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, December 31, 2010

What if the Bishop is your friend's dad?

Dear Bro Jo,

Firstly, your column really gives me a lot of strength and helps me. Knowing that there's a lot of other teens out there that are just as confused as I am (I blame boys ENTIRELY. haha) And having you there to help us all- it really does mean a lot to me.

This is a question that came up because of a blog you just posted- When is it right to go talk to your Bishop?

I was told that if ever there's anything that has happened that you just can't get out of your head or can't forgive yourself or others for, then you should talk to your Bishop. But here's the thing- my Bishop is my best friends dad, and he's like a 2nd father to me. Also, my dad is his 1st counselor. I've never committed any of the "serious" sins, but I have done a few things that, even though I've repented and asked forgiveness for, still nag at the back of my brain. But I'm so scared to talk to the Bishop, because of the close relationship I have with him. I've known him for over half of my life and I know how disappointed he would be to find out some of the things I've done.

Also, if I were to go to the Bishop and disclose things in confidence, does he have to tell my parents? Would he have to let them know? Can I just work on things with my Bishop without my parents finding out? I don't have a problem with these things anymore, and my testimony is a lot stronger than it was when I did these things- so can I just continue to move forward and not talk to anyone?

Sincerely,

Afraid of Disappointing



Dear Afraid,

In general I say talk to your Bishop. He's morally and ethically obligated to keep the conversations you have with him confidential. (There is a line if what is being confessed places another person in danger, such as potential child abuse, but typically an ecclesiastic leader will ask the parishioner to confess or give permission to him to talk to authorities. If a Bishop is not certain where to draw that line he can counsel with his Stake President; the Stake President goes to the Area Authority Seventy, and so on. The rule of thumb is often what is admissible in a court of law.)

You may want to start your conversation with your Bishop by telling him your concerns about confidentiality. Explain to him your worry that he'll think less of you or that he might run to your parents with things you'd like kept confidential. My guess is that you'll receive his sincere assurance that your discussions will be between the two of you. Depending on what you have to discuss, he may suggest that you tell your parents, particularly if it will help keep you safe or help with the repentance process.

Bishops have hundreds of conversations that they never share with the other members of the Bishopric.

If you absolutely feel like you can't talk to your Bishop, then go to the Stake President. Share your concerns with him. My guess, though, is that he'll probably refer you back to your Bishop . . . and that's a good thing.

Repentance isn't meant to be easy. Sometimes overcoming our trepidations is a large part of the process. You've already put those things behind you, and that my friend is a huge step.

Remember, its not the Bishop or our parents that we really need to keep from disappointing, it's the Lord, and he loves us, he longs for us to be happy and at peace. There's nothing better than the feeling that you've made things right with God.

Go talk to your Bishop.

God bless!

Let me know how it goes,

- Bro Jo

Thursday, December 30, 2010

How to Break Up with Her

Hello there Bro Jo,

I’m a fellow teenager writing to you after having read your blog for a while (it’s a very great one I have to say) and noticing I need some help of my own after some recent events

You see. There’s this girl (non member) that likes me (and I have to admit I like her a bit too) that has asked me out. I said yes and almost instantly I felt a weird feeling that felt like it was saying “no” (and I’m pretty sure I know what that was). Now she is already saying stuff like “I love you” in a text, or “miss you”

I have met up with girl a few times before this and on those occasions we have kissed (they weren't too passionate) and held hands. Etc. but on those occasions I always felt ‘empty’ inside when I did kiss and afterwards I felt down

I’m pretty sure I know this girl is not the right one for me. Because in my patriarchal blessing it says something about a beautiful young woman and me marrying her in the temple (yay!!) but right now I just need some help in breaking up and also to help prevent events like this happening again. I don't want to be too mean to her as I am not a very good talker with girls.

I just want help with this girl so I can prevent sins that I know will tempt me if I continue down this path because I know this church is true and I have a strong testimony of the gospel. And I don’t want to lose the chance to marry a “beautiful young woman” when I am older

Yours truly,

Marcoda



Dear Marcoda,

Breaking up is tough, my man, especially if you want to maintain your "good guy" status.

Before I give you advice on this one, I hope you don't mind if I point out that: A) this is why young people should avoid the whole boyfriend-girlfriend thing at your age, and B) what I've been saying to girls for years is true: don't be the pursuer.

Okay, now that I've got that out of my system, here's the key to breaking up with a teenage girl: do it fast and keep it simple.

The longer you wait the more horrific it can be. Unless she's decided she doesn't like you or, more likely, she's found someone else, she's going to be hurt and angry and mad no matter what you do or say. I'm a firm believer that there's no such thing as an amicable mutual breakup. So hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

There are some things you can say to lessen the blow. Here are some favorites (but keep in mind that Ol' Bro Jo got dumped WAY MORE than he did the breaking up):

Bro Jo's THINGS a GUY CAN SAY to SOFTEN the BREAKUP

"I think you're a wonderful girl, but I'm just not in a place right now where I want a girlfriend"



Yup. That's it. Pretty short list, huh?

The truth is that anything more than that spells disaster. Any reason you give, any explanation, is just going to make it worse. Don't make any promises you won't be able to keep, like "let's just be friends" or things you don't believe like "it's not you it's me".

Be brave. Try to do it in person.

But do it soon. Do it now.

Good luck.

Let me know how it goes.

- Bro Jo

PS:  Check out our Facebook Discussion "Breakup Stories" - it might help you feel better.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

When Its Time to Move On

Hey Bro Jo,

I have a problem with a non-member guy. We've been in the same group of friends for 4 years and have always been pretty close (I can just hear the 'no opposite-sex friends' comments now...) but more recently, within the past year or so, we've been teetering on the edge of a girlfriend/boyfriend relationship. I moved away to university recently and he would call me lots, we'd skype each other, even if I just sat there crying because I was having such a terrible time. I was incredibly dependent on him those first couple of weeks, talking to him multiple times a day. He was my social life. Now, however, I'm into the YSA scene in my branch (all girls) and spend a lot of time with them. My guy friend is feeling the loss of company, and is wishing that I'd call him more. I've tried setting down the rules, saying that it's unhealthy to talk so often, that we should be hanging out with people around us more. I feel like calling only a couple of times a week (if that) is much healthier now that we've settled in. He doesn't like this, and openly tells me so.

Before now I didn't see the problem with dating a non-member guy. No guys within the Church would ask me on dates, so if the guy was nice and had good morals, why not? This guy, however, openly argues with me about my beliefs. He acknowledges that it's good for ME, but that he thinks it's stupid and not for HIM. He's told me that God can't exist, that he hates the Prophets because someone must've started all these 'lies', that if we were to have kids he wouldn't want them going to Church because he'd want them to have a choice. These conversations, though few and far between, really hurt my feelings, but I felt bad for getting upset in front of him because he's entitled to his own opinion as much as I am. Now, when he's telling me that he wants to be my boyfriend and that he loves me (he actually used the word!) and I've been unsure, he's getting annoyed, telling me that I'm being insensitive to his feelings and that I shouldn't lead him on. I sent him a letter a couple of weeks ago after I went to the Temple and had had strong feelings about dating within the Church, telling him that I plan to only date members, because I plan to marry the type of guy I date. He told me that he understands the 'marrying who you date', but that I should ask my 'priest or pastor or whatever' about whether marrying non-members is 'allowed' or if it 'works'. I've not asked, because I already know the answer.

My problem is, now that I'm really trying hard to live in a righteous way, and have started doing the right things and living the right standards, I no longer feel attracted to this guy in the same way. I value his friendship a lot, but I now know that I would never date him. He's against my religion and my beliefs and I don't think he realizes just how much it means to me. So I guess what I'm asking advise about is not whether to date him, but how to stop his advances in this way? I've been pretty much totally open with him and he still doesn't get it. I want him to stay as a friend because it would be awful to ignore him altogether, but he just keeps bringing the subject up!

I've made him sound like a bit of a jerk, but he is my best friend, we understand each other (for the most part) and I really, really value his friendship.

- In a pickle



Dear Pickled,

I think this guy is a cancer in your life. What kind of friend consistently belittles another friend's beliefs and faith? What kind of potential boyfriend mocks you, demands that you put his feelings first, and expects you to do the calling?

You said you didn't mean to make him sound like a jerk, and you didn't, but he is.

First of all, friend or not, you need to stop initiating the contact. If he wants to talk, let him do the calling. People call me "outdated" about this all the time, I don't care. When a girl calls a guy, especially consistently and, in your case, on demand, she gives him too much power over her. It's true now, was true 20, 50, and 100 years ago, and it will be true in the future.

Another thing you need to realize is that this guy may "want" you (um . . . to be his girlfriend . . .), but he doesn't respect you. He thinks your faith is dumb and that you're dumb for living your life that way. No man will ever love a woman he doesn't respect. As a friend or otherwise.

Now, I will say that I think something more may be going on here with him. He may truly think you're dumb and is trying to convert you to his way of thinking, perhaps as some kind of power play; he may also be, although inappropriately, begging for you to testify to him of the truth, perhaps because deep down he knows you're right and he knows that he needs to repent and get his act together. However, even if the latter is the case, it IS NOT a good idea to date someone in hopes of spiritually saving them. People need to be converted from within, not because they have a romantic interest in someone.

This is going to be painful, and it will likely get ugly. Better to deal with it now than to drag it out.

(By the way, I don't agree with this guy that you've been stringing him along. That is, however, further proof that "Guys Can't Stay Just Close Friends with Girls"; you think you're just being nice, he thinks you're acting like you have strong romantic feelings for him.)

Stop calling. Stop writing. If he calls or writes, respond, but he has to make the initial effort Every Single Time. When he's belligerent or insulting cut him off. Hang up. You must demand that he place you on a pedestal of respect. I believe that when you stop letting him badger and manipulate you he'll go away (that's what bullies do). He'll either do that or change (but be cognizant that real change takes time; it doesn't happen in a phone call, weekend or month).

If he asks you out, tell him no. If he acts hurt or bewildered, be kind but aloof. If he asks you why, tell him that you feel strongly about being Sealed for Time and All Eternity in the Temple to a worthy priesthood holder who loves you, who respects you, and who will treat you like a princess and a daughter of God, (which you and every woman is entitled to, by the way). Tell him that you're no longer a child and you're at a point in your life right now where it makes no sense to spend any romantic energy on someone who can't give you what you want.

Don't tone it down. Don't make excuses. Don't try to spare his feelings or give him false hope.

Be clear. Be strong. Be faithful and determined.

With guys "no" has to be very clear and said specifically. Anything else can be heard as "try harder" or "maybe later". Yes, we're just that obstinate (or dumb, if you prefer).

You deserve eternal happiness, and catering to a little boy's ego and demands is not the way to get there.

- Bro Jo

Monday, December 27, 2010

The First Ever Sister Jo List! "What a Girl Can Do to Feel Pretty"

Dear Bro Jo,

I have found your blog a few days ago and it is amazing!!! So I have come to you with my situation.

I am a fourteen year old girl and a very active member of the church. I have blonde hair and green eyes and I come from a very small community. Lately I have been feeling very self-conscious about how i look. My mom says that I am very pretty but to me she is just saying that because I am her child so no matter what i am pretty to her. At school and at church none of the guys really pay attention to me. My mom says that its because they are scared but i am not so sure. There are two other girls at my church who are VERY girly and flirt with the guys a little too much for my opinion. And to me it seems like they almost always pay attention to them. I am a tomboy and they treat me more like one of the guys . . in a sense.

Because I live in a small community there aren't that many youth to choose from because very few are members.

My mom says that in church a lot of the adults come and tell her, "wow your daughter is so beautiful." and "She is really a pretty young women." But i still feel bad how none of the young men really notice me. I try to dress nice and i flirt a little. I smell nice and i wear a little make-up (mainly mascara). Yes i am a "late bloomer" so i have avery small chest. Does that have to do with it?

I have been to a few dances and i get asked once or twice. But i guess my main question is why don't the young men pay attention to me? Do they not like me?

Sincerely,

Not Noticed



Dear NN,

I've gotten some pretty tough letters about some pretty heavy morality issues . . . but nothing scares me as much as a letter from a 14-year old girl who's worried that she's not pretty. I think all of you are pretty. Sure, not everyone could be on the cover of a magazine, but every woman, regardless of her age, has something beautiful about her. I guess that makes me like the other old people at Church. Perhaps that's because a person gets to a certain age and the swimsuit model stuff, while still noticed (old, not dead), just isn't that impressive anymore. Perhaps it's because you realize that most of what we see in magazines and on film that is supposed to be "sexy" is fake. Maybe it's just that you get to a point where real beauty is more of a deeper, good-person, spiritual thing . . .

But I know that's not what you're looking for.

I know that girls need to feel pretty, and that many, way too many, do dumb stuff they ought not do because some boy flatters them (or because the girl thinks he'll like her more). I wish girls would stop defining themselves and their value by what's "beautiful" or whether or not guys find them attractive. But they do. We men are superficial; we notice physical things, especially when we're younger (as I said).

So I asked Sister Jo what I should tell you. She said that a girl needs to find the things that make her feel good about herself and learn to enjoy those even if the boys don't give her positive feedback. Yes, guys notice curves (especially young guys), but you don't have to be a particular shape to be beautiful or have value. Sister Jo suggested that there are lots of things a girl can do to help her feel more pretty. So, for the first time ever, here's a Sister Jo list!

Sister Jo's THINGS a GIRL CAN DO to MAKE HERSELF FEEL PRETTY

1) Get a makeover. Get together with a friend or two, preferably one who does their own makeup well, and get made up. A mom, youth leader or older sister can be a great resource.

2) Go shopping. Get a new outfit or accessory that makes you happy with how you look wearing it.

3) Do your hair. A new look can be as simple as going more curly (or less curly) than you usually are. Braiding each other's hair can not only be fun girl time, but also help you feel better about yourself.

4) Workout. Even if you play sports or dance, going for an extra run, swim, hike, or taking a dance or aerobics class will help you feel better about the girl you see in the mirror.

5) Do your nails. Fingers, toes, glossy or a little color, anything that is about spending time on you.

6) Buy some pretty underwear. (This one freaks Bro Jo out, but it's true.) If you want to feel pretty and girlie you need to get rid of the granny panties and pick up something frilly. You don't have to show anyone (Bro Jo insisted I say that), but you'll know and that will make all the difference.

The point is to feel better about yourself. When you do guys will notice, even if they don't know why. If they don't, no worries, boys are dumb anyway. Just wait, you'll get a little older and they'll figure it out. Trust me.

- Sister Jo


So there you go. I should mention one more thing: I think the best things a girl can do to show boys that she's worth the effort is 1) be worth the effort, and 2) make them put forth the effort. Don't get more dances with boys because you ask them, get more dances with boys because you're great to dance with. Be patient! You're a daughter of God, what's not to like?

- Bro Jo

Friday, December 24, 2010

Getting Her to Text You

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm 15 and I really like this girl in my stake, I met her about a year ago and at the last dance i told her i liked her and wanted to get to know her better. I asked if she would text me she said ok and hasn't texted me at all. I am wondering what to do and also how I can keep myself from making the wrong decisions. I really need your help!

-Coplini


Dear Coplini,

The first thing you can do is stop asking girls to text you. You're the guy; it's your responsibility to initiate all contact. It shows girls that you respect them (even though many of them haven't figured that out yet).

Secondly, relax. Lots of great girls in the world; life does not begin and end with this one.

Third, talk to her, man. Take the initiative. In person is always best, phone is my second choice. Texting and email and Facebook chat all comes a distant third. Sure, it's "safer", especially for somebody new at this stuff, so I under stand it's appeal, but at some point it's a crutch you'll need to let go of if you ever really want to get to know someone better.

Lastly, the best thing you can do is create social events that will give you opportunities to get to know her, AND other girls, better. Things like Etiquette Dinners, Stake Dances, movie parties and game nights at your house.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Boyfriend Pressure?

Dear Bro Jo,

My parents seem genuinely worried that I DON'T have a boyfriend. Every time I get home from a date, they ask "Well are you going to date him?" or "Did you kiss him?" It's really frustrating that they automatically assume that EVERY guy I go on a date with is my "boyfriend". They (mainly my dad) can't seem to wrap their heads around the idea of casual group dating. (Possibly because they never did any casual group dating of their own in high school... They were dating each other.) And they're shocked that I don't do more kissing!

Now that I'm 18, it's getting worse. My parents pretty much bring up marriage every single day. They were married fresh out of high school, so why shouldn't I be? Honestly, I am sooo not ready for eternal commitment! I'm still in High School! It seems like everyone is pushing me towards single dating! Even my bishop suggested that I try out singles ward.

I guess I'm at that iffy in-between stage.. and I can't decide which side of the line to be on! I'm older than everyone in high school, (late birthday) so I'm the same age as all of my friends that are ready to hop into the YSA world.. and everyone's waiting for me to join them!

So I guess my question is... Should I try out singles ward and open the door for the opportunity for "real" dating, or should I stick with what I'm comfortable with 'til after graduation?
I've heard it both ways! So what do you think?

- (Unsigned)



Dear Unsigned,

It's not my place to disagree with parents, but I'm not going to tell an 18-year old girl that she should have a boyfriend and do more kissing, either. And I'm not going to tell someone your age that she should run out and get married or do dating stuff that makes her feel uncomfortable.

Besides, as far as your parents wanting to talk to you about you dates and inquire about your physical activities, I'm not sure they mean to pressure you. When you love someone it's natural to want them to be happy, and we tend to think that what makes (or has made) us happy will make them happy, too. Add to that a parent's desire to be a part of their children's lives, and you should expect (and be grateful for) your parents asking you about your love life.

Keep Casual Group Dating. Don't rush to the Singles Ward. The time for that and Serious Single Dating will come soon enough.

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Should She Tell Him?

Dear Bro Jo,

So it's me again! Well remember that guy that I told you I met at LDS prom and I wanted to ask me on a date? Well, he did! My friend called him and told him to ask me and we went on a double date back in May and had a great time! (The drive apparently was not a problem). So at that point I knew I liked him. We went on another group date in July and by then I didn't think I liked him anymore.

We didn't talk as much during the summer, but he came down again in August to hang out with me and some other people in my old stake (wasn't a date this time)...then I wasn't sure if I liked him. I went to a talent show his stake had last weekend. And since then we have been talking pretty much everyday on the phone and I realized I really do like him...a lot. Yeah I seem to change my mind a lot, but I think the more I got to know him the more I realized I actually did like him.

He is really good friends with my best friend and he told her two weeks ago that he liked me, and he wanted to know if I liked him. This was when I was in the unsure phase so that's what she told him and I haven't told her that I do because I didn't want her to tell him. Well today him and his sister came down again to hang out with me and some friends in my ward. He called me tonight and one of the people who was hanging out with us had told him to just straight up ask me if he likes me...so he did.

Well here's what I'm getting at...I don't really want to tell him. If I say yes then we have to deal with trying to keep things from trying to not seem like a relationship and I really do want to follow the casual group dating counsel the prophets have given us. So should I tell him or what?

Signed,

Confused!



Dear Confused,

If you don't want to tell him, then don't.

Sister Jo says it's better to keep guys guessing anyway, besides: you're right, you don't want to get into a relationship right now. When you're older, yes. Now? No.  Keep Casual Group Dating.

- Bro Jo

Instead of "Hanging Out" One-on-One, Teens Should Host Video Parties and Game Nights

Dear Bro Jo

Okay so I am a senior in High School and my parents have just moved me across the country for my Senior Year. Before I had started school I attended youth conference with an old friend so I could mingle and meet people.

Well I did meet someone: a guy. I guess you could say we hit it off: he initiated a conversation on the first day, and then the next night at the dance, he asked me to dance. As it turns out, I did end up at the same school that he goes to. We have been running into each other for a couple weeks now. We have the same seminary hour and we usually manage to always run into each other at the end of the day.

We used to have the same lunch hour until I had to drop my lunch to make room for an extra class. He noticed when I wasn't at lunch and asked me why I wasn't there; I can usually spot him from across campus sometimes smiling and waving, and when I showed up at a school party type thing he came right over to me and offered me food and a drink, etc. and he stayed with me and talked with me for most of the time, until he had to leave. He always opens doors for me, and he is a real gentleman. He has mentioned a few times that we should hang out, but we haven't ever actually made plans. Still, I have never had this much attention from a cute guy.

I think I am starting to really like him, but I am really self conscious and can’t tell if he is interested or if he is just being friendly because I am new... Should I initiate a hang out session? Or should I just let it be and if it happens it happens?

Its been eating me up, and I guess since you seem to know relationships, and I am assuming since you are a man, you know teenage boys, you could maybe shed some insight....?


Thanks!

Not Sure



Dear Not Sure,

Well . . . if I do say so myself . . . I know TONS about relationships, especially when it comes to LDS Teens and Young Single Adults (thus this column). And yeah, I'm a guy (that's the "Bro" part of "Bro Jo") - more than that, I'm a dad who's been through the dating thing with teens of my own. No, you shouldn't initiate a you-and-he hang out session; having a bunch of people over for a video party or game night and happening to invite him is a GREAT idea!

Why not plan one or two for during the holiday school break?

Now, I think I have an idea of what you want when you say "let it happen", and if I'm right (and I think I am), I don't think you should be pushing for a boyfriend at this time in your life. I think it would be great for him to take you on Casual Group Dates; heck, I think you should go on Casual Group Dates with lots of different guys; "it" can wait until after you're out of high school.

- Bro Jo

Monday, December 20, 2010

Life's Way of Things Working Out

[Readers: A holiday season or two ago I exchanges a series of emails with a YSA sister that, well . . . you can read it in the letters below. Her situation isn't too unusual, but it does point out how life has a way of working out. Enjoy! - Bro Jo]




Dear Bro Jo,

I've always enjoyed reading your responses to the dilemmas of others and I, myself, have found a lot of needed knowledge from them. Luckily my problem is (comparatively) simple.

I live near (location withheld) and there's this guy in another stake that I've got quite a crush on. I don't see him too often though. He asked me out on a (short, last minute) date after I asked him to Preference. The date and Preference were fun, I talked too much during both but I think that they went well.

The problem is that I like him quite a lot, but I doubt that he feels the same way. The real problem is that he's a nice guy and that's happened to me before (I'll go out on a few dates with a really nice guy who ,in reality, couldn't care less about me romantically). I don't know how to either get him out of my mind or get him to ask me out. I know that I shouldn't call him or ask him out (unless otherwise indicated, you've taught me well) and the only positive signals of interest are faint and unreliable. I've read your "How to..." but I don't want to humiliate myself (I think that he'll see right through my ruse, that I'm wanting him to ask me out).

(PS. Signals include: asking me out once, hugging me after a slow dance, and putting his arm around me in jest during a mushy part of a non-slow song. And I'm a YSA)

I appreciate your help. (Though now I'm afraid that the details of my question will narrow down the author of this query much too much)

Superbly Shy and Habitually Guarded



Dear Guarded,

Thank you for the kind words; I'll edit the specifics out of your letter to help you stay anonymous.

You need to realize that the only deference between "Superbly Shy" and "40 and Never Married" often is just . . . time.

Time and refusing to take risks.

Romance is scary, but finding a Good Spouse is worth the Risk, the Heartache, and the Humiliation.

Maybe this guy is a Right Guy for you, and maybe he's not, but you'll never know if you don't take the risk. Given this age we live in, where many YSA Men lack the drive and social skills that separate the bulls from the steers (thought you might appreciate the cattle reference), it becomes incumbent upon YSA women to be a little more direct.

If your stakes are far apart, it may not be that he doesn't like you, but that your location makes you impractical, so you both need to know if there's something there or if you're wasting your time and need to move on.

That means that you're going to have to be direct.

The thing about the "How A Girl Can Get a Guy to Ask Her On a Date" list is that the ideas there allow you to use humor to soften the scariness but to still be direct. The problem is that they only work if you violate the "not a good idea to call him" policy, or if you're in person, and given the two-different-stakes you mentioned, that's going to be a problem . . .

Well, you can't sit around forever hoping he asks you out, so here are some things you can do:

1) Write him. Not an email, not a text, an actual letter, or perhaps a Christmas Card (not too early to send those out) with a nice handwritten note . Either choice you need to be bold enough to write "I really enjoyed going out with you, and would love it if you'd ask me out again".

2) Go a step above the "letter" idea and send him FOOD, preferably a treat, that you make. If you're not a whiz in the kitchen make something simple and have your friends sample it to make sure it's great.

3) Send him a small very inexpensive gift. Burn a CD, a used book you think he might like, something handmade (like an ornament for the tree or something he can decorate his home or apartment with).

A squirt of perfume is a nice touch to the letter or card, lousy idea with the food. I have love letters from Sister Jo that STILL smell good! (And, for the record, she sent me food, too.)

This stuff worked for women for years - how do you think Grandma got Grandpa? - and it still works. If he responds positively, then great for You! If he doesn't, then at least you'll know.

Don't hesitate!

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Hello again,

I should probably mention that I do see him at least once a week for institute class and institute choir (plus the monthly firesides and dances). You're right in that I need to be more direct, though I think that mailing him stuff would be more nerve-wracking than calling him.

And I know exactly what you mean with "40 and Never Married", my YSA ward is in (location withheld) and it seems to be mostly 27+ (though I'm OK with dating older guys, it can be a little bit more difficult), coupled with the fact that most weeks there is a visible ratio of either 2:1 girls to guys or 3:1 girls to guys.

Thanks for the prompt reply,

Guarded


Dear Guarded,

You're welcome and Good Luck.

It's OK to put on a little pressure. As frequently as you see him, in person is totally fine, so long as your shyness doesn't keep you doing nothing. Don't call, talk to him after institute choir this next time you see him. If he isn't a marriage possibility wouldn't you rather find out now than in 6 months?

And don't write off the sending him stuff, especially food.

If I haven't ever mentioned it: I was coming out of a bad relationship, well . . . actually a good relationship with a bad ending . . . OK, maybe it was that she was a decent girl and I was too dumb to notice . . . but the point is that I wasn't dating anyone, and I wasn't in the mood to start anytime soon, when a girl I'd previously had a crush on brought me some brownies. Boy, did that change my attitude! I resolved to ask her out the next time I saw her!

Interestingly, I think, between the time she made me brownies and the next time I saw her I received a Care Package in the mail: Cream-cheese Brownies - the best I'd ever had!

I decided to date the second girl, the girl with the better treat, first.

Now we call that second girl Sister Jo.

I'm just saying . . .

Keep me posted, I'm dying to know what you decide to do!


- Bro Jo


Hello Bro Jo,

Since your last message a few things have happened.

On Saturday around noon the guy I've been talking to you about called me and asked me out for that evening, we saw a couple indie bands perform. (PS. It was icy and we had to walk about two blocks to get there and I was in heels so he offered me his arm). Throughout the evening I found any excuse to touch him (casual touches; guys, I've heard, react more to breaking the touch barrier than to flirting through speech). When he walked me to my door there was a brief awkward pause so I went in for a hug to get rid of it.

After that I expected to get a call from him (Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday) but I didn't.
On Wednesday for institute I saved an aisle seat for him, hoping that he'd come sit there when he came. He did sit beside me but there also weren't very many alternate seating choices. We had some good conversation, but he didn't come to choir afterward.

I keep wanting him to call me and I'm wondering now if you can read anything from his actions. I find myself trying to read what I want to read from people’s actions (or expecting the absolute worst).

I'm also pretty sure now that, even though I don't expect him to get me anything for Christmas (and that's potentially awkward), that I'll burn him a mix cd (I thought that a I'd theme it and make it as if it was a dance mix; complete with fast and slow songs) and bake him something (maybe even homemade Christmas chocolates).

So (other than the final paragraph) can you decipher anything from this?

Thanks,

Habitually guarded.



Dear Guarded,

Well . . . Christmas has come and gone . . . did you burn the CD?

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Things have changed a lot since my last email.

First things first, I wasn't getting any interest from (name withheld).

One evening I was expecting him to attend the Christmas around the world IRC activity but he didn't come. I was wandering around the building (I was on time, if you know what I mean) and a girl friend of mine came in so I hung out with her. While I was walking around with her a guy friend of hers arrived. It definitely was not love at first sight, but I was instantly intrigued, so all three of us hung out during the activity. Then we all rented a movie and went to my girl friend's house to watch it. In the following weeks the new guy I met, (name withheld) invited me to a a video party, asked me out on a date, invited me to model for he and his friends (he and they are into photography and there were a bunch of other models too), and subsequently asked me out again.

I like him quite a bit, I hope that he likes me.

I guess my question is void now. Sorry for wasting your question answering time with plain old conversation (but it was still enlightening).

Thanks,

Shy


Dear Shy,

Wow! That's great! (I see that you're no longer "Guarded")

I hope this new boy is smart enough to keep taking you out. Be careful not to get caught into the "hang out" trap.

Very happy for you,

- Bro Jo

PS - You didn't waste my time at all.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hating Dating

Dear Bro Jo,

I am 17, and I hate dating.

I know, I know, dating is how you get to know people and it's fun and sooner or later I'm going to get married because I'm going to date an awesome guy... But, I just don't want to date anyone that I know right now. I'm not trying to be stuck up or anything, it's just that I think that only a handful of guys around me actually hold themselves to the standards of the church, and while these guys are some of my very good friends, I don't want to actually DATE them, because we're just friends. It'd be weird. I know a few of them would jump at the chance if I said yes to them, but I really don't think the relationship would work out because he would like me more than I would like him.

I have reasons to why I hate dating.... It's just that I feel like whenever I date a guy, we break up, and then a few months later he's into sex/drugs/alcohol (or just any combination of those). My friends and I joked around about it, because it's almost like I'm jinxed.

My first love (who is/was a member... ), we dated for a year and i was completely in love with him until we broke up, and then were on and off for the next two years, and then we broke up for good (his idea) and now he's a party animal, grows his own weed, gets suspended from school for fighting (he never used to fight when we dated....) or skipping class, and his girlfriend goes about the same lifestyle. (We broke up before he made all those major changes to his life. just fyi. i don't want anyone to think i knowingly dated a loser jerkface, haha). He moved out of his house a few months ago, but from what i understand, he ran out of money and is back now. (haha boy, i can pick 'em, can't i?)

So if that didn't hurt enough to watch, the boy that I dated for a little bit during the on/off period with Boy1, did practically the same thing! Me and Boy2 did not date for very long at all, but now, about a year later, Boy2 is starting to hang out with Boy1's same party friends, and his statuses on FB have steadily become dirtier and dirtier, and he never talks to me anymore. (boy2 is not a member)

And NOW! Boy3, who I almost started dating but didn't date because he ended up going to college across the country, has become the "normal" college partier and his statuses on fb are always about what he did at last night's party, and he also never talks to me anymore either. (boy3 is not a member either)

Ok, so maybe my problem is I don't date enough people from church? But after Boy1, i just don't really believe that church guys can be that much better than school guys. Don't get me wrong, i'm getting married in the temple to a return missionary with a strong testimony, when the time comes. But for now, I'm not really planning on getting married while I'm still in high school, so dating would just be for fun. But I just feel like there's no one around here with high enough standards to date!! I'm not trying to be stuck-up... I would love to give everyone a chance, but if I already know that he's into drugs and partying and only wants me for some ulterior motive, then it's an automatic no. My stake is small, and doesn't have a lot of priests to date, and my ward is small, and my youth consists of mostly YW and a few YM.

Is it really too much to ask to want to date a nice, cute young man that doesn't drink and do drugs, and doesn't just want me to use as his trophy at school? What should I do to save my empty dating life and occupy my Fri and Sat nights?

- Discouraged and Single.


Dear Discouraged,

Of course you hate dating; you've never done it right!

Your "problem" is that you've spent most of your teen years having no idea what the word "date" means. Rather than waiting until you're 16 to go on Casual Group Dates (as has been so often suggested) you've be jumping from relationship to relationship, more interested in having a boyfriend than dating. The good news is that it sounds like you're beginning to figure it out. For starters check out "Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating" , it will help give you a good base for what you're supposed to be doing, as well as some needed guidelines.

True, some guys at Church aren't good guys, but I have no doubt that if you're going to seminary, mutual and sacrament meeting you know exactly who the Good Guys are. There are lots of Good Guys out there that aren't LDS, too . . . they should be included in your Casual Group Dating Prospects.

It doesn't take a lot of guys, just you realizing that at your age "dating" doesn't mean having a boyfriend or making out (or being a trophy for that matter); it means spending some time out with good people.

Stop thinking of guys as social tools, and start realizing that the boys you date now will be the standard by which your future spouse will be held. Want to get married in the Temple for Time and All Eternity to a man that cherishes you as a Queen and honors you as the Daughter of God that you are?

Well Thing 1 and Thing 2 aren't going to get you there, little sister. Stop "dating" and start going on dates.

- Bro Jo

PS: If you look back, you'll see I dropped "Single" from your pen name. At 17 that's exactly what you're supposed to be.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sparing His Feelings

Dear Bro Jo,

On a few separate occasions I've been asked on dates by boys. These are boys who aren't members and I know from school, but just not someone I'm interested in going on dates with. Even though they are nice enough, our standards are just way too different. So what I never know how to do is politely turn down a date with someone without hurting there feelings or destroying a friendship?

- Name Withheld


Dear NW,

A girl CAN NOT turn down a boy without hurting his feelings, regardless of what we guys may say.

As a guy you put yourself out there to make the invitation, and let's face it, rejection is rejection. Fortunately most guys recover quickly. It does help if you're polite, but be direct and honest, too, lest we make the mistake of asking you out a second time.

You do need to guard your reputation and uphold your standards, but if these boys were asking you to go on a Casual Group Date, and were going to follow The Rules, I hope you'd be a little more open. After all, you did say that they are nice . . .

Perhaps instead of saying no, you could find ways to say "yes" more often. Share "Bro Jo's Dating Rules for Teens" with them and see if their willingness to follow them doesn't make you more comfortable.

Oh, and for the record, any chance of "friendship", as in "close-buddy-pal" type friendship went out the door when he became old enough to realize that you're a girl.

Don't fret. It's a good thing.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Is it destiny?

Dear Jo Bro,

Thanks for all the wonderful advice you've given!!!

So the reason why I'm writing is, because I met my dream guy! Joe he's perfect! He’s way strong in the church, and he's way funny and way smart and way cute and way athletic, and musically talented.

I feel like he's outta of my league, because he seems so perfect. Anytime anyone asks me who I like and I tell them and they always tell me how he’s such a good guy and stuff


We met like a month ago (p.s. he's turning 16 in December and I’m turning 16 in April) I switched my classes and met him. We talked at a game and that's where my little crush began. Well anyways in gym, the class I have with him, he always talks to me and like always like and he's gotten in trouble a couple times for talking to me. And he got my number once I was like " my phones broken" and he’s like "you have a phone" and I was like "yep" and he’s like "why don’t I have your number" and I was like "I don’t know! It’s XXXXXXX" but my phone was broken at the time so I never got his :(

I thought maybe he liked me. I told my buddy Brady and Brady texted Joe and asked him who he liked and Joe said No one, I just like meeting people. So the thing is I’m scared to like Joe because I know that if I do like him I will fall for him hard. Cause he seems so perfect! And I’m always scared to talk to him like on Facebook and I’m even more scared to get his number! But anyways I don’t really know what to do or what I’m asking but if you could help me out it would be awesome!

Loveee,

Destiny



Dear Destiny,

There's nothing wrong with liking him; a girl is entitled to her crushes.

The mistake would be in wrapping your self-worth in whether or not he likes you or becomes your boyfriend. Keep your dignity; don't hound him with texts and emails and phone calls. Make him chase you! You're worth the pursuit and if he doesn't get that . . . well, that's his problem not yours. If he initiates the Facebook chat or text or call, then by all means converse.

(Do you understand the difference?)

Fun being 15 isn't it?

- Bro Jo

Letting Him Down Easy

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi! I just started reading your blog, and let's just say I think you're a genious!

Anyways, I have a question and you probably have a pretty darn good answer for me! I'm 15 (about a month away from 16) and I'm having a weird boy problem. This guy just moved here, and I'm one of his only friends. He is a good guy, LDS, respectful, and really nice.

Until about ten minutes ago, I suspected that he really liked me. Also ten minutes ago, my suspicion was proved correct by the guy himself. He flat out told me he likes me alot. This guy is 16, and thus is thinking about dating. Before I knew he liked me, he told me about this girl that he really liked, that he wanted to ask out on a date, but she was still 15. I told him to wait till she was 16 too, because that was the smart idea, right? I also told him she would admire him for waiting and keeping up with her standards. Oblivious, stupid me, however, didn't get that it was ME he was talking about! Now, don't get me wrong, I like this guy as a person, like he's my friend.

Now I know your philosophy on how guys and girls can't be friends, but I mean "friends" like he's fun to hang out with but I don't necessarily want what he seems to want--a relationship of some sort. Casual group dates, sure! More than that? I'd rather not. My question is how do I stay "friends" with this boy, without him thinking I like him (in the way he likes me)? Is there even a way? How do i not lead him on, but still talk to him and such? How do i make this new situation less awkward for me and this guy? Because right now im feeling the awkwardness to the highest level, and maybe its just me thats feeling awkward, but still, its no fun being uncomfortable around a friend. I just don't want to hurt his feeligs or make him think I don't like him at all, because I do value his friendship.

From,

To be Friends, or Not to be Friends



Dear To Be,

You're not dumb.

But guys can be.

You should still be nice to him, that's who you are, and you shouldn't change that. If he wants to take your being nice as "leading him on", well . . . there's not much you can do about that . . . except to be honest with him when it comes up.

Just tell him the truth. He's a nice guy. You like talking to him. But you don't see him as a boyfriend and, in fact, you have no intentions of having a boyfriend. When you turn 16 you'll be interested in going on Casual Group Dates.

It may be awkward, but it's better to say it, and say it clearly, than to not.

If he doesn't take it well, don't let that bother you too much. Just keep being you. Just keep being good and decent and nice.

- Bro Jo

The Unintentional Flirt

Dear Bro Jo,

Let me say how much I enjoy your blog. It helps me in so many ways. My parents hardly talk about dating to me- only to mention not to be- and your blog helps me so much at what to expect and how to react in situations I may one day be in.

I am 15 year old Mormon girl, and soooo excited to be sixteen soon! I will be able to drive and date!. Recently I'm finding myself in a predicament that I thought you may be able to help me with. I hope so. It’s kind of similar to the accidental flirt post you did back in August.

First off, let me tell you that I am the youngest of all my friends. I do not turn sixteen until June, while my friends have been sixteen for awhile or are turning sixteen by February. As you can see I am behind. We do alot of hanging out -this includes boys- in fun, good ways (btw were all lds). Like parties at one of our houses, dances, hanging out at the park, watching movies at someone’s house, ect... Some of my friends pair off but for the most part it’s just a whole bunch of us hanging out casually. There are always new people joining us and I'm interested in getting to know them. I think I am just being polite, but it always seems that while getting to know the guys they take an interest in me, and I get a new admirer. Of course I don’t mind this. What I do mind is everyone’s opinion of this. I am getting the reputation of being a big flirt! My intentions are not to flirt, but to get to know the new additions to our group activities.

I’ve tried going on a boyfast- where I’m polite, but I don’t initiate too much of a conversation with these boys, but then I come off as stuck up! I’m not sure what’s worse- being stuck up or a big flirt!

Why is it that when I am being friendly to boys, it comes off as flirting? I just want friends right now, because I can’t date until June. Then there’s your post that boys and girls cannot be just friends. So should I just give up on making new boy friends (not boyfriends)? Though, like I mentioned before, when I tried this I came off as being stuck up.

‘Course I’m not saying I don’t flirt, because sometimes I do when I’m attracted to one of these boys, but its not all the time. Its just that I seem to be seen as flirting even when I’m not when I’m getting to know a new guy. I hope you have some advice for me, because you seem to have quite a lot of fantastic advice for others!

-Unintentional flirt



Dear Flirt,

You know, I don't think flirting is such an awful thing . . . but I understand that if you're a girl who's just trying to be nice it can be very frustrating when people read things into what you do and say that you have no intention of being taken in that way.

Here are some Facts of Life for you:

- Boys will often imagine or exaggerate attention from girls because they're hoping for something that may or may not be true
- Sometimes it's flirting because you're flirting, sometimes it's flirting because other people want it to be flirting
- Guys can't be "just close friends" with girls

(Okay, I know you know that last one, but it needed repeating.)

Look, I think you should just be yourself. Worry a little less about what others think, and focus a little more on being who you are. Sure, be careful not to give the wrong impression; try to get a sense for the things you do that are interpreted as flirting and the things that are seen as you intend. Maybe a good and trusted friend can help you by cluing you in to how what you do is being taken.

But if you're a naturally nice, outgoing person, by all means don't turn that off just because it's something boys like about you. Heck, there's nothing wrong with lots of boys thinking you're great!

- Bro Jo


PS: You may want to check out and participate in our Facebook Discussion "Flirting or Not?"

Boy Crazy

Hey there,

Let me give you a little bit of my background before I Give you my situation.

I am 14, I am homeschooled, I take good care of myself, dress modestly and stylishly, I am a sober person, most people guess I'm 15 or 16 but Yet I can be quite extroverted, a party girl and wild with friends (You know, it's called being a teenager girl), I am into guys :)

OK, So Most all the girls I know always tell me how pretty I am over, and over again. I certainly don't think I am ugly. I always thought guys notice, flirt with and talk to the pretty girls. If I really where pretty though, I think guys would talk to me more. Most the guys I know are all about "Hot girls" So I know it's not them. Most of my friends (that are girls) get the guys easy but I don't particularly. Guys talk to me and stuff but it's pretty rare. It's rather hurtful to my self esteem and what not. However, I don't want to automatically assume that guys don't think twice of me if I can't read their minds. You are a guy so you can tell me if I'm wrong. Guys can be experts at hiding their emotions I've noticed. Do you have any advice for a girl seeking out the attention of boys, or just friendship?

Thanks,

Boy crazy


Dear Crazy,

First of all, whether or not you're pretty (or, more importantly, have Heavenly Value, Virtue and Worth) has nothing to do with anyone else (including boys) and the attention you do or don't get. I'm sure I've written a hundred times that often the "best" girls (which can include the "prettiest") don't get much outward attention from guys, especially at your age. Look around your ward: there are women that are empirically "model pretty", women who you can tell were once "stunning" but who's looks have perhaps softened or changed with age and time, and women who (let's be honest) you can't ever imagine being pretty enough to have attracted a man . . . but they're all married, usually to someone who's worthy and loves them eternally. Frankly what you call "pretty" isn't all that important.

Now, each of us can do better with what we've got; and we should. For girls I've written Bro Jo's "HOW a GIRL CAN GET a BOY'S ATTENTION"; perhaps you'll want to check it out to see if there's not somewhere you can make some improvements.

It seems to me that you could certainly stand to be a little more grateful (and humble) about the gifts which the lord has blessed you. That's one thing that both Guys and Gals seem to find attractive.

Guys aren't experts at anything; they're just different than girls. (Keep that in mind.)

As far as my advice for girls your age that are "boy crazy" and desperate for attention: knock it off; get over it, move on.

Look, there's nothing wrong with being attracted to the opposite sex, not at all. There's not even anything wrong with acting upon those feelings . . . a little; talk, flirt, have boy-girl video parties and get togethers.

But obsess WAY less.

- Bro Jo

How Do You Know if You're in Love?

Hey Bro Jo!

Thank you for all the advice.

Okay, so one question: how do you know when you are in love with someone? like what are you supposed to feel to know you are in love? Does crying over them means you really care?
i know it sounds weird and confusing but i need to know.

- (name withheld)


Dear Name Withheld,

Love is putting someone else before yourself (the Savior is the best example of love).

Some people may express that as crying . . . but not all.

Why do you ask?

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Oh, is just that there was this time at a dance and the guy I like asked one of my best friends to dance and I know it's a dance and guys can ask whoever they want but it somehow really hurt and I started crying(very immature i know). He asked before other girls and I didn't really care, it did make me a bit sad but i knew i couldn't do anything about it. I'm asking if this is love because I had never felt so hurt before and the way I feel towards this guy isn't something I've felt for other guys I've liked in the past. Usually I would just think they're cute or nice but there's something about him that I don't even know how to describe.
I don't know if I'm too young to know what love is? I'm only 15, not even in the dating age, I would really appreciate your help.

- (name withheld)


Dear NW,

I don't think 15 is too young to know what love is, per se, but I also don't think that crying because a guy you like asks your friend to dance and not you is a sign of love.

For the record, I do think 15 is too young to make any permanent, life-long decisions, and that it's too young to be in a serious or committed relationship. The scientific, chemical fact is that at your age, with hormones-a-blazin', it's difficult to separate love, attraction, and other feelings. That's not too belittle you, or any other girl for that matter, it's just that it's typically the way it is. (If it makes you feel any better, boys have problems, too, just at a slightly different age.)

You like this boy, and (so long as he's not a Bad Guy) that's great! Maybe he likes you back, and maybe he doesn't. Either way it doesn't matter because you're a righteous daughter of Heavenly Father, who loves you, and as such you have intrinsic value that no one, regardless of whom he dances with, can take away.

- Bro Jo

"I think he likes me . . ."

Dear Bro Jo,


(WARING: This email is cliché and stupid.)


I like this guy (told you it was cliché) and I have this crazy idea that he might like me back. But I'm not 16 yet. And he is. Should I do anything about it? He doesn't know I like him, obviously. But I don't know...should I tell him? Or just ignore it?


Thanks for reading this anyway...

(name withheld)


Dear NW,

Cliché, yes, stupid, no.

Don't ignore it, enjoy it!

But don't do much about it, either.

Remember, no serious boyfriends until you're out of High School.

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

haha told you it was cliché :)

thanx for the advice, ignoring the butterflies in my stomach was getting difficult

ill just stay his friend, and hopefully he'll ask me out when i turn 16 ;)

- (name withheld)


Dear NW,

Good choice

;)

- Bro Jo

Holding Hands

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a 15 year old Mormon girl. I have a question and hope you can help!!

So I have a crush on this boy. We have liked each other for almost 2 years now and it has been totally fine. Like we talk and we hang out with a group of friends but nothing major. I mean he is like perfect. But I really like him a lot, and I've never hugged him. But one of his friends said something about holding hands, and I kinda liked the sound of it. I mean I like him a lot and I kinda want to hold his hand (maybe more than kinda). It wouldn't be a date or anything, but

I am 15. do you think that it would be bad?

Thanks so much,

-Fifteen and Waiting



Dear Fifteen,

Yes, it would be bad. If he grabs your hand to lead you out to the dance floor or hold your hand during a slow song, that's okay, but holding hands just because you want to and you think it will feel nice at your age is a no-no.

Wait just a little longer.

Holding hands on a date is okay, when you’re old enough, but do us all a favor and don't be clingy.

- Bro Jo

Readers Note: 15-year Old Girl Day

Readers,

It's a special day! I get tons of letters from 15-year old girls. It's a tough age for a young woman, so today, December 15th, I'm going to answer tons of letters from some of my favorite readers. Stay tuned, they're coming up quick!

- Bro Jo

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sharing the Gospel with a Friend in Need

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello again!

Sorry to bother with many questions all the time, but I think I really need your help on this one.

So I have this friend that is really interested in the church. She went to TFY (EFY but shorter) and I know she felt the spirit. She's really interested in the church but the problem is with her parents. She's not really one to share what she's doing with her parents, so, though she's came to dinner with the missionaries and come to church with me, she told her dad she was just going over my place. She's convinced herself that she'll investigate the church when she's 18 and an adult.

I've decided that I want to talk to her parents about the church. I fasted the other day and have prayed a lot about it, and I know that it's the right thing to do. I was thinking I would just ask them if they knew what church I go to since I take their daughter to the dances when ever they're on. I was going to explain a little about what we believe in including how the family plays an important role in the church just the basic things of the church.

I've been setting myself up to do this for a while, waiting to go over my friends house, than something happened. I found out my friends parents are getting separated. Part of me feels like I shouldn't Add more drama into their lives and bother them with what I'm saying. I also feel like if I talk about the family and everything or even the gospel, that they'll think I'm just picking on them or even judging them.

So I think what I'm asking here is, not exactly if I SHOULD talk to her parents (specifically her dad, who is home most) but how I should go about it. I'm just really confused about it. And I really want my friend and her family to feel of the gospel.

thank you for your time!

- Thinking of a Friend



Dear Thinking,

Everyone can benefit from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and learning more about his teachings.

(Even those that are already members of his Church, right?)

As "member missionaries" we often fret about the timing, worried that even if we say the right thing if we say it at the wrong time we're more likely to offend someone than encourage them.

Which is really weird, if you think about it. Why do we joke and tease and taunt those we love, why are we quick to tell them about movies and new music and sales, but are hesitant when it comes to sharing something so uplifting?

Perhaps because it's so personal for us. Perhaps because we fear making a mistake. Maybe we're afraid we don't know doctrine well enough.

Fear is the opposite of faith. If we trust in the Lord and heed the promptings of the Spirit we have no need to fear. That doesn't mean we won't feel fear, it means that despite our fears we can go forward knowing that we'll be blessed for doing the right thing.

So, if you feel so moved by the Spirit, talk to your friend's family. Don't be preachy or act like you're better or smarter than they are; be humble. Don't make it a big production, just offer and mention some things when the moment feels right; be prayerful. Don't put yourself in a situation where you're a young woman alone with a soon-to-be-single-again man; be smart.

I hope this is a positive experience for you, but if it's not I think you'll be blessed just because your heart's in the right place.

Let us know how it goes,

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you!

They are trying to working it out and are going to see a counselor. I'll definitely try and feel the spirit and follow it's promptings. and the alone thing won’t be a problem, I'm always with my friend at her house :P I'll let you know how it goes for sure!

- Thinking

Dear Bro Jo,

Just a quick recap. So I was thinking about what you said. I all of a sudden felt really uneasy. I read and pondered the scriptures a bit than sort of had a thought pop into my head, that maybe my friend should do it. So I prayed about it. After feeling so uneasy, I than felt really sure and I realized, although I had a confirmation that someone should talk to her parents didn't really have a confirmation of me doing it. Tells you something about answers to prayers :P

So I talked to my friend about doing it. She's reluctant but maybe after a while the idea will grow on her.

That's about it for now.

- Thinking



Dear Thinking,

The Spirit is a powerful tool.

- Bro Jo

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why We Get Sealed in the Temple

Hey Bro Jo -

You give awesome advice so I figured you could help me with this. I want to explain to my non member friends about getting sealed with your family. I’m not too sure how all of this works and how to explain it so why do we get sealed to our families. what’s the purpose and what will happen if we do not do it. also, if someone isn’t a member then what will happen to them

thank you for all your help. :)

- M


Dear M,

What a great question! Thank you for asking and thank you for the kind words.

Getting Sealed in the Temple is an ordinance, like baptism or partaking of the sacrament. When we partake in an ordinance we make a covenant (or renew a covenant) with our Heavenly Father. When we're sealed for "time and all eternity", whether as a couple or as a family, we promise to live as Disciples of Christ and Heavenly Father promises us that we can live together forever.

And that, Little Sister, is pretty cool.

Non-members and families who aren't sealed in the temple have not made that covenant, so (as the scripture mastery says) they have "no promise".

That's why we do temple work for the dead and why we serve as missionaries, so that all can receive the blessings that Heavenly Father has for us.

- Bro Jo

Thursday, December 9, 2010

When Others Let Go of the Rod

Dear Bro Jo

I am one of seven LDS members in my high school. Only a few of us though, really want to be at church on Sunday's and seminary on weekday mornings. I understand some are struggling with their faith, I've been there, but others have completely checked out. It just breaks my heart to see these kids I've grown up with have no interest in the gospel anymore.

School is an especially hard place. I am certainly not afraid to speak up and tell people I'm Mormon. I love the gospel, and I know it's true. When I get asked about those who are Mormon and why they don't follow the standards and I do, I find it difficult to come up with an answer. My peers know I won't swear, or party, in general terms, but then they will bring up these kids I've known forever and ask what they're deal is.

I try to be active in school, I'm a sophomore. I've been on student council since 7th grade. I played on the volleyball team for 3 years. I am in a service project group. I am in a leadership program at school. Also, I started doing make up for the plays and musicals. I was even voted onto the homecoming court this fall.

What my question is, is how can I continue to represent myself and the gospel at school when others are giving off the wrong impression of us as Mormons?

-What's the next step?



Dear Next,

It's tough. Know this: you're not alone in feeling alone. No one makes it harder on those of us that are trying to do the right thing than those that know what the right thing is but won't do it. And it doesn't go away as you get older, either. Sister Jo and I find ourselves constantly defending the faith and keeping the Sabbath Day holy; sports camps, ballet recitals, you name it, every event that's on Sunday seems to guarantee that we'll hear "but so-an-so is LDS and they're doing it".

It gets frustrating.

And sad. At what point, we wonder, do parents sit down and decide that worldly success is more valuable than missionary service or temple marriage? Do parents realize that when the put their 11-year old on a travel team or in a show that plays or preforms on Sunday that what they're teaching is that the Lord comes second? Do they consciously think "we want our kids to think we're hypocrites and go inactive"?

I don't know. But it feels that way.

All I can tell you is to hold true to the rod and trust that people will figure it out. I know it doesn't feel like it now, but eventually all things will come around. All three of our older children have gone through what you're going through. We've all watched as their fence-riding LDS peers have gone through the stages. You know: first acting like their not LDS by cursing and telling off-color jokes; then distancing themselves from the "goody-goody" kids, like ours; getting boyfriends and girlfriends to try and gain some social acceptance; and some have even tried to bully our kids, taking their "I'm not one of them" stance to a physical level (or at least they've tried, all the Jo boys are State Qualifying wrestlers).

Part of being an active Latter-day Saint is persecution, and that mostly comes from those trying, for whatever reason, to distance themselves from the Church and the Gospel. All I can tell you is to hold on. Don't play the martyr. Don't wallow. Don't sit their and take unfair abuse. But continue to do what you know is right; stand up for yourself and stand up for the Gospel.

(When a high school English teacher insisted on showing an R-rated movie - with sex and nudity - to one of our son's classes, he was the only one to stand and say that it was wrong. He walked out, leaving behind five LDS kids, three of whom are "active" who said and did nothing. In fact, the parents of some of those children later complained to us, believe it, because their kids were mocked for our beliefs. We live in a weird world. You might like to know that two years later he was elected Student Body President.)

Don't rub it in anyone's face, but stand firm. It may not be easy, but I promise that it will be worth it. Some day your choices and testimony will lead you to the Temple. You'll enjoy the blessings Heavenly Father has for you as his faithful servant, but you'll sadly notice that those blessings are not claimed by those that have strayed.

This, my young friend, is what the Lord means when he says "endure to the end".

People will eventually look at you and know that you are the Lord's true representative, not them. And, frankly, when people ask, that's what we say.

"How come you won't do this, but so-and-so does?"

"It's not my place to judge others. All I can tell you is that I'm doing my best to do what the Lord wants. I'm not perfect, but I'm trying to be better. Some people, for whatever reasons they may have, aren't. Each has his agency."

Or maybe more appropriately for your age: "My Church believes that doing right is a choice, and that each person can chose for herself."

Hang in there!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Friends and the Friendly

Dear Bro Jo,

I have just been reading your page on facebook about “Men and Women Can't Be Friends”. I have thought about this before and since I found your blog I decided it couldn’t hurt to ask about a hypothetical situation I had been thinking about. Say a guy and a girl date casually and become friends. They keep things casual for the guy who plans on going on a mission. Can’t they still be friends while still dating other people? Because if he’s staying worthy to get ready for a mission there is no need for steady dating but they might still want to be friends? I suppose I’m not explaining this very well but I had to ask...

That's question 1, the other question I had is about a friend of mine who is 15. He is in my ward and also goes to my school. At school he hangs out with a girl who is 17. The way they act together makes most people believe they are going out. But they both deny it. I've tried talking to him about it, but he just said that she was emotionally sick and that he was just helping her. He's not old enough to date and she's not a member but I decided to let it pass and just give him the benefit of the doubt, but everyone else I know still believes they act like they are going out and most of the time I do too, but I don't know if there is anything I can do... Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks,

Concerned


Dear Concerned,

Answer 1. They can be "friendly" and sure, on some level they're "friends", but they can't be "just close friends" and stay that way because A) he wouldn't be close friends with her unless he really liked her, and B) the attraction they have for each other becomes an issue once they date someone else seriously. (That's not a bad thing, by the way.)

Answer 2. My suggestion is "mind your own business". Unless either asks for your help, there's nothing you can, nor should, do. I agree, it sounds like there's something there, and I think (other than the obvious prurient benefits) a 15-year old boy should not have a girlfriend, especially an un-emotionally stable 17-year old. But he didn't ask you, and he didn't ask me, so we should stop being jealous and just but out.

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mission . . . Impossible?

Dear Brother Jo,

I'm curious on your opinion on my situation.

I'm a 19 year old girl who is very much in love...

I guess it starts with my background, I was born to a mom who only wanted to be a mother from 3 up, and she married the first RM who ever proposed to her (important).  Unfortunately she left behind a missionary.

My dad, (I love him dearly and he did eventually repent and shape up his life) was abusive, horribly immature, and neither were prepared for the married life (my mom wasn't perfect at 19 either... it wasn't all of either of them).  When I was 7 she married again. He was emotionally stunted, controlling, and he never took care of our needs. By the time I was 16 needless to say I was disillusioned. I hated all men, I snapped at guys at school, and I was a loner.

Somewhere that year I dated a guy who needed... more help than I could ever give.... While dating him I went to EFY where I met some of the most impressive and wonderful boys I have ever come across. I met a boy who changed my life... I'll call him Darling.

We hit it off, we wrote on Facebook every day, and when we went to youth conference we were inseparable. After youth conference I sent my ex a "Dear John" and we started to date (my ex was in the military).  We dated long distance for half a year and when I came back we... It's hard to describe how close we are, how much I love him.

We've had this amazing relationship where we took each other and helped each other to a point we thought we'd never be. It wasn't that we 'changed each other' (gags) but that we helped each other change. With his help I've gone from suicidal depression to rather confident and cheerful. With my help he's battled a pornography addiction. He's now been deemed worthy of a mission, which has never been an option in my eyes, HE MUST GO.

But what of me? I love Darling more than I thought was possible. I would have done anything to send him on his mission. I did everything in my power to support him, and to help him through his struggles, and that wasn't easy, but it was worth it. Now that he's leaving, I'm curious to think what you think I should do. I've tried dating (I'm at BYU) but... I feel dishonest.  In dating boys... they date in hopes that they can own a part of your heart. That they can own your affections, and at this point, all I can do is think of how much better Darling is.

We've agreed that we would write but not romantically when he does leave. anyways, the problem isn't him, he'll be homesick, but he'll be okay. But me? I'm at Mormon boy central and I'm not interested in dating. Fine by me, but friends think I should date and get a social life. My mom wants me to marry Darling. I want to marry Darling. and I don't want to marry until I'm close to 21.

So what do you think? I don't think it's fair to date guys when I have no intention of loving them... But you're more experienced in this path that is life, so I'd be happy to hear your opinion.

- Name Withheld



Dear Sister,

Some boys date because they're looking for love, some boys date because they want to get to know you a little better, some boys date because they feel they feel the same pressure you do to date and get married, some boys date because they want to kiss and touch, and some boys date to get better at dating.

I think there's only one reason for dating that separates guys from girls and that's some girls date because they want a free dinner (or movie or whatever).

Maybe in two years you and he will find that you will be good spouses for each other. Maybe not, but I wouldn't be surprised if you do.

However, until then, BECAUSE you care for each other, all bets are off. He needs to be free to focus on his mission and you need to be free at home, even if neither of you wants to be.

It's okay for you to go out on dates with guys you're not in love with and don't see yourself falling for. Go to be kind, go out and enjoy yourself, go out so that two years from now you'll be that much more sure.

Unless the guy scares you, go out with any eligible guy that asks. At least twice. The first time to be nice and the second time to be sure. If you have a good time, and he asks, go out again. If you don't have a good time, politely decline the next invitation.

There's a reason the Church no longer sends married men on missions without their wives; you're learning first hand why that is and what the difference is between a wife and a girlfriend.

I'm glad you've each turned your lives around.

I'd say Mission Probable with a high chance for success.

- Bro Jo

Monday, December 6, 2010

Is it okay to expect him to serve?

Dear Bro Jo,

My question is probably a very simple question and I most likely already know the answer but I guess I need someone to be brutally honest.

Anyways, there is this guy... he is 18 going on 19 and I'm about to turn 19. We have been dating for a couple of years. He is a great guy with amazing standards and a strong member of the church. We have been best friends since we were both about 15 and have just been super close since then. Last night as we were talking on the phone I was telling him about the talk our Bishop of the ward gave about our dreams and fears. He asked what my dreams are and I told him ultimately to get married to a worthy priesthood holder and return missionary in the temple. I have always thought that he wanted to serve a mission and that's what he has always said.

Out of nowhere he was like well would you marry me if I didn't serve a mission. I told him no, because I always promised myself to marry a return missionary because I think it's amazing how a young man can sacrifice two years of his life for the Savior and that shows how he is obedient unto the Lord's commandments. I then told him that if a guy couldn't serve because of a physical problem or health issue then yes I would still marry him but if he didn't serve because he got a football scholarship or something like that then no I would not marry him.

I guess my ultimate question is... Is it wrong that I wouldn't marry a guy unless he is a return missionary? I understand that there are other amazing men out there who have not served missions but I honestly believe that if you are able and worthy to go then you should go. I'm not sure if I should lower my expectations because I love someone.

Slighty confused,

The RM Girl

PS: I'm not just talking about this guy... he is an example but I'm wanting to know in general for future reference. Thanks! :)



Dear RM Girl,

For starters, when you say "dating" it sounds like you've been a couple, not just Casual Group Dating, and one result of that is you may become his excuse not to go. I know you're trying to encourage him, but there's just something in your letter that gives me the feeling that he's hesitant and that part of that hesitation is his fear that you'll be with someone else while he's gone and when he comes back. (Which, for the record, is one of the many reasons that I say A) girls shouldn't have a boyfriend in High School, and B) guys and girls should cut any ties whilst he's gone.) He's scared, which is actually quite understandable, and he may be using you as a crutch.

That's bad.

Serving a mission is NOT a guarantee that a guy is a good guy NOR is it a promise that he'll be a decent husband. Most honorable missionaries make excellent husbands, but even though the bar has been raised, there are still way too many losers and liars who are serving missions that shouldn't be. The pressure and expectation to serve a mission, especially inside the Zion curtain, obscures the reason to serve and prompts many who are unworthy and unready to pretend to the contrary. A calling, including a mission, doesn't make a bad guy good simply because it was extended.

That said, is it okay for you to include "having honorably served a mission" among your list of future spouse standards?

Absolutely.

The skills, both temporal and spiritual, that a young man can gain on a mission are tough to gain any other way. A missionary should learn sacrifice, placing others before self, domestic skills, and other things that will make him a better spouse, plus his testimony of the priesthood, service, and the savior can grow in such a way as to make him a far superior spouse than had he not served.

It's because you love him that you should let him go. It's because you love him that you should encourage him to serve. And it's because he loves you that he must recognize that you may indeed be sealed to someone else, perhaps, while he's gone, and allow you the freedom to accept that possibility.

Love doesn't require us to lower our expectations, but it does require us to put someone else before ourselves.

Never regret having high standards. Kiss him on the cheek, wish him well, and encourage him to go. And don't let him use you as his excuse.

- Bro Jo

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Waiting Game

Dear Bro Jo,

I just started reading your blog a little bit ago, but it seems to be pretty effective, so here it goes.

Me and this boy have, well, had a "thing" for a while. We've never actually been "boyfriend-girlfriend," but we've liked each other, on and off, for a few years now. For a while, I was not ready for a relationship not just with him, but with anyone, so we were just good friends, although I knew he really wanted a relationship with me. Well, after a while, he went on a few dates with a girl and I went on a few dates with other guys, but I still couldn't stop thinking about him. So now, he knows that I like him and he told me he likes me, but he barely talks to me.

He says he has a lot going on, with a few church callings, and tough classes at school, but I guess what I'm trying to ask is am I waiting for something that won't happen? I know you're not psychic, but it seems you are pretty good at knowing these sorts of things. I am more than willing to wait until things calm down in his life, but I don't know if that's the best choice. This guy is an absolutely great kid. Honorable priesthood holder and has high standards, which I also have. We have so much chemistry and everyone sees it. We see each other at activities and such, and he'll talk to me and be really cool about things, then randomly just starts with one word answers. I'm getting all kinds of mixed signals from this kid. So...what I'm trying to ask is a few questions.

Should I wait until things calm down? How do I get him to realize his feelings? Should I keep trying to talk to him when he's always sending mixed signals? We have a lot of mutual friends, but he is not much of a "talk about your feelings to anyone" kinda guy. Don't know if this matters, but when he was dating the other girl a little while ago, and he would by chance talk to his best friend about it, who is also one of my best friends, he would always end up talking about me. Always.

This is kinda a weird situation with our past and everything, I about summed it up, but really, any advice or enlightenment would be appreciated.

-Need Some Help



Dear Need,

Sorry, but it matters: how old are you?

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Whoops. Definitely forgot about that. I'm 20, he's 23, return missionary from Italy

- Need


Dear Need,

At 20 and 23 I don't think waiting is the right choice. I think talking is.

Or better yet, kissing.

Something has to happen to move this relationship along. There's nothing wrong with giving him the "look, you like me and I like you; let's stop making excuses and move this thing forward" lecture. Put him on the spot. Want to know where he stands? Come out and ask him! "Hey, am I waiting around here for something that's never going to happen?"

And then, I say, regardless of what he says (yes, no, I don't know) you plant one on him. If you lean in close and he runs away, well at least you'll know and won't be wasting your time.

But I'll bet he doesn't.

If that's too forward for you, and I totally understand that, then dare him to make the move. "Hey, are you going to kiss me or not?"

The point is, my friend, that we live in a time when too many LDS guys are too chicken poop for their own good. They drag their feet way too much and I have no idea why. (Maybe that's what you need to ask him: "why are you dragging your feet here"?) They don't know why either. Then they find themselves 29, still not married, and write me letters wondering why all of the 19-year old girls at the university ward think they're creepers.

Guys are dumb.

You've got to communicate, whether he wants to or not. Light the fire. Put on the pressure.

Or be prepared to wait a very long time indeed.

- Bro Jo

Friday, December 3, 2010

Enjoying the Moment

Dear Bro Jo,

There's a boy in my ward that I've liked a lot for over two years now. We go to different schools, so we don't talk very often and we only see each other on Sundays and Wednesdays and then at youth conference and stuff, but from what I know of him, he's amazing. He's the kindest boy I know, and he has an amazing testimony and honors his priesthood. He's funny and fun to be around and everything he says makes me smile. His laugh is one of the best sounds ever. He's the type of guy that every Mormon girl wants in her life.

The problem is that I started to like him before we were really friends. We went on a date last November (I had to ask him, which I know you think is bad, and I'm starting to think it was a bad idea as well). It seemed to go well at the time, but the more I think about it, the worse it seems. Someone else in my ward told him that I like him a while ago, and I have a really hard time talking to him because I'm embarrassed and I don't know what to say and I'm afraid of what he'll think of me (although I'm secretly hoping that he's forgotten I like him by now).

Sometimes we talk, and sometimes we text, and when we do it almost seems like he's flirting with me, but I try not to let myself believe he is because I don't want to get my hopes up. Some of the girls in my ward try to convince me he likes me, too, but I can't believe that either, no matter how much I want to. He's a much better person than I am, and even if he did like me, wouldn't he talk to me or ask me on a date or something? Plus, it seems a little ridiculous that he'd like me, since we're not very good friends and I act like such a dork around him.

As much as I want him to like me, I'm a senior in high school and I know having a relationship right now is wrong. What I really want at the moment is to build a stronger friendship with him, but I'm not sure how to get over the whole being scared to talk to him thing. I really feel like if we can become friends now, we could have something more when he comes back from his mission if i'm not married by then. I know that sounds stupid, but something just feels right about it. Can you give me advice to help me talk to him and become his friend?

-Feeling Hopeless



Dear Feeling,

Nope. I can't give you any advice along the lines of how to just be his close friend and nothing more.

You can be friendly by being kind, courteous and learning to be a good conversationalist. You can get his attention by being smart, sweet, positive, fun to be around, looking your best and smelling great.

But the two of you are too old to "stay just close friends" (you may want to read my plethora of letters on the subject), and I sense you know that.

The only way to get over you fears of talking to him is . . . to talk to him. Sorry, but that's it. When you do talk to him, particularly the next couple times, keep it light. Simple "hi, how are you; how's school" stuff is the best place to start.

Listen to what he says so you can ask appropriate follow up questions. Don't interrogate him, but do show genuine interest.

Maybe this guy is a potential spouse for you several years down the road, and maybe he's not (like you said: who knows if you'll even be available?). But for right now you can capitalize on how you feel about him; this is an opportunity for you to learn how to get to know someone better that you have feelings for.

And the best thing is that there's no pressure because at your age, again as you said, there's no need for this to become anything.

Have fun; enjoy the experience!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jealous?

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for the homecoming help. However, I was not able to get that one guy to ask me, and I have not been asked by anyone else. Maybe it's just that I don't have enough close connections with guys, because I would consider myself to be pretty attractive, and so did a couple of guys at the last Stake Dance, who both told me I was pretty. Anyways, I'm going with a group of friends and we're going to have dinner at someone's house and get ready together. This is mostly fine with me and my parents don't mind. Halfway through the homecoming dance, I'm planning on leaving to go to a Stake Dance that I originally wanted to go to this weekend. So we'll see how this all goes...

Now for the thing that's irking me. My one friend is going to homecoming with my group, and with a date. He's nineteen and has finished one year of college. My friend is sixteen and a junior. Apparently he is working on his mission papers... I think? He and my one friend have liked each other for quite some time and are now boyfriend/girlfriend. My friend liked him for years and years and frankly thinks she'll end up marrying him. I think they both need to move on, particularly the guy who needs to grow up, and my friend really needs to look into other dating options. She's also graduating early to "move on with her life" and get through college, which I don't understand. Childhood is too short.

I have another friend who went to EFY this summer and met this guy, who she ended up liking and vice versa. He lives in Idaho, her in California, and they are basically just calling each other a ton. They're convinced that they love each other, and want to date, possibly marry (?!?!) in the future. I'm thinking, people, there's more to life than getting married right away!!! Plus they're too focused on these guys and need to move on and meet other guys. I am totally on the opposing side, since I'm single and I'm constantly like, "Let's go to a Stake Dance and meet some guys!!"
Is there any way I can politely talk to them about this and convince them to let things go a little??? Sorry this letter is so long!

~Single Sista



Dear Single,

First of all, I'm sorry that the boy you wanted to go to Homecoming with wasn't smart enough to ask you; sometimes it just works out that way.

As to your question: no, there's no polite way for you to tell your friends that you think they're getting too serious too soon. They are, (and, between you and me, that 19-year old hopes-to-go-on-a-mission guy who's going with your 16-year old friend to Homecoming is a moron, I don't care how "hot" she is; grow up and move on, dude) and should knock it off, but unless they ask (and they probably won't) there's nothing you or I could say to change their minds. Besides, anything you say will just make them think you're jealous (and, let's face it, on some level you are); envy, real or perceived, does not lead to changed behavior.

You keep Casual Group Dating and teaching the guys and girls you know to do the same. Have fun at the Stake Dance, and keep going to those, too!

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Good Guy's Dilemma

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey there! Here's my story:

Me and this girl have been good friends for a while now (both 17), and have been hanging out and whatnot. We talked about the possibility of dating one another, and have laid out boundaries. We’re on the same page as far as what's acceptable and what's crossing the line. we both understand that our priorities won't change (me with my mission, her with going to the temple). It sounded like everything was all good, but I thought I'd best talk to my parents about it before anything is made official. I talked with them, told them about what me and this girl have talked about with boundaries, priorities, standards etc. We've all come to a decision that hand holding and light, occasional kissing is acceptable. No making out, no looking for opportunities to be alone, and if anything goes south for a second we call it off.

But I was just wondering what your take on this whole thing was?

- Name Withheld



Dear Reader,

You say "dating", but clearly you mean "being boyfriend and girlfriend". That's a mistake.

First of all, you've WAY over analyzed this thing. Seventeen . . . pre-mission . . . that's Casual Group Dating, actually going out in groups to places and doing things - that's DATING, what you're talking about sounds like a -pre-arranged teen relationship, and that's not a good idea for teens with mission and temple goals.

I'm on board with your thoughts about hand holding and kissing and not being too alone, but who says you have to be in some kind of committed relationship to do that? Those rules and boundaries should exist whether or not you go out with her or anyone else.

It's good that you've talked, and good that you've sought the advice and counsel of your parents, but in general I think you need to intellectualize less, focus more on having fun in groups than being in a relationship with this one girl.

Relationship, no. Dating lots of different girls, yes!

You may think you've got it all figured out, but trust me pal, teen relationships, no matter how well they've been pre-thought out and planned, bring with them way more drama then you want in your life.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Yeah I get your point. And you say your on board with the hand holding and the kissing and that it doesn't have to be a committed relationship for something like that (maybe I misinterpreted that part). but what I find sort of uncomfortable about that is that if I do those things not being in a committed relationship, I get the reputation of being a player, and someone who's only looking to score you know? and maybe I'm just looking at this the wrong way, but..yeah. haha

- Name Withheld



Dear Reader,

No, I totally understand; it's kind of a double standard. Good Guys are treated like "players" when the most physical thing they've done is peck-kiss two different girls good night, whereas girls will give things away that they ought not to guys who got all that and more from the last girlfriend simply to keep the guy they're dating (even though he never actually takes her on dates).

It's weird. It's twisted.

I know.

Despite everything girls say they want, despite all of their claims about wanting guys to be good, it's the good guys that are often the loneliest.

If the girls you Casually Group Date in High School won't let you kiss them good night unless you commit to the boyfriend thing, then you have to respect that and accept that you may not get smooched until you come back from the mission.

The irony is that if you were a bad guy you could lie to these girls, say you're the boyfriend so they'd kiss you, and then when you're tired of her move on to the next girl . . .

But you're not a bad guy; you're one of the good ones.

All I can tell you is that it's not always easy, but it's worth it.

- Bro Jo


Bro Jo,

Holy moly man. You're a genius. I think you've literally got this dating thing down to a science! haha. Thanks for the info brother.

- Name Withheld


Dear Reader,

Back at ya.

- Bro Jo