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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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dating "Outside" the Church

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a convert to the Church, and have been a member for about 18 months, so as you might of guessed I have a few questions about the LDS dating scene.

First I am a freshman in college in Washington DC (I’m 19), and am the only member of the church in the ENTIRE undergraduate population, so as might of guessed I am not too interested in the girls at my school.

Also, there is no University ward in the DC area, so a lot of the singles are in their mid to late 20s. The only girls who I could realistically date are the interns from the Y or the U, but the problem is that they are there for only a semester, and then there gone. Not too much time to set up a relationship.

Finally, since I am a convert, there is a good chance that if I serve a mission (which I hear is a big deal to LDS girls) I could very well be disowned by my parents, and I am NOT allowing that to happen.

So I guess my question is: What should I do? Should I try to court some of the girls at my university who have LDS values and hope they convert, or should I go for the interns? If you have any other advice I am more then willing to listen. Thank you and God bless.

Sincerely,

Convert



Dear Convert,

I have good news! There IS an LDS Young Single Adult Ward near you. I’ll email you all of the information.

(Readers: Anyone can find the nearest Ward, YSA Ward and Meeting Times by going to http://www.lds.org and clicking on “About the Church” and then “Find a Meetinghouse”)

If you have the means and Testimony, you should strongly consider applying to serve a Mission. It’s a Once-in-a-Lifetime opportunity. While it’s true that many LDS Sisters see Great Value in Marrying a man that has served an honorable Church Mission, it will have value to you over and above that. Serve for you. Serve the Lord.

If you parents choose to disown you, that’s their decision, not yours. Counsel with your Bishop about whether or not a Mission is Right for You.

I think you should date the LDS Interns. You can know within a month if a girl is right for you or not. And you have the added benefit of getting a new crop of interns in on a regular basis; how great is that?!?

At this point in life, I’d say that if you happen to meet a great non-member girl, and if her interest in the Church is sincere, introduce her to some Missionaries and ask her out AFTER Baptism. Not a good idea to mix feelings of Romance with the Process of Conversion.

But I do have to tell you, my friend, I have a sneaky suspicion that there’s something you’re not telling us. I think you’ve ALREADY got your eye on a non-member girl, that you’re looking for my permission to date her (if you’re not already dating) and you’re wondering how to reconcile your feelings for her with your (albeit shaky) Testimony of the Gospel.

Just a hunch.

I could be wrong.

But I’ll bet I’m not.

If I’m right, let me remind you that if you Really Love Her, you’ll hold off on any Serious Physical Stuff until AFTER you’re married.

Keep that in mind.

- Bro Jo

Dateless Boy

Dear Bro Jo,

I turned 16 just over a month ago and have not yet been on a date. I kind of feel bad about this because I feel like I "should" date, and that I am "expected" to date. However being freshly 16, the only girls that I could ask are the laurels in my ward who are 16-18 years old and I feel a bit silly because I am way younger than them. What should I do? I don't really know many other girls who are 16+ that I could date.

I guess I feel dumb asking older girls on a date because I'm not very tall and I don't look very old (I look pretty young for my age). I figure that the 16, 17, year old girls would rather date older guys who can drive, have cars, more experienced in dating, etc.

I suppose I am lacking a bit of courage and find it a bit scary to date older women, but should I still ask these girls out, even when I feel so young and small?

From - Dateless Boy


Dear Dateless,

I think you Should Definitely date. I’m one of those old-fashioned guys that think that Good Girls deserve to be Taken Out, and that Good Guys have a responsibility to Take Them Out.

To that end, in the Jo House, boys Over 16 are Required to go on a Minimum of One Date Per Month. If our boys meet that obligation then Sister Jo and I pay for their car insurance and gas for their car.

One girl complained that Young Women who know of our rules would feel less special because we “require” our boys to date (I even go so far as to suggest to them that it’s a Priesthood Responsibility, exactly the same way I tell my boys it’s their Priesthood Responsibility to Dance Every Slow Dance with a Girl at Every Church Dance – no Sister should have to stand around, not dancing, because Good Guys have chosen not to dance). Quite to the expected contrary, the girls our boys take out are quite happy to go, because

  a) just because they’re required to ask A girl, doesn’t mean that they have to ask A Particular girl, and

  b) I think Any Girl would rather go out with a Great Guy than sit home

(Sisters, back me up here:  How many of you Girl "Dear Bro Jo" Readers that are 17 and older can think of a boy younger than you that you wish would take you out?  Comment Below!)

It’s less important that every girl you take out be a member of the LDS Church while you’re in “Casual Dating” mode, particularly if you follow the Dating Rules.

So the girls in your ward are older, so what?

If you went to Church Dances when you were 14 you had to ask girls to Dance that were older.

(Again, that’s another reason why Bro Jo recommends Church Dances)

This is no different. You’re not hitting on them. You’re not trying to be the Boyfriend. You just want some experience dating and practicing your “get to know you better” social skills. If you’re 16 and she’s 17 or 18, it shouldn’t matter.

Or, at least, it shouldn’t matter To You. If it matters to her, if some 18-year old girl won’t go out with you on a Group Date because she’s “Too Much Older”, well . . . that’s Her Problem. Don’t let it get you down.

And don’t let it keep you from asking other girls out.

For the most part, 16-year old boys aren’t really that much younger than 17-year old girls. I say “Go for it!”

(And Sister Jo is quick to add that 1 or 2 years mean nothing if it means a girl gets to go out)

Let me share with you one, I think, rather funny anecdote. When our Oldest son was 15, almost 16, he was feeling the same way you do. One day, as he and I were talking with another parent about his dilemma, one girl (who’s about a year or so older than he is) and was standing near by, commented that she felt bad for my boy. She said she couldn’t imagine going out with someone that much younger. Now, a few years later, he’s tall, athletic, successful, popular, and quite handsome (much like his father). She’d love it if he were to ask her out, and has told me so, but he still remembers her comment and, at least for now, has no intention of Ever asking her out.

Just something for the girls out there to think about . . .

Anyway, Dateless, I say “Ask Away!”.

As always: Have a Plan and Stick to the Rules.

- Bro Jo

Dance Floor Conversation

Dear Bro Jo,

I have a problem and I know just about every LDS youth does too. At a church dance you get a girl to dance but after that it is the conversation. This is usually what with holds me from asking people to dance. When I dance I don’t like to bore people with what’s your favorite color and maybe sports. After those I can't seem to hold a conversation during a dance. So how do you hold a great conversation that girls will love while dancing?

Thanks,

Speechless


Dear Speechless,

Hey, you’re not alone – the fear of having to strike up a conversation not only keeps many kids from dancing, it keeps many adults from getting married. That’s why taking advantage of this social opportunity is so important!

Two things:

     1) You’re putting too much emphasis on the importance of this moment. I know I said in the previous paragraph that it IS important, but what I mean is that The Activity is important, not every single conversation. Keep in mind that you’re just talking; it’s no big deal.

     2) You need to stop thinking about What You’ll Say, and instead focus on What She Says. That’s the Art of Good Conversation: it’s not about You, it’s about the other person. Yes, you should politely, thoroughly and appropriately answer the questions you get asked (which doesn’t mean you have to tell everybody anything they want to know), but your focus needs to be on the other person; on her interests and thoughts, not yours.

To that end, here’s:

Bro Jo’s “LIST OF STUFF YOUNG GUYS CAN ASK GIRLS ABOUT WHEN DANCING” 
(or any other time they want to start up a conversation)

  • Things that are going on in her life.
     o School
           What are her favorite classes and teachers?
           What are her least favorite?
           Where does she dream of going to college?
           What would she like to study in college?
     o Activities
           Does SHE play sports?
           Does she play a musical instrument?
           What does she do in her free time?
  • Relationships
     o Friends
           Who does she hang out with?
           Are her friends here at the dance?
     o Boys
           Does she have a boyfriend? (could be very helpful to know)
           Has she been on any good dates lately? (Imagine the wealth of knowledge gleaned from that one!)
     o Siblings
           How many?
           Where is she at in the order?
           Does she get along with them?
     o Parents
           What do they do for work?
           What are they like?
  • Things about her. (Some of these are only for the Brave and Intelligent)
     o Where did she get that dress she looks so beautiful wearing?
     o Does she like the music being played at the dance?
     o Does she go to many Church Dances?
     o What is she looking for in her “Dream Guy”?

The point is that you can Talk about LOTS OF STUFF. And the key is that when you ask her a question, LISTEN to What She is Saying, so that you can respond intelligently when she’s done. Every answer she gives you should clue you into a follow up question to ask.

(Notice that I said “ask”, not “comment”. If she asks you a question, THEN you can comment, but it is not your job to ask her questions so you can give commentary on her answers)

Even if you’re dancing with a girl you already know fairly well, you can still find out More about Her.

Oh!  And the most important thing you MUST ask Every Girl you're dancing with (unless you already know the answer):  Her Name!

Always ask that first!  "Hey, thanks for Dancing with Me.  So, what's your name?"

Don't be shy; ask her name right away!

Give it a try; and Keep Dancing!

- Bro Jo

Reader's Note - Book Give-a-way - Summer 2009

Reader's Note:  Book Give-a-way - Summer 2009

It's Summer.  You want something to read.  Well . . . here's your chance to Enter to Win a Free Copy of Bro Jo's book "The Discovering Greatness Playbook"!

It's a book about my experiences with Kids and Youth Athletics that everyone will enjoy!

(If you want to find out more, check it out at Amazon.com - click here - and you can "Search Inside")

Here's what you do:

1) Become a "Dear Bro Jo" Fan on Facebook - (click here) - it's totally free!  If you're already a Fan, skip to step 2

2) Go to the "Dear Bro Jo" Fanpage on Facebook (click here) and under "Fans" click "See All".  Write down the Name of the Fan that is right before you and right after you (so you New Fans are going to have to get someone to join after you, or wait 'til someone does).

3) Go to Bro Jo's Consultant Webpage (one of the things Bro Jo does for a living) at this address (you can click on it if you want) http://www.coachdavejohnston.com and go to the "Contact Page"

4) At the contact page fill out your information and in the "comments" section write three names - the person who became a "Dear Bro Jo" Facebook Fan before you, Your Name, and the person who became a "Dear Bro Jo" Facebook Fan after you.  Get it?

5) Hit "Submit"!

It's easy!

Every correct entry I get will be entered into the drawing.  I will draw one winner a week, every week, from June 1st through August 17th!  (That's 12 winners!)  The winners names will be posted on a Note on the Facebook Fanpage.  I'll personally mail each winner a book!


Only one entry per person.  Contest ends August 17th.  Only correctly completed entries will be accepted.  Void where prohibited by law, and all that other Legal Stuff.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Reader's Note - This Sunday, May 31

Reader's Note - This Sunday, May 31

Three Letters from Guys - all at different stages in the Dating Universe.  Check it out:  A Three Letter Sunday!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Going Your Own Way

Dear Bro Jo,

I love your advice and your ideas are really intriguing, so I decided I should get your insight with my problem.

I'm going to BYU-H relatively soon and being the only child to make it to college my parents a little overzealous about it. My dad was in the army back in the day, so they've "encouraged" me to join as well.

I definitely see the benefit of joining the army, and it goes hand in hand with my major (political science), but I'm worried in amidst of training and school, I won't be able to devote time to looking for a husband.

And then when I finish with school, there's an obligation of four years to the army, which I totally understand as part of a contract. But I don't know where I'll be in four years.

I also want a stronger testimony, so I've wanted to go on a mission for several years, so I guess I'm wondering if you have any ideas about what I should do. I've prayed about It, but I feel like my personal thoughts may be blocking the Lord's answer.

I'm totally confused, and my parents are very one-sided about this decision. If you have an advice it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Lost and Confused.


Dear Lost,

Your parents know you well, and are inspired by their love for you to give you the best council they can. They mean well.

But you’re an adult now (or at least will be soon), and as such you need to make your own life-decisions. I think it would be foolish Not to Consider what your parents have to say; but ultimately the decision needs to rest with you.

With that, let me tell you four things.

1) Four years in the Army is going to fly by. In the grand scheme of our eternal existences, four years isn’t very long.

2) Cheap-to-Free Education is tough to pass up, be it scholarship or military funded.

3)  Serving One's Country is an Honorable Thing.

4) If a Mission is right for you, when you get to that point in life, Do It.

Nothing needs to be decided right away. Take your time to weigh out and consider all of your options. If you haven’t done so already, strongly consider getting a Patriarchal Blessing. If you have already received one, take it out and prayerfully read it again; you may gain some new insight.

Missions are wonderful things, but you can grow a stronger testimony every day. Do that stuff we learn in Primary!

• Daily Scripture Study
• Attend all of your Church Meetings
• Daily Prayer
• Live Gospel Principles

I’ve a firm believer that nothing grows a testimony of a Gospel Principle more than that of actually living it.


By the way, the converse is true as well.

Want to lose your testimony of Church Attendance?

Stop going.

Want to forget what it feels like to no longer hear the Promptings of the Spirit?

Stop listening.

Want to give up the blessings of Tithing?

Stop paying.

Want to cut off communication with Heavenly Father?

Stop praying.


It’s totally true. Look at the people around you who’ve stopped doing those things; they’ve lost their testimony. See it and realize that you don’t want to go there.


Back on topic.

I’m not suggesting you defy your parents, rather openly discuss with them your concerns. Ask them to give you a little time before you make any long-term commitments and, in the end, realize that those are your decisions to make.

Make them Prayerfully.

- Bro Jo

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Limits

Dear Bro Jo,

My house gets the Church News/Mormon Times newspaper, and a couple weeks ago, they ran a column, I'm sure others have read it too, about dating for LDS teens, and this writer stressed harshly that in "casual dating" there should be no actions that suggest "exclusiveness" whatsoever.

This writer said there should be no holding hands, hugging, or anything beyond that. This column was very straightforward, but it seemed different from things I've read in general conference talks or the New Era; it seemed more, I guess, angry and forceful than guiding and helpful.

But my point is: I've heard so many people say different things about what my dating standards should be, and they're all different in some way, and I'm really confused! Do you think you could clarify what my limits should be on things like holding hands and "exclusiveness"?

Sincerely,

How confused am I?


Dear How Confused,

Not very.

The Church is BIG, with lots of opinions and diversity, so not everyone is going to have the same opinion on any given topic. Ultimately your Dating Standards should follow the guidance of the Savior and his Prophets.

And not every counsel is perfect for every person. That’s why we’re given the Gift of the Spirit, so that each may discern for him or her self.

If you’re ever confused on any topic, turn to the Scriptures and to Prayer. Even if you don’t read or receive the exact answer to the exact question you have, you’ll certainly be comforted. That I promise.

That said, here’s my take on your questions:

I don’t recommend Exclusive (or “Serious”) Dating until after High School for girls and until after Mission for boys. However, after you’ve reached that point, I recommend being Exclusive with anyone that’s a serious marriage possibility. I also say that if you’ve been “Exclusive” with someone for more than six months and neither of you is ready for, nor serious about, marriage give strong (Very Strong) consideration to moving on.

I think Holding Hands and Holding Arms are perfectly acceptable in Dating and Dancing situations. I don’t recommend doing that around school (speaking of pre-graduation age kids) because it’s a sign of exclusivity (even if you’re not); I just don’t think it’s a good idea to be that serious that young.

I’m not naïve. I know kids couple up. I know we have Boyfriends and Girlfriends.

I just don’t think it’s a good idea. I know full-well that the longer a couple is together the more stuff they’re likely to do together (and I’m not talking about bowling and golf), and the harder the Almost Enevitable Break-up will be.

I’m not going to tell you not to hug, and I’m not going to tell you not to smooch, but I am going to counsel you to not hang on and grope each other and I am going to tell you not to “make out”.

Don’t, Don’t, DON’T have make-out sessions in the car, on the sofa, on the bed, in the park, in some dark secret place, or anywhere else that seems like you’re “hiding”. Satan works very hard to entice kids to go “too far”; and the temptations can be far greater than you realize.

In short, the guideline is this: don’t do anything that you wouldn’t want your Grandma to catch you doing.

Or the Prophet.

Or Jesus.

- Bro Jo

Reader's Note - Bonus Letters!

Reader's Note - Bonus Letters!

In an effort to catch up on "Dear Bro Jo" correspondence, over the next few weeks I'll be publishing "Bonus Letters".  Some days will see up to 3 Letters Published, and I'll even publish a few on weekends.  Watch for them!

And don't forget to get your "Book Give-a-way" entries in! 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Too Mature?

Dear Bro Jo,

I have had a very unlucky year and a half. 2008/2009 has been insane. Before I get into all that, let me tell you about myself.

I'm 16, about to turn 17. A Member of the Church, active and loving it. I'm home schooled, and about a month ago, I finally got a job at the Malco Movie Theatre in my area. Everyone tells me I look like a 21 year old, and I act very mature for my age. I sorta agree with them too. My life and past experiences have matured me, I can't help that. And I grew up much faster than most kids my age. So my appearance deceives all, and I guess my personality doesn't help. Hah.

Now, on to what's happened to me.

1. Freshman year of High School; I guess you could say I 'lost' my friends. People go to a big school...get into different things, you change, it's understandable. Yet, it's still tough and painful as ever. So, I went from having a large group of friends to maybe 4 main ones.
My Health crashed, and I had to be taken out of school, so I then was pulled from society it seemed. This was when I was only 15.

2. My Best girl friend moves to Seattle, WA. Leaving me, sadly, though we are still close as ever now, it's still tough. Summer comes, I go to Youth Conference, girls camp and all the church stuff, and make a tons of cool friends, things are going well right? Then, I turn 16! Have a birthday party, but my best friends can't go, so it's didn't seem as great as I thought it was going to be. I get annoyed...cause' being 16, you meet other 16 year olds...but I don't feel 16, so I get annoyed by them being immature and not "grown up". Making me not want to hang out with them...etc. etc.

3. So now, it seems like I have no one. My only two close friends left get boyfriends...and boyfriends...and boyfriends. They brake up, get another, brake up, get another. They are getting into serious relationships. Which I'm not like that, [this is where I do feel 16] I don't want to get tied down, and trapped with one person at 16! It seems crazy to me, and keeps me from other possible guys out there! So, I now feel like I don't fit in with my two friends in that sense.

4. My family is an...interesting family. I have 3 brothers, no sisters. Each brother is like living on a different planet every few minutes. They are brilliant and witty. But, I'm the only child who has been active in church for the past two, three years. My oldest, who is 23, is now becoming active in the singles ward, which I'm grateful. But, my family has been sort of 'marked' as the Inactive Family, or not so Mormon. So we tend to attract other in-actives...which sometimes, doesn't help so much with our In-activeness, do you know what I mean? So, I can't date my brothers friends, they aren't what I want. They aren't the good Mormon boy I dream of...and the members we do attract aren't either.

5. My ward is small, and the guys there are either younger than me, or we are only friends, and I don't like them like that. So my ward isn't my source for finding a guy, or a friend. I became friends with one girl, but she ended up hurting my family by so many levels. It was a rough patch for all of us.

6. Once I finally thought I found a guy I liked, I invited him to a church dance. Where he ended up ditching me for the girl who hurt my family! So, that didn't turn out so well. And that was my last time trying at dating. [that was in February]

I'm confused, is something wrong with me? I mean, I don't feel there is. Am I being too picky when it comes to guys? It's like I don't like any one of them. And the ones I do like are in there 20s, in College, and they like me. I don't fit in with kids my age, church dances are fun, but they depress me. I go, but people in my area are in 'clicks' they stick to who they know. So it's hard making friends and I ended up feeling lonely as ever...

I've prayed so much and for so long. And all I’ve gotten is that, now isn't my time to meet a guy, or be with a guy. Which I know, I totally agree. But how do I fight this loneliness? I don't even want a boyfriend, I mean sure that'd be great, but I just want a friend! Someone to talk to, hang with, pass the time away with. I'm a loner. And every time I come close to making a friend, the person does something idiotic, and my opinion changes of them and we grow apart. Is that being judgmental? Am I pushing all my friends away? Am I acting too mature?

My parents are talking about moving, which means I'll be going back to a school. I'm scared I won't fit in with my age group. Should I lower my standards and goof off for once? Should I date the non-member who's done pot in the past or should I just alienate myself from all unworthiness and be a loner for ever? [which is what I've been doing] I'm scared I won't have any experience when I'm older...if I don't date now. But my luck in it has been terrible, I can't even begin to explain it.

I feel like I can't even find a person worthy of liking...is that being stuck up? Am I setting my standards too high? Should I not even bother with dating, and just wait till I'm around mature enough people, at a mature enough age? I refuse to lower my standards though, I want to be worthy and be able to go to the temple and receive all the blessings I can have.

Is it so wrong to want a Good Guy at the age 16, when almost every teenager barely knows who they are, and the difference between right and wrong? I'm scared that I'm attracted to older guys, especially 20 year olds! Something in me says 'NOT SAFE!' you know?

How do I act my age?


Please help me,

Too Mature


Dear Too,

I have Good News!

You’re not more (or less) mature than anyone else your age!

And you’re acting just like a normal 16, almost 17, year-old girl. People who tell you that you look 21 are either a) trying to be complimentary, b) hitting on you, c) joking, d) totally clueless about judging ages.

(And, to be fair – and a little confessional – Bro Jo OFTEN falls into category D)

1. A small group of good, loyal friends is Way More Valuable than a bunch of shallow ones.

2. This might be a large part of your “few friends” problem – you’re being more than a little “better-than-thou” and quite a bit judgmental. Try accepting people for who they are, realizing that we’re all at different stages in our lives, and see if your circle of friends doesn’t widen.

3. You can still be supportive, kind and helpful, even if your friends have boyfriends. You may not agree with their choices, but can still be a good friend, right? If I limited my friends to people I thought were perfect, it would just be me and Christ; if my friends were only people who thought I was perfect, I’d be alone. It’s tough to not fit in, but, again, try being a little more accepting.

4. As I’ve said MANY times, Be Who You Want to Attract. You want to marry a “Good Mormon Boy”? Be a Good Mormon Girl. And don’t be so hard on the people who are trying to activate your family. Even if they’re not going about it well, I promise that they’re motivated by love. Love for you and your family, and Love for the Savior. “In-active” Mormons huddle together for the very reasons you’ve noticed about friendship: we like to associate with people we can relate to. See this as a Missionary Opportunity, not an anchor.

5. Again, you’re limiting your associations by being judgmental. You’re young! You can date guys that you’re not in-love with! That’s what casual dating is all about! Forgive others, and see how quickly you receive forgiveness.

6. Stop asking guys out, and learn how to get asked out. And never feel bad about a Losing a Bad Guy (Brethren, you need to leave with who you came with) – it’s a blessing! Think of it this way: better to find out right away that the match was bad then to have to figure out how to ditch him later.

And one more thing: You’re not helping yourself by trying to fast-forward these relationships. You take a guy you barely know to one dance and expect him to be your Boyfriend. Your friends make a choice or two you don’t agree with and you dump them. Good relationships take time to cultivate. Slow down!

You’re not a bad person, and there’s nothing seriously wrong with you, OK?
Don’t date, or even attempt to date, guys in their 20’s until you’re out of High School. Turn 18, then it will be OK.

You’re right when you say that now is not the time to “be with a guy” (and by that I hope you mean “have a Boyfriend” – can you actually see my hair getting grayer?). When you move to this new area, to this new school, don’t worry about everyone falling in love with you. Just be yourself and try to cultivate a small group of really good friends.

And, if I haven’t said it enough, the best way to do that is to be kind towards and accepting of others.

Please understand that by that I don’t mean to hang out with Known Tragedies, or to put yourself in unholy or dangerous situations.

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you readers this, but I had an opportunity in High School to ditch my “geeky friends” and become part of a more popular crowd. Those “geeks” are still people I consider good and loyal friends to this day. They’re not now, nor were they then, any less valuable than anyone else, and to me they’ve always been more valuable.

Plus, let’s not kid anyone here: I’m a pretty big “geek” too!

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dating Advice for Dad

Bro. Jo,

I saw your link on Facebook - and though I'm happily married, I do have 4 kids, so I decided to take a look since they'll soon reach dating age.

We live overseas on a military base - so the dating options are slimmer.

For my sons, getting a couple of date buddies and setting up a group date shouldn't be too hard (even if they're non-member date buddies - or dates).

My question is more for my daughter.

With not a lot of LDS guys to date, how would you recommend approaching dating for her (when she reaches the age)? Obviously, she's not in the same boat as the guys - so she can't set up a group date - what can she do to encourage group casual dating with guys who might not be LDS?

Thanks in advance!

Soon to be Worried Dad
Okinawa, Japan


Dear Dad,

I love getting letters from parents! Let’s face it: teenage relationships are just as scary for us as they are for them.

I share your concerns: you want your daughter to have good dating experiences, and you recognize the value of having her be asked out as opposed to asking guys out; but you’re operating, as you said in another email, “Outside the Zion Curtain”, so you’re justifiably worried about her safety and reputation (not that, as you and I both know, there are any guarantees INSIDE the curtain either).

If your daughter is close in age to her brothers, then they can help “set her up” on Group Dates; going out with your friend’s sister loses a lot of the awkwardness when we’re ALL Casual Dating, and no one’s looking to lock-lips with anyone else. In so many ways Group-Casual Dating is like a YM/YW activity with out the younger kids and leaders (in fact, both Sister Jo and I advocate Regular Priest-Laurel activities, monthly if possible). Plus, as a dad, you’ll probably feel a bit more comfortable with a brother there, not necessarily to act as chaperone, but to be that constant reminder in the back ground that what happens at the mall won’t necessarily stay at the mall.

So your daughter will have two issues:

1) how does she communicate LDS dating culture, and make it acceptable, to a mostly non-LDS peer group;

and 2) how will she operate with in that structure without being ostracized or unfairly labeled.

The answers to both (actually) start with you (which I think you sense).

You need to start by having her peers to your house. That’s a precursor to inviting them to Church Dances and YM/YW activities. Even if your daughter’s in elementary school it’s not too early. You don’t have to start with a house full of kids, just one or two good friends.

Eventually, when your daughter hits about 13 or so, start hosting small get-togethers at your place: Game Nights, BBQs, Video Parties. At that point lengthen the invitation list to include more kids and, yes Dad, boys. As these kids get to know you and your family, they’ll also get to know your standards. They’ll notice the things in your home (scriptures, pictures of Christ, pictures of the Temple) and the things that are not in your home (caffeine – including soda, pornography, R-rated movies, swearing). You may even want to “post” a few things on the wall, like the Proclamation on the Family, a Family Moto Scripture, or (although I certainly wouldn’t put this in the same category) “Bro Jo’s Dating Rules for Teens”. You want these kids to see, absorb and talk about, your standards.

Be the type of guy that a non-LDS kid will ask about the Gospel. That doesn’t mean to be a buddy; it means to be an approachable authority figure. The key there, I believe, is to talk to kids of all ages like they have value – too many adults “talk down” to kids, and boy to they pick up on that. Be the “Older Guy that Knows More”, not the “Guy that thinks he’s better than us”.

Communicate your expectations and standards to your children and their friends at a very early age. (Note: it blows my mind how many parents set aside things like, oh, say . . . Dress Standards, thinking that they’ll magically introduce sleeves and shirts that cover belly buttons when a kid hits 14).

Secondly, teach your daughter to be honest, open, and upfront when dating finally starts. Require that she stick to your standards: “Yeah, you can go out with him, so long as it’s a group date and I meet all of the kids before hand”. Of course, if you’ve already met them because you’ve been having them socialize at your house you’ll both be way ahead of the game.

You’ve got to talk to every Young Man that picks your daughter up. No exceptions. If, given your job (or other extenuating circumstances) you can’t be there, get a proxy. Your spouse, one of the older brothers, a grandfather, home teacher . . . somebody. This is absolutely required.

You don’t have to be the cliché guy on the porch cleaning his gun, just be there to ask the when, where, how, what and what time questions. The young man will treat your daughter better if he has a clear understanding that you care enough to be concerned. The conversation must happen. Every time. Don’t become lax just because you know this kid really well or he comes from a good family or it’s their fifth date. If you become lax with the rules they’ll be tempted to relax the rules too.

You won’t be able to protect her from the Gossip and the Jealousy, but you can help her build her Testimony and Self-worth so that when people accuse her of being “slutty” because she goes out with a different guy every month, or spread rumors that she’s a tease or man-hater because she won’t do the bad things they’re doing, or try to make her feel bad because they’re jealous that guys like her and she’s getting dates and they’re not, she can still hold her head up, knowing that she’s a Daughter of God, taking confidence in the fact that what she’s doing is right, and being comforted by the fact that she’s done nothing to drive away the Spirit.

Your daughter will be mortified if you set up dates for her, so don't.  But you can suggest to some good boys that you know that they set up a quality group activity.  You may have to teach those boys that are your daughter's age how to date properly.

Lastly, encourage your daughter to go out with any boy that asks her to be his date for a Planned Group Date, but don't require that she go out with anyone that makes her feel unsafe.  Discuss with her what that means.

Good luck, Dad. You’re not alone!

- Bro Jo

Monday, May 25, 2009

Riding in Cars with Boys

Hi Dear Bro Jo!

I just found your blogspot and have to say how truly impressed I am! Although, I tried to find an answer to my question and couldn't find it, so I decided to ask for myself.

Here goes...sorry if this turns into a novel...

I turned sixteen on April 7th, so a little over three weeks ago. I was out of town my first weekend of being sixteen, but the next weekend I had two dates- one to our stake's Seminary Ball (with a date we shall call...um... Carl :) ) where we would meet up with friends at the function, and one with a really good friend (who is destined for some great church leadership) on a group date (who we shall call... Jace).

Seminary Ball was girl’s choice, so I did the last minute picking. It is very similar to prom, but not quite as formal. I was picked up and Carl introduced himself while I was finishing getting ready. My parents seemed to think he was an awesome kid-approval! He drove me there and it was just us in the car (a little unusual for me being my first date), once we got there, the people who we were to meet up with got there very late and that left us (Carl and me) to eat dinner together and in turn to drive home together.

Being my first date, I thought you just left and went home, but apparently I needed to have something planned! We ended up driving around and finding a cool view of the Salt Lake Valley. We talked about school and friends and had a great time, but it was a little uncomfortable because of lack of planning. I got home a little before midnight with permission and a phone call to my parents. He texted me later that week and let me know he really liked me- slow down buddy!

The next date the next day with Jace was in contrast very well planned, and with a group with two other couples. Lots of activities, and still time to be alone to get to know each other. Different than the night before.

Yesterday (a week later from my second date), I wanted to do something fun. My mom suggested for me to see what Carl was up to. He was in the same boat as I was, bored on Saturday night. We decided to hang out (I made sure to use that term to let him know that this was not a date) and insisted on having a friend come along. All of mine were busy, and he finally found another friend (just one guy).

We did lots of activities this time, and eventually the friend needed to be home. Left in the car again just me and Carl. Maybe I am just paranoid... anyway. So we again found a place to drive around to sit and chat. We just talked about the fun activities we had done and even about his eagle scout (he is a very good kid). He eventually asked if I had ever been kissed. I said no (obviously). He asked if he could be my first kiss, along with me being his. I said no very politely, but I truly felt that I was not ready and he needed to SLOW DOWN!
He was a-okay with it and even texted me later that night to say he respected and actually appreciated me saying no.

However, the thing I am worried about is getting to serious to soon, and I happened to leave out that detail when telling my parents how the night went. I feel pretty guilty about not saying anything, but it isn't too late!

What can I tell Carl to let him know I want to stay good friends, but maybe date each other a little less frequently because I think he is a really awesome kid. Is it bad that I did not tell my parents or sister? I am planning on saying something, but am embarrassed and don't want them to think I am getting myself into a bad situation.

Sincerely,

Sixteen is sticky, but fun, I want to be six again!


Dear Sixteen,

There are times when we ALL want to be Six again . . .

Your instincts are good, but you need to establish some rules and follow them. Three that I recommend from “Bro Jo’s Dating Rules for Teens” (which are posted on the side here and on the Facebook Fan Site) are:

  1. Mix it up. Two or three different guys between repeat dates, Minimum. That will slow things down with this guy to about 1 date per month at most.

  2. Group dates only. Boys pick up first, and then girls get picked up. This reduces those awkward alone-in-the-car moments and gives each boy an opportunity to treat his date with gentlemanly respect (going to the door, meeting dad, opening doors for her).

  3. Always have a post-date discussion with your parents. Same day, next day, now even though it’s been several weeks; none of that really matters (although the sooner the better). The point here is to keep the lines of communication open, help your parents relax about the whole “you dating” thing, and get some occasional council from people who (while you may not want to believe or hear this) have a great deal more experience with romance than you do (if they didn’t, there’d be no You).

Also, stop “hanging out” and stop calling boys. You’re not a baby anymore; you’re a 16-year old Young Woman who needs to require that a little effort be put forth for her attention. If a big group is getting together that’s one thing, but you calling a guy and asking to hang out is another. It’s OK if you’re the one putting the group activity together, but if you can’t get a big enough group together, cancel the activity and try again another time with more advanced planning.

Asking a guy to a “Girl-ask-guy” event is totally OK (I think Schools and Stakes should have at least one each per year), but don’t get in the habit of asking guys out AND “no”, you don’t have to have hours and hours of stuff planned for a date. In fact, Bro Jo thinks it’s better if you don’t plan multiple activities. Go to a movie. Go to dinner. Go play Golf. Go for a hike. But don’t do everything in one date. Spread it out (I’m telling you this, Sixteen, but THE GUYS reading this letter need to write it down).

And DON’T, DON’T, DON’T go “parking”!

You can talk anywhere, but something happens when we’re in cars. We feel we have this Invisibility to the outside world; that’s why people “rock out”, talk to themselves, and pick there nose in their car: we can see them, but they think they’re alone in the universe.

That Invisibility is why guys come up with cheesy lines like “I’ll be your first kiss if you’ll be mine” (you don’t honestly think that’s the first time he’s tried that, do you?) – smooth, but cheesy.

Dating will be More FUN and A Lot Less STICKY if you date smart.

- Bro Jo

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Reader's Note - What Does "PDA" Mean?

Reader's Note - What does "PDA" Mean?

You've come to "Dear Bro Jo" looking for advice on Kissing and Hugging and Holding Hands, etc, but you can't find those words in the Topics List!

Fret Not!  They're all under "PDA", which (for those that don't know) stands for "Public Displays of Affection".

Now you know!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Slowing Down

Dear Bro Jo,

I am 17 years old (almost 18) and I've been dating this young man in my ward for around 7 months. I know the church says we shouldn't be dating steadily, and I agree. The thing is, it has been very difficult for me to find boys who keep the standards of the church. I used to settle for less but I realized this was only hurting me. 

The young man that I am dating now is the most standup guy I have ever met. He is always the first to show up at a service project, he is a good student, athletic, he is nice to everyone around him and he treats me like a princess. We are very careful to date in groups or in public places. His dad is my Sunday school teacher and my dad is his young men’s leader. He is my absolute best friend.

The problem is that I know at my age I shouldn't be dating "seriously" but I feel that no one else I know quite measures up. I don't want to settle when I have something great. I try to be like the type of person I want to be with and I think that's one of the reasons he is dating me. I'm not sure if I'm doing anything wrong or not. I am planning on going on a mission myself, and this helps me to not get dangerously involved.

As long as it is still easy for me to keep my standards while I'm around him, is it wrong that I continue to date him? I still have a lot of guy friends and I spend time with them and with my girl friends as well. I don't feel I'm missing out on anything. I'm very confused.

Sincerely,

- Miss Confused


Dear MC,

Yeah, you can keep dating him. But throw in dates with other guys (2-4 minimum) in between, and have him date other girls in between dates with you. Keep all of your dates, even the ones with this guy, Casual.

It will be difficult to see someone you really like going out with other girls, and it will be hard for him to see you out with other guys, but it’s not like you’ll be kissing them alone on the sofa, just practicing your “get to know you better” skills (Bro Jo’s 3-Cs “Conversation, Courtesy, and Compliments).

Don’t settle, and don’t lower your standards. Do continue to date in groups and go on dates that are well planned. If he’s with another girl and you with another boy all as part of the same group date, show your respective dates the courtesy of realizing who your date is and acting accordingly.

You are missing out on the opportunity of getting to know more guys than just this one, and if you exclusively date at this juncture, especially if you’re both planning missions, the adversary will work extra hard on you to tempt you into unworthiness.

(Readers, this is one of the reasons Bro Jo advocates SHORT ENGAGEMENTS: once a couple decides to get married in the Temple, it becomes increasingly difficult to avoid being all over each other. 30-90 days is plenty long for a Temple Engagement – the typical reasons people have longer engagements is to plan huge receptions - which more and more I find a bit vulgar; to save the money for the long trip to the Temple, in which case I say get married by Priesthood Authority and make the Temple trip your honeymoon trip; or to wait for worthiness, which is fine, so long as they’re working to be worthy; or timing – and my general feeling there is that if you’re ready to get married, well . . . get married.)

If you truly agree with the Church when it says “don’t steady date” at your age, as you say you do, then knock it off.

Follow the Prophet!

- Bro Jo

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wedding Plans

Dear Bro Jo,

In July I’m marrying the most wonderful woman I’ve ever met in the (withheld) Temple. I love her so much, and can’t wait to start our lives together.

The Wedding Plans are driving me crazy!

It’s so much stuff; and so much money . . . I really think this is getting out of hand. She’s the oldest daughter in her family, and my future mother-in-law is going all out. I just want to have a nice, simple wedding. What do I do?

- Overwhelmed


Dear Overwhelmed,

At this point there’s nothing you CAN do. Just sit back, buckle up, and hang on!

Unless your future bride needs you to stand up for Her wishes (like: she wants roses and her mother is insisting on lilies, although this close it’s probably too late to make a change, so just hug your fiancé and remind her that the important thing is you’ll soon be together forever).  Your job is to be happy and supportive and SAY NOTHING controversial or disruptive – really you should be saying not much of anything at all. Everyone’s on edge anyway; you need to keep things calm and smooth.

Bro Jo has always thought that one of the beauties of an LDS wedding is it’s simplicity (and affordability), but as the Church has become more a Part of the World it seems our weddings have become more worldly, even inside the Temple. Not the ceremony itself, but the Guest List; the reason some Temples have huge Sealing Rooms is that people used to have much larger immediate families, not so you can invite your elementary school teacher and 11-year old Scout Leader.

To the horror of Mothers Everywhere, here by unsolicited recommendation is:

Bro Jo’s List of LDS Temple-Wedding Suggestions

  1. Do it in one day. Even if neither the bride nor groom is not previously endowed, do the Endowment and Sealing on the same day. Whatever you’ve heard about doing both the Endowment and the Sealing on the same day being too long, or too much, or whatever . . . yeah, um, that’s bogus. Adding a Sealing at the end of an Endowment Session adds only 30-60 minutes. The REAL REASON people (and by that I mean Brides and Their Mothers) want to do the two ceremonies on separate days is because an Ornate Wedding Dress is inappropriate for the Endowment. Now if you add totally undressing and re-dressing into an über fancy wedding dress then “yes”, there’s another 60-90 minutes to be added there, and that does become a long time. I know the “Ornate Wedding Dress” is a big thing for some moms and daughters, but come on, what’s the real purpose of what we’re doing here? Save the over-priced but very beautiful white dress for the pictures and reception.

  2. Keep the Guest List Small. For the Sealing: Immediate Family and Grandparents only. Don’t invite every college roommate and mission companion you’ve ever had. See them at the Open House or Reception; they can congratulate you there. Stick to inviting people you’ll actually be bonded to for Time and All Eternity.

  3. Keep Your Party Expenses Down. I’ve yet to meet a dad who wouldn’t rather the kids had just taken a check for the reception’s expense and spent it on something practical, like Food Storage or Education or a Down Payment on a House or Condo. I’ve been to “Very Fancy Catered Receptions in Rented Halls” and “Finger Foods and Receiving Lines at the Home of the Bride’s Parents” – both were very nice, but I liked the simpler affair better.

  4. Stick to a Modest Budget. I’ve actually overhead mothers talk about how their daughter’s wedding is going to be more grand than so-and-so’s daughter’s wedding. Really? Is that important? Is that in keeping with the Spirit of the Occasion? Even if you have a lot of dough, it’s obscene to buy your daughter a Dress that costs more than a car.

  5. Remember who’s important. And that’s different depending on your role. Brides, it may be “your day”, but focus on your parents, grandparents and in-laws; be gracious and thankful. Grooms, it’s all about her; she’s your queen. Brides and Grooms together, focus on your guests, especially the elderly and those that traveled far; again: Be Grateful. Parents: don’t look at the day as a reflection on you; focus on the kids and your guests. Don’t keep your reception guests waiting for four hours so you can take another gigabyte’s worth of pictures. If you’re a shutterbug, space the Sealing and Reception several hours apart; give people time to go grab lunch and take a nap.


Let me make a few more comments about Wedding Expenses.

In the LDS Church the Sealing itself is practically FREE. There’s no cost for the Temple (they don’t even charge for parking), and you’ll never find a more beautiful building with better flowers. There’s no cost for the Sealer (in most faiths it’s expected that the minister get paid). Even if you don’t own your own Temple Clothing it can be rented for under $7 per person. The only expenses beyond that are the license and/or blood tests required by some jurisdictions; very minimal.

Most of the money spent on Weddings today goes for The Ring, The Dress and The Reception. Think about that.

I know Rented Reception Halls are Big Business in a lot of places, and that’s fine, but please keep things in perspective.

You kids that are getting married, it’s not right to “expect” that certain people buy or pay for certain things. If her parents offer to rent a hall, and they can afford it and really want to do it, then fine, but don’t make them feel “obligated”. The Stake Center Cultural Hall, a Park, the Beach, or a Home are all very nice (FREE) choices. If his parents want to buy the wedding party dinner the evening before, great, but don’t ask them to. Nothing is less becoming than a young couple demanding that people spend money on them.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Waiting for a Missionary

Dear Bro Jo,

So I have been dating this guy all through high school and I really like him! But now that he has left to go on a mission going on dates is hard and the pressure of getting married is crazy!!!! I feel that I need to wait for him to get home off his mission to see if we still have something together. I think I owe it to myself and him. I mean he really likes me and really wants me to wait for him!! I’m so lost at how to just date guys and let them know that I’m just dating for fun, to get to know people, and that I’m waiting for someone...

Signed, Confused


Dear Confused,

Maybe the guy that’s on the mission is a right guy for you (not the Only Guy – Bro Jo doesn’t believe in that – but A Right Guy), but two years is a long time. People change and if you’re not around each other to see those changes happening and adjusting to those changes, you may find yourselves not in the same place romantically when he comes back.

Where will that leave you? Having wasted two of your prime dating years waiting around, perhaps missing a few good husband prospects because you weren’t open to the possibilities.

Don’t worry about the pressure of getting married; let it go- the only one who can really put pressure on you is . . . you. When guys ask you out, just go out and have a good time. If the guy is nice and he asks you out again, go out again. If he is ready to get serious and you’re not, tell him so. Just be upfront and honest. Don’t say “I’m waiting for a guy to come home”, but do say “I like spending time with you, but I’m not that serious about a relationship right now”.

Unless of course he’s not a good guy, then like any “Date Gone Bad”, thank him for taking you out, but when he calls again be honest: “I appreciate the invitation, but I’m not feeling like this will go where I want, so ‘thank you’, but ‘no’”.

- Bro Jo

Note: For all of you other pre-mission “couples”, do yourselves a favor: break up before the Missionary leaves, guy or girl. If you’re both available when the mission is over, date; you may find that you’re meant to be, but odds are you're not.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Next Girl

G'day Brother Jo,

I consider myself to be a somewhat mature person. I feel like I understand the pattern of how a relationship is built. I'm no expert, but I learn from past experience.

So today, after only dating a girl for a little while, she said to me "your really excited about how this relationship is going, right?" correct. "I really do love spending time with you and you make me feel so special... like a million bucks. I'm really comfortable around you and can’t find a reason not to like you, but i don't feel excited like you obviously do. You deserve someone who does; someone who feels like they want to see you everyday and run up to you and leap into your arms every time they see you".

After a while of talking it turned out that it really sounds like this is the exact way she was feeling. it didn't seem like there was anything else hidden.

I've been home off my mission for about 5 years now and she’s about the same age as me. We are both in good careers and everything else really just seemed like we were both ready for each other.

Being a guy, I naturally want to fix the broken things. Is there anyway that I can fix it? Anything I can do? This is one girl who I really feel is special and I'm not ready to just give up on this one.

I don't really understand this part of love. It’s not like we were that far into our relationship, but I thought we both wanted to get there eventually.

Thanks mate,

The Australian


Dear Australian,

G’day!

Five years post mission and you’re on the right track; it’s time to take a girl to the Temple and start a family.

You’ve invested time in someone you really thought was the right person, and she’s done her best to break-up with you in a nice way. I hate to say it, but I’ve been there, Brother. I’ve dated girls I thought were the right girl to marry, everything going along well, and then she’d end it.

I had one girl tell me that she didn’t think we should keep dating because in addition to the romantic stuff we were also “friends”. Well garbage! I thought that was the dimension that separated a standard issue girlfriend into possible wife territory! (and it is)

I don’t have a magic salve for how to “fix it”, I wish I did. At this point we don’t know what’s going on in her head. I’m sure you’re right, that she’s sincere in what she told you, but there’s likely something a bit more as well.

Does she like someone else?

Is she expecting a spark that just isn’t there for her?

Does she want you to fight for her a little?

Is this a test?

Is she expecting the clouds to part and a voice to rain down from on High, saying “THIS IS THE MAN THAT THOU SHALT MARRY; GET THEE NIGH UNTO THE TEMPLE WITH HIM!”?

I don’t know (but, and I hate to tell you this, the first one is the most likely, in which case you don’t need her, brother)

As I see it you’ve got two things you need do right now:

1. Get Out There and Date other People.
2. Let things Cool Off for two weeks and then talk to her.

For me it was just a couple dates after the “friend” lecture that I dated the future Sister Jo; and I need to tell you that, knowing what I know now, I’m So Very Glad that the other relationship didn’t work out. Mostly because Sister Jo is so incredible, but also because that other girl turned out to be so . . . well, let’s just politely say that I’m very glad she didn’t become the mother of my ankle biters.

That girl that gave me the brush off ended up catching me at University a few months later. I believe that having seen how well things were going in my new relationship she began to realize that she’d made a mistake. She more than hinted that she’d like to try dating again and I politely said “no”; one of the best decisions of my life.

Some times we need to separate a little to realize the value of what we’ve got. I’ll tell you something else: for about 1 week in the middle of dating Sister Jo and I “broke up”. We each went on one other date during that time, and each of our other dates was a total nightmare. The experience is part of what cemented our relationship for eternity.

That might happen here for you as well.

And it might not.

The uncertainty of why people act and feel and do the things they do in relationships is, I agree, the worst part.

Until you’re old and married; then it’s part of the reason you never want to let your spouse go, lest you have to deal with all that garbage again.

Hang in there. Get yourself another date (or two) this weekend, and keep and eye out for what this girl does.

Oh, and beware of One Thing: watch out for her trying to put you in the “Friend Zone”. She may try to string you along or hold you in reserve, as a back up, using this time to date other guys and using your desire to still be around her as an opportunity to have a “Guy Friend” that she can bounce her relationship foibles off of. Don’t get caught there!

If she tries to pull that garbage, either send her packing or tell her that you like spending time with her, and you’d be happy to take her out again, but you have no interest in being her “back-up buddy”.

She may pretend that she doesn’t know what you’re talking about, but deep down, she does.

Now, if you want to have her linger on your memory, send her some simple flowers today with a short note that says:  “I really enjoyed dating you, sorry things didn’t work out, I’d love to go out again some time, if you change your mind, please let me know”.

If she doesn’t clue in to what a great guy you are at that point, there’s not too much else you can do.

I know you like this one, but the Next Girl may be a much better fit.

Good luck,

- Bro Jo

Monday, May 18, 2009

Speed Dating

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a student at BYU-I, this is my third semester here and I have yet to be asked on a date. I model makeup during the times I'm home so I'm not unattractive. I'm positive and super outgoing I'm not scared to introduce myself to random people. I'm thinking maybe my problem is I just can't flirt. Can you give me advice on how to flirt or just get a Mormon guys attention? I would really rather not blatantly ask men to go out with me; I like men who are "manly" enough to ask me. I would also appreciate if you would tell me if maybe there was something else wrong with me that could be hindering my progress here.

Thanks so much,

Dateless at BYU-I DO


Dear Dateless,

I have no idea what may be wrong with you, for all I know it’s LOTS of things!

If what you need are some flirting tips, I suggest that you look through the many letters I’ve written on how to flirt (see the topics list to the right). There are several things a girl can do, such as: making eye contact, talking to guys about themselves, sitting close, and touching guys on the hand or arm while you’re speaking to them.

Now I don’t know if this is your problem, but you don’t mention in your letter that you’re active in your Ward and other social circles. If you want guys to ask you out you can’t just sit at home waiting for the phone to ring. Go to dances, attend all your Church meetings, go to all the YSA Activities you can.

Become involved in committees and make plans.

Guys can’t ask you out if they never meet you.

Here’s one great way to jump-start dating in your Ward and Stake: Speed Dating. Ever see the movie “Hitch”?

Finger foods and long tables with lots of chairs are all you need. Guys sit opposite girls. Each talks for 3-5 minutes. If there’s the slightest interest, guys get phone numbers. If not, no harm no-foul. Ring the bell and guys move to the next chair.
Great way to meet lots of new people in a short period of time. Maybe in your Stake it should be a monthly or quarterly activity.

- Bro Jo

Friday, May 15, 2009

Real Friends

Dear Bro Jo,

I know that this isn't a dating question but I am hoping you can give me some of you great advice.

Here is the problem:  I'm perceived as smart, at least among my peers at school, (I really don't mean to sound as though I am arrogant about my intellect, I just really love to learn and am gifted with the ability of retaining knowledge easily. I know there are a bunch of people, in my grade, who are smarter than I am) and am often asked for help to study, finish projects and proofread papers. I didn't mind doing this most of the time because I love it when the people I help come and tell me how well they did on whatever I helped them with. it has reached the point where I'm known only as "tutor girl" which is mildly depressing. Actually, I hate it. I HATE the fact that I only have "friends" when term papers are due. More and more I wish that just like most of the girls at my school who are so sweet, and cute, even if they aren't the brightest star in the sky.

Part of the problem might reside in the fact that I was in private school until my freshman year and when I entered public school I still had the mentality of my old school which was thoroughly competitive when it came to academics. So I answered way too many questions in class. Also most of my classes for my first 2 years were with upperclassmen, so that set me apart more.

I have done everything I can to try and get friends. I have tried to throw get-togethers at my house, ice-cream bars and bbq's, so people could get to know me outside of a school setting. No one really came to them. I have shut up and stopped asking questions in class (much to some teachers confusion). Is there anything else that I can do? or do I have to wait 58 weeks until I graduate to get a fresh start and a new chance with friends?

Signed -
Wishing I was "Blonde" (I know this is a stereotype but it suits my purpose)


Dear Wishing,

So here comes all the hate mail from my light-haired readers . . .

(Have I told you guys that Sister Jo was blonde when we met? She also insisted that everyone call her “Sunny”, which is NOT her name, but that’s a story for perhaps another day . . .)

The column is about relationships, and friendships certainly fall in that category, so I think your letter is appropriate.

I understand the desire to have many friends, and I agree that it’s heart-breaking to have a get-together and not have many people show . . .

The Jo Kids have thrown MANY movie parties; sometimes they’re well attended, sometimes not. Sometimes kids seem to come because it’s the “in” thing that weekend; sometimes they show because they want their parents to think they’re better kids than they are; sometimes kids don’t come because they think “losers” will be in attendance, and they don’t want to be associated with “that group”. Some kids really aren’t available to come; some kids’ parents won’t let them attend; and some kids are just really weird (read “snobby”) about stuff like that. Regardless of who comes or not, we always choose to have a good time.

And, if you’ll allow me to boast for just a minute, my kids are what you’d expect “popular” kids to be, considering that they aren’t mean, don’t drink, and try hard to follow the prophet. They get good grades, play sports, go to all their Church activities, serve in student government, and are pretty decent to other people.

But like you, Wishing, and all of the readers of this column, they’re discovering some very important things about Friendship.

Most importantly they’re discovering that being “popular” often really equates with being “mean”, and that having a large group of friends isn’t nearly as valuable as having one or two really good ones.

Go back to being who you are: answer all the classroom questions you want (but be sensitive to the fact that other people like to answer questions too – that may be the best way for them to learn – so give them a chance).

Keep having get-togethers, but worry less about whether or not a large crowd attends. Focus instead on getting to know better the few people that do attend.

When I was in High School I actually had a guy, we would have labeled him a “wanna-be-jock”, come up to me and tell me that I wasn’t as popular as I should be because some of the people I chose as friends weren’t “cool” enough. I was Athletic and Social so I was expected to be part of THAT group. He said that if I dropped them as friends that I would get invited to more parties and, most persuasive, that a very pretty, very popular, girl that I liked had said that she’d be interested in me if I wasn’t always surrounding myself with “geeks”.

Very tempting indeed.

But I decided that I didn’t want to be friends with anyone that was so superficial. Through Facebook I’ve reunited with some of those “geek’ friends that I had then; they’re successful, well married (and getting married) and have good families. I’m lucky to still call them friends.

If it makes you feel good to continue helping people with their grades, by all means do so.

Yes, you may have to wait 58 weeks, or even longer, to find those life-long friends that we all need. This might also give you a stronger testimony of the value of being close to your family. For now, keep your chin up, keep doing what you’re doing socially, but focus more on finding a Few Good Friends.

If you can stand a quote, which I think applies here:

“there are many called, but few are chosen, and why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world”

- Bro Jo

Thursday, May 14, 2009

To Pair or Not To Pair

Dear Bro Jo,

I love this! You have such great advice for everyone. We’ll have to agree to disagree on some things, but isn’t that what agency and democracy are about?

Anyway, I have a situation. There’s a young man I really like- well, it’s mutual, actually. I’m 17, and he’s 16- turning 17 next week (as I write this). My dilemma isn’t whether to date him or not. The story is a long one. Sufficeth to say that we discussed the matter right after his 16th birthday last year and decided not to steady date or “go out together”. There was a couple week lapse a few months ago where we started to get involved with each other (nothing too serious), but again, details aren’t really necessary. It was brought to a halt, and we’ve just been good friends since. I’ve been on a couple group dates without him, and he’s had a date or two.

My predicament is more about how I feel. Almost all of my friends (from school) have paired off with each other. Even a handful of the priests in my ward have girlfriends. There are a lot of other kids my age who have paired off in great relationships. My own sister (who is younger than me and not 16 yet) has a boyfriend. I basically see happy couples everywhere I go, and it sometimes really gets to me. I’m on this roller coaster ride where sometimes I’m ok just being friends with the guy I like and other times I want more from our friendship, and at those times, I get really down because I know I can’t have it. There’s a part of me that does want it.

I know now isn’t the time for either of us to do any serious dating. I have to prepare for college, and he needs to get ready for his mission. I know my feelings of attraction are natural and right. I know that after we graduate next year, we may never see each other again. I understand that some things just have to wait, but it doesn’t stop the sadness from coming when things start going downhill. I know the chances of anything really happening between us (after his mission) are slim to none, but I haven’t dismissed the idea, either. How do I over come the roller coaster of ups and downs so that I can be content with being just friends with this guy?

Sincerely,

Junior Gal in (withheld)

P.S. Can you with hold my city/state? Thanks!


Dear Junior Miss,

Yes I can (and, as you can see, I did!).

Ah, To Pair or Not To Pair . . . THAT is the question!

Whether it is nobler in the heart to suffer as your friends all get boyfriends while you stand idly by, listening to the advice of Church leadership . . .

Actually, I’ve never read a revelation or heard in a conference talk that the word is from On-High that ye who art in High School ought not have boyfriends and girlfriends . . . it may be out there some where, but I don’t remember it . . .

It is, however, implied, particularly when the pamphlets talk about “limited casual dating”.

I’ve said it (and written it), A LOT!

And here’s why:

The purpose of dating is to find a spouse. That’s why your great grandparents used to call it “courting”; because it lead to “courtship”.

But you can’t just wake up one day, realize you’re 22 and go out and get married. The skills that are required to find a good spouse take practice. Since we don’t want you married at 15, we’ve created ways for you to be social, and practice those skills so that you’ll be ready when you’re the appropriate age.

(Bro Jo doesn’t believe that there’s only one person out there for you, LOTS of PEOPLE out there would make pretty good spouses for Lots of People)

Thus we wait to date until we’re 16 and we Casual Date from then until After High School for Girls and Post Mission for Boys.

It’s natural to want to pair off, especially for girls. Can I tell you that I think it’s hormonal? I mean that in the best possible, scientific, way. A girl is “capable” of creating life typically by 12 or 14 (some even younger, much to Bro Jo’s horror – his oldest daughter is almost at that age – some older), so I think that, Physiologically Speaking, since the body is “ready” the heart and mind are pulled in that direction, too.

So, if it’s “Natural”, why is it a bad idea?

Because there’s a lot more to consider about raising a family than just the fact that the chemicals are there!

I don’t believe that one should put off marriage and family (in that order!) because of money, work or school (as long as we’re talking college, not High School), but I do believe that one should be at a point in life where they’re ready to commit to the work that’s necessary to support and raise children.

“But Bro Jo! We’re not talking about having babies! We’re just talking about having a Steady Date!”

I’m sure that’s true.

But ask yourself, just exactly what is the romantic status of the girls who are getting pregnant in your High School? Very shy? Never had a Boyfriend??  Really???

The point is this, my young friends: having a “Steady Date” (or a Boyfriend, or a Girlfriend) indicates a relationship; a relationship that inherently has familiarity. You know how it works: the longer a couple is a couple the closer they get to coupling.

I still remember a scene from an old “Happy Days” episode. The oldest boy is complaining about his date curfew to his father. Trying to justify staying out later, he says “Dad, there’s nothing I can do after midnight that I can’t do before midnight”. His father replies “Richie, I know it takes until 10:30 pm for a boy to get up the courage to hold a girl’s hand. That’s why you’re going to be home at 11:00”.

Look, JM, I’m not saying your sister is evil because she has a boyfriend, but watch her. Watch all of the kids at school. The older they get, the more familiar they are with the whole Boyfriend-Girlfriend Thing, the faster their relationships progress (typically), but the progression is the same: we start by holding hands, then we may kiss briefly goodbye, then we start hanging on each other a bit, then we kiss a lot. . .

All of this is stuff you know.

Take comfort in this: when you leave for college it will be without the entanglements of a “serious” relationship. You’ll be prepared to start fresh as you enter that exciting new phase of your life that includes school, and some more serious relationships. You’ll be able to take comfort in the fact that you made it through the traumatic and dramatic years of High School without having to deal with any blow-out break-ups.

And you’ll never really be “friends” with this guy. The potential for the relationship to be something more will hang out there until it no longer becomes a possibility. Maybe you’ll date each other, maybe you won’t. The mystery is part of the fun!

Learn to enjoy the rollercoaster!

If it is meant to be, won’t it be better to discover that when you’re both ready for Serious Dating, rather than having wasted that level of the relationship when you both should be focusing on other things?

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What Can a Girl Do?

Dear Bro. Jo,

I've been sixteen for a few months, so I have been on a couple of dates, but of course I'm still a newbie on the block. 

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine confessed to having feelings for me, and he knows that I like him, too. He's a nonmember and he's also still 15...I've done my best to explain the dating standards and he's been respectful of them. 

I told him I'd prefer to wait until he's sixteen to go on any dates, and I also told him that exclusive dating in high school isn't really my thing, nor is it okay standard-wise. Nothing is really getting out of hand, and he's not pushing me to date him or to do anything physically. It's pretty much not that big of a deal, but the problem is people in my school are so used to the idea of just pairing off that no one really understands that we're not a couple, and its starting to feel like I'm being to exclusive when nothing is even going on.

Question: When someone tells me they're interested in me, is it okay for me to tell them I like them too? We're not dating, and sometimes he carries my books when we walk together or things along those lines. We're NOT physically involved at all...actually, it's kind of rare that we even hug. 

(Actually, confession time: we did hold hands once or twice, but it's not something that we've really made a habit of. Other than that, we really aren't physically involved.) 

He knows I can't be exclusive. Still, we have a lot in common and I think both of us just enjoy talking, whether on the phone or in person. We talk a good bit. He invited me to his church with his family, will probably attend mine as well. I'm just confused on what's okay and what's not when you're attracted to someone. Help?


Thanks.

-Confuzzled


Dear Confuzzled, 

Yeah its OK to tell someone that you have an interest in them, but let me ask you: to what end? What’s the point?

See, that’s something we do when we’re trying to get Into a Relationship.

Now tell Bro Jo the truth . . . deep down you think that would be pretty nifty, right? I mean, even though he’s only 15 and a non-member you do like holding his hand (which is Totally Natural, by the way) and, well, let’s face it: it sure is nice to be liked! If he was your Boyfriend then everyone out there would know that at least One Guy thinks you’re pretty hot stuff. What girl wouldn’t take comfort in that?

A lot of your friends are “pairing off”, and you think it would be nice to be a part of that club, right?

I totally get that. It’s just not the right time. If you have a boyfriend now, especially one that isn’t old enough to date, you’re going to miss out on a lot of fun stuff; and I think you know that.

So, more to your question: what’s OK to Say and Do, and what’s not?

It’s OK to compliment the boy: “Hey, Nice shirt!”; “Good job on that Test!”; Well you sure smell good!”

It’s NOT OK to use Sexy Talk: “You’re so Cute!”; “Come over here and give me a squeeze!”; even to your friends when he’s not around: “He’s Hot” is not a good thing to be hanging out there, lest it get back to him, and it will, and thoughts drift where they ought not to linger at this age.

It’s OK to Hold Hands, on a Date or walking out to the Dance Floor.

It’s NOT OK to Hold Hands around school, especially in class or the cafeteria.

It’s OK to confess your feelings in your diary; believe me, you’ll get a kick out of it later. Then you’ll get old (like me) and burn all that stuff.

It’s NOT OK to confess your feelings in writing to him or someone else; it’s the old lawyer’s adage: Admit to Nothing, then you’ll have nothing to retract!

It’s OK to give him your phone number. How else is he supposed to ask you out when he’s old enough?

It’s NOT OK to spend hours talking and texting. Learning to communicate In Person is a sadly dying art. And frankly, Bro Jo finds incessant texting Lame and Annoying.


Hope that helps! Stay on the right path,

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How to Ask Her Out

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro!

There is one girl who is giving me clean signals to ask her for a date. But, I suck at the looks and she is very beautiful. She is always covered by her friends and I am not able to approach her directly. The thing only we did was, I danced with her Bachata and she enjoyed it a lot.

Please Bro help me, How should I approach her? What should I say? and How do I ask her out? 

Please Bro Please, Help me.

Your Younger Bro,

Aman


My Brother Aman,

If you can dance Bachata you don’t need much romance advice from me; is there a better music for wooing women?

I don’t think so!

Don’t worry about looks; girls aren’t as superficial as we are. If they were, very few Actors, Comedians and Musicians would be dating Supermodels; and I never would have gotten Sister Jo.

Girls see beyond how we look and see our hearts, our hopes, and our humor. Any girl that doesn’t, you don’t want to date.

It’s tough to get up the courage to ask for a date if you can’t separate her from the pack, so let’s start there.

Try approaching her when she’s with her girlfriends and asking to speak to her privately. If she’s a decent person, she’ll agree. Plus her friends will be impressed with your courage and think the gesture is romantic. (This is where a wing-man or two can really come in handy; either so all of you can ask all of them out as a group, or so they can preoccupy the other girls while you pull her aside and talk to her alone).

If that doesn’t work, visit her at home. Be prepared to talk to her father (or Mom or Grandma), so dress sharp and Be Respectful.

Whether she comes to the door or you sequester her from her friends, have your plan prepared in advance so you know exactly what you’re inviting her to do.

What you say may vary depending on whether you’re Serious Dating Age or Casual Dating Age, but essentially you say this:

“On This day I’m planning This, and I’m wondering, will you be my date?”

That’s it, Aman. Just that easy.

“On Saturday my friend and I are planning a Dinner Double Date. I would love it if you would be my date; would you like to go?”

I can’t promise she’ll agree, but that’s why we practice dating. For some of us it takes many women saying no before the right woman says yes.

If she does say yes, be prepared with the time you’ll be picking her up, and to answer her simple questions, such as: “who is the friend that’s your dating buddy?” and “where are we going and what time will you pick me up?”

If she says no because she’s unavailable, ask her if she’d consider going out with you another time. If she says yes, ask when she’ll be available next.

If she says no to either question, kindly thank her for her time, politely wisher her well, and make a gracious exit.

Cry it out when you get home, then get over her and move on to the next girl!

Best of luck, my friend! As Sister Jo tells me often: “I never said it would be easy; I only said it will be worth it!”

- Bro Jo



Monday, May 11, 2009

How Does She Know?

Dear Bro Jo –

I know you've probably got tons of questions concerning this but what are ways that guys show that they like you?

I'm needing the advice as there's this guy that I'm kind of interested in that I would like to date if he reciprocates.

We talk and from reading your posts you stated that if a guy talks to you he likes you but to what extent?

What does it mean when during a conversation a guy is animated when he is answering but suddenly stops talking? I ask him questions to get the conversation going and then sometimes he asks a question back, but for the most part once I'm done asking him questions he stops talking.

Is that a bad sign? Does it mean that basically he's not in to me?

How I can better deal with such situations?

The boy I'm talking about is a pretty awesome guy who's an introverted socialist, intellectual, sweet with a testimony.

We haven't known each other that long as I just moved into the new area that I now live a couple of months ago but I see him everyday for seminary since he carpools along with a group of youth along with me.

Confuzzled


Dear Confuzzled,

Like you girls don’t have enough power over boys, now you want me to tell you the signs that a guy likes you?

OK. Fine.

Here’s the big clue: Is he breathing?

If he’s close enough that you can tell he’s breathing, he likes you.

Does that mean he’ll admit it? Heck No!

But rest assured that guys don’t spend time with girls they’re not interested in on some level.

You know where the real problem arises is that for many girls “Interest” needs to equal “Commitment” and for boys that’s just not the case. A guy can be very interested in a girl that he has no intention of being the boyfriend of, nor is he even ready to ask her out.

But then Men and Women look at Sex differently, too.

In general Women see Sex as equivalent to Love, where as Guys see Sex as, well . . . Sex.

This, my young friends, is Why You Should Not Have Sex Until You’re Married (at least one of the Big Reasons). You guys aren’t dumb: all of you know Girls at School that have Sex with their Boyfriends because they think it means they’re in love, or, even worse (if that’s possible) because they think that’s how to keep a boyfriend. What these girls fail to realize is that for these Loser Guys they’re “dating” (not that these boys ever take them out) Sex is about Gratification, not Love, because, and read this closely ladies,

A Guy Can Have Sex with A Woman he:

a) doesn’t respect
b) doesn’t like
c) doesn’t even find that attractive

because by Nature and Chemical he just thinks of Sex as Sex. Is that really how you want to be thought of?

If he loved her more than he loved himself he’d preserve and honor her virtue and insist on holding off sex until after marriage.

And the Good Guys do. Remember that.

But back to the original question, Confuzzled: You can pretty much bet that a guy likes you if he communicates with you in any way on a regular basis. Talking, Texting, Email, Eye Contact. Even if he has another love interest; if he was that interested in Her he wouldn’t be spending all that time communicating with You.

Trust me, if a guy communicates with you all the time, it’s NOT because he wants you to be his “buddy”.

Stopping the conversation may not be a bad sign. He may be shy. He may not know what else to say. He may be tired . . .

But I’ll say this: if you find that you’re always the one putting forth the effort, he may just be being polite, and you may be projecting your feelings and wishes into the situation. Sometimes people are being nice or polite and we interpret that to mean that they like us more than they do because that's what we wish for: we believe what we want to believe.

If you want more guys to talk to you, try that magic hair spray mentioned a couple letters ago and practice the art of asking guys to talk about themselves.

- Bro Jo

Friday, May 8, 2009

Move On

Dear Bro Jo,

I have had a crush on this older guy since I was 14. He is now off his mission and I am almost 18. Mom keeps saying that I have a chance with him, and both his parents know that I have had a crush on him for years. They all think we'd be good together, and I really like him. He has everything that I want in a guy (you know that list they make you write at church about what you want in a future spouse.) I'm not sure if I really have a crush on him or if I'm over him.

I think I still have a crush on him, but I haven't seen him in so long that I don't know. I talk to him online (he’s at BYU-I) and we always have very interesting conversations. But now he has a girl friend. Mom and dad both say not to give up because it’s probably not going to be a very long relationship and to wait for him (after all I have quite a few years) Anyway, I'm happy for him. He seems so happy and I wouldn't want to see him sad. He’s such a nice guy that it would be a shame to make him sad. I don't know what to do. Should I wait and continue to be his friend, and let myself hurt because he'll never like me? Or should I continue to be his acquaintance and find someone else? Another problem is he’s the only guy I've been interested in from the time I was fourteen. Please Help.

-Desperate and Confused


Dear Writer,

Q. Why are so many Young Women “Desperate and Confused”?

A. Because they’re floating in a River in Egypt: They’re in Denial!


Here’s what we’ve got:

  1. You haven’t seen him in a long time
  2. He lives somewhere else
  3. He has a girlfriend
  4. He’s happy with his girlfriend
  5. He’s a 21 year-old return missionary
  6. Your still 17

YES! You should find someone else!

There are lots of great guys out there, open your eyes, open your world, and date some of them.

If this guy clues in some day and asks you out, and IF you’re interested and available at that time, date him, but don’t waste your time waiting around.

Sure you have a chance with this guy. So do the 10,000 eligible single young women at BYU-I that live closer to him and see him everyday . . .

No matter how great you are, and I’m sure you’re wonderful; the odds just aren’t in your favor.

Keep corresponding if you wish, but realize that he’s not your friend. At best, right now, you’re a safety-net, and you deserve better than that.

- Bro Jo

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Patriarchal Blessings

Dear Bro Jo,

What's your take on when we should have our kids get their Patriarchal Blessings?

- Mom in Memphis



Dear Memphis,

This really is one of those personal decisions that I can't give a blanket answer for, but I do feel that many parents have their children wait too long.

First and foremost, let's get out in the open that this should be the child's decision, not necessarily Mom and Dad's; a Patriarchal Blessing is, after all, a very personal thing. That said, don't stand idly by and say nothing either. Your children will look to you for direction on this as in all things.

Our decision as parents was to encourage our children to actively seek out the Patriarch before their Freshman year of High School. Most of them chose to request the blessing some time between then and their 15th birthday.

See, Doctrinally your Patriarchal Blessing isn't going to be wildly different given your age, so it's not as if waiting until the child is 16, 17, 18, or even 25 is going to result in a different blessing than at 13 or 14; and I think most everyone realizes that. What I often hear is that the child's understanding of the blessing will be different, and that's certainly true, but then, don't we as adults also get something new out of our own blessings as we grow in maturity and understanding?

(I hope all of us are taking our Patriarchal Blessings out and reading them at least annually)

Now I've also said that certain things should wait for a certain age, for several reasons, not the least of which is to increase their value. My wife makes the point that High School is a very difficult time in one's life (for most of us), and that's a large part of why we encourage our children to seek a Patriarchal Blessing when we do: it's just another very valuable spiritual tool for a young person to have.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Friend or Girlfriend?

Hey Bro Jo,

I'll get right to it. How does one avoid being "boyfriend-girlfriend" with someone, or avoid steadily dating them, if the two of us have a mutual adoration? Like, two kids like each other, and both are very clear-headed and rational and don't want to exclude their friends or get into trouble by being "in a relationship." We could probably do it if we were in college. But in high school everyone is immature and so we're automatically paired up just because we "like each other". How do you ignore that stereotype and try to make your relationship it's own thing, and not exclusive of those friends that you're gonna need in the future?

And, more importantly than the romantic component is just the friendship deal. I wanna stay friends with this guy, even after our attraction fades. (And it's not a superficial romance. Just to clear that up.) How do we treat each other, what romantic gestures do we give each other, that won't be damaging to our friendship?

Also. I think being steadily involved with someone too early on can give you an intense case of possessiveness and jealousy. I don't want this guy to lose his other friends just because I could get possessive and therefore he feels this obligation to give me the majority of his attention. I try my hardest not to demand his attention, but irrationally and against my resolve I sometimes get those "green" feelings anyway. How in the world do I stop that? It's probably natural. But come on. There's got to be something I can do about it.

Thanks Bro Jo,

-JCO


Dear JCO,

The way you avoid being Boyfriend-Girlfriend or Steadily Dating someone is to (write this down) “Don’t be their Boyfriend or Girlfriend or Steadily Date them”.

Seriously. That’s it.

You’re absolutely correct when you observe that your friends could feel excluded, that being in a “relationship” at this young age could cause problems, and that were you in College this would be totally different. If you wrote this letter at that point in your lives I’d say “if you love each other and have the same goals and dreams, get thee unto the House of the Lord!”

But you’re not there. So the best thing you can do is to date other people and make certain that the two of you don’t “hang out” when no one else is around. You can still date each other, Casually and in Groups.

Now I have news: the only way to stay friends with this guy for the rest of your lives is to marry.
Unless you have a watered-down-Facebook definition of “friendship, it’s just not going to happen. Friends spend time together. Friends talk one-on-one. Friends go to lunch together. None of that is appropriate if either of you is married to (or romantically involved with) someone else.

Think about it. Even if nothing inappropriate ever happened (and it probably would), the time you spent together certainly would have “the appearance of evil”, and undoubtedly be hurtful to your actual love interests.

Let me give you an example. Both the Young Men and Young Women Presidents in your Ward should be married, Sealed-in-the-Temple people. Let’s say that in this scenario that they’re not married to each other, but “really close friends”. It makes sense: they both work with the youth, they spend lots of time together, they have common interests, and they’re both fun people. They get together once in a while because their friends and they want to coordinate activities for the youth. They go to lunches, just the two of them. They enjoy the same movies, so they occasionally do that too, but it’s “not a date” they think because each pays their own way. They text each other late at night with their personal problems and sometimes “just to chat”.

Sound good? Is it appropriate?

No way!

They’re both married to other people and yet it looks like they’re Dating Each Other! And, in many ways, they kind of are.

And let me tell you Sisters something else: No Man would spend that much time with a woman he wasn’t attracted to. Sorry, we’re just that superficial, and any guy that says I’m wrong is a L-I-A-R.

No malice intended. You can take it to the bank.

The fact that you don’t want this boy to lose any friends because of spending time with you is admirable and mature, as is recognizing your own feelings of jealousy. It IS Natural.

When we have negative or destructive feelings, natural or otherwise, what we can do about them is work hard at becoming closer to our Savior. The Primary answers are all correct: Prayer, Scripture Reading, Church Attendance all bring us closer unto God and help us to more easily feel the Spirit.

Support this Young Man in his quest to serve a Full-time Mission. Make no promises or commitments to him while he’s gone. Date and keep your eyes and heart open to your own marriage possibilities. When he returns, if neither of you is married or Seriously Involved, consider Dating to see if a spark is still there (which, by the way, is almost never the case).

- Bro Jo