I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the best place to seek advice for your long-distance relationship is your local church.
That may seem like a strange statement coming from someone who runs a website that offers advice for long-distance relationships. But while I hope the content here is helpful, I’m aware of its shortcomings.
For one thing, websites can be wonderful sources of knowledge, but they cannot provide advice that is specific to you. There’s so much about your local culture and unique situation that I don’t know.
Second, Proverbs 11:14 says, “In an abundance of counselors there is safety.” Listening to only one perspective all the time isn’t helpful for making wise decisions. No person is perfect.
Finally, I know that I mainly go looking for resources about issues that I think are important. You and I are often blind to our own sins and errors, though, so we need another human being to lovingly point them out to us.
So, how do you find one of these helpful humans? Here are five things to look for in a mentor who can give you advice for your long-distance relationship.
1. Look at how she loves Christ.
First and foremost, a mentor should be overflowing with a love for God and a passion for growing in obedience to Him.
If you really start to analyze your heart, you’ll find that many of the problems in your relationship with your boyfriend are actually just symptoms of problems in your relationship with God. That’s how it is for everyone, and it means that anyone you’re trusting for relationship advice needs to be grounding that advice with the Bible.
You may have some friends who are eager to give you relationship advice, but they’re not fully pursuing Christ. These people can make great friends, but they won’t be able to help you think through your decisions with a Biblical perspective.
If you want your mentor to challenge you to grow, keep you accountable, and give you solid advice, seek someone who cherishes the Lord wholeheartedly.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is in vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)
2. Look at how she treats her boyfriend or husband.
If you’re looking for relationship advice, it’s essential that you seek someone whose relationship you respect.
The way your potential mentor speaks about her boyfriend or husband when he’s not around is telling. Does she badmouth him, make fun of him, or air all of her frustrations to you? That’s not a relationship you want to emulate.
You might also want to observe, if possible, how she interacts with him when they’re together. Are they kind and forgiving to one another? Are they able to disagree without avoiding the issue or destroying their relationship?
At the same time, don’t automatically disqualify single women as potential mentors because they have no relationship experience. There are plenty of wise women who have never dated anyone, and since we’ve established that most relationship problems are spiritual problems, there’s no inherent reason to ignore their counsel. For these types of mentors, look at how they treat their friends and roommates.
“The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:11-12)
3. Look at how she manages her resources.
Next, search for a mentor who spends her time, talents, and resources wisely for the kingdom of God.
It’s easy to get distracted by unimportant external differences between the two of you (she’s a stay-at-home mom, you want to become a chemist). Frankly, these differences don’t really matter. It’s more important that you look at what her daily actions reveal about her character — the heart behind her handiwork.
Some possible clues of good management (but not rules) include spending money wisely, practicing hospitality, and avoiding laziness. If your potential mentor has kids, you should seek someone who lovingly leads her children in a way you want to imitate someday.
“She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” (Proverbs 31:27-28)
4. Look at how she cares for others.
Caring for your boyfriend or husband is a good and right pursuit. But it’s alarmingly easy to become so focused on those closest to you that you forget about everyone else.
Observe how your potential mentor serves at church, school, or local nonprofits. Does she prioritize getting to know other women, not only so she can receive support, but so she can give it?
Not everyone has a bunch of time to give, but a wise woman will find ways to care for others in small, unique ways.
“She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.” (Proverbs 31:20)
5. Look at how she loves you.
Last but not least, look for a spiritual mentor who sincerely cares about you and your boyfriend.
My first mentor was someone like this, and I am so thankful for her. She encouraged me so much in the early days of my long-distance relationship, and she helped me learn to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
You’ll notice that I didn’t mention finding someone who has been in a long-distance relationship. Personal experience is great, of course, but it’s not essential that a mentor be able to relate to you. If there’s a long-distance specific question your mentor just can’t answer, you can always look for that advice on Dating at a Distance.
“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:25-26)
What if your ideal mentor is busy?
Once you identify someone, reach out to her about the possibility of meeting up together. But what do you do if she doesn’t have enough time for that?
First, remember that you don’t have to establish a weekly coffee meet-up. Regular conversations are great, but they’re not a requirement.
See if you can get more creative with your plans. Here are some of the random situations where I’ve met with mentors:
- Meeting for breakfast on Saturday mornings
- Shopping for groceries at the same time
- Sitting in her living room while she folded laundry and changed diapers
- Serving in the church nursery together
- Talking over the phone while driving
- Carpooling after a church event
- Walking in the park
Next, consider that you may be missing some other great potential mentors. She may not be as cool or involved as your ministry leader, but if she’s growing in the areas listed above, she’s probably worth pursuing.
“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” (Proverbs 31:25)