He is everything she is looking for in a man. Yet, she feels mildly indifferent to his interest. She is willing to go out on dates, even to get closer to him, to give it her best effort, but still she feels less than attracted to him. Her mind is saying yes; her heart is saying, maybe. He may be Mr. Right, but somehow it feels wrong.
To keep things interesting, let's imagine that there is another man in her life, call him Mr. Wrong. This man bears a close resemblance to some bad ex-boyfriends,but she finds him nearly irresistible. His swagger may be fake; his pretense may be galling to everyone she knows; he may be a chronic slacker; still, she can barely control herself when she is around him.
She has found Mr. Right, but her heart and other unmentionable parts of her body are drawn to Mr. Wrong. She cannot get too involved with Mr. Right, because, given how she feels, it would not be fair to him. Should she have one last fling with Mr Wrong? She does not know.
How did she get to this place? One that I would say is not entirely uncommon. If I were aiming for philosophy here, I would say that she has a mind/body problem.
Perhaps she did not spend her twenties hooking up with whomever was in closest proximity, but she did have several relationships, all of which ended badly and painfully. By definition... otherwise she would not still be single.
She is hardly a novice with men, but her experiences with them, truth be told, have been less than satisfying. Even when the relationships were good, they were marred by betrayals, turmoil, drama, fights, walkouts, and by the simple fact that they did not work out.
She feels scarred and marred. Perhaps Mr. Right, once he gets to know her better, will discover that she is not up to his standards.
As she steps forth to try to build a relationship with Mr. Right, she brings what we used to call, quaintly, a lot of baggage. No more than many other women of her generation. But still, a lot. Her relationships with men have contained good and bad, but since they have not worked out as she would have wished, they count as traumas.
It might be a positive thing for women to marry later, but the delay, and the intervening relationships, are inevitably going to make the process more difficult.
As we know, trauma distorts judgment.
Once you have been traumatized your mind shifts into trauma avoidance mode. It will direct you to do what it takes to avoid past traumas. If that means not getting too close to someone who might break your heart, then it will help you maintain your distance.
Of course, she knows that if she does not give her heart to Mr. Right, then he will eventually lost interest and hurt her again.
She may believe that she must heal the trauma before she can love anyone else. Isn't that what her therapist told her.
And yet, how to go about the healing process. Does she think to herself that if she gets involved with another Mr. Wrong, then she can show herself that she can handle being dumped or living in turmoil? Or she might believe that she must settle the score with a Mr. Wrong, to hurt him as much as his predecessors hurt her, before she can have the right frame of mind to deal with Mr. Right.
So, if you ask why she might be drawn to the kind of man who has hurt her in the past, the answer is that she is self-medicating.
Still, she does not know whether to follow her mind or her heart with Mr. Right. For all she knows-- and for all I know-- he might just not be right for her. Perhaps she should stick with him; perhaps she should move on to someone else. How is she to know? And how is she to know that a brief fling with Mr. Wrong will not cleanse her system of any temptation to descend into the kind of abjection that previous boyfriends have brought on her.
In truth, there is no sure guide that is going to tell you, through the din of the aftershocks of the trauma, that Mr. Right is really right for you. Only experience will tell you definitively, and even then...