks-girl norm. I’ll be the one to ask.” She paused for dramatic effect. “Will you be my valentine?”

I smiled. “I shall be your February 14th valentine, yes.”

“By the way, if Eira doesn’t have a date, would you be okay spending Valentine’s with her too?”

“Of course,” I replied.

Eira is Dee’s girlfriend. The three of us share, for the lack of a better term, a throuple-ish dynamic when together. I met Eira two years ago, but she and Dee spend more time together. Recently, Eira started seeing someone new, and it wouldn’t be surprising if she chose to spend Valentine’s with her new partner instead.

In ethical non-monogamy, there’s a term for this: New Relationship Energy. It carries the risk of unintentionally neglecting other partners. And it’s something that individuals in polyamorous relationships must learn to navigate. Honest and open communication is crucial, as it is in any relationship.

Hence the lengthy Valentine’s talks. We always want to avoid resentment, which is the silent killer of relationships, whether monogamous or ethically non-monogamous.

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Our conversations weren’t always this smooth. Back when Dee, Rane, and I just started, we’d often have fights. The biggest lesson I learned from handling multiple relationships is, strangely, how to understand a partner’s “Personal Vocabulary.”

Words have a dictionary meaning. But people also attach their own interpretations, biases, and connotations to different words. This forms their Personal Vocabulary. When people get together without understanding each other’s Personal Vocabulary, that’s when relationship problems arise. Or so I’ve learned the hard way.

For example, when Rane says, “It’s okay,” I often have to probe deeper because that phrase can be synonymous with, “I don’t really like it. But I don’t dislike it enough to reject it outright.” This is important when we’re deciding things like ordering an expensive salmon steak. It would be a waste to spend so much on something we didn’t love enough to eat.

Dee, meanwhile, has no problem expressing her dislike through groans and facial cues. She sometimes does that whenever I order a healthy, vegetarian dish for both of us, after a weekend of cholesterol- and calorie-rich debauchery.

Eira. Well. She eats anything and everything. Among all of us, she has the biggest appetite. Probably because she’s the youngest. She’s also the tallest and longest-limbed. She loves vanilla-scented perfumes because, according to her, “It’s the only thing vanilla about me.”

And so went the planning.

Rane and I celebrated Valentine’s on the 10th and 11th, a weekend. We did things we haven’t yet tried despite being together for almost a year: Watching Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, playing the Unstable Unicorns card game, bowling. She gave me chocolates and I gave her flowers and a cake from the bakery she likes. For dinner, I cooked salmon steak. We had wine and cheese. We read manga in bed.

February 14 is a Wednesday. Which means Dee has morning work and evening classes. We scheduled an early dinner at a local chef’s house. Terrace seats so we can watch the sunset too. I ordered a custom daffodil-designed cake from a friend. We can have that with our wine and cheese, after her classes. Then I’d gift her a book for the first time: Edith Nesbit’s The Railway Children, hardcover edition. I know she’d enjoy it. If Eira is free that day, she could join us.

Friends often wonder if it’s pricey to have multiple partners. Last Christmas, I splurged on multiple gifts, and now I’m shelling out for multiple Valentine’s. Here’s my answer: it depends on the people involved. Neither my partners nor I are into fancy jewelry, gadgets, or designer clothes. Most of our date budget goes towards food, transportation, and accommodation (for out-of-town trips). These expenses might be a bit above average, but we also earn above average compared to the median income in our city. In a way, we’re simply living within our means.

I’ve been in both short-term and long-term monogamous relationships. And I can say that my partners and I function like any other monogamous couple. We have, roughly, the same issues, concerns, jealousies, even fights.

The only difference is that there is more than one person involved. That’s it, really. That’s what it’s like to celebrate Valentine’s with multiple partners. –

John Pucay, 28, is a full-time writer from Baguio City. His novel on 2020s dating and sex, Karinderya Love Songs, was named a Fully Booked Reading Allies’ Favorite Read of 2022. He writes about relationships, life, polyamory, and running. More details at Send him your thoughts at

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