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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Friday, July 31, 2009

Young Woman of Value

Dear Brother Jo,

I've read a few articles from your blog and would like some advice.

Honestly, I'm not asked on too many dates. Quite frankly, I don't blame the young men for not asking me out. Part of me is grateful. This is because when I am asked out on a date, my thoughts consist mainly of reasons why the young man who asked me out shouldn't be dating me. Normally I have high esteem: I'm doing well in school, have a nice job with awesome coworkers, and have wonderful friends, but that changes when I think of getting into a relationship.

I'll try to describe what happens to me so you'll know what I'm going through.

First dates are normally fine (is it alright to call first dates that? Mine make me nervous, but I think that's normal). All the young men who have asked me out are great young men. They're returned missionaries who are still active in the church, doing cool things with their lives, etc. This gets me to thinking about my own life. I then begin noticing things that I do that probably would annoy him. I feel I have too many imperfections to make any sort of relationship work. I convince myself that he'll never exclusively date me. Because of this, successive dates stress me out terribly. I get into my head that all the young man really wants to do is date someone else, and he picks up on my negativity (I try to hide it so hard, but it comes out anyway). Needless to say, young men don't like dating girls like that, and he moves on to someone else. I also think my negative thinking might be one of the reasons I'm not asked out very often.

I try to avoid thinking negatively, I really do. I just can't seem to avoid it.

How can I convince myself that there is someone out there who would want me as an eternal companion?

Thank you in advance for your assistance,

A Self Destructionist


Dear SD,

(Be careful, in advance, what you wish for!)

First of all, anyone who’s not at least a little nervous on a first date is either way too into themselves or totally clueless about what a first date means.

So let’s discuss that, because it’s not always the same thing.

When you’re young (of course, to Bro Jo, ALL OF YOU are young), let’s say in High School, first dates, like all dates, are supposed to be Casual Group Dates. Even if you’re going to a formal dance, like Prom, the atmosphere should still be casual. No one should expect that a Date means a Commitment.

But I’m not so naïve to not recognize that many of you do. Quick story:

One Sunday I was speaking with a Young Woman who was complaining that the guys at her school, even the LDS guys, wouldn’t take girls out.

One Young Man explained that it was Impossible to take a girl out, LDS or otherwise, and not have everyone think you’re now a couple. He said that the challenge is that, even if you’re committed to the path of Casual Group Dating, you were destined to make some girl mad at you or gain the reputation for being “a player” (which he explained means that you’re a guy who plays with girls’ emotions, typically with the goal of making out – kissing, snogging, swapping spit, exchanging communicable diseases, tonsil hockey, touching teeth – whatever your local vernacular – with lots of different girls).

She protested and said that in Young Women they constantly talk about how having a boyfriend isn’t a good idea, and that girls just want to be taken out on a nice evening with friends and be escorted by a nice guy.

Two weeks later I overheard this same Young Woman excitedly explain that XYZ guy was now her boyfriend, solely on the basis that he was taking her to the upcoming formal dance.

I couldn’t resist. I approached the boy and asked him if he was excited about his date for the formal.

“Bro Jo”, he said, “I don’t know what to do. She’s really nice, and I asked her because she seems fun and I thought we could have a nice time, but now she’s acting like she’s my girlfriend, and it’s freaking me out; this is only our first date!”


The point of telling you this story, SD, is that you’re probably putting Too Much Emphasis on the date. Dating at a young age does not have to mean a binding contract!

(You may find it interesting, but not surprising, that after that formal dance, this Young Man never asked that Young Woman out again.)

Now, perhaps more specifically to your situation, you’re absolutely right: You’re a Self Destructionist. You need to knock that garbage off!

You, my friend, are a daughter of God, and as such have inherit value. You have Individual Worth!

Perhaps what you need to start doing is focusing not on why someone wouldn’t want you, but on becoming the type of person you’d want.

Let me be more specific.

Do you want to marry a complainer or someone positive?

Do you want to marry someone who looks for the good, or only sees the negative?

Do you want someone who strives to be holy?

Someone who sees the value and potential in others?

Become the type of person you’re looking for.

(Yes, you English Majors and Critics, it IS OK to end a sentence with a preposition – time to put that pretentious myth away.)

We all go through moments when we feel unworthy and untalented. We need to see those moments as a Call to Repentance!

Go make a list of your talents. Right now!

(Go on; all of you! I’ll wait right here . . . . Done? OK.)

Now, you may have written things like “can play an instrument” or “good in math”, and that’s great! But, if you haven’t already, add to your list things like “great listener” or “can focus on mundane things” or “can relate to others” or “very careful” – those are talents, too.

If you’re having trouble, ask someone very close to you to help; very close, like a sibling or a parent. Everything on your list is valuable, and you have value because it's you!

Those are the things you bring to a relationship; those are the things that maybe some of the reasons someone falls in love with you.

If you have it, pull out your Patriarchal Blessing and read it again. (Like a moving buddy, if you don’t have one, Get One!)

And know this: it’s not as important why someone falls in love with you, as it is that you fall in love with them.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The "Other" Girl

Dear Bro Jo,

Problem Numero Uno: Well I have been 16 for a few months and I have been asked on a few dates but the guys never actually follow through with the date. This drives me nuts because I want to date more! They say they want to go on a date with me soon, but they never call me or make the plans. Should I call them and remind them or forget about it? What can I do different next time a guy tells me he is going to call me?

Problem #2: My friend threw me a surprise party for my sweet sixteen birthday party and she set up a bunch of couples and she, set me up on a date with this guy that I like that told me he wanted to go on a date with me while we were dancing. Before the party, I not knowing about the party asked him to a girls ask guy dance (by the way, do you think it is a bad decision to ask guys to these things because I have read one of your other posts that says that guys lose respect for girls when the girl asks them on the date? and maybe that was the problem)

So anyways after we went to this dance, it had been 2 consecutive dates that we had been on with each other(that the guy didn't ask the girl) and he started to act way different and treat me really rude and never asked me to do anything with him or even say hi to me in the hall. From an outside perspective, WHAT HAPPENED?!

I just wanted to be friends that is all and now we aren't even friends. Is there something I can do to fix our friendship? Every time I try to be friends with a guy they think I like them and they have to show to me that they don't like me by ignoring me or showing no interest. What am I doing wrong?

Just for your information, I live in a sort of small town, but there are many sub-towns around it. Pretty much 90% of the population is LDS. I don't have a lot of guy friends and the guy friends I do have aren't very close. I try to be friends with everyone I can but guys are...ugh just really hard to get through to.

Problem #3: My best friend is a cheerleader and has numerous guys chasing after her. A guy asked her to go hang out with him and a friend and she invited me to go with her. The whole time, both guys were flirting with her because after all they invited HER and I never got a word in edge-wise. I don't consider myself a shy person so I talked and every time I tried to talk, they either ignored what I said making no eye contact or they would just start talking about something else, pretty much showing no interest in what I had to say. I just felt like I wasn't really supposed to be there.

My friend didn't like how they were treating me but at the same time she didn't want to be rude either and well, I don't blame her. I almost felt like I was bringing her down and it was just a really uncomfortable situation.

What could I do different to not make myself feel so uncomfortable? Would it have been better if I didn't go?

PLEASE HELP!!!

Thanks,

That Other Girl


Dear O.G.,

(Clever signature, by the way)

Problem One: OK, I hate to break it to you, but you’ve never been asked out. These guys are testing the waters, but not actually setting the date. It’s all just talk.

Who knows why?

Fear? Are they just making conversation or being polite?

It’s tough to tell from this distance. It may be all of the above.

Should you call them and remind them that they said they’d take you out?

No.

While I do advocate several methods for getting guys to ask you out (see the Facebook Note HERE), those are all techniques you use in person. I draw the line at phone calling, it just goes Too Far in making it easy for the guy when a girl calls him. Make him come to you, O.G., don’t do all the work for him.

What you CAN do the next time a guy says he’s going to call you is to increase the commitment and pressure a little. To that I offer

Bro Jo’s TEN WAYS To INCREASE The ODDS a GUY WILL ACTUALLY CALL

1. Push. “Really? When?” (The follow up to his non-committal “sometime” is “Oh, I see. Do you not really intend to call me, or do you need to see a calendar and a watch?”)

2. Dare. “I don’t think you have the courage to call me . . .”

3. Flirt. “Oooh, I’ll be sitting by the phone eagerly! (an “arm touch” here is a good idea)

4. Encourage. “I hope so; I’m worth the effort.” (This one, by the way, is not only one of my favorites; it worked on Ol’ Bro Jo more than once.)

5. Rush. “Well you better make it soon, before I decide not to answer the phone. Opportunities to call me have an expiration date, you know.”

6. Compete. “You’d better hurry; you’re not the only boy who wants to call me, you know.”

7. Confirm. “Do you have my number?”

8. Specify. “You can call tonight between 8pm and 9pm. Miss that, and you might miss me.”

9. Goad. “Of course you will; you’re smart enough to realize what will happen if you say you’ll call and you don’t actually call, right?” (The follow up to his “No”, is “Oh, how sad for you! Well in that case I suggest you call!”)

10. Define. “So, when you say you’re going to call me, do you mean it or is it just something you say?”


That should get you started.


Numero Dos. Asking a guy to an official “Girl ask Guy Event” is OK, so long as you actually do put the shoe on the other foot. What I mean is that you, as the asker, need to Plan, Pick Up and Pay. You still need to follow Bro Jo’s DATING RULES (see the list at the side, or the Facebook page HERE), but I think these once or twice a year events can be healthy and educational for both Guys and Gals.

Very Educational.

In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that Sisters have just as much of an obligation to ask Brethren on these Girl-Ask-Guy dates as Brethren have to ask girls the rest of the time, and that my friends, if you haven’t figured it out yet, is Very High.

But that differs from Girls asking Guys on Regular Dates. THAT I highly discourage, as you’ve noted. Get HIM to ask YOU out, but don’t emasculate him by doing the asking; you’ll very likely regret it.

And that’s part of what happened to you. On some level you made him feel awkward because of the role-reversal. And he also felt pursued. Initially, for a guy, that can be flattering (everyone likes to be liked), but it can quickly become suffocating, even more so for a guy than a girl. A guy can even change his mind about liking a girl that he feels is pursuing him too strongly.

You probably freaked him out. Not intentionally. And, you may not want to hear this, but it was probably a good thing for both of you, particularly given your age.

Guys with no moral compass like to be pursued because they think it translates to easy . . . well . . . sex. Those types of guys deny that, of course, but it’s still true.

I know it’s a double standard, but so are many of the truths of life.

And, as I’ve said many, Many, MANY TIMES, Guys Can’t Be Close Friends with Girls.

(Readers: are you more comfortable with that phrasing?)

You’re either:

1) a Future Date Hope (roll your eyes all you want, ladies, its true)

2) a Back-Up Plan

3) a Tool for Us to Learn How to Date Someone Else

4) or Just Not as Close a Friend as You Think (we will shed you the instant we’re committed to another girl – she’ll insist on it because of reasons 1-3, which she will at that moment realize is true, even if you do not)

5) a Sister (or at least he thinks of you as one) and Ain’t Nothing Ever Going to Happen (Which, by the way, in Young Single guys is Phenomenally Rare. With due respect to J.K. Rowling, there’s No Way Harry and Hermione share a tent, alone in the woods, for a really long time after Ron dumps her, that they don’t cuddle and make out. Trust me.)

Problem 3. It was Good that you went. Your “friend” needed a chaperon (although I think a True Friend would have placed your feelings ahead of her flirting - keep that in mind for when it's you being pursued and someone else tagging along). It’s too bad she wasn’t mature enough to act upon what she saw, but it happens, and she’ll grow out of it.

Conversation is an art, and well worth practicing. These boys probably would have responded to you better if you were asking them questions about them, making them feel as though they were the center of the conversation. Perhaps not, but it’s worth a try.

Next time, take a book. Just in case.

Or perhaps including a couple additional guys and girls would have been better . . .

- Bro Jo

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wating for a Missionary - part 2

[Readers: This letter was received in response to the original Waiting for a Missionary post, which you can read by clicking here.]


Bro Jo-

I dated my boyfriend for a year and a half before he left on his mission. I find it really hard to grasp your concept of breaking up before he leaves.

How could you break up when you both don't want to?

It's a lot harder than it sounds, I’m sure.

I still have extremely strong feelings for him and he's been out for a year. I write him positive letters and also negative letters. Not about how he should come home but about how I feel with certain situations that I am in. I tell him everything and he writes back positive letters. He writes me negative letters and I respond with positive letters.

He constantly says that without me for him to vent to he would find it extremely difficult to stay out there. (He's had some pretty crappy companions which shouldn't even be out there). Of course I realize he has the Lord also.

So I guess, in your POV that I am the exception?

BTW, I didn't tell him I was waiting for him, because I find it somewhat sketchy for girls that say they will wait and they don't.

Also, I go to BYU-I which keeps me from constantly thinking about him. Keeping busy is best. But I also see my peers who are waiting for missionaries date, lead the guys on, and in the end will not let go of the missionary and break the guys heart.

Just some thoughts... ?


Dear Thoughts,

I KNOW it’s difficult. It’s also the right thing to do, for both of you.
People are in a constant state of change. Successful or not, honorable or not, the Return Missionary is a different man than the boy who left. As are the people who stayed behind.

Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes it’s bad. Sometimes the changes are significant and obvious, sometimes much more subtle.

While change can be more difficult to observe while we’re together, it’s easier to adapt to than when we’re apart for a significant length of time.
There’s nothing wrong with you writing him, I highly encourage it, so long as your letters are not filled with romance and longing. It sounds like the pen pal thing is going well, keep it up!

You were smart enough not to promise to wait, and you shouldn’t be waiting; you should be dating.

It’s also Good that you’re busy with your studies.

But you need to realize that when he comes back you may get back together, and you may not. The latter actually tends to be what happens: most often couples who Exclusively Dated right before the Mission DON’T end up together. Maybe you will, and maybe you won’t, but you owe it to yourself to not ignore any of the other possibilities that may come along while he’s gone.

Too many young sisters “wait” themselves out of contention, putting off marriage for the Future RM, schooling, career or something (like Prince Charming to appear on his Noble Steed with light shining from above declaring him worthy of her love), only to find themselves Single and 35.

And, when he comes back, he should probably date girls other than just you; he needs to be sure.
In my Point of View you’re not the exception; you’re the rule.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ready to Move On

Dear Bro Jo,

What should I do?

It's been many months since my ex broke up with me, but I still can't seem to erase him from my daily thoughts. We started emailing 3 months after the split and were going to meet up and talk and do something fun, but then our schedules never worked out. I then wrote him an email with my feelings and asked him his thoughts. The response was filled with "I don't knows," and "I love being your friend and will always love you."

Baloney! I find that if a guy really doesn't know, then the answer is no. Since then I haven't tried to contact him, nor has he tried to contact me. It's over, he's obviously moved on. It's unfortunate he didn't realize my worth, maybe if he had been LDS he would have. Good thing he doesn't live in my city, because I'd probably become a crazy stalker and be jealous of any girls I see around him.

I can't be his friend, it's too difficult. I miss laughing with him and knowing how he's doing. We were friends for three years before we started dating. It stinks to lose a friend, especially after the relationship went a step above friends.

I've talked to good guy friends who have helped me to deal and get over him. I've talked to girlfriends and family. I even went to my bishop and his wife. I've gotten rid of things that would bring up memories, gone on some dates, worked on my talents, participated in activities that I enjoy, and I still wind up thinking about him. No one wants to hear about him anymore, and I'm sick of telling Heavenly Father how I feel, he's probably sick of it too. I've skipped church and ignored my calling the last two weeks because I just haven't felt like going. I know that I need help to get through this. I've come to the conclusion that I need to see a counselor, but the question is who? Do I go to the counseling service that my non-LDS college offers for free, or should I ask my bishop for a referral to LDS social services? This guy had a little contact with the missionaries at one point and I don't know if talking to a regular counselor would understand some of the spiritual aspects of the relationship that I would like to talk about. What do you suggest?

- Ready to Move On


Dear Ready,


You’re right, friendship is out, but that’s not as bad as it may sound because when you replace this guy you’ll have a new friend anyway.

It’s healthy to miss a relationship that meant a lot to us, so take comfort in the fact that what you’re going through is normal.

You’ve realized it’s over, recognized that you probably would have been better off dating a guy of the same religion and standards, but the pain is still there and you’re wondering how to make it go away . . .

Well you need to stop taking advice from Timon (“when the world turns its back on you, you turn your back on da world”). Remember that the Savior is also called the Prince of Peace and that the Spirit is called the Comforter. Stop making excuses, and get back to Church.

Your Heavenly Father will NEVER be tired of hearing how you feel, he loves you, so keep praying and studying your scriptures.

The feelings and thoughts about Heavenly Father being sick of you and the notion that dodging your calling and skipping Sacrament will some how make you feel better, well . . . where do you think those are coming from?

We never feel better distancing our selves from the Lord. What you need to do is MORE service, not less.

Everything you’ve been told about removing the memorabilia and focusing on work and other things is helpful, but you need to realize that all wounds take time to heal.

I have no idea if you need professional counseling. Your Bishop is better equipped to answer that. My gut instinct is that an LDS counselor would be better given your circumstances, but frankly I don’t think you need counseling as much as you need to just get over it.

I feel prompted to suggest one more thing. Now this may not be the case in your particular situation, but very often when people coming out of relationships struggle this hard to get over someone there’s some repenting that has yet to properly be done; usually it's that they've been more intimate than they should have.

We distance ourselves from the Lord not because it feels better, but because we’re unwilling to confess that which he already knows.

Is it possible that you haven’t told your Bishop every thing you should? How can he help you if you haven't told him the whole story?

Or perhaps you have, but you've yet to go through the process? Are you pulling away from the Lord because you feel, on some level, unworthy of his love? Have you forgotten that Heavenly Father loves all of us, regardless of what we've done?

Just something to ponder . . .

- Bro Jo

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lot's of "Girl Friends" but no Dates

Dear Bro Jo,

Ok question time.

I'm almost 17 and still haven't been on a single date. No particular reason, just haven’t.

But now there's this girl who I really like and I would really like to ask her out. There are however a couple of problems with that.

1) Despite being good friends with all the girls in my ward (all my friends are female and I have a lot of friends) I still feel a little awkward discussing stuff like dating and things.

2) This particular girl is, in my opinion, too good for me lol

3) she is more than a year my senior and seems to be more interested in everything else apart from me.

4) She's talked to me about all the guys she's liked over the years, even one of my great mates, and she always seems to like someone and never do anything about it.

5) I’m pretty sure she knows that I like her but still she hasn’t said anything.

I’m pretty well lost as to what to do here figured I’d ask you and see what advice I can get. I really really like her and don’t want to make things awkward between us.

Oh and one more problem, I’m pretty sure (people have hinted to me) that some of my other female friends like me and I don’t want to hurt them either.

Sorry about dumping my problems on you have helped my friend before and I figured I’d ask

Thanks,

Mormon


Dear Mo,

I hope you’re familiar enough with this column that you realize that I care enough about my readers to tell it to them straight.

There IS a “particular reason” why you haven’t gone on a date. In fact, there are probably several. The big one is that you’ve yet to ask a girl out. (Awfully tough to go out if you’re too shy to pick up the phone)

1) You’re not “Good Friends” with ANY of the girls in your Ward. You’ve surrounded yourself with girls that you’re interested in but are too afraid to do anything about. You talk a big game, but do nothing. I’m not saying you need to establish a harem, but let’s be honest: for you all of these “girl friends” are taking the place of actually dating or having a Girlfriend . . . because it’s easier, right? You get the companionship without having to buy movie tickets or put yourself out there.

2) As long as you keep this up, this girl IS too good for you. You’re hanging too much importance on dating given your age and lack of experience. Dating for you should be Casual Group Dating. You should be taking out ALL of these girls, one at a time, a different girl every time. Get yourself a good Dating Buddy or two, and stop sitting at home writing me letters about what a non-dating ladies-man you are.

3) You’re 17, she’s 18; trust me – if you plan a good date, she’ll go. Sisters around the world have written me saying that they’d go on dates with younger guys. They’re frustrated that you don’t ask, not concerned about a 1-year age difference.

4) I wouldn’t worry one whit about whether or not this girl likes other guys and never does anything about it, other than it means she doesn’t have a boyfriend, and that’s good news for you.

5) OK, now you’re getting on my nerves. Are you implying that She should make the first move??? That SHE should ask YOU out? Maybe she IS to good for you . . .

OK, in all seriousness, if you’re a decent guy, and you Casually Date, keeping your dates light and noncommittal (as they should be at your age), then no one will have a right to get mad. If they do it will probably be because you’ve yet to take them out, but even then that’s their issue, not yours.

You make a lot of excuses for inaction. That, my friend, will earn you nothing but loneliness.

Read through my Dating Rules, and remember, this is the time to meet lots of people and have fun, not find a Girlfriend.

Thanks for Reading and Writing In, and tell your buddy I said hello.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

ok my email came out a little wrong
sorry, I’m no English major

its not that I’m too shy
though I see your point
I just feel (despite how strange it seems) that because I’ve seen how she's gotten awkward around guys and stuff in the past that I don’t want things to get that way with us
so I lack self confidence but I’m not shy
there is a difference

my friends tell me their problems and I help them which is why I can get so close to how they think
this is another reason why I was reluctant to simply ask her out

I HAVENT SURROUNDED MYSELF WITH GIRLS I'M INTERESTED IN
I am just good friends with the girls
I am not romantically interested in them

I'm a nerd who is too nice for his own good

sorry about the excuses but that's how I am
trying to fix that
but thanks for replying

sorry to annoy,

Mormon

P.S. trivia, she is an English major funnily enough


Mo -

I don't think your email came out wrong . . .

Nothing you've said in your second email changes the fact that you want this special girl to be something more than a Casual Date, which is premature at this stage of your dating career.

Chatting up girls at Church makes you "friendly", not a Close Personal Friend . . .

Let me ask you this: if you're not interested in any of these girls, why do you spend so much time talking to them?

Are you "friends" outside of Church? Do you hang out with them? Text / email / call them? Go places one-on-one?

See, I doubt any of that is true. That makes you acquaintances, not friends.

There's no such thing as "too nice".

"That's how I am" is the biggest excuse of them all!

You need to stop justifying, and start listening.

1) Get a dating buddy (or two)
2) Plan a Casual Group Date
3) Ask a girl out on that date (this girl or another, it doesn't really matter)
4) Lather, Rinse, Repeat

I'm not annoyed,

- Bro Jo

PS - any differential you make between "shy" and "lacking confidence" is semantic at best. "Shy" is not evil.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Making the First Kiss Special

Dear Bro Jo,

I must start off to say that I am very pleasantly surprised consecutively by the answers to questions here and there.

To start off, I will tell you a little bit about myself. I recently returned home from my mission, have been on a few dates here and there and started steady dating a friend of mine that I have know for quite some time. To be totally honest, she is a really special girl, someone I can be totally honest around, and has the best standards out of all the previous girlfriends I have had in the past.

As for the question, I have seen so many of my friends, RM friends, any friends, that once they get into a relationship they just tend to throw kisses away left and right like it means nothing. For me personally I just can't bring myself to do that and feel like a kiss means something more than just liking someone and that it should have more specialness attached to it.

Now obviously I have only really been steady dating this friend for a couple weeks, but my question is, if the relationship were to continue to progress and what not, what kind of time frame do you think there is for kissing, and how do you make the kiss a special experience without making the girl feel like that is all there is to the relationship?

I am not in the relationship for the kissing, cuddling, hugging, etc, but for the aspect of having someone beside you as a best friend, however at the same time I do acknowledge that these kinds of things DO come in the process, otherwise there probably wouldn't be any chemistry to get the relationship moving.

Well, I hope my question made sense,

Fresh RM


Dear RM,

Thank you (I think).

For many, a Kiss means a Commitment . . . there’s nothing wrong with that. I think many in the world today give away affection to soon.

But I also believe that Kisses are like “I Love You”s; there’s no limit to how many one can give out in a life time. You don’t hit a magic cut-off number one day and say :
“Sorry, honey, I’m all out. Used them up as a college student. Here’s a handshake, hope you understand the sentiment”.

I don’t think I’ll define a PDA Timetable, but I will say that I hope for your sake, and the sake of this girl you’re dating, that coupled with your Noble Intentions you have a Strong Desire to kiss her . . . even if you don’t act on it for a little while longer.

If you want your First Kiss as a couple to be something special, you could plan a romantic situation (like strolling through a moonlit park) or pick a special location (the place you were when you first realized how much you like her), but BEWARE! The more “Special” you make it, the more likely it will be to become an over-inflated moment, taking on more importance than it should, especially if you soon after realize you need to get out of this relationship.

I very clearly remember my first kiss with Sister Jo. The moment was special, not the location. It was spontaneous, not contrived or planned. In fact, I’d “planned” to not kiss her for several more dates . . . but I couldn’t help it; she was just so gosh-darned cute!

Typically I recommend saving kissing until the third date or a little later at your age, but I don’t think you plan these things, I think they just happen. (YM/YW shouldn't feel pressure to Kiss at all, and Single Adults over 30 should probably do a little smooching 3rd date or sonner)

If you get to the point where you’ve been Exclusively Dating for a couple months and you’ve yet to kiss at all, in my book that’s a Big Red Flag. You may both be timid, but any dating relationship between two marriage-age people that far into the romance needs to have a little passion, or, at the very least, demonstrated caring.

You’re wise to recognize the more important things that come with marriage. I’ll confess: Sister Jo is now, and has always been, a very beautiful woman (and I really like kissing her!) but there’s so much more to our relationship. I’d give up kissing her before I’d choose not to talk to her. I need to talk to her every day.

But Chemistry isn’t what gets a relationship moving, it’s what grows naturally out of a relationship. You don’t kiss your Girlfriend because you want to take the relationship to the next logical level, Spock, you kiss her because the time in your life is right, you can’t help kissing her, and (let’s face it) kissing is great!

Your question made sense, but for you and the other Not Very Experienced RMs out there, let me also answer the unasked question . . .

When you feel so inspired, take the advice from Hitch from the movie of the same name, go 90% of the way. Keep your eyes looking at hers until you’re about 85% there, then lean in and close them as you close the distance to 90%. She’ll either kiss you or run away. Either way, you’ll know where she stands.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Time for a Second Chance?

Dear Bro Jo,

I am really liking this one boy. He is the same age as me. We have known each other for a long time as we are in the same ward. He has had a crush on me for quite some time. I know he still likes me because he told my friend.

My only problem with liking him is that he is not the best kid if you know what I mean. He had a problem with drugs. Luckily he has overcome his addiction and has been reinstated to the priesthood. I just don't know if it is too early for me to start dating him.

My parents really don't approve of me dating him. I disagree because I see a real change in him. He treats me well and has changed his lifestyle.

What should I do?

Yours truly,
Disappointed


Dear Disappointed,

Are you still?

Disappointed, I mean.

Look, while I think (for the most part) any girl should go out on a Date with any boy that asks, there are rules and limitations.

Ah! I feel another Bro Jo List coming on!

Bro Jo’s REASONS a GIRL SHOULD NOT GO OUT WITH A BOY

1) Rules will be broken. Any rules. Dating Rules. Personal Rules. Morality Rules. Rules are good.

2) The Spirit tells you “No”. Don’t use this as an excuse not to go out with the Geeky kid or the Fat kid or the Unpopular Kid, or as an excuse because you’re shy. The Spirit will tell you “No” because it’s unsafe to go. Very different thing, and very important (yet Another Reason why we want to live our lives so that we can always hear and feel the Spirit)

3) There’s No Plan. It’s OK to be surprised, but if he’s not going to tell you the plan, he at least needs to tell your parents – the Date Plan ALWAYS needs to be communicated to someone other than the daters – your parents should know where you’re going to be and when.

4) You Honestly have another Obligation. You can wash your hair anytime. Don’t stand up your family or friends or put off an important school assignment for a date. Of course, there’s something to be said here about pushing one’s own ox in the mire . . .

5) Previous Experience. You one-on-one dated this guy before (because you’re old enough for that), and you realized he is not the guy for you. Many guys should be given a second chance, but not all of them! Also, if you’re Casual Dating age and you haven’t gone out with someone else between now and your last date with this boy, you need to get another date in there. Tell this boy that’s the case, and see if he doesn’t set you up with one of his friends so he can take you out next time.

6) You’re already in a committed relationship. Which does not mean that you’re in love with your 15-year-old Boyfriend . . . it means you’re an adult (and Post-mission for guys) and at least at Level 6 or 7 (Click here for Bro Jo’s 15 LEVELS of a RELATIONSHIP)

And that’s about it, Ladies.


Disappointed, everyone has the opportunity to repent, and everyone should be given a second chance. Don’t ever lie to your parents about whom you’re dating or going out with, but heed their counsel. Perhaps if they got to know him better?

Sounds like it’s time for a YM/YW get-together at your house . . .

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

thanks for the advice :)

-no longer disappointed


Dear Friend,

Glad to hear it!

- Bro Jo

Monday, July 13, 2009

If It's Too Loud . . .

Dear Bro Jo,

How important is it to go to YSA dances?

I've been regularly attending our dances for some time now, and I keep getting disappointed, because they just aren't following the guidelines that they're supposed to, whether it's music style and volume, lighting levels, lack of any structured dances, or related failings. They aren't uplifting environments, and every time I go to one, I come away wondering why I went.

I would have stopped going some time ago, but it seems disloyal to our Church leaders, who must have a reason for continuing to organize them, and who if asked would give an answer along the lines of "Yes, you should definitely continue to come, you never know who you might meet, you might find your eternal companion there." Frankly, I doubt it, since even if I met her, I would usually have to shout at her to hold a conversation on the dance floor. Last night was particularly loud - and of all dances, it was the annual ball!

Based on your experience, is there a real need for me to keep attending? If not, then I'll instead follow the counsel in the Doctrine and Covenants to "retire to thy bed early" - which certainly doesn't happen after a dance finishes at 1 in the morning.

Thanks in advance.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place


Dear Rock,

Pretty important.

As you note, dances can be great opportunities to meet and mingle.

(Now Bro Jo tends to be a bit more obvious and aggressive. I advocate turning the lights on at the end and announcing that no one is allowed to leave until every single there has at least one date set with two different people.)

May I submit to you that you need to be part of the Solution?

We old people can be dreadfully out of touch with what makes a good dance.

Now in our defense, you young people don’t all agree, either.

I chaperone YM/YW dances all over my home state, inside my stake and out, and I’m consistently asking the Youth what makes a good dance. (I know you’re older, but I think the concepts still apply). If I hear “Cotton-eyed Joe” or “The Hamster Dance” one more time . . . you may just see my eyeballs bleed!

But DJ’s keep playing them, and they do it because kids crowd the floor during those songs.

From my perspective, I think we need more slow songs and less fast songs (and, as a related tangent, I think too many “DJs” have no clue that just because a song is up-tempo does not mean that it’s “danceable”); in fact, I’d love to see an “All Slow Songs” dance . . .

Which would solve your issues about not being able to talk over the music, and address the complaint I most commonly hear from girls, which is that the boys are too sweaty and smelly.

Maybe I’m too old fashioned, but I’d love to go back to dances with Dance Cards and Live Music that was all Big Band, Swing, or Rockabilly. Boys in shirts and ties and girls in skirts. Dances where no one takes the floor unless they have a dance partner, slow song OR fast.

Plus I think DJs need to realize it’s a dance, not a concert. They’re playing tunes to dance to, not performing in a club. There’s more to DJ-ing than having lots of music and a sound system; it’s an art.

And, with no disrespect intended, I agree with you that 1am is too late to end a dance, even for YSAs. How about this: YM/YW dances end at 10pm and YSA dances end at 11pm with each followed by an hour of “hang out and have desert and chat”? Readers, what do you think?

Rock, keep going to dances. If you don’t like them, get on the committee and make some changes. If they’re going too late, exercise your agency and go home at a decent hour (or better yet, put together an impromptu Group Activity – or date – and head somewhere for conversation and a cocoa), but don’t leave early without telling someone in charge that you’ve had a good time, you wish the music wasn’t so loud, and it’s past your bedtime.

Oh, and for gosh sakes, you’re an adult now; if the dance is too loud for you to talk to the pretty girl ask her to take a walk outside!

- Bro Jo

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Un-forgiven

Dear Bro Jo,

I have been reading some of your blogs and they have really good advice in them! So I was wondering if you could help me out with a problem of mine... Let me tell you a little about me first... I am 16 turning 17 next month and I've only been on one date... The dating thing doesn't really fly for me, but I really want to date more... Any way on with my story...

When I was 12 a couple of wards got together and had a little dance thing. Everybody was invited 12 and up. So I went and this girl that I liked, and still do like, and some others kids went... So anyway I was dancing with this other girl (Girl 1) in my ward and she told me that she liked me... Now I didn't want to sound rude so I just kind of fumbled my way through the conversation.... But anyway onto the important part...

Me and the girl that I liked (Girl 2) were dancing and she also told me that she liked me... Needless to say I was happy beyond all measure... But anyway, I kind of started laughing... and then I told her that another girl (Girl 1) had told me that she liked me but that I didn't like Girl 1... Needless to say she went into tune out mode and tuned out everything after "another girl said she liked me..." I've told her the rest of the story when the subject was brought up a couple of years later... That’s when I told her that I liked her again... But she was all "the wounds will never heal..." or something to that effect...

So for the past couple of years I've tried to show her how sorry I am, and how much I like her... But now she's all like "I don't really like you the way that I used to, the hurt is still inside, but we can still be friends..." And now she's "going out" with a 15 year old non-member, and her parents don't really like him... But occasionally she will ask me what I think of him... and I'll say something along the line of "He's a good kid..." but every time I get done saying that I always regret saying it because I really don't like this kid she is "going out" with... But every time I still say, "He's a good kid..."

So now recently I've been hearing stories from a kid in my ward that goes to school with her (I don't go to school with her) that they kiss and hold hands and whatnot... Although for her sake I'm glad that it hasn't gotten much more than that...

Anyway, I have met this guy several times before; I don't really get a good feeling when I'm around him... I don't know if that’s just jealousy or what but I don't really get a good feeling when I'm around him... And in my talks with this girl that I like she has told me before that he doesn't like me... He thinks that I am trying to break them up because I said that I still liked this girl...

So you can see my situation... If you could give me some advice, any advice would be greatly accepted... Thanks!

Signed,
Confused and Un-forgiven


Dear Mr. Eastwood,

(It’s a joke/movie reference – just roll with it)

Of course you’re jealous!

You’ve been pining over this “lost love” for five years; it’s time to move on (or at least R-E-L-A-X); holy heck, neither of you are actually old enough to Seriously Date yet!

First of all, you need to learn to mind your own business a little more than you do. There’s a girl you know, who used to like you but now doesn’t (5 years ago!), and now she’s got a boyfriend that you think is a bad guy (read as: “not you”) – I have news: there’s very little you can do about that. Moreover, anything you try to do is not going to come off very well.

Take comfort in the fact that she probably does like you on some level. You're both old enough, why don't you take her on a Casual Group Date or two?

But, for now, try not to get involved in her personal life.

OK, I understand that she’s asked for your opinion on this guy; let me tell you a secret: she WANTS you to tell her he’s a Jerk and a Loser.

Go back and read that last sentence again. Did it sink in?

Think about it: why would ANY girl ask a former interest about her current boyfriend? Because she either wants your approval or she’s trying to get you to confess that you still like her. Either way she’s working you to make her feel better about herself.

I think, as I said, that she wants you to get upset; she wants you to scream “pick me instead of him!” (and you need to know that her wanting that DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN that She wants You; she just wants You to want Her – very different things).

Sister Jo would add that she’s trying to manipulate you. She still carries some sense of embarrassment about what she said when you were both 12 (you do realize, of course, that, probably because of the noise and confusion of the dance and the age of the dancers, what she thought you were saying is that “oh, yeah, all these girls like me”). If she can continue to string you along, even if as nothing more than a potential back up or ego booster, then she’s in control of the situation between you.

(Readers: so much of what and why people – including you and I – do and say what we doand say comes down to “Control”. We all have our insecurities - even those that seem supremely confident – and so we often do things to try to better control our lives. Keep that in mind; it applies to more than just boy-girl relationships.)

Lastly, Clint, fight against getting caught up in the Gossip Mill. People respect others more if they feel they can be trusted, and few things dissipate trust like a propensity to talk about the lives and actions of others.

- Bro Jo



Hey Bro. Jo,

Thats some of the best advice that I have ever heard on this subject. I've mentioned the subject before to other friends but the advice was... fuzzy at best, for lack of another word.

It didn't sink in quite like this did. It was great. Thanks for the help.

~Confused and Un-Forgiven~


Dear Clint,

You're welcome!

If you ever need anything else sunk, I'm your man.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Date or Wait?

Dear Bro Jo,

I really love reading your blog, all the different situations you’ve helped people with, all your advice. It’s absolutely amazing I have to say.

For me, though, I couldn’t really find anything that fit with my situation. I’m 17, going to be a senior in high school this next year. But there’s a catch. I went to public school all the years of my life up until this year. I decided that it just wasn’t for me anymore, so I am going to be homeschooled this year—doing an online school instead of public school.

Now my question is about dating, as the subject heading suggests. I have a dilemma, as all teens do (as well as everyone else in the world). The only young men I will see or really get to know or whatnot are the young men in my ward. There are two priests as of right now and will only be two priests throughout most of the year.

One will be leaving on his mission soon, and I know him really well. He asked me to write him on his mission, to stay in touch and be his friend and all. So I plan on it.

This other priest is going to be a senior in high school as well, (he’ll be going to public school) but the thing about him is that I worked with him all this last school year in competitions. That’s not a bad thing or anything, but well, he annoyed me greatly.

I sent him a letter (because I was too chicken to talk to him about it in person) telling him how I was annoyed and didn’t appreciate the things he was doing. He stopped bugging me shortly after that.

Lately, he’s started talking to me and bugging me slightly again, but I told myself I’d give him another chance to be my friend and not bother me with the things he says/does. I try to be kind and not get annoyed, but I don’t really want to go on dates with him, seeing as I know him so well and am afraid that he’ll forget I ever sent that letter and it will start all over again.

Over this next school year, there will be no one else for me to get to know and date because I will only see these two priests (until the one leaves on his mission) and then I’ll be left with just this one guy. I won’t have the opportunity as comes with public high school to see other guys and have the possibility of going on dates with others.

Is it bad for me to want to go on dates?

I don’t think so, but my options certainly will be limited, and I don’t want to steady date. I’m not in college yet—I don’t need to steady date until I’m ready to get married, right? I’m not ready yet. I’m only 17. I’ll still be attending seminary, but the people I see that are 16+ and able to go on dates most likely won’t think about asking me on a date just from seeing me at seminary.

There are also church dances, which I love to attend. I love going because I can meet new people and dance! One time this last year I met a guy, and at a later dance that I couldn’t go to, my friends gave him my number, which totally surprised me.

He seems like a great guy. He’s called me two or three times over the past couple months (Our conversations are very short because I’m sort of shy when it comes to talking on the phone. Being in person is WAY better.). He recently invited me to go to a program he was involved in, and that my friends could come too.

The thing about him is that he lives about 45(?) minutes away, in a different Stake. I couldn’t go because I was sick, so I called him back and apologized, but he seemed really put out. I feel bad and all, but what am I supposed to do, you know? I can’t help it if I get sick or that we live too far apart to casually date here and there, can I?

I’d love to go on a group date with him, but at the same time, it’s hard to when we’re in these circumstances. So I’ve told myself I’ll just talk to him and get to know him when there are dances, which are once a month. I mean, I don’t have a crush on him or like him more than a friend or anything; it’s just that I want to go on dates with guys and get to know them, practice social skills, etc.

Which is what I’m supposed to be doing, yes?

So what do I do? How am I supposed to find some guys to date in these circumstances?

And how do I get them to ask me on dates?

It’s hard when I’ll hardly see any guys ever over the year, know what I mean?

Am I too ambitious in the sense that I really want to go on dates?

Should I just forget about dating and wait till I get to college?

I'm not sure I want to do that because I love going on dates, but I don’t see any other way. Should I just forget about dating for a year?

Any advice?

It would be greatly appreciated.

~A Friend

P.S. Sorry for the long message; I just wanted to help you be able to understand the situation better... Thanks for everything!


Dear Friend,

Thank you for the kind words; very appreciated.

I’m curious why you’re choosing the “on-line” school instead of public school . . . very intriguing idea . . . but perhaps a discussion for another time.

“What’s a girl who wants to date, and would prefer to date LDS boys her age, to do when there just aren’t many of those around?”

It’s a common problem for those that live further and further outside “The Zion Curtain”.

The first thing I think you should do is widen your circle of friends. Even though you’ll be Home Schooling, you must surely know Good Kids that you’ve met over the last 12 years of school that are decent and have good morals.

Perhaps some co-ed Movie or Game parties at your house where you invite these kids and invite them to each bring a friend? Be a Social and Gracious Hostess, using the occasion to meet new boys AND girls. Group Activities and Group Dates can grow out of these.

You also need to be attending things like Girls’ Camp, Stake Dances, Tri-stake Youth Conference, EFY, and Firesides; anything where you can increase your associations with good people. If your Stake doesn’t do much of those things, get on the planning committee, talk to your High Council Representative or Stake YM/YW leaders; often if we want things to happen, we need to be the one doing the organizing.

And, not to sound like a plug, but check out and sign up as a Fan of the Dear Bro Jo Facebook Page. There you can meet and mingle with like-minded Latter-day Saints from around the world. It’s a great place to make some new pen-pal friends!

It’s also where you’ll find some great Discussions about the topics raised here, as well as a bunch of “Dear Bro Jo” Notes on everything from the Dating Rules to How to get a Date.

Secondly, you need to share your beliefs, hopes, standards and concerns with your friends, LDS and otherwise. Do it in a positive way; as you bring others closer to Christ, you’ll find that you feel much less lonely.

Now, regarding the boy that’s irritating you . . .

No girl should ever feel obligated to go out with a boy that makes her feel unsafe; nor should a boy feel like he has to take out a girl that makes him feel the same way.

But if we’re Casual Group Dating, and sticking to the rules (see the side or click here)

(like “Never date the same person two dates in a row”), then we really should go out with just about anyone that asks, even if they’re nerdy or irritating. Likewise, boys shouldn’t keep from asking out a girl based on appearance or popularity. It’s just a Casual Group Date, not a Marriage Proposal.

You do realize, of course, that he’s doing what he’s doing to get your attention, and he wants your attention because he likes you . . .

Which of course get’s back to my previous writings about “Men and Women Can’t Be Close Friends”.

NO, it is ABSOLUTELY not bad for you to want to go on dates! It’s normal, and frankly: ideal.

You’re also right that it’s not yet the time to Steady (or Serious, or exclusively) Date. You should wait for that until after High School, as you’ve suggested.

But we don’t start Serious Dating because we’re “ready to get married”, we do it because the person we’re dating is someone we’d like to try dating exclusively. Sure, that may be because we see it leading to marriage, but that’s not to say that we should ONLY Seriously Date once we’re ready to pick out the dress and the ring and set a wedding date.

(I hope that makes sense)

And I disagree: seeing you in Seminary may be enough for guys to gain interest. Don’t down-play your Church attendance when it comes to finding a guy (or, at your age, potential dates).

It’s great that your Stake has Dances once a month, and that other Stakes are invited! Keep going! What a great way to meet new people . . . I hope other Stakes will have dances more frequently.

It is difficult to Date (on any level) someone who lives far away, but not impossible. For much of our dating time Sister Jo and I lived a two hour drive apart – and boy was she worth it!

Perhaps one solution is for you two to plan a group date where he brings the boys and you provide the girls. Do something in your home town. And consider this: Dates DO NOT have to be in the evening. Do something on a Saturday day!

(Readers, I’ve started a Facebook Discussion on Great Dates, check it out and join in!)

As I said, you find dates by being active in non-school things, increase your circle of friends, and be creative. Don’t wait for college! Use the powers that come from being a girl to get boys to ask you out (click here for a list of things you can do),.

Thanks for the letter (I never mind the length), and for Reading and Writing In.

- Bro Jo

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tired of Being Dateless

Bro Jo,

I started writing this as part of a response to your post "Good Dates", and figured I should just send it as an email, since it's more of a concern than a response.

Background: I'm done with high school now. I'm staying here, going to a local college that my dad works at (free tuition.. can't pass that up!) I'm a young high school graduate, I'll start college when I'm still 17, so most people my age are still in high school. Most of the people who graduated with me in my ward are moving out/going on missions.

I'm almost 18, and I haven't even yet been asked out. I *kind of* regret to say I did ask a guy to my junior prom, but the thing is, there are 2 high schools in my town and we were getting a Mormon prom group together to go to MY school's prom, and all of the guys in the ward (except for the one hosting the prom party and stuff) go to the other high school, so there wasn't really much I could do. But we had a ton of fun and still talk about it every now and then.

Anyway. Other than that one, alllll of the dates I've been on have been group dates that I just happened to be part of the group in, no special invite or anything. And they were kind of last-minute slopped-together ones, too. They're fun, but I kind of wish the guys in my ward would step it up a notch.. or 2 or 3. Ask a girl out at a time OTHER than prom/homecoming.

1)I know you say that girls once they're done with high school should start single dating. But all of the guys my age are still in high school. Do you think I should continue to group date? I think it's the only way I can really go. There are NO other guys out of high school that are really "available". At least not for 60-80 miles. The only other guys in my ward are pre-mies (pre missionaries), or they're away for college or on their missions.

2) I've read your list of things girls should do to get guys to ask them out on dates, and I LOVE it. I've said in conversations before "you know, it'd be fun to get together and do something like ________" (with ____ being something like, have a movie night, or go have a barbecue and ultimate Frisbee at this park, or go to the drive in as a big group, or something). Aaaand it never happens. People make excuses like "oh but this person isn't here anymore, they moved/went on their mission" and the whole thing just sounds unattractive without that person anymore. Any suggestions here?

and 3) I'm TIRED of being the one making suggestions period, I don't want to do it anymore, but I REALLY want to go on dates!!! Group dates, double dates, whatever! Take me for a bike ride or a walk on one of the nearby beautiful trails, out by the river, go to one of the nice parks and take scenic pictures. Let's get a group and go star gazing after watching a movie at the drive in! Go help a family with their lawn and then go get smoothies and go watch a movie at somebody's home. See, I'm full of them! I've got plenty of ideas, now if only the guys would ACT on them!!

It's summer, I'm a very friendly and likable person, I do my best to look my best, all of it. I've done my suggestions far enough in-between that it wouldn't really occur to me that people depend on me to make dates happen. I've done enough planning and getting the courage up to try and suggest an outing.

I want some of the guys in my ward to start doing some of the work. No, most of the work. Yeah yeah, I know, it takes a lot of guts and courage. Isn't it supposed to? I know there are guys in my ward who will one day work hard to make a date. They just aren't doing it yet. They just . . .don't date! It's crazy. And boring. And I'm tired of waiting. I'm stuck here in this only ward for 60 miles for another 4 years. Dateless.

Any suggestions, any at all? Can I give you the numbers of these young men and can you give them a call? (just kidding!! kind of ...and I'm a poet and I didn't even know it) I've sent them links to your blog actually, but none of them have checked it out. :\

Thanks for your time and all that you do,

~ Tired of Being Dateless.


Dear Tired,

If you don’t mind, I need to take a brief time out to speak to the Brethren, old and young, of the Church before I answer your letter.

Brethren,

No Little Sister, anywhere that the Church is big enough to have any same-age non-relative boys, should ever get all the way to 17 (let alone nearly 18) without having been asked out on a date. Shame on you! Leading and Training Young Men is more than Scout Activities and Basketball in the Gym.

Leaders, I love Scouts, but these Young Men need some training over and above how to row a canoe! If Young Men don’t learn how to Dance, Talk to Girls, and Date, your Wards are going to be filled with never-married 35-year olds, mark my words.

Boys, get off your Lazy, Too Shy, Video-game playing rear ends and Man Up! It may not be Doctrine, but to my mind you have a Priesthood Responsibility to make sure that these Good Little Sisters go out and have fun with Righteous Brethren – set the standard, blaze the trail!

The responsibility for Dating is on our shoulders, brethren, not theirs. Hanging out in Groups is NOT Group Dating. Each guy needs to ask A girl.

Parents, you can help out with this too. At our house each boy over 16 is expected to go on at least one Group Date per month (and follow all the other Dating Rules, too). If he does, Sister Jo and I cover the cost of Gas and Car Insurance.

- Bro Jo



Now, back to Tired.

OK.

1) You’re one of those exceptions to the rule. At only 17 you’re not really at “marrying age” yet, so even though you’re out of High School, I think you should keep Group Dating. Can I make a suggestion here? I think you’ve been as much a part of the Problem as the boys. When you get called to go on a “Group Date” that’s really more of a hang out, who’s calling? If it’s another girl the two of you need to conspire to make the boys actually date you. If it’s a guy you need to set the standard. Tired, they’re not Dating you girls because you don’t REQUIRE them to. Next time a you get one of these invites say “Great! Who’s my date?” and make certain that everyone gets the “paired off” standard.

2) Yes. My suggestion is that you need to be more specific and more blunt. Don’t announce to a group “hey it would be fun to do this”, find a guy that you think should take you out, go up to him and say “Hey, when are you going to take me on a date?” or, to use your example “We should all get together to play Ultimate Frisbee. You should ask me to be your date and get so-and-so to ask out my friend, that girl over there”. You’re giving the boys, and the girls, too much wiggle room.

3) I understand your frustration, but the training needs to start somewhere. If not you then who? Dating doesn’t HAVE TO take “lot’s of guts and courage”, and I don’t think it should. As we work to keep Casual Dating just that, Casual, then the pressure will be off and more young people we’ll go out, have a good time, and be better prepared when they ARE at that point where it’s time to find a spouse.

Be Proactive, and you won’t stay “Dateless”. I know it’s tougher when you live in an area without many fellow Saints. Expand your Social Circle to include Good Kids who fall into the Not Yet Baptized category. As long as everyone respects everyone else, and we stick to the rules, Casual Group Dating need not be an LDS only thing.

And get to some Stake Young Single Adult Activities, go to Education Week, get a scholarship to do a Semester or two at one of the BYU’s (maybe Hawaii???). Go to the “Dear Bro Jo” Facebook Fan Page and Chat it Up, add a few new “Friends”. Expand your circle and your horizons!

Lastly, I will gladly call a few of the boys in your ward (you may be surprised to learn how much delight I get from those calls!).

“Hi. This is Brother Johnston, writer of the Dear Bro Jo column. I’m calling because the Young Women in your area have complained that you’re not taking any of them out. What’s the problem, Buddy? Do I need to come out there and kick you into action? (Faith is an Action Word, you know) Seriously, what do I have to do to get you to ask a girl out in the next 3 minutes?”

“Hi, Sister Sonstooshy? This is Bro Jo. I understand your boy is afraid of girls. What can we do to fix that?”

“Hey, Brother Sonwontdate? I’m Brother Johnston. Yeah, the guy who writes the Internet thing. I’m calling because the Young Women in your area have asked me to help you get your kid on dates. I’m sure you don’t want him to be single and 35 and living at home . . . what do you think it will take to get him to the next Stake Dance?”


Just say the word, and I’ll do it.

You know I will.


- Bro Jo

PS - If it's any consolation, often some of the Best Girls in High School don't get asked out much, if at all, until college, so take heart!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Nice Guy or Scary Stalker?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm not exactly sure how to start.

I am a shy 17 year old girl and have always been kind of shy. I never really hung out with guys that much and didn't really worry about dating. But last Youth Conference, I started hang out a lot with this guy and something really clicked.

He was in our Stake so I knew him before, but right then... yeah I don't know what happened.

Later that summer we went on a date and eventually started going steady. Right then and there I broke two of the rules I had set for myself, one being I would wait to date steady in college, and two being I wouldn't get involved in a long distance relationship.

At first everything seemed ok, but then I became very frustrated that I didn't get to talk to him or see him a lot. Some other things happened, and I thought it would be best if we didn't go steady anymore, maybe see other people.

He said if that is what I felt was best then ok, he would go along with that. After that, he'd drive by my house once in a while; he wouldn't stop in, just drive by.

Eventually he stopped and we have mostly been chatting on Facebook since then. He keeps telling me he loves me and wants to get back together with me. He keeps talking about the future and marriage, but I'm really not ready to think about any of that right now, because I want to go on a mission as well. He also thinks that we are a perfect match, but there is a lot that he doesn't know about me, and there are some key items (that could really effect the future) we don't agree on.

He wants to go to the same small city college I'm heading to this year, but I know he would thrive better in a bigger school like BYU or one of the local schools, and I don't want him choosing it just because I'm there.

As a friend, I really want what’s best for him. He's also going on his mission soon, and I don't want to give him the wrong idea, like I am going to wait for him. I am planning to write... but I don't know. So much could happen this next year and with so many changes, I don't know what to tell him. And with all my different voices in my head telling me what I should do, plus from my friends and family, I can't decipher an answer.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

Discombobulated in Dublin


Dear DeeDee,

Oh, yeah; I’ve got a thought or two! (Bet you’re not surprised . . .)

First of all, between the two of you, you’re the only one with their head screwed on tight. That’s not meant as a disparagement against him, Love (or thinking you’re In Love) can do that to a person.

But the Stalking is a bit too far. That’s a long way to drive to not call first and not come in and say hello once you get there. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was compelled to go the distance, being driven mad by your overwhelming beauty and charm, but then snapped to his spiritual senses when he finally got there; his humility gluing his rear end to the seat of the car.

Regardless the reason, I’m glad that part is over (Sisters, please be alert and careful. There’s a fine line between Madly In Love and Just Plain Nuts).

You can’t control where he goes to school, but you do need to control how much time you spend together. As smitten as he seems to be, you’re going to have to be equally blunt. If you sugar coat how you feel and what you think, instead of hearing what he needs to hear, he’ll hear what he wants to hear.

Girls make that mistake often. A guy they don’t want to see will call for a date. The girl, being nice, will give him a reason she can’t go out like “I’m sorry, I can’t go; I’ve got practice every night this week”. What the boy hears is “try harder”, or even “but I’m not doing anything next week”. It may sound cold hearted, but Sisters if you don’t want to go out with the boy, you need to tell him. And be clear.

“I’m flattered you asked, but I’m not interested in dating you.”

Don’t embellish, don’t excuse. Make it quick, like taking off a Band-Aid; Rip it Right Off!

I think, DeeDee, that you need to be clear. Do this guy the Favor of telling him that you’re not at that place in your life right now, that you have no intention of waiting for him while he’s on his mission, and that while you enjoyed going out with him, and may want to go out with him again when he comes home, you absolutely intend to date other guys.

If it creeps you out that he’s planning to go to your college, tell him that too.

“Hey, I’ve got to tell you it makes me more than just a little uncomfortable that you’re planning on going to my college this semester. Frankly I think you’d be better off at BYU, and I don’t want you to think that just because you live closer that we’re going to be Boyfriend and Girlfriend”.

And maybe I’m taking the whole Stocking thing Too Seriously, but I hope you’ve told a few people, including your parents and Bishop. It may be over, it may have been no big deal, but a gal can never be too safe.

If you do like this guy on some level, I’m not saying “burn the bridge”, but I just sense from your letter that, while you may have been flattered and intrigued in the beginning, this “relationship” is headed the wrong way.

Keep your options open. Keep praying. And keep your heart open to the Promptings of the Spirit.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Set the Goal RMs - 50+ DPY (Dates per Year)!

Dear Bro Jo,

First of all I would like say that you have an awesome blog. It's great that there is a spot on the web to ask dating advice from a member of the church.

My question is in regards to dating non-member girls.

I'm a 24 year old from Australia. I returned from my mission about a year and a half ago. Since then I have been on some dates but with no luck of finding a potential future companion. I've kind of gotten the 'I like you as a friend' response from most girls.

Therefore since returning back from the mission I have not been in a relationship. The YSA scene in Australia is some what small compared to places like Utah. My desires are to be married in the temple with the right girl and have a family.

Now to my question: Since returning back from the mission I've started university. There are many single girls at school and it has at one point or another crossed my mind to ask some of these girls on a date. I then think back and say no I shouldn't as my desires are to be married in the Temple. Is it wrong to think like this? I mean to totally count someone out because they are not members of the church?

Thank you for your time and any advice would be great.

Jay Dee.


Dear Jay,

Thanks for the compliment, and for Reading and Writing In.

I know that there are areas in the world where the potential LDS Mates are few and far between, but University in Australia is not one of them.

Part of your problem is quantity: “some dates” is not going to cut it. A 24-year old Return Missionary should be dating once a week, minimum. By now you should have been on 75-80 dates and, believe me, if you had you’d be a lot closer to marriage by now.

So let’s address why you’re not dating enough.

I don’t think it’s “quantity”, as you imply. I’m certain that if you’re at the University that there are plenty of LDS girls within close proximity (and by that I mean within 50 miles). In fact, let’s try a little experiment.

I think the key lies in your statement “the right girl”. I agree that you need to find a Quality Sister and, controversial as this may be, I also support finding a woman you find Very Attractive (although I do think we men tend to focus too much on superficial stuff – as I’ve said MANY times: Sister Jo is a Hot-Hot-Hot Woman, but her outward beauty is not one of the top 25 things I love about her). But, Jay, I suspect that you’re eliminating Many Great Sisters from the Dating Pool without even asking them out.

And don’t tell me you dated all of them, because that would be a lie, and you know it.

Date them, and date them twice. Three times if necessary.

To your original question: “Is it OK to date non-member girls?”

Yes and No.

For Younger Guys, Preemies (the term is growing on me), I’d say “sure”. They’re in Casual-Group Dating mode, so why not?

For Guys your age, 24, I say only with extreme caution. If you met a Righteous Almost-Ready-for-Baptism Sister, then OK, so long as the two of you dating neither keeps her from the Gospel nor becomes the only reason for her to join the Church.

Better, I think, to focus on women who are Temple Ready. Marriage is difficult enough without having two religions (even if one of them is “no religion”) in the mix.

Which University do you attend?

- Bro Jo


Hi Brother Jo,

Sorry for the late reply.

I attend Deakin University. I have also been thinking a lot about what I asked. I've come to the conclusion that I should date members.

The thought did come into my mind about dating non-members, maybe because I was a bit discouraged about my recent dating experiences. I know that eventually we will marry those we date.

I guess it will be a bit risky falling in love with a non member as in the end I might end up marrying her. There might be a chance she does not convert to the Church and then my desires of Temple marriage will not be realized.

I know that in marriage it is necessary to have a common foundation in regards to religious belief. So in the mean time I guess I will focus on improving myself as a person and have faith that the right person will eventually come along, with effort on my part of course.

~ Jay Dee


Brilliant, Jay!

Until you find the girl that sparks the flame, may I suggest that you commit to going on at least one date per week?

I agree that you should stick to LDS women, the ultimate goal being the Temple.

I dated girls that were what we might empirically call "stunning" (including some models and actresses) but there's so much more than just beauty that you'll want to find.

Every week, Jay. Minimum one date every week.

And that shouldn’t be too difficult: I looked it up, if you count just the regular students, there are over 20,000 undergraduate women at Deakin! They can’t ALL be married . . .

There are 7 Wards by the Burwood Campus alone, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure the Caulfield Ward is for University students.

(Readers, help me out, please. Here’s an open invitation to all “Dear Bro Jo” LDS YSA Sisters that live within 50 miles of Deakin, will you please respond below if you think the YSA Brethren in your area don’t ask out girls often enough? And if I'm sending this Brother to the wrong ward, let me know that too!)


Get out there, son!

Minimum one date every week.

- Bro Jo

PS - Thanks also for that fabulous Testimony of Temple Marriage and your commitment to being your best! God Bless!