Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published several times a month.

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, "Dear Bro Jo" is not an LDS Church website. (And Sister Jo thinks you should know that he's sometimes wrong, and often way too opinionated for his own good.)

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Friday, April 29, 2011

The Fiancé, Pornography, and a Mission - Part 1

Hi Brother Jo!

Last I had written to you I was telling you that I was engaged to the most wonderful man I'd ever met and we were planning our wedding. I wish I could still say the same. This letter has some rather personal and difficult situations in it, but I'm sharing because I feel like these things have had a huge impact on everything and what I am going to ask you.

Back in May, before my now-fiancé and I even became boyfriend-girlfriend, he had expressed to me his concern about getting into a relationship when he was trying to get ready for a mission and that he might be leaving in October anyway. I understood that perfectly and so I was content with being a friend and seeing how things went on their own over the next few years. I would write him but I would still live my live as a single woman.

He decided not to pursue the mission, though, and our relationship grew and blossomed wonderfully the more we got to know each other. I later found out that the reason he hadn't gone on a mission yet (he was 22 when I met him, 23 now) was because he was struggling with pornography and he hadn't been able to break the addiction. Throughout the past several months he's been able to get past that. In fact when he proposed to me in October the bishop said that he was on-track and that if he continued to fight the temptations then we would be able to get married in the temple around March. And he's done it!

Except we're not getting married in March. In fact I don't know when we're getting married or even if we'd be getting married at all anymore.

Back in November/December we'd decided to put off the wedding to "find ourselves". I realized rather quickly that I could still do that while being with him and that I'd rather grow as a person with him than without him. Very recently, however, I found out that the idea of a mission has been nagging him again. He says that there is this voice that keeps telling him he should go on a mission and that he can't get that voice to leave him alone. I've gone through a lot of emotional turmoil over this because I love him and if he wants to serve the Lord by going on a mission I want to support him in that, especially since he's worked so hard to be worthy to enter the temple again. At the same time, though, the selfish girl in me is saying "Why did he propose to me if he was just going to run off for two years?"

And actually, last night we broke up. He said that he didn't want me to feel like I was tied down and that he couldn't deal with the knowledge that he was doing that to someone.

Personal Moment: I have a mental health illness and the stress of being broken up with made me, well, crazy. It had triggered the worst manic episode I've ever dealt with and I couldn't stop until he broke down crying saying he couldn't handle it anymore, that he couldn't handle the mental things. (I do have an appointment scheduled with my doctor this week to re-discuss the ways of handling my illness.)

After that happened we decided that we were going to still act like we were engaged and sort of "pretend" that the breaking up didn't happen until I go down to spend a week with him and we'd talk about it again then. He has been taking care of my cat while I've been at school (Oh, yeah! Sorry! I forgot to mention that I have gotten back into college this semester! I've been 6 hrs away from him ever since early January.) and so I was planning on spending most of my spring break (which starts this weekend) down at the farm with him and his family (He lives with his sister and parents.) so that I could see my cat and him again. (Obviously I'll be bringing my homework with me.)

Okay, so this might not be making a whole lot of sense and you're probably wondering what I think you can do to help, but here it is: How should I handle this? The mission and engagement, I mean. We'd already started planning our lives together. Should I let our engagement be broken off so that he can go on a mission? What about our relationship itself? Should I go back to trying to be a friend? If he goes on a mission should I write him?

I'd try to edit my letter more, but I have a night class I have to make the bus for. If you need me to reword things or explain them please let me know. I'm so confused, but I don't know who else to ask for advice. Your take on things has really helped me in the past.

- Faithful, Hurt, and Uncertain

Dear Uncertain,

Promise not to freak out on me, you know I care about you or I wouldn't tell it straight.

I think you need to let him go.

And by that I mean let him all the way go.

He's choosing mission over marriage right now. Or at least that's what he's saying. I'm not entirely convinced that's the truth and, let's face it, he hasn't always been straight with you about his plans or worthiness. Either way he's breaking it off. I know that's awful to hear, but it also sounds like its for the best, for him and you.

Look, I'm sure he's a great guy, and I'm very hopeful that he's gotten his act together and is truly worth and ready to serve the Lord, but whether he is or is just using the mission as an excuse to break things off with you or he's trying to go back and re-do what he did wrong, the bottom line is that he's not at a place where he deserves you yet. Painful as I'm sure the breakup is, it's so much better than the alternative.

What if he never came clean about the porn addiction?

What if he's supposed to serve a mission but didn't go because of you?

What if he only married you because of guilt and feelings of obligation instead of really wanting to be your eternal companion?

What if he's just not ready to be married?

Whatever the reason (and it may be a combination of things), if he's not ready it's so much better for it to get called off. I know there's a lot of pressure on a young woman to get married, from lots of different sources (including people at Church, her family and herself) but marriage mistakes are too common and very difficult to overcome.

Perhaps he'll change his mind, either sometime soon or after the mission. Maybe you'll still be be single when he does, and maybe you won't.

Either way, trust me, it's so much better to find out that the timing is bad for a marriage before it happens than after.

For now, let him go.

If he wants to continue to date you, and if that's acceptable to you (and no one says it should be), then go out. But be careful. I could be wrong (and often am), but I'm a little worried that this great guy isn't as mature as either a missionary or future husband should be. Don't let him use either you or the potential mission as excuses against each other. Keep a healthy "wait and see" emotional, physical, and spiritual detachment from him. If he wants you back, now or later, he needs to earn it. He needs to know that his actions have been hurtful, and that while missionary service can be honorable, he's breaking a commitment to you. That violates a trust, and your trust needs to be earned.

There's nothing wrong with writing him, but no one says you have to. If he does go don't make any promises or commitments. Whether he goes or not, until he or some other, perhaps smarter, man is ready to commit to you, keep dating.

You be in control of you, of your path. Trust in the Lord. Trust in the Spirit. And trust in yourself.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Not Calling Works!!!

Dear Bro Jo,

I hope you're not tired of hearing from me. :) I just wanted to send you a note of validation. In the past I've been a sucker for texting boys (and gasp! calling them occasionally). I liked to flirt a little, and it seemed like a casual way to let a boy know I was interested. But I decided to take a break from texting and calling boys to see if your advice really got results. Soooo..... last week I had a date, and this week I got asked out 3 times, and I have a date tomorrow. And another guy asked for my number. Must be my change in attitude or something. Or my mother's been praying for my dating life to pick up. Something like that.

Basically, I'm converted. :)


PS. In the past, I've sent a text the morning after a date that'd say "thanks again for the date last night! I had a great time." Is that appropriate?

Dear K,


Nor is it necessary. Thank the guy at the end of the date and, if it went well, tell him you hope he asks you out again.

Thanks for the feedback.

Happy dating!

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 25, 2011

When It's a Girl-Ask-Guy Dance, Who Pays?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi again!

Been a while. Just a small question.

I go to an all girls school. we have one formal in our high school years, for year 12 (last year of high school).

My friends and I have agreed on taking dates to the formal which has gotten me thinking, who pays for what?

We are asking the date, but only because there's no other way. So does it go as a girls ask boys kind of thing where the girls plan and pay? Or is there a meet half way mark?

Just curious. My formal isn't for a while, but when it's the event of your teenage years, you get a bit excited.

Thank you!!!!!


Dear Psyched,

Yours is one of those rare exceptions where I say it's okay for a girl to ask a guy. It's your school's dance, each girl should have a date, and there are no boys at the school, so . . . it's kind of like a girl-ask-guy dance. I'd like it better if you talked to him and said "hey, my formal is coming up, and I'd love it if you'd ask to be my date", which I actually think is both endearing and more appropriate, so I think that's what you should do.

When a girl asks a guy to escort her to the school dance, even as suggested above, she should expect to pay for everything that he doesn't bring. To be specific, that means the tickets and anything that's customary for the girl to give the guy, like a boutonniere. If there's dinner that you girls are inviting the guys to, then you should expect to pay for that as well. I think making the dinner is a wonderful and affordable alternative. Be prepared to pay for other auxiliary things too, like photos.

A girl can expect that the guy will pay for his attire, and his own transportation. Flowers for her would be nice, especially if customary, but it's wrong for her to be upset if he fails to bring them.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 22, 2011

One Who is Lost

Dear Bro Jo

Seeing as the brief on the blog did say “and anyone else who could use a little help”, here I go. It may not fully be relevant, but it does seem to be a good place to ask. Or at least try to ask.

I am a 17-year-old girl. I’m in my first year of university, and (obviously) a year or more younger than pretty much everyone else. It’s always been this way—I skipped a grade as a kid, and I’ve always been the “young one”. I don’t say this to boast, but more to give indication or perhaps attempt an explanation as to why I am the way I am.

Over all of my teenage years, as I now am slowly coming to realize, I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety. It was when I was 15 that it dawned on me that everyone else did not wish to cease to exist to quite the same extent that I did, and that it wasn’t entirely normal. I’ve had a certain amount of professional help, but I’ve always been unwilling to tell the people the extent of my unhappiness. In any case, they would not “get” the gospel perspective anyway. I’d tried telling my parents too, but it was my father’s view that through the Lord and your own willpower, you could triumph over anything. It was also his view that, when I tearfully told him of one of my three lowest times in which suicide was an enticing option, I was being selfish by denying the atonement. I love my father and mother very much and they are constant examples of how I should be, but I’ve never agreed with my father on that. Perhaps I am just weak-willed, but D&C 18:10 has literally never been applicable to myself in my own mind. Historically I was an incredibly “pious” child—I knew the scriptures inside-out as a preschooler, and studying the scriptures was one of my most favorite things. But as I grew into adolescence, my lack of self-worth became more apparent, and while even now I’m very good with doctrine, applying a lot of it to myself is incredibly hard.

Perhaps it is the extent of my self-hate that is the root of a lot of my problems, I’m unsure. However I know that I’ve slid (incrementally) down as I got older. Firstly my code in choosing appropriate viewing and reading materials slipped. Then it was purposely disobeying my parents to rile them and causing them and those around me to act negatively towards me as a kind of twisted “self-punishment”. Physical self-harm (what I thought I’d left behind in childhood) eventuated also. Important things such as fasting and paying tithing slipped in importance; eventually it progressed into things such as—though it pains me to say it—masturbation. These are all things I know are wrong, yet I’ve never been able to bring myself to stop, correct or repent, because somehow that would be like justifying that I’m worth it in the first place.

Which is something I can’t believe. I’ve never even dated because it’s always been that no boy
in his right mind would ever consider me. Logically I know that I’m intelligent, pretty decent and not unattractive, but the irrational part of me refuses to listen. Perhaps it is Satan. I don’t know. All I do know is that I’m in a place that, on good days, I know I don’t want to be in. More often than not, though, I feel as if every bad thing that happens to be is my fault—everything is my fault—and that this is my just deserves.

Inner thoughts are the hardest to change, and I have no idea how. I over-think things too much. Every single part of my waking hours is squeezed with thoughts. It may sound incredibly arrogant, but everything else in life has come easily to me—school and church alike. Which was why I think to fill my time. What has always puzzled me, though, is that there is no reason behind these things. What did I do to be forsaken like this? Or am I just being overly melodramatic? I don’t usually feel like I have been abandoned by my Father in Heaven, but rather that I have no more claim to Jesus’ salvation than the literal scum of the earth.

So. Perhaps this is irrelevant. I don’t know. If it is, I am truly sorry for wasting your time. What does not help my situation is that I was recently diagnosed with an incurable auto-immune disease that affects every part of my life and makes me quite sick at times. Also a natural disaster just destroyed my home town which has its own complications and pulls on my emotions.

The crux of this long, rambling email is this: I want to be a better person. I want to do the things normal people do, and view myself in the way appropriate for a Latter-Day Saint young woman. I am quite lost, alone in a new city, and new ward, dealing with these things which I have always felt insignificant compared to the trials of others. I do want to learn to love myself—for if I cannot appreciate who I am, how could any future perspective eternal companion love me? I always seem to weep whenever I read my Patriarchal Blessing, for I can never envisage myself becoming the wonderful strong woman mentioned within.

Anyway, thank you for your time. Please help, or feel free to edit out some of the (overly teenage angsty) repetitive fluff.


One Who Has Lost Herself

Dear One,

Yes, you are being melodramatic. No, Heavenly Father has not, nor will he ever, abandon you. And, my dear little sister, EVERYONE is entitled to the blessings of the atonement, the pious, the "scum of the earth" . . . and you.

And me.


I'm not a psychotherapist, and I think you need may need some professional counseling. You may know the words of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but you don't know the Doctrine. And much of what you're doing seems to be about misguided attempts to gain control of your life, a life where you feel so much has been dictated to you and decided for you. Often, when we feel our lives are beyond our control, we allow Satan to talk us into addictive behavior, mistakenly justifying our actions in our own heads, saying to ourselves "I choose to be bad".

There are some things I think you need to do right away.

First, go talk to your Bishop. Right away. (And by that I mean "today"). It doesn't matter that you're new, or in a new town, he's still your Bishop and as such has the keys to help you spiritually. He can help you through any repenting you need to do, things said in his office are confidential, and he has access to resources that you may not know about, such as Church sponsored counseling. When you see him, pray before for strength, and be sure to tell him everything. (And I mean EVERYTHING. Not just what you've told me here, but all the stuff you've left out as well. You know exactly what I mean.) You know you've done yourself a disservice by not being fully forthcoming in the past, so let's do it right this time through.

Secondly, get a copy of President Kimble's "The Miracle of Forgiveness". You're an intellectual type, make this book part of your regular daily routine. But, and I mean this, promise me that you'll read the ENTIRE thing. Don't skip around, don't put it down just because you feel awful . . . cover to cover. The whole thing. In fact, I'd like regular updates from you as you're going through the book.

Third, even if you don't understand why now, make daily communication with the Lord part of your regular routine. That means start your day with prayer and a little scripture reading (in that order) and end the day with prayer. Don't do it because I said so, or because your dad said so, do it because you want to take control of your own life, and not let these feelings of despair and doubt, the power of Satan, run your life.

I'm glad you wrote. Your letter certainly wasn't a waste of my time.

I want you to know that I care for you, even though I don't know you.

And, more importantly than that, I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love you, and that I know that through the atonement you can be made spiritually whole again. And, my dear little sister, no matter how difficult that journey may be, making things right with God, being able to stand on our own feet before him and saying "I know I'm not perfect, but I'm doing my best" is the most wonderful feeling!

You are a choice spirit, a daughter of God, and with His help you'll be able to enjoy life and feel love.

And, in the end, all of that is more important than anything else.

God bless you, and please keep me posted. Feel free to write anytime you need.


- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to deal with guys staring at your chest


I have this problem with boys, I am 14 and I have a very large chest. It comes from my moms side of the family. Anyway I know I am not at the age to date anyone but it worries me that whenever I talk to a guy he doesn't look at my face, he looks at my chest. I have started to become extremely self conscience and wear clothes that hide my figure. How can I overcome this? And how do I know when a guy only like me because of my assets?

Thank you for the help

Name Withheld

Dear NW,

Boys like . . . boobs. I'm sorry. Sister Jo has asked me to explain it for years and the best I can come up with is that we're fascinated by them because we don't have them and a girl's shapeliness signals her womanhood. That's not fair, it's totally superficial, and (to be honest) it's kind of sad. It's undoubtedly made worse by the images we see every day in various media, but some of it is also hardwired; guy are supposed to like girls, and, especially when you're a young guy, nothing is so obviously girlie than . . . well, girlie parts. And it's worse at your age because, well . . . all of your . . . girlie-ness is new. We all start off shaped pretty much the same, and then one day a guy looks around and realizes that the girls at school are, well . . . girls.

On behalf of men and boys everywhere, I apologize.

(Sister Jo Interjection: "Girls, breast enhancement surgery can mess up many things. Don't even think about it. Artificial inflation is not the right way to get attention from guys.")

Your body has been given to you by Heavenly Father; each of us will have trials when it comes to this. I know this may sound like a cop-out, but as you get older you'll find more mature guys who will like you for you, not just what you look like. That's not to say that there won't always be gawkers and idiots, but there will also be good, decent guys, too.

You can dress down to deemphasize your chest, being very careful to minimize the cleavage, but Sister Jo says that it's also important to accept and be proud of who you are. Don't draw inappropriate attention to yourself; don't use your figure to be immodest but, particularly when you're a little older, don't deny that you're a girl, either, by dressing like a box. As long as you're sufficiently modest, this is their problem, not your problem. Be proud to be a girl!

You'll know when a guy likes you for more than your mammaries when he looks in your eyes when speaking to you (as you've already noticed).

In the mean time, dress modestly, and if they still stare, call them on it. "I'm up here, Captain Wanderlust" is a great line, but be careful, it may make things worse depending on your comfort zone and to whom you're speaking.

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 18, 2011

Nervous About Prom

Dear Bro Jo,

I was recently asked to prom by a really nice guy, who attends church and his mom is one of my young women's leaders. He really is a nice guy, but I don't know if I really wanna go with him...

I’m nervous because this is my first prom that I’ve been invited to attend and I just don't know how it works.. I’ve heard stories from some of my friends, but uh... those aren't what I want happening at prom if you catch my drift.

He really likes me and wants me to go, but I don't like him like that, he's just a good friend. would he get the wrong idea if I said yes? or should I go and just have fun and not worry about anything...?

Another thing I’m worried about is that out of all the people in my group, I’m only going to know him. he doesn't go to my high school and he has invited me to his prom at (name of school withheld). We're going with all of his friends, but I don't know them. the only person I’m going to know is him.

Is that something to worry about?

What should I do?

-Prom Nerves

Dear Prom Nerves,

You should go!

To calm your fears, just make sure all of the Dating Rules are followed.

You'll meet new people and spend time with a nice guy who will treat you well.  When a nice guy, a good guy, asks a girl on a date, or to a dance, she should go.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 15, 2011

Follow Up - Should You Tell a Future Spouse You've Had Sex?

Dear Readers,

The following is part two of a column I posted on January 7th, 2011, asking if you should tell a future spouse that you've had sex. You can jump to the original column by clicking HERE.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much Brother Johnston!


It's been so hard, like I really don't know what to do right now. I feel like it's completely ruined my life and I don't know how I can ever make it better within myself, if that makes sense. My parents aren't members of the church so i know that they wouldn't care that I’ve had sex because they're pretty chilled about that kind of stuff so I know they wouldn't understand what I'm going through.

I understand what you're saying, about the whole being open from the start kind of thing, it's just that the thought of having to tell someone that I want to spend the rest of my life with hurts so much. I know you are probably thinking I got what I deserved (that's what I'm thinking at least), but I just thought after I tried to repent and tell my bishop the hurt would go away but it hasn't?

I just don't feel worthy to marry a member of the Church, I don't think it's fair to him and I feel that someone that has kept themselves worthy to be married in the Temple should be with someone else who has too.

I know it's kind of early to be talking about getting married because I'm only almost 18 but I just can't stop thinking about it.

Thank you so much for listening

(name withheld)

Dear Little Sister,

It's like I tried to tell you: it's supposed to hurt. If we didn't feel bad for doing what we shouldn't have, what would keep us from sinning again?

"Ruined" is a bit over dramatic. For now let's not worry about telling a future husband until you get a boyfriend serious enough to be talking marriage with.

Through the atonement you can become worthy again, and that's what's most important, it's what's glorious and wonderful about the savior and his Gospel. Work towards that. It won't necessarily be easy, but it will be worth it.

I promise.

Repentance is a process; it's not something you necessarily do in a single conversation. Give it time.

I'm always here if you need.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Getting a Good Group to the Big Dance

Dear Bro Jo,

I need some advice. There is a guy who likes me, is not Mormon, knows I can't have boyfriend and is trying to still be friends. He also asked me to formal. I said I would go with him but now things are a bit complicated.

My parents said I needed to be in either a group or with another couple. My friends started organizing their group to go to formal. One of my friends offered for us to meet at her house and take cars from there. This same friend went and had an argument with my date to formal. Which ended with them not wanting to talk to each other or sit together at formal.

So now I don't know what to do. None of my other friends have dates so I can't just join with them. But I can't go by myself with my date. I now have to figure out what to do, who to go with and who to sit with.

Please help me.


Torn between.

Dear Torn,

A dilemma indeed!

The first thing you need to do is talk to your date and explain both the Dating Rules and your reasons for wanting to keep things casual between you.

You also need to talk to both he and your friend and encourage them to patch things up; if they won't to it because it's the mature Christ-like thing to do, maybe they'll do it for you.

Even if they don't, I think you should still plan on going in that group. Better a conflicted group than as a single couple or not at all.

Have fun at the dance!

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ready to Date

Dear Bro Jo,

I am seventeen-and-a-half, and have just started university. I've moved to a new city and everything. I have never been on a date. Up until quite recently I was sure I had no desire to date--I went to an all-girls school and everything. However now I'm in a Hall of Residence at the university, and half the constituent are boys, something I've never really had to deal with before. I'm in a non-drinking area, and I myself was very surprised to find out that all the boys on my floor have very strong morals. None of them are LDS, of course; in New Zealand very few people are. It's certainly no Utah.

My problem is, I do want to date now. I just have no idea how. There aren't any decent and moral boys in my new ward, and I figure that it would be fun to hang out with some of the guys and girls on my floor in group dates, or even fun "just-hanging" kind of relaxed one-on-one dates. I just have no idea of how to approach this issue. I kind of like one of the guys in particular but I have no idea of what to do. Is it even alright to date a non-member? My mum used to make fun of me because I didn't want to date--now that I do I realize I wasn't really listening to what she was saying. I've had so many conflicting views from leaders and friends, I'm quite lost as to what I should do.


Please Help

Dear PH,

From 16 until adulthood what we should do is Casual Group Dating, that's where we go on group dates with a bunch of friends. At that point it's not crucial that the people we go out with be members, just that everyone follow the Dating Rules.

Once we're adults and have reached the point in life where we should focus on getting Sealed for Time and All Eternity it's time to do what I call "Serious Single Dating". That kind of dating is one-on-one, and since the focus is finding someone to marry, in my opinion it's pointless to date outside of one's faith.

Now you, my friend, are in an interesting situation. To my mind, even though you're at university, you're not quite an adult yet or ready for Serious Single Dating. So I think you should go on some Casual Group Dates. Get a group of these good guys and good girls together, perhaps for a BBQ or game night, and bring up the idea of Casual Group Dating (including the notion that the guys are supposed to set them up) and see what happens. Might not hurt to mention that you'd like to go on some dates to get some dating experience without fear of anything being too serious.

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 8, 2011

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff, Girl-wise

Dear bro Jo

One of these days I should write you a letter about something good that's gone on in my life......I just wish this was one of them.

So I've had things pile up on me the past few weeks....and I've had one of my close friends move....and a lot of friends turn their backs on me because they're mad at me for going back to home schooling.

(I had my reasons though.)

Then this girl I liked kind of threw me though the ringer and ate me alive.

I'm not talking about the "I don't like you like that" little spiel (was it fun to hear? No, but I've heard it before and can shrug it off.) What hurt was the way she was attacking me about the going back to home schooling and making fun of every mistake I've made....I didn't think she was like that.

Anyways, now that I've sat here and whined. This isn't the first time I've found out a girl is fake and will tear me apart with one wrong move. Do you have any little tricks to sniff out those types of girls?

- Recovering from Stupidity

Dear Recovering,


Brother, I dated at least 65 different girls before I finally got a date with the future Sister Jo.

That's why we go on Casual Group Dates as teens; meet lots of different kinds of people with no serious commitments or attachments. After the mission, date everyone (my recommended RM goal is One Date a Week) until you've dated the same girl enough times (typically 3-6 dates - they can all be in the same week, btw) that you say "hey, I like this one so much I want to not date anyone else and see how this goes".

If it works out, marry her. If it doesn't, lather-rinse-repeat.

Everything that's important in life takes work.

True story.

Chin up.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,


I think going from home school to high school.....That was a little fact I forgot somewhere the past semester.....Time to re-deal out the cards and start things over again!

P.S. I promise you I'll send a positive letter one off these days!

- Recovering

Dear Recovering,

You just did.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Casual Group Dating and Attraction

Dear Bro Jo,

I started reading your blog recently, and I think your advice is great, so I just had a quick question for you.

I am 15 years old, and I am very excited to start going on Casual Group Dates when I turn 16 in May! My question is, is it OK that I'm really only attracted to older guys (1-3 years older)? I don't know if it's maturity issues or what, but I really am just not interested in boys my age. Could this have anything to do with the fact that I have 2 older brothers (3 and 5 years older) that I am really close to?

--Slightly Confused

Dear Slightly,

It might have something to do with the older siblings . . . but Casual Group Dating is not about only going out with guys you have the hots for. Any guy who's not scary, even though he may not be someone you're attracted to, who plans a good Casual Group Date and is willing to follow the rules and hold to your standards is worthy of going out with should he ask.

Thanks for the kind words. Hope you have fun!

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 4, 2011

Interfaith Marriage

Dear Bro Jo,

What is the appropriate response when you find out that a friend is engaged to someone who is not a member of the Church (and particularly if the fiance is of a non-Christian faith)? I don't feel like I can/should say, "Congrats on your engagement," when I think it's really a misfortune and a bad choice.

Am I looking at this the wrong way? Can you be happy for someone who chooses to, in essence, throw away so many blessings and opportunities?


Deut 7:3-4

Dear Deut,

I agree that people should marry within their faith; it's no guarantee but agreeing on fundamental life philosophies goes a long way towards having a happy marriage. (And for my argumentative readers, yes, there are exceptions, but not enough to make marrying outside of one's faith a good recommendation.)

Every divorced friend I have (and it's many) both inside and outside of the Church has commented about how, as the divorce became reality, all kinds of friends came out of the woodwork and said that they knew it was going to end. Their response is always "why didn't you tell me!" Well, frankly, it's because no one wants to hear from their friends and family that the decision they've made, perhaps the most important decision of their life, they made badly. Love isn't always rational, you know.

It's easy if they come out and ask "hey, do you think I'm making the right decision", but what if they don't?

I've found that the best thing you can do is, rather than make a statement, ask a question.

The response to "I don't think you should marry that person" is typically defensive, but the response to a question can invoke thought, discussion, or offer an explanation that will allay your fears.

Timing is also important.

Perhaps the conversation could go something like this:

You: "Congratulations on your engagement. Are you excited?:

Her: "Yes!"

You: "Have you had a lot of people comment about how you're both of different faiths?"

Her: "My grandma, but she's old and doesn't understand."

You: "It isn't something you're worried about?"

Her: "No. We both love each other and feel like we can work it out."

You: (in a sincerely inquisitive tone) "What have you each discussed that you'll do?"

See the difference?

You may not get anywhere, and if you press the issue too far for too long, she'll likely write you off as being, in her mind, as close minded as grandma.

But you will have brought it up, and that's good. Who knows, maybe in the conversation she'll ask you what you think, and without making her feel bad you can let her know that you think marrying outside one's faith is a big deal. "Well, it sounds to me like there will be lots of challenges. What faith will you raise your children? Are you worried about not having a worthy priesthood holder in the home who can bless you and your children? Will he help you get the kids ready for Church on Sunday and come see all of their talks? Will he support and encourage Girl's Camp and Personal Progress? Scouts and Priesthood Ordinations? Who will bless and baptize your children?"

Marriage is about so much more than just "love".

Lastly, remember, it's not really our job to be happy for her or not, but there for her when she needs a friend.

Keep me posted.

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 1, 2011

Young people are young, but they're still people

Dear Bro Jo,

I love your blog! You help a lot of people and I know you have advice for the questions that have been bothering me lately

A) One of my really good friend's younger sister recently turned fifteen. She bases her self worth a lot on the fact that she does not have a boyfriend. I love her like she is my very own sister and want to help her see herself as a beloved daughter of God.

B) My little brother just became a teenager. I had a steady boyfriend (lesson learned the hard way) and so have not been a great example. What can I do or say now to help him understand that this is not the way to go?

C)This coming fall I will be headed off to college. I haven't dated a lot in high school (steady boyfriend = remembered forever as a steady dater) and am very nervous for one on one dating with boys that may be looking for a spouse.

Thanks for your time!

- Clueless

Dear Clued In,

Thank you!

For both your friend's little sister and your brother, I think simply having a mature conversation with them will go a long way. Don't lecture them, or talk down to them (young people may be young, but they're still people), but take them out for an ice cream or soda and just say "hey, I'm really going to miss you when I'm gone, and before I go I want to share something with you that I learned".

Be careful, though. Old people too often make the mistake of telling younger people "don't do what I did" in a way that comes across as either "listen to me, I'm smarter than you" or, even worse, "I screwed up, but I'm great now, so don't screw up". The second sentence is worse because it leaves the impression that they can mess up like the old person did and easily fix things.

Not that you were a huge screw up . . . you know what I mean. Teach them both about Casual Group Dating, and how great it is to have fun with your peers in a non-pressure, non-committed way.

As for your own dating, it's okay that you're nervous. You'll probably date some loser guys and make some mistakes, but you'll also date some great guys, too. Just be willing to put yourself out there and date any non-scary guy that asks. Have fun! And, when the time is right, I bet you'll meet a great guy.

I'm working on a book that addresses dating in college. I'll let you know when it comes out.

- Bro Jo