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.)

Nothing here is meant to take the place of talking with parents, leaders, or Church authorities. Please, if you need serious help, talk to a trusted adult, leader, and / or professional counselor.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

The Race Card - Part 1 - Is It More Difficult for a Black Woman to Find an Eternal Companion at BYU?

Dear Bro Jo,

In a lot of ways I'm the typical YSA.

I'm a 23 year old girl, slowly growing tired of the "dating" phase of life.

And for me that's mostly because I'm not doing much dating.

I can't quite put my finger on why I'm hardly ever asked out, but I'm starting to think that it's because I'm Black.

Now I don't use the race card often, but I'm pretty sure I'm justified here.


Here's some back story: I've been a member all my life and I grew up in a small branch with a transient population.

When age 16 rolled around I started dating, but I never dated LDS guys because there weren't any.

By the time college came around it was apparent that dating outside the Church wasn't the way to go, but I thought I'd be ok. I was going to BYU and there would be tons of guys for me to date, right?

Wrong.

Three years in the dating capital of the world and I hardly ever got asked out. I couldn't understand it.

By default, I stood out in a crowd, so I didn't go unnoticed, just undated.

Some friends suggested that maybe I was too outspoken, so I tried to tone it down a bit. Somehow I still managed to scare guys off before any words came out of my mouth. I literally had guys tell me that I was intimidating, but they "couldn't quite figure out why."

On the few dates I did go on, it was normal to hear things like, "I've always wanted to go out with a Black girl" as if I was something to be crossed off of a bucket list before they found a girl they actually wanted a relationship with. I know that when most guys in the Church archetype their future spouse, she looks nothing like me, but is that my fault?

Is it fair that my blonde-hair-blue-eyed friends get asked out by guys who have genuine interest in them and I'm stuck with guys who "think mixed babies are cute?"

Should I settle for whomever just because so few guys are willing to date inter-racially in the first place?

I don't have a racial preference.

I don't mind being the token black girl in the ward; its what makes me who I am. I just want a Celestial marriage like anyone else, and I know that that's a righteous desire.

If I'm overreacting or over thinking this whole thing, please let me know. I really need some help making sense of this.

- Chocolatey




Dear Little Sister,

Can I start by telling you that it's a little weird for me that your letter addresses a perceived racial divide and yet you sign your letter as "Chocolatey"? (FYI, the spelling is correctly "Chocolaty", no E. Not sure if that was on purpose or not.)

I'm with you in that I never had a racial preference when I was single, either . . . but I sure found that a lot of girls did.

I asked out girls because I thought they were attractive and fun and interesting and smart and impressive . . . but I got turned down more than once by someone whose reason for not going out with me was that our backgrounds, race, or coloring was different.

Take a look at my photo, and you'll see that I think that kind of prejudice isn't limited to one color or race or another.

I don't know . . . maybe those girls were using the color thing as an excuse . . . maybe they just didn't want to go out with me . . . it's certainly possible!

Do you think it's possible that you have a chip on your shoulder about this whole thing?

I mean, are you putting a vibe out there that is making people uncomfortable so that even those guys that do ask you out feel awkward and nervous?

Despite what you're perceiving at BYU (which isn't correct, by the way), the makeup of the Church is not entirely Northern European.

Neither is your school.

Frankly, I find your characterization that "when most guys in the Church archetype their future spouse, she looks nothing like me" as offensive and off-putting.

And I say that with love.

Maybe you need to get out from behind the Zion Curtain . . .

Sure, I find it disturbing the percentage of 20-40 year old married women in Utah County that think one needs to be light-haired, underweight and on good terms with a plastic surgeon . . . but that's not true for most of the Church.

Trust me.

I get letters like yours all the time from girls at your school. They're upset that they don't get asked out enough, the guys they do date are not whom they're attracted to (and / or possess some other glaring flaws), and now that they're "getting older" they're worried that they'll never get married. I'm not sure what race they all are, but I get so many of those emails that I'm sure not every writer looks just like you.

What can I tell you? Guys can be dumb.

Especially in the Church. How a man can go to the Y, or the Y of I, and not find a great girl to go out with every single week is beyond me.


Some of them complain to me that y'all are:

1. Scaring them off because you put too much emphasis on the importance of a first date.

2. Not giving them a chance because of how they look (sound familiar?)

3. Setting standards that no man can live up to.


Look, I'm not trying to dismiss how you feel; what I'm trying to point out is that you're not alone, that guys complain about the lack of dating just like girls do, that other girls your age and where you live are having the same problems you are and it's not because of their race.

Remember this: most students at BYU don't get married while they're there.

It's a statistic that baffles me . . . but it's true.

So chin up!

Not all of the guys in the world will be dumb forever!

Even I had a brief moment where I was smarter than Sister Jo . . . that's the day I proposed and she said "yes".

It will happen for you.

Try to be a little less wounded.

Try to be a little more open and understanding.

Stupid and offensive as it may be, isn't it possible that when a socially awkward and dumb guy comments to you on a date that he likes the idea of "mixed-race babies" that he's not trying to be racist, but hoping you'll give him some consideration by trying - albeit in a lame way - to say that he could picture the two of you together forever and having children?

Maybe it's not a bucket list . . . maybe it's a life-long dream. Isn't that possible?

Keep your options open.

Be the type of person you want to marry.

I suspect that if you focus less on race, others will too.

And don't do what you feel some of these guys are doing to you! 

Don't dismiss a guy as a non-possibility simply because of his background or coloring . . . whether he's darker than you, lighter than you, or you match. (Is that possible? Have you ever met two people that were a perfect color match???)

I feel that what's really important is that all girls find a man who:

1. Is a worthy and active priesthood holder

2. Knows how to work and will work hard

3. Will cherish and protect you.


And the list of what's important stops there.


And, no, I don't think you should settle for anything less.

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 27, 2015

Should the Sealing Be Put Off Until Her Fiance's Brother Comes Home From the Mission?

Dear Bro Jo,

I've read your blog for quite some time now and I also have your book for Young Single Adults.

All your advice is just straightforward and simple, at least that's what it seems like to me.

So I've got a rather frustrating situation.

I am a YSA attending BYU, going into my Junior year.

I have been dating a wonderful guy for almost 8 months now.

The marriage talk has definitely come up and lots of time has been spent in thought, prayer, and conversation.

The conclusion?

Yes. I want to marry him.

He wants to marry me. Spectacular, right??

At first we were planning on being engaged by now and get married in December after Fall semester.

This was decided after 4 months of dating.

We soon realized after a couple of weeks that it would be much too soon to be engaged and that we had a lot still we wanted and needed to get to know about each other.

While I was a bit disappointed, only because the idea of getting a ring, dress, planning a wedding, engagement pictures, etc. just sounded exciting.

We both completely agreed that we definitely needed time.

Well, summer was definitely an eye-opener for us both.

We have spent a lot of time together.

His parents visited.

We visited his parents.

My parents visited.

We visited my parents.

So even both our parents like us together and are excited for us to get married.

Well, I was thinking that we could just get married next summer. Which would still give time for getting to know each other more and allow my parents to get use to the idea of their 19, soon to be 20 year old daughter getting married. (Which in the Utah Valley bubble is pretty average I guess)

He agrees on getting married next summer...but not until August.

Which is more than a year from now.

Reason?

His only brother doesn't get home from his mission until then.

His brother asked him to wait.

Not only that, his parents have also voiced that we should wait until he gets home.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't want his brother to be able to be there when we get married.

It's just, it seems like we are pretty much definite on us wanting to get married.

As well as I feel it's more dangerous to prolong it after coming to the decision and feeling that it's right for us to get married.

I haven't said much except that August just feels far away.

His only comment to the issue is that time will go fast.

How can I argue and fight against what his brother has asked him to do AND his parents?

Perhaps I am being completely unreasonable and just waiting for his brother to come back is what should be done.

All I know is, we are in love and we know we want to get married.

Our relationship is nowhere near perfect and sometimes we just get the most frustrated at each other.

But we know that together, we can help each other become who we are striving to be and we push each other to strive to be better.

Should I stay quiet and hope he will decide on his own to get married earlier or should I try and push for it?

I don't want to cause and rift between his family and I, but if I didn't voice my opinion at least, would I even be who they'd like to join their family? 

Any input is appreciated!

- Confused While Certain




Dear Certain,

First of all, thank you for the kind words.

One year can go by very quickly, and in the grand scheme of eternity, it's just not that long.

However, three points upon which I disagree are:


1. I don't like long engagements, especially within the Church.

Once a couple decides to get married the temptation for them to "no longer be temple worthy" becomes more and more intense.

I think engagements should last about 3 months, so I would have suggested that you two got married this December, not next August.

I do agree that getting to know each other's families is a great idea, and had he asked I'd have advised him not to propose until all of this summer's meetings had taken place.

Talking about marriage is not the same as proposing.

I don't count engagements as official until he proposes, there's a ring, and you've set a date for the Sealing.

I'm a little unclear as to whether or not he's done that yet.

If he has, I think you need to get married within the next three months.

If it's all still just talk, then I'm less worried about the wait. I've known a few couple where waiting has worked, but it's a very small number and they all stayed very far away from each other during that time.

(One couple in particular that I always think of when this topic comes up actually went to colleges in two separate states during their two-year engagement, only seeing each other a couple times a year, and even then being mostly chaperoned. They are the Very Rare Exception, and while they succeeded in waiting, its not something I'd advise.)


2.  While there's certain things I think each of you needs to know before you agree to marry (see "Bro Jo's Five A's of Why Not to Marry THAT Person" and "Bro Jo's List of Things Every Couple Needs to Know", I also think it's unwise to think you need to know Everything about someone before you marry.

I'm not sure you guys are postponing your marriage because you have an unrealistic expectation of that, and I do think 8 months is not an unreasonable time to be dating before a proposal is offered,

I guess what I'm saying is that the 8 months of dating doesn't worry me, but the 14 months of engagement does, and the excuse "then we'll know each other a lot better" doesn't fly with me.

Trust me, there's nothing you could do over any length of time BEFORE you get married that comes anywhere close to how well you'll know someone AFTER you get married.

Not that you would, but even living together doesn't help.

That's why so many couples who live together before they get married end up divorced.

They think they know someone super well and then once they finally get married they realize "oops, it's not the same".


3. I don't think eternal ordinances should get put off for earthly time lines.

A small accommodation for family is fine.

A week or a month.

Sister Jo and I had to postpone an already planned baptism for a month for one of the Jo Kids because Sister Jo's sister's husband died.

Stuff like that makes sense to me.

Putting off a sealing for a year because someone just left on their mission and won't be back until then does not.

It's too much time, too much can happen, and I think its pretty selfish, frankly, and too "of the world" to ask you guys to wait that long.

What if his brother extends his mission?

What if the plane crashes on the way home?

What if someone else is coming home just two weeks after that, and then someone else is coming home the next month, and so on?

How long are we going to keep putting this thing off?

Sorry, but it irritates me to no end when parents delay eternal blessings for their children because they, the parents, are not yet ready for this next phase in life.


Now that the discussion about next August has been had, there's not too much you can do.

But I think you need to, and I mean NEED TO, tell your boyfriend how you feel.

If you can't express your concerns and feelings to the man you're going to marry, if he won't listen to and respect your right to your opinion, then . . . well . . . maybe it’s premature to be discussing marriage at all.

I'm not saying you should demand that you get your way, or be a diva or throw a fit about the whole thing, but as your husband he needs to but your righteous desires (notice that I used "righteous" as the qualifier there) ahead of his own and certainly ahead of his mother's and father's.

Marriage requires that we express our opinions and then agree to compromise.

And, if it means anything, Sister Jo and I are two opinionated people (bet you're not surprised) who argue and get frustrated with each other all the time.

There's no such thing as a "perfect" relationship, only relationships between two people who are willing to work hard at making the relationship work.

Bottom line?

Yes, I think you should tell him how you feel.

No, I don't think you should wait for his brother.

But, heck, I don't think you should wait for next year, either.

Good luck!

Let me know how it goes.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Confused About Her Crush

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm 15 years old and this summer, I moved to Canada from Utah.

It’s been very hard for me to adjust and feel like I fit in.

Last week i briefly met a guy my age at a stake basketball night. Let’s call him Jose.

He seemed really nice (plus hes pretty cute)!

Our younger brothers are on the same basketball team, so a few days later we were both at a big game of theirs, but we didn't talk at all although I saw him looking at me often.

After the game my brother had his team over for a party at our house.

Jose's brother was there and told me Jose wanted my #.

A few minutes later Jose was texting me.

We texted for a while and it seemed like he liked me!

Two days later he texted me again, and said I should come watch his basketball game. And kinda stopped texting me in the middle of our conversation.

I went to his game, and after he was done he didn't come talk to me or anything.

Does this guy actually like me a little or what?

Should I just not worry about this?

Thanks!

- Over Thinker




Dear Over Thinker,

Yes, he kind of likes you a little.

No, you shouldn't worry about this.

Enjoy your crush, flirt with the boy, but remember:  Boyfriends are for when you're ready to get married;  Casual Group Dating is for 16 until you're that age.

And for now you should just focus on being nice.

- Bro Jo