Things to know

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

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

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

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Age Differences: 15 and 18

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a freshman in high school, and 15 years old. I'm writing about this little problem that I could use your opinion on. I've sat by this guy in one of my classes for a few months, and we talk a bit, and he's really nice.

The only problem is that he's a senior, and he's 18. He texts me sometimes, and a few times has asked me to go and study with him during school.

He told my friend that he likes me, and a few days ago he was texting me, and said that we could have been really good friends, (I'm moving out of the country this summer) and he said we should hang out at least once before I move away.

I'm not quite sure if that would be such a good idea, because of the age difference, and I would like your opinion on it.

Thanks so much for your time!

-Over-thinker



Dear Thinker,

If the "hang out" is a bunch of people getting together for a movie party or game night, and so long as your parents consent, then I think that's fine.

If "hang out" is this guy's code for "date", or even worse "date where I don't plan, pickup or pay, but I spend time with this girl alone and see what I can get her to let me do", then I vote no.

And I feel that way regardless of the age difference.

Which, for the record, I AM a little uncomfortable with.

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 27, 2012

Is This Relationship Ready to Move to the Next Level - Part 2

[Readers - This is Part-2 of a column that published Friday, April 20th, 2012. - Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

You asked for an update, so here it is. My roommate didn't want to talk to his roommate, and I didn't have his roommate's number so I just texted him what you said I should tell his roommate. He replied back a few hours later to say he just wanted to be friends. I agree with you about guys and girls not being just friends, but in this case I can't completely stop talking to him, since my roommate hangs out with his roommate a lot and he's always with his roommate and I'm always with my roommate. (Plus we run into each other a lot on campus and at campus events).

Now of course the question is who to date and how to get them to ask me out. I'd only been on 2 dates before him, the first guy I asked to go see a movie with me (which means I paid of course), and the second date was a blind date set up by a guy who liked my roommate. He wanted to go with her to the masquerade last semester, but my best friend and my other roommate and myself were already planning on going together so he set us up with a couple of his friends to make it a triple date. Currently I'm not even interested in any of the guys I've seen in my classes or in my ward. Any advice?

-Curious


Dear Curious,

Tons of advice.

1) No more "movie parties" at your apartment. You sisters are letting these guys off the hook to easy. Movie parties are for 13-year olds. At your age they allow guys to hang out with women without putting forth any effort. The cowards are lazy enough; make them work for you.

2) No more asking guys out. Good Guys don't like aggressive girls, and ALL guys figure that if you're doing the asking then you're not worth being asked. We both know that's not true, but that's what they think, so knock it off.

3) Widen your circle and be patient. Go to activities at other wards, get involved on campus, and go spend time where guys can be found (like sporting events, the library, and the cafeteria) - you can't get noticed if no one ever sees you.

4) Make a pact with your roommates to set each other up on dates. Here's what you do: every time one of you says to a guy "hey, you should ask out my roommate" and he does, that girl puts $1 in a jar. Keep a list of who sets up whom. When a roommate gets married, if one of you set that roommate up with that guy, you get all the money in the jar and it starts over.

Getting married is like getting a job: it won't happen if you sit around home and put forth no effort.

Share all this with your roommates, and go to work!

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for the advice! I'll share it with my roommates tomorrow when we have our apartment prayer and I'll see what I can do about implementing the last one. :)

- Curious



Dear Curious,

Any time.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What If She Refuses to Kiss Until You've Proposed?

[Readers - I got the comment below on a column I posted titled "It's Okay Not to Kiss". That letter was a response to a young teenager who still feels that "kissing is gross". The comment is from a YSA Sister in her 20's who thinks all kissing should be saved until post-engagement, and that my friends is a different situation. Yes, we want to be morally clean, but swearing off all PDA until we're looking across the alter at each other is, in my opinion, a Huge Mistake, and an attitude that I believe is part of why too many of us are Over 30 Never Marrieds.


Just One Old Guy's Take,


- Bro Jo]




Anonymous said...

Ok, Bro Jo, what what us "older gals" (20 here!) who don't kiss for another reason: I haven't kissed anyone because I want to save that for the person I get engaged to. I'm sure I'll go through at least one or two guys that I'll hold hands and cuddle with before he pops the question, but I just feel like kisses aren't something you should hand out like the candy.

I know not everyone agrees with that, but that's my take on the whole kissing issue.

- Annon


Dear Annon,

I'm one of the people who doesn't agree with that.

There's a huge gulf between "handing out kisses like candy" and "not kissing anyone you're not formally engaged to first".

Ponder this: if a guy wrote me a letter saying "Bro Jo, I love this girl and I'm thinking about marrying her, but she refuses to kiss me until after I propose, what should I do?" I'd tell him to get out and run away from her as fast as he can.

Why?

Because 1) she's too uptight, and 2) it sounds like she's manipulative and selfish.

Heck, if I was a Single Guy over 21 I wouldn't keep dating a girl that I hadn't kissed by the fourth date. Seriously.

I'm not saying that you should play tonsil hockey with every boy you date, but the notion that the only guy you ever kiss is the one that will be your husband is . . . (this is said with love) naive, ill-advised, and a little dangerous.

You shouldn't do anything that makes you uncomfortable or calls your Temple Worthiness into question, but kissing is just kissing.

I think you need to re-evaluate your policy and consider that it may just be your excuse for why you're still a member of the VLC at way too old an age.

As I've said, "cuddling" is a Way Bigger Danger than a good-night smooch.

Much Bigger.

Trust me; as the father of 7 kids I can tell you from experience that cuddling is much closer to procreation than kissing is.

Kissing is a simple sign of affection; if you're not kissing, how can either of you think there's enough love or attraction there to justify a marriage proposal?

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Horny Roommate - Part 3 (Sometimes It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better)

Dear Bro Jo,

Thought I would give you a summary of how the rest of the semester played out...

Things got worse.

The making out got heavier, and she started doing things because she knew it would bother me. Like making out heavily with the blinds wide open, and when we would walk into the room, she wouldn't stop.

She knew the sex talk and jokes bothered me, so they would talk about it even more. Many other stupid things happened, like when I suggested we all take 5 minute showers on Sunday morning (she had been taking really long ones and the rest of us would take ice cold showers), the next morning she took half an hour and when I confronted her as kindly and friendly as I could "hey, would you mind, you know, maybe taking a shorter shower next Sunday? Like, 5-10 minutes? We all took ice cold showers and it would just be nice if we could have some warm water.." That blew up in my face, and it was really dumb.

From that point on for the rest of the semester she gave me the silent treatment.

That's also when the deliberately trying to push my buttons with the making out and sex talk started. The relief society president told us both we should try to be of service to one another. I would be nothing but nice, offer her cookies I made and clean the bedroom, but there would be no response. I knew I was doing the right thing though, so I kept it up.

Long story short, her behavior only got worse.

I went to the bishop (the previous one had been released, so even though I talked to him, the new one did not know about this), and just kept up my patience. The bishop told me I was doing everything right, I've done all I can, and thanked me for letting him know.

Things were bad.

We did have one or two more confrontations (always involving them being on top of one another heavily kissing under blankets so you couldn't see past their necks and me not being able to tolerate being in the same room as that....) and it was just plain awful.

Every time "Mike" would be in the apartment when I was, he acted like a guilty dog. He wouldn't make eye contact, kept his head low, and avoided me like crazy. It was almost funny, but really the whole thing was just bad.

But now I am out of the apartment. I am rooming with the girl who was the relief society president. I never have to see her again.

In my heart, I forgive her for her behavior, and I have made things straight with the Lord through repentance.

I did apologize to her for anything I said that may have been rude, and for getting frustrated. Of course she said she doesn't forgive me, but that's her problem. She also let all the other roommates know she doesn't like me.

Oh. Well.

I feel like I have learned so much. And though I am now somewhat paranoid (every time my roommate speaks, I keep bracing myself and putting my guard up, thinking it will be Jenny with something rude to say, and every time I see someone with similar features to Jenny, I think "oh no, not her"), but with time I will get over it and get used to not having to share a room with a manipulative roommate.

Living with roommates and missionary companions prepares you for marriage, and helps you grow to (hopefully) be a better adult.

Thanks for your help with this.

-V.E



Dear VE,

Do you have any contact with "Jenny" and "Mike" at all? When are they supposed to get married?

I wonder if they will . . .

They may be truly in love and just unable (or unwilling) to hold back on the physical stuff (that's, again, still not an excuse), but if the physical stuff is all that amounts to the substance of their relationship . . . well, let's just say that if they do get married they're in for some very rough times ahead.

I'm glad you stuck to your guns on this.

I'm glad you got out of that apartment, too. This type of stuff happens WAY MORE OFTEN at the Y and Y of I than people tend to talk about - you're certainly not the only one that's ever had to deal with this. So "thank you" for sharing the stories and giving us an update.


Best,

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Nope, no contact. "Mike" removed me from facebook who knows how long ago, I removed "Jenny" the day I moved out of the apartment, and "Jenny" only texted me once back in February to tell me she's sorry for her behavior (the silent treatment), but then rebutted that with a long explanation as to why I should be sorry too and how it's all my fault.

I worry for them, and I pray for them.

I can almost guarantee that the first several weeks, perhaps months, of their marriage will be awesome for them, because they'll be in honeymoon mode. But it won't last. (Nor should it, but I have a bad feeling there could be a nasty crash from this.)

But the arguments they had - I don't remember if I mentioned that in the previous email - they argued over everything... loudly.. from who's making dinner, to stupid things/disagreements about their classes, to him not wanting to wear a condom on the honey moon because they're uncomfortable. (I have no idea how he knows that, not my business, and TMI.)
Sometimes her sister would come over. They treated each other like dirt. It was shocking.

I know when I had my foul relationship and was not doing things right, I stepped back and realized I had not been very kind to my siblings, either. The same thing with my older sister, when she was in a poisonous relationship, she was just plain mean sometimes. We've all long since forgiven each other for this, but I sensed the exact same negative spirit in Jenny and Mike that I did with myself in that bad relationship.

It made me depressed, stressed, and scared.

My parents told me that like a recovering alcoholic is highly aware of when others are drinking, because of my experiences, I'm extra aware of when people around me do not have pure intentions for their physical behavior.

I just worry for them now.

Earlier in the semester when she was still talking to me, she told me "sometimes I get a little scared for myself about this... it doesn't feel real. I can't watch movies or read books with romance in it, because I start to make that my reality and lose track of the real reality, and I can't tell if this (the relationship) is real or not."

I don't know about you, but that raised red flags for me. And it scared the crap out of me for her.


They got married in the temple last (date withheld). I saw pictures on Facebook, so that's what I'm assuming.

Now it's up to them, and hopefully the Lord blesses them with help and ways to get through any struggles they come across.

Thanks for the tips, and thanks for the assurance. It's always appreciated, and very very very helpful.

Most of all, I'm just glad it's done. It was a learning experience I was definitely not expecting to have. But I'm glad I had it. And I'm eternally grateful it is over.

Thanks again,

VE


PS ..and by the way, thanks for responding to those comments. They... hurt. Of course they don't know me, but gosh I'm just sensitive sometimes.

I thought it was funny that Anonymous mentioned him coming before hours/staying late, and porn being left around. Too many things happened to list, but many times Mike would come over in the morning, to take care of her when she was "sick".

I would step out of the shower and guess who's there! My roommates would walk out of their room
straight from bed with no bra on under their shirts to get cereal and whoa! There's a guy here.

At 9 in the morning.

Blah. So glad it's done.



Dear VE,

I'm sorry. I wasn't going to publish some of the comments, and thought about running some of them by you first, but then I figured that the discussion needs to happen.

I've actually received letters like yours before from girls (mostly at the Y of I of . . . interesting, huh?) who've been in the same situation. They're typically freaked out and don't know what to do. I think your willingness to speak up will inspire them.

Thanks for facilitating the discussion and being thick skinned.

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 20, 2012

Is This Relationship Ready to Move to the Next Level? - Part 1

Hello Bro Jo,

You've answered a few questions I've had in the past. Thanks for your responses each time! You give great advice. I'm now at BYU-I (my second semester up here) after transferring. Anyway, I just bought your book Bro Jo's Guide to Relationships For LDS Young Single Adults today, and finished reading it about an hour ago. I have a quick question (which I had before but now I'm really wondering).

I met a guy (who my roommate insisted was perfect for me for weeks before I met him) and we went on a couple dates and he came over and saw a few movies with my roommates and myself at my apartment, we did hold hands a few times. This was during finals week last semester, we talked a couple times over Winter break, then he asked me to go bowling with him the first Thursday we got back. We had fun, but he already had a lot of homework and had to get home before 9 (he did take me out to eat first, and we played a couple rounds of bowling). We've talked a few times online since then, and seen each other when I went out to eat with my roommates (and his roommate and he happened to be there at the same time), we danced a little bit at Latin Dance night, and then I saw him at Cultural Associations night. Other than that he's always busy with homework so I haven't seen him except when his roommate gets him out of the house and we happen to see each other.

My roommate and his roommate both think I should talk to him about our relationship, but I'm not so sure. In the book you said I was still just on step 5, not quite ready to declare whether we are in a relationship or not. I don't feel like dating anyone else, but he doesn't seem to like me as much as I like him, even though his roommate seems to think different. I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to text him first, I want him to text me but he's always busy. So I guess what I'm wondering is what I should do next? Or should I do anything at all?

- Sincerely Confused




Dear Confused,

I don't know that I agree that you're quite at the DTR (Determine The Relationship) talk stage . . .

You've dated off and on for what sounds like a couple months, but at this stage there doesn't seem like you're both "Falling in Love" (Level 6); without that you can't really skip to Level 7 (where you have the talk and agree that you're mutually exclusive). Having the talk before you've both fallen in love is premature. Even though you may not feel like it, I think you need to still be dating lots of different guys and encouraging lots of different guys to ask you out.

Now, I'm also a big believer in using the roommates to further your relationships and relationship prospects; I think that's why God gives us roommates! (That and to teach us how to live with other people who are not our parents and siblings.) So I think you should tell your roommate, and she can tell his (or you can tell his) that since this guy hasn't made any move towards making things exclusive you're going to be dating other people. Drop the hint that you like him and you really hope he'll keep asking you out, and that you may be open to the idea of an exclusive relationship . . . but Guy-Too-Shy is going to have to put forth a little more effort.

That's a win-win situation for you. Either he clues in and does what he needs to do to keep you from finding someone else, or you find someone else.

Get it?

Good luck, and let me know how it goes, would you?

And thank you for the kind words and for picking up a copy of "Bro Jo's Guide to Relationships"; I'm hope it was helpful and that you enjoyed it.

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks Bro Jo!

That really cleared up some confusion I had, I'll talk to my roommate about telling his roommate that, then see about getting more dates with other guys. I was positive I wasn't quite ready to discuss an actual relationship yet with him, so I'm glad you agree, since everyone else seems to disagree. I'll let you know how things go!

No Longer So Confused



Dear No Longer,

Any time.

- Bro Jo


[Readers - Stay tuned!  Part 2 will appear next week.]

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lost in a Relationship with a Non-member Girl - Part 1

[Readers - the following Letters from "Lost" are Part 1.  Part 2 will publish in two weeks. - Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

So, I went on your site for the first time today...

I have a pretty big question, but I want to know make sure this is the right email and all... and whether you personally check all the emails you are sent...

I'd kinda like to ask you about a relationship that's been stressing me out... I'm a 16-year-old guy and I'm going way off my rocker...

My relationship with a 16-year-old nonmember girl has been making my life tricky... It's one of the few things I just can't figure out... I've been dealing with depression and this has been stressing me out considerably... I want to talk about it, but I'm kinda uncomfortable to start out with... Could you ask me some questions to get me started?

I'm okay with you publishing what I say, but someone will have to edit the final message I end up sending to you so it makes some sort of sense... :D Anyway, I'm seeking for answers... and sometimes too prideful and stubborn...

Sincerely,

-Lost



Dear Lost,

All emails to "Dear Bro Jo" come directly to me.

I'm not sure what questions you want me to ask, and I suspect that like most of our readers you already know the answers . . .

Whatever you ask my opinion on, I'll tell you the truth, even if it's unpopular or you may not like it.

I'm not a licensed or trained therapist, I don't speak for the Church, and I'm not to be considered a substitute for talking with priesthood leadership.

But if you want to correspond about your situation, I'm game.

For starters, you could tell me why you feel depressed, what's making your life tricky, and why you're not doing what you deep down know you're supposed to do.

(See? I warned you!)

- Bro Jo





Dear Bro Jo,

Just deciding I was going to send you this email changed my outlook. I went to the Lord, instead of my friends, to look for a solution to my issues, and I found much-needed help and advice on dating from you site.

I really appreciate this. :)

I'm going to shift a little, because as I've been pondering, praying, and searching, I've had slightly different concerns...

This girl, we'll call her "Dora", and I have had probably a little too intimate of a relationship for our own safety and happiness. We've spent a ton of time together and done a lot of 'hanging out'. I'm yet to take her on a real Casual Group Date, though we've spent one on one time going to dance classes and movies at home, etc...

We've done a lot of cuddling and holding hands, though she won't kiss me unless she's in an exclusive relationship. I care about her a lot and she cares about me a lot. Because she is not Mormon, she wants an exclusive dating relationship. I need help understanding why we have been advised to stay out of such relationships. Part of me, it might be the natural man, seeks for that...

Anyway, how can I heal our relationship and communicate to her what the best choice is? Is there any opportunity for us to ever date like that? (Her mom is anti-Mormon, but she's neutral... :/)

How can I bring the spirit into our relationship so we can be close, happy, and comfortable with each other and with the Lord?

Oh, and how much and what kind of cuddling is allowed in church standards? (The For Strength of Youth says you shouldn't lay on other people, but that's the only thing I've found...) I miss her... I distanced myself because I was concerned... I'll do what the Lord would have me do because I know that will bring the most joy, but I often wish for a closer relationship with her. This whole thing is just so difficult for me.


Sincerely,


Lost



Dear Lost,

That "difficult" feeling you have? That's exactly why youth are counseled not to get into serious relationships. Life as a teen is hard enough without all of the tension and drama that teenage exclusivity brings.

For the record, at your age No Kind of Cuddling is acceptable by Church standards. You've already crossed the line. I know it's tough to believe this at 16, but the teen brain is so messed up with hormones and chemicals (that's science, not prejudice, by the way) that the cuddling, kissing and romance really affect your ability to think clearly and make sound moral decisions.

Don't get me wrong: cuddling and kissing is great! I highly recommend it for married and soon to be married people!

But for teens? No.

Let's face it, the distance from hands around each other to hands on each other is very short. Add a blanket, turn out the lights . . . and from where you are then to "what shall we name the baby" is very short indeed. (Trust me, I have seven children.) So knock it off.

In fact, you shouldn't be trying to interject the Spirit into your relationship at all. You're 16 for crying out loud! You're supposed to be Casual Group Dating lots of girls!

Yeah, I understand: you'd like to do some smooching. I don't blame you. I have no problem with a quick kiss good night under the porch light at then end of a date (check out "Bro Jo's LIST of KISSING APPROPRIATENESS"), nor do I think there's anything wrong with holding hands while out on the date, but where you're headed . . . the make-out and cuddling sessions, the serious committed relationship . . . trust me, it's more adult than you want in your life right now.

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Horny Roommate - Part 2 (Violating the Honor Code, Roaming Hands, Making Out, and the Blinds are Closed)

Hello, Bro Jo.

Quite a bit has happened since I first wrote you.

I'll refer to my engaged roommate as Jenny and her fiance as Mike.

Jenny and Mike like to kiss. And snuggle. And lay across each other's lap. And lay down on the couch or floor together. And fall asleep under blankets on the couch (which is a very narrow thing, mind you) together. With the blinds shut (against the honor code) and often times at home by themselves (also very highly against the honor code). And her hand has been found on his crotch.

My other roommates and I have often walked in on both of them by themselves in the apartment with the blinds shut, usually doing one of the things mentioned above. At first I thought I was the only one it was bothering, but two other roommates shared with me their discomfort with Jenny's behavior and we talked about how we're not sure what to do, and we're not sure how to approach Jenny. Jenny is very sarcastic, and her mood changes at the drop of a hat. We can never tell when she's just being goofy or when she is seriously mad.

So it has been very awkward.


The other day, I went to the temple with two of my roommates. It was probably one of the best temple experiences I have ever had. Very spiritual.

The three of us got home, and when we walked in, the lights were off and the blinds were shut and Jenny and Mike were asleep on the couch snuggled very tightly under blankets. I put my coat away in the closet, leaned over and just flipped open the blinds so people could see inside. This woke her up and she gave me a dirty look. I said "Sorry, they need to be open." And I walked back to my room. The sweet roommate was going to shut the door, and I stopped her, saying "they don't need privacy..."

I got dressed, went back out to the front room to fix myself something to eat. Jenny had shut the blinds again. I got myself something to eat, then went to go get the mail. Before I got the mail, I opened the blinds again. Another dirty look, and I repeated "they need to be open."

I returned from getting the mail, and the blinds were shut yet again.
So, I leaned over a third time, getting frustrated, opened them up, and said "These need to be open, it's against the honor code if they're not."

Jenny argued that it was already against the honor code that they were only flipped open and not all the way up. I retaliated "Well it needs to be open. You two are breaking the honor code right here!"

Mike was awake by this point, and I said to them both "If this keeps up, I'm going to have to tell the relief society president. I don't want to have to do that. You guys are being way too physical and it makes all of us uncomfortable. We've just been afraid to approach you because we didn't know how you would respond. But we just came back from the temple, and it was a very beautiful experience. But when we walked through the door, the spirit left (I started crying here) and that makes me so sad. I just don't want you guys to get hurt."

Now, I know that wasn't the best way to approach it. I know it would have been kinder for me to pull her aside and talk with her, but I honestly thought she was going to rip my head off no matter how I approached her.

I left the room. Mike left, and Jenny walked around slamming doors and stomping her feet.
One of my roommates suggested we all have dinner tonight, because she feels that it is important that we not exclude Jenny out. She needs to know we do love her and that we want things to not be so contentious.
She invited Jenny out and Jenny just started shouting that no, since Mike isn't allowed to come over anymore, she can't come either.

We had another conversation where I explained to her that of course he's welcome over, and I'm happy they're getting married, but the making out has to stop. She argued that they know where to stop, they know when they've kissed enough, and I told her great, just don't bring that in the apartment. (Though I have mixed feelings about "knowing when to stop"... I'm sure you do, too, but I let that be.. for now) I explained that this apartment belongs to all of us, and I'm sorry we didn't bring it up sooner, and I'm sorry she's embarrassed, but it is not fair to make us uncomfortable that way, because we're all paying to live here. I also told her how unpredictable she comes off as, even if that's not her intention, and why that factored into us not telling her sooner. She responded with "I never get angry!!"
I didn't really know what to say there, so I just moved on.

We ended the conversation with a hug, I told her I'm not mad at her, I hope she won't stay mad at me and that she'll forgive me for embarrassing her. She said she'll work on it.
Okay.

And as far as the physical stuff goes, she says she realizes it now that we all have different backgrounds, and some things might other people uncomfortable.
Since then, Mike and Jenny have only sat with their arms around each other, and there hasn't been any kissing. Of course, it's only been two days.



In the mix of all of this (other personal things have been going on), I texted my wonderful, awesome, fantastic cousin and asked him for a blessing. He picked me up and brought one of his roommates, who is just as wonderful. I explained the situation to him, and we talked about blessings for a bit. He told me when he gives a blessing, he puts all of his emotions aside and has to let the Holy Ghost speak through him. It can't be his own judgement, it has to come from the Lord.

There were some very helpful things said in the blessing. I was also told to tell the bishop and relief society president. I did not think I would have to before. I wanted to wait it out and see if things got better on their own. But the Spirit of the Lord has made it clear I should do this, so I will.

My family at home feels like this is being too much of a tattle-tale, that I might be being too much like Percy Weasley (from the Harry Potter series).


Bro Jo, I know this is the right thing to do. I see where my family comes from, and they are right in a way, but I know what the Lord wants me to do, so like Nephi, I will go and do.
Thanks for suggesting we talk. It didn't happen the way I expected, and I don't think the talking is over. Actually, I think it's far from over. Jenny is still mad at a few roommates over ridiculous things, and I have suggested we have an apartment discussion and open up our communication.

I don't know when this is going to happen, and I know nobody wants to do it except for me. It feels like everybody would rather just remain hostile than let down their guard and admit they're wrong.

I'll keep working on them, telling them they know we should really have it and that we're adults and need to do it instead of being childish.

Wow! Long letter. I'll keep you updated on any improvements that happen. Hopefully that will be soon!

Thanks,

V.E.




Dear V.E.

With respect to the folks back home, the differences between you and Percy Weasley (other than him being fictional) are:

a) he was a pompous jerk that didn't care about the feelings of others
and b) he was wrong.

My understanding of the Honor Code, and all Honor Codes, is that if you know someone is doing something wrong and you do nothing (which may include ratting them out) you're just as guilty as they are.

Jenny and Mike don't know when to stop; they've already crossed the line they should have stopped at. Add to that their lying and hiding of what they're doing, and it's a recipe for trouble. Their hormones have overridden their common sense - which is totally understandable, but not excusable.

My opinion, not that anyone has asked, is that they need to move the wedding date up . . . soon, lest they find themselves hiding their sins and lying about their worthiness to enter the Temple.

Good luck,

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tales of the Single Adult Sister - Part 2

[Dear Readers,

In our last installment, Sassy had decided to start the New Year with a New Attitude; upbeat and ready to give it her best. She went to a SA Dance out of her area, met a great guy, and had a lot of fun. She left us hoping he would be smart enough to ask out this Sweet and Fun Sister.

Enjoy Part 2.


- Bro Jo]



Hey Bro and Sis Jo,

'Tis I, broadcasting to you in the middle of the night.

I have to share with you both something. Shortly before my grandma passed away last month, I was talking to her and made her promise that she would start pointing good, quality men in my direction. After tonight's date, I honestly think my Grandma has been working overtime. Of course I would never tell him that, but I definitely think he's ranking high up there in the quality level.

The date was fun!

At a quarter past the time he was going to pick me up. He still had not arrived. I wasn't all that shocked because the freeway had been shut down and I honestly thought he'd gotten stuck in the horrid traffic. That is . . . until he called. He asked if I was home. I told him I was ready and waiting. He said, well then come answer the door. I told him I hadn't heard him. come to find out he'd been ringing the doorbell at a darkened apartment on the other side of my complex. #14, not #4.

He laughed, apologized and said he'd be right there---telling me he was grateful some old man didn't come and answer the door. When he arrived and I invited him in while I closed the back door, he stepped in and took a look at me and said, "Wow, you look great!"

All night he opened all my doors and the conversation just flowed. There were so many quirky things that we had in common. It was great fun to talk to him. He took me out to dinner at a nice, high-end burger place. I swear the guy is as thin as a string pulled taunt, but he has a bottomless pit for a stomach!

We ordered different things and then split them all and shared them. It was so fun to try out different salads and dips and burgers and soups. I couldn't keep up with how much he ate.

After dinner we went to Barnes and Noble and he walked right in and asked me what I wanted for dessert. He ordered our desserts. We sat down and I thought HOLY COW this guy eats like a vacuum! Inside was laughing so hard! I ended up unable to eat the entire apple thingy I ordered and so I let him have it.

He comes from a fun family. He has a good job and a good sense of humor, hard working missionary leader and really knows how to keep a girl smiling.

He walked fast. It was a relief because I do too! So often I leave people in the dust, not even realizing it. Part way through walking through the parking lot he suddenly turned to me and said, "You walk fast! Or are you just walking that fast because I'm walking fast?" I laughed because I hadn't even thought about it until he said something and I realized, yah, gee, this guy is keeping up with me! I asked him if that was his normal pace or if he normally walked slower. He said it was his pretty standard pace. Then we both did our rendition of our own moseying walk . . . only to step it back up to our original pace. LOL.

Anyway, the date was a little under three hours long. The time flew and I was surprised when he was taking me back to my house because it had only felt like an hour, if that. He walked me up to the door; I thanked him. He asked me if I'd like to go out again, and I told him I looked forward to it. He grinned and I gave him a hug and then he left.

So, on the gentleman meter I would give him a 9.995.
Personality 8.3428
Humor Meter 7.88
Innovation 7.99

Gosh, statistics are fun to make up!

I hope you guys had a great night. I attached a picture of how I looked before I left. When you said Sis Jo would have preferred to make an outfit I laughed out loud. Sis Jo, if you could teach me even how to sew, let alone follow a pattern and make something I would actually wear, I would be eternally in your debt! Eternally! Man, that would be awesome!

Anyway, that's the update.

Until later,

Sassy,



Sassy -

We're so glad you had a great time!

Good clothing choice! - Sister Jo

Hope he's smart enough to take you out again,

- Bro Jo & Sister Jo


PS: Sewing gets easier with practice. Pick something easy and don't be afraid to make mistakes. If you're really lost, ask one of the Bishopric's wives or someone's mom or grandma to teach a "sewing basics" class. - Sister Jo



Dear Bro & Sis Jo,

Well, despite the fun we had, I guess Chris didn't enjoy himself as much as he claimed . . . either that or he dropped his phone in the toilet and lost my phone number . . . then again, we have some common friends, so if he really wanted to get my number he could. Bummer. You know . . . I get the feeling that I am doing something wrong. Somehow . . . either that or our common "friends" wanted to warn him about my health concerns. LAME!

Ah well, back to the drawing board! :(

- Sassy



Dear Sassy,

It's only been a week! Relax.

Sure, he should have called, but things happen and guys forget and, as you know from reading "Dear Bro Jo", the world is full of Good LDS Guys that need some serious training.

You just worry about being you and keep dating; it'll happen.

If you're really worried, you know there's nothing wrong with asking one or two of those mutual friends what his deal is.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Letting Him Serve

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi! How are you? Thanks in advance for the help!

Well, to get straight to the point of my letter, my best friend is leaving for his mission in a little over two months. I'm hesitant to say this, because I don't have much life experience, but I think we might be in love. We both definitely have very strong feelings for each other. We've already talked about how he needs to put the Lord first. And we've discussed how I shouldn't wait for him, but if I happen to be available still when he gets back, we would like to see if things will work out then.

So that's the general situation. Basically, I know that it's generally not a good idea to wait for missionaries, but I want to give this one a chance once he gets back. So do I wait or not?

So I guess my questions for you are: How can I best support him as he gets ready to leave? Do I need to stop seeing him or stop being physically affectionate with him? Once he goes, how often can I/should I write to him? And what's your opinion on waiting for missionaries?

And the other thing that's been slightly troubling me is as I watch him and other guys that age prepare to go through the temple and to serve the Lord, is that I feel kind of behind. They're going to be having so many spiritual experiences and growing so much as they serve. Do you have any advice on how I can keep up with their progress here at home? I don't want them all to get back and find that they're miles ahead of me in spiritual maturity!

If you need any follow-up information, feel free to ask. I'm just feeling kind of conflicted and confused; this is a period of transition in my life and it's an odd feeling. Sorry if my letter was confusing, I'm just trying to get all my thoughts on paper! Any advice you have, I'd greatly appreciate it!


Sincerely,

Can't think up a good penname :)




Dear Pentel,

(I'll worked out a pen name for you, see above.)

I've written about how I feel about this a lot, but clearly it bears repeating.

And that's totally okay.

Let's do it this way.

Q. How can I best support him as he gets ready to leave?

  A. Be mature. Tell him you're proud of his willingness and worthiness. Instead of acting like a grieving girlfriend (not that you are, but many do), be a supportive and sustaining sister.

Q. Do I need to stop seeing him or stop being physically affectionate with him?

  A. Once he's set apart you absolutely need to stop. In fact, I think you should kind of back off the last couple weeks (last couple months would be preferable) and let him focus on his family and all of the things he needs to do to get ready. A kiss on your "last date" is okay (so long as appropriate); a kiss goodbye is not.

Q. Once he goes, how often can I/should I write to him?

  A. Once in the MTC if he's a two-week guy, twice if he's a six-week guy. Once a month after that is plenty. Keep your letters positive, asking him about how it's going and what he's doing. Don't tell him you miss him or talk about people, places and things that might make him wish he was home, but share important news. "So and so got married" is okay; "wish you'd been there to dance with" is not.

Q. What's your opinion on waiting for missionaries?

  A. If a young woman is old enough to get married, and by "waiting" she means "living like a nun, going on few if any dates, and telling every guy she meets that she's already in a relationship", then I think that's a very bad idea. If she means, just as you said, "dating, keeping her options open, and recognizing that regardless of how they both feel now, they may or not may feel the same when he comes home, so they'll part and see what happens IF she's still available when he comes home", then I'm on board.

Q. How I can keep up with their progress here at home?

  A. If you're talking about Spiritual Progression, then the thing is that it's wrong to compare our progress to anyone else's. We can grow our testimonies of the Savior and His Atonement by doing the basics: search, ponder, pray, be active and be of service.

Hope that helps,

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for responding so quickly, that was really what I needed to hear.

And I definitely mean the second kind of waiting you mentioned. Cutting yourself off from the dating world like that I feel is unfair to yourself, the guys that want to date you, and the guy you're waiting for; people change a lot in two years. I don't know if it's true in all cases, but I've heard a couple times that the RM and the girl had both changed so much that trying to get back in a relationship was basically like courting her all over again.

So again, I appreciate your straightforward answers, you're the best!

- Pentel (ha ha - I get it!)



Dear Pentel,

Back at ya!

- Bro Jo

PS: BTW - It's true in almost every case.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Horny Roommate - Part 1 (Sex Talk and Virgin Ears)

Hey Bro Jo,

I have a bit of an awkward predicament. Awkward for myself, at least. I'm wondering if you (and maybe Sister Jo would have tips from a woman's perspective) have any advice.

I live in an apartment at BYU-I with five other girls. My roommate is engaged and has been talking about having a bridal shower with us and all of her friends (so it would be quite a crowd). The only bridal showers I have been to have been pampered chef bridal showers. Pretty calm, friendly, and G-rated.

My roommate is talking about going all-out with her bridal shower. Lingerie, toys, games for everyone, the whole bit.

I'm quite a private person and don't like talking about sex or "games" or scenarios or anything like that with anybody, really. It has always made me uncomfortable. Heck, when my parents explained it to me when I was a kid, I cried. I told my roommates when we were talking about it that I was uncomfortable talking about it, and they just kind of laughed and said "you'll get used to it."

Bro Jo, I do not want to get "used to" talking about sex with people I barely know. Or even with people I do know. I know that when I am married, it will be a very enjoyable, romantic, lovely thing to share with my eternal companion, and I look forward to that part of my life, but that is something I will only share with him. Nobody else. I don't want other people to know what my sex plans are after marriage, and I don't want to know anybody else's. It's such a sacred thing! And I just feel so uncomfortable and very disturbed when others talk about it. Are they just doing it for attention? Or do they just not have a filter? Or am I overly sensitive? I don't know. But I do know that I don't like it.

I guess some people see the bridal showers as fun and full of giggles. exciting and naughty, but I see it as anything but.

I don't even plan on having a bridal shower (at least not one focused on sex) when I get married (if I'm blessed with that in this life). When I'm engaged, I don't even know that my fiance and I would talk about it that much. I imagine there might be one conversation about how we feel about "it", but not much else. I already know it will be this way if my future fiance is my current boyfriend. It just simply isn't something we focus on. Which is good in general, and totally fine with both of us. We're both very private people and love that our relationship is based on much more than just physical attraction. Our physical contact is minimal. We kiss goodnight, hold hands, and cuddling is no more than sitting next to each other with his arm around my shoulders and my head on his shoulder.

And right now I'm in Idaho and he's at home, so there is no physical part of the relationship - and we're okay with this, because the relationship is not based off of that. It's much better than that, and I love it. We both love each other for who we are. We've prayed about our relationship and my moving away to school (only for two years, 7 months at a time with a week home in April), and both know we're on the right track with me going away, AND with us continuing the relationship. We don't know what the Lord has in store for each of us, and we're fully aware this relationship could or could not work in the end. But we trust the Lord and we trust each other, and we have both received clear messages that everything is going just the way it should. It Just. Feels. Right. And what a wonderful feeling that is. :)

And if I am engaged to someone other than my current boyfriend, I've already made the decision for myself that sex is just something I don't need to talk about too much.

Anyway. Back to the bridal shower party. Do I have skewed feelings on this subject? Or is this typically okay? I don't want to go to this party, but I also don't want to come off as rude. I don't really know what to do without making this awkward.

One of my roommates, while she doesn't have the same discomfort I have, is understanding of how I feel, and suggested we have a code phrase to save each other in awkward situations (like the bridal shower conversation that happened the other day). She is a good friend. And this code-phrase-deal is nice, but doesn't solve the problem for the party.


Sorry this is so long. I do tend to ramble.

Thanks for your help,

Virgin Ears



Dear V.E.,

Some of the most valuable lessons we learn in college have nothing to do with our course work, and the lesson you're supposed to learn right now is how to stand up for yourself without offending the offensive.

Sister Jo had lots of different roommates before she married and moved in with her best, and sometimes most difficult one . . . me!

Some were pretty good . . . many were not. It's tough to live with other people; learning to get along with others is very valuable (talk to some RM's sometimes about the annoying things some of their companions did), but that doesn't mean that you have to sit there and listen to your horny-soon-to-be-married roommate talk in graphic detail about her future-sex-life fantasies.

(You know, while it's possible she could just be really excited about . . . stuff, she may also be joking around because she's really freaked out. I'm from the Old School that believes that a healthy sex-life, that being comfortable with that, means that you don't talk about it other than with the person you're having sex with. It's like any other situation where people go on and on about something; if you have to keep trying to convince me, well . . . you're probably really trying to convince yourself.)

Sister Jo had some roommates that were like that: obsessed with "adventurous sex talk". In fact, she knows women who are STILL like that. Seriously! Ladies she knows who want to dish about what's going on with their husbands and are hoping she'll do the same. Sister Jo is no prude, but like you she feels that certain things are nobody's business. I will forever be grateful that I'm married to a woman who keeps the private stuff between her and I private; and I feel sad for my friends who's wives blab to everybody (people take confidence in Sister Jo, but some people will go on and on in a group regardless of who's there) about their likes, dislikes, quirks, successes, failures, functions and malfunctions.

We live in a world where a lot of people, inside the Church and out, talk, laugh, describe, and are entertained by sex. I agree that there's a certain amount of information that can be both healthy and valuable, but I also believe that the intimate details of what happens between two people are best kept private and sacred. I also think the joking is pretty immature . . . but I recognize that I'm probably on a sparsely populated island in that opinion (though I know Sister Jo is on it, too).

So I think you need to go up to your roommate, the one that's getting married, and have a private conversation with her. Tell her you love her, that you're happy for her, and that you wish her well. And tell her that, despite the fact that you love her, all the sex jokes and talk don't really match with your feelings about sex, and that they make you uncomfortable. While you support her right to say and do what she wants, you're going to remove yourself from those situations. Remind her that you love her, and tell her that you won't be going to her bridal shower. You're not asking her to change it; she should do what she thinks will be fun; but you'll find a different way to congratulate her and wish her well. Perhaps you'll take her to lunch . . .

If you feel so inspired, share with her your feelings that being around that kind of talk and joking around makes it difficult for you to focus on the sacredness of something you feel should be kept sacred. (After all, there is a line where talking and laughing and joking about sex is no longer "just talk", it becomes pornography.) But do so in such a way that you're putting it on yourself, not attacking her, lest you make her defensive or uncomfortable the way you have been uncomfortable.

She may mock you, she may make fun of you (either to your face, behind your back, or both); she may not understand, or say that your attitudes about sex are unhealthy.

That's her problem, not yours.

She's entitled to her opinion; you're entitled to yours.

And if she does make fun of you at least you'll know that she's not a very nice person.

Plan on separating yourself from these moments of gratuitous sex talk. Don't make a scene, don't make a statement, just quietly get up and go somewhere else. Your room, the library, the park . . .

As the prophets have said, we need to be "in the world" but not "of the world", and sometimes that means walking away.

Let me know how your conversation goes, would ya?

Best,

Bro Jo


[Readers - Part 2 will publish in one week.]

Friday, April 6, 2012

Tales of the Single Adult Sister - Part 1

[Dear Readers,


Being a Single Adult - the kind that's over 30 and wants to get married - can be a real challenge, especially in the Church. (Those of you that are there will agree, I'm sure.) We could discuss the whys and what-to-dos . . . I have before, and will perhaps again, but starting today, and for the next few Fridays, I'm going to share with you a series of emails that I got from one such Single Adult Sister, not unlike many others, but also with her own challenges.


We start here after a series of back-and-forth emails over a long time. She's decided not to let her challenges stand in her way, and is ready to adopt a new positive attitude and try again.


I hope you enjoy her story.


- Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

Hello!

Regarding the copy of "Bro Jo's Guide to Relationships" that you sent for me to review, I just finished the book and I liked it. It got more and more focused as it went along. Making it EXACTLY what I'd hoped to read.

I made a goal for myself: redouble my efforts to attend singles activities. You'll be happy to know I did meet a guy I'm very interested in getting to know. He's new to (my area) so he hasn't been corrupted yet! :p

I met him at the Single Adult Christmas White Elephant thingy. He sat several people over from me. I had never seen him before, but I can tell you this: I caught him looking at me several times and each time I did he gave me a big smile and I have to admit his was a smile that melted my heart. Of course I smiled back (like you'd suggested).

We spoke afterwards, in the middle of it we were interrupted, and he excused himself, talked to the other person, and then came right back. Manners!!!! YES!!!

He went out of town to see his family but will be back sometime this week. I sent him a note on Facebook wishing him a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year. He wrote back so . .. at least we have established a loose, light, casual communication. He seems like an absolute doll!

Tonight I get to go up to a different area to a SA dance. I'm trying to decide what to wear.

Slacks?

No I think I'm gonna wear a skirt.

The problem is, I've discovered that all my clothes are either casual or business. Nothing really to wear for a dance, let alone a date. So I'm going to the mall in search of a nice perfume to add my scent to the masses. LOL

Since everyone keeps telling me I always look so business-like, yet when I go to the mall they try to sell me skanky clothes. I call them "Bible" tops, Low and Behold!

I think a perfume will help when the clothes won't.

You know what, I think you need Sis. Jo's help when it comes to telling guys how to flirt. If I ask a guy what he's thinking while I'm dancing with him, and he says "nothing," I think he's bored . . . and that is annoying.

Anyway, I'm getting cold out here waiting for the trolley. I'd better start doing some jumping jacks!

GIVE SIS JO A HUGE HUG and happy new year. This year is going to be the best one yet; I CAN FEEL IT!


Single Adult Sister




Dear Single Adult Sister,

We hope you had a great time!

Every girl needs that basic little black dress (we love your "bible dress", analogy!), not too little, more like "to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on".

Guys, while simple creatures, are never empty headed. When we say "nothing" we mean "something", we just don't think we should say. We're also very visual creatures; we look at what we're thinking about. If we're looking out in space, the mind is wandering; if we're looking at you and we say "nothing", trust me, we're not thinking "nothing".

:)

Happy New Year!

- Bro Jo



Hey Brother Jo,

The dance was great!

The Single Adults in that area really know how to have fun!

They had the dance, but it was held in a HUGE stake center. One that has what looked like two cultural halls. They share the stage area, but there has to be a wall there too, because the music doesn't carry from one side to the other. They had a dance on one side and on the other (in the smaller cultural hall) they had a "lounge" with live music and food and tables set up.

They had "lounges set up in each of the foyers for each decade of age (30s, 40s, 50+) they also had "Speed mingling" for each decade set up through the night.

I really, really enjoyed myself!

AND, as an added bonus . . . I met a great guy!

His name is "Bob" (pseudonym).

He'd come from another area, over by the temple.

He's funny and smart! Nice combo, and it doesn't hurt that he's a hottie too!

HOTTIE!

We danced the night away and had fun doing so. He's got a great job and works at an a big company . . . I didn't even know they had one of those here.

When we ended the night with the last song, he said, "This isn't the song I would have chosen to end it with." So when I asked him what he would have preferred he told me to look up, "Love is in the Air" when I got home. I did when I got up this morning. What a cheesy fun guy! His dad lives down here in my area and he visits him quite a bit, so . . . we'll see!

I've been thinking about your nothing comment. If a guy tells me "nothing" with a little grin while looking at me, then I know he's thinking about something! (I maybe crazy, but I'm not THAT clueless!) The key is the little grin---something guys often forget to do because they are so nervous in the first place.

Oh and I never did get the smelly perfume, I called the store and found out they had a line out the door, so I went home and found a blouse that I'd forgotten I'd bought recently.

Anyway, I really do think this year is going to be the best year yet! High five! Take care and hope you aren't freezing up there in MT. It's going to be a gorgeous day here! (so nee, ner, nee ner! LOL)

- SASsy (see what I did there?)



Dear Sassy,

(Yes, I did see what you did, and I think it's great!)

We're happy you're happy!

I hope this guy you met is smart and asks you out!

Bro Jo

PS:  That Lounge Idea is brilliant!  I hope SA Dances everywhere pick it up and use it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

When a Friend Dies

[Readers - I received this email nearly a year ago. I feel this Easter is the right time to share it. You can still read the story of Michael Hall HERE. - Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

I emailed you a while back about a friend and I who were fighting. The back story is attached. But, after the incident we got really close and while I stopped telling him things we were great friends.

He died in a fire on Saturday evening.

I guess I'm just looking for advice on grieving as an LDS member...I've cried a lot. And, I know I'm not done crying. I’m okay with that. But, I also know that Mikey is in heaven and I just am so jumbled.

Liz



Dear Liz,

We mourn not for those who have died, but our sadness is for ourselves; because we miss them. The pain never goes entirely away, but it does become easier to live with. It just takes time. Perhaps lots of time. Cry all you need. And then cry some more. And once in a while remember what a great guy he is, and think about the good things he did. In those moments you will honor his memory the most.

Let the death of this young man remind all of us that life here, in this existence, is short, but the things that truly matter are eternal.

Jesus lives!

And because of that we all will live again, including Mikey, who will wait patiently to see you again . . . when it's your time.

The trials we have here are but a brief moment in our eternal existence. Let us endure them with faith, and let us endure until the end.

Until that time, let us to our best to be of service to others. In that way, not only will we bless them, but we'll be blessed as well.

Yours in Christ,

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 2, 2012

It's Okay NOT to Kiss

Dear Bro Jo,

I've been reading your blog, and I read in one of your entries that you think that you should be kissed at least once or twice while being a teenager. What would you say to a teen who thinks kissing is gross (like me)?

I think kissing is gross because:
a) I'm a germaphobe and germs can easily be exchanged through kissing
b) kissing requires some commitment in the end
c) I had a bad experience with my first kiss because the guy I kissed was trying to French kiss me
d) I'm not really a cuddly person and I HATE it when people even try to hug me, including my family.

Why do you think teens should kiss?

Sorry for the weird questions.

--Girl who hates the idea of kissing---

P.S: The reason for me asking this is because a lot of guys won't ask me out on dates because they know I am anti-lip action.


Dear Anti-kisser,

I’d say that you’re not ready, and that’s okay. Perhaps you’ll change your mind when you either get older or meet the right person (like someone who doesn’t think “kissing” has to mean licking your tonsils).

Maybe it will be best that you marry someone who feels as you do; who doesn’t associate kissing and  cuddling with love, and doesn’t need those things in their life . . . but that's a long way off still.

For now I don’t think you should worry about it too much.

- Bro Jo