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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Everything here is copyrighted. If you're going to quote any part of anything here, please get Bro Jo's written permission. You can reach him at dearbrojo@gmail.com.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

She's Concerned About The Pornography In His Past

Dear Bro Jo,

So I've got another question for you.

Your previous advice really helped, and I thought I would ask about another thing that is troubling me.

My Fiancé’s parents divorced when he was very young.

His dad was a devout Latter Day Saint but his mom was not.

Because he was with his dad on the weekends his still went to Church most weeks but didn't get much support from his mom.

He battled with a lot of word of wisdom problems in high school, and then also had a problem with pornography.

When he was 20 he got everything resolved with the bishop and went on a mission.

Since his mission he has not had a problem with any of those things which is awesome.

He has not viewed pornography for 7 years, but about 6 months ago he had a problem with masturbation for a short time but quickly got it resolved.

I knew that he had a problem with that in the past, but also knew that he got everything resolved so I didn't worry too much about it.

However, now that we're engaged I’ve been thinking more about it.

He talks with a psychologist/family friend every once in a while and yesterday I walked in when he was finishing up skyping with him.

After they hung up I asked what they were talking about and he got a little uncomfortable.

Because he is the most honest person ever (many times too honest with me) he told me exactly what he was talking about.

He told me that even though he hadn’t viewed pornography for 7 years, the effects of it are still there.

He said something about how it changes the way you view women, and he really wants to overcome that so he can view me exactly how he wants to.

I don't really get this.

I don't really understand how it effects how he views me.

Does he look at me like he looked at porn?

My biggest question is, what exactly does pornography do?

Why is it still a problem even though he doesn't look at it?

There is one more problem.

 Remember how I said he is too honest?

Well here is another example of that.

He told me he was also talking to the psychologist about how he still recognizes attractive girls.

He said he wants to get to the point where I am the only girl who will sexually arouse him.

For some reason this really worried me.

Is that weird that he still notices other attractive girls?

Where do you draw the line between noticing other pretty women, and thinking about sexual things with them?

I know that he would NEVER cheat, because he is so loyal and so honest and I know how much he truly loves me.

But when he says things like this I get nervous.

Should I be worried?

- Confused.




Dear Confused,

Your fiancé is a pretty smart man.

Sometimes.

While addiction of any kind, certainly including pornography, is a reason Not To Marry (see the list!), no, I don't think you should be worried with this guy.

His honesty, while I agree is a little TOO honest, is a rare and admirable trait, and his willingness to share very real and personal concerns with you will pay huge dividends as you continue through this life together. 

Pornography is an addiction, and like any addiction it's always a concern for the addict that wants to stay clean and sober.

Without getting too deep into the physiology (which I've discussed many times in the blog), like an alcoholic who knows he can never take another drink of alcohol lest he wander down a very dark if all-too-familiar path, the pornography addict needs to stay out of the path of temptation.

Sister Jo is the only woman I want to be intimate with, but I'm still a guy. I still notice attractive women. 

That's not an excuse, it's an acknowledgement of physiological fact.

My brain is wired that way; as are all guy's.

But, to quote a couple movies, "you're not a man if you don't look once, you're not a missionary if you look twice" and "I can go to a museum and notice a beautiful work of art, but that doesn't mean I'm going to take it off the wall and take it home". 

Now, to be candid, I think the noticing women thing mellows out with age.

When I was 19 I noticed ALL 19 year old girls and was "turned on" by most if not all of them.

Now that I'm in my 40's I see girls that young as "nice kids"; frankly, that age group just doesn't do anything for me anymore.

Heck, they're the age of my children!

I know not all old guys are that way, but I suspect most are.

I personally think your fiancé needs to someday realize that he'll always notice other paintings in the museum, and that it's okay to lust after your wife on some level.

But for now I understand and respect his focus on helping himself to be pure, and I absolutely admire what seems to be his sincere desire to only be attracted to you and to cherish you above all other women.

Those things, little sister, are why you've picked a Good Man.

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 28, 2013

When a Date Doesn't Happen - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi again Bro Jo,

That is going to be a hard text to send...

Especially since neither of us have openly called it a "date" yet.

I have pointed out to him how bummed I was because I was really looking forward to him taking me and he said he was looking forward to taking me too.

 But when you say to "try harder"...Do you think waiting until after the holiday is a bad idea?

Should we try and squeeze in a time in this month?

Speaking of... We're having a ward holiday party/dance next week (again though, he isn't in my ward) and I kind of think it would be cool if he could be there...

In fact I'd be ecstatic if we could go together!

But the distance he'd have to drive worries me.

I don't know how familiar you are with (location withheld), but I'm about an hour's drive away from him.

So now I need to make a decision...tell him about it and hope he volunteers to come with me (because poor little me will be left all on my lonesome otherwise), flat out "make the first move" and ask him to come with me, or ignore it because he'd have to drive so far...

He works for UPS too, which means he drives all day which makes me feel REALLY guilty when I want to ask him to drive even more...

Dating's confusing; why can't we just put a bunch of names in a hat and say "okay, you're going out with this person this week and that person the next week..."

- C




Dear C,

You're not the only one that wishes dating was easier, but I don't think it has to be as hard as many of you seem to want to make it out to be.

It's like you keep putting up barriers where none need to exist.  Rather than focus on the problems, see the solutions.

Oh, and the answer to your last question is "because everything of value requires hard work".

- Bro Jo

PS:  I drove 2.5 hours - EACH WAY - to see Sister Jo when we first started dating.  It was worth every mile.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dealing with Rape - Part 4 - A Mother's Perspective

[Readers,

What follows is Part 4 in a series of posts about a very serious and very sensitive subject.  These emails were sent to me quite a while ago.  Now that enough time has passed it seems appropriate to share them.  I am doing so with the original writer's permission.  She is doing well, and hopes that others in the same situation can learn from this trial she has had to endure.


Rape is a Violent Crime.

If you have been, or suspect you may have been, the victim of rape, regardless of your age, sex, situation, location, or the identity of your attacker, I want you to know that it's not your fault.

It never is.

I plead with you to get help from a trusted relative, authority, friend, crisis center or counselor.  If at first you don't get the help you need, please don't give up trying.

And, most importantly, I want you to know that I know that the Savior Loves You, that you have Value as a Child of God, that you can survive this ordeal, that you can heal and be whole and live a great and wonderful life.

I love you, and I know that Jesus and Heavenly Father do as well.


- Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

I wanted to thank you for your kindness and support for my daughter.

As I'm sure you can imagine, the last couple years have been intensely challenging for her; she's an amazing girl coping with extraordinarily-difficult circumstances.

I'm especially grateful for your reiterating the message that she is not at fault for what happened; she sometimes struggles with "what-if's" wondering if she should have done something different.

She has a host of tough questions that her father, her psychologist, the court system, and I sometimes don't have very good answers for, so I'm thankful that when she wrote to you you were able to "be there" for her.

Like all rape victims, she struggles with how much and when to tell people about what happened to her.

She worries that knowing her story will make people think less of her or judge her; thank you SO much for explicitly telling her that you don't!

When she first told her father and me, I quite literally felt like I had been punched in the gut and had the wind knocked out of me.

I couldn't breathe, and felt, as you put it, like hitting "Bob" with my truck.

So I get that reaction; it's like compassion, love and rage all whirling in a blender in your stomach.

But please consider as you write back to other girls who have been assaulted that our daughter was so afraid her dad, uncle, brothers, and/or guy friends actually would kill her perp that she didn't tell anyone her story for months.

So maybe just…I don't know… try not to communicate the violent retaliation impulse even if it is coming from a place of empathy.

She sometimes worries she's "damaged goods" and will never find the right "good guy" to take her to the Temple.

She worries about the safety of others with "Bob" still out walking around with his freedom.

She wonders how long it will take for the flashbacks and nightmares and pain to disappear completely.

Your responses were unquestionably inspired, as if you were inside her head and already knew those places she needs reassurance.

Thank you again for how much comfort you have given to my daughter.

- Mom



Dear Mom,

I appreciate your perspective and advice; thank you for writing me.

And thank you for your kind words.

How ever it happens, whatever the Lord's timing is, I pray that your daughter will find the True Eternal Love that she deserves, and that she'll feel the comfort of the Savior that she needs.

Thank you for your strength,

- Bro Jo


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Should She Get Surgery?

Hi Bro Jo,

I'm thinking about having surgery for health a problem I have.

The reason I would have the surgery is I can't play sports, exercise etc.

I was wondering If you though I should go ahead and have the surgery or If I should make it through the rest of this life here on earth miserable?

Please reply back as soon as possible.

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

In general I don't think I'm the person anyone should be asking for surgical advice.

That's between a person, their doctor, and the Lord.

Parents can offer wise and inspired council, of course, too.

But something about what you say, and don't say, made me think that I might have a guess as to what type of surgery you have in mind, and I can see where that might overlap into a "Dear Bro Jo"-type question.


(Related Tangent:  Readers may recall a recently hotly-debated topic both on the Facebook page and in a post here where Bro Jo agreed with a reader that her friend should not choose to have Elective Surgery at a young age, and I can see where my comments on that might seem in contrast to the "I don't think I'm the person anyone should be asking for surgical advice" line above.

Let me explain.

I see elective surgery - specifically non-medically necessary plastic surgery - as an issue of how one sees one's body image, how they assess their self-worth, and the decision to have something done at a very young age - particularly before one's body is fully developed - not as a medical issue, but rather a moral one.

If one wants to alter their body because they think it will make them more attractive, I think that should wait.  If one wants to alter their body because they're in actual pain, I think that's a medical issue.

I hope you can all see and accept the difference.

- Bro Jo)


I shared the contents of your email with Sister Jo (although not your name) and she came up with the same guess I did.

We think you might be talking about "breast reduction surgery". (We both have relatives who have expressed similar feelings and concerns to yours, and that's the surgery they have considered.)

If that's the case, my thinking is that you should be sure that it won't create any breast feeding issues in the future. (Did you know that pregnancy and breast feeding can change - including reduce - the size of your breasts?)

I'd also suggest that you consider an honest assessment of your diet first. Reducing your sugar, fat, and carbohydrate intake could make a significant difference. So could reducing your overall daily calories.

I'm going through a process where I'm trying to re-educate myself about food, and as part of that I've brought my calorie count in line with what it should be. I lead a mostly sedentary life, but over time (and it has taken a LONG time) I've lost 50 pounds.

I don't know your diet or shape, so I don't mean to comment on that, but I am saying that before committing to something as expensive and evasive as surgery I'd explore all of my options first.

Sister Jo says "do it".

She understands how being drastically disproportionate "on top" can make a woman miserable.

She offers the same suggestions I did, and emphasizes that this should be a matter of prayerful consideration, but she also underlines how this situation can create chronic back pain and (as you mention) limit a woman's activity.

She also offers that many women don't wear, or even know how to select, a properly fitted bra.

Sister Jo says a good bra (which she says requires a fitting with a specialist) can make a lot of difference, and says that you may also want to consider that if you haven't already.

If we've guessed wrongly, then I fall back on "listen to your doctor, don't delay any life-saving surgery, and (as in all matters of importance) pray".

I hope that helps,

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 21, 2013

When a Date Doesn't Happen - Part 1

[Readers,

Was this girl asked out?

What do you think happened?

Part 2 will publish next week.

- Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

Hey Bro Jo, maybe you can help me out with a real problem this time instead of a fictional one ;)

So, I've been actively going to Singles Ward and "FHE" in the hopes that maybe I can get some dating experience since I have none...

Unfortunately most of the guys are already actively dating other girls, and most of them outside of the ward. 

So oh well, I'll just keep going and meeting new people and so on...

Enter regional skating activity.

I go but it's awkward because everybody's either hanging out with their own little cliques or else they're eating foods I'm allergic to (and I was starving, so I couldn't get myself to hang out with them lol).

I skate around on my own for a little bit and then sit down to adjust my straps and I happen to sit in front of a table of people playing the "Magic" card game which I am familiar with.

I’m quiet and don’t like to approach people I don’t know, especially if they seem busy...but I was bored and lonely so I finally said “screw it” and jumped in as if I had been there all along.

One thing led to another and I wound up playing with them!

I had never met any of these guys since they go to a different Singles ward about 90 minutes away, but I had a blast and ended up beating them all with the deck they lent me :)

One of the guys, the one that was trying desperately to get me to play with them since I was hesitant, pulled out his phone and friended me on Facebook right then and there!

Over the next couple of days we were messaging each other over Facebook which eventually grew too troublesome and advanced to texting each other.

Then he said he wanted to take me to a Sci-Fi Museum.

I totally flipped out on him because I had no idea such a thing existed and he texted me back with "I take it that's a yes?"

I said "of course", but I wasn't really sure if it was a date so I asked him how much it would cost and he answered with a "don't worry about that, silly!"

I asked if he was sure, and he said "yes".

I thought to myself...hmmm...The guy's paying, and it's just the two of us...that's a date, right?

But I still wasn't sure so I started asking around and everybody seemed to find it completely obvious that it was, in fact, a date.

It was unanimous and I asked about 7 people, so I assumed they were right... I was so excited!

I finally got a date!

I told my friends and asked them for advice on what to wear.

He and I started texting pretty much every time he was on a break from work and that got me even more excited. It was going to be great!

My first date!

And then he cancelled.

Because of the holidays his work schedule was bumped up to 50+ hours/week and he couldn't take me to the museum after all. And because we live so far away and the museum is another hour past him (starting at my place), and I don't have a car yet, I can't go over there until I can get a ride with one of my sisters on their way to a dentist appointment which isn't going to happen again until after the holidays.

So he said he could have a friend take me.

Here's where things get messy and I'm pretty sure I made myself look like a desperate moron...

And I've kind of developed a crush on this guy over the course of our texting so that doesn't help...

When I got that text (the one saying he could have a friend take me) I was trying to think of ways I could get over there without catching a ride when he was free, wishing desperately that he would offer to come get me (even though I know that wouldn't be fair since it'd be a zigzagging 3-4 hour trip for him one way).

Since I was distracted, sick, and tired I totally read it wrong and thought he meant he had a friend in my area that could give me a ride to him. I got excited again.

"Really?" I asked first, and then realized...he means without him, doesn't he?

So I texted him again and said "Wait, how so?" and he texted back with "what do you mean how so?"...

I didn't know what to say.

What I meant by "how so" was "are you suggesting I go on a date with your friend instead of you?" but obviously nobody could have deciphered that from those two words...I gave up and just told him I didn't know what I meant because I was sick and delusional...

I then told him that there was no guarantee I'd be better by then anyway.

 Here's where I think he may have figured out what I meant by my "how so" although I'm not too sure...I got three texts in a row.

1. what

2. wait

3. we could wait until after the holidays if you're up to it


I told him I'd do whatever he wanted and he told me he was busy for the rest of the month so I said that we'd just have to wait and see what the next month brings then and he agreed.

Now I don't know what to think...

I guess what I want to know is: Was it going to be a date, or wasn't it?

What did he mean when he said a friend could take me?

Did he just feel bad because I was so excited and then he had to cancel?

Did I blow any chances of going out with him when I first accepted to go without him, even though I changed my mind?

I now realize that instead of "how so" I should've asked "without you?" to show that I'm interested in more than just the museum, but it's too late now...

But do you think he figured it out? 

Heck, I don't even know if he was ever interested in me in the first place.

I'm 20 and he's 26, maybe that's too big of a gap for him and he just thinks of me as the excited little sister or something...

Hopefully you can forgive the fact that I practically wrote you a novel just for that...

I didn't want to leave anything out in case something that I didn't think was important turned out to be important :) I just don’t know any guys I’m comfortable with that I can ask these questions to and I really think I need a guy’s opinion...

So, in the words of Leia, “you’re my only hope!”

Now please point out how thick I’m being...

- C




Dear C,

Whew!

Okay . . . here we go!

1. You're not being thick.

2. I think it was going to be a date, I think it didn't work out, and I think he's an idiot for not trying harder. 

3. Oh, he's interested . . . but like most guys he's not as smart or motivated about this stuff as he should be. 

4. All is not lost. I usually don't suggest that girls "make the first move", but as I see it, you have one more play you can make, one more text you can send to see if you can clue this guy in.

Text him something like this: "So, I wrote this Online LDS Dating Advice Guy about how you asked me on a date and it fell apart and how I was really hoping we'd go out and how bummed I was that it didn't work out and how now I'm worried that you don't want to date me anymore and he said that I should text you and tell you that if you don't try a little harder to take me on a date soon you'll be making a huge mistake, and that I should text you and tell you so."

And send it.

If he doesn't respond right away and try to fix this situation, then we'll all know he's an idiot and you can move on.

I'm praying he's not an idiot.

Good luck! 

(And let me know how it goes!)

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dealing with Rape - Part 3 - How She Feels Now That Time Has Passed

[Readers,

What follows is Part 3 in a series of posts about a very serious and very sensitive subject.  These emails were sent to me quite a while ago.  Now that enough time has passed it seems appropriate to share them.  I am doing so with the original writer's permission.  She is doing well, and hopes that others in the same situation can learn from this trial she has had to endure.


Rape is a Violent Crime.

If you have been, or suspect you may have been, the victim of rape, regardless of your age, sex, situation, location, or the identity of your attacker, I want you to know that it's not your fault.

It never is.

I plead with you to get help from a trusted relative, authority, friend, crisis center or counselor.  If at first you don't get the help you need, please don't give up trying.

And, most importantly, I want you to know that I know that the Savior Loves You, that you have Value as a Child of God, that you can survive this ordeal, that you can heal and be whole and live a great and wonderful life.

I love you, and I know that Jesus and Heavenly Father do as well.


- Bro Jo]




Dear Bro Jo,

I don't know what his father's story was but when we told my uncle what had happened (so he could keep my cousins away from that family) he said the father had just gotten out of prison.

And "Bob"'s older brother was sent home early from his mission.

It's clearly an unstable family.

But you are correct that doesn't excuse Bob's behavior.

When I say "many friends have similar stories" it's sad but true.

With a self-defense course, it helps, but when something like that is happening you freeze and your brain turns off.

My vomiting move was not genius!

It caused so many problems later . . .

In the moment it caused so much relief; after any time I was over stressed I would just go puke.

Bulimia is not fun!

And it is really hard to work through!

You can publish this.

I have shared my story openly and with many people.

I have become comfortable with letting people know what has happened.

If you do publish it I hope it will help other young women out there.

The story about your son standing up to a bully is hilarious!

It brightened my day.  Thank you for sharing it.


As for my feelings, I feel bad for Bob.

His life is going to suck!

He will probably end up in prison.

He isn't going to get to go to the Temple.

He won't be allowed to have children because he has been permanently labeled as a child sex offender.

And he never gets to see or make contact with me again (that's the saddest one lol)

At least I was able to work with the situation.

Thanks for everything!

-NS




 Dear NS,

Thank you for your email and your permission to publish these.  I think your story will help someone else.

I appreciate that you're able to now look at some of these things with a positive spin; and I'm sorry that you had to endure not just this incident, but the residual things, too.

Thank you for your testimony!

Best,

 - Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

They Guys That Are Asking Her Out Are Just a Little Older Than She'd Like

Hey Bro Jo,

So I was just curious about something and thought maybe you could shed some light.

So I am 19 years old and I live around the Rexburg area.

The thing I'm curious about is I get asked out pretty often but it always is guys who are much older than me.

Since I have finished high school only one guy that was close to my age has asked me on a date and he was 21 so he was still older.  All of the guys who have asked me out besides that have all been over 25.

Now I'm not trying to complain really its nice going out with guys who know what they want and have things with life kind of figured out.

I go on dates pretty often so I'm not worried about that I'm just trying to see how I can widen my dating pool.

I have guys talk to me that are closer to my age and they flirt but never seem to ask me out.

Is there a reason why?

What can I change?

- C




Dear C,

I think you should ask them.

Seriously.

I think you should say to these younger guys "hey, we flirt all the time, how come you never ask me out?"

Of course the truth may be that they're just not as smart as the older guys . . . but the answer the younger guys give may be quite enlightening.

Let me know what they say.

- Bro Jo

PS:  If you're 20, I don't think a guy who's 25 is too old for you.  There is something to be said when a girl who's marrying age is being sought after by guys who are old enough to have things planned and some of life figured out.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Does Telling Guys About Her Future Mission Plans Make Her Undatable?

Dear Bro Jo,

I just had a quick question of advice for you.

So for starters I am a girl and I have decided to serve a mission.

I will turn in my papers in November, but won't leave till at least April when I will finish up one more semester of school.

But I don't necessarily want to stop dating, just in case something might happen between now and then.

I am open for that, if that's what presents itself.

Now, my question, how can I tell guys that I am planning on serving a mission without them then avoiding me like the plague?

As this is how it seems to happen.

They suddenly lose their interest and stop trying once they find out.

Should I just not tell them?

Or is there a way I can say it that will let them know I am open to still date?

Thanks in advance!

- M




Dear M,

I think that, just like I tell the guys, once you send in your papers you should stop dating.  Once that's done, what's the point?

For girls this is a little bit more of a gray area, since boys are commanded to go and for girls we acknowledge that marriage and motherhood is a "higher calling", and it's accepted for a girl to Not Accept a call that's given if while waiting someone has proposed (bet you didn't know that), but I'm kind of on the side of "make a commitment, keep a commitment".

Maybe you should wait a little longer to turn in your papers . . . like, I don't know, February?

Calls now usually arrive just a couple weeks after electronic submission and missionaries are usually reporting 8-14 weeks after receiving the call . . . (there are obviously exceptions to both of those) . . . so if you can't go until April, early next year should be fine.

Look, we really can't blame guys for not wanting to spend time and money wooing a woman who has no intention of marrying any time soon, right?

(Related Tangent:  Sister Jo says that many, many young women scare off lots of potential Serious Single Dates by constantly talking about things they want to delay marriage for; mission, school, being older . . . whatever it may be.  She says that while a girl shouldn't lie or mislead, it's also true that girl - who, let's face it, is often making those announcements to either drive guys away to make herself feel better just in case she doesn't get asked out as much as she thinks she should - may in fact be cheating herself out of a loving eternal marriage for a much longer time than she realizes.  Food for thought.)

With all of that, I think if you do continue dating, honesty is the best policy . . . but there's no need to tell every guy everything that you may ever plan to do, no matter how soon, on the first couple dates.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for your quick response, Bro Jo!

It was perfect. And gives me quite a bit to think about and consider these next few months.

Thanks again.

 - M




Dear M,

Anytime!

Keep us posted whatever you happen to choose, will ya?

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dealing with Rape - Part 2 - Recovering with the Help of the Savior

[Readers,

What follows is Part 2 in a series of posts about a very serious and very sensitive subject.  These emails were sent to me quite a while ago.  Now that enough time has passed it seems appropriate to share them.  I am doing so with the original writer's permission.  She is doing well, and hopes that others in the same situation can learn from this trial she has had to endure.


Rape is a Violent Crime.

If you have been, or suspect you may have been, the victim of rape, regardless of your age, sex, situation, location, or the identity of your attacker, I want you to know that it's not your fault.

It never is.

I plead with you to get help from a trusted relative, authority, friend, crisis center or counselor.  If at first you don't get the help you need, please don't give up trying.

And, most importantly, I want you to know that I know that the Savior Loves You, that you have Value as a Child of God, that you can survive this ordeal, that you can heal and be whole and live a great and wonderful life.

I love you, and I know that Jesus and Heavenly Father do as well.


- Bro Jo]




Dear Bro Jo,


My story made me cry a little too.

But I also feel like I have grown up a lot because of it.

I also feel I have grown closer to my Heavenly Father.

I feel like I would rely on him more to help me through hard things. Instead of just try to do it on my own.

Honestly, yeah I want to hit "Bob" with a truck.

But I really want to hit his dad with a truck.

His dad said "son you are a race horse, she is the finish line. You need to cross the finish line".

Who plants those ideas in their child's head!?

And who helps set it up?

It's sick and wrong!

No, you didn't have the answer a wanted to hear . . .

But I don't know what I want to hear.

I usually don't want to say the Bishop is wrong . . .

But in this case the last thing I needed to hear is that I chose for this to happen to me.

Because I would never *choose* to be hurt like that!

And I would never make anyone else have that same sort of pain.

I have many friends who have similar stories.

It makes me sick.

I'm just grateful I have the gospel in my life to help me with it.

Thank you for always responding so quickly. I love your blog

- Not Satisfied




Dear NS,

Sadly, too many pathetic parents plant seeds like that.

While I have no pity for "Bob", you're right in that no one wakes up one day and says "I'm tired of being a Good Guy, I think I'm going to violently assault and rape a girl today"; something has to lead to the behavior . . . and I'll bet a good look needs to be taken at his father.

Bishops are fallible just like the rest of us, and from what you've told me, I agree that he was totally wrong.

Tough job: Bishop.

No doubt this whole thing freaked him out.

But he was wrong to say what he said; this was not your fault.

When I hear about "many friends having similar stories" I get pretty concerned; I'm a strong advocate of self-defense courses; I think they need to be annual (or semi-annual) activities for Young Women.

I think your vomiting move was genius.

You showed real presence of mind in a very tough situation.

Puking is part of what Sister Jo recommends to girls if they find themselves in similar situations.

Puking and peeing . . .

Seriously.


I'm glad you have the Gospel in your life, too.

I can't think of a better tool for facing such adversity.


I won't ever publish these emails without you’re okay.

I certainly could help some girls, but I think your privacy is important, too.



I can testify to you that time, and the love of the Savior, makes all pain easier to live with.


- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The 90-10 "Who's Getting Asked Out" Rule - A Follow-up

[Dear Readers,

The following is a follow up to "The 90-10 Rule" posted on March 29, 2013.  You can read the original article by clicking HERE.

Enjoy!

- Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

I recently came across a post with an email (about the 90-10 rule) I wrote about awhile ago.

A lot has changed since then, and I feel like maybe the original needs revisiting.

I'm going to start by saying something that I don't think girls in the church are told nearly enough: Being single/ not being asked on dates frequently does NOT mean something is wrong with you.

I know that probably seems obvious to you. But to most teenage and young adult women, it's a real issue.

Not being asked on dates seriously affects our self esteem, especially if we see other girls who are being asked on dates. And part of it has to do with how much pressure the LDS community puts on YSAs to get married.

Don't get me wrong, marriage is important, and it does need to be stressed . . .

But Satan has a way of twisting that message into "Good LDS girls get married, and if you're not getting married, something is wrong with you."

When I read letters on your site where girls are complaining about not being asked out, I can almost always feel insecurity behind the annoyance or desperation that's on the surface.

Looking back at my letter, I know I was insecure.

I assumed that I wasn't getting asked out because there was something wrong with me.

Not just that I was doing something wrong, because I really was trying my hardest, but that there was something inherently wrong with me.

Of course there are things girls can do to make themselves more datable. I was doing and have continued doing those things.

I am social, I take good care of myself, I invest time in improving myself spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.

I was not being lazy or idly waiting (despite my poorly chosen pen name).

Anyway, my point is that sometimes you do everything you can and you still don't get as much attention as you'd like from boys.

Sometimes you just have to get to a point where you say "I've done everything I can and that's good enough".

Then you trust God and know that if you've done your part He'll do His.

I do go on a lot more dates now than I did, even if most of them are set up.

None of them have really gone anywhere, but that's OK because I don't need dates or a boyfriend to build my self esteem on anymore.

Sure it's still frustrating sometimes.

All my married friends ask why I'm still single.

I want to move away from the BYU bubble when I graduate next year, but don't feel like I can because I want to stay in an environment where there LDS guys to date.

I get tired of my family placing bets on how long it will take me to get married.

And sometimes being single is just kinda lonely.

But it's OK.

It works out.

I'm happy with who I am, and I'm willing to wait to find somebody who's happy with me too.

I hope girls everywhere can come to peace with their dating lives and learn to find validation somewhere besides their love lives.

Sincerely,

- Happy to be Me




Dear Happy,

Good for you!

And I agree with everything you've said.

Wishing you much joy and happiness,

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 7, 2013

How Do You Ask a Girl to Dress Modestly?

Hey Bro Jo,

First off, let me just say I'm a huge fan of yours.

Your straight-up advice has helped me tremendously as a battle my teenage years.

I live in (location withheld). We don't have the greatest abundance of Mormons, but at least a fair-size stake.

What I'm getting at is that I don't exclusively date members of the Church, and have been known to take out friends from school, work, etc. I don't have a particular situation or happenstance I need advise on, but I do have a question.

Because I date a lot of nonmembers, modesty often is not observed by some of the girls I take out. I've been caught in numerous awkward situations when I'd pick a girl up and they're not necessarily modest (nothing drastic, mind you; I do pick who I date wisely). My question is if there's a way to non-awkwardly communicate to the girls I date that I would be much more comfortable if they dressed modestly.

I've had my fair share of hinting, but I've also been blatant. I took a nonmember to Mormon Prom, and I strait up told her that she needed to find a dress with sleeves.

But as far as more casual circumstances, I'm not sure what the most tactful approach would be.

If you have any advice, I'd really appreciate it!

Signed,

Shooting for Tact




Dear Shooter,

Thanks for the kind words. I think it's great at your age to include non-Mormons in your Casual Group Dating. All four of the Jo Boys who have been where you are have said that some of their best dates were with non-LDS girls and some of their best dating buddies were non-LDS guys.

Some day, perhaps, we'll have to discuss why . . .

Getting girls to dress modestly is a very sensitive subject, to be sure.

For non-members AND members alike. (Let's be honest here, it's not like every LDS girl you know is the Princess of Modesty all the time, either, right? I've taught seminary, and I've traveled around a bit . . . and I've been to high schools . . . and middle schools . . . I know what goes on and what gets worn . . . or Not Worn, as the case may be.)

1. You don't want to embarrass her or (yourself), so you need to figure out a way to say something that doesn't come across like you're staring somewhere that isn't her eyes or thinking things that, while natural to think, aren't to be entertained in the minds of priesthood holders

2. You don't want to be seen as a judgmental self-righteous jerk

3. You still want her to go out with you and have fun. And those are tough things to do. My first piece of advice is to Be Understanding. Not everyone is going to have the same standards you do, and making them feel "unworthy" to be your date is not the way we love people into the Gospel or encourage them to follow the prophets.

It's entirely possible that when she put on the immodest item of clothing that she:

A) was trying to look nice for her date with you

B) didn't understand how revealing it is (much to my continued shock and horror, Sister Jo assures me that while many girls - and women - know full well how revealing their clothing is, many still have no clue as to just why they're getting the attention we men are giving them); and

C) doesn't have parents that have any clue as to why what she's wearing is a bad choice (again, much to my consternation as before, Sister Jo tells me that there many parents out there who are clueless, or worse, enjoy the fact that men and boys ogle the "sexiness" of their daughter - twisted, I know, but true)

So you need to draw a line and be careful what you say.

This is not a girl you're interviewing for a Temple Recommend, so ease up a bit and allow her to exercise her own discretion and agency.

We guys have a responsibility to keep our hormones in check.

Her choice to be sexually enticing does not excuse our thoughts.

My own feeling is, roughly speaking, if she's pushing one or two of the modesty rules, let it go and govern your thoughts and eyes.

If she, however, looks like a lingerie model, then yes, say something.

I can hear you asking, so I differ to "For the Strength of Youth" if you have questions about what's modest and what's not. As it says:
Immodest clothing is any clothing that is tight, sheer, or revealing in any other manner. Young women should avoid short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders or is low-cut in the front or the back. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance. Young men and young women should be neat and clean and avoid being extreme or inappropriately casual in clothing, hairstyle, and behavior. They should choose appropriately modest apparel when participating in sports. The fashions of the world will change, but the Lord’s standards will not change.

(I think the whole section needs to be re-read more often,)

As for what to say when you're in that situation where you show up to pick up your date and she's . . . crossed the line by showing too much, I offer these things that the Jo Boys suggested:

"Wow, you look great! Would you mind wearing something, like a sweater, as well? I intend to show you total respect tonight and, I've got to be honest, that top is going to make it difficult for me to keep remembering that you and I are good kids"

"I know this is going to sound awkward, and I don't mean to make you uncomfortable, but could you please cover up just a little bit more?"

"You know, you're so pretty you don't need to show off that much . . . of you. We have time, why don't you go change into something less revealing."

"Hey, you know it's going to get a little colder tonight; I think you should grab a jacket"

"Wow, you clean up great! Can I ask you to put a little more clothing on, please, so I can focus on my driving?"

And, this is very important: when she's changed into something else more modest, no matter what she looks like, be thankful and complimentary! I recommend "my gosh, you are a beautiful girl!"

When I post this, I'll ask our readers on both the blog page and the Facebook page to mention what they've said, what they've heard, and what they've been asked that has worked. I'm sure we'll get some great input!

Now, I need to tell you that Sister Jo's perspective is that you should have anticipated what type of girl she was and how she might dress before you asked her out.  If there was a serious concern then you should have asked out someone else.  She doesn't see how you're going to say anything without sounding like a heel, and thinks you should just deal with it.  You asked her out, you owe her a date, and if you're dressed modestly and planned an appropriate activity,  and told her what you're going to be doing (very important), than she may even ask if she should change when she sees what you're wearing.  If you're out for a short time and realize that you just don't have the self-control or maturity, then apologize and take her home, being polite the whole way.

Besides, she says, it's supposed to be a Casual Group Date, so how much trouble could you be tempted to get in if you're following The Rules?  (Guys go together to pick up and drop off the girls, two couples or more, stuff like that.)  She suspects that your problem is one, if not all of, these three things:

1.  You're being too much of a judgmental self-righteous weenie

2.  You're asking out girls you shouldn't

3.  You're not following the Dating Rules to begin with.

Now, she doesn't know you (neither do I), so don't take any of that personally.  If it stings, it's because she's right, and if she's wrong (which is rare) then it doesn't matter.  And while Sister Jo and I don't entirely agree on all of that - I can see situations where a guy asks out a nice girl and then is surprised at how little she's wearing when he picks her up- it should be noted that she's much smarter than I am, and we could both benefit from listening to her.

She says that while she never had a guy comment to her that what she was wearing was inappropriate, in a date situation if he said something to her she'd be embarrassed and horrified.

So . . . see?  Very difficult line.

I probably didn't do a very good job explaining to her that your question was hypothetical . . .

And she also makes a very good point that it's not just girls that have problems with modesty.


Good luck!


Thanks for the email!

I'll post the concept on the Facebook Page today.  It will be interesting to see what our readers there and the comments here have to say about this one.


Best,

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dealing with Rape - Part 1 - What Happened, and What Now?

[Readers,

What follows is the first in a series of posts about a very serious and very sensitive subject.  These emails were sent to me quite a while ago.  Now that enough time has passed it seems appropriate to share them.  I am doing so with the original writer's permission.  She is doing well, and hopes that others in the same situation can learn from this trial she has had to endure.


Rape is a Violent Crime.

If you have been, or suspect you may have been, the victim of rape, regardless of your age, sex, situation, location, or the identity of your attacker, I want you to know that it's not your fault.

It never is.

I plead with you to get help from a trusted relative, authority, friend, crisis center or counselor.  If at first you don't get the help you need, please don't give up trying.

And, most importantly, I want you to know that I know that the Savior Loves You, that you have Value as a Child of God, that you can survive this ordeal, that you can heal and be whole and live a great and wonderful life.

I love you, and I know that Jesus and Heavenly Father do as well.


- Bro Jo]





Dear Bro Jo,

I have been reading your blog for a long time now, and I have written before. And I have been thinking about writing this letter for a long time. I just haven't known how to start it.

Or really what to say.

So I will start with my story.

A couple summers ago I went to spend some time my aunt and uncle who live out of state. The plan was to spend a week at their house, go on trek with their stake. Then spend 5 more days with them and after go spend 3 days with my friends family who lived about 3 hours from my uncle and aunt's house.

So before trek I got to meet some other people who would be going with us. Then trek came around and I met tons of other people.

One man, I like to call him Bad Daddy, saw me playing with snakes in a field one day so he started talking to me. I found out he was close friends with my uncle and he had a son who was just a year or two older than me.

He and my uncle made plans for both families to go to dinner so I could meet his son.

His son, I will call him Bob. (I can't think of a creative nickname for him.) Bob was kinda quiet and weird at first but after dinner we went to a rodeo and I entirely forgot my first impression of him. I thought he just needed time to warm up.

At the rodeo he ended up running off with his other friends.

My uncle's family decided to leave early. And that was the last I saw of Bob.

The next day my aunt got a text from Bob's mom asking if Bob could have my number. She said he didn't have time to get it ‘cause we left early.

I said yes.

He got my number and we started texting. We texted for the next few days.

Then it was time for me to go to my friend’s house.

My cousins had something to go to that afternoon and my friend had work. So the plan was for my aunt to drop me off at my friend's work and I would just hang out there for 10 hours until she got off.

But Bob's family was at their beach house for the weekend and it was only 10 mins from where my friend worked so I decided I would hang out there until my friend could pick me up.

Bob had his friend, his friend’s girlfriend, and the girlfriend's best friend at the house. Three girls, two boys.  Safe uneven number.  And we decided to go watch a movie in their theater room.

During the movie Bob's parents left. They said they were just going to pick up hot dogs and stuff to make s'mores, so we could have a bonfire on the beach later that night.  Fun!

During the movie the girlfriend’s friend had to go home. So Bob's friend and his gf went upstairs to say goodbye . . . and they never came back down.

Bob and I ended up in the room alone.

He locked the door and started to hit me.

He knocked me out and while I was unconscious he started to undress me.

He raped me and when I woke up he did it again.

I finally forced myself to throw up.

He let me out and I called my friend.

I couldn't tell her what happened, I just said she needed to get off work and pick me up.

Her brother was able to get off and he came to get me.  I didn't remember anything that happened over the next week or 2 until I had been home for a while.

After all that Bob sent me death threats on a regular basis. He would call and leave voicemails or he would text me or email me.

He would say he was going to do it again then drown me.

He said I would only be safe if I never ever told anyone.

After 9 months of torturing myself with the "what if's" and everything else, I had a night where my head was clear.

I realized I didn't want to be depressed anymore, and I could tell someone what was going on, there was no way Bob was going to be able to get to me. He lived 5 states away!

So I told one of my mother's friends.

I knew she had a daughter that had been abused too. And she was like a second mother to me.

She told my parents.

My parents got a hold of law enforcement and we started talking to my Bishop, and my parents got me into therapy.

I don't really know what happened to Bob.

I know he isn't locked up in jail, but I also don't know what happened to him Church-wise.

It isn't my place.

All I know is he doesn't call, text, or email anymore.

As for me . . . I have worked through almost everything.

I still have some bad days where you can see the shadows of that depressed child I once was.

But I have great friends who know what's going on and they are patient with me and try to help in any way they can.

Now that you have the story I really only have one question. And I'm not really satisfied with the answer my Bishop, therapist, and parents gave me.

The question is, "Why is someone able to put another person through the kind of pain that I was put through?"

My Bishop just said it wouldn't happen if we didn't let it happen.

My therapist said it is because some people are A-holes.

And my parents just said "agency".

Help?


- Not Satisfied




Dear Little Sister,

Your email made me cry a little.

Not because I wish you hadn't written; I'm glad you did; but because it hurts when those I care about hurt. 

Still, I'd rather know than have you feel like you couldn't or shouldn't tell me.

I wish you hadn't had to go through what you did; I'm glad you're safe, and proud of both your courage and the way you handled yourself both during and after.

As I've read and reread your email I've been filled with the desire to hit "Bob" repeatedly . . . perhaps with my van.  Not that it would make you or I feel better, but because he deserves it. I know that doesn't sound very "Christ-like" (and it certainly isn't the right thing to do) . . .

I'm comforted that the Lord will see justice done; if not in this life, than the next. 

Probably both.

As for your question . . . the truth is . . . I don't know.

I'm not sure about what your Bishop said . . . I may be viewing that out of context, but it sounds to me like he's struggling to deal with the same question you are; perhaps he's afraid that what happened to you could happen to someone else very close to him . . . perhaps he's being very naive; and there's always the possibility that, despite being a Bishop, he's still an imperfect person and doesn't know how to handle what you've shared (which I understand, but don't excuse) - no one "deserves" to be raped.

Ever.

No one "let's" it happen.  That perspective is, to my mind, totally unacceptable.

But maybe we just misunderstood what he meant . . .


I think your therapist is right.


And I think your parents are right.


Sister Jo would say that whatever happens here, in this life, though we often don't understand why, happens because we're supposed to learn and grow from it.

Even the bad stuff.

Bad Things happen to Good People. I wish they didn't. But they do.

Usually even the bad stuff eventually works out okay.

I do know this: whatever happens, no matter how bad it is, we're always loved by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

I'm sorry if that's not the answer you're looking for.

I know that time heals, but that some pains linger a very long time.

And I know that you're not alone.

I've gotten more letters like yours than you might imagine . . . At any given point there's quite a few guys on my list of "people I need to punch in the face" . . . I'm so, so, so sorry for your pain.


Perhaps if I could offer just one more thing:  knowing this doesn't change how highly I think of you; you're a great girl, and some day some man is going to be smart enough and lucky enough to marry you.


My hope is that he's good enough to deserve you.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Kissing History

[Dear Readers,

Over the years I've gotten emails, comments, and other input that is . . . well, let's just say it's from people who aren't big fans of your's truly!

Can't say that I blame them.  As you all know, I can rub people the wrong way.  Lots of different reasons that happens, of course.  I just accept that as part of what I do here and part of who I am.  And, let's face it, I sometimes give some pretty blunt answers to some pretty personal things.

Sometimes I worry about it . . . how people feel . . . some times not.

I honestly don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings, but I care too much about my readers and young people to sugarcoat everything.  The thing is, when you share honest feelings and opinions, even if people have asked for them and for you to be honest, if they don't like what they read or hear they can lash out.

So some people are cruel, personally attack, are critical or argumentative.  Sometimes I let it go . . . and sometimes I don't.

Today's post is from a reader who was openly very critical of me and some things I had posted.  She took strong exception to a poll I ran once where I asked why people thought some LDS Guys aren't married before a certain age.

In this instance I reached out and tried to build a bridge.  I thought we might find that, despite our differences of opinion we actually shared some common ground . . . at least on some subjects.

I invited her to share her story with me.  And she obliged.  It follows.

I should mention that since then, while I wouldn't say I'm her favorite person in the world, and we certainly don't agree on everything, I think we do see eye-to-eye more than we did at first, and there's more understanding and mutual appreciation than there once was.

And I'm glad about that.

Hope you enjoy the post!

God bless,

- Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

Here is my story.


When I was in middle school I was pretty boy crazy. I can admit that now, even though I wouldn't at the time.

But middle school was a rough time for me.

In seventh grade I was bullied / harassed by a couple of girls at school over a period of many months.

I took a huge blow to my self-esteem.


In eighth grade I slipped into pretty severe depression.

You don't need to know much about that except that it had a huge affect on my life for years, even when I was out of the thick of it.


By the middle of my freshman year I was starting to learn to love myself again, but I felt a huge need to be loved by others to feel of worth.

I still could not rely on my own love, because quite often I found me disliking myself.


As soon as I turned sixteen, I started pairing off.

There were two big factors that led to this:

First, in the area I grew up, if two people liked each other, they paired off.  Sometimes it wasn't even by choice, but other people would stop trying to date either of them, and so pairing just happened.

Second, having a steady boyfriend meant always having someone who loved (or at least liked) me.

It meant always having someone to take you to the movies or the big dance.

I really liked my dating style even though my parents and Church leaders disagreed.

I kissed each boyfriend that I had (which nearly accounts for the nine).

A brief history / summary of them:

Boy #1: March to June (nonmember)

Boy #2:  a short-lived summer fling (nonmember. this one didn't last long, because I decided his standards were too low - good for me!)

Boy #3:  August to June (11 months minus one day - a really good decision to date him. his mom and I are still friends. He just left on a mission.)

Boy #4:  July-ish and some of August . . . I think. (nonmember. we were never actually a couple. he was probably my biggest bad decision. He liked kissing way too much and I didn't like that.)

Boy #5:  That summer I also went on dates with Boy #5, and by August I realized he was the one I wanted to keep in my life, not Boy #4.  September to April.  My best decision ever. He left on his mission that April. I write him often. He is 1 year my senior. His sister is my best friend; she is one year my junior. I practically lived at their house that year (but never slept over). I am not waiting for him, but I sure wouldn't mind if things work out when he gets back (8 and a half months!!).

I wrote a personal narrative about my relationship with Boy #5 for a class a few months back. I will attach it (keep in mind that it needs some revising. I sent it to him and he sent back corrections, details, and his own memories; I haven't had a chance to add them in satisfactorily yet).


Boy #6:  After I graduated there was an new boy.  July.  Nonmember. the summer after Boy #5 left and I graduated.  He and I were the only two in my group of friends who were still in town. We decided to date out of convenience. He's my neighbor and there really was no one else around to spend time with. Sometimes I regret dating him, because looking back, I don't think I really liked him all that much, I just disliked being single.

Then I came to BYU determined to remain single, but go on lots of Casual Dates. I was successful for a whole semester.

Then there was a semester I was chased by this guy who was head over heels for me.

I was uninterested.

However, when I went back to school after Christmas break I got a really strong prompting to give him a chance.

I was really confused about why I was getting the prompting when the Lord and I had talked about me not dating anyone my freshman year. I prayed really hard about it for several days and finally accepted the prompting and let Boy #7  into my life.

Boy #7:  While the relationship did not last, the blessing we both received from being together did last. When we started dating he was not worthy to serve a mission. I didn't know this or I might not have dated him, but I was unknowingly his motivation to get his life back together and put his papers in.

I learned a ton from our relationship.

He also recently got me in contact with a girl struggling with the same depression issues I got over and I have been able to help her begin to piece her life back together (this is a really good story and I feel like a modern miracle, but too off topic to tell here).

Our break up was really easy:  I simply stayed at BYU and he went home for the summer. He will leave on his mission soon. So even though I was reluctant at first, this was one relationship I really don't regret.

I have learned to enjoy being single while I wait to find the right guy and get to the right maturity level to be married.


I had a NCMO with a guy - big mistake, decided not to do that again (Boy #8).


I also had a relationship with a guy (Boy # 9) for about a week (and after a few dates), but I got a really strong prompting that pairing off wasn't what I was supposed to be doing with my life right now.

I told him, and we broke things off, but remain friends.

I guess a week isn't quite long enough to ruin a friendship in this case.


So here I am single and happy.


FYI, I emailed about your poll before I dated Boy #9. At the time I was pretty angry about dating life at BYU but I was spending a lot of time with a guy who has been really faithful at following promptings, especially about girls and relationships, and who really wants to find the right person and get married, but still has not found an eternal companion at age 29 - probably why the poll answers didn't sit well with me. I felt like it was God's fault he wasn't married yet.

Now I just know it's not my place to make judgements about why anyone isn't married yet.


Feel free to give feedback or ask questions.

I would love to provide more details about any of these.

Also, in writing this to you I have been able to reflect and realized a few things.


When I started dating Boy #5 I was following very subtle promptings, but I am quite sure they were from Heavenly Father because they couldn't have just been my good ideas.

With the exception of Boy #6, I have continued to follow promptings about relationships since that time. This is something I asked Heavenly Father to help me with when Boy #5 left and again when I came to BYU.

Boy #6 obviously was me getting back into old habits instead of really trying to follow the Lord.

(Also, Boy #8 was not a relationship, so he doesn't count in this realization.)

Heavenly Father really does know what is best for each individual, and following individual promptings is better than reading a relationship advice column.

Prayers and questions can, however, be answered through the mouth of another person ("it is often through another that He meets our needs" - I want to say Boyd K Packer, but I am not certain).

I am quite sure that you have sometimes been an answer to some youth's prayer, whether they asked in their heart or out loud.


- Kissed Every Boyfriend




Dear K,

That's quite the history.

So . . . now that I've got the back ground, what do you want to talk about?

I don't know that I'd personally say that you "kissed too many guys"; there are a few I imagine you regret, and you probably should, but that certainly doesn't make you alone in the universe.

Heck, Little Sister, I dated 65 different girls from the time I was 15 until I started dating Sister Jo.

Okay. 63. Number 65 was during the one week when Sister Jo and I broke up, and Sister Jo is number 64. 

And number 66 I suppose.

I get accused of being "judgmental" all the time; I'm certainly opinionated, but I'm not as judgmental as people say.

Those that claim that are really operating from the standpoint of not liking something I said (isn't THAT judgmental???) but, despite the jokes and lashing out, I really like just about everybody.

I have a much more diverse group of friends than I think anyone would guess. The point is, I'm not going to sit here and tell you I think you're a bad person for any reason, and certainly not because you kissed a few guys.

One thing I'd like to get your feedback on is why do you think girls (could be so with guys too, but I notice it much more in girls) feel the need to gain external validation in the form of relationships?

What is it that we're teaching or not teaching our Young Women that has so many of them thinking that they need to have a boyfriend to prove that their beautiful, talented, and valuable?

And where is that coming from? Media? Their parents? Guys? Other girls?

This is not just a Church thing, either. You've learned a lot at a young age, but I get lots of emails from girls, 13-30, that are convinced that their worth is tied to whether or not a man (and all too often ANY man) is in their life.

This concerns me because I believe so strongly that the value of every person comes from God, not from each other, and because of the things it seems some girls are willing to do to get and keep a boyfriend, and (perhaps most importantly to me) because I have two daughters.

Your thoughts?

Oh, and thank you for the kind words, too.

Both here and elsewhere.

I just read one of those "Bro Jo's a blankety-blank" pages . . . Sister Jo is right, I think, when she tells me I shouldn't bother.

But your email was a nice re-focus.

Cheers,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I've been thinking a lot about your question: Why do you think girls feel the need to gain external validation in the form of relationships?

I wanted to give you a good answer and I still haven't figured it out fully, but I think there are several factors. 

One thing I thought of first is how we are taught from the time we are in primary that family is important, and as we enter young women's we are taught to prepare for eternal marriage.

We are taught that we need a celestial marriage in order to be exalted.

And so girls feel a pressure to work for that companionship, which creates a stronger desire to be in a relationship as soon as possible.


Another thing that influences girls' desires for a boyfriend is definitely other girls.

Right now I have 3 roommates. Two of them are in serious, steady relationships, and the other is in an open relationship.

I'm the only single one.


At first it was super hard, because I felt awkward and alone.

However, I'm really starting to enjoy my station in life (who knew being single could be fun?? And like I said, 2 jobs and school - I've got no time for a man!).

Pressure can come indirectly, like that, or it can come directly.


For example, when I was a freshman in high school (15ish?), I had a crush on a guy.

My friends (non-members and members) knew it, and they encouraged me to act on my feelings. His friends (especially other female friends) also pressured me to give in and start dating him. 


Finally, I think low self-image has a lot to do with it.

When you don't really love yourself - whether it's body image or internal characteristics - it feels so good to see that it is possible to be loved.

It feels so good to have a guy tell you you're pretty and that you have worth, especially when you don't really believe it, because the more he says it, the more you do start believing him. (Which makes the break up that much more painful.)

And it doesn't feel the same coming from parents or friends.

Parents tell you that you have worth because they have to, they're your parents.

Other girls tell you you're pretty or awesome, but half the time you know they're giving you empty compliments or flat out lying that they like your outfit, whether it's because they pity you or are just rude, or whatever.

So those types of compliments lose meaning, until the only ones you will listen to are the compliments you get from the guys.

It's true that worth comes from God, but some girls have a hard time seeing it.

- K




Dear K,

I think you're on the right track with reasons #2 & #3.

But reason #1 misses one point, I think: namely that girls OUTSIDE of the Church feel this way, too.

I find the complaint that the Church and her members push marriage and family on the youth a bit too trite and sweeping.

Sure, when you're raised in an atmosphere that promotes Eternal Marriages and Happy Families, there's a certain bias, hope, and leaning; but this stuff is not LDS exclusive.

And, to be sure, even kids who come from completely non-religious backgrounds find themselves seeking validation in too-early and too-physical relationships.

So a big part of what we try to do here is to help, as you say, girls understand that their value and worth comes from God, not from boys.

Or men. And I don't think you should so quickly dismiss the words of your parents.

There are TONS of people who have parents that don't see or comment on the great worth of their children.
Those parent's aren't present, aren't supportive, and aren't helping.

To have parents that know your worth, and who work hard to help you see it, feel it, and know it, is a sign that you're a lucky person, blessed with parents who love and care about you.

They may not be perfect . . . heck, of course they're not.

But it's no easy job, you know.

Great to hear from you; keep working hard on your studies and in life.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

By the way, just shared your "guide to kissing" with my little brother (he's 17).

I really like the way you have it organized.

And I really really agree with it.

- K




Dear K,

Thank you, very kind.

- Bro Jo