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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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Church Dance Dates

[Readers: I received the comment below on the column "The Girl at Home - Part 3" (part four will publish this Saturday), which you can jump to by clicking HERE.


Dear Bro Jo,

What do you think of a stake or other church dance as a date for teens? Is it ok for a guy to ask a girl to one of these dances without a group, because you'll be with other people all night? And what if he asks other girls to dance while on this date, is it ok for me to dance with other guys?

- Bananaboat


Dear Bananaboat,

All dates before a girl becomes an adult/high school graduate and before a guy comes home from his mission should be Casual Group Dates. A couple on a date without other couples specifically part of their group is a Single Date, even if it's at a Church function.

It's no different than when a bunch of guys and girls ages 14 and 15 go to a movie (totally acceptable) but some of them are paired off as couples; they may be pre-dating age, and there may be a bunch of non-daters in the group, but those kids that are paired up are on a date (which is NOT acceptable).

A date is a date.

Is it okay to Casual Group Date to a Church Dance? I say, if you're following all the rules, then heck yeah!

However, that does mean you shouldn't be dancing with someone other than your date, THAT would fall under "don't flirt with someone other than your own date". I know it's just dancing, but still . . . even if a guy comes up and asks you should say "I'm sorry, but tonight I'm on a date. Perhaps another time".

Which is why you may want to re-think going to a Church Dance with a date. Could be fun, you'd certainly should expect that you won't have to sit un-danced-with during any slow songs, but what if your date is a dud? What if he can't or won't dance?

All things to keep in mind. Maybe if a guy asks you to a Church Dance as a date you should politely decline, saying "I like to dance with a variety of people at Church Dances, so that may not be the best idea, but I'd love to go out with you some other time!"

Bottom line: neither of you should dance with someone other than your date. If your date rudely dances with someone else, you should consider the date over, and ask him to take you home.

If he won't, call your parents or a trusted leader to pick you up.


- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Marriage Pressure

Dear Bro Jo,

When I was in Beehives, our activities at Mutual were ALWAYS centered around marriage. We tried on our mother’s wedding dresses, made wedding “planning” albums, hope chests (which we filled with various other crafts we completed throughout the year that we’d be able to use in our Future Home), etc. We never played sports like the guys; it was always about being a future wife.

To be honest, I always felt like that’s all my Bishop and leaders thought we were good for – being  housewives. I have nothing against being a mother at home, I think it’s a very honorable job, and I respect those mothers immensely. Many women in my family are full time mothers, I love and respect what they do not to mention the fact that mothering is SO much better than sending the children off to daycare.

It’s just that I felt like getting married at 18, right out of Young Women’s, was ALL my leaders felt we were here to do (as that is what many of them had done), and thus, they prepared us for it. We never played sports like the boys, we never played games, it was just making crafts for our future homes and learning to never put off marriage and children.

This is the way it has been for me since I was 12. Lessons in Young Women’s and Sunday School seemed to always revolve around marriage and babies. Don’t get me wrong, I am eternally grateful for the Plan of Salvation and the opportunity that I have to be a wife and a mother someday. It’s just that I feel as if there is something wrong with me for being completely turned off by this supposed PUSH into getting married.

I mean . . . what’s the rush?

Why should I be getting married and having children while attending school? I fully respect the choices of those who choose to do so, but why is it recommended??

I’m 20 right now; I have an amazing boyfriend whom I’ve been dating for a ear. I love him; he’s the guy I want to be with for sure. Actually, we talk about marriage all the time. It’s just in the distant future when we both have money, and when we feel like it's a decent time. I understand that sex is one of the big
components of not waiting too long to get married. I’ve been there, I know what it’s like to go a little too far than I would have anticipated, but it’s the kind of thing I vow never to do again. I love my boyfriend very much, but I know that I can wait. I would rather wait for a good time to get married rather than rushing in just so that I can have all the sex I want.

And personally, I would prefer to have maybe two years, just me and my man, and to make some money, before we have kids. My point is, it always seems like in church and from Conference talks, us young ladies are always seemingly PRESSURED into getting married at a very young age and starting families immediately. At least that’s what I’m getting from it. Many firesides I attend practically scold some of us for still being single. Girls marry so young, and we’re told to never put off having a family, so the babies come right away.

Where I live, a girl will date a guy for about 3 months before they get engaged, they’ll have a 3 month engagement and that’s that. Girl will marry boy, they will have babies, and that’s their life. Is it wrong that I am turned off by this? And WHY is this suggested? Personally, rather than get married next year, I want to
travel, and I’ve always wanted to serve a mission.

Am I making any sense Bro. Jo? Is it wrong that I don’t want to get married right away? Is it wrong that I'm a little bit angry that we are always being pushed and prodded into finding our Eternal Companion NOW?

You are the Yoda of the YSA, and I could really use another opinion rather than my own stubbornness right now. I apologize for any repetition, but I am a little bit bitter about this topic so I tend to ramble.

Sincerely,

Bittersweet.

Dear Sweet,

Bitter and . . . a little delusional.

Even though I wasn’t there I can promise you that not EVERY Beehive activity was only about marriage. Come on! That’s 104 weeks, 25% were probably combined WITH the guys . . .

If you spent HALF the time talking about marriage and family then you had over 50 weeks a year doing something else.

And what about the other four-plus years?!?

The Church MIA program is set up to teach youth leadership skills with the kids typically doing most of the planning. If at any point you’d said “hey, can we play (fill in the blank)” I’m sure it would have happened. And it probably did.

I’ve seen the Personal Progress book and Young Women’s manuals; you covered a lot more than just marriage and family.

Hyperbole aside, let’s address your real issue: Fear.  You’re afraid to get married, afraid of having babies and afraid of the future.  That’s totally understandable. Heck, you’re only 20! Some people are ready to make Eternal commitments at your age, some think they are (and some of those are right, and some of those are wrong), and some just aren’t ready yet. Not a big deal.

The thing I’d like you to realize is that there’s nothing we can do to be totally prepared for everything that life will throw at us. So we make excuses. No matter how rational they may seem, that’s still what they are.
We say “I want to wait until I . . . (fill in the blank – am done with school, have more money, move, buy a house, fix my car, turn a certain age, have that mole removed, can tie my shoes with my eyes closed . . .)”. It’s all just talk. Life doesn’t magically become easier because we reach a particular bench mark or milestone. Sure, some things need to be done in a particular order, but there’s a difference between working towards something and making excuses not to do anything.

You’re not ready.

And that’s fine.

But can I suggest to you that the reason you feel pressured is INTERNAL?

In the Church we talk a lot about marriage and families, but no one with any authority has said “Hey, you! Sitting right there! Get to the Temple!”

That means that relief from that pressure will have to come from inside. And like a Testimony of anything, the answers are all the Primary ones (all the Good Answers are!) – prayer, scripture study, service . . .
I’m not saying that you’ll pray yourself into marriage readiness. What I’m saying is that you’ll feel a Comfort of Spirit of whatever your choices are as you grow closer unto the Savior.

I also think you may want to consider whether or not your Mr. Right is indeed the guy for you. The lack of urgency may mean the fit is comfortable, but not right. To paraphrase a movie I’ve borrowed from before “when you realize that you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start right away”.

That’s why so many people have such short engagements.

(Which I endorse, by the way.)

Are you prepared to let him go?

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks, you make some good points.

I guess a lot of it is the YSA firesides. Honestly, we are always lectured on how we put off marriage for too long, and it really bothers me. I think we should get married when we're ready (I'm obviously not ready) and I fail to see where the pressure is going to help us.

As for Mr. Right....he is definitely Mr. Right. I just don't feel ready to get married right now, but that doesn't mean I have to let him go. I do want to spend the rest of my life with him, but the rest of my life doesn't necessarily mean I have to be married to live it. That's just me.

Bittersweet


Dear Sweet,

A lot of YSAs DO put off marriage for Far Too Long. Every point made in every fireside is not all about you . . .

But I submit to you that the fact that those things bothering you is very telling. It means something when someone is teaching and we take it as a Personal Pressure-causing Element in our lives. I frankly don't think anyone is pressuring you to do anything, but you clearly do. I think you'll benefit from discovering where inside you all this pressure is coming from.

There's no such thing as only one Mr. Right, and if you're not ready to commit and he is you very well may have to let him go.

This does not mean that you should rush to get married for fear of losing him.  When it's right for you, then move forward.  Only you can know if your fears are rational or not.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 27, 2010

When He Doesn't Know You Exist

Dear Bro Jo,

Today, I was on Facebook and saw an ad on the side of the site that was for LDS teen advice. Curious, I clicked on it and it lead me to your "Dear Bro Jo" blog. I was reading through your posts, and let me say that it is truly a blessing that I found your site because I feel you will be able to give me some great advice on a problem that I have had for a little while now.

I am a 15 year old Mormon girl, but I will be turning 16 in a few months. I just finished my freshman year in high school and will now be a sophomore. This guy that I will be telling you about just finished sophomore year, and will be a junior.

Let's call this guy “Moroni”.

He is the perfect Mormon boy; however, he is not in my ward. Just in my stake. He goes to my same high school though.

Moroni is amazingly good looking, a genius who was taking college classes as a sophomore in high school, very athletic, and tall! I really don't know what I should do about it.

I want to get to know him so bad, but I don't know anything that I can do to get him to notice me or how to become friends with him. I don't have any friends who know him who could introduce me, so I have no idea what to do. I am not bold enough to go up and just say 'Hi' to him because I feel he will see that as a random stranger coming up and talking to him.

Another problem is that school just got out and it is now summer break. I don't know of any upcoming stake activities or anything where I will be able to see him. But he seems like such the perfect guy, and I REALLY want to be his friend, and then possibly date him when I am 16.

Any suggestions?

~Helpless



Dear Helpless,

Let me get this straight: you've found the "perfect guy", you've never met him, never even talked to him, have no hope of seeing him again anytime soon, and are too shy to make a move, but you think I can help you get to know him better?!?

That's a pretty tall order!

But, yeah, I can help.

Or rather, I can help you help yourself.

And that's what it’s going to take: you're going to have to do some work, a lot actually; otherwise . . . forget it.

But what you CAN do is create opportunities.

No Stake Dances planned this summer?

Plan one.

(Or two.)

Have monthly video parties at your house and make a deal with a guy that if he invites your dream man you'll invite two girls the he likes.

Have a multi-ward etiquette dinner, and invite Perfect Guy's Ward.

Find out where he works. If it’s appropriate and not too stalker-y, go by there with a friend and casually say hello.

Ask a girl in his ward about him. Nothing to probing, just ask if he has a girlfriend. If he doesn't, then ask if he goes out on Casual Group Dates. Then say nothing more than "thank you". Trust me; she'll do the rest.

If you're not willing to do the work, the only other thing I can do is call him for you.

"Hey, is this Perfect Guy? Yeah, this is Bro Jo. That's right, the guy from the advice column. Anyway, there's this girl out there that likes you; she asked me to call. No, I don't really know he either . . . You're right: that is a little weird . . ."

It'd never work.


Try the other stuff instead.

And let us all know how it went, will ya?


- Bro Jo

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cheese & Kisses (Non-Hershey's!) - part 3 - the kiss!

Readers,

Well . . . it "finally" happened.

At the beginning of the month I ran a letter from Cheese and her Mom in two parts. You can jump to part two by clicking HERE.

At the end of that post you'll see a comment from Mom updating us all on how it went.

- Bro Jo

The Girl at Home - Part 3

[Readers: The following column will be presented in a multi-part series, with a new installment posted each Saturday this month.   Enjoy!]


Dear Bro Jo,

I'm in a bit of a stiff. You see at the end of March by boyfriend left for his mission. Yes. I am waiting for him, and it means the world to me. I love him with all my heart and I honestly don't picture myself marrying anyone else. It feels so right.

With that said I knew before he left I'd be attracted to other boys. I wasn't going to kid myself. I've even been on another date. Of course I wouldn't tell him until he comes home, and my parents nor his know about this.

Now recently I came home from college and started attending Ballroom Dance class, and going to our YSA activities. There's this one guy in our Ward who likes me, and he has for awhile. I mean he really likes me, everyone knows it and can tell. Personally it doesn't bother me too much at all. But it's getting to the point where I REALLY need to do something about it, and I have no idea what the heck to do. I'd be more than willing to go on a date with him, but the only time I see him is Dance, and the YSA activities and church. So it would be pretty awkward to say something about it to him in those settings. Then on top of this he's leaving within the next month.

Can you help me out any?

- Not Signed



Dear NS,

I can try . . .

What is it you want to do?

Do you like this Dancing Guy?

- Bro Jo


Bro Jo,

I don't know what to do.

Sure I guess you could say I like him. He's an attractive member of the church that I get along with very well.

- NS


Dear NS,

So . . . what's the problem?

Is it that you want to get him to ask you on a date?

Do you feel guilty because you like him?

Does part of you feel like you're being unfaithful to the Missionary that just left?

Just how "committed" to him were you?

Is the new guy a Return Missionary? A Prospective Missionary?

You said he's leaving soon; when, where and why?

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

Yes. I feel guilty because I like him.

No. I don't feel unfaithful to the Missionary who just left. I have no reason too.

I feel as am I am very committed to him. Honestly when he comes back and if we still have the same feeling towards each other... We have plans on getting married.

New guy is an RM, and a student who is moving back to Utah at the end of the month.

The problem is that he likes me so much it's become awkward. Everyone knows and doesn't know what to think either. When talking causally he'll bring up things about the missionary i'm waiting for which just makes it worse.

The date thing was an idea that would maybe ease some awkward feeling between us.

- NS


Dear NS,

You like him, he likes you. I think you need to go out with him. If you don't, you'll probably always wonder "what if".

But don't ask him out, get him to ask you: "Hey, I thought you liked me; aren't you going to take me out on a date before you leave?"

With time being such a short window, you probably need to drop that on him this weekend, perhaps even this morning.

And then go into the date with an open heart and mind. See what happens. Follow the Spirit. If you have a good time, go out with him again.

You need not feel guilty for liking him. He's not someone else's husband (right? j/k), you're not someone else's wife, and neither of you are doing anything that one should feel guilty about.

Date him. If it feels right, kiss him goodnight. (You're old enough . . . it's OK. If you don't feel so inclined, or if it takes you a couple dates to feel so inclined, that's OK, too.)

At least then you'll know.

Let me know how it goes, would ya?

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kissing and What it Means

[Readers’ Note: So I got both of the letters below from the same person on the same day, EXACTLY four hours apart. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but as I began to ponder separate answers I realized that the two letters really are one, and not just because they’re from the same person, but because they’re asking the same thing. See if you can see what I saw. My response follows.]


Dear Bro Jo,

I have just discovered your advice blog and I think it's awesome!

But I do have a quick question for you:

I'm 16 and will be a senior in high school next year. I have gone on two dates, but I would really like to date more and get to know some guys better. There is a guy in my stake who I am really into and just starting to get to know him. Problem is I don't get to see him that much because he is not in my ward or seminary class, and I am a little afraid that he may be "out of my league." I do have his phone number, but I am not planning on doing anything with it for a long time.

I'm waiting for him to do something.

However, it gets really boring sometimes waiting around for a guy to call you or ask you out. Other dating options are dwindling for me as seniors graduate, and I'm feeling a little left behind in the world of meeting guys and dating. My friend had even stolen a potential prom date from me the other month, and so I missed out on a great prom experience too.

Do I really just have to hang out and wait for something to happen?

~ Bored and Waiting


Dear Bro Jo,

I just have a general question that my friends and I have discussed and wondered about:

If you're not supposed to have a boyfriend as a girl in high school, but you have been dating someone who you really like who likes you too, how do you not end up being some sort of couple?

It seems like you have to almost ignore this and be like "Oh I can date you every third date, but we can't really be all "couple-y", which really bothers me. I mean, can't you have some sort of boyfriend with some kisses here or there?

Or have to pass saying, "I'm just going to have to leave you now for a while to get a couple of other dates cranked out"?

Just really confused on that, since you say that boyfriends in high school are a no, but some sweet innocent kisses are ok if you've dated the person long enough and if they are comfortable with that.

But if you kiss, doesn't that mean that you and that significant other would become a boyfriend/girlfriend thing? And then going on other dates with other people while sharing a kiss every so often with that other person that you really like.... that seems... conflicting.

Confused



Dear Confused, Bored and Waiting,

First of all, thank you for the kind words, and welcome to the craziness!

I’ve chosen to answer both of your letters at the same time because I see a common thread that binds them.

What you’re asking is what is probably at the core of 90% of the letters I get from girls your age, and that is: you want to be a “good girl” and do what’s right and expected, but you also long for the comfort and self assurance that you believe a relationship will give you; plus, let’s not lie, you’d like to be smooched . . . at least a little bit, so how can you reconcile all of that?!?

Out of that have grown all of your questions:

1) How do you get to know this guy you like better that you don’t see as often as you’d like?

2) What can you do instead of just waiting around hoping he’ll notice you that won’t make you seem to anxious or aggressive and perhaps turn him off?

3) You don’t date as much as you’d like, or even as much as your friends do, and you feel a bit cheated by that; what can you do?

4) Do you have to be in a “relationship” to get kissed, or if you kiss a guy that’s not officially your Boyfriend are you going to be labeled something not nice?

5) What does kissing mean? If you kiss a guy, are you making a commitment? And how is all that kissing going to work if you’re following the dating rules and not going out with just one guy? Won’t there be jealousy? Won’t the kissing wreck the Casual Group Dating thing?

Whew! I hope I got it all.

And . . . the answers are . . .

1) Be sneaky. Show up at places where he is. Ignore him a little when he first sees you. (You’ve got to hook him before you reel him in.) Write him letters (not texts or emails, go “old school”). Use your friends / Wing Men as spies. Convince him to ask you out. It’s called “playing the game” and there’s nothing wrong with it at all.

2) Wait? Who said to wait? Just because you’re not supposed to call him or text him, that doesn’t mean to do nothing. (See #1.) Check out the Facebook Fan Page – many Great Notes there to help you.

3) Again, check out the notes on the Facebook Fan Page, like “Bro Jo’s HOW a GIRL CAN GET a GUY to ASK HER on a DATE”.

4) No, you don’t have to be “in a relationship”, but you do have to be careful. For many of us Kissing = Commitment, so don’t go around kissing just anyone. Maybe you let a guy kiss you Good Night at the end of the third date (or the fifth) . . . no one says that those three dates have to be in a row, you know. If the two of you have a little history, no one’s going to say “What a slut! She gave him a quick kiss good night after only five dates! And they’re both only 17, can you believe the audacity!!!!”

5) Well, I wrote a column a while ago about “Kissing Appropriateness”, you may want to search the letters marked “PDA” for it. There’s a section of it that’s one of the Notes on the Facebook Fan Page titled the same thing. I revise it from time to time, but it’s worth checking out. Yes, once you introduce physicality into a relationship, everything does change. It doesn’t have to wreck the “Casual Group Dating thing”, but the more involved two people get, especially at a Young Age (like where you are now) the more complicated everything gets. That’s why I caution against the whole Boyfriend-Girlfriend thing before adulthood; who needs that much complication at that time in your life?


Look, some people will get kissed in High School. Some won’t. It doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone is more attractive than anyone else. As I’ve said many, many times, often the prettiest, sweetest, best looking girls don’t see a lot of “action”, dating OR kissing, until later in life. And Very Often some of the Best Girls aren’t appreciated until they’re married.

True story.

There’s one more Note you may want to look at. It’s Bro Jo's "HOW a GIRL CAN GET a BOY'S ATTENTION" , perhaps you and your friends should start there.

Let me know how it goes,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Boy Talk

Dear Bro Jo,

I have started reading your column quite recently, so this question might have been answered, but here goes: How do we girls know that a guy is talking to us just to be nice vs. talking to us because he really wants to 'go somewhere' with a relationship? Any help would be fabulous! Thank you.

Sincerely,

Curious Sister from UT


Dear Curious,

Hmmm . . . that's a pretty broad question and the answer will vary depending on a lot of variables.

Most guys don't spend what I call "lots of one-on-one" time with girls they don't find attractive, but that doesn't mean that they every intend to do anything about how they feel.

Consider the setting, the publicness of the conversation, the frequency, and the topics discussed.

A guy who plops down next to you on the sofa at Church and asks how school's going is just being polite. If the same guy sits close and looks into your eyes like a lonely puppy, he likes you.

If he says "hi" as you pass in the hall at school, he's polite; if he stops and wants to chat he likes you.

If it's just you and he only once in a while and typically around a bunch of people, he's being polite; if it's you and he all the time with no one else really around, he likes you.

See the difference?

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dating the Pre-Mi

Dear Bro,

I read your column and facebook page frequently, and I know that you disapprove of relationships with missionaries. Now that my friends and I are at the age where so many of our male friends are leaving for the mission field, we've been talking about this a lot. I want to know your opinion: which part of a relationship is more harmful to a mission, the physical or emotional? In other words, is it worse to kiss the soon-to-be-missionary or to tell him "I love you"?

Thanks :)

-At That Age



Dear That,

Well . . . I guess that depends on who's doing the kissing or telling . . . it's entirely possible that either could make the Young Man that much more eager to leave . . .

- Bro Jo


OK, ok . . . On a slightly more serious tone . . .

Your question sounds like one of those "how far can I go before I have to talk to my Bishop" questions.

And timing has a lot to do with this stuff, too.

I'd say that from the time a guy starts filling out his paper work until he's been home from the mission a couple days it's not in anyone's best interest for you to do either. Unless of course you're his mother . . .

Besides, once you girls are adults, it's time to focus on the boys who've come home instead of the ones that are leaving.

- Bro Jo

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Girl at Home - Part 2

[Readers: The following column will be presented in a multi-part series, with a new installment posted each Saturday this month.   Enjoy!]


Dear Bro Jo,

I'm in a bit of a stiff. You see at the end of March by boyfriend left for his mission. Yes. I am waiting for him, and it means the world to me. I love him with all my heart and I honestly don't picture myself marrying anyone else. It feels so right.

With that said I knew before he left I'd be attracted to other boys. I wasn't going to kid myself. I've even been on another date. Of course I wouldn't tell him until he comes home, and my parents nor his know about this.

Now recently I came home from college and started attending Ballroom Dance class, and going to our YSA activities. There's this one guy in our Ward who likes me, and he has for awhile. I mean he really likes me, everyone knows it and can tell. Personally it doesn't bother me too much at all. But it's getting to the point where I REALLY need to do something about it, and I have no idea what the heck to do. I'd be more than willing to go on a date with him, but the only time I see him is Dance, and the YSA activities and church. So it would be pretty awkward to say something about it to him in those settings. Then on top of this he's leaving within the next month.

Can you help me out any?

- Not Signed



Dear NS,

I can try . . .

What is it you want to do?

Do you like this Dancing Guy?

- Bro Jo


Bro Jo,

I don't know what to do.

Sure I guess you could say I like him. He's an attractive member of the church that I get along with very well.

- NS


Dear NS,

So . . . what's the problem?

Is it that you want to get him to ask you on a date?

Do you feel guilty because you like him?

Does part of you feel like you're being unfaithful to the Missionary that just left?

Just how "committed" to him were you?

Is the new guy a Return Missionary? A Prospective Missionary?

You said he's leaving soon; when, where and why?

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 17, 2010

"We promised we'd date each other when I turned 16 . . ."

Dear Bro Jo,

First I would like to write how much I love your website! It is amazing and helps me a lot.

Which is why I have come to you with this predicament.

First off I am going to say I am a Laurel, so I am of dating age. I have been best friends with, whom we will just refer to as, Billy for 13 years. (Yes Billy is a priest in YM :)). We have been there for each other through everything. We promised each other that he would be my 1st date when I turned 16.

The day after my birthday I accidentally sent him a text saying how unsure I was about dating and questioning if I wanted to hold it off for a while (both he and I are busy with school, sports, and travelling, and I was concerned about drama that could be caused in our ward) but he took it differently and we started fighting.

Although we made up things are still off.

So the day after my b-day (when we were still fighting) my other guy friend asked me to go on a date with him next week, so I agreed.

But now Billy is acting weird and got really mad and jealous. I asked him about it and he doesn’t want me to date other boys at all, but he "isn’t interested in me that way".

Not to mention he has been texting one of my close friends the same thing...so

1. What the heck is wrong with Billy?

2. Is this my fault at all?

3. What do I do?

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this!

Sincerely,

A sister without a quirky name.



Dear Sister,

First, thank you!

Jumping right into your questions:


1. The only thing wrong with Billy is that he likes you. Yes, as more than a friend, regardless of anything he says to you or anyone else. Or, at least, he did. He seems to have misunderstood what you were trying to say (and I've got to tell you, I think I would have, too), and he let his feelings get hurt. Isn't it interesting that at the same time we're discovering romance and love and attraction that we're also dealing with the mood swings and irrationality that come with the hormonal changes of our teen years?


2. Not all your fault, but a little. First of all, for a gal who's been reading my column, you should have clued in a little on the whole "Men and Women Can't Be Friends" thing; or, as we're putting it now "Guys Can't Stay Just Close Friends with Girls". You didn't "accidentally send him a text" - it's not like you fell asleep and rolled over on your phone and it "just happened" to type the words and you thought you were turning off the alarm and hit "send" instead on a message you had no idea was there . . .

You typed it. You sent it. You did both intentionally. Own up.

No one says you have to run out and date just because you're 16 and LDS . . .

OK, that's not entirely true. Lots of people do. Including me!

Young people should go on dates, but that doesn't mean that life will be "pressure free".

Your concern about the drama is legitimate, people might talk . . . get over it!

It sounds like you were both being irrational . . . which is the source of most fighting.

And, let's face it; part of what you were doing was rooted in the fact that you were hoping that instead of getting mad he'd beg you to go out with him, telling you everything would be OK.

But he didn't.

So you were shocked. And got a little defensive. And so did he.

And, well, there you go.

So, yes, some of it was your fault.


3. What should you do? Well . . . IMHO

a) Go on the date with the other guy.

b) Stop thinking of guys as buddies . . . pals . . . friends . . . it ain't so.

c) Make sure all of your dates follow Bro Jo's Dating Rules for Teens, and are Casual Group Dates.

d) Use spell check and good punctuation when writing to me (seriously, readers, all of this editing is killing me!)

e) Apologize to Billy. Tell him you still think he's a great guy, and you'd love to go out with him some time. (Make sure he knows about Casual Group Dating and is going to follow the Dating Rules, too.

f) No Boyfriends! Don't look at the computer like you don't know what I'm talking about, Missy! I know you're reading this thinking "But which guy should I pick?" . . . you're a teen girl; it's in your nature. Let it go!

g) Get as many of your friends, fellow Laurels and Priests, members and non, to jump on the Casual Group Dating bandwagon. Share the site and the Facebook Fan Page with them, that way you'll have more dates and less drama and explaining.


Thank you for taking the time out of your day to write,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wedding Stress

Dear Bro Jo,

I know that you usually deal with single teens and young adults, but....

Last September I met a young man at a part time job that I had and we started dating. He wasn't a member at the time, but had heard about the LDS church and liked what he had heard so he started to attend church with me and taking the discussions. We continued to date through out all of this and he was baptized in December. I never pushed him into any of this and I know that he wasn't doing this for me because if he had, he would have stopped going to church and fulfilling his callings after I left for BYU-Idaho in January. We talked and dating other people while we were apart didn't feel like the right thing to do, so our relationship became long distance.

In February, (with my father's permission) he came up to BYU-Idaho and asked me to be his wife. We had talked about all of this before I left too and after much prayer and fasting, I knew that if he asked me, I would say yes. So I did just that. We are waiting until December so that we can have our temple marriage.

Now comes the hard part with the questions. When he asked me to marry him, everything was financially fine at home, but since then, my father has had a work related injury that does not allow him to work. This injury has caused him to need two surgeries and while his work only paid for part of them, it drained my family of our savings. My mom is doing her best to support our family but they are living paycheck to paycheck.

I never wanted a huge reception or an expensive dress. I have found a simple dress that I love for $300.00 and I know that after a few weeks of working again when I return home, that I could order it if I really wanted. But now I am questioning whether having any of it, the reception or a dress, is worth any of it. I don't want to be a burden on my family because they need all the money that my mother can earn. When I do get a call from home, I don't feel the love and support from my family that my sister received for her wedding. I know that they love my fiancé, and they love me and want me to be married, but I don't feel supported when it comes to having the small reception that I want.

I have talked to my fiancé several times and he knows what is going on at home, and I am starting to consider getting sealed in the temple, then immediately leaving for our honeymoon, then when we come back after Christmas, having a small open house in in our home and invite people to stop by then. The other problem is that his mother and siblings are expecting a reception to attend to see the bride and groom. They aren't members and don't really understand temple weddings or the "Mormon Culture."

I feel so torn because no matter what we do or don't do in this situation, someone is going to be unhappy and hurt. I know that I can't please everyone, but I don't know what we should do.

Any advice for

The Bride-to-Be



Dear Bride-to-Be,

There are so many different possibilities and so many things that are expected and accepted by so many different cultures . . .

It's kind of difficult to say.

One of the beauties of Latter-day Saint Weddings and receptions is that they can be virtually costless.

The Temple is THE most beautiful place to ever have a marriage ceremony, and it's Free.

No problems there. (And "Congratulations!", by the way.)

And you could have a lovely reception in the Cultural Hall at Church or at someone's home . . .

I know, I know, many of you Young Sisters and Your Mothers . . . FREAK OUT about having the reception at Church. (Heck, there's a whole industry in Utah centered around alternate reception facilities, places that to me often look just like the Church, but aren't, because - IMHO - snobby Church members refuse to use the building the Good Lord has provided.) But free is free, and especially given the circumstances, a Very Good Idea.

Yeah, it would be great if your parents could afford to throw you a big party, like they did for your sister, but they can't. Sometimes life just works out that way, kid.

Believe me, they wish they could, and I'll bet it's killing them that things are the way they are. That's why they're probably acting defensive.

Be a Good and Grateful Daughter; give your parents the gift of understanding.

I know that tradition in your area dictates that the Bride's family pay for the reception, and I absolutely (especially considering his family's non-membership) think you need to have one. But it's time to put some pride aside and lower some expectations. It's your party, you throw it. Involve your parents as much as you can; perhaps they can help coordinate and decorate; involve them, but don't demand things from them.

And ask for help.

Ask your Relief Society President, Activities Committee, Siblings and Friends.

And do it in a way so as not to embarrass the parents who have given you so much.

Whatever you don't have time to do, ask someone else to help with.

Get a free place to hold the party, and from there do the best you can with what you've got.

Accept donations and help as it's offered, and don't be afraid to ask people to chip in a little (I'm talking about Food, Decorations, Pictures, and labor, not cash).

You and your new husband will have eternity to be together; the wedding night can be put off for a couple more hours; give this gift to your parents and your new family.

Keep it simple.

And focus on the joy of the day, not the details of the reception.

Buy the simple dress. Get your hair done. Have some flowers.

Take the pressure off your parents.

In fact, let go of all the pressure and stress that may come up.

May the Lord Bless You Both on your special day, and throughout the rest of eternity,

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 13, 2010

When You Want to Go to Homecoming

Dear Bro Jo,

I love your dating advice blog, I've learned a lot from it.

Homecoming is coming up in a while, October 23, and I am a senior in high school.

Because I'm a senior and I've never gone to the homecoming dance at my school, I really want to go. Thing is, I preferably want a date to go with. And not just some guy in one of my classes. I've never really been too interested in the guys at my school, and so I'm just focusing on finding a date who's Mormon too. The guys in my seminary and Sunday School classes, well, they're fine and I'm friends with them, but if they're going to Homecoming too, I'm sure that they would be taking somebody else as their date.

When it comes to guys in my stake, I'm a little stumped. Well, okay, not completely. There's this one guy who I really like that's a senior too, but I feel like he's a little out of reach for me. We're sort of friends and know each other, more like acquaintances I suppose (we don't get to see each other that much).

He has his heart set on this one girl who's a sophomore at my school, who technically can't even date yet. In my ideal world, he would be my homecoming date. One of my best friends is telling me that I should just ask him to be my date. I'm worried that doing so will be too aggressive and I'm trying to attract him in, not scare him off. I honestly don't know what he thinks about me, but he likes me enough that he would say hi to me at stake stuff.

What should I do?!?!?

Dateless and Hopelessly Obsessed



Dear Obsessed,

First of all, thank you for the kinds words.

Now, to the point of your letter: everything you wrote up until you said "There's this one guy . . ." is bogus. If your focus is to go with a fun group, wear a pretty dress, and enjoy your senior year it doesn't matter if it's a guy from Seminary, Sunday School, or one of your other classes. So long as he's a nice guy and will treat you with respect, who the heck cares?!?

I've seen a guys told "no" because he's:
- not the guy the girl really wants to be asked by
- too nice (doesn't drink, won't dirty dance, etc.)
- not interested in having a girlfriend
- not popular, cute, smart, talented, whatever enough
- a typically awkward teen
- not going with a particular group of kids

and so many other really lousy reasons that I have a real problem with how picky some of you sisters are. Do you want to go or not? Do you want to go on dates or not? Would you rather sit home missing yet another high school dance?

Whew! Tirade over.

Whether it's this guy you wrote about or someone else, you're right: you shouldn't ask a boy to a dance (or on any kind of date) unless it's a girl-ask-guy event for exactly the reason you listed. If asking him doesn't scare him off he may not be the great guy you think he is.

That said, all's fair in love and war; don't ask him, but it's okay to get him to ask you. You can go so far as to say "Hey, are you going to ask me to Homecoming?" You'll either get asked or you'll know If he indicates that he's not sure, you say "well you better hurry, a girl like me won't be available forever, you know". If he hits you with no or "I hadn't planned on it" you say "Too bad, I thought you were smart". Either way, at the end you smile, wink, then walk away.

Just do me a favor, will ya? If Dream Guy doesn't ask and another decent guy does, say yes.

- Bro Jo

[Readers:  Check out our Facebook fan page discussion "Homecoming for predating age" and the note Bro Jo's "How to ask a Girl to a Formal Dance".]

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Girl at Home - Part 1

[Readers: The following column will be presented in a multi-part series, with a new installment posted each of the next 3 Saturdays this month.   Enjoy!]


Dear Bro Jo,

I'm in a bit of a stiff. You see at the end of March by boyfriend left for his mission. Yes. I am waiting for him, and it means the world to me. I love him with all my heart and I honestly don't picture myself marrying anyone else. It feels so right.

With that said I knew before he left I'd be attracted to other boys. I wasn't going to kid myself. I've even been on another date. Of course I wouldn't tell him until he comes home, and my parents nor his know about this.

Now recently I came home from college and started attending Ballroom Dance class, and going to our YSA activities. There's this one guy in our Ward who likes me, and he has for awhile. I mean he really likes me, everyone knows it and can tell. Personally it doesn't bother me too much at all. But it's getting to the point where I REALLY need to do something about it, and I have no idea what the heck to do. I'd be more than willing to go on a date with him, but the only time I see him is Dance, and the YSA activities and church. So it would be pretty awkward to say something about it to him in those settings. Then on top of this he's leaving within the next month.

Can you help me out any?

- Not Signed



Dear NS,

I can try . . .

What is it you want to do?

Do you like this Dancing Guy?

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 10, 2010

Too Tall?

Dear Bro Jo,

I have heard many good things about your blogspot and I have had the urge to write you ever since I found out about what you do! I am 5'9" and have always struggled with hating that. I always fall for guys that are shorter than me. I recently started really liking this guy that is just a couple inches shorted than me. I found out tonight that he likes me. I want to date him, but I am afraid of dating someone that is shorter than me because I am a girl. Will it be too awkward or should I just stop being picky and get over it? I don't know why I'm struggling with this so much but i just can't get over it.

Please, Obi Wan, haha, have any advice?

Yours,

The Worrier


Dear Ms. Kidman,

Get over it.

- Bro Jo


OK, OK.

Seriously, 5'9" isn't THAT tall, and you like who you like.

My only other advice here is don't make your date feel self conscious about the height difference. No comments, don't lean on him . . . you get the idea.

Dates are more fun if we focus on what we have in common, not each other's flaws.

For that matter, that's good council for marriages, too.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Goin' Solo?

Dear Bro Jo,

I've written to you before. But I read where you told someone to write as often as they need to so here I am.

I just moved into a new ward and stake. I met a very nice guy who is polite to girls, asked me to dance(instead of the other way 'round) and has many qualities and talents that I like.

The problem? He is 15. and I turned 16 a few weeks ago. We both talked about how we're not that interested in dating. The thought doesn't excite us as much as when we were 12. He'll be 16 in a couple of months. And I'm not interested in dating him or anything but being his friend.

However, he is the nicest guy I've ever met. And if I ever date in high school I think I'd want to date him. I am not interested in dating, a relationship or anything else. But sometimes I feel like it would be the nicest thing in the world to have a guy to talk to. Someone like him. This is a very rambling letter and I really dislike how it turned out but I guess my main point is, how can I completely convince myself that I can get along alone, I DON'T need someone to talk to, I'm fine by myself and I don't need a relationship or even a date?

~~Trying to stay happily solo


Dear Solo -

Yeah . . . um, you and I have totally different opinions on what the problem is. Why on earth would someone as young as you are come to the conclusion that they need to "get along alone"?!?

A little less drama, please.

I see what you're doing here: you're coming up with excuses to make yourself feel better if he never asks you out; that's safer than facing the alternative. Because, let's face it, you like him, and the "age difference" is nothing.

You don't need to "convince" yourself of anything. No excuses!

Make some friends. Dance some dances. Go on some dates.

Live life!

If a guy asks you out on a Casual Group Date, don't say no because you're not ready for a life-long relationship; Go Out, have a Good Time!

If you don't get asked out as much as you'd like, use some of the things in the Notes on the Facebook Fan Page, like Bro Jo's "HOW a GIRL CAN GET a GUY to ASK HER on a DATE" and Bro Jo's "HOW a GIRL CAN GET a BOY'S ATTENTION".

And if they don't work as well as you'd like, well that's life, too.

Obsess less.

Enjoy the joy.

I know it's tough to move at your age, but give yourself a chance to make some new friends and be happy.

Oh, and BTW, Good Job on waiting for Him to ask You to dance this time!

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Quick Letter from a Slightly Older Sister

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for all the wonderful advice you give.

My reason for writing to you is on behalf of a few younger girls in my ward. To give you a brief description of myself and the situation: I'm 17 and heading off to the Y in exactly one week. As 1 of 2 older girls heading off to college, we've both tried to set a good example of dating to the younger girls. But almost all of them (15 and under) have 'dated' someone and most of the 'relationships' have ended in tears.

I'm not trying to judge any of them because I adore these girls and want them to know that waiting until their 16 to date isn't a burden but a blessing. I want them to know that following the prophet will only result in blessings for them. Not only that but I've also found that it's SO much more fun when you're old enough to actually go around and do activities. Plus, not having to worry about a serious relationship at 14 is one less stressful situation.

My friend and I plan on giving a lesson our last Sunday about dating and blessings that come with waiting but I was wondering if you could possibly just post a little reminder to all those still waiting that the wait is worth it! Although it may not seem like it, they'll understand once they get there. Thank you!

=Hopeful for Them



Dear Hopeful,

Thank you for your testimony; as we follow the prophet's council, we are sure to be blessed.

Yes, in the tears we avoid and the joy we will know, but in other often less obvious ways, too.

Sometimes all He asks of us is our obedience.

As you teach and testify, remember that teaching true doctrine will change behavior faster than teaching about behavior.

May the lord bless you in all that you do,

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cheese & Kisses (Non-Hershey's!) - part 2

Ok, Cheese's turn:
"Cheese wants a kiss!"

Dear Bro Jo:

I want a kiss! QT wants to kiss me! I know he shouldn't kiss me because it's inappropriate at this age. (I am 15, he is 16.) But then again I know at this age it's inappropriate for me to like one guy so much more than all the rest. Which doesn't stop me from feeling that way! Ugh!

He also knows he shouldn't kiss me, and that he shouldn't like me exclusively. But that doesn't stop him from feeling that way! So we both spend time with lots of other people, like I tell him he should date other girls (and of course I'm too young to date anyway.) But the fact is, we *do* like each other.

A lot.

And we've talked/texted about kissing, because...well, i'm pretty sure it's fun. And we'd like to. But we don't want to do anything we will regret, even if it is a simple kiss on the cheek. So when does a kiss become ok?

Here's one such conversation: (we play truth or dare a lot)

Qt: T or D
Me: T
Qt: Would you break my nose if I kissed you?
Me: You're a lot bigger than me plus a black belt. I don't think it would work

or this one: (just because it's fun to tell these.)

Me: Make a wish. 11:11 (am...we always say you can make a wish at 11:11.)
Qt: Ok, wish made.
Me: T or D
Qt: T
Me: What did you wish for?
Qt: It won't come true if I tell you.
Me: What if you wish to move to Tajikistan? I wouldn't want that to come true.
Qt: I didn't wish for that, promise!
Me: Pleeeeeeeeeease tell me.
Qt: Okay, I can't believe I'm saying this...I wished...that you would want me to kiss you.
Me: Oh. That already came true a long time ago. But wanting's not good enough if you know you shouldn't. :(

Actually, I'd like to know everything you have to advise on kissing. Is it really a good idea to wait until I'm over the altar? That seems awfully far away. (And I'm not silly enough to think I'll end up across the altar from QT, I know high school loves almost never last forever, plus I would NEVER want to be one of those "waiting for a missionary" girls because it's horrible and stupid for both people.)

But I do want to add in that I think it would be *awkward* if my first kiss were across the altar. Everyone's watching! And suddenly you'd go from Virgin Lips to kissing for a camera. How weird would that be?

I don't know what else to say. Life was so much easier when boys had cooties instead of being cuties. How long do I have to wait for a kiss?

- Mom & Cheese


Dear Cheese,

Of course you want to be kissed! You're a girl over 13, isn't that pretty much par for the course?

Don't all 14+ year old girls who have yet to be smooched obsess a little about that?

(I know 16-year old not-yet kissed boys do . . .)

More to your questions:

No, in my opinion, it definitely IS NOT a good idea to wait to share your first kiss (whether with that particular guy or any guy) over the alter. Understand, please, that I'm telling you this as a guy who used to make his daughters repeat that "Daddies pick out your husbands" and "A First Date is called a Honeymoon", but the reality is that, in addition to so many things, a marriage needs have a little passion, especially at the beginning. Except for some Very Rare Personality Types, I'd say that if two people have no trouble keeping their hands off each other, marriage may not be in the cards.

I often counsel engaged couples to spend the last 2+ weeks of their engagement apart, but at the very least no alone-in-the-dark time together, lest Satan tempt them too strongly to no longer be Temple Worthy.

So, No, I don't think kissing should be saved for the Wedding Day. Sex, yes, wait on that. Heavy petting, yes, save that, too. Anything that over-stimulates genitalia (including what we have witnessed at our local High School, which we call "Dirty Dancing" - dumb, dumb, dumb), between a married couple is fine and encouraged; before marriage is a Very Bad Idea.

Waiting to kiss your husband wouldn't be awkward, I hope, but it IS unrealistic (did you see the recent fan-page postings?).

So . . . when does a girl get to kiss a boy?

Well . . . this may kill your mom, but I think you're old enough now.

HOLD ON!

Before you put down the mouse and run out of the house towards What's-his-name, smearing gloss on your pre-puckered lips, let's talk just a bit more.

I want you to be aware that, in the minds of Most Gals, Kissing is a Commitment, and that in the minds of Most Guys . . . that isn't necessarily so. And whether it is a spoken (or perhaps more correctly stated, unspoken) commitment, it will change your relationship with this boy, and perhaps all other boys . . . forever.

You and your mom have figured out that this group of boys you "pal around" with are not just your buddies. You and "QT" have even tossed out there the "what would it be like if we kissed" question (an excellent play by him, I must say; very smooth; well executed and clearly very effective), and it's clearly on both of your minds, so now what?

Once you actually kiss him, or he you, you'll never be able to pretend that you're "just buddies" again; even if you can, he won't be able to. That's a promise. So you'll either be a girl kissing her boyfriend or a girl kissing some guy she has no commitment with. You tell me, is one worse than another?

And what will happen to your social group once all those guys know that you've kissed QT? (Even if he "promises" to keep it a secret, trust me, they'll know. It will slip out in some way, and even if not, people have radar for that kind of stuff. Heck, Sister Jo and I have our Observe Couples Radar so finely tuned that we can walk through Church or the Local High School and tell you fairly accurately just how physically far some people have gone and with whom. So, believe me, your mutual friends will know.

Some of that may be good, and some bad, but Be Aware that it will happen.

And give a little thought, please, to what will happen after. You're 15. The odds of you marrying this guy are pretty much zero. In fact, I can almost guarantee that you'll each date several other people before you're adults, so . . . (and you said so yourself).

How are you going to feel when the first guy you ever kissed kisses someone else? What if that's all he's waiting for before he moves on? Does it surprise you to know that Many Times a kiss is the end of a relationship?

True story.

How will you feel if he brags to his friends that he kissed you? (Don't tell me that you know he won't, because I can promise you he's going to tell people. We all do.)

What if he tells his friends he kissed you, but they give him a hard time, and he covers by saying you were aggressive and it wasn't that great?

OK. That's a lot to throw at you, I know. And, yes, I do believe that you can't think about everything. And I think that over-thinking can rob much of life's joy. (I hope that makes sense . . .)

I'm not saying "don't kiss him", and while I can't say to a 15-year old girl "Go Kiss That Guy" (over 30 SA's I say that to all the time . . .), I will say that I expect you to . . . kiss him, and that it's not an awful idea . . . but please think it through.

And for Gosh Sakes, please, Please, PLEASE -Be Smart. Nothing Too Long or Too Wet. No cars, bedrooms, sofas, or overly-secluded areas. Keep it simple. Don't have too high of expectations (trust me, it takes years of married life to get it right).

On the porch, under the light, with your parents waiting inside and watching through the windows . . .

I might be comfortable with that.

Smell nice, but dress like a nun, lest we old people who care about you fall over and die.

And, I'm going to use your "Life was so much easier when boys had cooties instead of being cuties" line - very clever!

Have fun.

But not too much.

No melted Cheese, please.

Aloha,

- Bro Jo


PS: After talking to Sister Jo, I realized I need to clarify a couple things. As parents we can't imagine giving any pre-mission boy or pre-graduation girl "permission" to kiss one of our children; after that age, sure, but before? No way! Now we might encourage one of our kids to initiate the kissing, but not likely. And we both think his line about asking your parents is . . . creepy at best.

Regarding Kissing Age (I might have to add this to the "Bro Jo's KISSING APPROPRIATENESS" - - which you should read, by the way) Sister Jo says "preteen = no; 14+ = OK"; and we'd both add to that a consideration of the age gap. It's a personal thing for us, and may need to be culturally adjusted, but Teen Girls should not Kiss Adult Guys (with a 17-year old girl and an 18-year old boy being the exception). When I got your email we had just watched "My Father the Hero" as a family. In it a 16-year old Katherine Heigl plays a 14-year old girl who desperately wants to kiss a 17-year old boy played by then 23-year old Dalton James; neither of those age gaps gives us comfort.

PSS:  You better stop playing "Truth or Dare", even by text.  A lot of trouble comes that way.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cheese & Kisses (Non-Hershey's!) - part 1

Dear Bro Jo:

Aloha, again. :-) Remember Mac & Cheese? We're back for more advice, this time on kissing. Some mommy content first then a note from her. (We're writing this email together.) Cheese is being very good for an almost-15 year old. Not dating. (Although, from a mommy perspective I'd LOVE to see you do a column on "What's a date." Not as in "Plan, pickup, pay." which is how it's defined when you *want* your kids to be dating--i.e. age 16 plus, but how do you define it when you're talking about an "underage" kid. We have SO many things come up that seem to be pushing the date/nondate line as far as possible. Like "What if I have 12 guy friends and zero girl friends over for a party--that's not a date, right, mom?" That's what happened last Saturday. Anyway, I digress...)

So of Cheese's enormous "merry band of lads" (as we call them--the guys who we don't call friends because "men & women can't be friends" but who are essentially really nice young men who are more than happy to take any excuse to spend some time in our home, watching a movie, playing games, eating ice cream, etc.) one particular lad seems a bit more equal in her estimation than the rest. A lot more equal. He's been a perfect gentleman, (doesn't touch her, sweet, kind, agrees that a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship would be inappropriate etc.) but he and Cheese clearly have a mutual crush going on, and lately seem to have quite a lot of discussion centered on the topic of kissing. I love that Cheese shares with me, but I thought maybe getting some outside input (from you) on what you think is appropriate would be nice. I'm also including some text conversations... just for fun. (We're calling the guy "QT." Because he *is*. :))

Cheese: Qt has just informed me that he is not going to kiss me until he gets yours and dad's permission first.]
Mommy: So he's planning on kissing you across the altar? Lol!
Cheese: If that's what it takes...haha
Mommy: Ok then...you can tell him you're worth the wait.
Cheese: Haha. If he actually asked you what would you say?
Mommy: IDK. He hasn't. What would you want me to say?
Cheese: Say yes!
Cheese: Here's the hard one. If he went up to dad and asked what would dad say?
Mommy: I would say your kisses don't belong to you to give away. They're the exclusive property of your future husband. So Qt would have to check with him. I'm pretty sure your dad would say something similar.

Mom & Cheese



OK you two - got your email - I'll need to catch my breath and put my Prayerful-ponder Hat on . . . I've got some answers, but I don't want to just shoot from the hip, so hang on for a day or two.

- Bro Jo

Tx! :) We'll look forward to hearing from you.


OK - here we go! Mom's first.


Dear Mom,

Well let's start with the "what's a date?" question first. To that end, here's:


"Bro Jo's DATE or NOT?"

Not - A bunch of kids over at the house watching a video (or any other activity), even if the numbers are even

Date - Kids at a movie theater that are paired up, Even If some in the group are not paired

Not - Kids over at your house for dinner

Date - Kids out to dinner (or any other meal) regardless if the guy pays for the girl or not, even if there's a non-paired kid or two

Not - Priest - Laurel Hiking activity

Date - Deacons and Beehives (or older) going anywhere in pairs that isn't a Church Activity, Even If there's adult supervision

Not - Etiquette Dinner at the Church - Even If the kids are paired up, the guy escorts the girl into where dinner will be held, pulls out her chair and sits by her.

Date - The same circumstances but not at the Church or your home

Not - Going to a Church Dance that IS NOT couples oriented, Even If he holds her hand from the side to the dance floor and they dance slow songs

Date - Going to ANY dance that is traditionally for couples, at Church or anywhere else. Church Winter Gala for Couples and two kids "just happen" to meet there and then spend most of the night together, yeah . . . that's a date. Formal Dance at school, like Homecoming, if it's mostly one guy - one girl, even if he didn't pick her up, buy her dinner, or get her flowers, it's still a date

I know it's a very fine line, and I appreciate the question. You know, Sister Jo and I don't necessarily agree on all of this, either. For example, she says that if a girl has a guy over to her place and they make cookies and watch a video, that's a Date. I say that's "hanging out", and therefore Not a Date, but my oldest boy asked "what if they make out at any point in the evening" and he's right, affection does elevate just about any circumstance to Date-like status, even if Grandma is in the room. If the love interest comes over for Family Game Night and/or Dinner, that's Not Quite a Date, but if after they hold hands on the porch . . . well that IS a Dating Activity.

And that of course, leads us to Cheese's letter . . .

- Bro Jo

[Readers:  Check back Monday for part 2! - Bro Jo]

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Readers Note: A Cheesy Weekend

Dear Readers - This weekend will be bookended by a two-part column.  Remember Cheese?  Well she wants to be kissed (Big Shock) - check out what's going on and weigh-in with your opinion!
- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When the Deck is Stacked Against You

Dear Bro Jo,

I've been reading your blog and the discussion board on your facebook page for a few months now, and I love reading all the advice you give! It's truly inspiring to me, even though most of it doesn't apply at this time in my life.

I'm almost eighteen, and one of only four LDS young adults from my area. One is inactive and attends a secular college several hundred miles away, another recently had a baby with a non-member and stopped attending church, and the other is currently serving his mission. This leaves me very isolated from others of my religion, and although I love my nonmember friends, I often wish I had friends of my own faith in addition to exchanging letters with my friend on a mission. I never went to EFY or any Girls' Camps because my parents are nonmembers and don't really support me, so I have a hard time meeting other Mormon teens. At this age, I'm beginning to really want to date. There's nobody in particular I'm interested in; I'm pretty particular about what guys I'd give my attention to. Too many guys around here do drugs/drinking/casual sex, and I don't want to get into that!

In your opinion, would it be a bad idea to date a nonmember guy, if I can manage to find a generally "good" guy?

Another dating problem I have is that I use a cane, and sometimes a wheelchair, because I was disabled due to a medical mistake as a child. This turns off even the greatest guys I meet, because they get worried about sex. Even the ones who don't want to have sex until after marriage are preoccupied with it now. I'm pretty sure I will be able to have sex, because my problems don't affect any of "that," but I'm not sure how to approach this with the guys. I don't want to go up to any guy I think might be interested but who is hesitant because of my physical problems and tell him I'm fully functional, but sometimes I feel like I should just hang a sign around my neck! ;) I'm not otherwise unattractive, I think... I have a few rather large scars, a bit of acne, and "woman hips," but I don't think I'm ugly or "undateable."

The third and final (for now!) question I have concerns college. I'm currently attending my state's university, but I want to transfer to a college with a high population of Mormons so I can meet more people. I'm considering among BYU, BYU-I, and any other college in Utah (i.e. Utah State). (I know I don't want to go to Southern Virginia because I've had a few incidents with students there and don't want to go someplace I'd be starting out with conflicts with other students!) Do you have any suggestions about this? Would it be a bad idea to apply to transfer just so I can meet an LDS guy? (If you post my email on your blog, please don't include this paragraph with the others.)

Thank you,

Single Sister



Dear Sister,

Thank you for the kind and encouraging words.

If you're still in High School, then Casual Group Dates that include non-members are totally acceptable (in fact, my boys say that CGDs with non-members is often better on several levels).

If you're at a point in your life where you're ready to start Serious and Exclusive Dating (and if you're not now, you will be soon), then that's a different story.

Sure, there are lot's of great non-member guys out there to pick from, but if you believe like I do that marriages (and families) are forever, then choosing someone that has similar convictions is essential.

That's not to say that simply being LDS, or even a Return Missionary, is enough. A label doesn't give us enough insight into the real person. Don't you agree?

You definitely need to meet more like-minded people your age. To that end I think you're on the right track when you write about attending a college or University with a High LDS Student population. To your list I'd add LDS Business College (which boasts yours truly as one of it's alumni), Boise State, Idaho State, San Diego State and Arizona State. I'll post a Discussion on the Facebook Fan Page asking our readers for other schools as well (click HERE).

It's a GREAT IDEA to transfer to a school where you can meet MANY LDS guys!

- Bro Jo

PS - Please let me run the last paragraph. I think it addresses something that could help many. If you want me to change it or strike a particular part, I can do that, but I think your letter is well written as it is.


Dear Bro Jo,

The circumstances in my life have changed that I'm comfortable with it if you want to run my letter as it is. Thank you very much!

- Single Sister


Dear Sister,

You're welcome!

And Good Luck!

- Bro Jo