All too often you fall in love with someone out of a place of need: you may need someone to complete you because as you are, you don't feel good enough. Still, the love that you feel for that other person may well be utterly genuine, even if its origins lie in your own inadequacies.
But somewhere along the line you believe that that love - which is your investment in the other person - should pay dividends. In a bad relationship, there may well not be the desired dividends.
Because there is so much hype and - dare I say it? - self-indulgence, magically sanctioned by the 'lurv' word, it's easy to confuse the issues.
It is quite possible to love the hurt child who hides in the depths of an abusive partne, or the needy child who drives the behaviour of the sex addict, or the suffering child cowering in the depths of any number of other damaged (and damaging) human beings.
But do you really want to bind your life to theirs? Is expecting profoundly damaged human beings to contribute to your happiness reasonable? And is it a good idea to dismiss the voice of reason?
You have the choice whether you want to respond to people with love and compassion in the moment... and pass on; or whether you want to make a crusade of the relationship. When you embark on a crusade, a rescue mission or shoring up your own sense of self through another person, you invest your self-worth misguidedly.
Then your investment, or more correctly, your gamble, will be in vain, as a general rule. As with any other investment, you can get it wrong - in which case the sensible thing is to get out as fast and painlessly as you can.
A lot of people,at some point in their life,will throw good love after bad. Just the same as people do with money. It's a strategy that is unlikely to produce the desired results, in either case. Still loving has to be better than not loving. Refusing to love, or closing down to love, numbs the very soul.
And just as there are various lanes to the wealth highway, so there are several lanes to love. There is the love you have for your partner. There are also the family, friends and people you meet in specific contexts with whom, however briefly, you can have a loving - that is to say, caring, empathic, disinterested - relationship. That kind of relationship, surely, never is in vain.
Finally, there is Lucille Ball's comment, which deserves to become mantra: 'Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.' Now that kind of love is surely never in vain.
An NLP Practitioner and Women's Empowerment Coach, Annie specialises in helping women heal relationship pain and attract the relationships they want. To order Annie's eBook 'The Woman You Want To Be, or subscribe to her twice monthly ezine go to: http://www.joyfulcoaching.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org