“I’m so sick of love. Everyone I love seems to hurt me. I’m beginning to feel as though I must be the problem, although I’m a very giving woman. I always try to make everyone happy, but it turns on me. Is love really worth the pain?”

As the great Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “All other pleasures are not worth its pain.”

Love is amazing, isn’t it? But, when it’s not working, nothing hurts quite as deeply. The pain love causes is as real as the euphoric emotion it evokes. I believe everyone who loves is going to get hurt at some level. Whether it’s familial or love shared between friends or especially in the realm of romantic love, it is going to stop us cold in our tracks and cause us to doubt its authenticity. You, however, are at a point where you feel love is futile, and I feel safe in assuming it’s in the arena of romance.

I would never encourage anyone to give up on love. I can personally relate to the pain that giving can invite. I’m an overly-generous person, to my own detriment at times. I figured out many years ago that the virtue of giving came as a means of survival in my childhood home. Everyone I loved hurt me. I immediately began to compensate in some way. I would skip school lunch for months and save the money to buy my mother things she wanted in hopes of getting love and acceptance from her. I took on even more chores around the farm and worked feverishly to gain an approving word from my dad. Perhaps my young mind wasn’t developed enough to realize seeking love and acceptance through constant personal investment of time, energy, and money was never going to give me what I needed. I outgrew the longing for their acceptance, but I never outgrew the longing for the love.

Love is a necessary part of life. Had I given up on love as a young girl, I would have never tasted the richness of the emotion. But, I had to realize that I couldn’t make everyone happy while I was cradling a broken heart. I’m still a very generous person. I learned that giving is an essential element in love, but realized it can’t be one-sided. I strive to use wise judgment in those I give love to. Some of the wisdom I’ve learned is couched in this simple three-part litmus test:

  • Am I the only one giving in this relationship?
  • Does the one I love respect me?
  • Is this person I love causing me more pain than joy?

Many times, love can be found when we love ourselves first. Please do not confuse that with a selfish inward focus. I appreciate the fact that you are accepting this could be an issue with you. When we have multiple conflicts in relationships, we need to be honest and evaluate what role we might be playing in the chaos within those associations. But, if you are the only one giving in your relationships and if your giving is motivated by expecting a return, then you need to decide why you don’t feel more valuable to yourself. Assess your worth. Girl, you are priceless! Believe that about your heart…and others will soon follow suit.

Love is worth the pain, but if pain is all you seem to receive in any relationship, perhaps the love is one-sided. Love is going to hurt at some point. And, yes, it is worth the pain when it truly is love. When true love is in place, you find two people — not one — willing to give whatever is needed to make love last. If you are the only one giving, stop the pain because love is missing. But, never give up on love. It’s there. Someone’s heart is longing to share a life with someone like you who’s willing to receive as much love as you are willing to give. I’m living proof that it really can happen.

Struggling with a relationship issue? Write to Joyce Oglesby, Family Life FIX-IT Pro and find a solution for life.