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.

Please like our Facebook page, and check it often for Discussions, Notes, Events and just General Good Stuff!

Everything here is copyrighted. If you're going to quote any part of anything here, please get Bro Jo's written permission. You can reach him at dearbrojo@gmail.com.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jail Bait - part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks. I guess this can really be more serious than I originally thought. I actually did send this to my friend's Mom (I think she'll be able to get through to my friend better). Her Mom was already concerned, but I'll bet this will make it a lot clearer. I'm not jealous (I don't really know the guy) but I can see how that might be a problem, so thank you for bringing it up. I think, though, that my friend trusts me and won't mind.

I didn't really know what to make of this before, but I understand now that it's pretty inappropriate. I just want to make sure my friend is safe. Thanks again for everything.

-Perturbed pal


Dear Pal,

Thank you for being the type of Young Woman that cares about the safety of others.

This situation is a lot inappropriate.

Keep the Faith,

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

I'm very grateful for your advice. I believe my friends' Mom sent you an e-mail, as well, clarifying the situation. Thank you for all the advice you give... it's nice just to be able to look at your blog and get answers from an LDS, impartial perspective. I really appreciate it.

Sincerely,

-Pal


Dear Pal,

I did hear from your friend's mom, thanks for passing on the email. I take back what I said about you being jealous. After corresponding with her (the mother), I think you really are just a sincere friend.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jail Bait - part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for all the great advice you give, I love reading it. There's a situation I wondered if you might be able to shed some light on.

I normally try not to poke my nose into other people's business, however I have a close friend who has another friendship I'm not so sure about. She has a guy friend who she spends a lot of time with- a lot. They text often, and he comes over to her house just to hang out with her. Now, she's about my age- she's not yet 14. However, this guy is a senior in high school.

When he comes over, he hangs out with her, even though she has an older brother closer to his age. He's a great guy, and very strict about no serious relationships before his mission. He hangs out with plenty of other girls too- it just seems a little weird how much time he spends with my friend. I'm certain she likes him, but she's so much younger than he is, is it possible he likes her back? I just can't see what he's gaining from this relationship. I know this is bothering my friend's mom a little as well, and she's keeping an eye on them and always chaperones when he's over. And if they hang out a lot, is it technically dating?

And that's the situation. I was just wondering what your thoughts were on it. My questions were: Is it all right for a senior to spend that much time with a 13-year-old? Could he like her back? And if they don't think it's dating, is it?

Thanks. Any insights would be great. :)

-Perturbed pal


Dear Perturbed,

Yiikes!

And Double Yiikes!

No, it’s NOT ALRIGHT for a Senior boy to spend that much time with a 13 year old girl!

(Please forward this to your friend’s parents - with respect, they need to Clue In . . . NOW. This shouldn’t bother them a little, it should Concern Them a Great Deal – and it needs to stop, right away.)

Talk about C-R-E-E-P-Y . . .

Yes, it’s not only possible he “likes her back”, he likes her front, and sides, and . . .

No, “hanging out” is not technically dating, and in this situation it’s much worse than dating. At least if they were dating it would be out in the public, and everyone would confess to what’s going on.

(Side note: Sisters , I’ll say it a million more times if I have to – Don’t let boys come over and “hang out”; if you’re worth spending time with, you’re worth taking out. But this, given the young age of the girl, is worse.)

Look, you know all those columns I write about “Men and Women Can’t Be Close Friends”? This situation, right here, shows why. You wonder what this boy is getting out of the relationship? Well if it’s not something physical (and, parents, I hope you’re paying attention, because my bet is that it either is, or will be soon), some sort of gratification is happening on some level.

Perhaps his ego is boosted on some level.

Perhaps he sees it as “safe” (a Girlfriend who, because of her age, isn’t expecting as much, isn’t pressuring him).

Perhaps it is something physical, however “innocent” that may currently be.

Perhaps he’s thinking “hey, when I come back from my mission and graduate college she’ll be turning 19 and will be a potential spouse”, but that doesn’t justify laying the groundwork now. (OK, admittedly, the age difference here may not be that big. He could be 17 and she almost 14, but I doubt it.)

Look, Perturbed, clearly you’re a little jealous of the attention this Older Boy is giving your friend, and that’s OK, but therein also lays the trap. If the guy is simply being nice to her, shooting the breeze whilst he waits for her brother, that’s one thing, but if they’re spending any kind of Regular Alone Time Together, then that needs to stop.

Because of the Jealousy, and because that’s the first thing people we decry as your motivation, there’s not too much you can do.

First, see if you can honestly gage how much time they’re really spending together and how much of this may be your friend’s wishful thinking. If it turns out that these two really are “close”, then confide in your parents and, if warranted, your Bishop. If you already know that things have gone farther than they should, as I said, feel free to send this to her parents.

And one more thing: sometimes standing up for what’s right loses us a friend or two along the way. You need to know that’s OK. Better to lose a friend trying to help them, than to lose a friend because you didn’t.

Now, if you were obnoxious, like yours truly, you may just want to go up to him and ask him how his Jail Bait Girlfriend is. It might just scare him into reality.

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 25, 2009

Date Her Now or Later?

Dear Bro Jo,

I got a short one for you,

I'm turning sixteen in less than a month, and there's this girl at church who I really like, and she really seems to like me back. Problem is, she's only fourteen. My friends (who aren't members) say I should date her anyway, which is a very tempting offer. I've thought about it myself, but I just want a second opinion as to what is right.

I know this seems like something I could find the answer to out of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet,

You go more in depth and personal to problems, and I think I need that right now.

Sincerely,

Born Too Early


Dear Born,

Your friends are right. Date her . . . in two years, when she's old enough.

Stay in Casual Dating Mode and stay focused on a Mission, not a Girlfriend. And, let's face it, when you say "date her", you're not thinking about playing by the rules, taking her out once, then another girl, then another girl, then her - you're thinking that she's fun and cute and it would be great to be her Boyfriend because then . . . she might smooch you.

(Hey, I'm old, but I'm not dead; I get it.)

Be nice to her, don't get wrapped up in any romantic entanglements, and play it cool. Bide your time, and then, when she's older, more fun, more mature, and no-longer Off Limits, by all means take her out.

The time will go by fast.

Trust me.

Since 16 is coming up for you pretty quick, review Bro Jo's DATING RULES for TEENS with your parents. Discuss your plans and expectations. find a couple good dating Buddies.

Good luck and have fun!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Too Nice to Date?

Dear Bro. Jo,

I'm 19 going on 20 and I have the worse luck when it comes dating...wait let me correct that, my dating life is non-existent.

I have tons of friends and some of them are guys, everyone tells me I'm a nice person. I'm friendly to everyone that I meet and I'm quite the social butterfly. I take care of myself (workout, shower, wear pleasant scenting sprays/perfumes, dress cute and modest, etc.). I smile a lot (I get compliments on my smile all the time) and I'm a happy-go-lucky person. Sorry if I sound like I'm bragging about myself, but I'm trying to give you a picture of some sort of the kind of girl that I am.

When it comes to guys it's those that are either too young or too old for me that are interested in me. That's a dilemma for me because I want to date the guys around my age group.

But I can't seem to get them interested or, if they are, they never do anything about it. I have seen them check me out, ask for my name, and then proceed to get my number (sometimes), but that's where it stops.

When they don't call or ask me out, it makes me feel like something is wrong with me. It's not like I don't laugh at their, sometimes, lame jokes (sorry if I sound angry I'm just really frustrated). There are times that I just want to stop putting efforts in my appearance because they're not taking notice(The wrong men take notice though, i.e. missionaries, married men, way older men and it's not like I'm dressing to impress them). I do want to get married someday, but how will find the one if I don't get the chance to "play the field"?

I watch my friends go on dates all the time and it bums me the heck out. My question is, how do I get a guy to ask me out without seeming desperate?

-Nice Without Dates

P.S.-I have taken the initiative and asked the guy out, but I'm tired of doing the asking.

P.S.S.-I might add that I'm Nigerian, if it makes any difference.


Dear Nice,

Doesn’t make any difference to me that you’re Nigerian . . . nice to know, and kind of cool to get to correspond with people from all over the world, but unless there’s some cultural issue, which you didn’t bring up, . . . I think people and what motivates them is pretty universal.

Let me suggest to you that your problem lies somewhere between “doing the asking” and putting your fait entirely in the hands of the men around you.

It sounds like you’re doing your best to present yourself well, and I’m sure you’re a very nice person. Older guys appreciating you should generally be taken as a compliment, so long as they’re not overly creepy; missionaries coming on to you is a problem. It may not be anything in particular that you’re doing, but I get the sense that you’re spending time with the wrong group of people: Missionaries and Old Guys.

So, what can you do to make certain that Worthy Single Men close to your age are doing the asking, and that those that pursue you actually have the courage to follow through with a date?

I wrote a column a while back about things a girl can say to increase the chances a guy will actually call. You can find it on the Facebook Fan Page HERE.

You can also find postings there about how to get guys to ask you out and a discussion (that I think applies) about teaching guys to respect women by insisting they open and hold doors. (click here for that)

In general I’d say applying a little more pressure is in order. Remember that you’re a Daughter of God, and as such deserved to be treated with the respect that such a princess deserves. Stop doing the asking; by making it that easy for the guys in your area, you're sending a signal that no one need work for your affection.  Make certain that guys understand that you’re worth the effort.

You’re still young. Keep doing what you’re doing and be a little patient. It IS true that love comes when we stop looking.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 21, 2009

Getting Over

Dear Bro Jo,

Well, I have 2 questions for kind of two topics I’ve been thinking about.

For starters, I was reading 'The Art of Conversation' , [Readers see the original post HERE] and it got me thinking.  I read the note you have with the list of stuff to talk about when dancing, but every time this guy asks me to dance, the biggest conversation we really have is him asking how the dance is and my reply, but last week there was another dance and we were actually talking more, but still not a Ton. We both already know each other pretty well, so thinking of questions about each other isn't so easy because we often already know the answer. So, 1) how can we hold a good conversation without trying to ask something we both already know the answer to?

Then to my 2nd question. I've liked this guy for a long time, and sooo much more than I’ve ever liked anyone else. At the last dance he asked me to dance, and when the dance was over I was totally overcome by so many mixed emotions, and I wasn't even in the mood to dance anymore, and at a dance that is definitely not like me. I didn't dance with anyone else until my guy friend (I know, I know, guys and girls can't be friends) eventually convinced me to dance with him after failing at convincing me to dance with anyone else.

He’s pretty close friends with me and the guy I like, and while we were dancing he was asking me what was wrong, so we were talking about it. He says I should just get over him, and that he (guy friend) would be there for me either way. I've been thinking the same thing for weeks, if not months now, but it is so much easier said than done.

So question 2) how can you get over someone you've liked for so long? I’ve been trying to forever it seems but whenever I feel like I’m getting close, he does something to make me fall 'head over heels, madly-in-like' all over again. It's like a cycle that just goes on and on again. Any advice would be great!!

Thanks,

A Little Too Not Over You

(couldn't resist, its David Archuleta haha)


Dear Over,

(Far be it for me to not appreciate a song quote)

Your first question is intriguing because the answer bridges the gap from “Casual Dating Teenager” to “Ready to be Married Young Single Adult”. (No, I’m not saying that you’re ready to get married; what I’m saying is that you’re realizing something Very Mature and Important.)

Most relationships we have in this life are really quite superficial, and by that I don’t mean that they’re based solely on looks, but rather that they’re just not that deep or intimate. You know lots of kids at school; you have dozens of Facebook Friends; you get along with many of the people at work, but so very few of them are Close, Sincere, True and Deep relationships. Even those of use that wear their hearts on their sleeves, you know the kind, that reveal far too much of their personal lives to those whom they hardly know – even those people have few Real and True Friends.

Which is not to say that they’re not good people, nor are they surrounded by not good people, it’s just that Lasting Friendships require us to go deeper than the typical Dance Floor conversation.

Case in point: my wife and I have known each other for nearly 20 years, we talk every day, and we still long to talk to each other. I already know the answers to the basics (favorite color, favorite food, favorite type of music), now we talk about much deeper things: sociology, politics, new experiences, old memories, actions, reactions and opinions.

I don’t know that asking a boy you’re simply dancing with at a youth dance what his opinion is of the latest legislative decision is a good idea, but you can stretch The Art of Conversation to the Next Level.
Ask his opinions about things you have in common. Delve deeper into the things you already know.

Why is Red his Favorite Color?

Why does he want to go to Boise State instead of the University of Utah?

How did he feel about the recent movie he saw? What about it affected him the most?

It’s OK to mature up your conversations a little.

What does he think the Real Message of “All Quiet on the Western Front” is?

What would he do if they tripled the Participation Fee for High School Athletics?

When was the last time he felt the Spirit, and what lead him to that?

Sure, these aren’t “hey, we’ve never met, but let’s go dance to this song” questions, but you asked how to take the conversation deeper, right?

Eventually these are the conversations that become Essential when looking for an Eternal Companion. The answers aren’t as important as the discovery of whether or not you can imagine yourself talking to this person on a regular basis for the next millennia.

The “Art of Conversation” is the process by which we get to know others and ourselves better.

Before I get to question #2, we need to look at that dance you had with the “friend” guy.

[I wonder, Readers, how many of you picked up on what I’m about to mention?]

Sorry, but I just can’t let that moment go by without pointing out to you how your “friend” is willing to be more. The guy essentially told you to shed the first guy and look at him instead. Don’t believe me? Go back and read it!

Ladies and Gentlemen, those of you that doubt and dismiss, are you catching what I’m pitching?

OK, question #2: How do you get over someone?

Time.

And depending on the depth (and intimacy) of the relationship, it can take Lots of Time.

There are things you can do that will help (some of this will no doubt apply to closer relationships than you have in mind, but the principles are the same.)

To that end, here’s:

Bro Jo’s HOW to GET OVER a RELATIONSHIP

Don’t get too intimate. I think one of the many reasons we’re counseled to start of Dating Casually and to save Sex for Marriage is that too much intimacy too soon makes the Breaking Up and Getting Over that much more painful.

Remove the reminders. Get rid of letters, pictures, and any other memorabilia that brings pain. You shouldn’t have too much of this stuff anyway, but cleaning your room can help cleanse your soul.

Replace the relationship. That’s not to say that you should run right out and get a New Love Interest, but replace the time you previously spent thinking of and being with that person with time spent with friends and family.

Be open to new possibilities. Keep dating, or at the very least putting yourself in situations where you can meet possible dates.

Don’t forget the basics. Prayer, Scripture Study, Church Attendance; they worked when you were in Primary and their effectiveness never diminishes.

I should also tell you that some things never go away, and that’s not all bad. The Lord says that he’ll forget, not that we will, and like the lingering reminder that we should avoid sin, the sting of unsuccessful relationships lingering in the back of our memories helps us to make better decisions as we go through life.

And, not to make this worse, but if the two of you are simply at Casual Dating Age, and if he hasn’t done anything to hurt you, perhaps you shouldn’t entirely burn that bridge. A few short years from now, you may feel that the boy you fell “madly-in-like” with over and over again as a teen is someone you’d like to keep falling for eternally.

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wishing . . .

Dear Bro Jo,

My friend recommended me to your advice website because I've been having guy trouble.
For Background information I am 19 and have been attending a YSA ward in my Southern CA town for almost two years.

The problem I'm having is the "not much dating" scene, let alone a relationship.

1. I have gone out only a few times and I'm starting to wonder what is wrong. In truth, I have done most of the asking and that hasn't gone over well as you pointed out it usually wont on your Dear Bro Jo website. In fact, the guys I have interest in verses the ones that show interest in me are very different. Guys I like tend to turn out shallow - no matter how hard I try not to go for them - and care more about looks than a testimony. The ones that follow me around are very creepy even after I give them a chance I still find they make me feel uncomfortable.

2. In my ward there are two kinds of girls. There are the popular, thin, pretty, and socially gifted that get 90% of the guys attention. Then you have girls like me who are round, simple, and true friends. Why are people attracted to the things that in the long run aren't that great? Myself included.

3. Should I even try to date or get a boyfriend? I have gone on a few dates that have been really fun, but no boyfriend and no second date. I have asked some of my closest friends their honest opinion if I acted odd in front of guys and everyone said I was fine. Even when I did a double date with my friend/cousin and her boyfriend she thought I was fine.

4. I have been told "let love find you" but when you've been in a YSA ward for two years and not even a speck of a relationship, you tend to worry. Besides, I don't have a problem taking my time to fall really in love with someone. I just wish I had someone I could take my time with a nice guy who likes me, without worrying about the other girls going after him as always.

What should I do?

~Wishing for Guidance


Dear Wishing –

Welcome! Please tell your friend I said hello and thank you.

(I hope your friend warned you that I don’t hold back)

Ready? Here we go.

1) Nothing’s wrong. You’re only 19 for gosh sakes! Sure, some girls are married and pregnant by then, but so what? For some it takes a little longer to find a decent spouse, so hang in there. The bigger issue than you still being single and having only gone out a few times is the types of guys you’re limiting yourself to: the shallow ones. Write off the creepy ones, but everyone else should be fair game. Date everybody; there are lots of great guys out there that may not grace the cover of Surfer Magazine (which, lest some of you readers read too much into that tongue-in-cheek comment, is not to be taken as a remark about surfers being shallow – it’s a Southern California joke) but will make wonderful, caring husbands. Consider this: maybe it’s not the guys that you’re attracted to that are shallow, but you.

2) What was it I was saying a sentence ago about you being shallow . . ??? Oh yeah: You’re Shallow. Just because a girl is Pretty and Outgoing does not mean that she’s not a true friend. Hmmm . . . I think there’s something in the scriptures somewhere about jealousy . . . gosh, where could it be?

3) Yes; you should be trying to date AND to find a Long Term (and by that I mean “Time and All Eternity”) Relationship. At this point in your life it’s Job One. Don’t obsess, but Temple Marriage needs to be a serious goal. Don’t worry about acting odd; worry about being true to yourself and focus on being the type of person that you want to marry.

4) Oh no! Two WHOLE years?!? Call the cops! A crime has been committed! Seriously: Please! Two years is nothing, especially if you haven’t been TRYING. And, No, Little Sister, simply hoping Prince Charming will be assigned as your Home Teacher and Fall Madly In Love with you the first time you open the door is NOT trying.

What you need to do, in this order, is:

1) Relax. All is not lost, and time has not run out.

2) Work on becoming the type of person that Good Men are attracted to. So what if you’re not Super Model Pretty, do the best you can with what the Good Lord hath blessed you. ((By the way, as someone who’s met more than a couple Models and Actresses, I can tell you Right Now, very few of them are as striking as many of you are given to believe.) Work on being happy with who you are, but also recognize that you have the power to change some things.

3) Draw closer unto the Savior and Strengthen your Testimony. Doing the simple things that draw you closer unto God will help you to hear and feel the Spirit, and in this, like any trial, the Spirit can help you through.

4) Consider President Hinkley’s “Be’s”, especially “Be Happy”. No man Smart enough to marry you will want to be around someone who’s a downer.

For more Helpful Hints, check out some of my notes on the Facebook Fan Site, like:

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

Bro Jo's "How a Girl Can Get a Guy to Ask Her on a Date"

and

Bro Jo's "HOW a GIRL CAN GET a BOY'S ATTENTION"

Keep me posted on your progress.

Chin up and Good Luck!

- Bro Jo




Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Nervous Missionary

Dear Bro Jo,

Your advice was simply AWESOME last time, and so I'm back! Here goes round two!

I have NEVER been interested in a missionary until about a month ago. I actually used to take pride in the fact that I took no interest in them whatsoever--I wouldn't even check them out like some of the younger girls in my ward did!

But then, guess what, the week after I turn 19, I become smitten with a missionary. I saw him waiting for his companion out in the church parking lot, and decided to chat with him for a bit. It was probably at most a two minute conversation, but during that time he kind of stumbled and fumbled over his words. And he seemed kind of embarrassed about it--I think he blushed. Which I thought was rather odd, because he's been out on his mission over for a year. So you'd think by now he would've had plenty of practice talking to people, even girls. At this point his companion arrived, and we went our separate ways.

I thought about his reaction a lot, and why it happened. A week or so later, my family had the missionaries over for dinner. There were a couple minutes before dinner was served, and he seemed fidgety. During dinner he wouldn't look at me or talk to me.
I started over analyzing why he was behaving so weird. I wondered if he liked me. I guess because I thought about him so much, I ended up forming a crush on him (he's good-looking too). But, since he's a missionary, nothing else has happened like that (I suddenly became too nervous to talk to him at church).

I recently found out that he's been transferred. I'll admit it, I was disappointed. Next week I leave for school (BYU-I to be exact). I was thinking about writing him a letter once I'm up at school (because then I won't be in his mission, and breaking the rules by writing him). In the letter I just planned on asking him when he got home, and asking for his email address so I could talk to him after his mission. I really don't want to write him otherwise on his mission.

Do you think this is wrong of me to do? Is it too forward? Would it be best to leave it in his hands, and if he was interested, he would take the proper action? I heard that after some missionaries get home, they Facebook people they remember on their missions.
I don't want to distract him from his mission, but I do want to get to know him afterwards.


Sincerely,

Falling for a Missionary



Dear Falling,

Yes and yes.

It's wrong AND it's too forward.

I think writing a guy you met while he was on his mission, even though you've now moved out of the mission area, is a stretch of the mission rules at the very least . . .

Acting nervous when a 19 year old girl corners him is EXACTLY how a Good Missionary (who is perhaps a bit on the shy side) is supposed to act. You cornered him in the parking lot away from his companion! He may be an Experienced Elder, but you put him in a very awkward situation. Seriously: how was he supposed to act?

This infatuation is superficial at best. All you have to go on is his appearance, one short conversation, and his reaction upon realizing that he was scheduled to have dinner at the home of the girl that hit on him at church.

Of course he was nervous! That doesn't mean he was Falling for You.

It may mean . . . wait for it . . . he was nervous.

I'm an Old Married Guy, and if a pretty 19-year old girl cornered me alone in the Church Parking lot and was too close and a little flirty, I'd be nervous too! (Flattered, stunned, and concerned for her mental well-being - and physical safety lest Sister Jo be in a territorial mood - not that I'd think she was actually hitting on me - let's be real - but at the very least It Would Look Bad - you'd see me backing up and trying to restore my Personal Space Bubble)

What I'm saying is: I think you may have mis-interpreted his reaction and the fact that he's probably a nice guy. And clue into the fact that when he was at your home (which I bet surprised the heck out of him) HE AVOIDED YOU. That, my young friend, is NOT a sign of interest.

Plus, and Young Sisters this is VERY IMPORTANT: the Personality you meet when a guy is on his Mission is only a very small slice of who the guy really is off his mission. (Brethren, back me up on this)

You're headed to BYU-I, for gosh sakes; land of Many Eligible Mormon Men; be open to the Thousands of Possibilities there. Rather than pining away for the non-existent lost love, look to meet new friends where you actually live. Focus on making guys nervous that actually have the availablility to take you out.

Trust me: if this Missionary of which you speak IS in-love with you, after his mission he'll try to contact you. We guys can be a little obsessive that way. Know this, though, if he were to ask me if he should contact you after his mission, I'd probably tell him no. That's no disparagement against you, at all, I just think developing an obsession during one's mission is generally a bad idea and shouldn't be pursued. If he was sincere I might give him a Yellow "proceed with caution" light, but I'd warn him incessantly.

So don't wait around for it to happen.

Let me tangent here to something I'm not sure I've often (if ever) discussed in this column: the idea that there's only One Perfect Person out there for each of us is a M-Y-T-H; not true in every sense of the word. A Good Marriage can be made between any Man and Woman that put God first, and are Good, Unselfish people. Attraction is important, as is Integrity, the Willingness to Work Hard, and having things in common that you can do and discuss. You need not search the world over for that one and only being promised to you before the world began, because there is no such person. What you need to do is work at becoming the best, most decent person you can be, to learn how to put another's needs before your own, and then find someone who's willing to treat you the same way.

Looks fade, kids, but inner beauty lasts forever.

And I do mean the "Time and All Eternity" kind of forever.


- Bro Jo

PS - Thanks for the kind words!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fence Sitter - Letter 4 - Now What?

Letter 4


Dear Bro Jo,

I'm guessing you pray about what to say, because what you said really hit me hard. I've told a couple friends about my problem, and none of them got even close to the truth like you did.
As for why he's fat, he's told me he doesn't like to exercise (which a lot of people don't) and I know he doesn't really watch what he eats. He knows it would be good for him to lose a couple pounds, but he says he's fine with the way he is.

I don't know how I'd feel if he lost weight. I think some people (me included) define a cute person by the look of their face. So if he lost enough weight for it to affect how his face looks, I still throw my hands up in the air, because I don't know how he'd look. And I have no clue as to how to encourage him to slim down without offending him.

Talking about this more and more with you makes me think that I'm too judgemental for this guy anyways.

I would like to hope that after I'm married, I won't be as concerned about looks like I am now. That I'll be more accepting and supportive.

I hope.

Maybe I'm being unrealistic.

And you've identified my real problem, as much as I tried to hide it, that I'm worried about what others will think. Is there a way to get over my insecurities and superficiality?

Thank you so much for your advice! It helped a lot.

- Sitter


Dear Sitter,

I do pray . . . a lot.

You're a wise young woman to recognize some of the things you have, like him being happy with his shape and realizing that the two of you aren't a good (no pun intended) fit.

Your original question was about how to preserve his feelings and not lead him on any further.

Be kind, but clear.

When we men set our sites on a woman, our I.Q. points dissipate like Koolaid in a lake. You have to tell him exactly what you mean.

If we ask a girl out and she doesn't want to go, if she says she's not available, we hear "but if you keep asking incessantly I may change my mind".

The hard reality is that the two of you can never be friends. He'll always want it to be something more. Even after you're married to someone else. Every fight with your husband will give him a glimmer of hope that you might change your mind.

And, let's face it: no guy is going to be happy with his wife paling around with her ex-boyfriend.

So be nice, but firm. "You're a nice guy, and I'm sure you'll make someone a wonderful husband, but I know I'm not that someone".

You may indeed be a tad unrealistic.

I'm compelled to mention the adage "Women marry men hoping to change them, and men marry women hoping they'll never change. Both are fantastically wrong".

Ultimately I think it may just be that you've yet to fall In Love. When you do you won't care if he has oozing pustules (OK, perhaps you will, but you get my point, right?)

To get over your own insecurities is to gain a testimony of our Divine Nature and Individual Worth. Look: we all have moments of insecurity (even someone as undeniably awesome as myself), and that, with the humility that it brings, is not always a bad thing, but never for get that you are a Daughter of Our Heavenly Father, who Loves us.

Then begin to recognize the Divine Nature of others. Realize that everyone has gifts and talents and worth and ability. Seek it out. Seek out those gifts in others.

And yours too.

Lastly, and this is for everyone, being "fine" with destructive behavior (and if this guy is fat to the point of morbid obesity, that's destructive), is a Bad Sign. No different than anorexia, overeating, like any unhealthy, addictive behavior, can destroy lives and relationships.

Keep dating. Keep repenting and improving.

And never give up.

Never surrender.

Always a pleasure,

- Bro Jo

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fence Sitter - Letter 3 - Why She's Not Attractedto Him

Letter 3


Dear Bro Jo,

I'll be blunt. He's fat.

Though he does have nice eyes and a nice smile.

To put a label on myself, I suppose I was desperate. I've actually done this sort of thing before, where I've liked a guy's personality, but not his physicality, and yet still kissed him, then wondered why my feelings just seemed to vanish. I'm a creature of habit.

I know you probably think I'm really nuts. Actually, I KNOW you think I'm really nuts. But I still don't know what to do about this situation that I keep putting myself into.

- Sitter


Dear Sitter,

Well, surprisingly I don't think you're nuts.

(Surprises me as much as anybody)

Mean, maybe, but not nuts. You definitely are insecure, and you definitely led him on.

But I appreciate your honesty. And your bluntness.

Look, it's important to be attracted to whom you marry, but it's also important to realize that physical beauty fades - have a few kids and see if you don't find yourself a totally different shape than you are now . . . we all get old, Sister, and our bodies change.

When it comes to "Fatness", the real question is "Why?"

Lazy and unwilling to work falls in the "Apathy" category in my list of reasons Why Not to Marry Someone - that's legitimate. Overeating can also be a sign that someone lacks confidence or self discipline, but those are totally different issues . . .

Would you feel differently if he got in shape? Did you do anything to help him slim down?

And here's the big one: what if you marry the "perfect guy", I mean perfect in every way, spiritually, temporally and physically, and after marriage he hurts his back at work and while recovering puts on 150 lbs?

No joke. Could totally happen.

Most of the guys I went to High School and College with, including those of us that were athletes, have put on more than just a few pounds. It happens with age, and job related change in activity. Once you're supporting a family and focusing on your wife and children, you find that you have less and less time for the gym or sports.

What will you do then?

Again, I don't think you're nuts.

And I totally understand and support the idea that there needs to be Sexual Attraction in a marriage.

Believe me.

But there has to be more, So Much More, than that.

You're putting yourself in this cycle because you're in love with the Idea of being in love and you can't get over your own insecurities to let love really happen.

The problem isn't that this guy is fat. The problem is that you're worried about what people will say if you're with a fat guy. How will it reflect on you? You're worried that people will say "Oh, all she could get was a Fat Guy". So once the relationship gets serious or heats up or threatens to go public, you bail out.

Up until that point, it's fun.

You're deep down putting yourself in relationships that are, because of your own superficiality, destined to fail.

So now what?

Well, I think you still, as a YSA, need to go out with anyone, at least once, that asks (so long as you don't fear for your safety). And I think you need to stop kissing guys that you have no intention of having a relationship with.

Sister Jo had some pretty descriptive words for a girl who would kiss a boy that repulses her . . . but I'll leave those for another day.

Learn to be happy with whom you are, and as you search for an eternal companion, remember those things that are Eternally Important.

- Bro Jo



Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fence Sitter - Letter 2 - You Need a Spark to Start a Fire

Letter 2


Dear Bro Jo,

When I see him, there's no spark. I really don't feel anything. When he compliments how I look, like when he says I'm beautiful, I can't give a compliment back. I end up saying thank you, or changing the subject.

I don't want to lie to him and say he's handsome when I don't think he is. But personality-wise, he's gorgeous. I've heard people talk about finding someone whose personality "shined through" and made them attractive on the outside as well. I was hoping that would happen, but it didn't.

And sorry to be harsh, but when you're kissing someone, generally your eyes are closed and you don't see them.

I also have a bad habit of settling and of rationalizing with myself.

- Sitter


Dear Sitter,

I've always said that every woman has at least some attractive physical feature; maybe it's her eyes, or legs, or complexion . . . maybe she has great hair . . .

Perhaps that's not true of guys.

Is there NOTHING physically attractive about this man?

Did he fall out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down?

Look, you feel how you feel, but it is a little tough to wrap my head around you making out with some guy that repulses you . . . I mean, unless you're drunk or desperate . . .

Because, let's face it, if you're super-model sexy then you'd have tons of hot, superficial guys to swap spit with, but clearly you picked the car chaser . . .

I'm just saying.

- Bro Jo



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fence Sitter - Letter 1 - What's the Problem?

[Readers: A series of letters this week between "Fence Sitter" and I about a guy she was dating, and now isn't, will run this week.]

Letter 1


Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a college-aged gal who is currently single. However, several months ago, I had met a really wonderful guy at school. He's an RM, and we were dating for a month or two before we decided to be exclusive.

But during the time that he was my boyfriend, my feelings weren't very consistent. Most times I felt like I was just going through the actions of being in a relationship, and not so much that I actually liked him. I enjoyed being close with him, especially cuddling and kissing. :) But there was a big problem: I wasn't physically attracted to him. At all. I've thought plenty of boys were cute, but not this one. I began to feel guilty that I couldn't just overlook it. I wondered if I was being shallow.

I knew I needed guidance, and so I prayed. The impression I got was that he would be a wonderful husband and father. But my Heavenly Father also wanted me to be happy. And from that answer, I determined that I wasn't happy in the relationship with the RM.

I ended our relationship right before the school year came to a close. I moved back home, and he moved back to his home (in a different state). The break-up was hard on us both because we were very close; I felt like he was my best friend. I could talk to him about anything, and never feel uncomfortable or stupid. We decided to be "just friends", and we regularly talked over the phone. I know now why you say guys and girls can't be friends. I've wound myself up in a big problem. My feelings have lessened over time for him, but his feelings are still very strong for me.

I feel like I've led him on this whole time, because we still talked about our feelings for each other. But now I know that he needs to get over me and start pursuing other girls. He hasn't dated anyone else since we split.

So my questions are....

How do I get him to move on? (Without breaking his heart in two again.)

Do I really have to lose a best friend?

And how do I finally move on as well?


-Fence Sitter in Vegas


Dear Sitter,

Well, let me start by having you explain something: what do you mean you're not physically attracted to him?

You thought he was good looking enough to go out with, and kissing him didn't repulse you . . . so what gives?

- Bro Jo



Friday, September 4, 2009

Chick Repellent

[Readers - the following was posted as a comment on "The Un-forgiven ". I've decided to respond to it separately here.]

Hey Bro. Jo,

What does a guy have to do to get a girl to notice him? I talk to them and I dance with them at dances but it seems like they never show any interest in me... What kind of tips or advice do you have for a guy?

Signed,

Chick Repellent


Dear Repellent,

Be careful what you ask for . . .

How much attention do you really want?

Unless you’re at the point in life where it’s time to look for a wife, and I’ll bet you’re not (That would be a different letter), then you don’t want a girlfriend – trust me.

And I’d say that girls dancing with and talking to you IS interest (even if they’re just being polite, which is possible) . . . what I’m getting at is that it sounds like you want something more.

“Like what?” I wonder.

A date?

Many dates?

To be smooched?

Are you lonely?

Are you looking for some type of Social Status Upgrade or type of Reassurance that you are a Good and Valuable person? Have you convinced yourself that your value is somehow tied to the commitment or compliments from another person?

You may want to check out my Note on the Facebook Fan Page: Bro Jo’s “Things Guys Can Do to Make Themselves More Attractive to the Opposite Sex” for some good, basic ideas on how to improve your chances.

One word of caution: often when a guy is “desperate” for more attention from women, he makes a complete idiot out of himself. “Play it cool, boy!” (Bonus points if you name the musical)

Grabbing, chasing, trying to wrestle, hanging on, groping, the “cover-the-eyes” guess who game, and all of those “please look at me” things (talking really loud, showing off, mocking others, etc.) are not just inappropriate ways to get a girl to notice you, they’re immature. They weren’t even good ideas in elementary school.

Women (and girls) are attracted to confidence. Discover who you are and Be That.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Birth Control

Bro Jo-

I'm curious and you might want to move this comment somewhere else but what do you think about birth control?

I've read a article by Spencer W. Kimball saying that we shouldn't put off having kids and putting education and jobs in front of it. But what if your living in your parents house ( so so SO many cases of this) newly married and don't want to take birth control of any sorts? to me i find that EXTREMELY careless. Think about your situation your in and if you want to raise a baby at your parents house.

What are your thoughts?

- Kort


Dear Kort,

Thanks for the challenging question (moved to this seperate column from a comment on "Is 18 Too Young").

Let me start by saying that what follows is My Opinion, not necessarily the position or an interpretation of the Church’s opinion on Birth Control (and, to be honest, I’m not sure there is one).

Let me also tell you two other things as a bit of a disclaimer: 1) remember that I have Seven Children (not that many, but a lot by today’s standards, even inside the Church – more so outside the Zion Curtain); and 2) I was adopted at birth, which I’m sure imbues my opinion with a specific gratitude and appreciation for the sanctity of life.

First of all, I think this is one of those decisions that is between a Husband and Wife and The Lord. Having kids is a very specific and personal commitment, and frankly one that I think is made all too lightly. They’re your children, not your pets.

I also believe strongly in what it says in the Proclamation on the Family and the Scriptures about the Temporal and Spiritual Wellbeing of Children resting squarely on the shoulders of the parents, specifically the father, and that those parents will be held eternally responsible for their stewardship over Heavenly Father’s Spirit Children.

And I think it’s a tragedy that so many people put worldly things and selfish desires over the welfare of children. Kids are seen by many as status symbols or objects (even if “of affection”) or possessions. I’m hesitant to recommend that a couple have a child if their goal is to have him or her raised by someone else, like a Daycare Provider. It’s as if that child is put away and only brought out to play when the parent is in the mood.

I’m sincerely bothered when families chose to send mom to work so the family can take trips or have stuff.

And I don’t think that changes just because the kids are in school. I’m worried that many parents don’t realize that most Teen Trouble happens at home when no parent is around, even in the middle of the day.

Yes, it’s difficult. Yes it requires a lot of sacrifice.

And Yes, it’s absolutely worth it.

Does all of that mean that I advocate a married couple use Birth Control?

Not necessarily.

As you mentioned, Kort, children should not be put off for worldly reasons, such as financial or scholastic concerns.

I’ve often said that there is a very small list of things for which no book, class, lecture, or substituted experience can fully prepare you; you must live it to understand it.

So far on that small list I have “Marriage” and “Parenthood”. Living together does nothing to make a marriage more successful (and statistically it does exactly the opposite) anymore than babysitting prepares you for parenthood. Without the 24-7-365 commitment, it’s just not the same.

If you think you need to put off children until you have enough money, I have news: you’ll NEVER have enough.

Which is not to say that kids are an insurmountable expense. In the US we regularly see “reports” of the cost of raising a child from birth to 18; the last one I saw placed the amount over a million US dollars. Let me tell you Right Now: I don’t make nearly enough for that to be true (remember, I have 7).

What I’m saying is that, it seems evident to me, that couples who put off children for financial reasons always seem to find some new fiscal hurdle to overcome; or they become accustomed to Stuff, unwilling to make the personal sacrifices that parenthood requires.

But there are reasons where I agree one should wait.

(And this is just me talking, not the Church)

If you can’t provide the basic needs (food, shelter, clothing), and I mean BASIC (not fancy - there's nothing wrong with baking your own bread, living in a small affordable place, or used clothing), I don’t think it’s time.

(This might be the gray area where Kort and I agree: I have no problem with people living with their parents and having children. Historically and in many cultures today, extended families live together, helping with the responsibilities, which I think can be very wise. But if you’re living in the basement because you don’t want to work, provide or due your share, well that’s another story.)

If you’re not physically or emotionally ready. Pregnancy and Birth take a physical and emotional toll on a woman’s body that is heroic and should never be taken lightly. Sister Jo has noted that it seems like when she was most fit physically coincides with when she got pregnant. And the body needs time to recover from birth. Further, if you’re not yet ready to make the emotional leap to parenthood, you need to grow up first. Your children need to be your priority. I don’t know who invented the phrase “me time”, but I find it to be one of those things that too many have taken to the extreme.

If the father won’t provide, if the mother feels overwhelmed to the point of distress or depression, if you’re thinking that having a child will bring the marriage back together . . . for me those are all reasons NOT to have a child.

Kort, I suspect you had someone in mind when you sent in your original comment. I regret that I can’t contact you to get additional information on your relationship to the situation.

If you’re one of the married people debating the timing of children, I suggest that you wait until both of you are ready, but do some serious self-analysis to be sure that you’re not putting off children for the wrong reasons.

If you’re the parent/landlord, I say if it bothers you that much, do you and the kids a favor and kick them out. If you can’t come to a place where you let them live their lives (perhaps charging them rent would make you feel better and help them earn some respect) then it’s past time to shove those birds out of the nest. They won’t grow up if they’re constantly under your thumb.

If you’re someone else, like a sibling or friend, mind your own business.

I can’t let any discussion on Birth Control go without saying two things: 1) there’s no such thing, save abstinence, that is 100% birth control; and 2) Sister Jo will want me to warn you Sisters about the dangers of Chemical Contraceptives, like “the pill”.

I’ve known couples who’ve conceived regardless of everything out there. Condoms, Pills, IUDs . . . you name it, I’ve known it all to fail (a fact that escapes Way Too Many “sex education” programs – boy how I hate those, but that’s for another day).

“The Pill” is a very popular Birth Control method, and it’s pretty effective (but not a guarantee; women have gotten pregnant on the pill), but we’ve known quite a few young couples who choose this method, only to find they struggle to conceive for a long time after they stop using it. I think several suffer miscarriages as a result. We’re not doctors, but we’ve known it to be true. Sister Jo would be mad at me if I didn’t warn you; she’s not a big fan of putting unnecessary chemicals in your body.

Whatever you decide, please, please, please do some due diligence research.

And, above all, remember that children, All Children (planned or not) are a Gift and Blessing from Heavenly Father. I’m so very grateful for the seven young people He’s entrusted to my care; I couldn’t imagine life without any of them.

And remember that when we obey his commandments, which certainly include having children and raising eternal families, that the Lord will provide.

Lastly (for now), it’s not our place to comment, gossip, belittle, or lecture married couples without children. Again, that’s between them and the Lord, and frankly none of our business. Many couples struggle to conceive, and that can be a very real (and heartbreaking) trial for them to overcome. While some may be in that predicament because of other decisions, many are not and, regardless, their pain is real.

I encourage those to consider adoption. I’m forever grateful for parents who took me in and love me.

Great question; thanks for sending it in.