The corporate presentation of holidays puts people into tidy little arrangements with no puzzle pieces that don't fit. But it's rarely that simple in real life, and that's especially true with polyamorous people on Valentine's Day.

It's a stressful holiday for anyone. If you're single, you're going to have everyone else's (apparent) romantic bliss shoved in your face all day, and if you have even one sweetie, the pressure is on to play the romantic fool. And you don't even get the day off work. Lame!

For poly people, it's a whole different level of hell. It's a holiday that's all about telling someone, "You're my one and only." Gak. Try finding a Valentine's Day card that doesn't have a monogamy-based sentment on it—just try. You'll be standing at that card rack a long time.

Based on that, many of us have told Hallmark to bugger off. The general consensus among my pals is, "I show my partners how much they mean to me every day. I don't need Madison Avenue to tell me when to be romantic."

But for those of you still on board with the VD rituals, here are some tips for you.

Do not buy your two sweethearts the same card or gift, unless it's a trip to Paris for the three of you together. Even if they're not in the room together when they open them up, there will be some note comparing, I assure you. "Oh, he got you red Hanky Panky panties? Huh. Me too. They're on sale right now, three for $30—I wonder who he gave the third pair to?"

On the other hand, if you buy one partner sexy undies and one partner a Crock-Pot, you better be quite sure that's what the latter recipient really wanted. Or else when you nuzzle up to your domestic god/goddess that night, he or she is likely to tell you to go put your bits in the slow cooker for six hours.

Poly people often adopt the "no surprises" rule. In general, that means you don't spring big relationship changes on your partners. But it has other applications, too. Do not plan romantic Valentine's Day surprises for your poly partner that involve anyone being naked, because it could be terribly awkward if you crawl in your sweetie's bedroom window with a dozen roses and she's in bed with her other lover. (Yes, I know that scenario would work out fine in a porn movie, but in real life, it's not going to—trust me.)

Sometimes you get a situation where one of your partners wants a lot of hoopla and the other partner is like, "It's just another day." If that's the case, you need to make sure the whatever partner knows you're going to indulge the Hallmark partner's yen for paper lace and overpriced roses. Frankly, in that circumstance, I'd have a cheesy card and a box of chocolates at the ready for the curmudgeon anyway. People may say they don't want something, but then if they see someone else getting it, they might get a little wistful. Nobody wants to feel like that puzzle piece that doesn't fit anywhere. recommended