Things to know

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Monday, November 30, 2009

How to Have a Great Mission

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm leaving for my mission in nine days... and I am really excited!! But I have two worries that are, well, worrying me.

1. I've heard a few stories about missionaries who hated their mission, who felt that it was one of the biggest mistakes they ever made. I would like to come home and be able to say, I loved it and I did a lot of good. What makes the difference between happy RMs and miserable ones?

2. I'm going to be a sister missionary. Hopefully, a great sister missionary. But I've met the most amazing young man, and I love him very much. I get the distinct feeling he won't be around when I get back, and I feel sad to let him go. I have prayed about it, and I do know that serving a mission is the right thing for me to do right now. I don't ever want to look back and covet what I'm giving up. Is there any advice or help you can offer me? Even if I never get married, I don't want to be kicking myself 10 years from now.

I have a lot of other questions, but these are two I kind of wanted to ask you.

Thank you so much! I think the advice you give is just fantastic.

-Sister Soon-to-Be

Dear Sister Soon,

I'm excited for you!

1. Attitude is the key. A mission is WORK, hard work. Not every day is going to be Dancing Flowers and Singing Trees, but every day you serve the Lord is a Gift and a Blessing. Have a positive attitude, always look for the blessing in the adversity, be consistently grateful for the trials and opportunities, and LOVE THOSE WHOM YOU SERVE AND SERVE WITH.

Do that, and you'll be fine.

2. He probably won't be around when you get back, but right now that's not important. If you want to leave him with a letter to the effect of "I'm really happy to know you, I think you're a wonderful guy, please don't put your life on hold for me while I'm gone, but I want you to know that if you're not married when I come back I'd love to rekindle our relationship" I think that's OK.

Anyone can get married to a great person if they're realistic, willing to work hard, and ready to put someone else ahead of themselves. If you struggle with that, or how to get there, when you come back, I'll still be here; we can talk about it then.

I promise there will be plenty of Good Guys when you get back, so don't worry about it.

Thanks for the kind words, I hope you have a wonderful even if difficult experience!

(just remember that it depends on you)

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 27, 2009

Readers' Note: Dating Rules Amendments

Readers' Note: Dating Rules Amendments

With a little more experience under our belts, Sister Jo and I are considering some slight modification to the “Dating Rules for Teens”.

(If you’re not familiar with the rules, you can read them HERE.)

The first thing we’re considering is an exemption to the “no dating the same person twice in a row”, adding “unless it’s been one month since your last date with that person”. The reason for the original rule is to discourage The Boyfriend-Girlfriend Thing, but it makes getting dates for formal dances very difficult and, at least with my teenage boys, we’ve discovered that in our predominantly non-LDS area many people (not just teens, but adults, too, and not just non-members, but Latter-day Saints as well) are not yet “converted” to the idea of Casual Group Dating. This amendment would makes it easier for a guy to ask the girl he dated this month to next month’s formal dance and make it easier for our boys to meet the 12 dates-a-year standard. If adopted we would add the proviso that “you can’t date the same person more than twice in a row”.

The second amendment was alluded to in the first: instead of “requiring” (“rewarding” might be a better word) our boys to date once a month, minimum, we would change that to 12 Dates per Year. Our reasoning behind that change is that some months are very easy to line up dates, often more than one, while other months just seem to have so much going on. In our family April, July, November and December are easy months for the boys to go out more than once, while sports and other activities make it difficult, even stressful, to line up dates in January, March, August, and October. The change would allow our guys to skip October, for example, and then date twice in November or December. Get it?

What do you think? Are we getting soft in our Old Age, or do you think these Amendments make a good system better?

If you’d like to comment, feel free below. If you’d like to join the Facebook discussion, click HERE.

If you’d like to comment on this post on the Dear Bro Jo column site, click below!

The Third Wheel

Dear Bro Jo,

First of all, I'm sorry if this seems more like a venting session than a question/answer type e-mail. But you have to know kind of the history behind all this before you can give me good advice. At least, that's how it works in my mind.

I'm not sure what my question is, exactly. Maybe if I explain my troubles, you'll be able to see where I'm coming from.

First of all, I'm very competitive. I like competition, the thrill of the game-usually basketball or soccer, but it can be any game really-and I don't mind getting hurt. It's not that I like to get hurt, but I feel that pain isn't as bad as it's made out to be. I even like to show off bruises and scars. I don't know if that's normal, but that's just how I am. I'm also a bit of a tomboy. I'm a physical person I guess. It's how I express myself, is through contact. I didn't start caring about what people thought of me until my junior year in high school. Even then, I liked how I was. But now I'm not so sure.

I became so aggressive because I was bullied from third grade to seventh. But we'd moved towns, and so the bullies were different. I guess I didn't realize they were really bullies until now, when I look back on it. But finally I stood up to someone, I was tired of being shy and constantly feeling put down because I was the only Mormon girl in town. So I stood up to the guy, and he left me alone. Then later I realized during our PE class that though I didn't completely understand what we were doing, I was giving the older guys a tough time playing basketball or soccer, I was just.... intimidating, I guess. As small as I am, it's hard to believe. Anyways, that's when I started to get competitive. I was always full of energy, and I'd play games with friends, but it was never really a competition to me until seventh grade. Now that aggressiveness and competitiveness have become ingrained into the fabric of who I am.

I am an actress, and I love to put myself in others' shoes. I love to find the story behind a person's life, to see why they act the way they do. In our production of Robin Hood, when I told my character's story to our cast, they all sympathized with the character, who happened to be evil. Lately I feel like I've been acting the part that I used to be. More elaboration on that later.

I also get good grades, and I like math.

I had one boyfriend in High School. Again we'd moved towns, and this time I wasn't bullied, I was accepted. There were other LDS youth, there were THREE whole wards. But anyways, my boyfriend. He hadn't graduated because of the school's political corruption, but he had his GED, and he was smart enough for himself. Now I look back and think that he wasn't everything I thought he was. Anyway, he left on his mission in April. But before that, in February, he admitted he'd cheated on me. I wasn't mad, and I don't know why. I forgave him right off. Then prom night came around.... we didn't have sex or anything like that, but we were in the car and we were on top of each other and.... passion makes us stop thinking. He was supposed to be leaving on his mission in four days. So I stopped it. He didn't feel we'd done anything wrong. I did. But I didn't want to take it to my bishop or my family, because I didn't want to see the disappointment in their eyes. I lost many a night's sleep over this. Praying and wanting to be forgiven.

Then three weeks into his mission he wrote a letter telling me he'd cheated on me again with two other girls before he left. This time I was sick of it. I'd given him my heart twice, and twice he'd ripped it up and thrown it in my face. Add to that that he didn't feel ashamed about what had happened on prom night, I was done. I told him I'd still write, but that even when he did come back, I didn't think we'd date again. He was fine with that, and asked that we'd still be friends. I agreed.

I came to college, and thought it was over. I didn't have to see the car sitting in his driveway, I didn't have to see all the places we'd been together, or even sit on the same couch where we'd spent so much time watching movies and talking. During the summer, I'd finally thought I was over it, and over him.

But something in sacrament meeting brought it back up. Just some off-hand remark made by one of my friends brought me back to that car. So I went to my new bishop. He explained to me that God had already forgiven me, I was at the point that I needed to forgive myself. I'm still not sure I have.

I was happy here at college. It's great to meet so many new people, to be able to be away from family and be able to strike out to be my own person. The thing is, I'm not sure who that is yet.

Then one of my closest friends found this amazing guy, and they started going out. I was happy for them. Sure, I was the third wheel, but I got along fine with them, and it wasn't awkward because they're not the touchy-feely type. It felt like I was with friends, and I was still happy. And then, if I needed a break, I'd go hang with one of my other close friends.

But then SHE found someone else totally amazing. Again I felt like the third wheel, even though they aren't really going out. They know they like each other, and he's an RM, but they're happy just remaining friends.
Again I'm the third wheel. This is where my acting comes in. I'm now acting the happy-go-lucky me I used to be. They don't see the lonely me. I see how happy my two friends are and I'm so happy for them, but I can't help thinking, "Why can't I be happy for ME? Why am I so intimidating that guys don't see everything?"
They see the tomboy me, the aggressive, independent, I-don't-want-you-to-feel-sorry-for-me-even-though-I'm-on-crutches me. They don't see the girl who loves to act, and sing, and dance, and read Shakespeare all night. They see aggressiveness, and independence, not sweetness, or playfulness. Do I really intimidate them because I'm smart as well as athletic?

Then I made the mistake of telling one of my friends some of this, and now she feels guilty that she's happy and I'm not. I don't know what to do anymore. She says I fit the stereotype heroine in books. The strong independent one who sweeps her man off his feet. and even though those are some of my favorite characters, I'm still harboring the desire for someone to come sweep me off mine. Like the song Holding Out For A Hero by Bonnie Tyler, it's gonna take a Superman to sweep me off my feet.

It would be easier to sweep someone else off his, but first of all I have no clue how, and second, despite being competitive, I'm also shy. Mostly because I don't want something like what happened at prom night to happen again. I was afraid that night, because I liked the feeling. I liked being alone with him, feeling the passion sweep us away. And I don't want it to happen again. the few people who know about it have said that since I know what it's like, and since I'm scared of it happening again, it won't happen again because I won't let it. I'm not sure I completely buy into that theory.

So now you know my story, maybe you could give me some advice? For an independent, strong, confused, shy girl?


Confused in College

Dear Confused,

First of all, you need to know that lots of guys LIKE strong, independent, competitive, athletic women – I married one!

Secondly, with respect I suggest to you that you’re not necessarily any more independent than anyone else; and you need to realize that’s OK.

It’s OK to depend upon others once in awhile, and it’s Very OK to depend on Heavenly Father and Christ all of the time. You may not want to see disappointment in the eyes of you parents or Bishop, but when we truly repent of what we’ve done wrong we can be assured that, even though the guilt we feel may linger (which is some ways is a good thing), what we won’t have to endure is the disappointment in the Lord’s eyes. Instead he’ll welcome us with open arms and approval, and THAT, little sister, is more valuable than any earthly things we need to endure on our path back to Him.

Now, whether or not you still need to repent of the incident you mentioned is between you and the Lord. If you’re uncertain, then by all means do talk to your Bishop again, but my instinct is that you can trust him when he tells you that you’ve been forgiven.

Let me say a little something more about “guilt”. We’re told in the scriptures that when we’ve repented the Lord forgets our sin, not that we forget our sin. I know we often hear in the Church that if you’ve truly repented the sin doesn’t bother you anymore, and that Can be true, but isn’t necessarily always so; and, as I said, I think that can be a good thing.

Yes, it’s a sign of faith in the atonement that we are able to let the sin go, to trust in the Lord, and to feel the warmth of His redeeming love; however, we’re also supposed to learn from our Trials and Tribulations, even those we bring upon ourselves.

You may always remember how expressing your passionate feelings at an inappropriate time made you feel. While I believe that the guilt will fade over time, I also believe that it can help you stay on the straight and narrow path. By realizing you don’t want to feel that way again, you can be motivated to make correct choices.

Later in life, when you testify of the Savior’s love and the power of the atonement you may remember this time when you were personally healed. (Readers: please note that Bro Jo NEVER advocates sharing WHAT we repented from, especially in public or to young people, lest we give the wrong impression that what we did was OK because we’re fine now. Everyone needs to repent, but no one should sin with the excuse that “so-and-so” did it.)

Regarding being the Third Wheel, I think you should knock it off. You have great friends that care about you, and that’s wonderful, but return the favor by allowing them to be alone on their dates. Touchy-feely or not, you need to not allow them to allow you to inject yourself into their relationship. It’s not good for them, and it’s not good for you.

You need to find a way to trust Good Guys again. Let’s face it, the guy from the car was NOT a Good Guy; he used you (and several other Young Women). How you feel is understandable; while I often tell women that they should go out with any guy that is brave enough to ask (even if he was prodded to ask), she should NEVER go out with someone that makes her feel un-safe.  Ever.

There’s nothing wrong with putting a positive spin on how we feel, or as you say ‘acting happy”. Keep it up! I’m not saying to bury your feelings, but there’s a lot that’s attractive about someone who works at Being Positive.

Allow yourself some actually happiness, too. You sound like a fun person with lots of interests – let others (including Good Guys) into your life; let them get to know you better.

When guys ask you out (and trust me, they will), if it helps you to be more comfortable, keep the dating locations public and the timing earlier in the day. If a guy asks you to dinner at his place Friday night while his roommates are out of town (and you don’t think this is a sign he’s a Creeper), you can certainly say to him “Thank you for asking me out, but I like my first few dates with a guy I like to keep it kind of casual” (then make a suggestion, with a compliment helps a lot) “I’d love to go out with you! Can our first date be something more like a lunch date, and not at your apartment?”

If he’s unwilling to work with your request and comfort zone, then he’s not really a nice guy (or he may just be dumb). No big deal; move on.

However, I think you’re going to find that most guys, if not nearly every guy, will be happy to plan a date activity that you’re comfortable with simply for the privilege of taking you out.

And it IS a privilege!

(Sisters, never let guys forget that they’re lucky to spend time with you! And not because they’re getting “lucky” . . . that’s a bit of a joke, you know.)

If you’re struggling getting guys to ask you out, there’s a host of suggestions on the Facebook Fan Page, but if you’re still feeling very shy, there’s nothing wrong with asking one of those great friends of yours to set you up – that’s what friends are for!

If you ever need to vent again, I’m always here.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much. Between you, my bishop, and President Uchtdorf's CES broadcast talk, I feel a lot better now. I am ready to face guys again, and to let the good ones in.


(name withheld)

Dear NW -

That's wonderful!

- Bro Jo

Readers you can access President Uchtdorf’s CES talk that “Confused” mentions by clicking HERE.  

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Church Dances: The US vs. Australia

Hey Bro Jo,

Typing from Australia here . . .

Have a few things to ask.

Over there in America do you do things differently at dances? Over here after you dance with a guy they say thank you for the dance and will, if they are shy (or uninterested :P) they will give you a hand shake. If they are really shy they will sort of wander away awkwardly and finally, if they have courage (or I suppose like you) they will give you a hug.

In my stake, all the girls (well, almost all) wear skirts or dresses. Is it the same there?

Here, leaders encourage girls to ask guys to dance because guys almost never ask girls to dance. which I find silly because you sit there waiting for this one guy to ask you to dance than some girl asks him to dance :P

Sort of less regarding the "is it the same thing" do guys actually find it that intimidating to ask a girl to dance when there in a group of friends? I can’t really complain because my group gets pretty tight but still....

It seems so awfully weird to do the things you say about dating here at least in this part of Australia. Everyone sort of knows everyone and who's interests are whose and you generally wouldn't just go out on a date with a random person just to see what there like. It’s more like here, if you like them; you ask them out on a group date with another couple.

I guess you could say we are a rather laid back group here in the great land of Aus. all the guys I know (and I know all the guys in my stake) that have had pretty long term relationships and haven't followed the dating rules totally have gone on their missions and a lot of them I’ve known are now happily married.

That’s about it. I guess you could say I’m:

- Lost in translation

Dear Translator,

Great questions! I'm glad you wrote.

I don't know if I can speak for everywhere in the US, but I've chaperoned a few dances, in and out of my own stake, and here's what I've seen.

Most kids don't dance with a specific partner unless the song is a) slow, b) a Big Band, swing-type song. There's some Line Dancing, and some songs where all of them seem to be inspired to take the floor and dance in a group. When I was a kid, many, many moons ago, everyone danced with a partner, regardless of the speed or style of the song.

Often here, particularly at the end of dancing to a Slow Song, when the song is over, the kids seem to just . . . drift apart. Sometimes they'll exchange thank yous or other pleasantries, but mostly they just ways, turning their backs to each other and then wandering off the "dance floor area" searching for their friends or something else, trying desperately to look like they have somewhere to go, and that's why they've stopped dancing with that person.

It's a bit awkward.

And it happens either because of a lack of Dancing Experience and Etiquette Education or because the Dancing Moment itself was awkward.

The latter I understand.

What is a couple supposed to do when they're dancing? Unless you're In Love, or Mutually in Like, you're can't just stand there and stare at each other . . . right? So you look off into the distance, scanning the dance floor, make faces at your friends . . .

What you're Supposed to Do is converse; get to know the person better. Many dancers think that's really difficult with someone you already know, someone you've gone to Church with since Sunbeams, but I disagree. With those you know well, you simply ask more topical or deeper questions.

For ideas about what to talk about, check out "Bro Jo's LIST OF STUFF YOUNG GUYS CAN ASK GIRLS ABOUT WHEN DANCING"; it's written for young guys, but works well for old guys and girls of all ages, too.

The other element that can make the whole dancing thing awkward is the Romantic Component. Even if you're not particularly interested in the person you're dancing with IN THAT WAY, you are standing relatively close to each other, probably touching, and typically in a darkened room . . . You're at a very self conscious age anyway, now you're mind is easily drifting to concerns over how your breath and body smell, and whether or not you look like a dork . . .

So, the answer to the unasked question "What do you do with her after the song is over and you've finished dancing with her?" is that you escort her Back Where You Got Her From. Take her hand and fold it over your arm, and walk her back. Thank her for the dance, smile, and that's it. Keep it simple.

If you're the girl and he starts to drift away, help out every girl he'll ever dance with in the future by teaching him what to do: put your hand around his arm and lead him back to where you came from. Thank him for the dance, and send him on his way. Keep it simple.

I think all Church Dances should be in Church Attire, which, to me, means skirts or dresses for girls, but here we play A LOT of fast music, and it's awkward to get your Church Clothes all sweaty, so most of our dances are one step above casual. Jeans and T-shirts are not allowed, and other modesty standards are supposed to be enforced, but frankly I don't think we do a real good job with that. My personal opinion is that dances should be much slower and semi-formal, but I think I'm pretty alone in that opinion. (Although I will say that the number one complain I hear from Young Women about Church Dances is that the boys are sweaty and smelly . . . the number two complaint I hear is about the music, but I'm not certain that's an endorsement of more slow songs.)

Here leaders push the guys to ask the girls to dance. Many of our guys are socially awkward, some even running from the room if a leader Strongly Encourages them to ask a girl to dance - now THAT'S what I call shy!

As a father and leader I tell my sons, the guys I've taught in seminary, and all guys from my ward that I believe they have a Priesthood Responsibility to Dance WITH A GIRL every slow song. Whom they dance with (and whether or not they listen to me) is of course up to them, but I look at it this way: no girl (really) wants to stand on the sidelines while other girls are asked to dance, and girls by Divine Nature as Daughters of Our Heavenly Father deserve to be put on a pedestal - we as Priesthood Holders have a God Given Responsibility to Respect and Honor Women (and girls), and therefore should never allow a girl to sit sadly on the sideline if we can do something about it.

"Man Up!" I say. Put your feelings of shyness aside and do the right thing: go ask her to dance!

(Brethren, the key is to always be scanning the room a couple songs ahead for a girl or two you'd like to dance with. You never know when the next slow song is coming up; Be Prepared, Boy Scout! And act quickly!)

So, Trans, to that end I respectfully disagree with girls asking guys to dance with them (unless it's an announced special dance or special girl-ask guy song). I think it's a mistake to let the guys off the hook, and sets a bad tone for dating, which, frankly, is what Church Dances are supposed to be preparatory for. (And you can forward this to your leaders if you want, and tell them I said so.)

Yes, guys find it intimidating to ask a girl to dance in front of her friends, but that goes away with experience. I recommend that guys approach a group of girls As A Group. Take a Wingman or two (or three, or four) and ask the whole bunch to dance.

And, to be fair, sisters you need to say yes. Unless the guy is a stalker, or scary (sincerely scary, you know what I mean), if he asks, you should dance with him. At least once.

The comments you made about what I recommend about dating being weird in Australia are comments I hear from around the world, including the States. How people act and react around each other is pretty much universal. The Group Dating you mention is Exactly what I endorse. "Bro Jo's DATING RULES for TEENS"  exists because so many teens struggle with where to start, how to behave, and developing a base plan for putting together a Good Casual Group Date.

I don't recommend pre-mission, pre-adult Boyfriends and Girlfriends because those type of commitments bring a lot of stress to otherwise very difficult years, plus it limits opportunities to get to know lots of other people and introduces a lot of worthiness risk. Do some people have High School relationships and still stay worthy and do the right things? Of course they do! But some people can fly an airplane, too, that doesn't mean just anyone and everyone should fly before they're mature enough and have taken a few lessons.

I'll bet you're not as "lost" as you thought . . .

Thanks for Reading and Writing In,

- Bro Jo

PS - A side question back to you: How many of the Return Missionaries in your area come back and marry the Girlfriend from before they left?

Dear Bro Jo,

Haha thanks for all of that. I’m a girl ;D

makes a lot more sense now. Glad the two worlds aren't so different!

We don’t have any big band or anything like that. Just popular songs of the music culture at the time (modest of course) we only dance to slow songs together.

I'd say that slim to none of them have ended up together. haha so I guess there was no point in being in a relationship for so long if they weren't going to end up together any way.

- Lost in translation

Dear Trans,

I know you're a girl!

Cultures certainly have an impact on our lives, but generally people are the same just about anywhere you go.

Isn't that interesting . . . about the Boyfriends and Girlfriends not ending up together . . .

Keep dancing!

(And check out the new Facebook Discussion about Church Dances that you helped inspire! CLICK HERE)

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ask Him to Ask You

Dear Bro Jo,

There's a guy in my singles ward that I am interested in. I've only talked to him twice, but he seems really nice and easy to talk to.

My roommate is going to be in a musical performance in two weeks, and she was able to reserve 10 tickets for us (her roommates). She said that we could bring along a date or a friend. I was thinking about asking this boy to come with me as my date. I dunno if it would work if I asked him to come as a friend--it would just seem like a date, even though we're going to be in a big group.

I know that you advise against girls asking guys out. But I would really like to get to know this guy better. Should I just continue talking to him when I see him at church and hope he asks me out first? Or would it be ok to ask him to this performance?


Interested Girl

Dear Interested -

There are lot's of ways to get to know this guy better without asking him out, AND there are ways to get HIM to ask YOU to the performance - which is Exactly what you want to happen.

First, let me explain Why you Don't want to do the asking.

It's really no different than having a guy come over to your apartment and "hang out" while you make him cookies. Old Fashioned or not, the reality is that Guys need to be Guys, even if they don't know it. A man needs to know that he can Provide and Protect, and he needs to be appreciated for his ability to do those things. We like a challenge, but we also look for the path of least resistance.

It's our nature.

You look confused. Let me explain. (I'm a man.  We also try to fix things, each of us in his own way of course, but that's also part of the "path of least resistance".)

Some guys choose to sit on the sofa instead of workout. Now you can easily see that as "path of least resistance", right?

Well, deep down, that "path of least resistance" is why those of us that workout chose to workout.

For the guy on the sofa, it's easy to understand that he's getting all he feels he needs and wants with minimal effort.

For the guy in the gym what he needs and wants may be "attention from women", "to feel better about himself", "to show off", "to improve his health", "to be a better athlete" - whatever the reason, he believes that working out is the easiest way to get there. If he could figure out how to get women to swoon over him (or whatever his goal is) without lifting weights, he'd stop lifting.

Guys want women.

All guys. (Even the "gay" ones, but that's a topic for a different day.)

Some guys want women physically.

Some want to be nurtured.

Some want companionship.

All of us want to be appreciated.

But whatever the reason (or combination of reasons, which is most likely the case), guys will pick the path of least resistance.

If what a guy wants is companionship, and your apartment becomes the "hang out" house, with no romantic obligation on his part, you sisters find yourselves giving and not receiving. You're no longer a Possible Date, You're a Buddy.

Guys don't ask out their buddies.

(More letters are written to me by Young Sisters complaining that guys - including husbands and boyfriends - don't take them out than all other topics combined. Ponder That.)

If you ask this guy out it is statistically unlikely that he will see you with all the value you deserve. You will have, even if only subtly, removed his power, and it will affect your relationship, possibly resulting in there being No Relationship.

If he likes you, and I bet he does (he's a guy, you're a girl, and he talks to you - that's pretty much all you need), he wants to put and keep you on a pedestal (which Sister Jo says is a "very good thing") - the last thing you want is to step down from that pedestal.

So . . . what's a girl to do?

Time is of the essence; you need to be blunt.

Go up to him, take him by the arm, bat your eyes, and in your best, flirtiest voice, tell him you want him to ask you out.

Start by complimenting him. Girls need sincere and thoughtful compliments; with guys it's much easier. Even if you come up with something lame we'll like it.

"Hi, (insert first name here). Have I ever told you how wonderful you are?"

He'll know something's up, but again, he won't care. He'll like the attention.

"I've been thinking that you and I are great together, and that you should ask me out on a date."

He'll be bewildered, but happy.

"My friend has reserved a bunch of tickets for her performance on (insert day here)."

The set up.

"I really want to go."

And then use the ol' missionary commitment pattern on him.

"Will you ask me to be your date to the performance?"

(OK. I'm sure many of you readers think that sounds an awful lot like Her asking Him out, but it's not the same. Sure she has the control, and is leading the conversation, but he still gets to be Big Man Who Provide Date for Woman in Need of Date.)

I know it may sound scary, and the first few times you do, it will be. (Hey - even if you end up with this guy, the skill of flirting with one's husband to get what she wants is something a wife can always use - again, just ask Sister Jo.)

Your mind may be filled with what if's.

That's OK.

Let's address the two biggest ones: "What if he Won't" and "What if he Can't".

Two different things.

If he Can't, that you can work with. A simple, perhaps fake-pouty: "Too bad", followed with a "Well, you really should take me out on a date. You know my number; call me" will work.

(At the very least he'll stay up nights.)

If he says that he won't, perhaps because he has a Girlfriend of which you are unaware, or because he just doesn't feel that way about you, I'd go with: "Oh, I understand", even though you probably don't, and walk away. Painful, yes, but at least then you'll know that acquaintances is all you'll ever be.

And that's been known to change, too, but it will be up to him, and you can move on.

Don't hesitate. Go ask him to ask you.

Right Now!

(or at least soon)

Good luck! Hope you have fun at the show!

Let me know how it all turns out,

- Bro Jo

(Sisters, for more ideas check out "Bro Jo's HOW a GIRL CAN GET A GUY TO ASK HER on a DATE" and "Bro Jo's 10 WAYS to INCREASE the CHANCES A GUY WILL ACTUALLY CALL")

Friday, November 20, 2009

Keep it Casual

Dear Brother Jo,

I'm a Junior in High School. I'm nearly 17 and I don't have a lot of experience in the dating area. Okay, so I have no experience in the dating area, or the romantic aspect of life for that matter.

Here's the story: I've been best friends with this guy since 1st grade. I've never thought of him the romantic way, until a couple of years ago. He moved into my ward my Freshman year. I was so excited!  My best friend was finally in the same ward! I soon started to realize that I was developing a crush on him, though. I didn't tell him; I didn't tell anyone.

I did not want to ruin our friendship on something that was probably just a fleeting crush. However, those feelings didn't subside. I still didn't act on my feelings because I wasn't 16 yet.

Yet, my sister started liking him too. I mean, who could blame her? He's the sweetest and cutest guy I know.

Of course she didn't know I like him (I never told her). She's about a year and a half younger than me and about ten times prettier too. When he found out that she liked him, he was thrilled. They liked each other for a while, but then things got dramatic and ended badly in June. I still like him, but I was careful not to flirt with him, just in case my sister still felt hurt. After a month she was fine.

I was hoping he would ask me out on my first date during the summer. But summer came and went without any dates. So, school started and I was still hopeful that he might like me. I was really hoping he'd ask me to the homecoming dance. However, another one of my friends asked him. So they went as friends and I stayed home. I was jealous, but they were just friends, she said. A couple of days ago, my friend (the one who asked my best friend/crush) to homecoming called me and said she like him and was pretty sure he liked her too.

I still haven't told anyone about my crush, but now I don't know what to do. I thought that he might have like me over the summer, but now I don't know. Of course I want to be friends with him still. He is my best friend after all, but whenever I'm around him, I can't help seeing him in a romantic light. And I also don't want to keep getting hurt indirectly, you know?

Anyways, I was hoping that you had some good advice for me.

~ Stuck as Just Friends

Dear Stuck,

If ever there was a letter that exemplified everything I’ve ever said about “Men and Women Can’t Be Close Friends without Romance Getting in the Way” and “You shouldn’t have a Boyfriend or Girlfriend in High School”, this is it.

(This letter is like High School Soap Opera with all the drama going on.)

Let’s face it: you don’t want to be “just a friend”, you’ve never wanted to be “just a friend” and 6 years from now if this guy up and marries your sister it will bother you at least until you get married, maybe even longer.

(Heck, I think you’ll be bothered by your unrequited feelings regardless of whomever he marries.)

As I’ve also said, so many times, Communication is the Key. You probably should have been upfront with your sister before they “started liking each other” (whatever THAT means – I think it’s probably code meaning that they were Boyfriend and Girlfriend, right?), but there’s no guarantee that would have saved you any heartache.

Perhaps you’ve been right to keep things to yourself, but I think it’s time you start helping yourself, too.
It’s time to get you a date!

(Preferably several dates!)

Start with your buddy; put him on the spot.

“Here I am nearly 17 and no one’s ever asked my on a group date; don’t you think that’s a tragedy? I hold you personally responsible. Why don’t you get a couple guys together and plan something and ask me out?”
Several things are going to happen here, and while it may not turn out the way you hope, it might, and either way, it will all be good.

(Check out Bro Jo's "How a Girl Can Get a Guy to Ask Her on a Date" for some other ideas)

He may do just as you suggest; if he’s smart and the good guy you think he is, he will.

And if he does, you will have made a big leap in your own social confidence and experience and you will have helped him (and his friends as well) with a little Casual Group Date Training.

If he doesn’t, if he falters, makes some excuse, or backs away (which he might) you will have learned some very valuable information, namely: where you stand with this boy.

It may be that he wasn’t so much your friend as he was using you to get to your sister. Maybe not, but if that’s the case, the sooner you find out the better.

Ultimately, I’m banking that he IS a good guy, and you’ll start going on a few dates, first with him, and then with some other guys.

And, who knows, maybe when you’re older, if you’re both still single, something more will happen.

But for now keep it casual. Stick to the Dating Rules. And have fun!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Just a Sister?

Dear Bro Jo,

I have a huge, convoluted "unrequited love" situation I could tell you about, but before I decide to wear out my fingers with all that typing, I want to ask you two things:

1) Of the options you give for things girls can really be to their guy 'friends' you mention the 'sister and nothing's ever going to happen' option and how rare that is. Would you like to elaborate on how rare? Haha. Out of future date hope, back up plan, tool, not that close of a friend, or sister, I'm thinking future date hope or sister are most likely. I should be able to tell, I suppose, but I am too caught up with all this to see clearly anymore, I fear. Like I said, long story.

2) What are your general thoughts on unrequited feelings? Or currently/apparently unrequited, at least--and how can you tell?!

Thanks for all the great advice. I guess I still need some more though :)

Just a Sister?

Dear Sister,

1) Rare enough that I question its existence in any dimension we might label reality (although I did just get a letter from a Young Woman who serves in a military combat unit, and the men she serves with think of her as a "sister", or at least she thinks they do). If I were to rank them from top to bottom, in my opinion (not yet backed up by science, but perhaps someday . . .), I'd say this:

Bro Jo's List of 

1) Future Date Hope - He's Friendly, but really wishes he could date you some day, even if he'll never have the courage to act. = 60%

2) Back Up Plan - He's dating someone else, has a girlfriend (or wife), but confides in you, spends time with you . . . basically he's holding you in reserve "just in case". = 20%

3) Tool - You provide him with something he isn't getting elsewhere, physical or otherwise. = 15%

4) Not THAT Close of a Friend - You think you're pals, but to him you're not. He may just be a Nice Guy, or you may be blinded by your feelings for him. = 10%

5) Really more of a Sister = 0%

(A couple quick things about "Back Up Plan": a) it's really no different than "Future Date Hope", and b) I honestly think most guys don't think that far ahead)

2) How can you tell how he sees you? Ask your best friend; the one that will tell it to you straight rather than just tell you what you want to hear. Or, better yet, ask a close family member.

(You could ask the guy of course, but he may just lie.)

My General Thoughts are:

A) If you're a woman in a platonic relationship, it's your fault. You've made it too easy for him.

and B) Get out. If you're over 19 it's time to move on. You're wasting your time, and probably scaring off any guys with real potential.

How can you tell it's unrequited? Um, well, it's simple: has he kissed you? That's usually a pretty good sign that he has romantic feelings . . .

Of course, you could always just . . . oh . . . I don’t know . . . talk to him about it . . .

Communication is an amazing thing.

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 16, 2009

Update - Same Ol', Same Ol'

[Readers - the following is an update to a column I wrote titled "Same Ol', Same Ol'".  You can read the original letter and response HERE.]

Dear Bro Jo,

Oh, man - I just love how honest you are!

Really, I appreciate it and the good laughs that come with! It's a whole lot better seeing my actions through another person's eyes.

Haha. . .I can't say I didn't feel a little (or more like REALLY) silly and embarrassed when I read your response, but I am ever so grateful. Even when I wrote that email to you, I wasn't aware of how unclear my mind was. Things are clearer now (you can be more sure of that because of certain events that have recently taken place and reading your response, so you can take my word for it).

I'm just as confused as any girl can get. . .sigh. If it's against the rules to skip it all, then I’d rather just face it now. But, it's something to learn from, right? The harshness was also very much appreciated by the way - no need to apologize!

I just have to thank you for spending time reading my email - I can imagine how many emails you go through from teenagers like me (or maybe I’m the first. Hey, you need to start somewhere!). I don't mean to be another one to add to your list, but hopefully my situation has helped another person who may have been too embarrassed to ask maybe the same questions.

Thanks again Brother J.

-Same young woman


But hopefully not often.


- Bro Jo

Friday, November 13, 2009

Which Bishop?

Dear Bro Jo,

I tried to write on the blog but couldn’t figure it out!

I have a question...

My boyfriend and I have decided that we want to get married, and the only place we want to do that is in the temple.

Neither of us are temple worthy.

We knew the usual wait for our situation was a year so we immediately set an appointment with our college ward bishop. I was leaving for Germany in a few weeks to be a nanny, so we knew we needed to get started.

At our meeting the bishop told me that I had to get this started in Germany and I needed to wait until I got there... obviously I was very upset. And was even more upset when I came to Germany and found that the only church was 2 hours away, and the bishop doesn’t even speak English. I have been attending this church every Sunday, reading, praying, and doing everything I need to do to try and get myself worthy. But I know I still need to meet with a bishop to clear some things up.

I’m not coming home for 3 more months, and I am really frustrated that I haven’t been able to "officially" start my repentance process yet.

I love my now fiancé and want to marry him as soon as possible... but am really upset I may have to wait another year because that bishop wouldn’t let me. What should I do??

(name withheld)

Dear NW -

The reason for working with your German Bishop may be one of many things, not the least of which that regular-meetings with your current Bishop, whomever that may be, are often required.

Set an appointment to meet with your German Bishop right away - set it for tomorrow (Sunday) if you can. Even if he's not an English speaker, he may invite a High Priest (like, perhaps, one of his councilors) to translate the meeting (not that uncommon).

If he's out of town, try to set the appointment for when he immediately returns.

If he's going to be gone for a very long time, or if (and I think this is very unlikely) he won't meet with you, call the Stake Presidency - right away.

Do your best to be understanding - you're a guest in another country - but please make the necessary calls right away.

Keep me posted, would you?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

I just returned from my trek to church!! I now feel that I can relate to the pioneers in their journeys :) haha

I talked to my bishop, a missionary translated for me, and he said because I’m returning home soon that it would be better for me to wait. and that because I live so far away from the church and the days he has for appointments are days that I work so he wouldn’t be able to meet with me regularly. And he said that they usually say a year but it doesn’t have to be exactly a year. So I feel a little better about it.

So I can meet with my bishop when I move back home to good ol' southern Utah! Fingers crossed that everything works out! :)

- (name withheld)

Dear NW,

How soon is "soon"???

Will you be returning to the same Bishop you had before?

It's not my business what this issue is that you need to work out with a Bishop, but I can tell you that there's often consideration given to how long it's been since the last transgression, and when you finally do talk to a Bishop, you'll want to mention the efforts you've put forth trying to get this resolved.

If you're going to be in the same area for 2 or more months, I'd recommend moving forward now. If your Bishop is truly unwilling, I'd approach the Stake President . . . right away.

If you're going back to the same Ward, Bishop, or Stake, I'd contact someone there right away, too.

I don't mean to be pushy, but I know that once you and your Fiancé are back in the same place, the temptations you've faced before will be even stronger. Don't take "no" for an answer; don't "procrastinate the day of your repentance"!

If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, but I think you should be more persistent and more insistent.

Ultimately, the Lord is in charge, but it IS our responsibility to do all we can.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

I made an appointment with my bishop... I will let you know how it goes!!

- NW

Good luck and God bless - I'm proud of you!

- Bro Jo

Dear bro Jo,

Thank you so much for telling me to pretty much get my butt into the bishop’s office! I needed to hear it.

And now I am on the right path...

Really, thank you so much for encouraging me to go, I know without it I would have put it off, and it was only hurting me to do that.


A very grateful girl

Dear GG,

Good for you!

You're welcome, and thank you!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Dear Bro Jo,

What is your opinion on the issue of kissing?


Dear W&N,

I’m a fan.

- Bro Jo

Too short?

OK. I’ll clarify.

Kissing, and its Other Culture Equivalents, can vary widely in what, when, where, whom and how it’s appropriate. For the purpose of this discussion I’m going to assume you’re a Young Guy who honestly has no clue, is living in a Western Culture (like the United States, Canada or certain parts of the UK) and desperately wants to do some kissing . . . and I’m not talking about “babies because you’re running for office”.

Here is: “Bro Jo’s List of: KISSING APPROPRIATENESS”

What - Peck Kisses on the Cheek (or sometimes Lips)


Parents and Other Close Relatives – Hello and Goodbye before and after long times apart.

How long is a long time?

That depends on your age.

-  If you’re Under 2, five minutes is a long time to be apart.

-  Kindergarten through High School, I say kiss your parents hello and goodbye every time you leave the house – not to be morbid, but what if it’s the last time you see each other?

-  College Age and Older – I’d say Hellos on Holidays and anytime you’ve lived apart for a while.

Little Kids – It’s generally NOT a good idea to kiss little kids, even if you ARE a little kid, unless the child is yours, or a little brother or sister. When unrelated Toddlers kiss each other, it really is pretty innocent - even if a Serious Germ Nightmare – still, I think it should be discouraged. Like modest apparel, no age is Too Young to start teaching appropriate behavior.

Friends – Never. If you’re really close friends, and everyone is comfortable, then perhaps a kiss on the cheek after a long absence, but (especially you Sisters) people need to realize that sometimes a "friend" is really trying to plant one on you.

Pre-Dating Age – Not recommended . . . at all. I’m not naïve. I know that some of you smooch. I understand why, but it’s NOT a good idea. Sister Jo’s Grand-mama used to say “Make out at 12, knocked up at 17!”

Grand-mama was blunt that way. She was often right, too. Physical stuff is like a drug. Once you start kissing In That Way, it can quickly become Not Enough. (This, by the way, Sisters, is one of the reasons why Bro Jo discourages the Boyfriend-Girlfriend Thing until AFTER High School for Girls, After Mission for Boys.)

Casual Group Dating Age (16-18 for gals, pre-Mission for guys) – At the end of a Casual Group Date, under the porch light, standing up, afraid your dad might open the door . . . yeah, I’m OK with that, so long as both people are comfortable and it’s not the first two dates with this person. (Remember the Dating Rules – go out with the same person no more frequent than every third date) Be careful! For many of us any kind of kissing, even the non-make-out kind, feels like a commitment (as mentioned in “Bro Jo’s RELATIONSHIP VOCABULARY” , and you don’t want that.

Serious Dating Age (after High School for girls, post mission for boys) – Totally appropriate, and recommended.  If you want to hold back the first few dates, fellas, I think that's gentlemanly.  Remember, we're just talking about simple kisses here, so if you're not so inspired by the end of the third date, perhaps you should move on.

What - Longer, More Passionate and Intimate Kisses


Married People – Don’t embarrass your children (too much), but so long as both of you are comfortable (and healthy), I doubt there’s anything such as Too Much Making Out – kiss away!
Of course, what you realize after a few years (and a few kids) is that, as fun as kissing (and all that other stuff) is, it’s not as important as spending time together. Even though you’re married, you still need to court each other. The same three P’s apply: Plan – Pick Up – and Pay.

Have a Plan, or at least a regular schedule. I recommend once a week (or as close to that as possible). Some impromptu dates are OK, too, just be sensitive to each other’s schedules.
Pick Up, which in your case means “get out of the house”. Sitting at home, especially with the kids, is NOT the same. Trust me, you both need to get out.

Pay doesn’t mean to blow a lot of dough. Even if you have more of it now than when you were dating (which is, of course, rarely the case for the Newly Married), you don’t have to spend a lot of money to spend time together. Some of the Best Dates I have with Sister Jo involve a cookie, a cocoa, and a nice long chat.

Almost Married – I hope there’s enough passion in your relationship that you struggle keeping your hands (and lips) off each other. If there’s not, and if that’s important to one or both of you, you may need to talk it through, and perhaps even re-consider. Don’t put yourselves in situations where the Temple is no longer an option, but there’s no need to ignore each other, either.

Seriously Dating Age (again: after High School for girls, post mission for boys) – like the almost married, don’t put yourselves in situations where the Temple is in jeopardy, and have the self respect to stay away from Make-out sessions without commitment (I know what some of you at the Y are doing . . .), but a little kissing isn’t just OK, it’s advised. Stay away from this type of kissing the first few (3+ dates) . . . if you can (and you should) . . . especially if you’re a YSA. SA’s may find that a good, passionate kiss is the Beginning of a relationship, or rather, that step that catapults you from pretending you’re “just friends” to realizing you’ve always been in love.

Remember, President Hinckley admonished us to Be Smart, but he also told us to Be Happy (at least, I’m pretty sure that was in there somewhere . . .).

*Note whom Bro Jo has NOT said Passionate Kissing is for.

I’ll bet that’s a lot more information than you had in mind!

- Bro Jo

Readers:  Bro Jo would love to hear your thoughts on this subject, especially from those of you around the world that live (or have lived) in different cultures. What’s the “Kissing” equivalent there? What’s appropriate?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Update - Wishing . . .

[Readers - the following is a follow up letter I received from "Wishing for Guidance" that originally published on September 18th, 2009.  You can read the original column HERE.]

Dear Bro Jo,

Wishing for Guidance again! I just wanted to say thank you for being honest. Brutal, but honest. I'm going to [scratch that - I'm working on] what you've suggested. reading scriptures, praying, and over all becoming a happy and good daughter of God. I'm going to keep an open mind about men as well. Thank you once again and I hope you continue to advise people like me. :) We need it.


Wishing for Guidance

Dear Wishing,

Well I hope I wasn't THAT brutal . . .

I was trying to be upbeat (sort of)


You're welcome, thanks for reading and writing in, and God Bless!

Keep me posted of your progress,

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mission or Marriage?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm in a confusing predicament right now.

First of all, I've been planning on going on a mission since I can remember. I'm very passionate about it as well. I have an official count-down, and everytime I feel the incompassing love of the Savior, and have wonderful spiritual experiences I want even more to share that with all of my brothers and sisters. I want more than anything for all my siblings to be in the Celestial kingdom and just as much for all my heavenly siblings. I'm way adament about doing member missionary work as well. I'm turning 20 in less than a month. So, since a girl can turn her papers in 3 months before she turns of age, I can turn mine in in less than 10 months.

I took my first year of college at home away from BYU. Then this last April, while dating a guy who was 22 and also planning on turning in his papers this coming sept/oct, (hint, this way it was safe, for no one to get in my way of a mission) I moved down to Utah to gain and learn experience of living on my own, and a bit of real college life (compared to a community college and living at home).

I safely and nicely ended the relationship with the boy I was dating, over two months ago so it'd be easier. Now, this is where it gets tricky-Its getting to be about the end of August, and my predicament is weather I should stay here in Utah,-(pro's-I have a part-time job, a place to live month to month, all my friends are down here, i get to live on my own, grow up, and the hard one . . .

I've been starting to date this guy. Now he's an RM, and that scares me a bit, but I really like him and love hanging out with him.) or go back home-(pro's-As of today I have a interview scheduled for a good full-time job which is very promising which would help me save up for my mission, I wouldn't have to pay rent, for I'd be living at home again, and I could be a good influence to my best friend little brother who needs a good influential friend, since his best friend and only strength of a friend died 3 months ago whose now having quite a bit of trouble with church and the word of wisdom.

So independent from my brother, (for I can be an influence either place, and I can't take away his free agency). and school, (I'd be taking online classes either way.) I'm choosing between going home and being finiancially secure for my mission, or staying in utah and continue dating this guy and living and growing in a good college town on my own, gaining experiences i never would have before and definantly cant get at home.

I've prayed about it lots, -The Lord tells me, both are good. This is a decision I have to make.
I've gone to the temple Lots-The Lord tells me, both are good. This is a decision I have to make.

I've fasted-The Lord tells me, both are good. This is a decision I have to make.

But I'm stressing myself out as to what I should do.

Please! Any suggestions?

- Guidance Hungry

Dear GH,

No suggestions - far be it for me to contradict what the Lord is telling you - but maybe I can help you discover what you deep down already know to be true.

Let me ask you a few questions.

How soon do you NEED to make this decision?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

If you had to choose between a Mission or a Temple Marriage, which would you pick?

Have you discussed your dilemma with him?

- Bro Jo

Dear GH,

It's been 2 months since I replied to your email . . . thought I'd follow up.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank You. Wow, never would've thought u'd wanna know what happened. Just assumed everyones busy with their crazy lives.

The story continued like this:

I went to Temple Square by myself a few days before I would either have to go home, or stay. I love temple square immensely. Walked around, met a bunch of people, and then went upstairs to the Christus Statue.

I was sitting there in the room by myself when a pair of sister missionaries came up, and started chatting with me. Of course this is going to happen. I'm in temple square. And I love it. We got talking, and as they were bearing their testimony of how wonderful being on their mission is, I felt really good about going home. Not like an absolutely Yes!, Your going on your mission and everything will be wonderful, just a peaceful feeling that i didn't belong with this guy, that I still have more growing up to do before being married, plus we weren't super serious.

Joining my family at home I've been able to be a good example, my brother isn't doing pot anymore, i'm able to deal with the death of my friend more with people that knew and loved him, and I have a very nice full time job with a small business with a wonderful atmosphere of the majority mormons. I'm doin online classes, and filling up my bank account, with perhaps what will be someday be for a mission, or even help towards a down payment with my future spouse.

Whatever the Lord has in store for me, I shall try my hardest to be ready.

Thank You again! I appreciate your sincerity and advice. :)

- (Name withheld)

Dear Friend,

So often it seems that if we take a step back, things become more clear.

I appreciate your story and your testimony; I'm sure sharing it will help and inspire others.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Is It OK to Date Your Best Friend's Sister?

Dear Bro Jo,

I want to say thank you for all the aswers you have given the youth of the church. It is great that somone wants to help us (: Your words has reached me here in Denmark, northen EU.

The Thing is that there is this girl, that is a very good friend of mine. And I wanted to ask her out, but she is also my best friends sister. I told my best friend that I liked her, and he said that he wasn't to happy about it but that he wouldn't stop me. I don't want to back stap my best friend, but I really like this girl. What should I do? I hope you can help me

- Confused Teenboy

Dear Teenboy,

Well . . . you're welcome!

And "Howdy, Denmark!"

I think you should ask her out, provided it's a Casual Group Date, you're both 16 or older, and you follow Bro Jo's DATING RULES For TEENS.

In fact, I think you should include the brother in the group, again, provided he's old enough.

See, that's one of the beauties of Casual Group Dating: there's no pressure or expectation that it means more than it should. You get to go out, have fun, get to know her better, treat her nice (in front of her brother) and there's no big Boyfriend-Girlfriend pressure - which you DON'T want right now.

Imagine what would happen to your friendship if you got into a too-serious-for-your-age relationship right now and then broke up . . . not good.

And, should she still be single when you've come home from a mission, then you won't have any breakups to overcome and may find that your best friend can also be your brother.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 2, 2009

Move or Stay?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a YSA, and I moved away for school, and I love where I am. I have a lot of amazing friends, a Mormon boyfriend and a great roommate. The only problem is that my program is almost over, and I'll be moving back after this semester. I've considered staying here, but I am in a lot of debt and need to go back home to live with my parents while I pay it off -- not to mention the career I've chosen has a lot of demand where I'm originally from, and absolutely no demand out here. So I have to move back at the end of the semester, and my boyfriend has to stay here. I think it will break my heart moving away from this boy, though. Should I just break up with him now so it won't hurt as much when I move back home? It may sound like a stupid question but I really need a little guidance here. Broken hearts are no fun!

Thanks for listening to my ramble.

- Worried for the future

Dear Worried,

Not a stupid question at all!

Let me ask: How serious are the two of you?

How long have you been dating? Are the two of you dating exclusively?

Does he know you're leaving? If so, what has he said about that?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Yes, we are dating exclusively. It's only been a few months but he is the only guy out of everyone I've dated that I have ever said those three words back to. I really fell flat on my face for him! He knows I'm leaving eventually, but we've never talked about it because it's easier just to pretend that I'm not.

Thanks for answering me!

- Worried

Dear Worried,

So what we're talking about here is do you pick the guy (who hasn't proposed, but he's told you he loves you and you've told him you love him) or the great job (which you don't have yet, but figure you can get) near family . . .

How soon until you leave?

And, if he asked you to stay, would you?

See, you need to know where you stand. It's time to look at things logically. Tough, I know, when Love is involved, but crucial.

So let's get to the point: if he asked, and you agreed to stay, under what circumstances would you stay? Does it require a proposal? (I think it should - are you ready for that?) Or are you willing to stick it out 3-6 more months to determine if he's The Guy? (At your age and station in life, if the relationship doesn't progress in 6 months -or less - of exclusive dating, I say Move On. Remember: Exclusive Dating as a Young Single Adult or Single Adult needs to be accompanied with asking those tough, exploratory questions to see if this is someone you can tolerate for Eternity.)

Jobs are easier to find than Good Spouses (in the 18+ years I've been married I've had only 1 wife but worked lots of places) . . . so perhaps you need a little time to think - but don't take too long.

I wouldn't "break-up" just to lessen future pain, I'd break up if the relationship dies or is going no where.

- Bro Jo