Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (with occasional additional posts, too).

This is column is just one guy's opinion, and while he does his best to keep what he thinks, says and writes in-line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Bro Jo is not a spokesman or authority for the LDS Church. (And Sister Jo thinks you should know that he's sometimes wrong, and often way too opinionated for his own good.)

Nothing here is meant to take the place of talking with parents, leaders, or Church authorities. Please, if you need serious help, talk to a trusted adult, leader, and / or professional counselor.

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Taking it up a notch

Dear Brother Jo,

This is probably going to be a pretty long email. haha. I just found out tonight that my younger sisters boyfriend is planning on proposing to her. Thats exciting news, right? Well...not that i'm not excited...(cuz I totally am for her) but I just kinda feel like I was punched right in the gut. I'm the oldest of 3 . . . and now I will be the only one out of the 3 not married. I'm 26...I mean, I should have a husband and 3 kids by now right? haha.

I feel like such a loser and yes, I know that I will have that blessing someday in God's time...but, that doesn't make it any easier. I mean I'd be ok if I was dating someone, but asking God for that is like asking for pigs to fly. haha. I've lived all over Utah and it just seems like I've been over looked and surpassed because I don't have the nice body and I don't dress like I came from a magazine and well...I'm just...me. That can't be such an awful thing, right?

Well, society is telling me otherwise and all that seems to be happening is this "hanging out" thing which drives me crazy. Whatever happened to a good ol fashioned, "hey i'd like to get to know you better...can I come pick you up and we can go to the park?"...or whatever happened to a plain phone call...none of this texting business...am I completely off base?

What do I do? How do I get the guys to notice me? Its not like I'm completely un social...I go to my ward activities, I try and be friends...I'm staying busy with life going to school and working, going to church, fulfilling my callings, I'm strong and active in the gospel (what more do these fellows want?)...I travel and try and live...but, I feel like giving up. In fact, I'm finding that I'm becoming comfortable being alone...i shouldn't feel like that should I? I'm pretty much just becoming complacent anymore and it feels like I'm almost apathetic...I don't want to be an old angry single woman....please help, what do i do?

Sincerely,

Single and Frustrated


Dear Frustrated,

You're not off base at all, but I think it's time to put a little more effort into you helping you.

First of all, the hangout happens because you and your fellow sisters let it happen. You complain about no one asking you out, but who wants to date his sister? Or cousin? (Okay, I'm sure there are SOME guys that do . . . but I'd stay away from those.) You get all chummy, guys coming over and watching videos, making cookies, you propagate the hangout; you've created your own nightmare. Guys don't want to kiss their pals, they want to kiss women; you need to stop being a buddy and start being an object of desire.

That last line is probably going to get me in a little bit of trouble . . . I certainly don't encourage, promote (or even tolerate) the objectification of women; what I'm talking about is a little bit different. If you want guys to find you attractive, you need to do your best to attract them.

(Please understand that I'm saying this with the full realization that I've never seen you, and don't know you at all.)

In general, I think women your age can profit from a few tips. Some may apply to you, some may not, but before you dismiss any of them do us both the favor of being open and objective.

In no particular order:

"Bro Jo's HOW SINGLE ADULT SISTERS CAN TAKE IT UP A NOTCH"

1) Dress less casual. No sweats, sweatshirts, big t-shirts, sloppy clothes. No one is taken seriously in sweats. Trade the flip-flips for heels, the pants for skirts, and the sack-dress for something that shows you're a girl.

2) Do your hair. Not only will a new style make you feel more pretty, it will get you noticed (even though we men are often too dumb to know why it is we're noticing). Scrunchies are for the gym; the "messy bun" looks like, well . . . a mess. And good gravy, please be aware that your head is a 3-dimensional object; don't for get the back of it.

3) Two words: make over. Get one. Give one to a friend. Good makeup need not be heavy, in fact it looks better if it doesn't look like you're wearing makeup. (Sister Jo could give a class on this. In fact, she has. She should go on tour.)

4) Demand respect. That covers everything from refusing to enter a door if there's a man there to hold it open for you (any man; your dad, the bishop, some 12-year old boy you've never met). Don't be a diva about it; bat your eyes and ask sweetly "could you open the door for me, please?" And then be sure to be thankful, perhaps adding something like "it's nice to be treated well by such a gentleman". Both my 11 and 3 year old daughters insist that I and their brothers open every door we come to. They're princesses and deserve to be treated as such.

This goes for the whole texting and hanging out thing as well. You don't call men, they call you. Change your answering machine so the greeting message says so. If some one sends you a text, give a quick reply that says "I don't text men, but I'm happy to talk to you, give me a call". And then NEVER RESPOND AGAIN.

5) Pretty underwear. Sister Jo has pounded in to me that nothing makes a girl feel more girlie than frilly things. Get rid of the cotton and go pick up some silk and lace.

6) Work out. You should never think that you have to be a size 0 to compete; any guy that demands that deserves to be lonely, but do the best you can with what you've got. Active is attractive. Hit the gym, go for a walk, do some crunches in front of the TV. You may not be called by XYZ modeling agency, but you'll definitely feel better about yourself, and guys will notice that.

7) Widen your horizons. Try something new. A new sport, hobby, activity, event, class; anything where you can meet people outside of the sphere in which you currently travel.

You're not a loser, but you can't win if you sit on the sidelines; you won't win if you let the opposing team set all the rules.

Good luck, have fun, and keep me posted, would ya?

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Forgiveness and Balance

Dear Readers,

Friday I posted a column called "Forgiveness is the Lord's" and received what I think is a very valid and poignant comment/question. Sometimes the comments get missed by our readership, so I've elected to run the comment and my response as a Bonus Column, below.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

"...Immoral behavior is a huge turn-off, a deal breaker if you will, for many high-standard people, and there's nothing wrong with that".

I've heard you say something along these lines several times. Why is that? That seems awfully harsh to me. People make mistakes, especially when they're young. It seems foolish and unfair (to put my thoughts kindly) to deny others the chance.  Can I hear your reasoning?

- Mille



Dear Mille,

Sure. (Thanks for asking!  It's a great, and fair, question.)

It's a turn-off because people who have followed the Lord's commandments and saved sex for marriage are disappointed (and sometimes grossed out) when they hear that someone else hasn't.

I'll be blunt: lots of people don't like the idea of their body parts coming into contact with the body parts of someone who's let lots of people's body parts touch their body parts.

And they have that right.

Harsh?

Or fair?

There are three principles that converge on this point.

1) Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atoning Sacrifice. Each of us has the right and opportunity to repent, and it's not our place to deny that to anyone else.

2) Agency. Everyone can chose for himself (to an extent) what he does or doesn't do. A person can choose to mess up and, gratefully, choose to repent. Likewise a person can choose to not marry anyone who's had certain mess-ups in their life.

3) Consequence. While proper repentance makes things right with God, we can (and typically do) still have worldly consequences for our actions. God can forgive us of what we've done, but others may judge us. Should they? Well . . . yes and no. Yes, ultimate judgement is the Lords, but individual agency and our own desire to do what's right require us to make judgments too.

Can someone cast their virtue aside, trashing their reputation and their body? Sure.

Can that same person sincerely repent, and be brought back into the good grace of the Lord? Yes, but it's not easy. While repentance is always worth it, true repentance is emotionally and spiritually hard enough that you not only regret what you did, you vow never to do it again. Always worth it, but not necessarily easy.

Are people required by God to mind their own business when it comes the repentance of others? Absolutely! With the exception of the priesthood authority that may be needed to help with the repentance process, and others that the sinner needs for help, an individual's repentance is none of our concern outside of our love for them.

Can a Good Christian accept the power of the atonement in the life of another and love them, regardless of what they've done? They must if they truly want to be considered a Disciple of Christ

Does accepting the power of the atonement mean that you have to be willing to marry someone who cast aside their virtue? Not at all. You have your agency, too. Now, you might be making a serious mistake ruling out someone who has such a powerful testimony of the atonement in their life (assuming they've truly repented) just because they failed to live up to your standards or it grosses you out to know what they've done. But you do have that right. Loving someone as a fellow child of God does not mean that you have to drop your own standards.

Accepting someone's right to change is noble and truly Christian. But inviting that person to be your eternal companion is not required.

I count among the many friends I'm fortunate to have people who've done (or are doing) things that I know are not what the Lord wants them do.  I know and love people, young and old, whom I pray will take advantage of the atonement and cast aside their sinful and destructive behavior.  I help when I can (and when they ask) and, while I don't approve of what they do, I still consider them my brothers and sisters.  Heck, I'm not perfect (by any means, just ask Sister Jo and the Jo Kids), so who am I to cast someone out of my life simply because they've made mistakes or are doing stuff I don't do?

If we live our lives only interacting with the sinless and perfect, not only will it be a lonely existence, but how will we share our testimonies of Jesus should a person ever need to hear that testimony?

And yet, I also know that for me to follow Christ I must do my best to stand in holy places.  If I have a coworker who, let's say, has a drinking problem outside of work.  I can still work with them, and would even invite them into my home (so long as their sober at the time), but I won't follow them into the bar.  Nor will I berate them into repentance unless they either ask for help, are in some kind of danger, or I know them very well.

If my son comes to me and asks: "Hey, Papa, I'm in love with a woman who is good now, but had multiple sex partners in high school, what should I do?"

I will ask him if he believes she had truly repented.  If he says "no", I'll advise him to look elsewhere.

If he says:  "yes, but it still bothers me", I will ask him to take how he feels to the Lord.

If my son can change in his heart how he feels about her previous actions, and truly set it aside, then I'll tell him to go forward.

If, after truly pondering the situation he says:  "I just can't overcome the idea that so many guys have seen and experienced what I've always hoped my wife would save for me", then he should gently move on.

And he has every right to do so.

As does any sister in a similar situation.

We have the right to hold our spouse, especially an eternal one, to a higher standard than our friends and associates.

That's not harsh.  It's reality.

And one of the reasons we old people plead with you young people to save sex for marriage.  A virtuous person is valuable indeed, and worth seeking and waiting for.

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 25, 2011

Forgiveness is the Lord's

Dear Bro Jo,

I recently turned eighteen and am a senior in high school.

This past June my stake’s youth conference was the pioneer trek. The days leading up to it I prayed that I would be able to make a new good friend. During the course of the first day I became really good friends with this one guy (we’ll call him "Steve") in my trek group. Steve is nearly eighteen and also a senior. I had known Steve before, we had seen each other at all the stake dances and activities for the past few years, but we had never really talked besides the few times we had danced together. I honestly never thought that he and I would become such great friends. I felt that this really had been an answer to my prayer, I wanted a good friend and Heavenly Father had blessed me with one.

After trek we stayed in contact and went on a few double dates, and our friendship increased. I know you must hear this a lot, but this guy is honest to gosh the greatest guy I have ever met. We get along so well. Our personalities are very complementary and we have many of the same likes and desires. In the past, I have liked a couple of worthy guys, they’ve liked me back and we’ve gone on dates. But I never felt the way about any of those guys as I do about Steve.

Everything about Steve is what I’ve always wanted in a guy. He’s a worthy priesthood holder, athletic, selfless, funny, sweet, sensitive, caring, spiritual, and easy to talk to. I could definitely see myself marrying him.

The most we see each other is twice a month since he lives kind of far away. When we do see each other it is either at stake dances/activities or a few times he’s come over to my house to hang out while my parents were there. We’ve held hands a few times and on one occasion there was a kiss.

Here’s my problem: Steve’s ideas of dating are different than mine. He’s had two girlfriends before, started dating when he was fifteen, and has had lots of kisses. Me on the other hand, I didn’t date until I was almost seventeen, they’ve all been double or group dates, I’ve only been kissed once (and it was by him) and I’ve never had a boyfriend. I don’t want a boyfriend just yet and my parents wouldn’t allow me to anyways. They also won’t allow me to go on single dates, which I think is a good thing.

So yesterday Steve and I were texting (it’s now been 6 weeks since we’ve seen each other) and I expressed my concern with him that our ways of dating are different. He agreed and said that he regretted dating before he was sixteen, saying that now he knows why that guideline is there. He proceeded to say that he knows that if you start dating before sixteen there’s a much greater chance of breaking the law of chastity.

This startled me when he said it and I asked if anything had ever happened. Then he was embarrassed to tell me that he had had oral sex with his first girlfriend.

This crushed me. He told me that with the help of his Bishop he repented of it fully and it’s something he regrets every day and wishes he could take back and is sincerely sorry for doing. I took some time and I prayed and read my scriptures and Patriarchal blessing. I prayed that I would be able to forgive him. It was hard, but I told him that it wouldn’t affect our relationship and that I forgave him. I went on the rest of the night trying not to think about it, trying to forget it. He and I agreed to not talk of it again.

But I woke up this morning and remembered. The thought of it was with me all day, and right now thinking about it makes me sick. In seminary we talked about D&C 58:42-43 and it made me feel like I needed to just let it go, because he had repented of and forsaken his sin. If the Lord was willing to forgive him, I needed to be.

But to be honest, as much as I want to forgive him, I feel like I can’t fully. Part of it is jealousy, I admit it. It’s hard because I’ve saved myself and finally this guy comes along that I could imagine myself being with, and it turns out he hasn’t saved himself for me.

I feel like I’m still in shock. Every few hours I’ll remind myself of what he did, and I still can’t believe it’s true. I don’t know what to do. I’ve been praying that I will know what I should do and that I’ll be able to completely forgive him. But that doesn’t feel like enough. I usually tell my parents everything, but honestly, I’m scared to. I feel like both of my parents would not understand and that they’d look down on him, especially since my dad’s a Bishop and super protective of me.

So what do I do? I don’t want to be terrible and stop liking him because of his past that he has clearly repented of, yet at the same time I’ve always wanted someone who has saved themselves for me. Am I being selfish? I mean, he’s been worthy for 2 years now and I don’t want him to feel worse about what he did because he’s already had to suffer for it. But I also don’t want to give myself to someone who’s done something like this. I really don’t know what to do.

I need help.

-Forgiveness Challenged



Dear Challenged,

No, you're not being selfish. You have every right to insist that the man you marry has lived up to certain moral standards his entire life.

But in regards to this boy, you've got several things out of order.

First of all, you're a girl in High School who's acting like this boy proposed to you, which he didn't. It's not your job to forgive him, on any level. Other than the fact that you're disappointed, his past actions have nothing to do with you. So get off your high-horse. He clearly shouldn't have told you; his confidence in you was misplaced. He thought he could trust you with something deeply personal, and he was wrong.

It's not your place to share with anyone, especially anyone who may know him, the things he shared with you in confidence. If he was still having a problem, or was a danger to himself or others, then yes, it would be appropriate to speak to a priesthood leader, trusted advisor, or your parents.

No, he shouldn't have done what he did with that girl. But it happened and as far as we know he's made things right.

In telling you he placed an unfair burden upon you; that was very wrong of him to do.  It's not right for him to use you as some sort of guilt-recovery system.

If you were both older, if marriage was on the horizon, then yes, it would be appropriate to share these kinds of things. Partially in the spirit of full-disclosure, but also so that each potential spouse will know if they can trust that their best friend really is the person they're about to marry.

As far as you and he go, should you date him? Only Casual Group Dates (because that's appropriate for your age, and he might have an ulterior motive for telling you what he did - I'll discuss that in a minute), with both of you being sure to follow my Dating Rules for Teens.

Is it okay if you're too turned off by what you know to ever date him? Yeah, it's okay. Sad, but understandable.

Whichever you chose, I hope your testimony of the atonement is strong enough that you keep what you know to yourself.

I do hope that our readers will read this letter and realize that immoral behavior is a huge turn-off, a deal breaker if you will, for many high-standard people, and that there's nothing wrong with that.

But I also hope that everyone will realize that when we fail to "forgive" others, it's difficult for we ourselves to expect forgiveness.

Now, as for that ulterior motive.  One thing that I want you and all sisters to be aware of:  sometimes guys "confess" things to girls because they're trying to get you to do stuff you ought not do; so be careful.  That's another reason to keep all of your dates with him in groups.


- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Out of the Friend Zone

Dear Bro Jo

I was reading the article from March 2010 called Avoiding the Friend Zone. I've always heard that falling into a girl's friend zone and being 'just friends' is a good way to not get involved with her in a relationship or really anything beyond apparent friendship. I read that getting out the 'friend zone' is very difficult and unless something amazing happens, impossible.

However, a girl I know with whom I am 'just friends', claims that girls fall for their friends (particularly best friends) all the time. She explained the reason for this was the amount of trust they felt with a particular male 'friend'. I was wondering if you could clear that up for me seeing as they both seem like valid theories.

Sincerely,

Ken



Dear Ken,

Sure SOME girls fall for their friends, but not enough that you should put yourself in the friend zone in hopes of getting the girl. If she's a friend, she's trying to tell you that she likes you.

Which of course means you're not really "just friends" anyway.

Sounds like you're out of the zone whether you want to be or not.

Good luck!

- Bro Jo

Monday, February 21, 2011

What if he doesn't ask?

Dear Bro Jo,

I've changed a lot this fall, even my mom has noticed it, and I'm not the giddy, swooning type of crusher(?) anymore.

No, I'm definitely different.

There's a guy. He's prince charming material through and through, and we're GOOD friends, Bro Jo. He's always nice, never says an unkind word to me, in fact always builds me up, and never lets me feel bad about myself. He can make me smile and feel like the world has sunshine even on THE hardest days. He'll be 16 in less than a month, ('m already 16), and I'm not sure what to do if he doesn;t ask me out. Because there's this girl who everyone says he likes (except one good friend of mine), and who likes him. He always talks to me except when she's around. Sometimes then he'll just walk off with her and not even notice me.

I know I shouldn't care THAT much.

I'm more mature than that. But I'm afraid it'll hurt if he doesn't ask me, but does her in February after she turns 16. I'm a senior and he's a sophomore. And so I know there's probably no future together or anything, but I really love him Bro Jo. With a quiet, patient, love. I'm willing to wait. But I don't want to get hurt. What do I do to get over it if he does't ask me out??

--Clipping my nails, but only because I don't gnaw at them.



Dear Clipping,

Love him? Love him?!?

Are you kidding me???

With all due respect, you may be feeling many things, but love ain't one of them.

I think you need to take a step back, perhaps read out loud what you wrote. You don't think you're the swooning crusher type, but you're afraid that you'll be deeply hurt if some 16-year old guy asks out another girl instead of you . . . I'm sorry, but I don't think you're nearly as mature as you seem to think you are.

Breathe.

And give him room to do the same.

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 18, 2011

How Do You Get Him to Ask You Out?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm kind of infatuated by this guy that I see at YSA dances. I hardly know him, but I'm almost at the verge of obsession with him. I am obviously lusting over him, I know that. I really want to get to know this guy. But the thing is, there is possibly no way for me to get to know him. He is not in my Stake; I have no friends that actually know him.

So my question is, how can I get this guy to notice me, especially when we would never cross paths except when we have YSA dances. I've read all your other blogs that suggest that a girl should never ask a guy out and I've also read your blogs of how to get a guy to notice you, but those blogs would not fit the situation that I am in. How do you approach someone you don't even know and tell them "Hey I like you, ask me out on a date". ???

HELP PLEASE.....

Sincerely Desperate YSA.



Dear Sincerely,

Exactly that.

You go up and say "Hey, you look like a guy who should ask me out on a date".

If that sounds like too big of a leap, you'll have to get to know him somehow. Go up and talk to him at these dances. Find out where he works and if it's appropriate stop by. Look him up on Facebook, get into the same institute class. Sometimes the universe will put you together, but sometimes the universe needs a little help.

Be careful not to cross that fine line between "interested girl" and "stalker", but make some effort. If you don't you may always regret the one that got away.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cuties and Creepers

Dear Bro Jo:

My situation is unique. Here's some background information.

I am bring raised by a catholic father and an lds mother. Therefore, I am to be catholic until I turn 18 and then I may choose, until then church things have always been difficult. My father doesn't appreciate my faith in the church. So my young women activities are limited and I participate in seminary with great difficulty. Also, all this has cause me to have a primary level (sometimes not even that) understanding of certain concepts in the church.

The problem:

I am allowed to attend youth conference and last summer was my second one. At the dance we had a "Modest Mormon Prom" and I was having a good time.

A boy (A) kept asking me to dance and I wasn't going to tell him no, so we danced every time a slow song came on, with few exceptions. I later learned (as if that wasn't hint enough) that he was hitting on me (see what I mean?) . So the dilemma was that I was 8 months shy of 16 and he didn't understand the Dating Rule. Long story short, I figured out the hard way dating isn't the way to go when you're too young. Saying all of that, I don't have a real desire to date yet, seeing as I am still not 16.

 Now I love the boys in my ward, and everyone seems to think just a little too much. Their moms and sisters all love me, and I already see them as family. But there is another problem, I am an uncontrollable flirt. I don't even notice when I'm absent mindedly chewing my lip or twirling my hair, or laughing at every little joke. (The laughing isn't fair, they are genuinely funny!) I wasn't even aware until I brought a friend from school to a Halloween Carnival, that I have a flirting problem.

I have asked one boy (B) out of my ward to a school dance using the excuse that he is home schooled, when I really do actually like him.

But there's another boy (C) who I am very good friends with, but is a year younger, who my mother thinks is already her "Future Son." As disturbing as it is to have her voice this all the time, it's even worse when she speaks to his mother. He has Return Missionary Dating potential, but he's honestly just not my type though he's one of my best friends.

But yes BroJo there's one more. This boy (D) really likes me and "creeps" me on Facebook. He has my schedule memorized so he knows when to talk to me and is determined to date me when I do turn 16 and I'm running out of excuses with out having to be mean and flat out say "I don't like you, leave me alone." My friends (yes, boys) all over the stake have noticed his "interest" including Boy B, and are getting very protective. I have been trying to wait this out, seeing if he'll get distracted by some other pretty girl at his school but it's been going on four months strong.

 Boys B & C are getting upset and I can't quite figure out how to defuse the situation and yet make myself clear where Boy B is who I want to go on group dates with, Boy C is who I want to just be friends with (for now possibly) and Boy D just needs to leave me alone.

I don't know if there's some Super Secret Mormon Girl Code that I was supposed to follow but just missed out on the memo, but I need some help.

Signed,

The Catholic Flirt



Dear CF,

It has nothing to do with being Catholic, Mormon, or any other faith; it all comes down to girls and boys, and it's universal.

The only real differences between "Cuties" and "Creepers" is that you like one and not the other. (That's true for both guys and girls, by the way.)

Which means that your question really is "how do I tell a guy I don't like to stop harassing me", which is totally legitimate. And the answer is . . . wait for it . . . talk to him and be clear.

That doesn't mean to be cold, or mean. You still want to be nice (you never know when today's "Creeper" is tomorrow's wonderful guy); don't burn any bridges, but make sure he understands how you feel.

It goes something like this: "Hey, I'm hearing from several people that you kind of like me. I don't know if that's true or not. I do feel like you're stalking me too much on Facebook, and it's creeping me out. And, just so you and I are on the same page, I'm interested in someone else."

It will sting, but it's much better than him thinking he has a shot and wasting tons of time chasing you. If that's not blunt enough, and he really is being obnoxious, drop him as a Facebook friend, set your email server to automatically delete anything from him, don't take his calls or answer his texts.

If you're not clear, a guy is likely to hear anything you say as "try harder", and you don't want that.

Now, all of that said, please go read through "Bro Jo's Dating Rules for Teens".  Casual Group Dating is not a mask for having a boyfriend; don't just focus on one guy, mix it up!

Have fun,


- Bro Jo

Monday, February 14, 2011

Friendship and Church Activity

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi, I love your site!!!!

It has been sooo helpful to me, with regards to dating, I especially loved the good guy dilemma!!!!

When you read this you are probably going to think I am another 15 yr old whiney, judgmental girl which I probably am, but for me this is tough.

A bit of a background- 2 yrs old my mother left home, 6yrs old my older sister was like the mother I never had, 11 yrs old she left home with no explanation other than I’m getting married. okay your probably gonna thing that’s not all that unusual.

Now at age 15 I am homeschooled and questioning everything. In 2009 I decided I wanted to try going to school again, so I chose a school that a close friend from church goes to thinking the transition between going to school again wouldn't be soo dramatic, and it worked for the first week or so, and then she spoke to people from my old school and started spreading rumors about why I left my old school.

That wouldn't be so bad if I had gone to school before hand but I was home-schooled and it was tough. I left that school 1 month later. and now I barely go to church or activities. The only things I do are home-study seminary, FHE and join in family prayers. Not going to church started after I went on holiday with my family to Guernsey, channel islands. The branch there was amazing, the spirit and love within that tiny branch was stronger than in my ward of over 150 members.

I went to YW once after Guernsey and felt really strange as if I didn't belong there. I know that sounds really strange, but I haven't been since. My older sister fell away from the Church sooo many times and in the end tore my family and I apart. I really do not want to do that to my family, I want to be strong and go to church without feeling as if it’s a chore. Most people would go to their Bishop, YW leader or family, but with stuff going around my ward about my sister and things I don't feel I can trust my yw leader as she is close with my sister and anything I tell her generally gets back to my sister even if I tell her not to tell anyone especially her because I don't want anything to do with her.

I know I can trust my Bishop but I would just feel weird going to him with something like this. I can't go to my dad because he might think I am going down the same road as my sister, and I couldn't do that to him.

Have you got any advice on what to do??

Thank you,

Bookworm



Dear Bookworm,

Satan works very hard to keep us from having joy in our lives; when we have promptings to do good things, it's definitely in our best interest to follow them. You feel inspired to go talk to your bishop, and that's exactly what you should do. Don't hesitate, make the appointment today!

I'm sorry life has handed you such a raw deal so far, but I believe that the adversity that comes into our lives (not necessarily the trials we invite, but the stuff that just happens) not only can serve to make us stronger, it can strengthen our testimonies and help us to be closer to Christ.

Remember that not every day is going to be a great one, but that the bad ones will make the great ones seem that much better. School doesn't work this week? Someone at Church said or did something hurtful? Your family is struggling? Hang in there, it will get better. Maybe not right away, but it will. And in those moments when things seem darkest, remember that Christ suffered all things (ALL things); he knows our pain and sorrow personally. Because of that, we're never alone. He's always there, waiting to comfort and uplift us if we will but take upon us his name.

Do me a favor, would you? Go read the Sacrament Prayers (they're in both Moroni chapters 4 and 5 and Doctrine and Covenants 20). The promise that we're given, to always have his spirit to be with us, is something that everyone, including you and I, is entitled to. Use that to make new friends, good friends. They're hard to find sometimes, but as President Hinckley said, very valuable. Who knows, you might find that there's another young person in your ward who feels just as alone as you do, and maybe needs a friend even more.

But start with your Bishop, if for no other reason than it being nice to talk to an adult, especially one who can help you reconnect with the Savior and get on the right path.

- Bro Jo


Bro Jo,

Thank you soo much for replying soo quickly!!!

The advice was brilliant- I’m not too sure about going to my bishop simply because I don't think it that important. well not enough to bother him with anyway. I read the sacrament prayers and for once actually really understood them!!! thank you sooo much, I really need those words last night.

Another quick thing is my father and I spoke last night and he said to get a pen pal like in America who is also a member of church??? but I don't know anyone in America apart from past missionaries.

Have you got any other ideas as to what I could do????

Thank you soo much for you help,

Bookworm



Dear Bookworm,

Let your Bishop worry about whether or not you're a bother.

I'm glad you enjoyed the scriptures! Read a little bit in them every day; I promise life will look better.

I've been thinking about finding some way for our Facebook fans to connect. Some have on their own, but I don't have anything set up to help them connect, other than commenting on each other's posts and then perhaps that leading to chatting and then to writing each other. "Dear Bro Jo" is not, nor will it ever be, an on-line dating site. But maybe there's a way for people to connect and make new friends . . .

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much for all your help!

The Bookworm



Dear Bookworm,

Anytime!

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Valentine's Day Idea for the Non-Dating

Dear Bro Jo:

Sorry I never got back to you, but I saw that you posted my email on your blog and thought I'd write back.

The couple who were going out recently broke up and the guy already has another girlfriend. The other 2 still like each other. It's kinda awkward cuz the 2 guys are still way good friends and us 3 girls still hang out, just not all together anymore.

I do have some other friends I've kinda started hanging out with though. this might sound weird, but it kinda seems like since I've been hanging out with the original 4 people my brain has kinda been saying "it would be so cool if I liked a guy and he liked me. we wouldn't go out, but it would be awesome" and I think if I got some new friends it would probably stop that way of thinking but I don't know.

So I don't really know what I'm asking but do you have any advice?

By the way i just want to thank you for all the advice you've personally given me and the advice I read that you give to other teens like me.

5th wheel

p.s. on a side note I'm slowly and carefully trying to help the ex-girlfriend see the importance of not having a boyfriend when she's 14. any ideas for me to help her?



Dear 5th,

Everyone wants to be liked; you're not alone.

You know, little sister, it sounds like you're over due for throwing a movie party or game night at your house. How about something this weekend, kind of an "anti-Valentine's Day" thing? A bunch of guys, a bunch of girls . . . just a great group of kids hanging out, having fun, and getting to know each other better!

- Bro Jo

PS - Thank you for the kind words!



Dear Bro Jo,

That sounds like a way good idea. I could just invite anyone and everyone and just have a fun time and not worry about who’s going out with who and what-not. thank you so much for the great idea!

Thanks again,

5th Wheel


Dear 5th,

Any time - have fun!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fifth Wheel

Bro Jo:

I’m 14 and I have two really good friends: a girl and a guy (14 & 15) who both like each other. They each have a good friend(another girl and guy 14 & 15) who are going out. When we hang out its usually just us five, so it’s like the 2 couples (even though 2 of them aren’t "going out"). I’m really good friends with all of them but sometimes it seems that I’m just being invited to everything to make it so it’s not a date. Most of their parents know me so it makes them more comfortable with us all hanging out and in everyone’s eyes it can’t be a date with an odd number of people. how do I tell them I don’t feel comfortable with the situation without ruining anything?

5th Wheel


Dear Wheel,

I don't know that you can, but more importantly I don't think you should keep quiet either.

You should be able to tell your friends how you feel, and true friends will respect you for speaking up even if they don't agree with you.

Don't be judgmental or holier-than-thou; just put it on yourself. "Hey, you guys, I hope no one takes this wrong, because I care for all of you. I feel . . ."

You can't expect them to agree, or to change, but you'll probably feel better getting it out.

If they get mad or defensive, and they may, simply be quiet, listen to what they have to say, and respond with "well . . . that's how I feel". If they can't respect that, then they don't respect you and it will be time to find some better friends.

- Bro Jo

PS: Don’t fall into the social pressure of thinking you should have a boyfriend just because your other friends have paired up. When those two break up, and they probably will soon, it’s gonna get ugly. Watch and learn that the drama isn’t worth it at your age. Of course, if they don’t break up, it’s going to be even worse.

Monday, February 7, 2011

When One Date a Month Isn't Enough

Dear Brother Jo,

So I went on this date with a very nice guy and I've liked him since the summer. We actually met on a double date and my friend went with him. We have been on 3 dates in the past 2-3 months and I think everything is going well! I'm not sure if he likes me, or even if I should ask him how he really feels about me. I feel like if he really like me then he would spend the effort and try to talk to me, over facebook, texting, calling, etc, but he doesn't! Do you think I should take the effort and try to talk to him first or back off and just see how things go, even if that includes him not texting or trying to get into contact with me?

Thank you so much!

No Contact



Dear NC,

Well . . . that depends a little bit on how old each of you is.

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

I'm 17 and he's 18.

- NC


Dear NC,

Ah . . . okay . . . I'm teaching a class in five minutes . . . I'll be able to reply later tonight or early tomorrow

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

Alright! Thank you and Good luck with your class!

- NC


Dear No,

Given your age I think everything is as it should be. He's acting like a guy who's going on a few occasional dates (one a month is what I recommend for pre-mission guys) and not taking anything too seriously. You, on the other hand dear little sister, are acting like a girl who wants a boyfriend. Your more concerned with whether or not he has serious feelings for you, gives you lots of time and attention, and makes you the focus of his universe. i say this with love: you're out of line; knock it off.

Dating at your age, despite what everyone around you is doing and saying and seeing and hearing, is supposed to be about having fun and no serious commitments. Casual Group Dating: that's where you should be.

If this guy is the good guy you say he is, then he won't want anything more than that, especially if he's focusing on a mission in less than a year. You're getting a date a month; that's plenty.

Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, stop defining yourself by whether or not someone else "likes" you. As a Daughter of God you have Individual Worth as part of your Divine Nature.

Have fun.

Be happy.

And relax.

And you're right, by the way: you push him or pursue him too hard and he's gone.

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 4, 2011

Was it a date? Or not?

Dear Bro Jo,

So there’s this guy in my ward that for the past 3 months has been showing me a lot of attention. Every time I see him, he comes up to me and talks with me, sits with me in church, being really sweet with me, etc. He’ll talk to other girls in the ward but I never feel like he is paying attention to them in the same way. He’s been paying attention to me to the point where a few people have even asked if I’m interested in him. There’s been a lot of mutual flirting going on and I’ve become interested in him.

We hadn’t gone out yet and I hadn’t given him an indication that I wanted to go out with him, so about a week and a half ago he was leaving on a trip and so I suggested that he take me out to dinner when he got back so I could hear about his trip. He was very responsive about it and asked if I could come pick him up from the airport so we could go to dinner. So last night, I picked him up from the airport and the place he picked to go to dinner was a place he hadn’t been to before and was closing early which made the dinner very rushed.

As we were sitting there eating, he asked me if I saw a cute guy if I would approach him, like if I was on a bus or something and saw someone cute. Anyways, in the midst of this, he mentioned that there was a girl on his plane that was pretty attractive. So then I was completely thrown off and the rest of the night was really off for me.

So now I’m completely confused. Do I say anything to him? I’m not sure if he was trying to get some sort of conversation about dating going and it went horribly wrong or if he was trying to tell me he just wants to be friends. I was so thrown off because he seemed so into me. In some ways I think I need to tell him that it bothered me so doesn’t think I’m okay with him talking about other girls and being his buddy, but I don’t want to sound too demanding since we aren’t dating. I want to be able to say that I think he’s a really nice guy that I’d be interested in dating, but I just don’t want to continue my interest if what he is looking for is a buddy. I don’t know if he’s not interested or if he just got nervous and put his foot in his mouth.

More than likely, the next time I see him, it’ll be at church and so I don’t want it to be too lengthy. Just so I can address it, so he knows where I’m at and how I felt about it. I don’t know if I’ve been clear enough that I’m interested since up til now, he’s been the one showing most of the attention. It didn’t help either that it threw the whole night off and I don’t think I acted interested enough on the date.

I kind of want a plan of attack for church on Sunday because he always sits with me in Sunday School. Also, we are both over 30 if that helps at all in your advice.
PS…if you publish this, can you change my name and the details enough so he doesn’t stumble across it at some point on the internet and know it’s talking about him.

- Wanting to be prepared


Dear Girl Scout,

Yes, I'll change the details.

Let me ask: did he pay for dinner?

And what happened when you dropped him off at home?

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for your speedy response.

Yes, he suggested picked the day, paid for dinner but I drove because I picked him up from the airport. So when I dropped him off I just pulled up at his door and let him get out. I didn't get out of the car. I was polite and thanked him for dinner but no goodnight hug after his comment about the girl on the plane.

- Girl Scout



Dear Girl Scout,

You know, we often spend hours of frustration wondering where we stand in our relationships and potential relationships . . . all of which could be eliminated by a little communication.

If I had said what this guy did at the time he did, I might have been looking to you for some kind of confirmation that you're interested in me.

I know we've missed the Sunday School window because of the timing of my response, but all is not lost. I think you need to come out and tell him how you interpreted his comment. I'm with you, except for the fact that you picked him up at the airport, it was a date.

For future reference, the correct response to his question about whether or not you'd approach a cute guy would have been "well . . . I don't know, but I might ask him to take me to dinner and tell me about his recent trip . . ." and it wouldn't have hurt for you to wink or touch his hand or arm when you said it.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Key to Casual Dating

Dear Bro Jo,

Here's my story. In my stake, there's a young woman that I'm great friends with, and I really do like and respect her. When we were 14 and 15, we kind of liked each other without the other one knowing. We would often call or text each other, and we were the best of friends. However, we realized that we were drifting in a direction we weren't ready to go. So, I took the initiative and confronted her. We agreed to avoid each other for a solid month. After that, it was back to a normal friendship.

We'll be turning 16 in a few weeks, so my question is this. When dating, is it okay to date the same person frequently? If I date my friend more often than I date other girls, could anything bad happen? I understand to not ONLY date her, (I'm kind of scared of a relationship at the moment) but what would OTHER people think? What risks would we be taking if we dated TOO often? Could we subconsciously slip out of casual dating into steady dating?

My older brother, a return missionary at BYU, told me that the key to casual dating is to never date the same girl twice in a row, and as long as you let them know you aren't looking for a relationship, it should be fine. Is that true? What would you suggest in my situation?

-Worrying Teacher



Dear Worrying,

Your brother is right on. Date her. Date her often. But keep them "Casual Group Dates" and follow the Dating Rules.

Save Serious Single Dating for after your mission.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks a bunch! You sure do know how to be a great inspiration!

Sincerely,

Worried but ready



Dear Ready,

Well . . . I don't know about THAT, but you're welcome!

- Bro Jo