These false starts have simply made me more practical.
Romance 101 is being rescued from the evil queen by our knight in shining armor. The first lessons we learn about love involve impossible, forbidden relationships that can only happen when someone (usually the guy) overcomes some obstacle. We're conditioned to believe that love is only love if it hurts; if it's complicated, scary, and confusing. We're taught that unless it's difficult, it isn't love.
I'm no expert, but I suspect these early lessons might be at least partly to blame for some of the dysfunction we find in adult relationships.
Ignore the nice guy; it's the boy who smacks you on the playground who really likes you. Don't be too "together" - he needs to feel like you need rescuing. Women are practically waiting for the first guy who comes along when they're in a bad situation. Of course, it'll be complicated (since her situation is already questionable), so it's difficult and confusing. Ah ha! Must be love.
Of course when a relationship is good, women tend to doubt. Is he really the right guy? Is this really what I want? Do I really want to settle down? Is he good for my family? Does he make me happy? They might even question themselves. He's a great guy - why don't I like him? What is wrong with me?
Romance 101 teaches women to complicate things - remember, we have to be in a lousy situation for it to be love. The truth, I think, is far less complicated.
If it was love, you would recognize it. The fact that you question means it's not love.
Now, is that to say that some people aren't broken? Of course not. People get hurt. They shut others out. They refuse to let themselves be happy, for fear of losing everything again. But as someone who spent years (literally) in therapy dealing with that very issue, I feel like I can confidently say:
If you're aware of that condition - if you're even asking the question, "Am I OK?" - then you most likely are.
Walls are something we put up to defend ourselves. When they're up, there won't be any question, because no one is getting close enough to make you ask. If you're wondering, then the wall is down - so the questions are coming from somewhere else.
I think being hurt eventually makes us smarter. Without even realizing, we become better at judging when something is wrong (probably because we've seen so much wrong, it's much easier to recognize). Then we question.
But that instinct to complicate things is still there...to make ourselves available for our rescue. The truth is, real love isn't complicated at all. It's easy.
If what you're feeling isn't easy - then it simply isn't love.