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

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dear Bro Jo's Anniversary - 1 Year!

Dear Readers,

February 1st, 2010, will mark the 1 year anniversary of "Dear Bro Jo"!  In the last 365 days this little experiment has grown more than I could have possibly imagined.  Because of you, our wonderful and loyal readers, this little LDS Teen / YSA Dating, Relationship and Advice Column has grown to an amazing regular readership in excess of 10,000 people!

"Dear Bro Jo" is read regularly around the world, in over 40 nations!

I'm humbled at the scope, and grateful for all of you who've given me this opportunity to do something I feel blessed to get to do.  I'm glad I've gotten to meet so many of you, here, on the Facebook Fan Page, and as I've traveled.  I appreciate your loyalty, your participation, and your trust.  You grow my testimony of the savior and strengthen my faith.

Thank you for Reading and Writing In.

God bless you all,

- Bro Jo

Friday, January 29, 2010

Making Men out of Boys

Dear Bro Jo -

I have only recently discovered your column and I must say that I find it not only entertaining, but also enlightening. I have read through your collection of YSA targeted letters but I have yet to encounter one that could apply to my particular situation.

I am a 19 year old college student who has grown up in a densely LDS populated area, and am now attending school in the same densely LDS populated area. I didn't go on a lot of casual dates during high school, I had boyfriends. I am now regretting that because I don't quite have an idea of what I like in men. I would like to just date around, do some casual dating as you have defined it.

But when I discussed this with my male associates, "friends" from my singles ward (I use friends loosely), they told me that is a very immature idea because I should be trying to get married; I should be dating more exclusively. I don't feel ready to get married because I don't know what I like! They tell me that if I want to get to know what kind of qualities I like in men then I should just hang out with them, but no dates because that is leading men on since I have no intention of being in a relationship. What is your take on this? If you need more information, feel free to ask and if you choose to publish this, I ask that you keep my name and email confidential.

- (name withheld)


Dear NW -

I promise that if I publish our "discussion" in the column to withhold your personal information, and thank you for the permission to publish; I suspect you're not alone in how you feel . . .

Let me start by saying that it sounds to me like your "male associates" (well phrased, by the way) are Cheap and Cowardly (and you can tell them I said that).

A date is not "leading a man on"! (These are Church guys, right? Just exactly what do they think is owed to them because they took a girl to a movie??!?) The idea that a girl should only agree to go out with someone she already knows really well, has "hung out with" (more on that in a moment), and is willing to make a commitment to is absurd to the point of . . . dare I say it? . . . Yes! . . . asinine.

In the beginning a date is nothing more than an opportunity for two people to get to know each other better; it does not, in any way shape or form, imply a commitment. If the date goes well, and the two people are interested in spending more time together, perhaps seeing if there's something more there, then they should date again.

It's never a good idea to go deliberately hunting for a spouse or even a committed relationship. The way you find a Good Person (especially a potential spouse) is by making yourself available to meet people.

The "hang out" is a guy scam, perpetrated by Cheap and Cowardly Boys (not manly enough to be Men) who like the companionship of women, and are hoping to enjoy something physical (or at least some free food), perhaps even find a gullible girl to marry, without having to invest their time, money or soul. They're taking the "easy road", and too many of you Young Sisters fall for it and allow it to happen.

NW, very few guys will date you if they think they can spend time with you for free.

It's the "hang out" that's immature, NW, regardless of what they say.

So here's my advice:

1) Don't tell anyone that you're not looking for a relationship. If you find a Good Guy you may change your mind, and announcing that you're "Not Looking" drives away date offers and Good Guys. You don't have to have a relationship with anyone you don't want to, and a date is not an engagement.

2) Don't get caught in the "hang out" trap. No guys allowed over. The occasional FHE or group activity is a good idea, but I'd limit those to Ward sponsored events. If a bunch of guys invite a bunch of girls over to watch a video, maybe once in a while that's OK, but you sisters will be doing yourselves a disservice, whether you're ready for a relationship or just want to go out on some casual dates, if you let the boys get away with this garbage.  (And for the record, you Sisters who agree to go on Guy-Girl Camp Outs are - read this twice - Out of Your Minds!)

3) I don't know what the girl equivalent of a Wingman is, but get one. Get several. Form your own Girl Posse. I'm not saying you should hang out in an intimidating Girl Group, Lonely Spice, but you and your fellow sisters need to act together and unite against Cheap Cowardly Boys. Have a "if you want to see us you need to take us out on dates" month.

4) Put some pressure on the guys. If they give you garbage about not "being social" or say that you're "mean", here are some retorts you can use:


  - "I'm not interested being social with Boys, I'm interested in talking to Men. Here's my phone number, if you're Man enough give me a call and ask me to dinner."


  - "I'm not mean, I just expect to be treated a certain way. I'm a woman, not your sister or cousin. I'd love to spend time with you, but not if you're going to treat me as no different than one of your buddies."


  - "I'm sorry that I've hurt your feelings. I'll tell you what: I'll make it up to you by letting you take me out on a date Friday. Go ahead; you ask and I'll say yes." (If he responds with anything close to "what will we do?" you say "oh, no, you're the man; it's your job to Plan, Pick up and Pay". If he doesn't have any ideas about what to do, have him email me.)


- "I can't hang out with you because I'm busy making myself available for dates."



At first read you may think I'm being harsh; I understand that. And you may get some reactions of shock. But I assure you that the shock will be a sign of respect, and what we're doing here is separating the Wheat from the Chaff (or the Men from the Boys, if you will) and that won't happen without some strength and some effort.

As more Sisters gain a testimony of demanding to be treated as Women instead of Relatives, the easier it will be for all of you.

But someone has to go first in your group.

Might as well be you!

- Bro Jo


PS - And thank you for your testimony of the value of Casual Group Dating and saving The Boyfriend-Girlfriend Thing for later!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

How Can She Let Him Know?

Dear Bro Jo,

So how do you let a guy know that you like him in a non-invasive creepy way. As there's this guy that I'm interested in and from what I've read in your blog he may be interested in me too. It would be an awesome thing as well if you wrote a note about it on your facebook page.

Thanks
cge.


Dear CGE,


Ah, but it IS on the Facebook Fan Page (along with lot's of other great stuff!)

Start with "Bro Jo's HOW A GIRL CAN GET a GUY'S ATTENTION" , but remember, until you're out of High School we need to keep it to Casual Group Dates (IF you're over 16) - no Boyfriends!


You're welcome,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Proposal Accepted, Then Rejected, Now What?

Dear Bro Jo,


I was a big time play boy 6 months back and the place where you are I use to stand and give advice. But now I need it. Please, Help me out.


I am from India and 6 months back I left all my girls and became single. Then, in month of September I met a girl and I truly loved her. I proposed her and we were into relationship for 1 months and 18 days.


Then she dumped me and she hates me a lot today.


The reason she gave me for break up was that her sister told her parents and it was tough for her to continue. And as I was in love with her, I told her the way I was before when we were in relationship and when we were in relationship. It never seemed like we would break up. Now whenever I meet her we just walk like we don't know each other and keep on moving on the streets.


She is still single and our break up was done on 26th November, 2009.


Bro Jo, I really really love her and I want her back. Please help me out how to get her back. Which ever details you want I can give it to you. Sometimes I feel like just ending all this by dieing but I don't think that's the right way as I still have hopes. Please help me out mate - please!


With lots of hopes,


(name withheld)


Dear NW -


I understand your pain, but suicide is never an acceptable choice.


I don't know what you mean by "big time play boy", and I kind of don't want to know, but it sounds like your previous relationships have come back around to haunt you (we call that "karma", right?).


Let's clarify: this woman broke up with you because her sister told her parents about you and they don't approve. Is that right?


- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,


Yes, according to her this is the reason. Please help me dude please!


- (NW)


Relax, my Brother; help is on the way.


:)


One step at a time.


Why do you think her parents don't approve?


- Bro Jo


I think because, I have caught her sister taking drugs and since then she has started doing back bitching about me to her parents and also she bitched about me to her even when we both were on. I actually don't know what she has bitched about me so I have no idea about it.

When you get married, in just about every culture I know, you don't just marry the girl, you become a part of the family as well.


It sounds to me like you're guessing; what you need to do is Talk.


To the parents first.


Possibly to the sister.


And eventually to the girl.


You need to go to her parents and express your feeling for their daughter to them. Tell them you sense that they disapprove of you, and humbly (and I do mean Humbly) as why. Be prepared to apologize and ask for help.


Let's take that step next.


Let me know how it goes.


- Bro Jo

I m still 18 brother and marriage over here is done after 25.  Are you sure talking to her sister and her parents will work out???



Hey, you're the one that said you proposed already!  My mistake for thinking you were actually Old Enough! (No Wonder she broke it off . . .)


And "No", I'm not sure talking will work, but if you want to mend things with this girl it's the path you need to follow.

If you thought there'd be some magic formula or some "line" you could drop on the girl, they don't exist. Communication is the key. If you'd like her back, man up and talk to her folks.

No guarantees, but at least then you'll know where you stand.

That said, given your age, I think you're too serious about this girl. At this point in life you shouldn't be that serious about anyone.

I say "move on" and get back to Casual Group Dating with your buddies.

- Bro Jo



I think the second option is the best. My buddies also told me the same thing. But can you tell me how much time it will take for me to get her out of my mind. If you can suggest me some ways then please do so brother.



Dear NW -

It will take more time than you want it to.

That's the only guarantee I can give you.

The pain may never totally go away, but it will get better over time. I promise.

The best way to get over her is to keep doing what you're supposed to be doing, and that includes all the Primary Answers (Prayer, Scripture Study, attend Sacrament and your other Church Meetings) and Casual Group Dating. It sounds like you've got a good group of friends . . . put some Group Dates together! You should be going out at least once a month and rotating which girl is your date each month. Check out "Bro Jo's DATING RULES for TEENSand be patient. It takes time.

- Bro Jo




PS - I'm an advocate of Short Engagements, so I don't think you should propose to anyone that you're not prepared to marry Very Soon.  I suggest you take a little more time (once you're old enough) finding a Good Woman and not propose again until you're at the right stage in life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

First Kiss Fallout

Dear Jo Bro,

First off I just wanna say I love all of your advice and I've used the advice you've given to other writers.

As a little background, I'm 15 was born and raised in the church my parents are both strong members and are very strict when it comes to church standards and "rules"

There is no excuse for my behavior, but I think that because of the strict enforcement of the dating rule. . . it made me rebel. I'll try to make the story short :)
People are always telling me I am beautiful and such a nice girl. . . Specially people in the church, my leaders are always pointing me out as the good girl who does everything right. . . and I'm afraid that if they found out about this, They'd think very different of me.

A few months ago, I started to talk to a boy that goes to my stake, He is turning 18. After talking to him a lot, and with in mind that I just wanted to be friends with him, he started to flirt with me, in which I started to flirt back. . . I then realized he was cute, and I loved the attention, so we both admitted we had a crush on each other. But we soon set rules, we were going to follow the For strength of the youth and wait till I was 16 to start a relationship. He was very good at reminding me of that rule often, but as time went on, he started to forget that rule.

It started out as him just calling me pet names, like Honey, Babe or Baby. Which I didn't find a problem with, I was enjoying the attention. He lives in a different ward, so I only got to see him when we had stake activity's...which isn't often.

The next step was him holding my hand. I felt so pretty and beautiful and amazing.  Whenever he reminded me that he cared about me, I felt loved. I started to get uncomfortable with the way things were going, when he convinced me that we should have our "first kiss". I knew that I didn't want to, because I knew it was wrong, but I did anyway. He got me to sneak out during a dance, and he tried to start making out. . . but I stopped him, and left. A few days later he texted me, telling me I was amazing and I was all he ever wanted. I felt like I was going to be sick. I ended all contact with him. Which made him really mad.

He tried to blame everything on me, the fact that things got so serious. I knew better then to blame it all on him, but he was the one that pressured me into doing it.

I have forgiven myself for the mistake I made, and I feel like Heavenly Father has forgiven me for breaking a standard. . .

The problem now is, I feel like I can't go to Stake activities. Because he is there. Whenever I'm around him I feel very uncomfortable and that if people find out about it. . .they will treat me differently. I know that sounds really shallow. . . .

So my question is. .
What can I do to get over that feeling of embarrassment and regret and go and enjoy myself with my friends at these activities? And is this something I should talk to my bishop about?


Thanks so much!!
(name withheld)


Dear (Name Withheld) -

Thank you for the kind words.

First of all, no rule or enforcement thereof "made you" rebel; that was your choice. Saying something "made you" is just a way to excuse the behavior and not accept responsibility for your actions. You're 15, not a baby, you've got to own your decisions and actions.

Secondly, when it comes to repentance or getting back on track, never let the opinions of others keep you from doing the right thing; especially fellow Church members. Often letting people we trust who love us know what we're struggling with will help them help us. Will people think differently of you? Possibly, but that's not important beyond it encouraging us to do the right thing. Anyone who finds out about something that you did and regret and have repented of that treats you as less of a person frankly isn't much of a friend.

Third, I'm proud of you for listening to the Spirit tell you that something was wrong and then following those promptings to change the course of action. Good Girl. Never forget how important it is to have the Spirit constantly in your life. And it's good you forgave yourself; while you're right that it wasn't the best choice, how you felt was normal, and (dare I say it) kissing at your age (while not recommended for overuse) is not a disaster. Being alone in the dark with a boy gives me greater concern than that you smooched him. More than that, I'm concerned about Why you did it: giving in to pressure (external or internal) and doing something that you feel is wrong because you like (and want to be liked by) the person (or peer group) you're with is always bad. You need to be guarded against that tendency from here on out. You know the signs, so be extra careful.

Fourth, there's nothing wrong with blaming him. Sure, you're right to accept responsibility, too, but the dude is an 18 year old man and, believe me, he knew (and knows) exactly what he's doing. Your friends and leaders need to know that being around him makes you uncomfortable, and while you don't want to gossip, a few trusted people can be told why. Again, armed with that knowledge they'll be more likely to understand why you feel the way you do, and better prepared to help you. Whenever we do something we regret it takes time to get over it, but we should never allow the way we feel to keep us from righteous things (like activities and dances). You may not believe the large quantities of people who use the same things you're feeling as an excuse to go inactive. You should know now how important it is to keep the Spirit as your constant companion, and consistently putting yourself in righteous places (especially when you feel Satan giving you excuses not to go) goes a long way towards helping you keep the Spirit. Focus on your friends, on the music, on the fact that's it's better to be at an activity than to have a root canal, anything to help you see the positive. The more involved you are, the faster you'll get over the embarrassment.

Fifth, anytime you feel prompted to talk to your Bishop, do. The guideline is if there's any question in your mind that you may not be worthy to partake of the Sacrament or go to the Temple. That said, if you've been completely forthcoming about what transpired between you and this boy, and all we're talking about is some kissing at a Stake Dance, I think you're OK. If you're still worried about it, pray. If you're still worried after that, set the appointment.

Whatever the Spirit prompts you to do, do that.

- Bro Jo


Monday, January 25, 2010

Home and Right Back . . . to Get Married

Dear Bro Jo,

My friend just came home from his mission last week. He got engaged to a girl from his mission just a couple days later; he met her in his last area. Today he left to return back to where he served so that he could be with his now-fiance. They are getting married next month.


His mom seems extremely happy, but I think he is making some seriously rash decisions. I talked to a cousin of his whose family feels the same way I do.


Should I say anything to my friend or just let it go?


When is the earliest a RM should get married? Should there be a "waiting time" so that he can adjust to home life, or does it not really matter?

 --Concerned Friend

 PS:  And yes, I was interested in this guy before his mission. But I'm obviously rethinking that.



Dear Friend,

Going backwards . . .

It does matter . . . a little.

Not everyone needs a waiting period to adjust to home life, but most RM's I've spoken to do feel a need for a little culture-shock recovery. If someone wants to start dating the weekend after they get home, I think that's fine, even advisable. (I think too many RM's wait too long to start dating.)

I don't believe in long engagements, so especially in the case of an RM who comes back and dates someone he (or she) already knows, perhaps even dated before, I can totally understand a marriage within a couple months of coming home.

I think there are actually two other issues at the core of your letter.

The first is in the question "should you say something to him", and the answer is "No" . . . unless, and this is a very serious If And Only If, you think you're in love with him AND that he might feel the same (which, to be honest, I don't think he does). If you're old enough and there's a history between you then it's OK to take a final shot at revealing your feelings (so long as you do it as soon as possible and that definitely has to be pre-wedding). Ultimately I don't thing there's anything you should do, or say, but I do have to say that I don't think you'd have even written the letter to me if you didn't have some vested interest other than "friendship".

The other issue is the whole "rushing back to the area where a missionary served and getting married right away". THAT I agree is . . . well . . . weird. That only happens if our missionary friend was spending time with this girl that he ought not have whilst he was supposed to be serving the Lord.

That's wrong, of course, but he did it, and now they're getting married. So the rest of us, especially those purporting to be his friends, should probably just sit back and say nothing.

(I can make some pretty strong arguements that the person who should be warned is Her, not your buddy; and the people that should be smacked are her parents for letting - and I'll bet Encouraging - their daughter - assuming this is a Young Woman and not some lonely Single Sister, possibly with children - spend so much alone time with this guy while he was on the mission to begin with . . . but I digress)

Unless he asks.

And he should.

But he probably won't.

If they do get married I hope it works out for them.

The best shot they have at that is if they move away from her home town (where he served).

Not that anyone asked me.


- Bro Jo


PS - I didn't see your PS until I replied - you're absolutely right - and I appreciate your honesty - you need to cut bait on this guy and move on.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Asking Out Your Friend's Sibling

Dear Bro Jo,

I don't know if this is a typical teen girl problem, but let me here it is.

To start let me explain that i have just turned 16 and can now date. Now here is my problem:

I was really good friends with a girl, lets call her Chelsea. Well, Chelsea and I have been really good friends for a while. Well, while I was friends with Chelsea i started to like her brother. Last summer she went to BYU for college and then i started hanging with her brother more.

Now that I am 16 and there is a dance coming up at my school i wish to ask Chelsea's brother to this dance. However, I don't want Chelsea to feel as though I have been using her to get to her brother. What can i do?

Also, this dance is a "Sadie Hawkins" dance and I am nervous to ask Chelsea's brother to the dance.

HELP!!

-Ohio Teen


Dear Ohio,

I think you should ask him whether she wants you to or not, but if you're worried about it and want to keep things smooth between the two of you, just talk to her. "Hey, Sadie Hawkins is coming up and I'm going to ask your brother. Any advice?"

If she's a true friend she'll be glad someone as nice as you is asking him and, if you ask for her help, she may go that extra step and help you know what to say and when.

It's a good sign that you're nervous, but don't let that keep you from trying!

And don't wait too long, either.

Lastly, even a school dance should follow the Casual Group Dating Rules (click HERE if you need to look them up again), so find a good group to go with.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Too Serious Too Soon

Dear Brother Jo,

I'm 18 and I'm in need of your help! So I was recently in a relationship that lasted around four yrs. on and off till the February of this year. I ended things because well they were getting out of hand and fighting escalating. We still liked each other after and continued to date but he moved an hour away and I was devastated. During the summer, I went to a camp at BYU and realized that there were so many LDS young men out there and that there are FISH in the SEA! When I returned home (which is not in UT) he wanted to continue the relationship but I refused because I wanted to date other people. He was mad but I didn't change my mind.

So I dated around 7-8 boys and had tons of fun! But realized that I didn’t like any of them at all. Some things I liked but not everything. He got a girlfriend who is LDS too. And he's happy and seems happier so I'm happy for him.

Now a few months later after dating and having fun, I realize I miss him and keep dreaming about him.I miss our old friendship. We were literally best friends. What's a girl to do! We met when we were 13 and thought it was going to last forever. I don't necessarily want to erase him from my memory just not think about him as much and I kinda wish he dated several people so I could still date him. :(

Anywhoo what do you suggest I do? I'm a senior who just recently applied to BYU so the dating pool will be bigger in several months but as of right now I need some advice :P :)
Thanks for everything!

Yours truly,

BroJo Fan

p.s. In October (I hadn't seen him in 5 months or spoken to him) he came back in town and was a block away from my house& called and said I want to come get my sweater but I told him that I couldn't see him because all my feelings would return. He said the only reason he wanted to come to my house was to see me. He told me he thinks about me too but has a girlfriend and what not. I have not contacted him since and its hard because well.. I feel like I'm going crazy sometimes lol



Dear Fan,

Wow. You two are WAY TOO serious for your age.

And there's a ton of red flags here.

1) Any guy who would cheat on his current girlfriend will likely cheat on the girl he cheats on her with.

2) You broke up because of escalating fighting. Sure, that can be a sign of passion (also not a good thing at your age), and yes when we were dating Sister Jo and I got into some pretty heated arguments, but it's not good to keep going back to a relationship that caused so much pain, even if there were lots of good times too.

3) You're totally confused about the purpose of teenage dating. You said that you had "tons of fun" with the 7 or 8 guys you went out with but that you "realized you didn't like them" - Casual Group Dating is not about you falling madly in like with someone, it's about going out and having fun.

What you should do is put this boy and your relationship with him on ice. I'm not suggesting you erase him from your memory, that would be both absurd and impossible. Sister Jo and I have been together now longer than we've been alive and weren't together; so long in fact that I remember her as being the person I saw movies with which can't possibly be true because I saw them before we met . . . . However, I still remember bits and pieces of previous dates and crushes. (Some of them are fond memories, and some not. You can read about some of the "not" in the Fan Page Discussion "Breakup Stories" -> http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=52304699634&topic=12596)

Maybe he's the guy for you, maybe he'd make a great spouse, and maybe not. The thing is that you've both got some life to live before you have that discussion, and if you keep getting back together (Bro Jo wonders, by the way, just how much of that is physical and hormonal - don't tell me "nothing" because I know just how touchy-feely teens who are in a "relationship" from 14-18 get and have gotten) then the likelihood of you putting things in the correct order gets less and less.

You should still be nice to him, but the coming over needs to stop. No more just the two of you alone time, either. If you want to go on a big Casual Group Date with him once every three or four other Casual Group Dates, I think that's fine, but stick to the Dating Rules.

Don't deny your feelings, just realize what lengths Satan will go to keep you unworthy of BYU and him unworthy of a mission.

- Bro Jo

Don't Ask Him Out!

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a 16 year old Jr. in High school. My best friend is a guy and recently I got a Huge crush on him. I haven't gone on a date yet and would really like to. I want to ask my friend out but I don’t' think he likes me that way but he gives me mixed signals. He's really popular and lots of girls like him. Should I risk our close relationship by asking him out, or should I just continue being a really good friend to him?

Thanks,

~Confused Girl



Dear Confused,

Don't ask him out!

Once you do you'll lose any power you have in the situation, you may turn him off (even if he likes being pursued for a little while, that will fade) and you will probably wreck the whole thing (guys, at least we manly types, find that horribly emasculating; it's as if you're saying "since you're too much of a wuss to do what needs to be done here, let me do it for you).

There are exceptions, such as Girl-ask-Guy dances, but your best bet is to get him to ask you out on at least one date before you reciprocate.

Let me interject here that you need to be Casual Group Dating, not pinning down a boyfriend, ESPECIALLY if you're entertaining the thought that somewhere down the road, say . . . post mission, you may want this to grow into something Eternal. (I'm not naive; I'm sure that's crossed your mind.)

So . . . the next question is "how do we get him to ask you out"?

Check out "Bro Jo's HOW a GIRL CAN GET a GUY'S ATTENTION"  and "Bro Jo's HOW a GIRL CAN GET a GUY to ASK HER on a DATE".

(While you're at it, review "Bro Jo's DATING RULES for TEENS" )

And, if he doesn't get it, you may need to employ "Bro Jo's TEN WAYS a GIRL CAN GET a GUY to CALL".

If he still isn't smart enough to ask you out, won't take the hints, or just is too afraid, just keep being nice. Not his best friend (you don’t want to get caught there), but nice.

And a little flirty.

Not too flirty.

But a little.

Sister Jo will tell you there's a lot of power in playing "slightly hard to get".

Worked on me.

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 18, 2010

Letting Go

Dear Bro Jo,

Me and my friend are 18.

We both have amazing boyfriends but we have some problems we can’t figure out.

Me and my boyfriend have been going out for almost a year and are pretty serious and we are planning on getting married. the only problem is that he is getting ready for his mission and he is starting to act really different. he is starting fights with me and is making a lot of drama between us which is hard if he is getting ready to leave. how can i stop this?

Second my friend also has a boyfriend n' they've been going out for a year and a half almost. her boyfriend is moving next month and they were planning on getting married until he got back from house hunting last week. he all of a sudden was telling me and one of her other friends that he wanted my friend to move on when he left and that he was going to try to make amends with a girl that he used to like and who caused 2 break-ups between them. he's still 17, and his parents grounded him so my friend can't really talk to him.
But he still says that he loves her and wants to do anything to make her happy. he says he doesn't wanna' break up, but then he also says that she needs to move on when he moves n' that he doesn't know if he's going to look for her after his mission anymore. she wants to know if there's anything she can do to save their relationship? (n' her boyfriend also said he has really good news for her on Christmas but she doesn't know yet)

Thanks,

(names withheld)


Dear Friends,

Well! A Two-for-One!

I think you both know the answers to your problems, but you don't want to face what you know is true . . .

So let me spell it out: your relationships are over. At least for now. (And that's a good thing.)

Some couples indeed end up back together when a guy comes home from his mission, but it's rare. People change over time, and when they're separated for a long period of time (like, say, two years) and don't get to witness each other changing it can be very difficult to adapt. That's why I say that couples should not "stay together" over a mission; it's not fair to either person, even if that's what you both think you want. Separate now and if you're both available and interested when he gets back, date then. But you shouldn't live like a nun until then. Too many sisters have let good men get away only to find that the one they're "waiting" for is not a good match when he comes home.

And I think ultimately that's why you boyfriends are struggling. They're going away (one on a mission, one moving) and they're torn between hanging on to something (and someone) good and doing what they should do, which is to let go and move on.

And the two of you are making things much worse than they need to be. Whether it's by fighting or by telling you about other women, these guys are trying to give you a clue: it's over, move on!

None of you should be this serious at your age, anyway. Recipe for disaster, if you ask me (and, let's face it, you did).

OK, I'm going to put my Harsh Hat on: you, and way too many young sisters just like you, are making the mistake of allowing your individual worth to be defined by the men (or, in your cases, boys) in your lives. Having a Boyfriend does not make a girl prettier or more valuable, so stop defining yourselves in this way!

You have value simply because you exist! Simply because you're a Daughter of God!

Tell your friend that if her boyfriend's surprise is anything akin to a Promise Ring (I hate those, by the way) to kindly and gently turn it down. She's too young to be "promising" anything, especially to a boy who's moving away and will likely be dating someone else anyway.

DON'T YOU YOUNG WOMEN UNDERSTAND WHY A GUY WANT'S TO MAKE SOME TYPE OF COMMITMENT BEFORE HE MOVES OR GOES ON A MISSION?!?

Because he's afraid! He's looking for some way to turn you into his Security Blanket / Consolation Prize. By tying you down, by keeping you unavailable, he's making it easier for himself in case other plans don't work out.

Now, you may ask "how is that different than marriage or when a man goes away to serve in the military?", and that's a great question.

A marriage is an Actual Commitment (and a Temple Marriage is an Eternal one) between two people who are (supposed to be) prepared to stick to and honor that commitment (which none are ready to do - and that's OK!).

When a person goes away for military service they have the same relationship challenges that exist between a missionary and someone back home. Engagements are very difficult to keep over a long deployment, and I don't recommend them in those situations, either. If the couple is already married, then there's a stronger commitment and bond; still a struggle, but a bit easier to overcome. The big difference between a mission and military service is that a typical soldier's relationship doesn't pull focus from what he's sent to do. In fact, dreaming of "the girl worth fighting for" often helps him, whereas a missionary pining over his fiancé or girlfriend typically fails to do well. That worked 50 years ago, not so much now.

None of that may be what you want to read, but I'd be doing you a disservice if I didn't tell you what I really think.

Kiss the boys on the cheek. Wish them well. Tell them to consider you when they've come home from missions if you're still single.

And move on.

- Bro Jo

Friday, January 15, 2010

Her Sister's Keeper

Dear Bro Jo,

This problem is about my sister, who is 24. She is stuck in a "hanging out situation". She really likes this guy who is actually 33. They hang out in large group settings, and she would really like him to ask her out. I don't know much about the whole situation (I tried getting her to send you an email, but she refuses), but he sounds like he's somewhat interested in her. He's been touchy (again, I don't know how far--if like he's held her hand) and he texts her often. Recently they saw a show with a group of friends. After the intermission, he asked her to sit by him, just the pair of them away from the rest of the group.

I've tried telling her that she should tell this boy that she'd like to get to know him on a more personal, one-on-one level, but she's afraid of rejection (just like everyone).
And I don't know why he's not married at 33--maybe because he lacks the skills to ask girls out, like when it comes to my sister. She really really likes him, and it seems like she's settling for friendship because he has yet to ask her out. This "hanging out" has occurred for over a month now--almost two, I think.

What should my sister do? Should she just move on? Stop having him text her? Or should she continue to wait for him to ask her out?

--A Concerned Sister


Dear Sister,

If she's 24 and he's 33 she needs to apply a little pressure (maybe A LOT of pressure . . .); using one of the "Bro Jo's HOW a GIRL CAN GET a GUY to ASK HER OUT" techniques may help (email her the Facebook Note link). "Hanging out" rarely gets a girl where she ought to be, and waiting is how we end up alone and never married at 40 . . .

That said, you (and I) need to realize that your sister isn't asking for help. She's got to make her own choices and her own decisions. Perhaps she's inspired to have some reservations about liking this guy; maybe she's just not ready.

Sure, I think she should date - if not this guy then certainly someone else, but we can't force people to get married, Sister. Unless she asks for our advice or help, she's on her own.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Friendly Temptation

Dear Bro Jo,

I have a bit of a problem. I have lived in Sweden for nearly 1 year now and I’ve noticed a lot of changes from where I used to live, Houston.

In Houston nearly everyone had grown up in a family that practices some religion so dating wasn't too bad. But when I moved here almost no one has gone to church in decades! On top of that the legal age is 15! I'm 16 and the girls are coming at me left and right. But I'm being righteous, but its sooo hard. The temptation is over whelming.

For example a friend of mine who has a boyfriend and has not grown up in the church, we flirt a lot. I haven’t done anything stupid yet but when I’m around her I feel like it will happen soon. And on top of that her boyfriend isn’t too happy about me being with her all the time.

So can you give me some tips on how to stay away from the temptation and to keep my friendship with my friend without destroying her relationship her boyfriend?

- (Name Withheld)


Dear (Name Withheld) -

I'd like to hear a little more about why you're in Sweden and what the Church is like there . . .

(You're not as alone as you may think: there are quite a few Latter-day Saints there, plus "Dear Bro Jo" has lots of Swede readers!)

As for your base question, you can't have it both ways. You can't be her "friend" without it affecting things, both your temptation level and things with her boyfriend. Sorry, pal, can't be done.

Listen to the Spirit (and the Boyfriend), my friend; as great as she may be, you need to be spending a lot less time with her, and you should Never be alone with her.

Never.

That's not to say that you can't be nice to her or be around her or even date her when you're old enough. You just need to be sure that all of those things also involve other people.

First of all, you need to get yourself a good Wing Man; a buddy that can help you stay out of trouble and who can become a good Dating Buddy later. If you can find more than one, even better.

It IS possible to have fun with girls and NOT get into trouble. Check out my Dating Rules - it's a great place to start!

Bro Jo's DATING RULES for TEENS

For more clarification on the whole "Men and Women Can't Be Friends" check out these links:

Letters to Bro Jo - Search - Friendship

Facebook Discussions - Men and Women Can't Be Friends

Hang in there!

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Being a Member Missionary (It Starts with Being a Friend)

Dear Bro Jo,

I absolutely love your website and all the advice that you give to the youth like me. Sorry I had to e-mail you but i really have no clue how to post anything on your blog? I have just recently moved to Kerrville Texas from Chandler Arizona(which is loaded with LDS members).

I grew up in Chandler, and I was always used to having so many LDS friends and all the wards. But now that i have moved here to Kerrville there is barely and youth here that are LDS, only like 6 active youth attend my school out of 1400.

I am just really frustrated and have prayed to Heavenly Father for guidance and direction, because I get too frustrated here and don't know what to do with myself. I just really need some advice on what to do here, thank goodness I only have 8 more months left in this town( i leave for my mission in approximately 8 months). I always find myslef being really bored and having no friends because most of the kids at my school have really low moral standards. I just want advice on how to make these 8 months memorable, safe, and not miserable.

Sincerely,

GR


Dear GR,

I understand where you're coming from; consider it an opportunity for you to prepare for your mission. You're at a school with 1400 people, surely there are more than just 6 good kids. Break out of your shell! Make some friends! Throw a movie party or have a bunch of kids over for a BBQ or to watch a Bowl Game.

Now is the time for you to expand your circle of acquaintances because in a very short time (do you happen to know where you're going, yet?) you will be immersed in and surrounded by people who are Not Yet Members, and those folks will need you to show them the blessings that come from fellowshipping with the saints.

Don't focus on converting your whole High School, focus on accepting that everyone is a son or daughter of Heavenly Father, and that the Not-yet-Members simply need a Good Friend to show them the Way.

As you make new friends, and earnestly seek to get to know them, they'll show an interest in you. When the Spirit says the time is right, tell them of your mission plans, invite them to Church Activities (and then eventually to Sacrament Meeting). Learn How and When to openly bear your testimony of the Savior (might as well learn that now, brother).

And don't forget to include those that are Less Active Members in your plans.

Good Luck, and God Bless,

- Bro Jo

(Keep us posted on your call!)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hold the Door

Dear Bro Jo,

I am seventeen and without a lot of dating experiences under my belt, so I was confused when I read something in a book about dating. It’s called Mars and Venus on a Date. I can’t recall the author’s name. He’s a relationship/marriage councilor. Anyway, his book is about the different stages of a relationship, and in the first stage (attraction) he talks about a courtesy that seemed backwards to me.

Here’s the scenario: A guy asks a girl out on a nice date. He goes to pick her up and walks her to the car door, opens it, and helps her in. He closes the door and walks around the car.

My initial thought is that it’s only right that the girl unlocks his door for him if it isn’t already, but the author said that she shouldn’t. I didn’t quite understand all of his reasoning, but it had to do with a guy being happy to fulfill the girl’s needs. By giving back to him, the girl has decreased her attractiveness- or something to that degree.

So what are your thoughts on this? Ought the girl to unlock the door or not? As a young woman, I know how I want to be treated, and it only seems fair if I return the courtesy. By doing things like that, does a young woman hurt her chances at a relationship with a guy?

Miss Manners


Dear Miss,

The book is one of a series by John Gray, and they're not bad, but they're geared to a more worldly and slightly older set of folks, so I don't typically recommend them for LDS Teens (or Young Single Adults).

The scenario is partially correct. If he's locked himself out she should help him, but other than that Dr. Gray is right, she shouldn't do anything. At best it's emasculating (the worst being when a girl leans all the way over and opens the door for him from the inside, going so far as to push it open as far as her arm will stretch), but it can result in the girl stepping down off the pedestal he's trying to put her on (upon which she, in many ways, should demand to be placed).

And for many guys that makes her less special, and less of a challenge, and, yes, can make her less attractive (we value more that for which we must work to achieve). For other guys that makes her more . . . "attractive" is the wrong word . . . and "sexy" has the wrong connotation . . . but guys can get turned on by girls who make themselves "accessible" . . .

I don't mean to imply that simply open her own door means that a girl is slutty, but everything a gal does that means that a guy has to work less to (forgive me, but there's not a better way to put it) "earn" her (which can range from "as a companion" to "marriage") the more value to him (and others) she'll have.

(There's actually a Bro Jo Facebook Fan Page Discussion on this subject. Check it out by clicking HERE.)

Haven't you ever watched "Johny Lingo"?

Same thing.

Now, as if relationships weren't complicated enough, not many guys are interested in women who can't do anything for themselves, either.

I think the key is that a girl needs to let a guy be "the man" in certain situations, like providing and protecting (you can still clean his clock at sports, video games and chess) AND he wants to be appreciated for those provisions and protections.

Don't think of it as complicated.

Think of it as fun!

- Bro Jo

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Unready Missionary - part 2

[Readers - A few weeks after our initial discussion I felt I should check in with (name withheld). When I didn't get a response to my emails, I tracked him down on Facebook. I sent him a message and asked:]

Did you make the call


- Bro Jo


A week later I heard back.


No I didn't. 


As I was reading your email I realized that I didn't think that the church was true anymore. I want to believe that it's true, but I've read too many things and heard a lot of things that proved the church is false. I decided that I need to figure out what I believe in first and then worry about everything afterwards.


Well that sure makes it easier, doesn't it?


What makes it easier? Trying to decide if the faith that I'm a part of is real or not? I've spent hours at the library, institute and other areas trying to decide. It is not easy having to deal with all of my ward members and family trying to tell me how I'm going down the wrong path just because it's "easier" this is one of the reasons I didn't reply back, I've been told that I'm just being lazy and don't want to do all of the work. To me though, I have to know if it's true until I can continue to follow the church. Going against what almost everyone I know believes in is not an easy thing. Especially in Utah where I'm by three temples and almost everyone is LDS


I don't think you're lazy.


I have no doubt that you're working you butt off on this. Of course, that's not the point, is it?


Look, when it comes to the "proof" that the LDS Church isn't "true", I've heard it all, man. There's nothing you've read or been told that I can't disprove - you could too if you really wanted to . . . but, (name withheld), what you're dealing with has NOTHING to do with whether or not the Church is True.


As you're pondering that, let me ask you: why did you email me the first time?


Ok I'm confused then, what is the point?


I don't really need solid proof that the church is true, I just want to believe it's true. It would make my life a lot easier and give me a bigger purpose. For so e reason though whenever I attend church or other things I now have a dark feeling. I don't know if it's the guilt I feel from coming back from my mission earlier or if it's because of my doubts.


I think the main reason I asked you the question in the first place was because I was frustrated with my life and your blog showed that you have a lot of knowledge about the church and problems that the members face.


That's why I never replied back to the email, I didn't want to completely immerse yourself with my problem. I was getting very tired of people telling me that I was just being lazy, and then when you sent me that message saying that sounds like I was just taking the easy way I snapped, so I'm sorry about my last message.

I feel that my Stake President and I didn't leave on good terms, he seemed to be mad that I wanted to go home and I wouldn't want to get him mad again by telling him I lied about my worthiness in the first place. I just want a chance for myself to find out if the church is true, I don't have the chance though. I'm almost forced to go every week so I just feel trapped and backed into a corner.


You've trapped yourself.


Man's ability to discern the truth is called The Spirit, and you've driven it . . . you're driving it . . . from your life. You won't be able to know what's true, be it the Church or anything else, so long as you continue to shroud yourself in the Darkness.

(name withheld), you're working so hard AGAINST yourself. You said in your first email to me that you're willing to try anything, but you're spending so much effort avoiding the one thing you deep down Know that you need to do . . . the only thing that will help you with everything you're hoping for . . . the key to making the darkness go away.


I'm already immersed, my friend; if I wanted out I wouldn't have worked to find you.


- Bro Jo

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Leaving the Drama Behind

Dear Bro Jo,

So I heard about your blog today and totally jumped at the opportunity to email you. I am in desperate need of some advice.

Buckle up because this is going to be a long ride. There is a lot of information that you need to know first.

A little over a year ago I met this guy. I met him though my best friend who told him to ask me to the homecoming dance. It was my senior year and his junior year. He was the new guy in town and I had never officially met him before the day of the dance. The dance was super fun and we hit it off really well. We became good friends and right off the bat I had a crush on him. I hung out with him and our other friend quite frequently. There were parts of me that thought he liked me as well but assumed that maybe he never did anything about it because our other friend liked me a lot. That was frustrating. But I thought I would rather just be friends with him than nothing so we continued to hang out. Even though I have had more people than I can even count who have asked me if we were dating or who have made comments about how we are a cute couple (we are not a couple).

Over the course of the year that I have known him I have felt like I have known him forever... I have always felt that there was a "special connection", almost, between us. It's kinda weird to describe. Ever since I met him I have had at least four dreams about him and then a few days later those dreams come true... super trippy but way cool.

He is and has been a member of the church all his life. But for the past several years he has been dealing with substance abuse problems and dealing with the passing away of his mom.

I have been there for him for everything. And he has been there for me. I would be one of the only ones to visit him the multiple times he has ended up in the hospital. He would come to my house in the middle of the night when his dad and step mom were fighting. I have tried to help him in the best way I could, to help him get over his substance abuse problems.

We tell each other EVERYTHING.

It wasn't until it was time for me to leave for college that I realized that I actually love him. I care about him more than I have ever cared about anyone else. I would do anything for him.

When I left I honestly didn't know how our "friendship" would end up because he is still in High School. But it seems to have made it better. He goes out of his way to call me just to talk when usually I would have to be the one doing that. He told me that if any guy hurts me that he would come chase him down with a shot gun.
At one point I asked him a silly question like if I make funny faces when I talk because some of my friends in college had been commenting on my facial expressions. His reply was that I do. He went on to tell me how he has my smiles and facial expressions memorized like the back of his hand...

Well a few weeks ago I felt impressed to write him a letter(and this is not the first letter I have written to him) about the things he is "doing wrong" and give my insight based on my scriptural knowledge and so forth. In this long letter I started off by telling him how I realized that I love him.

Note* that I love him, I don't think I am ready to say "in love" with him.

I didn't hear from him for about two weeks or so.(He never responds back to my letters but he had never before just stopped talking to me) I was devastated because I thought I ruined our friendship. But when I went back home for the Thanksgiving break something changed. He asked if I wanted to hang out so we made plans to go to a movie. Then he calls me back saying he is really sorry because he can’t go because he had asked a girl on a date earlier that morning but it wasn't until just now that she said she wanted to go. I said that it was fine and we could do something another time. Then I went to a play, during the play I left my phone in the car. When I got to my phone I had 5 text messages, 3 missed calls, and 1 voicemail from him. He had canceled his date. In one of the texts he said that he felt like an idiot for canceling his plans to hang out with his best friend who is ignoring him now. We ended up hanging out and all was grand. Then he also replies back to my latest letter I wrote him saying how much he loved it and how he will keep it forever along with the other ones I had written him. He went on to say other things like how much I had helped him and so on and so forth. But no mention of me telling him how I felt about him.

This is the extremely condensed version of our super confusing relationship.

So I guess my question is..... Am I really just his best friend? What in the world are his intentions? This boy is the complete definition of confusing.

Sincerely,

Desperately in need of clarification



Dear Desperately,

I dream of a time when Girls are Less Confusing than Boys . . . but I doubt that will ever be the case!

None-the-less, I understand your struggles. Let me shed a little light if I may.

This guy is no less confused than you are. Are you a Girlfriend? Are you a buddy? Are you his mother?

Dare I suggest that you don't know either?

I think that's why it's so complicated.

For the both of you.

You say you love him but you're not ready to say that you're "in-love" with him (very astute, by the way), so let me ask: what is it that you love?

The attention? Who doesn't want to be adored, right? He says he thinks about you all the time, and that makes you feel attractive. Totally normal, by the way.

Is it that you think you can help him? Save him in some way? Perhaps because of your relationship he'll get his act together, right? Also normal, but slightly dangerous. It's very right to want to help people; it's not such a good idea to confuse being your brother's keeper with attraction.

To be honest, I don't think he thinks of you as a "best friend"; it's much more likely that he's attracted to you, and that attraction is amplified by his perception of your concern for his wellbeing.  You may not think you're a couple, but I'll bet he does.


Perhaps he told you he had a date because he wanted to make you angry or jealous. Perhaps he really had a date and then broke it because he felt it would be smarter to spend time with you. Perhaps he had a date and she cancelled so he turned to you as his Consoler and Consolation Prize.

Ultimately I don't think it matters. I think all of this is a bit more Drama and Complication than you need in your life right now.

I say you should still be nice to this guy. If you're home from school and he wants to take you out on a date, if you feel like going, if you can make him stick to the Dating Rules, AND if you can be sure to keep things very Casual between you, then fine (but notice that those are a lot of "ifs").

You're in College; he's a little High School Boy with A LOT of baggage; focus on the Return Missionaries and step into the next phase of your Dating Life.

You're at the point now where you can move from Dating Boys to having Relationships with Men.

Congratulations!

Enjoy!

Focus on finding one who's ready to treat you as the center of his universe for Time and All Eternity.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

OK, If "Men and Women Can't Be Friends", what about Gay Guys?

Dear Bro Jo,

I've been interested in writing to you for awhile, but haven't been able to formula the right question, or figure enough out enough of what I want to decide what to ask and how to ask it. But I've finally come to the point when I know at least one thing (There are certainly others) that I would like you ask you. It's not a personal question, but it has personal meaning for me.

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

Since you mentioned this in your November 23rd post, I'm sure you knew the question would be coming, and I'm here to ask it. Would you mind explaining your stance on "gay" men, please?

When I first read your defenses of your stance that guys and girls cannot be friends, I was unconvinced. Since then, you've convinced me, under the terms "Guys and girls cannot maintain a close, intimate friendship with anyone other their spouse. If such a friendship does exist between an unmarried man and woman one (or both) of them must be harboring romantic feelings toward the other." If such a friendship exists between a man and a woman and one or both of them are married to separate parties, awkwardness ensues and relationships are very weak. (I think the TV show Glee shows an excellent example of this.) At least, this is how I've interpreted the "Guys and Girls can't be friends" thing, please let me know if I am off in anyway.

While contemplating this rule, I wondered what would apply to gay guys, but I brushed the thought away because it was too complicated to think about.

The topic is close to me, personally, as the conflicted best/close female friend to a gay guy. (Verbose story to Follow... prepare yourself)

I've known a (non-member) boy since I was young, because he was in classes with some of my friends and in Boy Scouts (a non-church affiliated pack) with my brothers. In middle school, he was often picked upon as being "nerdy" and "conceited", being the only 7th grader in our advanced 8th grade math class, but I had a soft spot for him. The boy was practically a genius, but awkward. So we maintained a cordial friendship. I didn't see him much until my junior year in high school, his sophomore year when we sat next to each other in math. During the school year we became friends, and my friends mentioned that he flirted with me a lot. I wasn't sure about it, but I sort of liked him as well. Well the end of the year comes around, and he writes a secret message in my yearbook. I can't figure it out and I finally end up asking him (via email) if he's in love with me because he's signed his yearbook message with "Love". Next thing I know, I have two beautifully written confessions from him. He's in love with me and wishes that in an "alternate universe" we could get married and live happily ever after with lots of babies. but we can't because, surprise... He's gay.

Naturally, as a teenage girl, this turn of events left me on an emotional roller coaster. Eventually things calmed down, and he and I became even closer friends. Throughout my senior year, we were practically inseparable. We had a few fights, mainly over the issues of homosexuality and religion. I personally, don't think homosexuality is a disease, I don't think it's a choice, I don't think it's a natural state of mankind. I'm not sure of the exact nature, if it's a subconscious choice or a gene mutation, but I know that those who want to can overcome it. I maintained that while I couldn't support him in his homosexuality, I could support him as a friend and a person. I could hate that he was gay, but not hate him. He at times had issues with me not being able to support ALL of him, or the fact that I might be "blindly following my religion without thinking", or my support of Prop. 8 (California's proposal to include that marriage must be between a man and woman in our Constitution). Other times he pulled away because he felt he was maturing and coming into his sexuality more, and realized he should use guys as his emotional center, as opposed to a girl. Other times, the homosexuality thing has been too much for me to handle, and I've pulled away from him. Right now, I'm away at college and we're in a good place. He has realized that I really changed his life and encouraged him to have a social life. In a true "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" fashion, he has recognized how important I am to, which I appreciate. He's told me he misses me because I was someone he could talk to on a real intellectual and emotional level and I always understood him. I appreciate this, and I miss him too. Although I am worried about him not being able to have an enjoyable life and social interaction. In his defense, all but a handful of his friends left for college this fall, while he's still in high school. The fights did have a positive outcome in helping me understand that I wasn't losing my soul mate/true love/perfect guy for me through him being gay, because even if he was interested in women, we're not even close to being on the same page morally, politically, spiritually, and a million other ways.

So this might have turned into a personal question, but my point here is that I'd like to know your explanation of homosexuality, and how it fits into the "guys and girls friendship rules".

Thank you so much, I always appreciate reading your advice, and I hope my question isn't too much to handle!

-Reluctant Fairy Princess


Dear Princess,

(Reluctant or not, as a daughter of Heavenly Father, that's what you are!)

Let me start by thanking you for a thorough, thoughtful, and well written letter. I love all of my Readers, and am Grateful for every letter, but it's nice to get one that I don't have to correct with my Editor's Pen.

(Although I must admit having me quoted back to me is a bit . . . new.)

Let me start by directing you and my other Readers to the two previous letters I've responded to on this subject. I think your letter addresses a new and unique aspect of this issue, but it might be a good primer for those unfamiliar with my take on this issue.

The first was from a Young Man who thought he might be gay.  Read it HERE.

The second deals more graphically with a young man who was conditioning himself to enjoy homosexual activity.  Read it HERE.

Not to be redundant, but the reality is that Being Effeminate, Liking "Traditional" Girlie Stuff, or even Recognizing the Attractiveness of Someone Who's the Same Gender You Are does not make a guy a Homosexual (nor the converse for a girl).


The word "homosexual" means to have sex with someone of the same gender you are.  Gay Sex, like Straight Sex, is a choice we make (unless of course we're raped, which a Violent Act, not a Sexual one). "Homosexual" isn't what you are, it's what you do.

Which is a truth that was explained to my by one of my "gay" friends. He pointed out that all of the attempts to explain "gayness" (genetics, bad father, whatever) is nothing more than straight people trying to deal with a lifestyle choice that we don't understand. 'How dare you insult me by implying that I don't have the agency to choose what I do with my own body" he said when, back in my uneducated days I presented him with a scientists (unconfirmed) belief that Homosexuality is Genetic.

Which brings us to your question, I think, which is "Can Gay Guys and Girls Be Friends without Romantic Entanglements?"

On the surface it makes sense, doesn't it?

After all, if Crazy Ol' Bro Jo IS right, and the reason Friendship between a Man and a Woman is ultimately doomed to end, either because another relationship renders it in appropriate, or because of jealousy, or because it becomes something more (as I have so often submitted is what each person really wants) is the Sexual Tension / Potential, then such a relationship should be possible if the Sexual Component is eliminated, in this example, because of a Homosexual preference on behalf of one or both of the friends.

Except for one thing: the underlying reality that Men chose their "Women Friends" because they find them, on some level (admitted or not), attractive. (Women don't necessarily do this, which is why this concept is so difficult for them to understand. In that same vein a man would not have a "dating" relationship with a woman he didn't find attractive; he must find Something about her; her eyes, her soft skin, the way she smells, anything, to be something he is attracted to. Whereas a woman can fall in love with a man before she finds something physically attractive about him, a man must find the physical first. This should not give you sisters concern! Men and Women are different, and THAT, my friends, is a GOOD thing!)

Back on track: "But what about GAY GUYS?" you ask.

Doesn't matter.

The truth is that your friend likes his lifestyle. You said it yourself: if he wasn't gay he thinks the two of you would be together. So why not pick you (or another girl) over the lifestyle? What does "being gay" give him that a regular relationship can't?

Well . . . have you read any Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? ". . . when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth" (Sherlock Holmes inThe Sign of the Four, ch. 6).

At the risk of being too blunt here, it's not the intangibles (conversation, feelings, thoughts) and it's not the tangibles (I'm talking about PDA and, well . . . you know), so what's left?

I'll give you a minute.

Take your time.

Figured it out yet?

It's the lack of moral responsibility and accountability.

If you chose a lifestyle separated from God then you convince yourself that there are no eternal consequences for your actions. If one of Heavenly Father's commandments is true, such as "don't be gay" (regardless of what you've read or been told, kids, it's in there . . . often) then ALL of His commandments must be true. Likewise, if one of his commandments doesn't apply to me because The World agrees that what I chose to do is OK, then . . .

Hey, none of us is perfect, especially yours truly; you won't catch me throwing any stones. I like just about everybody (except the overtly evil) and what people do in the privacy of their own lives, so long as it doesn't endanger anyone else, that's none of my business. I have friends who are gay, clients who are gay . . . I still like them as people. There's no one in my life, save Christ, who is perfect. They except me with my flaws (for which I'm grateful) and I accept them. No one likes everything I do or say (or write), and likewise back at them.

So, again, back on topic, can a girl be close friends with a Gay Guy?

Only to the extent that he doesn't "change his mind" and decide that the Lifestyle isn't worth what he's giving up by not being romantic with her. Which can happen (although I think it's rare enough that no girl should wait around hoping). And, gay or not, he's still a guy. No boyfriend or husband is going to say "it's OK that you to hang out; heck, take him with you and let him watch you try on swim wear, I don't care because he's gay!"

You see, Princess, whether he wants to BE a girl or likes kissing girls, All guys like women, and all men know that.

A girl who's friends, close friends, with a gay guy, secretly wishes he wasn't, and the gay guy wonders about the possibility too. And because of that, the friendship is ultimately doomed.

Let me open another can of worms: I think that if pornography, self gratification and sex outside of marriage were magically removed from the earth, there wouldn't be any Gay Men.  (Ponder THAT, readers!)

Thanks for the thoughtful and challenging question!

- Bro Jo



PS.  All of us need to remember that Everyone has value, even those who are doing things with their lives that we don't agree with.  Everyone is a Child or God, right?  Our job is not to judge, but to invite all to come unto Christ; look for the the beam in our own eyes rather than the mote in someone else's.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Moving On

Dear Bro Jo,

I really appreciate your honesty and would like some advice with my situation.

I had a boyfriend in High School and we dated for over a year - practically spending every moment with each other. He was my best friend. I realize that this was a mistake, I couldn't see it at the time, but there's no way to reverse it and I don't think I'd want to change the moments we had together. Anyway, he’s a year older than me in school and when the time came for him to go to college for a year and then on to his mission we realized we needed to break it off but we still wanted to be friends.

First of all, after 4 months it's still really hard for me. I always seem to be on the edge and I cry a lot... I know, pathetic. But he seems to be perfectly fine with the whole thing. I know there's a gender difference there haha but is there something wrong with me that I'm still having emotional issues with the whole thing when I know it's for the best... and how do I get over that? People talk about "getting over" someone but I don't feel like I ever want to "get over" him. I always want to be his friend and always want to love him. I want the best for him. So are my emotions purely selfish? Because I really just want him to be happy.

Second, I'm having a great time dating this senior year of high school and meeting new people and guys and I think we made the right decision. However, my heart still belongs to him. I'm always thinking about him and when I go out with someone I subconsciously am comparing the two. I know that's probably wrong but I don't mean to. I'm also worried about next year when he's on his mission and I’m at college. There was a point when he asked me to wait for him and I agreed whole-heartedly. Now we both see the foolishness in that. I don't know what the Lord has in store for me. On the other hand, all I can think about is how wonderful of a husband he would make and how much I want to be with him. How can I keep an open mind now and in college?

Third. People keep telling me there's no way I can feel love in high school. I want to disagree with them. I love him so much. I want the best for him. And I feel like no matter what happens in the future, I will always love him. Is this possible? What are you thoughts on this? I didn't mean for such strong/confusing emotions to come before I was out of high school, but they did...

Fourth. Where's the line between being a good friend and letting him live his life at college? I know he still wants to be there for me and support me but I also know he has his own life to live. I don't want him to feel like he has to be here for me and I don't want to be annoying while he's trying to live his life. How much is too much to call him up and ask him how he's doing, or to invite him somewhere when he comes down some weekends? How can I support him and be a good friend without being overwhelming? I don't want to just let him go and there's no way for me to forget about him. Is that selfish? Also, we never talk like we used to. I don't know, I just feel like I'm losing my best friend. Or worse, will we never be close friends the same again?

Am I being stupid about this? :)

Thank you for listening to me ramble :) Please be a brutal as you want.

- No Name


Dear NN,

I'm sorry I'm just now getting back to you, but here we go.

First, I wouldn't say that your emotions are selfish; you feel how you feel, and what you have to say doesn't sound as though it's all about you. It's OK to cry, in fact I think it can be pretty therapeutic. If you're crying uncontrollably all the time, that may be a deeper issue. You may not really "get over" this guy and this relationship until you replace it with something (or someone) else, and you need to know that's OK too. As long as you're open to other possibilities eventually you'll find someone (preferably not a serious relationship until you’re a little older). All thing, and I do mean ALL, heal with time.

Second, it's Very Good that you're dating other people, and also very normal that you're comparing guys to each other; that's what Dating is about! We date so we can learn what type of person we might like to spend a Very Long (think "eternity") with. To keep an open mind just keep doing what you're doing: meeting people, going on dates, and staying positive.

Third, of course you can feel love in High School! The idea that you can't is totally ridiculous. I don't think High School aged people should get into serious relationships, but you can certainly fall in love. Just remember that there's no such thing as only one person for each of us. Just as you've fallen for this man, you will fall again. And, while the timing may not be right now, who knows . . . maybe you will end up together (remember also that statistically it just isn't very likely, so don't stop dating others!)

Fourth, there is no line. A Good Friend will let him live his life at college. And a Smart Girl will realize that his being OK with the breakup may mean that she needs to realize it's over and he's moved on. You shouldn't be calling him or inviting him to go anywhere. You can return a call. You can write a letter (not an email, an actual in-an-envelope-with-a-stamp letter). You can suggest to him when he visits that, if he's a Smart Boy, he take you out on a date. Encourage him to pursue you, don't pursue him, unless you intend to either be taken advantage of or considered annoying.

You're not being "stupid" at all, but you may be a bit blind to what's a very natural part of life and relationships. As painful as it may be, I'm sorry, but it just seems to me like he's moved on, and I think you should too.

Perhaps he'll change his mind. Perhaps he won't. But you've got too much going for you to not be happy.

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 4, 2010

Creating Something from Nothing

Dear Bro Jo,

I was recently put in the YW presidency (1st counselor over the Mia Maids 14-15 yr. olds). I'm still in the process of figuring out what my responsibilities are and getting to know the girls. I recently inquired about church dances and if I would be attending them (with my hubby) as a chaperon.

I was informed that our stake does not hold church dances. The former counselor told me that the girls really want them but the youth on the stake youth committee are really not interested in the idea. This bothers me. Is it just me or is this a real problem? If it is a problem how do I go about making a change. What are the proper channels I need to go through to get them started and could you give me some good "arguments" FOR church dances?

Thanks,

Dance-less in Utah


Dear Dance-less -

The first thing you need to do is gather a little more information and, given your calling, you need to do that through the "chain of authority".

Start with talking to the girls under your stewardship. See if they even want to go to dances. Given their age and the current lack of dances they may not see any reason to go. Share with them why you think Church Dances are a good idea. If they're on board, then you have a reason to move forward. If they're not on board, but the Spirit prompts you that these would be good experiences for your girls, you'll want to move forward anyway - but your approach may be different.

Involve your YW Presidency, share your feelings, and be prepared to volunteer to be the person who follows through with the Stake YM/YW Presidents, High Council and Stake Presidency.

You need to know if this is a Stake Policy, or just a trend.

To be honest, I find that typically when Stake Dances don't happen, or aren't very good, the reason is laziness. A Good Dance requires a good Plan, and that takes delegation, ownership and commitment.

I suspect as you begin to bring up this subject you'll find you're not as alone as you may now feel, and taking on something this big (both in Scope and as a Culture Battle) will be a lot easier with allies.

Not that a Stake Dance (or even a Multi-Stake Dance - which I think always works better) can't be done simply; they can, but even "simple" requires thought.

And, more directly to your question, here's:

Bro Jo's List of WHY CHURCH DANCES ARE A GOOD IDEA

1) They're Fun! - Or at least they can be, if well planned and advertised, and thus well attended.)
2) They're Social! - Youth are strengthened as they increase their associations with Similar Standards Peers.
3) They Teach! - How should a girl be treated? How do you converse with someone new? Why are dress, grooming and hygiene important? What's it like to ask (and to be asked by) someone of the opposite sex to do something - in this case "will you dance with me", which in a Very Short Time will be followed by "will you be my date" and then "will you marry me" (we old people often forget that the time from Mia Maid to Marriage can be as short as 4-6 years).
4) They Build! - Confidence, Relationships, Testimony.
5) They're an Alternative! - Don't our Youth still need wholesome activities on weekends?
6) They're a Missionary Opportunity! - Like every Church event, from Sacrament Meeting to Ward Basket-brawl to Scouts to the Christmas Devotional, Stake Dances are an opportunity for Member Missionaries to invite not-yet-member friends into our buildings, our hearts and our lives. If there aren't any dances, those opportunities are lost.

You may want to "volunteer" your girls to host a Stake, or Multi-Stake ("Just Do It!", the more the merrier) Dance at your Ward building (I'm pretty sure they could apply their work on such an event towards their Personal Progress) - take the initiative! Set the example!

Invite the Aaronic Priesthood in your Ward to help out - they need volunteer hours too, you know.

Good Luck and Have Fun!


- Bro Jo

PS - One step you may want to take towards winning over your girls is to call the surrounding Stakes, see what dances they have planned, and crash a couple (not really "crash" - talk to the people putting it on, tell them what you're trying to do, and come right out and ask if you and the girls can attend). This can be a great experience for them, a nice evening of dancing and service for you and your husband, and you'll all be able to ascertain the good and bad of what's out there.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Why Is It "Boy Meets Girl", Instead of "Girl Meets Boy"?

Dear Bro Jo,

Beginning with "Hi, my name is ______"

It's usually clear that the guy is responsible for asking out the girl. From your note Bro Jo's Levels of Relationships, Level 1: Introduction - Boy meets girl, it seems the guys are responsible for making contact.

Why isn't it Girl meets Boy? What are your thoughts on this? Starting up a conversation is long before any dates are being planned, although most initial motives for going up to talk to someone in the dating age range is based off of first impulses of attraction leading to wanting a date or a phone number. Who should, if anyone, be responsible for taking the lead?

Sincerely,

Caught in a deadlock


Dear Caught,

Men are Responsible for taking the lead.

It's Doctrine. (Women don't have to be sealed here, we do.)

But more than that, it plays to the needs of men and women on a very basic level: Men need to Provide and Protect (and be appreciated for that) and women want to be Provided for and Protected.

Sure, that may sound old fashioned, and yes there are guys who want to be pursued and girls who think that a man providing and protection is somehow a negative comment on their ability to think and care for themselves, but I believe quite the opposite. My wife is anything but helpless (easily one of the strongest, most intelligent, independent women I've ever met) and while I (like, in my opinion, All Men) like, and need, to be appreciated, there was more than one High Quality woman that I shied away from because I found her over aggressiveness demeaning (and a little frightening).

More directly to your question, though, I think BOTH single men and single women need to be more actively seeking a Big "E" Eternal Companionship.

There's nothing wrong with either sex approaching the other and striking up a conversation. And frankly my dear brother, you could all stand to increase your flirting skill and frequency several notches. Some of you flirt less than your Grandparents do with each other. (Perhaps that's why they're parents and you're still single, eh?)

As far as You're concerned: Take the Lead!

Oh, and lest you think I didn't notice: You're Totally Off Base when you write that "starting up a conversation is long before any dates are planned" - are you kidding me??!?

See, this is where so many of you fall down. You think you have to be "best friends" with a woman before you take her to a movie or dinner or . . . anything. Just exactly what do you think Dating is??!?

A date is not a Pre-proposal Interview, Dinner is not what we do so we have an excuse to make out in the car, and (especially sisters need to read, re-read, memorize and tattoo this on their souls) ONE GOSH DARNED DATE IS NOT AN EXCLUSIVITY CONTRACT!

Dates are how we get to know an individual (and ourselves) better.

Here's my challenge for you: today is Wednesday, ask a girl out for this Friday that you barely know. She doesn't have to be Magazine Model Pretty or Skinny (which, by the way, is ALWAYS artificial anyway - photographers were airbrushing photos long before Photoshop was invented), she doesn't have to be your Ideal Woman (and let's face it, who is?) but ask her out. Some girl from work, some girl from school, some girl you sit next to on the bus.

And then next weekend have a date lined up with a different girl. And the following take out relative stranger number three, unless one of the two previous girls strike you as particularly exciting.

Young Single, post-mission LDS Guys should be setting a target of 50 dates per year, and for you it should be easy (I know whoyou are, and I know where you live - Facebook is scary that way) - you just need to stop making excuses; stop looking for reasons not to make a move. Get off the Relationship Sofa you Couch Potato!

Have fun,

- Bro Jo

PS - Remember that Girls find Confidence attractive; that's another reason to make the initial move.  Even if you don't feel (or come across as) that confident, you'll get credit for the effort.

Readers:  You can jump to the Note that is mentioned at the beginning of this letter by clicking HERE.