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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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How Does He Get to Know Her Better?

G'day Bro Jo,

I know you're probably sick of hearing from me, but let's face it, you're the best in the field for advice :)

It goes something like this- I'm 17, she's 15. I'd like to get to know her better, but I get she's not dating age- fair enough. She turns 16 a matter of days (literally) after I turn 18 in six-month’s time. Doing the math (which I hate, for the record), by the time I return from my mission she'll be 18.

Basically it comes down to this:
- am I aiming too low in terms of age,
- is there any alternative to dating where I can still get to know her better,
- by the time she's dating age, will I be too old and better leaving it for post-mission, and
- am I just wasting my time trying to get to know a girl younger than me?

Thanks,

Thunder Child



Dear Thunder,

Well I don't know about best . . . but thank you.

I don't think there's anything wrong with an 18-year old guy dating a girl who just turned 16, especially if both are still in school. I do, though, think it's a stretch for a guy who's graduated high school to still be dating a girl who's got a year or more to go. (See the difference?)

It's never a waste of time to get to know any girl better, especially if she's going to be a good dating choice when you come home from the mission. Lay the groundwork now. Talk to her, find out what she's like. Laugh and have a good time. Treat her with the respect that a daughter of God deserves.

- Bro Jo




G'day Bro Jo,

Question is though, how do I get to speak to her? I can't ask her on a date- that's clear. We live in different stakes and see each other once every three months or so. Would it be wrong to use Facebook? Get a mobile number?

Sorry if I sound like more of a problem finder than a problem solver, but I don't want to "bugger" this one up, as we say over here.

Thanks,

Thunder Child




Dear Thunder,

If you've already met and talked a couple times, then Facebook is okay. Calling is better. Hand written letters even better than that.

If you don't know her at all, then your best bet is a multi-stake activity (like a dance or game night) and hope that she shows.

Anyone can plan a multi-stake activity.

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bro Jo Travel Update - March 2012

Bro Jo is doing a little traveling in two weeks; here's his availability:

Sunday March 11 - Temecula, CA - any time (anywhere within an hour's drive)

Tuesday March 13 - Temecula, CA - any time (anywhere within an hour's drive)

Wednesday March 14 - Prescott, AZ - evening

Thursday, March 15 - Utah County / Provo area - evening

Friday, March 16 - - Utah County / Provo area or Salt Lake City area - early AM

If you'd like him to come say hello or speak to your group or class, send an email to: DearBroJo@gmail.com

Oh, and he'll be giving away some "come up and say hi" books as well.


There's still time to get on Bro Jo's Summer Schedule; email your requests now!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pushing Guys Away

Dear Bro Jo,

So. I have a problem. I'm not exactly sure where to start.

Because of my not-so-good experiences with important males in my life, I lived a long time very bitter against the male species. There was no dating whatsoever; I was extremely shy and insecure around guys. My contempt was so strong that, for a number of years, I would refuse to even have any guy friends-- even just casual ones. I wanted nothing to do with men.

It's been a long process, but I've been able to forgive those males in my past, and my bitterness has dimmed into just a whisper of what it once was. About two years ago, I finally gained some confidence and felt ready to dive into the dating pool. However, those years of my choosing to not associate with males is taking its toll on my dating life.

I'm 21 years old, and I've never ever ever been on a date; nor have I ever been asked on a date. Now, I'm not wallowing in self-pity, but I must admit: it does sting a bit, especially when I see all of my friends dating and getting married and whatnot. More than anything, it's frustrating because I have a hunch that it's 99% my fault.

Whenever there's a guy who I have a connection with, I push them away. We'll talk here and there, but when I begin to sense that there could maybe be a potential for anything beyond casual conversations, I retreat into my shell.

When I see them, I sometimes have a hard time making eye contact because I'm terrified they're judging me or something. I often get kind of mean. Not out rightly, but just really sarcastic (not in a cute way) and... blah. It's like I change into a different person, and I can't seem to stop myself. I've tried just staying silent, but then I think I come off more creepy than anything else. The guy ends up (from my perspective) acting cautious around me and it sometimes seems like they're ignoring me. Conversations cease until... nada. Most of the time, I don't even realize what I've done until it's too late.

Do you think this problem is causing my date-less-ness? I take reasonable pride in my appearance but am fully aware that I am not society's definition of drop-dead gorgeous. I used to just think "It's because I'm ugly", but I know that it has to be something else because of all the guys I've talked to, there’s had to have been at least one who found me attractive enough to ask me on one date. It's statistics. If my pushing them away is the cause, what are your thoughts on how I might go about changing my behavior? What behaviors do I replace it with?

Thanks, Bro Jo! I really enjoy your blog, and hopefully I was able to explain my situation clearly enough to warrant your help.

- Ms. Push



Dear Ms. Push,

Stop pushing.

- Bro Jo



Okay. Seriously. You know the problem. You know the root of the problem. And you know the solution.

All that's left is for you to do that which you know you should do.

Trust yourself.

Also, while we know we need to be open to love, and try our best to be our best and meet new people, often love happens when we stop looking so hard.

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dating the Pre-Mish Guy

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a 17-year-old girl and have been in a relationship for a little over a year now with a 19-year-old member of the Church (we'll call him Johnny). We were friends at first, and after a couple months we started to take a liking to each other. It took us more than 3 months to kiss after we had established the fact that we liked each other, so we didn't exactly rush into the relationship. I knew I was very young and naive (still am); which was why I held back being in a relationship. However we became very emotionally attached and of course that comes with physical closeness, so I was being very careful about our alone time, trying to be smart and not make mistakes.

Johnny's in college now, planning on finishing a year of school before his mission. I'm going to college soon also and I knew that we needed to sort of cool down the relationship so it wouldn't be so heart wrenching when he left on his mission. I knew I needed to go on dates with other people during my high school/young college years in order to gain experience, maturity, and know qualities for my future spouse, and that Johnny needed all his attention focused on his mission and not on who I'm dating while he's gone. So, in a nutshell I told him we needed to be just friends; it took a lot of guts.

Johnny took it hard at first, saying there was no way he could just be friends after such a long relationship. I kept trying to help him understand that I was doing this because I loved him (I think I do! Maybe I don't know what love is haha!) and that it was the best for us, even if we didn't like it. I told him I would be a distraction if we kept our relationship going and that he wouldn't be able to get the most out of his mission. He kept making the point that I was a good influence and have inspired him by being an example, but I said by being friends, we don't have to lose that. After a few days of trying to make my point across, he graciously agreed and we are still very good friends. We limit our time together to once a week and no longer kiss or hold hands, say I love you, etc. He's whole-heartedly supported my decision.

Hopefully, after dating and gaining friendships, I'll realize he's the one and marry him (in a perfect world), but I don't want to deprive myself of the chance that maybe there's someone else out there for me, and same for him, because I want him to be happy. But if it does work out, after we've both matured and are ready to dedicate ourselves to one another (perhaps a couple years after his mission, who knows), I'll know I did the right thing and it'll make it that much more meaningful.

It's hard but I'm pretty confident I made the right decision. Do you have anything to give me suggestions on? Thank you!

Sincerely,

Hopeful!


Dear Hopeful,

You don't need any suggestions from me; you did the right thing and are absolutely on the right track.

The only caution I'll give you, which I sense you already know, is that as his mission gets closer, the temptations for the two of you will likely get stronger. Satan does not like it when we're trying to do the right thing.

Keep the faith,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I'm the 17 year old girl who dated the 19 year old ("Johnny"), who is going on a mission soon and we decided to break it off and be just friends, just in case you don't know. Anyway, it has been going well but lately it's been really hard not to be close to him, like just sitting by him and such. Because I still care about him. Where do you think I should draw the line when it comes to physical closeness? It's very hard to be strictly friends after a year of being together. I've met and hung out with at least 5 other boys after we broke it off, so I'm meeting new people and "Johnny" doesn't mind at all, he encourages it actually. So, I feel like Johnny is more like a best friend, I enjoy being with him the most, however I restrict my time with him... But can I be best friends with him? Is that allowed? Haha I just don't know where I should draw the line.

What are your suggestions?

Thank you so much!

- Hopeful



Dear Hopeful,

I think you're drawing the line just fine. Keep it simple. Keep it Casual.

Your friendship with him will go in one of two directions: either you'll be best friends for eternity (we call that Temple Marriage) or you'll each end up with someone else. Only time will tell.

Can you hold his hand, gently kiss him goodnight, or give him a hug?

Only on or at the end of Casual Group Dates. But you don't have to do any of that.

Before he goes, make no commitments or promises to each other.

When he returns, if you're single (and you should be dating while he's gone), and if the interest is there, then by all means, date.

But one thing at a time.

- Bro Jo

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Age Differences: 16 and 18

Dear bro Jo,

Well your probably sick of hearing from me . . .

Thank you for answering my last question, and for your awesome blog!!!!

Just a quick Q, do you think that 16 and 18 is reasonable, for dating??

Thanks for all your help and guidance,

Book Worm


Dear Book Worm,

Sure. Casual Group Dating, but sure.

And I'm never sick of hearing from you.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wants to Date . . . But Not THAT Guy

Hey Bro Jo,

I know that I had recently complained about not dating enough and that I wanted to date more. To refresh your mind, I am sixteen and will be a senior. However, I have just not found someone that I really would like to go out with. I have been praying about it, and what I found funny is that last night this guy who has been kind of following me, asking me to dance, asking me for my number, etc. called me and asked me out on a date!

The thing is, I am not thrilled to be sucked into this, as I do not like him as anything more than just a simple acquaintance, and I would be uncomfortable going on a date with him.

So when he asked if I was available next Saturday night, I said no, that I didn’t think so, and that the week afterward I would be at Girl's Camp.

I'm hoping to stall this whole thing until he leaves for college in a month and a half, because I would feel soooooo bad if I had to really reject him and say that I really wasn't interested. It won't be too hard, because he's in another stake about half an hour away, but he's got my number and might show up at a couple dances this summer (particularly the one tonight).

He's a nice guy, but not my type, and we have nothing in common.

I promised myself a while ago that I would not do any pity dates, or go on dates with guys just because I felt bad.

As a girl, I have the freedom and power to say no to a date, right? I feel bad, but I would rather carry some guilt than actually go on a date with him.

And yeah, I probably sound really stuck up and selfish, especially because I want to date more, but this isn't what I had in mind.

~Guilty



Dear Guilty,

Yeah, as a girl you have the freedom to say "no", and you should never go out with anyone you find dangerous, or break other commitments just to go on a date, but you've got this whole Casual Group Dating thing wrong. At your age dating is not about finding a boyfriend or only going out with guys you're interested in; it's about practicing social skills and having a fun time with good and nice people.

As long as he follows the Dating Rules and it's a Casual Group Date and you don't feel unsafe . . . if he's willing to Plan, Pick up, Pay, and Play by the rules you should go out with any guy that asks.

Wanting to spend time with your family, or already having plans, particularly with Girls Camp coming up . . . well that's one thing, but let's be honest: you said "no" because you don't find him attractive, not because he's a bad or creepy guy or because you really had plans.

To turn a nice guy down, especially after you whined about not going out enough, after PRAYING that a nice guy would ask you out, and then to wonder how to avoid him all summer in case he has a thing for you . . . I say this with love, but . . . shame on you.


- Bro Jo

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Marriage - Sex - Annulment Scam

[Readers - Today's post comes from a Facebook Wall conversation I had with a reader last week. I'm not sure if this is as big an issue as I've heard it is, but either way, some folks are in some serious Spiritual Trouble.


- Bro Jo]


Dear Bro Jo,

Me and my friends were talking about this and I was wondering what you though. I've heard rumors of LDS young adults going off and getting married and then having sex and then having an annulment afterwards. I kind of think thats worse then just having sex, because its making a joke of marriage, even though it isn't a temple marriage. Your thoughts?

EH



Dear EH,

I think A) no self-respecting judge should grant such annulment, B) they're both Spiritually in a LOT of trouble, C) I wouldn't want one of my kids to marry someone who took something so sacred so lightly, and D) it may be the dumbest thing I've ever heard (and yes, I'd heard of it before)

You know, one thing people never seem to consider when they're with someone who's about to take off their underwear with no commitment (and these "fake marriages" are in no way a commitment) made is that there's nothing about you that's special - if they'd drop trou with you, they'd drop trou with anybody . . . and probably have

Seriously.

So . . . what? If they get horny the following weekend are they going to do it all over again? Does it matter if it's not this person, but someone new?

And does anyone really think the Lord is somewhere thinking "well, they got an annulment, so it doesn't really count"?

Please.

Great topic, EH. I'm posting it in the column next week.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

I think the fact they assumed even signing a piece of paper represents a marriage is a joke in itself.

- EH



Dear EH,

Sad . . . but true.

I understand the desire to have sex (I think that instead of saying "having sex" we should say "creating a family") . . . and sometimes I am concerned that some of the singles in the Church (especially the Single Brethren between 25 and 35) aren't . . . "motivated" enough (seriously, I have no idea what's wrong with them) by the things that are supposed to be "only-between-married" couples to actively seek marriage, but no relationship is good based only on the physical.

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 17, 2012

There's No Such Thing as a "Casual SINGLE Date"

Whattup Bro Jo?

I seem to have an issue when it comes to the whole dating scene.

It's long and would probably be really annoying for both of us if I were to tell the whole story, so I will try and keep a 5-year story down to a few paragraphs.

I suppose it all started back when I was 13 and she was 12. I did not like girls one bit, but one day I was sitting on the stand at church and she was called up to be initiated into the Young Women's program. For the first time, I had this strange flutter and peaceful feeling come over me. Nicole (name has been changed) never was really attractive to me before, but for some reason I was like "uhhhhh, wow, where did this come from?"

Looking back on it, I have no idea how I was attracted to her other than that one moment. Sometimes I would get rides with her to Mutual activities, since she lived only a minute away from me, but we never really talked. I don't have my journal on hand, so I don't know when or how exactly I came to have a crush on her, but by the time I was 14, I was totally crushing, but kept our relationship as "just friends".

As we came to talk and interact more over the next 5 years, I came to...dare I say..."love her" by the time I was about 16.

What has irked me is that, from talking with my parents, it is real love, not infatuation. Like I would end up spending almost each day thinking "I wonder how her day went, I hope she was happy, etc."

Admittedly, I was a little over-the-top when it came to communication over texts and emails, and the reasons were that I liked her, and she was so similar to me when I was in an environment that did not have really any nice girls my age.

Anyways, since she was only a year younger, and had the same values as I did, we found it easy to be good friends for about 3 years. We would occasionally have the innocent flirting as we got older such as a look or a compliment, but never anything serious.

Then she started high school (she has a late birthday) and she changed.

I ended up not talking to her for a really long time because all of a sudden her behavior totally shifted. The best way I can describe her was "Mean Girls meets the Church".

She professed (and practiced) what she would always tell me her beliefs were, but then she was noticeably more prissy, airheaded, and ditzy. It turned me off, and I kind of ignored her for about 6 months. After that time, she seemed to be a bit normal again, but with bouts of it returning.

In short, we resumed our friendship, and right before she turned 16 I asked her on a casual date. She was super excited on the phone, and could not wait to do our activity, which was horseback riding with my grandparents (whom she'd been taking lessons from for 5 months) and having a picnic on a hill with a little guitar lesson.

All-in-all, it seemed like it would be the perfect first date.

Boy was I in for a surprise.

She was waaaaay not herself.

And it wasn't nervous or shyness.

She was very offish and blew me off a lot during the date, even though I was doing all of the gentlemanly things I'd read about. Both my grandparents also noticed it. (Before you read further, you need to know that she is the queen of flirting. She has had guys hanging on her fingers for the past 2 years, has no fear, and is always bubbly and happy.) This was a darker side of her that I suspected existed, but didn't allow myself to believe in.

The date actually was kind of funny at the end, so I will tell you about it.

We went horseback riding and whatnot, but we couldn't do the picnic because he mom insisted that she be home a whole hour early so that she could go to a 3-year old cousin's ballet recital. So yeah, we basically rode horses for 30 minutes in a circle instead of an hour and a half exploring the ranch. Now get this, on our way back, her mom drove up and took a picture of us (they lived right by the ranch).

I don't think it would have been possible for the date to be any more awkward for her than that moment.

It got worse.

Her brother drove up on a quad. It was actually a pretty pathetic first date after knowing each other for 5 years (and I also must say that her mom is on the wild side, and I think Nicole has inadvertently gone on some dates that were set up by her mother, so it's not like the dating scene is exactly new to her or her mother).

Anyways, I felt really strongly by the Spirit that this one date would put my suspicions to rest, whether for good or bad. They have been put to rest...mostly.

Even though I have not talked to her at all since later that night, in which I had an awesome discussion where I, in essence, told her that I truly believed in the principles that were taught by the Strength of Youth pamphlet and that if she were to ever be on a date with me, that it would be 100% casual and that she didn't need to worry that I would try to make her my girlfriend. (Remember, at this time, I was operating off of the "oh, she was nervous" angle, and after I saw her leave, she didn't seem very excited about the date at all - which, guess what, was her first official one ever).

I felt like I should call to check up on her and tell her what I believed in regards to dating. Anyways, she reciprocated what I said and said she believed the same things, and then the call ended.

Upon further looking at the date, after the moment passed, I realized just how strangely she acted, which is where I am at now:

She has about a billion different personalities, I have had no real idea of who she was for the past 2 years, and even though i have stopped talking with her, i can't keep her out of my head for more than 2 or 3 days. Is it really possible to love someone that you really should not love?

I was attracted to and fell in love with the 12-14 year old Nicole, but even after she changed, I was still holding on to the "she has a good heart" thing. I have been trying to stop thinking and having any feelings at all, but it seems impossible. I just don't want to let go of her. I know for a fact that I did something wrong Strength for Youth-wise, and herein lies another issue with me:

I am too sincere. I know lots of guys that are like Mormon "players". They flirt with all the girls and they say they will marry them and they "get lost in their eyes" and spout off compliments like it's flowing water. I never do that. My belief is that you don't do that to girls if you don't really mean it, or that you don't nonchalantly give them away. I am much more sincere, and I don't really flirt with girls like that. I definitely can if I wanted to, I'm not shy, I just don't believe in telling every girl I meet "did it hurt when you fell from heaven?" or "I think we met in the Pre-mortal existence".

My sincerity is both my blessing and my curse, and because I was 100% sincere with Nicole, it seems that I allowed myself to get attached to her in a way that I shouldn't have, and the more I think about it, it seems that the relationship was lopsided: i think I liked her way more than she liked me. In our entire five years of knowing each other, I was always the first to send the message or call. Never her.

But back to my sincerity, all my parents and EFY counselors tell me that I should never lose that trait, and that my sweetness will be forever loved by my future wife, but it seems like such a curse at times. NOBODY I know takes relationships as seriously as I do. Don't get me wrong, I know how to have fun and be casual with girls. Right now at college, I have tons of them that like me, but only on a "hey, you're kind of fun to be around" level.

I've noticed that this has become an issue when I just recently developed a crush on a girl here at college who is just a month younger than me. I found out that she has a lot of similar qualities to Nicole, however, and when I saw one of those qualities happen, I had one of my "Nicole Neutralizers", where the rest of my day becomes a daze of nothingness.

I have no motivation to get anything done and an air of depression is with me until I go to bed. I find it weird that I did not get sad about my one-sided breakup with Nicole. I don't know if I'm suppressing real pain, or if I really actually am okay with the fact that I don't think she's "the one". I have always believed that it makes no sense to get sad about breaking up with someone if you find out they aren't "the one". You should only be sad, in my opinion, if you find out they look at "stimulating images" or participate in just completely wrong activities that goes against everything you thought they were.

If it's just a "oh wow, I wouldn't want to be around that anymore", then...yeah.

I dunno.

All I know is that whatever feelings I have are definitely not healthy. I just wish that my view of relationships didn't get skewed and there were girls my age who actually didn't want boyfriends. I know i sound hypocritical right now after everything I just said, but I think that I have inadvertently twisted my view of dating and feelings are in general due to years of observing just utter rebellion against everything the prophet has taught.

Here's something about me you need to know:

I am in complete rebellion against almost every behavior I saw in my ward back home. The young men in my ward were flirts, looking for girlfriends, loud, obnoxious, and threw around "I love you" as if it was nothing. I am the exact opposite. But I think that I have some animosity towards such behavior, and that is what is making it really hard for me to just get rid of these feelings.

If you were to watch me interact with people, you would not know about any of this going on "under the hood". I am a completely normal person on the outside, one that guys (and girls) love to be around who is funny, smart, polite, nice, and a cool person to be around (all of those are their words), but I have lots of internal emotional complications that seem to have arose since I allowed myself to be to attached to a girl that just barely turned 16, when it seems that I, while I am only 17, feel like I am in my 20's and expected the same out of a 16-year old.

I hope this made sense to you. I have probably come off as a contradictory, hypocritical, egotistical mess of a person, but I just wrote and wrote without stopping to think about it. I guess in short, my problems are this:

1. I can't stop thinking/feeling for a girl I should not like, but feel like i shouldn't give up on, bet then feel like I should because the way she is goes against everything I've ever wanted in a woman

2. My sincerity makes it excruciatingly difficult for me to be around people i "like-like"

3. The "Casual Dating Thing" has been so skewed and manipulated and shenagled in my home ward that I have no idea what is proper or not anymore, so I have basically put almost no effort into doing it and have basically decided I won't date until after my mission (I'm 4 months from being 18, just to give some perspective)

4. I don't know any girls that feel the same way I do about relationships and dating. They are all either huge flirts like Nicole, or "i want a boyfriend" minded. I can't begin to describe how hard it has been to be around that for the past 2 years. I have almost no trust in wanting to date girls anymore because I am afraid that if I do, they will want a relationship, and if I say I don't, that I will be made fun of or shunned in some way.


I hope this wasn't a bore, any help would be appreciated. I think my story is pretty complex, since it covers 5 years and a wealth of personality issues, so if some things don't seem clear to you, I would be happy to clarify. It IS midnight or something where I'm at right now. LOL


A little too sincerely it seems,

A guy who has deleted this sentence about 3 times trying to come up with some clever sign off . . .

(Just call me Z)

P.S. I will not be offended one bit if your response to this has to be absolutely frank. I need some frankness in my life, I need to know the boundaries so I can stay away from them, and I just want peace. I know I should try to casually date and all, but I can't help but feel I don't need it since it seems that I am totally comfortable in the social realm. It's just all internal and came about after my 5-year thing with Nicole. that's where it all comes back to. Her. I don't know how to let go. I know for a fact that if I can let go of her, then I can have internal peace again. I think that everything else I said was just like leaves on the weed. The roots are her. Everything else is just something else that I probably came up with to justify or something. HOW DO I LET GO????




Dear Brother Z,

The best way to get over a girl is to keep dating, and like it or not Casual Group Dating is what you need to be doing at this point in life. I get that it's not what people in your ward are used to, but no one says that your dating buddies and the girls you date have to be Mormons, either.

In a world full of LDS girls that want more dates (or any dates, even) with Good LDS Guys, it's stunning how many of them are active contributors to the problem. But not all of them. Lots of Young Women are great and fun and would love to go out with a good guy on a date with no boyfriend-girlfriend pressure.

Don't give up!

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks so much for the reply!

I will take that in to consideration.

Also, if anyone else will be reading this, I just had an experience a few days ago that might have shed some light as to why Nicole acted the way she did.

On Valentine’s Day I went on this Single Date with someone, but I wasn't crushing on her or anything. We were both singles, so I asked if she just wanted to do something totally casual and let her know that I wasn't looking for a girlfriend. The weirdest thing happened: I felt the same way after this date as I did after my date with Nicole. The difference between this girl and Nicole, though, was that this girl actually talked and put some effort into making it fun.

What did I learn?

It’s impossible to have a "Casual Single Date", and if it did feel casual, it wasn't really a date. Sure, me and Nicole were with my grandparents, but we were the only teenagers, so it was in essence a single date (I didn't realize that at the time). It really helped confirm in me that double dating is the way to go unless you are looking to be married.

In short, I will definitely take your advice. It actually makes a lot of sense to me! Also, I've been doing some personal reflection after doing an exercise at my Intercultural Peace Building class at BYUH (I am 17.5, jtlyk), I have come to realize that one of the reasons I haven't been able to let go is because of my own guilt. I actually feel bad for what I did to her. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be texted almost every other day....for a year....by me.

It seems that instead of owning up to my mistakes, I got in a box and convinced myself that I was right, so she must be in the wrong, and by doing that, I created this sick and twisted picture of justifications that ended up perpetuating the problem rather than fixing it.

So yeah, a lot of my feelings are the result of my own fault too (but not all, hahahah). Still, I can't blame her for acting how she did. I won't ever do that again hahahaahah

Well, it seems high time for me to start dating correctly.

Thank you for listening! Your reply was as helpful as simply listening (sometimes as I talk a problem out to someone who will listen and understand, I end up seeing what I did wrong/what the real issue is and it helps me out).

I am a changed man, and am now happy and will take your advice to help me get over the last bits of her I still have.

Sincerely,

A Happy Bro. Z




Dear Bro Z,

I do what I can.

It looks like you learn about as fast as I do, though.

And, by the way, "you're welcome".

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Lamest Mormon Boy Pickup Line

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for the site you do. Many things you say will pop in my head during various situations, and will help me make a good choice. But there is a situation I don't really have an answer for. Im fifteen and a half, and I'm staying away from dating because thats whats right. Even so, when I was fourteen, I met a guy at a dance(15) and was slightly interested in him but he was much more interested in me. He wanted to break some standards of relationships that I didn't. One night though, he called me and told me Heavenly Father had appeared to him and told him to marry me. When he told me that, I got such a sick feeling inside me that it brought me to tears. I didn't believe him at all, but he tried so hard to convince me. Then, he gradually started to ignore me and I've seen him make some mistakes, We don't talk anymore, okay, no problem.

Then when I was 14 and a half I met an 18year old guy in my stake and we became really casual friends. Then he started liking me, and I didn't like him(Your right, guys and girls can't be just friends). Time passed, and he said he loved me. I told him I didn't feel the same at all. He kept pursuing. He went to the temple one day and when he came back, he said that he'd prayed about it and that the Spirit confirmed to him that we were supposed to get married. I told him that I disagreed. Over time he treated me completely unfairly, was exceptionally inappropriately mean and we lost our friendship.

When he came home from BYU a few weeks ago, he showed up at my door and apologized. I had already forgiven him, but I wasn't going to give him my trust for the 100th time just so he could be mean again. I don't want to be friends with him. I told him to not communicate with me, but he sent me a letter. He said he had prayed about it again, just to make sure that he wasn't mistaken, and he received the same answer: that he was supposed to marry me. The guy is leaving on a mission in january, he shouldn't be thinking about this. But he said he will love me and refuse to date anyone until I marry someone else, if that happens, cause he thinks we're destined.

And another!

Same story, casual friends then he(18) kinda liked me, I kinda liked him, he really liked me, I didn't really like him anymore. He told me how he had a lot of dreams of us older and married with our kids and how he thought that he was supposed to be marry me.

I'm fifteen for goodness sakes!

 Of course I want a temple marriage, but I don't want to be thinking about exactly who with. I don't need to be thinking about that. I want to serve a mission. I'm just really confused, how can so many people think the Spirit has testified to them to marry me? Obviously that can't happen. I have no desire or feeling to marry any of them.

How do I react when a guy is so sure that Im the answer?

I don't want to mock their "revelations" but it feels SO wrong.

How can I determine for sure the truth on that though? I pray and get an empty blank feeling about it. How can I help them realize..well no?

Thank you,

Way too young



Dear Way,

You're in good company.

Before she married Gordon Hinckley, Sister Marjorie Pay had a guy pull the same garbage, telling her (on their first date, I think) that he had received revelation that they were to be "together forever". Her response (I'm paraphrasing) was that since she hadn't also received that confirmation, then he must be wrong. (I read about this story in Sister Dew's biography of President Hinckley; I'm sure I'm butchering it because I remember the story being quite funny.)

Perhaps you live in the Idiot-Creeper Mormon Boy capital of the world, or perhaps in your area some rumor has spread that this is how you get women . . . (its a never ending source of frustration of mine just how lame so many of my "brothers" are), but you are correct: if the Spirit hasn't confirmed to you that someone is a good match, then its not.

A) That won't happen until you ask, anyway, which you're right, won't be anytime soon.

B) There's no such thing as "only one person for each of us", so the whole premise these boys are spinning is total garbage.

and C) Information Precedes Revelation; before someone asks for Celestial Marriage Selection Confirmation the ought to at least spend some time getting to know the person.

You may not be willing to mock these guys . . . but I would!

I think if I were in your shoes I'd laugh out loud.

But then, like Sister Jo, you're probably much nicer than I am. Instead of laughing, you might be more comfortable with something like "that's very flattering, but before I go to the Lord and ask for myself, I have a lot of life to live; I have some growing up to do, and a lot of guys to date and get to know; years from now, when I'm ready to consider marriage, (I'd add:  "should you still be so lame as to still be single that many years from now", but I'm not as nice as you are) that's when we should have this conversation".

If you're uncomfortable telling them "no", then point out to them that you're, as you said, Way Too Young.

- Bro Jo

PS: One last thing: any guy that won't back off when you tell them too is a Big Scary Red Flag. Make sure your parents are in the loop. Not that you can't protect yourself, but obsessive people can do crazy things, there's strength in numbers, and your family are the first people you should add to your posse.



Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you very much, I really appreciate it:) I'll be using this!

- Way



Dear Way,

Anytime!

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Wanna Hold Your Hand - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you. Next time we go out I'm going to tell him "you know, you can hold my hand if you want to" and try to get a little discussion going about dating and the things you mentioned, give him my thoughts (which line up pretty well with your thoughts by what I've been reading), and just get this out in the open.

I'll let you know how it goes.

- Cold Hands


Dear Cold Hands,

Looking forward to it!

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Success!!!!!!!!!

We went to a concert and then my school's spring formal dance. At the concert, I really was cold, but my coat made me too hot. When I told him I was cold, he said "well put on your coat."

I told him it makes me too hot. His response was "well isn't that a predicament." I gave him a look and told him I would talk to him later...

Later came as we were waiting for the dance to start. I reminded him I needed to talk to him, told him "you really don't get hints, do you??" and after realizing there were hints to be picked up that he never got, he agreed.

I told him he doesn't have to if he doesn't want to, but I am entirely okay if he ever wants to put his arm around me or hold my hand, whether I'm "cold" or not.

Long discussion short... we were right - he has NO experience whatsoever.

He told me more about the LDS girl he dated in high school. She really was a crazy wacky person!!! He could only put her arm around her or hold her hand whenever she would say "Hold my hand". If he ever tried to do it on his own (at which point he grabbed my hand..:) ) she would give him a look and say "what are you doing???"

What a jerk!!

So we talked about boundaries, the fact that I'm going away to school, but we both would like to date each other and just have fun for now. (turns out we were both happy to hear that I would be in Iowa for one more semester haha) If down the road we decide it should be something more, fine, but neither of us will be jealous or heartbroken if the other ends up with another person.

I also mentioned to him at the conclusion of the conversation that I am okay if he would like to kiss me.

To that he said he has been wanting to, he just simply never knew.

(I am sending him the link to your site and Facebook page again!)

He held my hand as we walked to our cars. Then he gave me a hug and kissed me good night. :)

Never quite felt such a flutter in my heart like I did last night!

Thank you so much!!!!

- Warm Hands


Dear Warm Hands,

Talking works!!!

:)

- Bro Jo

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I Wanna Hold Your Hand - Part 1

Hi Bro Jo,

I've discussed things enough with you that you know the basics of my current life situation - living at home, going to school in town (transferring to an LDS school out west this fall or winter), having hardly any YSA's in town.

The last part has changed a little - there are a few more YSA's in the ward now. One in particular has been asking me out, and since Valentine's weekend we have been going out nearly every weekend. We have a lot of fun. We like each other (at least I'm assuming he likes me...considering he always asks me if I have any plans for Friday night - and if I don't, if I'd like to go do something with him... pretty sure if he didn't like me he wouldn't bother) But - could he also just be lonely and be wanting an LDS friend?

He's a fairly recent convert - baptized 5 months ago. He was a self-investigator for a few years before he was baptized. Looked up mormon.org on his own as a teenager and got in contact with missionaries when he moved out here to go to school. He's extremely smart and has made a lot of really good choices.

I guess I'm just a little unsure of what to do. See, we've gone out probably 10 times in the last 6-7 weeks. During the third date he offered to hold my hand because it was cold outside, but he said he did not want to get me sick because he was sick (and he knows my immune system is suppressed).

Nothing quite like that ever since.

I'll admit, it's kind of a disappointment to go do all these fun things, get to know him, like him, have a good time with him, even when we're just sitting and talking (which is what we do most of the time) and not get to at least hold his hand.

But I don't want to make the move - I want him to! He hugs me every time we see each other and when we say good bye. I occasionally give hints that are more like invitations, such as saying "oh I'm cold" and shivering a little, and other things like that, giving him the perfect opportunity to put his arm around me or hold my hand or something. Are all guys really just that clueless??? Or is this guy a special case? He usually suggests "oh let's move into the sunlight" at those times.

I have some theories as to why he doesn't ever do anything.... he told me his dating history... when he was in high school in his hometown, before he knew anything about the church, he had one girlfriend.

She was LDS, but she never told him. He found that out on his own and questioned why she never wanted to tell him. He never found out why she never told him, and she was reluctant to give much information about the Church because he would think she's "weird" or something.

Obviously their relationship ended. All he knew from her about her standards was that she had very very very strict dating policies. Like, he was not allowed to hold her hand or put his arm around her until they had dated for a year. And he was only allowed to ever kiss her only once. He did not judge all Mormons negatively because of this - he just assumed maybe everybody was like that when it comes to dating. He had no idea otherwise. He came here to college, had another girlfriend, and when she asked why he wouldn't hold her hand, he said he thought everybody was the same way as that other girl.

However, I don't know that he ever held her hand. He told me he figured out that one girl from home was a bit of a nut job, and I told him it's totally normal to hold hands with people even if they're not boyfriend/girlfriend and they're on a date or something. He ended that second relationship after he saw that they had very different values in life and he was not enjoying being with her anymore.

So, one theory is that his past "dating" experiences have left him with nothing to go off of (he told me that's how he felt after the first one, but I don't know how he feels now after the second one - which ended over a year ago), so he doesn't know what to do.

Another theory is that he is not going to do anything because he knows I'm moving away for school in 6 months and he doesn't want to hold hands because to him, that means a "relationship". Even though to me it does not.

Or maybe he thinks of me as just a "friend" and wants to keep it that way. Which you know, I'm kind of okay with that. It would be ridiculous for me to go out to this large LDS school and expect to hold a long distance relationship with a guy who also needs to do some more exploring in the dating world. I really don't want to do that. BUT - I don't think that means we shouldn't, or couldn't do things that are a little flirty, like having his arm around me or something.

I'm eager to move away and get a lot more dating experience, but it's a serious bummer to be dating this awesome guy right now and not get to enjoy the little perks to single dating.. like holding hands...!

Again, I present lots of opportunities for him. I touch his arm, "bump" into his hand with mine while we're walking, give him a little push when he teases me... but nothing from him. It's frustrating.

Am I being selfish? Or too expectant? Or something else? I don't think I'm hoping for more than I should be (I just want to hold his hand!)..

I've suggested he look at your page . . .

I don't think he has. I'm totally cool with being upfront and direct - I just don't know what to say, or how to say anything without ruining whatever is going on.

Could you answer some of my questions maybe? Point something out that I could be missing?

Help!

Thank you,

Cold Hands



Dear Cold Hands,

You're a Serious Single Dater now, and that means a little physical contact is okay and expected.

Yes, many guys ARE that clueless, so the trick becomes how to clue him in without seeming to . . . forward and . . . eager. Right?

I do think you need to say something, like "hey, so how come you don't ever hold my hand?" or "how many dates do you think adult should go on before kissing goodbye is part of the relationship?".

What you're dealing with is probably a combination of shyness, lack of experience, and a fear on his part that the moment has come and gone. Whatever it is, at 6-7 dates you each needs to know where the other stands on some of this stuff. Discuss where the boundaries are and just how fragile you are or aren't.

If it helps, review "The Six L's of How to Get Kissed".

Good luck!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Valentine's Day Presents to Give Guys

Dear Bro Jo,

Howdy there!

Alrighty...so I'm 17 now (yay!) and I've kind of started seeing this guy...we both like each other, we've been on a few casual group dates, and we've become really great friends! I'm not gonna lie, it's basically like we're boyfriend/girlfriend right about now, even though we haven't made that "official" yet.

He's a real great guy, and he just got baptized. He's practically more spiritual and knows more about the gospel than I am, and I grew up in the church!

Anyways, he's great.

High standards, I set the limits and boundaries of everything and he's always keeping my standards high with his. The only thing is that I know he's a really emotional guy, and Valentine’s Day is coming up! Should I get him anything? Something small and cute?

I'm not really sure... I read a post on your blog about what a guy could get a girl, but there wasn't any about what a girl could get a guy!


Thanks, Bro Jo!!!

Heart-Day Fanatic



Dear Heart-Day,

You know . . . I don't recommend the Boyfriend-Girlfriend thing until you're old enough (meaning YSA); and I know it happens.

So, even though you L-O-V-E Valentine’s Day, and I know I can't talk you out of getting him something, I hope I can talk you into keeping it simple and casual.

I think the best present a young woman can give a young man is something she makes herself, like a tie, scarf, or (and I still think this is best regardless of how much grief I get) . . . food.

A cookie, brownie . . . again, keep it simple.

Stuff you make will be personal without the awkwardness or obligation that a purchased gift will have.

And, for the record, anything that's "little and cute", like a stuffed animal, for most guys is a bad idea.

- Bro Jo

Monday, February 6, 2012

Surprise Valentine's Day Cards

G'day Bro Jo,

With Valentines' Day fast approaching- is it a good idea or a bad idea to send out a surprise card to a girl in the mail?

- The Governor



Dear Governor,

That depends on:

1. the nature of the card
2. the girl you're sending it to
3. why you want it to be a surprise
4. and what your goal is in sending the card to begin with

And, of course, your age and her age (see #4 above).

If you're pre-mission and you're trying to get a girlfriend, the answer is "no, don't send the card, because girlfriends should be an after-mission thing".

If you're post mission and you're trying to get a girlfriend, the answer is "maybe; but don't expect that it will be enough".

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 3, 2012

He Asked Her for Naked Pictures

Dear Bro Jo,

I have come to you in the past for advice and even though it was hard to hear, it was very helpful! The issue I'm having is something I'm sure you have answered a dozen, if not more, e-mails about. I'm 17 years old, and my boyfriend is as well, he turns 18 in [a few months].

We met [last fall]. He and I met at a Stake Conference; he told me his dad was the stake president! (No pressure right?)

After making the 2 hour car ride back to my home town, he and I started talking. He asked me on a date for whenever the next time I was out there. About 2 months later, my sister in law and I went to his town for a weekend. I met his parents and we had almost a perfect day! We were alone for about 30 minutes... which was enough for it to go too far. Once we started kissing, we didn't stop until his hand was in my pants.

Brother Johnston, please know he and I both felt horrible after. We both went and talked to our bishops.

I love my bishop and this wasn't my first time seeing him for something like this. He listened as I sobbed through the story. He advised me to not take the sacrament for 2 weeks. Watching the sacrament go by you and not partaking of it is the WORST feeling in the world. My bishop also told me no more being alone with him and no making out.

The last time I saw my boyfriend I made sure we weren't alone!

We made cookies, played board games, played Wii, went outside and we had a great time talking and getting to know each other! We kissed, but didn't make out. Unfortunately, being a teenager means hormones. And lots of them! There have been several nights where he and I just want to do "stuff". He has asked for pictures and I sent. The worst I ever did was completely topless. He deleted the pictures but I know they're still out there somewhere.

Brother Johnston, I want this behavior to stop. And so does he. We are both active members in the church, he holds the priesthood and I have a calling in Young Women. I don't want to stop seeing him, but I'm scared that may be the only solution. What can he and I do, individually and together, to stop these bad habits?

And do I have to go to my bishop about the pictures or can I just take that up with the Lord? This is a good young man Brother Johnston. He respects me and is a good member of the church.

What do I do?

-Addiction or just bad habits?



Dear Neither,

Well . . . I don't think I'd classify this behavior as either an "addiction" or "just bad habits".

But before I go on, I want to remind you that a large part of what I do, why I say what I say and the way I say it, is because I care enough about my readers to be straight with them. The world is full of people who coddle, excuse behavior, and soften things to an extent where the point gets lost. Somehow, when we water down the truth too much, we're actually hurting people more than helping them.

That's my take on things, anyway.

But, having written before, you probably already know that.

Just promise me you'll read all the way through to the end.

Promise?

Okay.

Here we go.

Let me start with this: I see that you wrote this letter during the time when I was running the series on Sexting on Saturdays in December, and I can't help but wonder if that's what motivated you to write . . . because the truth is, little sister, that's what you've been doing. Plus, given your age, you've also been creating and distributing child pornography. And it sounds like he has, too.

We used to call sexually suggestive talk over the phone "phone sex" because, well, that's what it was. Just because two people weren't physically touching each other doesn't mean that they're being morally pure. Phone Sex is still sexual. What you've hinted at sounds like that to me. So, yes, if you want to make things right with God you're going to need to go talk to the Bishop again. I don't know what he's going to tell you, but believe me, whatever you need to do to make things right with God is better than . . . not.

You know how it felt when you couldn't take the Sacrament for a while? That's not fun, but better to do that (or whatever) now than put off repentance, have things get worse, and then have to face the reality later that you can't get sealed to the man of your dreams because you procrastinated the day of you repentance.

The dividing line between whether or not we can "keep it between us and the Lord" or confess to priesthood authority is whether or not our temple worthiness might possibly be in question, and the key there is whether or not the transgression relates to a Temple interview question. In my opinion, Sexting crosses the chastity line.

As for the boy . . .

Your Bishop will know what's best for you, but I think the two of you are too immature to keep seeing each other. I think your parents need to take away your phone (or at least turn off your texting service) and limit your computer use to only in their presence.

And, frankly, I don't agree that he's a "good young man". Good Guys don't put their hands in girl's pants. Good Guys don't talk dirty to girls over the phone, not caring about whether or not their virtue is intact. Good Guys don't behave or speak to a girl in any manner that would encourage or entice her to send him naked pictures of herself.

And you are right about those pictures (as well as everything you wrote) - they're out there. I don't believe for one second that he deleted them; why would he? He can now look at you naked any time he wants . . . AND when he wants to abuse himself or show off to his friends at school, or if he feels betrayed by you . . . well, he's got the pictures. On his phone, transferred to his computer, forwarded to kids at school . . .

"Oh, but Bro Jo, he would never do that!"

Really? I wouldn't be so sure unless someone like your parents (if they're computer experts) went through all of his electronics.

Look, I don't mean to freak you out, but you need to understand how serious this is. Get someone you trust to go through his stuff (no, he doesn't count) and Never Never do anything like that again.

Don't even send sexy pictures of yourself electronically to your husband. Texts and emails don't just magically go from your phone to his; they make stops and transfers along the way. (Doesn't anybody's school teach them how the internet works?)

You're absolutely kidding yourself if you think thid guy respects you. As I've said often, "you can't respect someone who doesn't respect themselves, and no man will ever love a woman he doesn't respect"; you respect someone who holds true to high standards.

You two need to break up. You're clearly not capable of having a non-sexual committed relationship with each other right now, and neither of you is old enough, or mature enough, to marry, so I think its in both of your best interests to quit cold turkey, and focus individually on getting back on track.

(This is part of why I advise against the Boyfriend-Girlfriend thing at your age; it doesn't make sense until you're old enough that marriage is an immediate possibility.)

Now, look, I know I've been blunt in calling you on the carpet here; you've done some dumb stuff, but you're not stupid. You are still a Daughter of our Heavenly Father who will always love you. You're not an addict, but you've made some bad choices and now you have to be accountable. You still have Devine Nature and Individual Worth!

You're valuable! Not because of some guy, but because of who you are! So get things set right.
You deserve all the blessings that Father in Heaven has in store for you.

You deserve better than this guy; maybe one day he'll become better, but that's for him to fix, not you.

Go call your Bishop. Set the appointment. Get on the path that you know will bring you eternal joy.

You deserve that kind of happiness!

Know that I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is True, and that through His love and sacrifice we can be made whole. Nothing feels as good as knowing we've set things right with the Lord.

If I can help in anyway, let me know. I'm always here.

Godspeed,

Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Readers' Note: THREE YEARS!

Dear Readers,

This month marks the three-year anniversary of "Dear Bro Jo", and I can't believe how fast it's gone.

Since we began in 2009, "Dear Bro Jo" now has:

  • Over 1250 Facebook Fans! (click HERE)
  • Over 145,000 page views on the Column Page!
  • Over 30,000 regular readers, from over 55 countries!
(Check out this NOTE on the Facebook Page to see where your City, State, or Country ranks in our Around the World All-time Readership List.)


Is hard to believe that we've posted over 650 letters and answered hundreds more.

(Which letters have been your favorites?  What types of letters would you like to see more of?  What would make this column better?  Comment on this post and let us know!)


Our  first two books, "Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating", and "Bro Jo's Guide to Relationships", are available at Amazon.comDeseretBook.com and Deseret Book Stores, and can be found at the BYU Library, and we have new titles coming soon!

I'm grateful for your testimonies of the Savior, and excited that so many of you have found good companions for Time and All Eternity.

Please accept my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for your continued readership and support.


- Bro Jo