Things to know

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

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

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

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Monday, December 30, 2013

Drama at BYU-Idaho . . . Not Just for Girls

Dear Bro Jo,

I am back asking for help as freshman in college this time I am up at BYU-I and I have made a couple great friends that are certainly introducing me to new and different customs

Well . . . I have these two friends . . . from other states, and their each freshman guys, like me, and we're all fairly athletic and musical so we have a great time together.

Until last week when they both decided to "grow up" and get girlfriends.

Now both of their girlfriends are fun but being the only one without a girlfriend and I won't get a girlfriend since I haven't served a mission yet I always feel weird when we go to the fields or hang out at our apartment lounge.

What my question is how can I make it so I can still enjoy their company at times without feeling like the odd man out and maybe could you explain why they want to get girlfriends now especially since because of President Monson's announcement we're all either working on our papers now or already submitted them.

I get I grew up in Utah where I was probably pretty sheltered . . . but I thought YM were taught the same stuff no matter where we hail from?

I have another friend from Wyoming and he's as equally baffled as me at their behavior.

Thanks,

- Preparing Missionary in Rexburg




Dear Preparing,

I think you're right not to be Serious Single Dating until after you come home from your mission, but I also think it's okay for you to be dating casually.

Maybe that's one way for you to all spend some time together and not have you feel like a fifth wheel.

Of course, if they don't mind if you're all together, then you shouldn't let it bother you too much, either.

But I think how you're feeling is very real.

So once in awhile, if everyone's heading to a movie or game or event, take a date!

Also, consider expanding your group.

If you're all headed to the ball fields, then invite a bunch of people to go, guys and girls.

Widen your circle of friends.

Consider it "mission prep"!

Look, I don't think your buddies should have girlfriends, but I understand why they do: it's easier.

Or at least they think it is.

They get validation.

They get companionship.

And they think it's better than the alternative.

They're wrong of course, but there's nothing you or I can do or say to convince them of that.

No one likes unsolicited advice. Trust the advice guy!

The best we can do is learn from the mistakes of others while not holding it against them.

Live and learn!

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for the advice but to clarify one thing and ask for a little more advice I did do two dates with them as a group dates but that makes me and my date feel awkward cause the couples are snuggling, kissing or whatnot and it’s a first date.

So what should be done to make the best of those situations?

Because on the first date you don't do the same things as couples cause they'd be rushing things . . .

Wouldn't it?

- Preparing




Dear Preparing,

Yes, they're rushing things (doing them out of order, really) and you don't want to do that.

So you might be left with cutting yourself out of the group for now.

Focus on your mission prep, and if you feel so inclined, go on Casual Group Dates with other people instead of these two couples.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What If Other People in Your Casual Group Are Holding Hands and Kissing on the Date?

Dear Brotha Jo!

I have a question for you.

I love casual dating; it's so much fun!

Something that bothers me, however, is that my friends are not so casual...

There are too many "unofficial relationships" in my circle of friends for my liking, but that is up to them and is their own choice.

We're friends, though, and so when it comes to dating, we often come to one another to plan fun dates.

But there always seems to be an "unofficial official" couple in our group... It makes things awkward.

They're holding hands or even occasionally kissing when the rest of us are okay with laughing, having fun, and getting to know each other: the way that things SHOULD be on a Casual Group Date.

I think you are probably going to say something like "find new people to go on dates with," and so if you do, I get it.

- A Girl



Dear Girl,

I agree with you that some of your friends are being too familiar, but I'm not sure I'd draw the line as soon as you are.

If they're making out while you're all at dinner, or if they want to go parking instead of hiking, or if they miss most of the movie because they're staring at each other, then . . . yeah . . . I think you need to increase your circle of friends.

If it's just a little hand holding and quick kisses goodnight at the door, I'd let it go.

Ultimately, what needs to take precedence is you not making sure you feel uncomfortable.

But remember this, when we cut people off or out of our lives then we can no longer set a good example for them, and we might not be there for them when they need us most . . . when the relationship ends and they need someone to talk to.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

I totally agree about being able to set a good example for them.

Thank you for the reminder, and for the encouragement!

I appreciate it.

Sincerely,

- Girl



Dear Girl,

Anytime!

- Bro Jo

Monday, December 23, 2013

Divorced and Over 30 in Provo - Is There Anyone Out There for Him?

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much for your response, I agree with you for the most part, and would prefer to date women closer to my own age, but it has been a real challenge finding them.

Not be a sour sap today, but obviously I am frustrated, which is why I was writing you in the first place.

I really have a hard time finding these good, older, "REAL women" so I was wondering if you might know where these "THOUSANDS of single sisters over the age of 25" that you claim are at BYU live?

I want to move there tomorrow wherever it is!

I actually read your email on my cell phone in the parking lot before Church today, and I looked specifically around today with your thoughts in mind, and came away feeling more hopeless.

First off let me say that I selected my apartment based on numerous statements I had heard that this particular complex (which is a little further from BYU than many others) "skewed older" and did not have the typical abundance of young girls that you find around Provo, but was more popular with older students.

Also this apartment complex offers both single student housing and family housing, so I think it will work out well for me this summer when I want a family apartment when my daughter is here.

My best estimates have the average age of guys in this ward around 26-27, but the average age of girls is around 21-22.

As you would guess with these ages, most guys are juniors through grad school, and it is mainly junior and senior girls.

Girls are always further along in school than guys because of missions knocking 2 or more years off guys schooling, and the seeming underachievement and slower schooling pace of guys in general.

In a typical upper level undergrad class at BYU you have guys aged 24+ and girls aged 20-21+.

Many girls only stay at BYU until they finish their degree and/or get married, and many get married while pursuing their undergrad, so you end up with an overwhelmingly large number of 18-23 year olds making up the vast majority of the undergrad classes, and by nature all the student wards.

I checked on the BYU site, and in 2011 there were only 1,242 female grad students at BYU and 62% of them (roughly 750) were married .

That means that odds are there are only about 500 single women who are grad students at BYU spread out among the entire campus of over 30,000, and split between hundreds of singles wards.

Today I went to two different YSA wards. (my ward, and another ward.)

In my ward I talked with a guy who is a 28 year old never married, male RM.

We talked about your email response and discussed who the oldest sisters in the ward are.


He remarked the oldest girl was DEFINITELY "A", and she was 28, same age as him!

I hate to be judgmental of someone's physical appearance because I know you think I am shallow for saying I sought out "attractive" women, but "A" is several inches shorter than me and easily outweighs me by 50-80 pounds, and I am not a small man.

"A" supposedly works in a call center and does not go to school.

I understand that physical appearance is not the end all, or even in my top 3 most important traits, but "A" is un-dateably unattractive.

I frankly do not think I would be able to do this were I to marry a woman like "A", whom I find so unattractive sex would be non-existent in our marriage.

I also would fear the negative health implications, and genetic influences due to her weight issues which I acknowledge could be genetic.


The 2nd oldest girl in the ward is "B".

"B" is 25 years old, and although she is not textbook beautiful, and is curvy, I actually would be ecstatic to date "B".

Unfortunately/Fortunately for Them "B" is engaged, to a seemingly great guy I respect who is 29.


The 3rd oldest girl in the ward is "C" she is also 25.

She is roommates with "A" and unfortunately she shares a lot of the same physical characteristics as "A", they look like they could be sisters. "C" works at a bakery and is not in school, "C" has told me that her ambitions / life plans are to continue working in the local bakery so she lives in Provo until she meets Mr Right, and wants to get married ASAP like her mission president told her to do.

She then wants to be a homemaker.

I have actually spoke with "C" at length because a roommate was nice to "C" and she erroneously took his friendliness as a sign of romantic interest, and started coming over to our apartment uninvited frequently.

We thought "C" might propose to him despite his never asking her out, and her overt and awkward advances become troublesome because she did not stop pursuing him even after he told her directly he was not interested.

"C" scares me.

"C" has unrealistic expectations.


Beyond this there are about 15-20 girls aged 22-23, mostly 22, I would be happy to date about 75% of these girls, and I am not so judgmental about looks that I write off all but a few.

The girls I would like to date include skinny blondes and curvy brunettes, geeks and beauties.

My ex-wife was Scandinavian and had model looks, tall and naturally blonde, and actually did some work modeling bridal gowns, so I would be lying if I did not say that I prefer more physically attractive women, but I certainly do not let it prevent me from getting to know sisters that are less than perfect looking.

The reality is that 2 of the 22-23 year olds I might be interested in are engaged, about half of those left have "boyfriends" and are paired off.

I have already asked out 4 of the remaining 7-8 age 22-23 girls (the oldest remaining single girls in my ward) in the 2 weeks I have been in this ward. 3/4 said yes.

Two went well and have turned into planned 2nd-3rd dates.

The other one I went on a date with ended up being the one that posted the Facebook post I quoted before.

To fill in more details about that experience she actually approached me at FHE and flirted with me overtly which lead to me asking her out.

I took her to play putt-putt golf, and then to dinner at a nice restaurant.

While playing putt putt she was discussing other date ideas for the two of us. Baiting me to ask her about again.

During dinner she asked me how old I was, and I told her I was 30.

She looked shocked, said "but you look so young," and then asked me why I wasn't married. I said something along the lines of "I was married before, but unfortunately it didn't work out as I had hoped."

She asked if I had been sealed in the temple, and I said I was.

After each question she looked more and more devastated.

So I tried to change the topic and said that I did not really want to talk about my ex, but that I wanted to get to know her.

She ignored that request and asked how many kids I had, that was the question, not if I had kids, but how many!

I said I had "only one daughter."

She looked like I had literally ripped out her heart and stepped on it when I told her that.

It was as if my having a daughter in the covenant was a terrible sin, and was soooo painful for her she could not take it.

She was near silent for the remainder of the evening and no attempts I made to restart a lighthearted conversation succeeded.

She said goodnight and ran up to her apartment when I parked, and did not even allow me to walk her to the door.

I went on Facebook to try to talk to her when I got home, and that's when I saw the post.

I did not message her, but looked back on her Facebook the next day and saw all the other negative comments.

Unfortunately two of the six girls that commented negatively on the post were other girls from my complex, although not my ward, that I would have asked out if the opportunity had presented itself.

While my name was not mentioned in the Facebook post, I am certain it was mentioned in some of their apartments.

That night I felt like my reputation had been destroyed in the complex by that one post alone. Ironically today the girl who called me a "probably a pervert" on Facebook for dating "college girls" was sitting in OUR sacrament meeting today cuddling with a man from my ward, who is a 30 year old, divorced UVU undergrad, and who looks about 35-40 (he is balding).

I think she may have been just playing into the group think, or perhaps she was imprinting her repressed feelings about her beau onto me when she posted the hurtful comment.

Even more unusual, today I off-hand asked the 22 year old girl I am taking on a 3rd date on Thursday, what she thought about the guy who was being cuddled, and she said "honestly I think he is far too old for YSA because he is so old and bald and looks like a professor, its creepy".

That word "creepy" seems about the MOST USED ADJECTIVE by girls these days for describing men they are not interested in.

If he is not their type he is "creepy" if he is their type he's HOT!

Hot or Creepy it's one or the other, there are no good, normal, regular guys who they just happen to not be attracted to!

I think one girl is willing to look past my age / divorce, but not another guys identical age and divorced status, because I am better looking to her.

The difference between "creepy old man" and 3rd date to her seems to be a full head of hair, and youthful appearance.

The difference between "probably a pervert" and "wonderful cuddle partner" to the girl that called me the pervert seems to be either the fact that I have a daughter, or the mood of the day.

I think that these girls do not really care about age when it comes to someone who is only 30, they care about impressing their friends and fitting in with their peers, and a few of them care greatly, above all else, about a guys physical appearance.

Some also feel like a divorced guy is tainted, or automatically bad, and that's unfortunate because MOST of the divorced guys I know did not seek a divorce, they were all left by their wives for one reason or another, some valid, sure some are jerks, but most were left for not so valid reasons.

The one universal thing is that it seems that these girls in their early to mid 20's act like they are 17-18 year olds, and will always give in to whatever the group think is at the time from their peers.

The remainder of the girls in my ward are 21 and younger (ages I consider too young).

A few of these girls actually have approached me flirtatiously because I look about 25-26 years old, but I dismiss them because I think they are too young for me.

If you think all of this sounds really similar to high school drama and ridiculous on its face for a guy my age to be concerned about . . . you are not the only one.

I sat down in another ward later in the day today hoping to feel better.

I went to this ward, which I had never attended before, because a guy I met while eating lunch on campus said had "lots of older girls."

I actually saw him and sat down next to him. I looked around and thought the girls looked younger than in my ward.

Turns out that almost all of them are younger, and the average age in the ward is about 20 for girls.

To this guy who had been living at Liberty Square (basically BYU sophomore dorms), 20-22 year old girls (which made up about half the ward) were "older." compared to what he was used to.

Sometimes I feel like I am surrounded by kids, but I can't seem to find any quality women in their late 20's who are not already married / engaged, divorced because they left their husbands, or larger in size than myself.

I am not asking for physical perfection, a doctorate degree, or virginity, I just want someone I could be reasonably attracted to and have a decent conversation with, who cares about the gospel.

Internet dating is not an option for me as I have had bad experiences with it in the past.

Granted I have only been at this for a few weeks, but the results so far have been disappointing, and sometimes offending.

I do not think that I am asking too much to meet a decent quality girl in Provo who does not hold my past against me, but until I find such a person I feel that I have no option other than to pursue 22-23 year olds, the oldest women I seem able to find.

Thanks for you advice, and especially the advice about answering that I am divorced with humor, I will use that one almost verbatim.

-30

Dear Bro Jo,

I wanted to politely ask you not to share my letters on your blog or Facebook without heavily editing out many details, and running the revised copy by me. While no names are mentioned they describe such a unique set of details and circumstances I am VERY easily identifiable by them and they could not be posted with anonymity as they are.

I haven't heard back from you, but I just looked at the Dear Bro Jo Facebook page today and notice that you are having a tough time finding women the "right" age for me too.

Church leaders are making a big point recently telling college age members to NOT delay marriage, and to NOT allow pursuit of a degree, home, money, or status to stand in the way of getting married.

This is going to lead the more faithful women (the ones I would prefer) to be even MORE likely to get married younger while still in college, because they will be following the guidance of the Prophet and Apostles, and are surrounded by young marriage minded men with the same righteous goals and intentions! 

Playing the devils advocate here, and assuming for a second that there really is a shortage of over-25 desirable single women living in Provo what could I do?

I can not realistically be expected to date women from other counties, because I will have virtually no way of meeting them.

I can't go ward hopping all the way up to Salt Lake every weekend, hoping to meet the 2-3 older girls that might exist in a random YSA ward, and activities such as YSA dances are announced at the stake level, not publicly, so I can't even crash them.

Furthermore I will be too old for YSA in no time!

I can't believe that I am only supposed to be able to date women from Single Adult activities where the age range is late 30's and up.

I am 30 years old and in college, should I really be competing with a 48 year old lawyer for the heart of a 37 year old woman with multiple teenage children?

Like most men, I would prefer a woman my own age or younger than me, with similar values, and who is in a similar place in life.

That makes the single adult program virtually useless for a college student that just barely entered his 30's. 

Does God's Church really have no place for me anymore because my wife left me at the most vulnerable age for single men in the Church?

Am I just left out of His plan of happiness now?

Why can't I reasonably have an opportunity to date quality women, regardless where in their 20's they may be, so that I one day might still have the family I desire?

I know I have not been newly single for very long, but you do not have to be stranded in the desert without water for very long to know that you are in trouble.

Worse yet with me turning 31 soon, I fear that the Church I love is going to build a fence around the only remaining water I can find.

I'm really at the end of my rope here,

-30




Dear 30, 

Well . . . if I didn't think your second email was full of angst-ridden drama, this last one certainly is.

First things first: I always edit any details out of my posts that would easily identify the writer.

But, frankly, your situation isn't nearly as unique as you think.

Secondly, you need to relax.

You haven't been re-single for very long . . . finding someone that's a good fit for you takes time, my brother; your emails make it sound like you're in full-panic, clock-is-ticking, no-time-left mode.  Patience!

I have news: yes, you ARE too old for the YSA ward.

Maybe not too mature . . . but certainly too old.

(Or as you stated, will be soon.)

It doesn't matter if you're in school or not.

Sure, there may be a 22-year old girl or two out there that is willing to look past your age and your baggage and your history and see the valuable guy that you are; but my guess is that it will be harder to find that girl than a Sweet Single Sister closer to your own age, just as you've said.

And you saw the Facebook posts.

Not only are you not alone, but the one thread that seems to be in common is that you're looking in the wrong place.

(I know some of the sisters that suggested you look outside Utah County - as well as a few other non-Utah SA Sisters, and I'll tell you right now you'd be smart and lucky to date any one of them. Seriously, dude, if you knew what I know you'd send a couple of them a Facebook Message and see if they'd be willing to go on a blind date with your sorry behind.)

So stop making excuses for why you can't possibly go any further north than Orem, and widen your dating circle.

Your options are not just 19-22 or 37+, that's just all you’re surrounding yourself with.

You know that.

If you're in the desert, then move to the mountains where there's more water!

I agree: "ward hopping" sounds random and unproductive, but you live in an area Full of YSA and SA activities.

Attend those.

Find out about them through friends and relatives and your Stake Presidency or High Council or Stake Activities Committee or Stake Single Adult Committee.

Meet new people through living your life (school, work, social events).

Instead of judging every female you meet by the "should I marry her" meter, just relax and show all women what a good guy you are.

You may find that some of your best prospects come from attached or "too young" women setting you up with their sisters and friends. (In sales we call those "referrals", and just like missionary work, referrals are "golden".)

Your situation is not the Church's fault (so knock that self-pity blame-the-culture, excuse-making garbage off), nor are you doomed to a life of Single and Lonely. 

I'm sure you're just blowing off steam, but still . . .

And, you know what works wonders?

Stop coming across as so desperate, bro.

You may think it doesn't show except in emails to me and conversations with your buddies, but I promise you the women around you are picking up on it.

Just be you.

Be Happy and Be Positive.

Sure, go on dates, and earnestly seek a companion, but stop acting like you need to find her in the next 15 minutes.

When I met Sister Jo I was just a couple months out of a couple different "drive an hour" relationships. I swore I'd never drive that far for a girl again.

I thought she lived close when I asked her out, but it turned out to be a 2 1/2 drive.

She was worth every mile.

Again, have patience.

Be willing to put in more time and more effort.

Stop trying to pick the low-hanging fruit off the tree just because there's so much of it; get a ladder; climb up to the top of the tree where the fruit is much better.

Your daughter is not a liability; she's an opportunity for you to demonstrate what a kind and loving father you are.  Heck, I can testify what a Babe Magnet children are.  Take your daughter clothes shopping and ask the cute sales girls for help; I promise they'll think you're the hottest, sweetest hero-of-a-guy they've ever met.

True story.

And don't "crash" YSA dances.

That really IS creepy.

Your goal is to marry the kind of woman that wouldn't be caught dead at one of those dances anyway because she feels that, at 27, the last thing she wants to do on a Friday night is get hit on by 21-year old ultra-horny RMs all night long who then "freak out" when they find out that she's not 19 anymore.

You're not a YSA.

You're an SA.

There are four kinds.

Bro Jo's FOUR KINDS of SINGLE ADULTS
1. Those that want to get married, and are still young enough to start a family.  
2. Those that have missed the boat, which is just as well because they're probably happiest being eternally single anyway. 
3. Those who were married, but are now widows and widowers and really still think of themselves as married to the only companion they'll ever need.  
4. Those who are much older, but just don't want to go through life alone. 


You're the first kind; you've got YEARS before you become the second or third kind.

You'll be fine.

Just relax and give yourself time.

- Bro Jo

Dear 30,

A couple more quick notes about letters and the blog page:

1. I edit my own stuff and don't give them to anyone else for approval or verification.  
2. Many letters never make the page. 
3. If a letter does make the page, it is often several months after I've received it AND it’s not likely anyone other than the original writer would ever guess who it was from. 

Hope that's a comfort.

Best wishes and Happy Thanksgiving,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

You're dead on about blowing off steam!

Thanks, you made me crack a smile.

- 30



Dear 30,

Glad to hear it!

Cheers,

- Bro Jo

Friday, December 20, 2013

No More "Alone Time"

Dear Bro Jo,

I've read your blog a couple of times before, and I trust you to give me the advice I need. Probably not the advice I WANT, but what I need.

Which, as you know all too well, is hardly ever the same thing.

I've done something really, really stupid.

Really stupid.

Extraordinarily stupid.

Like, it would be stupid even if I wasn't an active, supposed-to-be-a-good-example, lifelong Church member. It involves a boy.

Yeeeepppppp. You probably guessed it.

I'll start from the beginning.

I'm 17, just graduated high school, and my 18th birthday is in a month. I met this boy when I was 13. We were friends (not really close, but we talked and went to movies with a group once in a while) all through high school, and I liked him on and off the whole time.

Around January of this year, I started getting the vibe that he liked me too. We started hanging out more and talking a LOT more, and at some point he admitted he liked me.

At the time I was casually dating his best friend, but in all honesty the best friend was not the one I liked.

Things worked out, and soon afterwards, we were a couple.

Yes, skipped the casual group dating, etc. Mistake #1.

This boy isn't a member.

I live in a small town, and the selection of member boys is small, and I don't get along with the vast majority of them.

At the time we started dating he was a Christian, active in his church. He still is active in his church, but it's different now.

I don't want you to think he's not a good person. He is, he's one of the sweetest, most caring people I know.

He's been hurt a lot in his life, his parents are divorced and both of them abandoned him, he had a close friend die recently, and he hasn't been diagnosed, but I think he's been battling depression for a while now.

He isn't blessed like I am, and I think it's harder for him to feel God's love. I don't know. He is a good person. A great person, even.

I've been struggling with my own faith for a long time now. Most of this year I wasn't sure that the Church was what I wanted, or if I even believed in God at all. I'm still not sure about most things, but recently I decided that the Church is what I want, and I've been taking steps to turn my life around.

Small ones, but steps.

However, a couple of months ago I started talking to the boy about being confused about my faith and not knowing what I believed at the time. He told me he was pretty confused as well, and brought up the question, "What if we come to different conclusions?" I told him that we would respect each other's beliefs and not worry too much about it.

Wellll.... we've come to our separate conclusions. We haven't talked too much about it, because in all honesty, I don't want his opinion on this, so I don't know EXACTLY what he decided, but I get the impression he doesn't exactly believe in God any more.

I was OK with him being of a different faith, but I'm not sure I'm OK with him not having a faith.

I'm trying to do what's right, and it is a truly difficult struggle for me right now to be going to church and doing what I'm supposed to. It's not as easy as it used to be, but I want an eternal family, and I want my children to be raised in the Church.

I have other, more selfish desires that are making it difficult for me to be obedient to the commandments, but I'm trying.

So.... since we've been together, I've been really happy. I fell in love with him, and we've grown really close. I can, and do, talk to him about just about everything. I feel comfortable around him and his family, and vice versa.

Oh, another thing. A few weeks, maybe a month or so ago, he told me (or rather, I've pried the information out of him) that his family has fought about us. Or rather, me. Being Mormon.

Only the funny thing is, it's not that they don't like me because I'm LDS. They're afraid that the boy and I will never be happy together, and that "the life of a Mormon woman isn't one to be spent with a non Mormon man." (pretty much direct quote.).

I agree, but I didn't think it was something we needed to worry about until we were ready to get married, which I figure is something far in the future.

...

So, now to the stupid part.

He's been house sitting for his uncle the past couple of weeks (yes, alone. I KNOW. Stupidity.).

A week and a half ago, I went to see him (several times over the course of several days), and we got waaayyyyy too passionate.

OK, I know, I should have been clear about my standards from the start, and set boundaries, etc. He would have respected them, but I never set them.

Honestly, at the time I was considering leaving the Church, and I wanted to see what it was like being "normal."

If you're wondering what "way too passionate" means, take For the Strength of Youth, read it, and chuck it out the window. We were... yeah. Basically, hands were where they shouldn't have been, important articles of clothing were being bypassed... I don't know how to put this delicately. I also don't want you to think he was pushing me to do things or anything. I definitely was NOT sending "I'm uncomfortable, please stop"-type signals.

I was into it.

But, I don't know...

After a couple of days of frolicking ridiculously (we never actually did The Deed, as it were, but there was inappropriate touching.), something happened, and I was done.

This is how it went:
Me: ah... stop, stopstopstop.
Him: No?
Me: No.
Him: Well, that's the end of that. 

And then... I sat there for I don't even know how long.

He went and sat elsewhere, and I couldn't even look at him for a long time.

Finally, something weird happened. I say weird, because I hadn't had a personal prayer in a while. But. I started praying. I just told the Lord how I was feeling, that I wasn't sure about anything and I needed his help. I just talked to him about what was going on, and all in all, I felt a lot better.

Well, as much better as I could feel under the circumstances.

Anyway, the boy came over to me and said that we had learned two important lessons from that.

First, talk about things before they happen, and second, respect. He said he's not going to force me to be someone I'm not. See what I mean? HE WOULD HAVE RESPECTED ME IF I HAD SET BOUNDARIES. And now it's too late.

I feel like such an idiot.

A really prime example of idiothood.

So, I did some soul searching, and I realized I don't really want to give up the Church.

I've had times before where I've done serious worldly sins, and gone through the repentance process for them, so I KNOW sin doesn't make me happy.

I know I want the gospel in my life.

I know I should go to the Bishop and get this taken care of, pronto, but... it's a lot easier said than done.

I told the boy I wasn't giving up on religion, and he respects that.

We've been spending less time alone, and trying to make sure we actually have plans instead of just hanging around in his uncle's house alone. We haven't done anything of the indecent variety since. But... yeah.

He really just doesn't understand the Church, and why this is all so incredibly hard for me.

Last night, we were hanging out (yes, alone... I know...) and I just sort of shut down. I basically had a panic attack about the stupid things we did, and spent a good chunk of time sitting on the couch trying to breathe and praying a bit more.

I really freaked him out, I don't tend to show negative emotion around people.

I tried to talk to him about it, but I'm not that good at sharing what's on my mind and there's so much that he doesn't understand.

He's trying to be there for me while I figure this out, I mean, he's supportive of my decision to stay with the Church, and he was interested in what I did at Youth Conference this past weekend... but I don't think he can, you know?

He doesn't understand how the Church works, or what it means for me that I did those things with him (can't go to the temple, can't hold a calling, etc, etc.).

And... I don't really know what will happen if I go to the Bishop. This isn't my first major transgression, but it is the first one that involved another person. Could I be excommunicated?

That scares me a LOT.

What will I tell my parents?

Will he tell me I shouldn't be with this boy anymore?

Will YOU tell me that? (I bet you will.)

I know this is really long. I'm sorry. But... I needed to talk to someone.

So... any advice you can give me, please fire away.

I know this was stupid, PLEASE don't tell me that.

I really, really do know.

But I need help, and I think there are others at least in a semi-similar situation that could benefit from your answer.

And yeah, if there's anything you need me to clarify, just ask.

Sincerely,

Scared




Dear Scared,

Yup, I guessed!

Sister Jo: Do you ever feel like "Dear Bro Jo, there's this guy" is redundant? 
Bro Jo: Yes. Yes I do.  
Sister Jo: And?  
Bro Jo: Makes me smile. 
Sister Jo:  Why? 
Bro Jo:  It's nice to know that people are the same wherever you go.  
Well . . . since you don't want me to say that this was stupid, but you trust me to give you the advice you need even if it's not what you want . . .

Look, it sounds like you're finally being honest with yourself, and that's very good.

So we're clear: Mistake #1 happened a lot earlier than "skipped Casual Group Dating". I'll let you figure that out, but here's a hint: you weren't "casually dating" his friend.

What you need to do, Little Sister, is trust the Spirit, and trust what you know to be true.

You have a Testimony.

Sure it got lost for a moment, and you had some doubts.

I have news.

It happens to all of us from time to time.

Even Sister Jo and I.

But as you're learning, even if we doubt the truth, that doesn't make it not true.

I don't think your transgression qualifies as excommunicate-able, but that's between you, your Bishop, and the Lord.

I will tell you this: it is WAY HARDER to NOT speak to your Bishop than it is to have the conversation. 

The more we delay confession, the more the Spirit withdraws, and you, my friend, know that you absolutely need the Spirit in your life right now.

Don't focus on avoiding punishment, focus on repentance and making things right with the Lord.

I testify to you that once you do, you'll feel SO much better!

This might actually turn out to be a great missionary opportunity for you.

As you strengthen your faith and testimony, share what you're feeling with this boy. (Only in non-horizontal and appropriate situations, please, lest the two of you get confused or transgress again.)

As he asks questions, answer them to the best of your ability. 

Invite him to Church and Church activities.

Ask your parents if he can come to diner at your home, where he can get to know your family better and witness firsthand the workings of an LDS family.

As for what to tell your parents . . . that's a discussion you need to have with your Bishop.

Call and make the appointment today, please. You'll feel better when you do.

Oh, and while it goes without saying, no more "alone time" with this boy.

Not in a house,
Not in a car,
Not here nor there,
Not anywhere. 

I'm worried about you.

Not because you're not a good kid, but because I can see that Satan has been working on you pretty hard. 

Please let me know how things are going, and send me an email later today to let me know that you've at least set the appointment with your Bishop.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I really wasn't expecting you to reply that fast, but I'm glad you did.

And thank Sister Jo for me? She makes me smile. :)

My bishop is currently on vacation, I don't know where he is or when he'll get back, but when he does I'll make the appointment.

In the meantime, I've made an appointment with the boy to talk about all the jazz (in the middle of the day at a park. I'm hoping that's appropriate enough?) and I've already told him it's not going to be a butterflies and rainbows-type conversation.

I'm trying really hard to not think about wimping out.

See, I've always been kind of a do-it-halfway type member. I don't want to do that anymore. I want to be 100% committed and do it all right (well, as right as I can being human) and see what happens.

Anyway, I'm trying to be strong.

I hope I can do this.

Thanks again for your advice!

Sincerely,

Beating Fear With A Stick.




Dear BF,

I know you can be strong!

You'll be great!

Having the conversation in the park is an excellent idea. If your Bishop is still not back from vacation, consider talking to his First Counselor (that's his job while the Bishop is away) or a member of the Stake Presidency.

Repentance is too expedient to be put off for convenience.

Good luck and God Speed,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Is He a Player?

Dear Bro Jo,

I wrote you a couple of weeks back about not understanding what a girl I liked meant but you helped me see some light on that issue.

However I am once again clueless.

In the past couple weeks I've gone on a couple dates with a few girls.

The girl I like is "Anne" (changed name).  After the latest date my sister came down on me informing me that I was being a player by taking 3 different girls out on dates within a 2 month period.

Each date was meant to be Casual and one of the girls I took out is in my seminary class and has heard me talk about a mission I plan on serving a year.

So my sister should know I'm not trying to be a player.

However all 3 of the girls are great friends and all of us eat lunch together at school along with about 10 other kids

So my real question:  is asking multiple girls out from the same click of friends in a short time frame a bad thing?

- Sincerely Clueless




Dear Sincerely,

You mention that your dates with these girls are Casual, but you don't mention if they're Group Dates, which they're supposed to be.

If that's the case, then you have nothing to worry about.

Unless you're making out with all of these different girls on each date; that would be wrong.

Your sister, with all do respect, is totally incorrect.

Like many, Latter-day Saints (and others), she's confused "dating" with "relationships"; only when you come back from your mission should those two definitions collide, and only after you've dated the same girl several times and you and she both feel the same way about each other.

I'm guessing that your sister is still stuck in the "Date = Boyfriend = Girl is Pretty and Valuable" way of thinking;

I hope she gets it straight.

Perhaps she needs a copy of "Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating" . . .

Now, if she's right, and you are playing these girls, then shame on you.

Knock it off.

As for me, I say until the Mission Call comes, Casual Group Date your heart out!

Have fun,

- Bro Jo

Monday, December 16, 2013

Her Parents are Hostile . . . What Can He Do?

Dear Bro Jo,

Your blog is one of the best for advice on dating and since I'm in a pickle right now I'll turn to your Fount of Knowledge seeking answers

First off I am 18 year old guy in High School senior.  I'm is 6`5", built like a tank, like football lineman big.

There is a girl "Mary" in my grade who is pretty cool that I would like to take on a date and the only thing impeding me is her parents.

I've asked said girl out twice and on each occasion she appeared excited/happy about the date only to inform me the next day each time that she couldn't come.

I asked her best friend why she couldn't after the 2nd time, and the friend said because of my size.   Mary and her family are small people, all under 5`4 which makes it so I kind of tower . . . so I can understand their worries . . . but still I've known Mary for 6 years so I hoped they'd trust me better because they do kind of know what I'm like.

I've met Mary's parents on a couple of occasions after dances, her birthday and a few football games.

On all those occasions there have been a lot of other people around I've shaken her dad's hands, talked to the parents and I've never done anything that should make her parents so scared of me or is my size reason enough.

So first of two questions:

1. How can I get this girl's parents to allow the date or should I just move on and forget about dating the girl?

2. Secondly what should I do if this problem comes up again cause most girls just aren't even very close to me in size or even in height?

In need of help,

- Over Sized Senior




Dear Sized,

You have no way of knowing whether or not what your friend said is correct, and even if it is, there's nothing you can really do about it.

It's not like you can change your size . . . nor should you want to.

Look, if you want to plan a Casual Group Date and ask her parent's permission to ask her out, you could try that, but nothing says they have to approve.

Plus, and understand that I say this as a guy who's been turned down way more times than anyone need remember, it may just be that she initially says yes, but then she changes her mind.

And we may never know why.

Maybe she's just being nice to begin with, but either doesn't really want to go, or doesn't want to go with you.

Maybe she got in trouble at home.

Maybe neither she nor her parents have a testimony of the whole Casual Group Dating thing.

Maybe her parents are afraid you're going to step on her!

(Hey, I can't think of any reason for them to be so ridiculous, so I'm hoping that's not the case.)

I can understand it eating at you.

Twenty five years later and I'm still haunted from time to time by some of the weird excuses and strange behavior that was part of my dating life.

Let it go.

Move on.

Too many other girls out there to date. 

Believe me, if you're a nice guy, she'll regret not going out with you.

And you may find out just how much she regrets it when you come home from the Mish.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

All right clarification:  Yes, I meant Casual Group Dates but I was lazy and didn't write the whole thing out but thanks for straightening me out cause my sister is the only one in my family with any dating experience and it’s nice to know that I'm interpreting things wrong here.

Thanks again Bro Jo.

- Over Sized




Dear Sized,

Anytime, bro.  Anytime.

- Bro Jo

Friday, December 13, 2013

He's Unsure Whether His Feelings for Her Are The Spirit or Not

Dear Bro. Jo,

I am 17 and I am really obsessed with this girl that I met about two years ago at a youth camp.

Since then I have talked to her on the internet for a while, and I've gotten to know her better and better.

I met her again another time.

I know that now is not the time for steady dating, but I can't help wondering whether it can go farther later after my mission.

She is spiritually strong, intelligent, and nice. She seems perfect. All the same I have these nagging doubts about whether I should ever date her.

In the past, I know that I have sometimes felt strong feelings about crazy things, often things that are negative to myself.

That being said it might be the spirit as well.

I wish I was better at recognizing the spirit, but I have trouble sometimes.

When I'm with her, or I'm talking with her I feel great.

She makes me feel great about myself and want to improve myself.

She's a great example, and I know that if I didn't go on a mission, she wouldn't date me.

How do I tell whether these bothersome thoughts are the spirit or my own?

-Really Confused




Dear Really,

In my opinion, attraction to someone, for whatever reason, is never "spiritual". (Although, like lot's of you guys, I've had some success telling a girl that we were "meant to be together" and that "the Spirit told me so".)

You can be attracted to someone who IS spiritual, and the Spirit can prompt you about good and bad situations, including marriage, but the Spirit isn't the source behind our . . . feelings . . . even the ones that are "more pure" and less lustful.

Think of it this way: the Spirit is a Comforter and Confirmer, not the source for new ideas.

Yes, we get promptings, and those are like ideas, but I think of them more as "reminders to do good things that we already know we should do".

And, I can't let this go, you used the word "obsessed", and that my brother is never a spiritual word.

I'm sure she's a great girl, and it sounds like you should go on Casual Group Dates with her (follow The Rules).

When you come back from the mission, IF she's available, and if you're still interested, then ask her out again.

- Bro Jo

PS:  I think the best way to get better at "hearing the Spirit" is to act upon the things we do hear.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What Do You Do If a Guy Wants Your Number . . . and You Don't Want to Give It to Him?

Dear Bro Jo,

I appreciate all the questions you answer (including all the ones from me).

What should I do if a boy wants my number and I don't want to give it to him?

I don't want to be mean, and some of my friends say to give him a fake number, but I can't be mean like that.

I have no real reason for not giving him my number besides the fact, I don't know him, and I would prefer he not have my number.

Thanks!

- M




Dear M -

Let's face it, a fake number is a lie.

I can see its value, especially if it gets you away from a creep, but honesty may be the best alternative.

A simple "no, thank you" may suffice.

"Can I have your number?"

"No, thank you."

He may be stunned, or indignant, but I'm afraid that anything else you say is going to make it worse.

I suppose if you wanted to be more direct, you could say "I'm sorry, I don't give out my number to boys that I'm not interested in".

That's a little more clear, and perhaps a bit more painful, but at least it's honest.

The truth is, anything you say or do he could take as mean, so you'll just have to not worry about that.

Just because a guy asks, that's not enough of a reason to give him your contact information.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks!

I think I will try the "No thank you."

It isn't a lie, and it is an easy way out.

- M




Dear M,

Good choice.

Let me know how it goes.

- Bro Jo

PS:  If someone gets your number covertly, or won't stop calling you, don't hesitate to block them.  Just because the phone rings, that doesn't mean you have to answer . . . and blocking the number means you won't be bothered by the unwanted contact.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Mac Monday: Snail Mail

[Dear Readers,

Instead of this Month's "Cheesy Wednesday", I give to you a "Mac Monday" - enjoy!

- Bro Jo]


Dear Bro Jo,

Hi!

I merely have a quick query for you.

About a month ago, I was in Utah to attend a session of EFY with Cheese.

She was determined that I would have at least one dating experience while there, so she set me up with a great guy we'll call Mike.

Both of us really enjoyed spending the evening together, under casual group dating settings of course, and later in the week he called me via Cheese's phone to ask for my number.

It was Cheese's suggestion that he do that, I think, but I still thought it was really nice and cute.

In any case, once he had it, he texted me and asked if I'd have any time to hang out again before leaving to head back East.

I did, and we had one more casual group date before my plane home, equally fun as the last one.

My question revolves around how to stay in contact with Mike, as I would really enjoy getting to know him better.

Our ages, by the way- I am 17, a senior in high school, and he is 19 and waiting on his mission call.

We have texted intermittently since I returned home, but that really doesn't seem like a good mode of communication.

Cheese suggested writing a letter.

I know that you encourage letter-writing, so I was just looking for your perspective on this.

Mike already mentioned that it would be nice for me to write him while on his mission, so would it be weird to send a letter in the intervening time?

Is good old-fashioned snail mail the best way to go here?

Or should I hold off until he's on his mission, lest I appear overeager?

Thanks!

- Mac




Dear Mac,

Good 'ol Cheese!

I think a full-blown letter might come across as over-eager.

Start with a card. Happy Birthday.

Congratulations on your mission call (or some other event).

Include your address and a short note that says "I'd love to get a letter from you".

And then let it go.

If he texts you (man, I hate texting - have you noticed?) asking what that's all about, simply repeat the request: "I'd love to get a letter from you".

I think it will work, and you're going to love how much more personable letters are.

Keep me "posted" - HA!

- Bro Jo

Friday, December 6, 2013

What If She's Pregnant?

[Dear Readers,

The following post is a bit more graphic than we typically post here.  I've thought about editing it for content, and have removed some details, but I have chosen to leave the remaining details in because I think, for some of you, there's value in understanding what can lead someone from "cuddling" to "going to far" and just how quickly it can happen.

We Old Married People know how short of a distance those two things are apart, and that's why we so often tell you "things not to do".

I'm also hoping you'll notice how this young woman feels.

Please understand, I don't blame her alone for what happened, but she could have prevented this had she made some very different, but very simple, choices.

- Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

I feel really embarrassed and disappointed in myself to talk to you about this.

But I need help. I’m going out with this guy, he’s a great guy.

I talked to him about my values, and what I believe in because he is not LDS.

He told me he understood and would respect that.

Well two days ago I went to his house to just hang out.

We were in his basement just watching movies . . . cuddling up in the couch.

We started to kiss a lot.

Well we ended up making out.

Things got worse and he ended up taking my pants off.

I know it’s my fault because I let him do this and I’m really sorry about that.

He was touching me down there and since it was kind of dark I really couldn’t see much.

Well I felt something ... and I panicked a little.

He stopped for a little bit but kept going.

I realized [what was going on].

I know I should have told him to stop . . . but I didn’t.

Well he got a condom and kept going.

I told him it hurt so he stopped and threw the condom away.

We kept on making out but later and things got more worse and he did it again ... and I think he had his condom on . . . I’m not really sure.

I kept on telling him to stop but he wouldn’t.

He finally did and I got up and put my pants on quickly.

I realized right there what I just have done.

I have ended up committing a big sin.

I understand all this is wrong and I should be punished big time for all of this.

I broke a promise to god. I fell into temptation and gave in.

I understand all this and I feel sick about it.

I’m really scared.

I’m really scared I might end up getting pregnant from just that one time.

I’m really sorry and I prayed for like an hour about this to my Heavenly Father.

I’m really strong in the Church and a lot of the young women look up to me.

I feel like I’ve let everyone down.

I know I need to tell the bishop and I will on Sunday.

My biggest fear though is becoming pregnant by this.

I prayed and I feel a little more at peace, kind of the feeling that everything will be alight.

But I still feel terrible that I fell into temptation.

I just want some advice from you on what to do.

I really need help.

Please get back to me as soon as possible.

Thank you,

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

Yes, you need to talk to your Bishop so that he can help you repent and mend your relationship with God. 

It's good that you regret what you've done, and good that you understand why what you did is not what you're supposed to do.

That's a start.

You also need to realize the things that lead to sex that you need to also not do again.

First of all, no more boyfriends, LDS or otherwise, until you're old enough to actually be ready for marriage and children, and even then only choose worthy priesthood holders who can and will marry you in the Temple.

Secondly, be more careful about your activities, locations, and environment. No more "hanging out", no more make out sessions, and by all means, keep your pants on.

As for the possible pregnancy . . . only time will tell.

Double check the box so that you understand what you're getting and how it works, and talk to someone older whom you know will know and can trust, but I think enough time has passed that you can take a pregnancy test.

They're a little expensive, but well worth the peace of mind.

Please, if it turns out that you are pregnant, plan on carrying the baby to term and then giving the baby up for adoption.

I will always be grateful for the choice that a young woman made for carrying me to term and giving me up.

If it helps to know a little bit more of the physiology, in order for him to have impregnate you he would have needed to ejaculate inside you; if that happened some of the . . . stuff . . . would have leaked out of you later.
You may or may not have noticed that.

Condoms break and fall off and have leaks, so while they can help prevent pregnancy they're no guarantee.

As for this creep you were dating, you have to realize what a bad guy he was and is.

Clearly he had planned to have sex with you (he did have condoms, after all, and he did get you alone in the basement, and he did take your pants off) and it's doubtful you're the first.

He had, and has, no intention of "respecting your beliefs", and most importantly, he didn't stop when you asked him to.

I'm not saying that he raped you.

Not at first.

But he clearly has no respect for you.

And you asking him to stop and him not stopping deeply concerns me.  That may in fact cross the line that makes what he did a criminal act . . . but, before you file charges, please be honest with yourself; did you really ask him to stop, or is it now that you wish that you did?

Of course this means that he doesn't love you. So know that.

You're on the right path towards making things better. It may be a long road, but don't give up because the end is worth the journey.

Lastly, be aware that you may need to tell people other than your Bishop, like your parents, especially if you are pregnant.

Your Bishop can help with that.

And keep praying.

That was and is a good thing to do.

Don't worry about struggling with English; it's a weird language and you did well.

Write as much or often as you need.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for getting back to me.

I couldn’t sleep all night just thinking about this.

I’m really scared.

I feel terrible about this.

I talked to him last night the guy I’m with and told him what’s going on.

Well he told me not to worry because he has a low sperm count.

That he had an accident happen to him earlier that made him now not have cells to have babies.

I’m not sure if i should believe him?

This is my biggest fear is being pregnant.

I’m terrified about it.

If I do turn out to be of course I would keep it or give it up for adoption.

I just have younger sisters who look up to me and I don’t want them to do the same thing.

I’ve always wanted temple marriage and be married to the right priesthood member.

But guys over here I feel don’t find me attractive.

I’m Hispanic with curvy hips. I feel like they don’t like that at all; not ones I who asked me on dates in high school.

This guy showed up and he said great things to me and I gave in so easily because of this.

I honestly just wanted someone to like me.

I wanted to feel loved by someone because my life is so hard right now.

I now this is totally wrong.

I’m really scared to tell my Bishop about this.

We have known him for years and I feel like he would look at me differently.

They all look up to me because of how strong my testimony is in the Church and how strong of a person I am for going through all my trials.

But I obviously didn’t make it through this temptation.

But I have to tell my bishop and be on the right track to repentance.

I prayed about this all and I hope heavenly father heard my prayers.

I prayed to please not get pregnant by this because I am really sorry.

I understand what I did was wrong and I will talk to my Bishop and tell him everything.

I really hope he listens and please does this for me.

I’m really scared.

Also is there any way my mom can’t know about this?

Or does she need to be included?

I want to go through the repenting process with my Bishop, but only me and him.

Afterwards I want to tell her everything.

If I am pregnant that’s a whole different story.

I will take a pregnancy test but i heard it takes a week before I can know?

It’s only been two days.

I know it’s bad what I did and I feel really embarrassed telling you this.

I will regret this for the rest of my life.

I know heavenly father forgets my sins when I go through the repenting process but I never will.

I will always have to remember this and one day when I get married tell my husband I didn’t wait for him.

That really hurts me.

I feel terrible.

Thank you,

- NW




Dear NW,

Scared is good.

You did something scary.

I'd be more concerned if you weren't very worried about the consequences... I've got to say that it really concerns me that you still refer to this guy as "the guy I'm with" . . .

See, you need to learn something about guys . . . pay attention.

For guys "like" and "love" have nothing to do with sex.

Not outside of marriage, anyway.

Being attracted to a girl in a guy's mind is separate from whether or not you like her, respect her, or love her.
A guy can like kissing a girl and still not respect or like her.

(I suppose girls can be like that, too.)

Understand this, please: doing all of that stuff with you, having sex with you . . . twice . . . it's not because he likes you, or wants to marry you, or necessarily thinks anything positive.

He did it because he wanted to do those things, and you let him.

A man doesn't love a woman he doesn't respect, and you can't respect someone who doesn't respect themselves.

Doing what you did, and allowing him to do what he did . . . outside of marriage, shows a tremendous lack of self-respect.

I've got to tell you, I'm worried that you're concerned about being pregnant and aren't understanding clearly enough that what you did, and all of the things leading up to that, are things you ought not do.

Being scared is not the same as being repentant.  You need to understand that fear of pregnancy is not the same as regret for the action.  This situation didn't go from "hugging" to "sex" in the blink of an eye like you first intimated; you did A Lot of Stuff you should not have been doing . . . and I think if you were honest with yourself and with me, we'd learn that this was not your first "basement-like" session.

Scared or not, you need to talk to your Bishop as soon as possible.

If he suggests you tell your mom, then you should.

She may be a part of the repentance process, whether it's to help you or protect you.

Trust your Bishop.

You certainly need to stop seeing this guy.

And stop calling him. (The more I learn about this guy, the less I like him.)

Unless, of course, he did get you pregnant, then he needs to be told. And he needs to be held responsible.

Yes. You'll get better results on the pregnancy test in 8-9 days, depending on its sensitivity.

Usually it's best to wait until after you've missed your period.

We're not necessarily supposed to forget our sins; sometimes that memory is what keeps us from sinning again.

Like you, I wish this hadn't happened.

But I know that Heavenly Father still loves you, and that The Atonement can help you to feel good about yourself again.

Don't give up!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Break Up

Dear Bro Jo,

You may need to read my previous e-mails to you for a refresher on my situation. :)

In my last e-mail to you, I expressed my concern that my boyfriend wasn't kissing me.

It was a very strange thing, because I would have thought that normally the opposite would be true.

Don't girls usually have to keep guys' hands and lips off them?

Anyway, I didn't think it was that bad of a thing, and that maybe I was just blessed with a great guy who respected me.

Well, after 2 months of dating, to the day actually, he finally kissed me 2 weeks ago (after much prodding by me).

I'll admit I came off as a little desperate, but I figured it was time.

Once he made up his mind that he wanted to, he didn't have any problems kissing me every night after that. 

And it was great!

I finally thought things were going well that that he'd decided that he really liked me.

He met my parents that next weekend, and they all had good feelings about him.

I started to think that we were headed toward marriage.

I had such a peaceful feeling about it, and knew that he was a great guy that I could spend the rest of my life with.

The Monday after he'd met my parents, I found out, even though he'd been trying to hide it, that he was fasting.

It crossed my mind that he might be fasting about our relationship, but I couldn't be sure, and didn't think too much about it.

Sunday night he'd come over late in the night to give me some advice since I'd been feeling stressed with school, and that endeared him to me more.

Everything he was doing came across to me as more and more positive.

He kissed me a lot Tuesday night, and I was finally starting to get over the weirdness of kissing and really liking it.

To me that meant that things were good and I didn't have anything to worry about. I didn't see him Wednesday night, but he acted as if he wanted to talk to me but I couldn't because I went to a concert with another friend.

The next day he asked if we could go on a walk, which is what we do when one of us wants to talk.

I was initially worried by it, but he hadn't given me any reason to worry, so I brushed that feeling off.

We went on the walk and talked and joked and laughed like normal for an hour and a half before I made him tell me what he had to say.

He said that he thought our timing had been off and, at least for now, he just wanted to be friends.

I was completely shocked and surprised!

He hadn't given me any sign that this is what he'd been thinking.

I didn't have much to say, except that I wasn't sure I'd be willing to try again in the future like he said we might.

He said he just hadn't been able to put himself fully into the relationship even though he was trying, and basically he didn't want to keep me waiting anymore.

He hadn't seen any red flags in our relationship, which is why he was so surprised when he came to the conclusion to break up with me.

I think it was also in answer to his prayers about us.

I was just so confused because my feelings and impressions had been going in the complete opposite direction.

Why would we be receiving such different answers to our prayers?

It made me start to doubt the feelings I'd been receiving.

But then it also made me wonder if he was just getting scared and this was a cop-out.

So, without rambling on too much more, my question is:  how do I best move on?

I know that I shouldn't hold on to the hope that he'll change his mind. I also want to believe that he doesn't deserve me if he can just drop me like that.

But it's so hard to think clearly when all I want is things to get back to normal.

I've been actually doing pretty well, considering the situation . . . Conference gave me a good boost, and I definitely felt the sustaining power of the Spirit helping to comfort me all weekend.

To add to the complications, we have a class we are taking together, and he wants to continue studying together, because we both need it.

Also, I'm the Relief Society president and he's the Elder's Quorum president in our ward.

My mom tells me that a clean break is best, and she wants me to try as much as I can for that, but it's not possible in our situation.

What do you think the best thing for me to do is?

Sorry to bother you with this, but I am just grasping at all the advice I can get.

Thanks in advance,

- RSP




Dear RSP,

I had something similar happen once. I was dating a girl and I thought everything was going pretty well.

We both worked at the same amusement park and had been dating for about a month. 

We had an after-work go into the amusement park and I'd buy her dinner date planned.

I saw her at work, and we chatted pleasantly for a minute or two about our date that night.

We set a time and location to meet that night since we had slightly different shifts.

Besides, she said, she wanted to run home and change into something nicer for our date.

That was the last time I ever saw her.

She no-call no-showed for our date.

I waited for quite a while, then got pretty worried.

I found a phone and called her house (this is before cell phones, mind you).

Her mom said she was out with friends.

I was pretty upset, but I figured I'd see her the next day and we could talk about it.

She never came to work again.

She never answered my calls.

I went by her house a couple times and no one answered the door.

Finally, this one time, her mom came to the door to tell me that the daughter didn't want to see me again (it had been several weeks since we'd planned our date).  Before her mom opened the door I could hear her encouraging the daughter to come talk to me.

She didn't.

I told her mom I'd been freaking out worried if the daughter was okay, and that if she didn't want to see me again that the least she could do is tell me why.

The mom disagreed, but she did take a letter I'd written for the daughter and promised to give it to her. 

That's it.

Never an explanation.

Nothing.

The last time I saw her, we were a happy couple planning a fun evening. . . .

The only thing that makes stuff like this a little easier to live with is time.

Well . . . time and finding someone else to spend your romantic moments with.

As for your particular situation, I'd spend whatever time you have to with him at Church, but outside of Church I think you should cut him off completely.

I have no idea what this coward's problem is, but you're right: you'll never change his mind.

He might change his own mind, and perhaps if he does he'll beg you to come back to him.

Whether or not you do might depend on how good the begging is, how you feel about him at the time, and whether or not you're still single.

Get a different study buddy.

Tell him that you're not his consolation prize and that he needs to go out and make a new friend; you have no more time to waste waiting around for him to get a clue.

Seriously.

Cut him off.

If you don't he'll continue to use you as his no-commitment companion and you'll continue to be hung up on him.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks.

That's exactly what I needed to hear.

I didn't want to hear it, but you're right.

I just wanted so badly to be his friend, probably because I'm still holding on to the hope that things will work out again.

I'm realizing now that I need to cut him off because it just hurts too much to see him when things aren't the same.

And I can't be his no-commitment companion anymore.

I see now that's exactly what he wants.

He wants to keep me on the back burner. I need to have more respect for myself than that.

Thanks. So much.

- A




Dear A,

Maybe he'll smarten up one day . . . If he's lucky it will happen while you're still available, and if he's blesses you'll be inspired to give him a second chance . . . if he begs satisfactorily enough! But you're under no obligation to stay available or take him back.

Happy to help any time.

- Bro Jo

Monday, December 2, 2013

Should She Ask Him Out?

Dear Bro Jo,

So hey Bro Jo, I’m 18 and have never really been on a date yet (which is not really important) and I really like this guy from my ward.

He’s an RM which I wrote to while on his mission even though at that point I never met him before, but I did it because his family moved into the ward and stake and I figured that because he was new I’d make friends with him before he came back so at least he would feel more at home.

We usually go FHE and other YSA events together normally just us two and while doing that I really developed feelings for him because:

1. I felt the spirit really strongly and when I really talked to him for the first time we were alone, which I’ve never really felt when talking to a guy about general things. 
2. Whenever I tell myself that I should just give up and move on it never happens even how hard I try.
3. He makes me want to become a better person and I’ve realized I’ve matured somewhat because of how he’s made me look at things in a different light.  For example before him I would always like guys who are “hot” which was really shallow and immature of me but with him I don’t really care what he really looks like because his personality what’s really the reason I like him so much.

The question I have for you is should I ask him on a date?

My friends think he likes me too, but I’m not sure because I sometimes think he likes my friend which everyone denies... but on the other hand, as I have said my friends say he likes me and I have sometimes caught him taking cheeky glances at me but I have no idea what’s going on.

Anyway back to the point should I ask him on a date because I know that he can be shy too and also the worst scenario is if I don’t ask him out he might go with another girl...?

Please help.

- Confused British Girl




Dear Briton,

No.

You shouldn't ask him out; you need to get him to ask you.

It’s simple, really.

You just say "hey, are you ever going to ask me out on a date?"

That's it.

And if he doesn't ask you, stop wasting your time with him and move on.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Okay thank you Bro Jo!

May I ask why it is important not to ask a boy out.. is it maybe it's not very lady like?

- Briton




Dear Briton,

It may not be "fair" or "right", but when a girl asks a guy out he immediately labels her as either desperate or aggressive.

For Good Guys being asked out is a huge turn-off; except for a traditional girl-ask-guy event (and even then its better if the girl asks a guy that has already taken her out), otherwise it’s always bad for a girl to do the asking.

Guys need to operate under the illusion that we're in-charge.

Sad game playing?

I don't think so.

I think it's just understanding how guys and girls work.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Hey Bro Jo thanks for the advice and I haven't asked him out, but I did tell him I liked him which lead to him rejecting me and now he doesn't really talk to me.. but life goes on and I'll get over it

- Briton




Dear Briton,

Telling him you like him is not what I suggested you do, but at least now you know where you stand and can move on.

And that's a good thing.

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 29, 2013

Marriage, Mission, and Messing Around - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello again!

I know you haven't heard from in in a while (time flies), but I thought that I could give you an update on my situation along with thanking you for your help.

First of all, I am no longer dating the guy that we previously talked about.

We were eventually able to reign in the physical side of the relationship, and we were able to get to know the other person a whole lot better.

So, thank you for the counsel in that regard.

But our relationship didn't last very long after we got everything under control after Christmas break.

The beginning of the end was probably after I told him I wouldn't be able to marry him until I had known him for at least a year.

At that point we had known each other for about 4 months, and he was wanting to get married at the end of the semester (around the 7-mo mark).

This frustrated him greatly, and he started asking why.

I told him honestly that I needed to know him better before I committed the rest of my eternity to him, and his response to that was, "you've already known me for 4 months; what's four more going to do for you?"

I stuck to my guns, though.

That conversation was a very lengthy one, and by the end of it we were both upset, confused, and probably a little hurt.

But we worked through it, and I thought everything was going to be fine.

This whole time I had continued to wrestle with the mission decision thing, and since I wasn't receiving a strong prompting either way (continue the relationship and maybe get married or go on a mission), I was getting snagged on that decision and wasn't moving anywhere or making any progress.

My not knowing what to do was killing me, and I could also tell it was killing him, so I decided to take the mission off the table and focus on the present and the relationship.

I thought and prayed and pondered about it for over a week, and the answer I kept getting was "not yet."

I knew that he was waiting for some kind of indication as to where I was at, so I knew that I had to tell him at some point.

Our conversation on the night that I told him the answer I had been receiving was a very short one.

I explained everything to him (taking the mission off the table, focusing on our relationship) and told him that I wanted to see where this was going to go, but that my answer was that I wasn't supposed to marry him yet.

After I finished talking he just sat there for a minute, and when he responded all he said was, "Then I guess we should just break up."

So we did.

What I wanted him to say was, "Ok, that's alright. We'll date until it is time."

Something more along those lines.

But he didn't, and I couldn't make him stay in the relationship when he didn't want to.

Of course I was upset, but overall I felt very good about the break up, and that was my confirmation to me that it was a good thing that it happened.

A few days later he contacted me (Facebook messaged me, actually) and asked if I could talk.

I replied by saying that I didn't want this to turn into a verbal bashing, that I wanted to maintain my generally positive thoughts that I had of him, and he agreed to that.

Essentially what he wanted to talk about was getting back together; he realized that he missed me, that our relationship was a good one, that he wanted a second shot.

He wanted me to think about it and get back to him later with my answer, but I had been preparing for this, because he had done similar things in the past.

I told him that I was not going to get back together with him for multiple reasons.

For one, I made a personal promise years ago that I would not knowingly go back into a situation that would cause me heartache, pain, or grief.

Second, the people around me who cared about and loved me were also noticeably upset because I was upset; I was not going to intentionally put them through that again.

Third, I told him that I felt that it was the right decision to break up.

I also told him that I would rather him use this as a starting point to becoming a better person, to not dwell on the negative parts of it all because that's what I was going to do.

All in all, even though he was clearly upset, the conversation ended well.

A few days later, the more malicious behaviors started emerging.

He had some photos of me and my roommates from last December that he deleted off of Facebook.  (If the devil had a favorite media source, it would be Facebook. I'm currently on a hiatus from it right now.), and my roommates were all quite upset by that. I messaged him to see if I could get them from him (my mistake, I know. I shouldn't have contacted him), and he replied that he deleted them entirely, from his computer too.

He knew how important those pictures were to me, so I knew that he must have been struggling a lot to do such a rash thing, so (my bad) I asked him how he was doing. He responded that he was hurting but not too much, and asked me how I was in return.

Again, this is my mistake, but I responded truthfully, saying that I've been sad and lonely at times, but that I've been coping with it all.

I purposefully didn't try to make conversation out of my message, because I knew that I shouldn't have been messaging him anyways.

But he responded with a more lengthy message detailing a few things, such as how he glad his friends are finally getting him back to his "normal self." He's also done a few other things, but to save you some time and strain on your eyes, I'll just stop here.

Basically, I couldn't help but feel that he was intentionally striking out at me.

My theory is, is that he wanted me to strike back at him, so that he could move on quicker by hating me.

But I am proud to say that I didn't respond (because I knew that I would have a hard time being very civil) or strike out at him, and we haven't communicated since.

That all being said, I want to thank you for your advice.

It helped me take a step back and think about the things that really matter in a relationship.

After you pointed it out, I acknowledge the fact that hormones are very good at clouding judgment, and after I accepted that I was able to address that concern.

After seeing how he acted before, after, and about the break up, I very glad that I didn't marry this guy.

I've also talked with my Bishop about the things I mentioned to you last time.

Fortunately, the boundaries we crossed weren't as cutaneous (nice word, by the way) as I once thought they might be.

But you were right-- it was nice to get it all off my chest and the healing/repentance process has gone much better since then.

Thank you for being there as a sounding board for confused and troubled individuals like me.

Now, if I may, I'd like to address your post script. I found your blog by following a link off of my roommate's Facebook page (I guess it's not as devilish as I once suggested...).

She had found one of your posts inspiring and had shared it on her wall.

As for reaching younger audiences, I'm not sure.

I'm tempted to suggest contacting the editors of The New Era, but I don't know how rigorous the process is to be put in there.

However, having a Facebook page is very beneficial for you, because I know a lot of the kids in my home ward use Facebook a lot.

For better or worse, our world is becoming increasingly more digitalized, so any efforts you make in that regard will probably help you out.

Again, thank you,

- NW

P.S.:  Sorry it's so long again. I didn't intentionally write you a novel.

I guess I just needed to vent a little bit.




Dear NW,

Good to hear from you!

It's interesting, I think, what happens to some "relationships" when the physical component is reduced or removed.

While I strongly believe that marriage shouldn't be put off or avoided once we reach Young Single Adult age (and I mean that as "post mission" for guys, out of High School for girls), I also thing that we need to teach our Young People that Marriage (and a Mission, btw) isn't just a box on the List of Important Eternal Stuff to be checked off.

Yes, I think it's possible to know someone well enough in a few months to know that you would be Good Eternal Companions for Each other, but I think that's much rarer than we tell our Young People.

The Bottom Line is, like all revelation we seek, anything other than a "yes, go ahead" is a "wait" or a "no, don't do it".

One should never agree to marry someone they don't know well enough to Trust.

And that word - TRUST - is a very important thing.

Love is great!  Attraction is important.  But a marriage without trust is doomed.

I'll always love Sister Jo, but that doesn't mean we're always "in love" with each other.  (You imagine how easy it is for me to get on her nerves!)

And, cute though I'm sure I am, I'm certainly not the "hottie" I was (if I ever was) twenty plus years ago.

But we trust each other.  And that makes all the difference.

And it doesn't sound to me like you could trust this guy.

Glad you're well.  I'm always here if you need to "chat".

Cheers,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Marriage, Mission and Messing Around - Part 1

[Dear Readers,

Certainly not the only letter of it's kind that I've ever gotten, nor even the only one from someone attending a Church school.

Part 1 today.  Part 2 on Friday.

- Bro Jo]





Hello Bro Jo.

I really appreciate what you do for the youth of the Church. I literally just barely stumbled across your blog, and I can't help but wish that I had known about it while I was still in high school.

I admire that you and your advice are both so versatile, that you are able to relate to all different age groups and circumstances.

That being said, I hope that you can help me with my circumstance.

I realize that you've addressed situations similar to mine in previous posts, and I've read all the ones that I could find.

However, I feel that my situation has a few aspects to it that have not been addressed in previous posts.

Also, as I've read through some of your posts, I'll have my own theories as to what you will advise the individuals to do, but then I'll be completely off base.

Therefore, I would like to submit my issues to you in hope that you can offer insight and guidance. 

*DISCLAIMER* I'm going to try and give you as many relevant details as possible, because if there is one common trend that I've noticed in your posts, it's that you need more details in order to help. Which makes sense, because if you don't have a full story, how can you offer insight? Plus, you have your agency, so you can just start to skip at any point in the narrative. 

Now where to start?

With the basics, I suppose.

I'm 20-year-old lady and a student at BYU, with two more semesters left.

Serving a mission has always been something that I thought would be an awesome opportunity, but I have a desire (perhaps even a greater desire than that to serve a mission) to be a wife and a mother.

I started my college career with the following attitude: to prepare myself for a mission, but not disregarding any relationships that came along in the process, and run with the one that came first (unless otherwise directed by revelation).

I was just taking everything in stride as it happened in my life.

I stayed true to that, having a few relationships over my three years in college.

As circumstances would have it, I was set up on a blind date with a guy towards the end of this September, we hit it off, and we went on a few more dates.

October Conference he invited me over to watch the Saturday morning session of conference at his place with some friends.

Thus commenced the notorious announcement in the change of missionary age, with the two of us sitting side by side. I muttered something to the effect of, "well, this changes everything," and he tensed up and gave me a sideways glance out of the corner of his eye.

About a week later and after another date, he called me up and asked me to go for a walk with him.

My roommates and I knew that this could mean only a handful of things: that he wanted to make a move (hold my hand, kiss me, etc.), that he wanted to have a DTR, or that he was going to chicken out and it would just turn into a fun yet pointless walk in the cold.

After about 40min of us walking around, having silly yet empty conversations, I asked him straight up if there was a point to this walk.

He played it off, saying that he just wanted to spend some time with me, but after another 10 minutes, he got down to the nitty-gritty and asked me to be his girlfriend.

He had clearly been thinking about this for a considerable amount of time, evidenced by the fact that he had a monologue prepared.

After explaining why he wanted to be exclusive with me (he really liked me, he felt that I liked him back, we got along swimmingly, etc.), he turned it over to me.

I replied honestly that while I would be thrilled to be his girlfriend, there was only one thing holding me back: serving a mission. Due to the fact that I could in theory turn in my papers right then, I was completely conflicted, and I expressed that to him.

He told me that in his mind, serving a mission is a great thing, but the selfish part of him wanted to keep me for himself.

After talking things over for a bit, we decided that we would be boyfriend/girlfriend while I prepared to go on my mission (he's a teacher at the MTC, so he even said that he would help me prepare), and we would just see how things panned out.

We had known each other for about three weeks at that point.

Thus we took our relationship to the next level.

In pretty short order, he started talking about marriage. And by short order, I'm talking the first three weeks of us dating.

To help with the timeline, that meant that he was talking marriage within a month and a half of us knowing each other.

This confused me for many reasons.

Even though I had never prepared for a mission before, I was smart enough to realize that talking marriage was not conducive to serving a full-time mission.

But at the same time this was all very exciting, because:

1) it's BYU; everybody's doing it, 
2) I really like this guy, and I could see myself marrying him to some extent or another,  
3) being swept up in a romance is so... romantic. 

So I just sort of went along with it to a certain extent.

While I told him that I wouldn't be ready for marriage for at least another year down the road (because I do not want to rush into things when it comes to marriage; I've seen enough marriages end in my short life that I want to be feeling pretty good about things before I actually get married), I never completely shut those conversations down.

We would talk about these things, but I'm not sure either one of us left those conversations feeling like anything was clarified; at the very least, I know I didn't.

Nevertheless we continued to date, because we still like each other, and we agreed that we should continue dating until we knew something otherwise.

I was still trying to figure out if I was supposed to serve a mission, or if I should stick around with my boyfriend and see if it lead to marriage.

It really is a hefty decision, and my main goal in life has always been to not offend the Big Man Upstairs; I was scared of making the wrong decision, not doing what God would have me do.

Eventually it got to the point that he was feeling really insecure about the whole thing, and was starting to talk about breaking up.

He would say that he really wanted to date and get married, but that if I was going to go on a mission, then we should just break up right away.

He kept pressuring me to make a decision before I felt that I had received an answer for myself.

That lead to a certain amount of strain in the relationship.

He got into the relationship a whole lot faster than I did (he said 'I love you' pretty quick into things; around when he started talking about marriage), and then he was using that as a reason to break up: I wasn't feeling as strongly as he was and I wasn't into the relationship as much as he was.

He started talking about breaking up that I started to think that there were other reasons for him to want to break up (specifically, I started to think that there was another girl that he really wanted to date.

He never said anything in particular about that, it's just what my female/jealous/irrational brain started to conjure up), so I gave him the ultimatum of 'if you want to break up, then talk about breaking up; if you don't want to break up, then don't talk about breaking up.'

That worked for a little while, but breaking up started sneaking back into our conversations.

After he told me that he wanted me to make a decision about the 'whole mission thing' over Christmas break, I had had enough, and I told him that I'm running on the Lord's timing and if he's not ok with that, then we need to rethink the relationship.

He apologized, and he stopped with the pressuring for a bit.

Through some various events, the tables turned on how he was pressuring me.

After some things happened that helped him recall feelings and emotions associated with his mission, it became his new goal to get me on my mission.

He told me that he didn't want to be 'that guy' that kept a sister missionary from serving a mission and touching the lives of families who need a specific sister missionary.

He then told me that I should serve my mission at the end of this next semester, and postpone my last semester until after my mission.

The way he sees it, I can serve my mission and then have an excuse to come back to Provo, that way we'd have an opportunity to see if we want to continue our relationship or not.

On the other hand, there is something to be said about just finishing up my schooling before I go on my mission.

Before the age change, I would have been leaving after I graduated anyways, so that wouldn't change any of my plans that I had made previously.

I can just finish my degree and be done with it, and worry about graduate school after I get back.

Really, there are pros and cons on both sides of the fence.

Another layer to the madness: we got a bit too physical with each other. Boundaries were crossed that should have never been crossed.

Our schedules were such that we both had a break from school during lunch for a few hours, and we would make lunch at my apartment, and then do homework afterwards.

My roommates' schedules were such that we were alone for those few hours.

This is where I wish I had been smarter.

We should have never been alone together for those extended periods of time; if I could redo all this, that is something that I would not do.

But nonetheless, we made the choices that we did.

It all escalated to the point where we were making out.

On top of each other.

Quite sexually aroused.

We did not have sexual intercourse, and our clothes stayed on, but in all reality we were enjoying each other physically in ways that should be saved until after marriage.

Due to those events that day, I found out that before his mission he had sex with more than one girl (I didn't ask how many, because he wasn't very comfortable about talking about it, and I was feeling rather awkward myself).

After that day, we decided together that we weren't going to do that again, and that we weren't going to make out anymore.

Unfortunately for us, we did not take the necessary measures to get to that point.

We continued to be alone together.

We didn't get to that same point again, but on two separate occasions, one of my roommates walked in on us.

Obviously, that was really awkward for both of my roommates when they walked in on that, so we made an apartment rule.

The rule was that no one (mainly me and my boyfriend) could not get 'frisky' on the couch, or else the offenders would have to treat the whole apartment to lunch at a delicious restaurant that is higher priced.

Something WAY out of my budget, and I had no desire to drop upwards of $150 just on lunch.

This was right before Christmas break, and unbeknownst to me, my boyfriend decided that he wanted to take my roommates and I out to lunch at this place anyways, thus the consequence had no leverage on him anymore.

One thing lead to another and one of my roommates walked in on us again.

It came out that my boyfriend had already made the consequence null and void in his head after the 'crime' was committed, and I was left feeling very betrayed and violated, upset that he had not shared this desire with me, so that I could have been more aware of the situation.

I realize that we both made decisions that day that lead to us being 'frisky' on the couch, but I feel that since he had made that decision (which I feel involved me a great deal) and hadn't let me in on it, it only led to us breaking the rule/promise.

I don't know if I'm out of line with these feelings, but I feel that by not telling me that, he wasn't viewing me as an equal.

(This is starting to get rather lengthy, and I'm beginning to feel like I've dubbed you my personal psychiatrist.)

So, due to the fact that I don't know if you want to know this much information, I'll just cut to the chase and give you my questions. I feel that if you need more information at this point, you will ask (which you have my full permission to do, by the way).

Here are my questions:

1) In your opinion, what should I do about my mission? Should I wait to serve it until after I graduate to serve it? Should I serve it at the end of this next semester? Should I serve it at all, i.e. should I just pursue my desire to get married and have a family, with my current boyfriend or some other man later down the road?  
2) Do you have any sound advice about this relationship that I am in? I realize that every story has a bias, this one has mine, but I have to believe that you have some input after reading this. 
3) As for the 'frisky' crisis, I have thought and prayed and pondered about it, and I've decided that I am going to go in and talk to my Bishop about it. Should I encourage my boyfriend to do the same? Is that any of my business? Will this effect my worthiness to serve a full-time mission, possibly postponing it until I graduate, anyways? 

Those are my main questions.

If you have advice to give on other areas of my narrative, I will more than gladly accept and consider it.

A large part of why I wanted to write to you is because you seem to have a pretty level head about things, and you aren't afraid to say things how they are.

Please do that with me.

And honestly, another large pull was the fact that you don't know me or anybody involved in this narrative, so I feel that you will not have a bias based on people and personalities.

Again, thank you so much for giving your time to people like me; I can't even begin to comprehend how many lives you have touched and helped through your blog.

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

For what it's worth yours is not the only email of its kind to reach my inbox from the Y.

To your questions:

1. My feeling about missions, particularly for young women, is that if you don't feel compelled to go right away, hold off on the paperwork. You're correct, and following prophetic counsel, when you realize that as a woman you're not to put off marriage for a mission. Motherhood is a much higher calling, should that be the path that the Lord has for you.

2. I ALWAYS have input! (Although I should tell you that Sister Jo often says I should have LESS input . . .) I think you're in a Good Relationship. The drive you two have to . . . "be together on the sofa" isn't in and of itself a bad thing . . . we're supposed to feel that way about the person we marry, after all, but you're right: the timing is early. And thus you two need to be more mature about the situations you allow yourselves to get into. Sex, and sexual stuff, clouds our judgment and confuses things. The only way to know, I think, if you two are really falling in love or simply driven by hormones is to reign the sofa behavior in. Boundaries need to be set. No alone time. No going over to each other's apartments Even If you think someone else may be there (let's not lie: you two have played that game and lost before). No parking. No hiding in places after dark. You know the drill. And I'll tell you right now: if he can't respect those rules, then he doesn't respect you. And as I've counseled often, No Man Can Love a Woman He Doesn't Respect, and You Can't Respect Someone Who Doesn't Respect Themselves. The thing is, NW, you two may indeed be in love. And that's wonderful! But how will you know if your relationship is based on him manipulating things and you so he can get what he's gotten before? (That part worries me a bit, by the way.)

3. Anytime one thinks that perhaps they should talk to their Bishop the answer is: Go Talk to Your Bishop. That's not a thought you're having, it's a prompting. And any feeling you have that you can wait, or it's no big deal, or your Bishop doesn't know you well, or Whatever is ALWAYS Satan working on you to keep you from making things right, from feeling the Spirit. Look, whether or not you two have committed cutaneous spiritual crimes, don't you think all of this doubt you're having, all these questions, would be much easier to deal with if you could feel the Spirit more and hear promptings better?

Talk to your Bishop.

You'll feel better when you do. 

Encourage your boyfriend to do the same, but see that the choice is his.

Don't badger him about it.

Simply tell him you're going to talk to yours.

Tell the boy you really like him, but you feel that the two of you have gone to far with all the "frisky" stuff.

Tell him you enjoy it, but you need to know if he likes you for that or for you.

(Make sure you have this conversation in a relatively public and well lit place, by the way.)

His response will let answer many questions.

I hope and pray he's smart enough to see that, while that stuff is great, there's so much more to love about you than that.

Good luck.

Let me know how your conversations go.

And, please, feel free to email any time.

- Bro Jo

PS:  I'm glad you stumbled across the blog. I'm sorry I had not found a way to reach you when you were younger.

PSS: Great idea you and your roommates came up with, by the way. And very telling, I worry, that the Boyfriend didn't care.