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What kind of time should couples spend together in the early stages of a relationship?

The answer turns on what you are trying to find out about this person at this stage of things.

The first thing that should happen if it has not happened during the initiation of the relationship is that intentions should be established.

Whatever that conversation looks like, intentions should be clear and it should be the man making them so.

You're trying to find out whether this is someone you should know more intimately en route to figuring out whether this is a person you could marry. You are trying to figure out if you to know this person intimately. One suggestion I have for couples starting out is that the majority of your time together should be spent with other people, preferably with your families and church families.

Get to know one another in groups, find out how the other person reacts to people, spend time with the people he or she cares about.

These are simply suggested applications of biblical principles.

Before continuing with this column, please review the preamble included at the beginning of this series, "Biblical Dating: How It's Different From Modern Dating." * * * PART 3: Just Friends » As Christians in dating relationships, we want to avoid hurting one another and dishonoring Christ by "defrauding" (see NASB translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:6) our brothers and sisters in Christ by implying — through word or action — a higher level of commitment to that person than we have made before God.

Because this sort of (perhaps unintentional) deception is a particular temptation in a dating context, we need to be deliberate about avoiding it.

Guys, don't wait until you've had lunch or dinner or "hung out" one-on-one four or five times before you let her know what's going on.

The idea is to remove that period of confusion or vulnerability for the woman by being forthright about what level of intention or commitment exists (a la 1 Thessalonians 4).

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