Young love! Bringing Up BatesKatie Bates is officially courting Travis Clark after starting a long-distance relationship nine months ago, Us Weekly can exclusively reveal.

Katie and Travis, both 19, were introduced by mutual friends in June 2019 and began talking shortly after. One month later, the couple met for the first time at a church gathering in Travis’ home state of New Jersey. Despite the many miles between them, the lovebirds have been able to stay in touch through FaceTime dates and monthly chaperoned trips to see each other in person, either in New Jersey or Tennessee.

After months of traveling and getting to know each other, the teenagers are thrilled to “officially become boyfriend and girlfriend.”

“Travis and his family are active in their local church and also travel together to sing, so our families have been able to visit at nearby concerts and church events,” Katie tells Us. “Travis and I are so thankful that the Lord, not only allowed our paths to cross, but that we have been able to begin this new phase of our journey together. Travis made the evening [he asked to court me] so special, and right now, I feel like the luckiest girl on the planet!”

Throughout the course of their relationship, the UPtv star says her boyfriend made a stellar impression and made her feel special by sending “surprise pizza and ice cream deliveries” to her home in Tennessee.

Before confirming their courtship, Katie and Travis shared a number of sweet photos together on social media, causing fans to wonder whether or not the young couple would be taking the next step in their relationship soon. The reality TV personality, who is the 11th of Gil and Kathy Jo Bates‘ 19 children, dedicated a heartfelt message to Travis to celebrate his birthday on Monday, March 9.

“Okkk, birthday boy! I hope your New Year is as fun, joy filled, energy bringing, and just all around awesome as the person you’re gonna get to spend the most time with 💁🏼‍♀️ 😉 Happiest 19th, @travis.clark_,” she wrote via Instagram.

Get to know Travis and Katie with all-new episodes of Bringing Up Bates, airing Thursdays on UPtv at 9 p.m. ET — and scroll down for more photos of Katie and Travis’ budding romance!

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