Some people believe long-distance dating is only for the desperate or crazy. If that’s so, I know a lot of crazy, desperate people who are quite happy they did long-distance dating! Long-distance relationships can be healthy and viable, strengthened by the intense communication that occurs and the increased mutual appreciation for each other that grows over time. Long-distance couples who date with intention and clear-cut goals can often get through the tough times that come with distance and separation, leading to a deep love and a bright future.

But before you skip to the question of whether your long-distance relationship will make it to the altar, first answer this important question: “Do I really know this person I am dating?” The biggest challenge in long-distance dating is whether you are getting an accurate picture of this person, including how he reacts in times of stress, interacts with family and friends and handles times of temptation and testing when you are not there.

Fortunately, there’s a way to assess the authenticity of your personal intimacy with each other. Here are some helpful short-term goals that will reveal how well you know each other:

1. Work Through Stressful Times Together

Obviously, you don’t want to try to make stressful times occur just so that you can “test” each other out. But stressful moments will occur, without a doubt, the longer you date. When you’re going through a type of crisis, whether it’s due to a job change, chaotic travel delays or texting miscommunication, welcome the opportunity to let your relationship be “seasoned” by stress. Then, discover the ways you two are going to deal with stressful times as your relationship matures.

2. Serve Together

Creating opportunities to serve together will help you get to know one another in a new way. For example, you could go on a short-term mission trip together. Another service strategy would be to serve at a Homeless Shelter, Children’s Ministry or a church outreach for the day. Be intentional about serving together, even if you have precious little time to actually be together in person. You’ll discover each other’s heart for God and for the people He loves.

3. Get To Know Family & Friends

Spending time with each other’s family and friends can be very revealing. You’ll get feedback about your partner’s character, and you’ll also see how they handle their familial interactions. Friends and family are usually quite diverse in their range of personalities and perspective, so enjoy the experience of seeing your partner handle their time with these important people in their life.

4. Explore How Your Callings Intersect

One of the healthiest aspects of a marital relationship is having a shared sense of vision and mission. Your career and your ministry involvement tell a lot about your gifts, your passions and your heart for God. Explore how your callings coincide, or if they collide. Have honest video chats about how you see your future playing out to reveal if the two of you are envisioning the same lifestyle and calling.

5. Find Ways To Be Content When You’re Apart

Life doesn’t stop when you two are apart from each other, and nor should your involvement in the things of life that matter. Keep each other posted about the things you’re enjoying in your daily life. Make it a goal to root for each other’s best usage of the daily gift of each new day. Learn to challenge each other to not mourn the distance apart from each other in an obsessive way, but rather to take that time and use it in life-affirming involvements.

Having these short-term goals will help guide you into honest and authentic relationships that stand the test of distance and separation. Getting to know someone for who they really are is the most important step to answering the question of whether you really love someone. To really know them is to love them in fullness, in truth … and in distance apart. True love can withstand that, and more.

You may also be interested in 5 Long-Distance Relationship Problems To Avoid

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