So I wound up having that conversation with E after all. We were cuddled up in bed after he made me a nice dinner (naked, of course) and just relaxing and chatting before we felt less full enough to have sex! It was a natural progression that just happened based on the way we were talking.
It was hard. He told me that he really likes what we have, he enjoys time with me and doesn't see me as a casual thing, but he also doesn't think that what we have is going to go to the kind of relationship where we fall in love. He also says he is not looking to be owned at this time. It was hard to hear, but it was good to know at least. It's easier to be gently disabused I suppose, but it still hurt. I wasn't sure how I was going to react. I told him that I honestly didn't know what I'd want to change about our relationship other than that the loose parameters leave me feeling uncomfortable at times about how to behave (with regards to D/s) and he said he could understand that. And, well, now I know that if I want something it has to be prenegotiated since he is not going to be mine. So no discomfort, just a little sadness.
I was actually surprised by how well I took it at the time. It was a really open and heartfelt discussion and I still felt close to him afterwards even though I was sad. We wound up having awesome sex that evening and cuddling at night. Then the next day, we did some pretty intense kinky play and it was still okay.
I keep reminding myself that what I have with him is pretty much exactly what H wants me to have. E and I are friends who enjoy each other's company, we have great sex, and kinky play without the really messy emotional part. And it's good! I enjoy it. I'm clearly still interested in seeing him and spending time with him. But I feel like something's still missing, so I don't know. I really want a relationship that leads to ownership. And I don't have time for more than one outside "real" relationship, or interest frankly. So I don't want to throw away something I really enjoy just for a possibility. He and I discussed that and he said he understood if I would have less time for him, and I told him I really don't want that either and that I don't think I'll look, but that I am going to be open to it if something finds me.
I tell myself that if nothing else, here is a way for me to gain kinky experience. And I really do like him and enjoy his company, and his pussy licking is bar none. I know I had already had that warning a month ago... but with the way he's been around me lately, I didn't know if things were different. What we have really is intimate and close, and he told me he didn't see us as casual. But obviously, it's not quite what he would want for something more intense.
And fair enough. I just haven't gotten past the regret and sadness that this is all it's going to be yet.
Me: 32 year old poly pansexual Dominant female, married to Mark (married 10 years) who has FWBs. Dating Jennifer, 5 months, and Henry, 4 months.