"I'm a bit of a later bloomer," the actress, who plays Dr. Addison Montgomery-Shepherd on the ABC hit, tells Best Life in its April issue. "I need to do with relationships what I've done with work."
The San Jose, Calif., native admits she's made some bad choices before. "In the past, I've been work, work, work – and then I'm done and 'cause I'm tired and desperate, I'm like ... YOU!" she says, as though reaching for the nearest male body.
In retrospect, she says she just wasn't ready for the ups and downs of a serious commitment. "I realize it's a juvenile fear, but I haven't wanted to be in a relationship where I'm doing a downward dog and some guy is just like, 'I hate you. I hate it when you do whatever that thing is that you do that I hate.' "
But it doesn't help that with her new maturity has come a demanding job playing primetime's most notorious maneater. "Here I am working 13-, sometimes 16-hour days, and trying to date and it's so new to me to date more than one person at a time. Sometimes I feel like, What am I doing? Am I becoming my character, or is my character becoming me?"
Robert Maxwell for Best Life
But when Walsh does find her real-life McDreamy, he doesn't need to be as hunky as her onscreen love interests. "I don't need someone with a hot body," she says. "He can be fat or overweight and have a belly. It's very much about style and substance and humor, interest, curiosity and really being smart."