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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Monday, March 29, 2010

French Kissing Follow UP

[Readers - what follows is a follow up conversation I had with the reader that asked about French Kissing.  You can read the original letter HERE.  - Bro Jo]


Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much. I appreciate your honesty so much. You are right.

Sincerely,

Anonymous





Dear An,


Any time.

Sorry if it was painful.

So . . . what are you going to do now?

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,


I have thought about it in the past, and what you said was the same conclusion I came up with. But I just needed someone to say that I was being stupid. 


What am I going to do? 


I have no idea, I am going to change some things though. I never went around wanting a "boyfriend" in fact my motto was "Boys are icky throw rocks at them." 


But I know that the relationship with him will have to end.

I'm going to college soon over a thousand miles away. But before anything, he is my best friend. I don't want to sound like some pathetic teenager, because I love my life. My family and friends I have are amazing. I think in the back of my mind I have this little fantasy that he'll join the Church because he wants to, like my sister-in-law. 



But I seriously have no idea what I am going to do yet.

- An


Dear An,

It's OK to be uncertain. That's part of life, and a Big Part at your age. Enjoy! As you get older the uncertainties become more difficult, and you'll look back at these and say "Well, holy heck in a bucket! That wasn't so bad!"

(I chuckled at "boys are icky throw rocks at them"!)

For what it's worth, I hope he joins the Church, too; and you're right: it has to be for him, not for you.

Good luck and have fun at school! Tell everyone I said "hello" - and do me a favor, would ya?

Go on a few dates!

- Bro Jo



I think I can handle such a request 



:)

I appreciate all your help, Brother Johnston.

Sincerely,

An

Friday, March 26, 2010

Enjoy the Flattery

Dear Brother Jo,

I have recently been reading all of your stuff (notes, blogs etc.) and I have found that I really like what you do, and the great advice that you give to LDS teens like me. So to start off, thanks! But as I was reading your stuff, I never thought I would have a cause to contact you until now.

I'm a 17 year old girl, I've never dated or anything and I've been having what one would call 'boy problems' recently. The boy in question is 16, exactly one year younger than me. We used to be in the same ward, but I moved out almost 4 years ago.

We were well acquainted back then, and because of the age distance (we were quite young back then) I have never been romantically interested in him. About 2 months ago we started talking online. Pretty much every time I went online he would talk to me, and I thought nothing of it, until recently he pulled a joke about us going out in a public forum.

My friend (who is a girl) decided to pull a joke back, and tell him that she was my boyfriend. His reaction to that is that he had a girlfriend. I then told him that I didn't actually have a boyfriend, and that it was my friend just pulling a prank. But I was curious and therefore I asked him who his girlfriend is.

Long story short, I found out that he doesn't have one, and he said that because he was being defensive and that he likes me, and also huge crush on me about 4 years ago, and has liked me ever since. And when he went offline, he signed the conversation with hugs and kisses. The problem with this is that I don't actually like him, and I don't know why. I don't know if I should tell him that I don't like him, and this is why I have decided to ask for your advice.

Thanks in advance,

Uncertain


Dear Uncertain,

Thank you.

If this boy set up a Casual Group Date, and asked, would you go?

Unless he scares you (seriously), your answer should be "yes". Casual Group Dating isn't about liking someone or getting a boyfriend, its about having fun, practicing some important social skills, and getting to know people better. A girl should never turn down a non-scary guy for a date unless she's old enough to have a commitment to someone (which you're not), or has a previously scheduled conflict (in which case her response should be "I'm sorry, I've got a previous commitment, but I'm available on this other date").

Which leads us to: no, you shouldn't say anything. It's OK, and should be flattering, for people to like you. It's not like either of you are marrying age . . .

Enjoy the flattery.

- Bro Jo

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Music: Uplifting and Down-pushing

Hey Bro Jo,

This isn't really a dating question but what is your opinion on what is "good" music and what is "bad" music? And how do you tell the difference?

- TP


Dear TP,

Good question!

I like all kinds of music, from old-time twangy country to inner-city hip-hop (at least the edited / cleaner stuff); I'm a bit of an audiophile (have I ever mentioned that I've DJ'd a little and used to have a show on Talk Radio?) so I'm typically open to new stuff, have a passion for the classics, and appreciate most any talent, especially if it's well-played music accompanied by a provocative lyric.

But I think for this discussion we may want to define what we mean by "Good" and "Bad".

Let's start by looking at "Good" music that's also "uplifting" - while I think the music that each of us might find Uplifting is going to vary a bit, we can probably agree on the elements it needs to have.

To begin with, I think Uplifting Music needs to literally "elevate the Spirit", giving the listener a sense of gratitude for Heavenly Father, Our Savior, and the Blessings we've received.

Thinking a bit out of the traditional box, I'd have to say that I feel that way when I listen to Patriotic Marches and certain film scores. The music reminds me of how I fell about certain things or have felt in certain moments.

Let me also add to this discussion that, probably from all my years teaching, I'm always looking for things that remind me of, or are types and shadows of, Christ. (Remind me some day to share with you "The Infinite parallels between Star Wars and the Gospel")

To that end, given the right mood, I've found these titles to be some of what I'd call "good" (even uplifting):

"Drive" by Incubus
"Awake and Alive" by Skillet
"Spirit in the Sky" by Norm Greenbaum
"Higher" by Creed
"Hey Tomorrow" by Jim Croce
"Kiss from a Rose" by Seal
"I Believe" by Blessed Union of Souls
"Would You Go with Me" by Josh Turner

There's more, obviously, but you get the idea: I think good Music can come in many forms.

As far as "bad" for me, being a music nut, there are two kinds - the musically awful (IMHO "Hamster Dance" tops this list, along with, sorry to say, "Cotton-eyed Joe") and what I call "down-pushing" (my version of the opposite of "uplifting") - I literally think of down-pushing music as stuff that brings one a little closer to Satan.

For me, music qualifies as "down-pushing" for one of three reasons

a) how it makes you feel (and/or act) when you listen to it

b) what the lyrics are about (even if the tune is good - some opera is really vile - I've been sad more than once when I've discovered what the lyrics really are - or are about - to a tune I liked) - some songs could be Very Uplifting, but the lyricist messes them up with one line or drops the F-bomb and it wrecks it - often in those cases I go scrambling for the Radio Edit or by the CD from Wal-Mart - which sells only the edited stuff.

c) the character of the person signing or the band they're with - many singers or groups - throughout history - don't exactly live as examples of Christ - I can ignore most of that, but some people are downright evil - no need to mention them here - and that, for me, is a deal breaker

And I'd like to add here that no genre has a lock on Uplifting and Pure. I sat miserably though one Church lesson as a well-meaning but clearly musically ignorant Adult Sunday School teacher declared that all Rock was Evil and all Opera was of God (and I can tell you, as someone who was forced to study opera in college, much of that is, in fact, quite vulgar). I think each song, each band, each artist, each composer, needs to be evaluated individually.

So . . .

What do You think?

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo -

Thank you Bro Jo for that insight.

I know that there are some bands or singers that can have very good songs that are very uplifting and other songs that are not so uplifting and one band that comes to mind is Nickelback their song "If Everyone Cared" is very uplifting to me along with some other songs but they also have very bad songs that I can't stand to listen to.

And I was in seminary today and we were reading the story about the general authority who sat by Mick Jagger on an airplane and it was really interesting the conversation that took place between them about the music that mick jagger played and why he did it.

In seminary we weren't learning about so much the bad music, my teacher used that story to illustrate priest-crafts but the music side got me thinking about the messages that singers are trying to make just to make money and they don't care about what happens to the people influenced by their music.

- TP


Dear TP -

I'm with you on Nickleback . . .

And it saddens me that some otherwise talented and intelligent people seem to be very willing to play that role for what seems to amount to nothing more than money and fame. (Sister Jo will argue that their lack of intelligence is indicated by their actions)

Great discussion. Thanks for your permission to post it here in the column.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Clearing Up Misconceptions

Hey Bro Jo,

First off, thank you so much for your site and facebook. I read them both often and have gotten a lot of great information from them.

I've realised in the past few weeks that I messed up. There's this guy in my singles ward who confessed strong feelings for me that keep growing as he gets to know me more. He's nice and I've enjoyed spending time with him. He's a good friend and one of the first people I met when I moved to school. The problem is, though, that the way I get along with him is the way I get along with my male cousins. I've never thought of this guy romantically in any way and I feel guilty for realising I think of him more like extended family.

Well, needless to say his confession has left my mind going in confused circles. I hadn't seen it coming at all (although apparently everyone else had). I had a difficult break-up with my boyfriend of several months and during the break-up I had learned things that hurt me a lot. My mind was reeling trying to come up with an answer for my friend when he asked me out (steady-ish, and I know, dates and then relationship, but that's not the problem for me). The answer I came up with, I realised, was taken to mean that I still felt like I needed to get over my past relationship before dating again. And that's not the case. I just don't have romantic feelings for this guy.

He says that he's fine just being friends. I don't know if I fully believe that, but even still, I don't want to wreck our friendship either. How do I tell him that he shouldn't wait for me to heal? I know he's insecure and rather pessimistic about his future because he didn't go on a mission and he feels that disqualifies him in the eyes of many women. He's only getting older and I know that somewhere is someone for him. I just don't think it's me. I don't want to ruin him for some other woman by destroying the little confidence he has left and I don't want to lead him on. I didn't even mean to in the first place. What can I do?

-- Unintentional Jerk


Dear Unintentional,

Well, first off, you're welcome! (And thank you!)

And you're right: he's not "just find being friends". The translation of that is: "If I stick around long enough, perhaps she'll change her mind. Maybe after her first or second marriage. At least for now I get to be near her which, let's face it, is better than anything else I have going right now."

So you're right to be careful, and it's good of you to be sensitive.

But let's do each other a favor here and be clear. When you say that you don't have "romantic feelings" for this guy what you meanis that you don't find him physically exciting. If he aroused any kind of passion in you, which he doesn't, you'd be dating him. Because, let's face it, he has just about everything else.

He's nice.

You enjoy spending time with him.

You two get along like family (which, after all, is what a husband and wife become).

And, don't ever underestimate the value of this: he likes and is good to you.

Now, before you get all uppity on be, getting defensive because you think I'm calling you superficial, let me tell you that how you feel is OK.

Sort of.

I'm not advocating superficiality. What I AM saying is that physical attraction is important.

Yes, looks change. Even super models aren't hot forever (and, in truth, trust me as someone who knows, most famous people are no more pretty than anyone else without the professional make-up artists, hair stylists, clothing designers and the miracles of air-brushing and Photoshop; not to mention the access to personal chefs and trainers . . .).

I'm talking about desire, the kind that can transcend superficiality.

Insisting that you marry someone with specific physical traits is dumb. But feeling passionate about each other is Good.

So . . . after all that, we're still left with your main question: What can you do?

Because you're a YSA, there are two possibilities.

1) Wait. Wait and hope he loses interest, preferably by finding someone else (which you could help along by introducing him to other women and encouraging him to date them).

or

2) Be Honest (which you may have to do anyway if #1 doesn't work quickly). At some point, as a nice and decent person, you may need to do him the favor of telling him like it is. "Look, you need to find someone that feels passionately about you (it's his job to arouse passion in someone else, not your job to help him do that). You deserve that (everyone does). I don't feel that way (be simple, direct and clear). I don't know why (now this part might be a bit of a lie, but it is SO much better, for both of you, than for you to list what's wrong with him in your eyes - which you absolutely Should Not do).

The only other thing I can tell you is: Be Sure.

Look at him and really think; is there nothing about him that excites you?

Nice eyes? Great hair? Strong testimony? Smells good? Pretty smile? Smart? Financially secure? Good kisser? (Don't flinch, that last one can override a lot of other stuff at your age.) Anything?

Like I said: Be Sure.

And if there is nothing, Be Strong and Be Clear.

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Attitude Change

Dear Bro Jo,

I very much do enjoy all your entries on your blog and regularly read them. I marvel a the way you find time to answer so many questions with a large family.

I'm a little confused as to what exactly I'm aiming to ask here but here goes.

I seem to attract people i don't like on a level any higher than friends. They are very witty people so I often find myself laughing a lot during conversation. I do enjoy talking to them. It's refreshing to talk to someone who thinks differently to my regular company. All of a sudden though, our conversations become a lot more frequent and hints are dropped. I realize than that there is probably something more felt on their side than on mine.

also, sometimes there will be a young man that looks fairly excluded. As much as i would like to start talking to them, i get worried that maybe they would take my kindness the wrong way and the best i can do is gather up my brothers and send them off to talk to him or bring them with me.

I think i probably sound quite conceited and one could easily be left thinking "well if i were in her circumstance i would be happy i had any one after me at all!"

The problem is though that i am utterly useless at attracting any one i actually fancy and am left with awkward situations with people that fancy me.

I suppose my questions are, how can i avoid or resolve situations with people i aren't interested in above acquaintances and how can I improve my situation with people i do quite fancy. (daring not to think that the problem is likened to to mine.)

I think the answer is right in front of me but I am too head strong to realize.

Yours Sincerely,

Head strong



Dear HS,

OK. Two issues here.

1) What should you do when someone you don't like likes you?

and

2) How do you get the guys you like to take an interest?

Honestly, I think the best solution to your problem is to change your thinking about what type of guys you like. Maybe you should spend some time discovering what's attractive about the guys that like you, and less time worrying about the guys who show no interest.

Frankly I think you're just doing that because it's "safe". You know, nothing ventured nothing gained; no risk no fear.

Allow yourself to be dated. (Casual Group Dates if you're pre-adult.)

Sister Jo says that one of the worst things a young woman can do is advertise that she's not interested in dating. Change your attitude, and you might be surprised who gets the courage to ask you out.

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 22, 2010

Honesty and Repentance

Dear Bro Jo,

After about four years, I finally have my life put back together. My first year of middle school, I became disillusioned I guess with my life. I feel like I have committed almost every sin there is to commit, and came very close to the worst ones. 


I became addicted to pretty much everything there is to become addicted to, whether it was not eating, masturbation or pornography (two of the most dirty words to me...), or self inflicted pain. Ironically, because I have never tried alcohol or illegal drugs, people for the most part didn't notice. 

I continued to break commandments and I hurt so many people, most of all myself. I have broken every promise, every covenant really, I have turned away from the gospel, from Christ and My Heavenly Father, at the time I most needed them. I was (still am?) not chaste, and the only thing left was murder. Ironically, the very first mistake I made, turning away the promise of help and healing from the Gospel, still came to my aid. I was so close to killing myself, so close, when we had a fireside on Christ. 

What an amazing experience! 

It gave me such a new look into Christ's pain and suffering on my behalf, and it was then that I decided to stop cutting. Of course, it was addicting, and I didn't stop then. But then it just...wasn't a part of my life anymore. I don't have any good way of dealing with pain and stress, which makes me still want to hurt myself, but I don't cut. Why? I don't know. God has helped, has helped me learn that I can survive without it.

I told a few people of the problems I had, and they tried to help, but it was only half truths. After a while I just stopped reaching out, and it was really bad. I never told anyone about anything else, and I lied continuously to my bishop. I have changed so much this year though! I don't read pornography, I don't obsess over my weight, I haven't thought of suicide as an option for weeks. And the best thing, I haven't cut myself. I am sad whenever I see the scars on my arms and legs, but I know that I will never go back to that.

I know my Heavenly Father loves me, I know I am beautiful, even if not by the world's standards, and it's so easy to find beauty and worth in others because of that. I love being the Mia Maid Class president, and I love my leaders and friends and try to serve and build them up the way they've helped me. My MM adviser said a few weeks ago that I was perfect, the most righteous person in the present group. She believes that I am doing great, well on my way to the Celestial kingdom.

Bro Jo, I AM doing great, I am following in the footsteps of Christ, and have a strong testimony. Will I ever be able to shake my past off? Will it continue to haunt me, regardless of what I do in my future? In seminary we had a lesson on how sins are forgiven. They aren't just canceled out, as if you can sin as long as the scales tip in favor of your good works, but I think that's what I'm doing. I am so involved with service and leadership, I know I am doing great with my calling as class president, everyone says so, especially the Bishop, but it doesn't really count, does it?

~(Name Withheld)


Dear Little Sister,

Thank you for your honest and touching letter; I appreciate your testimony of the Savior and the Power he can have in our lives if we let him.

We're taught that God will forgive our sins, not that we will, and you know . . . I think that's a good thing. In the same way that your physical scars serve to remind you of both the mistakes you've made and the Love Heavenly Father has for you, the lingering regret over things you've done can inspire you to never hurt yourself or others again.

I believe that that one of the reasons you've struggled as much as you have in this process is your failure to be honest . . . with yourself, your Bishop, and your God. It sounds as if you've made great progress, and of that you should be proud (I'm certainly proud of you!), but at some point you need to confess; you need to come clean in order to be clean.

I know that repentance can be scary. We fear what others will think . . . what they might say . . .

Bur our concern shouldn't be with them, it needs to be with God. He already knows, He will love us no matter what, and He has given us the path to making things right again.

Once you've done what you need to do I promise that you'll feel even better than you do now. No, you won't forget, but you'll be able to take comfort in the fact that God has, and that, my dear Little Sister, makes all the difference.

I want you to know, personally from me to you, that I know that Christ is our Savior. I know that through repentance he can make you whole. I know that you, you specifically, are a daughter of God, and while He may not be happy with some of the things you've done, even many things, He still loves you. All is not lost. You're not alone! You are loved and cherished and needed.

You've done so much already to put yourself back facing the right direction. Please call your Bishop, right now, and make an appointment to meet with him and get it all out. Yes, it will be difficult, but I promise that you will feel SOOOO GOOD once you've done the right thing. Please trust me on this.

You deserve to know for a surety that you've put everything right with the Lord, and your Bishop is the person that can help you do that. He can help you, with the keys he holds, and the things he knows, and perhaps by getting you additional help that you may need, to truly put your addictions behind you.

Yes, addiction is something that needs to be fought every day of our lives, but that fight is so much easier if you're not doing it on your own.

I may not know you, but I love you.

Go on.

Make the call.

I'll be here any time you need.


- Bro Jo


PS: Please keep me apprised of your progress.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Un-date

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm in a weird and awkward situation. A couple of weeks ago a decent guy whom I liked asked me out on a date. We had planned to go out on the Saturday of the week he asked me out. However, due to some unforeseen circumstances, we had to pros-pone this date. Now during the week he had asked me out, we would casually text one another. But since the "postponing" of our date I haven't heard from him since. I saw him at a Stake Activity we had but he didn't approach me and he was visibly and purposely ignoring me. I feel really disheartened by his insensitivity and I don't know what to do about this situation.

I get the clear idea that he obviously doesn't want this date anymore, but I would rather him tell me straight to my face than pretend and act like he never asked me out in the first place. I'm quite confused at the moment. The last thing I want is any awkward tension between me and him. But inevitably that seems to be the case now. What's your take on this situation??? Why is this guy acting like I don't exist anymore??? And what should I do???

From Confused.



Dear . . . Confused,

Why is he acting this way?

Who knows???

Why does anybody do the crazy things they do?

He found someone else . . . he's a loser who would rather play video games . . . he's realized you like different music than he does . . .

Does it really matter?

He was smart enough to ask you out, and dumb enough to change his mind. When enough time passes, if you can back him into a corner, you can ask him. "Hey, so how come you flaked out on that date you asked me out on? Are you a weird-y or is there something wrong with me?"

But before you do, ask yourself: do you really want to know his answer?

Awkward tension is just a part of relationships and life; I'm sorry but you're just going to have to accept that.

Yeah, it would be nice if he manned up and told you the truth, but then again maybe he's too nice of a guy . . .

It's like everything: Communication is the key.

I'd give it one more shot at asking him what happened, in person, NOT via text. Do it with a sense of humor and for your own peace of mind. Whatever he says, laugh it off.

Maybe it's simply a misunderstanding.

But, if I were you, I'd already be moving on.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The One

Dear Bro Jo,

I was at a YSA activity around 2 months ago, and at the end when everyone was leaving, my friend and I were approached by a guy that she knew from a different ward. I don't know why but as soon as he spoke I got this feeling, as if I 'just knew'. Anyway, later that night he found me on Facebook, and ever since then we've spoken on the phone every night. Last Saturday we went on a date, and I can say it was honestly the most romantic thing I have ever done, it was seriously perfect.

We stayed out until 5 in the morning looking at the stars (really cute but not good when you have church 4 hours later!) I have dated/been around quite a few guys and I can honestly say I never feel as comfortable as I did with this guy. It was if we had known each other forever. Now I can't stop thinking about him, and I feel as if he could quite possibly be 'the one.' I've never really believed that there is only one person that can be 'the one' , but now I'm starting to wonder. Do you believe in 'the one'? Do you think this guy could possibly be 'the one', or do you think I'm just having a major crush on him?

Thank you!!

- Destiny


Dear Destiny,

No, I don't believe in "the one"; it implies that a person must search the world endlessly or waiting for that perfect person, that perfect match, which, let's face it, as much as you're "in love" now, doesn't exist.

However I ABSOLUTELY believe in Love and Promptings of the Spirit! How lucky you are to have had such a wonderful evening!

Maybe you two will make each other great spouses, maybe not. For now I say "enjoy the moment" (you ARE writing all of this in a journal, right?), go on a few more dates, and see how things unfold.

For what it's worth, I still have a crush on Sister Jo.

Keep us all posted on what happens!

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 15, 2010

Including Others

Hi Bro Jo -

I really like your blog and the good advice you give to all your readers, I don't know if you can give some advice with this, hopefully yes.

Ok so I will give you some background: When I was in grade 9 I met this guy in a youth conference who I thought was really cute. Then I didn’t see him anymore until a year later in a church conference, I never talked to him until this year when my family moved closer to his ward, (my siblings and I go to the same seminary class with him but no to the same ward).

I didn’t like him I just thought he was cute, now I like him why??

I don't really know maybe it's just a phase. Now that I know him a little bit better I realized he is really weird. Well it is like he lives in his own world and I try to speak with him and cheer him up in seminary class but he only stares at the wall looking at his own world. I know he is not like that because I seen him in church dances and he acts the same weird but a little bit more outgoing. My sister says he has mental issues but he doesn't he is just extremely shy I guess.

My question here is: what can I do to get to know him better when we don't have a lot of change to talk??? How can I gain his trust without being too pushy???

Other fact: This is his last year of seminary and this is my 3 year so I won't see him again probably because when I get out of seminary he will be in his mission and well I don’t think I have a lot of time to really get to know him and (knowing his extremely shyness) I don’t think we would ever date. Do I move on or what??
Besides I have a get together this week with members and non-members and I don't want any kind of divisions so what can I do so any of this doesn't happen??

Thanks.

- Trying to Try Hard



Dear Trying,

When it comes to being nice and helping people to feel better about themselves (and the Gospel), there's no such thing as trying too hard. You need to realize that this boy may be very comfortable with who he is, and therefore not need to open up as much as you think he should. That said, there's nothing wrong with getting to know someone better. Learning to talk to people, especially those whom are new and perhaps don't feel welcome is a skill that all of us can improve upon, especially members of the LDS Church, and Especially those of us that are adults. It's a valuable people skill, a valuable missionary skill, and crucial in the art of fellowship.

As far as him being a date, or boyfriend, or whatever, yes, I think you should move on. You shouldn't be focusing on any one boy anyway, not for a couple more years yet. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't be nice and conversational.

(By the way, lest readers get confused, there's a big difference between being nice and conversational and declaring someone of the opposite sex to be one of your best friends.).

If you can go up to him, alone or otherwise, and ask try talking to him ABOUT HIM, then you'll be taking a big step. The keys to a good conversation are:

- Be Sincere. Ask questions that you're really interested in knowing the answers to. A good choice is to start with questions about things you have in common. "What did you think of today's seminary lesson?" "How are you doing with memorizing the scripture masteries?" "Who do you think was a better missionary, Alma or Amulek?"

- Be Attentive. When he gives an answer LISTEN so you can respond intelligently to what he has said.

- Be Observant. Notice if he's made a change in his style, see what his body language is telling you, watch for signs that hint to his current state of mind or emotion. Look for things to talk to them about: a new watch, a t-shirt of a favorite band, the book he's carrying around.

- Be Reserved. Don't be too pushy or outgoing; for a shy person that type of wave can be so overwhelming they think they'll drowned in your personality.

- Be Inquisitive. Ask them questions about them. Nothing too personal to begin with, but nothing too trivial either. "What's your favorite color?" works in elementary school, "What electives are you taking?" is a better High School age choice.

As far as your get-together goes (Good Job! on that, by the way), the only way to battle cliques is to create activities where people have to rotate, like a game night where you keep mixing up who sits and plays which game. That's actually a pretty tough battle to fight. An easier choice is, I think, to make certain that you as the hostess take it upon yourself to spend time with each person at your party, to visit with each group.

Lastly, let me say that, even though I know you're motivated by the fact he's cute, I'm proud of you for sensing the need of others to be included. Keep it up!

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 12, 2010

How Can a Guy Know if She Likes Him?

Dear Bro Jo

I'm a 17 year old homeschooler with a bit of a problem. I don't mean to brag, but book wise I'm pretty smart. I'm a little behind social skills wise, especially when it comes to telling if a girl is flirting with me. I'll give two examples real quick. The first was at a stake dance when I was 15. One of my friends introduced me to her friend who was drop dead gorgeous!

She was acting extra nice and a little strange towards me. Now, I'm a former video game addict and had just broken that curse about that time. Meaning A) I wasn't very attractive (or at least I don't think I was) and B) my social skills were down the tubes. So I was totally clueless and frankly scared to death that she was even talking to me! so the dance ends and she seemed kind of sad.

I talked to her friend that next Monday and she tells me I'm a moron bc her friend had a total crush on me. She ended up moving before I could apologize. Now to the second one (don't worry, happier ending...kind of) okay, so last year my best friend (I'll call her Jen) and I liked each other.....but we didn't know the other person felt the same way.

Again, she thought she was being obvious to the point where it was pathetic, and again, it went right over my head. Now, this went on for....about a month. Finally one of my friends told me it was obvious and to just tell her! So I did, and yeah, don't worry we didn't go steady, but we did, (and still do) go on a date every now and then. So to sum up my rant, do you (and Sis Jo) have any advise about how to tell if the girl is really flirting with you, or if she's just messing around?

Thanks

The Dense


Dear Dense,

You've stumbled onto one of the great mysteries of the universe: How do you know if a girl likes you?

We men are much more obvious: we're nice to girls we like. Girls, on the other hand, are often nice because . . . well . . . they're just nice.

Sister Jo says that what you should look for is her trying to get your attention.

Do you catch her looking at you?

Does she come up and talk to you on her own?

Does she do things hoping to get you to notice her? Like . . . walking by you (especially if more than once), or throwing things at you.

Girls touch guys they like. On the arm, the shoulder, the knee, the hair. They hug you, tease you, take your stuff (jacket, hat, pencil). The "take-the-ball-cap-and-run-away" is a hint and a half.

The punch in the shoulder, the stepping on the back of your shoe, even the poke in the eye can be girl for "Pay More Attention to Me!"

She compliments you on stuff, even when you don't deserve the compliment. You can chunk a free throw and get benched and the girl that likes you will be encouraging or say defensive things like "that coach never should have benched you".

Basically, she'll try to spend time with you and be near you . . . a lot.

If she's really got it bad she may practice writing her first name with your last name.

Let me give you one of my "smooth guy" tricks: go up to her and compliment her on something she's wearing. A color, a style of clothing. Or the way she's wearing her hair that day. You see the same hair style or dress or color or outfit or whatever the next couple times you see her, and you know.

- Bro Jo

PS - I just posted the question on the Facebook Fan Page - let's you and I watch to see what girls around the world have to say. (Isn't the internet cool!)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Is a Convert "Good Enough"?

Dear Bro Jo,

I just want to say a huge thank you to you for always giving me insight when I've needed it. The questions you answer are often ones that I have myself. I am the only LDS member in my family, so I feel like this is a place I can learn more.

Anyways, that is part of my question. I am kind of feeling like a second rate member, if that's even the right way of putting it. I strongly follow the rules and values the church has set, so that's not what I mean. I see all these families around me who go to church together and have activities that bring them closer together.

I don't have that.

Since my parents aren't Mormon, it makes me wonder kind of if I'm good enough to be with and marry a member. I don't know why I feel this way, I just do. I've been dating my boyfriend for three months, and its heading in the direction of marriage.

I just can't stop feeling like he could do better..someone who has a stronger family, who is in the church. I want to be married in the temple..but then again, my parents can't be in attendance. So, I guess any guidance or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Also, please withhold all my information..thanks so much for reading this!

(name withheld)



Dear Friend,

I think you're feeling the way you do because Lucifer doesn't want you to be happy.

Satan is real, and he certainly doesn't want you to be Sealed for Time and all Eternity, nor does he want you to raise your children in the Church.  You're a good person!  Anyone would be lucky to have you; don't ever allow anyone to convince you that you're second class or second rate.  In the eyes of God ALL OF US are of equal value and great worth; member or non, convert or life-long member . . . God is no respecter of persons.  Don't forget that.

For converts who's families have yet to join the Church (there's always hope!) a Temple Marriage can be a particularly sticky situation. You want to, need to, do what's right, but you don't want to offend your family.

Honestly I think the best way to deal with that is to still plan on the sealing, but have some kind of "solemnizing" ceremony at the reception. (You may not know this, but there's no moment of exchanging rings in the Sealing. You could have a "ring exchange" at the reception, or before, for the benefit of your family. For them THAT could be the wedding.)

When it comes to marriage, don't focus on what you don't bring to the party as a convert. Instead realize that as a New Member you bring an understanding of the great value that comes from things like attending Church as a family, Family Home Evening, Family Prayer, etc. that many who grow up in the Church take for granted.

With the right attitude, our trials can be seen as blessings.

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

Ok that leaves me with a few more questions:) when do we exchange rings then, if it doesn't happen in the temple? Is there an engagement ring and a wedding ring?
I guess I'm still a little worried about how my whole family will take this.
Thank you very much for your help!


Dear Friend,

I gave Sister Jo her "Sealing Ring" (which is what she and I call it) in the elevator after the Sealing. Very informal. Some people choose to do something else, like some kind of ceremony . . . my Brother-in-law and his wife exchanged rings at the reception at her parents' home. One ring or two rings . . . I think is a personal and cultural decision.  (Many cultures don't exchange rings at all, you know; and I know lots of guys who don't wear a ring, not because they want to advertise that they're available, but because they don't like jewelry or it doesn't make sense with their job or they just couldn't justify the money for a guy's ring at the time they got married.  I myself now wear a different ring than the first one my wife gave me because, well . . . let's just say I'm not the same size now that I was then . . .)

Honestly, if you're worried about how your family will react, the best thing to do is to talk to them. Which, lets face it, you're going to have to do at some point anyway.

It will be difficult. They may act defensive. They might be mad.

It's difficult for non-Latter-day Saints to understand. They often feel that we're telling them "you're not good enough to come to your daughter's wedding". That's an understandable, even if not entirely accurate, point of view. Weddings are regarded as a family event world-wide, so not being "allowed in" can be offensive. Sometimes it's appropriate to get married civilly (by your Bishop is a good choice) and then get sealed later, but ultimately the marriage is between the man and woman and God - and THAT'S what's most important.

Talk to your Bishop.

If he says it's the right time, begin taking the Temple Preparation Classes.

And, as in all things, let the Holy Ghost be your guide.

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

When a Guy asks a Girl out, what does it mean?!?

[Readers: I received a very thoughtful comment on my Sunday, March 7th, column "A Mess of Friends", that I feel merits a longer response than will fit in the comments section. To that ends I'm quoting the comment here; my response follows. - Bro Jo]


Anonymous said...

Okay this is sort of a random comment and I 100% agree that Guys and Girls can't just be friends (I have four brothers, no sisters and so I feel like I understand some things from the guys side of view). Anyways, you say that guys really don't start paying attention or talking to you very much unless they like you because let's face it, they are guys! But on the other hand you tell us girls that we shouldn't get all excited thinking the boy likes us when a guy asks us out on a date(sorry if I'm getting this all wrong, I don't remember exactly).

I agree that a girl shouldn't automatically assume they are boyfriend and girlfriend after one date and treat him like they're together. I'm just a little confused about mixed messages. If he didn't like the girl (unless it's a pity date, which would be sad) he wouldn't have asked her out in the first place right? So is a girl's reaction an over reaction if we understand how guys flirt with the girls they like and practically don't see the other ones?

March 7, 2010 8:33 PM


Dear Annon,

That's a great question, and a really good comment.

This stuff sure gets complicated, doesn't it?

Yes, if a guy asks a girl out I think it's safe to say that he likes her ON SOME LEVEL. Even if it's what you might classify as a "pity date" (which, by the way, I don't believe exists - here's why - ) he clearly likes her in some way; even if it's just that he thinks she's a nice girl and should get asked out on dates, he still likes her.

The difference is in to what degree does he like her.

Does he think she's cute?

Does he think she's nice?

Does he think she's fun?

Does he think she smells good?

Does he think she's a good person?

Does he find her interesting to talk to?

Does he have no idea, but (wisely) figures that to date her is the best way to find out if she's one or more of the above?

All of those can be reasons for taking her out.

And, the truth is, he may find her to be the most beautiful, smart, fun, good-smelling, great conversationalist ever . . . he may be madly in-love with her, but because the timing is wrong, or he's shy, or his best friend thinks he's in love with her, or a million other reasons 9some good, some bad) he may not want her to be his girlfriend . . . right now.

I'll confess that I flirted with girls that I didn't find attractive on ANY level simply because it boosted my own ego if it worked, if they felt flattered. (I know that sounds not very nice, and maybe it wasn't, but I'd like to think that while it made me feel good it made them feel good, too. Perhaps I need to send out a few more apologies . . .)

So . . . What's a girl supposed to do?!?

Go on the date. Have a good time. Don't read too much into what he does or says unless it's obvious (and even then . . .) Perhaps take some solace in the fact that, when it comes to all of this relationship stuff, we guys feel dumber, more confused, and more awkward than we're sure you do.

We're all going to make mistakes, over react, under react . . . I guess the bottom line is to just be willing to put yourself out there and take some risks. When it comes to relationships, there are no "pain free" guarantees.

I think if a guy asks a girl out she's right to think that he likes her, in some way, on some level. Heck, this all started because I was making the point that he wouldn't even be her "close friend" if he didn't like her . . .

But there can be a long road, with many forks, between "hey, I kinda like her, I think I'll take her out" and true love. (Check out "Bro Jo's LEVELS of a RELATIONSHIP")

And, yes, I think this all gets confused because you have guys out there proposing on the first date and girls thinking that one date means he's in love . . . both are quite nutty.

Let's all just take a collective breath and realize that dating is good, we all need to relax, and no matter how confusing or convoluted or complicated or crazy or crushing it may be, when all is said and done, it's totally worth it.

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Cost of Prom

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey, while I am thinking about it I have another quick question for you about dating.

Mostly about dances.

I was just wondering if you think that pictures for dances are necessary because I know for me that they cost pretty much the most of anything that I buy on dances and I don't really ever use them or anything. But then it is always really embarrassing to say to your date that we aren't going to get pictures because it almost seems like that is a required thing at the dances at my school. And the fact that the pictures cost so much has kept me from going to some dances because I simply don't have the money.

And another thing is it absolutely necessary to wear a tux to prom?

Thanks!

- Johnny Cash


Dear Cash,

One thing guys need to realize is that, even with the flowers, food, tux, pictures, and tickets your cost is typically lower than the dress, hair, shoes, etc. that your date has to pay for.

I do think kids spend too much money on formal dances, and that you can have a good time without blowing the mission fund.

If we're talking about those rare, school-event dances (like Prom, Winter Formal, Homecoming) I do think you need to have pictures taken, but I don't think that means you have to have the "official" pictures from the photographer at the event (I agree: those can be phenomenally over-priced.) With everyone owning a digital camera, mom and dad can take as good (or better) pictures.

And there are other things you can do.

One year a bunch of kids paid Sister Jo $20 per couple to cater a 5-course dinner in our home before Homecoming (granted she's an amazing chef, but you get the idea) - the cost covered the ingredients and she loved doing it.

You can buy a bouquet of roses cheaper than a corsage.

You can borrow a nice car instead of renting the limo (a guy in Sister Jo's ward used to let the priest with the most service hours for the year borrow his corvette).

I do think you need to wear a tux to Prom; it's that formal. Arrange to rent early, and keep it simple, and you'll save a bunch.

As far as the embarrassment factor goes, that's your fault for not communicating to your date upfront. When you ask her to go, you need to layout the plan.

This is who we're going with.
This is what we're doing for dinner.
Bubba's folks are going to take the pictures at his house.

Seriously, TP, girls just really want to go; I don't think a decent girl is going to give you grief about saving some money so long as she's not surprised.

Be frugal, but not cheap.

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

OK, thanks for that advice. I know I definitely need to work on the communication thing before dances.

Thanks for everything.

- JC

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Mess of Friends

Hey Bro Jo,

The thought just occurred to me that of course, Bro Jo is always right.. Men and Women really can't be close friends without some kind of attachment or feelings for the other. Not gonna lie, I definitely doubted it for a while, but it seems so obvious now.. Whether both sides are feeling the same thing or not there's still that attachment that pops up. Just thought I’d point that out, not that you didn't already know that you were right. That being said, I have a question about it, I guess I’ll give you some background information first though..

This guy and I are really good friends.. Him, Me, and our other friend are frequently together, going to my school's football games, hanging out doing whatever we think of, playing soccer, or just sitting somewhere and talking. We go to different schools, and different wards that meet in the same building, and we have joined seminary with their ward. To say the least we're around each other all the time and talk a lot even when we're not.. For the record, this would be the guy that I had mentioned in a past letter that you thought wanted to be more, when he was there for me after i had a rough time with the guy I liked at the time...Again, you were probably right.

Now to get more into the topic..We both had liked each other's best friend He liked my best friend and I liked his, we had both told each other and we talked about it sometimes.. Well, Now we both don't like them and we were recently talking about how being good friends with the one you like is never good, because when the other person found out they went on liking each other for a little while but then they end up not liking each other anymore and becoming more hostile to each other, where we all basically make fun of/ diss the one we used to like, even if its sometimes sarcastically. Since the hostility issue started both of our ex-crushes have made us slightly miserable because we can never get along with them anymore since they dish right at us with their latest comment. We continued to talk about that subject then he went into how we both weren't boy/girl crazy and it was pretty good since we had better control.

The problem i find is that we're both so worried/put down by our past crush that we may not ever own up to the fact that we like each other, that is if we did both happen to like each other, because we don't want it to end badly. I may be jumping ahead of the game as it is, since I don't even know if he actually likes me.. I guess ultimately my question is what can I do about it? Sorry if there's a lot of un-necessary stuff and this sounds kind of scatter brained... I'm just typing it as it comes to me. Everything seems more logical before it's actually written down.

Thanks for everything,

-Feelings Show <


Dear Feelings,

Whew! It took me a bit to sort through all that, but here's what I got:

You want to know if there's a way that you and a boy you like (who may or may not like you) can get over your last crushes not going well and somehow have something happen between the two of you; is that right?

The answer is . . .

yes.

They're called "Casual Group Dates". (Perhaps you've heard of them??? Say, in some guy's LDS Teen and YSA Dating and Relationship advice column?)

For now, continue being friendly, but stop worrying about getting a Boyfriend.

- Bro Jo

PS - Thanks for backing me up on the Guys and Girls as Friends thing and the kind words.



Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cheese Goes to School

Dear Bro Jo,

I love your blog! You give really good advice. I'm really glad my friend found it for me. You might remember me. She is Mac and I am Cheese. :-) In the end your advice to my mom was really good, and it turned out that the boy she asked you about is now a really close friend of mine and nothing more.

[Reader's Note:  you can find the original letter from Mac HERE - it's part 1 of a three letter series.]

I have another question. Maybe you could help me? I recently started going to a new school. (I was home schooled before.) I'm finding that lots of guys older than me are always asking me out and texting me flirty stuff. (They know I'm only 14 and they should know better than to ask me out because they are all LDS too. We live in Utah!) I really want to date when I am sixteen but not yet. I don't want to make them mad or be mean to them. I want to keep them as friends. But I want them to back off a little.

There are a couple specific guys who are like the total school heartthrobs. They're cute and stuff, and are always super nice and respectful but I don't like feeling like I'm a hunted rabbit. But I also have a hard time knowing whether they just want to be friends and I'm just looking at normal friendliness as more than it really is, or if they are looking for some kind of *relationship.* I think friends is great! But I totally don't want a boyfriend.

Also, it seems like I have a million new guy friends but I'm having a hard time making girl friends. Is that a bad thing?

Thanks!

Cheese :^)



Dear Cheese,

Remember you? How could I forget!

Unless it crosses the line of inappropriate, the flirting doesn't bother me so much, and I'm glad you're waking up to the reality that simply being LDS is not a guarantee that a guy follows the prophet each and very da-ay . . .

Now, about you and guys and "just being friends" . . . you're on the right track by realizing that now is not the time in your life to have a boyfriend (graduate High School first, then you can - and should - switch gears), but you're still undercooked when it comes to Guy-Girl friendships. You should be nice, you can be friendly, but you have got to understand that Guys and Gals just do not stay "close friends" and nothing more. Don't confuse guys being decent and nice and / or flirty with true friendship.

There's something about you that guys like; that's a good thing and you should be grateful for it (this column has lots of loyal readers who would gladly trade you problems). It may be that you're very sweet, you could be attractive (when the Jo Boys were approaching the "age where it's OK to admit you like girls" they coined the phrase "she's not painful to look at", it could just be that you're "new". Whatever it is, don't let the reactions of others change who you are. And don't get caught allowing the opinions of others to affect your own sense of individual worth; if you're suddenly not the most desirable girl in the 9th grade, that doesn't mean you're no longer great. As a daughter of God you'll always have value, with or without attention, with or without a boyfriend.

And that may be one of the reasons it's hard for you to make friends with girls. Again, don't change, but realize that in a world where many girls would love to have boys fawn all over them (or even just One Boy), you may present a lot to be jealous of. Now keep that just between you and me; no girl wants to hear how great you think you are. But you can use that information to be helpful and understanding of others.

Boys will likely always see you as a potential Girlfriend (or date) first, rather than as a friend (by the way, this is true of all boys, and all girls). That may disturb you, but in the long run it's actually a good thing. Eventually you'll have a best-friend boyfriend, I hope. When the two of you are old enough, that will be the guy you should marry.

Because of both of those things, girls struggling with jealousy and boys seeing you as a girl first, then it IS a good idea for you to cultivate some good female friends (in addition to Mac). The key to doing that is, cliché as it may be, to be a good friend. Learn to listen and ask them about them. Look for people that need a friend, too, just like you.

It's not that it's a horrible thing if you don't have very many gal pals - when it comes to friends, quality is much more important than quantity - but increasing your pool of friends is a good thing.

And I promise, no matter how big or small your new school is, there's no way you're the only girl that feels like she could use a friend.

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 5, 2010

Avoiding the Friend Zone

dearbrojo@gmail.comDear Bro Jo-

Thanks for all you do.

 I'm a 17 year-old guy from the Zion curtain.

Could you give any insight into the whole 'getting labeled as only a girl's friend' phenomenon? I've heard quite a bit about this concept of accidentally coming across as nothing more than a colleague.

I believe that men and women can't just be friends, but it seems quite plausible that this could happen on the woman's end. Is this a valid concern? If so, what are some ways to be a friend without diminishing
the chance to be more?

Thanks,

- A Pal


Dear Pal,

You're absolutely right: guys can't (don't, won't, take your pick) be "just friends" with a girl, but boy they sure can (I think that's why sooo many women, young and otherwise, have such a tough time accepting this reality.

And if you get caught there, in the "friend zone", there may be no getting out. Not on your own, anyway.

She may decide someday that you're everything she's hoped for, everything she needs, but she'll have to get there on her own. Rarely will any amount of begging, wooing, flowers, gifts, singing love songs or reciting poetry by you solve the problem.

I've tried it all, my man, I've tried it all.

The one thing that does seem to work?

Get involved with someone else.

No guarantees here, but it's amazing how girls who would never give you the romantic time of day suddenly desire you simply because some other girl does. (Word to the wise, here, Do Not break up with the current girl because you think you now have a shot at the used-to-ignore-you-but-is-suddenly-attracted-to-you-now-that-you-have-another-romantic-interest girl; it doesn't go well. Trust me; I've done that more than once, too.)

OK. There might be one other thing that works: let her catch you playing with and taking care of a baby. Haul the toddler brother, sister, niece or nephew to the mall and be the kindest, coolest buddy that kid can have. Girls will run out of Victoria's Secret to check you out.

Back on topic: how do you keep from falling in the "friend zone"?

Well that sounds like a list!

Bro Jo's HOW a GUY CAN STAY OUT of the FRIEND ZONE

1) Keep your emotional distance. Don't open up about deep, personal stuff unless you're already on a date or in some other clearly romantic setting (and that should translate as just the two of you alone together). In the same regard, don't go asking girls to tell you about their emotional troubles as part of casual conversation. Act like one of her girl friends and that's exactly how she'll think of you.

2) Don't "hang out". Keep the concepts of "buddies" and "date-ables" separate.

3) Date. At your age that means Casual Group Dating. Come back from the Mish and it means One-on-One Dating. Let girls know that you're a Dater (not a Player, there's a difference) and they'll understand that when you call and ask them to do something, it's not as her buddy.

4) Be the guy, the Good Guy, that girls want to go out with. (Check out my "Bro Jo's THINGS GUYS CAN DO to MAKE THEMSELVES MORE ATTRACTIVE to the OPPOSITE SEX" ). Chivalry can help out a lot, here. Open doors, be polite, set goals.

5) Treat Girls like Girls. Not inferior in anyway, but don't treat a girl like she's one of your guy friends.

6) Be complimentary. But not creepy. This is a tough one to master, but if you do it right she'll realize that you see her as a Beautiful Young Woman, and not just Some Girl. I recommend starting with the simple but clear stuff. "Hey, you know, you really look pretty with your hair like that" or "I'm sorry if it sounds like a line, but you really do have the most amazing eyes".

There's more to that last one, but you know what they say about precept upon precept . . .

Good luck!

- Bro Jo

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ah, The Friendly Ex

Hi Bro Jo,

This is my problem. I was seriously dating a guy over the summer. Most of our relationship was long distance. And he stared to tell me that he loved me after just two weeks.

That kind of scared me because I have never felt like that towards a guy and I was starting to feel something, but I wasn't sure. I definitely could see him and me getting married in the temple and we even talked about it, but only when he brought it up.

So I was so happy being with him. Then when I went to my home ward, I found out that he was also with this other girl in my ward for the first week that we were together. I talked to him about it and he explained to me that he asked her to be his girl friend 2 days before we were official.

He said it was a mistake and he didn't know why he did it. And I didn't understand why he would do that because when he was visiting in Colorado for 3 weeks, we were together almost everyday and he only went on two dates with her. So when I broke up with him he started crying and he told me that I was the greatest thing that he could take through eternity and he ruined the best thing that has ever happened in his life. He is also best friends with my best friend and he talked to her on the phone too and he started crying. I felt really bad.

So it wasn't until 2 months later that we actually started really talking again. He understands that we are just friends right now. But he sometimes will bring up "the future", but will correct himself if he is talking about me and him being together.

I know that he wants to get back together, but he understands that it won't happen until he can gain my trust back and if we are physically together. So now he is going to apply to go to BYU Idaho (where I am right now) in the spring. And I know that the big reason why he wants to go here is because of me. He hasn't gone on his mission yet and I know that plays a big part because he turns 19 in May.

I just want to know what I should do. Should I give him a second chance? If he gets into BYU Idaho what should I do? what should I do if he doesn't?

-Sherlock Holmes


Dear Sherlock,

If the guy was Post-mission, I'd be calling you an idiot for breaking up with him in the first place. Clearly the two of you are crazy about each other ("just friends" my eye!) He dated a girl that he thought he liked, but then he found you! And unless he was having sex with the both of you (which certainly doesn't seem to be the case) I don't know that I'd classify what he was doing as "cheating" on either of you (it's not as if you were wearing his ring, Little Sister).

Sure, distances can be tough, but it looks like he was willing to remedy that. All's fair in love and war! And in the war of love, as far as this guy is concerned, you're wining Big Time.

However, with the revelation that he's a Pre-Mi . . . well . . . that changes things quite a bit. That subtle difference reveals that his actions may not be so much out of love as they are out of a desperation to hang on to something, someone, as some sort of support group, perhaps to comfort him while he's gone, perhaps as an excuse not to go.

Is it fair to say all of that based on his age and Pre-Mi status?

You bet.

Sure, a 19 year old guy is capable of love, but in the LDS Church an 18 year old worthy priesthood holder should be focused on the Mission, not the Marriage.

Can a guy be Good Guy and perhaps a Mission is not the right path for him?

Sure.

I know a few Good Guys who didn't go, or didn't go until they were older; some even got married instead of going . . .

All of that is possible, but it's also rare. I can tell you that those whom followed that path that are now older have all said that they wish they'd gone.

Perhaps this guy is someone that would be a good spouse for you, perhaps not. There's something about his behavior, again given his age and status, that strikes me as immature enough to caution you.

I think you should encourage him to go on the Mission, provided he's worthy. He'll come back a better man, stronger in his testimony and more prepared to be a husband (provided he learns to work hard, love the people, and serve with all of his heart, might, mind and strength). If you're unmarried when he returns, and if you still have an interest in him, I think it would be wise to date him at least once or twice, just to see. That's when you give him the second chance; if and only if, of course, you're still available.

But tell him you're not going to wait. It's not good for you and it's not good for him.

You can write to each other while he's gone, so long as they're Gospel-Centered-not-dripping-with-love letters. (And I recommend that, actually.)

If he comes to the Y of I (and I bet he does) Do Not, I repeat DO NOT allow either of you to think you're "just friends" - it's not possible. Even if you think you can pull it off, I guarantee he can't (Any guy who hangs out with you and says he has no romantic interest in you and the two of you are "just friends" is a . . . and I want you to read this very carefully . . . L-I-A-R. 



 I'm not saying he's a Bad Guy, I'm trying to remind you that he wouldn't be spending the time being your "close friend" if he doesn't secretly hope it becomes something more. Boys can do that, but not Men.)

So enjoy your time at the Y of I!

Date!  (That means "Go Out", not "Hang Out".)

Expand your social circle.

Have a Boyfriend (or two).

Get out there and make yourself available.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Friendship Ruined?

Dear Bro Jo!

Firstly, absolutely love the blog!

So, there's this guy I've been best friends with for over a year now. Up until about a month ago we were so close. He was the one I went to when I was sad, and I could talk to him about absolutely everything. Then, about a month ago he told me that he thought he was in love with me. Don't get me wrong, he is really lovely, but I honestly don't feel the same, and I don't think I ever could (and also he isn't a member, and I really would like to be married in the temple eventually).

Anyway, this has pretty much ruined the friendship that we had. I barely talk to him at all now, and when we do speak, he always seems to give me the cold shoulder, which usually ends in an argument. I'm so upset because it feels like what we once had is completely gone, and I was just wondering, do you think the friendship will ever be the same again? Should I just leave it and stop being friends with him?

Sincerely,

Confused!!!


Dear C.,

Thank you!

(sigh)

No, I don't think your "friendship" will ever be the same again.

No, I don't think you should stop being . . . (read this carefully) . . . Friendly towards him, but Yes, I think you need to realize that what you once had is gone, just as it was destined to be.

I don't know how old you are, but (much to the chagrin and despite the arguments I get from all over the world), Guy-Girl Friendships by their very nature must either grow or die. Whether we realize it or not, people we select as opposite-sex friends are selected by us because we find them attractive. If we're either in, or become involved in, a relationship with someone else, unless that relationship is lacking in a way that we feel needs to be filled, the need for the opposite-sex friend diminishes, eventually fading into a very cordial acquaintance, if it remains at all.

And that's OK.

If you and this guy are of marrying age (post-mission for him, 18+ for you) then I do think you need be certain he isn't someone you should marry. You say he's a great guy, and you seem to really get along and have things in common . . . I think you should strongly reconsider dating him. Some times love starts small and then grows; it's very rare that the Heavens part and a voice calls down from on high "This is the man that thou shalt marry! Get thee nigh unto the Temple of the Lord!"

Don't be too superficial as you're looking for a spouse. Looks fade, shapes change, but a good heart, the willingness to put you first, and a strong testimony of the gospel go a very long way.

If you're seriously not interested, then be a good enough person to cut him loose and go find a woman that appreciates him.

Of course, if you're not marrying age, then you can forget those last three paragraphs . . . we'll save them for when you're older. Now go out and get Casually Group Dating!

Unless, of course, you're still under 16 . . . in which case I say:  "Relax. You've got tons of time before any of this is really important. Stop worrying about having a boyfriend and just focus on being really nice to everyone."

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wanting Her Back

Dear Bro Jo,

I would like to ask for some advice. There is a girl that I'm absolutely sure I'm in love with. We met at church in August, her family just moved here to (place withheld), from (place withheld). They didn't have a place to stay so my family invited them to stay at our house for a week while they were looking. The girl and I became great friends while they were staying here, and then my family went on a little trip so then i started to text her. In our text we would talk and get to know each other more. I started to fall in love with her the week that i met her.

One day in our text the conversation changed a little bit and we both said that we like one another. We later decided to stay friends but then over time we started to say that we love each other. Then, we were watching a movie one time and our hands touched and were just touching during the whole move. every movie we watched together either our legs or arms or something would be really close together. During another movie, we were actually holding hands and it was one of the best feelings ever. After that, in our text we would say that we wanted to be together forever and it kind of turned into a boyfriend/girlfriend situation. We were always happy and then her mom read her texts one time and wasn't happy about them so her phone got taken away.

When she got her phone back we tried really hard to keep it just friends so we did not get in anymore trouble. During a week while my family and i were on a vacation we called each other and would talk for a long periods of time. That weekend her phone got taken away again and her mom decided we were not allowed to electronically talk anymore. So whenever we saw each other at church we would smile and hang out, but then one week she ignored me and it hurt really bad.

Her mom told my mom that I was obsessed with her and that I scared her away from myself. Also, I was told she didn't like me anymore. I was talking to another friend and she told me that the girl I like, likes another person now. Now the girl i like wont talk to me at church or even look at me. It's really hard for me because this girl was the first real friend i have had in a while. And the guy that she likes is one of my best friends.

I don't know what to do. I have tried moving on but I cant stop thinking about it. Is there anything that i could do to win her back/ become friends with her again and talk to her?? I honestly don't know what to do. I really just want one more chance to be with her.

-JH


Dear J,

OK, J, help me out a little here: how old are you and how old is she?

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

I am almost 14 and she just turned 15. I know we are too young, but I was not really clear. I meant to ask for advice on just how to be friends again, not how to get her to like me or anything.

-JH



Dear JH,

Yeah, riiiiiiiiiight.

There's no way the writer of that first letter wants to "just be friends", and let's face it: what you, I and most guys know (and are ready to confess) is that you could never be "just friends" with this girl. Nor should you.

I'm not advocating that you try to get her back as a girlfriend - (I hope this experience has taught you that, just as you said, the Boyfriend-Girlfriend thing is not an encumbrance one wants at your age; the emotional and social baggage isn't worth it. Neither is the PDA, nice as it may be.) - but I am strongly suggesting that you not burn any bridges here.

Still be nice, still talk to her, still treat her well.

Don't treat her as a girlfriend. In any way.

DO NOT talk bad about her to anyone. If you need to vent, talk to your parents or best friend, but don't feed the rumor mill, no matter what she does, says or how she may make you feel. That stuff will only come back to haunt you.

You will probably want to take her on some Casual Group Dates when the two of you are old enough, maybe even a Formal Dance or two, so don't do anything now that will eliminate that as a possibility.

When you come back from serving an honorable mission, if she's still available, and if you think you might still have feelings for her, date her then. If something seems to be there, pursue it.

But for now focus on being nice, not exclusive. Be friendly, but not her best friend.

I know it hurts. The hurt may never totally go away, but it will lessen over time.

I promise.

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 1, 2010

Help! Pervert Alert!! (maybe . . .)

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm writing because I'm not quite sure what to do about my situation. Sorry this isn't brief, but at least it's not boring same old.

Story time!

I've known this man ever since I started Jujitsu (a martial art) when I was 12. He was already a black belt by then. I like and respect this guy, and I love the class. It's my sanctuary from the world where I can go once a week to relax and be totally myself. Currently, I'm the only girl who regularly attends the class.

There's a camaraderie there among the long term students that you can't find just anywhere. I know, guys and girls can't be friends. But we (the older students) are good acquaintances and we joke and laugh all the time. Nothing is really serious relationship wise. There is no reason to think there would be since the guys age ranges are so far from my own. Anything romantic has never crossed my mind at that place. And its part of the reason why I'm so comfortable around the guys there; even when there are some males my age around for a few months.

I'm 19, almost 20, and a black belt and I've been home from college on break for about four weeks now. It started out as just a feeling after I’d been home two weeks. I think girls are built with a warning bell to tell them when a guy is “paying attention.” At first I thought I was imagining it. Nothing weird like this could happen in my sanctuary. I thought, "You're over reacting. You're fresh from the BYU-I mindset. He's not hitting on you he's just being nice like always." Well brother, as the influence of BYU-I has faded, this creepy feeling has not gone away. If anything it's gotten stronger.

Today before going to class I read some comments from your "boys and girls can't be friends" thing and it got me thinking about it. I still had no proof that anything weird was going on except my gut was telling me, "Stay away! Beware!!" Sensei was gone and he'd left me in charge of the class. He isn't supposed to be back for at least two weeks, four at most. I was working with this black belt and with the younger students. The occasional random conversations that arn't normal in that atmosphere peppered the day. Nothing "getting to know you" like because we already know each other. Just not normal conversations for that place, in hindsight I think that’s probably what triggered the warning feelings in the first place.

There's this thing we do call obstacles where one student, usually a black belt, plays the obstacle and the other students have to jump over him and roll into the protective falls we teach. I demonstrated this and things were going well. Then we moved on to the falls where you sit on the obstacles back, scoot back and then fall off his back. I asked if the students already knew this and they did, but the black belt suggested that I demonstrate it anyway. I ignored him and told the first student in line to go.

Later, during the second class when its just black belts, I was telling him and another guy about my babysitting job where I watch two little boys everyday and how we mostly wrestled. He mentioned how I could get into trouble at college wrestling with boys. (bad taste I know!) Not exactly sure what was going on since he normally doesn't talk like this I just said, "Yep, I would probably be expelled." He mentioned how that was a shame because that’s half of what college was for right there. I ignored that. He knows I’m Mormon, and at the time I was still hoping he wasn’t meaning what I thought he was meaning.

We started talking about the college dating atmosphere and I made sure we didn't talk about my dating habits by using roommates as references. He mentioned “mormon culture dating habits,” and we talked about the mormon tendency to have long distance relationships and writing to missionaries. And later he implied that he'd been unlucky in love in reference to his divorce. We really never talk about this kind of stuff, and this was at the end of class when we were leaving for our cars. We were alone and its always dark by the time we leave. And I was...apprehensive.

That's the most "proof" I have besides my feelings. I could be just jumping the gun and I'm really hoping I am because I don't want things to get awkward at Jujitsu. That's my sanctuary! But things have changed already. It used to be easy to throw each other around all the time. Now I feel uncomfortable working with him. I could barely attack him last class in a routine exercise! I'm pretty sure he's attracted to me and that's creepy because...Bro Jo, HE'S AT LEAST TEN YEARS OLDER, DIVORSED, WITH AN ELEVEN YEAR OLD SON!!! His kid is even in the class!!

When I talked to my sister about it she said to trust my feelings and tell Sensei so he could look out for me. I respect Sensei, but to be honest he's more likely to make the situation embarrassingly worse rather than better. There is another black belt who I have complete trust in. He's like an uncle to me and he's the type to never say anything unnecessary. Should I talk to him about this and how should I tell him in a way that he doesn't suspect the worst? The last thing I want is to make him think badly of this other guy, because overall this other guy is really a good man and I don't like being the person who ruins others reputations.

This is already extremely awkward for me and I wish this wasn't happening at all! I don't believe this man would do anything bad or illegal. He's not the type. But then again it had also never crossed my mind that he'd ever be attracted to me. I sincerely doubt he’d try anything, but I don't know. He's better at the art than me. If it did come to that, I'd have about 25% chance of saving myself, but that's worst case scenario. As far as I know it's only an attraction and now he's starting to act on it because I'm suddenly all available because I'm in college. Doesn't he even remember the snotty twelve year old he first met? I should be just a child to this guy.

I can't even begin to describe how creeped out I am over all of this. What's a girl got to do to tell an old and older friend like this to back off when nothings really happened?

Karate-chop Wonder


Dear Wonder,

You're not 12 anymore; you're a 20 year old woman. You've gone away to school, and now come back, and this man (and probably others) see you differently.

You're single. He's single. I'm sure the vibe you're picking up on is correct; he may not be very good at it (perhaps he's out of practice, perhaps he was never good at it, and perhaps he really is just creepy) but I think he IS trying to flirt with you.

Flirting at its most basic level is just using suggestive talk and touching to try and express your interest in someone and gage their interest in you. for a lot of people it can also be a validation of their own attractiveness and desirability (which is why, despite the dangers and inherit stupidity, many people in committed relationships flirt; they may be trying to signal availability, but they may also just be looking to prove that they've "still got it", which ultimately is just selfish and can hurt the person they're in a relationship with). For quite a while now I've been asked to write the "Bro Jo's Guide to Flirting for Guys and Gals" . . . perhaps I will soon.

So . . . as I said, I think you're right in your assessment of this guy's behavior. He no longer sees you as a Little Girl in his Class, he sees you as an attractive woman. If you didn't already get it, I'd launch into another "Men and Women Can't Be Just Close Friends" lecture . . .

But I digress.

Divorce is lonely, plus the older one is, or the longer you've been away from the Single Life, the more awkward it can be to start dating again. Heck, unless he's looking for the trash that's hanging out in the bar waiting to be picked up, where's a divorced guy with an 11 year old kid supposed to meet women? Work? On the bus? At the store? How about that cute gal in class?

I'm not saying you should pity him, nor am I saying you should date him. I'm just trying to explain why he's acting the way he is.

So, to your problem: what can a gal do when a guy she's not interested in increasingly comes on to her?

Here's the list!

"Bro Jo's STEP BY STEP WAY a GAL CAN MAKE a GUY GO AWAY"

1) Ask yourself: are you sure you're not attracted to this guy in any way? If you are, but perhaps are unjustly afraid, stop here. If you're pretty certain you don't want this to ever become anything, go to step two.

2) Realize that guys don't take hints well; we often see that as code for "try harder", so prepare yourself to be clear.

3) Realize that you've reached that cross-road: he's not your friend, can never be just your friend, and even if he says otherwise, to him "friendship" is just a way of building towards the relationship you don't want to happen.

4) Adopt some safety guidelines

a) Don't be alone with him. He'll be looking for opportunities to make a move or ask you out. It's not that he's necessarily going to attack you, but the goal here is to repel him, not give him openings.

b) Don't give him your phone number or address. Whatever the excuse, unless you really do want him in your life, there's no reason for him to have your contact information. What do you do if he asks? Say no. Seriously. Don't embellish or soften.
"Can I have your phone number?"
"No."
"Why not?"
"Because I don't want you to call me."
"You're hurting my feelings . . ."
"Well that's your choice, not mine."

c) Watch what you say. No confiding, no "just friends" talk, and don't make excuses for why you can't go out with him Friday. Be kind, but be blunt.
"Hey, want to go grab a bite to eat?"
"No, thank you."
"Aw, come on, my treat."
"I don't think so."
"Why not? I won't bite!"
"Because I'm not interested in you romantically and I don't want you to get the wrong idea."
"This is not a date! Just two friends going to lunch."
"You seem like a nice guy, so please stop putting me on the spot. Besides, men and women can't be friends; Bro Jo says so." (sorry, couldn't resist)

Excuses are heard as "I can't go to lunch today, but I'd love to go out next week" - if you don't mean it, don't say it.

And embellishments can give hope when, as you well know, there is none. "You're just too good for me" isn't a nice way to say no, for some guys it's "tell me I'm valuable and worthy of your love".

d) Be ready to offer the alternative. "You're too old for me, but you may want to ask out _____." "I don't see you and I together, but you might meet some nice women at the upcoming Single Adult Activity at my Church" (that one's a win-win-win, as far as I'm concerned".

5) If he never makes a clear move, but keeps making you feel uncomfortable, you have to tell him, in a public place (like after class, but still in the big open classroom). "Hey, (insert name here, use Mr. His-last-name if he's a lot older - that will set the tone), I need to tell you that I feel that the words and things you're doing are inappropriate. I feel like you're coming on to me, and it makes me uncomfortable. Whether that's your intention or not, I need you to stop, please." Communication is the Key, if you don't come right and tell him, you can't expect him to know or understand. He will probably be embarrassed, so he'll be dismissive or defensive. If he is, just let him say what he has to say. You don't own him anything, certainly not an apology for any misunderstanding that he may try to blame on you, so don't say you're sorry. Just tell him that you're glad the two of you had this little chat, and that you hope he understands what you've been saying.

Even if HE apologizes (which would be the best thing), you needn't feel bad. You've done the right thing, and eventually, even if he's unpleasant now, both of you will be grateful you had the conversation.

So, to summarize:
1) Evaluate.
2) Prepare to be clear.
3) There is no "safe friendship zone".
4) Avoid, shoot down, divert.
5) Communicate.

In answer to one of your questions, I think you do need to talk to your other classroom buddy or your sensei and ask them to help you accomplish 4 a. Another Gal would be a much better choice because you run the risk that they may think you should date this guy OR because they may like you as well, so putting them in the role of your protector may send them a signal that you like them. I'm sorry, I know it's complicated, but that's the way life goes (it's also one of the reasons marriage is so great and being single sucks rocks).

Take some solace in that you're going back to school soon. Perhaps when you come back next time he will have found someone else.

- Bro Jo

PS - I actually enjoyed story time.

PSS - I'm not convinced he's necessarily a pervert, either. He may just be a nice guy who's lonely or even sincerely interested. Just being older doesn't make him a creeper. Be courteous, but be clear.


Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you! And double thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I wasn't quite sure how to handle this at all and you've given me some things to think about. I'll definitely use those lines and guides lines you gave me because I really really REALLY don't want anything to happen between us. Because (as you've probably guessed) I am SO NOT attracted to him. Not interested. He's not bad looking, I just don't want what’s in the package (widow, age, eleven year old son, non-member, and some other issues. I'm almost twenty, I would consider hundreds of other men before this guy).

My other buddy is actually in his late 30's early 40's and happily married with five kids. His eldest attends the class too and his wife sometimes comes to watch us work, so I'm not too worried about him. He'd most likely understand and back me up actually. He has daughters of his own so he gets it. Sensei....well lets just say that Sensei would be happiest if I waited for this man to "take action" and then punch his lights out. He takes great pride in his female students and even greater pride when one of them has used his teachings in the real world to get out of a situation. Every time I come home from college (and even before I graduated high school!) he'd lecture me to prepare to punch those college guys out if they ever got too friendly. One of his own students is no exception. (And yes he actually said that.) He means well, but for everyone concerned, it'd be better if he wasn't aware of this at all. There are a couple of high school girls in my class, but they don't attend regularly. One of them is a black belt whose been in the class longer than I have. But if they knew about this it would be like setting a match to a powder keg. Even worse than Sensei! Still they'd make a good cover so long as they weren't aware that they were a cover.

I am aware that I am not 12 anymore. Still the idea of being attractive to anybody is new. I never was the "attractive one" growing up. True, I've noticed that I have...grown into myself more the last couple of years and I no longer find the face in the mirror terrifying. I'd even say it was pretty. I haven't gone on a lot of dates, but I do enjoy dating in college. Sadly, none of the guys I like seem to like me. Oh well, only almost 20, I've got plenty of years to find somebody who enjoys my brand of personality.

I will try to be gentle, but firm and clear with him. I know his divorce has made him very tender about love. His ex had hurt him pretty bad. From what I understand she was a live wire and he was a controlling husband. I don't think he had a very good view of women for a few years after that. I do pity him, but it still grosses me out even picturing us together. I really don't think he's a pervert, I was just saying that to get your attention. And pervert used to be my word to define much older men chasing younger women. I am glad that he is trying to move on with his life. I just wish he didn't consider me a possible part of the equation.

Do you want me to keep you updated and let you know what happens if anything does?

-Wonder


Dear Wonder,

Well . . . you DID get my attention!

(Good for you!)

Sure! Keep my updated!

But I'm certain you'll be fine.

All the best,

- Bro Jo

PS - I think it's pretty decent of you to be considering his feelings and wise that you're aware of what can happen when the rumor mill gets a hold of things like this.


Dear Bro Jo,

Hey, so you know that pervert I wrote to you about? Well, he's backed off. I think my one friend talked to him. So it's all good. Thanks Bro Jo.

- Wonder


Dear Wonder,

You're welcome! (But I think you handled this one great on your own.)

- Bro Jo