I've spoken to numerous "long-dating" couples, in college and beyond, who other than living together, could do little to intertwine their lives any more than they already are.They see each other every day, are with each other's families every holiday (and often know their partner's family as well as any son or daughter-in-law does), they travel together, spend most of their non-working (or studying) time together, they daily confide in one another (and maybe one another), and are without doubt, closer emotionally with one another than with anyone else on the planet.Sadly, statistics and anecdotal experience both indicate that even the couples who spend time in dating relationships of any length, sin physically.The longer the relationship, the higher the percentage.In the meantime, the "we're already committed" rationalization tends to make couples feel free to act in all sorts of ways they didn't before, and every argument I've made in this series applies ), but that doesn't mean that anyone who uses that language is automatically correct. As a quick theological aside on guidance, God does not primarily lead His people by mystic feelings in the pits of our stomachs about what He wants us to do. When two people are dating — especially when it's going well and two people are really into one another — the desire to spend more and more time together, to know each other better and better, to confide in each other more and more often and exclusively, is overwhelming.
To put it simply, "not acting married before you're married," gets exponentially more difficult the longer a pre-marital relationship persists.
As to physical intimacy, many long-distance couples have told me that because they are not physically close to one another as often, they actually experience Um, no. Be deliberate about avoiding "marital" levels of intimacy.
If you've forgotten the cardinal rule of engagement, re-read "Tips for Engagement." Engagement is a great thing, but it's not marriage. Choice two is to stay in school and put the relationship on hold. Wait until a responsible time to start the relationship back up.
As to emotional intimacy, we live in the age of email, free long distance and unlimited any-time minutes, and cheap flights.
It's still really easy to "act married" emotionally, even in a long-distance relationship.