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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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Making Stake Dances Better

Dear Bro Jo,

I am 17 now and I have attended every church dance that is put on by my stake and two other stakes. (In St. Louis we have these Tri-stake dances.)

Unfortunately, with three stakes, you would think there would be a lot of youth showing up but there is not. I was wondering if maybe you could do a poll type thing where people would submit what they would like at the stake dances so I, and others, can see what I, and others, can tell some of the leaders to do differently to make more people go.


A Frequent Dance Attender

Dear Attender,

I've brought this up a few times before. (In fact, we used to have a Facebook Discussion Page about it until Facebook stopped having Discussion Pages.)

Typically, here's what I hear most:

1. More slow songs. DJ's, and the adults that hire them, have this misguided opinion that a dance is successful if the floor is crowded with sweaty teenagers; not so. Teens go to dances because they want to get to know other teens, and let's face it, any more unless the fast song is a swing or jitterbug style song, nobody is asking anyone else to dance; you can't talk to anyone at a dance if you're a) not dancing with anyone, or b) the music itself is not conducive to talking. Most Stake Dances hover right around 1 slow song per 45minutes to an hour; the requested and recommended ratio is about 1 out of every two or three songs should be slow, occasionally playing TWO slow songs in a row (that way the guys who missed their shot during the first song have a second chance right now, while they're still in the mood).

2. Regularity. Dances are more successful if their timing is predictable. Halloween, New Years, Valentine’s Day, Start of Summer, Start of the School Year - that kind of stuff. If people know when it's coming, they'll make plans, and if an event (any kind, actually - Sister Jo can testify to this - she's our Stake Activities Coordinator) is the same time every year, then other things can be planned around the event.

3. Offer something that can't be had anywhere else. You're providing a morally clean environment, and that's great, but you've got to do more than that if you're going to compete with everything else that's going on. Live music (I'm talking "local high school jazz band", not "wannabe garage rock band"), Winter Gala (formal), priest-Laurel only dances (you're 17, do you really want to be dancing with guys who were deacons just last week?), Dance Contests, Dance Cards, Retro Night (Disco . . . 50's . . . pick and era and Stick To It), think out of the box! You don't have to get crazy, or spend a lot of money, but have some fun! Have the dance follow a "how to dance" class or an etiquette dinner.

4. Set up "relaxation stations" - rooms away from the music where people can sit and talk, maybe play some games like "Apples to Apples" or "Taboo".

5. Talk to the kids who are not going and find out why. I did that here once and discovered that the Body Oder of the guys in our Stake was repulsing many of the girls. I talked to several YM leaders and clued them in, then provided the requested scents of body spray in the guys' restroom. I also carried some with me so at the dance I could pull offending guys aside and say "dude, here, take this and go into the bathroom and fix your smell".

6. Get over it. Stop acting like you have to hit a certain attendance number for the dance to have been successful. I absolutely agree that more numbers make for a much better dance, but when its all over, if those of you involved go around talking about how great it would have been to have more people . . . then no one will want to come next time. Instead what you say is: "It was great! Too bad you weren't there!"

Those are my quick six.

I'll post your letter in the column this week, and let's see what the readers have to say.

Thanks for the letter,

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 28, 2011

Is He Worth Marrying If He Didn't Serve a Mission?

Dear Bro Jo,

First off, I want to say I love your site. I am relatively new to it, but you seem very knowledgeable, and therefore, I hope you can help me out a bit...

I am in a very serious relationship, and we have frequently talked about getting married. Here's the catch: he's *age deleted* and still hasn't served a mission. I am absolutely crazy about him, and I know he feels the same way (he's told me)

He has told me that he wants to serve a mission. My thought’s "great idea!" (truly being supportive, not sarcastic). The downside: "where does that leave me?"

So here's the question (and the real point of writing to you) Do you think it is a good idea for him to serve a mission while he is in a serious relationship? Or should we get married and think about serving a mission together?

Thank you!

-Dazed and Confused

Dear Dazed,

Well . . . that depends on a lot of things . . .

Sister Jo and I teach the Jo girls, the two qualities they must absolutely insist that any spouse candidate have are:

1. be a worthy priesthood holder


2. be a hard worker.

Any guy that doesn't have both of those qualities is a potential disaster waiting to happen.

Being a Return Missionary is seriously preferred, but neither a requirement nor (sadly) a guarantee that he's a Good Guy (although most RMs are both hard working and worthy, so it does make it easier to find a Good Guy using that as a litmus test)

In my opinion, as I've written often, while he's serving, both of you should consider the relationship over, agreeing that the one at home will actively date while the missionary is gone. If that person is still single upon the missionary's return, then by all means date each other, but understand a lot happens in two years, and you may both find your feelings have changed.

So, no, I don't think he should serve a mission and still consider himself in a serious relationship. Nor do I think you should consider yourself still in a relationship if and when he goes.

Should you two marry?

Start by reading "Bro Jo's Five Reasons to Not Marry That Person" (also found in "Bro Jo's Guide to Relationships"). If he passes that test, then go through my "Things you need to know before you get engaged".

The thing is, Dazed, the WHY he's not serving is extremely important, and while not always true, that reason may indeed be a huge red "don't marry him" flag.

- Bro Jo

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Readers' Note: Upcoming Series - Sexting

Dear Readers,

For the first four Saturdays this December, I'm going to run a special series of emails from a reader who's had issues with Sexting.

The transmission and reception (solicited or not) of suggestive, even pornographic, texts, emails, pictures and videos, may not yet be epidemic in mainstream society, but its more prolific than most people know or want to believe.  We scoff at the stupidity of celebrities (and wannabe celebrities) when phones are hacked, videos distributed, and images splashed all over the internet.  Heck, truth be told, often that stuff is leaked by the celebrities (or their publicity staff) in efforts to create, revive, or turn a career.



But Sexting is part of the lives of the "non-famous", too, as I'm sure most of my readers know.

I could go on, but the bottom line, the thing we should all be learning every time some perverted politician gets caught with his personality on display, is that there is no such thing as "privacy" or "security" when it comes to dropping your morality and sharing your personal porn over the airwaves.

I think this letter writer is courageous for allowing me to share her story, and I hope it is a message of inspiration and warning.

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 25, 2011

Temple Dates

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi, it's me again. FYI, things petered out with my 27 yr old. He came up to take me out last week and dropped the "f" word ("friend" ;)). But I'm fine with that. After all he is 10 years older than I am, and I'm at school with thousands of young, eligible men. :)

But that's not important.

I just have a quick question about the temple.

I know you've written before about how going to the temple is a very bad date idea before engagement. I mostly agree, but I'm not sure if we agree for the same reason. My grandmother, who teaches a marriage and family class or marriage prep or something (my grandfather was also the YSA bishop for 3 years), told me that I shouldn't study the scriptures with any guy I'm not engaged to. She said that the Spirit can often be confused for love, because it essentially brings the witness that our Heavenly Father loves us. So I'm guessing that that applies to the temple as well.

I can see both sides, because I have gone to do baptisms with a few different guys before. Two were great spiritual experiences, without any emotional weight. The other.... well, I felt uncomfortable, to put it simply. So personally, I think that going to the temple with someone is not always a bad idea, but it can be.

What is your reasoning on temple "dates"?



Dear 18,

Sorry about the old guy; clearly he wasn't smart enough.

My reason for saying dates to the Temple are bad is exactly the same as your grandma's advice about pre-engagement scripture study. (Wise woman, your grandma; I hope you listen to her often.)

Plus, frankly, I think it's weird; its the LDS equivalent of "playing married", as far as I'm concerned.

Going to the Temple is a great idea, but go as a YSA group, not paired off.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Yet again, thank you! (My grandma is pretty much the awesomest person I know. :) ) And I'm over the "old guy". I still think he's one of the most all-around neat people I've ever met, but I've moved on to younger and more local dudes. And I'm assuming he's moved on as well.

I love when things resolve themselves!

BTW, have you ever spoken at BYU-I? Basically, dating is part of living the Honor Code (Seriously. It's nick-named BYU-I Do for a reason.), so I think people up here would love you.

Just a thought.

- 18

Dear 18,

I'm glad. And thank you for the kind words.

I'm often available for speaking in classes and at firesides, and BYU-I-Do is only a 3 1/2 hour drive away!

People who are interested in having me come visit should check with a college teacher or advisor, their Ward or Stake activities specialist, local Deseret Book or Campus Bookstore.

It's actually really cheap; I don't charge a speaking fee for "Dear Bro Jo" stuff, so typically you're just looking at transportation (which is just gas money if you're close enough for me to drive - which is actually a pretty big radius and not needed if you're within a stake or two of where I live) and a place to stay (again, check with Stake Leadership) if you're more than a four hour drive away (which BYU-I is not).

Happy dating!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

You Don't HAVE to HAVE a Boyfriend

Dear Bro Jo,

Let's rewind time back months and months ago. I was just getting over my crush, and had high hopes for a new one. But mostly, I was just interested in expanding my circle of friends. What better place to do that than . . . a Stake Dance?????

I got asked to dance by this guy who was reeeeally cute. I knew his older brother......and I had seen him around....but neither me nor ANY of my friends had ever even talked to him.

Anywhooo . . . we started to dance and started talking and had the WEIRDEST conversation. About how gross fish is and all this weird stuff about it. I seriously love weird people, and am a bit of a weirdo, so I enjoyed myself. One thing that really got me though, is that he looked into my eyes the ENTIRE time. Well, needless to say, I knew right then and there who my next crush was going to be.

When I got home I thought to myself "well now I have got to find a way of getting to know him better." To my surprise (and GREAT pleasure) he added me as a friend on Facebook. I sent him a message asking him what the name of that song was that he was telling me about (our conversation while we danced went here there and everywhere). He answered and then our conversation carried along. Again it was a totally weird one. No "how's life?" type of talk for us...more like "how on earth would a cat manage to sneak onto a spaceship anyhow?"

Ever since then we NEVER stopped emailing.

There was just something about talking to him. He brought out my personality, and made me like MYSELF more. It felt great. HOWEVER since it was me who sent the first email asking about the song...that made me feel weird. I really hate it when a girl calls a guy on the phone, or texts first, or goes for a hug first, I ESPECIALLY dislike it when girls ask guys out on dates. HE was going to have to be the one chasing ME, I refuse to be a chaser. So yeah I waited a couple of day between replies for the next while, even though he always replied right away..

At the next stake dance he wasn't there. Until the end....I was dancing with this guy..the song ends and I hear my name being called...I turned around and there he was. He said he just got there because he had to be at a graduation. He hung out with me until he had to leave and then gave me a hug goodbye. Every time we saw each other after that he'd come up to me and we'd just goof around until one of us had to leave.

He would even save spots for me to come sit by him if he knew I was going to be somewhere.


OK well since I was always hanging out with him he got introduced to all my friends, who all loved him. He started getting invited to all my friends little get-togethers, and all my little get-togethers. And yeah he fit in really well. BUT one of my friends started liking him and told me and a bunch of other people. She's the really mean jealous type...and she treats me like dirt. She's not really my friend, she treats me like dirt, but she sees me as a friend, and puts on a nice act for (name withheld) (the name of the guy I like).

Well she's open and forward and asked him who he liked...he told her that he liked ME. (I found this out by another one of my friends she told..she didn't tell me). Well now I talk to him ... and she glares at me till I leave. Normally (name withheld) follows me it's not much of a problem haha.

ANYWAY we're all sixteen now...and I know (name withheld) has been dating...but he won't ask me out! And I want him to SOOO bad.

(Name withheld) (my mean jealous friend) asked him on a date I think three times now!!!!

He said "no" to the first one...because it was a school dance and he knew school dances were gross.

And then our ward was going to have a priest/laurel date night...and even though he's not in our ward she called him and asked him to it the MOMENT she heard about it. So they will be going to that together.

AND she asked him to an LDS prom, and so they are going to that together too.

SO that's my story, sorry for its length...I am a talker when I get excited about things haha. WELL my three questions are...

How do I deal with (her) jealousness??

Why doesn't (he) ask me on dates ever?

(He goes on several with other girls! and I have been told from very reliable sources that he likes me A LOT! I don't know why he won't! I'm datable LOTS of guys ask me out...and LOTS of boys like me....I don't really get it)

How do I get (him) to ask me on a date??


Girl who needs help

(ps I haven't told ANYBODY that I like him..)

Dear Girl,

First of all you need to learn how to deal with your own jealousy (if you can see past the beam).

Secondly, if you want to know why he goes out with everyone else and not you, you should ask him. It's really that simple. (But, and please don't take this wrong, despite your "datable-ness", he probably just doesn't like you in that way right now.)

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, you need to relax. A lot. A guy is nice to you and you immediately turn possessive-obsessive. The guy clearly doesn't want a girlfriend, and you keep acting like you own him. Honestly, if he asked, I'd have to tell him to be careful that dating you doesn't leave you with the wrong impression.

You're only 16 for crying out loud! Enjoy the crushes, but take the drama down a few hundred notches.

As far as your non-friend goes, sure it seems like she's winning the battle for this guy, but believe me, even though his 16-year old brain may find her pursuit attractive, deep down he also finds it pathetic. If he doesn't, I submit he's not as good of a guy as you think.


- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Weird.....sorry that kind of is different from everything I have been hearing or feeling.

Ummm I probably sounded super duper obsessive in that amen to you there. And I JUST found out about all these dates (she) is asking him I was frantic. Aaaaand I wouldn't say jealous is the right word...more like annoyed....sooo taking your advice on the calming down thing is good.

Yeah I think I like him too much too.

See all my guy friends..none of them know I like him...but they hate him because he is too "possessive" of me (to put it in their words). Apparently he stands between me and them and just...doesn't. LET them talk to me. My mom sees it and she wants me to back away from him. If I NOTICED this I would have put a stop to it...and now that people have pointed it out to me with no sugar quoting (I was texting some of them today and it came up)

One thing I really AM concerned about though is how CLOSE he gets to me...and how when I scoot away...he scoots with me. That freaks me out I am not going to lie.

But as far as standards go he has the highest out of anybody I know. His whole family is like that, so it is nice to be around them.

Yeah well now that my friends have pointed this out to me I got to put a stop to the over possessive thing he's got going on....but I still think I might hint a little that he should take me out on a date sometime.

- Girl

Dear Girl,

So have the talk.

But you need to be dating other guys, too.

Mostly, please learn that your value has nothing to do with whether or not you're in a relationship.

Trust me. You don't HAVE to HAVE a boyfriend.

Yeah, I know the Boyfriend-Girlfriend thing happens at your age. Believe me, I get it. I'm not THAT old!

But, take it from an Old Guy, High School Relationships are never worth the drama. And you, Little Sister, could stand to have a little less drama in your life.

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 21, 2011

Is "Stage Kissing" the Same as Real Kissing?

Bro. Jo,

I recently attend a priest/laurel conference with my boyfriend and, while there, there was a speaker on dating. The speaker was hilarious and really made an impact on everyone in the room. At the end, he gave everyone a challenge. He said, "If you're steady dating anyone, break up now." Talk about intense!

A few days later, "boy" (18) and I (17) talked about what we were thinking. It was a good talk, with a good point. We couldn't deny that. But we had decided that we should follow his challenge. We had no problems with our relationship. We had been dating for 5 months, and never before that had we thought about breaking up. But we did. We decided that there was a way for us to show people that there ARE such things as "good breakups". Breakups where the two can still be best friends afterwards.

I don't think that I should have done it though. I'm starting to feel regret. The reality of the situation didn't hit me until a few days later when I finally realized that I can't hold his hand anymore (touch is my "love language", so it means a lot to me). He asked if he could still ask me out on dates, but he probably won't for a while. I'm not walking with him to class anymore. We don't talk as much either.

Some days he'll send mixed signals. One day he'll accidentally hold my hand (I'll pull it away because we aren't dating and I don't think it's right to do), and the next day he'll act like I don't exist and will barely talk to me. It's really confusing.

We're both romantic leads in our school musical. We're required to hold hands, do a stage kiss (we never kissed and I've never been kissed), stuff like that. And being an extremely kinesthetic person... it makes it very hard for me.

It's been three weeks since we broke up. And I've been extremely depressed, which is unlike me. I think I underestimated my feelings for him. Everything reminds me of him. I can't think straight, I can't go to rehearsals without breaking down after wards, I can't stand any of this. I can't get back to my old self...

So, short version:

Boy and girl break up.
Boy still likes girl.
Girl still likes boy.
Boy wants to ask girl on more dates.
Girl wants to be asked out as well.
The underlining question is: Why did they break up?
Answer: Because it was expected of us...?

Next question: What should I do about it?
I obviously don't want to "move on". We still like each other and prom is coming up soon. How do I get emotionally stable again? Should I talk to the boy and tell him how I'm feeling about this?


Dear Unsigned,

The problem is that you followed wise counsel without knowing why. It shows faith. Often blessings come to us just because of obedience, even if we don't know why we're being obedient. Non-believers call it "blind faith" because it makes them feel better to insult those that believe, but know this: that faith is never blind; those that follow Christ are always guided by light, even if they don't know everything or understand everything.

I've spoken with teens about this before: a stage kiss is a kiss, and as a former actor I can tell you that if it's not practiced it can't be acted properly.

[Semi-related tangent. Actor Michael Douglas was perplexed why his son was not disturbed by the graphic violence in his movies but very disturbed by the "love" scenes. His son explained "because, dad, when you're getting shot I know it's fake, but when you're mostly naked and kissing a woman I know that you're both mostly naked and really kissing". Ponder that.]

So if you two have practiced the stage kiss I have news: you're no longer a member of the VLC. Lips are lips, and kissing is kissing.

[BTW, you and other girls need to know That is Why many of the guys who join drama and are in plays have joined drama and are in plays.  Just saying.]

So . . . here's why it was right for you to break up.

When you hold hands and walk each other to class it broadcasts that neither of you is available for Casual Group Dating, which is what you're supposed to be doing in High School. When you date lots of different people then you avoid the pain and drama you're feeling now. So at school you shouldn't act like boyfriend and girlfriend.

(Also, while I'm thinking of it, you're too young and WAY too inexperienced to have any idea what your "love language" is. Stop reading Teen Beat.)

However, and let me be clear, when you two are out on dates (and, yes, you should still go on Casual Group Dates together, just follow the rules and rotate whom you're dating) I don't see anything wrong with holding hands or kissing good night (again, The Rules).

What you're trying to avoid is Serious Single Dating. THAT we save for when you're ready to start looking for a spouse.

What can you do?

Still like him. Still spend time together. Just not time alone together.

Act like a couple on dates, but not around school or backstage.

And you both need to go out with other people. Difficult as that may be.

Oh, and if he asks you to prom, and I hope he's smart enough to, you should go!

Just go in a group.

- Bro Jo

PS: Break a leg!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fearing Man More Than God - part 3

Dear Bro Jo,

You're very quick with your replies! I really do appreciate that.

I may fear man to an extent (I can admit it), but I will never let it get in the way of making things right with God again. There's so much more good that comes out of making things right with him than keeping things right with people I see and talk to every day, and I can say that from experience.

I'll be honest and say that I'm not a very frequent reader, mostly just when I have a particular question in mind... as such I've never come across anything graphic. I am, however, familiar with your frankness and honesty. I thank you for that, and I'll take your advice about talking to my bishop. I don't think it's entirely necessary to bring up what happened with you; I suppose all I needed was the kick in the pants and the affirmation that only my bishop can make the correct judgment.

I thank you for your time spent with me, as I recognize that you have many people you could be writing to.


Hermana Worried

Dear Hermana,

Consider this your kick in the pants!

Look, you're a good person who's honestly trying to do the right thing.

Trust in the Lord.

There are too many of us who put our own embarrassment and fears in front of doing the right thing . . . it will be a sad day in heaven for those that procrastinated their repentance to the point of robbing their spouses and children of blessings, all because they were hid their shame behind dishonesty.

I don't think that's you.

I think you'll be fine.

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fearing Man More Than God - part 2

Dear Bro Jo:

I've certainly reviewed my options before I wrote my last letter, and I appreciate you restating them for me. Possibility number 5 has obviously crossed my mind as exactly that (a possibility), but was in no way an option.

Like I stated, I've been open enough to get issues like this resolved with my bishop before, and I would never want to leave on my mission unworthily (I had a friend who ended up doing that, and felt so guilty halfway through that he confessed and ended up leaving a year early). That's not something I want for me or for the people I teach, as it would be a waste of time to try to convert without the guidance and influence of the Holy Ghost. Naturally I'm nervous about bringing this up to my bishop; it's not a particularly pleasant experience to talk about these things.

But my question was not aimed at whether or not I should bring it up to my bishop (I'd already been leaning towards options 2, 3, or 4), rather whether or not I should expect my call to be delayed or cancelled until I'm worthy to go. Technically, no, it's not important in the grand scheme of things... but it's still something I'd like to be emotionally prepared for if at all possible. I'd be lying if I didn't say that some part of the reason I'm Worried is because of what my bishop and/or family will think... but I'm mostly worried about not being able to leave when I was supposed to, because I know there are people out there that I need to be with at the time I'm supposed to be with them.

I can share what happened and enlighten you if you think it will provide a better answer, but if you plan on putting this letter in your blog, I'm sure you already know that something like that probably shouldn't be posted. I'm ok with everything else being shared.

Thanks again,

Hermana Worried

Dear Hermana,

As I said: you're more worried about what People think than making things right with God.

Normal and understandable, but you need to set it aside.

"Dear Bro Jo" is known for being frank, honest, and sometimes graphic. If you want to share, that's up to you, I have no idea whether it will need to be toned down or not. I have no idea whether what you did will affect your leaving date. Even if you told me what you did, I'm not in the position to make that judgement.

Talk to your Bishop. Now.

It's not going to get any better if you wait.

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fearing Man More Than God - part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

Let me give you a little bit of background on myself. I am a 22 year old female who grew up LDS, but had some chastity issues in the past with only one boy in particular (he's the type who says he's LDS and that he wants to follow the teachings, but his actions speak louder than his words). I had those issues resolved, got back my temple recommend, and received my calling to serve a mission in (withheld). I was warned beforehand that the time between when I received my mission call and when I left would be very difficult, and I would be tempted from every angle. I didn't realize how true that was until I began to live it.

Here's my issue: the aforementioned boy has worked his way back into my life since my mission call, and we got into some questionable trouble. What I mean by that is, I'm not sure if what we did is actually "going to the bishop" worthy. Now, I am completely dedicated to my mission; it's actually because I realize that the atonement works (because it's worked in my life) that I'm leaving in the first place. I have kicked this kid to the curb again, and I plan on keeping him out. I don't want to jeopardize my mission any further with a manipulative boy who treats me as though I'm not much more than a toy.

And here's my question: if I end up not feeling better about what I've done and decide that I need to go see the bishop, will my calling be stripped from me? Or, because I leave in October, does that leave me time enough to repent before I leave, and still keep my calling? I know I always need to strive to be worthy of my calling, but if I don't fulfill those expectations before I leave, does it make my calling void, and will I need to send my papers in again after I've repented?


Hermana Worried

Dear Hermana,

I don't know what you did. You can share that if you want . . . but it doesn't really matter.

Like so many others, you need to understand some very important things about repentance and God.

Perhaps if we try this: let's use a little logic here and look at the possibilities.

1. Your transgression is no big deal, you've put it behind you and there's no reason to talk to the Bishop, so you don't, you go on your mission and everything is great.

2. Your transgression is no big deal, but just to be sure you talk to the Bishop anyway. He confirms that you're good to go, and you go on your mission and everything is great.

3. Your transgression IS a big deal, but you talk to your Bishop and get it all worked out. You go on your mission and everything is great.

4. Your transgression IS a big deal, you talk to your Bishop and your call is delayed or cancelled. You're devastated that you don't get to go, or go right away, but you've truly lived the principles of the atonement. Having made full repentance you realize what's truly important and your spirited is sanctified; you're blessed by the good feelings that know you've made things right with God.

5. Your transgression IS a big deal, but you never confess or repent. You lie to your stake president in your final interview with him and lie to your mission president because you want to stay on your mission unworthily. You feel awful the whole time, realizing that while you're teaching about the atonement and it's power in our lives, you're really being a hypocrite.

Now, given that you're looking at one of those five things, which course of action do you think is best? Talk to your Bishop or not?

I have no idea if part of your repentance process will affect your call or not. But, in the grand eternal scheme of things, is that really important?

It would have been better had you not done whatever it is you did, and it may be that you've repented and can move on, but when it comes to making things right with He who knows all . . .

When we feel the way you're feeling, it's because we "fear man more than God".

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 11, 2011

Getting Out of the "Little Sister" Zone

Dear Bro Jo,

I am the 5th of 6 children and the last of two girls. All of my siblings and I get along fantastically and share many ideals. I am wonderful at being a sister, and, being 5'4'' in a family of 6 foot giants, especially good at being a little sister. I only have 3 biological big brothers, but I have about 10-12 other "big brothers". I am especially good friends with my actual brother who is 3 years older than I am- and I am friends with all of his friends (my "big brothers" (by the way- all of them are 5-8 inches taller than me.)) It was great to have them when I needed someone to open up a jar or reach something on the top shelf or even get out of an awkward situation at a dance. But as you have said many a time "men and women can't stay just as close friends".

I guess that this isn't much of an immediate problem seeing as most of them are currently serving missions or about to serve, (I am 17 3/4 and they range from 19-20) I love writing them and getting letters from them but now there is a dilemma- all of them see me as their "little sister". Several have even introduced me to people as such! While I love getting the bear hugs and having friendly competitions, the phrase is starting to worry me. What if I don't want to hear about their stories of the girls they have dated? What if I want to be the girl they like?

All of these boys are made of the best things- honor, virtue, strength, love, testimony, sympathy, and for the most part musical skills. All of them are basically the only boys i would even ever think about dating in my stake! (and the only ones on my missionary brother's "approved" list.)

I honestly don't really know what I am asking. maybe I want to know if I even have a chance with any of them or will I be the eternal "little sister".

Or maybe I want to know how I can change that status in the eyes of other guys later on in life. I'm going off to college soon and I have been so protected by "big brothers" that I have never been on a date and even if I had I wouldn't be able to compare them to my brother's friends- my friends.

So I guess that is what I'm asking.

Help? Please? Pretty, pretty please?

-Hermanita (little sister in spanish. I felt like going bilingual)

Hola Hermanita,

I think it's time you do the one little sister thing that you've failed to do: speak up.

I think you need to have a "family meeting" with the big brothers and read them the riot act (like little sisters can do).

You need to tell them, clearly and specifically, that the "big brother" routine was cute when you were younger, but that its time they, individually and as a group recognize that you're no longer a child. You're a Young Woman of Value and as such should have gone on lots of Casual Group Dates but they, to a man, failed to do the right thing. Tell them that their negligence has put you in the unenviable situation of going to college with no dating experience, and that girls with no experience often date the wrong guys in college out of desperation. Unless they want that guilt on their conscious (and you intend to hold each of them personally and spiritually responsible), they better figure out amongst themselves who's going to step up and take you out and when, and that you hope each of them has the courage and intelligence to take you out at least once.

After all, you'll conclude, one of them may turn out to be the lucky man that marries you when he returns from his mission, and it sure would be a shame if someone lost his chance now by failing to act.

Then you drop a calendar of you dating availability on the table with a pen and a list of stuff you like to do.

Then you turn around and walk away.

Anything less probably won't have an effect; if they don't clue in after this, they may never.

Desperate times call for clear action!

Good luck,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Liking Each Other Too Much Too Soon

Dear Bro Jo,

So, here's my situation. I'm a 17-year-old female senior in high school and I have a mutual crush on my best friend, an 18-year-old male senior. We have three classes together and two other classes that are the same, but different hours, so we see each other a lot and have a lot in common. He's an amazing young man. He took me to Homecoming and we've been on a few other dates. He's helped me through rough times and I've done the same for him. He is definitely my best friend, but yes, he is also more than that. Your boys and girls can't just be friends thing holds true.

When we first admitted we had crushes on each other a few months ago, we agreed we'd try to just stay friends, no pairing off. We wanted to do what our parents and leaders have counseled. But as time has gone on, that hasn't really held true...basically, now he's my boyfriend in all but name. And while yeah, I definitely enjoy the attention and love I feel from him, it worries me that we're too close for right now. If I'm honest, yes, I do want him as a boyfriend. But, what's really more important to me is sticking to the prophet's counsel of no steady dating yet. We've both seen bad consequences come out of high school relationships. He has his mission coming up to be thinking about, he doesn't need me distracting him. And I don't want to be pining after him while he's gone, either.

So, basically, what I'm asking is, do you have any advice on how to avoid pairing off with someone with a crush on you that you like in return? If I am still single after he gets back from his mission and if we're both still interested, then is the time that I would love something to happen between us. But now is not the right time, so how do we ease or avoid the temptation? I'm planning on talking to him about it soon, but I thought I'd write you while I had a bit of free time. Thanks in advance!


Doesn't want a boyfriend (yet)

Dear Yet,

You two definitely need to talk. It needs to be private, but not alone (a park or out for a walk during daylight is a great choice).

You both need to come out and say how you feel and what your concerns are, and then you need to come up with some ground rules that keep you a worthy distance apart. How you feel is real, and understandable, but you're absolutely right when you notice that the timing is off. AND you're wise to realize that, if you don't take mature action, Satan may begin to tempt both of you quite strongly, especially as his mission nears.

Ultimately your plan needs to resolve how you can continue to spend time together that's not "alone time". I think that should also include an elimination of Facebook (or similar) on-line chats, intimate texts and any after 8pm phone time. You can still be close, still be nice, and still like each other, while reducing the intimacy (or risk thereof).

I have faith that you can both do the right thing.

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Collection of Boys

Dear Bro Jo,

I have a bit of a problem on my hands. This problem stems from the fact that I am farrrrr more comfortable with guys than I am with girls. So most of my close friends tend to be....well...guys. Ive gotta say you're COMPLETELY right about they whole guys and girls cant just be friends thing.

Don't worry, I won't overwhelm you with ALL my stories...I will stick with just a few specific problems.

One of my friends has been liking me for awhile now...everyone knows it...nobody likes it. They all say he gets too close to me. And he does. The sad thing is most times I don't even notice it because I don't have a bubble space. It's weird. But whenever i do notice I back away a little. Before this wasn't much of a problem, he'd stand or sit close...but that was it. Now he's starting to try and grab my hand and put his arm around me. I'm not going to lie...I think that I might have feelings for him back, and I'm not sure what to do with the situation.

Second thing I would really love your advice on is about my other friend. Me and him kind of had a "thing" (not boyfriend and girlfriend..cuz im only 16..but we like eachother and have held hands and stuff). Anyway he is completely in love with me and wants to marry me after his mission. He's 18 and more ready for such a serious relationship than little 16 year old me.

The biggest issue I have with him though, is that I can't trust all. He lies to me all the time and has told my secrets to people. He wants to talk to me about the whole trust issue I have with him, he says he doesn't understand why I would not trust him since he's always been so honest with me. Well...there's a lie right there. But we do have a time that we are going to set aside to walk around my backyard and discuss this.

And the third thing (this is the last one im going to ask your advice on...promise) is a little bit different. See there is this guy who is trying to get better friends..but nobody in the church is really reaching out to him because he never talks and usually bolts out the door the moment any activity ends. Well I decided it would be a good thing for me to befriend him and get him included in my group of friends. He's a really cool guy and it would be beneficial for EVERYONE.

 So I started emailing him and have invited him to 2 different things (one he came to, one he didnt) the one he came to he seemed to have a really good time. My problem is, I'm the one always emailing/texting/inviting first. He's super shy so I kind of have to. He seems to be appreciating it and always shoots me huge smiles whenever he sees me. But with every other situation with any boy im HUGE on the thing where the guys have to make the first moves....and Im afraid that me making the first moves in this case might eventually scare him away. your do i make friends with this guy without freaking him out or giving him the wrong idea?

I wish I could say this was half the drama im going through...but that would be a lie. Even though I verbally tell the boys that I just want to be friends...and do everything I can to show them I'm only interested in friendship...sigh...this can't be normal for a 16 year old.

- Drowning in drama

Dear Drama,

Not only is it normal, I feel like I've answered this exact letter before . . .

For a girl who says she understands what I mean when I say "Guys Can't Stay 'Just Close Friends' with Girls", you sure have seemed to step in it.

Let's try this:

Guy #1 - The Grabby Guy. Guys are dumb. Except for the fact that we like girls. Okay . . . maybe that's what makes us act dumb . . .

What I mean is this: you can't HINT to a guy, you've got to tell him, straight out. Best not to embarrass him in front of his friends, but you need to tell him "I'm not your girlfriend, and I'm not your property. If you want to hold my hand while we're out on a Casual Group Date, then that's one thing, but if we're not on a date than lay off. Keep your hands and arms to yourself". Be Nice, but Be Blunt and Be Clear.

Guy #2 - The Liar. Again, communication is the key, and this guy is bad news. Tell him that trust is earned, not given, and he's lied so much that he doesn't have your trust. When he gets argumentative and defensive (the typical fallback positions of the liar) tell him to be quiet and listen, or you're leaving. If he wont shut up, leave. (The dude clearly doesn't respect you. He thinks you're dumb. That's one of the reasons he lies so much; he thinks you'll believe him. It's probably also a control thing.) When he's ready to listen (whether it's then or later) tell him that he's going to have to be honest with you, all the time, for quite a while before you'll totally trust him again. And let him know that if he doesn't care to do that, then there really is no point in talking to each other anymore.

I don't think a walk in your backyard is a good idea. It's too alone, and too difficult to walk away from a guy that's at your house. And don't set an appointment either. Have this talk the very next time you see the guy; preferably in a relatively public place.

Guy #3 - The Loner. How do you make friends with a guy without having him think you like him? News flash: you can't. All guys think that any girl that's extra nice to them finds them attractive. That's because if we put that kind of effort into a girl it would be because we found her attractive, and we pretty much assume you think like we do. Which isn't the case, of course. We just think it is. That's also why all of your "Guy Friends" hate the boy. Because you're bringing him into the group they all think you like him the same way they like you. Ergo he's competition (weirdo or not) and so they hate him.

And who knows. Maybe you do. You do seem to collect boys. It's like they provide you some kind of sense of security.

Look. Be nice to the new kid, but stop stalking him and stop acting like you're desperate to be his girlfriend. You can't argue someone into conversion and you can't push someone into being friendly and social.

Communication is the key. I bet you'd find that there's a lot less drama in your life if you took a deep breath and did a little more listening and a lot less talking.

Oh . . . and stop hanging out with these boys all the time! Get yourself at least one good girl friend. Perhaps the way to do that is to teach the boys to go on Casual Group Dates if they want to spend time with you. Then, while you're out, talk to the girls that the other guys bring.

Have fun,

- Bro Jo

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Five Quick Pre-Mission Dating Questions

Dear Bro Jo,

Firstly, thanks for your help so far!

Really helps me out.

And I definitely am a premie at the moment (I've got a solid 10 or so months before I anticipate being out on the mish mash). Which is why I'm so hesitant to try for a kiss or hold her hand because (as lame as this next bit might sound) I'm afraid we'll both want to go "steady" and I'll get too overly involved with her and have it jeopardize how I apply myself in the mission field, or if I even go at all (which is another question I have, and I'll get to that later).

And because we both plan on going our separate ways soon, it just seems like bad timing. But!

Remember how I told you about how this girl seemed a little bit distant? Well the other night we had a fireside, and I made sure to sit by her (and she acknowledged and approved of my seating choice it definitely put a bit of a smile on my face). We were talking, joking, everything's going great.

Then after it was done and we're all just hanging out at the Bishops house, every time I tried following her into another room to talk to her, joke around, etc. she would just migrate somewhere else as soon as I walked in!

Wee bit frustrating.

And then my brother (twin brother no less, so we're always in a constant state of competition with each other) seems to be able to strike up a conversation with her and get her attention no problem!

I hate to sound like a complainer, because I'm all for the hard to get bit, but it's so frustrating! And I can't fault (name withheld) because he's got no idea, as far as I know, that I like this girl. He's just doing his thing.

But besides allllll this typical teenage mumbo jumbo, the other day she said we should find time to hangout soon, and threw in a nice smiley face (this was by text).

So I was like "Well shoot, that's a fantastic idea! Because I've got a pail of sidewalk chalk, and no one to share it with. So if your free sometime soon..." And she said it sounded like fun.

But the fact that she suggested we hangout is definitely a good sign, yeah?

Now I've got 2 other mostly unrelated questions if you don't mind. (You seem to have an answer to everything!). With regards to what I was talking about before, there's this guy I know. My best friend. I love this kid, I mean he's like a brother to me.

Before he moved away we were always up to something.

But he moved away, we sorta shifted away, and now he's got this girlfriend. He's even closer to serving a mission then I am, but the way he talks about this girl, I've got a gut feeling he won't end up going and he'll choose her instead. How do I get him to reconsider?

Because if what I'm hearing from their friends is accurate, they've pretty much decided already that they're getting married when they've both returned. Which to me sounds absolutely crazy!

So how do I get him to sort of re-organize his priorities? Without sounding "preachy"?

Second and final question (again, I appreciate you taking the time to help me out!). Is it alright if a guy asks a girl out via text?

Sometimes I think yes, but I also think something of this nature requires a personal touch. I mean, if she says no, it's a lot easier to take through a text message. But then it doesn't sound entirely genuine either. I'm one of those guys that gets SUPER nervous when I try to ask a girl on a date, so doing it with a text message always seemed like the logical route.

But I certainly don't want a girl to think "oh, text message means a casual thing" even though a date is what I was trying to imply?


Dear Pre,

1. Tell your twin you like her before we have the makings of a Greek tragedy on our hands.

2. Stop following her everywhere, you stalker.

3. No, it is not a good sign that she wants to "hang out". It means you're in the friend zone. The "hang out" isn't okay until you're in a committed relationship. Before then it's death. Of course, until you come HOME from your Mission, it doesn't matter too much.

4. You can't MAKE your friend do anything. If he really is a close friend then you're obligated to share with him your concerns about him and his girlfriend. But you also need to be aware that he'll likely pick her over you.

5. No, in my opinion it's lame, and even pathetic, to ask a girl out via text. I think you should have your cell phone confiscated 90 days for even thinking about it.

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 4, 2011

When You Can't Fast

[Readers - This question was posted on the Facebook Discussion Board in July.  I thought some of you who might like to read it may have missed it so, with this Sunday being Fast Sunday, so it's reposted here.  Best to you all, - Bro Jo]

Bro Jo,

Question, not about dating, but about the church.

I haven't been able to fast since I was 9, due to a health problem. We thought it was going to get better eventually, but we just found out that I really never, ever, ever will be able to fast or even attempt to fast. I feel really sad about it. I feel like I'm missing out on an important part of spiritual growth - and that I ought to be giving something to the Lord at least once a month. Do you (or anyone else) have any ideas on what I could do to make up for not being able to miss meals?

- CJ

Dear CJ,

Fasting accomplishes two things: it puts of "the natural man", showing our control over "appetites and desires" and it demonstrates obedience to the will of God. Heavenly Father wants to bless us, but like a spoiled child, if we're given everything without work or sacrifice then we don't have the same level of appreciation for it.

Little children, pregnant women, and those with serious medical conditions are not expected to fast. Of course, in the Church, no one is REQUIRED to fast.

Not knowing anyone's personal medical issues, and not needing to know, I'd suggest that you focus on the principles and doctrines of fasting as outlined. Perhaps instead of fasting 24 hours a shorter period of time would work. Consider removing certain favorite foods (particularly the sweets or other junk food) from your diet for a length of time.

You may also want to sacrifice your time. Don't just give up reading or TV or your computer, but spend that time doing a "random act of service".

And don't forget about Fast Offerings, the other component of LDS monthly fasting. While you can't fast, you could still give a generous fast offering, which would meet the components of sacrifice and obedience, as well as help someone in need.

- Bro Jo

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Rebound Guy?

Dear Bro Jo,

I've had a pretty interesting past months. I'd been dating this guy, who I was sure I was in love with. We'd dated for almost a year. About a month ago, he broke up with me. It was blunt and harsh. He'd left with a rough good-bye, and started dating this other girl. He left me heartbroken, and on the verge of depression.

Now I've met a new guy. I like him, and he likes me. There's only one thing keeping us from dating, the bad breakup and my friends. He doesn't exactly fit into our group of friends (Don't worry, he's LDS. More LDS than my group.). Basically, he's my better half. This goes back to the girls and guys can't be best friends without falling in love. He was my shoulder to cry on, the one who supported me through the whole rough breakup.

The issue is, my friends are convinced he's just a rebound. (Basically a rebound is the guy you get with to make the old one jealous.). They say it will be over in a week, and that I shouldn't even bother. His friends have told him the same.

But I'm over my ex, he's just a fleeting memory. I want to be with this guy, but we're afraid.

Any advice?


Dear Afraid,

We get sealed to a spouse, not our friends.

You have to date this guy; if you don't you'll always wonder "what if".

If you date and it is over in a week, then at least you'll both know, and that's better than the alternative.

Plus, and I sincerely mean this, things like "a rebound guy" or "transitional man" are clichés; maybe he is, and maybe he isn't. (Maybe your "not so LDS group of friends doesn't get that.)

You've got to know.

 And so does he.

- Bro Jo

PS: Let me know how it works out!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"I'm having trouble with this boy I REALLY like . . ."

Dear Bro Jo,

I have stumbled upon your page and thought that it couldn't hurt to get a little advice on a situation I'm having with a boy I REALLY like...

Me and this boy have several classes together in school, in which we're always talking to one another and just majorly flirting. He always sends off these signals that he likes me, but he won't SAY it.. He definitely shows it, just won't tell me himself. Whenever we see each-other we always hug and just talk in-between classes and during lunch. I've really wanted to ask him on a date, but I feel like guys should ask girls on dates unless it's a girl's choice date/dance thing.

We're both 16 and Juniors in high school. I'm always asking him about how his day went and whether it was good or bad, and we're really trusting with each other.

Does this feel like more of a "Best Friend" kinda relationship or a "potential couple" relationship....?

And how do I get him to tell me he likes me? Should I tell him that I like him or just wait for him to tell me personally? I've already fallen for this guy, but I really need to know if I should continue liking him and fall for him even more, or just kinda let things die down and let him try to build things back up (if he even likes me)??


Confused Love

Dear Confused,

(I'm smiling a little because I've gotten several "Confused" letters today - must be the time of year . . .)

Of course he likes you! And if you want him to take you on a date all you probably have to do is say "so, when are you going to finally ask me out on a date?"

Now, this may not surprise you, but I'd be much happier if you said "so, when are you going to finally ask me out on a Casual Group Date?" I think the two of you are too touchy-feely for your age and I think you should back off on the "relationship" pressure. Just because he likes you, and you him, that does not mean that things need to get serious or official.

Keep it simple. Date lots of different guys. Save yourself the drama, temptation, headaches and heartaches that come with teen "relationships".

- Bro Jo