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.)

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Marriage, Mission, and Messing Around - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello again!

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

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

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

So, thank you for the counsel in that regard.

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

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

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

This frustrated him greatly, and he started asking why.

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

I stuck to my guns, though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So we did.

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

Something more along those lines.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again, thank you,

- NW

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

I guess I just needed to vent a little bit.




Dear NW,

Good to hear from you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Marriage, Mission and Messing Around - Part 1

[Dear Readers,

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

Part 1 today.  Part 2 on Friday.

- Bro Jo]





Hello Bro Jo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now where to start?

With the basics, I suppose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus we took our relationship to the next level.

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

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

This confused me for many reasons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is where I wish I had been smarter.

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

But nonetheless, we made the choices that we did.

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

On top of each other.

Quite sexually aroused.

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

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

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

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

We continued to be alone together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are my questions:

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

Those are my main questions.

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

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

Please do that with me.

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

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

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

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

To your questions:

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

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

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

Talk to your Bishop.

You'll feel better when you do. 

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

Don't badger him about it.

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

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

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

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

His response will let answer many questions.

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

Good luck.

Let me know how your conversations go.

And, please, feel free to email any time.

- Bro Jo

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

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


Monday, November 25, 2013

About a Musical Number

Dear Bro Jo,

This is a bit off of what you usually answer questions about but I'm a bit desperate I've been asked to play a musical number next week in Sacrament meeting by my ward's musical coordinator or whatever their calling is technically called.

I don't know where to find some sheet music to play and it needs to have some parts for singers. At least 1 boy and girl singing while I'll be accompanying.

If you know any good places to get some sacrament meeting appropriate music please could you let me know and thanks in advance.

Just names of pieces would be great seeing as I could Google names or anything like it.

Also pointers for how to persuade some of my friends to do this would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

- L




Dear L,

Well THAT'S one of the more unique questions I've ever gotten!

The Ward Music Coordinator (or "Chairman"; although sometimes this falls on the "Choir President") is typically the resource for the type of music you're looking for (the person who asked you may indeed hold that calling).

They should have arrangements, parts, and sources for ordering stuff that you want but don't have.

If they're clueless you could also check with your Stake Music Coordinator.

Another resource is your Ward or Stake Library, which is where that type of stuff is supposed to be kept. 

You can also check with your Ward Choir Director and their Stake counterpart.

As for me, I'm a Hymn Book guy. I don't think anything should be presented in a Sacrament meeting that's not in the Hymn Book. That's pretty old school, and not necessarily a "handbook rule", I know, but I hate it when stuff that's too pop or recital-like is presented. Takes away from the sacredness of the meeting for me. 

That said, our Ward Choir sang an arrangement of "My Country "Tis of Thee" yesterday that was really pretty.  A song from the Hymn Book but arranged differently, and I thought that was a good choice.

As for your friends, either ask a small group of people who are really good and willing to practice or ask everyone and have a good time.

If you ask your friends for their help, I'm sure they'll be willing.

Like dating (see the tie in?) if you have a plan it will go much smoother.

Have fun!

Let me know what you pick and how it works out,

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 22, 2013

Asking for Some Words of Wisdom

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm not really one for words, so I'm just going to have at it.

Last year was a really hard year for me at school.

Schoolwork was hard, I drifted from several friend groups, and spent many Friday nights alone in my room. (I was 16/17, a junior in high school).

I eventually tried marijuana and did it twice.

I hated the feeling and regret it more than ever.

I've talked to my Bishop before about something else and I truly hated it.

My question is, do I *have* to go in and talk to him about this?

I've been praying about this, and I don't know whether I have to or not.

I'd really prefer to not have to go in and know my Bishop's worried about me and all that stuff.

I keep apologizing through prayer.

A few weeks ago in YW we had a lesson about how not every sin needs to be brought to the Bishop.

Bro Jo, I'm doing a lot better.

I've found a group of fun Mormon girls at girls camp that I've started to hang out with. I don't even talk to the "bad" group I used to hang out with.

What are your feelings on the subject?

Signed,

- Consciously Confused 




Dear Consciously,

Anything that places one's Temple Worthiness in jeopardy requires a conversation with the Bishop.

And if you're ever not sure, it's better to error on the "talk to him" side of things.

Smoking MJ is a violation of the Word of Wisdom. In Temple Recommend Interviews we're asked "do you keep the word of wisdom".

So guess what?

I'm glad you've found some good friends!

Now go talk to your Bishop.

And don't wait for your next semi-annual interview, either.

I know you didn't "enjoy" the last time, but repentance doesn't start out fun.

And I understand that you wish people wouldn't care about you so much . . . but we do.

So go talk to your Bishop.

You'll be glad you did.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

She's 21, Fallen for a Missionary, and He Likes Her, Too; What Now?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm 21 years old and about month ago I met a new missionary at my Church, we quickly bonded (and I quickly developed a crush on him).

Even though I am 21; I won't deny that this could be a simple school girl crush that I could get over with time.

I've been a member of the Church for almost 5 years, so I know how important serving a mission is (I even thought about serving myself).

Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES do I want to distract him (even though some would say I already am) or compromise anything for him.  However I aware of my own feelings and wanted to know how to handle them. I am not 100% clear with the missionary rules, but if I text them (him) to say I had or am having a rough day HE calls(or text backs) to check on me.

He recommends songs for me to listen to (usually a love song), in Sunday school he sits next to me (if someone else isn't sitting there already) instead of his companion, and all sorts of other little things.

If I'm not mistaken almost all (if not all) of this is against the rules, so I try to keep myself/emotions in check.

But it is really difficult, there hasn't been anyone other man at the Church (or in my life) that I felt this close to (and like he could be a suitable spouse in the future) and I sometimes feel like he could has some feelings for me as well (I know this is bad because he's on his mission).

Recently we both have been pulling back; little to no texting/phone calls, I only talk to him at Church or at meetings with my whole family, we rarely sit together (because its a big distraction for us both because all we do is whisper and play around), and he hasn't recommended any new (love) songs for me to listen to.

I know this could all be signs that he's not interested (I hope it isn't).

I have no intention on pursuing anything with this missionary while he's on his mission, but I wanted to know if it would be silly to try after his mission is over?

I read on you blog before you told a girl she shouldn't, but she was 14 (and would be 16 when his mission was over) and he was 19 (and would be 21 when his mission was over).

I am young but not a kid and I am actually willing to wait . . .I just want to know what you think all about this?

Is it possible he could like me?  (Don't worry either answer won't encourage me.)

Is it foolish to think about waiting?

What else can I do to keep from distracting him from his mission?

- Name Withheld





Dear NW,

You've already crossed a line, and you need to get back on the other side.  No texting, no calling, no sitting together.  Ever.  For any reason.

When he gets transferred to another area (which I think needs to happen now) you are not allowed to write him.

If he writes you it needs to be reported to his Mission President.

He has your address.  If he's truly interested then he can try to contact you after the mission.

But it would be foolish of you to hold your breath.

Yes, missionaries have gone back to areas after they've been released and married girls that they met while serving.

It's rare.

And, to be honest, it weirds me out.

It's actually much more common that when he goes back to date the girl they both realize the "relationship" is much different than they thought.  I think that's because it was previously based on nothing more than him being a lonely (or horny) missionary and her being in love with the "mission version" of this guy. Because, let's face it, without being able to date you're not getting to know the real people.

You're already a distraction.

And a problem.

Talk to your Bishop and let him know what's going on.

He should talk to his mission president. Not because either of you have committed a "major" transgression or are bad people, but because they can each help you cope.

If it's meant to be, it will happen.

But again, I wouldn't hold off dating other guys if I were you.

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 18, 2013

When Your Daughter Picks a Bad Boyfriend

Aloha, Bro Jo!

I'd love to know your thoughts on avoiding a Romeo & Juliet situation; our dear 16-year old daughter now has a (bleah! do I have to say it?) "boyfriend" and "relationship."

Which, honestly, scares the unholy everything out of her father and me.

This New Guy has a number of highly undesirable characteristics. He's a 20-year-old BYU student.

He's absolutely not going on a mission. (Though he does attend Church, uphold standards, and is endowed--he's not completely horrible, or she would probably not be interested in him at all.) I don't know if it's bad or good, but New Guy is super-intelligent.

Good, I guess, in that it's good to be brainy and he's doing well in an exceptionally competitive major.

Bad because the smarter your adversary the harder it is to outwit him.

Also in the good-and-bad-at-the-same-time category is that he has a great job (a full-time internship in his field) therefore plenty of $ to spend dazzling our dear daughter.

Ugh.

The biggest scary one in the "things that make me go HUH???" category is that he and she have talked about getting married.

Actually, they talk about it quite a lot.

I would like to shout at her "YOU IDIOT!

You are sixteen years old! Are you kidding me?"

But of course that's unlikely to change her mindset.

So I keep working on pointing out the logistical difficulties of getting married as soon as she graduates from high school (which is what they're talking about doing) and/or having a long engagement making it increasingly unlikely that they'll be temple worthy, and/or being engaged and missing out on all the fun and play while she's still in school, and/or...every other downside I can possibly come up with.

My husband and I would like to simply forbid all contact with him, but that's not going to work.

She and he are smart enough and have the resources to figure out how to get together in spite of anything we say or do.

So my question is this: how would you advise us to make this relationship inconvenient and unpleasant enough that it will simply disappear?

Do you think there's a way to discourage them without having a rebound Romeo & Juliet effect?

Or is it best to just try to keep her talking to me and hope she will be able to figure out how insanely stupid this is before it's too late.

- Concerned Mom




Dear Mom,

Your Romeo & Juliet analogy is very apropos.

As you know, I'm "against" the whole Boyfriend-Girlfriend Thing until someone is old enough (i.e: marrying age) for it to matter . . . for all the reasons you mentioned, as well as all of the other ones we all know.

The problem is that once a child decides to be in "a relationship" a cautious parent can feel very stuck; you're afraid that any effort you make to separate them will only serve to drive a wedge between you and your child.

It's much worse than when your son or daughter picks a bad-influence new friend because the "relationship" comes with all of the hormones and emotions.

You don't want to drive her into his arms, and you don't want her to stop including you in what's going on in her life . . . so you back off and pray that everything works out okay.

That's a sound strategy, even if a Very Difficult One.

However, that's not to say that you do nothing . . .

And in this particular situation you have many, many tools at your disposal.


Let me elaborate:

1. Even though he's 20, she's only 16 and that means that you're still responsible, still calling the shots, and still establishing rules.

That means no hanging out, all dates must be Casual Group Dates, and she needs go out on dates with someone else every other date.

She's your minor child, and those are the rules. If she can't abide by the rules, then the consequences (previously laid out) come into play. She can certainly be grounded, and that may mean she doesn't leave the house for any kind of social event, including dates.


2. Even though she (and her creeper boyfriend - more on that later) thinks she's in an "adult relationship", she's not an adult, so she's expected to do all of that typical teen stuff.

That includes Prom, Homecoming, and Young Women's.

I'm sure there's a line of guys wanting to take her to the Prom, and Boyfriend or No if a Good Guy asks her, she needs to go.

No self-respecting 20-year old is going to go to the High School dance, and any opportunity we have to point out to the both of them how inappropriate their age difference is (and it really is), the better.

We don't say anything, we just provide ways that they'll discover it.


3. Talk to his Bishop.

No joke.

Look, I don't know how any 20-year old guy in the Church who's NOT going on a Mission has a Temple Recommend; the Church is big, so there's bound to be leadership that are Out Of Their Minds when it comes to some of the things they do, but I'll tell you this: the rule is (as in, it's in the book and covered in Stake President level Leadership Training) that Temple Recommends don't come with age, they come with a purpose, like a mission or marriage or a calling.

So even if you've actually seen this genius's TR, I can't figure out how or why anyone allowed a not-going-on-a-mission-not-married-20-year-old LDS Guy get endowed.

That tells me two things:  either A) someone is lying, or B) he WAS going to go on a mission or actually did . . . for a while.

Both are huge Red Flags.

But that's not what you talk to his Bishop about.

You talk to his Bishop about your concern that this MAN is a PREDATOR.

It's really quite simple: casually call and set an appointment, pray as a couple, and then in the man's office calmly tell him that this situation is freaking you out.

He's a man, she's a child, and that alone makes it wrong; his Bishop needs to know.

And ask him (heck, I'd like to know) just exactly how a 20-year old not-going-on-a-mission guy gets endowed.

He may not tell you, in fact he shouldn't, but it's worth asking because - if as I suspect he is a-lying about holding said recommend, the Bishop's reaction will tell you what's what.


4. Sit her down and have the talk.

You and she have a great relationship; while she IS a teen, she respects your opinion.

Don't yell (hard as that may be - it would be impossible for me) but express your concerns.

Keep it short, but specific.

Don't say anything negative about the guy, but focus on the situation.

Don't use accusatory words like "you", that will just make her defensive; instead use "I", as in: "I'm really having a tough time with this". Rather than "you shouldn't be talking about marriage at 16", say "I think talk about marriage is a dangerous thing".

Make sense?


5. Do lots of family stuff together . . . and, no, this guy can't be included.

Yes, it's good to have them at your house where you can keep an eye on them, and you always want your children's friends like they're welcome in your home, but he doesn't get to hang out.

It has to be an occasion, like a movie party with her friends. And find reasons for her to realize that sometime is just family time.


6. Talk to him. Without her.

Give him the "look, you're a nice guy (lie if you have to) and we like you (perhaps an even bigger lie) but the truth is, you're just too old right now to be dating our daughter" talk.

Be straight with him.

Tell him you know that you're not going to "forbid" them from seeing each other, although you could, and that you hope that at some point they'll figure out how wrong this is on their own, but that you want him to know that, like him or not, you A) don't approve, and B) think a 20-year old guy chasing a 16-year old little girl is creepy . . . a comment on his lack of maturity, and wrong.

Tell him you'll be nice to him for her sake, but that you neither trust nor respect him, and if he intends to have any type of long-term relationship with your daughter that you hope he's man enough to want to earn that respect.

Tell him that you think he should get over it, go date girls his own age, and when she turns 18 they can consider it again, but right now the timing is wrong.

Tell him that it's inappropriate to give her gifts (like I know he's been doing) and that it's borderline criminal. 

Don't allow him to interrupt or participate in the conversation; this is neither a discussion nor a debate; this is a parent telling a man that how he's treating her daughter is inappropriate.

(Like the previous conversation, this one should include both parents if possible.)

When it comes to your kids, you can't wait for Too Late.

If you miss the opportunity to do all you can, you may regret not having done it.

The key, Mom, is to be calm, rational, clear, and loving.

As I alluded, I think this guy is a Class A Predator Creep, but as her parents if you talk about or treat him that way, as you said, you may lose her.

Good luck.

I'm praying for you.

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 15, 2013

Marriage and Singleness at BYU-"I-do"

Dear Bro Jo,

I was reading through your blog to kill some time and have stumbled across a few that have got me thinking.

You posted one from a young man who isn't interested in dating...I think it was titled "Why He Doesn't Feel Like Dating" or something to that effect.

He says in his letter that he feels a lot of pressure from friends and other people to get married.

As a single sister at BYU-I, I totally understand that.

My roommates and I used to laugh about the whole dating and marriage culture, but it's now sometimes to the point where it's a little discouraging.

And we're not old by any means.

We're all just turning 20!

We hear all the time "Go get married" from university and ecclesiastical leaders.

I've found, though, that it's hard to "go and do" when I'm not getting any dates.

At 20 (and going into my 4th semester of college at BYU-"I Do"), I've never been asked out on even one date in my life.

But that's neither here nor there.

My question for you is: why is there such an emphasis on getting married now?

I feel like the message is skewed.

We hear "go get married" but never "but be happy being single".

It's something that I've really struggled with at times because you start to think there's something wrong with you if you're not married (or engaged).

I'm finally getting to the place where I'm putting my trust in the Lord and saying "in your time", but it's taken a lot of prayer and talking to my roommates to get there.

I realize we shouldn't put off getting married for certain things (career, finances, etc), but is it really fair to say "go get married" without adding "but trust the Lord's plan for you and be happily single in the meantime"?

Also, I want your opinion about this as a guy. Does that kind of culture- where you hear about it every week at Church and/or devotional- turn you off to it?

I remember my first semester of school, my RS president would stand and remind us all that we had to do our VT (and she insisted that we had to do it every week).

It really started to annoy me and made me not want to do my visiting teaching.

I did it because it was the right thing to do, and I did enjoy it, but hearing her say it every week wore on me.

Do you think it's the same way with guy and dating/marriage?

Does constantly pestering just make them not want to do it?

Thanks for all your dedication and service to the youth of the Church!

Sincerely,

Single, Happy, and Searching




Dear Happy,

I think the post you're referring to is "Why He May Not Feel Like Dating", which was run in two parts in January, 2012.  (Click Here for Part 1, and Here for Part 2)

Going and Doing, whether it's marriage or dating, home or visiting teaching, and our reactions to the suggestion and reminders, has a lot to do with who we are and where we happen to be in our lives at that moment.

19 and 20 is ridiculously young to be discouraged about dating, regardless of where you happen to be going to school (and even if you're not in school). I've been on both sides of the conversation; I've been the guy standing in front of his quorum begging them to go out and do their priesthood duty and I've been the guy sitting in the congregation thinking "man, when will this dude lighten up and get off my back?"

It's hard to motivate people, and it's even harder when you feel Spiritually Obligated to motivate them to do that which they already know they're supposed to be doing and yet they act like they couldn't care less.

Let's face it: you may love Visiting Teaching and I may love Home Teaching, but lots of people in the Church are real flakes about it.

If you're the person who has to report to someone whether or not other people are okay, and the people that have been asked to care for them and check in on them are blowing them off and you off, it's a pretty tough spot to be in.

I'm at the point now that whenever I see an Auxiliary Leader or Quorum President stand up and remind, beg, or cajole, I just feel bad for them.

They're doing the best they know how, often with very little training.

I take it as them meaning well. If I'm doing all I'm supposed to or can, then I figure the message isn't for me. 

If I can use some improvement or a reminder (which in all honesty is always the case) then I worry less about how the message is delivered or from whom, and try to take it in stride, in the spirit with which it's intended. 

And I try to remember that when someone is lecturing a group, that's not a personal attack on me.

I think the constant encouragement for Young Single Adults to date and get married should be taken the same way.

Sure, lots of us (guys AND girls) put our backs up, and get defensive and resistant; but that doesn't really help us, does it?

Dating, Home Teaching, Visiting Teaching . . . whatever . . . is positive or negative based on our own attitudes more than anything else.

You do know, I hope, why people your age are "constantly reminded" to "go get married", right?

It's because even though 30 (or 25) seems like a long way off, like you have all the time in the world, the truth is that it comes up pretty fast.

The other truth is, especially in the Church, it gets significantly more difficult to find a spouse when you reach your mid-20's.

Difficult.

But not impossible.

Sure, you should be happy regardless of your marital status. Joy is the point of the Gospel, right?

And, believe me, simply saying "I do" does not instantly change every waking moment to Dancing Trees and Singing Flowers!

(Can you imagine how much of a Saint Sister Jo must be to put up with me on a regular basis!?! It boggles the mind!)

Is the "constant barrage of marital commandment reminders" partially responsible for the feet-dragging on behalf of some of our YSA Brethren?

It's a great theory, and I'm sure many use it as an excuse, but between you and me I don't believe it.

That only is true for the childish.

Now, granted, IMHO childishness IS part of the problem for many of these guys . . .

As for you not getting the dates you should . . . well, I don't know.

I do think that it's wrong that you haven't had at least a half dozen dates (or more) by this point.

I honestly can't tell you why it is that you haven't; you're better equipped to answer that question than I am. 

Sure, there are lots of things girls can do to get dates; maybe you haven't done any of those . . . I don't know.

But I can tell you this: it has nothing to do with how you look, or your shape, or your value.

If that was true, then there would be lots of married people in the Church that would still be single. (Take a good look at us Old Married People some time . . . it's not as if we're all Supermodels!)

If it's important to you, then give yourself an honest assessment.

We can all improve, right?

Be the best you that you can be, put yourself out there, don't hang out, go on dates with any non-creep that asks (regardless of any reasons you may think he's a dud) and do a lot of flirting.

Be of Selfless Service to others.

And if it happens, it happens.

And if it doesn't, like you said, Be Happy.

You know those axioms ("you don't find love; when you're ready and open to it, it finds you" and "love happens when you stop looking") happen to be true.

- Bro Jo

PS:  One last thought about marriage.  Marriage is about Obedience, Selflessness, Service and Sacrifice; THAT'S why there are so many blessings that come from being married - because so much of what we do to make our marriages work are the things that we're taught bring us blessings.

Just something to ponder.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

She Didn't Send the Sext that was Requested, So Why Did Her "Dad" Freak Out?

Dear Brother Jo,

 First of thank you so much for everything you do!

I check your blog and read every letter as soon as you post it and wait for more all the time!

I have wanted to write to you before but have decided not to a few times and tried to work things out and figure them out.

Well it works for a moment and then in the end doesn't work and makes more problems.

That's where I am now.

To make things more clear I will kinda explain my family situation.

First I'm 16, been a member my whole life. My father wasn't a member and he left our family when I was 14. My parents got a divorce and my mom, sister and I went through all that.

My sister and I never talk to him anymore. So that's the father story.

Well that hurt me lots and still does all the time and I don't know when it will ever not hurt me this bad.


Well anyways there is a family at Church who our family became close with.

We can call them the S family.

Brother S is actually our home teacher, but he's not just the stop by once a month kinda home teacher. Their whole family is really close with ours. They have two little kids and they are like my sisters. Our two families are always together doing something fun!

Brother S has pretty much became my dad role model and he treats me like his daughter.


Well now jumping to the W family. (they come together in the end)

The W family is a big family in a different war then ours. There is like 11 kids.

Well I became good friends with DW who is like 7 months younger then me when we were 12.

He helped me through my dad leaving and uncle dying and lots of things.

He always had a scripture for me to read or something that made things ok.

Well just this year I became friends with his brother who's just a little younger than him (sw). We became good friends and I help him through things.

I sometimes spend time at their house with their family because they know my home life and how my mom and sister are always gone at dance do I'm left home alone.

So pretty much they just let me come along with their family.


Well here's where brother S and the W family join.

A while ago SW asked me for inappropriate pictures. He made excuses like oh it's for a girl who dresses immodest and I'm trying to show her what's wrong and then he tried to make me feel bad because I said no and he said I was stopping her from understanding modestly.

Well I didn't fall for it.

I told him no and that I would be more then glad to send him a modest picture and good examples.

Well not like a week later his dad found out about him asking some other girl the same things.

I got really mad and everything at him.

Well he wrote me a long letter apologizing and everything.

Well I talked to him and told him he better make things better with the Lord.

He talked to his Bishop and got everything worked out.

Well when this happened it really hurt me because he was a friend I was supposed to be able to trust.

Well I needed someone to talk to about it so I talked to brother S.

He helped me though it and everything.

When I told him I was super worried he would hate SW, he said no and that everyone makes mistakes and its more how they take care of them that matters.

Well today brother S was here at my house and we were talking about how I was babysitting the little girls on Friday and I asked him if we could go to the park or zoo because I didn't want to sit at home with them all day doing nothing. He said yes of course, but who would be with you?

And I said well me and your girls and my sister.

And he said ok good because I don't like SW around my girls and don't want him there.

He said it in a very demanding rude way.

That really hurt me for many reasons.

First I don't understand why he would think I would bring someone with me without asking him.

And also SW is a great person and made one mistake and I trusted Brother S to help me with it and not treat SW different and he said he wouldn't.

Also I wasn't even planning for SW to come and if I was I would have asked.

I respect the fact that he didn't want SW around his girls and he has that choice, but how he asked and how he made me feel horrible about myself hurt.

I don't know what to do.

The "dad" in my life doesn't like my friends because of something they did and repented for.

I feel like Brother S is judging him and that he shouldn't because that's the Lords job.

This isn't the first time brother S and I haven't gotten along.

A while ago he pretty much called me a liar and wouldn't talk to me.

He then later realized I wasn't lying and said sorry.

So now I don't really know what to do.

Or even ask you.

I kinda just want an outside view and help with everything that's happening. I know that's a lot and I appreciate anything!

I kinda need help with my relationship with my real father and with BrotherS now and the W family!

Thank you so much!!

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

First of all, my apologies; I thought for certain I had answered your letter, but I can't find anywhere that I had. I'm sorry for the delay.

I think I've been able to sort all of what you wrote out, so here goes.

I don't think any of this is your fault by any stretch of the imagination, but I think you're fueling the fire with all of your own drama.

You act like you want everyone to just forget everything at then it will all go away, but at the same time you're all worked up about how everyone feels.

I've got to tell you, if I found out that some kid had the audacity to ask my daughter for inappropriate pictures I'd be pretty upset, too, and I don't think that would go away very quickly.  And I suspect I'd feel that way about any of the young people I know.

Sure, vengeance and judgment belong to the Lord, but we're also supposed to discern between right and wrong, good and bad, and that's kind like judgment, too.

Plus I think it's a little unfair, if you will, that you expect your father figure to not let someone's bad behavior impact his thoughts and feelings, but you're still worked up about when he incorrectly labeled you a liar. 

Look, we all make mistakes that's true, and we all need repentance, and we all too often let our emotions get the better of us.

Right now I think what everyone, including you, is just give things some time to let the dust settle.

I'm not excusing anyone's behavior.

I think your surrogate father may regret his outbursts of emotion; but I understand them.

We old people can very easily jump to hyper-freaked-out-panic mode when we're confronted with the moral dangers our young people. 

Again, that's not to excuse what we say and do, or how we react; just to explain.

We pray that we'll get it right and that you'll be understanding; we hope that you'll know that our freak outs come from our own fears, and fears of failure, and out of (albeit imperfect) love for you.

Give all of this some time.

Things will settle down soon.

In the interim, let me say how proud I am of how you handled the situation!

I'm glad you didn't do anything you'd regret, and I'm glad you told an adult about this boy's request.

(I can’t believe he used the “send me some immodest pictures of you so I can show some other girl what not to do” line; what a jerk.)

Hang in there,

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 11, 2013

How Strict Should We as Members Be When it Comes to the Movies We Watch?

Dear Bro Jo,

So here is my dilemma:  how strict should we as members be in the movies we watch?

I am currently dating someone who has very high media standards, basically only G rate moves (no swearing, violence or sexual reference).

I think this is very commendable however I find that I myself find joy in watching a wider range of movies let’s say PG, M etc., I too try to choose movies that aren't R rated or anything like that but I find that other movies have lots of valuable lessons and provide entertainment.

Am I a bad person for not sticking to higher media standards?

Or is it ok to watch a movie with a swear word in it, or a movie with some violence?

Where do you draw the line?

Thank you please keep my information anonymous

- Name Withheld

P.S thanks for your posts they are really helpful




Dear Anon,

Let me answer this way:

I don't see R-rated movies regardless of how highly they're praised or critically acclaimed they may be.

I consider that a personal choice for me, but also in line with prophetic recommendation.

As someone who spent a little time in the entertainment industry and has a degree in TV and Film, I believe that the things that earn a movie an R rating (be they violence, sex, or language) are gratuitous, and not things I want in my brain competing with the Spirit. Many in the Church, including some very high-profile members of the media, proclaim that certain images are okay for mature audiences and that some films should be an exception; I think that when we start to "make exceptions" to prophetic advice that we wander down a dangerous slope; blurring lines is never a good idea.

And I think that as a father I need to set an example for my children; if they're not supposed to see R-rated movies, then I shouldn't watch them either.

And I'll confess that I often find myself really wanting to see a movie, only to be depressed that it's earned that dreaded R-rating. So many movies I want to see . . . but I don't.

See, I know what makes those movies what they are, and I know that I have a vivid and active imagination, and I know that it's harder to hear and feel the Spirit when certain images and language is running around one's brain.

That said, I don't believe in putting too much stock in the Motion Pictures of America Association or many of their around-the-globe counterparts.

More than one time Sister Jo and I have rented a PG or PG-13 movie (some even recommended by "good Church members") that we felt clearly crossed the line. Ratings alone aren't enough.

(We actually like the site "Kids-In-Mind" as a better source for information when it comes to whether or not a film is "okay" to see.)

We must always rely on the Spirit and not be afraid to speak up, shut something off, or walk out (or away) when prompted to.

We've taken several movies back to our local video store (which, by the way, has always allowed us to trade the offending film for something else), but sadly I suspect we're more the exception than the rule. 

Remember, there's lots of entertainment to choose from out there; I've seen hundreds upon hundreds of Great Films that are also very appropriate family viewing.

Oh, I've seen a lot of duds, too, but the point is that you can follow the advice we've been given, see some films that are PG or M or PG-13, still have a zero tolerance policy for the R-rated movies, and have a pretty good time.

One person said it this way: apply the "Grandma Test". Would you be embarrassed if you were watching this scene or movie with your Grandma? If the answer is yes, turn it off and watch something else. Of course, that’s assuming your Grandma has the moral high standards I hope she has . . .

One more thought for you:  not all of my friends have married people that enjoy the same movies they do; I love that Sister Jo and I enjoy seeing movies together, and often (not always) have the same taste in entertainment.  I feel bad for my buddies whose wives won't go see the latest comic book or Tolkien movie with them; and I'm grateful that Sister Jo loves those kinds of movies!

And I'm grateful that she also likes watching period movies and TV shows with me.  Granted, she's often more interested in the costumes while I'm enjoying the history, but that's the point:  that we like being together and can find ways to enjoy things the other likes to do.  Marriage is cool like that.

If you let it be.

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 8, 2013

Only Four Dates in Four Semesters at BYU Idaho . . . What Can She Do?

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a sophomore at BYU-I and I am frustrated with the "dating" scene up here.

They call it BYU- I DO . . . yet I don't see how that works being all the guys like to do is "hang out".

I have only been on four dates in the 4 semesters that I have been up here, and only one that I count.

One with my friend as a "welcome to school" thing.

One was a group thing with my apt and an apt of boys.

The third was a pity date (on my part).

The fourth actually formed out of interest on both sides.

It started to go somewhere until he hit commitment issues.

I am ready to get married and start my family but, can't seem to find the right guy.

All the guys here want to hang out, or only come around on Sundays when they know we are cooking.

Half the guys here are 23-28 and I feel like they should be married or at least engaged by that age.

Why are they putting it off for so long?!?

I'm 20 and ready to be married and starting my own family.

Sometimes I feel like gluing president Monson's priesthood address to their doors so that maybe they will get the clue that they should get on the ball of things.

Please help me figure out what to do?

I am so entirely confused on what is going on with our young single adults, especially the men.

All the YSA women I know are in the same boat as me and ready to get married.

So on behalf of all the single young women in the church school system, HELP?!?

Please!!!

Sincerely,

- Confused Collegiate




Dear Confused,

I'm here to help any way I can.

Some guys are shy.  Some are lost in their own little virtual world.  And some are just as frustrated as you are.

Rather than focus on things you can't control (them), let's focus on what you can (you).

For example, instead of posting President Monson's talk on their doors [CLICK HERE to read or listen to the talk CC is referring to], post it on yours, perhaps highlighting a few sections, letting these guys know that YOU know THEY need to get their act together.

When they come over for food, turn them away.

When they ask to "hang out", or watch a movie at someone's place, tell them no.

In short, stop acting like their sisters and start acting like the intelligent, beautiful, valuable single young women that you are.

Have you ever seen "Intervention"? (sad show)

Stop enabling these Single Addicts!

Train them to be Men worthy of You.

(You all realize, I hope, that I am available for Firesides, right?)

For more help and ideas check out "Bro Jo's Guide to Relationships" and "How a Girl Can Get a Guy to Ask Her Out".

One more thing that you and your fellow Sisters in Arms can do is to stop putting too much importance on First Dates.  It's not a promise or a commitment of any kind; it's Just a Date!

And y'all would get a lot more of them if you'd stop expecting to go from zero to engaged in three evenings.

A guy that asks a different girl out every week is not always a "player"; he could very well just be a Good Guy who wants to spend a little time with a Good Girl who deserves a date so he can get to know her a little better.

No one ever fell in love under pressure.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much!

How would I go about getting you to come up to BYU-I for a fireside?

And as far as up here who would I have to talk to get such thing approved?

Thanks,

Confused Collegiate




Dear CC,

You could ask through the school, but I think smaller groups are better.

Talk with your Bishopric or Stake Presidency if you'd like me to come do a Fireside, event or Activity.  (I've also been invited to speak by Activities Coordinators, Seminaries, Institute Classes, and a group of YSAs who had me come speak to a bunch of them and their friends in the common room at their apartment.)

You guys are only a 3 hour drive away, I don't charge anything, and I'm actually driving down there or through there several times a year anyway.

I can come speak on a prescribed topic, lead a dating seminar, or do more of a Q&A Fireside.

Totally up to you!

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Perfect!

I think a dating seminar is very much so needed here.

I will talk to the Bishopric and try to figure something out.

I will be in touch.

Thank you again!

- CC




Dear CC, 

Anything I can do to help, just let me know!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cheesy Wednesdays: Missionary "Let's Go on a Date When I Come Home" Coupons

Dear Bro Jo,

Quick question...what's the appropriate response when a missionary I'm writing to asks for a date when he gets home?

I like the idea of having dates lined up around the block, but I don't want to be a distraction to them from what they should be focusing on.

Plus...who knows...what if I'm engaged or married or whatever by the time the Dear Elder in question gets home?

That would make for a pretty awkward date! Lol!

-  Cheese

PS:  Mama Cheese suggests departing missionaries say something like "I'll bet you dinner that you're married before I get home" to anyone they're interested in. It's a win-win wager. Is there something like that I could try?




Hello, Cheese,

I think it's ridiculous (and dumb) for departing or serving missionaries to make any dates or date plans (although I think Mama Cheese's line is great).

I think the appropriate response is "sounds like you're focusing on me too much and not enough on the work; that's a discussion that we can have when you come home, IF I'm available AND interested".

As Sister Jo says, "don't make any plans with a guy who's not in a position to follow through with them, and never make it easy on those that are chasing you".

Cheers,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for the quick reply.

I have a more specific question: what do I do with these (images attached)?

I have received several of these "Future Date Coupons".

Do they have some kind of coupon making class in the MTC or something?

Sister Jo sounds really smart; I don't want to make things too easy on these guys.

Although some I'm more inclined to make it easy for than others. XD

Still, they're serving missions.

That's a tough gig.

They get plenty of rejection in the average day; I don't want to make it any harder than it already is. 

- Cheese




Dear Cheese,

Several???

What the heck!?!

Man, there are some weirdos in the Church . . .

You've got one there that is dated almost two years from now???

The dude JUST LEFT!

Telling a guy to focus on his mission is not a rejection . . . it's a reminder.

- Bro Jo

PS: Why did you mark out the names?

PSS:  Every day on a mission may not be Singing Trees and Dancing Flowers, but I don't think girls at home need to feel sorry for missionaries.  It is, after all, called "the best two years".  If it's not, that's a missionary preparation and attitude problem, and one that does not require a "girl at home sympathetic for your whiny rear-end" solution.





Dear Bro Jo,

In this case "several" means three.

So not like I get one every day or anything.

But enough that I was starting to wonder whether it's some kind of secret missionary tradition to see who can redeem the most coupons after they get home or something.

And yeah... this particular guy still has a very long time to go.

I'm not exactly planning on waiting that long to start Serious Single Dating; I'm not sure I'll even be available when his time frame rolls around. I crossed out his name in case you know him.

You know a lot of people and he might be horribly embarrassed if he knew you knew him.

Not saying you do.

You probably don't.

But it's nicer to preserve a guy's dignity and only make fun of him anonymously in case I ever do want to cash in that coupon, know what I mean?

- Cheese




Dear Cheese,

That's a great question!

I asked the Jo Boys that are on missions (all three of them) and they all think it's Super Weird.

No, it's not an activity in the MTC . . . and they frankly think that they guys that make these kinds of coupons are:

a)  weird
b)  sad
and
c) pathetic

And they advise you to stay away.

They're also not excited about getting guys like this as companions.  (All of them who have had companions with "relationships" back home testified that It Does distract from the work, it's tough to help a "just broken up with" companion to get refocused, that when said companion does refocus, he's a better missionary than before the breakup, and they all feel that making any kind of commitment before heading to the MTC is a bad idea - for Elders AND Sister Missionaries.)



- Bro Jo

Monday, November 4, 2013

When a Date Doesn't Happen - Part 3

Dear Bro Jo,

My goodness, I had forgotten how panicked I was over such a silly thing!

That guy and I didn't work out...he wanted me to do all the work in figuring out the distance problem and that just doesn't sit right with me.

It may sound old fashioned, but I sort of think the guy should be trying to get to the girl, not waiting for the girl to come to him.

I did have an interesting experience with another guy that I found myself consulting your blog with a few times.

I had a long distance friendship which turned into the guy not wanting to be "just friends" (which I should've known would happen from your blog, but I had hoped the fact that he's in Cleveland would keep us "just friends").

He isn't Mormon and I soon found he was, shall we say, "being inappropriate" while thinking of me and/or looking at my pictures on Facebook.

Right around when you published your sexting series he tried to send some pictures to me...oddly enough, my phone wouldn't even receive the images.

I don't know how many times I told this guy we wouldn't work out; he would always say "I guess" and then act like nothing happened until one day I went to go play cards with a crush and told Cleveland about it since he was always talking to me about other girls.

He got mad and said we couldn't be friends anymore and blocked me on everything.

I don't know how many times I would look things up on your blog during that whole fiasco...

But I'm very glad both things with these guys happened :)

The first guy really taught me what to expect in a man (I'll share responsibilities with a guy, but I'm not going to do everything for him), the second guy challenged my beliefs so often I was forced to stand up for myself daily, something I rarely did before.

NOW I feel like I'm ready to enter the dating field.

I've already gone on my first casual group date with an awesome RM closer to home (about 30min) and things are actually looking quite promising with him!

Shortly after that first date his car broke down so dating's impossible for us now, but I feel like that's a good thing too.

Since we can only see each other at Church and FHE, it's forcing us to become really close friends BEFORE we date, which I think is important. 

Of course, apparently the whole ward--all 20 people or so--knows that he and I are close...

It's funny to hear about all the schemes they plan to do to get us together!!

Now my only problems are limited to reminding myself that awesome RM and I aren't a couple yet so I should still be dating other guys, but the other guys all know that awesome RM and I are close so they don't want to ask me out, haha!

And I wrote you a novel again...what can I say?

I like to write!

- C



Dear C,

The Lord has a plan, and things always seem to work out for the best when we listen to what He is trying to tell us.

I'm sure that your pictures on Facebook are appropriate, but I often wonder about some of the things guys and girls post, and whether or not they're aware just how public that kind of stuff can be.  I teach a Professional Practices course every spring and one of the things I do is talk about being aware of our virtual footprints - people need to be Very Careful!

Best of luck!

Be happy,

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 1, 2013

What Should a 16-year old Girl Say to a Guy She Likes?

Dear Bro Jo,

I just want to say that your advice is very helpful to me; thank you.

Anyway I have just turned 16 and I’m having trouble.  I like this guy but he is not LDS though.

I have liked him for a while.  I’m scared if I say something our friendship will change.

He’s is in my study group and in almost every one of my classes.

I’m the Mia Maid president in the Church and I feel that if I start having a relationship with a non LDS guy that I will set a bad example for the girls.

The other thing is that the guy I like; I have a some sort of feeling backed up with little hints that his best friend likes me; would this be cruel to his best friend and what advice would you say to this situation.

Please Help

thanks

- CG




Dear CG,

You're welcome.

And thank you for reading and writing in.

So . . . (isn't it obvious?) . . . don't say anything.

Because, yes, everything you're worried about will come true.

Your "friendship" will change and you'll be setting a bad example.

(By the way, at 16 you're now a Laurel; Happy Birthday!)

Look, there's nothing wrong with having likes and crushes; in fact, it’s a good thing!

But at 16 there's no point in telling the guy, or anyone other than your best and most trusted friends. (And even then, I wouldn't; rare is the friend that keeps your secrets secret.)

The only reason to tell him would be to try and make him your boyfriend which, if he's a Good Guy, nearly always backfires, scaring him off rather than what you're wanting.

And if he's not a Good Guy could land you in a heap of trouble.

At 16 its time to go on Casual Group Dates, not have "relationships". If you follow the rules, CGDs don't need to be just with member guys, and they're lots of fun!

Enjoy your crush, certainly write about it in your journal, but don't Do or Say anything.

- Bro Jo