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, October 31, 2012

Keeping the Girl - Part 2: Don't Let Her Get Away

Hey again Bro. Jo,

Your point is well taken. I completely understand what you're getting at here.

To answer your question about how I feel, this girl is not just someone I want as a backup plan.

She is THE plan, and believe me, I considered just staying here for the summer and bailing on my job, but I need the money terribly and given that we've only known each other for so long, I just didn't think it was logical to take a chance like that.

I don't believe in love at first sight, but going on just one date with her helped me understand so much of what was going on in my life; things I needed to change, lessons that Heavenly Father wanted me to be learning, it was the most spiritual experience I've had on a date, and all we were doing was talking!

I think it's kind of subjective to be thinking that I can't possibly live without her, because I don't believe in the proverbial "one" either, but I can't think of any reason I wouldn't want to continue dating her.

And it wasn't like I was just hoping and praying that this would happen on the date in the first place.

I just took her out to have a good time.

But she has made such a strong impression on me that regardless of whether or not we're together in the future, I'll remember her.

So, to better answer your question, it does pain me to think that in four months she could start dating someone else and be engaged to some really lucky dude, but I don't know to what degree she feels the same way towards me.

And I know that she won't be my only chance at eternal happiness.

I know I've got her attention, because she really wants to go out again, but again, I guess it just feels wrong to me to ask her to go out on a limb like that.

But like you say, when you find one who might possibly be willing to spend eternity with you, you don't want her to get away.

Thanks for your advice! It is much appreciated!

-Summer bound in Chicago instead of Nevada



Dear Chicago,

Hey again.

And there's your answer.

Forget "fair"!

Who cares about "fair"?

Doing what's best is not always about what's "fair".

I don't believe in "the one" either, although I did use that line to hang on to Sister Jo when we were dating.

Spend every moment you can with her, and when the time is right (hopefully very soon) tell her what you've told me.

And, again, good luck.

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 29, 2012

Texting Too Much - PART 2

Dear Bro Jo,

So firstly, just to clear a few things up:

The texts themselves weren't inappropriate in content or anything, it was just the volume of texts being sent. 

And I may as well just tell you the whole story too.

I go to school with this guy. I'd never spoken to him 'til I started working with him. It was school holidays so we would Facebook or text a lot.

After about two months I was told he liked me and wanted to ask me out. Over Facebook (yes I know, I know it should have been face to face) I spoke to him and he ended up saying yes he liked me, that he knew I couldn't have a boyfriend, and would I go to formal with him.

I said I would.

Then school started again and we never managed to actually talk to each other at school.

We would smile or say hi but never properly talk.

Then about a month later there were a few friendship conflicts regarding formal and one day he said sorry, but he wasn't going to take me to formal after all.

We stopped talking completely after a week.

3 months later (after formal) and he started talking to me again.

And kinda flirting just like before. And that pretty much brings us up to now.

Thanks for the advice.

I'm thinking I probably wouldn't want him to call anyway.

So maybe a message more like - "I'm giving up on this texting. If you want to talk to me then it’s gonna have to be in person."??

Thanks again for the help.

Oh and I was wondering where the "forty" came from?

- Forty



Dear Four-T,

Your original post was signed with four T's.  (Get it???)

I'm glad to hear that quantity was the issue, not content, but either way I think the Spirit is telling you something.

I think the message you have in mind is fine.

It makes me sad that so many people (not just young people) don't (or won't) talk to each other without hiding behind technology.

I honestly think it may be the reason why so many people are unmarried.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Yeah. I'm hoping it does some good.

But he got mad.

Oh well it's what I wanted right?

Thanks

- Forty



Dear Forty,

Well . . . You probably didn't want him to get mad . . . It was just very likely.

I'm curious what each of you said.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Yes.

Pity I still have to see him at school and work.

Well at first I just said the message I told you.

And then he wanted to know why.

I said there was no point when we didn't even talk to each other etc.

And it kinda just continued for a bit.

It was dumb.

He was angry.

And I tried to say sorry.

But oh well I'm over it now.

Thanks for your help.

I feel rewarded as I have been asked by a nice guy to the Priests and Laurels Ball :)

- Forty




Dear Forty,

Things always seem to work out.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cheese Gets a Stalker - Part 4

[Readers - Part 4 in a 5-part Special Saturday Series starting General Conference weekend.  Our friend "Cheese" has a guy in her life that really bothers her, but Mama Cheese and the Big Cheese seem to REALLY like this guy.  Is it possible that some guys just can't be repulsed?  - Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

He decided to come get lunch with me. And he is taking the long way. Thank heavens I can email on my phone. (I'm in the car with him right now.)  I didn't do my hair or my makeup I put on sweats and an old t shirt. He thinks I'm texting right now not emailing you. We are getting taco bell for the whole family, and my little sis and I went and sat at an entirely different table from him while we wait for the food. I have this friend who is on the BYU rugby team he is flying back here from Ohio tomorrow. I may ask him to help me. Tell the Jo boys thanks


- Cheese



Dear Cheese,

I would love to hear about some girl failures, I know I have had my share of them

I have news: wet hair, sweats and a t-shirt can be quite sexy, especially if a guy is already smitten. (Sister Jo I met at Disneyland where we both worked as Characters - I didn't see her with makeup on until I'd known her for over a year.)

Try using the "hypothetical" thing with Pete; "hey, I need your advice; I've got this friend who's parents keep pushing this boy on her, he's a nice guy but she doesn't like him in that way what do you think she should do?" - his answer could be interesting and enlightening.

For the record, I'm not sure I'm on board with the "involve another guy thing", it’s a little too deceitful and could lead you down the same path you're in now. The Jo Boys are right though, nothing is a bigger turn off than when the girl you like likes someone else; they really don't even date girls that one of their brothers has gone out with.

That, by the way, IS a killer technique. If you start asking Pete for his advice on other guys, that's sure to kill it. Treat him like a "big brother"; ask him what to about a guy you like at school, Rugby Guy, or any guy, really. I feel guilty telling you this, but if you firmly stick him in the Friend Zone, and make sure that he knows that's all he is to you, eventually he'll get it.

Just remember, once he's there, you may not be able to retrieve him should you choose to later.

Of course, you could also ask him what girls have done that he finds unattractive or "deal breakers" and do that stuff . . . just for my sanity and that of Big Cheese, don't do the really bad, damaging stuff.

I'll send you a list of some of the stuff girls did to me. Maybe you'll be able to laugh at my pain.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Bro Jo, I talked to mom and dad and I let them read everything. They promised to back out of it and let me handle this one my way.

Thank you so much for the help :)

Cheese



Dear Cheese,

Any time. Though I'm not certain I did anything.

Best to your family,

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mission Age Announcement Friday: Telling the Boyfriend that She Wants to Serve a Mission


Dear Readers,

While it's typically several months (sometimes a year or more) before an email I receive gets posted on "Dear Bro Jo", so many of you have thoughts feelings and questions related to the "Church Lowers Mission Service Age" announcement that I've decided to dedicate the next few Fridays to just that topic.

I look forward to your emails, questions, and our discussion of how this wonderful and amazing new course will change (if it does) our LDS dating culture and how it affects your lives.

Hope you enjoy the emails!

God bless,

- Bro Jo





Hello Brother Jo,

I love your blog and I you give great advice. So I have a question for you.

But let me start by telling you this. Conference weekend changed my life forever and I am so excited for my future. I was praying for an answer about where I should go to school and what major I should go
into. 

I got my answer! 

But I was so excited when they announced the new missionary age! I have wanted to serve a mission for years now.  Living in the North East I have been able to play musical numbers at many zone conferences and have been able to go out with the sister missionaries a lot. I was so happy to learn that I would be able to
serve the lord next year instead of waiting 3 years.

I am going on a mission and I can’t wait!  Being at conference and being able to hear the prophet at conference I know this is what I should do and I am so excited.

Now here is my problem:  I have a… “boyfriend” that is on his mission.

I can see you rolling your eyes now haha. BUT I didn’t plan on dating in high school. When I met my “boyfriend” (I will call him Sam) I didn’t want to be his girlfriend because he was preparing to go on his mission soon and we lived far away so I thought nothing of it when I started to talk to him. Well we talked every day for 6 months. We met at EFY and Sam lived in a different state. 

We had a “long distance” type of relationship. I got to see him a few times before he left on his mission. I ended up falling for him and we started to really care for each other. I made sure that I made it clear that I didn’t want to
get in the way of him preparing to go on his mission.  He told me that I really helped him prepare and that I was a really positive person in his life because his family life isn’t the strongest. I was happy that I was able to help him and it was fun watching him get ready for his mission.

Anyway the week before he left he told me that he wanted to marry me when he got home. I was so shocked that I said I had to wait to see and date you when you get back. I didn’t say I wanted to marry him back because he was about to leave. The whole thing was felt really weird..

I told him that I wanted to be able to date while he was gone because I will be going to college and I didn't want to be a missionary girlfriend that never dates any one and then it doesn’t work out and then regrets not dating. Sam said he was fine with me dating and I said that we could date when he gets back. He left on his mission and
I was so happy for him. But then he would tell me in his letters that he wants to marry me when he gets home and I told him that this is not the time for this to be telling me this and that he needed to focus . He said that he would stop and now his letters are more about his mission. I can see how much he has changed in the last few months and it is great. He really has a strong testimony now and I love that.


Ok so here is the problem I really love Sam but not enough to marry him. I don’t want to dear john him or anything, I want to support him and he still is my best friend. I want to be there for him, and to hear how he is doing.

But should I tell him that I going to serve a mission? I would end up leaving on my missionary a few months after he got back. I really want to keep writing him and support him but I feel like I should let him know that this is what I have chosen to do.

I told him before he left that I wanted to serve a mission with all my heart and I always told him that if I could I would go tomorrow, but now that is option (Well in a year). I want to let him know my plans to serve but I feel like this would hurt him a lot.  I want to tell him but don’t at the same time. The whole thing is bugging me and I am
thinking about it all the time.

Should I just let the subject go and not talk about it or should I tell him?

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

A girl who wants to serve a mission too!





I see no reason to, at this point, tell him of your mission plans.  If he asks, I don't think you should lie, but if he doesn't ask then I wouldn't say anything until you actually submit your papers.

In fact, until then I think you should keep going on Serious Single Dates with any decent, temple worthy guy that asks.

Remember, he's not your "boyfriend" because he's on a mission.

As for everything else, just enjoy life and wait to cross those romantic bridges when they come.

Don't ever let somebody pressure you out of doing the right thing.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Keeping the Girl - Part 1: Overcoming Being Separated Long Distance for the Summer

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi there.

So I took out this girl that I met online (through an LDS dating site, I can't imagine trying to navigate through a normal one) and it went incredibly well.

I may not be reading signals well, but I think we're both into each other, but the problem is I'll be leaving town for the summer to do a sales job. I'm not a big fan of long distance relationships, but I'd be willing to do anything for this girl.

However, I don't know if this is a fair thing to ask of a girl you have only taken out 3 times, or if it’s even a good idea to begin with.

Should I just ask her to keep her options open for the next few months, or what?

-Bound for a Summer in Nevada



Dear Nevada,

I've got to tell you, it sounds more like rather than you do anything for her, you want her to do something for you . . . and I'm not certain that three dates is far enough in to be asking a marrying-age girl to "keep her options open".

I mean, what does that mean?

Are you okay with her dating other guys (likely kissing them) while you're gone for the summer with the hope that she won't accept any marriage proposals while you're gone?

Or are you offering that the two of you put dating on hold for 3-4 months while you're away?

What is it You're willing to do for Her?

What value is there in this proposal for her?

Are you worth waiting for?

After three dates do you feel like you've established something?

Just how strong are your feelings?

Is it just that you can't believe your own good fortune, and you fear someone is going to figure out what you've discovered, which is how gosh-darned wonderful she is?

Or are you just thinking that it would be nice to keep this one in reserve, just in case you don't meet someone better while you're away?

Do you see where I'm going with all this, my brother?

Asking her to "wait" isn't you doing anything for her; it's you asking her to do something for you . . . and those are two very different things.  (Which is why, by the way, I've always said guys who ask girls to "wait" while they go on a mission is both selfish and cowardly.)

Now, that is not to say that you shouldn't ask.

I had a girlfriend move away once - it was the worst six weeks of my life. She finally agreed to move back home . . . and a short while later I married her.

Best decision I ever made.

You can ask.

You can tell her how you feel about her (and you probably should), but you may want to wait until you're a few more dates into this relationship.

Ask yourself the questions I listed above.

If this is someone you don't want to lose, and if you hadn't made the job commitment or needed the money so bad you'd stay, then that's something.

The Church runneth over with Good Single Sisters, but as I suspect you know, once you find one who might possibly be willing to spend eternity with you, you don't want to let her get away.

So . . . all of that said, if I were in your shoes, I'd date her every chance I got between here and summer, then a week before I left , if I still wasn't certain about where we stood, and if the thought of not spending forever with her was gut-wrenching, if the idea that you may lose her forever makes you lose sleep, I'd definitely tell her how I felt, tell her how much I love and need her, tell her that I hate the idea of being away for the summer, and then beg her to be true as I promised the same.

Good luck,

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 22, 2012

Texting Too Much - PART 1

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm back!

This time - I hope - not with a silly question which I know the answer to.

So I could tell you a long or short version of this story. I'm gonna stick to short unless you need more details.

Basically there's this guy (non-member) who I have gotten into a habit of texting quite regularly.

He's nice and everything . . . but I'm thinking it may be bordering on inappropriate.

So I guess my question is - how can I politely decrease or eventually stop this?

Is it the right thing to do?

Oh and I'm seventeen.

And I'm thinking that maybe you might need some more background but we'll see how this goes.

- Trying To Text Tactfully



Dear Forty,

You say you're "thinking it may be bordering on inappropriate"; I say that's a prompting of the Spirit telling you that it most certainly is.

You don't mention what your prior relationship was with this guy, nor you discuss the nature of your texts, but to be honest neither really matters.

Stop making excuses, stop looking for reasons to do what you know is wrong.

You know you're supposed to stop, so stop.

Look, not all texting is evil.

It can be a quick and quiet way to deliver a message.

When Sister Jo and I are apart, like when she's at a football game and I'm at a orchestra concert, we'll text each other; "They're playing this song", "he just threw for a touchdown", stuff like that. I personally think it's . . . (dare I say?) . . . PATHETIC when people choose texting over talking.

You have the phone in your hand, they have the phone in their hand, there's no reason for you to be quiet . . . dial the darned number and actually TALK to each other.

Sheesh!

The next time this guy texts you, if you want to talk to him, text him back THIS ONE LAST TIME, and say "I'm giving up texting; if you want you can give me a call".

After that, or if you don't want to talk to him, just stop responding to his texts.

Cold.

He'll probably get mad, but that's his problem, not yours. Just because someone texts you, there's no law that says you have to respond.


- Bro Jo

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cheese Gets a Stalker - Part 3

[Readers - Part 3 in a 5-part Special Saturday Series starting General Conference weekend.  Our friend "Cheese" has a guy in her life that really bothers her, but Mama Cheese and the Big Cheese seem to REALLY like this guy.  What can a girl do when a guy just won't take the hint or go away?  - Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

Why don't I like Pete when everyone else does?

- Cheese



Dear Cheese,

Maybe you don't like Pete because everyone else is so gun-ho about him. Great guy or not, that can be really annoying and a huge turnoff.

Plus, as teens, we're driven to become our own person. That sometimes manifests itself as a bit of rebellion; its as if being contrary establishes our independence . . .

And it probably does.

And I'm not sure that ever goes away.

You likely dislike Pete because everyone else thinks he's great and you feel like their all pushing him on you. I love chocolate - I eat some everyday - but if Sister Jo MADE me eat it all the time, as much as I love her and as much as I love chocolate I'd eventually hate it and get angry at her. Make sense?

Like me, another very Red Personality, BC and MC will probably have to learn the hard way that when we find someone we want them to like, we need to plant the seed and then back off, understanding that if it grows, it grows. And if its not growing, simply piling on the fertilizer isn't going to help; once the manure gets too high, the plant will just suffocate.

(Nice metaphor, eh? Feel free to use it.)

One of the most valuable things that a good friend of mine taught me about teaching seminary is that I can get too worked up about driving the Spiritual point home. I'm so passionate about the importance of what I'm teaching, that if I'm not careful, instead of just making the point, I bludgeon students with it. He said that its my job to "set the nail" (make the point) not slam it with the hammer over and over again. "Set the nail", he said "and let the students drive it on their own".

I've been working on it for years.


When it comes to romantic stuff, there really isn't a "treat everyone fairly" rule. Its not even an option. Case in point: just because you let one guy kiss you goodnight at the door, that doesn't mean you should let Every Guy kiss you goodnight. (I think BC would agree with that.)  Perhaps if you point out to him that the difference between the "other guys" randomly showing up and Pete randomly showing up is, as he said, you "liked" them. That's a big important difference.

We treat people differently based on how we feel about them. Its not only "fair", its right. It might be good to remind BC that there have been boys that randomly showed up that He wasn't too thrilled about. While you may have felt the same way BC did, he can certainly agree that he didn't give those boys the same "fair" treatment he's suggesting you give Pete. (If you do mention that, though, be gentle; we dads hate being lectured by our children, especially when you're right.)

I agree that you should be nice, or at least polite, but I also understand that: A) any niceness is going to be taken by Peter as a green light, and B) one's home should be a refuge from the troubles of the world, and its hard to take refuge if your troubles are in your house.


Clearly you do have a problem with Peter, and that's fine. But your bigger problem is that, in the words of The Fresh Prince, "Parents Just Don't Understand". (If you haven't heard that one, trust me, the folks have.   HA!) Your problem, if I may, is that they're shoving him on you and you're just not attracted to the guy.

Seriously, this too shall pass. Be Patient, but Be Persistent. Keep communicating.

Good thing you get to go on some non-Pete dates! (Make sure BC hears how thankful you are.)

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Pete just showed up at the house while I was in the shower. apparently mom invited him over last night without telling me. He is still here. I'm going to go pick up lunch. Maybe he will leave while I'm gone.


- Cheese



Dear Cheese,

Maybe you should take a long time . . . you know, pick up lunch really, really slowly. Take the long way. Pick up lunch the next county over. Walk there and back.

FYI - I just asked the Jo Boys what they think you should do. They said that you need to find another guy. Not necessarily for a relationship, but a "transitional guy". Preferably a Big Strong One. So you know, they each volunteered. In fact, they offered to come down there and "beat the Glee" out of Pete if it helps.

:)

One of the Jo Boys suggested that you should have fun with it. For example, he said that whenever you walk in a room and Peter is there you should run out screaming like you've seen a zombie.

Or start wearing your makeup like a circus clown.

The Jo Boys think they're funny.


I have a long list of things girls did that repulsed me that I can share if it helps!

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mission Age Announcement Friday: Pre-Mission Dating Advice . . . for Girls


Dear Readers,

While it's typically several months (sometimes a year or more) before an email I receive gets posted on "Dear Bro Jo", so many of you have thoughts feelings and questions related to the "Church Lowers Mission Service Age" announcement that I've decided to dedicate the next few Fridays to just that topic.

I look forward to your emails, questions, and our discussion of how this wonderful and amazing new course will change (if it does) our LDS dating culture and how it affects your lives.

Hope you enjoy the emails!

God bless,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro Jo!

I was wondering if you could give some guidelines for pre-mission dating in light of President Monson's recent announcement of the age change for missionaries.

For me as a female freshman at BYU, I am finding that the guys I am dating will be getting back from their missions at about the same time that I will get back from mine, now that I can leave at age 19.

Does this affect pre-mission dating at all?

Of course I understand that you should NOT make any commitments or anything like that before a mission, because that is just distracting and you never know if you'll actually want to continue the relationship after years have passed. But what do you think of things like holding hands and kissing (totally innocent, short, not passionate or anything inappropriate) when both of you are planning on going on a mission next year?

I mean, for my age group very specifically, a lot of the girls and guys will both be leaving at 19, so it is reasonable that both will still be single when they return, since it will only be months difference at most. I was just curious what you think, as this whole mission age change completely changes the dynamics of dating at BYU, and I'm sure in other YSA groups.

Thanks!

Freshman Pre-mi Girl



 Dear Pre-Mi,

 I don't think guys should Serious Single Date until they come back from their mission.

 Because women are not under the same obligation, I think they should feel free to Serious Single Date (once they've graduated High School) , especially if the mission is a year away. I've always told guys AND girls that I think dating should stop once the application is in. After all, what's the point?

I see no problem with simple kisses and hand holding on dates, even if one is only 16.

Sister Jo and I have spent several hours discussing and speculating on the social changes that may be a result of the new Missionary Age Requirements.

Ultimately only time will tell.

Will 19 year old girls who choose not to go on a mission be the most popular women at BYU Because there a rare commodity and 20 year old guy missionaries want to date and marry girls younger than themselves?

Will we see a bunch of 18 year old girls getting married because guys want to snatch them up before they leave for 2 years?

Will "MGs" no longer mean Missionary Girls for waiting for a boy to come home from a mission but Missionary Guys who are waiting for a girl to come home?

Is this the end of guys getting married as soon as they come home from their missions?

Interesting stuff.

But as I said, we'll just have to wait and see.

Whatever happens will be what the Lord wants, of course; for us it will be interesting discovering what that is.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rude Dude or Mixed Signals?

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.

Signed Crazy and 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 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

Monday, October 15, 2012

Age Differences: She's 18, He's Almost 31

Dear Bro Jo,

Okay so basically, I'm an 18 and a half year old girl and I've recently been seeing a really really amazing guy.

He is a worthy member, he's polite and educated but most importantly he has the strongest testimony of the Church.

However, he's almost turning 31.

We aren't dating officially or anything, I don't even know if he likes me in that way but we are getting to know each other and I feel I am at the stage where I'm starting to fall for him.

We have discussed the age gap before and we have both agreed that it's quite weird but at the same time it isn't that important.

I was just wondering what your views were on this, is the gap too big?

Thank you,

Too Young?



Dear Young,

I can't promise I won't post it, but I can promise I won't post it any time soon.

18 and 31?

I'm sure it's worked out for people, in fact I can name a few, but for me this one is Too Big of a gap for me to recommend.

Go with whatever the Spirit tells you; it's never wrong and I sure can be, but in general I'm not a big fan.  Just be sure that you're listening to the Spirit, and not your own wants (or the wants of a Creepy Old Guy that wants to make out with a teenager . . .)

I might feel better if you were older. I know it sounds like a double standard, but 25 and 38 or 34 and 47 bother me a lot less.

I guess what I'm saying is that 18, for me, is pretty young to be dating someone in their 30's. It weirds me out. (By the way, if you're still at the point in life where you describe your age as "and a half", you're not yet old enough for a lot of stuff.)

He needs to get married.  You were Casual Group Dating last week.  You both should be dating much closer to your actual age.

"Quite weird" IS important.

Oh, and before I close, you aren't "seeing" anyone that you're not "officially dating or anything".  Just so you know.

- Bro Jo




Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cheese Gets a Stalker - Part 2

[Readers - Part 2 in a 5-part Special Saturday Series starting General Conference weekend.  Our friend "Cheese" has a guy in her life that really bothers her.  She's talked to her parents, but they're not listening.  Do they know something she doesn't?  Or is it the other way around?  - Bro Jo]


Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for your advice, it is always much appreciated.

With Peter, I guess I have turned to you because I have talked to my parents... One or two times a week for the last year... They know exactly how I feel about Peter and Big Cheese has been backing off a lot but Mama Cheese just never stops. She is this way with almost every guy though. I think Mama and Big Cheese have actually gotten to know Peter better than I have. When he is at the house he talks to them, and I will run off and do my own thing.

In my Ideal world Mama and Big would have gotten the hint the first time I sat down in their room with them and said “I don’t like Peter. He Is nice, but he gets on my nerves. I don’t plan on spending much time with him and I hope you are okay with that.” Peter would have never had the opportunity to learn enough about me to like me. And I could just go on dates with people that I actually enjoy spending my time with.

In my slightly less Ideal world Mama and Big would have gotten the hint when I sat them down after Peter came over one time, and I said, “I would rather have bamboo spikes wedged under my nails than spend another evening with Peter.” Peter would have gotten the back off clue when he was over for 5 hours and I didn't say a single word to him.

But we are in the real world... Any and Every time someone brings up Peter, Big Cheese starts going through the list of “Required Character Traits For a Husband” They are 3 things and everything else if optional, and then he points out how Peter has all of them and tons of the “Bonus” stuff.

I have also tried to sit down with Peter and try to get the message through his thick skull that “I’m NOT interested!” I sound like a jerk. But I don’t care anymore. I’m just so sick of my parents and the way they practically worship Peter. And the way he cant decide he likes one of the other girls that are falling at his feet. (He has a fan club at the high school he went to)

I just don’t think talking to Peter will be effective until Mama Cheese stops spoon feeding me to him. Because If I tell him flat out how I feel about him and Mama and Big Cheese start sending me to group activities with him It won’t be effective.

How do I get my parents to validate my opinion? I don’t want to sound like some snobby teenager and say ‘It’s my life” but it is. I don’t want to spend even one more evening with this guy, let alone eternity. But I just don’t know how to make my parents accept and understand this. I have told them Everything I have told you and more, and with them I told them all the details I was too lazy to type, and/ or just chose to leave out. I really do love them, and I know they want the best for me, but is it really that good for me if it makes me miserable?

Thank you again.

Cheese



Dear Cheese,

Ah. I see.

You know I like your parents . . . and I make it a policy not to interfere . . . but there comes a time in each of our lives when we have to stand on our own two feet. You may be at one of those moments now. You've already told them all you told me and more, and their not hearing you; it’s time to stop beating around the bush and make your opinion clear and blunt. (Try smiling, it will help. And use that non-defensive conversational technique where, when you speak to them, don't use the word "you"; don't say "you aren't listening to me", instead say "I feel like I'm not being heard". It works miracles.)

Tell them "I just want you to know that I really can't stand Peter, I'm tired of feeling pressured to date him when I don't want to, and until I change my mind ON MY OWN, I'm not going on anymore dates with him".

Then be quiet and back it up with your actions.

Be stubborn.

The next time he's at your house waiting for a date, don't go. If they try to embarrass or push in front of him, just look him in the eye, and tell him "Peter, I've already told you and my parents that I'm not interested in dating you right now; I'm sorry about this situation, but I'm not going".

It may be a bit painful for all involved, but that may be for the best.

It might be helpful to divide and conquer. If Big Cheese is more of an ally right now, confide in him. Ask him to help you talk to Mama. Talk to him by himself and tell him how what your mother is doing is driving you crazy and ask his advice. If you can get him to buy into the solution because he's part of it, you'll be that much closer to having your problem solved.

What do you think?

- Bro Jo




Dear Cheese,

I was thinking about all of this again this morning . . . maybe a less confrontational approach is best. Stand your ground, but quietly. Bide your time.

Peter's supposed to be leaving for a mission soon. When he does a large part of this whole thing will go away. In the interim, just don't date him.

I know that may seem easier said than done, but I think there are some things you can do.

When Big Cheese talks about how he thinks Pete has all of the qualities you should want in a husband, have some replies ready. Instead of refuting the "evidence", agree with BC, but point out your concerns. Phrases like "daddy, on the surface he does seem like a Good Guy, but I'm telling you that when he and I are alone he's not the same man; I hope you don't want me to marry someone who's fake to you just so he can get to me" or "sure, those are great qualities, but it would also be nice to find a guy I can tolerate" might help. I know they'd work on me.

As for Mama, I do still think it’s a great idea to have dad help you with mom, and I'd include sharing with him how you think it’s weird that she texts Peter pretending to be you. By asking him how to help you deal with her, I think you'll strengthen that alliance and gain some very valuable insight. You may even want to bring in the siblings. Teach little brother Chunka what makes Pete such a loser, why he bothers you so, and how much what Big and Mama are doing bothers you, and I'll bet he mentions stuff to your parents the way only a younger brother can.

With Pete . . . other than waiting him out, I do still think that you should stop going out with him. As I've said many times, we guys are dumb, and instead of seeing the truth behind mixed messages we often see what we want to see. No matter how many times you sit on your hands, joke about not wanting to marry him, roll your eyes, refuse to talk to him when he's hanging out at your house, or do any number of things to try and "give him the hint", he's never going to get it, especially if you keep going out on dates with him. So stop going.

I know that's going to be difficult, especially if he's waiting at your house charming your parents. Just say no. Or better yet, "no thank you". And sit down. Or walk away. When the parental unit protests, when they say that you're being rude (and let's face it, you kind of will be being rude), tell them that you don't like "date ambushes"; tell them that you love and appreciate them, but you're tired of them pushing this creeper on you; tell them you're all "dated out" for the moment; tell them whatever the Spirit tells you is the right thing to say.

And never underestimate the power of prayer and how it can help us know what to say to people.

Between you and me, every time I need to talk to the Jo Kids about something important, when I remember to pray first, it goes A LOT better.

Again, Good Luck,

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mission Age Announcement Friday: Girls Who Choose Not to Go

Dear Readers,

While it's typically several months (sometimes a year or more) before an email I receive gets posted on "Dear Bro Jo", so many of you have thoughts feelings and questions related to the "Church Lowers Mission Service Age" announcement that I've decided to dedicate the next few Fridays to just that topic.

I look forward to your emails, questions, and our discussion of how this wonderful and amazing new course will change (if it does) our LDS dating culture and how it affects your lives.

Hope you enjoy the emails!

God bless,

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Hey there!

My question is regarding the news that girls can serve missions at age 19 instead of 21. Bet ya haven't gotten many emails on that topic in the past few days...

I am super excited that girls can serve missions at age 19!

I think it's a fantastic step for missionary work and I'm so excited for all of my friends who are making the decision to serve.

I'm 19, and I'm not making plans to go on a mission. I've thought it through a lot and, although there wouldn't be anything wrong with me going, I just don't feel like it's something I need to do. Maybe I'll feel differently in a couple of years, maybe I won't, but as of now I am not making plans for it. And I don't have to, right?

I know it's officially still optional for girls, but with tons of girls suddenly about to go, I'm feeling guilty for not going. Missionary work is good, so if if I have the ability to go, should I?

If I don't, am I being selfish?

And (this is the part where I worry about what other people think and I know it's petty but it still bothers me because it just does) if the new "expectation" becomes that single 19 year old girls should go on missions, am I going to be looked down on for not going?

Also, I've heard a lot about how excited boys are that there will be lots of young RM girls now, because it will be like a whole new "caliber" of girl.

Oh boy.

Obviously, I've always been hoping for a high caliber guy, but will any be interested?

Thanks for reading about my silly worries.

 - Miss Hesitant



 Dear Miss,

 Yeah . . . I've gotten a "few" letters . . . HA!

Not a problem. That's why I'm here.

Guy or girl, regardless of age, if someone doesn't feel like they should go on a mission, then I don't think they should go. One's heart and mind needs to be in the right place to be of Good Service. IMHO.

The difference, of course, is that guys are Commanded to go (not just "expected"), and girls are not.

Will people "judge" you for not going? Of course they will.

Should you let that bother you? Heck no.

Look, people are going to have opinions about what you do or don't do with your life regardless of what decisions you make. Go or Don't Go, people will not be minding their own business about your life and your decisions.

That's their problem, not yours.

Choosing not to go for a boy may mean that his heart is not where it should be (you may call that "selfish"), for a girl it doesn't mean anything. Of course, making that "judgement" means you'd be just like everyone else that you don't want to form opinions about you . . .

Some guys have desires to marry Return Missionary Sisters just as many girls hope to marry a Return Missionary. And there are several good reasons to make that choice.

Will that change or increase?

Hard to tell at this point.

But know this: anyone who would have married you but chooses not to when he finds out that you didn't serve a mission isn't the Good Guy you thought he was, and certainly isn't good enough for you.

And here's a thought: I've been wondering how our dating culture will change when 20-21 year old RM boys start coming home and there's fewer 19-21 year old girls to date because they're gone.

You and the other sisters who stay home may find yourselves with lots of dates!

 - Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Jealousy and Drama in the Single's Branch

Dear Bro Jo, 

So the Single's Branch here is fairly small, and the majority of the people are 23-24 and up. They will not let most of us younger ones (18 -20) even try to become their friend.

At least, not me.

I found out through a friend that the older people think I'm immature and seem to think that I'm always talking negatively about guys in general.

That is not true (at least the second part).

Besides, I'm only 18, so they should cut me some slack. I swear, the branch gossips more than High Schoolers!

I don't entirely know what I'm asking here.

Maybe how to deal with it or to help them understand. Something that bugs me is that most of them act really negatively and immaturely, and yet they're saying it's me. Maybe they think I'm negative, when really, I just feel like I don't belong. At all.

Why is it that the older ones are so unforgiving and don't try to understand why I am the way I am?

I'm just rambling and ranting.

Sorry.

 - The Younger Sister



 Dear Younger Sister,

Well . . . your letter isn't exactly dripping with Christian maturity . . . ;)

Look, sometimes in a YSA ward the "older" (23+) girls get really freaked out and jealous of the "new girls". For the obvious reasons.

You can't do too much about that and probably shouldn't.

It's not your fault that they're not married and approaching 30 (be nice though, it may not be entirely their fault, either), or that the guy they think should be theirs is now interested in you and all the other new (and younger) girls.

[Side note: I can make a pretty strong argument that their negativity, cliquishness and backbiting have a little to do with their lack of marriage proposals.]

You're entitled the occasional rant and ramble. What you're not entitled to is allowing the attitudes and problems of others to be your excuse for not being a happy, positive, upbeat and sustaining force within the circles you travel.

As you serve and lift others you'll feel better. I promise. Kill them with kindness. Sincere kindness.

Go out with any decent guy that asks, regardless of who may have a crush on him. And if you find yourself in the same boat four years from now, resolve not to treat the new girls the way you've been treated.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

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

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

Once again, thank you.

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

- The Younger Sister



Dear Younger Sister,

Gossip, and the fear of it, is one of Satan's biggest tools. As difficult as it is, and I agree it can be very daunting, we can't let our concerns over the opinions of others keep us from the love of the Savior.

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dating Like an Adult

Dear Brother Johnson,

First let me introduce myself.  I feel that I am different than the normal demographic that reads your blog. I am a 29 year old, single, educated, working professional who teaches in the inner-city. I am a returned missionary who is active in the Church and in my calling. I consider myself to be well put together, mentally and physically healthy, and overall a very happy person. I do not mind my single status, and feel no pressure to give up or settle. I have spiritual and secular goals and a job that give my life great meaning. I wake up every day with a smile on my face ready to face the challenges of life.

But I struggle with dating.

I'm going to be very honest; being "older" and single in the church is confusing at best. I feel that this is an area where the guidance of the church has failed to give direction. The rules of dating change dramatically between the ages of 16 and 18, but very little (if at all) between 18 and up. I understand that some things just don't change, the standards of the church don't magically bend after a certain age, but there must be some difference in the way we date as we age, right? I am certainly not the same person I was 11 years ago. To be clear, I'm not looking for new rules or a new set of commandments, just guidance or perhaps just your thoughts and advice on dating as a single adult. More than anything, I feel as though I'm in a state of perpetual adolescence. Most of the time I feel like I still date like a 16 year old girl.

Months ago I was at Stake Conference, and a talk was being given about the sanctity of marriage. The speaker was discussing the special bond between husband and wife, and the sexual relationship between them. I understood what he was saying, but I was filled with sadness and bitterness to the point where I left the room.

I looked around the room and saw these young couples, girls who looked not a day over 19, married with their husbands arms around them. They take for granted the basic human interaction of sex, something that I am deprived of simply because I did not find a man to marry at a young age. They talk about sex and relationships like it's entirely sacred, used for procreation and to create bonds with your spouse, and I do believe that, but I also believe that they use it to satisfy base urges.

I will keep my covenants, I have no desire to sin, but I am so tired of hearing people talk about this. I understand why I am waiting until marriage to have sex, but sometimes I feel like people ignore the single adults, and the struggle that we feel and the things that we are deprived of because we have not found someone who we want to be with for eternity. I often feel that I am set aside as a single woman in the church. I attend a family ward, primarily because I felt the singles ward was becoming a "practice ward" for young members of the church who were figuring it out, and I wanted something more.

My family ward has been great, aside from a few exceptions. For example, my visiting teacher partner regularly sets appointments and visits women without me, when asked, she tells me that she assumes that I am too busy to go with her because of my single life. It's the little things.

I fear that paragraph will paint me as a bitter, ranting, crazy lady, which is not my intent. I simply want to voice my concerns and feelings about playing the part of the adult adolescent.

I have been in several significant relationships, with good men, but not men that I would choose to spend eternity with. So here I sit, a righteous church member with a desire to date like an adult, find a spouse, and have the life experiences that seem so basic to so many people.

Unfortunately I have no idea what any of those should or do look like.

- Sister W.



Dear Sister W,

It's true that "Dear Bro Jo" has a large teen and YSA following, for which I'm certainly grateful, but you're not the only Single Over 27 that I hear from.

I think the reasons for that are right along with what you've stated: many Latter-day Saints get married fairly young, at least by worldly standards, and for those that are still single as they cross into their mid-late 20's, Celestial Marriage options seem to dwindle dramatically. It's one of the Ironic Axioms of the Church, and I hear it all the time: "if you're not married by 25 it's tough to find anyone good because all the Good Ones are gone". Sure, it rings true on some level, but the irony is that the Church is full of Great People who will make Wonderful Spouses that just happen to be over 25 but aren't yet married.

I hear complaints about the YSA "meat market" that is prevalent in many University Wards, and that "all the guys over 25 in my Singles Ward are creeps and losers", which is of course matched by the number of "all the single women over 25 at Church are bitter and unpleasant" claims. I've met so many great people in your demographic that I refuse to believe either rant, but do you know what does ring true?

All of you are single because you're some combination of whiny, scared, and too picky. Old people like me often walk into a conference full of you guys and proclaim that we have no idea what your problem is; in the same room that you all see dozens of losers you'd never marry we see a bunch of great people that, were we younger and single, we'd feel lucky to get to date. Do you know why there's that difference? It's because we've been married long enough to realize that the things you are filtering out aren't really that important.

If you want to date like an adult, then the first thing you need to commit to is dating everyone that asks (of course meeting a limited criteria that I'll mention in a moment) and keeping an open mind. Look around your family ward; there's no such thing as a "hot 70-year old", and yet I'll bet that most all of the retirees in your ward have been married. Were they all knock-outs at 20? Nope. Are they all perfect? Heck no. Is it possible that they were all flawless spiritually, mentally and physically at 24? Not a chance!

Marriage is work. The key is not finding someone worth working for, but becoming someone who's willing to do the work that's required.

I ain't gonna lie: sex is great. But you're absolutely right that it should be saved for marriage. It's not enough of a reason to get married (though I agree that it should be at least a little motivational).

So what are the criteria that a young woman needs to keep in mind?

The same things at 30 that she should have been looking for at 19:

1. He's single.
2. He's a worthy and active priesthood holder.
3. He works hard at whatever he does.

That's it.

How about guys?

1. She's single.
2. She's worthy to take to the temple and ready to go.
3. She'll be appreciative and supportive.

Nothing more is necessary.

It's like President Kimball said:

"If two people love the Lord more than their own lives and then love each other more than their own lives, working together in total harmony with the gospel program as their basic structure they are sure to have this great happiness."


(You can read the whole talk HERE - and you should. Note that it was given 46 years ago, but still rings true as if spoken today)


You mentioned that you have been in "significant relationships with good men" but that you wouldn't chose to spend eternity with them. Unless they weren't as good as you say, I fail to see what the problem was. You chose them for a relationship, so clearly there was something there, and you said they were "good", so what was the problem?

You seem like a wonderful and thoughtful person, but with love I submit to you that if the above was true, the problem, dear sister, was you.

It's time for a self assessment; do a little grading fellow teacher. Instead of eliminating potential spouses from your life because of eternally unimportant reasons, look inward and ask "what would I need to do to be a Good Companion for that Good Person". The thing is you're NOT 16 anymore; this is not about whether or not the hunky popular guy is going to ask you to the Prom And you're not 19 anymore; the 37 year old divorced with three kids guy is no longer a creepy stalker.


Hey, if you were really "okay with your single status" you wouldn't have walked out of the room and you wouldn't have written me. I understand that finding a Good Person to marry over 30 is going to be a challenge, but it's not impossible.

Let me give you one more point to back up my argument: couples in the Church who have been married for some time and then suddenly find themselves single, because of divorce or death, when motivated to remarry seem to have much less trouble than you never-been-married people, and they come back into the dating world with way more baggage (kids, mortgages, hangups) than you do.

Figure out why that is, and you'll be much further along your path towards Dating Like an Adult.

- Bro Jo

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cheese Gets a Stalker - Part 1

[Readers - Part 1 in a 5-part Special Saturday Series starting General Conference weekend.  Our friend "Cheese" has a guy in her life that really bothers her, but Mama Cheese and the Big Cheese seem to REALLY like this guy.  What would you tell her to do?  - Bro Jo]




Dear Bro Jo,

Cheese Here!

This time I am writing you and Mama Cheese doesn’t know about it. And frankly I don’t want her to know about (at least until after I press send) because I know she will try to stop me from writing this letter.

So in a previous letter to you I talked about my Peter Priesthood friend who is going to BYU on a full ride scholarship. Well I need some advice...

He Is madly in love with me. Mom and dad have not hidden their feelings toward him, and have made it VERY clear they want me to marry him. And I just do *NOT* like him. I don’t want to be around him EVER.

I don’t know exactly why I dislike him so much. He is righteous, kind, good looking, and he will make a decent living, and he can keep a conversation going, and he tries to be a perfect gentleman. But I feel like he is always wearing this tacky “I am perfect, and happy, and hyper, and spontaneous, and you will never meet someone who is better than me” mask. And trust me, I do like happy guys, but KEEP IT REAL. Sometimes you need to be serious. And sometimes, “Oh! That’s wonderful!” is not the appropriate response to something. But is that really enough reason to not like someone?

Here is a rough timeline of some of the ‘Events” of the last year and a half.

We would “hang out” a lot. And I promise that wasn’t my choice. He would randomly show up at the house, and Mama Cheese would make me drop everything I was doing to spend time with him. I didn’t get a say in the matter.

Mama Cheese once decided to tell him a few things that are very personal to me. I didn’t plan on telling him anything, but once he knew I talked to him about it.

One time Peter asked if I could go play night games with him and some of his friends. I was sick that day, but Mama Cheese made me go anyway. I was 15 at the time, and when we showed up at the park it was us and 3 other couples, so it was a group date not just friends playing games. After the other 3 couples left he was using every trick he possibly could to get some more alone time with me. But I just insisted he had to take me home. He did but not until after he kissed me. (fortunately it was JUST a kiss)

Now that i’m 16 he has managed to take me on a date. And it failed. I was out at dinner with the entire family, grandparents from out of state included. My phone started ringing, so I silenced it and when I saw it was Peter I shot him a text saying i was at dinner and couldn’t talk. Well apparently he was at my house ready to pick me up and was wondering where I was. No one told me I was going on a date! No one asked me on a date. No one asked my parents if I would be available for some sort of surprise date. But as soon as Mama Cheese saw the text she said, “Tell him you will be home in half an hour.”

When I got home he was gone, but he was back about 5 minutes with no double. Big Cheese told him that if he didn’t get a double or a chaperone I couldn’t go. (I wish he said, “You didn’t actually ask my daughter on a date. You interrupted our dinner. Her Grandparents are in town, and she has to drive them to the airport at 5 ‘o’ clock tomorrow morning. You didn’t get a double. And she isn’t allowed to leave the house because her homework isn’t done.”) In the end Chunka was our chaperone. He took us bowling, and it was not my definition of fun.

In the parking lot, when he got in the car to leave I was sitting on my hands (the way I do if i don’t want someone to hold them). He asked for my hand. I smiled and playfully asked, “What? Are you going to propose?” At that moment I realized I should have never asked that. He looked crushed like he knew by the joking tone in my voice the answer would be “NO!” But he quickly recovered and said, “Not yet.”

He took us home and drove 5 under the speed limit the entire way, and he kept trying to plan one more activity before we got to the house. When we were almost to the house he kept asking “Do you remember May 21st?” over and over again. I was trying to figure out what was on May 21st. He finally said. “That was our first kiss. My lips haven’t touched any other than yours.” We got to the house, I gave him a quick side hug, and I went inside.

Now I am sitting at home (the day after the date) Doing the homework I was supposed to finish yesterday when I got a call from him. He wanted to know If he could help me with my homework. Mama Cheese loved the idea. So he will be here in about a half hour. We shall see what happens.

I have not hidden the fact that I don’t kine him. I don’t feel bad about it, but I have been outright rude to him. I would ignore his texts and calls but Mama and Big Cheese get mad at me when I do. And when Mama Cheese checks my texts, if she sees I haven’t responded to one of his texts she will text him as if she were me. It’s CREEPY!

I guess what I want to know Is, How do I get him to back off when mom and dad are pushing toward me so hard.

Sorry I ranted a lot in this letter.

I am going to try to write the dating do’s list sometime this week.

I hope all is going well for the Jo family.


- Cheese



Dear Cheese,

I think you need to talk to them.

Sit them both down, tell them how much you love them, tell them you need to get something off your chest, and it will be easier if they could please just let you get it all out before they say anything. Then tell them everything you've told me here. All of it. Tell them that they're pushing too hard, and frankly that's making it worse.

I understand where they're coming from. Now that I'm a parent I'm a big believer in arranged marriages! Of course, back when we were dating Sister Jo's father never would have picked me (although I'd like to think that now he feels differently), but the notion that I could pick spouses for my kids brings a sense of comfort. I know that sounds awful, but as we old people get older we know more and more people who've made horrific spouse selections, and its such a Big Important decision . . . then add to that the desire of every Good Parent to protect their child from pain, and you begin to understand why, right or wrong, we meddle so much.

Just because we're parents, that doesn't mean we always think clearly, especially if we mean well. So we can come off pushy. (Heck, I even suggest the Jo Boys add people as Facebook friends in hopes that they'll meet Great Girls! - HA!)

And let's face it, Mama and Big Cheese don't have all the information you do. They don't know that "Peter" is pushy, a bit of a creeper, plastic, and overbearing. They don't know that he's using those "even though you're only 16, I feel that the Spirit has told me we'll be together forever" cheesy (sorry for the pun) Lame-o Mormon Boy hope-she-let's-me-make-out-with-her lines. When they do, I think they'll back off.

Now, I wouldn't totally burn that bridge; who knows? You may feel a bit differently in 3 years.

But, as I've said many times, no girl needs to go out with anyone who makes her sincerely uncomfortable.

Someone can be a Good Person and still not be a Right Fit. Happens all the time. Both Sister Jo and I can think of people we dated who were good people, but the chemistry just wasn't there.

So have the talk. And do it tonight. (To quote a favorite old TV show, sometimes you have to do it quick, like removing a band-aid: "Right off!")

Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

I'm here for a rant any time, and as often as, you need.



- Bro Jo

Friday, October 5, 2012

Are 30+ Year Old Divorced Men at BYU "Creepers"?

Dear Bro Jo,

I am 30 years old, and turn 31 soon, and now I reluctantly find myself back in the Provo dating scene after a recent unwanted divorce. I did everything I could to salvage my marriage, but my wife (whom I married when she was 19) was unwilling to make any sustained efforts towards reconciliation, and I believe that she secretly relished the thought of being single again because she bought into the worldly view that she had jumped into marriage too young and never got to experience enough of the singles life.

Even though my ex is LDS, and considers herself temple worthy, no counsel from Church leadership could persuade her to attempt reconciliation or even marriage counseling, because she said she had received "personal revelation" that ending our marriage was the right choice, and was strongly supported by her family in leaving me.

Even after a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote her a personal letter urging her to try marriage counseling she was unwilling.

Most frustrating was that there were none of the typical problems in our marriage that might justify a divorce, no infidelity, no physical abuse, no abandonment, and no financial difficulties. I have been going to marriage counseling alone through LDS Family Services, speaking with my Bishop, and attending the temple.

I have had two bishops, two therapists, and multiple friends all tell me the same basic thing... while no marriage is perfect, this was a rare completely one sided divorce, I deserved better, and I should not beat myself up about it and need to just move on.

The problem I face is a judgmental nature I am surprised to find in the Provo dating scene that never seemed present when I was single before.

Although I own my own business and do not need further education to support a family, I have chosen to come back to school to finish my undergrad because I feel that education is a worthy pursuit in its own right, and that I should take advantage of my newfound lack of responsibilities and abundance of free time to do something good to improve myself.

I find myself on campuses often attempting to flirt with BYU students and UVU students, who I find are all between 18-26, the few attractive ones I find on campus over age 24 are ALWAYS married.

There are very few women over 25 who have never been married that possess the character traits I find important. This is Provo and there are lots of good and worthy young men here to marry, so there is a good bit of truth to the thought that many of the best young women are married before they turn 25.

I have no problem dating other divorcees, but am avoiding women who left their husbands in the past because I feel it shows that if they ran from one marriage they may run from another.

My LDS therapist, and Bishop both fully SUPPORT, and helped me make this decision regarding women whom left their husbands, but since approximately 4/5 divorces in Utah are instigated by women, this does seriously decrease my dating pool.

I have never actually met a woman under 32 who was widowed or left by her husband. I dislike online dating, and "age out" of the YSA program in less than 30 days, so meeting girls at school seems one of my best and last chances at finding people to date.

While no one would mistake me for an Abercrombie and Fitch model, I am moderately attractive, younger looking, dress well, and am confident and charming, so things usually go very positively at first when I approach women.

Unfortunately though, whenever age comes up and they find out I am 30 things quickly deteriorate.

When a LDS girl finds out you are 30 years old the next question, 100% of the time, is why aren't you married?

I always answer honestly that I am divorced, and try not to make a big deal of it, but I have had many girls turn cold after finding out I was 30 years old and divorced, and the few that survive shocker #1 turn cold when they ask if I have children and discover that have a daughter.

Even Brigham Young said if you are my age and not married you are a menace to society.

It's as if my marital past somehow "proves" I am a bad guy, or would not make a good husband or father. I even had the joyous pleasure of reading one 22 year old girl's post on Facebook after meeting me where she expressed frustration about how she "finally met a guy that was nice, smart, kinda handsome, and pretty much perfect" until she found out he was "30 FREAKING years old, and divorced, and had a kid!"

She ended this post with the words "Creepy Old Man!"

Afterwards no less than 6 of her friends, all attractive female BYU students I would have considered in my dating age range, made comments in support of her "Creepy" characterization of me, none of them having ever met me. One even said I was "probably a pervert" because I was hitting on college girls.

Thankfully my name was never mentioned in the post.

Just a short time ago I was happily married with a beautiful young family, in a successful career, and EQP in my family ward. By any standard, I was living the typical LDS version of a wonderful life.

Now I find myself worried about impressing a seemingly endless array of shockingly immature college girls, and frequently feeling a victim of stigma, with nowhere to belong. I am a young man at 30, and even younger at heart, Should I lie about my age and past, or answer age questions in a vague way by saying "I'm a junior" or something like that?

Should I answer questions about marriage with "its complicated?"

I am afraid they may assume I am currently married!

I do not feel that I should have to lower my standards in order to find a spouse, but I am finding it very difficult to get past my past!

Any advice would be appreciated.

Sincerely,

30 and not a "Creeper."



Dear 30,

Nope. You shouldn't lie or mislead. (I know you know that, but you did ask.)

All that will do is manifest your reputation as a "creeper". Perhaps there's a way to deliver the information that isn't so abrasive, defensive or "in-your-face"; something flirty or with a little humor, like: "Don't you think a great guy like me should be married? I am having a really difficult time here finding women who won't be quick to judge me when they find out I'm divorced. You don't happen to know anyone like that, do you?"

See the difference?

Honest, but illicits sympathy and has a purpose.

Don't lower your standards, but widen your circle. (Although you may want to rethink what's really important when you label girls as "unattractive" . . .) I know it may not seem like it, but I promise you that BYU is home to THOUSANDS of single sisters over the age of 25. The cliche that "all the good ones are taken" is just not true.

 Trust me.

I have an email in-box full of letters from some of those women.

Frankly, 22 is too young for you. Not that there aren't some mature, ready-to-accept-someone-who's-past-isn't-perfect women at the Y . . . but they're rare. (As you've found out.)


I wrote a little tirade on the Facebook fan page (click HERE) a while back that went something like this:

I think University Ward Bishoprics should require all of the single brethren in their ward over 25, RM or not, to date all of the single sisters in their ward 25 or older before dating anyone younger than them, and RM Sisters twice. Those brethren should go on a date every week until they've dated all of those sisters, and every time a new one moves in, they have to date her, too, and to qualify as a date he needs to Plan, Pick Up, and Pay.

And I'm not talking about one of those cheap, under $3 Mormon teen dates, I'm talking about $25+; buy her dinner, you cheapskate! Can't afford it? Get a job! If you don't have a job, well then . . . no wonder you're still single. While you're on the date, TALK TO HER. Get to know her better as a person. Treat her like she's special and important - trust me, she deserves it.

And, if you're not the creeper you say you are, and if you're lucky enough that she'll let you, at the end of the date thank her for going out with your sorry carcass and try to kiss her on the cheek goodnight.
 
Until you've done all of that, you should be forbidden from having the phone numbers of the younger sisters in your ward - so don't even ask for the "new ward phone list". In fact, I think it would be great if the under-25 sisters would all band together in a showing of sisterhood and refuse to even talk to you until you've accomplished the assignment.


Like I said, it was a tirade, but I think it makes a pretty valid point, too (if I do say so myself).


Your problem isn't the judgment of others, and honestly, I'm not surprised about the "judgmental" looks and comments; and I don't think you should be either. (People in the Church are still just people, my friend. They have opinions, make mistakes, and are by no means perfect. You're not. I'm certainly not. So why should everyone else be just because they're going to the Y? The best thing you and I can do about that is to be less judgmental ourselves.)

Your problem is that you were in a bad marriage with a woman you should not have picked. Rather than replace her, its time to find a woman of substance, faith and character. Sure, she may be hard to find, but not impossible, and oh, so worth the effort.

As you’re looking remember this: real women are not still "hotties" at 60, (and guys aren't either, by the way), but your grandpa wouldn't trade your grandma for anything. When you understand why, you'll know what you're really supposed to be looking for in an Eternal Companion.

Widen your circle. Be genuine and sincere. Be you. Be honest.

And be willing to date some girls you might not have considered before.

Ignore the rude comments, immature posts, and unrealistic opinions of others.

Stay positive. Chicks dig that.


Wishing you the best,


- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Full Repentance - Part 3

[Readers,  this is Part 3 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,

So I was reading your post from today . . .  and I just wanted to thank you personally for posting it, more specifically the link to the older post about procrastinating repentance.

It was Oddly similar to the situation I'm in. Age, time-line, repetitiveness, feelings, even where we attend school.

And the actions, just minus the pornography.

But anyways, I regret not finding that particular post a couple weeks earlier before sending you all that other stuff, but boy am I glad that I did now.

I didn't move since the last time I wrote you, but my ward boundaries did just split last Sunday. Which means yet another Bishop. I go back to school in September, but my records are here, so I'm not going to wait. I'm going to go talk to my Bishop here. Whether he thinks it's necessary or not, I'd rather be safe than sorry, and I'd rather Myself feel worthy again, and Truly resolve the problem this time.

Thanks again, I find you and your blog inspirational.

- Little Sister


Dear Little Sister,


Wonderful!

May the Lord bless you with the things you need as you journey back to him,

- Bro Jo



*** Two Months Later ***


Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for your support, Bro Jo!

I am happy to report that-- I have now completely used the Bishop's guidance to help me come to Full repentance; it was still hard of course, and yet it was so easy, knowing that it was the right thing to do and that I truly

Needed that in my life to be able to come to full repentance and forsake it for good, and to be able to forgive myself as He has. I now truly believe that I have been made clean again through the atonement of Christ, and have been taking the sacrament and going to His temple to perform baptisms for the dead for several weeks now and feel Fantastic about doing so.

To not have to question my worthiness or honesty is so rewarding. I can feel myself becoming myself again, and I'm happy. I also just arrived back at BYU-I and start tomorrow, and I can feel right about being here too, as I do.

It's reassuring to know that I have nothing to worry about with that anymore. Oh and guess what else? I finally found a store that wasn't sold out of your book so I bought it on my way up to school yesterday! And I've already read the whole thing (: I really appreciate your blog, your book, and your email responses you have been so kind enough to provide me with personally. I cannot thank you enough!

You're fantastic.

- Little Sister



Dear Little Sister,

That's very nice of you to say, but I don't deserve any credit here. It's all you and Christ.

I'm so happy for you!

Don't ever lose how this feels; don't ever forget the contrast in your heart between then and now.

Thank you for the kind, if undeserved, words. I appreciate the support.

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 1, 2012

Guys and the Remote Control

Dear Bro Jo,

 Hi, I just have a quick question about how to know the difference between being pushy and being encouraging...

I never know where the line is and I often worry too much about crossing it.

 I met what seemed like a nice cute guy at an institute activity about a week and a half ago, we danced a few times, talked well (although we both seemed a little nervous) and at the end of our dance he asked for my number which I gave happily... so far, so good.

However, I have not heard from him at all since, not a text or a phone call or anything.

A couple of days ago I added him as a fb friend (it feels so childish to even say that haha, but lets face it, that has become part of the dating world) anyway, he accepted the request within and hour, so that was encouraging, and I was hopeful that it would give him a little reminder that he has my number, and he should use it.

What I am trying to figure out now is if I should send him a message with a little encouragement, or just let him call if he wants to... I am not trying to push anything because I don't even know if I like the guy yet (we haven't even been on a date) but I would like to find out.

 I am asking about this particular situation, but also just in general, when does a girl go from being encouraging and showing her interest, to being pushy and scaring the guy away?

Thanks!


- B



(PS: I love hearing your advice for us girls not to call the guys

I have been told by many people that "maybe I should just ask the guys out" but I am old fashioned, and believe (along with the that it is the guys responsibility to initiate these things. But I also hear from my guy friends that they would like it if a girl asked them out, it annoys me when they say that haha)





 Dear B,

What you're asking about is a fine line.

Use your friends. That's what they're for.

(And they should know they can use you, too.)

Have a mutual friend go up to him and say "so, what's your deal? You asked my friend for her phone number but never called. Are you not smart enough to ask her out?"

See that way he gets the message and you can be nonchalant.

I'm all for learning the Gospel, but once in a while I think YSA Relief Societies need to meet and do some plotting on how to help each other with the clueless boys meeting down the hall.

Imagine sisters setting each other up on dates - now that's service!

Oh, and since I probably can't say it enough, the same thing that makes guys want girls to ask them out is the same thing that makes guys like TV remotes: we can be lazy by nature, and love the idea of getting what we want without any effort.

What girls need to understand is that guys never take the remote out to a nice dinner; they leave it on the sofa to sit there, pretty much forgetting about it until the next time they feel like using it; and when they're out to dinner with a girl that required them to make some effort, then give no thought to the remote at home; heck, they don't even know exactly where they left it.

- Bro Jo



 Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for the advice!

I decided to send him a message and just say 'hey is was good to meet you the other day, thanks for the dances' but I didn't get a reply and left it at that.

I pretty much gave up on it and figured he had just decided he wasn't interested or whatever. However, he called tonight!

We are going out on Wednesday, so I am excited to see how things go!

Although I am sure I will be put in the position where I am worried about that line again, and probably soon, with him or another guy.

I would love to plot and set up members of my ward!

Unfortunately most of the guys in my ward are very picky (or they seem picky). They want 18 year old barbies (young, skinny, blond, certain height, etc...) who ask them out.

Plus I am pretty sure there is something wrong with those boys, they are much more interested in spending quality time with each other rather than any girl, it scares me a little bit . . .

I love the remote analogy!

I wish that more people felt that way.

But the idea that it is the guys who should do the asking has sadly become "old fashioned".

Thanks!

-  B



Dear B,

The boys in your ward aren't picky; they're lazy, cowardly and dumb.

And the Sisters in your ward are letting them get away with it by "hanging out" and mothering them.

Men ask women out. Boys do not.

Women are interested in Men, not boys.

That's an eternal idea that will never become "old fashioned" (what a cop out), or go out of style.

Hope you have fun on your date!

Remember that it's just a first date; don't read too much into it or expect too much. Insist that this man treat you with the respect that a Daughter of God deserves. (That includes making him open all of your doors.)

- Bro Jo