Throughout the interview process for “Me+You,” one topic seemed to surface over and over again: Many couples stated that they loved their partners so much that they “wouldn’t know where they would be without them.”

It is a lovely sentiment…but it caused me to wonder where the fine line between loving someone, and being completely dependent on another person for your own happiness, is. If something were to happen to your partner, or if your partner left you, would you be okay with being alone? How do you find the balance between keeping your relationship in tact while still maintaining your autonomy?

You can learn a lot about codependent relationships in the library, even if you aren’t in the self-help section. In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the most famous romantic tale ever written, two star-crossed lovers feel that their relationship is more important than their own lives. And although most codependent relationships don’t end in such tragedy, they do keep people from living their lives to the fullest.

“Codependency, by definition, means making the relationship more important to you than you are to yourself. It is a one sided relationship. And it means you’re trying to make the relationship work with someone else who is not.”  –Tina Tessina, PhD and marriage and family therapist.

Let me be clear: I do not believe any of the couples I interviewed were codependent…otherwise I would not have put them in my book! All of the couples I interviewed stressed the importance of having their own separate lives, interests and friends:

“I think something that keeps our relationship healthy is that we have our own separate lives. I have my own friends that I do things with and he has things that he does. It’s funny, some people at work will say to me, ‘does your husband mind that you’re doing this without him?’ Number one, no he doesn’t mind…and number two? That’s not even a part of our relationship. I don’t need permission to have this other part of my life, and neither does he!” –Jean, 50, married 24 years.

“I didn’t ever feel that you ‘owned’ somebody else just by dating them…I think young girls these days get so attached. Want to get married and do this and that. Why? Just enjoy yourself!” –Patricia, 83, married 46 years to Emmitt, deceased.

“There’s so much insecurity in life. You have to find your strength and your self-esteem. You have to be able to really get a true sense of who you are and find how you fit with this other person.” –Lamont, 49, married 2 years.

There is a great quote by Thich Nhat Hahn that says, “It is not about finding the right person, it is about BEING the right person.” Feeling that you are enough on your own. Having your own separate life, with your own friends and your own hobbies and activities is absolutely necessary in a healthy relationship. After all, the individual that you are is what attracted your partner to you in the first place!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this! Thanks as always for reading!