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.

Please like our Facebook page, and check it often for Discussions, Notes, Events and just General Good Stuff!

Everything here is copyrighted. If you're going to quote any part of anything here, please get Bro Jo's written permission. You can reach him at dearbrojo@gmail.com.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bothered By the People at Church - Part 1

[Readers - this is Part 1 of a two=part column. Part 2 will run next Saturday. - Bro Jo]


Dear Bro Jo,

For a few months I've been having issues getting up for church and occasionally even skipping mutual. I've had a hard time getting myself to go to sleep before midnight or even 2 a.m. or later for about 10 months.

Anyway, now with church stuff it isn't that I can't get up, it's that I really don't like a few people at church. Specifically the YW president and some of the younger girls (I'm 17). The young women’s president says that they miss me at church, but to me it just sounds like the sort of missing someone like "One person isn't here! We MUST get them back!", but not like she really cares that it's me. She still seems to think that my reason for not going to church much is because I can't get up in the morning, and doesn't bother asking if it's anything else. Even when it clearly is.

To put it plainly, quite a few of the younger girls are spoiled brats that are too caught up in popularity and boys. I know I probably sound really judgmental, but I'm just saying how I feel.

Something that has really bothered me recently is when the YW pres said that everyone HAD to help with "New Beginnings". Aren't we in a church that believes in free agency?! She really meant everyone HAD to help, too. Unless they really couldn't be there. I usually avoid things where people say that I have to do something. I know that I always have a choice, but I really hate it when people try to take it from me. IF they had said "Will every one please help?" instead of "Everyone HAS to help" I would have been more likely to help. I'm tired of people trying to force me to do things. Isn't it supposed to be a choice, not forced? Isn't that why we went with Heavenly Father's plan in Heaven? So we could choose for ourselves?!

I do try to choose the right. When people try to restrict me and my agency, I have major problems with that.

On a little lighter note, I have a hard time dealing with most of the youth in my area and ward. I've been homeschooled for years, and their immaturity annoys me too much. I was wondering if you had any ideas on how to deal with this (and of course, the above problem)?

Sorry about ranting and whatnot. Thanks in advance, and I won't blame you if you decide to not answer or pretty much yell at me for this. Sorry and thank you!

- Name Withheld


Dear NW,

I don't know that I'm going to yell, but I will tell you that you need to make an attitude adjustment.

People aren't perfect, but the Gospel is. Don't allow your activity or attendance to be driven by the people, be involved because it's the right thing to do.

If you're having a hard time dealing with the other youth in your area that's something you need to fix, not them. Set aside your rebellious streak and try to be a little more understanding. So what if you didn't get asked to participate in the way that you like? As one of the older girls you're the one that should be setting the examples of positive attitude and volunteering for service with a smile. You're 17, no one should have to issue you a gift wrapped personal invitation.

Neither is it fair for you to burden others with assuming what's bothering you. If you need to talk, talk. If your YW Pres is irritating you, be as mature as you seem to think you are and talk to her about how you feel.

Just remember that this sweet sister has expressed concern for you (which you have to admit, is valid) and that she's probably doing this the best she can, the best way she knows how.

Now, to correct you on a doctrinal point. The phrase is "agency" not "free agency". You can chose to do or not do what you want, but you can't chose how others will react or what the consequences are.

You seem like a good person, but it also seems like you're going through a bit of a selfish streak right now . . .

What's going on?

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 29, 2010

Is he too angry?

Dear Bro Jo,

You're blunt and to the point, and that's exactly what I need right now. Here's my situation.

I've been dating this guy for a year, and for the most part things have been really great. I met him in another state when I was in school, and he moved here a few months ago to be with me.

But...we fight.

I'll give you some examples:

Once we were at a church dance and I was standing with him and my roommate. A slow song came on, and she was standing there awkwardly so I didn't want to abandon her. He left to go dance with another girl and got mad because I cared more about my friend than I cared about him. It was just one slow song, and I was just trying to be a good friend. I'm not sure what would be the right thing to do in that situation, but he made me feel like such a bad girlfriend.

Maybe I was. I still don't know.

A few weeks ago, he bought himself some candy at the grocery store. I didn't like the candy, and when he offered me some, I declined. He said "Take it, or I'm going to get really mad."
I thought he was joking, and I really didn't want the candy, so I said no. At that point, he blew up and called me selfish because he sacrificed so much to move here and be with me, and I couldn't even eat a candy to make him happy. I'm sorry, but since when are relationships based on eating a gross candy?

Another night I was sick and I didn't want to kiss him because I wasn't feeling well and I was so tired, I just wanted some space. He got mad, took off and went home. I wanted him to look after me (is that cheesy?) but it seemed like because I didn't want to make out, I wasn't worth his time. He apoligized later that night, but I was still really hurt.

And most recently, I was at a church event with my boyfriend and my best friend. I suppose I was paying her more attention than I was him (I haven't seen her in forever because we both are in relationships), and he just left and made some comment about how he hoped my friends could make me happy like he never could. I asked him if he wanted to talk, and he said that there was nothing to talk about. He broke up with me, and I drove him home so I could pick up my stuff. I was about to walk out the door when he begged me for one more chance. I said no, forget it, but he said he was going to change.

I have tried so hard to make this relationship work. He used to get mad because I spent a lot of time with my friends and he wanted it to be just the two of us exclusively. So I changed, I've sacrificed a lot of time that I used to spend with friends so that we can be together as much as possible. I don't mind, I love being with him. I do everything I possibly can to make him happy. But he is always getting mad about stupid things and just leaving. He often breaks up with me and as soon as I'm walking out the door he says he's sorry and asks for another chance. I know that the only person I can change is myself, and I have and am still trying to change for the better. The problem is, I keep waiting for him to change too, and he disappoints me every time.

I probably made him sound like an abusive boyfriend, but he's not. He's very loving and sweet and does everything to make me happy. He would do anything for me. My worry though, is say we got married, and one day got into a fight. I'm scared he would come home with divorce papers or something. The fights we get into are soooo stupid. I blame myself every time.

I know every couple gets into fights. Am I blowing these out of proportion?? Am I over-reacting? And is this relationship a waste of time, or should I really give him one more chance? Will he ever change? I love him, and I honestly can't imagine my life without him, but my heart breaks more and more every time.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Worrywart

PS... I don't know if this matters, but I am 20 and he is 23.



Dear WW,

It matters a ton.

Before we get into it, I want to let you know how much I'm enjoying the oxymoron of being "blunt" and "to the point" - ha!

Some couples fight, some not so much (if at all); some grow out of it, and some fight more as time goes on.

Sister Jo and I fought a lot when we were dating and had some doozies when we were first married, some along the same lines that you guys have argued over . . . now not so much. A friend of mine believes that after 7 years of marriage most couples are done fighting about the big stuff, realizing it's either already been fought over or not worth it to argue; perhaps that's true.

So fighting in and of itself isn't a sign to me. But there's something about the fights you've been having: I know I'm only hearing your side of things . . . but there seems to be an "irrational" element that's sending up red flags. Who get's mad that someone won't eat candy?!? I mean if you asked him to buy it, changed your mind and were very unappreciative, then okay, sure. But this . . .

It's like it's an indication that something else is wrong. You know, sometimes we just can't face reality, so we keep clinging to something we know is a mistake because we don't want to admit we messed up. My second son often quotes the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result; that phrase is coming to mind here.

I think ultimately the question you need to ask yourself is: is this the guy you can see yourself spending every day with . . . forever. You mentioned that you keep hoping he'll change, well I have news: it ain't never gonna happen. If it does, it won't because you hoped it to be so. He sounds like a mostly good guy, but if you're not satisfied with who he is, you probably need to move on.

The two of you need to have a talk, and not the kind that starts with a fight and ends with promises we don't intend to keep. There's an elephant in the room, something that's leading to all of these irrational fights. Admitting what it is won't necessarily solve it, but getting out in the open may help you both decide if it's something you can live with.

Communication is the key.

Oh, and let me give you a quick tip: don't put him on the defensive. Instead of saying "you", as in "you confuse me when you lash out at me", use the word "I" as in "I get confused when I don't understand why someone is yelling".

See the difference?

Let me know how it goes.

- Bro Jo

PS: Be sure to read my "Five A's of Why Not to Marry That Person". "Anger" is one of them. So is "abuse".

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Does She Want to be a Date or a Girlfriend?

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a 16 year old girl who is currently crushing on a friend (big surprise). He is a super sweet guy and is fun to be around. He turns 16 in soon so I have some waiting to do, but I'm OK with that. I've already set my standards and plan on not dating exclusively, but I don't think he has the same standards as I do.

My problem is I don't know how to drop hints that I'm interested once he's 16, and I don't know how to make it clear what my standards are.

I only get to see him at stake dances and activities and we've been friends for about 2 years now. I want to let him know I'm interested but don't want to come on too strong or want our friendship to become awkward.

Any tips?

-A Little Confused


Dear LC,

Let me ask: to what end?

Do you want to go on Casual Group Dates with this boy? Will you be content to go out with him once in a while both of you also go out with other people?

Or are you looking to be his girlfriend?

Are you hoping to have a relationship?

Hold his hand . . . possibly do a little kissing?

Whatever your answer, you will soon be leaving the "friends" territory because, as you know if you've been reading my columns, "Men can't stay 'Just Close Friends'" . . .

But then, I don't believe you'd be satisfied with that either . . .

- Bro Jo

PS; As far as "tips" on letting him know your standards and that you'd like him to take you out, nothing works better than Communication; try just . . . Telling him. Tell him what your standards are. Tell him that when he turns 16 you hope he's smart enough to ask you out.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What Should a Girl Do When a Guy Confesses a Pornography Problem?

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a Laurel. I have a male friend (my age) whom I have known casually since we were pre-teens. He lives an hour or so away, but over the summer we've become close friends. We are both serious musicians with the same teacher, so I see him at recitals, competitions, clinics, etc a few times a year; we also chat online. [Note: I see you raising your eyebrows at "close friends." :) I'll explain - we do have mutual feelings and mutual understanding of those feelings, but because we see each other so infrequently, we both know that being "more than friends" just wouldn't work out.] His name here will be James.

James is a member of the church, and as I actually got to know him this year, I was very impressed by his faithfulness and dedication to his priesthood. It's hard to come by truly righteous young men around here. I have 4 brothers, but only one and my father are honorable priesthood holders - all my other siblings left the church (to put it lightly) during a family conflict when I was a little girl. That said, the priesthood is *extremely* important to me - to the bottom of my heart, it is the #1 thing I look for in a guy. One Sunday, after thinking about this for a while, I felt prompted to tell the priesthood holders in my life how grateful I was for their effort and example. I included James.

After I did this, he confessed to me that he hadn't always been that way. He told me that he used to struggle with a pornography addiction. He didn't tell me how long or how deep the addiction was; all I know is that he was finally able to kick the habit something like 2 months ago. He didn't talk to his bishop, but his mother helped him. He said that now he rarely feels the temptation to look again, and his testimony of the Atonement has grown strong.

Pornography (and the ideas it promotes about women and sex) has always been a very sensitive topic for me. They always tell us in YW that it's very important for us to support the YM in their priesthood, and I'm eager to do what I can. And I can't imagine Satan has totally given up on that foothold in poor James. So, this is my question. It's only been 2 months - do you think he still needs help getting fully over the addiction? And is there anything I can do, as a young woman, friend, even a romantic interest, to help him keep clean thoughts/intentions/whatever?

I overthink things a little bit, but I'd imagine you of all people would understand that. :)

Thank you so much,

A Concerned Daughter of God :)


PS: He just told me today that he does still struggle with sexual thoughts sometimes. So now I do really need your advice!


Dear Concerned,

I think you've discovered exactly what I was going to suggest: that he does still have a problem.

You know . . . my initial response question to you is the same: why do you think he's . . . "confessing" to you?

It seems odd, doesn't it?

At first blush one might think that he said something as a way to share his testimony with you.

Tangent Break: I have a real problem with people, especially adults, who have the misguided notion that confession of past sin is a way to either a) commune with the listener, or b) give their testimony more power. I've struggled to understand why people share intimate details of their lives, often with others that they barely know, particularly things that are so private, so personal that their bishop would never share them . . . things that should be between the person and God. 


 I've come to the conclusion that they either haven't truly accepted the Lord's forgiveness, and so are seeking some sort of absolution or understanding from the person they're talking to, they want to seem "dangerous" or "cool" or "hip" to others, or both. If neither were true, they'd keep the facts to themselves; rather than tell what they did wrong, a person could simply bear their testimony of repentance and Christ, right? Which has more power? Think about it: one focuses on the sinner, placing images of their past transgressions in our heads, the other focuses on the Savior . . .

This is why parents, leaders, and teachers should never divulge the specifics of what they've done wrong . . . at least not with the big stuff.

Concerned, I think this guy is telling you these things because he wants some reassurance from you that, even though he messed up, you still care about him as a person and, whether he consciously knows it or not, he also needs to be encouraged to go see his bishop. Addiction is not something that just "goes away"; addicts must be ever vigilant against that which tempts them. The Lord will give them peace and comfort, but his succor is best if we seek him fully.

Remind your friend that each of us is subject to temptation, but what separates us as disciples of Christ is knowing to turn to Him and His Gospel when those moments come. And suggest to him that if he's still struggling that he talk to the bishop.

All guys think about girls, even if we don't have pornography addictions. Just yesterday I was checking out Sister Jo at Church, thinking "that is one sexy woman!" We guys are kind of wired that way. I know that makes many of you sisters uncomfortable, and on behalf on men and boys everywhere I apologize. I also hope you have a better understanding of why you should dress modestly . . .

One last thing: often the reason a guy tells a girl about the lustful things in his life is that, in his own very bad way, he's trying to communicate to her that he finds her attractive . . . physically. I'm not saying that's the case here, but it probably is. So don't put yourself in a situation with this young man where either of you might end up doing things that require confession, okay?

That's what you can do to help him:

1) Testify of Christ
2) Encourage him to talk to his Bishop
3) Dress modestly
4) Be pure

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much! This helps me a ton. I will definitely follow your advice! I don't know how he will feel about talking to his bishop but I will at least plant the seed. :)

P.S. You said: "I know that makes many of you sisters uncomfortable, and on behalf on men and boys everywhere I apologize." Erm... "uncomfortable" is putting it lightly. I'd sooner use say something more like "deeply uneasy" or "disturbed." Hahaha. But I'll be sure to keep myself covered. o.O

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Girl at Home - Part 4

Readers,

In September I ran a series of letters titled “The Girl at Home” who was planning on waiting for her boyfriend who just left on a mission, but then she met a guy she really liked. (To read the original post, click HERE). I contacted her a while back, and here’s how it played out.

– Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,


Thank You Bro Jo!


Luckily he ended up asking me out for a date later on this!


- NS

Dear NS,


Have fun!


- Bro Jo


[Several weeks later.]


Dear NS,


Curious: how did it go?


- Bro Jo


It was great! We made sushi, because his family is pretty big on it, and I've never had it before then we went for a walk and later to see a movie. It was a lot of fun!


Thank you Once again!


So . . . where are things with him now?


Well he's just my friend but, since then he's moved back to Utah, and we've talked a couple times.


No regrets?


None what-so-eveer!


Readers, as I've said a hundred times, I don't think it's in the best interest of the missionary nor the girl at home for them to make some kind of commitment before he leaves.  He needs to be free to serve and she needs to be free to live.  When he comes back, if she's still single, by all means date!  Sometimes they'll discover that it's meant to be, but often not.

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 22, 2010

When Your Friend Dates Your Love Interest

Dear Bro Jo,

Its been almost two years since I was first introduce to your site, and I am still an avid reader. The advice you gave to me and others has helped me grow and learn so much! But with the new learning came new experiences and new trials. I hope you don't mind me asking for your help again.

College life brought new dates, new guys, and new heartbreaks. Each time I was able to stand back up and continue with my life. That is, until this summer. Lets keep it simple and say things got complicated with a lot of misunderstandings. It was really hard, and for a while I just shut myself off to the world.

One Friday near the end of July, I heard there was and institute dance, and since all of my friends were still home, I thought I'd go meet more people and start socializing again. Well, I did meet someone, I met an RM, who I started hanging out with a lot, and (since I know the argument of Guys and girls can't be just friends) We became slightly more than friends. He invited me to go to his family reunion, and everyone joked I would come back with a ring on my finger. But because I was still getting over summer heart breaks, and for his own reasons, we decided we would wait a bit for our lives to get straightened out, which may have been a mistake.

A week later, my friends came back for the college semester, and my best friend in the whole wide world comes to spend as much time with me as possible to make up for the month and a half we were apart. Well, during that week, I finally got my life in order, and was going to say something to him, when I got a note, apologizing for the fact that it was written on paper than explained face to face, that he did not return the feelings I had for him, though earlier he had.

I have begun to notice my best friend getting really close to him and he really liking her, though its only been a week since she got back. they swear they are "just friends" and invite me along everywhere, but I keep feeling like a third wheel, and an invisible one at that.

And the sad truth, though I know I shouldn't, I still like him. A lot. and I love hanging out with him, but at the same time, it hurts so much. I don't know what to do, or how to tell them how I feel.

I told my best friend how I feel, but she doesn't care. Well, her apology consisted of "sorry you feel that way."

I really want to tell him, that I still... I really don't know anymore. I am so confused, and juggling school and work and eating, (yes I have to juggle that) is not making this easier.

Thanks for your time, and thanks for all of your help both times.

Still Discombobulated in Dublin



Dear DeeDee,

Thanks for enduring! It's good to hear from you again, though I'm sorry the circumstances aren't more pleasant . . .

I have sad news: he's moved on, and as can be expected, your friend has picked a boy over you.

You're not alone.

As wonderful and charming as I am (which, let's face it, is quite!) I've had some similar experiences. One time I got "back together" with a girl I was head over heels for (on my 16th birthday, I think). The next week, while I was out of town with my family she was busy making out with my "best friend" (who, in his defense, had no idea we'd gotten together). It was all a game for her. They stayed together for nearly a year. We were in many of the same classes and activities at school, so every day was a heartache . . . for quite a long time. Well . . . at least it felt like a long time. I had a new love interest in about a month . . . but I was bitter much longer than that.

If it means anything I think she's now divorced and he's "gay" . . .

HA!

Either way, I win, because she's nowhere near the catch I have in Sister Jo (who, by the way, is a much better friend than he ever was).

So hang in there. Keep expanding your circle of friends.

Oh, and if I was you, I'd stop playing third wheel. Why should you have to endure seeing them together? (You and I both know they're not "just friends"; they can't be.)

Find some new people to hang out with. You'll be glad you do.

I'm not saying to dump her as a friend, but if they stay together for any length of time . . . well, you know.

Stay healthy, please.


- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Drop Him

Dear Bro Jo,

I love reading all your stuff! and I believe you can help me . . . I have a problem . . . I'm almost 17 and have had my fair share of dates in the past year.

I went to EFY at the end of July and met this boy... let’s call him Night.

Well we hung out immediately the following week and went on three dates: double, single, then a group date. We got really close and told each other everything. Well I found out that back in May he and his friends were playing cops and robbers and robbed someone.

He, along with his friends, got charged with aggravated robbery... and he has a probation officer. Well at the time I didn't know what aggravated robbery was, and he is a good kid, has his mind set on a mission, temple marriage, etc., and is working on it with a Bishop. He just made a bad decision.

So I kinda pushed it to the back of my mind and my parents were out of town so I hadn't told them yet.... so we kept dating and we didn't have the title of boyfriend and girlfriend, because I don't want an actual boyfriend. But we liked each other a lot and pretty much acted like we were together...

Well my parents came back to town and I told them . . . and they told me what aggravated robbery was . . . knowing that it involves a gun that made me nervous

My parents told me to pray and fast about what to do. I did and I had a feeling I needed to break it off... so I did.

Well he understood, and I told him i still had really strong feelings for him.. it’s not like I stopped liking him.. it was just for the best.. and I HOPE and THINK he understood that... and we talked about if he stayed out of trouble and got off probation we maybe could bring up dating again.

Neither of us have ever had a boyfriend or girlfriend... but we both had dated a lot... and never met anyone like each other. He is one of those guys that just has all the qualities and standards that I have set since I was little... and he has treated me better than any boy ever had in the past.. I have liked boys... but not like I have like Night.

Well since I broke it off I miss him like crazy... and its been hard... with the new school year started I am meeting new boys... but i still think about him a lot.. We still talk and are trying to stay friends but since he goes to another school it become difficult... i don't want to abandon him like a lot of people have because if his mistake in the past. But it seems he almost hates me now... I told him I missed him a lot...and all he said was 'haha' and that has happened on multiple occasions... I care about him SO MUCH!!! And I don't want to lose him... but I'm afraid I am... HELP!

What should I do?

I need some advice on the whole situation.

Thanks!

- Strugglin'



Dear Struggling,

Lose him like a rabbit running from wolves.

Drop him like a hot rock.

Run away, Huck Finn.

There are so many red flags in your letter I don't know as I can count them all.

No one wakes up one day and says "hey, buddies, wouldn't it be funny if we robbed someone at gun point?"

IF this story is true, and I'm not sure it is, there's way more wrong with this guy than you know.

If it's not, then there's way more wrong with this guy than you know.

Either way he hasn't been real honest with you, and that is a red flag that should never be ignored.

I don't know how physical things got with this guy, but I have a suspicion that you two did a little more than just pal around. Go back and read what you wrote! You may not have labeled your relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend, but that's exactly what you were. Three dates in one week?!? Come on! That's not Casual; that's Serious. And a serious mistake at that Like you said: you acted like you were together.

.

[Semi-related tangent time: shame on your parents for leaving their 16-year old daughter at home and dating guys they don't know while they left town. Seriously, the group of you need to review my "Bro Jo's Dating Rules for Teens". You, young lady, need to be on a bit tighter leash.]

And you need to see the signs: the Spirit prompted you to break it off, but you keep fighting that prompting. THAT is a recipe for disaster.

You said you've dated a lot; good for you! Keep it up. Just with other guys than this one. It's not like you're hurting for attention or date opportunities; move on.

And, please please please, realize that "Guys can't stay just close friends with girls", no matter how far apart your schools are.

It was a fling; consider it flung.

Hopefully you've learned something.

When a good deal of time has passed, if he really does serve an honorable mission, and if you're still single when he comes back . . . well, let's cross that bridge when we get to it.

- Bro Jo

PS: One more flag not to ignore is that you said you were "afraid"; no girl should stay in any situation with a boy if she fears, even if the fear is losing him.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Doin' a Little Pre-Mission Kissin'

Dear Bro. Jo,

I have a somewhat confusing question for you. I really need an impartial third party's opinion on this.

About a year ago, I started liking this guy. (Oh, by the way, I am 17 and this guy is 18 now.) I didn't really think anything would come of it because I felt he was so out of my league. Well, later I somehow got up the courage to ask him to our school's valentines dance. He quickly said yes and we hit it off on the first date. We've been on three other dates since than and we hang out with our friends and family a lot. All of this time, I was just thinking that this really wasn't that big of a deal. That we were just good friends and he would go off on his mission and come back without any problems.

Than about a week and a half ago, I went on a date with him. We went to a movie with one of my friends and her date. Nothing happened during the movie and I didn't expect anything to happen. But on the way home, he held my hand the entire car ride. When we got to my house, he kissed me. I was completely shocked. I didn't know what to do. Now you must realize a few things before I continue. First, this boy is honestly the best guy I have ever met in my life. He is a very strong member of the church, respects me and all of my friends, is conveniently very handsome, and a bunch of other things that just makes him great.

Another is that he was my first kiss. I've waited to meet someone worthy of dating and kissing because it is a major deal to me. I got teased sometimes because I didn't have a boyfriend, but I knew when the time was right I'd meet somebody. Well, I did. He kissed me, walked me to the door, kissed me again, and left. Later, we hung out with my family and as he was leaving he kissed me again.

Now I was fine with this until I remembered that he had turned in his papers. He got his call his Wednesday. He's leaving in November to go to (location withheld). And I have no idea what to do. I really really like this guy. And apparently he likes me too. But with him leaving, I just don't know what to do. I don't want to be a distraction while he prepares to leave, but for the first time ever I have a guy in my life.

Do you have any advice for me? I keep asking my friends and family but they are so smitten with the fact that this guy likes me that they try to do everything in their power to make sure I keep seeing him. He means a lot to me. Not just as a crush or potential boyfriend, but as a friend. He's been there for me when I've been through really hard times. I really love having him in my life. But right now, I'm so confused at what to do. If you have any advice, I'd love to hear it. Like I said, you are an impartial third party.

Thank you so much. And sorry about the length of this email.

-Missionary Crush


Dear MC,

Well . . . I'm probably going to take some heat on this . . . but I've always promised my readers that I'll give it to them straight, so here goes:

I don't think you have much of a problem here.

Honestly.

Look, you know I don't encourage the Boyfriend-Girlfriend Thing at your age, but I'm also not so naive as to think it doesn't happen, either. You should be Casual Group Dating and following the DATING RULES, and by that I mean mixing it up every other date.

You haven't been doing that. I understand that as a Young Woman you don't feel like you have much control over that . . . you do have more control than you probably realize, but that's a discussion for perhaps a different day . . . but that's part of why you're at where you are, and why it's so confusing.

Are you a distraction?

Well, sure you are. You're a girl, he's a guy . . . that's all it takes.

Are you enough of a distraction that he won't go on his mission?

I doubt it.

Unless you profess your love for him, make some "post mission" I'll-wait-for-you promise that you shouldn't, or do something that would make the two of you un-Temple worthy, I don't see this as a huge problem.

OK, you kissed him.

So what?

Oh, wait . . . I mean: Good For You!

You're 17, for gosh sakes!

Look, I'm not saying that every 17 year-old should run right out and start making out in the park, but I don't see any problem with two kids your age who've been on a couple dates kissing goodbye once in a while.

(That's the part I expect will freak people out.)

And it's OK to hold hands, too.

I do have some "keep it safe" guidelines, like:

- Nothing horizontal
- Not in a car, on a sofa, or in a room where no one can walk in on you
- Never in your bedroom or his
- Keep your hands to yourself, and keep his hands off you


As long as you follow those, it's OK to keep seeing him. (I do think you should date other boys, too.)

And then, in November, kiss him goodbye.

Literally.

Let him go on his mission with no attachments, commitments or promises back home; and let yourself go on with the rest of your life in the same way.

When he comes back, IF you're not seriously seeing anyone (and you may very well be, especially since you should keep dating and will be Serious Dating Age before he returns) and IF he's interested and you're interested, THEN you can consider dating him again.

But cross that bridge then.

Not now.

If you're uncomfortable and want to break things off at any time, by all means do. No girl should stay with a guy solely because her friends or family think it's "cute".


- Bro Jo

PS: The length of your email was fine.

PSS: You do realize, I hope, you've crossed out of the "friend zone" and can never go back. Nor should you try.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Win a Copy of "Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating"!

Readers,

You can win a copy of "Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating" from my publisher, Walnut Springs Press! Click HERE.

Good luck!

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bro Jo's "FIND the BOOK" Photo Contest!

Readers,

Enter for your chance to win an Amazon.com gift certificate!

Click HERE for the rules and other information.

Good luck!

- Bro Jo

Love Who You Are

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for all your advice. I love reading your tips. Thanks for your bluntness, I think that's the most important aspect of advice-giving.

Quick background on me: I'm female, 20 years old, attending BYU (been here 2 years), and I've been on one legitimate date in my life.

I grew up hearing my mom talk about all the dates she use to go on at BYU (she and my dad met/married here). Sometimes several dates per week. I was so looking forward to that when I came out here to BYU for my freshman year... then nothing happened.

I was SO eager to date at BYU that when I realized that the guys weren't asking, I started asking them on dates . I hoped that would spark return dates from them, but no such luck. I realize now that was a pretty stupid thing to do and probably turned them off more than anything, so I've since stopped.

This past year was my second year at BYU, my "chance at redemption," if you will. I tried to do the Right Things that would make me attractive, but nothing worked. Now, I'm not even sure what those Right Things are.

There are plenty of guys in our ward, plenty of people getting engaged, and I know that people are dating. I attend all the activities I can and enjoy socializing with all the great guys in my ward. But none of them are asking me on dates.

Something happened last week that got me wondering. I gave a spiritual thought in Ward Prayer, and a lot of guys complimented me on it. I get that a lot: compliments on how Nice, how Good, how Spiritual I am. I'm afraid that I might be one of those Sweet Spirits, as they are called. I feel like guys just see me as a Good Person, but not a romantic interest, not physically attractive, not date material. (This is the only explanation I've been able to come up with for my situation, so maybe you have another idea of what's going on.)

On the same note, I LOVED the First Presidency Message for June. I especially liked the "What Is True Beauty?" section at the end. I love this part: "The kind of man a virtuous woman wants to marry also “seeth not” as the natural man seeth (see 1 Samuel 16:7). He will be drawn to the true beauty she radiates from a pure and cheerful heart. The same is true for a young woman looking for a virtuous young man."

That is what I want. But how do I move out of the so-called Sweet Spirit zone and into the Dateable/Marriageable zone? What's the real difference? What makes a girl attractive (and nice) vs. just Nice?

Sincerely,

Too Sweet?


Dear Sweet,

Thank you for reading 'Dear Bro Jo", and for your kind, encouraging words; very appreciated.

Look, there are things a gal can do (see Bro Jo's "HOW a GIRL CAN GET a BOY'S ATTENTION") to attract guys, and things a gal can do to get guys to call (see Bro Jo’s TEN WAYS a GIRL CAN GET a GUY to CALL) or ask her out on a date (see Bro Jo's "HOW a GIRL CAN GET a GUY to ASK HER on a DATE") and maybe some of those will work for you, and maybe some of them won't. You can certainly try a few things out to see what helps.

But ultimately the point is to be the best YOU you can be. There's nothing wrong with being a Sweet Spirit! Yes, BYU (and the world) is full of girls who, let's face it, just naturally seem to get lots of attention from guys; superficial attention. And lots of those girls get lots of dates and many of them, especially at the Y, get married young and if we're being honest with ourselves we'll confess that they're typically cute little things with lots of hair and blah-blah-blah.

And perhaps you look like them, and perhaps you don't.

And this is of course not to say that every little blonde girl from Happy Valium . . . oh, sorry, I mean "Happy Valley", isn't also bright and smart and talented . . .

But I don't think it profits a person much to compare themselves with others. Like I said, you need to be the best YOU you can be.

Don't leave the zone you're in; be proud of who you are; recognize your individual worth, and . . . well, flirt a little.

You're on the right track having realized that you shouldn't ask guys out; now go out there and be the woman you're meant to be.

- Bro Jo

PS: Yes, I always say to date a lot, but remember, it's the Last First Kiss that's the most important, not all the ones before that.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Warning Signs

Dear Bro Jo

First of all I want to thank you again for all the work that you do and put into the articles. Your responses have always put a clearer view on things for me.

I'm having difficulty determining whether or not to trust a guy I've been talking to. My best friend started talking to this guy (we'll call him Jake) a couple months ago. We had both met him at a YSA dance.

He's a convert to the church, 26, very nice. She and he spoke on the phone all the time for about a week. He asked her out on a date and she said yes.

Heres where it get complicated. Between him asking her out and the evening they had planned on a girl we weren't too familiar with from church started talking to my friend as well. She said he couldn't be trusted and copied and pasted conversations she had had with him to prove it. When confronted with it he also copied and pasted conversations he'd had with her.

Only they didn't match up. Parts were left out. We weren't sure which one of them to trust, so my friend decided to cancel the date just to be on the safe side. Well a couple of weeks ago this guy starts talking to me on facebook. He seems really nice and we've talked on the phone a few times. The only thing I really didn't find too appealing was the fact that he has no off switch to his flirting.

After talking a few times he asked if I wanted to see a movie with him. I said sure and then called my friend. She told me to be careful and not get too attached to him. She still didn't trust him. Anyway, something came up and we weren't able to make it on our date. We continued to talk to eachother like normal.

Then one day I'm sitting in a baptism. I forgot to turn off my phone and it started vibrating. I saw it was Jake calling so I turned it on silent and ignored it. I left the phone on my lap after that and he proceeded to call me 5 times in a row. I started to get a little concerned. I didn't think he would call me in an emergency so I decided I would wait till the end of the baptism and call him back.

I did and when I found out it wasn't an emergency I thought of how my friend didn't trust him and I got a little scared and angry. I told him that I was angry and that I didn't think calling me 5 times in a row was very cute behavior. He said he only did that because I had called him 5 times in a row and hung up. My phone has no record of calling him though. So I decided not to talk to him for a couple days and to try to decide whether or not he could be trusted.

I prayed about it but still wasn't sure. He started up a chat with me on facebook and started telling me how I make his days better and how I have an energy of joy, etc. and that God is so proud of me. I thought that was one heck of a compliment. But i'm still not sure how I feel about him or if I should even be his friend for that matter.

Any advice or your thoughts on this matter would be greatly appreciated. I need some unbiased opinions. I can't talk to my friend because shes made up her mind about him.

Thank you soo much!

Trust Issues



Dear Trust,

I have very little tolerance for dishonesty (or incompetence, but that we'll save for another time).

Usually when one girl tells another girl to stay away from a guy, whether she's been involved with him or not, there's typically an ulterior motive or some sort of reality-bending bias, and her advice should be taken with a grain of salt.

But this guy's behavior seems erratic and irritating.

I have no problem with the flirting, sort of. People often cross the line to where "flirting" is just obnoxious or creepy; it's like they're too horny and can't shut it off.

But what I really have a problem with is him saying you called him when you clearly didn't, and his irrational and immature response when you told him how you felt about his repeated calls. He should have apologized, not lied and hung up.

If you letter had ended with your friend's experience, I would have said that I thought she jumped the gun by cancelling her date . . .

And, you know, in general I tell gals that they should go out when asked . . .

But I draw the line at guys that are scary, creepy, or deranged, and this bubba sounds like he may just be all of the above.

Too many fish in the sea.

Stop chatting with him on Facebook and via text. Be polite, but increase the distance between you.

Compliments aren't enough to make up for what this dude is lacking.

I think you need to see the warning signs, and if you can't trust him at least trust what the Spirit has been telling you.

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 11, 2010

The "Unforgivable" Mistakes

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for your previous advice. I appreciate that you told me not to be a drama queen. I needed it.

Now I have another question.

I know a young man who is sweet, kind, compassionate, caring, intelligent, and musical (which is important for me). He is 15. I'm 16.

He will turn 16 in a few more months. I was rather excited for this because he is the type of guy to ask girls out and we we're good friends. But this past week I found out that he had a "thing" with a mutual friend last year on trek. He texted her that they should "cool things off" last fall.

This shocked me. He didn't seem like the type. And it saddened me. Because I save myself for nice guys. I don't have "things" with people. Especially not when I'm younger than 16. Why can't they do the same?

The only good thing about this is that I didn't get emotionally attatched this time. I have before and when I realized the guy wasn't what he seemed to be I was depressed for weeks. Even months. But this time I'm not sure what I did or didn't do but I didn't get emotionally attatched. I have almost no interest in dating him now. I saw him again since I heard the news and realized he is the biggest flirt. But he's still nice to me and I'm not sure that he wouldn't be interested in dating me once he turns 16.

So how do I behave?

Do I keep being friendly and struggle not to like him/ become emotionally attatched even though he's the best guy friend I've ever had?

Or do I be barely polite, keep away from him as my brain prompts me to do because I don't like what he's done?

Please help Bro Jo I'm so confused.

I guess my biggest question is why do people have "things"? It really hurts.

I don't want to get emotionally attatched and then get my heart broken again.

~16 going on heartbreak



Dear 16,

Just exactly what are we talking about when you say "he had a thing"?

Did he have sex with her?!?

Or were they just "boyfriend and girlfriend"?

Did they make out repeatedly while sharing a sleeping bag??

Or did he send her lots of emails and think of her all the time?

Did they go skinny dipping in the lake, or simply stare at each other from across the room?

Because you're making this sound like whatever he did has made him no longer worthy to date . . . and I'm not sure that I'd treat all of the above as a deal-breaker . . .

- Bro Jo

PS: You'll be doing yourself a favor if you stop using the phrase "guy friend".



Dear Bro Jo,

I get it. I should clarify. He is not the type of guy to really do anything BAD. As in, sex, making out etc. But they held hands, hung out with each other constantly and possibly kissed a time or two.

I am not terribly picky. But one thing I really dislike is when people do things like that (holding hands, kissing even casually) when they know they won't stay with that person for any long period of time. It seems that holding hands, which to me is special, takes absolutely no commitment and that really gets under my skin. And so I understand I probably sound outdated even to some old-fashioned people.

And I'm not asking that everyone start playing by my rules. But I do wish I knew how to deal with the fact that relationships are so utterly casual nowadays.

And what's wrong with "guy friend"? Sorry I don't get it :)

~16


Dear 16,

Hey, you're talking to "Mr. Old-fashioned", so I get where you're coming from. And you're certainly entitled to set your own rules, and I'm not going to argue with you over the "special-ness" of hand-holding and kissing; I agree that too many people take that (and much, much more) too casually.

However . . .

I wasn't just asking for clarification, but trying to make a point as well. You seem ready to completely write this guy off because he spent time with a girl he liked, held her hand a couple times and MAYBE kissed her (and I'm with you, I bet he did) . . . I just think that's a bit over-reactionary and harsh.

I think you should still date him if he asks (remember: Casual Group Dates only at your age) and show him that you're not as . . . willing . . . as his previous girlfriend.  Go out, have a fun time, just don't do any hand-holding or kissing.

THAT'S how you behave. If he ever asks, sure, tell him you're disappointed (even a little grossed out) by the fact he had a girlfriend and "did some stuff" with her. But I'll tell you now, if you require all of your future dates to be guys who've never touched a girl . . . well, the only guys left will be the ones too scared and shy to ask you out.

As far as the "guy friend" thing, wow, you know, I've written so much about that already . . .

Here are some links where you can read up on all of that:

HERE and HERE.

But the bottom line is that "Guys Can't Stay Just Close Friends with Girls" - and that's a fact.

If you still don't get it, let me know.

- Bro Jo

PS: You seem pretty focused on just this one guy (which I hope you realize doesn't make you too much different than the girlfriend); I hope you and your fellow 16-year old girls are getting guys to take you on some Casual Group Dates!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Stealing Another Guy's Girl - Part 2

Hey Bro. Jo,

I took a home econ. class my senior year and we talked about all this dating stuff and when it came to the casual group dating subject everyone frowned on it. So if I did go up to this girls boy friend and tell him all that, he would probably deck me in the face.

I guess this is where the whole, one foot in the world and one in the kingdom thing really starts to come to play...

I guess I need to decide where I stand. I know everything will turn out right in the end with the lords help...

Gee Wiz I hate being a teenager...

Signed,

Back for more



Dear Back,

Ha! I totally understand: being a teen can be rough going. But it's not all bad; if it was there wouldn't be so many of us old people saying "if I could only go back knowing what I know now . . ."

Flirting can be a weird thing. Does she really like you? Is she just using you to prove to herself that guys think she's attractive? Is she trying to make the boyfriend jealous? Or is it all just harmless, meaningless fun?

That can be tough to say . . .

Especially if you don't know her well (or as well as you may think). Heck, it could be all or some of the above!

So maybe instead of talking to him you just talk to her.

When it comes to "stealing another guy's girl" I think I've been on both sides of every situation.

There was the "best friend" that made out with my new girlfriend while I was out of town; a myriad of girls that I asked out that friends liked (some I knew about, some I didn't) because those friends were too slow, too shy, or the type of guys that claimed every pretty girl within 100 miles to be their unspoken soul mate; the girls I never asked out because friends liked them (only to find out that those girls preferred me over the other guys); the girlfriend I caught making out with her ex-boyfriend when I stopped by her house to give her flowers; and probably every other scenario you can imagine.

Like you and I have said: being a teen can be hard!

So, I guess what I'm saying is "talk to her"; tell her you like her but you don't want to make her boyfriend mad. As I said, at least then you'll know.

If you don't talk to her you'll always wonder "what if?"


- Bro Jo

PS - I think there's a reason the Lord sends guys on missions from 19-21 . . . when you get back you'll understand what I mean.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Lonely Marine

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a US Marine stationed with 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company in Okinawa, Japan. I grew up in the church and am still a solid, testimony bearing member. I even ride my bike 43 miles every Sunday just to get to church. But as of late I've ran into some problems. There are very few members stationed out here and even fewer female members.

I've been following the current events of friends and family back home through Facebook, and many of my high school and seminary companions have started to get engaged and some already married. I very much miss the dating scene back home and feel really left out. I had a pretty serious relationship going before I left but we split because I didn't want her to feel obligated to wait 3 years for me. And honestly I don't really want to wait 3 years either. I've always had this very strong desire to get married and start a family, but I guess most people do. I've been meeting some of the gorgeous local girls and my Japanese is getting pretty good but temple marriage is very important to me. What do you think?

Any light you can shed on this situation would be greatly appreciated.

- Lonely Marine



Dear Marine,

Let me start by saying thank you for your testimony, example, and service to our country.

As for your dating issue, as I see it you've got a few options.

1) Wait it out until you're back home. You've already indicated that this is bothering you, so let's rule it out from the start.

2) Go back to Casual Group Dating mode, as if you were still a pre-mi and go on group dates with your buddies. Could be fun for a while, and may even be a way for you to meet some great girls. I give it a hesitant thumbs up; you'll need to go with buddies who won't put you in a compromising situation, and this is a temporary fix at best.

3) Stick to dating only the Single Sisters you're stationed with. You seem to have already ruled this out, and I wonder if that's not premature. You said there's not many to pick from, and that may be, but it also indicates that they exist. My gut is that you may be too picky. Could also be a unit or military rule (written or otherwise), and if that's the case, I totally understand. If it's not, I think you owe a couple Sisters dinner.

4) Use your new language skills and start finding Single Japanese Sisters. This one is actually my favorite option. It will require some work on your part, but may yield the most rewards. There's, what, four military branches in Okinawa, but there are two local wards, too. Maybe you need to break out of your branch.

5) Combine your new language skills with your previous mission experience and see if the two of them together don't put an end to your dating woes. I'm not suggesting that you go out and convert yourself a bride . . . but I'm not ruling it out either. You've got to be really careful here, culturally and spiritually. If a girl converts it needs to be with or without you, not because of you. Does that make sense?

You could combine 4 and 5 into one other option . . . check with the elders serving in your area and see if there are any recently converted sisters who need some fellowship . . . I like that idea, too.

Most importantly, have you noticed what I haven't suggested?

Don't give up temple marriage all together simply because you're lonely.

I'm curious what your brothers in arms suggest . . . how they're dealing with the same situation you are.

Keep me posted,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

One Year Wiser

Dear Bro Jo!

So, I'm not really one to ask for help from a source outside my Bishopric, but I know lots of other people are, and that's just fine! But I do read your blogs, because I find them interesting, and sometimes even entertaining. I was just going to write you, and let you know my story, maybe it'll help you out when you give advice, I see all the time when girls and guys always say 'well my area doesn't have a lot of members, so I date non-members' and, that in itself isn't a bad thing but you have to look out for yourself and your spiritual well-being, and I know firsthand how easy it is to not realize when you don't feel it as often or strongly, because of a relationship.

Now don't get me wrong, I’m still going on a mission, the Strength for the Youth was followed and shared, but I think more detail will help. I met this girl while I was doing a community theatre show in my area, we hit it off, and I (not being all that suave, and fit, but without coordination) impressed her by being myself, more specifically I’d find junk around the dressing rooms and backstage and craft animals out of them...it's actually endearing, you'd get it if you were there, but I’d ask her 'what'll it be today?' and she'd make a request; hippo, giraffe, deer, you name it. Anyways one of the worst things you can do in a cast is date someone within, it's called Showmance, and its bad news bears. So I waited until after the show ended, and asked her out on a date. Things went well, we continued dating, and began going steady.

OK here is where the saying hindsight is 20/20 kicks in...because I slap myself in the forehead a lot over this one. around this time I lost my job, I’ve taken a year in between graduating high school, and going on my mission to save up for my mission and University if it'll stretch. Now the details are this, they asked me to change my shifts so that instead of working days, with weekends off I’d be working nights and have Friday and Saturday off. At the time I rationalized that if I had to work Sundays the job wasn't worth it, but now I think it was more because I didn't want to quit the show and not see this girl anymore. I couldn't say no because I was still within the first 90 days of employment and they would fire me if I didn't change, so I quit.

So now I’m dating this girl, no job, and meanwhile I’ve been called to the primary (AWESOME calling) and been released and called as a Branch Missionary. (Also good, but seriously, primary is the best...) I tried talking about the gospel with her throughout our relationship but she wouldn't have any of it, and usually I’m really really good about this sort of thing, and would have just bailed, but I didn't, I really liked her, and thought she'd come around.

Months passed, we became closer as people, but no headway was made as far as the Church was concerned. finally we had one of those monumental talks as a couple, it ended with me telling her I loved her, and as important to me as she is, I HAD to go on a Mission, not for myself but for other people who felt this kind of thing, but had no idea it could be eternal, it was my duty to help them be eternal families. that didn't go over well...

Now, as for those months that passed, over their course I had stopped praying regularly, maybe two or three times a week, I had stopped reading my scriptures outside of church, I was unemployed from November until May (not that I didn't try to find a job, I really did, but all I could find was handyman jobs, and those would last a couple of days at the most) my journal was lacking, the only credit I can give myself is that I went out with the missionaries often, sometimes four times a week, and bore my testimony alongside theirs frequently. Needless to say I was not doing well for a future missionary, I was coasting. And it all started with this girl. I chose her over the Lord by going steady and not focusing on my mission, I chose her over the Lord when I quit my job instead of finding a different solution to the problem. Thank goodness I saw sense and drew a line, but it was difficult. I can literally say it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. I do still love her, it doesn't get easier, but with an eternal perspective anything is possible.

My papers are now in and I’ve started my own landscaping company, I’m still a Branch Missionary, and go out with the Missionaries just as frequently, I've been working to complete my Scripture Mastery, and I often teach twice a Sunday, also I’m beginning Temple Prep. classes in the next week or two! I think of her every day, she's moved on now, and we don't actually talk at all, the last time was when I asked her to come to a choir presentation I was in three days after we broke up, in a last ditch effort to get her into the Chapel :P she declined and said she just didn't care if there was a Prophet or anything, it didn't matter to her.

it was a hard thing to do, and I think what you do is great, because I was lucky I made it out, it took everything I had not to say I’d stay home, and I know I was foolish for going steady with a girl who just didn't want to know about Christ, and I think it's important that other people from low LDS populated areas be aware of how easy it is to distance yourself from the Lord and immerse yourself in the world. Share this with who you'd like, I don't mind. I just thought it might be able to help someone.

Keep up the good work!

- One Year Wiser


Dear Wiser,

Thanks for the email and sharing your testimony.

For the record, I advise people that it's OK to go on Casual Group Dates with not-yet-members; that the Boyfriend-Girlfriend Thing should be avoided until post High School for Gals and post Mission for Guys; and that once a person (Latter-day Saint or otherwise) reaches the "Serious Dating" phase of life, it's always better to limit that to people within your own faith, lest you fall in love and want to get married.

No guarantees, of course, but those are (IMHO) far better choices.

I'm sure your story will help others in similar situations.

God bless you, and Good Luck, Elder.

Thanks for the kind words and support,

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pre-Mission Dating

Dear Bro Jo,

Just a quick question here: As an 18 year old preparing for a mission, should I really be still going on group dates or moving onto single dates? Sorry if it sounds like a silly question, but my friends aren't helping me with their advice, and my parents advice is just confusing...

-CG



Dear CG,

I typically say that if you're at the paper turning in stage you should pretty much cut out dating altogether.

Hanging out with mixed groups of friends is OK, but now is not the time to be laying the ground for a relationship.

If you're still pre-paperwork then I'd say that Casual Group dates are fine, single more exclusive and serious dates are to be saved for when you come back.

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dating a Pregnant Girl

Dear BroJo,

I'm hoping you can lend some advice on how I can best handle a unique situation. I've been home from my mission for about 4 months, I've been able to spend some time with a girl that I think I'm falling for. We met in a high school seminary class, and we were fairly well acquainted then. She comes from a solid LDS family and I think she's wonderful.

She's also 8 1/2 months pregnant. Her baby is being adopted by a wonderful family.

Now, everyone makes mistakes and I know things can be fixed. I think she likes me, we have a great rapport and we flirt (i think) when we are around each other. I asked her out a few weeks ago, she initially said yes, but later gave me an excuse as to why she couldn't go. I think she just might be self conscious about her pregnancy. Honestly, I would go anywhere with her and not feel at all awkward. I'm wondering how best to handle this situation. Should I even be considering dating this girl at this point in her life? If so how can I be sensitive about it? Should I ask her out again? Maybe after the baby? HELP!

Sincerely,

Smitten



Dear Smitten,

Life brings us together in many different ways . . .

I think you should tell her how you feel. Who knows? Perhaps the two of you have a future together . . .

You do need to be warned that pregnancy, with all of it's hormones and emotions, tilts reality and our perceptions.

Not just her, but you, too.

Pregnant women are, if you will, "extra" beautiful, and you may be drawn to her subconsciously because of the "instant family" idea, or the compulsion to take care of someone in need, or the whole "pregnant woman glow" may be irresistible . . .

I'm not saying don't date her, I'm saying Be Aware.

Talk to her. Be Sensitive.

Be Understanding and Be Prepared to Be Patient.

She's got a lot going on right now, she's made some pretty big decisions (getting pregnant, giving birth, unselfishly giving the child to someone else for adoption - have I ever mentioned that I was adopted?) and you stepping in at this time may just make life more complicated than it needs to be right now.

Talk to her.

Tell her what you know and how you feel.

Now.

Pray first. Listen to the Spirit.

Good luck.

Let me know how it goes,

- Bro Jo

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Stealing Another Guy's Girl - Part 1

Hey Bro Jo,

First of all, you have been a big help to me in the past. I thank you so much for all your advice. I've only written to you once, but I feel its time to get some help from you again...

So, the perplexing predicament...

There is this girl, surprise right? And I've been flirting with her alot. Nothing too serious just kind of like higher level innocent kind of flirting. Nothing bad, just yeah. But anyway. So the problem comes in with the fact that, 1.) She is a non-member, 2.) She has a boy friend, and 3.) I really like her. (only a problem because of the first 2).

So while I've been flirting with her I've known about her boy friend. We've even met a couple of times before me and this girl started flirting. So while I've been flirting with this girl I've felt horrible, because I feel like a woman stealing butt head... I mean, if they were members of the church I would feel differently, but since they aren't I find it different.
Now, the girl goes to Wednesday night activities, and she is familiar with our standards, her grandpa is even a bishop! So she knows about all the dating rules.
Now where the subject of the e-mail comes in. She is flirting back! So that makes me feel even worse! Because that means my flirting is working! And now I really feel like a woman stealing butt head. I don't really know how to explain it. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.
Just to fill you in we are both proper dating age, so its all good.

Thank you so much for all your help in the past and the future!

Signed,

Back for more.



Dear Back,

First of all, women are not possessions, at least not where you live, so you can't steal her.

Secondly, if I understand you correctly you're Casual Group Dating age, so she shouldn't have a Boyfriend anyway . . .

So I say: Flirt Away!

Heck, ask her out, too.

The only way what you're doing would be wrong is if she's the love interest of a friend or brother OR if what you're doing was inappropriate or unwelcome . . . And that doesn't seem to be the case, so as Sister Jo would say "all's fair in love and war!"

Now, if I put my Good Guy hat on I'll tell you that you should talk to each of them. I'd tell her "hey, I really like you, but I feel like a jerk hitting on another guy's girlfriend" and I'd say to him "hey, I need to let you know that I like _____; I think she likes me too and I'm going to ask her on a date; I'm telling you because I thought you should hear it from me".

With her you'll at least know where you stand; he'll probably be angry, even if you explain Casual Group Dating and that you're not looking for a Girlfriend (wouldn't you be angry, too?), but at least if you're honest about it he'll respect you on some level.

Good luck!

Keep me posted on how it goes,

- Bro Jo

[Readers:  Part two will be posted later this week.  - Bro Jo]

Readers Note: Guy Week

Dear Readers,

Sensitive to the fact that letters to "Dear Bro Jo" run about 65% from girls I hereby declare all this week "Guy Week"!

That's right!  For the next few days all I'm posting are letters from the guys.

Enjoy!

- Bro Jo

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Dating the Pre-Mi - Take 2

Bro Jo-

I'm starting to wonder how many of these emails I get to send before you stop answering them. This is my fourth, I think. Thanks so much for the continued willingness to help!

This time around, my question is simpler than past ones have been. (Or, at least, I think it is.)

I'm 17 and about to begin my senior year of high school. I met a boy this summer at EFY who just graduated from another school nearby. He's older than me by about 15 months. He's a wonderful guy- worthy Priesthood holder, very respectful, lots of fun. As we've gotten to know each other a little bit over the past few weeks, he's helped me realize that I'd be happy with nothing less than a marriage to a worthy Priesthood holder in the temple, because he just carries a spirit with him that I know I can only find with that kind of guy. He's leaving for a mission in a few months, in October.

I've already told him that if he'll give me an address, I'll write him letters every now and then. He seemed to think that was pretty cool. If it wasn't obvious already, I'd surrre like to go on a date or two with this guy. He's someone I'm comfortable around and someone I can have fun with because my standards aren't in jeopardy with him. And from the way he interacts with me, I'm about 108% sure that it wouldn't be that difficult to get him to ask me.

Now, the question. Is that at all inappropriate? I'm not looking for a relationship...I don't at all want to distract him from serving his mission and I sure don't want to put myself through the heartache of a boyfriend who will be absent for two years. But do you think that my..uh..turning up the charm to get a date would make it hard for him to focus on what he's getting ready to do?

-Unsure


Dear Unsure,

Nah, I think you're OK to go on a few dates with him. The challenge is that you're still "Casual Group Dating Age" (and frankly as a Pre-Mi he is too); if you both commit to making your dates group dates (see Bro Jo's DATING RULES for TEENS), the opportunities to be tempted will be fewer, so I'd keep your dates from being one-on-one.

I say "date him"!

Just make sure he does the asking.

You know what I mean.


- Bro Jo

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ugly Duckling

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm sick of feeling the "ugly duckling". Almost all my female friends, both LDS and not, have boyfriends, just broke up with their boyfriends, or have guys they're not interested in chasing them.

I don't have any of this. In the last year I know of a total of 1 boy who has had feelings for me . . . and he's one of my best friends, who (after a lot of drama involving his feelings for me caused my other friends) addmited that while he liked me he didn't want to risk our friendship, and he knew I had feelings for another boy anyways.

I've been 16 for 6 months now, and been on a total of 2 dates, both with the same guy in my ward, just casual and for fun. But the thing is, I'm sick of this. People tell me that I'm pretty, and they seem to like to be around me. So why do boys flock to all my friends, and just want to be my friend?

Ugly Duckling



Dear Duckling,

I think what you're going through may be because the Lord wants you to learn a very valuable lesson: beauty, worth and true value have nothing to do with whether or not you're in a relationship or being asked on many dates.

Some of the sweetest, smartest, prettiest, most wonderful women didn't date much in High School, including Sister Jo.

Why?

Because boys are dumb.

It's true.

We pick the wrong girls, allow ourselves to be intimidated by others, and often overlook the things that are truly important.

But eventually we become Men (most of us) and we grow out of it.

For your part there are some things you can do that may help.

For starters, try being less of a drama queen. You've only been 16 for a short while; panic less about trivial stuff, like whether or not you have a relationship.

Two, try being a little more grateful. This column is read by many wonderful sisters who didn't get two dates in all of High School; two in your first six months is pretty good!

Third, drop the boyfriend quest. You're probably scaring off nice guys who are looking for fun Casual Group Dates and not a serious attachment.

Fourth, Be Positive and Be Happy. Guys want to go out with girls that are fun and upbeat.

Relax and let people get to know the wonderful girl that you are!

- Bro Jo