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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, August 30, 2010

Three Reasons to Break Up

Dear Bro. Jo,

Okay this might get long. I'm not sure just yet. I'm 17 and this guy that I'm dating is 18. We are both members of the church and have been our whole lives. I met him at Youth Conference of last year and we became really good friends.

We hit it off and eventually started dating. He is a great guy and was when I met him and for the first many months I knew him. We have kissed and the problem now is that he tries to get really touchy and kiss more deeply and I tell him no and when I try to discuss this with him he gets all defensive.

I'm not sure how to explain to him that it's just plain wrong. He tries to justify it all the time. He does plan on serving a mission in a year because he just turned 18 and we both want to have a temple marriage. I love this guy.

Now is it true love I'm not sure because I love him for who he is. It seems as if he only gets excited now if he is about to kiss me and I push away because it's not right.

I know that he is a great and amazing guy. We've been to the temple numerous times and everything feels so right and I don't want to lose him as a part of my life. He even asked me if I would wait for him on his mission and I told him I would if we get that far.

How can I be the light and tell him that we need to take things more slowly where he won't get offended?

Will we ever get married?

Who knows. Haha.

But if it does get to that point I want to make sure I'm marrying a guy with high standards and I'm scared if I let him go he will go do really bad things with other girls.

Please help.

Thanks.

Sincerely,

Girl who wants to do what is right but help.



Dear CTR Girl,

I don't know what "we've been the the Temple many times" means . . . but I suspect it falls under what I label "bad date ideas for young singles" . . .

You're not going to like this, but you need to break up with this guy.

Sorry.

But here's why:

1) When you tell him he's being more aggressively affectionate than you're comfortable with he, in your words, "gets upset". This is a phenomenally Bad Sign, and no matter how much you regret writing it or feeling it or how much you try to change, twist or justify your worlds now, that won't change the insight your comment gives. Not only does he not care about how you feel, he is trying to talk you into doing things physically that you feel are wrong. THAT, Little Sister, is never good. And THAT is enough to tell me that he's not the "great guy" you think he is. In fact, I think it's an indicator that something else may be going on in his life.

2) He's leaving on a mission soon. Don't, I repeat DO NOT, make any kind of promise or commitment to him. You barely know him, haven't been dating for very long, he's leaving (or should be) in under a year . . . You need to be dating other guys while he's gone (and you should be Casual Group Dating with a bunch of different guys now anyway). You're too young to put yourself into storage.

3) And this, I think, is the most telling of all the things you said: "I'm scared if I let him go he will go do really bad things with other girls". Why, if he's the "great and amazing guy" you say he is would he ever give you cause to think he would do something that would scare you? What about him leads you to believe that you're involvement in his life is the only thing keeping him from throwing morality out the window? Is it because of what he's trying to do (or has already done) with you? Is it because you know things about him you've yet to share with me or won't admit out loud to yourself? And, more importantly than even all of that, why on earth would you cling to a guy that you think will use the dissolution of your relationship as an excuse to go out and be a jerk?

I've got to be honest with you here, and I'm assuming that you wrote me because on some level you know you need me to be, I'm not sure you're the only girl in his life. I think we're dealing with a guy who's hormones, even if understandably so, are out of his control; and I think he's using you to see how much action he can get before he turns in his papers. I think you're not the first girl he's done this stuff with, and I doubt you'll be the last (and from what you said, I think you know it, too).

And I think you're overlooking this stuff because this "relationship" gives you some kind of affirmation or security.

I know that girls see relationships, especially at a young age, as some kind of proof that they have value, that they're pretty. Individual Worth doesn't come from some guy, even after you're married; it comes from God and you're imbued with it for no other reason than that you're his daughter.

It's why great girls will not only go out with loser guys, but why so many of you are willing to . . . do things you know you ought not be doing to keep a guy around.

I know that most girls lose their virginity because they think they must to keep their boyfriend happy (and or there's alcohol involved); and, frankly, the guys that push for their girlfriends to "give in" (or "give up") are only acting the role of boyfriend so they can enjoy the physical benefits.

If you and this guy are no longer an item, you'll still be pretty, you'll still be smart, you'll still be fun and sweet and worth while.

I'm not saying you're a bad girl.

I'm saying you're a good girl that deserves better.

You deserve to marry a guy who's standards you don't have to question.

He'll lay a guilt trip on you, maybe even cry. He'll ask to remain your friend, and if you agree he'll be hoping that means he'll have another shot at doing stuff with you. He may be angry and indignant and demand answers. He' may promise he'll back off on the physical stuff and confess his love for you . . .

Whatever.

If you're not married or engaged when he comes home from the mission, you can consider dating him again then. Tell him that.

And move on.

Good luck.

If it helps, you're not alone. You can read about some whopper breakups on the Facebook Discussion "Break Up Stories".

Good luck. I'd like to hear from you again; keep me posted on how things work out, either way, would ya?

- Bro Jo

Friday, August 27, 2010

Our Friend the Temptress

Dear Bro Jo,

We need some major advice on a problem that we have with a friend of ours and it deals with relationship issues.. Ok, So we have a friend who, (mmmm what's the word)... who... flirts a lot and who unfortunately breaks up relationships. You would say she's a bit of a "home-wrecker"...She's a great person, but certain things she does are not so great. In the last year our friend has broken up a temple marriage, an engagement and most recently a relationship between her best-friend and her boyfriend. Now as her friends we've always been concerned about her "ways".. She doesn't deliberately throw herself onto a girls boyfriend or husband, but she's very discrete.. She does little things that entices guys to "cheat" on their girlfriend/wives, like flirting, texting and meeting up with them for luch. It doesn't go to any extreme extent. No kissing or funny business. She just leads them on and the destruction goes from there. Not long, the guys fall for her.

We've always known her to be a "boyfriend stealer" or a "temptress". Now as her friends were getting to a point where were frustrated with her ways. Don't get us wrong, we trully love her but we feel the need to intervene and get her to literally STOP breaking up relationships.We believe that she gets a thrill in pursuing guys who are taken. She seems to always laugh it off and assume that the guys are idiots, but we both know it takes two to tango. So Bro Jo, what should we do?

From Two Distressed Friends.



Dear Distressed,

Hmmmm . . .

There are several things you should do.

First, get a clue. The girl is doing a lot more than innocent flirting. No guy dumps a girl or a marriage if there's nothing physical going on. Someone's not telling the whole story . . . Either she's not breaking up the couples she says she is (there could be a few reasons she's making this up or exaggerating), she's much sluttier than you're admitting or realize, or you're not being straight with me (which I'd like to think is the least likely option).

Secondly, as you said, it takes two to tango. No woman is hot enough to tear a loyal man from his wife or fiance. Something was already wrong there, and frankly he deserves more blame than your friend.

Third, your friend has some serious problems. At the very least she's a pathological liar, whether its to you about her exploits or to the men she's having sex with, she's also lying to herself and to her God. She clearly has lost her sense of self worth and is either lying or adulterating as some misguided attempt to impress someone in the wrong way. She's going to get into a lot of trouble because you can't keep up either behavior for long without it coming back to haunt you.

If you two are really her friends you need to say something. She needs to be told that you find her behavior unacceptable for a Daughter of God. And if you really want to help her you may have to threaten to "rat her out", to the other women, her bishop, or the men she's involved with.

And don't make it an idle threat; follow through.

Finally, you need to consider putting some distance between yourselves and this girl; at some point her exploits and deception will become (if it hasn't already) a burden upon your lives that you just shouldn't carry. If you become too involved without contrary action its like being an accessory. Plus I think you need to consider that she doesn't respect you; whether its your standards, your counsel, your friendship or your integrity, if she doesn't respect you she's not a true friend.

Perhaps she needs to hear that from you.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How to Compliment a Woman

Dear Bro Jo,

I have a question about compliments, specifically compliments about a girl's appearance. I know these are supposed to be specific, sincere, and casual but that's where it gets tricky. A specific compliment regarding appearance could only be about a girl's outfit, which isn't really the girl herself, or her body which tends to be a touchy subject (no pun intended). There are some features that work well like eyes or smile but unless I notice a feature in particular, it won't be sincere, and I don't always notice the said things the most.

(Don't take me wrong; I don't want to say anything crude.)

Above all the final factor--the smooth delivery--probably shouldn't involve too much analysis (I guess it's too late for that). What are some other good complements that are easy to deliver (and maybe a few only for the brave and intelligent)?

And what are some good guidelines for delivery?

Sincerely,

Dave



Dear Dave,

This is such a great letter, I hope you'll forgive me for stewing about it for so long.

If there's a club for guys who've messed up compliments I, my friend, am the chairman of the board.

First let me share with you a few of my train wrecks:

Example #1: Wanting to acknowledge that one of my seminary students was wearing new rubber sandals with a ridiculously high 4" sole, I said "hey, nice thongs" as she and another female student walked by. Because of the sandal piece that goes between the toes, I guess, that's what we called Flip-flops when I was in High School. I had no idea (honestly!) that I was making a skimpy-underwear reference. I didn't see their underwear . . . I wasn't looking at their underwear . . . but the whole fiasco was compounded by the fact that, much to my horror as I was trying to explain myself, that the girls were indeed wearing skimpy underwear. (Who knew?!?)

Example #2: Ever compliment a woman on a change in her appearance that she HASN'T made? It's worse when it's your wife and you're supposed to be noticing her every day. I've messed up "hey, you changed your hair color" when she didn't, and missed it when she did; thrown out a "you smell great" when she had just put on some lotion that my mom handed to her; and even done the "wait to long to respond" when asked if a particular item makes her "look fat" - I didn't think she looked too heavy, my mind had wandered and I got caught.



Now, that said, I don't know that I agree that a compliment need be specific or casual. Sincere, yes, but the other two . . . I'm not so sure.

I think it depends on the purpose. A compliment about a person's appearance, if sincere, should be delivered with the intent to uplift the one being complimented, but because they can also be used as a come on you're right, you've got to be careful.

(Related tangent: when I compliment Sister Jo it's always sincere, admittedly often biased, and with the hope of lifting her spirits, but if a well placed compliment to her earns me some . . . affection, well then I say GOOD FOR ME!)

So, with the idea of being careful I tend to do exactly what you said when I'm complimenting a female (of any age) that's not my wife; I compliment the dress, not her body, or I give a general compliment and, just like you said, I try to keep it casual, and maybe even interject some humor.

I'll say things like:

"That's a very pretty dress" or "Well, you sure clean up nice!" or "Alright, since you've gone to all that trouble to get fancied up, why don't you twirl around once so I can say how great you look".

If you can keep the tone one of an older brother or father-type, you can say "wow, you sure look nice; you're going to make all the boys cry".

One thing that can help with the delivery is to look the person in the Eye when giving the compliment (there's a scene in a movie about dating where the main character is advising guys about where NOT to look when talking to a girl . . . I'll be you've seen it). And smile a little; it takes a lot of skill to be dead serious, look a girl in the eye, and tell her she's "exquisite looking" - a Good Guy needs the Spirit to pull that off - so smile and save the deep and serious compliments for your fiancé or wife.

I just realized that I need to clarify something in that last paragraph: notice that I wrote "Eye" not "Eyes" - that's on purpose.

It's a trick I learned in Television Acting Classes (long story that I'll have to tell later). In real life when we're looking at someone in the eyes we have a tendency to "bounce back and forth" between eyes, sometimes quite frequently. If you do that on camera you look like a maniac, so our teacher taught us to pick the eye closest to the camera and focus on just that one. It makes your gaze look more intense and less crazy. Well . . . I tried it on a few dates and, at the risk of giving away too many secrets, it works like a charm.

So, fellas, when you're checking her out, pick just one eye and focus on that.

WARNING! Don't do the "one eye stare" if you're within kissing distance - at that point you need to go back to looking at both eyes or the maniac look will return.

Finally, let me give you some compliments you can try out on girls you fancy, from novice to expert:

1) That color looks really good on you.
2) I don't think I'm dressed nice enough to be seen with you.
3) So, this is what it feels like to be that guy no one thinks is good looking enough to be with the hot girl.
4) Forgive me, I was just realizing that every other guy in the room wishes it was him talking to you right now instead of me.
5) You have the most beautiful smile.
6) You, my dear, are radiant.
7) Forgive me, please, for staring but when you're looking at something this beautiful you can't bear to look away.


And, while I know we've focused a lot here on appearance, you can never go wrong complimenting a woman's talent, mind or accomplishments. In fact, I'll argue that with most women, especially those that are empirically beautiful, you're better off with these than compliments about the way she looks

And that, my brother, is a fact.

- Bro Jo

Monday, August 23, 2010

Coworkers and Pre-Mi's

Dear Bro Jo,

My friend showed me your Facebook notes on How a Girl Can Get a Guy To Ask Her Out On a Date, and I have a question concerning my "predicament".

I'm interested in one of my LDS coworkers who will be turning 19 in a few months and thus going on a mission soon; all he has left to do is get his physical. I've worked with him three summers in a row (I go to a college out of state), so we know each other fairly well. He's very excited about serving a mission and talks about it frequently; he's even saved up the $10,000
needed for a mission all by himself. Basically, he's a Good Guy, and I'd like to get to know him better outside of work.

However, he doesn't have his driver's license yet. He's hoping to get it next month, and he's
said that he would ask more girls out on dates if he had his license. Him and I live on opposite sides of town, so if I did use your Tips and got him to ask me out, he wouldn't be able to pick me up. I would have to drive. Do you think that would be ok, or should I just wait until he gets his license?

Also, obviously there is the rejection possibility. I'm worried if that happens, things will get awkward at work.

And I know I'm at the age where I'm supposed to be looking for a potential spouse. Am I wasting my time by liking (and/or possibly "pursuing") someone who I can't become serious with for at least two years?

I'm kind of back-tracking now, but maybe I should just instead ask him to hang out with a group of friends? I guess I'm not sure what I should do; I've never liked a coworker before, simply because.....I work with them. Which I'm sure sounds lame, but it makes sense in my head. Should I take into consideration that he's never asked me to hang out at all these past three summers?

Does it matter?

AGH! I better stop before I plunge into more questions.

Your advice would be greatly appreciated!

- Red


Dear Red,

There's nothing wrong with liking a co-worker. For many people work is the place where you're most likely to meet someone.

However, because of lawsuits and other things, many work places have disclosure rules or no dating policies. Everyone should know what those policies are at their place of employment.

I'd hate to see you lose the good job you've had for the last three years because you wasted your time with some pre-mi . . .

And that's what dating a guy this close to a mission would be: a waste of time. (Although how he can be that close and not have a driver's license escapes me . . . )

If he asks you out, by all means go. Let him worry about the planning and transportation - that's his job, not yours.

You can hint that you'd like him to ask: "well, here's my phone number; if you ever figure out how to date a girl pre-license, or ever actually get one, call me".

And leave it at that.

Any more and you'll compromise your integrity and long-term desire ability by taking away the challenge. Plant the seed, but make guys grow and harvest their own gardens.

And do both he and you a favor: date or no date, don't even THINK of becoming this guy's Girlfriend unless he's returned (preferably honorably) and you just happen to not be married or engaged yet.

Too many other wonderful people out there for either of you to wait.


- Bro Jo

Friday, August 20, 2010

Grandpa's Eternal Marriage

Dear Bro Jo,

I've got a situation concerning my Grandpa and his new wife that I need your advice on.

My grandma (his first wife) passed away about four years ago. My grandpa didn't remarry until just a couple months ago. He met his now-wife in the temple (they're both temple workers). What's weird is that they didn't really date before they decided to get married; so they didn't really get to know each other. Their engagement was also short--only about two months. They got sealed in the temple and the rest of my family hoped it would work out.

It hasn't.

My grandpa wanted to serve a couple's mission with his wife--but she has no desire of doing so. My grandpa also has a cat that he told his wife about before they got married--she seemed fine about it--but now it turns out she's allergic. My grandpa also has a cabin in Utah that he likes to go to during the summer--his wife doesn't want to do that either.
Of course, these aren't the hugest problems in the world; it's not a crime if she doesn't want to serve a mission, has cat allergies, or doesn't like cabins. But the little things just keep building up.

Because she's allergic to the cat, my grandpa had to give away his cat, and now his wife wants to buy a new home because his home is full of cat hair. However, she wants to move across town into a nicer area--but it's the farthest away from the temple, and my grandpa is becoming a pretty poor driver; my family is worried for his safety. My grandpa is also having to buy all new furniture for their new home because the furniture from his house is "covered" in cat hair.

His wife met most of my family when they got married. However, since then, she hasn't wanted to do much with our family. She wouldn't come celebrate Easter with us. My grandpa usually goes out to lunch a few times a month with his sister--his wife won't join him. When my grandpa's previous in-laws (my grandma's brother and sister) came down to visit, his wife didn't want to meet them. My younger brother recently graduated from Seminary, and my grandpa came alone to the graduation--his wife wouldn't come.

My grandpa seems to be having a hard time in this marriage. He doesn't seem happy at all--and I know marriage isn't all roses and peaches, but you'd think eventually things would turn around.

From what my mom has said, it sounds like my grandpa's wife is now becoming emotionally abusive. She yells, and screams, and cusses at him. There is no happiness in this marriage whatsoever. My grandpa suggested marriage counseling or therapy, and his wife got mad and refused. It's gotten to the point where my grandpa is afraid of doing anything that may make her mad. He won't even go see the Bishop on his own, in fear that his wife may find out and get mad.

It seems as if this marriage is pulling my family apart. Most of them seem to really hate my grandpa's wife, and will complain and complain and complain about her. It makes me uncomfortable to hear my mom and sister say such mean things about a member of our family, especially when I overhear them on the phone talking about it with people outside of our family.

I think my grandpa is considering getting a divorce, and my family is right behind him. I think he's just getting a civil divorce, and not getting a temple sealing divorce. My mom said something about the Holy Spirit of Promise, and how it's unlikely that the Lord will make my grandpa stay with someone who makes him so unhappy in this life.

I'm not sure what to think. In some ways, I agree with my family. Yes, I want my grandpa to be happy, I don't want him to be miserable with this woman. But I took a Preparing for Eternal Marriage course in which I learned that divorce isn't necessarily the answer when it comes to marital problems. Part of me thinks it would be a poor example for my grandpa to set for his children, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren to get a divorce when he made sacred, eternal covenants.

My grandpa is also hesitant to get divorced, because then he will not be allowed to be a sealer in the temple for five years. He loves serving in the temple and this would be hard on him.

What should I do? What should my family do? What should my grandpa do? Is divorce the answer? When is divorce the answer to marital problems?

Please help.

--Worried Granddaughter



Dear Worried Granddaughter,

First let me say that I'm impressed by how much you care for your Grandfather.

Secondly, I think (and I mean this with love) you and your family need to butt out of your Grandpa's business.

You're no more entitled to dictate his life and business than he is yours. Try showing a little support and respect.

Grandma died.

Grandpa doesn't want to be alone. Maybe he knew what he was getting into, maybe he didn't, but the man is old enough to make his own decisions and then live with the consequences, good or bad. If his marriage pulls your family apart that's your fault, not his, and not even his new wife's.

Marriage is about compromise, and your Grandfather gets that. You people are not helping him when you harp on him about what he's done and make him feel bad about his marriage. Stop telling him to see the Bishop. Stop gossiping about his spouse. Stop making assumptions.

Geez! Can you blame this woman for not wanting to be around you guys?!?

Stop sweating the small stuff, stop meddling, and show your Grandpa that you love him as much as you profess by finding things to like about the woman he has brought into all of your lives. After all the man has done for you, he's owed at least that.

Be the person that steps up and sets the example for the rest of the family. Love and kindness will go a long way. Grandpa will be a lot happier if all of you start acting like you're happy for him.

I'm not saying to be fake; I AM saying show forth an increase of love lest you be esteemed to be the enemy.

- Bro Jo

PS: There ARE legitimate reasons for divorce, in my mind, but as you said, divorce is rarely better than staying together, unless it ends abuse. For more of my take on that see "Bro Jo's FIVE A's of WHY NOT TO MARRY" -  - the same principles apply to divorce . . . IMHO.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Accidental Flirt

Dear Bro Jo,

First off I've just discovered your blog and I love it! You offer very straightforward advice that a lot of people need to hear. Let's see if you can do the same for me.

I'm a 20 year old single woman attending BYU. I have a problem with guys getting the wrong message from me. What I think is just being a nice happy person they seem to take as flirting. Because they think I'm being flirty they think I'm interested and so they move closer and try to snuggle up to me and that just really makes me uncomfortable in a just friends relationship (yeah yeah I know you don't believe in guy-girl just friend relationships, and maybe that's my problem).

My question is: how do I continue to be friendly with guys but not friendly, if you know what I mean?

Thanks, Accidental Flirt



Dear Accidental,

That's just it: you can't.

The Guy-Girl Friends thing may work from her perspective, but never his.

To a guy, a pretty girl laughing and being nice that's close enough to touch is a dream come true! Even if he can resist making a move he doesn't want to.

I'm not saying all guys are sex-hungry maniacs, not at all, but whether you want to or not you're giving all the "go ahead" signals.

That doesn't mean you need to live a nun's life, you've just got to be a little more socially aware.

I know this scares the garbage out of so many of you sisters, but the only Guy Friend you'll ever have, and I hope he's your best friend, is your husband, and that's because he'll already know the answer to "what will happen if I try to . . . touch her".

You need to realize that all single guys, all, whether at the Y or not, will see you as a potential (if they're not TOO lecherous) . . . Girlfriend / Spouse before they see you in any other way. That's just the way we're wired.

If you don't want guys snuggling you, stop bringing them into a snuggle environment. (There's a reason small sofas are called "Love Seats".)

On the bright side, when you finally meet a guy you want to snuggle with you'll know what to do!

Thank you for the kind words. We're getting more and more fans and readers from the Y, which is fun, it being a unique culture all its own.


- Bro Jo


PS: You know there are a lot worse things in life than having the guys around you find you attractive . . . .
Why don't you try turning some of these clingy dudes into dates? You'll get a few free dinners and movies (nothing wrong with that) and, who knows, you might even find someone you'd like to spend the rest of eternity cuddling.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Friend Needed

Dear Bro Jo,

First off I love your site. I found out about two days ago and have been reading it ever since. I just have to ask you something.

I know you usually deal with dating questions but I want to ask you about friends.

I am 16. I just moved up into Laurels. Its so weird. There is a problem with “Clicks” in my ward ever since I was a little girl. There are only 3 other girls in my class. Two of the girls I have been rejected from them ever since I was 8. They are best friends and where always in the same classes in school and I am there same age and I am a grade younger then them. But its ok.

The other girl in my class is 17 and she was my friend ( like I would sit by her every day at seminary and we would talk at church and hang out and stuff...) until the kids that went to BYU came back home. Now its like she doesn’t want anything to do with me. Like I am not cool enough for her. This hurts. My dad thinks that she is just stuck up and thinks she is so cool because she is hangout with the older kids. But now classes are weird because I fill like I have know one who wants to be my friend. I can’t wait till my friend moves up in October.

I fill like I don’t have a best friend or even a just a friend. I have to say that I have home schooled since I was 13. I love being home schooled. I had tons of friends from Public school. Now I have had to stop being friends with many of them because they are doing things that I didn’t and wasn’t going to choose to do. Like watching bad movies and other things that I didn’t fit my standards and they were not being very good friends. So I have gone different ways with many of my old friends. I only have had one friend from my public school days that has stayed a good friend. But she just move away.

Now it fills like I have no one.

As my friend in Mia Maids. I have one friend who I have became friends with because we were the only two girls that didn’t fit into a the “Clicks”. So for the past year we have become friends, so we hang out at dances, church, and other church stuff. But with her sports, school and other stuff we don’t hang out that much out side church stuff.

I always try to be nice to the beehives and other girls in are YW. But why do people act like there your friend at church but never want to hang out or call you or want to have anything to do with you?

I am trying to friends to every one. I never try to leave any one out and I call people to hang out but there like always “busy”.

I just want a true friend.

I have to say that things are not all bad. I have been getting closer to my family. Especially my mom. My mom and I are now best friends, instead of just mom and daughter. But sometimes I fill like its not the same as having that friend who wants to be with you.

For this summer I have a friend who is staying with us and I will be staying with her till August.

What do you think I should do after that?

From,

A girl who just wants a Friend.



Dear Friend,

I invite you to gain a testimony of why we go to Church; yes, Church is social, but our purpose for going should be to worship and learn more about the Gospel. If you're the last person on Earth you should still go to Sacrament meeting.

That said, I understand the need for each of us to have some Good Friends. (Satan is very powerful when we feel alone, you know.)

I think it's smart that you're developing a close relationship with your mom, but you're also right about needing some good friends your age.

You need to expand your circle. There's lots of great people out there that aren't LDS, you know. Sure, that will be a challenge being home schooled, so get out there and get involved. Play a sport, get a job, join a book club, find a pen pal, meet your neighbors, take a fun summer class at the local rec center, take up some new hobbies.

Be proactive in meeting new people.

Not only will it help you find friends, but you'll grow as a person, too.

And as your circle expands, so will your missionary opportunities.

Invite your summer guest to do all of these things with you as well, that way when she's gone you'll still have someone to talk to.

And, by all means, go to every Church Activity, Youth Conference, Dance, etc. that you can.

Remember, to have a friend you've got to be a friend.

- Bro Jo

Friday, August 13, 2010

When Someone Won't Talk

Hey Bro Jo,

I would just like to say what amazing advice you give, you have helped me a lot! I always thought when I would need to write to you, and I feel I do now.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for 9 months, and he is preparing for a mission. He is 22 and had some troubles in the past, I dont know the details, I think he thinks its best that I dont know...but that is why now he is going on a mission. It is a slow process for him and our bishop told me he is still struggling with his past.

Lately he has been feeling really down, its not everyday but it is often...and it frustrates me, I am fine for a few hours of him feeling down, but then it just seems to get too much for me, and I want to understand and I try to, but I just seem to break down and get annoyed with him. SOmetimes I feel I can't understand without knowing what he did in his past, but I don't want to pressure him in telling me, he might not ever tell me...how can I get over the feeling that he has to tell me? He told his last girlfriend...and to tell the truth that makes me feel insecure sometimes...but she wasn't a member of the church, so I think (I'm just guessing here) that he doesn't want to tell me because of what I might think of him. Will this effect our relationship? Do I have to know? Sometimes I feel I have to, most of the time it doesn't worry me though.

I dont really know what I am trying to get at, I'm confused and continuously think of these things, so please help.

The other thing is, when he is down, what can I do to help? Should I just let him be, just ignore my frustrations and let him figure it out? It will be hard to do that, but I want to do what is best for him...or should I let out my frustrations? Usually when i do, he seems to go back to his normal self more quickly, but I dont know if thats the best thing.
Thank you for listening, it's actually good just to get this out by writing it down.

- Girl who thinks too much




Dear Thinker,

You're not alone! (Does it surprise you to know that Sister Jo and I "over-analyze" things, too?)

The answer to your questions is . . . "it depends".

Sorry, there's just lots of variables to consider.

Sister Jo and I have been together over 20 years; sometimes we repeat the same stories we have for years, sometimes there's a new take on an old story, and sometimes something new comes up. Factor in that we've now spent more of our lives together than we spend previous to meeting, and you realize that no one ever knows everything about anyone.

You and your guy have some things to work out, especially in the Communication area.

But you also need to decide whether or not it matters.

The guy is trying to set his life in order so he can go on a mission - that's great! Clearly his frustrations and guilt are manifesting themselves as depression, perhaps even anger. And doubtless Satan is working on him. The closer he gets to putting his life right, whether that means a mission or not, the harder the adversary will work to keep hold of him.

Do you have to know? Do you have to ignore your frustrations?

Well that depends on you.

I couldn't. For me the secret keeping would be a deal breaker. I may not know everything about Sister Jo, and she's certainly entitled to some privacy and distance, but I'm comfortable that she shares the big stuff, especially if I ask. And vice-versa.

Clearly it ALREADY has effected your relationship. His unwillingness to speak and your desire to hear are in conflict. That's what you two need to talk about. You need to tell him WHY you feel the way you do, mentioning the ex-girlfriend (Has it ever occurred to you that she may be the "ex" because he told her and he's afraid that if he tells you'll leave, too? And that you just might?) and your frustrations and your desire to help.

Then you two need to come to terms with what will happen if you do leave, or if you can't live with not knowing.

And it doesn't sound to me like you can.

And, frankly, not to switch soapboxes here, I think you two both need to understand that once he goes there's no guarantee that you'll end up together upon his return.

Despite that, if he's allowed to go, he should.

Relationships are full of risks and fears. The best way to reduce those (note that I didn't say "eliminate") is to talk. Sometimes you have to throw it all up in the air and see where things fall.

And when they've fallen you just have to accept that's where they are.

Always here if you need,

- Bro Jo

PS - As far as what to do when he's down, again "it depends". Some people need time and space, others want to be social. I sense that he wants space and you would prefer to be social. Whatever the case, react the way he needs.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Too Aggressive = Turn Off

OK Bro Jo.

I am sorry for bothering you again, so soon... but I need some reassurance, well that is what I am hoping for. Thank you so much for your feedback and your blog, not only is it helpful... but entertaining to boot! So here is my scenario:

I went to a rodeo this past weekend, so much fun! I helped in the back, suiting up the riders with helmets and vests. I met a guy there, we spoke a bit, but I didn't think anything of it. Later, after everyone had rode, he came up and we talked for a bit.

When we had cleaned up all the garbage in back we headed out into the arena (we being my friend and I, not this guy-we'll call him Derek). I was standing in a circle of friends just shooting the breeze, I believe I was quoting some Bryan Regan... and Derek came up randomly and joined in the conversation. He only talked to me though, it was kind of funny.

He listened to everything I said and kept asking me questions, even when my friends said something or tried to interject. My friends and I were headed to a dance so we asked if he was coming, he said no. We tried to convince him but to no avail; he said we should go do something else, I asked what we were going to do. He invited me to a car show (I LOVE cars) I was so excited. So we decided to meet back up at this car show the following day. I brought my friend with me for moral support haha... we saw Derek at the show, he was working so he was with us when he wasn't busy. It was fun, he kept trying to get information out of me... wanting to know more about me.

When he was busy with his job and my friend and I were just hanging out, I kept catching him looking over at me and smiling. Anyway, we were getting ready to leave and my friend grabbed a piece of paper and put my number on it, telling him to call me, and gave it to his co-worker.

Later that day I got a call from him but missed it, he left a message telling me to call him back. I did and left a message asking him to do the same. I am not the clingy type, but I thought he seemed interested. It's been 5 days and no call... why? I don't understand, I thought we really hit it off.... am I wrong? I understand he has a life and I respect that, I'm not the least busy person myself.... but 5 days? Did I read his signals wrong?

I planned a group thing and called him to invite him; I left a message and told him to call me or shoot me a text. He text me back to say he had to work. I said "Thats too bad... We should do something sometime. Have fun at work!" And nothing, am I too forward? Did he just up and decide he was no longer interested? It's kinda frustrating...

Signed,

Perplexed



OK Perplexed.

No, I don't think you read his signals wrong.

Yes, you weren't just too forward, you were aggressive.

You may have killed any romantic feelings he had by taking away any need to pursue you.

It's no fun to go hunting if the deer are just going to walk up to the truck.

What you should have done is not called him back when he left the message to do so, or at the very most called and quickly said "look, I don't want to be rude, but I don't call guys; if you want to talk to me you'll have to do the calling; and, believe me, I'm worth the effort" and

HUNG THE HECK UP!

No texting. No invitations. No calls.

If he's not willing to make the manly effort, he's not worth your time.

You've GOT to change your ways.

But . . .

All is not lost in this particular situation. Of course you can't make any more moves towards him, but you can use a friend to communicate a message for you, perhaps the phone number giving one. Have her go see him, if possible, or call (no texting or emails - WAY too impersonal, and too easy for him to think you did it) and say "Hey, I wanted to tell you that you've probably lost your chance with (she inserts your name here). She typically doesn't call guys, but she made an exception for you. Since you didn't make an effort to call her back she's figured you're not interested. So won't call you again, so if you don't want to miss your shot with her you better make a move soon."

And that's it. No extra words from her. No advice on what he should do. He can figure it out on his own.

If he doesn't, or won't, it probably wasn't going to happen anyway.

Yes, it's perfectly "legal" to use ones friends to help in romantic situations (her giving him your number was brilliant, but it may have set up the whole "aggressive" tone).

Don't let it bother you, just learn and move on.

- Bro Jo


Bro Jo...

Aw man!!! Dang it! Well I'm going to have to work on that, thanks for the help! I'll let you know if anything happens :/

-P

Wait... quick question. How do I let him know I am interested if I don't see him very often? Should I not invite him to group things, but let him invite me?
thanks

-P


Dear Perplexed,

YES!!!

Don't invite him to ANYTHING.

(Duh)

Look, there are things you can do with out robbing him of his manhood.

Get one of your friends to invite him.

And if you haven't already, check out:

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

Bro Jo’s "TEN WAYS a GIRL CAN GET a GUY to CALL"

and

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


Good luck.

- Bro Jo

Monday, August 9, 2010

Follow Up - Love the Sinner (part 2)

Dear Bro. Jo,

Thanks for the advice. I find it interesting and above all, refreshing.

Actually, he hasn't "experimented" yet. Last he told me, the thought of gay sex repulsed him, however he finds himself only attracted to men. I know he watches a lot of pornography, he's told me -- in fact, he has told me many times that I should watch it myself as I am "too naive on the mechanics of sex" in general.

Of course that is a great opportunity for me to bear my testimony of the Church, and the law of chastity, and I really love these opportunities. Let me just say this: I love the Gospel, I am amazed by the blessings it brings, and I love sharing what I know with other people because it reaffirms what I know to be true.

That being said, if he's not technically "homosexual" YET, can I help him? How? Perhaps he is just curious by what he sees when he watches pornographic images? Is there something in particular I can/should do, or is a simple testimony enough?

Thanks for all your help and all that you do, your blog is really incredible.


Dear Lost,

Well thank you.

Ultimately he'll have to help himself . . . but he's not alone.

Both of you may want to check out one of the first columns I wrote on what your friend is going through. You can find it HERE.

Even if he had "experimented" he could choose to live a different life, so "yes", there's help.

You're right to avoid the pornography. Those images will stay burned in your brain forever - NOT the Safe Stuff much of our world would have you believe. (Dr. Ruth got it wrong, kids!)

I can't help but wonder . . . with the pornography playing a factor . . .

You know, some times the way pornography depicts sex . . . between heterosexual couples . . . can be repulsive. And sometimes when people view homosexual pornography they fantasize about themselves having the looks and physique of one of the participants . . .

Watching the porn is no doubt tainting this guy's view of sex . . .

And it may just be getting him so fired up for sex that he feels the need to . . . "act out" RIGHT NOW!

I've got a nickel that says that he's hoped that, especially if you watched the porn with him, you'd be "willing" to help him prove to himself that he's either gay or straight. (You understand what I'm suggesting there, right?)

This guy wouldn't be the first one to play the "Porn" and "Help Me" card to (forgive me) . . . get laid.

Don't do it.

You won't be Saving Him, you'll be Losing You.

I'm sure you know that, but it might help to hear it from someone else.

You're probably sitting there saying "never going to happen; he and I are Just Friends".

If you've been reading my column you'll realize that there's no such thing. Even with "gay" guys.

Thank you again for the kind words.

Good Luck,

- Bro Jo

Friday, August 6, 2010

Putting Off Marriage

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi. I have been reading your blog for some time and now I have a question. Or situation… and I’ll just go right into it.

I moved home for the summer from the Y. (I am now a Junior. So, it is the second summer I have moved home. )

I got back with my old group of friends and my best friend who lived at home. My singles ward is great and I have nothing to complain about. I am just confuddled.

Since I have been home I have gone on a lot of different dates with a few different boys. Honestly, I enjoy the attention. The last date I went on was with a boy (I’ll name him Ty).

We have kinda known each other or known of each anyway through mutual friends and he is friends with my best friend. We got to know each other a little bit more over the past month and he asked me out. He took me to dinner at an expensive restaurant. (The nicest place anyone has taken me… he earned points for that.)

We then went to an outdoor concert and fireworks. It was an awesome unpressured date. Now, I am not a touchy feely girl. In fact, people have to ask for hugs from me cause I just don’t do that. I don’t hit the guy in the arm, I don’t lightly touch shoulders or anything like that.

Well, later the next week he invited me to go work out with him. Naturally, I like Ty. So, I agreed. He picked me up and we worked out together and he took me to his house after. I was not so happy about this because I was gross from running and wearing gym clothes so not exactly what I want to meet the family in.

I met a few of his siblings and dad and we just hung out for a bit and listened to music. Well, I didn’t hear from him but my best friend did. Friday I went with my friend to an activity. He asked my friend if she was coming and since I usually tag along he knew we’d come together, but of course he did not ask me. We all hung out and left to get food together. I had a good time but I guess he was nervous and not sure how to act around me.

He texted my friend the next day saying that he really liked me thought I was cool and wanted to know if I liked him because I am hard to read and if not we could just be friends cause he did not want to make things awkward between us if he kept ‘trying.’ (Hello Junior High.)

She told him to ask me himself.

Now, he never really talks to me unless we’re the only ones together and in person. We have only gone on two dates and I haven’t heard from him except when I invited him to go on a hike this next week. I guess I just needed to write this out because my mom just says “Boy are bad. Don’t date. Finish school. There isn’t time for nonsense.”

And my best friend doesn’t help.

So, basically, I am sorry for wasting your time. I guess I just don’t know what to do or what to think about Ty. I like him. But, I haven’t seen him to tell him and I am sure I won’t see him for another week and I know he won’t contact me until we go on our hike.

Do I just have to wait?

And I like him too much to be friends…

Help.

This is not a big problem, there are more boys I guess, and someone else can use your advice more than I can.

Boys=Confuddled.



Dear Connie,

(Get it?)

Boys aren't all bad; you should ABSOLUTELY be dating at your age; and it IS possible to finish school while dating; heck, people even finish school while engaged or even married and with children!

No, you don't have to wait, but you shouldn't invite him to anything else (yet) either.

I know it's like Junior High, and I agree it shouldn't be, but it is and you need to play the game a little.

Your friend is your wingman (I still don't know what to call the girl equivalent of "wingman"); she was right to tell him to ask you himself, but he hasn't. Now she needs to call him and put on a little pressure; she needs to tell him that she thinks you like him, but that because he's backed off you've begun to think that he doesn't like you. She also needs to tell him that he:

a) put you in an awkward spot having you meet his family after working out

b) needs to ask you on another actual date, right away, and stop trying to "hang out", that you deserve better than that (hanging out is OK AFTER you two have a confirmed relationship, but he should NEVER stop taking you on dates; I take out Sister Jo almost every week and we've been together over 20 years!)

and

c) he needs to buy you some flowers to make up for being such a dork lest he lose you which could possibly be the biggest mistake of his life.

That's what friends are for; you Sisters need to help each other out more when it comes to training these sad, sorry YSA Brethren on how to treat and woo women.

And you, Little Sister, need to be slightly less frigid. On this next date you need to hold his hand.  And if he does bring you flowers you need to hug him or kiss him on the cheek to say "thank you" because, frankly, you're NOT in Junior High any more and when he tries to show you he likes you, you need to show him that you like him back.

- Bro Jo

PS: Maybe this is the guy, and maybe he's not. Maybe you'll get married (whether to him or to someone else) before you graduate college, and maybe you won't, but I promise you it's harder to find a spouse once you leave school, so don't waste these golden opportunities.

PSS: To all the parents and leaders telling our young people to put off marriage and family until after college or until they've reached a certain level of financial security: shame on you! Shame on you for contradicting the Prophets. Trust in the Lord, trust in and empower our youth, and stop stifling them because of your own insecurities.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Is This Love?

Dear Bro Jo,

First let me just say, THANK YOU for all the advice you offer!!! Your an absolute life changer, your blunt and honest, and i just love reading what you have to say!

Alright so basic story.

I'm almost 16, so i'm pretty young. People say your too young to know what "love" is at my age. I've never dated (of course not i'm not the dating age yet!) but i feel like i very MUCH know what love is.

you see, there's this boy. I have NEVER told ANYBODY how i feel about him, but i absolutely ADORE him. I've known him for most of my life, in fact he's been like a brother to me since i could remember. He used to come over every day..until this last summer he moved. But he still comes to visit a lot and stays at my house and sleeps in the living room with my little brother.

At first we were friends, then enemies, then siblings, and now...well i am not sure. I've loved him since the "siblings" stage. But as a brother. Now i still love him, but it has transformed.

we always go to eachother for advice and tell eachother everything. Nothing is awkward for us we're so comfortable around eachother. I know absolutely EVERYTHING about him, his pet peeves, what he listens to on his ipod when he's sad, and how his hair gets frizzy if he blow dries it or doesn't wear a hat while it's drying.

I would give my life for him without a second thought. I HAVE broken my heart to make his happy. My favorite thing about me is that he knows my name (and no, my self esteem is NOT low). I feel like my purpose here on earth is to make him smile, a purpose i am very pleased with. Everywhere i turn something reminds me of him. If he cries, i cry too. if he smiles, so do i. I have and still do give up SO much just for him, and he doesn't even know it. I pray every night asking if he is the one. Every time i do i feel comforted inside, and then begin feeling excited.

So you tell me, is this love?

-anonymous



Dear Annie,

Sometime I'm going to have to count how many letters have the phrase "you see there's this boy . . ."

I think 15 is old enough to know what love is.

And I think you love him.

I DON'T think 15 is old enough to make any life-long commitments or decisions.

Sorry, just too many hormones and not enough life experience.

And, "no" I'm not saying you're hormonal . . . (at least not out loud . . .)

Maybe he'll make a good spouse for you . . . some day.

But there's no such thing as "THE one". There are many people you could be happily married to for Time and All Eternity. Trust me.

You're not even dating yet, so your experiences are by definition very limited. You both need to go on Many Many Casual Group Dates, following the dating rules (click HERE) and that means dating lots of different people, not just each other.

One last note: while I don't doubt that you love him, I do caution you that a lot of what you said could also be described as "comfort", as in "you feel comfortable around him". That's not bad, familiarity comes with time any way, but at 15 it can be misleading.

And it can lead to tempting situations where Satan can steer you away from some Good Goals.

- Bro Jo

Monday, August 2, 2010

Loving the Sinner

Dear Bro. Jo,

One of my very best friends came out as gay a few months ago. He told me that he was really afraid he was going to lose me as a friend when he told me because he knows that the Mormon church doesn't support homosexuality. That statement really shocked and saddened me.

I would never give up our friendship because I don't agree with his sexual orientation, and part of being a good friend includes helping him through hard times. He hasn't told his family yet, he's struggling with figuring this whole thing out. As a friend, he often asks me for advice. It puts me in a sticky situation as personally, I don't agree with homosexuality. However, I am never going to betray him by telling him that the way he feels is wrong.

I don't believe that being gay is a choice as we are sometimes taught. I think it's a choice what we do with those feelings, but it was never a choice to feel sexual attraction to the same sex in the first place. It's a trial, and that took a very long time for me to understand. Everyone has a weakness, and for some it's homosexuality. I can't tell my friend that his feelings are wrong, he is not LDS and quite frankly, I would sound like any other homophobic person to walk the earth. I know that he's going through a really tough time, and I want to be there for him. The problem is that I feel like to give him "advice" is betraying my beliefs in the Church, in a sense. If he gets a boyfriend, I want to be happy for him, but at the same time, I don't agree with it.

So what I'm getting at is . . . to what extent can I be there for him? Remember, he is one of my best friends and he's always been there for me. I don't ever want to let him down, but I don't want to let Heavenly Father down either.

Sincerely,

Lost in Thought.


Dear Lost,

I know this may not be how you've heard it before, but "Homosexual" isn't something someone is. It's something someone does.

Simply finding other people of the same gender attractive is not enough to "make one gay". I'll bet your friend has never been told that.

Some trials just happen to us, like some cancers. Some trials we bring upon ourselves, like smoking being the cause of lung cancer.

So having sex with someone of the same gender (and that's what "homosexuality" means) is a choice.

(For the record, rape is an act of violence and control, so being raped by a same sex person doesn't make you "gay", either.)

Let's not equate homosexuality with race, gender or being stricken with disease; it doesn't qualify.

Heavenly Father loves all of us, and I promise that there are none of us that make him happy with all of our choices. If you want to be a good friend (and let me mention here that I, too, have people in my life that I love and respect, friends, clients and family, that are "gay") then treat him as you wish to be treated by others and by God. Don't mock, belittle, insult, cajole or torment.

If he asks your opinion, then respect him enough to tell him the truth. If he doesn't ask your opinion, keep your mouth closed.

If he asks or expects you to condone or otherwise advise him in a way that makes you uncomfortable, then respectfully decline.

Hate the sin, but love the person.

He can't ask you for more than that.

Now, let me warn you that, as your friendship goes, this is likely the beginning of the end. At the very least it will likely never be the same. If he acts upon his homosexual feelings (and I suspect he already has, or he wouldn't be testing his "coming out" on you) he will probably be headed down a lifestyle path that will include: gratification, pornography, selfishness and disease. It's going to be painful for you to watch him do things that will be of great risk to himself. And, if you hold true to your faith, he may turn on you. Not always. But often.

I'm not telling you that so you'll dump him as a friend, I'm warning you of what may be to come so you're prepared.

No matter how personal he tries to make it, his anger won't be personal.

And for you: don't get sucked into a culture that pulls you away from your own Temple Marriage, Eternal Family, and Spiritual Goals.

It's OK to tell him "I don't agree with what you're planning to do, but I'll always love you".

Keep doing those things that help you feel the Spirit and know of the Savior's love.

- Bro Jo