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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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Is It Weird to Date the Roommate of Someone You Dated Before?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a 20-year-old young lass with very little dating experience. Despite being a beautiful, hilarious, incredibly intelligent (humble), gem of a person, I've only ever been on two first dates. Yes, two. I'm 20. Two first dates. It's fine.

The first time I got asked on a date, I was 19. I was uber excited to get to know this handsome young gentleman, we hit it off immediately, and were absolutely inseparable for about two months, before he received his mission call. We decided to cool our jets at that point.

Long story short, he ended up not going on said mission, and we were kind of back-and-forth between friendship/more-than-friendship (whiplash) throughout this past summer. Basically, my whole relationship with this fellow was a huge mess for many reasons.

Here's the predicament. For the first three months of knowing this boy, he had roommates that I spent a lot of time with and considered friends. There was one, in particular, who always impressed me with his humor, character, and smarts.


He's the former roommate of someone I dated, and, if we ever dated, he'd go into it being very much aware of the fact that I had kissed one of his friends. Many, much, multiple times. Bad news, bears.

I tell myself over and over again how complicated that could be, but I'm still drawn to this man that I haven't even seen in almost a year. I've been wanting to reach out to him in some way for months but have no idea how to do so.

What in the world is a girl to do?

Risk some potential super-mega-awkwardness or keep waiting (un)patiently for the third first date?

Thank you,

Roommate Lovin'

Dear RL,

Can you explain to me how someone who's as goofy and outgoing as you are in your email sits around for a year waiting for someone else to make something happen in her life???

Sure, this guy may have a hang up that you made-out (often) with his roommate . . . lots of Good Guys would have the same problem.  But it's not like you made out with EVERY guy in the apartment (right?), and a big chunk of time has passed.

Now, sure, I think it's WEIRD, and more than a bit stalker-y, that you're this hung up on a guy that you haven't even seen in a year, and YEAH, I think you should focus on the guys that are Actually In Your Life . . . AND I certainly hope that the reason you know he's still available is because you queried a mutual friend, not that you Facebook Stalked him . . .

If that's true, I think that's your "in".

I think you need a mutual friend to speak up for you.  If you call, text, email, drop by, show up where he works . . . all of that is creepy.  Even if you are (and by the sound of things you just may be) that desperate, you certainly don't want to come across as such.

So have a mutual friend go up and either re-introduce you or talk to him on your behalf.  Have said friend ask if he remembers you, tell him you think he's attractive, that you're single now, and you hope that if he remembers you he'll ask you out.  Said friend could offer to set up a "blind date" if he doesn't remember you.

If you have no mutual friends . . . well . . . then I think the best non-creepy thing you could do is to sent him a simple card.  I get a lot of "that sounds really old fashioned" eye-rolls when I mention sending cards or writing by hand but, believe me, if he has any interest in you it will work.  Just keep it simple.  And be sure to include your phone number.

Good luck!

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 24, 2017

Isn't It Worth the Risk?

Dear Bro. Jo,

There's this guy that I really adore and keeps unwittingly doing things that make me like him all the more.

I want to act on this; talk to him more often and invite him over for dinner (because the way to a man's heart is through his stomach) but i don't want to seem like I'm pouncing at him. I'd also hate it if he turned me down.

I've never had a boyfriend or a relationship like that so I second guess every move I make, not knowing how I should act.

So the questions is if I do proceed should I do so with caution or throw caution to the wind? How do I proceed?

I know anything valuable is worth working for I just seem to pay one way or another for everything I have.

- Cautious College Chick

P.S. Whenever I see you name I always want to think JoBro because I'm a big Jonas brothers fan.

PPS: I debated on sending this for a while because I feel dumb asking this.

Dear CCC,

Don't feel dumb.  Romance is difficult, and we live in a world where there's a lot of bad information available.  Mix that with the lack of training in our culture, and it can be tough for anyone to know what to do.

The Jonas Brothers are great.  (Or so I'm told; not really what I'm in to, but hey!  More power to you.)  I was nicknamed “Bro Jo” (short for “Brother Johnston”) by one of my seminary students nearly 20 years ago.

My personal opinion is that you sound so desperate for this guy to like you that you're breaking to many rules.  Not honor code stuff, but the unwritten rules for how to woo and be wooed.

Yes, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but you don't invite a guy over to dinner until AFTER you're in a committed relationship.  Instead you make him treats, or even better:  encourage him to take you on a picnic date where you'll provide the meal.

See, that's the next step for you.  You need to get him to DATE you.

And that requires some communication on your part.

Don't freak out!

All you have to do is say what you mean.

"Hey.  We've been pals for a while and the thing is, I like you.  I've been waiting for you to ask me out, and I'm done waiting.  So?  Are you going to ask me out or not?"

You're going to have to put it on the line.

And I can hear you saying:  "What if I lose him forever?  What if he doesn't ask me out?"

Well, then, friend, the truth is he was never going to.  Better to know that now than to waste the next however long waiting for something that's never going to happen.

As I see it, this is a win-win for you.

Worst case scenario, he's not smart enough to know how awesome you are.

Best case scenario . . . well, one step at a time, shall we?

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Separating the Relationship from the Project

Dear Bro Jo,

Recently I have come across your blog and have been reading it like CRAZY!

Growing up in an LDS culture with the standards we have, dating can be a tricky thing to go through. I just want to start by saying thank you for doing what you are doing by helping thousands of people with their relationship problems. You are an amazing man!

So. There is this boy. (I know, by this point that must be your favorite phrase). And he's wonderful. (Also must be another one of your favorite phrases at this point).

I've known him since the seventh grade back when he was a very awkward, albeit very intriguing, boy.

Sophomore year in high school I started going through some rough patches and he began to morph from "acquaintance" into my closest confidant.

I know you're views on boys and girls being best friends, and I am with you all the way!

I knew when he started gravitating closer to me that he was crushing hard.

We went on a few Casual Dates and I grew to like him, too.

Fast forwarding to senior year in high school.

That year was rough on me, Bro Jo, I'm not gonna lie.

I started to develop serious health problems that left me in bed clutching a heating pad all day long.

After I went through surgery, this boy (We shall call him Tim), was so amazing!

We are talking Jamba-Juice-runs-holding-my-hair-when-I'm-throwing-up amazing.

I know, that's a bit gross, but he was willing to do all of it without me even asking.

We still dated other people (I dated a lot of people because apparently lots of boys like me :P), but always came back to each other every three or so dates.

Then that same year, my mom passed away.

She had had cancer for the last seven years and went downhill very quickly once chemo stopped being effective.

When I say that I wouldn't have made it without Tim, I'm being quite literal.

I started having very serious suicidal and self-harm thoughts. (I later learned through therapy that my problems go back before my mom died).

Tim was there for me when I didn't want to be there for myself.

I stopped dating because I stopped trusting people.

I shrank back into my shell and dissolved into my pain.

But Tim was the one who kept me alive when all I wanted was to die.

He brought me back to my Heavenly Father by sharing scriptures and encouraged me to go to the temple as often as I could.

He was my rock.

I know I probably should have turned to my family, but all of them were all lost in their own pain to be of any help to me. I couldn't stand to be in my house where she died, so Tim took me to get ice cream and set up movie parties with our mutual friends.

I know that Tim needs to go on a mission, and I fully support that.

In fact, I'm the reason he is going on a mission.

Very recently he told me that he has been struggling with a masturbation and pornography addiction that began when he was only ten years old.

He told me that falling in love with me motivated him to go see his bishop about this problem and he has been working extremely hard to fix his problem ever since.

I set a standard for myself waaaay back when I was twelve that I would marry a returned missionary.

I understand that some people can't go for legitimate reasons and I could accept that. But I know that Tim can become worthy before the cutoff date.

I believe in him and I believe in a future with him. I don't think most couples go through such trials before they are even engaged, and I know that it's made us closer.

I have since moved three hours away to college and am learning to trust people again and begin dating.

I get to see Tim whenever I come back home for breaks and we email and talk on the phone occasionally.

My question I guess is:  what is your advice is for me to encourage Tim in his efforts to break his serious addiction?

He hasn't told his parents about it, and his Bishop believes that this is best for the situation.

That being said, I'm the only one helping him through this besides God and the Bishop.

Is there anything I can do to help him in this addiction?

How can I show him that I am not abandoning him because of his addiction when I date other guys?

If he can't go on a mission because of his addiction is it still okay to date him?

Should I date him exclusively after that time?

Any advice on learning how to trust people again and begin dating?

Thanks for all of your help!

- Supportive but Concerned

Dear Concerned,

I've been thinking about your email a lot ...

First off, I've never said that Guys and Girls can't or shouldn't be Best Friends.  Sister Jo is my Best Friend!

What I've said is that Guys and Girls can't stay Best Friends without it either ending up in romance or them seriously scaling back the friendship because they're in a relationship with someone else who, like Sister Jo is for me, will become that person's New Best Friend.

For you, I think the best way to learn to trust people again is to be around people you can trust.

Tim sounds like a great guy!  I appreciate all he's done for you!

But I stand by my previous and oft repeated advice:  don't marry, stay or even get in a serious relationship with a "not yet repentant and recovered addict".

Further, you shouldn't be Serious Single Dating someone that just isn't marriage material at this time.

I think it's great that you've inspired Tim to fight this, and I join you in praying for his success, but he is neither your child nor your project.

Tim will need to stand on his own feet as he seeks to make things right.

You can't run if you won't at some point set the crutch aside.

Be supportive with prayer and genuine concern. But stop dating him.

If the hope of missionary service or the realization that things are over with you until he gets his act together aren't enough to get him to finally change his habits, then he'll need to dig deeper and find something else, and that dear Sister, is the Love of the Savior.

Suggest to "Tim" that he begin attending the Church's Addiction Recovery Program in his Stake.  (Honestly, the program is so informative and insightful that I think All Of Us should go through it at some point.)

Continue to listen to him, to be his friend, and to let him know that you love an appreciate him.

But never base a relationship on someone's need for serious help or your need to "change their life".

- Bro Jo