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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Monday, June 27, 2016

She's Having a Problem with Her Parents

Dear Bro Jo,

For a while now I have been putting off this email because I keep feeling that I should be able to figure out these problems I'm having with my parents on my own.

Every time I try to come back to my problems though I feel like I'm getting into a deeper and deeper pit. So now I'm turning to you Brother Johnston because I feel that I have tried everything I can think of.

So last October I decided to move home because I had felt that I needed to go on a mission and upon praying I felt it was right for me to move home to make the process simpler.

Everything was fine till about January.

Yeah my parents got on my nerves with things I felt were kind of ridiculous but I kept my mouth shut and went along with it knowing that I would be gone on my mission soon. I even had a job at Amazon and was able to pay off most of my debt and it made me feel relieved to just be doing something.

Well end of January came and I got a call from my Stake President asking me to come in to meet with him.

I went in and had a meeting with him were he informed me that I was over the weight restrictions and that if I wanted to continue to go on my mission that I needed to lose 40-50 pounds.

At first I was so excited for the challenge, a bit upset but I understood why being that they want the missionaries to be able to perform the physical work put in front of them. I started my work with the help of my doctor because I have some medical issues. I was told by my doctor to start with a 1500 calorie diet and work my way down to a 1200 calorie diet if I could stand it but not to push my body too hard if I felt it wasn't working.

I was able to lose 15 pounds before it all came back. It’s not like I didn't want to lose it or that I still don't want to lose it. I lost the drive and the motivation. I would come home every day from either work or whatever I had done that day constantly hounded by my mother (I do have to emphasis that I literally mean EVERYDAY) how much weight I had lost or how she had found some new fad diet.

Now don't get me wrong I appreciate that my mother was trying to help me but she was going about it the wrong way especially because it was hypocritical with her bringing in candy and sugar and being heavier than I am.

On top of it I was constantly asked when I was going to get a job because I had been let go from my temporary job at Amazon.

I continued trying for 3 months before I couldn't emotionally take it and I felt like I was pleasing my mother more then I was myself.

This isn't the first time I have let her win though because growing up in the house I was constantly pestered about my weight.

The first time I ever remember having my weight mentioned to me was in third grade when I had come to my mother because some kids at school had called me fat.

She had said "Don't worry honey you’re going to grow taller and all that baby fat will even out" it later changed in middle school to (name withheld) "You’re getting fat you need to do something about it" and "You shouldn't wear that (name withheld) it makes you look fat".

That has been a long upward battle that I am still trying to win.

Near the end of my third month trying to lose the weight my brother started his mission papers because he turned 18 right after his graduation.

He turned them in after about 3 weeks (it didn't take long because we knew most of the insurance information from my papers) and received his call in a matter of 2 weeks.

When he opened his call all I remember feeling was a sense of longing toward wishing it was me and feeling like I couldn't do it because all the obstacles that lay before me and feeling that if I succeeded that it would be my mother’s triumph and not my own success.

That was when I knew that Satan truly had started winning the battle using my own family against me.

My brother got called to France - Lyon Mission and I am excited for him because I feel it will be the thing that makes him grow into the wonderful young man he can be.

Now at this point I had started getting questions from my dad about how my progress was coming and I appreciated my dad asking me and waiting till then to ask me but at the same time I felt still kind of raw with emotions and I felt like it was something I didn't want to talk about. I still feel it has to do with the animosity I fell towards my father.

(Quick back story) When I was in 8th grade I went through losing all my friends twice, second time around I met some girls that were nonmembers and became friends with them but after being friends with them for 4-5 months two girls one of which had just moved into town from NY, accused my father of touching them inappropriately. I still don't know if it actually happened. What made me so mad at my dad was that the night before I had found this out I had asked if the girl from NY could come over and hang out. 

His response was a quick "I don't want her anywhere near this family or this house ever again and you should stop being around her." When I asked him why he only told me that some accusations had been made against the family and said that it was adult stuff and that I shouldn't worry about it. 

After finding out what happened I felt so hurt losing all of my friends again and feeling like I had been lied to by my own father. I went through so much that year I have no doubt that if the Lord hadn't sent me a good friend I have to this day I would have committed suicide. 

So having these feelings towards my father, I haven't had the best of relationships with him since. (Skipping forward to August when my brother is about to leave on his mission.)

By this point my being at home is getting worse.

I'm being treated like a 16 year old having to ask to go anywhere or do anything and I am constantly being asked by my father what my plan is but to be honest I don't know.

By his definition I need to know what I'm doing with my life now!

I've prayed about what the Lord thinks and let him know what I feel would be the right direction but I still don't feel any inspiration of a particular way to go.

I also have to put in that my mother seems very anxious to get me on dates so that I can get married. I am constantly bombarded with questions about if this missionary came back or what about this boy we know. She even gave my number to a boy’s mother.

(I did meet this boy. At the hospital as a man I felt was like a second father to me died. He came across as creepy but my mother won't listen to me and leave it be).

I have been planning so far to move out at the beginning of next year and possibly move to Provo, Utah and work on my education to become a seminary teacher.

I love teaching and I love how much light the Gospel brings into my life.

I am making plans and I do have a job back at Amazon again so that I am making a steady income my plan is to have $5000 saved by the time I move which is defiantly achievable with the fact I'm making almost $1000 a week.

The question I'm getting at here Bro Jo is what advice would you give to me to make it through till I move out?

How do I get my mother’s constant matchmaking to come to an end without hurting her feelings?

The most important question I feel here though is how can I begin to start trusting my parents again?

I feel as if they expect my trust but I truthfully feel I cannot give it. I know this is a lot to take in but I can't take holding it in a bottle anymore.

Please help me.

- Name Withheld

Dear NW,

This is going to sound harsh, perhaps, but I want you to know that I'm being sincere and saying this with love...

You need to grow up.

It really sounds like all of this drama in your life is self-inflicted, and you need to stop blaming everyone else and take responsibility for your own life.

Isn't it possible that your mother isn't all over your case about your weight because she's mean and manipulative, but rather that she's supportive and trying to help you achieve your goal?

It takes time to lose 50 pounds in a way that it stays off, and if your goal really is to lose the weight and go on a mission, then you need to persevere, not quit after only 15 pounds (that's great progress, by the way!) or because you have a setback (we all do, little sister, it's part of life).

Instead of blaming your parents for putting pressure on you to Get a Job, Get Healthy, Pay Your Debts, Make a Plan, you need to realize that, frankly, that's what adults do!

If you don't want to be treated like a child, stop acting like one.

Get a Job.

Get Healthy.

Pay your debts.

Make a plan.

If the people you thought were your friends turn out to be horrible people who don't have your back, sure feel sad, but then go out and get some True Friends.

Rather than suicide (the Ultimate Quitting), take prophetic advice and Heavenly Counsel, find the positive and let these challenges motivate you!

Whenever you feel like you're struggling, as Sister Jo says, go be of service to someone (and yes, your family counts).

Mom's on your back?

Do the dishes for her.

Father says things that hurt your feelings?

Go clean the Garage.

Feeling sorry for yourself?

Go rake someone's leaves.

Strange Advice Guy on the Internet is all over you instead of being sympathetic?

Babysit for a young couple so they can go to the Temple.

Lastly, take the chip off your shoulder; put the pride aside.

If you're mom brags about how awesome she is because you did something she approves of, don't get angry or depressed; let it go.

Be proud of your accomplishment and realize, in her own way, your mom is, too.

And if you're doing the right thing and no one is giving you the credit or support you feel you deserve?

Well . . . that's their problem, not yours.

If you're doing what's right, be happy.

If you need to make a change . . . welcome to the club.

Make the change.

Don't let someone else's opinion, even if they want to claim credit, keep you from doing the right thing. In your heart you'll know you're a good person and you've done what's right.

Opinions matter in the following order:

1. Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost

2. You.

3. Those you love and trust.

That's it.

No one else.

And, really, if you've met 1 & 2, number 3 can be crossed off the list.

- Bro Jo

Friday, June 24, 2016

Do You Tell Your Friend That Her Boyfriend is a Cheater?

Dear Bro Jo,

Mel here, with another question about the guy I wrote to you about last time.

It's a bit of a doozy.

He and I "dated" for about a month last fall. It was strange because sometimes I'd go a week without seeing him, which he always attributed to being busy with a certain sports team he is on, one that I know takes up a lot of time, but that I also know does not take up that much time.

Yet because I was so ridiculously infatuated, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and let it slide.

He frequently told me I was the only person he spent time with other than his family and his teammates.

We always had such an amazing time together when I did get to see him, so I figured I could put up with it.

Somehow he managed to be very sweet without ever stating any kind of feelings for me or even complimenting me.

That should have been red flag number one.

Red flag number should have been the discomfort on his face and how he just stopped talking whenever past relationships came up in conversation.

Anyway, after our best date yet, he dropped all contact, completely out of the blue.

A few days later, I saw a very couple-y picture of him with some girl.

One click later, I found out they'd been dating (seemingly long-distance as of that semester) for nearly a year, though his current Facebook relationship status was single.

Though I don't know for sure, I am relatively certain they had still been together when I was seeing him…basically, that he cheated on his girlfriend with me.

I felt far more sorry for her than I did for myself.

It actually explained a lot of the odd things he'd said and done. I didn't know what to do. I knew that if I were her, I'd want someone to tell me. But I also wasn't even sure that they'd been together at the time.

Even so, I figured it was something between the two of them, so I didn't say anything. I myself moved on relatively quickly.

I met someone just a few weeks later, and now, we're actually planning on getting married.

The only reason we're not engaged yet is because he has yet to meet (and ask permission from) my parents, who live halfway across the country. We're flying out there in a little over a month.

Here's the tricky part. The "ex" just got engaged to that same girl he cheated on with me.

My feelings of guilt have returned full force.

Granted, I did nothing wrong, since I didn't even know about her until after he and I were no longer seeing each other.

I just…I don't think he's told her.

If he has told her, then they've worked through it already and double-checking won't do any harm.

But if he hasn't...

On the one hand, I don't want to be a home wrecker.

On the other hand, I'll feel partially responsible if she gets eternally sealed to a lying cheater.

And I'm guessing I'm not the only girl he was with either. I personally am happier than I've ever been in my entire life. I'm marrying the man of my dreams, and even before that all happened, I wouldn't have taken The Ex back even if he begged.

So this isn't any kind of a vendetta. I just want her to have the same happiness I do, because no woman deserves to be lied to.

And I'd enjoy a clear/clean conscience as well.

So Bro Jo, what should I do?

Should I contact him and ask him if he told her/tell him to?

Should I contact her? How would I even do it?

Should I even do anything?

- Melody

Dear Melody,

When I first read your letter I was honestly on the fence.

My initial reaction was "keep it to yourself" . . . but then I started thinking about all of the failed marriages I know about . . . and I was wondering if maybe you shouldn't say something . . . not because you feel guilty (you're right, you have no reason to) but because she may be making a very important choice without enough information.

So . . . I asked one of my classes. (They were taking a test of sorts when I read your email.)

Ten women, four men, not all heterosexual and no Latter-day Saints to my knowledge.

Every single person in the class said keep it to yourself; mind you own business.

(Some were quite passionate in their response . . . particularly how negatively they think about this guy.)

But then an interesting thing happened.

I asked them if they'd like to know if they were the person that had been cheated on.

Every single one of the guys said yes, absolutely.

And every single one of the women said no.

That surprised me.

A lot.

Probably because I'm a guy.

Having to make a decision, my answer to you is: keep it to yourself.

People don't like advice they haven't asked for, and there's a very large possibility you'll come across as the mean and jealous ex-girlfriend.

Let it go, and be happy you've made a great choice in your new boyfriend.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What Is Her Relationship Status?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm currently a senior in high school, and I'm having dating struggles.

Not overly original, I know, but things get more complicated.

Although I live in Mormon-ville Utah, dates are very few and far between.

School dances get a decent enough turnout, but that seems to be the entire dating scene, and I personally despise dances because crowds, loud music I don't like, and the crazy lighting make for an atmosphere I prefer to avoid.

Thus, I have gone on a total of 3 dates (technically 4, but one kind of just happened, so I won't include it in this intentional count) my entire dating career.

Two of those three dates have been with the same person (let's call him John), and the accidental date was with John as well.

The date proportion on his end is about the same, and these dates have been spread out with months in-between.

We've been good friends since second grade, so we're both just really comfortable with each other and just end up on dates with each other because we're both somewhat socially awkward and our main friend group includes me as the lone female and a bunch of nerdy guys ("nerdy guys" meaning they share an extreme love of video games and the occasional lack of personal hygiene) and their various girlfriends, depending on their relationship status. (Generally single, but often not.) John and I are both in agreement that people shouldn't steady date in high school since guys are going to leave on missions.

This topic came up because of seminary class, it wasn't brought up between us of our own accord.

We generally avoid these topics as they apply to us, for no discernible reason.

Of my few female friends, they firmly believe that John and I are destined to be wed after he comes home from his mission.

He's even ended up choosing to go to the same college that I'm planning to attend. I'm kind of indifferent, since the situation can be easily ignored until after John comes back from his mission, so I mostly do.

John would make a great boyfriend, but it's not an option right now and I have no idea how he feels about that, nor do I want to bring it up since that would ruin the whole "ignoring it" bit.

But these questions will not quiet entirely, so I will as your expert opinion on a few of the matters.

1, Do you think he has any idea that this dilemma even exists?

2, Do you think we may be perceived as bf/gf?

3, If so, how do I fix that? Thanks for the advice. I anxiously await your sage advice.

- Confused on Relationship Status

Dear Confused,

1. Maybe. He may not see it with the drama you do, he may be totally oblivious (rather by accident or choice) as most guys are, or he may be concerned that this is something that might be nice, but that (agreeing with you) now is not the right time. If it's something you really want to know you could ask him . . . but I wouldn't recommend it. I just don't see the point in having the conversation.

2. Likely by some people. People LOVE to conjecture about relationships . . . especially teen girls.

3. Don't do anything. People's assumptions are their problem, not yours. Attacking the rumors tends to spread them, not make them go away.

Sadly in today's culture where guys don't date much (often because girls have created a scenario where they don't have to and parents have failed to train their sons) four dates is pretty darned good.

I hope more dates come your way. But if they don't that is in no way a commentary on your awesomeness! 

(Sister Jo, who is and always has been AMAZING hardly dated at all in High School. Worked out very well for me that so many guys that grew up with her were so dumb.)

- Bro Jo