I’ve been thinking about relationships a lot this week. Mostly because I’ve spent a great deal of time in the past few days with some very special people – people that I don’t see face to face every day, or even every year, for that matter.

These are relationships that have been mostly forged in the online world. In a post earlier this week, I talked about how getting to know people online really helps the in-person time to evolve more quickly…small talk is out of the way, and the whole process of getting to understand someone’s story is expedited through things like blog posts.

But I think there almost always comes a point in any relationship where you cannot take it any further until you can see the other person in front of you, look them in the eye, and hear their voice.

I met a few people this week that, until the moment we saw each other in in person, we had only ever communicated via text. We already knew plenty about each other, so the meeting was automatically comfortable. There were abundant hugs. Smiles and laughter filled the space between us. And we walked away from the moment feeling more connected, a connection that is now cemented firmly in our relationship. We are now somehow different.

With friends I’ve met in person previously, it’s different again. In the big scheme of things, I’ve only really ever spent a few hours with them. However, we have spent countless hours communicating with one another online. It’s how we’ve gotten to where we are in our friendships. So when we do meet, and we have an opportunity to breathe the same air for a while, it moves us forward yet again. Then we walk out of the room and back into the online world, but we feel closer to each other because we have been able to share each others’ company for a bit.

I guess what I’m realizing is that as much as there is tremendous power in building relationships online, and as much as one can grow close to others in this way, there is really no replacement for face to face time. I think that’s because, as my wise friend Liz says, it takes the relationship experience from your head to your heart. And after this week, I think my heart is at least twice the size.

Thank you, my friends.