Sparked by love or friendship, a new relationship tumbles forward under the momentum of curiosity and discovery. Each conversation takes our intrepid explorers into uncharted territory. The twists and turns, even detours, are thrilling. Momentum brings people closer and moves the relationship forward.
Most relationships don’t keep progressing, though. After the initial rush, momentum slows and the connection falters.
When I was a teenager, I visited a family in Florida for a week. I felt like I gained three siblings. We did everything together and each day was filled with new experiences. I left with promises to write every month and return the next summer. A few months passed after my second letter and the memories faded soon after.
Which is absolutely fine, of course. Not all relationships are meant to continue indefinitely (and how complicated our lives would be if they did — or is that what a social network is?) In fact, brief, intense friendships and romances are one of life’s great gifts.
But why do some relationships evolve and thrive year after year?
Relationships are like stories. There are short stories that last just a few pages and ones that fill a book. For a relationship to continue to mature and strengthen, new chapters must be written.
We’ve all had friendships that took shape in a specific setting or around a particular event. Think of that as Chapter One. Sometimes the relationship continues to revolve around how and when it began as if preserved in a time capsule. A new chapter is never written. The friendship has nowhere to go, so it grows stagnate and, more often than not, ends.
When new stories are continually added, though, the plot keeps moving forward. These chapters can be just about anything. Sure, it’s great if they include late night adventures, movie-worthy road trips, unforgettable meals, and trips to exotic lands. But they can also take shape through unflinching honesty over coffee, a late night phone call sharing surprising news, or an unexpected gift that no one else would understand.
In all cases, though, the essential ingredients are time and effort — showing up and saying yes. Momentum is fueled by inviting, dialing, helping, writing, laughing, cheering, asking, consoling, replying, listening, and every so often, singing.
There are endless chapters waiting to be written.