Dobby Is a Free Elf: Polyamorous Partying Without Expectations

an office setting. Two men sit behind computer monitor in the background. In the foreground, a statue of Dobby the house elf from Harry Potter stands staring forward.
Image by Weltbild Verlag GmbH / CC BY

It all started with a silly meme that I made for Poly.Land’s Facebook page, mixing polyamory with a bit of Harry Potter. “Dobby has no master. Dobby is a free elf.”

But as fate would have it, I was throwing a party at my house that very evening. The first one since I started dating my three partners that they would all be in attendance: Skyspook, CC, and Ro.

I had just started dating CC the last time Skyspook and I threw a party (Ro was away on a trip). Last party I’d spent the entire night by CC’s side. Partly because I was half crosseyed from NRE, and partly because CC only knew a few other people, and as a hostess I strive to help newer people feel comfortable.

And it was a lovely night, except for two things.

  1. I felt like I shortchanged the other guests and myself by focusing so much on one person. I missed out on a wider variety of conversations. Dates are for hanging out with a partner. Parties can be something else entirely. They’re a unique opportunity, and I didn’t seize it.
  2. When I witnessed CC sharing a smooch with someone else in passing, I felt a little raw. No one had done anything wrong. No agreements were violated. I didn’t have a meltdown or anything. But I had a possessive gut reaction, which was kind of a buzzkill for me.

As I reflected on the party the next day, I realized that I’d gone into the party believing myself in a way to be “responsible” for CC’s party experience. And without realizing that I was doing it, I somehow formed an expectation that he would do the same. He had become my date. Possessiveness. Egads.

This had also happened in the distant past with Skyspook, and that was no fun either.

I didn’t want to make that same mistake again.

Dobby Is a Free Elf

Going into the new party, I was also a bit concerned about balancing time and attention. Skyspook and I live together, are married, and have been together for ages. Even at times when we’ve only dated each other, we’re used to spending most of the evening separately when hosting a party. Divide and conquer. Essentially “staffing” the party.

But would CC and Ro feel slighted if I paid one more attention than the other?

And then it hit me: I was letting expectations master me.

“Dobby is a free elf,” I said aloud. And I laughed at myself for doing so. But as I thought things over, the course for my evening became clear.

I would attend the party without worrying about any of it. I would spend time with a variety of people, wandering about as I do when I’m simply hosting and not dating new people. Chatting people up, flirting, making sure the guests’ needs are tended to.

Paying basically whatever attention I felt like to people in the moment, what flowed naturally, whether they were a friend, a lover, or someone I was just meeting.

“I’ve decided Dobby is a free elf,” I told guests at the party.

“Oh you’re much more attractive than Dobby,” a friend replied, as we both laughed. A minor debate ensued over which article of clothing had been sacrificed to me in order to secure my freedom.

I felt so much lighter, not worrying about what other people were up to.

Now, this didn’t mean I had license to violate any relationship agreements (I stayed squarely within the parameters of mine). But I was free of expectations, of the idea that I had to be anyone’s “date,” let alone three people’s at once.

And you know what? I had a total blast.

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