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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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

When Things Start Getting A Bit Too Exclusive

Dear Bro Jo,

I'd like to start off by saying thank you for your blog!

It's helped me make decisions I never knew I would need to make.

I've been thinking a lot about something and I guess I just need some advice (who doesn't at one point or another, right?)

I'll start off with a bit of background: I've been dating someone from school. Not exclusively, but we've been "closer" and have spent more time together than I have with others. Yes, we go on dates with others. Yes, we spend time with others.. but sometimes it feels a bit too exclusive for my taste.

I know that it's not good to exclusively date, especially when I'm only 17 and supposed to be dating around, but it's a little bit hard when everyone assumes that you're completely coupled off and expects you to stay together "forever and ever" even if that's not the way it really is.

This last school year, for the girls' preference dances I decided to ask those that didn't think they'd be asked. I thought that it would be a fun way to get some dating in as well as ask those that were feeling down about themselves. The main problem was that after I asked someone, it became a dramatic issue with (.. let's call him Andrew) the guy I talked about in the second paragraph.

He got upset and wouldn't talk to me at all, even when I tried calling.

When I finally DID get a hold of him to see what was going on, he got extremely snappy. It made me feel like I had to take it upon myself to apologize (I know I shouldn't have. Especially when I'm supposed to be dating others as well.)

We solved the problem by talking but the same thing happened two more times!

Even after I asked him to a dance. I guess you could maybe chalk it up to jealousy on his part?

At the same time, however, he's been flirting with several people, one in particular.

Now I haven't gotten jealous, because it's not really my right to do that. It's not like he's my personal property or anything. I guess I just don't understand how it's okay for him to be extremely flirtatious with others while at the same time if I get asked on a single date he becomes hostile.

 Here goes the actually relevant part of my story:  Recently, I've been thinking about what to do about the situation. I've been feeling like I need to break it off so that we can each do our own thing. I've been praying about it but haven't really known how to approach the situation. I don't want to lose him as a friend because I truly do care for him.. I just don't think that I care for him on the same level that he is feeling for me. I've heard a lot of his past from not only others, but he himself about how he has a very hard time forgiving people if he likes them and then they let him go.

(I suppose that should have been a red flag telling me not to proceed but I thought that I would be fine!)

On top of that, I feel like he adds a lot of drama to my life as more than a casual friend. I always feel like I'm walking on eggshells just to keep him from getting upset.

Don't get me wrong!

He's truly a fantastic guy with many talents and abilities that anyone would be lucky to have in their life, I just feel like he's playing too big of a part in mine right now.

Another difficult thing is that we share all of the same friends and will have classes together next year. I still want to keep those friends and keep my life from getting awkward.


I guess to sum it up:

1. How would I approach this situation in the first place and begin this conversation?

2. What could I say to him that wouldn't offend him but that would get my point across?

3. Do you have any tips on how to keep people from feeling awkward?

4. Should I completely break EVERYTHING off with him or should I talk to him about dating just with more dates and time with others in between?

5. How can I keep him as a friend?

Thank you for taking the time to read through this most likely confusing email! Let me know if there is anything at all I can clear up or clarify. 

Thanks again!

- Conflicted





 Dear Conflicted,

1.  I think the best way to begin a conversation is by going up to someone and saying hello.

2.  Probably not very much. Smiling politely might help break the ice. Tell him the truth. Tell him you like him and have fun dating him, but you're worried about the two of you being too "exclusive". Who knows. He might agree.  Get your point across by being honest and direct.  If he gets offended . . . that's his choice.

3.  Time. Awkwardness goes away with age and experience. But it never fully goes away. Prayer helps. I had an employer observe of me once "you're pretty comfortable in an argument", to which I replied "it's pretty easy to be comfortable when you know you're right". Same thing is true here.

4.  I think you should talk to him about Casual Group Dating, and the Dating Rules, and how you don't want to be a "distraction" for a guy you know is going to be a great missionary. Tell him that you love dating him, but you don't want anything to get too serious. (see #2 above)

5.  You're not "just friends" now, so you can't really "keep him as a friend".

You may very well be "friendly", but as I've said many, many times, "Guys can't stay 'just close friends' with Girls". You're classmates, dating pals . . . whatever you want to call it, but to him every girl is either a potential spouse or a Never-date, so stop using "friendship" as a relationship crutch, please.

 Good luck! And have fun!

 - Bro Jo

Friday, January 25, 2013

Should You Double Date with Your Parents?

Dear Bro Jo,

 I'm 15, but will be turning 16 in a few months.

Last month at a Church dance my friend asked me out on a double-date with his parents with it scheduled for spring break (after my birthday).

However, I wasn't sure whether to say yes or no at that point so I kind of played it off cool and made it seem like I wanted to have a group thing instead (he asked me to a Mormon movie marathon at his house: RM, Single's Ward, etc.).

His dad's a branch pres. and this guy is very trustworthy and righteous so I was planning on dating him when I did turn 16.

However, now I’m not sure if he took it as a rejection or simply trying to do the right thing, and it's difficult to talk to him about it because I can never find him alone.

Anyways, I guess I’m just worried that I hurt any chances of us ever going on dates. I'm also wondering whether or not a double-date at his house with his parents actually counts as a double-date.

More insight to the situation: the two of us go way back. We met in third grade during the city's swim season, and at the time I'm pretty sure we liked each other without telling the other. (It was so long ago it’s difficult to remember). We didn't go to the same school (still don't) and have never been in the same ward, but off-n-on we'd see each other up till high school and it would always seem that sparks would fly for at least one of us, and usually only one.

This last swim season I liked him a lot and he liked another girl, no big deal I didn't really care as long as we could still be friends. However he found out and started to get very interested in the situation, but I don't think he ever started to like me.

Then things started to get really awkward as more and more people discovered that I liked him.

We grew apart in our friendship, and over the summer I decided that it wasn't worth having feelings for him if we couldn't remain friends. This school year we started to talk to each other again after seminary, but there was still a feeling of awkwardness.

Then I told a story about a guy at school that I had been interested in and then found out he had a major problem. Anyways, this got my friend to be my friend again. Yay!

But then he asked me out, but I wanted to remain friends.

Yes I know he asked me out on a friend date, but I think the only reason, why he said his parent would be there was because I said that I had determined to not go on a single-person-date for a long time. I'm kind of flustered and confused by all of this.

Can you give me some insight into the way a guy’s head works and if I made the right decision by not saying yes at the time he asked me out?

Also is it a double-date if the parents are there too?

Thanks,

Confused-without-a-doubt



Dear Doubt,

If you wanted to go out with the guy, and he asked you in an appropriate way, you should have said yes.

However, going over to a guy's house with his parents home IS NOT an appropriate date.  A date is when you Go Out.  A Hang Out is when you Go Over.

He's supposed to Plan, Pick Up and Pay.  You going to his house is not a "pick up".  And even if he Picks Up, taking you "back to his place" isn't the kind of thing a girl should be doing with a guy until it's her place, too.

Double dating with the guy's parents can be okay sometimes, IF you Go Out.  But even then it's a little weird.  I mean, doesn't this guy have any friends?  If he wants to take you out so bad (and why wouldn't he?), can't he find one other over 16 non-gay guy (heck, even guys who think they're gay or act gay will still go on dates with girls . . . usually - it's just Casual Group Dating, after all - it's not "Parking and Making Out") within 50 miles that would like to have a fun evening with a nice girl (you could even suggest one of your friends as said girl)?

No need for you to be so desperate to date that you drop your standards.

This thing at his house . . . it doesn't feel like a date at all . . . more like a gathering.

So . . . being that I didn't get to this letter until well after your birthday and spring break . . . did you go?

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

I did go on a date with him . . . an Actual Date!

We changed it up a bit.  We went mini-golfing with my sister and her husband.

Earlier in the day he asked my favorite color and then brought those color flowers. We had a lot of fun, and there will be another date in a couple of weeks. More of a family gathering, this one will probably be with both sets of parents all 6 of his siblings and my little brother.

We don't mean anything to come out of us dating right now though; we are just in the predicament that very few other youth in our area date casually.

Thanks for the reply,

- Doubt


Dear Doubt,

Never let the failings of others become your excuse for not doing what's right.  I think doubling with your sister and her husband is better than either sets of parents, and going to mini-golf is Way Better than going over to his house.

He seems like a Good Guy, but remember, you're not supposed to be getting into a Serious Relationship at your age.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for the reminder, but no worries. Our last date was in April and this one isn't until June.

After this we are going to try to find other people to date. There are plenty of young women for him to date, but very few guys for me to.

Thank you again for all the advice though.

- Doubt



Dear Doubt,


I'm always nervous when someone says "I'm not doing things correctly now, but I plan to do them correctly in the future.  I hope you can understand why.

I wish you many happy Casual Group Dates!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dating Before the Divorce is Final

Hello Bro Jo,

I have been in the Church for 2 and half years now.

I'm 26 years old and have three beautiful daughters.

I would not have gone through with the break up if my wife as she was cheating on me with my step cousin, while I was in hospital back in (date withheld).

She is still with him.

I am going through court to get full custody for my girls as she tried to stop me seeing me after she receive my divorce letter.

By now have to put my divorce on hold as I'm going through courts for the children.

Last night I went on a date to the cinemas but Bishop said I can't date until I'm divorced.

And that could take about 7-8 months.

The date was a non-member but I told her that I was in the Church and that I'm still married, and could not do anything until I'm divorce and remarried.

She was okay-ish with it.

My question is: am I allowed to date as long as I follow the law of chastity?

I do have the full support for the Church and my faith has grown since the break-up.

I know that I have a good relationship with Heavenly Father.

Hope you can help me and hope it makes sense as I have dyslexia.

Best Regards,

- Name Withheld



Dear NW,

I don't know about "allowed to date"; if you have questions about what your Bishop said, you should ask him.

It does look bad, though. I know she’s dating and . . . whatever else, but your job here is to take the moral high ground; to be the better person.

You are after all, technically still married. In that way, dating is wrong, whether she’s doing it or not. It sucks, I know.  Doing the Right Thing isn't always easy or fair.  Her sinful behavior (dating someone else while still married) does not give you permission to do the same.

It has nothing to do with the Law of Chastity. (I do commend you for remaining chaste, though.) 


I do think, in terms of a man seeking custody, or even visitation rights, of his children that it's better in the eyes of most courts if he doesn't date. At least not until after the divorce is finalized. 

Hey, like it or not, when it comes to Divorce and Custody of Children, guys have a much more difficult path. Right or wrong, that's just the way it is.

Trust your Bishop. 

- Bro Jo

PS:  I understand that it's only being a Soon to Be Divorced Guy, but I think you're wasting your time dating any women who aren't members of the Church.  This is going to be tough enough on your kids; best that you spend your time with women who can support and share your faith.

Friday, January 18, 2013

That Awkward Moment When Boys No Longer Think of Themselves as "Just Friends"

Dear Bro Jo-

I am 15 years old, and I'm afraid my friends might be getting too serious.

I have this group of really good friends.

There are about five or six of us, and we love hanging out together.

Some of the girls really like some of the guys, and I got a bit of a scare this weekend.

These friends of mine went to a movie and bowling over the weekend, but I wasn't able to attend due to a family matter.

When I got back to school Monday morning, one of these friends (a girl), confided in me that one of the boys in our group had tried to kiss her, and that another boy had tried to do the same thing with my best friend.

These poor friends were so freaked out, they didn't know what to do.

To every teenager, this sounds like a dream come true. But in reality it was a nightmare for my friends.

The sad thing is, these are both guys they liked.

But these boys know they shouldn't be doing this before they're at least 16. These boys have been our friends since grade school, but we don't know how to explain that this is way too soon.

Please?

I need some help.

 Signed,

- Confused in P.G.



Dear P.G.

Overall it doesn't sound too serious.

The feelings everyone is "suddenly having" (honestly, it's not as sudden as it seems, is it?) are very normal, but the timing of the action is off.

The girls in your group need to explain to the boys in your group that there will be no more dating before 16, and those will be Casual Group Dates.

Your friends did the right thing by not doing any kissing before they're ready.

But make no mistake, what they did was Go On a Date; the boys aren't the only ones to blame here.  (Between you and me . . . the ones I blame the most are the parents of both the boys and the girls . . . I'll let you ponder why.)

And perhaps you and your friends (that means the girls) need to read some of our "Men Can't Stay 'Just Close Friends' with Women" posts (click on "Guys and Girls as Just Close Friends").

Don't worry; I think everyone's on track.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you. That's really comforting. It was just kind of a scare, but I think everything's all right now.

Thanks again!

- P.G.



Dear P.G,

Anytime.

 - Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Does Marriage Kill Romance?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm getting married soon, and while I'm ridiculously excited, I'm also a little scared.

That's normal right?

We're getting married in the Draper temple in a few months and everything is falling into place and everything is so awesome and new and exciting right now, but sometimes I still get nervous and scared. I mean, this is a pretty big step.

And I have no idea what to expect.

Everyone always says that these super lovey-dovey feelings I have are going to wear off, and that it's going to stop being fun soon and so many older couples I've talked to seem to have such negative opinions about marriage.

And it's really scaring me.

Because I don't ever want to feel that way about my fiancée.

I want to always hold him to this standard and love him the way I do now. Is it such a ridiculous notion to think that I can be happy with him forever?

Maybe I'm just surrounded by cynics, but I just don't want to end up like these older couples I know (my parents, his parents, my friends parents, etc) that have lost that... special something, I guess.

I'm not even sure what my question is.

I guess I just want reassurance or maybe advice on how to make this marriage and love that I have for my fiancee last.

You and Sis Jo seem to still be going pretty strong and still be really happy together. How do you do it?

What should I do in three months when I start married life to make sure that we're a couple that's going to last forever?

Sincerely,

Apprehensive




Dear Apprehensive,

Congratulations!

I love being married to Sister Jo.

Do we still cuddle on the sofa and make out in the grocery store?

No.

Well . . . not nearly as much as we used to . . . (don't tell our kids!)

But she holds my arm everywhere we walk, and we kiss hello and good bye every time, and I open every door she comes to (unless one of my boys beats me to it).

And all of that is wonderful.

But we've been together now for well over 20 years, and so our relationship has SO MUCH more to it than that. (And, boy, am I grateful!)

The kissy-cuddle years are great (and never totally go away . . . for some people), but the raising a family, going on trips and to the Temple together, having someone you can depend on and care for and who will do the same for you years are even better!

A good marriage, a good Eternal Marriage, is a blessing to which no other blessings can compare.

No, not every day is dancing trees and singing flowers . . . but that's true of life anyway.

The Four Keys to a Good Marriage are:

1.  Communicate

2.  Appreciate

3.  Respect

 and

4.  Endure


Life is about selfless service, and working hard at your marriage is worth every effort you give.

Enjoy this honeymoon phase. Don't worry about it going away. Focus instead on loving your Eternal Companion and letting your companion love you.

Things will not always be the same, but change isn't about losing something, it's part of something Good growing into something GREAT!

Wishing you every happiness, and the ability to endure the trials and overcome the challenges it takes to get them,

- Bro Jo

Friday, January 11, 2013

What If You Think Kissing is Gross?

Dear Bro Jo,

I've been reading your blog, and I read in one of your entries that you think that you should be kissed at least once or twice while being a teenager.

What would you say to a teen who thinks kissing is gross (like me)?

I think kissing is gross because:

     a) I'm a germaphobe and germs can easily be exchanged through kissing
 
     b) kissing requires some commitment in the end

     c) I had a bad experience with my first kiss because the guy I kissed was trying to French kiss me

     d) I'm not really a cuddly person and I HATE it when people even try to hug me, including my family. 

Why do you think teens should kiss?

Sorry for the weird questions.

-Girl who hates the idea of kissing

P.S: The reason for me asking this is because a lot of guys won't ask me out on dates because they know I am anti-lip action.




Dear Anti-kisser,

I’d say that you’re not ready, and that’s okay.

Perhaps you’ll change your mind when you either get older or meet the right person (like someone who doesn’t think “kissing” has to mean licking your tonsils).

(For those who want to know more about Bro Jo's take on kissing, check out "Bro Jo's Guide to Kissing" on our Facebook Page or in the book "Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating".)

I am a little concerned about you not even wanting to hug your family; I worry there's a bigger issue there, and I'd like to chat about it more if you want.  I hope you'll feel differently when it comes to hugging your children . . . and I suspect you will.  Maybe it will be best that you marry someone who feels as you do; who doesn’t associate kissing and cuddling with love, and doesn’t need those things in their life.

For now I don’t think you should worry about it too much.

Oh, and before I forget, any guy that only asks out girls because they’re trying to get smooched isn’t a very good guy.  And not all guys are asking girls out solely for that reason.

I wonder if some guys don't ask you out not because you're "anti-lip action", but because you go on and on publicly about how gross you think it is and they figure you're so obsessed with something that isn't even that important to them that you'll ruin the date, and be no fun, even though they have no intention of kissing you anyway . . .

I'll bet few guys are excited about dating a girl who they think is going to advertise whether or not they tried to kiss her.  Lots of people don't like their feelings, insecurities, and shyness made public, you know.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

In Your Dreams - Part 2

[ Dear Readers,

Below is a followup to a column that I posted on December 21st, 2012.

- Bro Jo]




Dear Bro Jo,

Yes, "Jake" is an alias.

Well, that sure wasn't the answer I was hoping for. If you don't mind me asking, is there a Doctrine that says girls shouldn't ask guys on dates? I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be obnoxious, it's just I thought I've prayed about this and I honestly thought that asking him on a date was the best thing. It's possible it's just the answer I'm hoping for and it's really not the right thing.

I have apologized several times. One really good time when we talked for like about 30 minutes and the other times were brushed off by him. I've never brought goodies or a card, though.

Now Im just confused...I was so sure I was on the right track here. I don't want to be embarrassed or shut down. Is this really so wrong for me to ask Jake on a date?? :/

Signed,

NW




Dear NW,

I don't mind you asking. I think it's a fair question.

No, I don't think it's in the scriptures anywhere. Girls not asking guys on dates is my opinion. I'm sure lot's of people share that opinion (Sister Jo among them), but I've also gotten a ton of mail from people who disagree with me. Of course all of that mail is either from girls who've asked guys out (or want to) and want to justify why they did it . . . or from guys who exemplify why I tell girls not to do it. Both of those just make me think I'm more and more correct.

Since you've already apologized ("several times") then your response to my response gets us closer to the real issue.

Multiple apologies for the same thing IS obnoxious.

And annoying.

But you keep doing it.

And now you're hoping someone (in this case, me) will give you the green light to ask him on a date.

Right?

First of all, that tells me that yes, you're praying to confirm your desire, not to discover the will of God.

Secondly, put all together it washes away the whole "I want to be his friend again and mend what I did wrong" logic.

You like this guy.

A lot.

And he won't ask you on a date.

Or dance with you.

You've used this past incident as an excuse to talk to him, meet his mom, whatever so you can hopefully . . . what? . . . help him see that you're the girl of his dreams and he should be your boyfriend?

I played that game once.

I pursued a girl (honestly mostly for sport and entertainment - cut me some slack, though, I was 13) and when she rejected me I acted all hurt and shy . . . which totally worked. And then she changed her mind and chased me for about four months. It became so sad and desperate and obnoxious.

That's what I'm trying to explain to you girls. It may not be "doctrine", but it does happen to be the facts of human behavior:

1. Good Guys like to chase girls, at least a little

2. They think that the girls who do the chasing are desperate and / or easy (even if it's not true, and let's face it - it usually is - that's what they think)

3. Guys who say they like to be chased aren't Good, and they like to be chased for the same reason as in number 2 - they think the girls chasing them are desperate and / or easy and it allows them to be lazy.


If you want him to like you, if you want him to date you, if you want him to realize that you're worth chasing, catching, and asking out (and I'm sure you're all of that) then you need to give him reasons to go after you.

And by asking a guy out your telling him you're not worth the effort. At least that's how he'll see it.

And any guy that tells you I'm wrong on this is, frankly, either a liar, someone who's trying to get you or some other girl to ask them out, or both.

1. Stop trying so hard.

2. Realize you're wonderful and your value comes from God, not Guys.

3. Give him reasons to aspire to be your date.

4. Don't put all of your dating eggs in this one basket. Lots of guys out there for you to be dating.

No more apologies to this guy. Once is enough.

Flirt. Be nice. Be fun to talk to.

But let him chase you.


Now, I'd like to say one more thing about Personal Revelation:  what the scriptures DO teach is that one way that we know that the revelations we receive are God's Will and not Our Will is that it's God's Will that we help others, not ourselves.  While the Holy Ghost can and does give us comfort, even those things which we learn that will help us that come from God will be unselfish.

Just something to consider.


- Bro Jo

Friday, January 4, 2013

Should She Date the Non-member Boy?

Dear Bro Jo,

There's this nonmember boy that I really like, and it's getting to the point where dating him is becoming a serious possibility.

I've heard a lot of different advice about dating nonmembers. I've heard that it depends on their personality and standards. I've heard that you just shouldn't.

Up until this point, I've thought that, ideally, it's best to stick to dating other LDS teens so you have the same values and standards, but I live in an area with very few members and the guys who live near me either aren't interested or just aren't nice guys. I know that when I'm at the point where I'm looking for a husband I should absolutely stick to men who can take me to the temple, but I'm only 16 and still just trying to figure out what I do and don't like.

I'm experimenting.

So this guy really doesn't have the same standards as me, but from what I've heard he really wouldn't put me in a compromising situation. But is that relationship doomed to fail?

I would have absolutely no tolerance for "Inappropriate touching", etc... but what if he does start to expect that from me?

Is it worth it to try?

I know he doesn't have a problem with premarital sex, but I highly doubt he would purposefully put me in that situation, so is it worth the risk?

- Concerned



Dear Concerned,

Wow.

Where to start . . . ?

Perhaps here:

all "relationships" that don't have a promise of "Time and All Eternity" are destined to end;

and any "relationship" with someone that you don't marry is, by definition, "destined to fail".

Consider that for a moment, please.  Does it make sense?

Your problem I think, my 16-year old little sister, is that you're totally confused about what This Time in your life is supposed to be about, completely wrong about the types of "relationships" you should be having with boys, and so immature and desperate (for what I'm not quite certain) that you've given a laundry list of excuses for why you think having a . . . "relationship" with a non-member boy that you have no intention of marrying who may expect sex from you is, as you put it, "worth the risk".

Now is the time you're supposed to be going on Casual Group Dates, not "having relationships".

Nothing is "worth the risk" when it comes to your virtue (reading that question from you almost made blood spurt out of my eyes).

If I live a thousand years I'll never understand why so many girls (wrongly) think that their value and attractiveness comes from having a boyfriend, and not from God.

Someone thinking you're pretty or sexy or cute or desirable does not make it so any more than no one you know of thinking those things makes that true.  And how about the more important stuff?  You can be smart and fun and kind and caring AND pretty whether or not anyone around you realizes any of that.  You are a Daughter of God, and as such you are Divinely All of Those Things!

If this boy wants to take you on Casual Group Dates, that's fine; just follow The Rules.

But you pursuing him for a "relationship" is not a good idea, and not worth any risks at all.

And none of that changes whether he's a Latter-day Saint or not.

 - Bro Jo