Late twenties was scary to me. All these huge life-changing things were supposed to happen. I told myself I had to be married at 27, because that was the age my mom was married. I'm getting closer to 27, and this arbitrary deadline had slipped away.
I hear no ticking of my biological clock. My own mother had me at 41, in Vietnam no less, and everything thus far has gone swimmingly. (Close friends may disagree, but to most people, I am mentally and physically healthy.) I've seen too many women give birth past their mid-thirties to beautiful babies to be truly worried about possible health risks of delaying childbearing.
I worry less about "the one," marriage, or babies. With that freedom, I am not so worried about protecting my heart. I never wanted to fall for anyone in the past. I was always worried that if a relationship didn't work out, then I would have wasted my time. The years spent in the relationship could have been years looking for "the one." I spent roughly 7 years of my teenage/adult life in relationships (7 years in the aggregate). There were times when I kind of knew things were not going to work out, but the moment of truth hadn't actually happened. I agonized over ending it as soon as I knew or using the old wait-and-see method. Many men preferred the second way. I was all about efficiency and time.
Experience is worth more than time. I don't mean "experience" in the hackneyed way of learning through living, or taking something away from the relationship. I mean experience in the actual day-to-day life of being in love and feeling intimacy with another person. Before I learned how to enjoy the day-to-day experience, I treated dating and relationships as screening mechanisms. I wanted to "know" as soon as possible, so I can rule out one more person and move on. In a way, I was shielding my heart. I didn't want be disappointed. I didn't want to get my hopes up. I didn't want to feel too deeply for anyone. .
I still am that way (sort of, kind of) but giving up on time, efficiency, and deadlines allows me to enjoy the process. I think to myself, "Okay, so maybe so-and-so isn't 'the one' (or the one I end up with), but for years, he made me so happy." That time wasn't wasted. That time was spent cuddling, laughing, and being so close that it was inconceivable we would ever drift apart. It doesn't matter if I have dozen of these "failed" relationships, because I would have spent all those years in love.