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, January 30, 2012

Not Fitting In at the YSA Ward

Dear Bro Jo,

I am 23 yrs old and I am a girl :) I moved to (withheld) from (withheld) 2yrs ago.

I struggle with a lot of things and I have been for a while...that being said I hate going to the singles ward here in (withheld)!

It seems as I can’t find a group that I click with and the ward shuns me (I have 4 tats and a few piercings) I am not really interested in dating right now as I am in no position to get married and dating leads to that the guys up here move fast meet and marry within a few months and I don’t wanna give any one the wrong impression.

I have to force myself to get up and ready for Church I dread going and sitting by myself and relief society is worse....I don’t know what to do...I tried to switch to the family ward but the Bishop strongly suggests that I stay in the singles ward..so I guess I am stuck in the brutal world of the YSA.

-Stuck in YSA



Dear Stuck,

Life is what we make of it.

Your Bishop isn't FORCING you to stay in the YSA ward, he suggested it; you're not stuck, but your Bishop is likely inspired in his recommendation. Going to the "Family Ward" is just going to be you rebelling and running away again, not facing the realities of life, a crucial part of being an adult, and something it's past time for you to do.

You want people at Church to cuddle up to you, sit by you, make friends, invite you to be part of their group, and accept you for you. I get that, and on some level I agree, and on another level it seems like you've done a lot to repel people. But look, ultimately we have no control over the people around us. What we can control is ourselves and your own attitudes.

Go to Church with a positive attitude, grateful for the Savior and the things He has done for you (and all of us).

Make friends on your own. Stop sitting alone and feeling sorry for yourself. Realize that others feel exactly like you do, even if they don't look exactly like you or have similar life experiences. Sit by someone new. Smile. Introduce yourself. Ask them about them.

And realize it's time to walk the walk. You want to fit in? Cover the tats as best you can and back the piercings down to one in each ear. Take the chip off your shoulder and give people a chance to get to know you. Take the first step: get to know them.

No one is expecting you to become a different person, but you can't go on the way you are and complain that you're not happy things aren't different. We don't get to have it both ways.

If you don't like being judged (and none of us really do), then stop judging others. In my experience people are rarely judging us as much as we judge ourselves; we often project our insecurities onto others, exaggerating or inventing their opinions because on some level that's what WE think THEY think.

If a nice guy asks you on a date (and it sounds like a few have), then go out. It would be a shame for you to miss out on a great time because you're viewing everyone through the same lens that you don't want used on you. Put yourself in the right space should a proposal come along, but for now stop using that eventuality as an excuse to keep you from fixing things spiritually and socially.

(Sometimes a guy just wants to go out, and I can tell you from the gazillions of letters and comments I've gotten, most YSA Ward guys around the world wish you YSA Sisters would stop acting like a first date is more than it is.)

Treat others the way you want them to treat you, and eventually they will.

- Bro Jo

Friday, January 27, 2012

Follow Up - The Morning After

Dear Readers,

The following is a followup to a column I posted last August, "The Morning After". You can link to the original HERE.

- Bro Jo



Dear Stepping,

Thinking about you today . . . hoping all is going well.

Remember that you deserve the joy that the Lord has planned for you.


- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks Bro Jo.

I'm doing ok.

I've made some mistakes since the last time . . . but I'm working on it.

If I could offer any advice to girls (and the guys) it would be that procreation is sacred. The Lord gave us these feelings and this power to bring children into the world and to become closer with our eternal companion. The world sees it as a frivolous pastime.

Don't fall for it!

There's a reason it feels good but your emotional and spiritual state will pay the price. And sometimes, your physical state.

Also, (and I didn't fully appreciate this until it was too late) it is SO easy to slip down that slippery slope to sex once you experiment with certain sexual behaviors. Don't think you're not cool becuz you haven't kissed anyone. Don't think you're not cool becuz you haven't done x,y or z.

In fact, hold off on x,y and z until you're married. Once you've done something it is impossible to forget it. Once you start feeling those feelings you want more; you go one step further-pushing the boundaries until.... no more boundary to push.

Maybe I just needed to repeat that to myself... IDK if you'll put that up or what your thoughts are.

Thanks,

Tying to figure it all out



Dear Trying,

Thank you for that testimony. I think sharing your experiences may help others in (sadly) similar situations.

Remember what I said before: through the Savior and His Atonement we can repent and be made whole. Even if the road to repentance is difficult, and it often is, its always worth the journey.

And remember, its easier to avoid giving in to temptation if we stay out of certain situations.

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 23, 2012

If He Has a Girlfriend, Why is He Flirting with You?

Dear Bro Jo,

First off, I would like to say thank you so much for your column! It helps me so much! I really appreciate it, and love it!

Well, as you probably have guessed I do have a question... but first a little background. I'm a few months shy of seventeen; and there's this guy (BTW he is seventeen). I like him and we're friends, not close friends, but friends nonetheless. I am 90% sure that he also likes me, because we do talk quite often.

Also, I am really close with his family- his mom is my seminary teacher and his dad is my bishop. Therefore, I wanted him to ask me on a casual group date. So, I was planning on using one of your "Dear Bro Jo's HOW a GIRL GET a GUY to ASK HER on a DATE". But then, I found out he has a gf. So I was a little confused at why he talked and flirted with me and such. But after reading on of your columns, I came to the conclusion that I'm his back-up plan. So I was just wondering what does the back-up plan do in a situation like this?

Nothing, just move on and stop flirting, right?

Thanks so much for your help in advance :)

signed,

One of the 20%



Dear One,

You could talk to him.

"Hey, so we seem to get along pretty well, we flirt all the time, and I'm over here thinking that at some point you'll ask me on a Casual Group Date, and then I found out that you have a girlfriend - which, by the way, seems odd because I figure you're smart enough to realize that's a bad idea at 17 - and, anyway, I'm just curious, am I some kind of 'back-up plan', or do you really intend to take me out sometime?"

Once you hear from him where he stands, then you'll know what to do.

Now, one more thing: if your goal is to take the girlfriend's place . . . that's not the right thing to do. You should be going out on Casual Group Dates with lots of different guys, not focusing on just one.

Thank you for the kind words,

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks so much! Will do! Man, that was so obvious. haha And, no, I'm not planning to singe date until I get out of highschool. :)

- One

Friday, January 20, 2012

When Someone Vanishes Out of Your Life

Dear Bro. Jo,

I hope this gets to you, I've read your blog, but I don't know how to get different life scenarios to you...so I hope this is it and here's my situation(I have a couple):

1. There's this guy. We'll call him Austin for confidentiality's sake.

We have lifetime activities together. He is a sophomore and I’m a Jr. He's exactly 11 months younger. We started talking and became really good friends. We would always be each other’s partners in activates we were doing. I would take him home on the days that I drove so he wouldn’t have to walk. We went and got an ice-cream cone after school one day. Just sat there talking. Then we went to lunch one day (we never went on a date...he's 15). We could just talk.

One time I took him cookies at his house and we just talked in the car for a while. He's not the greatest kid. And I know he has issues. His parents got divorced. But got re-married. Dad committed suicide. Went and lived with his mom. Mom divorced. Got re-married and had a kid. (In short) And I think he has trusting issues.

He did trust me with all that. And I thought that we could really trust each other. Like I could just talk to him, and trust him with things I couldn't anyone else. (I have trusting issues...no reason like he does but...it never really came up while talking to him) Then all of the sudden, he would not talk to me. Look at me. Be my partner. Nothing!

I was really bummed. I was an idiot and sent him a (long) text. Basically saying/asking if he wants to be my friend, because he wasn't acting like one.

He said no, he doesn't want to be my friend. He asked why I wanted to be his. I gave him a list of reasons, and asked why he doesn't want to be mine. He wouldn't tell me why. No reason no nothing. I was SUPER bummed.

I'm grateful for his honesty, but it really sucks to be honest here. Now it's extremely awkward in class. Then this past weekend, on Saturday he called my home phone 5 times at 7:30 a.m. woke me up finally. Then when I really woke up for good. I texted him and asked why he called. He called my home phone again, my dad answered, he said sorry, he had the wrong number.

So I told him to stop calling if he wasn't going to talk. Don't know how he got my number. But I really want to be his friend. I don't know what to do. If he's struggling with something or he just doesn't like me or want to be my friend. I don't know whether to push it and help him? Or lay off because he thinks I'm annoying? But...I miss him, his smile and laugh, his comments...I don't know.

After this Thursday I doubt I'll see him again because our class will be over. (This happened to me last year; a guy told me he didn't want to be my friend) I don't know why, or what's wrong with me. I've prayed about it like crazy. No answer what so ever.

Which I don't understand because why would Heavenly Father take away such a good friend? There's nothing wrong with having a friend is there? I've also asked my brother on a mission. And I'm still clue-less as of what to do. I just wish I knew where he (Austin) stood. Please help with any suggestions. I'm open to anything and will appreciate all comments... (:

Thank you -

Troubled



Dear Troubled,

I'm sorry your bummed, but once you've communicated how you feel and he's communicated how he feels, that's all you can do. Don't confuse "not getting the answer we want" with "not getting an answer". Heavenly Father always gives answers, but it's on His time-table, not ours. Plus, often what we think is a "non-answer" IS the answer.


When I was just a little older than you are now, I had something similar happen. I had a date planned one summer evening with a girl from work that I had dated a few times before. She no-showed for our date. In fact, I never saw her again.

I called. I wrote a letter (that I hand delivered to her house and gave to her mom - remmember, this is before email, texting and Facebook).

Nothing.

No explanation.

No call.

She even quit work.

To this day it still bothers me a little.

Not that I'd ever give up what I have now, but not knowing what happened can eat at you for a while. Did I do something wrong between the time she smiled and said she was excited for out date and the date itself? I can't imagine what. Should I have done or said something different? I have no idea.

And I'll never know.

And that's weird.

All we can do when someone we care about chooses to drop out of our lives is let them go.

It stinks.

But we move on.

The only other advice I can give you is that, at least until you graduate high school, hold off on the heavy relationships (and let's not pretend, that's what this was, even if you never officially "dated" and nothing physical ever happened).

Here's to new friends,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much (: Your right, that is all I can do...unfortunately.

And I'm sorry about the girl who backed out...that stinks: / Haha, but I do promise that it wasn't a relationship....just a friendship (:

Here is to new friends...hopefully!

And thanks again, I really appreciate it.

-Not as much troubled



Dear Not-as-much,

But that's the point: it WAS a relationship.

Glad you're less troubled.

And don’t worry about the girl – things have worked out pretty well.

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 16, 2012

Is She a Groupie?

Dear Bro Jo,

There's this boy in my stake (We'll call him Jamie) that pretty much every single girl is mooning after. If he were a musician, they would be his groupies. Seriously. He's the stake crush. He has every quality every teenage girl wants in a guy. I first heard his name in a cabin at Girls' Camp. And then, at a dance a few weeks ago, I asked him to dance during a girls' choice song (not knowing who he was). After talking to him for a little while, I, like every other girl in the stake, have a huge crush on him. There's just a little problem.

I've always had a problem getting a boy's attention (which I have come to terms with, thanks to your blog!). I don't even think there's a word for how boy-repellant I am. They don't see me as a girl, as a friend, as potential dating material, nothing. I don't register on their radar. Which I'm working on changing.

So how do I get to know Jamie? And an even bigger question: Is he out of my league? Should I just not even bother? He could have any girl he wants at this point, and I'm below every single one on the food chain.

He's a nice guy to have as a friend even if he doesn't see me "That Way."

How do I get to know him better? How can I keep up a conversation with a guy? I'm turning sixteen in a few months, and I really need advice on this one.

Sincerely,

Just another Groupie?



Dear Groupie,

The best way to get to know someone is to talk to them. The challenge is, because you’re a girl and he's a guy, if you over pursue him (initiating contact through phone calls, emails, chats and texts) you'll no doubt kill the chances of him ever liking you (unless he's not a Good Guy, in which case you don't want him to like you anyway).

I have no idea if you "repel" guys; unless you're really aggressive, like I mentioned above, I doubt it.

Go to our Facebook Fan Page and check out:  Bro Jo's "HOW a GIRL CAN GET a BOY'S ATTENTION" for some things that might help.

- Bro Jo

Friday, January 13, 2012

Why He Might Not Feel Like Dating - Part 2

Dear Bro. Jo,

First off, thank you for taking the time to read my letter, let alone reply to it. Then again I suppose you’re in the business of responding to youth in need to advice, So I suppose a "great job!" is in order.

I understand where you're coming from. I mean I do call these people brother and sisters, so I do see how they would want to give me this knowledge and experience that they have worked live time to gather. I shouldn't be so critical of them and just accept that for as long as humans have had mouths, they have had opinions and advice to pass down to the next generation.

I'm a cosmetologist by trade, so I more or less work solely with women on an everyday basis. I'm very good at what I do ( If I do say so myself ) so it’s not really I’m surrounded with desperate women, I think most of them mistake our conversations as, I dunno, having a real connection as opposed to just small talk as I cut and fix hair.

While I must admit, I have had some very determined ladies ask and re-ask me out, more often than not I'm dealing with super fun clients who want to buy me a drink after work, but once they find out I'm LDS they decide they want to buy me coffee, and once I tell them that's not good either, She will most likely ( in my experience ) want to go for a walk instead.

And I fully understand. I mean we live in a culture where it’s almost the normal to degrade women and not give them the ability to think or to feel. The world forces on them roles that are less than amazing for these beautiful creatures. The second a man ask them how they are doing, or wants to know how her day went, I think something clicks on a psychological level that says

“ this guy isn't going to hit me, AND he wants to know how my day is!? “ and I think from that point a pseudo romance is built.

I think my problem through my career, I've more or less been forced to look at women in the role of client not lover ( if lover is too strong of a word your blog, feel free to remove it and replace it with anything you choose) I have trouble noticing a girls nice smile and the funny jokes she tells when I can clearly see her hair needs to be trimmed and her color touched up. I guess the main point I’m saying here I think maybe romance is dead to me because I let me career kill it.

I've tried to serve mission my friend, and I wasn't allowed due to health reasons. I have a pretty aggressive lung problem that the details of which I'm sure would bore you and your kind readers to death. Long story short, I'll be super blessed to make it to thirty. I have to go to a treatment every few days, and I'm by far the youngest name on the treatment list.

I think that’s also an underlining wall to my lack of dates. I view it as how fair would it be for me to meet this great girl, go get sealed, and then die on her. Leaving her in alone in her youth. I wouldn't even have time to get to know the girl, let alone make some sort of connection that would suffice us an entirety of companionship. So I figure “why bother”.

But I hold the utmost respect for those Elders and Sisters who are blessed enough to serve missions. Those lucky few and Veterans are the only few I ever give free haircuts to.

So what do I do now Bother, now that my situation is a little bit more complex that I first let on?

Warmest regards,

- Happy Being Alone


PS: As always, feel free to edit and alter as you see fit.




Dear Happy,

My advice?

1. Don't date clients.

2. When women ask you out, tell them "I'm an Old Fashioned kind of guy; when I go out on dates I like to do the asking".

3. Be happy with who you are and where you are. Understand that people mean well, so accept their input politely; nod, smile and say thank you. Then go about your life.

4. Keep dating, but on your own terms. Date who you want, when you want, but keep looking.

5. As you're looking, work hard to look past the superficial stuff. Try seeing that wonderful-but-in-need-of-a-cut-and-color woman not as someone desperately in need of a makeover, but as someone who as a daughter of God has a lot to offer, is beautiful in her own way. Who knows? Maybe you'll fall for a woman who finds you doing her hair as the most romantic thing ever . . .


Lots of us go through a period of time when we're pretty disillusioned with the opposite sex. Be patient. This too shall pass.

- Bro Jo

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Casual Group Dates and Jealous Girls

Dear Bro Jo,

I was introduced to your blog by my friend's mom, and hearing about it, I thought it would be a load of waffle to tell the truth.

 That is definitely not true. I love reading your blogs and the stories that people submit are a great help to me.

I have been friends with this girl for almost all my life, as little kids we would always have play dates and we even got "married" lol. (I'm just telling you this so you can understand some of my feelings for her). Later I moved away and didn't see her for a few years and when i came back we weren't as good of friends. Some time elapsed and since we lived a stake away our families stopped seeing each other so often. By the time we were fourteen we went to our first dance and the first girl I ever danced with, and she asked me for my number and we've been texting for 3yrs. I'm barely-17-she 16 btw. The week that i turned sixteen our families had dinner together and then she and I went to my stake's dance, it was really awesome and when I drove her home she kissed me, and told me she loved me!

That was a little confusing especially since she was still with her bf.

Time went by and we still texted and when she turned 16, I asked her out- mostly because she was feeling so bad (this was a month or so after she did the thing with her bf I would later find out) but also because I liked her. About a week later, she asked me out to a basketball game but I was on vacation so I couldn't go.

That set us back a bit, nothing really happened for about six months, but we texted a lot. Eventually she broke up with her bf for good.

Then she invited me to her Ward's lake activity and we had a great time and afterward we spent some time at my stake's dance together. The next morning she asked me if I liked her and I said I did and she acted like I was dumb for not noticing (not meanly, just playfully).

We tried to find out ways to be together more, but it was pretty hard because of where we live, and none of my church friends would go on Casual Group Dates. Finally a time came up and we went out. This was the most awkward night of my life, not because of her, but because we were pretty much babysitting this guy who originally planned the date but then got dumped-he has lots of issues so I had to focus on keeping him happy.

Before the date, she texted me every day of the week for hours at a time, but for some reason since then she has barely texted me at all. Part of the reason for this I think is that I drove out of state for a homecoming with a girl that had been planned for weeks before I knew she like me.

This second girl I met at youth conference and she really liked me and I didn't want to mess anything up so when she asked me I said yes.

Because of the date with Girl 2, Girl 1 (I'm pretty sure) is mad at me and because of her pre-16 dating habits, is a little emotionally scarred (just like For Strength of Youth says she would be) probably assumes that I'm in love with her.

Although Girl2 is great and everything, I don't know her that well and her being so touchy is a little worrying.

The unfortunate truth is that when Girl 1 asked me if I liked her I lied, I don't just like her . . . I'm pretty sure I love her (at least as a sister, maybe more).

I'm not the type of guy who jumps into relationships (I’ve never had a gf). The reason I say "love" is because of how strong our relationship became and how much we share with each other. I'm afraid that the date with Girl 2 may have ruined things between us. Since then she told me she has a crush on a guy 2yrs younger than her!

I'm really hoping that this is her way of making me jealous, because it's working. Because of her first bf, I think she feels like she needs a bf to make her feel like she is worth anything. Another thing that definately is messing her up is that when she was with this guy, they almost had a child... Yeah that’s bad.

So here are my questions:

1) Do you think that I should even be pursuing this girl from the start with her history (she is temple worthy and done with her bf btw)?

2) What can I do to make things better with her?

3) She hasn't said she doesn't like me anymore, so either she is just upset that I'm "with" Girl 2, or she likes this freshmen more.

So do you think that I can fix this and try to pursue her? Just as much as a guy two years from his mission should.

If you could respond ASAP that would be great, or just at all lol.

I am Really torn up about her, and I think she feels pretty strongly about me too but this situation with Girl 2 messed stuff up.

Either way, your blogs are great!

- Name Withheld

PS- if you have any questions feel free to ask.



Dear NW,

1. At your age, and with missionary goals (which is Exactly what I want to hear) I don't think you should be "pursing" ANY girls. Casual Group Dates? Absolutely! Spending "boyfriend" level time with clingy, possessive girls who equate their value with whether or not they're in a relationship? No way. Not even if you think you might be falling in love with them. Actually, especially not then.


2. What you Should Do regarding Girl #1 will likely not make things "better". What you need to do is to Talk To Her. You need to tell her that you think she's great, and that she is without a doubt a girl you'll consider Serious Single Dating when you come home from your mission, IF she's still single then, but right now your goal is to serve an honorable mission, and you know that will be easier if you don't have any serious girlfriends to leave behind.

Tell her you think she's beautiful and smart and a lot of fun, and you hope the two of you can keep going on Casual Group Dates. Teach her that means that you're both going to be dating other people, that for your part you won't be getting serious with anyone. I HOPE she realizes that she's wonderful simply because she's a Daughter of God (you may want to testify of that) and that her value is in no way connected to her relationship with a guy, but to be honest . . . she's very likely to get angry, act hurt, and could quite possibly show a very ugly side that you'll be sad and confused about (but grateful you found out now and not post-sealing).


3. When talking to a girl, of any age, a guy should never bring up other girls. Even if you're using the other girl as an example of how wonderful she is and what a shrew the other girl was it can lead to disaster. Eventually you may be in a Very Serious Relationship that will require full disclosure as part of the relationship progression. Then you can and should say stuff. But that's a while off, my brother.


Thank you for the kind words, and good luck with Girl #1.


Let me know how it all turns out.


Oh, and keep going on Casual Group Dates. Teach the priests in your area how much fun they are, and try to focus on the girls in your own area. And consider going on a few more outings with Girl #2 as well.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks soo much for responding so fast, it's really kind of you to take some of your time to help me with my problems. It's pretty ironic that you described her as clingy; because she said that was an issue with her old bf, and she is self-conscious about being clingy when in fact she is.

And just FYI, i didn't mean to bring up Girl #2, Girl #1 asked me about it because of some stuff on Facebook. I'm assuming that I should talk to her in person, I'll try to find a way for that to work, but it may be hard as we live a ways away. If that doesn't work I'll txt her (which is usually how we talk about stuff like this).

Thanks so much for your advice, I'll keep reading your column, and I'll tell you when stuff happens.


- NW



Dear NW,

Relationship stuff should never be handled by text. Do it in person or do it over the phone or if you absolutely must Hand Write a personal letter (not a note, a letter).

And, as a side note, it seems to me that you're texting WAY too much.

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

You are right, I do text too much. I will try to talk to her in person or at least call soon.

Thanks for the advice

- NW



Dear NW,

Anytime.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Which Girl?

Dear Bro Jo

It's me again. The situation this time still involves the same girl. My situation is that her (let's call her Flirt), our mutual friend (let's call her Loudy), and me have formed a sort of group. Flirt and Loudy have been best friends for a long long time. We all live not too far away from each other, and seeing as we're in the country, we're are also some of the only youth there.

Me and Loudy talk frequently over the phone and I would say more than me and Flirt. Our conversations have little flirting but are still interesting in terms of casual conversational content. The relationship me and Flirt have is strange to say the least. I have very little romantic interest in her, but still have engaging conversations. She has no trouble telling me that she thinks I'm exceptionally good-looking, nearly perfect personality, nice smile, etc. Yet she still claims that she has no romantic interest whatsoever. We feel close and can talk about a lot of things, almost like we're each other’s therapists. I did have an incident when trying to coordinate a ride to a faraway dance, where I ended up spending the night at her house, and was picked up in the morning. When Flirt found out, she made a big deal of how it's going to be so cool and we better keep it 'G-rated' (no trouble on my part) I made a joke about how I like to have fun and Flirt seemed to get a little annoyed.

Me and Flirt have had some progression in the sense that her parents have finally tried to change her physical ways by basically grounding her, telling her why ,and it is effective until they think she's changed to some extent. We still flirt, and recently I've talked to her over the phone and she told me she finds me amusing, I have a great smile, would only consider a guy who is bilingual (which I am), and I managed to keep her laughing basically the whole time. She also feels she can share information about her personal life, like problems with friends and that sort of thing (Am I being to much of a 'Friend'? I don't want to be friendzoned!).

When I was going over a "Post-Flirty Conversation Analysis" with Loudy, she talked and then abruptly told me that Flirty doesn't like me (Me and Flirty were just having that great conversation previously mentioned and were forced to stop talking, but agreed to call each other the next day) but then quickly said, "oh that was a little cold, sorry".

I'm not sure that was a mistake. I know from Loudy that when they talk, (and they talk almost every day) the conversation often turns to me and Flirt is the one who usually brings it up. I know she's compared her first name with my last name and apparently she liked how it sounded (from what I know the last name-matching thing is basically sacred to girls) Flirt also told me how she was feeling a little excluded from me and Loudy because we talk so much more, and seem to spend time more than me and her, stating she sometimes feels like a third wheel, but she'll get over it. So I suspect there is some amount of jealousy occurring here. Loudy also recently burst into a rant about how I always bring Flirty into the conversation, and she's annoyed by the fact that all the boys they both know seem to like Flirty more than her.

Now that I have given the details from which to analyze. Here is my question/problem:  is Loudy interested in me but is trying to make it seem like she's not, yet tries to dampen my spirit when we talk about Flirty by saying Flirty doesn't like me?

Also I'm wondering if Flirt is interested as well?

I'm feeling so confused. I know something here is not right, not all the roles played are matching up properly. Something is wrong and would just like some help on figuring this out. What the viewpoints of Flirty and Loudy are likely to be.

Thank you so much

- The Russian Bear



Dear Bear,

I'm not sure if either girl likes you or if they're just being territorial (girls sometimes do that, you know). My guess is that they probably do like you at least on some level, but at your age you shouldn't be pursuing a girlfriend, so I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Stop over analyzing everything and just enjoy being young and alive.

- Bro Jo


Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, I don't think it's very wise to be asking each girl about the other.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Hmm, well I hope I'll find out sometime later in life. I'll keep the not talking about the other girl in mind. Thanks for the help, being young and alive really are something to appreciate!

- Bear


Dear Bear,

Indeed, it is.

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Getting Some Distance

Hey there Bro Jo,

Could you give me a synopsis of why it is guys and girls can't just be friends? Or just attach a hyperlink to an email where I would be able to find one of your blogging articles? I've looked through all this year’s responses on Facebook and I can't find it. Also, it would really help to make a point that I'm trying to prove to a girl.

-- Distancing Myself



Dear Distancing,

Facebook has dropped all of the Discussion pages - pretty frustrating - but if you go to the blog page (http://www.dearbrojo.blogspot.com) you see a list of tags on the left hand side. "Guys and Girls as 'Just Close Friends'" is one of the biggest.

You can also search topics through all of the posts by typing a word or phrase in the Google Search tool, also on the left hand side.

I'm not certain what point you're trying to prove . . . particularly given your signature . . . but Good Luck!

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

Okay, I can see your point. Let me fill you in. This girl and I had been going on dates, with a date between our dates with someone else, and in double dates, since march. At the end of august she decided that she didn't want any contact with me, which was understandable considering that I was in a bad place spiritually of which I have since repented. I believe that it was because of this that I treated her rudely. This wasn't even exclusively directed to her either. My family unfortunately felt the impact of my self-destruction. I'm pretty sure you understand given all the people who write in to you. So you can see why her decision was understandable.

I apologized in person, she forgave me, and started texting me again. . . I know, you're probably thinking this friendship is real shallow because it’s mostly through text, but she lives an hour away no matter how fast you drive. Anyway, fast forward to last week. Monday, I think it was. We were texting back and forth and I felt as confused as I was when I took out my endowment. So I asked her, ''Why are you still texting me?'' She could say, you know, ''Go jump off a cliff'' or something along those lines and I would understand why. Her answer, though, was, and I quote, ''Because I still care for you, a lot.''

Now you may or may not notice that I emailed you a couple weeks ago asking you about how to present the church in a better light and told you about my mission to Brazil, and while all that is still true, in the meantime I'm going insane. This girl texts me at least once a week and wants to know how my life is going, what's new, etc, etc. Between these episodes I can manage to think about other things; school, work, sports, appointments. But then I can't stop thinking about her. I think she wants to just ''be friends'' because that’s what she said about two weeks before the above mentioned quote, but that the above mentioned really threw me for a loop.

So I guess what I'm trying to ask is; do you think this girl keeps on texting me because she would be open to a relationship after my mission? Or genuinely wants to be just friends?

If the latter it would be best my both of us to just move on. And by move on I mean not talk to each other unless at the same activity; and by doing so, distance myself from her and she from me.


-Distancing (maybe)



Dear Distancing,

Regardless of what she wants now or later you should move on. Focus on the Mish, my man, and don't give this girl or this situation any more thought until you come home, and even then only if she's still single (and, by the way, I'll bet she won't be).

Girls don't get the "Men Can't Stay 'Just Close Friends' with Women" thing because, well . . . let's just say that they don't think like we do and many of them can't imagine why we think the way we do. See, girls can spend lots of time with some guy they're not into at all, so they just don't get that we'd never spend that kind of time unless we were attracted to them.

AND girls don't understand that once it's over we really don't want to be "friends" (or "just friends forever") anymore. No guy wants to hear about how hot his ex-girlfriend thinks her new boyfriend is.

And, for the record, when Girls become Women they understand what I'm talking about.

Move on, sailor. Move on.

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why He Might Not Feel Like Dating - Part 1

Hello Brother Jo,

I hope this finds you well.

I've been reading your blog for a while now, and I must say, good stuff my friend.

As I've been reading, I've noticed that I'm in a situation that I can't say many of your readers find themselves in. I'm a single 23 year old member convert of the Church. I'm a priesthood holder and all around great guy, but I find myself turning down more and more dates.  These beautiful daughters of God are wonderful people. Amazing both inside and out, but the thing is, I just don't want to date. At all.

I feel so much pressure from the church and friends to get out there and date and see people and make connections, but I really have no desire. I mean its not like I'm starving for friends or anything, I just don't want to date. I've never had my heart torn out, or was mistreated by a woman. I don't suffer from same sex attraction. I just don't want to be with anyone at the moment or in the foreseeable future**.

I'm not having expensive vacations, or spending to much time with my guy friends or anything like that, but I feel like Everyone is placing this intense stress on me to find someone and settle down.  I'm seeking your advice on what to say to them to get them to cool his/her jets about this entire subject.

I've tried talking to them and telling them  "The more I learn of man, the more I love my dog ", but I don't think they understand that I more or less don't want to date.  I would include the phrase settle down, but I feel that would make it sound like I'm living life in the fast lane currently, which is far from true.

regards,

-Happy Being Alone


** I use the word "Foreseeable" because I'm well aware that at the drop of a hat, I could meet a young lady so amazing that it knocks the taste out of my mouth, and force me to eat all of these carefully chosen words



Dear Happy,

First of all, thank you for the kind words.

In a culture where we recognize the temporal and eternal joy that comes from marriage and family, and where every fellow congregation member thinks of themselves more as kin than friend, its to be expected that so many people would be in your business about that next stage in life. That doesn't make it right, necessarily, but its not wrong either.

You've given some pretty comforting answers to the typical concerns about why you're not interested in dating . . . so the question is, what IS the reason you're not interested right now? Because, whether we admit it or not, there's always a reason.

Always.

Whether you figure out or admit that to yourself is, of course, entirely up to you. But I submit to you that your reason may be a good one.

I'll tell you, my initial reaction upon reading your email was that you may just be sick of the overly aggressive women you know; what's up with you getting asked out all the time???

I mean, I'm sure you're a great guy and all, but its tough for a Good Guy to see much value in women who ask them out.  They figure that if the girl is so desperate there must be something wrong with her . . . plus it takes the whole "joy of pursuit" out of the equation.

Just before I started dating Sister Jo, I was dating a girl who, on paper, had everything. She was fun to be around, super smart, and frankly . . . stunning. But the girl was relentless! We'd go out on a date and then she'd ask me out again before I could catch my breath and ask her. She was great and all, but it really began to wear on me.

Just one time, I'd think, I'd like to be the person who initiated the phone call or the conversation or the date or . . . well, it was a real turnoff. Twenty-five years later and she's still single; I've wondered if that's why.

Anyway, your opening paragraph has me more worried about the lack of self esteem of the young women you're around than anything else . . . but that's a topic for them, not you.

Then I thought that it's perhaps as you've said: perhaps you just haven't met the right woman yet. Of course, dating others will help you prepare for being a better date for her when she comes along . . . and there's always the argument that you HAVE met the right woman (or, more accurately A Right Woman), you just haven't given her a chance yet because you're refusing to take her out.

Then, my friend, I had this thought: maybe the timing isn't right because there's something else you're supposed to be doing. Maybe you're supposed to be somewhere else . . . doing something else . . . and this feeling you have about not dating is really the Spirit trying to tell you that you need to do this thing, be in this place, at this time in your life.

See, what your describing is the same feeling my oldest son had . . . he really likes girls, and would love to be married someday, but he just didn't feel like dating. There was something else he was supposed to do. . . .

Do you see where I'm leading?

Maybe you're supposed to be on a Mission, my friend.

- Bro Jo

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Readers Note: Guy Week - 3!

Dear Readers,

We haven't had one in over a year, I think, so it's time for another one! All this week, and every day this week, letters only from guys.

Enjoy!

- Bro Jo

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dad is Distant

Dear Bro Jo,

I know you mainly deal with relationship advice in the sense of a boy and girl liking each other and the trouble that ensues from that, but I was wondering if you could help me on another matter.

I'm 17, born and raised LDS. But my parents haven't necessarily been the greatest parents. I don't believe any parent can be a perfect parent but I am having issues with my father who can be a bit...distant. He opts to play a computer game, fix up the house with DIY projects or go out to movies while never really having one on one time with us. Whenever me or my mother brings this up with him, how he values the computer or fixing up the house more than his own family, he starts to threaten me. I'm not happy with the way things are done, but whenever I bring an issue up, I'm completely shut down.

Is there anything you think I could do to maybe better the situation?


- Name Withheld


Dear NW,

When people withdraw it's either because they feel the need to hide or because they're just not touchy-feely people.

If it's the second reason, we kind of just have to accept that as the way the person is. It's difficult for a huggy person to understand, but some folks just need personal space.

If it's the first reason . . . well, that's more difficult, especially if it's one of your parents and if the change seems sudden.

For some dads, when their daughters start to transition from "little girl" to "young woman" they don't know how to act. They're used to hugging, kissing and holding their baby girl, and it's weird for them that she's now, well . . . curvy. Girls can mistakenly interpret dad's new need for distance as "he doesn't love me anymore", which is not true, but understandable.

(Bro Jo Tangent:  I got gray hair pretty early in life, so starting in my late 20's people began thinking that I'm much older than I am.  Sister Jo and I met very young, and I used to have her High School Senior Class Portrait hanging in my office.  I had to take it down when visitors started giving me weird looks when I told them that the girl in the picture was my wife, not my daughter.  We live in a time that when people see an old guy with a younger, even much younger, girl they assume they're a couple; its one thing for people to think I "robbed the cradle" when I'm with Sister Jo - who, though she looks at least ten years younger than me, is really just over a year younger - when the Jo Girls get older, if somebody ever thought something like that it would really freak me out.  Although, honestly, I think people will more likely think I'm their grandfather . . .)

Other times it can be that dad is struggling with something else.

Either way, I think the best thing for you to do is respect the distance and ask your mom to stop bringing it up. Ten, twenty years from now if you want to ask your dad about all of this, it may feel like the right time. Parents are rarely receptive to criticism and correction from their pre-married, pre-adult children. Confrontation will likely just make things worse. For now I say minimize the conflict.

Chalk this up as one of those things you want to do better than your parents.

And pray for your dad. Pray that you'll be patient and understanding and that he'll get over whatever his issue is.

Three other things:

1) Too many times girls react negatively to this stuff by going out and trying to replace the attention from dad with affection from a boy. Bad idea. Don't do that. Your value comes from God, not guys.

2) Not that I think it will, but if this situation becomes abusive, get out and get away. Go somewhere, to someone, where you can be safe and protected. It doesn't sound like you're there (though you did mention him lashing out), and you may never be, but no girl (or woman) should stay in a situation where they're in danger. In any abuse situation you have to protect yourself first before you can help anyone else, and that may mean leaving someone behind. Just so you know.

3) If this is really bad, and you'll need to do an honest assessment to know if this is real or exaggerated by teenage drama, then talk to your Bishop. It may be that something is going on with your dad Spiritually that the Bishop needs to help with.

Please keep me posted,


- Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Are They "More Than Friends"?

Dear Bro Jo,

So... I could give you the extremely long and drawn-out version of this story, or the quick summary.

I'm going with the summary.

Now, I'm fully aware of your rule "Guys can't be 'just close friends' with Girls" rule, and I must say I agree with it. However, there are exceptions to every rule, and I want to know if my situation is one of them-- or how I can tell.

Ok, so there's this guy. We'll call him Fred. Fred and I have known each other since we were primary-aged, and we are now YSA's. For the majority of the time we knew each other, we didn't speak. If we did, it was extremely rare and out of necessity. However, during the past year, he has suddenly begun to initiate conversations with me... which then turned into friendship... which have now become a close friendship. A few nights ago, we stayed up watching movies and chatting about life until the wee hours of the morning. He's had a few girlfriends during this time, but they never last long, and they never seem to stop him from wanting to hang out with me.

I guess I'm just wondering what is going on.

A part of me thinks he has feelings for me, but another part of me thinks I've just entered the Friend Zone with no hope of turning back. I know it's usually the guy friend who develops feeling for the girl, but I'm terrified that, in this case, it is me who has the feelings and he's completely fine with being just friends. I'm scared that if I confess that I think we should try to move beyond friendship, he'll completely reject me and things will be extremely awkward every Sunday for a very long time.

On the other hand, if he is interested in me, I'm scared that he will never do anything about it-- he's somewhat insecure, and when he has asked me to do things with him in the past (like going over his house after Institute) I completely turn him down 90% of the time. Not on purpose; I don't even realize what I've potentially done until the conversation is over. Plus, I may have mentioned once or twice that I am not interested in dating right now, I just want to concentrate on school (not completely true... but I was put on the spot and it just came out).

Basically, this is a very messy situation, and I don't really know how to fix it.... or if I should even bother trying.

~ Ms. Over-Analytical

P.S.-- If any details need clarification, ask and I would be happy to answer. =) I realize this was a lot of "stuff" pushed into a few paragraphs.



Dear Over,

I'm grateful I got the "quick summary"!

First of all, rules that have exceptions almost never exist; "Men Can't Stay 'Just Close Friends' with Women" is one of those for which there is NEVER an exception.

This guy likes you, as much more than a friend. If he didn't he wouldn't be spending the time with you that he is.

Now, whether or not he knows it or intends to ever do anything about it may be a totally different matter. For all I know you could be his backup or safety net. (Neither is good, by the way.)

One thing is certain, though: "watching movies and chatting until wee hours of the morning" is NOT a good idea.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Wow-- thank you for the response.

And for the record-- when I say "his" house, I really mean his parents' house-- meaning, we weren't alone. But, yes, it being so late probably wasn't the best of ideas. We should have cut it off earlier.

Is there anything I can do to help him along in either realizing it and/or doing anything about it?

- Over



Dear Over,

Yeah, um, TALK TO HIM.

Tell him how you feel and what you expect.

And, no, even at his parent’s house, staying up all night together is not good, whether you’re a “couple” or not. If anything it makes you seem, well . . . frankly, a little desperate and easy.

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 2, 2012

Inspired by Previous Columns to Repent, but Still Hesitant

Dear Bro Jo,

If you combine both of those stories (Readers, the writer is referring to "Battling Pornography and Masturbation" and "Do Not Procrastinate"), you've pretty much got my situation. With a few added things though.

I am 19. I have been struggling with the same problems as these two other girls, and I know what I need to do to fix them, but the thing is, I'm scared. And I don't want people to know.

I don't want to tell my parents. I feel like my parents would go berserk. (I know they love me and just want to help me and would try to be supportive and understanding, but they haven't been very good at that with other, smaller things in the past.)

What I am wondering is if I am likely to be released from my callings if I tell my Bishop?

I don't think I can handle that. My calling is one of the few things providing me with strength to try and be better. I do much better at resisting the temptations when I am at school and fulfilling my calling.

The other thing is that if I am released from my calling, my sister will know because (specifics removed) we serve closely together. So if I am released, she will definitely know.
Even if I have to tell my parents, I absolutely do not want my sister to know.

So, what do I do?

I think I can handle telling my bishop, not having a temple recommend, and even not taking the sacrament, but I can't handle losing my calling.

I know you'll tell me that even if I do lose my calling, repenting is more important. But that calling is one of my major sources of strength.

So I guess my question is, do you think I would lose my calling if I admit everything to my Bishop?

- Name Withheld


Dear NW,

I'm not certain how long you've been reading "Dear Bro Jo", but one thing that I always promise my readers is that I love them too much not to give it to them straight . . . so here goes . . .

I have no idea if you'll be released from your calling or not. You very well may be. You need to trust your Bishop to know what the Lord needs you to do, calling or not. When you meet with him, tell him how you feel. Tell him everything you've told me. Trust him to be inspired to know what to do. And, frankly - and please understand this - it doesn't matter.

I know you love what you're doing, and I'm proud of you for being eager to serve, but right now in your life your service, should you need to be released, just isn't as important as making things right with God.

I totally understand that a release may lead to murmuring and questions and stuff. And I understand that it could be hard to live through. But that doesn't matter either.

Not in the grand scheme of things.

Because right now, my friend, you're living a lie. And that lie is hurting you more than you've admitted to yourself. Sure, you feel guilt and remorse and regret, but look at what you're NOT feeling. What are you going to do when the next Temple Recommend interview comes up? Lie to your Bishop, your Stake President and your God?

You're not feeling the Spirit like you should. You're clinging to the calling because it helps you to feel better; I totally get that. But how much longer do you want to deny yourself the blessings of constantly feeling the Spirit? How much longer are you going to put off doing what you know will ultimately make you feel better?

Six months from now, if a young man comes into your life and wants to take you to the Temple to be sealed for Time and All Eternity, do you want to put that off, perhaps missing the chance forever, because you failed to make things right now, when you're prompted to do so?

If you'll forgive the Titanic reference: you're refusing to leave the sinking ship because as long as you're on board then you don't have to feel the sting of the icy water. But if you don't jump in the ocean and head for the lifeboat you're going to drown. The ship is going down, and all the excuses you make are just that . . . excuses.

You're worried about your mom and your sister, and maybe even your Bishop a little . . .

Again, I hear you.

But you're missing the point. The one you need to worry about not being happy with you is the one who loves you most, the one who already knows your struggles, your pains, your fears . . . the one who knows everything you're suffering . . . and yet all you need to do to be back in full fellowship with Him is to put Him first. Before your mom. Before your sister. Before your Bishop. And before yourself.

Any conversation you have with your Bishop will be confidential unless you give permission otherwise. (Contrary to popular Church myth, Good Bishops don't even tell their wives. True story.) He may suggest to you that you tell your mom or sister so they can be a support network for you, but he won't force you to do anything.

Please call and make an appointment with your Bishop right away.

Right now, while you feel the Spirit telling you to do so.

When you meet with him, be honest and complete. Pray before your meeting that you'll have the courage to come forth with everything that he needs to hear so he can help you.

Don't worry about the calling. Focus on making things right with the Lord.

However difficult it may be, it will be SO worth it to have all of this behind you.

The water may be cold, but it's much better than going down with the ship.

Emily, I love the Lord, and I have a testimony of the Power of the Atonement!

Don't put off allowing the Lord's blessings in your life any longer.

Please make the call.


- Bro Jo


PS: If I can help you at any time, in any way . . . I'm always here for you. Let me know how it goes.