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.

Please like our Facebook page, and check it often for Discussions, Notes, Events and just General Good Stuff!

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.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

When It's Time to Breakup with Her

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello there Bro Jo. I’m a fellow teenager writing after having read your blog for a while (it’s a very great one I have to say) and noticing I need some help of my own after some recent events.

You see:  there’s this girl (nonmember) that likes me (and I have to admit I like her a bit too) that has asked me out. I said yes and almost instantly I felt a weird feeling that felt like it was saying “no” (and I’m pretty sure I know what that was). Now she is already saying stuff like “I love you” in a text, or “miss you”

I have met up with girl a few times before this and on those occasions we have kissed (simple kiss) and held hands. Etc. but on those occasions I always felt ‘empty’ inside when I did kiss and afterwards I felt down.

I’m pretty sure I know this girl is not the right one for me. Because in my patriarchal blessing it says something about a beautiful young woman and me marrying her in the temple (yay!!) but right now I just need some help in breaking up without being too mean to her as I am not a very good talker with girls.

I just want help with this girl so I can prevent sins that I know will tempt me if I continue down this path because I know this church is true and I have a strong testimony of the gospel. And I don’t want to lose the chance to marry a “beautiful young woman” when I am older

Yours truly,

Marcoda




Dear Marcoda,

I hope you've learned some of why being in a committed relationship as a teenager is a bad idea . . .

Now, as far as the break up goes, I agree that you don't want to burn any bridges; there may come a time in the future that you want to ask her out, and by that I mean on a Casual Group Date, not as she used "going out".  Be gentle, be kind, but realize that there may be nothing you can do to keep her from feeling hurt or upset. (That's another reason to avoid the boyfriend-girlfriend thing at your age.)

So you're going to have to talk to her.

(Yeah, you could break up by phone or text or email, but none of that is very manly, so don't do it.)

Just be honest.

And don't say too much.

"I really like you. I'm not at a place in my life right now where I think it's good for me to be in a committed relationship. I hope that's okay."

That's it. Don't qualify anything. Don't blame anything or anyone. If she needs to talk, stand there and take it. Don't argue. Don't justify. Try not to say anything at all.

(Tangent: one of the Jo Boys says that you should tilt your head to the side, like a puppy who's looking for some understanding and a pat on the head, perhaps smiling a sad smile just a little bit . . . he has his reason I'm sure.)

And when it's over, let it go. Don't say anything bad about her to anyone. When people ask you what happened (and believe me, they will) just tell them what you told her: "I really like her, but I don't think it's good for me to be in a committed relationship at this point in my life".

Nothing more.

Do it soon.

Very soon.

Good luck,

- Bro Jo

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Set-up Game

Dear Bro Jo,

In response to your article about Sisterhood at the I and the Y ("Putting 'Girl Power' to Work", October 3, 2011): how do we go about setting our roommates up on dates?

Who pays in this circumstance?

To be honest dating altogether confuses me.

How do i go about getting my roommates and friends up to this?

Not sure about set up . . .


- Name Withheld



Dear NW,

Ah! The "Set-up Game"!

Here's how it works:

You and your Sisters get together for a night of plotting and planning. You agree that you're collectively not getting the dates you want, either in quality, quantity or both.

Each girl makes a list of whom each of you wants to be asked out by. Specifics are best, but if you can't come up with any specific names, a number of dates is agreed upon.

Then you go to work talking to guys on behalf of each other. If your roommate wants to date Bob, then you spend time talking to Bob about her: what a great girl she is, how he'd be lucky to go out with her, and if needed you push him to ask her out. When he does she drops $5 in the pool.

When a girl gets sealed to a guy she was set up with, the girl that set her up gets the dough.

And you keep on going like that.

Because, let's face it, these guys need a lot of teaching when it comes to realizing how great all of you are, and even more help when it comes to asking you all out.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bro Jo Travel Update - Summer 2012

Dear Readers,

We just went through the Jo Family Summer Calendar during Family Council tonight, and I've got some openings for Talks, Classes, Seminars and Firesides. These visits are free and often don't even come with travel expenses especially if you're in Montana, Idaho, Utah, or Wyoming (Outside those areas travel costs may need to be shared on some level).

At this point I'll be in Utah (Provo-Orem, Utah State, Salt Lake area), Idaho, and all over Montana several times, but I'm willing to travel anywhere.

Check with your local leadership and contact me ASAP and we'll try to schedule something. You do the leg work, I'll make it fun!

I'd love to chat with "Dear Bro Jo" readers!

Hope to see you this summer,

- Bro Jo

Friday, May 25, 2012

19 And No Boyfriend Yet

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi!

How are you?

Ok so I know I asked you for advice last time and you helped a LOT! But recently I have more thoughts that need advice other than my mother’s. If you don't mind.

I'm 18 turning 19 and I don't have a boyfriend. I have been dating here and there. Recently I realized that almost every guy I went on a date with started to like me and I didn't in return. Yes it was just him and I on the date but I thought oh well we're just friends. So I've been breaking/rejecting hearts :/

I know I told you about that boy that I really liked and that I thought about giving another chance but didn't. He is still getting into trouble and has a new gf so thanks for the advice you saved me!

Anywho I can't seem to find another guy that I liked as much as him. And the really cute guys are either taken or not anywhere near here!

I'm going to attend BYU Idaho in the Fall so I'm still hopeful!

But as of right now WHAT DO I DO? Any advice? I feel like giving up on dating in ALL!

Oh and I do attend the YSA activities!

Sorry it’s long but it’s my recent dilemma& hope you can reply and not get annoyed lol :)

- Name Withheld




Dear Little Sister,

Almost 19, no boyfriend, dating here and there, hasn't found a right guy yet and headed to BYU-I in the Fall?

Don't change a thing.

Not a single thing.

Don't give up, be patient, don't burn any bridges, and keep dating!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Living and Loving After Abuse

Dear Bro. Jo,

I have a question that has bothered me for some time, but I have never discussed with anyone before . . .

I am a 29-year-old female who is still single and very rarely dates. I was sexually, physically, and emotionally abused by my father from about age 9 to age 17 or 18. I have very severe PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) issues because of the abuse.

I have been going to counseling for years for the physical and emotional abuse, but just a few months ago revealed anything about the sexual abuse. I have met with my therapist and my Bishop several times in the last few months trying to work through my issues with nightmares, flashbacks, and horrible feelings I have about myself.

However, the topic I have not seemed to be able to approach with any of them is how I feel towards guys now. I wish that I were married and raising a family. I truly feel like I would be a good mom. I'm just not sure I would be a good wife.

I am very socially awkward when it comes to guys. I have only had 2 guys that I've gone out with more than once. My flashbacks get a lot worse when I'm alone with a guy. I tend to think all guys are like my father and will only end up hurting me. Logically I know this is not true and there are a lot of good guys out there but I don't know how to get over my issues enough to be normal around them. My past makes me so afraid that I clam up and can barely even carry on a conversation with them without sounding like a total dork. I'm old and know I'm running out of time and fear that I am never going to find that special someone.

I want to be comfortable enough around guys to be myself and hope that one of them will be interested enough to want to go out with me. I just don't know how, do you have any advice?

Sincerely,

Searching for an Answer




Dear Searching,

To be honest, I'm not sure that I have too much to tell you that you don't already know. You're going to counseling and talking to your Bishop, both of those things are very good. Somewhere along the line I imagine that you'll have to confront your mother and your father; him for the evil he committed and her for allowing it to happen. Your therapist will be able to help with all of that much better than I can.

What I CAN tell you is this: these are not trials you brought upon yourself, but rather are things that happened To You. Like getting many types of cancer, there's nothing you could have done to prevent these attacks. It's not your fault.

Despite these things, you're still a cherished daughter of our Heavenly Father, who loves you. The dark side of agency is that bad people can commit abominations against the innocent. You have lived, and will continue to live, with and through these events. Surely the Lord has a reason for your preservation!

I don't know what that reason is, but I have faith that you can use this as a way to help others.

I pray that with time your pain will be eased, and that you'll be able to find a good man who will deserve your trust and will give you the love that you deserve. While I understand how phenomenally difficult that may be, I know that it can happen.

Sometimes healing takes a long time . . . and that's okay. Continue doing the good things you're doing.

May the Lord bless you with that which you need,

- Bro Jo

Monday, May 21, 2012

None of the Guys Will Go on Dates!

Hey Bro Jo!

I'm a little sad about this dating thing!

I'm 17 and live in a ward and stake with limited boys old enough to date....half of them aren’t even worth talking to. (Not good guys) I have a few really good guy friends who can date and a brother my age...BUT NONE OF THEM WILL ASK ANY GIRLS!

I'm a good girl and I'm nice and funny! (at least that’s what I think;)) And I'm not fat and ugly!

What’s wrong with them or is it me?

I'm also home schooled (I'm not one of those strange unsocial home schoolers, I'm a cool one..and I'm very outgoing!) and so I don't have any guys outside of my stake or ward to go out with....I want to go on dates, but I'm not going to ask. HELP!

-Seriously Confused




Dear Seriously,

It's them.

It's them and their parents and their leaders all failing to understand the importance of Casual Group Dating for boys AND for girls.

You're right, you absolutely should not do the asking, but there are a few things you can do. Firesides, dances, game nights, movie parties, anything that helps the guys be more comfortable around you and your girlfriends will help. And talk to the adults, too. Tell them how you feel. On our Facebook Fan Page you can find things like "Bro Jo's How a Girl Can Get a Guy to Ask Her on a Date"  that might be helpful, too.

But in the end, if none of these guys ask you out, just know that you're in good company.

Because of the pathetic-ness of guys, even good ones, and their lack of training, many of the best girls never go on dates at your age. Dating, despite what girls often believe, has nothing to do with their beauty or value or self-worth.

That, little sister, comes from God.  You have all of those things even if you're never around a boy smart enough to ask you out.

- Bro Jo

Friday, May 18, 2012

Slow Down and Enjoy the Journey

Hey Bro Jo!

So basically. I am a convert to the Church. Which is like way cool and I love it. And when I first started taking the discussions I had this missionary named Elder (withheld). He got transferred and then went home like 6 weeks after that and I didn't even start talking to him again until after my baptism. But, since then we have been talking quite a lot. And we have talked about a lot of stuff. We have talked about marriage and kind of what we want and are looking for. And we have talked about children and how many we want and why and a lot of other like really important things.

But here is the thing. I graduate high school in a few weeks. And he has already been home from his mission for almost a year and a half. And since President Monson like was getting on the RM's to get married, I am not sure what to do.

I have told him that I liked him but we have not really talked about it yet. So should I just wait and see what happens when I get down to BYU in the fall or should I try and move things along now.

Oh, and we live like 12 hours away from each other. If that makes any difference.

Sincerely,

A Confused New Sister.




Dear Sister,

Let me start by clarifying a few things.

1. You should never marry someone because you're trying to help him meet a spiritual obligation.

2. President Monson was, I believe, speaking more to the LDS guys in their late 20's and early 30's who have no legitimate reason for still being single.

3. While a relationship can grow over a long distance (Sister Jo and I were pen pals for about 3 months before we started dating seriously), the distance has to be closed before any decisions are made.

Plus, in my opinion, you're too young, both literally and in the gospel, to be making eternal decisions. Soon you won't be, but right now you are.

Get to BYU in the Fall. If this guy is smart enough to ask you out, go out with him. But go out with lots of other guys, too, should the opportunity arise. (And I suspect it will.)

Give it at least three months of dating in close proximity before you make any long-term plans.

Oh, and be sure that you've dated him (or any other guy, for that matter) long enough that you know most of the answers to "Bro Jo's List of Stuff You Need to Know Before You Get Engaged", and feel be sure that you feel comfortable with those answers.

Let me know how it works out, but for now Slow Down and Enjoy the Journey.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Making Excuses?

Dear Bro Jo

I am a little older than the normal demographic you get emails from.

I'm a SA, who surprisingly is single. I also have a number of single friends who are in a similar age range (31-40).

Now, I live in a country town, with a small ward about an hour’s drive from the stake centre. There are no active YSA/SA men in this ward.

None, not a one.

My friends and I go to SA, Stake and ward activities. We are all temple members, who are trying our best to do the right thing. We are also all looking for a date, just to start with. Just one would be lovely.

Of course we are all looking for Temple Marriage, but a couple of dates would be an awesome start. The problem is, it feels like we don't fit what the SA guys are looking for. It's like guys are looking for the perfect wife, who also happens to be tall, skinny and blonde. A trophy wife.

Now I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with my friends and I, but it is difficult to get the guys to pay us a little attention. We certainly aren't unfortunate looking. We can be totally independent, we can change washers in toilet cisterns, kill spiders and catch mice on our own. Perhaps we are too independent . . . I have been told that I need to act more helpless.

I don't understand what guys our age are looking for in a girl and I don't think it get any easier as you get older. In fact I'm sure it gets harder.

We have all had some attention from guys almost old enough to be our fathers. Which in itself is totally creepy!

We all work hard in our chosen career's, we attend church, we have callings that we perform as best we can, we attend the temple when we can. And if I say so myself, I think we would all make wonderful mothers. But it seems like trying to get someone our age to ask us out on a date is harder and more difficult than pulling teeth. We have all tried to help each other with guys we fancy, but the guys only seem to want to know our slimmer friends.

I think we have tried just about everything, just to be knocked back. Our egos and spirits can't take much more. We were hoping that you might have some other ideas on how we can get some dates. We are all happy to drive to the guy if they ask us out, as it would be a lot to ask them to pick us up, if we lived an hour’s drive away. We are even happy to pay.

So Bro Jo if you have some more ideas we will happily try them out!

Thank you,

Single Sistas




Dear Single,

Oh . . . I have several ideas . . . but you may not like them . . .

First thing you need to do is MOVE.

I just ran some posts on the Facebook page regarding some complaints I have from Single Guys in the 29-37 range who live in Provo. They all say their are "no Single Sisters near their age" in greater Utah County. Even if that's an exaggeration, the axiom holds true: instead of complaining that there's no water in the desert, get yourself to the lake or the ocean or a mountain stream!

If you chose to stay where there's no water, well . . . all I can tell you then is you better get used to being thirsty.

Secondly, you better learn to accept that women in their 30's are not the same as 19-21 year old girls. YSA's and guys who just came home from their missions aren't your target market anymore. If you're 35, then a guy that's 50 isn't too old for you, but a guy that's 25 is too young. Typically.

Third, stop complaining about the stuff you can't change and consider changing the stuff you can.

Fourth, learn how to attract a man. I'm sorry your mothers failed you miserably (or perhaps you just ignored their wise counsel), but let me clue you in: fixing toilets, killing spiders and catching mice are not high on many guy's "I'm looking for that in a woman" list; the two things every guy needs in a girl is someone who appreciates him and someone who encourages him. Whoever told you to "act helpless" is, well . . . to be candid but kind, totally wrong. Guys don't want you to be helpless, but they do want you to care about turning them on.

Look, I wrote this for teens, but it applies to women of all ages - check it out:

Bro Jo's "HOW a GIRL CAN GET a BOY'S ATTENTION"


No one says you have to look like a Supermodel (who, take it from a guy who dated a few actresses and models, don't really look like everyone thinks they do anyway) but rare is the person who couldn't do a little something to improve their appearance. Stop complaining that guys only like "skinny girls" (not true, by the way - take a good look around the Church, my friend) and Do Something.

If you're out of shape, then go get some exercise! Stop eating processed garbage! Be active!

Feed your "slimmer friends" some Twinkies and go for a run!

Or a hike, or a swim, or take a spinning class.

And never, Never, NEVER pay for a guy to take you out. Don't reimburse him for gas, don't offer to meet him half way . . . make guys EARN time with you, teach them that you're worth the drive, the sacrifice, and the dough.


But, seriously . . . Move.


Oh, and as Sister Jo always says: if you want to feel better about yourself then go be of Selfless Service to someone else.


- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Okay. Firstly, I do agree with you on all points (can you hear the but coming), but... without giving away personal situations, one of us can't move due to family issues and the other two of us are locked into work contracts right now. I would love to meet some of those single guys in the Provo area! Can you send some of those guys over to OZ? I will admit I personally have thought of moving to more hydrated areas, the timing just has to be right.

I have never chased guys who are younger than me, I always found them to be too immature. I can't remember the last YSA activity I went to, I go to SA things, feel more comfortable there. Another one of us is also looking for older guys, and the last person in the group is open to all ages. At 30, 50 might be pushing the age limit for me just a little. lol

When I was 19, I had no problems attracting men, but now that I'm older the situation seems to be much harder. I will admit I don't know how to attract a man anymore. I'm not as outgoing as I used to be. I think we have become independent, because we have had to, but personally, I know I'm way to independent. I think acting helpless means getting them to help with things, like killing spiders. I do care about turning men on, but how to do that is beyond me now. I don't get the opportunity to show guys that I'm caring, that I will support and encourage them. I don't know how to show them at SA convention. Really I'm totally clueless about men now and I don't think I'm the only one in the group. Do men change as they get older, or am I just expecting them to expect more?

We all take pride in our appearance. We dress nicely, our hair is nicely done. In my opinion, I think we look good. lol (We have had men tell us we look good). Yes, I do personally need to lose some weight! And I'm in the process of doing that. But I still look good. I said guys only like skinny girls because that's the way it appears. Only the skinny girls get dates.

It is not too much to expect a guy to drive over an hour (country drive not city drive) to pick us up and then drive us home? We live just over an hour from our stake centre and many SA live another hour away. I honestly don't mean to make excuses, I just don't know what to do. And I know the other SA feel the same.

I can almost hear your reply. STOP MAKING EXCUSES! Perhaps we are making things more difficult for ourselves without even knowing it. I'm not worried if 'he' is an RM, but he needs to be an active worthy priesthood holder and he must have a job. The rest will come. I will be organizing us girls to go to the temple more often next year. I will make sure I share your list How a Girl can get a Boys attention. That might be enough.

I hope this doesn't seem too disjointed, I blame shift work. :) lol

Thank you,

Single Sistas




Dear Single,

I drove 2-3 hours EACH WAY for most of my dates with Sister Jo. It was worth every mile.

Oh, and lest I forget . . .

STOP MAKING EXCUSES!

Cheers,

- Bro Jo

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dating Your Buddies?

Dear Bro Jo,

I bet you get asked this same question a lot.

I picked up your book on Casual Dating a couple days ago and have some questions. See I have a bunch of friends, and we all hung out a lot even before we were all 16, but my dilemma is that I’m not attracted to any of the guys in my group. I really can’t see myself dating any of them.

Yes, they're great guys but I see them more as brothers. I've been 16 for a couple of months, and gone on a few dates, and I’m sort of crushing on this guy in one of my classes. We text a lot and flirt in person.

I want to be obedient, with the Church's guidelines but . . . I only want to date him!

I’ve been good about not going on constant dates with him, and all the dates I have gone with him have been double, but I really don’t know who else I’d like to date.

Thanks,

Crushin



Dear Crushin,

There's nothing wrong with being attracted to one particular person, but there's more to Casual Group Dating than attraction. It's about going out with different people and having a good time, not about getting a boyfriend.

And the reason we mix it up (not going out with the same person twice in a row) is so that the temptations to get into a committed relationship and do stuff we ought not do with that one special person we're attracted to are less.

A guy doesn't have to be someone you'd like to kiss to be a great date. Those guys in your group? Go out with all of them!

After all, they deserve to go out with someone nice as much as you do.

- Bro Jo

PS: hope you enjoy the book!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Does He Like Her or Not?

Dear Mr. Bro Jo

So there is this guy that I like right? And he's super cute, totally my type, and such a sweetheart!

Well... a while ago I finally asked him if he liked me as well 'cause it seemed like it and people had told me that he did... but i just needed to know for myself. Ya know?

So I talked to him and he's like yeah I really like you but I’m not really the boyfriend/girlfriend type. Which was totally fine by me.

Time passed and now I have no idea whatsoever if he still likes me or not.

Some days it seems like he does, and some days it seems like he doesn’t.

How do I know if he does???

I don’t know what to do.

Sincerely,

(Well i can’t tell you. Haha.)



Dear Tell,

Well . . . he told you he did. Perhaps you should talk to him and see what's up.

But if you're still in High School I'd say back off a bit. He already told you he's not looking for a commitment.

And you shouldn't be, either.

- Bro Jo


Dear Bro Jo,

Yeah... you’re totally right. I was making it a lot more complicated then it needed to be.

Thanks for clarifying it for me!

- Tell



Dear Tell,

Anytime.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Finding the Balance in the Dating Extremes

Hey Bro Jo!

I love reading your blog, mostly because I have no love life, so I suppose I'm trying to fill a gap.

That's really why I'm writing to you. I'm almost 19 years old and a freshman at Harvard. We've got a great group of YSA in the Boston area, enough to fill a University Ward that is as big as my ward back home. I love having such an active YSA group and being able to go to church activities multiple times a week. But as great as it is, before I came to school I had expected to wait and start dating in college. Now that I am here, it seems that my expectation will be harder to realize than I thought.

Not to brag about myself, but to let you know more about my situation, I'm a great catch!

And I'm happy that I can be confident with myself!

I'm attractive, smart, funny and a great friend. It's not that I made a conscious decision not to date in high school, but I think I just as well closed myself off to dating because I was so focused on other things. I wanted to concentrate on my studies and my extracurricular life, and I made myself very busy.

I was fine not dating. When I say I wasn't dating, I mean that I never really went on dates or had any relationships. I kissed a few boys before I was sixteen, against the will of my parents.

I was so heartbroken and disappointed in myself for having to lie (by omission) to my parents about boys, so I repented and kind of pulled a 180. I told myself that I was wrong, and from then on I associated physical intimacy with sin. Which was fine for me during high school, because I was able to repent, and move away from those temptations and really excel academically and as a person. Yet I fear that I have closed myself off for good... I told myself that I was just waiting for the perfect boy and would not settle for anything less.

But I'm an extravert, and I love my friends, so I have grown close to many guy friends who began to like me and I couldn't return the feelings. I agree with you that guys and girls can't be just friends without one starting to develop romantic feelings for the other.

Some of these guys have been great catches. Before I left for school, I dated my best guy friend for a few weeks. I knew he had liked me for a while, and in my mind he was a perfect match. He was everything a great guy should be but I couldn't make myself have any feelings for him. My heart was still closed to the idea.

I wasn't attracted to him, and I can't remember the last guy I have been attracted to. It's weird how much my mind can close my heart. But it's a good thing I wasn't head over heels with him, because I was leaving for school and a few months later, he left on his mission. He is doing wonderfully, and I am so proud of him and his growth. I write him every few weeks, and I love receiving letters back. But I feel like he is a brother, not anything more.

Before his mission he called me and asked not if I would wait for him, but if I would still be single and willing to date him when he came home. I told him that I wasn't going to wait for him, and I want him to close off his heart during his mission. I'm afraid that he hasn't completely closed off his heart, but I know he is doing well on his mission.

Whoa, I didn't intend to tell you all of that!

I guess I'm just trying to fill you in, though I'm sorry if it comes off as rambling.

Basically, I'm trying to say that there are several examples of boys like the one above in my life. But I have yet to find a boy that I like. I want to date so badly, and I am so excited about meeting a soul mate to spend eternity with. I'm not looking to get married anytime soon, but I'd like to get married soon after I graduate from undergrad at Harvard.

I'm writing you to ask for advice.

Why can't I love?

Why am I unable to return romantic feelings to guys like me?

I want to be asked out on dates, too, but that hasn't happened. Are my standards impossibly high for men?

I have set standards, but I don't think they are impossible. I want someone strong in the Church, and if he was able to, someone who has served a mission. I strongly value my intellect, and I'd like a guy who is smart like me and is going somewhere in life.

He also needs to be funny and personable, because my sense of humor makes up most of my interaction with others. There are a couple boys at school who are like the boy I spoke of above, great matches who meet my standards, but I just am not attracted to them.

I want to have a crush on a boy. I want to be able to see what love is like, because I feel like I'm missing out on something. I know that as long as I choose the right, everything will work out.

I believe Heavenly Father has a plan for me, but I also know that His plan requires action from me. Is there anything I can do to open up my heart? I've conditioned my mind to guarding myself away from intimacy and romantic feelings as protection against temptation.

But now I'm a YSA, and some things are okay that weren't okay when I was younger.

I am so happy with myself and my life, and I've heard so many times, "You are going to have an amazing husband", but sometimes I just feel like I want to have a boyfriend, even if it is just to feel loved and wanted.

Sorry if this took too long to read. Thanks again for your dedication and sincere love for those of us who need help, it really is a great thing that you do.

Yours,

Closed Off



Dear Closed,

At 19 there's no way you're "closed off for good".

What I get from reading your letter is that you look at romance and dating in extremes and, little sister, life doesn't really work that way.

Here's what I mean:

- You kissed a couple boys (which, while I don't approve, need not be life altering devastation) younger than you should have, so you gave up on dating in high school altogether

- You dated one of your "friends" and felt you had to make yourself "have feelings for him"


Plus it seems like you've overly planned things out (like getting married, but not until you've finished your undergrad); life doesn't work that way, either.

You want to date? You want to meet someone? You want to know what it feels like to have a crush?

Then you've got to R-E-L-A-X.

I'm not saying to relax your standards, but stop putting so much emphasis on every date; stop thinking that every guy you associate with has to be an all or nothing, perfect or forget it, man.

Just go on some dates already! Lots of 'em.

Stop hanging out. Stop treating every guy you know like a buddy, burring him in the friend zone forever.

Heavenly Father does have plans for us, but that doesn't entitle us to sit around and wait for him to do everything.

You say you’re an extrovert, so get out there!

Go out and have some fun, even if you don't find the guy to be dreamily attractive. You might be surprised. And that, for you little sister, might be a very good thing.

See, you put out the vibe that you don't date; now you've got to put out the vibe that you're ready to change that.

WORD of CAUTION! Don't go to the extreme on this like you have everything else, 180-girl! You don't want to be known as the fickle girl who will date anyone and everyone with no regard to feelings or future.

Just pick out 2-6 of those buddies you have that you like a little better than the others and tell them what you've told me: that you think you've put up this wall, are stuck in the friend zone, and you'd really like to go on some dates with some Good Guys.

And then hand them a schedule of when you're available.

- Bro Jo

Monday, May 7, 2012

Communication Breakdown: When a Pre-Mission Guy Injects Some Distance

Dear Bro Jo,

So the rundown: A boy moved in next door to me when I was twelve. We didn't become friends instantly, actually I thought he was incredibly annoying, but over time we did become friends. There was nothing romantic, I thought of him as another brother (I have four).

We picked on each other constantly and fought like brothers and sisters fight, but it was all for fun. Then one day... well he wouldn't talk to me. He ignored me blatantly. Everyone saw it, we have many mutual friends, and yet no one knew why.

I was really sad and way stressed out over it for like 5 months, then I decided that I didn't need to be.

I decided that I didn't need him to be my friend again for me to be happy.

I thought that he would go up to BYU, get his mission call and leave for two years, and I would never have to see him again. In my mind, this made sense. By the time he would come home, I would be long gone in BYU-Idaho and I would never have to deal with any bad memory of him.

Well... that didn't work out for me.

He came home.

I knew this would happen, but I figured that he would ignore me like he has for the past year.

No.

He came over the day we got back from Idaho.

He TALKED to me.

Then for the next three days he was over at my house every day. It was just like it used to be two summers ago when we were friends, but it’s weird because I can't trust him anymore. Things between us can never be the same, they don't have to be tense, but they can't ever be the same because he hurt me.

I don't know what to do. I have tried to ignore him, but he is constantly in the back of my head.

When I see him, I don't know if i am seeing my old buddy or the jerk that ignored me for a whole year.

Help!?


- Besmirched Buddy



Dear Besmirched,

How old are you, how old is he, and when you say he "came back", back from where? School or mission?

- Bro Jo



Bro Jo,
Sorry, i should have clarified. I am 17 and he is 18. He just came home from college.

-Besmirched




Dear Besmirched,

You’re not a baby anymore, and neither is he; if you want to know where he stands and why he ignored you then you'll have to ask him. If you're not going to ask, then let it (and him) go and move on. (You should have done this months ago, and saved yourself the stress and drama.)

My guess is that rather than be a jerk he was simply trying to put some temptation-free distance between himself and a girl he found (finds) attractive (remember, "Men Can't Stay 'Just Friends' with Women").

All of that said, if he IS a good guy (and I suspect he is) and if you ARE doing things in the order you're supposed to (and I suspect you are), then the two of you should go on some Casual Group Dates and nothing more until he comes back from his mission.

Then, if by some chance you're still available, the two of you can consider dating again.

Talk to him.

Communication is the key!

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks, Bro Jo.

I tried to talk to him a while ago, but it just confused things. I think you are right about it now though. When i talked to him about it last we were still in the heat of the problem, but i think that now because it has had time to cool off a bit it should be fine. :)

Thanks,

A Little Hopeful



Dear Hopeful,

Good luck!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lost in a Relationship with a Non-member Girl - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

I appreciate what you have to say. I'll hold unto this and read it often so I can really ingest it... Let me make sure we're on the same page... Does cuddling include having my arm around her, holding her, head on shoulder? I don't know all the boundaries... I want to make sure I have it clear...

Second, I haven't ever kissed her, nor have I ever cuddled with her under blankets in the dark. In all honesty, there were two occasions that Satan and lust had influence on our interactions, but we used those experiences to prevent lust from entering again and all other occasions have just been fun and emotions-involved physical interaction, instead of sexually involved physical interaction... I want to know how bad of shape I'm in. We've never taken off clothes or anything, but I know some of interactions were definitely... lustful...

Third, I've talked to her about this somewhat already and we've established a little distance, but... I guess I've gotten into a habit of having claim to her and being able to hold her... This is very hard... I feel a missing spot where she was, and I'm used to the physical comfort and caring I felt with her... I'll turn from this, but I need help.

How do I fill the spaces? How do I feel better?

I know she's hurting and it's hurting me and sometimes I wonder what the heck I'm doing.

Help me... I don't know what to do.

This is very hard.

I see her at school and wish I could let the other guys know that are flirting with her that she's mine... I know I need to let go of these emotions, but it is so hard.

The world teaches that this love is one of the few things to be truly valued in life. I'm feeling all sorts of emotions right now. Anger, hurt, sorrow, and just too much pain... I've tried to alleviate some of this pain by playing card games with a different girl, who is LDS, but I'm usually just 'hanging out' with (Girl #1) one and one, as well... I don't know what to do.

I'm probably being illogical and unreasonable, but emotions aren't usually either. I'll pray for comfort, protection, and strength, please pray for me. I want to give you a name to pray for. My name is (withheld).

Part of me wants some sort of physical closeness and finds comfort in that and in the one on one time I have with this other girl, (Girl #2) ... I thought my relationship with Girl #2 was healthy and happy, but I 'hang out' with her, one-on-one sometimes, just playing cards games.

Will I be able to feel whole in Casual Group Dating?

I don't know what to do with my anger or frustration either. I know you're not a therapist, but the last therapist I had gave me counsel against church doctrine anyway.

You are a parent, a faithful member, and a inspired seminary teacher, and I want your perspective.

I'm extremely attracted to her and sometimes that probably gets in the way of my better judgment, but what am I supposed to do with that attraction?

It seems so stupid... I just want to stay away from her altogether so I don't have to deal with it. I text her and miss the closeness we could have. I know she's being hurt, too, and she doesn't even have the truth of the gospel to help her. I'm kind sick of this world. It's interesting to think we jumped for joy to come here, but I guess it's worth it, in the end... I just want to be married with a family already, have all this teenage stuff be over with.

I'm willing to be completely faithful to my wife, whoever she is, but sometimes I just wish I was married already... I'm ready for the happiness of a family. I'm ready for that life.

Why do I have to mess around in this in-between age of immaturity and stupid decisions? I don't know. It's God's plan. He knows best. Life is just... life.

I think this is bad, and I'm a young man born in the covenant to a family with the truth. I have the priesthood and the Holy Ghost, and yet my life is hard. What about all those who've never known the truth?

Some mess, huh?

I was going to go hang out with Girl #2 and just play card games like I have before, but now I'm worried that I'm doing something wrong in my relationship with her... We've read scriptures and gone to the temple together on occasions, for goodness sake. I'll just pray and read my scriptures and do my homework, and see if that lifts my spirits.

How do I help people that don't know the specific dating standards as well as you do? Many a friend I have that's heart is damaged and they sacrifice their soul, not knowing the true damage of what they're doing. Teenagers need the standards of the church... for their own happiness. They need them bad, but if they don't accept it, I guess they'll learn things on their own. How many souls will we lose because of it?

What do I do about Girl #1? Just give her up?

Why does the world place love on such a high pedestal?

Why are there so many songs, movies, and books about it?

Some seem to call it the pinnacle of human experience and the only thing worth chasing, yet I went horribly wrong while lending an ear to my heart. I'm just ready for that to actually be allowed. For love and emotional intimacy to be acceptable and encouraged with a girl. I can't wait to go on my mission, but that's still... 3 years from now? It seems like a long wait...

It's frustrating...

Thank you for letting me talk to you.

This has done more good for me than... a lot of other things...

Lost



Dear Lost,

At your age, in my opinion, anything more than a quick standing-up hug to say hello or good bye is too much. The holding should stop.

Believe me, I totally understand how cool it is but, for all the reasons you've mentioned, no more holding.

I don't think you're in that bad of shape; what you're feeling is not only real, it's totally normal. But on some levels you're using her as an emotional crutch (and she's probably using you too) - that's why you feel so attached. It's reassuring and . . . as I said, it feels nice. But, as you know, while you haven't done anything yet, the emotions cloud the morality line. Over time, if not checked, that line will get even more difficult to see.

If you look and listen closely, the world doesn't push love, it pushes sex.

You'll have plenty of time for love, as you mentioned, just a few short years from now. (Look at it this way: sure 3-5 years seems far, but look at how fast the last 5 years of gone!)

It's not THAT big of a mess. Take a deep breath. You'll be fine.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

There are two different girls, Girl #1 and Girl #2...

Girl #1 is the non-member who I've cuddled with too much and such...

Girl #2 is a member that I know pretty well...

The other question I was wondering about... is it okay to 'hang out' and play card games with Girl #2?

That seems to help me feel better...

All we do is play cards and talk... it is one-on-one, but her family's home...

Is this is a problem, or are casual dates just better?

Sincerely,


Lost



Dear Lost,

Got it. Two girls.

At your age the "hang out" isn't too bad (not recommended for YSAs). Yeah, Casual Group Dates are better. Even Group Game Night Parties are better than the one-on-one hang out.

Does that make sense?

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Yep, that helps a lot.

- No Longer Lost