Things to know

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

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

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

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Friday, November 30, 2012

When Your Buddies Have No Interest in Dating

Dear Bro Jo,

I've been sixteen for about 4 months and have gone on a total of about 4 dates.

My problem isn't that I don't want to date, because I really really want to!

The problem is that my friends have no desire to date!

All my friends are LDS and are sixteen or older as well, and they just have no strong desire to go on group dates.

We hang out all the time, and we have a lot of fun together as just guys.

At school we hardly ever see each other though, and it's not really seen publicly in our school that we're all really good friends.

We all come from different backgrounds as well.

One of my friends is more into the theatrical and singing group in the school; one of my friends is into just about everything and is super funny; and the others are heavily involved in sports like lacrosse and basketball.

I am way into the sports scene as well running cross country, track, and being a triathlete, but I'm sorry to say I don't really have any really close friends outside these LDS group of guys in my ward.

I was in the "popular" group as a freshman with all the stud freshman football and basketball players but I decided to separate myself from that group because of their issues with drugs and alcohol leading into sophomore year.

Now the problem I'm faced with is that I want to date all these girls in my school, but the only one's that I want to date are in the "popular" scene as well.

The classes that I'm in are super rigorous and the girls in those classes aren't exactly the kind of girls I want to go on dates with.

I have girls though, that I know pretty well from Church activities and Stake Dances, and I know they'll go on a date with me but I want it to be a group date!

And my friends aren't exactly willing to find a girl to go out with.

They think that getting a group of girls together that don't even know each other will be awkward and just won't work out.

I agree with them too, I think that getting girls together that don't even know each other at all will be super awkward!

I've talked to my parents about what I should do, but they haven't provided any good insight. I've fasted and prayed too for help with my dating situation because I really feel and want to start dating!!!

I need your advice Bro Jo.  I need help on getting to know more girls that I don't have classes with and on getting my friends together to have group dates!

We sure talk a lot about getting all these girls that we could date when we hang out as guys, but we never put it into action!

From,

Needing a Buddy




Dear Buddy,

First of all, four dates in your first four months of being 16 is pretty darn good!  The goal is a date a month, and you're right on track.

But when it comes to struggling to get your pals to be good dating buddies, you're not alone. Even the Jo Boys have from time to time struggled to find a good dating buddy.

(A house full of brothers who have a testimony of dating is no guarantee; brothers can be busy with stuff.)

So there are three things you can do.

1. Widen your circle of friends. There's a lot of Good Guys out there who aren't members of the Church (yet); guys who aren't doing drugs and drinking alcohol. The Jo Boys have found that some of their best Dating Buddies, and best friends, are non-member guys. You may also find that you're doing a little missionary work.

2. Focus on just one Church Buddy. Rather than deal with the challenge of getting a bunch of guys to buy in, pick one. Preferably one who isn't afraid of girls. Maybe even try to solicit help from his siblings and parents.

3. Take a step back. Set up some movie parties and game nights at your house. As they guys and girls become more comfortable with each other, they'll be more open to dating. Have patience and be positive.

And you're wrong about a couple things:

A)  Getting together on a Group Date with a bunch of girls you hardly know need not be "super awkward"; if you have the right attitude it can be a lot of fun to get to know new people

and B) you shouldn't limit your dating to just the "popular" girls; there are some great girls out there that are tons of fun and may not come with all of the "popular group drama"; don't limit your options to just one social click at school; don't be so shallow.

Don't give up.

Happy Dating,

- Bro Jo

PS:  Maybe you can have some success pointing out to your brethren that Casual Group Dating is great missionary prep . . . it is, by the way.  That's one of the reasons you're supposed to do it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Overcoming the Spiritual Void Left By Pornography and Mastubation

Dear Bro Jo,

I have done something wrong.

Starting when I was young (around 5 years old is the 1st time I remember) I . . . did things with myself.

Things that I am not proud of now at all.... I would masturbate.

This activity, along with looking at pornography started when I was so young I couldn't understand it was wrong and progressed until I knew better and couldn't stop.

My sin it felt like was always in the way of my relationship with God.

I could be doing my best at reading my scriptures and praying, but this thing along with other sins just felt like I was doing everything in vain and I would always fall back into my old ways.

Fortunately since that time in my life I have progressed.

Over the summer I had some good spiritual experiences and I made some major changes in my life.

I am now 16 and it has been since around my birthday in last year that I have done anything close to immoral with myself.

I honestly feel that I won't do it again :).

However, in some ways I still feel trapped. I am soooo ashamed at what I have done. If anyone found out about this evil thing I did I would be sooooo upset I can't even imagine!

For me being a girl it makes it worse.

I feel so alone.

This sin is usually found in guys who can't control themselves and that makes me feel weak and disgusting . . .

This is where I have become very indecisive.

How could I ever tell my sweet Bishop of this sin I committed for so long?

Do I even need to because I know I've stopped and it started before I was 8?

Also is this something I need to let people know? People I date?

Am I not worthy to enter the temple?

Finally, could I be excommunicated for something like this?

I'm sorry if I’m piling this on you and maybe this is not the usual question, but I really need some perspective.

Thank you so much,

- Ashamed


Dear Little Sister,

You need not be "Ashamed"; even though we make mistakes, through the Atonement of Christ we can become clean again.

And you're not alone.

Yours is not the only email on this topic I've ever received, from guys . . . or girls. It's natural to be curious about one's body, particularly when we're very young.  But, as you've discovered, masturbation and pornography become addictions that taint our view of sex, and mess with our hearts, minds and spirits.

Loneliness is one of Satan's most powerful weapons against us, but we're never alone. The Savior knows anything and everything we may ever have to endure.  He is the friend that never leaves us.

Any behavior that keeps us from feeling the Spirit is behavior that we need to cleanse from our lives.  It's wonderful that you've stopped, so now you need to do what you need to do to feel whole; so that you feel free instead of trapped.

Your Bishop cares about you, and will want to help you feel the love of the Savior. He's the one who can answer questions about your worthiness and will be able to help you feel like you can go to the Temple.

You certainly don't need to tell people you date (and shouldn't) about your transgression.

If there's nothing more to your story than what you've told me, then I highly doubt you'll be excommunicated. But that's between you, your Bishop, and the Lord.

Trust me: your Bishop has heard much worse.

Talk to him.

I promise you'll feel tons better.

Call your Bishop now and see him as soon as you can.

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 26, 2012

Can a Victim of Rape and Abuse Ever Trust Enough to Find Love? - Part 2

[Dear Readers,

The writer in this series has endured some pretty bad experiences with guys.  So bad, that one can understand why she has trust issues and why those issues have her concerned that she may never meet a man she trusts enough to marry.  So she starts by asking what will be the Eternal Consequences for her if she doesn't get married in this life.

But the emails reveal other concerns as well.

Below is Part 2.

Part 3 will post next Monday.

Please keep your comments sensitive to her situation and experiences.


- Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you.

It helps to have a better understanding of that Gospel principle.

Of course I told someone other than you about the rape. I couldn't have told you that if others didn't know. No offense.

And about the other guy, we were in a big wave pool and he was behind me. It was crowded so his hand was on my shoulder. I didn't think anything of it I just assumed he didn't want to lose me in the crowd.

He got a little closer to me and his hand slipped off my shoulder and down the front of my suit.

No, I didn't slap him.

I know everyone says that’s what you should do but I couldn't.

I can't hit people, even though what he did was very wrong I couldn't hurt him.

I just went into shock.

Moved his hand and left. I'll try to keep dating it just takes time to get over but I will go when I'm ready.

And ya, I have rotten luck with guys but, to be quite honest, Good Guys are hard to find now these days.

I know they're out there but it sure seems like every guy has only one thing on their mind.

And it's sad.

But I figure why date them if they can't respect me?

I would just be repeating history.

And it's true this world is becoming a disgusting place and women aren't proving themselves very well either.

But I feel like good, righteous women are much easier to find then righteous men.

Sorry for my rant.

But I appreciate you getting back to me.

So thank you.

- Name Withheld




Dear Little Sister,

No offense taken; you might be surprised at just how many letters I get from people who have serious problems, or suffered serious abuse, and never told anyone.

Did the guy whose hand slipped ever try to contact you and apologize?

Is there any chance it was an accident?

I mean, I know it happens, but to intentionally cop a feel in a crowded place is not the kind of thing most people would do.  Plus, like you said, it was crowded and he "slipped".

I'm not here to defend him, but I believe most people are basically Good.  I disagree with you that "Good Guys are hard to find"; I think it's quite the opposite . . . IF you're looking in the right places.

And isn't it possible he was just as mortified as you were?

Don't take this wrong, but (to be candid) a lot of guys frankly couldn't distinguish between a shoulder and a breast.  Seriously.  I know that sounds weird, but I know a guy who sang in a Show Choir I was in who spent a whole number thinking he had his arm around a girl's shoulder (as was the choreography) only to learn when we all saw the video that he had reached around her shoulder and been holding her boob the entire number.

He was horrified!

(And, rightfully, so was she.  Although I think she recovered much quicker than he did . . .)

Look, he may have been a total jerk, but isn't it also possible that this moment was tainted by your previous experience?

What was his reaction to your reaction?

Now, even if it was an accident, you needed to stand up for and defend yourself.

I'm not an advocate of using violence to solve all problems, but there are times when force may be necessary to protect yourself.

Seriously, no joke: take a self-defense class.

Better yet, have one as a Young Women's activity; there are lots of people and organizations that will come and teach basic defense techniques to your group for free, and I'll be you're not the only one who could benefit from such a class.


(I personally think Self-defense classes need to happen twice a year in EVERY YW group, world wide.)


You should never go on a date with a guy that scares you, but believe me: there's a lot more Good Guys in this world than Bad Guys. I'm sure, given time, you'll find one.

You have every right to be jaded, but hang in there.

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Chat About Some Last Minute Missionary Questions

Dear Readers, 

A while ago I had this chat with a reader who was about to enter the MTC. 

His comments are in RED

Mine are in BLUE. 

Enjoy! 

- Bro Jo


Bro Jo HI! 

You might be able to give me one final piece of advice before I head off on my call to serve... 


I'll do my best 


My friends around me have been really supportive of me leaving 


excellent 


A lot of nice and amazing things have been said, a lot more attention has come my way in the past 6 weeks 

As I leave for the mission field though, I suspect there a few girls out there who in some way wish they had spent more time with me... If you get my drift... 


that's a good thing 


A few of the comments have been saying that straight up; Other comments I can easily read into; I've received a few tight hugs & kisses on the checks... 

Which amounted to zero before the call had arrived 


girls are funny that way (wait until you get engaged


My final farewell is at the airport on Thurs my time; I suspect there will be a few more words said. I've got 2 books I've had going around with messages of support etc. etc. also good 

As I read them on the plane over to NZ MTC (Keeps things interesting) and as I receive letters in coming months... ... How should I react to these "over-the-top" letters at all ... 

Or any letters that will come across in a flirty way During AND After the Mission 

2 years is a long time I know - But it will fly by, and even though I have in my mind right now that all girls by the time I get back will be at least engaged - Makes things SO MUCH easier in my mind at the moment.. 

I kinda have just smiled my way through the past few weeks - But that's only cause I can usually find an excuse to move on fairly quickly


DURING - you focus on the Gospel - ignore the flirting but be thankful for the correspondence - and respond with stories, experiences and testimonies related to your mission 

AFTER - the mission, you date my friend - a lot - a date a week for RMs is my recommendation, you know


Or a reason finds me fairly quickly - I'm a busy person Just ignore it sounds good Dating sounds better Yea... 

Thanks 

So just don't keep the fire burning... 


it will burn on its own - no need for you to add fuel - that will just make you more homesick and distract from the work 


I never have wanted to 


the old adages about a successful mission are true:

work hard 
love the people 
be of service 

that's all you have to do 


Aye 


 not every day will be dancing trees and singing flowers, but when it's all over the Lord will say to you "well done"

- Bro Jo





Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dating Questions

Dear Bro Jo,

I have two questions.

The first is more of an actual situation.

I like this guy in my ward. He's a good guy , nice etc. And I've been on a couple of group dates with him.

But I've known him for so long that I find it hard to think of things to keep the conversation going. I had a look at your list of things to talk about on a date but most of that stuff I already know.

So I was wondering if you had any suggestions.

The second question is more general.

I don't know if you have the answer but I figured I may as well try.

I want to know how to change my mentality about things.

It seems to me that I always know the rules. I know what I should be thinking or feeling but then something happens and I get jealous or cranky or something.

I suppose it's a tendency to think of situations as the world would think of them. Like wishing I could just have a boyfriend or wishing that the guy I like would stop flirting with my friend and her sister as well. So is there a way to change the way I think?

Cause I can easily tell myself that I should just be group dating so it doesn't matter, but that doesn't stop me from feeling as though something should be happening.

Any ideas?

 Thanks,

Over Being Seventeen



Dear 17,

Once you know all of the trivia stuff, what's left are deeper, more meaningful conversations.

You find out each other's opinions about stuff. Current events, politics, conference talks, people you know, things you've learned are all never ending topics of conversation.

You can talk about goals and plans and hope and dreams.

Of course all of that may be much deeper than a 17-year old wants to go. That's also part of why you're supposed to be dating lots of different people at this point in your life.


As for your second issue, and please understand that this comes from a logical kind of a guy, what you need to change is not your brain, but your heart.

Nothing is wrong with having thoughts and feelings, but if you want to align your life more with that of the Savior (and I'm not saying you need to, only commenting because of your expressed concern) then you need to do those things which He would have you do. 

And you know what the Sister Jo answer to that is, right?

Service.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for that.

Sorry to be a bother but when you said about dating lots of different people that reminded me of another question I had.

I live in an area where our ward and stake boundaries are quite geographically large. Which means that the people my age are spread out and a lot of them I only know by face or name.

In my ward there are about 3 active priests. And that is matched by 3 active laurels.

So when we had our priests and laurels ball the four of us who were available went as couples together and we have been to a few other things as kind of double dates.

One guy does most of the organizing and other than the ball nothing has been officially labeled as dates.

The thing is if it wasn't for these two guys I wouldn't be dating at all. I know of some people in our stake who go on actual group dates but most of the guys who would do the asking are either now in YSA or are people who I've never spoken to.

I don't know how I'm meant to date lots of people when no one is dating?

How can I go on three dates and then stop when there is no one to date in between?

Am I meant to start saying no just on the principle that I should be meeting new people?

Or just enjoy the fact that I can date at all?

As for that second question - I think that was exactly what I needed to hear.

It really touched me and made me want to stop thinking and start doing.

So thanks again!

- 17




Dear 17,

A lot of my readers your age will say that you should be grateful that you're dating at all . . .

And they're right.

Some of them would point out to you that anytime you go out with kids your age in even numbers, especially if the guy plans, picks up, and pays (but not necessarily), where people are paired off (but again, not necessarily) it's a date, whether you call it that or not.

And they'd be right, too.

But let me add this: Casual Group Dating need not be limited to only members of the Church.

(I commend the two young men in your stake that are taking the initiative!)

All that needs to happen is that the Dating Rules be followed. Expand your dating pool! 

Plus, think about it: with two guys and two girls, all you have to do to keep it casual is to switch who's going out with whom every other month. (See "Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating").

It's as simple as that. Relax and have fun!

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Okay that's a comfort :)

I just wanted to check it wasn't inappropriate.

Thanks so much!

 ~ 17




Dear 17,

Anytime!

- Bro Jo



Monday, November 19, 2012

Can a Victim of Rape and Abuse Ever Trust Enough to Find Love? - Part 1

[Dear Readers,

The writer in this series has endured some pretty bad experiences with guys.  So bad, that one can understand why she has trust issues and why those issues have her concerned that she may never meet a man she trusts enough to marry.  So she starts by asking what will be the Eternal Consequences for her if she doesn't get married in this life.

But the emails reveal other concerns as well.

Below is Part 1.

Part 2 will post next Monday.

Please keep your comments sensitive to her situation and experiences.


- Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

I have been rather concerned recently.

About 5 years ago I was raped when I was walking home from a school dance.

4 years after that I had just turned 17 and decided I would be courageous and accepted this guy’s offer to go on a date.

Due to the incident before I had a really hard time accepting guys offers to go on dates. Even though they were group dates I was worried I would be taken advantage of again.

On this date, my very first might I add, we went to a water park.

I was modest, one piece bathing suit that didn't even go low in the front, but to my dismay it didn't stop this young man from reaching down the front of my suit.

So as a result of these incidents I have a hard time with guys.

And I'm not yet a fan of the whole dating scene.

But I'm working on it.

So here is my question:  I read somewhere, I can't remember where it might have been, the journal of discourses or in D&C, that you cannot reach the highest glory in the Celestial Kingdom if we are not married.

Now I know I'm 18, these things take time to get over, and me personally I am nowhere near ready to get married. Heck I can barely date.

But I guess my concern is that I won't get married and receive those blessings.

So if I can't get over my fears now will I have an opportunity in the next life?

Or because I may have the opportunity now, and if I don't take it am I stuck?

I know I may not be seeing the whole gospel picture here and am probably missing important principals.

So if you could help me understand?

I appreciate you taking time to this read letter, so thank you very much!

- Name Withheld



Dear Little Sister,

To reach the Highest Level of the Celestial Kingdom we must enter into the New and Everlasting Covenant of Eternal Marriage.

That's true.

It’s also true that God is both just and merciful, so Sister Jo and I are looking forward to acting as proxies for the Sealing of my grandparents, who were not members. They, my grandparents, will of course have the choice to accept or deny that sealing. (Law of Agency, you know.)

The Lord, through his prophets, had also taught us that those who have not had the opportunity to marry, or marry well, here will have an opportunity after this life.

That said, we've also been taught that its much easier to meet and marry here than in the eternities.

I believe that if we do the best we can, always trying to be better today than yesterday, that everything will work out.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, don't worry about it.

Now, regarding the rape and the guy that felt you up on your first date . . . I hope you've told someone other than me about the rapist. He needs to know the consequences of his actions. I understand that being a difficult thing, but when jerks like that go unreported they keep hurting other people.

Five years is not too late.

Tell an adult you trust; parents, priesthood leader, auxiliary leader, someone.

As for the other guy . . . I have a question: just exactly what were you doing that he was able to do what he did?

I mean the hand down the front of a swimsuit thing is pretty difficult to do . . . unless you're already in close to begin with . . . Don't get me wrong, I hope you slapped him . . . or as my Football players say "hit him so hard he lost his testimony"; don't be a victim anymore!

Take a self-defense class or something; you don't deserve to be someone else's target for abuse. You're much more valuable than you've been treated.

Keep dating, definitely in groups, and keep yourself safe.

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 16, 2012

Is Marriage Worth It?

Dear Bro Jo,

My parents are divorced and my mom's forays into the dating world have not been great experiences for her.

As such her view on dating, marriage and sometimes even men in general is not very positive.

I really would like to hear how great being married is and how it can last, happily, forever.

I know it's possible but sometimes this negative perspective really brings me down and sometimes I begin to doubt.

 Sincerely,

 Anon




 Dear Anon,

Yeah!  It's worth it!

I'm not gonna lie:  being married is lots of hard work.

There are trials, heartaches, arguments, and every emotion you can imagine.

There are tears, fears, and things so difficult you can't possibly know what they're like until you live them. 

And despite all of that, being married is the best thing in the world!

Find a good companion and be a good companion and every trial and tribulation will be worth all of the challenges.

I can't imagine how much harder my life would be without Sister Jo as a part of it.

 - Bro Jo


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What If You Only Get Asked Out By People You're Not Attracted To?

Dear Bro Jo,

I've heard about you from younger people and after reading your advice, I think you're my kind of person. 

I'm a YSA.

Since I was about 13, there have been guys who liked me, and whether or not I noticed, other people said it was obvious to them that these guys liked me. They've all been the kind of guy who don't take care of themselves well, physically, spiritually, socially or mentally.

You know the type?

(If you were to print this, please feel free to omit this phrase, but in spite of trying to be modest, I'm very smart, very involved and active at Church, I'm not shy / backward, and I don't think I'm ugly. Everyone agrees with me. So I understand why I attract these guys, but why don't the guys who I'm interested in ask me out?)

Starting at the young age, I tried to be nice / polite / Christ like with these guys, while being as obviously totally uninterested date-wise as I knew how, and because of the whole "guys don't get it" thing, they all assumed I really liked them because I even included them in group conversations, etc., especially when no one else in the group tried to do that.

It was hard for me to hear from people (including my parents) that I needed to be less "nice" to them if I expected things to change.

I have a personal rule that if I can stand to date a guy at all I'll go with him once if he asks me, and if it isn't totally awful, then if he asks me again I'll go out at least once more. That way I'll have made some effort to actually know him before I dismiss him.

But since this is the kind of guy who asks me out, most of my dates have not been much fun for me. I'm confused because after everyone has told me I had to be a little less nice to these guys, and assured me no one would think I'm mean for doing it, when they hear that this kind of guy continues to meet me and hang around and I don't encourage them, they give me tons of grief for "not being the polite one in the room" if no one else acts any nicer to the guy.

They still admit it's true when I suggest that if I did anything nice for these people now after no one else did, that would make my problem worse.

But they always point out that other girls have decided they liked and even married such guys since that was who they attracted. It gives me the shivers to think of guys like that now unfortunately, but I'm not sure whether it's right to say, I've learned my lesson and I don't need to have any more unpleasant experiences if I don't want to no matter what guilt trips people give me, or to say, it seems really bad to treat a person less than the best I can, and I ought to suck it up and do it.

(If so many girls have married guys like this, then they ought to have some insight, even if it's something I'd hear and make sure to do the opposite, but everyone's remarkably devoid of advice.)

What do you think?

-Nice Girl




Dear Nice Girl,

It actually took me a few reads to figure out what your questions for me are . . . but I think I've got it.

I think you're asking me whether or not you should be . . . not "mean", but "less friendly" to pathetic loser types so they'll stop getting the wrong idea, confusing your being polite with encouraging their attention.

And, perhaps as a follow-up, how can you "upgrade" the quality of guys that ask you out on dates?

Then, finally, should you expect that you'll have to "give in" and marry one of these slobs because they're the only kind of guy that you seem to attract?

Right?

Okay.

Here goes.

1. No, you should never be "less nice" to anyone. To do so wouldn't be very Christ-like.

2. Widen your circle of friends to include the type of guys you like. You can't catch a trout if you only fish in the lakes stocked with bass.

3. Never marry out of desperation or pity. We're commanded to get married, but no one says you should violate the "Five A's of Why NOT to Marry THAT Person" just so you can have a ring on your finger. Sure, "socially awkward" isn't enough of a reason to totally dismiss a person, but "Apathy" is, and that includes being apathetic about your health and appearance.

I know that some of our readers will initially judge you as "too superficial", but I think there's a point to your letter.  Each of us could probably stand to do better with that which we've been given, plus "attractiveness", or the lack thereof, can go much deeper than that.

I am proud of your policy of giving everyone a chance, or two.  I think that's the right thing to do, but (and I know that this might be misconstrued or unpopular to say) there's also a point of being a bit discerning at your age and stage in life.  I'm not saying to change your "everyone gets a chance" policy; what I am saying is that you'll want to be sure to help the guys you're more attracted to understand that they have a chance, too, and should be smart enough to ask you out.

For example, there's not too much point at this stage in your life to going out with guys who have no chance at this moment of marrying you in the Temple, for whatever reason.

And one thing you may want to consider, is that you may need to be more busy than you are currently so that you only have time (I'll let you ponder what that means) to go out with guys you're at least slightly interested in.

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 12, 2012

What to Do When You Suspect Anorexia

Dear bro Jo,

I have reason to believe that my friend is becoming anorexic.

Here's a little back story;

Me and her ("Ruth") switched phones to text each other’s crushes, and I was going to type a note in her notes to her telling her how much I love her when I saw a note that said "don't eat it unless its salad, work out, become anorexic".

Then I showed my friend ("Naomi"). Naomi said that she wouldn't doubt it because every time she and Ruth have eaten together, Ruth barely eats anything and if she does its only lettuce.

Naomi also said that Ruth (she wants to go into modeling) always calls herself fat and stuff, and she is really petite.

Then later me and Naomi were talking and teasing Ruth that we had seen something inappropriate on her phone (there wasn't anything) and she got all defensive and said "you didn't look in my notes did you?!" and I didn't know what to say and then the bell rang.

I don't know what to do! and I don't want to ask her flat out!

What should I do??

Thanks!

Name Withheld




Dear NW,

I think you need some backup.

I think you need to talk to your parents and let them know about your concerns. In these super-touchy situations it's very valuable to have a trusted adult in your corner. Because, here's the thing, when you do talk to your friend (and I think someone needs to talk to her very soon), even if you're very careful to express your love and concern for her, she's likely to rebel against you.

Anorexia is an addiction, but it works on a much deeper level than just the physical-chemical stuff, because it's also very psychological. If she is suffering from anorexia (and remember, it's always possible that she's not) then there's going to be some deep emotional issues that neither you nor I are going to be able to fix.

But a conversation does need to happen.

When I was not too much older than you are now I got a call from a friend who asked me to come over and chat. I was pretty excited because she and I had dated once or twice and I'd hoped it would turn into a little something more. But rather than telling me that she agreed with my premise that friends make the best boyfriends she instead told me of her anorexia and bulimia problems. She wanted to change, and I promised to help. But the thing is, NW, I was very young, had no experience in this sort of thing, and the reason she wanted my help is because she wanted to overcome these issues without involving her parents or a doctor or anyone else.

So, what happened is that she gave me all of her "stuff" (meaning the things she used to help her not eat or to throw up when she did eat) and promised to call me in moments of weakness. As you might guess, I quickly became the enemy. In moments of weakness she saw me as an obstacle rather than a help. When she was really struggling she'd avoid me altogether, and if I clued into what was going on she'd get defensive and hostile. Not only did our relationship never grow into the 'something more" I was hoping it would, but she stopped talking to me altogether.

We ceased being friends.

A couple years later she ended up in the hospital; starving your body of nutrition catches up with you eventually, in very bad ways. She was lucky to live, and her brush with death revealed her addictions and put her back on the right path. Of course I didn't know about the hospital visit until a while later, once she was healthy and dating one of my friends, when she came to me and apologized for the way she'd treated me during all of that.

I'm grateful she's healthy now, but she was very lucky because not everyone overcomes as she did.

So, the bottom line is that, even if you're wrong, someone needs to talk to your friend. And given my personal experience, I think it's best if it comes from the Trusted Adult. If not one of your parents, then perhaps a YW leader.

Help your friend, but don't try to do it on your own.

Keep me posted,

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mission Age Announcement Friday: She Was In Love with the Guy Who Just Left, Now She Needs to Tell Her Non-member Family that She Wants to Serve


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


March, 2012

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm not particularly sure why I'm writing this.

I'm sure I'll be jumping around a bit and maybe ranting about some things I've been wondering about.

I know you tell it like it is, and I want some general advice. I'm eighteen and soon to be nineteen in July. I recently joined the Church in October last year. I was actually baptized in between General Conference sessions. I was introduced to the Church by a friend I met in high school.

He was in a year before me, and he was two years older than me. He first invited me to church a week after I graduated high school, but I didn't end up going until a month or so later.  He left on a mission  in November of last year.

Yes, we did end up dating for three months before he left.

No, he didn't ask me to wait for him.

It's been nearly four months since he left, but I can't really picture myself even going on casual dates with guys. There's this one boy who I have known for quite a while, and I believe he is on the verge of asking me out. It scares me. I'm not sure what I'm doing exactly. Since he didn't ask me to wait for him, I'm trying to get out of that mindset. In a way I am waiting for him though.

I don't really want to go out on dates with other guys, and I write to him every week. He writes me nearly every week.

He used to be very diligent with writing me until I told him countless times not to write unless he wrote his family before me.

Nearly every Sunday after church I hang out with his family and have dinner with them. I love his youngest sister, and she is always disappointed on the Sundays I don't go to their house. I'm growing really close with his family, and sometimes I even give them updates on their own son.

His family is really like my second family. His dad gave me my new member lessons, and they were all a part of my baptism. I love his parents, and they seem to love me as well. I go to a family ward with them. I went to a YSA ward once to see if it was okay for me, but I felt like the family ward suited me more. It had a lot to do with the fact that his family would be there.

I also got to know people when I was investigating though, so it isn't just them. He tells me that he's grown to love me even more since he's left.

I am just a little confused.

I know I shouldn't put my life on hold until he gets back. That would be twenty more months of nothing, and I know it would drive me crazy.

Then at times all I want to do is wait for him. Only four months have passed.

Do you think that four months was enough time for me to already be ready to date?

I know that you're not the biggest fan of girls waiting for missionaries, but surely this is a rare occasion.

 - Unsure Sister




October 2012

Dear Sister,

Well . . . now it's been a lot longer than four months . . . and your 19th birthday has come and gone . . . how do you feel?

It's okay to take some time to deal with certain situations, but never a good idea to put one's life on hold indefinitely.

In general I'd say that you should go out with any nice guy that asks, especially if he's someone who could someday take you to the Temple.

The reason I counsel young women not to "wait" for the missionary that has left is because, more often than not, when he does come home they both find out that whatever they thought or hoped would be there . . . isn't.

Sure, sometimes it works out . . . and that's wonderful!

But even in those cases the relationship will be better off if she had done some dating while he was gone.

I'm glad you have such a nice family to bond with - what a wonderful thing!

And I'm so very glad that you've felt the healing love of the Savior in your life! Take one step at a time, and enjoy.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

A lot of time has passed by now, yes.

Well I still write the guy, and he writes me as well. I still have my Sunday dinners with his family, who I love.

The missionary and I talked it out and decided that worrying and thinking about continuing the relationship when he gets back is a little premature for now.

My concern isn't really about him right now though. I've decided to serve a mission of my own now with the age change from last Conference.

I started filling out my mission papers just last week.

I still haven't told most of my family, who aren't members of the church. It's mostly out of fear of what they'll say to me, especially my mom.   She was against me getting baptized in the first place and still won't talk about the church with me.

Do you have any advice on how I should prepare for my mission?

And any advice on how I should bring this news up to my family?

- Confused Sister



Dear Sister,

The Mission Preparation question is easier to answer.

I'm a reader (and a teacher) so I recommend studying "Preach My Gospel" and reading "Jesus the Christ". 

Taking any speaking opportunities you get, start a journal if you don't have one already, and if you can find a Mission Prep course at school or in your area, take it.

As for your family, that's a bit tougher.

This one is probably going to be the same advice I'd give for jumping in a swimming pool: make sure the water is clear, and jump in with as little splash or fuss as possible.

You need to tell them, and shouldn't wait any longer than those few days before you hit "submit" on your application.

Be gentle, and brace for hostility.

Don't take any attacks personal; smile and be loving.

In the same way that someone cannot be argued into conversion in the Gospel, neither will you be able to argue your parents into accepting your decision to serve.

In fact, when you think about it, this will be very good mission prep, too.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Keeping the Girl - Part 3: The Truth Comes Out

Dear Bro Jo,

I agree, fairness may not necessarily be the issue.

It’s just that I've actually only taken her out once.

I tried going out this week, but she ended up having to postpone it (but she wanted to reschedule for this week and she was very nice about it).

So, I'll be taking off for sales school a week from tomorrow and that will leave me with only having gone out with her twice.

I mean, if I'd been going out with her for like a month or something that would be understandable.

We've just both been swamped with finals and stuff we just haven't been able to connect as much as we would have liked.

Is there anything wrong with just telling her how I feel after next time or would that just be creepy?

- Chicago




Dear Chicago,

Whoa!

Bro, you told me you'd been out with her three times . . . one date is certainly WAY TOO EARLY to be professing one's love.

How can someone be "THE PLAN" when you just met them online and have only gone on ONE DATE???

I'm always telling girls to not make too much out of a first date, even if they're Serious Single Dating, that it scares guys off and will limit the amount of dates the get asked out on, and then I get zero-to-sixty guys like you writing me . . .

You need to R-E-L-A-X, bro.

Even if she does turn out to be Mrs. You, that's a ways away.

(Check out "Bro Jo's LEVELS of a RELATIONSHIP" on the Facebook page or in my "Guide to Relationships" book.)

This is Level 7 or 8 stuff, and you're not there yet, my friend.

Let me give you a benchmark: once Sister Jo and I realized we were in love, we found excuses to be together as much as possible. "Too Busy" was never a thought.

You had a great date; she was wonderful to talk to, and I'm sure she's very nice to look at, but I still think you're more concerned about you than you are about her, and that my friend, isn't love.

And it isn't enough to justify asking someone to not date anyone else while you're gone for several months.

Love is about putting someone else's needs in front of your own, and quite frankly that's something that I think way too many of the Young Single (and Single) Men in the Church just don't get.  And you're just not there.

Let her go.

And, if you're smart enough, lucky enough, grow up a little, and become less selfish . . . you'll have another shot.

If you do, with her or another one of Heavenly Father's choice Daughters I hope you don't blow it.


- Bro Jo

Monday, November 5, 2012

Roommate Drama and Flakey Guys at the Y of I

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a freshman at BYU-Idaho.

First the background info: On Facebook there's this group for "BYU-Idaho" freshman. And, before any of us actually got here we started adding each other and talking to each other.

A lot of the friends I hang out with now I first met on the Facebook freshman group. It's been a useful tool. So, my roommate (not the one in my actual room but across the hall from me.). I'll call her 'A'.

'A' ended up inviting this guy from the FB group to an art show.

The entire time she thought it was a date and he didn't. After the show they came back to the dorm room and I ended up talking to this guy, (we'll call him Tyler). For a long time.

I didn't realize until afterwards that I was sort of dominating the conversation. But he didn't seem to mind and at the end of the night before he left he said it was the most fun he had in a long time and he said directly to me that I reminded him of friends from back home and that he could see us getting along.

That night on Facebook he made a post "Had fun with 'A', 'B' (me), 'C' (a third roommate), and the other roommate...." (whose name he didn't remember.) Is it awful of me to think that because he listed me 2nd he must have had an enjoyable time talking with me?

So, fast forward a few weeks. We decide to have a Harry Potter movie night. And, Tyler gets invited.

So, Tyler goes and sits on the couch and 'A' sits next to him. And she spent the entire movie says things like "This is a scary movie, I need a hug." "I wish I had someone to hug me right now" "I sure wish I had someone to snuggle with" and such things. It was really freaking annoying.

So, Tyler gets annoyed. And, he gets off the couch and sits next to me on the floor and we end up joking around etc. So, 'A' then decides to sit on the ground too.

So, she asks me to move over and smooshes in-between the 2 of us. He didn't see this movie thing as a date. And, when he left he waved us all goodbye etc.

So, later he texts my other roommate "Does 'A' like me? I'd hate to give her the wrong message." sorta thing.

I suppose he ended up talking to her but I'm not sure. I just know they don't spend any time together.

So, I made this post on Facebook about a writing event coming up and he ended up saying he wanted to do it as well etc. and sent me this message on Facebook about he wanted us to become friends etc. So, this girl said she'd drive me up to the meetings. I invited him to come along with us and invited to make him dinner since we were leaving right after his last class ended.

So, he said he wanted to come, said he was excited etc. And then the day of he tells me he can't because he has to do auditions for this Men's choir thing.

No big deal.

A bit bummed but no big deal.

And then the next meeting he says he wants to come again.

So, I'm all "Oh okay. Sounds good etc." and he cancelled again because he had to go to this seminar thing. So, yesterday he messaged me saying he wants to go to tomorrow’s meeting.

Him: "Hey can I come along with you tomorrow to the meeting?"

Me: "I suppose so. I assumed you quit."

Him: "No! I have been soooo busy the past few days . . . haven't been able to write at all, so I am looking forward to it"

Me: "If you plan on cancelling or anything, just shoot me a Facebook message"

Him: "Okay! I will not make any plans for that night!"


Do you think he got my point?

At this point I'm not even sure I want to be friends with someone who can't keep their commitments.

- Y of I Sister



Dear I Sister,

Whew!

Tough time keeping all of this straight . . . but I think I've got it. (Talk about unnecessary drama!)

Let me see . . . what's the right way to say this . . . STOP HANGING OUT!!!

Wow! What is wrong at the Y of I?!?

Are you buddies?

Is everyone related??

Movie parties . . . carpools . . . plans that seem like dates, but aren't dates, but one of the people thinks they're on a date . . . My head is spinning!

1. You're not in YM/YW anymore. Stop having Co-Ed movie nights and treating each other like you're all siblings.

2. Stop with all the Facebook chats and texting. If you need to / want to talk to someone . . . ACTUALLY TALK TO THEM! Technology loses too much information; face to face is the way to communicate.

3. Stop imaging relationships that don't actually exist. 'A' isn't in a relationship, Tyler isn't in a relationship, and neither are you. Being listed 2nd means nothing. Especially with this "too busy" or "too flakey" guy. 

4. We have no control over your roommate, but promise me that you'll never act so desperate for love that you smother any guy close to you. Even if he did like her, and he may have, and even if (big IF) she didn't kill it by spending time with him without clarifying whether or not that was a date, the possessiveness killed it for sure.

5. You and your roommates need to have an out in the open discussion about how you're going to handle boys that the others like. Is every guy who hasn't committed fair game? Or is any guy who just asked one of you out off limits until four weeks after the last date with him? Find something you can agree on.

6. No more boys over to your house unless their picking someone up, and even then they stay at the doorstep. If you don't define location boundaries, they'll never understand the relationship boundaries.

I don't mean to be too harsh, but I do want to impress upon you that things are, well . . . different now. 


Oh . . . and you know what?  He might not be flakey.  He might just be too nice and shy to tell all of you girls  that you're all over him and he's not interested and needs some space but he appreciates you being nice.


Welcome to college!

 - Bro Jo

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cheese Gets a Stalker - Part 5

[Readers - Part 5 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.  Does persistence pay off?  - Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

Pete is back, and ready for more..

You remember Pete, right?

Well the last 48 hours have consisted of 13 Facebook messages, 1 event invite (the event was "lets hang out" closed event and only him and me) 7 e-mails to my e-mail address I usually use and 6 to the one I don't use, 36 texts (sent to me plus 2 that I sent to him. 1 answered call, 4 calls where I hung up on him (after I answered one), 9 missed calls, and 8 voicemails!

I finally agreed to hang out with him, but I am bringing one of my other friend's older brother who is like an older brother to me as well,but Pete doesn't need to know that. To him it’s just a guy I would rather be with than him lol.

Will he ever stop?

- Cheese



Dear Cheese,

Why should he stop?

You keep giving in. (Sucker!)

His stalking and badgering you is getting him what he wants, and it doesn't matter if someone else comes along; sure, he'd rather have you all to himself, but he's still winning.

If you really want to be rid of him, then you're going to have to block his number, set up an email filter to dump all of his emails, and stop doing what he wants you to do.

Once you truly cut him off, I think he'll go back to showing up unannounced; and that's why I think it's also time to call in the Big Cheese. It's time your father have a man-to-stalker "leave my daughter alone" talk.

Anything else . . . if you don't stop encouraging him (you may think you're not, but you are), then you might as well start making wedding plans.

- Bro Jo



Bro Jo,

Well this sucks. My texts to him said to leave me alone. Mom guilt tripped me into saying yes. She also made sure I looked decent.

But its okay, right now Hunka and his best friend are "uglyiffying" me.
I also plan on leaving early with my friends bro and having him take me home, or to hang with his sister.

Mom said to be nice, but that doesn't mean I can't be disgusting, right?

- Cheese



Dear Cheese,

See, your problem started with you texting him back. Why? Why would you do that?

It doesn't matter what you say; simply replying to this guy in any way is something he's going to take as a ray of hope.

(Seriously, you need to block his number.)

And I'm going to be real honest here (that's what you expect, right?); no amount of "uglifying" is going to make a difference. Sister Jo and I met working at the same place. It was a job where people were always hot and sweaty and smelly and it didn't matter at all.

Look, if telling him you're not interested isn't working, what makes you think that doing bad make up or messing up your hair is going to make a difference?

For what it's worth, I'm laughing my head off over here!

Have fun.

And good luck!

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Jo Boy #2 is trying to help too lol. My dad can't stop laughing mom is all mad that I am being a slob right now. Hunka and his friend are having way too much fun tearing through my closet and doing my hair and makeup it’s a party here, I'm the only one not having fun

- Cheese



Dear Cheese,

I agree with #2 - taking your brother is a better choice than taking another dude.

And you're right; we think this is hilarious!

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I'm about ready to take your sons up on their offer to "beat the Glee out of Pete." (Which I think is hilarious because he actually sings in BYU's Men's Chorus--get it? Men's Chorus? Glee? HA!)

Two Sundays ago he texted me asking if he could come over. I said no. Ten minutes later he was on the front doorstep with board games and treats. I would have sent him away, but my little sisters invited him in before Mom, Dad, or I was aware that he was here. (Mom & Dad say I don't have to see him ever again if I don't want to, btw.)

Anyway, I did my best to be distant, and texted him afterwards saying "I am NOT interested in you." and "It is NOT ok to show up at my house after I say 'Please don't come over!'"

So I thought he would be outta here after that, but NO!

Last Sunday he called me 3 times while I was in church to ask me to go up to a broadcast at the Conference Center with him. I was like "DUDE! I am NOT interested in you! I am going with my family, NOT YOU!

And I don't take calls or text during church! That's SO disrespectful!"

I *did* set him up on a date with a friend of mine like you suggested, but it hasn't helped at all. Now she really likes him and her sister really likes him...

EVERYONE really likes Pete except me! This is driving me crazy.

I need help in getting rid of him asap.

- Cheese



Dear Cheese,

I think you may know something about Pete that others are missing: in addition to being a creepy stalker guy, he's . . . well, a jerk that has no respect for you.

Think about it: if he had any respect for you at all, he'd listen when you tell him to stay away. Know this: no man will ever love a woman he doesn't respect. This guy is treating you like a child that doesn't know what's good for her; and he thinks what's good is him.

We don't think it would take much to beat the Glee out if him, so we figure the 15 year-old ought to be able to handle it. That is, if the 11-year old is too slow.

Ha!

- Bro Jo

PS:  All kidding aside, stand your ground.  A girl should never allow others to force her to spend time with a man who doesn't respect her.  You've done so much already.  It's time you draw the line and cut him off.  No texts.  No phone calls.  No car rides.  No hangouts.  Zero.  Stand your ground.  If you don't take yourself seriously, no one else will, either.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mission Age Announcement Friday: Relationship Planning for After the Mish, and Preparation Advice for Now


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



Mission age change and relationship advice.


Hey Bro Jo,

I wrote you once before about a guy asking for my first kiss.

Well, he didn't get it (I've realized now that it was because I didn't know him well enough to trust him) and is now on his mission.

He writes to me occasionally, is doing well, and I'm happy for him.

The male I write to you about today is 18, same as me. He is my best friend. He was my first kiss and I was his so he's certainly more than just my friend.

He's the only person my age that I respect and trust, and that sentiment is mutual.

We date often/occasionally[yes, he plans, picks up and pays].

While I am certainly not mature enough to be in love I know that our relationship could grow into love given time. Next summer, in about eight or so months, we reach our mission availability dates and we both want to go on missions.

(We both decided to go on missions completely independent of the other. I knew I was going since I was a child, but the General Conference announcement completely changed my plans and I believe it will change my life. I'm not going because of him. I would be going if I had never heard his name, and I will still go regardless of what happens to this little relationship.)

We'll get back within three to four months of each other.

I'm more than a little thrilled by that thought. Is that unwise?

I don't think of my mission as something to do to wait until he gets back, because it's not.

It's not as if he's my only option and so I have to do something to distract myself from his absence-- not even close.

My mission is something to do for me and for the Lord. I'm choosing to go on a mission because I know it's what I need to be doing.

Even though he's not my only option, it took him two years of work to finally break into my heart and earn my trust, and I'd rather not have to go through that kind of vetting system again.

Honestly- I'd like to keep him. I'd like to see him after our missions and see if we can progress together. 

What should I be aware of?

He, I, and a few other friends have made mutual goals for mission preparation-- visiting the temple for baptisms, reading the Book of Mormon, Bible, D+C and Pearl of Great Price over again, going with missionaries in our area, going to RM firesides, etc.

What advice or observations do you have for me?

Thank you,

Hopeful.




Dear Hopeful,

As far as this boy and any possible future is concerned, you have nothing to do or be worried about. Let that happen, if it does, when the timing is right.

As for Mission Prep, I think the more time you can spend reading, studying and pondering "Preach My Gospel " the better. If you don't have one, get one!

Oh - and read "Jesus the Christ", too.

- Bro Jo

PS:  "Only person my age that I respect and trust" sounds either pretty melodramatic or like you're in need of a few more good friends in your life.