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, April 26, 2010

Follow Up - First Kiss Fall Out

[Readers - A follow up to a letter posted on January 25th. Read the original HERE.]


Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for your quick response, I thought it was going to take much longer then just a few days.

You are correct, no one (or) nothing can make me do anything. I should have worded it differently. It would've been better to say, that because of the extreme enforcement of the standards, that I was curious and I rebelled.

I had a talk with my very close cousin about this, whom I trust allot. She too told me that although what I did was wrong, it really is not very serious. I know that it seems strange for me (as a teenager who's hormones are raging) to feel so bad about it and to say that I didn't even enjoy it. I tried to remind myself that it wasn't as serious as I am making it, but the guilt and regret that I am feeling, isn't going away. Even though I have repented and asked for forgiveness. Maybe if I give myself more time, it will all pass.

But thank you for your advice, I appreciate the harsh kindness :)

(name withheld)


Dear NW,

Everything gets easier with time.

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 23, 2010

Beware the Post-Prom Stalker Girl

Dear Bro Jo

I have another question. I know I girl who goes to a charter school nearby. And she implied that she wanted to ask me to Prom.

Now with about any other girl I know I'd be more then happy to, but with her, I'm hesitant.

See she has a past that I won't go into the details and has gone to her bishop, now, everyone I know says that she's changed and is trying to be a better person, but whenever I'm around her, she acts almost like a stalker, and she still lies to me, A LOT.

Now I want to support her trying to be a good person, but I don't want to go on a date or (even hang around) someone who, to be blunt, makes me feel like I'm being stalked, what do I do?

Signed

a rock and a hard place


Dear Rock,

It's just a date, my brother. Go as a group, be a gentleman, follow the dating rules, and have fun.

Her past is none of our business unless she chooses to make it so. Who are we to hold another's mistakes against them when we ask forgiveness for ourselves?

If you're still worried, review my "Bro Jo's HOW a GUY CAN AVOID the BOYFRIEND DILEMMA" as a primer before you go.

- Bro Jo

PS.  OK, if she REALLY makes you uncomfortable, then you can always pull "thank you for the invitation, but I'm not able to go", or if a girl is particularly aggressive: "I'm flattered, but I'm a pretty old-fashioned guy, and only go out with girls when I do the asking"; but Be Careful!  You don't want to hurt her feelings or burn a bridge that you may later wish to cross.  As long as she follows the rules and you're in a group, I think you should go.

Sleeping Together

Dear Bro Jo,

My Boyfriend and I have recently started getting serious. He just turned 19, and I'm almost 19. It only worries me, because he is leaving at the end of March for his mission.

And we kinda have a history:

We've known each other for the past 6 years and have liked each other on and off since then. And a few of those years like the 16 turning 17 year we tried dating and failed. (my fault) and didn't talk for quite sometime. it was hard on both of us. BUT since then we have more than overcame/overcome (bleh) it and hung out a lot this summer thanks to a friend. and then talked things over before I left for college (kissed) we each another person while away and then I came for thanksgiving and hung out with him and his girlfriend (one of my really good friends or at least use to be idk what she thinks of me anymore you'll see why) at the volleyball tourney and then less than a week later they broke up and the next day he came down from his home (2 hours) to visit me, and take me out on our first date together. Yeah he left her for me. Well we've always been really close even though the times we didn't talk, but we've gotten so much closer since I've left.

Well Christmas break came and past he came to my hometown twice actually stayed with my family both times, while I was there, and took me out the 2nd time. The first time my friend came too and spent the night as well. It was lots of fun he really got to know my family and my mom loves him it's really funny.

Then I went back to school, and we continued to get closer. Then he told me he was coming for Valentine's Day.

He came! It was great we went out both nights, and had lots of fun! He slept with me, like in the same bed, but honestly nothing happened. It was just like snuggling all night. I know some people look at that wrong and

I don't understand why.

Well before he left we finally got the L word out of our mouths, and told each other we loved each other.

Which was honestly a relief.

I'm SOOOOOO excited for him to go on his mission, and can't wait. But yet, I'm worried because we've been around each other for so long, that it might hurt us.

Help?

Love, Cereal


Dear Cereal,

One of the most difficult, but important, things we need to do when we love someone is to let them be free.

It requires a lot of faith, a lot of trust and, yes, it's a risk.

Sister Jo is a very attractive woman; how do I know she doesn't have a secret boyfriend that comes over when I'm at the office, or on a business trip? She's a very capable driver; still I worry about her when the roads are icy. Not just her, but what if someone runs into her?

But she's not my possession. I can't watch her all day. I can't drive her everywhere. She needs to be free to do the things she needs and wants to do. We've been married nearly 20 years; it would kill me if she ever left me for someone else; if, heaven forbid, she dies before I do I will miss her terribly until we're united again.

But I still have to give her the freedom she needs.

Love means letting go.

Even though things may change.

This is what he needs to do. You need to not just let him, but encourage and support him.

You need to stay here. He needs to encourage and support you.

And that, little sister, is why, BECAUSE you both care for each other, that you need to break up.

A breakup need not be a mean-spirited abandonment. In this case it can be an expression of love.

You care enough for him to say "I want you to be able to serve the Lord with all of your heart, might, mind and strength; don't worry about me" and he needs to love you enough to say "I have to leave now; I like you enough to wish for your happiness; it's wrong for me to expect someone as wonderful as you to sit at home lonely while I'm gone; be free; date other guys while I'm away; and if you find a Good Man that will love and care for and protect you, then I will be happy for you even if I'm sad for myself".

While he's gone, by all means, stay in touch. Send appropriate, non-girlfriend style, letters of spiritual encouragement.

When he comes home, if you're not married, you two should absolutely date. If, at that time, you find that your love for each other has grown, if you both see yourselves together, then that's wonderful. If not, well . . . that's OK too.

See, Cereal, one thing that is so difficult to understand, I think, as a young person, is that there's more than one person in the world that can make a wonderful spouse for each of us. (OK, OK, I'll confess that I used the "we're destined to be together" argument on the girl you all now know as Sister Jo, quite effectively, I might add, and it worked out very well for me, but it's totally bogus.)

Now, regarding the Sleeping Together . . . here's why it's wrong:

Sex.

Sure, nothing happened. This time.

But it could have.

When we're asleep our defenses are down. When the two of you are "cuddling" (and sleeping) it's very easy for one, or both, of you to turn that situation into heavy petting. Especially if one, or both, of you awakes in a semi-conscious state from a sex dream. I have seven children, I hope you trust me when I tell you that I know, from experience, just how little distance is between "cuddling" and "we're having a baby".

Especially if you're already in bed together.

For guys, especially when were younger, the urge to push the car to 85 miles per hour once we've already broken the law by driving 80 is very difficult to resist.  We know we should put on the brakes, should slow down, but unless there's a highway patrolman somewhere, or something happens to wake us up to the fear of getting a ticket . . . well, the next thing we know we look down at the speedometer and we're doing 90.

Satan wants few things more than to make going to the Temple less likely, and I'm sure the last thing you want, if you care about him as much as you say you do, is to be the reason this boy doesn't get to go, to the temple or on a mission.

Don't mourn that he's going away; be grateful for the time you've had.

And, who knows . . . two years can go by pretty fast.

- Bro Jo

Readers Note: Double Post Day!

Dear Readers -

Sometimes it happens:  Double Post Day!

The regular post will be at the regular time (7am, MDT), and the second will follow tonight at 7pm, MDT.

Enjoy!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bending the Rules

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey, I am an old friend of Sister Jo. You can publish this question of you want but really I just wanted to know what you think of this situation.

My 15-year old son has a REALLY great group of friends. One of them is a 16½ year old girl that has been our next door neighbor for the last 5 years. She is one of those girls I hope my sons will eventually find and take to the temple. The other day I found out, through talking to my son, that she has not yet been asked to prom. She had the idea that she would ask him, kind of joking about it, but thought we would never go for it because he is not quite 16 (just a couple months away!) She is about the ONLY girl I would even consider making this exception for. After talking to my husband about it we came up with a few stipulations:

1. It must be a group date and, if possible, couples not even be paired up within the group; just a bunch of friends going together because they just really want to go to prom.

2. I have a son just older than him. He’s 17½ but has Autism. He’s still too shy to ask any girl out even though he is well known and well loved at the high school. He would need to be included in this prom group.

3. There will be no more “dating” until the magical age of 16.

4. Curfew will be strictly enforced or there will be no dating when the magical birthday comes in a few months!


I also feel OK about it because, not to brag, this son of mine is a really good kid. He has had a paper route for the last three years that he has done all by himself without having to wake us up or bother us with any other details. He is really responsible. He is president of his Teacher’s Quorum. He is in two choirs at the high school, one of which is made up of kids that meet at lunch and before school just because they love to sing and they love to be together (which means he gets up extra early for his paper route on those two days!) Plus, he is very willing to stick to the rules listed above.

He is almost the youngest in his grade because of his birthday and all of his friends are going. And he feels bad that his friend, “the girl next door”, still doesn’t have a date. Is “Almost 16” close enough? I am leaning toward yes, especially if it includes helping his older brother have his first dating experience. What do you think?

Thanks!

- AB

Dear AB,

Hi!

I remember you; how great to hear from you.

I hope Sister Jo has warned you . . .

:)

This is going to fall under the category of "Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't." - Erica Jong


No dating before you're 16. No exceptions.

It's not like this prophetic advice has been unclear or gray, and once we as parents begin "making exceptions", however good the reasons might seem, to following prophetic counsel ESPECIALLY with our children, then we wander down a slope that's difficult to climb back up. Morally there's really no difference between what you're discussing and

"it's OK to drink a little champagne because it's my friend's wedding toast"

"it's not really gambling because it's just poker with my friends"

"it's no big deal to skip sacrament meeting because, after all, how often do the Chargers make the Super Bowl"

Prom is a date.

I know it.

You know it.

And your boy knows it.

No matter how many ways we try to tweak it so it's OK, it's still a date.

It's easy to be a disciple of Christ when our faith and principles aren't being tested, but the true witness comes when we stand up for what's right when so much around us is telling us that it's OK to sit down, just this once.

"Almost" is not close enough any more for dating than it is to say that the day BEFORE the Temple is close enough to your Sealing to . . . do what we're supposed to wait until we're married to do.

Your son sounds like a good guy; teach him that there's honor and respect in always choosing the right.

And fun.

As an alternative to the Prom, why not host a Group Game Night or Video Party at your home for you son, his Girl Buddy, and all the other kids that don't get invited or aren't old enough to go to the dance?

Then they can have fun, be safe, be together as a group, and still be doing the right thing.

- Bro Jo

PS - Give my best to your family!

Getting a Dating Buddy

Dear Br Jo,

Alright, so I am one of those guys that tries to follow the church guidelines on dating. I have numerous girls that i want to go on dates with. I have asked most of them, with the ones not asked either being in a relationship, or unavailable for conversation. The part that i do not know how to determine is getting the additional people for the group date, just couples ruins the point, as they'll likely split off anyway, and trying to get another guy to invite a girl, is fairly impossible.

Also my contacts within the church youth is not all that great, regardless of whether they are available or not, they are too large of a distance, for me to be comfortable about their parents giving permission. Advice from later years would be greatly appreciated.

- Anon


Dear Brother,

My own boys have struggled with this very thing.

Sort of.

You want to go Casual Group Dating, but you can't get any other guys to go; so now what do you do?

Well that's part of "The Plan", and I think you might be more successful by broadening your friend base.

One of the things I don't think you understand is that, in Casual Group Dating you absolutely DO pair up. The guy-girl numbers need to be even. It's a D-A-T-E. So with that in mind, double or triple dating is enough.

Sadly, and one of the reasons I even started this column over a year ago, is because too many LDS Young Men don't date - at all.

You can try to encourage your brethren to participate, but there's no guarantee. And in your case, where most of your comrades live far away, it really does become nigh impossible.

But don't rule out the guys that have relationships, even the mis-guided LDS ones.

In fact, sometimes those guys with girlfriends are a better choice simply because they already know whom they're going to take out. My guys have said that their non-LDS pals, including those with girlfriends, have made some of the best dating buddies.

You don't have to be LDS to follow the Dating Rules, or to be a decent guy.

You need several dating buddies, and those numbers will go up if you widen your circle of friends.

- Bro Jo

Readers Note: Double Post Day!

Dear Readers -

Sometimes it happens:  Double Post Day!

The regular post will be at the regular time (7am, MDT), and the second will follow tonight at 7pm, MDT.

Enjoy!

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 19, 2010

To Prom or Not - Take 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello!

I'm sure you're probably getting a lot of prom questions.. So it probably seems like a broken record..

But as you might have guessed, I need some advice..!

Background info.. I'm 17 and I'm a Junior in High School. I haven't been on a huge amount of dates, but I have been on a nice amount with a variety of people.

Ever since I was little, I've always been excited with the idea of Prom. The whole idea of getting to dress like a princess for a night fascinated me.

Flash forward to Junior year.. I meet a Senior in one of my classes. He's freaking out because his girlfriend might be pregnant. I listen quietly as he freaks out, figuring that he just needs a good listener. To tell you the truth, the whole conversation made me a little uncomfortable, but if I were in the same situation I'd want people to be supportive.

Throughout the semester, he continued to tell me about his life, and I realized how different our lives were. The fact that I'm LDS came up, and we talked about my standards and the things that I choose not to do. The kid was shocked that I would WANTto save myself for one guy. He also didn't understand how I could live my life without all of the crazy parties every weekend. Knowing my standards he would bring it up all the time in a teasing way. "Oh yeah, you can't do that. you're mormon." I would correct him and say "actually, it's not that I CAN'T, It's that I DON'T"

He transferred out of the class at the semester, and I thought that was the end of that.

Over spring break, he started texting me again. Just normal conversation. I remained friendly but not flirty, because I didn't want him to get any wrong ideas. One night, around 12:30 am, he called and asked me to tell him where I lived so we could sneak out. I told him no, that it was past my bedtime, and that I needed to go to sleep. He kept begging, and I simply said "sorry, goodnight." and hung up.

The next day, he asked why. Again, I explained it.

I stopped talking to him for a few days. Out of nowhere he told me that he used to like me, but he decided he didn't anymore because I was too good for him.

He kept texting me, and I started being less and less friendly in my replies. He brought up the idea of me liking him and I tried to say that I didn't without hurting his feelings.. I knew he was down on himself, (his girlfriend just dumped him) and i felt bad, but i didn't want to have to reject him completely so I stuck to blunt one word replies.

Yesterday, he called me and said "Hey! So you know how me and my girlfriend broke up? Well... that kinda leaves me dateless for Prom. I was wondering if you might go with me?"

I told him I'd have to talk to my parents first and that I would let him know.

Honestly, I don't know what to say back to him. My parents said the decision is up to me. I would feel really bad saying no to him, (as I would with anyone else) but the idea of going to prom with him kinda gives me a sick feeling. He knows my standards, yet he still tries to push the limits (asking me to sneak out, and continuing to beg when I told him no)
I don't want to say no to the date, I haven't said no to ANY guy in the past and I've gone on some really fun dates with some great guys that a lot of girls wouldn't even consider saying yes to. But I can't decide if I SHOULD say yes to this kid or not.

Reading your entry "to prom or not" [Readers - see the original post HERE - Bro Jo] you said that the girl should go with the guy that had made mistakes in the past. I figured this situation was a little bit different though.

What do you think I should do?

- Bad Boy Magnet


Dear Magnet,

Yeah, I think this might be over that line between giving a guy a second chance and putting yourself in a bad situation. I don't get the sense that this is a kid who made some mistakes and wants to change his life, but rather that he's a kid who's trying to drag you into his world. He doesn't want to join you, he wants you to join him, and I think that makes all the difference.

If you did go, I'd say that following the Dating Rules is absolutely essential, especially being part of a group . . .

But given this boy's behavior, his constant pushing to get you to act outside your standards, and the myriad attempts he's made to put you into compromising situations (had you sneaked out, I believe you could have been in a Very Bad Situation), I think it's better not to go.

Yes, in general I think a girl should be open to dating most guys, but this one is an exception to the rule.

I think he's using you, or at least trying to.  Gratification?  Mark on his ego-checklist?  Bail him out of a date-less evening?

Probably.  Not that it matters.

Now, I'm much more heartless than you, so I don't think you should be concerned with hurting his feelings. In fact, I think it's in both his and your best interest that you give it to him straight "I'm flattered that you asked, and I want you to know that I didn't come to this decision easily, but I can't go to Prom with you. Frankly you just haven't done or said anything to give me the impression that you respect me or my standards."

And leave it at that.

I hope that there are decent boys at your school that are smart enough to ask you, but as I've written so many times, some times the best girls (and guys) stay home.

- Bro Jo


PS - I commend you for holding true, especially under all of this pressure. Remember, we gain a witness AFTER the trial of our faith. And I LOVE your line "it's not that I can't, it's that I don't" - brilliant!

Is he using her for mail?

Dear Bro Jo,

I have a question about some confusion that I have. There is a guy who I am writing while on his mission. I am not waiting for him, but he has told me that he wants to look me up when he gets home. Normally I would not be confused by such a simple situation, but once you know the story it will make more sense.

See this Elder and I dated before he left on his mission. We met before I was a member of the church and after I was baptized (the two are not related) we started going out and he asked me to wait for him. Of course we had also been talking about marriage after his mission and all that jazz. He broke up with me a few months later and than asked if he could look me up after he came home. We talked still and spent time together, with our friends naturally, and he would continually ask me if I was going to write him. Right before he left he had been "filling his canteen" with some other girl from our town, but he still wanted to look me up. I wrote him some letters when he was in the MTC and he wrote me back. Once he got out into the field though he hasn't written me a single letter. His younger brother tells me that this guy still wants to hear from me and enjoys getting my letters.

I just don't know what to think about it all really. One of my friends says that he is just using me to get mail and another is saying that I should let him look me up when he gets home. I really just don't know what to do.

From,

NA



Dear NA,

Is he coming home soon?

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

He gets home in a year.

NA



Dear NA,

I think it's too early to make a decision on whether or not you should see him. I can't tell if he's in love with you, using you as a safety net, or as your friend said: using you to get mail.

I find his asking you to wait, then breaking up with you and going out with someone else . . . all a bit suspect. I'm wondering if he's using his brother, or if his brother is trying to do him a favor . . .

My gut reaction is that you should cut this guy off. If he writes you, write back, but only if he's kind and the letters are appropriate. Keep your letters wholesome and non-committal.

And, by all means, date other guys.

With any luck you'll have found someone else before he comes home anyway, and the notion of letting him see you will be a moot point.

If, when he comes back, you're not seriously attached to anyone, and if this guy is someone you'd like to see, well you can consider it then. But for now I wouldn't worry too much about it.

- Bro Jo

Readers Note: Double Post Day!

Dear Readers -

Sometimes it happens:  Double Post Day!

The regular post will be at the regular time (7am, MDT), and the second will follow tonight at 7pm, MDT.

Enjoy!

- Bro Jo

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Readers Note: Prom

Dear Readers,

Here in the US most High Schools have a school year-end formal dance, colloquially called "Prom".  For most kids it's a pretty big deal.  The truth is that most cultures around the world have something similar.

(Here's a quick wiki link to the basics about Prom.)

It can be a big deal, and as such can be a time of heightened stress and feelings.  I've written several columns about it, which you can find by clicking this Sorting Link.

Over the next few days I'm going to be posting several letters addressing this event, and ones like it.  Those letters will typically be in addition to the regular letters.

I hope you enjoy them, and please, by all means, if you've no of anyone that's struggling with this time in life, assure them that all will be OK.  Perhaps send them the links to some of these letters and see if they don't find some helpful words, or at least feel a little better.

May the Lord Bless you All!

- Bro Jo

PS - You Guys and Gals out there may want to check out the following apropos notes on the Facebook Fan Page:

Bro Jo's HOW to ASK a GIRL to a FORMAL DANCE

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

Bro Jo's LIST of  STUFF YOUNG GUYS CAN ASK GIRLS ABOUT WHEN DANCING

Bro Jo's HOW a GIRL CAN GET a GUY to ASK HER on a DATE

and, of course, Bro Jo's DATING RULES for TEENS

Friday, April 16, 2010

Being Involved from Afar

Hi Bro Jo,

I'm not sure that you would remember me. I wrote to you many months ago about feeling like I didn't really want to get married. I think the post was entitled something like "The road less travelled...". I apologise that I never got back to you after reading your advice. At first I was a little annoyed about the comments about dressing to be a rebel etc. since I am really not like that. I am unremarkably average in that department. However I do see that with little information you had to speak generally, and I appreciate this.

So, the reason I write is to follow up. Recently I had a life changing experience (too special to share really) that cracked open my heart to the idea and doctrines of marriage. While I was never anti in general, I realised that I was really closing myself off. I realised that was self preservation after having been hurt badly a few times, but that my attitude was wrong. I am now on board with new determination and faith. It's a hard thing to feel humbled and changed and it isn't easy opening myself up to potential rejection and hurt but if I am never married it will not be my own fault.

So here is the thing. I am now doing everything I can do. I am attending YSA activities. I recently made some friends in the nearest large city and have been attending activities there and meeting people. I have the goal to go at least once a month. More if the practicalities of life allow. I have been meeting people and using some of your flirting techniques and tips - no real biters though and I think the problem is that I'm just not on site. Things tend to naturally fizzle with distance.

So what do I do about that? How do I keep 'em interested from afar? Will that happen naturally if the man is keen enough? I have considered relocating permanently and it's an option. But is not really practical or possible for a while at least because of some commitments I have where I live.

These may seem like silly little questions - but I could use any advice as I throw myself back into this process.

Thoughts?

On the road again. (That's a lame sign off - but the best I could think of.)



Dear On the Road,

I remember you! (and I like the signature)

And I'm grateful that you realized that I was speaking generally, and didn't mean to imply that you were dressing like a rebel; I was only talking about some of the things people do as a manifestation of how they feel.

So I'm glad to hear you're doing well!

I actually have a bit of experience regarding your latest dilemma . . . after some disastrous "long distance" relationships I swore I'd never date anyone that lived more than twenty miles away. Then I met and fell for a girl who lived further than anyone I'd ever liked before. We met working at the same place, and she went back to school . . . two states away! When she finally moved back home she was still further than anyone I'd ever dated (we commuted in opposite directions). Her house was a two-and-a-half hour drive away - each direction. But I really, REALLY liked her . . . so . . . long story short: we now call her Sister Jo. (So, what I mean to say is: I was keen enough, and I stayed interested.)

A relocation may be a very good idea, depending on your personal circumstances. I live in a predominantly non-LDS area, and my frequent response to the complaints from YSAs about there not being many possible dates here (which, by the way, is more an issue of their lacking than a lack of people) I tell 'em "Move! You want to be surrounded by tons of LDS singles, you need to go to where they are. You're not going to catch a trout in the desert! You won't find a kitten at the alligator store, and despite the slogan they don't sell love at McDonalds."

As far as keeping someone interested, what Sister Jo and I did was write. We're old, so the internet, cellphones and texting weren't options. We wrote by hand and sent care packages. Even with all of the modern conveniences I still think writing by hand is better. Getting a message by post, with the anticipation and the obvious way that hand writing a letter takes more thought and care, really can build a relationship in the way that email can't.

Talking to each other on the phone is good, too, but I think it's wise to let the guy do the calling (much in the same way that I endorse that, with very few exceptions, the guy do the asking out as well). Now it's perfectly acceptable for you to call a guy and say "hey, it's me, I just wanted to let you know that I don't call guys but I'd like to talk to you right now" and then quickly hang up before he can respond; that's the same thing as telling a guy he should ask you out.

Sister Jo says that there's a lot of power in being "afar". You don't want "out of sight, out of mind", but you don't want "hanging around all the time" either.

Good luck, and have fun!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To Prom or Not

Dear BroJo,

I know I've written to you before about trivial matters, and your responses really helped me out, so I hope you can help me again this time.

This guy, lets call him Guy 1, asked me out today at church right before our sunday school class started. I like Guy 1 so of course I said yes to going to Church Prom with him. I was excited since this was my first date and I really liked him and I had thought I wouldn't be going at all.

After Church however, he came over with another guy from Church(we'll call him Guy 2) whom I don't like much since he isn't a very good member. I try to stay away from him because I don't want to be influenced to do bad things. I try to hang out with the good members.

So Guy 1 comes over to me after Church and says that he can't afford the tickets and that he was sorry but that Guy 2 would be willing to take me instead.

Guy2 is standing right there and I've never been asked out so I sort of go on autopilot and say "sure whatever."

After all this occurs, once I get home, I start feeling sick so I try to get it off my mind that I accepted a date with a guy I don't really want to hang around with. So now I felt stuck because I'm not very good with hurting people's feelings, even when I don't particularly care for them.

Then my guardian who knows this guy starts talking a few hours ago about how she doesn't really think its a good idea for me to go to a prom with this guy. Shes afraid that if I let Guy 1 pressure me into going with Guy 2 other guys will do the same thing and I will end up dating guys who aren't good for me.

I decided to call my mom and told her everything and she agreed that I shouldn't go with this guy and my guardian is willing to say she grounded me for a couple of weeks. I think this is what I should do but I'm not sure and I prayed about it and suddenly you popped into my head.

Could you please give me your take on my situation?

The dance is in a couple weeks and my guardian says I should try to let him know before he buys the ticket so within the next couple days.

Thank you ahead of time.

- Reluctant Dancer


Dear Reluctant,

OK! I have questions:

1) What is "Church Prom"?

2) Do people go to this dance in groups or just 1 on 1?

3) When you say you don't want to date Guy 2, why is that, exactly?

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

1) Church Prom is a kind of modest prom for 16-18 year olds in our stake. An alternative for the school prom basically

2) Usually they go on group dates because its funner that way but not always. Sometimes they meet up with their friends at the dance instead of go with a group and they just go one on one.

3) Guy 2 has been known to do some bad things that I don't want to get mixed up in. His mom told my guardian about these things. Just last semester he was caught with alcohol at school and was suspended until the beginning of the second semester of school.


- Reluctant


Dear Reluctant,

OK. That helps

I'm suspicious of what Guy #1 did. At first blush it seems like he was being a nice guy: he can't go. . . he found someone else to take you . . .

But the more I think about it, the more I think the move was a little slimy.

1) He should have known the cost BEFORE he asked you (and how much could "Church Prom" cost, anyway?!? You know, if it's at the Stake Center or another Church Building they're not allowed, by Church Policy, to charge admission . . .

(I wrote a column last March about keeping formal dances affordable - read it HERE)

2) How lazy is this guy?!? Go out, get a job, and pay for Prom! Mow some lawns, shovel snow, have a bake sale, do something! (My oldest baked some brownies and cookies, sold them at local businesses around lunch time, and made $100 for Prom in 4 hours; he got the idea from his 10-year old sister who did the same thing to pay for her ballet costumes.)

3) Getting another date for you sounds more like either a) a set up, as if it was always his plan to have you go with his buddy, Guy #2, or b) more to ease his conscience than provide you a good date. I'll bet he knows what this guy has done just as well as you do; if Guy #1 was concerned for your thoughts and feelings he should have asked you if you'd like to go with Guy #2 before he set it up. The whole thing gets Guy #1 off the hook, and that makes his motives suspect.


As for Guy #2, I'm not sure you shouldn't go out with him.

Look, I don't think a girl should feel obligated to go out with a boy that's dangerous, but I don't think he fits that criteria. Yeah, he's done dumb stuff, but it's not like he's invited you to a beer bash with his buddies; this is Church Prom for gosh sakes!

What's wrong with going as a group and having this kid be your escort? If you and he and everyone in your group followed "Bro Jo's Dating Rules for Teens" where's the problem?

Are we going to condemn this guy forever because he screwed up? Haven't we all screwed up? Isn't asking a Good Girl to Church Prom a sign that he wants to be a better person, to hang out with better friends?

I say go.

Go in a group.

Have a good time.

Stick to the rules.

Give the guy a chance.

If your guardian has a problem, then she should be one of the chaperons at the dance.

(Have I ever mentioned how much it irritates me that more parents don't chaperon dances? Parents have a moral and ethical obligation to get to know as many kids the age of their children as possible. failure to do so is selfish and lazy.)

I think going under the circumstances I've mentioned is better than concocting a lie simply because you feel a little uncomfortable. What if it turns out he's a really nice guy and you have a great time?

What if you're right about him, he's a total loser, and you have a lousy time; on some level won't you still have done the right thing by giving him a chance?

Rather than send a message that "Reluctant only dates bad guys", I think you'll be sending the message "Reluctant is a nice person that goes on dates".

That said, if you really have decided not to go, your guardian and your mom are right, you need to tell him right away.

- Bro Jo

How Does a Girl Know if a Guy is Interested or Just Nice?

Hey Bro Jo,

I was reading through your Facebook notes (which are excellent, by the way) and I read the one about How a Girl Can Get a Guy to Ask Her on a Date. My friends and I (all of us are YSA-age) agree that we would definitely use these tips... if we were sure the guy was interested in asking us out in the first place (and just too shy or too afraid of rejection to do it without any signals from the girl). I know I'm probably speaking for a lot of girls out there when I ask: How can we tell if a guy is interested? I, for one, know I wouldn't want to use one of those tips only to find out that the guy wasn't interested in me in the first place. Are there any signs we should look for?

Also-- in that note, you say: "He likes you already! If he didn't he wouldn't be talking to you. We men can be that shallow, you know."

However-- how much "talking to you" constitutes an interest? Don't some people talk to others just because they're friendly, outgoing people?

Sincerely,

~ Ms. Over-Analytical (because I know I am... but I believe my questions are still valid.)


Dear Analytical -

Of course your questions are valid!

(And thank you for the compliment, by the way.)

The way that you find out if a guy is interested is to . . . (wait for it) . . . use the tips you mentioned! (Bro Jo's "How a Girl Can Get a Guy to Ask Her on a Date")

Rejection is part of the risk - there are no guarantees - at some point you just have to close your eyes and jump into the lake; order something new off of the menu; talk to someone you've never talked to before.

Invoke an attitude change. Make the risk part of the fun. Laugh and learn.

Now, that's not to say that you should run up to some stranger and start hounding him to ask you out. The stuff in the note is for guys you already know.

So perhaps what you need to do first is get to know some guys.

Start with a conversation. Go up. Introduce yourself. Ask him about him. Do that 3 or 4 times. If he seems interested, then go for it.

OK. How do you know he's interested?

When you talk to him, does he talk back? (Remember: Good Conversation is more about You Listening than You Talking.)

Does he ever make eye contact?

Does he smile when you say "hello"?

When you reach out to touch him on the arm, does he flinch or does he flush? (Flushing = Good, Flinching = Bad)

When you move closer as you're talking to him, does he run away?

Does he compliment you without you telling him to?

Does he ever initiate conversation?

Come on, girls, you're not in 7th grade anymore. Open your eyes and observe.

We men are EXTREMELY easy to read.


- Bro Jo


PS - Single Men DO NOT waste their time consistently talking to Single Women that they're not interested in.

Read that again.

Each word is chosen very carefully. Wrap your head around that and don't imply anything that isn't in there.

Go on; you can read it again.

It's true.

I promise.

(Seriously, didn't your moms teach you this stuff?)

Readers Note: Double Post Day!

Dear Readers -

Sometimes it happens:  Double Post Day!

The regular post will be at the regular time (7am, MDT), and the second will follow tonight at 7pm, MDT.

Enjoy!

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 12, 2010

Even the Best Girls Stay Home

Dear Bro Jo,

I have a lot of friends (both guys and girls and although I hate the word, I'd say that I'm popular [you'll probably give me flack for saying that]), and people tell me all the time that I'm really fun and chill to be around. People also say that I am a good listener. I've had a lot of people say that they are jealous of how outgoing, confident, friendly and funny that I am. I'm really involved in my school and community-Student Body President, National Honor Society, the two best bands in my high school, and a leadership program in my community.

I am a debater who has placed at state and have been on varsity tennis since freshman year. I wear nice clothes and take care of myself. I am very active in church, rarely missing a Stake or ward activity. My seminary teacher says that I am her favorite student even though she says she shouldn't have favorites. I have some REALLY good friends in my stake, and hang out with them as much as possible. I've had guys tell me I'm pretty and that they enjoy hanging out with me. I think that high school relationships are really stupid and most of my close friends know that, but I would love to just go on dates with boys.

I haven't been asked on a date--ever not even before I turned 16 (I live in a semi-rural area where this happens a lot). I turned 16 in July. I realize this is 6 months...but no guys have ever even told me they liked me. :[ The biggest problem I see is that I am overweight, probably 30 pounds. It is a problem I am working on--I was 25+ lbs heavier in 8th grade. I understand that fat is not attractive at all...but can guys really not see past that? Can you tell by what I said if there anything else wrong with me that is scaring away the boys? I really want to know. I don't want to have my first date in college...or never!

-Dateless in Montana


Dear Dateless,

I apologize for just now replying to your letter. The truth is that I thought I'd already replied. I'm not certain if I have, or if the letter just seems so familiar . . .

Even in our superficial world, simply being "fat" is not a deal-breaker. Sure, it's a good idea to keep working out and eating right and doing your best to take care of the body the Good Lord has sent you to occupy, so don't stop doing what you're doing about the weight. Don't do anything dangerous or dumb, like going out and getting yourself an eating disorder (seriously, if you find your self battling that, please, by all means, go get some help right away - I've had more than one friend anorexia themselves into the hospital - bad stuff), but working out and eating good food is brilliant.

But, while most guys your age won't see past the body, many will.

So, I have to ask, is it the guys that are being superficial, or is it you? Is it really that no one finds you pretty, or is it that you're not attracted to the guys that like you?

If you really are all that you say you are, then that leaves us with a) you're not nice, b) you're too judgmental of others, thinking you're too good for many of them, c) you project a lot of negativity (people like to be around - and that includes dates - others that are up-beat and fun and positive), or d) the guys in your area are cowards.

OK, all levity aside, it may be a bit of all of the above, but I'd lean towards D. I understand that girls want to go out (well . . . at least some of you), and I'm trying the best I can to help all of you from here, but if it doesn't happen right now for you, frustrating as it may be, just relax. Keep doing all the wonderful things you're doing.

Be Happy. Be Positive. And Be You.

Don't allow yourself to fall into the trap of thinking that your value is somehow tied to the attention that boys give you. You can't fret the things over which you have no control.

Check out a couple of my notes on the Facebook Fan Page, like:

Bro Jo's "How a Girl Can Get a Boy's Attention"


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


And hang in there! Lots of great girls don't go out much in High School (like Sister Jo, if you can believe it - I can't - she's a hottie!)

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 9, 2010

Speechless

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a very bad conversationalist, especially when I'm with people I don't know. I do okay with my friends, but even with my friends I'm shy. I feel awkward when I don't know what to say to guys at stake dances and other things.

I worry that guys won't ever like me because I'm so awkward and quiet. I try to be outgoing and funny, but I just end up looking stupid. I don't know what to do! I'm almost to dating age and I want guys to like me, but what guy would like a girl who doesn't say a word? What kind of things can I say and talk about?

What can I do to not be so quiet and awkward so guys will like me?

Sincerely,

Speechless



Dear Speechless,

Being a good conversationalist is an important skill, and for most of us it takes quite a bit of practice to develop it.

So, first of all, don't be too down on yourself - it takes time.

Secondly, worry less about being funny or outgoing (not everyone is a comic or a welcoming committee). Instead focus on being sincere. Think of conversations as an opportunity to learn; to learn more about you and more about the person with whom you're conversing. Ask them questions about them. Don't be to personal or "interview-y", but do listen to what they say so you can respond with an appropriate follow up. Being a good conversationalist isn't about cracking jokes, it's about listening and getting the other person to talk.

I wrote a column called "Stuff Guys Can Ask Girls About When Dancing"  - it really is a list that works both ways. Check it out!

Like anything in life, you'll become a more confident conversationalist if you practice, so get out there!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Boy Drama

Dear Bro Jo,

I don't even know where to begin.

I have written you before but let me just re-introduce myself. I am 18 and a freshmen in college.

At the beginning of this 2nd semester, after Christmas break, I got into contact with a guy that I liked and was friends with from the previous semester (I moved on from my high school friend like you had advised). He acted really interested in me and after a while of talking for the first time since last semester he asked me on a date. I thought he must really liked me if he asked me so quickly. Since then, we have talked and texted multiple times a day on the phone.

We went on a double date at the end of that week and the next day I had to head back to my home town for some family matters. While I was in my home town we talked everyday all day long. We finally admitted to one another that we really liked eachother. I would wake up in the morning to texts that he had sent at 2am telling me how he missed me and wanted me to come back sooner. When I got back we spent everyday together. The first night back he started holding my hand, later that progressed to "cuddling".

We went on several dates a week, many times with other couples as well. I soon found out that I would be making a trip to his hometown to visit a friend of mine that lives there as well, I invited him along because I knew he would want to go home. He made me promise him that I would at least hang out with him once while we were there because I had previously told him I would be going there to visit friends. But of course i agreed to hangout with him. He was the sweetest guy a girl could possible ask for.

He made me feel like the world and I loved it, I was falling for him harder than I wanted to. He constantly told me how much he liked me and when we weren't together he told me how much he missed me. I decided to start the "Determine The Relationship" conversation after a guy in my class asked me on a date. So I asked him what he thought we were relationship wise.

He responded with he thought we were and should just be "openly dating".He told me that he didn't want to date exclusively because there was only 2 more months left in the semester and by the end of the summer he would be leaving on his mission. I agreed. I thought there was nothing wrong with that, we could keep dating and having fun.

But I was still confused when he would tell me we were openly dating yet he spent every free time with me. To make a long story short, a week or so went by and we had another DTR. Except this time he brought up the fact that he still has feelings for his ex-girlfriend of two years.

That was a shocker. And probably should have been a big red flag for me to get out then. But I couldn't bring myself to do it. I loved the time we spent together and how he was so amazing to me. So I acted like it was no big deal. We became so close in the past month we had been dating.
Up until a week before leaving on our little road trip to his hometown, everything was awesome. Until we went on a date and he all of a sudden wouldn't hold my hand and just stopped talking to me.

I was so confused.

So we head out on our road trip and it was a great drive. Lots of deep conversations and laughing and singing. It was great.

When I was with one of the friends I was visiting, she asked me if he had kissed me yet.
I said no. She wanted to know why he hadnt yet so she texted him and asked him. His response was that he couldn't because he respected me too much. That was the end of that conversation....until we got back to our school and I asked him what he meant by that. He told me that he didn't want to lead me on. I asked him if he was saying that he didn't like me anymore. He said yes.

OUCH.

Another long story short. He tried to explain that he knew it had come down to either being exclusive or nothing at all because we had such a short time left at school so he decided to stop everything (without informing me of any of this by the way) and he also explained again about his exgirlfriend and his feelings for her (later I find out that he spent a lovely valentines weekend with her when we went to his hometown). He said that he didn't want any of this to ruin our friendship because I was his best friend at school.

I told him that I was extremely hurt and EXACTLY how i felt about what he did to me. I told him that I didn't know if I could talk to him for a while because of how much that hurt.

He seemed very upset about me even thinking about not wanting to be friends with him.
So my question is this.

Is there anyway you can decode this guy and tell me what his motives are by wanting me to be his best friend so badly?

As much as I want to tell him I can't just be friends with him, it hurts so much because I would be losing a friendship that had previously meant so much to me.

Thank you for your time,

Hurt and Hating it



Dear Hurt,

Really?!?

You think this guy needs decoding?

I think he's been pretty clear. (Albeit dumb, but clear.)

You're his Back Up. (If he was smarter he'd pick you over the girl he can't have - except that he's smart not to have a pre-mish girlfriend - but you're probably better off that he's a post.)

You're his Safety.

He's enjoying being out with You, but has clearly said he prefers Her.

And yet he wants to keep you in reserve.

I've got a nickel that says that when he comes back from the mission he'll consider dating you . . . IF the other girl is taken (or turns him down).

And I've got a dime that says you won't be available, or interested, either.

I know it hurts, but finding a Good Spouse at the end of all this work is worth all you go through to get there. Keep dating!

(You know, you may want to give my "Bro Jo's LEVELS of a RELATIONSHIP" a read. I think you were trying to jump to #7 too fast. Date everybody! Let them ask you to be exclusive, until then, as Sister Jo says: "don't put all of your eggs in one basket".)

Hang in there.  I promise the hurt goes away.

Well . . . at least it diminishes.

- Bro Jo


PS - Pay more attention to the Big Red Flags.

PSS - NOW do you believe me when I say that "Men and Women Can't Be Friends"?
:)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Ready, Set, Date!

Dear Bro Jo,

I've been reading this blog for many months now, and love the advice you give to us all; But now, I think its time I got some advice for myself before I put myself into a annoying or bad position. I'm about to 18 within a few weeks, and have been happily enjoying my LDS social life with my friends, but things have happened and now that fun might be short lived...

I have a number of LDS friends who have been in early boyfriend/girlfriend relationships for months now. Pretty much in the past few weeks most of those relationships have ended, but most of them are back together with someone else now anyway. I haven't had and don't plan on getting a girlfriend anytime soon, but unfortunately now the tables have turned on the odd boy out, being yours truly!

My friends have always being jokingly suggesting I get into a relationship and join the crowd, and I can easily brush them aside most of the time; Over the past two weeks however, while they get into there new relationships, they (My LDS Male Friends) have been increasing there efforts to get me into something abit more serious than just friends with any of the LDS girls; Already they are trying to set me up for a date to a church ball in September, and have started to try to get me to come on there now non-exclusive group
dates - I've had to decline every offer so far because of family and other commitments, but I realize I can't hide behind excuses forever.

I know that no matter who I ask though, they'll all start assuming I like her, and that within afew weeks we'll both be boyfriend/girlfriend, atleast to them all anyway - Something I want to
avoid...

What makes my problem worse is that I kinda do like this one girl - By the way she is acting around me, I say she has some sort of interest in me, but I'm not entirely sure. Regardless, all my male LDS friends are pressuring me to ask her, amongst a number of other girls, for there group dates! While I would like to get to know her abit more, I don't want to be forced into a position I don't want to be in, and no matter what I say after any date I go on, they won't let it down for months...

I guess my question is, what do I do? I personally would love to go on group dates with any girl, but the way my friends will act afterwards, I don't want to be annoyed with them until I go my mission...

-CGB


Dear CGB,

My friend it's time for you to start dating.

No more excuses and no more fear.

Your concerns about girls reading too much into a date is valid (we've had a very informative discussion along those lines going on the Facebook Discussion Board -

The key is to communicate up front.

It's simple, really.

"Hi! My buddies and I are setting up a quadruple date for this Friday. Any chance you'd like to be the date of a guy who's not looking for a girlfriend? I promise we'll have fun and I'll be a total gentleman."

That's it.

And don't just go on a couple dates - go on lot's of them! (Including a few with this girl you like.) Read "Bro Jo's Dating Rules for Teens" (if you haven't already), review them with your parents, ask me about anything that doesn't make sense, and then Go Man!

Don't worry about what your friends will say. True friends will be supportive, anyway, and if their not now, believe me, they will be once they see all the fun-without-entanglements you'll be having.  Talk to them before hand, tell them how you feel, get them on board by asking them to help you.

And have a Ball at the Ball!

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hugs

Dear Bro Jo,

What are boys thinking when they give hugs?

Because whenever I say hello or goodbye to my guy friends they give me a hugs, and on some occasions there will be two or three guy-friends in a group to give me a hug.  They never act jealous or if they are they are very good at hiding it and many of them have girlfriends.

And they all treat me like a sister which is actually pretty good because I'm not romantically attached to any of them.  And they are all non-members, but I have read in all your earlier posts that no boys want to hang out with any girls that they're not attracted to (was it physical attraction?, I can't remember) so why would they hang out with me then?

And the hugs, none of them are full body contact because they all know my standards, i.e. no swearing, dating till 16, group dating then anyway, no drinking, and all the other stuff.

Also, is it alright to give hugs?

Sorry if this is all over the place but thats kinda my thinking pattern.

From a protected girl...and loving it.


Dear Protected,

In every culture I can think of, a hug is either an expression of affection or comfort (or both). And ther are about as many different types of hugs as there are subtle, and not so subtle, overtones and ulterior motives.

The A-frame, the Arm-around-the-shoulder, the Quick-back-pat, the Handshake-pull-in, the Chest-bump, the Under-the-arms-hook, the Arm-in-arm, the From-behind, the Full-body . . . even the handshake, hi-five, and fist-bump are all variations on a hug.

Now, as for what a guy is thinking . . . It CAN vary depending on his age, the distance of the age gap between you, and the type of hug. When your Bishop puts his arm around your shoulder, or a young man offers his elbow to take as he escorts you onto the dance floor that's certainly different than when a guy at school hugs and lingers or some older guy stands so close he might as well be hugging you (even married guys can be creepers!).

While many may deny it, when a teenage guy hugs a teen age girl, no matter how casual or simple it may seem, what's he's most likely thinking is "Woo hoo! I'm touching a girl!"

The bad ones, the shy ones, the good ones, members, non-members, even the "gay" guys are all acutely aware of the girl they're hugging and excited by the physicality of touching her, even if just a little, even if it's not obvious to you (or them).

I hope I'm not being more blunt than you're comfortable with, but when these guys hug you, they're . . . well . . . aware of those curves that make a girl a girl. (Guys have radar for that stuff, in the same way that guys seem to know that a girls' clothing is more revealing than she probably realizes.)

And "Yes", that doesn't change even if they have girlfriends (or wives). [An honorable and aware man won't hug his non-wife inappropriately, and he'll look away instead of gawking, which admittedly is more and more difficult as clothing becomes more commonly revealing and girls seemingly less and less aware of what they're wearing. We're all still guys, and it can be a never ending battle, but worth fighting to do the honorable thing.]

The guys that are "hanging out" with you, even those that seem otherwise, find you attractive, on some level or another, typically physically, even if they don't realize it or ever do anything about it. They may deny it, but it's true.

And that's not all bad, by the way.

However, with all that in mind, I caution you (and all women, especially the young) against being too "huggy" (and hopefully by now you know what kind of hugs I mean), especially with boys (and men) that you have no intention of dating (nor should you ever).

I'm not saying "never", I'm saying "less".

- Bro Jo