About that last quote: I think “someone who understands her” reflects every one of Natasha’s past romances, in their own slivers and spaces. (She also has a clear weakness for pretty boy herotypes who cover their own self-esteem issues with random acts of bravery.)
With Clint, she found someone who also wanted up and out, someone who was willing to go sideways to get there. Matt understood all the things she was hiding from Clint; that she was a Soviet agent, that she wanted to be better than that. They met when he defended her in court for a murder she was framed for. After the Avengers doubted her (for pretty good reasons) she had found someone who wouldn’t, didn’t need to ask. They ran off to San Francisco chasing a mutual independence. Bucky, obviously, knew the shadows of her past better than anyone because he’d stood in them himself. Hercules I kind of retroactively explain as wanting something different & fun after riding on that Alexei/Clint/Matt broodytimes express for so long. But that didn’t really suit her; she broke it off and quickly remembered how much she liked the broodytimes express.
What I mean to say is this: these were all men who really understood her, in profound and different ways. She wanted them all to work, and to last, and she sacrificed. I think that’s important; she’s a human being who craves human interaction. But I think it’s a natural defense mechanism for Natasha to leave things unexplained, to defy understanding. So it makes sense she’s spent so much time alone, too.
And she has spent a lot of time alone. There were three decades that separated her fling with Hercules and her next committed romance with Bucky. I like her Silver and Bronze Age relationships in their own way, and I think they add meaning to Natasha’s mythology. But from a meta-textual perspective, each time she began on her own, and then quickly had a dude introduced to her plotline, as though they couldn’t think of any other way to add interest. I think when the relationship with Bucky worked it worked to remind us that Natasha could be a compassionate and nurturing partner. And when those thirty years of solitude worked they worked to show us she could live in comics without being quickly given a boyfriend.
I know some people are angry that this solitary angle is being pushed in the new volume. And I even get why. (I definitely get being angry at Ed Brubaker.) But nothing I’ve seen in interviews has convinced me Nathan Edmondson is trying to turn her into an emotionless robot too broken to feel. Like, I’m the least unbiased person there is and I have trained myself to see around bits of continuity I don’t like, and I’ll admit that. But I think since many recent Black Widow stories (Liu’s Name of the Rose and Cornell’s Deadly Origin and even Widowmaker to a degree) have focused on Natasha’s relationships with existing Marvel characters, it makes sense for a new series to build up her own smaller world. Since many recent Black Widow stories have featured murky villains from the past it makes sense to focus and begin with her current life, current missions, new bad guys.
Natasha hasn’t always been removed but she hasn’t always been open, either. The tension between love and loneliness is important to her mysteries, and for that tension to breathe, love and loneliness need to exist to her in unequal and shifting parts. Superhero comics are unfinished stories and unresolved plots. They do not end happily, they do not end.