It came as quite a shock to me when I figured out that I couldn’t earn someone else’s love. It doesn’t matter how much you give, how much you sacrifice or how much you do. They either love you or they don’t.

If you are always taking on the responsibility for fixing someone else’s problem, and if you get caught up in the drama of their life and lose sight of your own, you may be in a co-dependent relationship.

After I’d been married to the father of my children for sixteen years (and unhappy for about fifteen-and-a-half) I said to him, “It occurs to me that for the last sixteen years both of us have always put your needs and wants first.”

You know how he responded? He said, “That was your choice.”

My next question was, “Do you ever stop to think about how the things you do and say will affect me?”

The idiot wasn’t even smart enough to lie. He said, “No. I can’t say that I do.”

I was such a moron that I didn’t pack my bags and leave that night. I wasn’t getting any joy out of the relationship, but I felt so responsible for taking care of him (and his feelings) that I stayed.

On the recommendation of a friend, I bought the book, “Co-Dependent No More” by Melodie Beattie. When I read it I realized that he wasn’t the one with the problem – I was. I was seeking all of my validation from other people. I thought if I gave enough, cared enough and loved enough that they would love me in return. I was wrong!

We all yearn for human connection. We want to love and to be loved. But spending your energy on someone who only loves what you do for them and doesn’t care one way or another about what you need or how you feel, is like planting a garden on a lava flow. You will only waste water, energy and time, because even the strongest seeds need fertile soil to sprout and grow.

If you find that you are constantly drawn into unequal relationships, I hope you will get a copy of “Co-Dependent No More” and read it cover to cover. When I realized I didn’t have to earn other people’s love, I stopped engaging in one sided relationships and I really started to live. I hope you’ll do the same.