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Friday, September 28, 2012

In Love with a Future Missionary - Part 2: Can't Stop Being in Love

Hi Brother Jo,

So I emailed you a long time ago about a guy that I am absolutely in love with, and who was preparing for a mission. I sent the email on a different account though... I don't use that one anymore.

Well, we made it clear to each other that I wasn't going to wait, and that I would be actively dating while he was gone and if I happen to be single when he comes back then we will see where things take us. True to my word, since he has been gone I have gone of a couple of dates.

My predicament is this: I miss him so much, and I think its affecting my motivation. I still study my scriptures, say my prayers, attend church and write in my journal everyday, but I am having issues with staying focused in terms of study for college. I'm usually very studious, and I don't really understand why this is happening. I haven't really studied properly since he left, which is terrible considering he has been gone almost three weeks now, and I am very worried that I am falling behind. Its just every time I sit down I start thinking about what he is up to, etc.

Can you think of any ways to combat this?

- Smitten

Dear Smitten,

I don't know that you should fight how you feel.

Being in love is a rare and wonderful thing!

You shouldn't write him love letters, of course.

And you should definitely keep dating.

Perhaps your feelings will change with time. Perhaps they'll change because you'll find someone else.

Perhaps he'll come back and feel differently about you or you'll feel differently about him.

But for now, so long as you don't distract him from the work, I think you should enjoy these feelings. Write about them in your journal. Dream about the future. Let the journal become a release of expression, and don't let the dreaming keep you from reality.

And, as Sister Jo always says, nothing takes our minds off ourselves better than being of service to others.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Full Repentance - Part 2

[Readers,  this is Part 2 in a 3-part series that started on Wednesday, September 19th, and will run three Wednesdays in a row.  You can jump to the first part by clicking HERE.  - Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

Yup. I see what you're talking about there at the end.

Of course I have some worldly sorrow along with the Godly sorrow.

I know it should be set aside if I do truly want to be made clean through the atonement. But, is it crazy of me to be worried to be kicked out of college? (I am college age, by the way.)

Does that make me less ready for repentance? In all honestly, and I may clarify-- I was definitely more straight forward about the situation than I was with you. And I believe I did understand what he was telling me, I just didn't understand why he didn't think it was as serious as I have grown up to believe.

I apologize for how it was written, by the way.

But I thank you for your time taking an attempt at it anyways, it helped. But just to clarify, with 2 and 4, do you think that the bishop when I was 14 had more of a problem with it because it was bad for a 14 year old but not as shocking when I went back when I was 19 simply because I was older and more expected?

Or possibly when I got to my college bishop he just didn't see it as serious as I did, perhaps because In college he may have dealt with more "bishop confession" worthy situations?

Or am I just completely clueless here?

And even if that's the case, you mentioned that a repeated sin isn't a repented sin no matter the level, I agree, but does that mean that I'm dealing an even bigger problem than I had originally thought?

Reality checks are welcome.

Thank you again for your time, and clarification. I really do want to get it taken care of Fully, and I believe understanding can really help me get where I need to.

- Little Sister

Dear Little Sister,

Okay, (name withheld), help me help you. Just exactly what did you do?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Okayyyy, so clearly I was hoping you didn't have to know in order to help. But I do want the help. You just need this times happenings, right? I made out passionately with a guy I had just met.

And then again with someone else a couple weeks later.

And when I say passionately I mean,, it got pretty heated. Like, rolling around getting quite into it (dry humping and such). And it went on for a really long time period (not like X amount of times in X amount of months but rather hours (possibly, it seemed like it) all at once), like to the point that it was getting really old and not enjoyable and I realized it needed to stop.

And he did feel me up; I removed his hand but by then it had already happened.

And yeah. Hopefully that's enough info.

- Little Sister

Dear Little Sister,

Um, yeah. That's enough info.

So this happened when you were 14, and now has happened recently with two different guys, including one you had just met, within a couple weeks?

And you told you Bishop all of this?

And as kind of a side, but related, note - WHY do you think this is part of your behavior?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

K, good, cause that's what there is to tell.

And yes. That is correct.

Except for one more detail change.

In addition to the 14 year old occasion and the recent time with the two different guys not that far apart from one another, there was one other time my first year of college.

I go to a church school(BYU-I), by the way.

I don't know if that's relevant or not, but that's where the bishop kind of just wrote it off.

When I was 14 he instructed me to do more to come to repentance. And the past two guys is where I'm at now, not having went to a bishop because of the last time I did where he made it seem like I didn't need to go to him about it. So no, the two most recent ones have not been told to my bishop, just the previous times when I was in my first year of college and when I was 14 have.

And as response to your side question - I have no idea.

I've tried to figure it out.

For a while people thought maybe just because it makes me feel loved for a split second.

I don't know that I believe that to be my reasoning though. But I honestly have no clue.

It could be.

But could that still be the case even though I Know I'm loved by so many people when I Don't do those things, including the Lord?!

I don't know though, it doesn't make sense based on what I know to be true.

Clearly my actions are not lined up with my beliefs.

I know it's wrong, and quite honestly I don't really enjoy making these mistakes, even during, it's not the right way and Instantly makes me feel gross.

Honestly though, I do think that I have a problem with not wanting to disappoint people, these guys to be exact. (And of the reasoning as to why for That I don't know either. I myself even find it crazy that I care so much about these guys who clearly don't have much respect for me.)

So I have a hard time saying no, even when I know I should (Side note- when I was 14 that Absolutely terrified me. I went home and took a shower and just stayed in there until I was done crying. I was in there a while.) And I still allowed it to happen. I want to make them happy.

I find joy in knowing that others are happy. I just haven't figured out how to do that without putting My Eternal happiness on the line.

- Little Sister

P.S. Do You have any thoughts as to why it has been part of my behavior, Bro Jo?

Dear Little Sister,

Okay. The clarification on the timing helps.

I honestly don't know if dry humping and getting felt up is enough to lose your ecclesiastical endorsement for school. Somehow I don't think it is, but I'm not sure.

But let me ask you this: if it is enough to get kicked out of the Y of I, or placed on some kind of probation, isn't that better than to continue going through life lying to your Bishop about your worthiness and not coming to full repentance?

My guess is that Bishop #2 thought it was an isolated incident and that you were repentant. And I'm sure it was (as far as you knew at the time) and you were truly remorseful. So that makes sense. It also makes sense that you were hoping for some kind of "punishment" as a way to help alleviate your guilt.

And perhaps that's one reason why you've "relapsed", if you will. Despite your fear of being removed from school, you still feel guilty and feel like you need to be disciplined in some way.

Maybe you do.

And maybe that's all just pop-psychology garbage.

To me the bigger issue is the one you uncovered in your last email: your belief that its okay for a guy to use you to gratify himself, regardless of how it makes you feel, so long as he's happy . . . or at least (as you perceive it) "not disappointed".

You have more value than that.

You need to understand that no man will love you if he doesn't respect you, and you don't respect people that let you use them.

As a Daughter of God you’re worth more.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 24, 2012

In Love with a Future Missionary - Part 1: Getting Too Serious

Dear Brother Jo,

It’s me again, back for more advice. I’m so grateful for the advice that you’ve given me in the past… I went from a relatively shy 16 year old that had my fair share of guy friends but that I didn’t think would ever date me, and now at 18 I get asked out on lots of dates (the stuff in your how to get a guy’s attention and how to get a guy to ask you out really does work!)

Anyway, I’m now 18 years old and I’ve fallen in love with the most amazing guy I could ever have been blessed to meet. Let’s call him "Luke".

I met Luke a while back before he was a member of the Church. He is also 18 and was baptized more than 6 months back. His best friend (also a good friend of mine) invited him to church activities and also took him as his wingman on double dates. I went on a few casual group dates with Luke before I realized that I liked him very much, but I ignored my feelings for him because I knew he wasn’t a member, and I focused my attention on dating other guys. I continued being friendly with him, and we soon developed into being very close friends. Not too long after he was baptized, I realized that I was in love with him, and that I care for him deeply.

At least a month ago he told me that he loves me, and that he has liked me since our very first date. I told him that I returned his feelings. My issue is that… he hasn’t gone on a mission. He plans to go as soon as he can (he has to wait a year after his baptism of course), and he’s been attending all of the mission preparation classes and has completed the Preach my Gospel manual. I completely, wholeheartedly believe that him going on a mission is the best thing. I know I will miss him terribly, but he told me not to wait, and I don’t believe in that anyway. A small part of me wishes that I could wait for him, or that he was already an RM and we could start a relationship, but the other (larger) part is so excited for him and the decision he's made.

We aren’t dating exclusively. Since the time that we told each other how we feel I have dated other guys.
Well, the question in all of this is… Should I have admitted to him how I feel?

He told me his feelings first, and I didn’t think I should lie about it. Even though we aren’t ‘exclusive’ as such, he tells me he loves me when we say goodbye. He also tells me that he'll love me for all eternity, and that try as he might he will never find a girl like me. Is this too serious for a guy who is leaving on his mission in 6 months? If so, what should I do about it?

And on a vaguely related note, he always tells me how amazing and ‘perfect’ he thinks I am. I find it flattering, however unrealistic. He places me on a pedestal, and he keeps asking me what he can do to improve himself so that he is worthy of my affection. Is this something I should be worried about?

Thank you in advance,


Dear Smitten,

I think the only thing you have to worry about is being alone together.

There's nothing wrong with how either of you feel or your plans; as for expressing your feelings . . . well, yeah, it’s premature to be that serious, so I think you should both focus on being a little more casual and a little less expressive.

As his mission gets closer Satan may try to use you as a temptation to keep him from going. Don't freak out, but be aware.

I'm glad he hasn't asked you to wait, and glad that you realize you shouldn't promise that you will.

Very happy for and proud of both of you,

- Bro Jo

Dear Brother Jo,

Thanks, I definitely will try harder to keep things more casual between us. We've only ever double / group dated, and are only ever alone together for a couple of minutes. Sure we have own conversations, but it’s always in public and mostly at church activities / dates and within sight (but not necessarily ear shot) of friends and or leaders.

Sometimes when we're with friends they will all 'conveniently disappear' (They have all guessed a long time ago that we liked each other, but I still don't approve of how they think we should get it over with and just be a couple).

The first time that this happened it was at night and on a date. All we were doing was talking, but as soon as I realized that we were alone, I explained to him that we'd better go and find them. He was a bit surprised, but I told him even though I didn't intend on anything happening, I would rather not give anyone the opportunity to even think that something dodgy is going on. So I guess I'll have to go and discuss the expression of feelings thing with Luke.

Also thanks for that warning, I will be on my guard :)


Dear Smitten,

Good girl.  Let us know how it all turns out

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

So I had that little talk with "Luke".  

He told me he actually had been thinking about us getting too serious. 

He agreed that we needed to be more casual, so now we're both working on it. I'm glad that it went well, I was a bit worried about how he'd take it because I didn't want to (as you would say) burn any bridges that I might want to cross later.

- Smitten

[Readers - Part 2 of this series will publish this Friday. - Bro Jo ]

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Upcoming Letters: Missionaries and the Girls that Love Them

Dear Readers,

All this week "Dear Bro Jo" is going to run letters about "Missionaries and the Girls that Love Them". (On Wednesday I'll still run part 2 of "Full Repentance".)

It's a topic that's been one of the biggest we've covered in our 3 1/2 years (Wow! Has it been that long already?) and it doesn't show any signs of slowing down. In fact, I was inspired to have this feature week of letters because I recently received a LONG comment on a post I made, "Waiting for a Missionary" (you can click on it to read the original post), back in May of 2009!  It is, I believe, the most commented on post I've ever written.

I usually don't post very long comments, especially ones that contain citations, but I thought this one interesting and worthy of inclusion.  And, truth be told, I have received and posted some Very Long Comments on this particular column.

Here's the comment:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Waiting for a Missionary":

It is interesting to me that this topic has been running for several years now.

I have such a range of thoughts, feelings and experiences on this topic, ranging from my experiences as a young woman to when my son was on his mission along with some experiences with my daughters.

I had a lengthy letter written discussing my experience along with a couple of experiences some of my children have had. However, my experience, my neighbors experience etc. really doesn’t matter. There seems to be some sort of a misunderstanding that some members of the church have regarding counsel from our leaders, in particular counsel from the Lord’s mouth piece here on earth our Prophet.

(See this LINK
Why is it bad to steady date before guys go on missions?
“Young women, . . . avoid steady dating with a young man prior to the time of his mission call. If your relationship with him is more casual, then he can make that decision to serve more easily and also can concentrate his full energies on his missionary work instead of the girlfriend back home. And after he returns honorably from his mission, he will be a better husband and father and priesthood holder, having first served a full-time mission” (Ezra Taft Benson, “To the Young Women of the Church,” October 1986 general conference).
There is nothing to debate. He did not say this counsel was for Peggy but not for Susan etc. Young men should not have a “girl back home” because that way he can concentrate his full energies on his missionary work. So says the Prophet in General Conference, which makes it scripture.
End of discussion. Period!

If you follow the counsel to “avoid steady dating with a young man prior to the time of his mission call”, then there would never be any MGs nor Dear John Letters or distracted missionaries because they have girls back home. There would be no heart break at seeing a boy leave on a mission because you would not be in a serious relationship with him in the first place. How much heart ache and struggle would be alleviated simply by following that counsel? The young men would be free of that sort of emotional baggage which will distract them from being 100% focused on their service to the Lord and the young women would be dating as they should be during that time of their lives and discovering who they are and follow the path that will lead them where the Lord would have them go and with whom. We really must stop second guessing our Heavenly Father.

Yes girls it really is that simple. No there really isn’t an exception for you and yes your Heavenly Father knows and understands the things of your heart. He knows the beginning from the end, we do not. We are to have faith in his plan for us and know that he wants our happiness. We are to follow his counsel and know that in doing so we will be follow the path towards our happiness. We do not have to see the purpose of what he requires of us we are to walk in faith. That is what he has asked of us.

I do get a little kick out of when she says "End of discussion. Period!" and then goes on to keep writing about it for two more long paragraphs . . . HA!

So . . . what do you think?

I'l be looking forward to your comments, as always, all week. Please invite your friends to join this discussion, too.


Oh, and "Happy General Conference" to all of you!

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 21, 2012

She Wants to Go on a Mission

Dear Bro Jo, 

I'm a 20 year old girl with an immense desire to serve the Lord for a full 18 month mission.

Here's the thing:  because I have such a strong desire to serve, my desire to date or get into a relationship has decreased....a lot.

 Is this a bad thing?

 I'm afraid of getting into anything serious.

Not that I haven't been dating because I have still been socializing a dating with guys. I guess i'm more afraid of any relationships developing. I have had so many people tell me that I am way out of line for not wanting to date seriously at my age and go on a mission instead.

My way of thinking is that the Lord isn't going to withhold me from something as important as marriage just because I am a female and decided to serve a mission. Some people also feel like I am doing this because they think I am "waiting" for my old boyfriend who I recently sent on a mission. This is not at all the case. I don't even believe in the waiting game.

Am I being ridiculous to just want to focus on my studies and making money and preparing for a mission instead of looking for a husband?


A wannabe RM

Dear Wannabe,

 Is this your response to my question to your last letter, asking how everything went with your first kiss? 

Seriously, if you want to serve a mission, then serve a mission. In my opinion, I wouldn't call that "out of line" . . . but then, to be honest, I question if that's what people are really saying to you, because it doesn't seem to fit.

I just can't hear "Mom, Dad, I want to serve a mission" followed with "Daughter, we think you're totally out of line!"


My guess is that what you're really hearing is that you shouldn't be closed to any romantic possibilities during this time. Sorry to sound old fashioned, but there's a big difference between being an 18-year old guy and a 20-year old woman when it comes to marriage. 

So I think that if a nice guy asks you out, you should go. Keep preparing for a mission; save your money, keep studying hard, and when its time, if you feel so inspired, by All Means, Go!

Don't actively look for a husband (I don't really like that point of view for any woman, anyway), but don't live like a nun, either.

Oh, and while I agree with you that you shouldn't "wait", I also think there's nothing wrong with a young woman serving a full-time mission at the same time a guy she likes also happens to be serving.

May the Lord guide you in all of your decisions,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Full Repentance - Part 1

[Dear Readers,

Over the next few Wednesdays I'll be running this series about "Full Repentance".  It's not our place to judge others, but how do we know when we've really made things right with the Lord?  When should you go talk to your Bishop about Spiritual things, and how much are you supposed to say?

Part 2 will run Wednesday, September 26, 2012.

Part 3 will run Wednesday, October 3, 2012.

- Bro Jo]

Hey Bro Jo,

Me again. Just different question, unrelated. So I looked up this topic on your page, and thank you for those previous posts, but I still have a few questions.

So, I've been to see my bishop on a few different occasions throughout my life. And I have moved a lot, so they've been to different bishops too. The sin that I was confessing was very similar every time(the adversary has discovered my weakness), but the things they told me, the things they had me do, and the process they had me take were all pretty different.

The most recent time I went in, was actually quite a surprise to me because in My mind it was serious enough that it needed to be confessed, but all he did was give me some counsel on how to be more careful with boys in the future and then he thanked me for coming in, and other than that he didn't instruct me to do anything Else in order to be fully forgiven like I had expected because of past experience with confessing a similar situation I was in to the bishop.

Now, this confuses me because I actually made the Exact same mistake this time as the last where he just thanked me for coming to him again. But now it's a different bishop Again, and so I would have no idea what This one would say to me or have me do. And if it Were the same bishop, I probably wouldn't think I needed to go to him again. But, I don't know. I have always thought that if I felt like I needed to talk to my bishop for something at one point and then the same problem occurs again then I probably still should again. But my bishop acted like it was unnecessary for the repentance process.

And I do know that all bishops are different and so are everybody's situations and everything, which may effect what they say. But I guess I'm just confused as to whether I need to go in again this time or not. If I do go, and he reacts differently than my last bishop, then it Could affect my whole future plans immediately. I'm confused and nervous. Any opinions that you have on the matter would be appreciated, thanks.

P.S. Sorry if you couldn't follow that very well. I am very scatter brained. I hope it made Enough sense to get my thoughts across effectively still though.

Also, now I know you're probably thinking (just based off of one of your thoughts as to why someone would break off a relationship leading to marriage out of the blue), "Ok so This is probably reasoning behind not being ready to marry the last guy". (there was nothing going on, simply just don't want to be with him for eternity is all) But this has actually happened After that guy. (And the incident before that guy has been fully taken care of. Other than the fact that I obviously need to Fully forsake it and not let myself slip once every couple years like the track record shows.)

- Name Withheld

Dear Little Sister,

So . . . um . . . yeah . . . that was a bit cryptic.

With so many blanks, loose ends, vagaries and variables, it's a little tough to answer, but let's give it a shot.

Q. Why can a person go to two different Bishops and get two different answers regarding repentance? And why when the same sin has been committed as a previously committed would the second Bishop be "more lenient" than the first?

A. There could be several factors.

1. You didn't mention if, in your interview with your new Bishop, you failed to fully confess your past similar transgressions. By omitting or downplaying the repetition your new Bishop won't understand the gravity of the situation. In that regard, you've been dishonest, and not properly confessed your sin.
2. Depending on what it was you've done, your age may be a factor. Not that we're allowed to mess up more when we're older, but it may be less of a big deal now. For example, if my 14 year old makes out with someone I freak out, but if my 22 year old makes out with someone I kind of figure that's supposed to happen.
3. The situation may not be as similar as you think. (I'll let you figure that one out.)
4. The sin may not be as horrific or "need to talk to the Bishop level" as either you think or you've communicated.

Ultimately what I'm saying is that, for whatever reason, in this situation at this time with the information you gave this Bishop, he's told you what he feels you need to know.

Like any situation, if you didn't understand why or what he was telling you, you should have asked for clarification.

Communication is the key in so many things.

Of course, if you were more concerned about your Bishop pronouncing your forgiveness than true repentance, one could understand why you bolted out of there.

But I would caution you that repeated sin is not repented sin, regardless of the seriousness of the transgression.

There's something in the last couple sentences that you wrote that concerns me and makes me think you haven't been totally forthcoming with the man, that you haven't fully and truthfully confessed, and that you're more worried about the "punishment" than making things right with God. (Go back and read what you wrote; I'll bet you see what I see.) If you were as cryptic with the Bishop as you're being with me, I'll bet he has no idea of the things he needs to know.

But at this point only you know for sure.

Well . . . you and God.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 17, 2012

When Parents Push the Relationship

Dear Bro Jo,

My name is (withheld) and I'm a senior in high school.

I've adhered to the standard for dating pretty well.

I've gone on dates with different guys in groups- for the most part, and if not, totally in public the entire time. However, I do have a "favorite" so to speak. Let's call him "D." D and I have been going on dates since I turned 16, about a year and a half ago. He's a year older than me and it always seemed to work out.

We've dated others and kept it pretty infrequent (maybe every month or two) but we keep coming back to each other. He's the son of a family friend and that hasn't been a problem for the most part, quite the opposite actually. Our parents always know what we're doing and know that who we are dating is a good Priesthood Holder/ Priesthood Upholder.

(Side note: he's going to college about 2 hours away for the year before he goes on his mission.)

However, recently when we've been together at gatherings (i.e., his graduation last week), we've been fielding questions and comments of the future- marital variety. Stuff like: "I really would love to have her as a daughter-in-law!" from his mother or "Come on! Help me set up! Show off your domestic skills to D!" from mine. As well as little reminders to practice writing letters and sending care packages from his sister. (That's just my end, he says he's gotten similar, just on a husbandly scale.)

It's starting to bother both of us.

Now, don't get me wrong: As I said, we are kind of each other’s "favorites," and I'm sure that one day, far, far in the future, when I'm older, more mature, have my teaching degree and he is off his mission it could work out. We've had the feared "Waiting" talk and decided that I'm not going to become the Institute Nun, but I'm not going to get too serious with someone until he comes back and we have a chance to test it out as adults.

So, I guess my question is this: How should we deal with our parents and the other adults in this circle of friends? They know about his plans and our decisions, yet they continue to try to push us together. They also know that we are not exclusively dating, nor in a "committed relationship." Should we tell them to leave us alone, or just let it by?

Sorry if this is a lot of information in a less than organized jumble with a lot of parenthesis...

Thanks for your help,

- Name withheld

Dear NW,

Sister Jo and I occasionally talk (amongst ourselves) about whom we think might be good matches for the Jo Kids, although usually rather than mention specific names we'll say "I hope he finds a girl like her", or "this guy is going to turn out to be the type of man that parents hope their daughter marries".

As a parent you want your children to be happy, and as an LDS parent you're even more aware of how important both the short term and long term (think "eternal") happiness of your child will be tied to selecting a great spouse.

For reasons neither Sister Jo nor I can understand, some (too many, actually) LDS parents take this understandable feeling Way Too Far. They set up their kids, they pressure their kids . . . they go against the advice of Church Leadership, looking the other way when it comes to "relationships" and pre-16-year old dating if a favored boy or girl is involved. It's phenomenally naive.

We know one mother in particular that called the parents of her son's ex-girlfriend and begged them to push her to take her son back! (Can you imagine?!?) And they were in High School!

Crazy stuff.

We know another boy who's girlfriend's mom was so crazy with the marriage talk (he was 18 and the girl only 16) that he eventually stopped calling the girl altogether. ("I like her" he said, "but her mom is pushing too hard too soon. I'm focused on a mission, not marriage!")

Some parents think they're being cute.

Some are trying to relive their glory days through their children.

Some are just meddlesome by nature.

Some are truly trying to be helpful, but are woefully misguided.

Some (and this maybe needs to be read as "most") are just plain idiots.

What you do about it depends on your relationship with your parents and the kind of person you are.

As I see it, either you talk to them and ask them to back off, or you ignore them.

I'm the kind of person who would rather have the talk. With both sets of offending parents.

"I'm only 16 and all this talk of marriage is freaking me out. You're pushing too hard. It's not cute, it's not endearing, it's not helping, and every time you make a comment along those lines it makes me resent you a little. And as far as any possible long term relationship goes, you're making things worse, not better. I love you, and I'm asking you to please stop."

Then let's pray that they'll put your wishes ahead of their own.

Good luck, and don't back down!

Be Respectful, but Be Clear.

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Rude Dude

Dear, Bro Jo,

I love reading your advice and was hoping you could help me out with some problems of my own.

I have liked this guy on and off for the past couple of years, and at one point the feeling was mutual.

Now as we have gotten a little older he has started to become interested in other girls and rarely pay any attention to me.

Sometimes he is outwardly rude to me in public, and when we get in a smaller group he becomes more of a gentleman and is way more sincere. for example we will be at a party and he will offer me some punch or offer to get me some refreshments and then the next minute he will ignore me and pretend I don’t exist. I was wondering if you could help me try and figure out how to read his mixed signals.

Thank you.

- Confused

Dear Confused,

You don't mention your age, which may be important; if you're in high school this may be more an issue of you wanting something that isn't there than him sending mixed signals (drama drama drama); if you're a Young Single adult it could be that, or you could be confusing him being nice with what you really want him to be, or it could be that he likes you and doesn't know what to do; if you're an older Single Adult then he definitely likes you, has no idea what to do, and is his own roadblock to why he's still single, the dummy.

Either way, I say if it bothers you, talk to him.

Don't be defensive or confrontational. Don't back him into a corner.

Just say "hey, I probably should have mentioned this before, but I feel confused when people are nice and then they ignore me or are rude to me in public; I'm not sure what to think or how to feel".

Notice that in the "confrontation" you need to avoid the word "you" - that will put him on the defensive. If he feels attacked you won't get a sincere answer.

If he asks you for examples, give one, but again, be benign.

If he asks if it's him, you can say "well . . . maybe; I don't want you to feel like I'm attacking you".

Get it?

We have no right to complain about the actions or inactions of others if we've never talked to them about them.

Let us know how it goes.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you, I am in High School.

I just talked to him the other day and he told me he didn’t remember what was going on and that he would try not to be rude or ignore me anymore. he sounded really sincere and I would just like to thank you for being a big help to me.

I don’t think it will ever work out between us and I think we will be just friends, but he hasn’t ignored me since I approached him.


Dear Satisfied,

Glad to hear you had the talk.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bro Jo's Advice About Online Dating

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey I'm just wondering what is your opinion on online dating? I'm a 25 year old girl, and I'm just having a hard time meeting new guys and thought I might give it a try.... I just needed someone else's opinion, because I am pretty sure my friends would make fun of it haha.

- BP

PS: By the way I would not want to use the online dating for long distance, but more just to meet people within my area and then date them like I would normally date someone.

- BP

Dear BP,

Online matching sites can be a great tool for meeting new potential dates, especially for those that are in the older end of the LDS dating pool. Just remember three things:

1. Everyone makes themselves look and sound better online; now even amateurs can Photoshop themselves like a Hollywood Star.

2. Never go to meet a new on line friend alone or in the dark; murderers and molesters pray on the naïve.

3. On line is for introductions, not building a serious relationship; real people talk in person.

Heed what your Good Friends say, but don't let teasing and jealousy keep you from joy.

Good luck,

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for the reply, I decided to just try it for a month and see if I can meet some new people, it is very different than what I am used to, but I figure it is worth a try. Thanks for the advice :)

- BP

Dear BP,

Let me know how it goes!

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 10, 2012

Girl-Ask-Guy Dance-Date Etiquette Questions

Dear Bro Jo,

I was recently asked to preference, which A) is really exciting because it was from the girl I was hoping would ask me, but B) leaves me a wee bit perplexed. In terms of date/dance etiquette, what's the deal?

I mean, am I supposed to spend the entire night hanging out with this girl?

What if she wants to dance with a different guy, or me with a different lady?

Is this aloud?

Or are we supposed to be attached at the hip all night?

Anything to help out would be nice!

- Name Withheld

Dear NW,

A date is a date, even if it's girl-ask-guy.

While you're on the date, you're HER date, and shouldn't be dancing or flirting with anyone else.

If another girl asks you to dance, your response should be "thank you for asking, but ____________ is my date tonight".

If she leaves you to go dance with someone else, then she's a bad date, but that doesn't give you license to dance with whomever asks. (Although, in the same shoes, I think after the second time I'd talk to her about it and clarify what she expects and what you both think is appropriate . . . aw, who are we kidding? If a girl asked me on a dance-date and she danced with someone else, at your age I probably would have gotten even by dancing with her best friend or sister . . . but you should be a better man than that.)

Have fun at the dance!

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 7, 2012

Pre-Marriage Concerns: Money and Repentance

Dear Bro Jo,

A few days ago I discovered you through a friend of mine by leaving out one of your books on our desk. I enjoyed reading your Guide to Relationships book, and could hardly put it down (thank goodness it's slim!).

There was one section of the book that opened my eyes. In the beginning of your book, you mentioned that men bring up marriage to see if they can catch an early answer to the big question. My boyfriend of 7 seven months sometimes brings up the idea of being married, mostly bout the two of us. Fact of the matter is that whenever he would bring it up, I would put the idea to the side. I've got a couple of reasons, too.

Firstly, my boyfriend does not have the most impressive history when it comes to keeping the commandments of the Church. He used to be sexually active with both sexes, and used to drink and smoke. I knew all about his history before we hitched up, when we were still just friends. For about a year now he's been clean of that stuff, but my inner gut tells me that his repentance process will take some more time.

Second, since neither of us could secure a regular pay-roll job, both of us are poor as rats. Dating for us consists of going to each other's houses, making homemade food (we both can cook and EAT), then doing whatever we can in a house. That could be paling games (board or Nintendo), watching movies, or talking. Going out to eat is usually going to a friend's wedding reception, and piling finger food on our plates. If we cannot afford many decent dates, then we cannot afford to live together.

Here's the kicker, just because I put the subject aside, doesn't mean I don't want to marry the lovable doof! I would marry the guy. We like being together and being a support for each other, but we've got some growing up to do. We owe it to each other to have a proper temple marriage, and to live with running water and electricity in our shack. OK, so here's my question, is it right to for me to put the subject of marriage aside, because we are clearly not ready to on such big step in life? Should I just tell him straight forward that I would like to marry him, but not now?

Your Reader,

Love the Repenter

Dear Friend,

First of all, thank you for the kind words about the book; I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I do believe that your boyfriend is bringing up the topic of marriage because he wants to know where you stand, and if you keep shooting him down he may stop asking, which you may regret.

And you may not.

While stopping sinful behavior is a wonderful thing, stopping in and of itself is not the entire repentance process, which is generally described in:


1) Feel Godly Sorrow. This is where the realization that you've done wrong hits. Not just guilt, you recognize that you've wronged God and you feel remorse. Frankly, a lot of times we skip this step. We stop the behavior, but we don't feel or realize that what we did was wrong, which is why we're very likely to repeat the sin.

2) Confession. Often we need to go to the person whom we've sinned against and tell them what we've done. We always need to confess to Heavenly Father, even though he knows all, and we do that through prayer. It's a humbling experience, and humility is a big step towards accepting the atonement. And some sins need to be confessed to priesthood authority, because it's our Bishop (or sometimes Stake President) whom the Lord has called as a Judge in Israel that has the tools and ability to help us make things right with God. The sins you've mentioned require priesthood authority.

3) Ask for forgiveness. We ask God (again through prayer) and often of the person we've wronged.

4) Restitution and Rectification. This is where we make up for what we've done, if we can (and make no mistake, we nearly always can). If you stole a candy bar from a store, it could include paying the store or working off the debt. In this step we show that we're willing to do what it takes to make things right. If we can't directly pay back whomever we've wronged (like the store has closed and the previous owners can't be found) then we can "pay it forward" in some other way, like donating to a children's charity so they can buy candy. (I love that movie, by the way.)

5) Forsake the sin. That's where you commit to yourself and Heavenly Father that you won't to it again. If you do, you go back to step one (which you may not have done in the first place) and you start over, understanding that this next time through will be harder than the last, but as all things with Christ, it's doable and definitely worth the effort.

Being married is generally cheaper than two people living separately (or unmarried people living together, even), but I agree: if you two can't support yourselves financially you're not ready for marriage. Now, that said, I do think that some of us think we have to maintain a lifestyle more luxurious than we do, putting off marriage when we shouldn't. Lots of married couples are pretty poor when they start out, and that, in my opinion, is a good thing.

But my general recommendation to sisters is that, if he doesn't have a job, the dude is a dud; move on. The only exception being if he's in school or training for a job and taking it seriously. An unwillingness to work (and let's be honest, here, anyone willing to work hard can get employed) is a serious red flag. Apathy is one of my reasons to not marry a person (see "Bro Jo's FIVE A's of WHY NOT to MARRY THAT PERSON", which is also in the book).

Heck, I wouldn't even recommend you date a guy who's too lazy or too messed up to work.

Which brings me to another big issue: can you confirm he's had a clean and recent blood test?

Anyone with this guy's past likely is carrying something. Very likely.

 (Please, please tell me you're not having sex with this man! That would be a serious, serious mistake, both physically and Spiritually. If you are, you've got to stop, now. If you're worried that cutting him off sexually will end the relationship, you're probably right, but the good news is that if it does you will have discovered that he doesn't respect or love you. Better to know that now than later.)

I think you should not consider marrying any guy who isn't ready to support you financially and be a priesthood leader in your home. And I think you need to come out and tell this guy that, yes, you like the idea of marrying him some day, but until he gets these other things right, there's no sense talking about it. AND, this is important; you need to be open to the possibility of dating other guys and marrying someone else if he isn't actively moving in a positive direction.

And you may need to be doing that, too.

- Bro Jo

Bro Jo,

Yes, as far as I can tell, he is going through the repentance process. He's been seeing the Bishop and our stake leader a few times, remembers to say his prayers (even in Taco Bell), attends the temple (even though he can't come inside), and he even broke-up with me one time because he felt some things were not moving in the right direction in our relationship. And, no, we're not having sex, unless you count kissing and snuggling as sex (then I'm Anna Nicole Smith, darn it!).

Unemployment in our county is around 18%. Almost everyone in our Ward don't have jobs! My bf has been looking for a job, but odds are against him. He is on a queue for a promising state job, but that would require a certain amount of employees to leave the business, and that doesn't satisfy him enough. Once he gets a pay-roll job, he plans on saving up that money to finish his college.

Not many guys are interested in me, and I'm not interested in many other guys as well.

Heck, I wasn't interested in my boyfriend at first, but he kept on pursuing me for almost a month till I agreed to go out with him. Let me open a can of worms here, the other guys that did pursue me in the past are worse! One guy wanted me to be his gal, so that he could have free babysitting for his kid (bishop now calls the girls interested in him to stay away). Another guy sends me a letter stating that he stopped drinking, smoking, and etc, for me (NO, YOU IDIOT! DO IT FOR YOURSELF!).

Another guy wanted my phone number, because he acted like he never seen a girl in a comic book shop before. Oi, dummies. I there were only three guys that I was interested in. Building up my guts, I pursued all three of them, only to get shot down for different reasons. There's not much motivation to try to date other dudes.

I thank you for your advice, and I will be using it in the near future.

Keep on writing,


Dear Friend,

I'm glad to hear all of that!

Regarding the unemployment . . . at some point moving needs to become an option.  Sometimes we cling to a town without jobs like a thirsty person in the desert; if there's no water where you're at, then don't just stand there - move!

I hope this guy is as good as you say he is, and that this isn't just a case of you lowering your standards because you don't think anyone else could ever be interested.  I mean, you know that's not true . . . but I worry that you may be settling . . . or worse, selling yourself short.

Either way, I wish you both the best,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

When a Guy is Following You Around

Dear Bro Jo,

I was sitting down to email you and I checked your blog and found the article "Crazy Stalker Guy?" which I hadn't read. After reading it I figured you'd probably say something similar to me, but I still have to ask. What I'm trying to say is - thanks for posting letters for us to learn from, it’s like the talks at conference that seem to answer all our questions.

So thanks :)

I'm a seventeen year old girl in my final weeks of high school. I sit at a table of around 10 people, guys and girls, member and non-member (I am lucky to be one of the people who has around 20 members at my school even though its rare where I live). Anyway, one of the guys is really friendly and likes to look out for people. Somehow he met this guy who I believe must have a problem of some sort, and is very socially awkward. He is one of the few people who actually scare me. He is plain creepy and very angry. This guy now sits with us. The thing is he has a crush or something on me. He tells the guys at my table that he likes me whenever I'm not there.

Whenever I walk up the seat next to him is instantly emptied. And he always stares at me funny.

Last week me and my friend went for a walk during lunch and when we got back he wasn't there. We asked about him and they said he told them he was going to stalk someone. I said it was probably me and he'd be back in ten minutes. Lo and behold ten minutes later he strolls up.

This week we actually saw him stalking us while we were walking. He was about ten metres behind us and every time we stopped he would stop and stare at the sky or at us. Then he hid behind a tree when we got back.

Anyway the point is its verging on the point of scary, I'm afraid to be alone with him. In fact I'm almost afraid to be near him ever. So I'm wondering if there is anything I can do? I don't want to be really mean, because I think he has a mental problem. But I don't want to have to put up with it for much longer. I can if I have to, given I've only got 4 weeks left, but I'd rather not.



Dear Scared,

"Christian Charity" does not require you to be in a situation where you feel endangered.

I think you should talk to him. Grab a trusted friend, one who you know won't gossip or belittle this boy, but someone to just be there as a comfort.

Tell him how you feel, and ask him to stop doing what he's doing that makes you nervous.

To keep from putting him on the defensive, don't use the word "you". For example, instead of saying "you freak me out when you stalk me", say "it makes me uncomfortable when people follow me around". See the difference?

If he won't stop, or becomes argumentative or combative, get adult help right away. Tell someone in authority, but don't go around and gossip about this to everyone.

And tell your parents regardless of what you chose to do or how he reacts. Parents need to be in the loop with this kind of stuff.

He's clearly interested in you and your friends, and one could argue that he's just being shy, but neither of those things makes the behavior acceptable.

Be Safe,

- Bro Jo

PS: I appreciate the compliment, but there's nothing here that comes anywhere close to a Conference Talk.

Monday, September 3, 2012

When a Guy Discovers He Likes a Girl That's His "Friend"

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm in search of some advice.

I've developed strong feelings for a really good friend of mine. Las year I prayed to have such feelings taken away for anyone and for a long time they were but then they came back stronger than ever.

If it weren't for the timing in my life I wouldn't be as against the feelings. She only feels friendship for me.

We both have a year left of school and then I have my mission. She's not a bad person though. I feel as though these feelings aren't bad just the timing. Almost whenever I see people together in a relationship, love songs(even innocent like "A Whole New World"), etc. these feeling are brought up. They're a distraction in my everyday life and I have a strong testimony and know what I should be doing and don't want the distraction. Because of classes and callings we interact at least every other day.

Is there any advice/suggestions you could give me?

-Sincerely CTR Boy

Dear CTR,

Welcome to puberty!

The feelings you have a good thing. But you're right, now is not the time to do too much about them. As you know, a relationship right now is not a good idea.

But you could, and should, take her on some casual group dates. Having other people with you and keeping things casual will minimize the temptations and opportunities.

And if you find yourself thinking about her too much or in ways that are inappropriate, there are things you can do.

Learn the words and tune to a favorite hymn and sing or hum it. Recite, out loud or in your head, your scripture masteries. And a quick cold shower can work wonders. So can going for a run.

Don't be alone with her, especially in a dark place, but enjoy being young and attracted to a great girl.

There's nothing wrong with that.

And, frankly, I think you should take her on some Casual Group Dates.

- Bro Jo

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Reader's Testimony About Self-worth

Dear Readers,

On this Fast and Testimony Sunday I thought I’d share the following letter with you.

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

I wanted to write to you so that if needed you can let others know about some things I've learned.

I got a boyfriend in 8th grade. It was fine with it and ended up dating a few more boys later. But I ended up realizing that i didn't like him as much as I wanted to, I just liked to kiss him and have someone around. (Just so you no, I now wish my first kiss hadn't been when I was 13 or 14, to a boy I didn't really like.)

Then in 9th grade, I dated another boy, basically same ending.

Then in 10th grade I feel kind of hard for a boy, but I never really realized it until after I ended it.
Then that turned into a year and a half of heartache because 1: I wasn't going to have "relationships" like that anymore and 2: I didn't know how to get over him.

Eventually I talked to him about it, cleared the air and got over him (that was two or so months ago)

But, before I got over him, I like another boy and basically had a "relationship" with him, even though we both denied it. and in the end, I talked to him about it and told him we were in a relationship and I didn't like it (plus he was 19 and starting to do his papers, already ordained and Elder and going to YSA activities, but would still go to youth dances to hang out with me, I was uncomfortable with the latter)

Now I am 17, haven't had a "Serious relationship" in about 9 months and I love it.

Yes, sometimes I wish I still had a 'boyfriend' but I look back, and it isn't worth it right now.

I have wonderful friends I see often, I generally go one a few dates a month (sometimes none, I am the Laurels pres. in my ward and I try to get the guys to ask us on dates... so does the Bishop).

I love my life.

My worth comes from God.

I know he loves me.

I know I love me.

I know my friends and family loves me.

I do not need a 'significant other' to complete me. I complete me, and Christ completes me.

Thank you Bro Jo for all you do, I have friends who have gotten advice from you and it has helped them.


Been there, done that, is now a better person.

Dear Been There,

Thank you for the kind words and that wonderful testimony!

- Bro Jo