Do you choose friends and lovers or let yourself be chosen by them? Many people fall into unhealthy relationships because they’re not proactive in picking people who are emotionally healthy. Instead, they let themselves be chosen and are so happy and relieved that someone wants them, that their neediness carries the day. Think about your romantic and platonic relationships. How did they come about? Do you generally meet people and focus only on whether or not they like you or do you lead with considering whether you like them and why?

Some friendships and romances wither over time. You grow healthier, the other person changes, or circumstances alter. That’s natural and normal. Relationships which weather the test of time are generally ones in which you’ve selected someone because they have certain admirable traits or have great value to you, and you think of them as someone who will add something positive to your life. Compare this approach to being thrilled that someone wants to go to a movie with you, feeling relieved that at least “somebody” wants to date you, or being so desperate for attention or affection that you grab on to any old person because he or she shows a flicker of interest in you.

If current friends or lovers aren’t meeting your emotional needs, consider how the relationship began. Were you feeling so needy that you were just thankful that someone came along? Do you think so little of yourself that you allowed somebody to become your friend or lover because if she or he hadn’t, you would have felt totally unlovable and alone? This is key—were you more concerned with the person finding value in you and affirming your lovability than in you finding value and lovability in him or her?

As you meet people, feel free to sidestep them if you don’t believe they’re healthy relationship material. Ignore interest and invites unless you sense that someone will further your emotional well-being. Be very clear about what you want in a friend or lover and stop worrying about rejecting people and hurting their feelings. If you say yes to someone who’s unhealthy for you to be around, you’re devaluing yourself. And, if you surround yourself with unhealthy people, how will you ever reach your potential and become the person you want to be? Pay attention to all aspects of a person and note what people you trust think of them.

Be fussy and picky, and don’t settle for less. You deserve better. In order to turn to people rather than food when you’re stressed or distressed, choose wisely.