Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (with occasional additional posts, too).

This is column is just one guy's opinion, and while he does his best to keep what he thinks, says and writes in-line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Bro Jo is not a spokesman or authority for the LDS Church. (And Sister Jo thinks you should know that he's sometimes wrong, and often way too opinionated for his own good.)

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

She's Looking for an Eternal Companion

Dear Bro Jo,

Ever since I have returned early from my mission, the next step Heavenly Father would like me to take is towards marriage.

Which the funny thing is, I don't even have a boyfriend.

Literally every guy I have tried to date was a complete fail, no potential at all.

Some to name a few: friend zoned me, wanted to leave the Church, told me I was the one then friend zoned me, less active, or just straight up rejected me.

I have now been actively seeking for priesthood worthy guy who loves the gospel as much as I do.

Some dates are great but then the vulnerability fear haunts me. I get afraid and find any and all reasons not to like them.

I guess the ultimate question is, how do I go about seeking out someone without fear of getting hurt?

Thanks-

K.




Dear K,

Contrary to what the world teaches, marriage isn't about love.  Or sex.  Or getting along all of the time.

It's about Trust.

As for failure . . . the reality is (hopefully) that every relationship you get into (or attempt) will be a failure until you find someone you'll marry.  And those failures can be quite educational!

Think about that.

(Did you know that Sister Jo and I broke up a couple times while we were dating?  True story.  We're two outspoken, opinionated, ornery people.  What we realized was that no matter how mad we got at each other, at the end of the day we still loved each other so much that there was no one else we'd rather be around.)

Be Patient with this process.  Keep dating.  Stop putting all of this pressure on yourself to get married.  Instead, focus on dates as being a great chance to get to know people better . . . and perhaps do some hand-holding . . . and a little kissing every now and then.

There are actually hundreds of thousands of single worthy young priesthood holders out there in your age range.  Good Guys who work hard and will appreciate you.

As you slow down, worry less about the timeline, you'll find one you can Trust.  The key part of "boyfriend" is "friend".  You'll open up to him.  He'll open up to you.  The trust will go both ways.

Yes, along the way to finding this man you will likely find a few men that you Think you can Trust, only to discover that you can't.

And it will hurt.

That's all part of the process.

As an SRM you know that nothing great in life comes without hard work and that it involves some risk.  The think is, K, that the hurting is worth the risk because the reward is so great!

One last thing about all of this:  while I want you to find a man that loves and cherishes you, that honors his priesthood and works hard at everything he needs to do, I need you to be a little realistic.

A Good Marriage does not mean that there are never sad times, never frustrations, never fights, never disappointments.  If you insist on finding that in a boyfriend, you'll either never get married or be very upset when reality sets in.

A Good Marriage is about finding someone that you love and enough to be willing to work through those things, and that you trust will love you enough to work through them, too.

Relax.

Have fun.

Find yourself constantly in service to others and the Lord.

And it will all work out.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Long Distance Relationships with Those in the Military - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for the quick reply! You told me exactly what I wanted to hear. I honestly did a little jig around my room out of happiness.

But then I thought for a while.

What if he really likes this girl? He wants to be a good boyfriend, but he's obviously failing (I'm not too unhappy about this). He knows I'm leaving, so starting something with me would only mean a tampered relationship with this other young lady. Is he using her as a backup plan?

Trust me, I want to kiss him!

That is highly desirable. In a way, I feel like I might be overly revealing in my affections toward him. I openly compliment him in my admiration toward his foundation in the gospel, and drive for life. Another problem though..he thinks I engage in this kind of conversation with every attractive young man, and that I'm just using flattery to get guys to like me, and in a sense he might be right. I do like to be liked. I'll admit to my vanity, but I also genuinely like different aspects of different people, and take conscience notice. But me being physically attracted to someone, liking an aspect about them, and complimenting them doesn't mean I like them, correct? Is that taken as flirting?

I feel like everyone starts in the same field, but eventually you weed out the ones that aren't worth your time. Have I skewed my own reputation with the young man I have feelings for? I'm okay with dating him without physical contact. A kiss means different things to different people. Personally, many of my opinions match yours, but again they are my own.

Should I be asking him about this other girl?

Am I the backup plan?

I honestly don't feel like it, but I'm not ruling it out of the realm of possibilities.

Should I pin him into answering my questions about his intentions? Should this be one of those "it's up to you, whatever you'd like" kind of deals?

I still think kissing would be a great option, one I'm not opposed to, but is that the best one? Do you have an opinion on this? QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS.

I assume that you are against long distance relationships, as am I. I believe the terminology "being together" should be taken in a literal sense.

I feel like I'm piling all of this onto you as if you somehow have all the answers. MAYBE YOU DO? And if not anything, I hold your opinion in high regard. I've only visited your blog a handful of times, and I've certainly never written you, but today I am glad that I did.


Appreciative,

- Still Pseudonymless




Dear Pseudonymless

I don't have all the answers, just lots of opinions.  And I'm not "against" long distance relationships, I just don't think they work without a marriage-level commitment. ..at least not very often.

I think you deserve answers to your questions...I just think you're asking the wrong guy.

The person you should be asking if you're a backup plan, if you're just someone to flirt with because he's lonely, if he sees the same possibilities here that you do, if this is nothing or could be something,  if kissing should happen, is him ... this guy you're kind of dating.

So go talk to him.  Soon.

Make sure you have gum.

Just in case.

Oh, and my advice here is to be practical and pragmatic. I don't want you to become the girl he uses for kissing because he knows he doesn't have to commit to her and she comes across as desperate and willing.

You're worth more than that.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 11, 2017

Long Distance Relationships with Those in the Military - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

So thus entails great details, maybe my questions can't be answered, perhaps they can, and advice would be greatly appreciated.

I recently began attending the YSA branch in my area, a military community . My father is in the military, as well as the majority of the men (youngish men in the branch. A young convert introduced himself to me the first Sunday. A very handsome, 20 year-old. We've attended activities (FHE, YSA camp-out, Institute, dinner with our YSA group) together, exchanged numbers, seen each other outside and spent alone time talking.

I like him.

He seems to like me (he's eluded to it, to an extent), all the correct signs, enjoys my company, thinks I'm nice to look at, we share similar views, being military/service oriented. There are so many things I love about him - his testimony, his curiosity, desire, and drive to continue learning about the gospel, his dedication to the church after only being a convert of a little over a year, his personality and humor, how he wants to continue to develop himself all-around, and respect for women. I feel really close to him, for such a short period of knowing him (3 weeks), I even asked him for a blessing, being that my father is gone to Afghanistan. He said he would love to, but he does not hold the Melchizedek priesthood yet. He's temple worthy and so strong in the gospel. We are very alike in our endeavors, beliefs, and faith. He's been nothing but a perfect example of what an eternal companion should look and behave like.

To an outsider it may seem like we're dating.

Here is the big problem. He is in a long distance relationship with a girl who helped introduce him to the gospel. Not only that, but I am leaving for college in 5 weeks, more specifically a Church school. I feel like I've developed feelings for him way too fast. Like, I can picture being married in the temple to him. Is that bad? Should I just write it off? Go to college and try to forget about his beautiful and inspiring spirit?

Also, he's a soldier with no car, only a bicycle, living in barracks. I've given him rides to activities, and I know that's a big no-no in your book, but our branch is so small, and our area is so big I don't mind doing it. I trust him enough to drive my car, so when we drove an hour away, alone together to a YSA campout, I let him drive the entirety of the ride. My mom preferred this as well, being that the insurance is paid by her and my father. If I give him rides, he's in general the one who drives, and he also gives me gas money. A few other soldiers without cars have done this as well.

I love spending time with him, and it seems to be mutual. I feel like I've been able to share my faith with him. He's also come to my workplace, a pool on the military post, and I've helped him improve his swimming. I have two jobs in aquatics, one on post - lifeguarding, the other through the YMCA teaching and coaching swimming. I've been to his barracks in between jobs, met his roommate, ate lunch with him. I've showed him my favorite temple, changed it to background on his laptop screen. I've taught him chords on the ukulele, and let him borrow mine. He plays the piano so marvelously and we sat together playing/singing after a church activity once. He'll open the door for me, give me hugs (short ones) goodnight. Text me to make sure I'm safely home.

I guess the predicament is that we're close friends, and because I don't believe in close friends, we're possibly "in-like" with each other. I feel bad, because he IS in a relationship, and he'll mention it periodically. It's like we're casually dating without the title. Is this bad? He's never told me how serious his relationship with this girl, just that I shouldn't do certain things (like grab him around his side playfully, because he feels bad). Also that them being apart is like mini-trial for their future relationship, to see if it will work out. Am I being to open? I don't really know what I'm doing, just that I know I like him and wish to continue spending time with him. He hasn't obliged. I feel a little bit like if I wasn't leaving for college he would end it with his girlfriend (from Texas) to pursue me, but then I feel like that's arrogance in me? I don't know anything about this young lady. Obviously she must be fantastic to be dating such a phenomenal young man.

I want to know your opinion on long-distance relationships? I myself could not stand for one, but what happens when summer rolls around next year? Should I try to stay in contact with him throughout the year? What if I do really like him? I just want an outsider opinion.

Also, I wanted to know what your opinion on young military men and serving missions? He doesn't get out of the military for another 5 years, does that mean he should wait until he's 27, after a mission, to be married?

What kind of questions should I ask him to clear these mixed signals? Is he "cheating" by being friends with me? I personally don't believe that the title boyfriend/girlfriend is a huge commitment, but I know many people do. I want to respect that if he does, but how do I do so? Leave him alone, and admire him from a distance? Stop sitting near him in Sunday school? (actually he came in late and sat by me last Sunday) Bro Jo, internet friend, do you have advice to offer? Your advice will probably lead to more questions on my part, so be prepared.

Also...if this is something you wish to publish, could I possibly approve beforehand? I feel like I gave many specific details, and someone could easily figure out my identity.

With Sincerity,

- Lacking a good Pseudonym




Dear Pseudonym,

There's nothing wrong with how you feel about this guy.  He's a Good Guy, and seems very nice.

I'm not a huge fan of teen girls and guys alone in a car, but you're adults, so I don't see that as a problem.  Parking for the sole purpose of sexually exciting yourselves and each other, yes that's wrong; but going for long drives?  I think that can be a Great Date!

(Tangent:  YSA co-ed overnighters, including camping trips, IMHO are incredibly naive.)

Not that he asked me (or you it sounds like), but given the timing of his conversion and his previous commitment to the military, I don't see a mission in this young man's future.  And I think that's perfectly okay.

And no, I don't think he should wait until he's out of the military to get married, either.

Now, I don't know if you're both just lonely, but it sounds to me like you're dating.  No commitment, but you're clearly a couple.  Without any kissing or holding hands, does that mean he's "cheating" on the other girl?  Well . . . yeah, it does.  Consider:  if he was married to her, wouldn't what the two of you are doing be "cheating"?  Of course it would.  Any wife with any amount of brain would be pretty darned upset if she saw her husband spending the alone time with a girl that this guy is spending with you.

Does that mean that I think you should back off?

Heck no!

Why?

Because he's NOT married.  Or engaged.  And she's not anywhere around.

Heck.  I think you should stop pretending and just kiss the guy already.

THAT'S sure one way to know if you're going to handle being apart.  Right now there's nothing to "wait around" for.  Up the stakes a little and you'll know for sure.

Summer Fling or the Beginnings of Something Eternal?

Time is running out.  You two better figure this out.

But, while there's no such thing as only one person out there for each of us, Great Relationships are Rare.  Especially for Young People.

- Bro Jo