Mijlpaal_Wateringese_VeldLast week in my Snowshoes post, I pondered the concept of unearned intimacy, that is, when we race toward a relationship destination without marking the usual milestones. Of course, my mind has been whirling ever since as tried to label those milestones.

I’m pretty sure they must be different for everyone, and probably even for each relationship, too. Some friendships are cemented by time; one day you wake up and realize that person has always been there for you–and your heart glows. Other friendships are instantly sewn together by an intangible connection; you just “get” each other–and your heart glows then, too.

No matter the nature of the relationship, I still believe in the milestones. You may not realize they’ve come and gone, but when you look back, I’d bet you can find them.

A heartbreak.

A triumph.


A 2am (or 2pm) meltdown in your kitchen.

The joy of reaching a goal.

An awkward moment.

Looking at the person’s parents or siblings or kids and seeing the past, present, and future.

The moment you felt safe sharing your biggest hopes or your deepest fears.

The time you let your guard down and realized it was okay.

Not having to fill the space between you with words or deeds.

When the silences aren’t awkward.

Knowing when to come and when to stay away.

There’s no specific formula for earning intimacy and you can’t force the milestones. You have to let them come in their own time–and here’s the hard part–accept it when they don’t.

When I started writing this post, I intended to make a list of specific milestone moments. I thought I’d ask you for yours and figured they’d line up, at least in broad strokes. As I worked my way through, I realized I couldn’t. My milestones are mine, and yours are yours. Some relationships require miles of milestones, while others need very few.

So I’ll still ask the question: what are your milestones?

But you don’t need to tell me the answer.