For Jill Duggar, the second daughter born to Jim Bob and Michelle of TLC’s hit reality show 19 Kids & Counting, falling in love with fiancé Derick Dillard happened before she even met him face to face.
“We talked a lot and started texting and emailing,” Jill, 22, explains. “And we Skyped a lot. I got to know some of his friends and family. And then, we met in person months later. I was in love with someone I had never met in person.”
The couple’s first meeting in Nepal – leading to their recent engagement – is here in an exclusive sneak peek and will be featured in Tuesday’s episode on TLC (9 p.m. ET).
Jill even met her 25-year-old boyfriend’s mother in person before she met him.
“I was nervous at our first meeting because I already knew how special she was to him,” says Dillard’s mom, Cathy. “I thought I could be talking to my future daughter-in-law. We hit it off and she was so easy to talk to. We had a great time.”
The couple started courting after Jill’s sister Jessa began a courtship of her own with Ben Seewald, who also shared their thoughts about relationships and boundaries with PEOPLE. The Duggar family adheres to strong Christian beliefs and the children are homeschooled.
Both Duggar girls in relationships have chosen to wait to hold hands until engagement and save their first kisses until their wedding days. The sisters, along with siblings Jana and Jinger, penned the new book Growing Up Duggar to share their take on being a part of a family with 19 kids and on cultivating strong relationships.
“My father built a friendship with Derick before I did and that added a whole level of security,” Jill tells PEOPLE. (Jim Bob accompanied his daughter to Nepal to meet Derick for the first time in person.)
“I traveled over 36 hours to meet him and we had a film crew filming and jet lag so it is a different dynamic than most people have,” she says. “But it was really special. We enjoyed the first several days getting to spend time together and getting to see things together.”