Wow. Ok. So this question made me realize something about myself... I have no CLUE what a real relationship is and I've been fucking MARRIED before. I've had a kid for fuck sake.
When I was 15, I was chubby, not very attractive, not popular, depressed, always struggled with feeling "less than human", and had been single forever. Never even had a "mock" boyfriend (you know, like the fourth graders who hold hands and maybe do a quick peck on the lips but wipe it off and laugh about it). Didn't even play "house" with boys when I was REALLY little.
I met a really cute guy outside my computer class that laughed at my jokes and flirted with me. When he asked me out, the ONLY reason I said yes was because he was so hot. He was (and still is) literally the best I could do. At first it wasn't even about liking who he was as a person (which I did), it was entirely about how incredibly good looking he was and how being with him gave me a chance to "catch up" to other girls in terms of kissing and holding hands and whatnot.
Sure, we grew closer as people... But looking back on it after reading this question, it was more obsession than love for me. I was obsessed with and taken back by the fact that someone loved me/wanted me. It was a confidence boost. It was an ego stroke.
2.5 years later he was STILL all I had. We both dropped out of school, we were homeless together... We worked up to getting our first apartment together, paying bills together, buying groceries together. At the three year mark I was 2 months pregnant and we got married. BUT... Looking back at this, he wasn't exactly my partner. He was my validation. He made me feel like a real, functioning person. He made me feel normal and THAT'S why I needed him.
When things started to go south with him cheating on me and hitting me... Well... I honestly think that's why I reacted the way I did. Suddenly my validation was gone, my normality was gone and I completely lost it. I became the psycho bitch that everybody talks about.
Then when he left me... The boyfriend I had after that was just a "to spite my husband" thing... A two year long "to spite my husband" thing. Needless to say, it didn't really work like that. And the guy was ALL wrong for me. We didn't like the same things, we didn't like the same activities. We pretty much just had lots of wild sex.
I've been single for 3 years now. I'm 26. Any time I've come even slightly close to hitting it off with a guy, I've sabotaged it. Before reading your question I wasn't sure why... Now I think I know.
I don't know what I'm doing. I want a real relationship but I honestly don't know what that is or how to even approach obtaining it.
Sorry I didn't answer your question, OP. But damn... My mind is blown. I have a LOT of thinking to do. Thank you.