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, May 31, 2010

The Pain of Loss

Dear Bro Jo,

My Godson just died.

I have a strong testimony of the Atonement, and of the plan of happiness, I really do. I just don't understand why then it hurts so much that he died... why I'm so lost.

I love knowing of the Atonement because now, I know that he won't have to be raised by a young single mom, but by an eternally married couple in the CK, but I'm still so sad, and it feels like my heart has been ripped out and torn to pieces.

What can I do to make this horrible pain go away?

He wasn't legally my son yet, I shouldn't be feeling like this... How can I make it just stop?

Thanks!

"Les Peches"



Cher Peches,

My heart is with you at this time of loss and pain.

It's OK, even good, to be sad. Even though you have a strong testimony, and you know that you'll get to see him again, you miss him . . . and you love him . . . that's why it hurts so bad.

I don't have a way to make the pain go away, and I'm not certain that it ever will completely vanish . . . but it will probably lesson with time.

That won't mean that you miss or love him less, but as time marches on you'll be better equipped to deal with the loss.

And some days will be better than others.

Sister Jo and I almost lost a child to a drowning accident eight years ago. He survived, but it was a very personal and traumatic experience (I pulled him out of the water and Sister Jo resuscitated him then he was life-flighted to a children's hospital). I couldn't watch movies where someone drowned or nearly drowned without breaking down for a couple years. Even now it's still a bit difficult. But it's better than it was.

I know that's not exactly the same thing, but I think it has a parallel.

Other than time, the only other thing I can think of the help is something you've already realized: the value of gratitude. I know it can be difficult, especially in times like these, but keep finding the things for which you can be grateful. Whether it's the knowledge of Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness, or that today the son shone to warm the earth or the rain fell to water to help things grow.

Gratitude is a matter of perspective.

And just know that, as you rediscover joy, you will be honoring your loved one because, even though they miss us, too, they want us to be happy.

- Bro Jo

Friday, May 28, 2010

Makeup?

Dear Bro Jo,


I'm one of those girls who don't wear makeup or is into fashion and all that. I'm almost 14, but I'm a little worried that no guy is going to ask me out when I turn 16, or next year to the school formal (that's like prom - I live in Australia). The thing is, I'm not that pretty to begin with. Should wear makeup or anything like that so guys will think I'm pretty and ask me out when I'm older? I know I shouldn't worry about that now, but I just want to get the question out of the way so I don't have to worry. It's a dumb question, but I kinda feel ugly around guys and I hate it. Can you suggest anything?

- One of THOSE girls



Dear Little Sister,

A) You have lots of time before you become dating age, so you're right - you shouldn't worry too much about this.

B) Beauty really "is in the eye of the beholder" - different guys are attracted to different things about different girls. Every girl / woman has things about her that are pretty . . . eyes, skin, smile, legs, attitude, laugh, talent, testimony, hair . . . each of us is charged with doing the best with what we've got.

Does that mean a little make up?

Maybe.

But not necessarily.

My personal taste is that most gals can benefit from some eye-enhancement and concealer, and shiny lip gloss can be helpful, too; I think the best makeup is when, after applied, the lady doesn't look like she's wearing makeup - and THAT, my young friend, is a true skill indeed! (No one, IMHO, BTW, is better at that than Sister Jo. But just because that's what I like doesn't mean that's what everyone likes. I stopped dating more than one girl because I thought she wore too much makeup, but you need to find what works for you. Experiment a little and, if anything, error on the side of "less is more".)

C) It's not a dumb question. I suspect many, many girls around the world feel exactly as you do.

You may want to check out "Bro Jo's HOW a GIRL CAN GET a GUY'S ATTENTION" -  and take a look at the Facebook Discussion Board under "What do guys look for in a girl" -  you may be surprised at what some of the guys have said . . .


- Bro Jo

PS - I suspect many of the guys your age think that you're, as my boys of the same age put it, "not painful to look at".

:)

[READERS: Checkout our related Facebook Discussion "Looking Your Best" HERE!]

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Power of Prayer AND . . .

Dear Bro Jo,

Last night we had a Stake Dance. It was really fun and I got asked to dance by a bunch of guys. One guy didn't exactly ask me, but my friend and his friend started dancing, and then we looked at each other and without saying a word, put our hands out to each other and started dancing.

He is friends with a guy in my ward, so he's not a member of the Church, but he is Lutheran (which I think is still Christian), so he's a really nice, good guy.

We talked about various things and smiled at each other a lot and I felt like we made a connection. I had prayed earlier that day before the dance that guys would ask me, and they did, and I also prayed that I would dance with a guy that I could feel a connection with, and someone I could like.

I know my prayers were answered, and I can't stop thinking about him. I'm praying nonstop that I'll know what these feelings are, because I've never felt this way before, and I'm praying that he would feel the same connection I did. I'm only 14, so I know I can't date yet.

But, I just really want to get to know him better. I'm hoping that he'll come to more Church activities with the boy from my ward, but if he does I don't know what to do or say. I'm just confused. Like, I just don't know how to feel or what to think.

- S


Dear S,

I love the first half of you letter! What a great testimony of the power of prayer!

But I think you need to back WAY OFF on the Boyfriend Thing.

There's nothing wrong with having a crush, and certainly nothing bad about getting to know this boy better. You should get to know him! And the best way to do that is to talk, build those communication skills!



He's got a lot about him that you like, and that's OK.  This time in your life is when you get to know what type of guys you're attracted to, and that's a big part of what you're feeling.

But as you head into your "Casual Group Dating" years you want to avoid any specific commitments. I know the trap: girls (and women) can convince themselves that their individual worth is tied to or bolstered by being in a relationship, and that's just not true. Having a boyfriend doesn't mean that you have more value (neither does not having one mean that you don't have value).

So get to know this boy, and get to know other boys too!

Have fun!

- Bro Jo


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Casual Group Dating - Not Just for Latter-day Saints

Hey Brother,

My family recently moved away and I stayed behind so I can finish school. I'm turning 17 in a couple of months by the way, and I am Male, just so you know.. haha. . So in my new ward, there are no laurels.

I've only been here about a month and I hang out with the young women in my ward a lot.
Well there are a few problems I suppose.. One of the girls and I just click really well!.. its so different to anything i've ever felt, its amazing, and good. (she is the oldest out of the young women, and will be turning 16 soon)

Well anyway.. We both have feelings for each other, and we both respect the rules and standards. We understand that when she is old enough to date, we should be group dating. The only thing is that there are no other girls old enough to date, and so I'm a bit confused about what to do..

any thoughts?



Dear Brother -

Casual Group Dating does not need to be an "LDS Only" activity; there are lots of good kids out there that will have no problems abiding by the Dating Rules, that would love to go on some Casual Group Dates - heck, who wouldn't?

(OK, actually, I've been quite surprised at just how many "who wouldn'ts" are out there. My own boys, who are about your age, have become so frustrated with the cowardice of their fellow priests, the lack of encouragement by the parents of those priests regarding dating, and the wishy-washiness and flakiness of some of the Laurels in our Stake that they've become quick to include their buddies and to ask out non-member girls - most of which has turned out quite successful.)

Expand your circle of friends, encourage your fellow priests and non-member buddies to Casual Group Date. (If they're shy, un-educated, or don't understand the reasons they should be dating, send them my way or have them check out the Notes on the Facebook Fan Page; if they're still hesitant, ask them to do it if for no other reason than to help you out as their buddy.)

Regarding this girl, let me say a few things.

1) Be Smart. She may be someone that you turn out to be with for a very long time but, as I sense you realize, getting too close now could mess up things both now and in the future.

2) Be Communicative. Let her know that it's BECAUSE you like her that you see it as important to keep it Casual right now. Girls want the confirmation of their Worth and Value that they convince themselves having a Boyfriend provides. (I fight that battle every day.) Help her to understand that you pairing off with other girls and her pairing off with other boys for Casual Group Dates is because you both want to follow the council of the Prophet, not because you want to kiss other girls. In the same way that dancing with someone else at a Church Dance is a way to include others in the activity and to be nice, rotating whom you escort does the same thing. Assure her that you have no intention of ANYONE being your serious Girlfriend (and, if you feel so inspired, it may be OK to tell her that, if you were going to have a Girlfriend, it would be her, but I have to tell you, Braden, I advise against doing that - it's too close to the real thing).

3) Be Focused. Graduation. Mission. Marriage in the Temple. In that order. And let her (and any other girls you may encounter) what the order is for you. As much as a Young Woman wants a Boyfriend, she wants an Eternal Companion much, much more. I promise.

4) Be Aware. Know yourself and your surroundings. Don't put yourself into the way of temptation. Ask yourself if you feel about her the way you do because of, oh, I don't know . . . loneliness? teen-age hormones? the fact that there aren't many Laurels around? you like the attention she gives you? she's, well, as my boys say "very easy to look at"?


Get yourself a few Good Buddies, Wingmen, if you will. Get Familiar with my Dating Rules; make some plans and commitments.

Let me know how it goes.

- Bro Jo

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Invisible Girl

Dear Bro Jo,

Just for the record, I am 14, soon to be 15

I know that girls my age shouldn't be worrying about guys at all yet, but this is something that has been on my mind, and I think you can help me feel better about it.

Whenever I go to church dances, EFY, etc., I see everyone around me with someone. Unfortunately, guys don't notice me. I don't even know why. I'm not trying to be something I'm not, I take care of my appearance, and I try to socialize, but I just get ignored. At EFY, when everyone else in my group had an escort, almost every single time, I had to be the one to ask if I was going to be escorted. I feel like I'm invisible, and it's taking a serious toll on my self esteem.

Again, I know I shouldn't be worrying about this yet, but what if it stays like this the rest of my life, and I end up 30 and still not married? I'm a pretty shy person, but that's no reason for people to ignore me. It makes me feel horrible about myself.

Please help, Bro Jo!

-Invisible Girl


Dear Sue Richards,

(that's a comic book reference for all of my fellow geeks out there)

Some of the most beautiful, highest value girls I've ever known didn't get much attention from guys when they were your age (Including Sister Jo! Can you believe it?!? Me either!) - so don't let it stress you out.

No matter what happens you'll always be a Daughter of God, and as such are imbued with Great Worth.

That said, I know what a boost it can be when others make us feel attractive and valuable . . . we shouldn't look outside for our internal value, but we do.

What you need to do is find those things about yourself that make you unique: your talents.

We all have them, I promise. Without even meeting you I know that you can do several things better than I can! It's just the nature of life.

So, don't be too humble here: make a list of the things you do well, and then look at what you can do to magnify one or two of those things at a time. As we magnify our talents we realize our worth and feel more confident and, most importantly, more grateful for that which we have been given.

It's too early to worry about marriage, but not to early to see the value in doing the best with what you've got and learning how to talk and flirt with the opposite sex. Check out "Bro Jo's HOW a GIRL CAN GET a BOY'S ATTENTION" and see if following those things doesn't help you to get a little more noticed.

Be Patient, and know that Heavenly Father knows you have value . . .

and so do I.

- Bro Jo

Friday, May 21, 2010

Porn and the Girlfriend

Dear Bro Jo,

I really could use some help right now! I have 2 "problems" that I'd like to ask your advice on, and since your so blunt, I think you could really help me out!

Firstly, I'm 17 years old, male and been a member of the church for nearly 5 years.

1st problem.

Last weekend a friend of mine (female), visited me from another ward, she slept in my room with one of my sisters for the weekend, and I slept in my sister's room.

On Saturday morning, Sunday morning and Monday morning she came into the room where I was sleeping, cuddled up to me and we "made out", yea I know, bad move, which it really was, if my mother had not woken up on the Monday morning I honestly believe that something more could/would have happened.

She is a lovely girl, shes been a member all her life, her parents, however, are not nice people towards there children, so her testimony is not very strong.

I realize that I was also in the wrong and that I should not have let it happen. So my question is, how can I tell her that the making out should stop and also strengthen mine and her testimony of the Church?

2nd Problem.


A few months ago, I started watching Pornography, and, as the church says, once you start its really hard to stop by yourself, but whenever I think about talking to my bishop (I work quite closely with him, because I'm the oldest young man in my ward, his home teaching companion and 1st assistant to the bishop), I start to feel scared as to what he might think. So, have you got any advice on how I can past the fear?

Thank you so much for reading my email

From,

A Struggling Brother!


Dear Struggling,

Man up and go talk to your Bishop.

Now.

Make the call at this very moment and set an appointment.

. . .

Blunt enough?

Look, my Brother, I'm serious. You should never allow what someone thinks of you to keep you from the Spirit.

Whether it's ridicule or disappointment, fear or fashion, not repenting is WAY WORSE than repentance.

Your Bishop can help you overcome the hold Satan is placing upon your heart in ways that no one else can. I promise you you're won't be the first person to ever talk to him about pornography addiction, and sadly not the last, either . . .

Look at the moral peril it's putting you in!

You do see that your two problems are intertwined, right?!?

To spell it out, if you weren't spending so much time with the porn, you'd be better able to resist the temptations of the girl.

(By the way, while I absolutely don't think you should tell her, don't you think your girlfriend would be pretty turned off to know that, in some way, you were using her to gratify yourself because you've been looking at, well . . . ?)

Look, I don't often speak ill of parents, but shame on yours for allowing this girl to stay overnight at your home. I say that not for their benefit, but the benefit for other parents that read this column, and for you and other kids so that you won't make the same mistake when you're parents.

That said, I think you need to get your folks in the loop when it comes to your porn addiction and moral problems; talk to your Bishop about it, I think he'll concur.

Because you all live together, they'll be able to help you make your Home a Sanctuary, a place where you can feel safe in the Spirit.

To be specific to what you've asked, as far as the girl is concerned, just talk to her in a non-romantic/sexual setting (i.e: not in a car, or alone in your room), tell her you think she's wonderful and that you have certain spiritual goals that are in jeopardy if things between the two of you don't cool down. Tell her that the kissing (and other stuff) are not things that you require or expect of her.

And set some rules and boundaries.

No more staying over at your house.

No long periods of alone time.

Nothing horizontal.

Date in groups.

In the same regard, set some boundaries to keep you safe from the porn.

Move the computer out into a public room of the home.

Get plenty of rest.

No computer if no one else is at home.

Don't stay up too late.

Make scripture study and prayer a daily part of your life.

You're not without hope! Don't give up!

Now, if you've read this far and still haven't called the Bishop, have a prayer, and make the call.

- Bro Jo


PS. Seriously. Right now.

PSS. Go already. The longer you wait, the harder it will be. Jump in the cold water. Rip off the bandage. Get the shot. Make it happen cap'n.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Writing a Missionary

Hey Bro Jo,

Thanks for your dedication to helping the young people of the Church figure out some of their problems, even though I don't always agree with everything you say, I do appreciate it.

I turn 19 this year- and so do most of my friends, which means the time is ripe for boys to start going out on their missions. I don't have too many male friends in the church, but I have a few friends out on missions and a few more leaving soon. I've been wondering for awhile about writing missionaries- what the various norms and protocols are. I don't have much schema for these things as both my parents were adult converts and I'm the only active member in my family, and have been for some time. I'm not sure if these are questions that only I have, or if many girls are unsure of missionary writing protocol, but I could certainly use your help!

My questions about the topic are rather numerous...

Who do I write? Missionaries that I was friends with before they left? Missionaries who were in my family ward, but I don't really talk to? Missionaries that I met at EFY and I'm friends with on Facebook so I know their mission addresses, but haven't talked to since EFY? (Too creepy? What if they don't remember me?) Is there a certain friendship/acquaintance level that denotes what boys I should write when they're on their mission and how often I should write them?

How often do I write? Should I write one a week, a month, or a quarter? Does how often I write depend on how much I have to say? On how well I know the person I'm writing? How much is too much?

Does writing a missionary need to be constant correspondence? Can I just write one letter and be done? Is it rude to receive a reply letter from a missionary and not answer it promptly? Doesn't that lead to constant letter writing?

What about emailing a missionary? How does that work? If a missionary has an email account should I email them more? Less? How do you decide what to email and what to write in a letter?

What do I say?! Especially when writing regularly? Do I talk about my life? How many questions should I ask about his life? (As you can tell I am very inquisitive). Is it cheesy to include spiritual stuff? How to I encourage and uplift my friends on missions without sounding "holier than thou" or like I know what they're going through?

Those are my general questions, I also have more specific ones about a situation I am in. Last year, I was visiting the hometown of a guy I had met at EFY a year before. We hadn't talked much before then, but we met up while I was there. It ended up being one of those ambiguous date/non-date/almost date situations that extremely frustrating. After I returned home, we started texting and talking a lot. We clearly liked each other, but knew that nothing could come of it as we were both against long distance relationships. Regardless, many months of flirtatious texting ensued.

Last summer, before we entered college, I took a roadtrip with some friends that included a stop in his town for a few days (it may have been our main destination, but we went other places too!). During this time, I realized that I actually wasn't that interested in him romantically, but the extent of his feelings for me also came out, which were much greater than I expected. Since then, we've remained in contact, but not so much as before. Recently, he left on his mission. Before he left, we had talked about me writing him and he had mentioned something about how I would have a good excuse to not date weird guys because I would be able to tell them I was writing a missionary.

I didn't think I had given him the impression that I would be writing to him in a romantic sense- in fact I had adamantly expressed my opinions to him that girls should not wait for missionaries or write to them as girlfriends, future wives, etc. Just to clarify, before he left I wrote him an email letting him know that I probably didn't feel as strongly about him as he felt about me, (which, admittedly, may have been a bit presumptuous, but I didn't get the impression that his feelings had changed since summer) and we would see if in two years we could date, but it's not something to be hoping/wishing/dreaming of. I let him know that I didn't want to be a distraction to his mission, but we'd write as friends. Since he left, we've been both writing and emailing, but predominantly emailing because the mail takes so long to get to and from an overseas mission. So, I'm hoping for your advice and opinions- How do I write him and encourage him on his mission without becoming a distraction? Do you see any red-flags with our friendship and writing each other (aside from summer roadtrips- I realize that that would not have been Bro Jo approved)? Any other good tips for writing this missionary?

Sorry for the large amount of content, and thank you so much for all your help!

-Correspondence Clueless


Dear Cora,

(Get it?!?)

Thank you for the kind words; even Sister Jo doesn't agree with me all the time . . .

It's a good and thoughtful letter, and I appreciate the opportunity to get all of this down in one place, so here we go!

1) Which missionaries should you write?

Relatives first (brothers, cousins, nephews); guys you know better than others next (home ward brothers, guys from seminary, boys you dated but never hated); miscellaneous guys last.

2) How often should you write?

This is not just a question of how often, but how often he writes back, and how close you are. You can never write your sibling too often; once a week is great! But a "guy friend"? Hmmm . . . more often than monthly seems too frequent. If he's writing you that often, he doesn't seem to me to be as focused as he should be.

3) What should I write about?

Write pro-mission, hang in there, how's it going, what is your area like, how are the people letters. Nothing mushy, flirty, or along the lines of "too bad you're there and not here" letters.

4) Is it OK to email?

In my opinion, no. Too much like chatting in person. Plus, the actual letter can serve as a memento and give opportunities for contemplation that the "instant-ness" of emails doesn't. I think you need to quit the emailing and be patient for the letters. I get the sense that you're emailing so much that it's more like chatting on-line - that's WAY TOO MUCH contact and distraction.

The biggest Red Flag is if you fail to go on lots of dates while he's gone.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cheese Wants to Date

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi again!!! OK so I actually have two situations, one is dating concerning other is friend concerning.

I'll start with the friend concerning. What can you do when you have a friend who is so imature and wont listen to you if you want to help her??

Dating: we don't have a lot of LDS here where I live, that means there are not a lot of young men and the ones we have are either too you, too older too bad or taken. what are your options when you want to date but all the people in your ward are as bad as non-members???

And you try your stake guys but most of them are older or younger???

And you want to experience dating because you don't want to get married with the first man you see. the thing is that I want to go to a mission, my parents support me, and is a wish I always had since I got baptized, my mom doesn't want me to date a lot because she doesn't want me to "hook" with someone and lose all hopes on going on a mission and get married with that man.

I told her dating is different from actually a steady relationship, she is convinced of that but then she told me that if I dated they have to be worthy members which there are not a lot around here, or they are but as I told you before: taken, older, or younger.

So do I wait until I go to BYU which will be like in 3 or 4 years???

Or do I wait until after my mission to date?

Which will be too old and I told you before I want to date a lot before taking the big step.

-Cheesy (as in cheese)


Dear Cheese,

Sorry for the two month delay!

But here we go:

Item 1) What can you do with a friend who won't listen to your advice? Stop giving it. Unless a person is in serious danger (or our child), we shouldn't be jumping in and offering unsolicited advice, no matter how much they may need it. It's tough. You care about her, and you're probably right that she could use your help - some friendships and relationships (like between Sister Jo and I) are at a level where advice giving is openly OK and even then consistent badgering can be unwelcome - but your friend seems to have made it clear that you should mind your own business, so that's exactly what you should do.

Item 2) As far as dating, I agree that once you're 16 you should be out there Casual Group Dating, but you need to obey your parents, too. Keep talking to your mom about the subject. Don't try to wear her down with incessant pleading, but share with her how you feel about the Good Guys and Bad Guys at school. Share your concerns, hopes and dreams about marriage. Parents can seem very irrational to teens, and perhaps we are. Parenthood can be vary scary, and because we care so much, because we fear making a big mistake, we often go overboard. Share the Dating Rules with your mom, discuss them, and see if there's a way for you both to come to a level of comfort and understanding.

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pay

Dear Bro Jo,

When you take a girl on your first date is it appropriate to pay for them?
and what is a reasonable price range?

- New Guy


Dear New Guy,

Every time you take a girl out you're expected to pay.

Price range is irrelevant, but typically I tell my guys to not make Casual Group Dates too expensive.

A fun, creative date can be free, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Just don't be "cheap".

- Bro Jo

Monday, May 17, 2010

Getting Guys to Dance

Dear Bro Jo,

So, I'm 14 years old and I've been to like, 5 dances since I turned 14. My friend lives in another Stake than I do and she says that guys ask her to dance all the time, and it's rare that girls ask guys to dance in her Stake.

In my Stake, it seems like I do almost all the asking, and pretty much if I don't, then I don't dance that song. I don't really know whether guys ask other girls, or they ask them, but it seems like right when the song starts, everyone automatically pairs up. I'm not 'unattractive' in my point of view. I'm not stinky, I don't act weird, I dress with 'style'... I can't figure out why I'm not the one getting asked! Is there something I'm doing wrong? How can I get guys to ask ME, instead of me asking THEM?

-Confused



Dear Confused -

Yeah, what you're doing wrong is doing "almost all the asking" - knock it off! The wimpy guys in your Stake don't have to ask you to dance because you're making it too easy for them.

Talk to your Bishop, your Ward and Stake YM Presidents, and the fathers of the boys you like and tell all of them that you're disappointed that the boys in your Stake don't ask you to dance. It's the responsibility of those men to teach the boys to man-up, grow up, and (as we say in Montana) cowboy-up; the boys need to start acting like men.

If you don't get any support from those guys, if they try to turn things back on you ("if you want to dance, why don't you do the asking?") then you have them contact me for a good lecture on what it means to be a man.

Find out who the DJ is going to be (perhaps by getting yourself on the Stake Dance Committee) and tell them that you'd like this next dance to have lots of slow songs played, at least one every third song.

Then, as the next Stake Dance approaches, before the day of the dance, hint to a few boys you know that you'd like to dance with them. "Hey, if you're at Friday's dance you should make sure you ask me to dance with you".

And get all of your girl friends to do the same.

- Bro Jo

Friday, May 14, 2010

Getting a Dating Buddy - Take 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for the excellent advice last time. I have another issue. I'm really interested in doing a lot of casual group dating; my goal is two per month but I'm in desperate need of wingmen!

As you have noticed, teenage guys tend to have very little desire to properly spend time with the women-folk. I've tried persuading everyone one of my friends who is 16+ and none of them are ever willing to exhibit the necessary commitment and dependability.

I've offered to all the driving and most the planning, I've set an example, I've tried everything I can think of all to no avail. I don't think it's too scary for them or too expensive so I'm pretty sure it's just apathy that's keeping them back.

How can I get my friends to have a desire to go on group dates?

- Daring to Date


Dear Daring,

My oldest boy had the same problem until his next-younger brother turned 16. Until that time he was the driving force behind just about every active priest's first (and only) date in our tri-ward area. Just like you he was regularly frustrated by the thriftiness, feigned indifference, and fear shown by his pals. He expanded his dating-buddy circle to include non-members, often having the best success by encouraging the guys with girlfriends to take those girls out. Now, with the younger brother as wingman, it's much easier. They've tried including other guys, but have found very little success.

I'd give a little more credit to fear than you do; I think apathy is a smokescreen. If they don't ask, then they can't get turned down, so it's safer to act like you don't care.

And, let's face it, despite all their talk to the contrary, not all Young Women are interested in dating.

We live in an area where the LDS segment of the population is a relatively small percentage, and my boys have been disappointed at how flaky (cancelling the date 24-48 hours before when he calls her to confirm the pick-up time and details) and unwilling (it blows my mind how many girls, whatever their reason may be, aren't willing to enjoy a "free" dinner or movie) many of the Laurels in our town are. It's to the point now when they'd RATHER take out non-member girls than the girls from Church.

One thing you can do is to minimize the rejection. This requires good planning done well in advance.

When you're planning a date for yourself you can enlist the help of the girl you'll be escorting. It goes like this:

"Hi! So I've been thinking about how great it would be to take you out on a Casual Group Date next month, but I'm having a tough time putting together a group. I have an idea: would you be willing to get two girls who are willing to go, and I'll line up two guys to ask them?"

See what's going on there?

You're asking her out AND eliminating the group problem at the same time. It's much easier to talk a shy or inexperienced guy into a date if you can specifically identify a girl who's willing to go with him. When you call your buddy, you simply say:

"Hey, I'm setting up a Casual Group Date with (insert name of girl here). She says she's got a friend who's willing to go; I need you to be that girl's date."

Review the Dating Rules with everyone to make sure they're on board, get the plan solid, and away you go.

Life is always harder on the pioneers than those that follow, but someone's got to blaze the trail.

If not you, then whom? If not now, then when?

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Juliet in a Jam

Dear Bro Jo,

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to write to you! You must get so much feedback and so many questions so I really appreciate your time...

My boyfriend (lets call him Romeo) and I have been dating for a little over two years and they have been filled with happiness! We began casually dating a few months after I turned 16, our relationship slowly evolved and we became best friends before we then decided to begin dating exclusively.

We are both currently going to college; he is 20 and I will be 19 shortly. We have been talking about the possibility of marriage for a while now and I have prayed about it earnestly. I have a really peaceful feeling when I envision our lives together and after watching the way Romeo interacts with his family over the years, I know that he will treat me in a similarly respectful and loving way.

My parents relationship couldn't be more different. There is no respect or love between them and sometimes I feel like I have missed out and that I am disadvantaged. The church doesn't play a big role in my home. Normally I go to church on Sundays alone. When the subject of marriage has come up in conversations with my mom she has always been adamant that I finish my undergraduate degree before I get married. (Ideally, she doesn't want me to get married until I am 25.) I can understand her hesitation after her experiences with my father, but should I completely disregard my own ideals about my future because of this?

Romeo also won't be going on a mission, which really troubled me for awhile. However, I have prayed about it (and so has he) and I have felt more comfortable with this decision. He is not a US citizen and is in the process of gaining permanent residence here in the US. Going on a mission (especially if outside of the country) will really hurt him in regard to his visa. We have both agreed that we would like to serve a mission together as adults and we have put it on our "to-do" list!

I don't want to hurt my mom, but I am an adult now and as such, I want to approach this situation in a mature and respectful way. I value my mom's ideas and I know that she only wants the best for me in the long run, but I'm not sure if that is the right thing for me.

Another opinion would be great! Thank you so much!

Juliet in a Jam :(


Dear Juliet -

The visa complication may be one of the few situations where I agree that a mission may not be a good idea . . . except that Romeo could leave from his home country, or take the risk, AND . . . I'm having trouble understanding how a 20 year-old man could be living in a country for 2+ years (I'm guessing much longer) WITHOUT a visa (unless he's got some kind of educational visa now, and your marriage would certainly shore up the permanent residency issue . . .) but all of that could vary greatly depending on where he's from and where you both live now.

So let me ask: are you two talking Temple Marriage? Is that an option?

I'm not clear on whether or not your parents are still married, but regardless, if they're not . . . "able" at this time to attend a Temple Sealing, that could be a big part of where their opinions are coming from . . .

Look, it's never my intention to steer a reader away from the opinions of their parents. The exceptions only happen when the reader is trying to follow the commandments and a parent (or two . . . or three . . .) is objecting to that course of action.

IMHO a mission for an LDS young man is Highly Recommended.

But it's not always the right path for everyone.

I'd like to have you fill in some of the missing pieces, but my gut reaction is that if a) the mission is a non-option, b) you're both ready and worthy for an Eternal Marriage, and c) you both speak to your Bishop and discuss your concerns and plans and he's on board . . .

Then I'm going to side with God and the Prophets on this one and say that you should not put off a marriage and family for worldly reasons. Read the Proclamation on the Family and make sure you and your intended are prepared to meet your Spiritual and Temporal Obligations. Do your best to continue and complete your education (and recognize that is difficult but not un-doable once you begin having the children that should not be put off). You may also want to read "Bro Jo's 5 A's of Why Not to Marry" and give your guy (and yourself) an honest assessment. You may also want to watch at least the first 15 minutes of "Up" (see "Bro Jo's List of Best Dating Movies") for a great example about how our "to do lists" often work out.

Lastly, out of respect for your mom, when the two of you actually Do Decide to get married (notice that you're not exactly there . . . yet) talk to her, listen respectfully to her concerns, and tell her that you love her. Ultimately, Juliet, that's what she needs to hear. Spouses come before parents, but no matter how unreasonable, unrealistic, or unfair a parent may be they still deserved to be honored and loved. (Although, while it doesn't seem to apply here, let me publicly state my opinion that an Abusive Parent deserves none of the above, so long as the abuse is real.)

Jam on, Juliet.

- Bro Jo

Monday, May 10, 2010

What does it mean when he stares?

Hi Bro Jo!

I am writing you from Geneva Switzerland..

Maybe you ll find my question a little weid but.. let's go. There is something.. I don't understand. What does it mean when a boy is looking a you without speaking to you ???

Thanks for the answer.

PS : I am 30.. but still need advices...



Hello Geneva!


It could mean lots of things . . .

You need to consider:

How far away is he?
(or how close?)

What's the expression on his face?

Have you met him before?

Is there something in your hair?

Do you remind him of someone?


Generally speaking, it means he finds you interesting to look at.

I hope that's good!

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

hahah thanks for the answer ! it's funny !

ok, I am single girl. So sometimes those boys know me a little bit. I think that I can speak to thoses guys because I am shy..

I would like to but sometimes feel very shy with this.

How can I do ?

I think guys in the church are shy. Don't they ?



Dear Geneva,

Some times you just have to face your fears (or your shyness) in order to succeed in life.

The next time you catch a guy staring at you, go up to him and say "hello".

If he asks you why you came over, you say "I saw you staring at me" and ask "is there something you want to discuss?"

And let him decide what to do from there.

Yeah, we can all be shy, but use that as a starting point, not an excuse.

- Bro Jo

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Power of Faith

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi, I really, really need help now. I was looking for advice from someone who is a member of the church and I believe you can help me, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!! help me.

I was born in an LDS family. I consider myself to be a very good person who had always tried to do my best and keep the commandments.

I served on a mission and put a lot of effort on it. I´m having a really hard time now. Here is my case.

I returned from my mission one and a half years ago. I started dating a girl, this girl is amazing, I love her with all my heart!!! We had been on a relationship when we were 13 and 12, we were very young and we had always liked each other practically all of our life.

Then we broke up.

Some years later I knew she still was in love with me, but I didn´t want to start a relationship with her again until one and a half years ago, when I returned from the mission. In the beginning of our relationship I wasn´t that in love with her as I should have been. She was deeply in love with me at that time, but I wasn´t.

So, I treated her bad and behaved very rude with her, mainly because I was reading some eBooks that claimed they could teach me how to create attraction in women and all of them said that women love rude men, game playing guys, and indifferent guys so I started acting this way to "keep her attracted to me", because I was starting to fall in love with her, because she is so amazing.

So she thought I am a bad person, and I actually hurt her feelings, because I actually believed in those authors who only made me look like a bad option for her.

Now she sees me as a bad member of the Church, and thinks I´m a rude person who treated her bad. But I think she tolerated all of this because she could see deep inside of me that it wasn´t really me, not the "me" she used to know.

Another thing is that we broke the law of chastity and hadn´t repented until now. We´re in the process, but some days before starting the process we broke up, because she was sick of me wanting to break the law of chastity again and again, so she finally decided to break with me.

I believe she is a very good girl and I believe we were so into one another that we committed this sin, I´m not trying to justify myself, but I´m only trying to say that she was really in love with me, because I believe she could have never done that with someone else.

Now, she had a boyfriend who treated her very well and who always was nice with her. This guy went to his mission and returned one month ago, I was very jealous because she was acting very strange, then she broke up with me and is in love with this guy again, she isn´t dating him, but I know she still likes him.

I may sound very narcissist, but I believe she likes me more than this guy, because I tried to convince her that I would change and that it wasn´t me and I really I´m a guy who was the rest of my life a very nice guy, very polite and very obedient, but she saw the worst part of me. I´m repented, honestly I am.

And I love this girl with all my heart and I know she still feels something for me, because I´ve been trying to convince her that we are back together again, and she says she loves me and if I say something nice or sweet she cries and hugs me and lets me kiss her, but she doesn´t want us to be together again and if I call her or text message her she doesn´t answer.

What can I do to show her I am not the person she thinks I am?

Other people tell her I am that person too, but I am not.

What can I do to get my reputation again?

Can I do it fast?

Does she still love me?

PLEASE HELP ME, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!! I LOVE HER SO MUCH!!!

- No Name


Dear NN,

It's been a while since you wrote this letter, before I responded I thought I should ask where things stand with this woman now?

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

Hi!!!

Well, things with (name withheld), she has started a new relationship with that guy I told you about. I´ve talked to her, but she insists we hurt each other and that we weren’t happy and that we should know other people and be happy, she thinks I´m telling people we broke the law of chastity (because people who don’t like to see other people happy are telling her false things about me), but I´m not telling this.

I´ve talked about it just with people I trust most, but she thinks I´m looking for revenge. I´m behaving very well, praying a lot, keeping the commandments, reading the scriptures, serving, fasting, and taking psycological therapy.

I think I´m improving a lot, but just can’t find someone like her.

And we don’t see each other, so I guess she doesn’t know about my change of heart, but well, I´m happy to do the right things even though she doesn’t know, I’m happy to know my Father in Heaven knows.

- NN


Dear NN,

Good for you!

One of the things I've learned coaching and playing sports is that there's no use in getting upset about things over which you have no control.  I'm sorry she's not the girl for you; I know you wish she was, and I understand.

I dated a couple girls that I thought were "the one" (back when I believed there was a "one") before I finally met and fell in love with the girl we now call Sister Jo . . .

The point is, as much as you think this girl is it, she's clearly not.  Chin up.  Move on.  Go out and find someone who will love you for who you are now, not hold against you past sins.

After all, let he who is without sin . . . well, you get the idea.

God Bless,

- Bro Jo

PS:  You're not alone.  Check out the Dear Bro Jo Discussion Board on the Facebook Fan Page.  If you click HERE it will take you to our Break Up Stories.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Power of the Temple

Dear Bro. Jo...

I've been back from my mission for about 5 months now and I am confused. I was realeased from my mission and I have only one question. I've heard the lock-your-heart talk and I agree. But it talks about elders who commit things during the mission.

I didn't do anything with this girl during the mission. She handed me a letter as I got on the bus to go to mission headquarters at the end of my two years. I read the letter and realized I really do have feelings for this girl. Does that make me a bad missionary. My brother said I confused a missionaries love with a Romantic Love. She's a convert to the church and has her son.

I babysat for many years and so I'm good at working with children and she said that my interaction with her child is what made her fall in love with me. Did I really Shortchange my mission? And Is it ok to go back to her? She has an amazing testimony of the gospel, really an amazing girl and I feel so torn between my feelings for her and the approval of my family.

Thanks

Elder confundido


Dear Confundido,

I'm sorry I'm just getting to this now - sometimes letters I should respond to right away get buried in the never ending cascade of romantic wishes of 14 year old girls . . .

:)

Anyway, it's a profound letter with some good questions . . . where do things sit with you now?

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

Well things changed... dramatically. I went to the temple and prayed about it. And I didn't get an answer for a long time.

Then I decided I should start dating other people before I went back to be with her. I did and I found a girl who isn't perfect and isn't my soul-mate. However she did give me hope here.

Then I went to the temple when I wasn't quite so stricken for the girl from my mission, and there I received pretty much a spiritual beatdown. Basically I got the jist that if I went back I'd be putting my salvation in serious danger.

So I wrote her, she had no doubts concerning my revelation, she totally understood. We still keep in contact but only as friends. Thanks for responding...

- EC


Dear EC,

That's great!

Ah, the power of prayer and the temple - Good for you!

- Bro Jo

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Power of the Patriarch

Dear Bro Jo,

Here I am, again (for a third time...). Thanks for all your past advice. It’s helped me a bunch, so I've come back for more.

Its been a few months, so I'll remind you of some small details...I'm seventeen, I'm a girl, I'm LDS (born and raised) and I've got a nonmember friend that has proved to me just why men and women can't be "just friends". I wrote and asked some questions about my relationship with this guy...turns out I have some more questions.

Things are going well, I guess. This guy knows that I want to keep things casual. He's respectful of that and I don't believe he'd ever ask me to change that. He's one of my best friends and he treats me as well as any girl would want to be treated...I don't have any complaints about his behavior. HowEVER, he hasn't tried to keep it secret that he wants to be my boyfriend. He's not annoying or overaggressive or anything like that, but I know he'd jump at the chance if I ever told him I wanted to be exclusive. And I know he'd kiss me if I let him.

His parents love me; they'd be thrilled if we were together. That sounds a little overconfident of me, but believe you me, it's the truth.

So where do I stand in all of this? Well..I'd love to be his girlfriend. We talk ALL the time, and he's promised to take me out sometime (he lives out of state, or else we would have already gone). But I know I should casually date and not let things get too serious...so...that's what I've been doing.

The question is...how do I help him understand why I can't be his girlfriend right now? And should we see each other, should I let him kiss me and hold my hand? And if I do that, how do I explain to him that it can't mean commitment? And how do I go about saying, "Hey, I like you a lot, but I'm gonna let this other guy take me out next Friday"?

I really like this guy. I've always felt that we just clicked...it's been so easy to be friends, and so easy to be more than that. I understand that casual dating is important, but its hard to know the boundaries sometimes. This guy isn't just going to disappear, and I'm not just going to stop being interested in him. Help?

Thanks ya,

(name withheld)


Dear NW,

You're killing me, Smalls.

Let me try a different tack here . . .

Does this boy go to Church with you and your family?

And, while we're at it . . . what's YOUR reason for Casual Group Dating? Why DO you go out with a different guy instead of declaring this guy your Boyfriend and doing a little smooching and hand holding ('cause we both know that on some level you want to)?

- Bro Jo


Bro Jo,

Haha..I'm sorry. I don't mean to be a pill :(

No, he doesn't go to church with us. I'm almost sure he would try it, though, except he lives four or five hours away right now. And we've talked about church before...long story short, we've had a lot of serious talks about what kind of guy I want to marry. Ya, that sounds a bit serious for being 17 years old...but the conversations came up, ya know? He'd be willing to come to church if it meant he had a shot at dating me. (But conversion would have to be for himself, I know I know, and trust me, I agree and have told him that, too.)

To be honest, I guess my biggest reason for casual dating is just that I've been told to. I see the benefits in it, too...there's a lot less of a risk of things going too far, and it helps you meet lots of people whereas exclusive relationships do the opposite, etc.


- NW


[One Day Later]


Bro Jo-

A little turn of events has happened, and I may have answered my own questions...I got my patriarchal blessing yesterday and have given a lot of thought to some things and I have kindof decided I need to just be friends with this guy and focus on sharing the gospel with him. I guess when you care about someone, you want them to be happy...and if I can share with him what I know it will do more for him than bumping my standards and dating him exclusively.

Thanks again for all the help in the past,

- NW


Dear NW,

That’s wonderful - good for you!

I'm here any time,

- Bro Jo

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Readers' Note: This Week - Letters that Solved Themselves

Dear Readers,

To my great regret, I'm not always able to respond to your letters right away.  I try, and I promise to keep getting better.  And many of them I do get to within just a couple days . . .

But often things can solve themselves.  This week I'm featuring letters where writers came up with their own solutions, either because time had passed, something happened, or something was realized.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

- Bro Jo