Things to know

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Shaking Hands

G'day Bro Jo,

This looks more ridiculous than it is, so bear with me.

Anyway, my question is:  what's the best way to greet a girl / lady the first time you meet her?

I mean this across the board- young to old, single to grandma.

It just seems awkward to me- when it's a bloke, you shake hands. That's long established practice in most of the western world.

But what about the girls?

I mean, if it's a relative you might give them a kiss and if it's a friend of a friend or you meet them at a dance you might give them a hug, but what about the others?

My calling means I have to introduce myself to a lot of the ward members (I'm only 18 if that helps), and a handshake feels weird, but nothing feels weirder.

Thanks for your help,

The Speaker

Dear The,

For the most part, it's the same: you say hello, offer your name, and (if not offered) ask hers.

Only offer to shake hands if the setting and culture would find it appropriate. (For example, in business settings in America you should not offer your hand to someone interviewing you unless they offer there’s first.)

I think in your particular situation, a hand shake offered to a girl is very acceptable.

A handshake should be firm but not crushing.

In my generation we believed that when taking a woman's hand you should turn yours slightly so the hers in on top of yours; it's considered a sign of acknowledging that she should be held "above" you.

But I’m an old fashioned guy.

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 26, 2013

Will Girls Date Him Even Though He Didn't Go on a Mission?

[Dear Readers,

Two weeks ago I ran a column about a girl who was wondering if it was "okay" to marry a guy who isn't a return missionary (Read it HERE).  Today we get to read about this from the guy's point of view.


- Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

For certain reasons I didn't go on a mission and it wasn't because I was unworthy.

Now I am at a point where I want to start dating seriously but I feel that me not serving a mission will forever label me as lazy. Even though everybody who knows me says I am a hard worker.

I know I will meet women who will be turned off because of my decision. I think the advice I am looking for is: “is it possible to still be a good member and still have a temple marriage?”

I just hope my self-worth won't be forever tied for not making this decision.

- Name Withheld

Dear NW,

Like any label that people place on us, we need only worry about the ones that are true.

If people want to mischaracterize us, well, other than living our lives to the contrary (as you say you're doing when it comes to being hard working) . . . that's their problem, not ours.

You DID make a decision, and that was to not go. Good or bad, right or wrong, righteous or unrighteous, justified or not, that's where you're at, and you'll have to own the consequences of that decision, fair or unfair.

Of course someone can be a good, active, Temple-worthy and Temple going member without having served a mission. Heck, President Hunter didn't serve a mission.

However, and let me make this perfectly clear, it is never right to justify our decisions, behavior, action or lack of same by another's yardstick. Saying "I'm not going on a mission because President Hunter (or Steve Young, or anyone else for that matter) didn't is not a right or fair thing to do.

You're a member of a Church where all of us (including you and I) know that young men are expected, even Commanded by God, to serve a worthy and honorable mission when they're the right age if they're at all able. It's a Priesthood Responsibility. The culturally "acceptable" reasons for not serving are much fewer than many young men think. "Because I don't want' to" isn't one of them.

As the father of currently serving missionaries I'd much rather a young man stay at home and get his heart, might, mind and soul right before he leaves; I certainly don't want my son, or any other young man for that matter, saddled with a dud companion.

For whatever reason, that's not what you've chosen to do. If your problem is one of "self-worth", well brother that comes from within, and the only reason that could be suffering is if you're either not certain you made the right decision or failed to repent for making the wrong one (this principle applies to much more in life than just missionary service, by the way).

If you're asking whether or not a large and noticeable percentage of Serious Single Dating Age LDS Women will doubt your quality as a potential husband because you chose not to serve a mission . . . the answer is: yes, they may.

A very large number, possibly.

And they have the right to do so.

While, as I've said often, a mission is no guarantee that a man will be a Great Husband, having served honorably does say something about his character and commitment, and a girl has every right to be discerning and hold to certain standards and expectations when she's looking for a husband.

HOWEVER, and this is the most important point, I think, and it's two-sided:

     1. Women in the Church need to learn (hopefully not the hard way) that simply serving a mission does not mean that a man is either a good man or someone who will make a good Eternal Companion.

     2. In the same way that you can disprove people's assumptions about your being lazy by earnestly working hard, you can prove your worth and worthiness in the way that you live your life and the ways (yes, plural) you serve the Lord. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Church of converts, my brother. Many good and faithful men had neither the timing nor the opportunity to serve a mission.

By their fruits we shall know them; and that, dear brother, is how people will know you.

Happy Dating,

 - Bro Jo

PS:  While I personally would rather see a young man go than not, it's not one of my "rules to marry my daughter"; further, if you saw the comments posted after the column two weeks ago and on our Facebook page, you saw that many more sisters than you may have realized don't seem to care about missionary service as you may have suspected.

My advice to Young Men is:  GO.

My advice to men who missed the opportunity is:  Move On.  Be a Great Guy despite your lack of service.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cheesy Wednesdays: Cheese Gets an EX-Boyfriend

[Dear Readers,

Welcome to another episode of Cheesy Wednesdays, where we follow one reader's forays and foibles though the world of LDS Teen Dating.

I've posted several letters from Cheese (and her friend, Mac) over the years; in fact, you can find them by clicking the "Cheese" Label on the side, but it's been a while so I'm going to be posting several of them over the next few Wednesdays.


Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

I did it.

After three months of having a serious boyfriend, I let him go two days ago.

I really didn’t want to and it hurts horribly, but I knew it was what I needed to do from a spiritual prompting and I couldn’t deny it.

I’m so worried about ExBoyfriend though. He doesn’t understand and keeps asking “Why? “

I feel so heartless when all I can say is “because I felt like I should.”

He never did anything wrong—kept high standards, treated me like a princess, and is an all-around great guy. I really do want to stay friends with him because I still care about him.

Is that possible?

Is there anything I can do to help him recover?

Every time I hear from him or one of his friends I feel horribly guilty for dumping him for no reason!

As for me…I think the best thing is for me to go on lots of Casual Group Dates with as many different guys as possible. Not get into another relationship, just date for fun, you know?

Another guy, let’s call him BB, asked me out on a CGD tomorrow—hooray, distraction from pain!

But I’m a little worried.

If I go out with him will it damage ExB even more?

Will he think I dumped him so I could date someone else? (I didn’t!)

I don’t want either of those things. I just want to make the ouch I feel in my heart from letting him go disappear for a while.

I’m also a little worried that people are gonna think of me as an evil heart-breaker if I start dating again so quickly after a breakup.

Is there some “respectable” length of time you’re supposed to wait?

Or something advisable for my own sanity?

I know I did the right thing for me, but having trouble moving forward!

- Cheese

Dear Cheese,

Sure, it's okay that you still care about him. It would be kind of heartless if you didn't.

The best thing you could do for him to help him "recover" is to give him space, even if he doesn't realize that's what he needs.

And clearly you didn't "dump him for no reason" - his friends should leave you alone and mind their own business - you had a reason, everyone does, even if you can't exactly articulate it right now, or do so in a way that he (or they) understands.

(You mention what your reason was, by the way.  Go back and read your email and see if you can find it.  It's a pretty good reason.)

You can't let the potential hurt feelings of our ex-relationships keep us from dating new people.

That's their self-imposed problem, not ours.

 It would be pretty callous and cold to be affectionate with a new guy in front of a recently dumped guy, but simply going on a date is acceptable . . . and suggested.

He may think that you dumped him for someone else.

He may feel confused and hurt.

But, honestly, there's not much you can, or should, do about that. Simply knowing that you did the right thing is enough.

"Respectable amount of time" only applies to death, not breakups.

(Although, I typically advise people who've recently gotten divorced - especially those with kids - to wait a while before jumping back into the dating pool.)

Breakups, regardless of which side of them we may be on, take time to get over.

At least they do for decent people.


 - Bro Jo

PS: For what it's worth, I'm glad you've moved back into the CGD group.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Is She the Girl He'll End Up With?

Hello again, Bro. Jo!

So, this time I have a question regarding something a little different.

You recently made a post in your blog that sort of addressed what I'm about to ask, but I still wanted to know what you think about my situation. Sorry if it's redundant.

So, in my first letter to you, I mentioned the one girl that I had been on a group date with.

Well, she and I had been pretty good for friends for years when, about a year go, we started talking a lot more, and over a few months we became best friends. I felt more comfortable around her than pretty much anyone else, comfortable enough to open up and share some of my deepest thoughts and emotions.

Usually, I come across as borderline apathetic because I tend to keep my emotions hidden inside, but she somehow managed to coax them out of me. She helped me get through some person trials and struggles I was facing, and she’s also smart and funny and spiritual.

She's not perfect, but she's pretty amazing and I think I love her.

I don't know what kind of love it is, though.

Honestly, as close as we are, there's never been the thought of anything physical between us.

Even though we confessed feelings for each other a year ago, and despite all the time I've spent with her since then, some of it alone (I know, I know), neither of us has ever been tempted to try anything. I've never even held her hand.

Neither of us are very physical people in that we don't actually enjoy touch very much. I feel extremely awkward even giving hugs. And I know I'm a guy and that we're stereotypically rather superficial, but I honestly think of her more as just my best friend than a crush, even though she’s both on some level.

All I know is that there’s an intense emotional connection between us.

You said in your blog post When Guys and Girls Are “Best Friends” that there’s nothing wrong with teens having a lot in common and being friendly, but this is a little deeper than just “paling around.”

So I guess my first question is - is this type of friendship acceptable at our age (She’s 18 and I’m 17)?

And if it’s not, what am I supposed to do about it?

I can’t say “I think we should just be friends,” because that’s all we've ever been.

And isn't the main reason guys and girls are discouraged from getting so close emotionally is because it could potentially lead to physical transgression?

Like I said, there’s never been anything physical between us, and I don’t think there will be.

Not for a long time, at least - She just left for school in Provo and I won’t see her until for several months.

This leads me to my second question – Even though we’re thousands of miles apart at the moment, I want to try to stay close. I mean, it will only be a year until I’m at BYU and we’re in the same place again. In the meantime, we've been calling and talking to each other a lot, just like we did before she left.

Aside from her not physically being here, nothing’s really changed.

But then the other day I realized that my continued presence in her life might distract her from meeting guys at school that she could potentially date. And I know it’s selfish and terrible, but I can’t deny the likelihood of her meeting a new guy at school and forgetting all about me is extremely painful.

When I’m interested in a girl, I stay interested. And by that I mean that my average crush lasts four years or so. I’m not sure how typical that is, but I do know that most of my guy friends have a new crush every two weeks, and I can’t relate to them at all.

And I suppose that will be good in marriage someday, but for now it just hurts.

And I know she deserves someone far better than me, but I’m still not sure how to cope with this…well, jealousy, I guess.

Anyway, my question. I shared these feelings with her, and she told me that I wouldn't be distracting her because she doesn't want to get in any relationships at school for awhile anyway.

She’s determined to serve a mission before she gets married, has been for years. And if she does serve a mission at 21, I’ll be returning from my mission six months before she returns from hers, and I guess that means there’s a possibility of us someday becoming something more than best friends.

Assuming we’re still interested in each other in four years, which I’m fairly sure I will be.

So my question is – should I try to stay a part of her life, or is four years too long a time to try and foster such a friendship?

I don’t know for sure whether she will serve a mission, but if she doesn't my continued friendship with her right now could prevent her from meeting someone better to take her to the temple.

Should I just let her go?

And if I should…How on earth do I get over someone I don’t want to get over?

 ~ Stuck on Her

P.S. Sorry for the ridiculously long letter over one girl. As you can probably tell, this is kind of a big deal for me.

Dear Stuck,

Then thing is, what you're talking about isn't a "friendship", it's a "relationship", and at your age while it may be common, it's not advised.

It's like you said, you feel much more for her than "palling around".

Those feelings are normal, natural, and good; but the timing is bad.

It's good that she's going away for school.

Until she's married, or you are, I think continuing to stay in contact and being close friends is a good thing. 

But it's like I've said so many times, you'll never be able to stay "just close friends".

By definition and out of respect you'll either end up together or need to back things off quite a bit.

I say let life take its natural course. There's a long time between now and when you'll actually be at that stage in life.

Who knows?

Maybe you'll end up together, maybe not.

But as you've said, you should keep going on Casual Group Dates with lots of other girls until your mission, and she should be Serious Single Dating until she either gets married or leaves on hers.

For now, Be Friendly, but keep it Casual.

 - Bro Jo

Friday, April 19, 2013

She Asked a "Younger Boy" to Prom (kinda) . . . Is That Okay?

Dear Bro Jo -

This isn't really a pressing matter, I don't imagine- but it is kind of an awkward embarrassing one.

I had a date lined up on Saturday for kind of a silly little prom thing...I live in the Atlanta temple district and we had our temple rededicated this past weekend, and part of the dedication events included a cultural celebration on Saturday night which I (and the other laurels in my ward) participated in rather than going to our prom.

The idea was to get all dressed up, do the pictures and the dinner, and then just do something fun like mini-golf or a movie night.

My date--who, might I add, had been my date for about a month (gees, boys..) cancelled on me on Sunday.

Now. I have been sort of a central part of the planning on this fandango and so I pretty much needed a date- bad. But it so happened that a bunch of my guy friends (ok, ok. Guy associates?) at school are going to a birthday party that night, and lots of the boys in my stake are going to be in Alabama for a relief trip (not sure if you've heard about the tornado damage or not).

 So...I was basically down to threads, here, and I found the number for a guy I met a few weeks ago while we were volunteering at the temple open house (we spent the afternoon putting those weird little booties on the feet of about 2,000 strangers..interesting, yes.)

Anyway, during the cultural event, he and I had been relatively close together for a dance number and so during rehearsal time, we had some minimal conversation. So last night, I struck up some courage (out of nowhere) and called him and asked him if he'd be available and interested in being my date for this thing.

(It's not like he was going to ask me...he didn't know about it.)

But he said yes!

So I was pretty excited about it...till I found out he was sixteen. I'm eighteen!

(I promise you, this boy does NOT look like a sophomore.)


Should I just forget about it and go or should I not?



Dear Goofed,

It would have been better had you called him and told him you'd like him to offer to be your date . . . but, all is well.

And "no", I don't think you goofed.

You're both still in high school . . . so what that you're a little older.

He IS 16, so it's okay.

Besides, I'm sure he's quite flattered (and perhaps a little intimidated) . . . unless he doesn't know you're "a woman".

Have fun,

 - Bro Jo

PS:  Let's make this, you asking guys out, a "one-time" thing.  Unless it's a published "girl-ask-guy" event, then, trust this "old fashioned" Old Guy, things work out MUCH better if you get them to ask you.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cheesy Wednesdays: Cheese Gets a Boyfriend

[Dear Readers,

Welcome to another episode of Cheesy Wednesdays, where we follow one reader's forays and foibles though the world of LDS Teen Dating.

I've posted several letters from Cheese (and her friend, Mac) over the years; in fact, you can find them by clicking the "Cheese" Label on the side, but it's been a while so I'm going to be posting several of them over the next few Wednesdays.


Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

I’m afraid I’ve done something stupid; I have acquired a boyfriend.

Don’t worry, we’re being good; strength-of-the-youth appropriate behavior, etc.

But I worry I might be doing something I’ll eventually regret. I’m not old enough for a serious relationship!

I’m supposed to be dating “every one,” not “just one.”

Mama and Big Cheese are really scary about it.

They are like, “We don’t love this but we can’t stop you. You’re a big girl, you can make your own decisions.”

I expected them to freak out and order me away from him . . . but when it’s my decision . . . .

I like him too much to just leave without a good reason.

And who are we kidding?

If they did tell me to leave him I’d probably just go behind their backs anyway.

Here’s the thing: I've never liked a guy this much before. It was totally unexpected.

The intensity of it feels like an ambush!

I’m having trouble thinking clearly.

Years of Mama and Big Cheese droning on about the dangers of “relationships” are echoing around in the back of my head, but this doesn't feel dangerous or evil.

It feels quite the opposite.

I LIKE it.

I LIKE this guy.

I LIKE how I feel when I’m with him, and how he treats me.

I LIKE how we make each other better people and everything.

Here’s my question: isn't there some way I can keep him? Pleeeeeeeeease? It’s like a cute puppy! Once you pick it up you never want to put it down! Help me understand what could possibly be bad about this.

- Cheese

Dear Cheese,

There are LOTS of reasons why it's a bad idea to be in a relationship at your age . . . and I'm sure you've heard all of them, if not from me, than certainly the Cheesy Parents, right?

But it's like you said, if we tell you to knock it off, unless you're looking for an excuse to break up with him (and at this point you're not), then the emotions and hormones you're feeling will drive you closer to him than farther.

What you're feeling IS good and normal . . . it's just that the timing is . . . premature. 

And that's what's bad.

Relationships are living things; they either grow or they die.

And when you're in High School both of those things have their drawbacks.

We don't grow TO marriage, we grow THROUGH marriage, with a wedding being one of the significant markers along that path.

Sister Jo and I are still nurturing and growing our relationship.

At your age there are things you can do to slow the growth, like only going on Casual Group Dates, not being alone together, no late night communication, limiting the PDA, and dating other people in between dates with each other. If you don't slow things down, you run the all too common risk of doing things out of order (and I know you know what I mean).

When it dies (and if you don't get married to this guy, the "relationship" will, by definition, expire) then you'll have some un-fun teen drama to endure.

Can you keep him?

I hope not!

I hope he's the type of guy that at one point, perhaps a while from now, will dump you in favor of a mission. 

(Heck, I think a guy should get away from any girl that thinks he's like a new puppy! HA!)

For now Be Careful, Be Smart, and learn some stuff along the way.

 - Bro Jo

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Relationship: Part 2 - Communication is the Key

Dear Bro Jo,

Wow, you replied fast! Thank you. I think you're right. I do have quite a few insecurities, and they can cloud my judgment. It's been an issue in the past, but I am working on it.

I've decided to set myself a challenge. For the next month (I've made it so long because I won't see him for the next two weeks because of work) I'll look hard for the other ways he lets me know what he thinks and how he feels about me, and show him that I appreciate it.

I like to think we're usually pretty good on that front, but perhaps I've been too caught up with that one little thing.

I'm very aware of what a wonderful man I have, and I do try to tell him that often.

I've even given him the nickname Superman, or Superman's Aussie cousin, because whenever anyone calls for help (and they do call, a lot) he comes to the rescue.

He's a very busy man, and yet he always makes time for me when I call.

I've told him how much I appreciate that, but I intend to tell him again.

You don't have to worry, Bro Jo. The "two years" was just a play on "too many years".

We haven't exactly had a talk about it yet, but hints have been dropped, and I'm planning to talk to him about it around New Year’s (if he hasn't brought it up by then).

Really, I'm expecting to be engaged within 2-3 months. I've already met all his family, (and at his sister's wedding too!) and they seemed to really like me, so I'm sure I'm not the only one throwing him hints, haha. 

Thank you for your advice. You've helped me realize I need to not worry about things that aren't really all that important, and focus on OUR communication, rather than HIS communication.

Take care and God bless,

 - Smitten

*** A Few Months Later ***

Dear Smitten,

Just thought I'd check in and see how things are going.

 - Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

How funny, I had just been thinking of writing you with an update.

Things are fantastic!

Our communication has really improved!

I've taken to assuming he can't read my mind, and that really helped.

We talk about anything and everything under the sun, including the big issues, and yes, marriage. Speaking of which... I'm engaged!

Once we got talking about it, he didn't waste any time.

It happened on New Year's Eve, just after midnight. And here's the really exciting part... we're getting married in the Temple next month!

The planning is going smoothly. Well, most of it at least. The important things, like all the Temple stuff, my recommend, my endowment date, temple clothing, sealing date, my wedding dress, is all set, but the bridesmaid dresses, hair, flowers and chasing RSVPs is a headache.

But hey, we've done heaps in the last 3 weeks, and there's still 3.5 weeks to go, so I'm sure it will be fine.

My fiancé is very good at keeping me calm. I'll list my concerns to him, and he'll go through them one by one and help me sort it out and feel more confident about it.

Oh, and he calls me beautiful now too!

It happened during a conversation we were having about our fears and insecurities. Once he realized I had insecurities about the way I look, he got me to open up to him about it, list everything I don't like about my looks, and he banished them all, one by one.

I know that my beauty doesn't come from a man, and that Heavenly Father made me beautiful, despite the current ideals of society, but it was really nice to hear him say it directly.

And yes, I took your advice and made sure he knew I appreciated it. I have great confidence in our relationship, and I know it's going to be eternal. We're both committed to working at it every day, to being open and honest with each other, and to supporting and uplifting each other.

We're good for each other.

He reminds me to be kinder to my brothers and turn the other cheek, and I remind him to call his mother more often, lol.

He's even managed to persuade my mother to agree to dance with him at the wedding. She has refused to dance with anyone since she was a teenager, so it will be the first time I see my mother dancing.

I'm very happy. A little wedding-stressed, but very happy nonetheless.

Thank you for your advice, not just to me, but to everyone who writes to you. I hope you know how valuable your contribution to the church's young people, and others, really is.

- Eternally Smitten.

Dear ES,


 - Bro Jo

Friday, April 12, 2013

Is It Okay to Marry a Non-RM?

Dear Bro Jo,

I've just recently been presented with an idea that I'd like your thoughts on.

I've met a guy who isn't an RM.

However, he's a really really good guy who has tried to go on a mission twice now and been told "no" both times.

He asked me some sensitive questions recently so I felt okay asking him about why he couldn't serve.

He told me he has things in his past that he'd been dealing with. And since we're not dating, that's all I need to know at this point. (a.d.d. moment: we've known each other for a few months, these questions came up on our first date. We went for a walk. One of the best kind of dates in my opinion. Simple, cheap, and very effective when you're trying to get to know someone.)

He also told me that he would go tracting with the missionaries all the time. He sees it as a blessing because he gets to be able to be a missionary for longer than two years.

His mom tells him that she would have married his dad regardless of the mission because his dad was still his dad. And his dad says that you don't do anything much different on your mission than off of it.

And I don't recall ever really thinking about my dad's mission while growing up beyond knowing that he served in Holland.

Here's my question:  I, like many Mormon girls, have had it hammered into our skulls to look for worthy RMs for eternal companions. I don't see how this guy is anymore or less worthy than an RM. He's not perfect by any means, but who is?

On a personal note, an RM was always one of my requirements on those "Qualities you want in your future husband" lists they made us make in Young Women's. Mainly because missions have a tendency to turn boys into men and teach them really good life skills.

I've always felt strongly that this is what I want, but does this mean I should just avoid good guys like this one simply because he didn't live a cookie-cutter Mormon life?

Just because he didn't serve doesn't mean he hasn't had those life skill building experiences.

Just to clarify, I'm not saying I'm ready to go to the alter with this guy by any means. I'm just curious in case I do find myself falling for a guy who isn't an RM someday.

Your thoughts?

- Curious

Dear Curious,

It's true that simply being an RM is no guarantee a guy is a Good Guy, that he has a testimony, or (frankly) is even temple worthy.

In my opinion what a girl should be looking for in a future husband is one who honors his priesthood, has a testimony of the savior, lives that testimony, is willing to work hard at whatever he needs to do, and will honor and cherish her.

That's it.

Now the truth is that most Return Missionaries ARE those things, and their Missionary Service is a testament to that.

Perhaps that's why the "I want to marry an RM" thing gets "so plastered"; it's an easy and simple label, and while not always a guarantee, it often is.

I respectfully disagree with his dad, by the way; a mission is a remarkably unique experience that identifies (not defines; identifies) who someone is and says a lot about who they are. What we do everyday is NOTHING like serving a Full Time Mission.

It can be a wonderful time of personal and spiritual growth, AND it can show a commitment to the Lord as well as an individual's willingness to sacrifice.

I'll bet if you talked directly to his dad about how his son has interpreted what he said and how it made you feel he might give you a different answer. (If that really IS what his dad said, and IF he's dad still has a testimony of the value of missionary service and isn't just trying to make his wayward son feel better.)

Our history matters, but it doesn't matter as much as where we Are or where we're Going.

When considering whom to marry, and whether or not to marry, you've got to know where the person is and get a good feel for where they're going.

Not all Great Guys are RMs, and not all RMs are Great Guys.  (Same thing is true for Sisters, by the way.)

Do your Homework.  (And a good place to start is Bro Jo's 5 A's of Why Not to Marry That Person.)

- Bro Jo

PS: In the case of this guy, a girl will need to know what exactly he did . . . twice . . . that kept him from going, AND (most importantly) whether or not those things really are no longer a part if his life or if the "missionary longer than two years" line is just smoke-blowing garbage.  While Repentance is between the individual and the Lord, if you're going to marry someone you have every right to know whether or not they still have worthiness issues, pornography or other addictions.

Sure, not everyone who doesn't serve or who comes home early has a worthiness or addiction problem, but in the case of this guy he's already strongly hinted that one of those was the situation.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cheesy Wednesdays: Cheese Kisses a Brick Wall

[Dear Readers,

Welcome to another episode of Cheesy Wednesdays, where we follow one reader's forays and foibles though the world of LDS Teen Dating.

I've posted several letters from Cheese (and her friend, Mac) over the years; in fact, you can find them by clicking the "Cheese" Label on the side, but it's been a while so I'm going to be posting several of them over the next few Wednesdays.


- Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

I am going on a date with Rugby Boy tonight.  I am in the chair with mom doing my hair right now.

Should be fun!

- Cheese

Dear Bro Jo,

I didn't think rugby boy was the type who would need to [struggle for dates] ... that was until the kiss goodnight.

Guys don't need to give a kiss goodnight, but if they are going to, they should make it worth my (or any girl's) time.

I see now why you say a kiss can be the end of a relationship. I just felt . . . "meh" . . . afterwards.   And I'm not particularly wanting to go on another date with him.

The real frustrating thing is, I think he felt the same.

I don't like feeling mediocre; I'm supposed to be spectacular!

Oh well if the chemistry isn't there its not there.

Maybe I should buy some snickers bars . . .


Best to the family,

- Cheese

Dear Cheese,

How bad of a kisser was he???  What exactly qualifies as "worth your time"?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Lets just say I would rather kiss a brick wall.

Harsh right?

Um and to make a kiss worth my time ...


1 -  Smile while you are kissing me. I can feel your face be happy. If you want a kiss act like it.

2 - Leave me wanting just a little more than I got. It makes me just that much more excited for next time I see you.

3 - Don't make me end it. If I have to end if you are probably going farther than I am comfortable with. And it kinda destroys the wanting more factor.

4 - Don't be slobbery. If its just a peck I shouldn't have to wipe my face off after. If its more than a peck try to keep the saliva off places that everyone can see

5 - Keep it short. Its a kiss not a make out session.

6 - Control your breath. If you need to take a deep breath after, you are doing it wrong.

7 - Control your thoughts. I know its hard. But think about the kiss and try not to let your mind wander too much.

8 - Make sure I actually want to kiss you. You will know. If your not sure ask. Its sweet and adorable.

9 - Make sure your breath smells okay. If you both just ate garlic and anchovy pizza its okay, but if she has been chewing gum, make sure your breath isn't offensive

10 - Don't position yourself awkwardly. Make sure there isn't something creating a barrier between you. But also don't hold her so close she feels claustrophobic.

Rugby Boy didn't fail at all of them, but the only ones he got right were 7, 8 and 9.

- Cheese

Dear Bro Jo,

I kinda said it wrong yesterday.

Yesterday I said I would rather kiss a brick wall. The real problem was: rugby boy *is* a brick wall . . .

His nickname is Bo-flex for a reason . . .

I have to admire his incredible body, but with a kiss you want someone who responds to you a little bit.

But I got the feeling was all about what was expected in the moment. Not driven by real attraction or desire.

- Cheese

Dear Cheese,

Okay . . . all of that was more than I wanted to know . . . (though some of my readers may find it valuable information when this publishes some day).

Ultimately it sounds like you learned a very valuable lesson about what's really important when it comes to those we choose to date . . .

Sister Jo is, and has always been, very pretty; but I wanted to marry her because, even as early as our first date, I realized that she was, and is, so much more than that.

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Relationship: Part 1 - She Wants to be Told She's Pretty

Dear Bro Jo,

I've been reading your blog for I don't even know how many months now, maybe even a year or more, and I've found it very helpful. I'm a real fan of the way you give advice - direct, no Molly coddling, but still caring.

The thing is, I never thought I would need to write to you myself. I'll try to keep it short.

I haven't had the greatest dating/relationship history, but the relationship I'm in now is wonderful.

We've been friends for almost a year, started going on dates about 6-7 months ago, and we've been dating exclusively for 6 weeks now. He's the most amazing man I know.

He served a worthy mission, he is a (very) regular temple patron, he's chivalrous, patient, kind, funny, smart, hardworking... I could go on and on. He even irons! He has become my best friend, and I love him. I truly believe he is the one Heavenly Father intends for me to marry in the temple (I've prayed and fasted and prayed about it, and received an answer), and I don't think it will be too many years before that happens (in fact I don't think it will be two years before that happens).

He's 26 and I'm 20, by the way.

He's pretty much the perfect boyfriend, except for one little thing.

In all the time we've known each other, he's never called me beautiful, pretty, or told me I look nice.

He's said I have no reason to be camera shy, and when I said I'm not photogenic at all, he said "that's not what the camera says". But he's never told me how he sees me.

I know I'm not exactly model material, but I know I'm not unattractive either.

If I think about it, I'm sure all my guy friends (and girlfriends) have called me pretty, good looking, beautiful, stunning, "you look wonderful", etc, at some time or another. But the man I love hasn't.

In the beginning, I didn't think much of it, but lately it's been starting to get to me.

I don't consider myself to be vain, but I would like to know that he finds me attractive too.

I want to talk to him about it, but I don't know how to bring it up without making him feel like a total jerk.

He really isn't, and he hasn't really done anything wrong; it's just something he's overlooked.

How should I talk to him about it?

And if I tell him to say it, how do I know he means it?

Part of me is hesitant to bring it up at all, but I don't want this little thing to grow and fester into something big, ugly and poisonous.

Any advice you have would be much appreciated.

I really don't know how I should handle this.

I know you're a busy man, so thank you for taking the time to read this.

- Smitten and Clueless

Dear Smitten,

Thank you for the kind words.

Communication is the key to happiness in any relationship.

While you really should just let it go, be understanding that not all people communicate love and appreciation in the same ways (he has tried to tell you that he thinks you're beautiful, btw), recognize that you're allowing your own insecurities to cloud a great relationship, and as you said, be a little less vain, if something truly is bothering you then at some point (sooner rather than later), you'll need to bring it up.

(Have you ever heard the story about the elderly couple who had been married a long time? The wife was complaining to her husband that he didn't say "I love you" enough. He said, "Sweetheart, I told you I love you on our wedding day, if anything changes I'll let you know".)

I recommend being casual, something to the effect of "sweetheart, just so you know, once in a while a woman needs to hear from the man she loves that she's beautiful".

And then you have to do your part, meaning that every time he says something to that affect, you need to be gracious, accepting, and appreciative that he appreciates you.

A smile, a touch, a kiss, all go a long way.

As well as, you know, the actual words, "thank you".

And also do your part by listening to what his needs are.

Men like to be appreciated, too. (Probably more than women do, actually.  For us it can be a necessity . . . we can be much more insecure than we let on.)

No, he may not want to hear that he's pretty, but he needs to know that you recognize how hard he works, you see the service he gives others, you're grateful that he's a worthy and active priesthood holder . . . stuff like that.

Now, one last thing if you'll allow: my opinion is that a couple your age, who's in love like you are, and who's been together as long as you have, ought to be making marriage a priority.

Two years is, in my opinion, about 18 months too long.


There's another thing for you to talk about!

 - Bro Jo

Friday, April 5, 2013

Is Kissing Your Date "Cheating"?

Dear Bro Jo,

Heya Brother Johnston! 

I have a question about the "physical stuff".

See, in the past I have had a non-member boyfriend - two big No-no's - I understand now the wise counsel of the prophet of the Lord.

I feel as if I have a solid testimony . . . which is why I kick myself because I was not faithful . . .

Dumb on my part....but anyways...

I have been going on dates with this boy from my stake; we met at youth conference.

Yes, I know, this is a good start . . . BUT … we have kissed.

In the 3rd date at that!

I like him a lot, and he likes me back. I'm not going to do anything about it...I don’t want to be official...cause I want to do what is right but the only other dating experience I have had was with my ex-boyfriend...

I thought it was bad to kiss if you weren't "official" 'cause then your accused of:

1) kissing every boy who walks or

2) cheating.

What do you think?

Please know I’m kinda anti the fact we kissed is a really big deal. Don’t get me wrong, I'm still a teenage girl ... But I don’t give them out casually, it bugs me when girls just kiss boys as if they were sharing a bowl of chips. not cool to me.

I'm very open to dating other boys!

I have never ever turned down a date ... but how do I do that if I have told another boy I like him and kisses have been exchanged?

Thanks for your help :)

- I hope I haven't ruined everything.

Dear Hope,

I don't think you've ruined anything - this is all a learning process.

You kissed a guy on your third date. I don't see that as criminal.

I do think there's a difference between a quick kiss goodnight (not that big of a deal) and making out somewhere alone and dark (which is NOT a good idea, no matter how fun it may be).

And, just so you know, having kissed (made out with) a bunch of guys is a HUGE turn off to Good Guys. The Jo Boys won't even Casually Group Date a girl if they know the guy(s) she's kissed. "Too weird" they say; once a brother or buddy has kissed a girl, she's off limits. Heck, even if he's not a buddy, knowing that a particular girl has made out with a particular guy can be a huge turn off . . . to a Good Guy.  Bad Guys often see that as a sign of "she made out with him, I'll be I can get her to do that and more", so keeping your kissing limited is a good idea.

I don't recommend being in a committed relationship at your age, but I do think the kiss good-night is okay, and that, I know, seems contradictory to a lot of folks.

But my point is this: a little kissing experience (expressing those feelings) is good at your age (in moderation), but when teens are "in a relationship" simple kissing becomes quickly not enough.

To your questions:

1)  The best way to keep people from rumoring about your kissing is to, as I said, keep it very limited. If you follow the Dating Rules, alternate whom you go out with, and don't kiss anybody until at least the third date . . . well, you're going to end up with a few, but not very many, kisses. Keep things Casual and you should be fine.

2)  You can't cheat if there's no commitment, implied or otherwise. People may FEEL cheated on, and you may want to be sensitive to those feelings.  But a date, especially if it's a Casual Group Date, doesn't by any means have to include kissing, and it doesn't have to mean that you're a couple now, and it doesn't have to mean anything other than a group of kids out having a fun time.

At your age Dating needs to simple, and without dramatic entanglements or implications.


 - Bro Jo

PS:  If you want more on my take on Kissing, like our Facebook page and check out "Bro Jo's Guide to Kissing".

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Shedding the Creepy Stalker Boys

Dear Bro Jo,

For me and all the other girls out there wondering the same thing.......I know this may sound silly but it feels like the only kind of guy that is ever attracted to me is the CREEPY STALKER kind of guy.

Why is that?!

I dress modestly, I act appropriately, I do everything that I can to make sure I'm living the way I should.

Is it because I'm just so outgoing and nice to everyone that they think I'm flirting with them?

Are all the nice guys just to intimidated to talk to me?  And that's why I get all the Creeps?

Are there just no nice guys in the area or is there something else wrong?

Also how do I kindly let a guy know that I am NOT INTERESTED!!

I hate being rude and feel like no matter who the guy is I should still be nice to him and show him respect. but how do I do that and get the point across to them?!

Or is there even a way to be nice and let them know?

Like seems like guys don't get it when you tell them you just want to be friends.

Are Guys really THAT DUMB?!


[by the way.....I love your blog! thank you so much! :) ]


Dear TW,

Is the problem that you attract Creepers or that you're not attracting the guys you want to attract?

Those are too different things.

Because let's be honest: the world is full of great Nice Guys . . . so yeah, something else may be wrong.

I mean, you could be SO nice that the socially awkward guys cling to you because you don't cold-heartedly reject them the way many other girls do . . .

But then we also have to face the fact that if a Great Looking guy did the same things that Creeper Boy is doing (depending of course on what it is), you'd probably be all giggles and wiggles, right?

So . . . um, you know what that means . . .

And, in answer to your other question: yes, guys are that dumb.

 Even more so, actually.

Clear and concise is the best shot you have at getting your message across, and if you water it down any it won't work. It's not rude; it's honest.  And in the long run, nicer that stringing him along (in his eyes) and then freaking out or, as he may see it, suddenly rejecting him for no reason.

See, "Guys Can't Stay 'Just Close Friends' with Girls".

They can't.

And they don't want to.

For us "good friends" just means that we're close enough that eventually we may wear you down far enough that you'll make out with us. (This, by the way, is the reason Sister Jo is the Only Close Female Friend I have.)

All it takes, in our minds, is a bad breakup, a fight with your parents or best friend, or (for the less scrupulous) . . . a little alcohol. (Another reason not to drink the stuff, sisters.)

Maybe if we come over, hang out, study in your room, and you're sad or desperate or lonely enough . . . well, one can hope!

 That's how dudes think.

Any guy who argues is a liar (and likely trying to use his argument to get closer to you), or at least terrified of the truth . . . or that I might be bowing his chances with you (which of course you and I both know he never had . . . except for the fact that this ploy actually works on some of you!  Hey, like telemarketers, we wouldn't try this strategy if it didn't work once in a while.)

Dad's know.

We're guys.

That's why Good Dads never let guys in your room (in my house, friends aren't even allowed on the same floor as the bedrooms) and they actively disapprove of certain outfits and situations.

So, for all of you Too Nice Girls who can't shed the Creepy Stalker Boys, once again, here's what you say: 

"I'm not interested."

Don't add ANYTHING.

Don't say "thank you", or "you're really sweet", or "at this time", or "but we can still be friends", or "that's flattering".

If he's already decided to creep on you, all of that stuff is just encouraging.

Be Nice.

Be Polite.

Be Honest.

Be Clear.

And Be Smart.

Lastly, consider this: the world is full of women who are happily married to guys they would have found weird and creepy in high school.

True story.

- Bro Jo

And by the way, thank you.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Piggyback Off of September 26th's Post "Full Repentance - Part 2" - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Yes, that definitely makes sense.

I suppose I wrongly used the two synonymously.

I definitely regret it. In fact, I know I'm never doing anything like that again until I'm sealed in the temple. I know it was wrong, I know why it was wrong, we weren't justified at all, and no situation makes that okay.

However, I can understand/remember why I in that moment didn't think anything of it, and because of our situation, it was (thankfully) not as damaging as it could have been.

 My only question I've been asking myself and the Lord is "Now what?" It just keeps nagging me. Sometimes, my train of thought goes, "Well, if it keeps popping up in my head, clearly it's unresolved, and the only thing I haven't done is see the branch president."

But then I wonder, what can he do that I haven't already done? I've fasted, pondered, and prayed about this so hard. I've read scriptures on it like crazy. I have done nothing beyond a peck (like three in the last year and a half, not even kidding) since then, and I don't even have a desire to do more. In fact, I hardly even want to date.

The change of heart, the regret, it's all there. I never had the godly sorrow part, but other than that... The only thing that makes me think this isn't all wrapped up is the fact that it keeps popping into my head. Not the memory, per say, but the regret.

Like there's a little battle in my brain going...

Side 1: Hey, remember that one time? That was really dumb of you.
Side 2: Yeah, I know!

[the next day]

Side 1: It was still really dumb of you.
Side 2: IIIII know! I remember.

[the next day]

Side 1: Hey-
Side 2: I KNOW! What do you want me to do about it? He's not here. I'm not tempted in the slightest. I've never worked so hard spiritually in my life. I feel better about myself and my choices than ever before. The only thing that could make this better would be forgetting it, which you won't let me do.

Bro Jo, I've always been a perfectionist and an overachiever. My stupid pride just won't let me get past the fact that I screwed up, even though it doesn't affect my life otherwise.

It's like I'm angry with my past self.

Oh my word, that's it.

I have to forgive myself.

Holy cow, that's completely it.

Wow, um, thank you for guiding this conversation so that I could figure this out,

 - Possibly About To Succeed

Dear Possibly,


But you did all the work.

Good job!

 - Bro Jo

 PS: Not all sinful actions are going to merit "Godly Sorrow"; while we shouldn't judge one sin relative to another, not all mistakes are the same. As someone who's seriously trying to lose weight, I'm not going to feel the same remorse over sneaking a 70 calorie chocolate that I would over downing a 1200 calorie cheese burger.


Because the consequences of the actions are not the same.

And that's the point.

Not all sin has the same level of consequences.

While two actions may both be bad, murder is not the same as, say, being angry at your loved one.

Exttreme examples, but you get the point.