Things to know

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

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

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

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Friday, March 29, 2013

The 90-10 Rule - The Who Gets Asked Out One, Not the Proximity for Kissing One

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm sure you've heard of the 90-10 rule at BYU/BYU-I . . .

That is 90% of the guys seem to go for the same 10% of the girls.

Do you think this is true at all, and if so what is your recommendation for the 90%?

Why I ask:  as a sophomore at BYU, it seems pretty accurate to me.

One of my roommates is in the 10% and the rest of us can't seem to get a guy to ask us out to save our lives.

I know a lot of it has to do with being approachable and friendly and having a good attitude . . . but it seems like there must be something else there!

At the beginning of the semester I was doing everything I could imagine to get dates. I was social, talked to as many different boys as I could, had good, meaningful conversations with them, made friends, smiled a lot, had a good attitude, went to ward activities, invited boys apartments over for game nights, you name it.

And after all that I only managed to get one date the first week of school.

Most of the guys I got to be friends with at the beginning of the semester have girlfriends now, which means they're not particularly useful as potential dates or "guy friends."

I'm happy for them, but it's frustrating for me because not only do I not know very many date-able people anymore, I feel like I'm constantly having to make new friends.

The constant turnover of friends is hard. It takes a lot of energy to be social and really put yourself out there.

I feel like all the work I put into making myself date-able at the beginning of the semester went to waste and now I have to start from scratch.

It's frustrating, and frankly lately I have trouble finding the motivation to start over again.

I'm exhausted.

So what does one do when all conventional wisdom has failed them?

Sincerely,

Waiting for Prince Charming




Dear Waiting,

I've heard about the 90-10 rule, but while I've never gone to the Y or Y of I (I did go back to school at LDS Business College, but that was after I was married and had kids), I've got to say that I don't believe it.

First of all, while many of you may meet the person you eventually marry while in school, most of you graduate still single (a statistic that surprised me, actually).

That means despite the perception you and your "90%" roommates have, it’s not really grounded in reality. 

Secondly, I don't think one semester qualifies as having invested a lot of time and energy; that's not exactly "enduring to the end".   My gosh!  You're either incredibly lazy . . . or you give up WAY TOO EASILY?

Since when is something so important and valuable supposed to be easy to come by?!?

Be patient, and keep getting out there and meeting new people.

Third, don't be shy about asking your "guy friends" that have girlfriends now to set you up with their roommates and buddies. After all, isn't that what friends are for?

The only other thing to add, perhaps, is: be a girl that guys date, not that guys "hang out" with.  Movie nights at the apartment are . . . IMHO, dumb and counter productive when it comes to getting dates.

- Bro Jo

PS: You think finding someone is work? Try being married! (It’s all worth it, though!)

 PSS: Regarding your Pen Name: if all you do is wait, you may be waiting a very long time.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Was She Unfairly Labeled at Church?

Bro Jo,

I was mean to a new guy in my ward on Facebook because he was old and has a kid and didn’t tell me up front!

But now he is very popular and everyone hates me.

He’s way nice to everyone sooooo they all LOVE him and all the guys in the ward look up to him like a superhero because he is old, rich, works out, and shoots guns they all worship him.

My own roomy said I acted like a Freshman and now everyone thinks me and my best friend are immature and (edited).

I know I was mean and wrong to say that stuff, well I can't fix it now. I tried to talk to him tonight but his roomies won’t let me. They told me I did enough damage already!!!

I told them I was wrong but what can I do and they told me to ask you for advice and sent me a link to your blog.

I don't know why they made me ask you but I like your blog so please help me!!!!

No guys will ask me out anymore!!!!!

No guys want to hang out with me!!!!!!

Worst of all I like him again so what do I do now?

Luv,

Name Withheld




Dear NW -

Just because a guy and his friends are old, that doesn't mean that they're mature.

If he won't let you apologize for whatever it is you did wrong, then there's nothing you can do. 

One option is to let it go.   Don't get caught in the drama.  Take the high road.

You'll get other dates.

Trust me.

As for the guy and his childish friends, well . . . if they don't start acting their age they may find themselves alone for a very long time.

And until this guy grows up, I'd take him off the dating radar.

If he apologizes to you and you sense that he's sincere in his desire to treat you better, and if you're truly ready to give him another shot . . . well, that's up to you.

But there are a lot of guys out there to consider before you capitulate to spending more time with one who hasn't treated you well.

Thanks for reading!

Feel free to write in anytime.

And consider getting a different email address.

This one makes it seem like this email isn't from you, but from the guy or one of his friends pretending to be you.

Not that that ever happens.

This too shall pass.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I guess you are right.

I’m going to just ignore them all and wait.

My dad works with computers and told me to use one on Hotmail for people I don’t know and companies and my real email for only friends so yeah that’s why I use this one.

Thanks!!!

- NW



Dear NW,

Good advice from your dad, but the email name you've chosen for yourself is . . . unprofessional at best, so I wouldn't use it for anything, let alone companies you email.

And, you know, there's one other thing you need to consider:  just going off the initial email you sent me, it seems as though you have a little maturing to do yourself.

Being mean to people on Facebook, fueling drama at Church, among roommates, and in your social groups, dismissing bad behavior with "nothing I can do about it now" instead of owning up and making a sincere apology . . .

The whiny-ness . . . the poor language . . .

Sorry, but some of those folks in your ward may be right about you.

Remember, we're judged by the things we do, and the words we use.

- Bro Jo



Monday, March 25, 2013

Piggyback Off of September 26th's Post "Full Repentance - Part 2" - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

I initially was going to put this into an anonymous comment on the "Full Repentance - Part 2" post because my situation is rather similar to this girl's situation, and to be quite honest, I didn't want you to know it was me, and that this was about the same guy I have written you about multiple times.

Frankly, I was embarrassed and ashamed. Once I recognized that, it gave me the kick in the pants to cowboy up and actually e-mail it. A certain young man and I had done some mildly passionate kissing here and there throughout the nearly two year relationship (which I was too young to be having). It was MUCH shorter, and MUCH less crazy than Little Sister's story, but there was one time was....well, very much like Little Sister described (but with not quite the hand straying, and not the dry humping).

It was the day before I moved away, and we knew we wouldn't see each other again for at least five years (or so we thought, but that's a different story). The kicker is that....I never saw a bishop about it.

I figured that it was getting close to the must-see-bishop line, but that through fasting, and intense scripture study and prayer, and not repeating it (which wasn't going to be hard, since we wouldn't be anywhere in the vicinity of each other) would be enough.

After reading this girl's letter/e-mail, I'm not so sure anymore. I have to give some background though, to clarify my confusion. He and I are both rock-solid in the Gospel, and with impeccable self-control. If we ever started feeling tempted to take things further, we stopped immediately, and we even chose specific pointwell in advance of any kind of sex that we said we'd never ever even consider going, and we never went. Looking back, of course, I do wish we'd set the bar a little higher.

Still, what we did...wasn't a result of lust. Crazy as it sounds for a couple of kids, we loved each other even back then, and still do. Heightened emotions/passion that occurred was from our sadness that we weren't going to see each other for years.

Neither of us felt any guilt or temptation during or after. It didn't...feel wrong. In fact, for that time, while we distracted ourselves from the pain of the impending separation, we both felt incredibly happy. Not "turned on", not "satisfied", just happy.

We didn't really make any decision to do it, it just happened.

The thought didn't even occur to us that it might be wrong, not before, during, or in the weeks that followed. I still don't fully understand it. I'm not trying to justifying in any way, I'm just trying to figure out how/why it happened, and what I need to do about it.

Since our separation, I've spent a lot of time trying to spiritually improve myself, and on more than one occasion, my mind jumped back to that day, and whenever it did, I never felt quite comfortable with it. So I set to work on fixing it, and I've mostly repented now.

I never really felt the godly sorrow though.

Like, I regret it, for sure, but I'm worried that's not enough.

While I absolutely wish we hadn't have gone AS far, I can understand that there would be a little more passion than the usual goodnight kiss when I THOUGHT my 16-year-old heart was breaking.

However, the mildly passionate kissing I mentioned at the very beginning of this is the level that day (which should have been quite brief) should have been at, if anything. I feel like the whole relationship overall just should have been physically backpedaled several degrees.

During a few of our Skypes or phone calls, I mentioned these thoughts to him. He wasn't quite as concerned, but when getting ready to go on his mission, he did talk to his bishop or stake president (I don't recall which) about it, "just in case".

Does my lack of gut-wrenching full-on regret mean I haven't fully repented yet?

Do I need to talk to my branch president? He doesn't even know the guy, and as one of only a very few members for thousands of miles, they (the leaders, my parents, and the youth) always put me on a pedestal as the shining example.

I want to be spotlessly clean. I want to be the best person I can possibly be when El MIssionario returns.

I'm trying to get into BYU next fall.

I want to get married in the temple sometime in the next several years. I want to be righteous. If this is something I still need to take care of to do those things, please tell me. Advice on the how would be helpful too.

Thank you for always listening,

- Trying



Dear Trying,

 It's not my place to declare whether or not you've repented. But what I can tell you is this: if you're still having feelings of guilt, then go talk to your Branch President.

Now, understand please, that "feelings of guilt" are different than "feelings of regret". We all have regrets. Well . . . at least we'll admit them after a certain age . . . Regret is wishing you hadn't done something,, and it can (and I believe should) linger beyond repentance. It's part of what reminds us not to do that again. Guilt is the knowing, or believing, that things are still not right with God.

Does that make sense?

Is it possible to have sinned and not feel guilt? Sure.

When we don't understand why what we did was wrong. Now it is possible that you're there; clearly you don't think you did anything wrong.

And perhaps the Lord and your Branch President will agree . . . But consider this: just because two people are in love, that doesn't entitle them to do stuff with and to each other that the Lord says to save until later. 

Let your conscience be your guide.

 - Bro Jo


PS:  Also know that guys and girls don't always feel the same in these situations.  Even if he TOLD YOU that he didn't feel turned on or tempted, that's likely not the case.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Non-Member Has Questions About an Anti-Book of Mormon Post

[Dear Readers,

I decided to share this letter below with you (I get more of these than you might think) not because it's about relationships or dating, per se, and certainly not because I want to become the "answer all of my Doctrinal Questions" guy - you have great parents, teachers, leaders, and other resources for that - but because I felt this morning that someone out there among you needed it.

Not to be "weird" (ha! how often have we been called that???), but sometimes I've just got to go with a prompting.

Maybe you'll be able to tell me why you think I felt the need to post it today . . .

May the Lord bless you all,


- Bro Jo]




Dear Mr.Johnston,

My name is (withheld) and I am from Utah.

I will not share my religious views because I don't believe it is necessarily relevant. I am rather well versed in Mormonism as I was born and raised here.

I came across an article that I'm not asking you to refute or argue with me about but rather give an honest Mormon response to these kind of inquiries/rhetoric as I'm sure they're not uncommon questions.

A lot of the article, as wordy as it was, basically stated the reoccurring fallacies found in the Book of Mormon including the complete lack of knowledge regarding the natural world in the Americas.

Also, I am interested in the response regarding the Bible/Book of Mormon contradictions, I would give examples but it really only takes a Google search and a knowledge of both books. I am sincerely interested in your response and am in no way demeaning your religion; I really want true answers from someone who seems to know their stuff.

Thank you for your time and I hope to hear back.

Peace be with you,

(Name Withheld)




Dear NW,

It's not really my place to speak on behalf of the LDS Church, but I'm happy to correspond with you about what I know and believe.

First of all, scripture isn't perfect. Not only does it have to filter down through centuries and generations of translations, but we rely on imperfect people (aren't we all?) to do the best they can providing important but often difficult information.

In addition to my testimony of the Book of Mormon, I also have a testimony of the Bible. I've taught both for many years, and yet there are things I don't know, don't understand, or don't seem to fit perfectly from one to another.

For me, though, that really isn't important.  (I'll explain in a moment why.)


Secondly, without much effort one can find, especially in these days of the internet, articles claiming the truth or falsehood of just about everything. If one is going to question one source of information (in your case we could consider that the Book of Mormon), intellectual honesty requires them to question ALL sources of information.

See, these articles (and you're right, there are MANY) often proclaim truth, but usually are quite wrong.

But let's set that aside for now. Let's say that everything in the article you've read is correct, that the Book of Mormon is full of holes and anthropologically incorrect. (I don't believe that, by the way, but let's just say.) 

Then that brings two questions:

     1) Why does it matter? and

     2) Why does someone feel motivated to point it out?

See, NW, the Book of Mormon isn't a science book or a study of natural species; it's a testimony of Jesus Christ.

It's like in the Bible:  I believe there was a prophet named Noah who built an ark and there was a great flood. But even if there wasn't a "real" Noah and no flood, that's not the point.

The point is what the story teaches us about God, His Love for us, and the advice it gives us in helping us to be better people. 

No one, certainly no one in the know or of authority, has ever said "the Book of Mormon is perfect in every word and without flaw". In fact, Joseph Smith himself said more than once that he knew it wasn't perfect. What he hoped was that he had done a good enough job at what God wanted him to do. He admitted his failings and readily said that if there were errors they were his, not God's.

What we, as Latter-day Saints, do claim is that because the Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ that (and you may have heard this before) a person can grow closer to God by reading it than any other book alone.

And I can tell you that for me that is true.


Some thoughts to leave you with:


  • There are NO contradictions between the Bible and the Book of Mormon when it comes to doctrine, and that's what's, to me anyway, really important. And actually, the Book of Mormon does a remarkable job supporting the teachings in the Bible. 



  • Science is ever evolving. Often the things we think of that can't possibly be true often turn out to be exactly so. I don't think science contradicts religion; for me it proves my faith. I don't know how God created the world and everything in it; perhaps it's what some people call "evolution", perhaps some other way; I find it interesting, and I think someday we'll all be told how it all works. What I do know is this: life as we know it is WAY MORE complex than anyone on this planet fully understands. 



God is constant. I think science is man's way of trying to understand God, which is fine, but I also think many people miss the point or get lost along the way. I care much less about HOW God does stuff, and find it much more valuable to me as a being to ponder WHY.

As for questions and concerns, if you want to talk about specifics, then you'll have to be specific.

I've long since outgrown the desire to seek out and read the words of those that try to attack my faith. I have time for you, but not time for them.

That's probably going to mean that you'll have to be quoting me verses out of the Book of Mormon that you have questions about. If you don't have one, it's online or I can get one to you. I don't care what the author you mentioned (or anyone else like him, really) has to say about the book; I know their type and their motivation and I find them disingenuous at best; often they're just blatantly dishonest and not very nice people who are trying to justify something in their own lives.

What I want to know about is the verses you've read and the questions you have about them. I WILL make tons of time for "Brother Johnston I read this in this place in the Book of Mormon and it seems to contradict this thing I read, heard, believe or know".

You are important to me; not the haters.

And as we travel down this journey together I promise to be honest with you; I won't be here to "convert" you; I'll just do my best to answer your questions to the best of my ability.

It might help to know you a little better. I'm a fairly public person already, so you probably know a ton about me . . . I'm curious: what lead you to write to me of all people?

 What are you hoping to get out of our correspondence?

Thank you for emailing me. I hope our conversation continues.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

His Girlfriend's Mom Hates Him . . . What Should He Do?

Dear Bro Jo,  

My girlfriend's mom hates me.

She's never met me, but she hates me.

My girlfriend and I met at a Church Dance several months back. She and I hit it off very well, started dating and quickly fell in love. The topic of marriage has come up more and more frequently, and I've already started looking at rings. (Having a friend who works at a jewelry store helps. He can get me discounts!)

Her mom, who has never met me, hates me. She lives here in my state, is going to school, but her mom and the rest of her family live across the US. Her mom criticizes me for not serving a mission (I left the Church for several years and recently came back), she criticizes me for where I work (I work at Subway right now, but I am starting at BYU-I next semester. I'm really just passing the time until then. My area has a very shoddy job market, and this was the best I could find.)

Her mom doesn't believe I am going to make it through school when I get there. Her mom keeps telling her that she should wait until she has a diploma before getting married, that she shouldn't be so quick to jump into a relationship, etc. And her mom keeps telling her about the cute missionaries she meets, about the RM who gave a great talk in sacrament meeting . . .

Every time she gets off the phone with her mom she's distraught and it takes me several minutes to get her back to "normal".

Her mom rips on me for not having a car. (I didn't want one when I could afford one and I can't afford one now that I want one.)

My Girlfriend is going home for 3 weeks over winter break.

I'm worried about what will happen with her over there with her mom trying to break us up. I don't think she will cheat or leave me, but I'm worried about her mom planting the seeds for it down the road. I don't know how to handle this.

We won't be able to chat as much when she is over there, and I don't want to lose contact with her for several weeks knowing she's in that kind of environment.

I should add her mom is divorced once, and is talking about divorcing her current husband. Both of these guys are losers, but the fact that she can't choose 'em makes her lose credibility in my eyes when it comes to relationships.

I'm considering sending her mom a message on Facebook and trying to explain my situation to her. I don't like having this kind of thing for my girlfriend.

I really don't want her to have to choose between her mom and me, but I don't want to lose her.

What can I do to reach out to her mom?

What can my girlfriend and I do to ensure her winter break doesn't break us?

 -Worried




Dear Worried,

If her mom is able to break the two of you up, then this is a marriage that wouldn't have worked.  

Sorry, I know that may be hard to hear, but you'll need your spouse to cleave unto you First, not her parents.

So here's what you do: never say anything negative about her mother. If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all, but better if you can smile and say sincere and encouraging things, like "hey, I don't blame her for wanting to protect you; maybe when she gets to know me better and sees how much I adore you she'll feel differently".

And, you know what? I think she will.

She'll appreciate your maturity, the respect you show for her mother (even when we complain about our parents we want that special person in our lives to love them; not to take their side, necessarily, but to show love for those that love us).

DO NOT "message her mom on Facebook"; I can tell you as an Old Person and Parent that I can't think of anything more cowardly than someone who needs to talk to me doing it electronically.  Either go see her, or hand write her a lovely card, or if you must, then give her a call . . . but you and many in your generation have got to stop using technology as a relationship crutch.  Trust me, if you want her mother to respect you as a man, you're going to have to communicate like one.

Don't try to "fix" your girlfriend when she's distraught. We guys have an annoying habit of that. It's not what women need, and the resent it. Just listen and be supportive.

And don't try to Control Her.

In that way, trying to control her environment . . . trying to control the world around her and what she has to react to . . . you're acting just like her mother.  I hope you can see that.

Even if she may want that on some level, there's a difference between being supportive and being controlling.

Be the Good One.

AND, if you can't "message" her while she's gone, try Writing Her.  You know:  by hand.  In a letter.

THAT would be Romantic!

(Don't you kids read Cyrano de Bergerac???)

Good luck,

- Bro Jo




Monday, March 18, 2013

She and Her Boyfriend Are Getting Too Physical - Part 3

Dear Bro Jo,

Yes you have the correct understanding although I will iron out details.

No we are not having sex, yes we have fooled around and both feel extremely terrible about it. Seen bishop and are rectifying the problem. We have talked about marriage and in the Temple.

We both don't want to settle for anything less. We want it to be to each other but understand that our relationship is early (a month and a half) and it is hard to tell but we are still determined to be Temple worthy and be sealed (even if it is not to each other).

We talk all the time about doing better but make silly mistakes like staying out to late and seem to always end up in situations where Satan has too much leeway (each other’s apartments at night, everyone leaves and we are alone) There was no problem until we kiss passionately.

Our relationship was wonderful before too much tongue was involved and it all escalated from there.

I don't want to compromise my standards and he doesn't want me to either but it is so hard when we give Satan too much rope to pull on.

We try and we fail, we start off with leaps and bounds all hopeful and then something happens (it has only happened a couple of times but its a couple of times to many for my liking). I want to know a way that can help us and things we can do to draw nearer to the Savior.

I know that the only way we can have a relationship that is beautiful is by doing that, we both want it. You are inspired and thank you for understanding

- Wants



Dear Wants,

As you might imagine, I get TONS of emails, and the details can help me (hopefully) tell people what the Lord would have them know. When it's right, it's Him; when it's wrong, it's me.

The newness of your relationship mixed with your challenges is quite telling, I think.

Look, you're both adults. You know what the temptation triggers are (you actually articulated them quite well), and given that knowledge you should be able to avoid certain situations.

The thing is, despite everything you've written, you don't want to.

Or, to be specific, at least one of you doesn't want to.

And, frankly, I think it's him. I think he's been down this road before, and knows exactly what he's doing. 

Look at how you phrase it: YOU don't want to compromise YOUR standards, and he SAYS he doesn't want you to either.

He doesn't say anything about HIS standards.

All he's saying is "I don't wan't you to do anything that would make you uncomfortable"; which, so you know, is guy for "but I sure wish you'd get comfortable with this!"

Look, the time to decide that you're not going to make out on the sofa isn't when you suddenly find yourselves alone together; it's before you even go over to each other's apartments.

You know that.

He knows that.

So if you truly want to stay morally straight, stop putting yourselves in situations where you KNOW that things could maybe go wrong.

You're a smart girl; make a list. An extensive list, with specifics.

A "Can't go here, Can't do this" list.

If the Temple really is your goal, and if it's really his goal, then you absolutely must stick to the list. No exceptions. You may even have to add a few things to it.

If you can't act like adults and control your lusts, then the only other solution is to break up. And I'm going to be real honest with you here: cutting out the physical stuff is going to be a real test of your "love" for each other.

Frankly, once he finds out that aspect is over he may end it. I hope not. But he wouldn't be the first guy that pretended he felt something more than he does so he can . . . touch more than he should.

So cut out the physical stuff.  He may end the relationship, but at least then you'll know.

And hopefully he'll agree to keep things more . . . "clean", and stay out of your apartment. If he does, and if you two find that you still have a great time together and love being together then you'll know; then you'll know that he just may be a good eternal companion for you.

If that's the case, and you both pass all of the other criteria, and you do get Sealed for Time and All Eternity, then I say have fun swapping spit and putting your hands all over each other.

But remember this: no man will ever love a woman he doesn't respect, and you can't respect someone that doesn't respect themselves.

 - Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

There are no words to describe just how thankful I am.

It will be difficult, but I can do it.

God bless,

- Wants



Dear Wants,

Yes, you can.

Back at ya,

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 15, 2013

Hanging Out - Revisted

[Readers, 

I received the comment below on a post from 2010, "Hanging Out Defined".  Thought you might have missed it, so I'm sharing it here.

Cheers!

- Bro Jo]




Dear Bro Jo,

What do you think of "hanging out" with guys in groups if you don't want them to ask you out? If a girl doesn't like these guys that way they've become "buds" then is it ok to "hang out" with these guys often say going to movies, games nights etc?

 - Anonymous




Dear Anon,

It may depend on how old you are . . . there's a big difference between friend groups at 14 and 24 . . .

But for the sake of the point I'll respond as if you're a marrying-age adult. I think you may be surrounded by a bunch of guys who want to date you.

You think you've firmly stuck them in the Friend Zone, and they're hoping for something more.

Unless their dumb.

I suppose that's a possibility . . .

Is there something "un-datable" about you?

Something that would make them say: "She's a ton of fun! I love spending time with her! She's sweet, smart and easy to talk to. I love Hanging Out with her . . . but I never want to date her!"

I also think it's possible that you're all either afraid . . . or wasting each other's time.

Look, I think spending time with friends is great! I see nothing wrong with the occasional party or get-together . . . after all, there's not a better way to meet a new potential love interest!

But if the Hang Out is the end and all of your social time . . . like I said at the end of the post: it's time to make a change.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

He's Worried She's Becoming His Girlfriend - Part 2


[Readers,

What follows it the second in a 2-part series.  The first part ran last week.  


Enjoy!
 
- Bro Jo
]


Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for helping me out again and giving me advice.

First off, yes this is Girl #1, and we never actually said we wouldn't do stuff like that, but that might be a good rule...

And she wasn't trying to talk me into it because she said she wasn't really serious, the reason I mentioned it was because even though she didn't really like try to make it happen she still said it.

The reason she says she had a boyfriend at age 15 she said was because people who she thought were friends would tell her things like she wasn't pretty and wasn't fun to be around and that made her really sad. 

And so when a boy came around who she liked and who liked her more than her really popular best friend, she really liked it because he would tell her that she was pretty and all the things people had said she wasn't. 

After she told me this I told her that she didn't need some guy to tell her that she was pretty for it to be true. 

So in all honesty I told her that she was pretty and fun to be around, but it shouldn't matter if I thought that or anyone else.

She also explained about her parents and that she knows that even though they argue a lot and it’s not always fair, she still knows that they love her and she doesn't want to purposefully bad but just that she didn't agree with them. You said I liked feeling needed by her, in my mind I don't think I do.

But maybe you are right and deep down I do, but honestly if there was a better person that could make her happy and would be better for her than me I told her that I shouldn't hold her back and she should go for it. We also talked about her "Dear Johning me" on my mission and I told her that I really didn't want that to happen but if she found someone better again to go for it.

I just want her to be happy because she's felt really sad for a long time. I really like being with her and would potentially want to spend the rest of my life with her, but when on my mission and in high school she should still go on dates and stuff like that when the opportunity arises so she can meet new people.

We've been on three official group dates and on each there’s been at least one other couple there, and for me I've been on at least three dates in between. I can't speak for her because I don't think she’s been on any other dates with people that aren't me but the dates are at least a month apart which is her parents rule so I think that’s ok (correct me if I’m wrong).

With the upcoming Winter Ball I'm going to break the rule a little bit because I don't think I’ll be able to go one two or three dates by the 28th (I've done it before but it's not likely to happen again).

Thanks for the advice and I'll keep the things you've said in mind.

- Worried




Dear Worried,

Trust your instincts (that's called Listening to the Promptings of the Spirit).

And Be Careful to not let feelings of Guilt or Pity entice you to doing, saying, or promising things that you ought not do or say.

We all like to feel needed and appreciated, but I think we run some pretty serious risks when we set aside our standards or righteous plans (especially with relationships) to placate those feelings.

I'm not saying that the feelings you have for her are wrong . . .great relationships can be built on a mutual desire to serve and sustain the other person, to put their needs ahead of your own . . . so long as they're doing the same thing for you . . . to an extent, anyway.

But the timing is too soon.

Have fun. Continue Casual Group Dating.  And that means to keep things as Drama Free between the two of you as possible.

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 11, 2013

She and Her Boyfriend Are Getting Too Physical - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm sorry He is 23 and turning 24 later on in the year.  He's a return missionary from 2 years previous and he talks highly about it and told me he was happiest when he was on his mission.

We have been dating (exclusively) for just over a month now.

He had morality issues with his last girlfriend (he was depressed which lead to trying to satisfy himself in other ways).

He realized that that relationship was not good for him and cut it off even though that was extremely difficult because of the lust.

He never loved her.

Therefore he is struggling spiritually because the sin took its toll.

He wants to be better and he knows I'm a good girl and suggests trips to the temple regularly just to remind us to be worthy but sometimes I feel like its a huge feat for him to do other spiritual things like read the scriptures.

I've seen his scriptures and they are heavily marked and studied so I don't understand why.

We have had moral issues as well and I know it takes two to tango but I was so naive I want to be happier with him and have a wonderful amazing relationship and feel the love of my Savior and have the knowledge that I am doing good, especially helping him to become the best he can be and the best we can be together.

I love him and we say that to each other regularly, we can talk and communicate well and he shows me his love.

Is that better?

I'm sorry it was so vague

- Wants




 Dear Wants,

I understand the embarrassment factor, and that vagueness can bring some comfort.

Rest assured that if I ever post this letter it will be a long time from now (at least several months) and I'll keep it generic enough to ensure your anonymity.

Forgive me for being blunt, but part of that is my style, and part of what you and your boyfriend are dealing with is this "shadow behavior"; keeping things hidden adds to the problem; it doesn't make it better.

So let's be clear, here: your boyfriend has a problem with masturbation (and likely pornography) which he says started AFTER his mission because he was dating some really attractive girl that he didn't love but couldn't stop lusting after.

They fooled around, and he tried to . . . well . . . take matters into his own hands, thinking that would help him control the situation.

They broke up.

Then he started dating you (you still haven't said how long ago - which is important, by the way) and things have gotten "out of control" again.

You're confused because, well, you like it, and you feel like you're "helping him out" a little, but you also feel guilty and sinful.

Basically, the two of you "love each other", but your Temple Worthiness is in jeopardy (I'm assuming that means you're having sex), and you're not sure how to stay on track.

Or, rather, get back on track.

You really love this guy, in fact you're hoping marriage is in your future, and you're thinking that if he'll stop . . . you know . . . and the two of you can put the physical things on ice for a while, then everything will be okay.

Do I have it right?

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 8, 2013

Getting Him Not to Wait for You When He Comes Home and You're Gone - and Why That's a Good Thing

Dear Bro Jo,

I just posted a comment on the Waiting for a Missionary post from 2009. I didn't realize it was from so long ago until I made a comment.

I posted as anonymous about the boy I've been writing on a mission but how I'm also going on a mission and he wants to wait for me.

Anyway, I know you have to approve all the comments for them to be seen so I just wanted to say that you don't have to put the comment up if you don't want since it's from so long ago or you can if you want, either way is fine. I don't really want my name on anything, but I would really like some advice, so if you could at least email me back or post a comment that would be great.

I do know that a lot of girls are having similar problems as me - leaving on a mission while a boy they had been writing comes back soon.

Sincerely,

Future Sister Missionary



Dear Future Sister,

Thank you for writing me via email! Much more personal than an anonymous comment.

Even though that original post is from nearly 4 years ago, it still gets read, responded to, and referred to often. (I find it interesting that with the change in Missionary Ages that the emails have gotten a little different.)

For context (and for our readers) here's what your comment said:

Hi Bro Jo, I just read this post and all the comments and I guess I have a question. I dated someone for 2 years in High School and he went on a mission. I broke up with him before he left because I didn't want to wait for him. He's been gone about 14 months, and I write him weekly and send him packages frequently. I agree that waiting is silly and that holding yourself back is easy to do when you do wait. But it's pretty hard to just stop loving someone and stop talking to them. I don't think that loving him is holding me back - I go on dates and I've actually received my own mission call. He comes back November 2013 and I'll come home in November of 2014. So my question is, when he comes back I think he'll want to wait for me. It'll be a year where he's home without me, and we both still have a great relationship that's supportive and encouraging. I think that both of us have needed each other in these past months. How do I get him to do the right thing and not "wait"? He keeps saying he's not going to want to date anyone when I'm so close to coming home and we can be together (we've never discussed our wedding or even told each other we want to get married because I feel that's inappropriate) I realize now that this was a big long ramble, but I wanted any 3rd party advice I could get before I ship off to the MTC in May. - Anonymous 


First of all, I've never said to stop loving someone. That would be silly. I'm not even sure how one does that!

Secondly, if you're wondering: no, wouldn't tell him to "wait" for you if he asked. I'd tell him what I tell all RM Young Men: go on at least one date a week, changing it up, dating different girls until he found one that he wanted to date so much more than the others that she became his weekly (or more often) date. And if he dated her a few times in a row and realized he wasn't as interested as he thought he was at first, move on to someone new. Or back to someone he'd previously dated (if she was still available) that he couldn't get out of his mind or simply just thought it would be fun to date again.

When y'all are separated, especially when the separation happens so young and the period is for a relatively long period of time (two years, after all, is 10% of your life! whereas for an Old Person, like myself, 2 years is only about 4.5% of mine) and not only can things change, but we build up this fantasy image of what someone is really like.

(Relative Tangent: this is why some "Old People" - stupidly in my opinion - leave their marriages for that person they remember from High School or College; they have this image in their mind . . . this mythical person they think they remember, and they convince themselves - usually quite wrongly - that if they can just "recapture" that relationship As They Remember It, it will be easier than working out the problems they're having in their current relationship. But enough on that for now.)

What you can do for this young man (and yourself) is to tell him that you have no idea if you're meant to be together, if you'll be Good Eternal Companions for each other, and while you've had the freedom and opportunity to date others while he's been gone, you wish him to have the same freedom. That way, you'll say, when you come back . . . if he's still single and interested, the two of you can date again knowing that, him having all of this new dating experience, that he's dating you because he's dated others and is still looking . . . not because he's been lonely and "waiting" for three years (total).

Whether or not he takes you up on your request is, of course, up to him.

But you may want to also tell him this: when you come back, if he his single and interested, he won't be the only guy you'll be dating because you'll want to be certain, too.  (While neither of you may be 100% "certain", having dated other people will go a long way towards helping you more easily know if this is a Good Match for you . . . or if any match is Good, really.)

And stick to that.

Whatever works out, however things are meant to be, I wish you both Eternal Happiness!

Work hard, love the people, and enjoy your mission!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

He's Worried She's Becoming His Girlfriend - Part 1

[Readers,

What follows it the first in a 2-part series.  The second part will run next week.  


Enjoy!

- Bro Jo
]



Dear Bro Jo,

Hey so I emailed you awhile back about this girl and been talking a lot not just text and we've become really great friends. We are still going on causal group dates but then also hanging out a lot but they're basically dates but we're with friends so it’s still not bad.

The way we talk we're implying more than just liking each other but it’s not bad stuff just saying how glad we are to be friends. She's really great and nice and stuff and I have a lot of fun when I'm around her.

Tuesday before school started up again after we had gone to the movies and then lunch and her car was parked at my house so we went back there and then we still wanted to hang out.

So we went inside but my mom wasn't there so she left which was good. Just saying because the next part is the problem...

So things are going good but her parents always get mad at her for little stupid things, and she isn't getting along with them for that.

Last night we were going to play KGB which is like hide and seek with cars with a bunch of people from my ward, but since she worked right before and it was late her parents didn't let her and she was pretty upset. 

So when she got done with work at like 9:30 she texts me stuff like "come save me" and stuff like that, we didn't do anything but still and then this morning she said she wanted me to sneak her out of her house but not really because she didn't want her parents to notice she was gone.

Ya kinda worrying but we've talked about not doing stuff like that but still.

And the other thing is I would've done it if she had said. I've already set my limits and my number one goal is going on a mission but all I want to do is spend time with her. We haven't really said that we're going out but we pretty much are. She also asked me to the upcoming girls’ choice winter ball, and that should be fun.

But seriously, what should I do?

Because we haven't done anything bad but last night could've been and that worries me.

- Worried




Dear Worried,

Is this Girl #1? The one that I said sounded too clingy and possessive???

Because I don't think that's the biggest part of the problem anymore.

Not only is she not hearing you when you express your concerns about the two of you becoming exclusive, not only is she using you to rebel against her parents, but she's actively trying to talk you into things you know you ought not be doing. Something is going on with her . . . I have no idea what it is, but there's a hole in her life, real or imagined I'm not sure, and she's using you to fill it.

You can already feel the Spirit warning you; I know you can.

But your attraction to her (which I'm sure is understandable) is making that voice harder to hear.

It's not that she's a bad person, not at all, but . . . I don't know, pal, I still feel a Big Red Flag here . . . 

You've got to set some ground rules, like:

     1. No more texting or phone calls after 8pm

     2. Absolutely no sneaking her out of her house

     3. And no Alone Time. Zero. Not anywhere, not any time of day. Not even just to give her a short ride from here to there.

Here we call "KGB" "Dragnet", and it is a lot of fun . . . but this girl concerns me enough that if she ever does get to go play, I think you need to make sure you and she aren't either hiding together or in a car, just the two of you, looking for others. (By the way, here they play with one or two "cops" on bicycles, in addition to the cars, and it’s the bikers that make it much more difficult to not get caught.)

Honestly, I think you need to tell your parents of your concerns; not to freak them out, but so someone has your back. I know you like feeling needed by her, but I've seen stuff like this . . . a lot, and often the person in the "relationship" (which this is, whether you two have said it out-loud or not) who’s acting like she is (guys do it, too) flips out. If it gets worse, you could find her making up stories, breaking up with you, accusing you of things . . . all just to manipulate you. And the longer you stay with her before you two officially "break up", the more horrific it could be (even if it's "her idea" that you separate).

You say you're going on "Casual Group Dates", but are each of you also dating other people?

Are you following the rules?

Do you go on at least two dates with girls who aren't her before going out with her again?

Because if you're not, you may find that you've stepped in some quicksand, and the more you struggle to get out, the more you'll get sucked under.

In those traps, the only way to get free is with help, and your parents are the best choice. Good luck, and keep me posted,

- Bro Jo

PS: You should check out Bro Jo’s HOW a GUY CAN AVOID THE "BOYFRIEND DELIMA" - DO’S and DON’TS

Monday, March 4, 2013

She and Her Boyfriend Are Getting Too Physical - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

I visit your blog when I need advice but was always scared to email. Scared that I might hear something that doesn't apply to me because it is much easier to ignore, advice if it wasn't given specifically to you.

I am 20 and have a boyfriend.

I had a moment where I thought I had lost myself.

I have always been a good girl, obedient and faithful. I have a testimony of obedience and know that even if I don't understand, I will always be blessed. It is because I have faith in the Savior and his love for me.

I like to simplify things and see things as black and white, right and wrong.

I want this relationship to work.

We match on every front.

He was once spiritually strong but something happened and now he is struggling.

I want to help him but don't know how to do it.

Sometimes I have to compensate for him and regrettably I must say, compromise myself. I know that he wants to be better and that by drawing near to God we will draw nearer to each other.

I know this but don't exactly understand how, I feel that if I did know how then I could better communicate it to him.

He says that we wants all the best for this relationship one that is centered around God and that he wants to choose the right and just simply be obedient and I genuinely believe he is being completely honest with me.

When it comes down to it, he falters and does things contrary to what we want. I wanted to know what young couples starting a new relationship could do to draw closer together and feel our Savior's love?

I want a wholesome relationship.

Thank you and I hope you understand.

From,

- The Girl Who Wants to Feel Loved and on the Path Again



Dear Wants,

Can you help an old guy out a little?

Your email is pretty vague.

How long have you two been dating? How old is your boyfriend? Is he a pre-missionary, post missionary, or not gonna go?

What happened that he's now struggling?

What is he struggling with?

What is it that he's doing?

And what do you mean when you say that you need to "compensate" for him?

 - Bro Jo

Friday, March 1, 2013

Does Prom Date Equal Kissing?

Dear Bro Jo,

Alrighty. I'm in a little bit of a situation. You see, I am going to prom soon.

Me and the boy I am going with have liked each other a little bit over the past month or so. We've gone on Casual Group Dates and hung out with the same friends and all. I am super excited!

The only thing is that everyone has told me, and he has even hinted, that he is going to try and kiss me.

Okay, so I guess it's not that big of a deal, but it is to me!

I don't mean to sound lame, but I don't think I really want to kiss him!

And there are a few reasons why.

First, I've always told myself, for one reason or another, that I don't want to get serious with anyone or kiss anyone before I graduate high school.

Also, I feel like it wouldn't be just a one-time thing. We hang out a lot and if I gave in once, he'd probably think it'd be okay to kiss whenever. You know?

It's just hard because I do like him, and I don't want him to think I'm weird or whatever.

How do I be a REALLY great date, end the night on a good note and keep him liking me if I reject him when he tries to kiss me?

Is there a nice way to do that?

Or am I just over thinking this whole thing?

Thank you soooooooo much!!

- Prom Date Afraid



Dear PDA,

You should never kiss anyone when you don' want to.

And great dates do not have to include kissing.

If he tries to kiss you and you're not ready, quickly hold your hand between his lips and yours and say "please don't take this wrong, you're a great guy and all, but I'm just not ready".

If he has a problem with that (and he may), then that's not really your concern.

In fact, I'd say the bigger of a problem it is for him, the wiser you'll have been to not have kissed him.

But . . . should you change your mind in the moment . . . should you decide that you do want to kiss him goodnight . . . if you decide that there's no reason to wait until after graduation . . .well, I don’t see a problem with that either.  

 - Bro Jo