Don’t compromise your standards in romantic relationships. Value the high standards to which God has called you (for your own good) more than you value romance itself. Ask God to help you be willing to live a set-apart life out of love for Him, even if you never find a man who’s worth marrying. Set yourself apart for your true Prince no matter what happens in your future. Making that decision will give you the confidence and strength you need for every circumstance you’ll ever encounter. It’s better to remain single than to settle for a romantic relationship with a man who doesn’t treat you as God wants you to be treated. But be assured that many worthwhile men do exist. Look for men who enjoy intimate relationships with Jesus and show integrity, compassion, courage, and selfless love – men who will help you protect your inner sanctuary. Pursue a romantic relationship that draws you closer to Jesus, while avoiding those that draw you farther away from Jesus.

Cultivate ongoing intimacy with God. Your relationship with God doesn’t have limits. There’s always more you can learn about Him, always more to worship in Him, and always more to experience with Him. Develop a lifestyle that helps you constantly grow closer to God. Study the Bible often. Write your prayers down in a journal, like personal letters to your true Prince, and write down His responses to your prayers. Read great Christian literature to learn how to deepen your relationship with God. View every challenge as an opportunity to grow closer to God and every triumph as an opportunity to praise God.

Delight in God. Learn how to notice God’s constant presence with you, and delight in Him moment by moment. Ask Him to help you speak and listen to Him no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Develop a quiet mind. Cultivate a heart of worship. Meditate on the Bible. As you walk through each day with God rather than just representing Him, you’ll experience unshakable peace and strength in every situation.

Pursue healing if you’ve had your heart broken. It’s crucial to heal from a broken heart before you can be ready for true intimacy – both with God and with your future spouse. Ask God to reveal what mistakes you made in the broken relationship, and to help you learn from them. Forgive yourself and the person who hurt you. Ask God to give you His perspective on what you’ve gone through, and to help you see yourself as He sees you – someone who is extremely valuable and deeply loved. Find some people you can trust to talk through issues and encourage you as you deal with pain while going through the healing process.

Build spiritual oneness with a potential romantic partner. Don’t rush into romance with any man, no matter how promising he seems. First, savor a season of friendship, getting to know each other well without the pressure of romance. Keep an open hand, refusing to hold on to the relationship too tightly. Trust God to do whatever He sees fit with the relationship, remembering that He wants the absolute best for both of you.

Adapted from Authentic Beauty: The Shaping of a Set-Apart Young Woman, copyright 2007 by Leslie Ludy. Published by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., Colorado Springs, Co., www.randomhouse.com/waterbrook.

Leslie Ludy and her husband, Eric, are internationally known speakers and the bestselling authors of 10 books, including When God Writes Your Love Story and When Dreams Come True. Leslie and Eric’s passion is to challenge young adults to pursue a life completely devoted to God. The Ludys live in Windsor, Colorado with their son Hudson.