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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Everything here is copyrighted. If you're going to quote any part of anything here, please get Bro Jo's written permission. You can reach him at dearbrojo@gmail.com.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Battling Pornography

Dear Bro Jo,

So I have problems (obviously), and I need advice.

I'll start with what I consider the back story of sorts.

Sometime between 5 and 7, I was essentially molested by a sibling (same gender, and in high school at the time). I've only told one person about this, and only recently.

Parents got divorced when I was 9. Turns out my dad had (at least) 1 affair, and other related problems. Growing up at home has always been anything but peaceful. My mom even says I went through the worst of it.

Plus, I was raised with essentially every bad show possible on tv. Everything from rated R horror movies to Mad Tv to MTV "Spring Break". No. Filter. It was bad.

So my main reason for writing this is because I've had porn and other related issues (not involving others) for as long as I can remember. I think it started around the time my sibling did that. It's been at least 13 years. You'd think I would have been able to get over it by now. I probably should talk to the branch pres, but I have a hard time telling people things anything even remotely like this. I tend to not trust people with my heavier and more serious thoughts.

Anyway, I also frequently have depression, don't tell people what's really bothering me, and miss church (partly because I have a hard time waking up and partly because I feel horribly inadequate and guilty being there, and I don't feel like I can take the sacrament).

I'm usually ok, but things usually get the worst when I'm alone and get depressed.
I don't know what other info would help you help me, but I really need help. I figure since this is practically anonymous, I can ask and trust you.

Please help.

I don't know who I can really talk to, and no one else knows what's going on.

- Lost




Dear Lost,

I'll do my best to earn and maintain your trust.

I'm saddened by the difficult things you've had to endure, but I want you to know that you're not alone in facing those trials! Others have overcome, and you can too.

When battling addiction, and pornography certainly is (it enters the system through the soft tissue and mucus membranes - your eyes - and yet, unlike other addictions, much of society claims that it's "okay", completely ignoring the damage it does to people), one of the best things we can do is to identify the "triggers", the things that make it more difficult for us to fight the temptations of addiction.

You've already identified two of pornography's biggest triggers: being alone and being depressed. (One of the other big ones is being up late, by the way.) The addiction follows a cycle. You're alone, it's late at night, you're depressed, the computer is there . . . and the next thing you know you're looking at something you know you ought not look at. You realize the mistake you're making, but the chemical rush to the brain (really no different than cocaine) drives your body to override what your good sense is telling you. When its all over you feel . . . well, more depressed than you did before.

And thus the addictive cycle.

So to fight the cycle we need to break the cycle.

We go to bed early every night.

We only use the computer in a public place. (Kitchen table, in front of roommates, at the school library, etc.) Or not at all.

We find something else that distracts us from our addiction, something that makes us feel better in a positive way. (Go for a run. Read a Good Book. Call a Good Friend.)

And we seek Christ's love, help, and forgiveness.

Don't let Satan talk you out of Church attendance. Look for More Opportunities to feel the Spirit, not less. We need not be perfect to be at Church.


And, while I know it will be difficult, do set the appointment and go talk to your Branch President. Pray for help, and spill it all. At least as much as you feel you can. He will be able to help you on your journey.

You're a Good Person. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.


May you feel the blessing of the Savior as you battle your trials; may His Spirit pour out upon you.


Know that you're loved and not alone!


- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you. I really appreciate that you didn't basically say I'm a terrible person, and I'm grateful for the advice. It's probably the most helpful I've found anywhere.

In the branch I go to, it's like I can't do anything without someone judging me and telling me I'm always doing something wrong. They don't even know any of what I've told you either. It's harder to trust people who are always talking trash about everyone else all the time, and gossip spreads like wildfire here.

Once again, thank you. It's nice to be able to talk to someone. Especially when all everyone else ever seems to see are the flaws.

- Less Lost




Dear Less Lost,

Thank you for the kind words.  I hope I deserve them.

Gossip, and the fear of it, is one of Satan's most dangerous weapons.

As difficult as it is, and I agree it can be very daunting, we can't let our concerns over the opinions of others keep us from the love of the Savior.  Don't let that happen!  Remember that He who truly knows all of our flaws loves us unconditionally.

May the Lord bless you on your journey back to him,


- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Can a Man be Raped? (Is this letter fake?)

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi my name is (withheld) and I have a serious problem.

I started going to a singles ward to find the right girl for me. Anyhow, I met this one girl at a singles event and we hit it off great!

When we first started dating everything was going great. I was a proper gentleman and all of a sudden she turned evil.

I would pay for dinner and hold her seat out for her.

But then she started to beat me when I told her I would not start paying her bills. Also at dinner she also talks down to me and hits me when I don't pull out her chair because I am in the bathroom.

She forcefully came on to me and I told her that I needed to wait until marriage because I want to get married in the Temple. She just laughed at me and called me unmentionable names. She insists on me staying the night with her in her bed but I tell her no.

A couple days ago she made me (detail deleted) and now I feel very bad. She told me that she wanted to get together tonight and I was ok with it, until she brought over a 6 pack of beer. I told her to get it out of my apartment but she just chugged the beer.

I need your help.

This relationship has gone too far and I am worried about what will happen if I try to break up with her. I thought I could make her happy by offering to have sex with her but she told me all she wanted from me (detail deleted).

I feel heart broken. I thought I found the right girl but it turns out I was wrong. I feel ashamed and need to speak to my bishop, plus he is currently unavailable.

I'm scared of her.

Please help.


- Name Withheld


Dear NW,

I've got to be honest: I've read and reread your email several times over the last two days, and each time I'm convinced it’s fake. There's just too much about it that doesn't add up.

(When I shared it with Sister Jo she actually laughed out loud.)

So here's the thing about fake letters: in addition to writing "Dear Bro Jo" (which I not only do for free, but I spend a couple thousand dollars a year trying to reach new readers so I can help them), I'm married, have seven children, and work two full-time jobs.

I'm not complaining, I'm informing, because as "Dear Bro Jo" grows in readership so do the quantity of fake letters (interestingly enough, always from guys who are trying to shock or get a rise out of me, occasionally pretending to be girls, as if I can't tell the difference) and "anti-Bro Jo and his family" internet rants (everyone has the right to write what they want, I suppose, but I fail to see the profit in maligning a person because you don't agree with their opinion - who has that kind of time?).

Sure, "Dear Bro Jo" gets a lot of letters from pre-daters who are "Lost" and "Confused" (I get so many letters from 15-year old girls that they have their own category), and letters from Young Men and Women who don't know how to date and/or act around each other (largely because their parents and Church leaders have failed to teach them), from YSAs who are trying to navigate the difficult path of finding a good spouse, and SAs who have their own twists and struggles. But I also get letters from real people in real trouble: sincere Gospel questions, moral dilemmas, addictions, depression, and suicidal feelings.

I get hundreds more emails than ever get published on line; I do my best to answer all of them because I care about people, although occasionally time gets away from me; I feel for those that are struggling, no matter what their issue is or how serious or trivial it may seem to someone else; and if a random, anonymous guy on the internet can help answer a few questions, direct people back towards God, encourage or uplift in anyway . . . then "Dear Bro Jo" is worth every effort I can put into it. I love my readers and the emails they send.

I have to agree with Sister Jo when she says "no man has ever been 'forced' to what you claim she 'forced' you to do" . . . unless he was bound, threatened or there was a gun or some other weapon involved. It may not have been his idea, he may not like it, but even if he's doing it just to keep her happy, he still has the freedom to choose whether or not he does it.

Joseph ran from Potiphar's wife, my man; you're inviting this girl into your home.

Is it possible for a woman to rape a man?

Sure it is. But you've asked us to buy into the story that this woman you just started dating is repeatedly physically and emotionally abusing you, that you feel threatened, and yet you keep seeing her. You tell me she's beaten you and yet you're "okay with seeing her".

Why would anyone do that?

If your letter is real, then grow a spine. Break up with her. Don't let her in your home.

Spiritual concern? Tell your Bishop.

Physically threatened or in danger? Then call the cops.

No one needs to just sit there and take abuse, let alone invite it into their home and take it to dinner. There are thousands of great Single Sisters out there who don't drink beer, want to save all things sexual until marriage, and won't beat you.

If you stay with her one more day, regardless of what she says, does or promises, you're an idiot.

(I would have been gone LONG before any of what you described happened. Heck, if I'd have been called nasty names at dinner I'd have paid the check and left the girl there!)

This girl was not the "right girl" the instant the Spirit told you otherwise and you shouldn't have stayed in the relationship past that moment. If a girl I was seeing had made fun of me in a mean way at any point in our dating, I'd have gotten up from dinner, paid the bill, and left her rear-end there. An LDS man, single or otherwise, should never be alone with a woman in his home (or hers) that isn't his wife, sister, daughter or mother, whether she's single or not.

If your email IS fake, please get a life and stop wasting my time.

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 26, 2012

Starting a Conversation

Dear Bro Jo,

Taking your advice, I am no longer concentrating on one guy. So I have a question about interacting with guys.

How do you get guys to be interested enough in you to go beyond a casual conversation? And as a cheerful, talkative conversational person, how do I avoid monopolizing the conversation, without going to the other extreme and leaving the encounter with knowledge about the guy, and he knows next to nothing about me?

Thanks, as always,

J.




Dear J,

The answer to all three of your questions is the same: listen.

By listening you'll show a guy you're interested in him, and it's not all about you. And, as Sister Jo says so often and so strongly, a girl's position is much better if she's left some things to mystery; not a good idea to tell too much.

- Bro Jo


Bro Jo,

Thanks a ton. That's great. But I guess my real question is, how to get into a conversation where listening is an option?

Here's my scenario:

I'm at institute; an intriguing RM is new to the class. He introduced himself to the class during the lesson, and we meet at the refreshment table afterwards. What do I say to start a conversation and show him I'm interested? How do I get him to talk about himself so I can listen and learn about him? How do I get him to keep talking, and not feel rude that I'm keeping him from meeting other people?

J.



Dear J,

Seriously?

You go up to him and say "Hi, my name is _____" and when he tells you his name ask him something about himself.

Listen to what he says, and then ask an elaborating question. If one doesn't come to mind, then ask about something else.

It's really very easy. (Check out last Monday's Post: "Dateless at BYU")

- Bro Jo

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Readers Note: Book Give-away!

Readers,

As we head into General Conference this next weekend, Bro Jo is giving away five books!

How do you get one?

Tell people you know who are not already Facebook Fans to go to the "Dear Bro Jo" Facebook page, click "like" and then mention your name under the status as the person that sent them to the page.  The five people mentioned most often can choose either "Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating" or "Bro Jo's Guide to Relationships".

Simple!

Anyone can enter.  Void where prohibited by law.

Have fun, and thanks for reading!

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Emotional Cheater

Dear Bro Jo,

Here's the situation:

For the past 3 months me and this guy have been casually talking and flirting with one another. We both like each other. I've told him that I like him and he's returned the same feeling. We haven't been on a date, but have merely been talking after institute and during some Sundays.

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that he's fully lead me on. He's told me things such as "you're beautiful" and "I see you as my eternal companion"... All that shenanigans. You probably can tell that I'm a bit frustrated? Lol.

Well I am.

Anyways...

So this has been going on for a good 3 months. I'd told him, why isn't he making anything happen with me and him? No initiation of a date or anything! His reply has ALWAYS been "I want to take you on a date, but I'm trying to concentrate on my studies and plus I'm busy almost every day"....

Fair enough I tell myself. So I let things slide with him.

Now, 3 weeks ago, I go out to a concert with my girlfriends and at this concert I happen to run into Mr. (let’s call him Bruce). Well I happen to run into Bruce, and he happens to be with another girl, (So much for being busy almost every day huh?) a girl who I know to be from the YSA and who was not his sister, nor related to him in anyway.

A bit confused about seeing him at this concert with this girl, I do what any other girl would do and asked around about him and her. To my astonishment, I'd found out that he's been dating this girl for the past 9 months!

Of even greater astonishment, they are on the verge of engagement!

The following week, I hit him up about her and what I'd heard. He bluntly denied everything and continued to tell me that he's keen on me and that he really wants to pursue me. BACK-TRACK: Now, just to be clear, in the very beginning when we'd started being flirtatious, I'd asked him if he was seriously dating anyone (just so that I wasn't getting into another girls territory), and he said that he NEVER asked a girl out on a date and that I was the first girl he’s been keen on to pursue.

Ok, back to the story....

So just three days ago, his engagement was made official on FB. And yet I'd seen him the day before this announcement on FB and he'd still been ranting on about how he has feelings for me and what not. Puzzling huh?

Or is it just me?

I'm really confused about this!

I didn't read any signs wrong. He's a decent guy (I thought). He's an RM, who has a pretty good reputation in our stake. I'm totally over him, wasn't in love with him or anything, but I just want to understand why he lead me on the way he did?

Was I some kind of "fun" for him before he commits? We didn't do anything, we just flirted and that was it. Or is he just simply a jerk? I don't know, so I'm asking you...

Please in some way explain what the heck is wrong with this guy!

Or is something wrong with me?

Sincerely,


Confused.




Dear Confused,

Either you were misreading what he was saying (i.e. he said "I think you'd make a great eternal companion" and in your head you added "for me"), or he has a twin, or he's a coward and a liar and a cheat.

I'm with you; I think it’s the last one.

I don't think you read anything wrong.

Sometimes, when people are unsure about their own attractiveness, the relationship they're in, or the commitment they've made (or are about to make), they'll test the waters with someone else. They're looking for reassurance or trying to make a backup plan.

It's neither right nor fair, but it happens all the time.

I think its okay for you to confront him and demand an explanation. You may not be satisfied with his answer, he may lie or flirt again, but it might be worth a shot.

Whether you talk to him again or not, eventually you'll need to let it, and him, go.
I'm torn about whether or not you should tell his fiance. (Not that you asked . . .) If she were my daughter, I'd want her to know that she's about to marry a cheater . . . and, let's face it, he's not the "good guy" people think he is.

She deserves an explanation, too . . .

And there's a good chance, frankly, that you're not the only girl he did this with.

Of course, if you do tell her, it will have to come across as one concerned sister to another, not that you're jealous.

Sorry it didn't work out.

But aren't you glad you're you instead of her!?!

She should call off the engagement and drop him like a hot rock. If he grovels and honestly comes clean, then she could reconsider him . . . but you never should.

There are better guys out there.

I promise.

You deserve better than to be someone's back-up.


- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Is Holding Hands Meaningless?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm 15, going on 16 in August, and was wondering if you could help me out here.

So... I like a girl. Sally, we'll call her. I've liked Sally about 4 months now. Sally is a non-member, but has many LDS friends, and has excellent standards, and lives them better than most kids in my Stake.

Oh, and she's adorably cute!

Anyways, a group of friends (Sally included) and I went to a movie (rated PG, of course) and I sat next to Sally. Of course, beforehand, Sally and I had been flirting, and about an hour and a half into the show, I realize that I'd been holding hands** with Sally for a good half hour.

Yikes! She'd been leaning her head on my shoulder! Frankly, I'm somewhat enjoying the moment, so I just let it happen. The movie ended, and we all waited for our rides.

Luck would have it, Sally and I were the last two left to get picked up. I took this opportunity to discuss our feelings. And guess what? We both like each other!

Since I won't be dating until August, my parents probably don't want me having a "girl-friend" and that it's highly recommended to date different people, we agreed to keep it under wraps until August, and then see what happens. So, I guess my question is.....

WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Sally has said she's willing to take this in any (appropriate) direction, and this being my first ever real "girl" experience, I was just wondering what your thoughts on it were. Thanks a bunch!

Sincerely,

Dumbstruck

** PS: Holding Hands is something that is common for two friends to do in my group of friends. It's just sort of a sign of friendly affection. Normally doesn't last longer than a few seconds.




Dear Struck,

Talk to her again!

Tell her that you like her (casually; don't make this a profession of your love), but you're focused on your faith and serving a mission when you're old enough. (Which may lead to a Gospel discussion, future elder.) That means that you're going to hold off on the "serious girlfriend thing" until you come home in five years.

And include this girl in your plans for Casual Group Dates when you turn 16.

(You may want to check out: Bro Jo's Dating Rules for Teens (and their parents);  or even check out a copy of "Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating")

There's nothing wrong with how you feel or enjoying the moment (it IS pretty cool, isn't it?), but you're right: now is not the time in your life for a serious girlfriend or exclusive relationship.

Keep it Casual.

And have fun!

- Bro Jo

PS: The "hand holding" in your group of friends should stop. First off, there's no way I'll ever believe it doesn't mean anything; I may be old, but I remember that at your age we'd make any excuse to touch a girl, and getting them to believe that it was "no big deal" meant that we could do it more often (holding hands, hugging . . . etc.). And, let's be honest, you and I both know it's neither Casual nor Meaningless; not to them, and not to us; so it should stop. If you don't, you're going to be inviting a lot more drama into your teen life than you want. Trust me.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dateless at BYU

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a student at BYU and I hardly ever go on dates. When I do go on the rare date, it is with someone I already knew before coming here.

My friends, however, seem to have different dates every weekend. I'm not usually shy, but when it comes to talking to a cute guy sitting next to me in class, I'm speechless.

Do you have any advice on talking to guys and occasionally getting a date? I've always thought it was the guys responsibility to make the first move and ask a girl out, but none ever do. Thanks for the help,

- Dateless at BYU



Dear Dateless,

I posted a column on February 28, 2011 (CLICK HERE) that may help. Not everything necessarily applies to you, but it may be worth taking a look at.

Some guys, even at the Y (okay, especially at the Y) are real duds. They're superficial, they set "minimum standards" that they themselves couldn't possibly meet, and they just fail to date nearly as much as they should. As I see it, it's our job (yours, mine, and Sister Jo's) to educate those dunderheads. You're going to have to accept the fact that there are great guys out there that, for whatever reason (and they don't deserve all of the blame; we parents and leaders have failed to educate and train Too Many young men in this area) are either too shy or too dumb to realize that they should be asking you out.

We can fix that.

And by "we" . . . I mean "you".

Yes, it's absolutely their responsibility to ask you out, but you've got to lower your guard a little; let them know you're date-able. That means . . . (brace yourself) . . . you're going to have to start talking to them. All of them. The cute ones, the weird ones, the intimidating ones and even those you may not have any attraction to (or at least think you don't).

Start today.

Pick a new guy every class (or every hour) and start a conversation. Get to know some new people. That's your assignment.

By the end of this week I want you to send me an email telling me about AT LEAST 20 new guys you've met. You should know their names, what they're studying (or where they're working), something about them, and whether or not they're seeing anyone.

It goes like this:

"Hi, my name is _________. How are you enjoying (insert "this class", "that hamburger", "the sunshine", anything you can think of that seems relevant).

When he responds, ask his name if he doesn't offer it.

Chat a little bit, and near the end of the conversation you say "so . . . are you seeing anyone?"

If he says "yes", tell him it was nice to meet him. If he says "no", you follow up with "well, you should call me sometime" and give him your phone number.

Dating isn't for the faint of heart, but being married is pretty cool, so it's worth some serious effort.

Not kidding about the assignment. I expect an email.

Good luck!

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Okay, so I didn't quite get 20 guys... but I still got a lot!

The first time I stepped outside of my comfort zone and talked to a guy turned out to be a lot easier than I thought. Turns out he is a photography major, which is what I am trying to get in to. I felt a lot better about myself talking to guys and it definitely made the week go by faster and more fun!

Okay, so the report.

I talked to 12 guys. I didn't find out all of their majors or if they were available, but I found out all of their names!

I will be talking to more guys from now on and getting out of my comfort zone. I have a date planned in the near future, so things are definitely looking up.

Thanks so much for your help and advice!

It has really helped me a lot!

- Now Dating at BYU



Dear Dating,

Good for you!

Excellent news!

Have fun,

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 16, 2012

Asked to Prom, But She Doesn't Want to Go

Dear Bro Jo,

A boy in my ward asked me to prom, and I was so surprised and felt pressured that I said that I probably could. I was surprised because I have known this boy for almost 13 years, and have never had a relationship beyond hi, and hello. I felt pressured because his brother and friend were right down the hall staring at us, waiting to see if I said yes or not.

Of course I also have a very hard time saying no to a boy who got up the courage to ask me. Later I also found out he asked my dad permission first. And now that I have thought a little about it, I don’t particularly want to go with him. I don’t have feelings for him and I don’t find him attractive in the least. (Kind of harsh, but true.)

My mom keeps telling me, and I know I have read somewhere (I believe in the strength of youth) that it says something like “since dating is a preparation for marriage, we should only date those we would marry. I know that that isn’t what it says exactly, but that’s the general meaning. Now I know that this would be just a casual date, and I would hope a group date, and I would be making friends and getting to know people more. So I don’t know, is a couple of hours going to make that much of a difference?

I have no idea how he feels, but I know that I don’t care for or necessarily want this relationship to go anywhere. This is completely all friendship, but I don’t know that even being friends with him would work out. You have to have some common interests to be friends, and I don’t believe we do. So I don’t want to waste his time, or money.

My brother-in-law said that he thinks that I should tell him that I can’t go with him. And he said that because he would rather have a girl tell him no, then have a girl say yes, and not want to go with him, and just waste his time, money and effort. He also said that it drove him crazy when a girl would go out with him, just to get free dinner.

I don’t want to be that kind of girl!

My parents don’t really want me to go with him either. They aren’t really against it, like they won’t have a problem if I say that I will for sure go with him. But they just don’t really like him. He is just…different. Its just he has completely different interests than me, and most people around him.

Now personally I believe that I should go with him. I already told him that I probably could, and he went through all of that just to ask me. But again I don’t want to waste his time, money, or effort.

Could you possibly tell me your opinion?

--Me




Dear You,

Yeah.

In my opinion you need to go to prom with this guy. He needs to stick to the Dating Rules (http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=165354415084) including "Plan, Pick up and Pay", but you did say yes, and if you're old enough to go to prom, you're old enough to ignore pressure and old enough to back up your commitments.

As for "The Strength of Youth" (http://www.mormon.org/stg/media/pdf/ForTheStrengthOfYouth.pdf), I appreciate this opportunity to clear up some myths. First of all, in the section on dating (pages 24 & 25) is says NOTHING about "only dating those you would marry". (You may want to break out your copy and actually read it.) I've heard this phrase before, too. I'm not sure where it's from (perhaps our readership can help), but I assure you it has nothing to do with "only dating boys you think are hot", but rather is talking about strength of character and high moral standards. Plus, I think it's a rule when you're a Young Single Adult, not a teen who shouldn't be looking for a relationship.

With respect to your family (especially your brother-in-law) they're not right on this one, and neither are you. First of all, you don't have to have tons of stuff in common with someone to be their friend. Secondly, like your brother-in-law, this guy asked you to go, so whether or not you're a bad choice is his responsibility. (If the brother-in-law didn't want to give away all of those free dinners, why did he keep asking out girls who had no interest in him? How bad of a date was he that these girls would say yes and then have a miserable time?)

This guy asked you to prom, not to marry him. Everyone at your house needs to relax.

If you honestly don't want him to feel like he wasted his time or effort, then what you need to do is become mature enough to figure out how to have a good time. Take this as an opportunity to get to know this weirdo a little better. Find out what makes him tick. Discover why his interests are so different than yours. Since you'll insist that he follow the Dating Rules (http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=165354415084) help him find a good group to go with that will include some of your friends. That will take off some of the social pressure. (Just be careful not to ignore him; weirdo or not, he's still your date, and what the "Strength of Youth" does say is that you have a responsibility to help him maintain his standards and to protect his honor and virtue. That includes not belittling this guy in front of his or your friends.) Get dressed up nice; be willing to dance; do your best to make it a nice and enjoyable evening.

And learn from this one. In the future, when asked on a formal date like this by someone you're unsure about, realize that it's okay to say "thank you for the invitation, can I let you know in a week or so?" and then pray that either someone else you like better asks or be prepared to say "no thank you" and then, quite possibly, not go.

Dating at your age is not about free dinner (still bothering me that your brother-in-law doesn't see that as his responsibility and fault, not that of the girls he asked out) or about the boy you may want to marry or about finding a boyfriend, it's about practicing your social skills and having fun.

If this guy was scary (and by that I mean, very honestly and specifically, you think he'll attack you on the date or is a totally irresponsible driver - and will be driving) or can't or won't follow the Dating Rules (http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=165354415084) (refuses to plan, pick up or pay; or fails to put a group together) then I agree that saying no or cancelling is okay. Other than that, and I say "have fun at prom".

He had enough courage to ask, you should have enough class and courage to go.

Who knows? You might find out that he's not such a bad guy after all.

And if he is, well . . . at least you can be comforted by the fact that you did the right thing.

Either way, it's a win-win for you.

- Bro Jo


Dear You,

After giving my response a little more thought, there are two things I feel I need to clarify.

The first is that it's not clear whether or not you told this boy you would go. At first it sounds like you did, but near the end you seem to imply that you told him you'd have to check with your parents (which, by the way, is exactly what you should say when any guy asks you out, at least until you graduate high school). If that's the case, then it's still okay to tell him "no thank you", just understand that you may hurt his feelings when he sees you with someone else and that there's always the possibility that no one else will ask.

Secondly, even if you tell someone you'll go out with them, if you come home and ask your parents and they say "no", then you have to respect that. Whether you're using your parents as an excuse not to go (with their permission) or they really have a problem with this boy, you need to be obedient and trust their judgement at this point in your life. Now, you don't tell the boy "my parents won't let me go out WITH YOU", you just say that your parents said "no". Even if he wants an explanation, he's not entitled to one, so don't offer or elaborate.

Hope that helps,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you! I agree! And thank you for telling me that that wasn’t in the strength of youth booklet! I actually read it online and you’re right it didn’t say anything about it, but my mom kept telling me that it was in there, so I just figured she was right and the online version maybe didn’t have the whole version. But I obviously need to read it more.

I agree with you again I do need to become more mature, I shouldn’t try to excuse my actions with dumb excuses!

So I will go with him, and I am sure that I will be perfectly safe! I don’t know if he has a plan, or will pick me up and pay. I didn’t ask when he asked me because I wasn’t sure I could go. When he first asked me I didn’t tell him yes, I said that I might be able to, I would have to check with my parents, and then I gave him my phone number. I guess that I figured he would call me later to make sure, but he hasn’t. He is pretty much just acting like I said yes. He keeps asking my brother all these questions about me. I’m not sure why he won’t just ask me, honestly he kind of avoids me at church. Obviously I’m just going to have to pull him aside and ask what the deal is.

Thank you for responding! And thank you for saying it how it is, and not trying to spare my feelings. I agree with everything you said!

--me



Dear You,

Well . . . you're welcome. And no one says we have to agree . . . but thank you.

You're raising some interesting points, though.

 If your last conversation with him was that you need to check with your parents, and you haven't told him that you'll definitely go, and he hasn't called or talked to you . . . well, he needs to do that.

That does mean that you have an "out" if you want one, but I think you're making the right decision by going. (Very proud of you.) So tell your brother that to please train this guy on how to date you, and that he needs to call you and confirm that you're going, and that he needs to follow the dating rules AND that includes plan, pick up and pay. (Have your brother send him the links if it helps.) You could pull him aside, but it might be better coming from your brother.

Plus, there's the added benefit of all of this training benefiting your brother, also.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Follow Up - Hermana Worried

[Readers - Below is a followup to a three-part series of letters called "Fearing Man More Than God that was published last November. You can click here for PART 1, PART 2, and PART 3. - Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo:

It's been a little while since my last email to you (looking back on it, exactly a month today! Crazy, haha). I just wanted to give you an update on my little issue. I went to talk to my bishop, and it turned out to be a great experience. Not only was I able to retain my calling as a missionary, he gave me some great advice that I've taken to heart.

He told me that sin does not start with the transgression, but instead the desire to transgress. It was not what I did, but the fact that I was willing (as much as I didn't think I was) beforehand to let it happen and open doors to worse things. He read me a scripture from Genesis 3:3, where Eve is explaining to the serpent that God had commanded concerning the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, "Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die."

He emphasized the "neither shall ye touch it". He said that this could be likened to being willing to speak with the disrespectful boy, or go into his room, or other things that could lead to worse things ("touching" the sin).

He also compared the heart to a horse (bear with me, here). He said that a wild horse does what it wants. It serves no master and follows through with its own desires. "But," he asked me, "what does a horse want when it has been broken?" The will of its master, the one who has broken the horse. A heart is the same way; when it is wild, it does what it wants. When it has been "broken" (which is a term I have often come across in the scriptures when referring to the heart, usually paired with a "contrite spirit"), it desires the will of its master, our Heavenly Father. That is what it means to have a broken heart.

I wanted to thank you for the advice you gave me; as I said before, it gave me the "kick in the pants" I needed to feel more confident about seeing my Bishop. I probably would have been in good standing with Heavenly Father had I not seen him... but if I hadn't, I wouldn't have gotten the extra advice I needed to hear to keep on the right path. Since then, I have made a covenant to not "eat of [the fruit], neither... touch it", and I've chopped off a good portion of my hair to remind myself every morning when I look in the mirror of my commitment. I know, the hair massacre wasn't necessary... but in my opinion was a physical testament and reminder of what I've promised inside.

Thanks again, Bro Jo!

-Hermana (Not) Worried (Anymore)



Dear Hermana,

Thank you for following up, and for your testimony of Repentance and the Savior.

May the Lord continue to bless you as you seek and grow closer unto Him,

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 12, 2012

Crush on a Future Missionary

Dear Bro Jo,

My name is (withheld), and in a few days the guy I like will be leaving for his mission. My friends and I have talked about whether or not I should write him while he's gone. But I still don't know what I should do.

The tricky part is this: I'm almost 16. He's obviously 19. For almost a year (I know, 15 and 19 is not a good age gap) we liked each other. But we kept it very casual. We talked before/after seminary with a bunch of other people around us. We occasionally texted, and limited our touching to hugs when parting ways. Then in the singles ward he met a girl. I don't know much about her, but his younger sister (who I'm friends with) says she's "AMAZING."

While talking one day about his mission, he says he wished he had left before he met and started dating her. I've heard from both him and his sister that he really likes her, and that he doesn't really like me anymore. I'm still rather smitten with him though. My parents know this, and they think I
should still write him.

I very much want to, but I don't know if it would be too awkward or wrong for me to do so. If it would be okay for me to write him, what are some good things to write about? Should I wait a while before writing him? If it isn't too awkward or whatever, how often should I write? I know to definitely stay away from talking about relationships, and to not get all "mushy" when writing him. But otherwise I have no clue what to say.

- (Name Withheld)



Dear NW,

I pray that he only thinks of you as "a little sister he goes to Church with", and does not "like" you in the way you may have convinced yourself he does. I think (and hope) he's just a nice guy and you've allowed your crush to taint your thinking . . .

Because 15 and 19 isn't just "not a good age gap" . . . it's horrific. And wildly inappropriate, even though you may not agree or find it flattering.

And, for the record, 17 and 21 is bad, too. 18 and 22 is a little better, but still not good. 19 and 23 I can live with.

I'm not trying to be patronizing, but it's important that you, and others just like you, understand that, because therein is the answer to your question.

See, it breaks down like this: if he really is attracted to you and he's 19 and your 15 (and not just being nice or flirty or flattering), then no matter how good he may seem, he's creepy and you need to stay away from him (thank goodness for the mission!).

Now let's be realistic here: the man (not "boy") you have a crush on likes another girl, one that's actually his age. When he comes home in two years, if she's still single (and she probably won't be), then he should date her. If she's not single, he should date women between the ages of 18-24. You'll only be 17, still in High School, and won't qualify.

So, as far as your crush goes: my feeling is: enjoy it, but get over it. Focus on boys your own age and Casual Group Dating (when you're old enough).

If you do write him, and I'm not sure that you should, wait at least two months. Keep it simple and with a purpose, like a holiday or birthday card. If you want to enclose a personal note, make it something like "we're all proud of you" or "keep up the good work" or "may the Lord bless you as you serve Him".

Simple.

If and when he writes back, don't respond for at least a month, and keep your letter to "how is you mission going, how do you like the place you're at, have you met any interesting people?" kind of stuff.

You don't want to burn any bridges, but it would be silly to hang very much on anything ever happening with this guy.

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 9, 2012

Agency, Temptation and Worthiness

Hi there Bro Jo,

I have been reading through most of your blogs, and i do admit i am indeed impressed. I too like many others have questions I would like some advice of or encouragement on.

After reading some of the stories online I am still not satisfied. And no I would not like this posted on any blogs please...

Now straight to the point: Me and my partner have met through Church. Actually in Youth. We both had the same problem with the word of wisdom at the time. Ever since dating we have both encouraged each other to stop. We did not go to the same school all this was because of the crowd we once were with which were all non-members, and also family problems that just influence the fact even more.

A few months later I really got to know him and grew more fond of him each time we met. We started to sneak out just to see each other. I do admit the church does encourage us to go on group dates and never stay out in the dark for too long, but this was the only way of seeing him and coming from a strict background, our family rules were not to date until after mission.

Temptation started to really kick in and as for the both of us coming from in-active families within the Church . . . we gave in.

I have had problems with my parents: having to face being kicked out of home twice all for the fact of having a boyfriend. This encouraged me to continue and not care about the consequences. Just like I feel because I feel like I am now being forced to serve. That had continued for a year. A few months ago my parents finally gave up and decided to meet him.

So everything is all out there, now me and my partner have set ourselves some goals and now know what we want. Just last week he has gone to his bishop and confessed. There is just one major problem. Our parents do not know and are expecting both me and my partner to go on our mission by the end of this year; we are both now 19 years old. After speaking with his bishop, bishop advised him and encouraged him to come to prep class and the missionary classes.

Now it is just the fact of facing the long term consequences. Guess he is just scared of having his name excommunicated from Church as the Bishop advised that may be the case if it’s serious which in his case it is because he is holding the priesthood keys and we both really do not want that.

As for me I am now waiting to go ask Bishop to release me from my calling in Church and confess.

It is just the case of not trusting our Bishop and having the parents involved. Their solution in our culture would be to just get married which is something me and my partner do not want. We know we are both not ready, we now know what we want and we want it done the right way.

I do not trust our Bishop at all... I find he loves his wife more then his callings. I am not here to gossip but from my experience and others we find we are most not comfortable with the Bishop although he is a really nice, sweet and humble man we just find that his wife somehow knows everything she is not meant to know.

Just a question would I be able to talk to the Stake President instead?

And do the parents have to know or be involved?


- Name Withheld




Dear Friend,

I'm glad you wrote.

In your letter you use the word "partner" often, and talk about being 19 and going on a mission. Where I live the use of the word "partner" often implies a homosexual relationship, and since girls can't go on missions until their 21 in the Church, and since girls are not as expected to serve missions as guys are, the implications in your letter is that you're a guy.

Your email address, however, contains a traditional girl's name, so I'm guessing here that you're a girl who, because of language and cultural differences, is using the word "partner" to mean that you're having sex with this man, and that the missionary pressure you feel is parental and cultural pressure, not Church pressure. If I'm wrong, please let me know.

I'd like you to reconsider allowing me to post your letter. Your situation is similar to other young people in the Church, and your letter may help them. Plus, your letter is generic enough that no one will identify you as its author.


Yes, you can go to your Stake President. He may turn you back to your Bishop, and he may not, but it never hurts to set the appointment.

For the record, a man is SUPPOSED to love his wife more than his calling. No, a Bishop isn't supposed to share with his spouse the things that have been confessed to him, but isn't it possible that he isn't doing that but instead his wife is just a smart enough person to see what's going on in the lives of others by the way they behave? Often we think we're hiding our behavior but our actions are obvious to anyone with eyes or ears.

You mention that there are some cultural expectations you're dealing with, but you don't mention where you're from - that might be significant.

To be candid, my young friend, for someone who's as old as you are you don't take much responsibility for your own actions. You blame your Word-of-Wisdom problems on the people you hung out with. You justify sneaking out with this guy because it's "the only way" you can be together, which A) is a lie, and B) isn't important - no one is requiring you to spend time together, you're choosing that.

Then you want me to believe that sex "just happened" and that it's really the fault of your parents for being so strict.

I'm sorry, but all of that is absolute garbage.

You chose your friends. You chose to be disobedient. You chose to violate the Word-of-Wisdom. You chose to have sex.

Whether you choose to repent in this life or the next, at some point you'll be held accountable for your actions. Trust me: it's much better to repent now than to wait.

Stop worrying about what your parents might find out (they probably know, anyway) and start worrying about what you need to do to make things right with Heavenly Father.

A mission is not a right, it's a privilege, and if you're not ready or worthy to go, you shouldn't.

It's really too bad that you didn't care about your parent's opinions and feelings more back when you were making the wrong choices you made, but now you have the opportunity to make things right. And that, my young friend, is more important than continuing on the path you're on.

Have courage! Do what you know is right. Begin the repentance process right away. If that means confessing to you Bishop and parents, trust me, it's much better than the alternative.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Hi.

First of all thanks for the reply... well where we are from "partner" or "other half" would be the used term for boyfriend, fiance or husband; and yes I am a girl.

My nationality background is half cast both sides from the islands. Which most people would know have really strong beliefs in God no matter what the religion.

Yes, I guess you can say that I’m blaming others for my choices I do feel like I am too... mostly I regret hanging in the wrong places with the wrong friends. Sneaking out to see him was the only way because during the day we could not be seen together only because there would be members around. In our nationality being seen by other parents would only mean one thing... It leading back to our parents or having to deal with the eyes or gossip at church which is why we feel the need to hide this, this is pretty common and you would find most teenagers are doing this.

Blaming my parents I do feel bad about... at the time all they would do is constantly compare us kids (me and my siblings) to other youths or YSA who have also gone the wrong way... or why cant I be like my cousins who are out their serving?

Or in Church it’s like most families are competing to be the best they look at other people’s children who’s worthy or who’s not... so that is what i feel my perants have the need for. And they compare why can’t I be like who other's kids?

You will find that most YSA and youths do not come Church because of this.

During the years that just got to me and all I would think of is 'just do it' give it a try, all they do is complain about it so might as well do it.. So yes I made those decisions I chose to go astray myself.

I've always wanted to serve I have cousins who are out there and I love hearing about their experiences. What inspires me most about this is we had a few YSA who have gone a confessed for the same problems... and no matter how long it took they are out there serving now... I have a lot of friends of which my parents also do not allow me to hang with because they think they are bad influences when little do they know they are the reason I’ve always wanted to serve. Moving away from them and being banned to hang out with I feel like I have no one to talk to no one for encouragements which is when I met my 'partner' or as you can say boyfriend I have stopped.

He is the reason why I've chosen to stop you can say he is actually my only best friend now.

We've just made the wrong mistake that it is too late to turn back on and we know this which I now must confess and obey.

In other words for the Bishop... is we've had some cases where other ysa or youths have had problems with their secrets being lead out to the wrong people just makes me curious.. I am not the only one who sees this and who is not comfortable with the Bishop.

The president I have met and he is truly a humble man who has been chosen and is close with the youth and YSA.

I do feel more comfortable talking to him rather than our Bishop just didn’t know if this was allowed, though if the result is to lead back to my bishop then so be it.

After reading your letter it has of somewhat encouragement in it and yes I am willing to face this even if it means the 'eyes' or 'gossip'.

In result of this letter being posted on the blog I am an insecure type of person but for now time being yes you may post this in the blog.

- Name Withheld




Dear Friend,

Whether it's the Stake President or your Bishop (whom, frankly, I think you maybe judging unfairly - again, for all you know those "secrets" have been revealed by people - perhaps the individuals themselves - other than the Bishop - if you think about it, you heard it from people other than him) the point is that it's good for you to set the sin aside and move forward in the repentance process.

It's my hope that as a part of that process you learn about "agency", and how about the freedoms we have are not consequence free, regardless of whether or not we repent. Perhaps when you realize that you didn't "have to see him", you'll begin to understand that it's our choices that dictate our lives more than anything else.

Good luck and God bless,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Formal Dance Dilemma

Dear Bro Jo,

I need some advice.

There is a guy who likes me, is not Mormon, knows I can't have boyfriend and is trying to still be friends.

He also asked me to formal.

I said I would go with him but now things are a bit complicated. My parents said I needed to be in either a group or with another couple. My friends started organizing their group to go to formal.

One of my friends offered for us to meet at her house and take cars from there. This same friend went and had an argument with my date to formal. Which ended with them not wanting to talk to each other or sit together at formal.

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

I now have to figure out what to do, who to go with and who to sit with. Please help me.

Thanks,

Torn Between



Dear Torn,

A dilemma indeed!

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

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

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

Have fun at the dance!

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Sorry I took so long to reply.

Thanks for the advice.

Turns out my date solved the problem for me and decided not to take me after all. So I don't have that problem anymore.

Thanks for your great advice though :)

Thanks,

No longer torn...



Dear Torn,

Well I'm terribly sorry to hear that. What happened?

I hope someone else asks,

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Well he said that due to the clashes with our friends and because we are so different it might be best if we didn’t go together... So I no longer am going with him.

Thanks, I kinda hope so too. Not really very hopeful though.

By the way I am ordering your dating book on the weekend :) I decided it was a worthwhile use of my money.

Thanks,

Torn




Dear Torn,

It might be a good idea to make sure your friends know that you don't have a date for the dance, lest anyone inquire and be given wrong information. But know this: some of the most wonderful girls don't get asked to formal dances in high school, or even date much.

Including Sister Jo.

It worked out very well for yours truly that she went to school with dumb guys and bad daters.

Hope you enjoy the book,

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 5, 2012

She Loves the Future Missionary Her Friend is In Love With

Dear Bro Jo,

I was telling one of my very best friends about this man-problem I have, and she told my about you and how awesome your advice is. So she suggested I relay what i told her to you.

So I have this friend. He's one of my very best friends. I started getting to know him about 7 months ago when I was put on the youth committee. Well we went to prom together that year. There at prom, he met my best friend who is beautiful beyond belief. Briefly stated, they hit it off. I, of course, was rather hurt. But, she's my best friend and wanted her to be happy, and I wanted him to be happy too. So I not only went along with it, but I also did whatever I could to be supportive of them (even though it was really painful sometimes). He moved across the country shortly thereafter, but the two of them remained "together".

So here's my problem. Him and I have become really, really close friends. The feelings I had for him at the beginning have not only lingered, but they've grown tenfold. I'm really not sure what it's like to be in love with someone... but I think I might be now. I've known a lot of guys, and I've met a lot more since I started college (BYUI), and no one comes even remotely close to him. I think about what I want in life and the kind of man I want to spend eternity with, and he just has everything that I need - spiritually, emotionally... his personality is so similar to mine, it sometimes blows my mind.

And when we Skype each other, it really seems like he feels the same way. But then... isn't he in love with my best friend?

That's what they both say... and when they do say so, My feelings for him take more a platonic turn. That is, until I hear his voice again and it all floods back.

My point is, I feel so confused. I've never had such strong feelings for anyone before, and it's making me feel so crazy. He's going on his mission in three weeks, and I know a lot can change in those two years... but what if they don't? What if they stay exactly the same? What should I do? Should I tell him how i feel?


Thank you, Bro Jo.

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

(Hi! Thanks for writing, and thank your friend for me.)

With this guy going on a mission in three weeks, I think everything is temporarily solved. Whether he or your friend realize it or not, all bets are about to be off for the next two years. While he's gone she'll date other people, you'll date other people . . . and then, well, we'll see where things are at then. While he's gone, write him an occasional letter. Keep it upbeat, spiritually focused, and encouraging. When he comes back, if you're still available, suggest to him that he come see you, maybe take you out on a date or two to see if there are still feelings there.

Frankly, no, I'm not convinced that he's in love with your friend. If he was he wouldn't be spending so much time and energy with and on you. If she's the light of his life, why does he feel the need to have you as such a close friend? What is it that you bring into his life that he can't get from her? Are you a better listener? Do you offer him security? Is he afraid that his "gorgeous girlfriend" is going to find another guy while he's gone, but he thinks you'll always be there as a backup?

Maybe.

And as you ponder those things, you may realize that he may not be the right guy for you.

Don't tell him how you feel now. Wait until he gets back. If, like I said, you're still single, and IF you still feel the same, tell him then.

But, in the meantime, go out and search for someone else.

One more thing: you need to realize that IF (and it's a big IF) he and she end up together your "friendship" with him will, by definition, need to be over. A married man should never have a Very Close Woman Friend that isn't his wife.


- Bro Jo

Friday, March 2, 2012

Relationship Math

Dear Bro Jo,

I wrote this out the conventional way, but it turned out to be a small book, so since I ought to be doing my homework right now, I'll write it math style to make into more of a small pamphlet instead:)

Girl + Awesome Guy = <3

Girl moves to random island + Awesome Guy goes to college = breakup + loose contact
(everything's fine)

Girl = Junior, ~17

Girl inspects new Dating Scene (DS).

DS = 1 school, 55 people, 0 members

Limited Options Theorem (written by Girl + Parents): As long as they have good standards, it's okay to go on Casual Group Dates with these boys.

Girl is asked out on Supposed Group Date by Mr. Awkward

Supposed Group Date = Single Date + friends coaching Mr. Awkward (surprise!)

Girl is asked out on more Awkward Dates, says yes out of:

1) hope that they'll get better

2) pity (Girl = First pursuit Mr. Awkward has EVER made)

3) concern for Mr. Awkward's feelings (sensitive guy alert!)

Awkward Dates = Mr. Awkward lets all attempts at conversation DIE + (formally asks Girl if he may hold her hand or put his arm around her) >9 = LAME!

*Note 1: Hand-holding or having an arm slung across shoulders are seen as no big deal to Girl, so she flippantly accepts the first few times. But it gets creepier every time he does it, especially since permission is asked every time, and he refuses to let go until the date is over-he once reached for his wallet with his free hand because he still wouldn't let go. She keeps begrudgingly accepting(WRONG) because she doesn't want to hurt his feelings. If he just went for it without asking explicit permission, she could just slip her hand away, no problem.

*Note 2: Around the second date, he started hovering. In the hallways, in my classes, everywhere. The boy sticks like velcro.

Mr. Awkward asks girl to Homecoming, then...

Girl + Mr. Awkward = Homecoming Prince and Princess

The expressions and theorems don't work at all for the last bit, so bear with me...


During the royalty song/dance, I saw the lovestruck look on his face, and I knew we had to talk, and quick. So as he walked me home that night, I told him all about how I'm not interested a relationship at all, I can't have a boyfriend, and with my homework load, I wouldn't even have time for one if I wanted to. He brushed it off, saying, "Yeah, I totally agree. My parents said I can't have a girlfriend either." I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking my troubles were over. Not so. The creeping continued. The clinginess got worse. I didn't understand how he didn't get it, why he kept pursuing couple-ness when I had just told him there'd be none. Again, he's super sensitive, so I didn't want to straight-up tell him, "Look, you're being creepy and frankly, anything more than friendship is a revolting idea to me at this point." Out of sheer desperation, I started making excuses for not being able to go out, I got a little less cheerful, I started going to school in sweats and sans makeup. Still nothing.

This went on for about two weeks until last weekend when a big group of us were hanging out, watching movies and such. My friend's boyfriend and I were having a poking war because we fight like little siblings. All of a sudden, Mr. Awkward freaked, and went home immediately after I did when I left early(he insisted on walking me home). So he's been in this depression for the past few days because he thinks I'm trying to get with my best friend's guy. Ew.

So here are my questions:

- As much as I hate to admit it, I have a sneaking suspicion that he and I need to have a talk again. It's irksome that I have to dump him when we were never together.

- Does going on some casual group dates and letting him put his arm around me or hold my hand count as leading him on? I made sure to never ever flirt with him, any acceptance of anything after like the first date was with this facial expression of "Are you serious? This is really weird, what you're doing here. I find you intensely clingy."

- Is a talk really necessary? If so...how should I go about it? "Just so you know, I'm not into him, but while we're here, let me say that I'm not into you either." I don't want to crush the guy!

- Since it's not a breakup, does it have to be in person?

- Again, school of 55. I see him all day, every day. What's your advice for post-rejection awkwardness?

Criticism, Advice, and questions are all extremely welcome.

- Oops




Dear Oops,

Answers.

1. No. Going on some Casual Group Dates and letting him put his arm around you does not count as "leading him on". But constantly letting him do what he wants even though it bothers you is well . . . dumb. That's where you've confused him, and for that you owe him an explanation and an apology.

2. Necessary to talk to him? Yeah, if you want to clear things up and have a clean conscience. Will he get the hint? Not likely, regardless of how straight-forward yo are.

3. All relationship talks should be in person.


Guys can be a bit slow on the up-take, so Be Kind but Be Clear. If you sugar coat it too much he won't get it.

It's going to be awkward. Your little school may take sides. Welcome to the joy of teen drama. Just be as nice as you can. This too shall pass.

Now go get your homework done.


- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

So I had a very, very straightforward talk with him. I felt really really harsh, but after talking to you and one of my close guy-friends, it seemed that would be necessary. However his reaction was pretty surprising.

Me: Hey, I've been meaning to talk to you for a while....Listen, I just want you to know that I don't want anything more than friendship at all. Not with you, not with Brandon [my friend's bf], not with anyone. I'm sorry that I didn't make that clearer before. See you Monday!
Him: See you Monday too! Hey, I got the answers for that test on Monday. If you want to come over sometime, I'm willing to help a good friend out;) Do you have plans for lunch?
Me: Uh no thanks, I'll do it on my own. Yeah, I'm pretty busy. Thanks anyway. I gotta go.

It was like he hadn't even heard me! I was a little bit put off, I won't lie. You were right in that prediction you gave in #2. I will be cordial, but I definitely don't need to encourage his creeping. The conversation I had with him made me aware of two things:

1. No matter what I do, he will follow me around like a lost puppy. I can fight it or I can ignore it. Sad, harsh, true.

2. The guys here all either smoke, drink, sleep around, are very dishonest, swear lots, or are incredibly creepy or even vulgar. My standards are treated by them as an annoyance at best(usually the case), a point of ridicule at worst. Dating is just going to have to be put on hold until BYU(that sweet blessed place). And I think I'm finally okay with that.

- Oops



Dear Opps,

Hahaha

You told him you had no interest in him as a boyfriend, he said he understands, and then he asked you out on a lunch date . . . classic!

As you know, I'm a big proponent of Teens getting Casual Group Dating experience, but I've also said that no girl (of any age) should ever put herself in a situation where she feels in danger, unsafe, or uncertain that her virtue will remain intact. So it certainly is possible that one could live in an area where Casual Group Dating just isn't possible.

All I can say is "keep an open mind"; even in a small town on an island it's very unlikely that EVERY boy is awful. You're a kind person and a fun date, so perhaps that will inspire some of the guys to get their acts together. And perhaps there are some Good Guys lost in the crowd . . .

Either way, as you said, the Y isn't too far off.

Girl learns about dating while still in High School (which may include lots of lame dates) + Girl is nice anyway + Girl goes to Y soon = Girl much better prepared for Dating Fun at Y

Hang in there!

- Bro Jo