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.

Please like our Facebook page, and check it often for Discussions, Notes, Events and just General Good Stuff!

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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

His Fiance Says She Was Raped and Impregnated by Her Ex-boyfriend . . . Now What Should He Do?

Dear Bro Jo,

Good day.

I don't know you and the things you do that much, but I was moved by the things I see on your page.

I'm A Filipino Catholic and I would say I'm quite strong with my faith, it's just that I'm now here on these trying times that I'm wondering what really is meant for me and my purpose based on God's grand plan.

My fiancé and I are planning to be married 2 years from now, and her coming back to the USA should be the start in fulfilling the plans that we already laid.

My fiancé has a child already from her previous relationship but I didn't see anything wrong with that for whatever happens in her past was already done and I'm more focus on what's present and the future may bring.

Anyway, she comes back to USA with great uncertainty she doesn't have a family living close to where she lives and since the father of the child was supporting the child they asked for his help in looking for a place to live (which in fact he was able to, I think it's a good place with great neighbors and it's far from the guy's place).

She already made it clear to the guy almost 3 years ago that what was between them was over.

In fact she stayed with me in the Philippines last year with the child, and we lived basically as a family.

Less than a month after her return to USA something terribly wrong happened, she said she was raped by her ex, and just last Sunday we confirmed that she is pregnant.

Now I am quite lost.

I'm dealing with a lot of pain and anger but I don't want it to rule over me.

I don't blame her for what happened although I think she could have done something more toward the guy off.

Nonetheless, it already happened... and now I just wish to find spiritual guidance as to the things I needed to do and maybe find answers to my questions.

Are we not meant to be?

What’s the purpose of this test?

Thank you so much I hope you could help me and my fiancé open our eyes to whatever things this test brings us.

Please keep my story confidential and our identities anonymous.

- Name Withheld,




Dear NW,

That IS a serious test of one's love and faith.

No doubt you're filled with questions like:

- was she really raped?
- is she just saying that now because she's pregnant and regrets having sex with her ex?
- did he hunt her down? or did she go to him or invite him to her willingly? 

I think I'd have those questions, too.

Sure, you love her, and you want to trust her . . . but you have to wonder how the two of them ended up in close enough proximity for him to even touch her, let alone impregnate her.

Because "rape" in an act of violence, not simply the definition of "sexual regret", and you hope that if she was attacked that she followed through by reporting him to the authorities so that his arrest, prosecution and punishment would keep him from harming someone else.

And if she didn't report him . . . if her stories don't pan out . . . if you can't trust her . . .

See where I'm going?

If you can't trust her, your marriage will always be in jeopardy.

And she needs to be able to trust you, too.

Can she trust that you'll never bring this up?

Never throw it in her face?

Never use it against her or to hurt her?

Through the atonement of Christ all are allowed forgiveness.

But forgiving someone their past transgressions does not mean that you have to marry them.

If my wife was raped and impregnated, I would not turn my back on her nor push her out of my life.

If she got drunk and naked with an ex-boyfriend she'd have to find somewhere else to live.

I hope that makes sense.


Attraction in marriage is great.  Love is expected.  But Trust is Required.

You need answers.  And she needs to feel safe.

And you both need to be able to Trust each other, or this marriage is doomed.


I don't know why this trial is before you, my friend.

It's very sticky.  If she was indeed raped (and simply claiming she was means, in my opinion, that until there's evidence to the contrary she deserves the benefit of the doubt), then you really should stand by her.

If you can't do that, then shame on you, but do the girl a favor and break things off.


So what now?  How will you know?


I believe that through prayer, being of service to others, and pondering the Gospel we can know the will of God and receive the answers we need.


And I think that can take some time. I suggest patience.

Allow the Spirit of God time to reveal the truth to you and work on your heart.

And, in the interim, I don't think you should allow worldly things to cloud your judgment; specifically, I think the two of you should stop living and acting "like married people".

(That's me nicely trying to say "stop having sex out of marriage".)

I wish peace for you both during this difficult time. I always keep confidences.

Thank you for the kind words you've said.

May the Lord bless you with what you need . . .

And please feel free to write anytime,

- Bro Jo

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Should She Marry Him?

Bro Jo...

I will try to keep this shorter. I've been dating this guy for weeks who is working on reactivating in the Church... I met him after he started coming back.

Anyway... Long story short, my will power was weak, and now I am no longer a virgin.

(There are good reasons they say to avoid being alone in the dark, kids. Don't make the same mistake I did.)

He proposed right after, but I didn't know what to say.

I know how stupid I was and that I knew better, and I am sorry.

I know I will probably just have to pray about it, but my questions are these:

1. Should I marry him? I don't want to get married just because I was an idiot. I worry that it would end in divorce. 
2. If/when we talk to the bishop, will he keep it to himself? I think it would probably be best to go to him and ask for advice, but I don't know that I could handle his disappointment right now. And I really couldn't handle others finding out. 
3. Can you please give me some comfort and kind guidance? I'm already pro at making myself feel awful for mistakes. 

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

As I posted on the Facebook page a few days ago, "sex" is not enough of a reason to marry.

Neither is regret.

(Or Love, for that matter, but we can discuss that topic later.)

1. If you love him, and (I think, more importantly) if you want to begin to start a family, and Eternal Family, together, then that's the reason to get married. 
You're right; simply marrying because you did something dumb does not for a great marriage make.

Now, if you're pregnant then you both need to give serious thought as to whether or not that means that you've already started your family.

(And, as an "abortion survivor"- Bro Jo was adopted at birth - I beg of you, if you are pregnant, please do your best to carry the baby to term.)


2. You need to talk to the Bishop right away. I'm hoping you get this in time to talk to him this Sunday. 
Whether or not he keeps it to himself (or feels disappointed) is not what's important (though I'm sure he will); what's important is that you do what's necessary to get yourself back to being Temple Worthy.

For the record, he's not supposed to tell anyone unless he needs to confer with higher priesthood authority or convene a disciplinary council. Neither of those is likely in your case, plus if they are, he'll tell you beforehand.

3. It's the Spirit that is the Comforter as he helps you feel the love and forgiveness of the Savior. What you need to do, in my opinion, is become a pro at feeling the Love of Christ in your life. 
And yes, that means in this instance talking to your Bishop.


All will be well.

But, and I can't emphasize this enough, you and this boy need to not be alone together in any situation or setting where this can happen again until you do get married, if you do.

Remember, a big part of true repentance is learning from our mistakes and not repeating them.

And one last thing for the "kids" to know, never NEVER have sex thinking it will lead to a marriage proposal; not only does it almost never happen, some people will try to convince you to do that which you shouldn't with words of "love" and empty promises of marriage.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It Was a Nice Date, So What Happened???

Dear Bro Jo,

I noticed your blog about a year ago from a friend and I have been reading select posts for a while and I am enjoying the good information being displayed on here.

Before I ask you my silly question, let me give you a short lead up to now.

I am 17 and I am enjoying a fairly decent life. I have a car that is reliable but nice, I have a part time job, I do well in school and I have a middle position in popularity.

However, I have been somewhat neglected girls-wise in that I have very little experience dating them or talking to them because I was quite shy earlier in my life; although I am not shy any longer and I would really like to get in as far as I can before my mission :).

I am enjoying Church very much and I enjoy magnifying my calling through doing service and other work. I have a fairly strong testimony and I have been thinking a bit about my mission although I haven't done much preparation.

Closer to subject, I know a girl in one of my classes that I have known a little since middle school, but lately I have developed quite a crush on her since school started. I see her a lot in the hallways and she is a very polite girl.

She is a nonmember and also of a different race, but I don't let that make me think twice about having a date with any girl that is presumably nice, regardless of color or creed.

I took her to lunch once earlier on in the semester and it was a very good time.

The conversation was fun, yet mature and equal on both sides.

She seemed very comfortable, and at home talking with me.

She appeared to be enjoying herself the entire time and the lunch date ended on a very positive note.

I also remember that the day I asked her to lunch, I was behind her and her friends a small distance when they were walking to their cars (because of locker positioning, we regularly see each other when leaving the school) and they would be talking, look at me, smile and then turn about talking again.

This happened a few times. I was very anxious to ask her out to lunch again and waited a week before asking her the second time.

However, this didn't go as well.

When I asked her, she had a very neutral expression and told me that her entire week was full up.

To me, this appears to be a showing of lack of interest, which is peculiar, showing what happened earlier on in the month.

When I had asked her the first time, she had been quite positive and seemed to show genuine interest in me, being very upbeat about setting the lunch date.

She normally has a fairly laid back personality, not becoming too engrossed into a particular subject.

My question to you is simple: What happened???

We seemed to be getting along wonderfully, yet she seems to have lost all interest in me over the course of a weekend.

Has she really lost interest in me?

Has someone told her a nasty rumor about me?

I am stunned completely, and now the pleasant walks to my car have taken on an air of awkwardness, because her friends and herself continue to glance at me on their way.

It would be nice for you to get back to me as soon as possible.

Honestly,

A Confused Friend




Dear Confused,

I don't know what happened.

Could be any number of things.

Maybe she changed her mind.

Maybe she's shy.

Maybe she doesn't feel the same way about you that you feel about her.

Maybe she's just not wanting a relationship at this time.

It's really tough to say.

You could ask her . .  girls seem to like it when we ask what they're thinking and feeling.

They REALLY like it when we ask them how we screwed up.

I believe that communication is the key to learning how someone else feels.

However, it sounds like you're obsessing a little.

Trust me, that's a HUGE turn off.

Besides, you shouldn't be worried about having a girlfriend right now.

You should very going on lots of Casual Group Dates.

And focus in preparing for that mission!

Seminary is a great help.

So is reading Preach My Gospel and sharing your Testimony (when appropriate).

I highly recommend all of that.

Save the Serious Single Dating for when you come home.

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

She Was Waiting, but Now She's Leaving, So What Should She Tell "Her Missionary"?

Dear Bro Jo

Hello yet again!

I have a quick question that came up from your post the other day, and I think it calls for a quick response.

So apparently Heavenly Father wants me to go on a mission :)

So that's what I've been focusing on in my life lately.

Well, regarding this missionary I was dating before he left, I'm not sure what to do.

Next week he'll have been out 6 months, and as I haven't even done my interview with the Stake President yet, there will definitely be some time that he's home when I'm not.

I'm not sure what he'll do in that time.

He hasn't made a decision on where he wants to go to school, but he'll probably be leaving in the fall for college.

That's fine.

I'm not worried about it.

What I am worried about is the whole dating-thing.

I have no problems with him dating other girls!

I just don't know how to tell him so.

We never discussed it before he left because it wasn't really in "the plan."

I have three options that I've thought of:

1. I've written him letters to read when he gets home, I could write one where I tell him to get out, have fun, show some girls a great time!


2. I can wait till he writes me about it and then tell him how I feel. 
3. Something I haven't thought of before! 


What would your advice be?

Do you think I should encourage him to date other girls?

(He never had a real desire to before he left on his mission, even though I kept telling him to, but I think it'd be good for him.)

Thanks so much!

Have a WONDERFUL day!

You rock!

- Future Sister




Dear Sister,

Hi!

Here's my opinion:

1. Have the interview 
2. Submit your papers 
3. Write him a letter telling him you've submitted your papers and you're excited to serve. 
4. Realize that he's free to date anyone he wants to when he comes home (so long as she wants to date him, I suppose) 
5. Work hard and be a positive and happy missionary! 
6. When you come home, if he's single, date him. If he's not single, don't. If he wasn't smart enough to go on dates while you were gone, bad for him but maybe good for you! (And maybe not.) 

Have a great day!

(And let Sister Jo and I know when and where you'll be serving, please!)

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 27, 2014

He Loves Me? He Loves Me Not?

Dear Bro Jo,

I stumbled across your blog by accident and I am glad I did!

I don't know if I really need "solving" but I do need to get it out.

I don't have any sisters... and my best friend is on her mission . . . so here goes...

February two years ago my best friend came to visit me at school.

We met for lunch with her boyfriend & his friend and one of my friends.

I thought his friend was lazy and stupid. (Snap judgments . . .).

Then a few months later my friend came again with her boyfriend who invited his friend unbeknownst to her who had invited me.

We ate lunch again and it was really fun!

I liked him a bit after that.

Then in July her boyfriend & this friend visited us at work.

Then my birthday came around... this boy got my number from his friend &; wished me a Happy Birthday.

I was flattered.

Then two weeks later us four went on a road trip to where they had served their missions.

On this road trip... the boy and I kissed.  I was even dating someone at the time..bad news.. bad news..

I was honest with both of them and ended up breaking up with him shortly after.

So back to the story..

After this boy and I kissed school started and we both attended the same school and lived a couple blocks from each other.

We started "hanging out" or "dating" a bit but never officially said declared boyfriend girlfriend status.

His roommate actually started introducing me as his the girlfriend before he ever did.

I hate confrontation and bringing things up so I never did.

I read a text from my boyfriend to another girl (I wasn't snooping... it really was displayed on the counter and I happened across it).

She had last February (6 months after we kissed) if he and I were dating yet... he told her no.

What the crap???

Anyway, back to the story...

We saw each other a lot from August to Christmas Break.

I met most of his family since his parents lived in a different state.

He had a nephew born January and his mom came up to visit.. he invited me to dinner to meet her and his grandparents.

Then the whole family visited in March and I met them all.

I was also introduced to all of his closest friends during this time.

I moved home after school and he ended up moving in with my friend's boyfriend from earlier who lives a block away under the pretenses of taking classes at a closer school over the summer never saying he moved up here to be closer to me.

We drove 10 hours to spend 5 days with his family in May and have been together a lot going on all sorts of adventures/dating and just having fun.

His sister recently got married and I was invited to all of the festivities as if I was apart of the family.

So, I guess what I am getting at after all of this confusion...  It has been a year (I think a year.. I have no idea what he considers official) but a year since we first kissed..and started spending all of our time together.

In all this time we have never spoken of getting married to each other.. he has never said "I love you" and I have never said it either because I firmly believe the man should step up and say it first.

I do love him though.. and I try to do things to show him.

I guess what I am wondering is am I wasting my time?

Is he just using me?

Biding his time until he finds something he likes better.. doesn't want to be alone?

Am I over thinking?

I have graduated college now and he has a couple years left.

We will be living 40 minutes away from one another.

I don't know how that will work out.

I know what I need to do is ask him these questions but I do not know how.

It feels better writing all of this out.

I would love to be married to him!

I believe in him and know he would be a great daddy, he is sweet, kind, can fix things, smart, humble and a worthy priesthood holder.

I just don't know if after a year I can wait anymore to hear the words "I love you" and start making plans for a future together?

How can I bring this up without scaring him?

Should I?

Thank you so much for your time and help,

- He loves me, He loves me not?

P.S. I am now 22 & he is 24.




Dear Loves,

I have some questions, although the answers may not change anything.

See, I'm not clear if you two are dating or "hanging out ".

Does he officially ask you on dates?

When you're together does he hold your hand?

Is the first time you kissed the last time you kissed?

Or are you at the point now where there's making out on a regular basis?

Do you two kiss hello and good-bye?

I think the answers to those questions may give you the answer you're looking for.

But, regardless, it's time to have the Determine The Relationship (DTR) talk.

You won't be able to make any decision without it.

[Side note: I checked with Sister Jo; and she and I never had one. She reminded me that we spent so much time together, said the "I love yous” and talked marriage pretty openly, so there were no doubts.]

You need to put a little pressure on, but can do it in a nice way.   (The guy IS 24 after all!)

The key, I think, is to not do much talking yourself.

Sit him down.

Very soon.

And say:  "look, I need to hear from you where you think we are in this relationship; where do you see this going and when do you see it getting there?"

And then stop talking.

Don't let him dodge you with a "what do you mean” line.

If he says that simply repeat your opener.

Just sit and listen.

Don't answer the question yourself until you feel he's given you a complete answer.

If he needs encouragement then hold his hand.

But Be Smart enough to Be Quiet.

Good luck!

Let me know how it goes.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

You responded so quickly!

I figured I'd quickly clear up some of the questions for you and for me.

We are dating.

When introduced now I am his girlfriend.. or the line "we're dating" comes up.

We do go on official dates together.

And when we are together he does hold my hand.

We kiss hello/goodbye & yes, we make out on a regular basis.

So, I guess I do have my answer.

It would just be nice to hear it out loud.

I like the way you put it "where do you see this going and when do you see it getting there".

For some reason I just did not know how to formulate the question to the answer I need to know.

Thanks so much!!

I'll Be Smart enough to Be Quiet and we'll see how that goes.

- Loves




Dear Readers,

I never did hear back from "Loves", so I don't know how the conversation went.

- Bro Jo
Dear Readers,

This Saturday "Dear Bro Jo" celebrates FIVE YEARS!

Amazing how fast it's gone.

As part of that celebration (and to make up for the fact that Bro Jo failed to hit "post" a couple times last week) we're running columns every day this week!

We're also giving away a copy of "Bro Jo's Guide to Relationships" AND a copy of "Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating" EVERY DAY THIS WEEK!

Keep checking back here on the Facebook Page to see how.

Our thanks to all of you,

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 20, 2014

Getting a Second Date

Dear Bro Jo,

So... I emailed you a while ago about the situation about me and the guy who was supposedly my cousin?

Remember?

The one about me and him becoming really close to the point that we kissed and then deciding to stop pursuing things...

So we stopped texting one another and talking to one another for a good three months or so.

He started seriously dating this other girl but whilst doing so, from time to time he would PM and text me to see if I was still alive and try to flirt with me.

No "adulterous" stuff though.

Feelings were still there, but gradually dying down for me and I thought for him as well since he was with another girl.

But then just last month his best friend tells my best friend (because their brothers and sisters) that 'Mr X' wanted to seriously date me now and that he'd broken up with the other girl.

I was confused about it and after hearing that he'd wanted to officially date me feelings arose again for him.

For a good month I waited out for him to ask me out but it never came.

So after much convincing from my best friend she told me to ask him out on a date.

So I proceeded to ask him out on a date, but as I was about to he kind of figured out where I was going with my casual attempt and stopped me and he made the initiative to ask me out instead.

Which worked out great!

So anyways, this was just two weeks ago and we went on our date. A great date at that.

He even took me to his favorite spot (a spot where he apparently hasn't taken anyone else).

I personally thought it was a good date.

Was a bit awkward because we had really repressed all feelings for one another and so we abstained from talking about our previous antics.

Overall I felt the date went well, and he expressed likewise.

We texted after the date was over and after that I got the feeling he was brushing me off because our text conversations were just not going anywhere.

I haven't heard from him all week and my hope for being asked for a second date is slowly dwindling down.

I've replayed the date over and over and I know that I did anything wrong.

My best friend told me that he still likes me and that she's caught him plenty of times looking at me at a fireside we just had last week.

I am really confused with things because I'd thought that since we were going to date, things would be better off now because we were going about things in the right manner.

But it hasn't been so... I really feel like he's brushing me off.

What do you think?

Am I over thinking things?

And how long does a girl have to wait to be asked on a second date?

Sincerely,

- Confused.




Dear Confused,

I remember.

[Readers, I remember the letter, and I remember we had a big discussion about it on the Facebook page, but couldn't find the post about Dating Cousins . . . can you find it?]

Don't talk to me . . .  talk to him!

If it's been a couple weeks, then go up to him and say: "so I thought things went pretty well . . . was I wrong?"

Ask HIM how long HE thinks a girl should wait around to be asked on a second date.

And then you'll know.

But understand this: just because a spark is there for you, that doesn't mean it's there for the other person. 

It's good to find out and then move on if needed.

First dates need to be no-pressure, no expectation, get to know you events.  When they're not, they don't happen as often as they should.

And, boy, am I glad you didn't do the asking this time. (I'm not happy you did the initial asking, and frankly I think that might be part of your problem.)

Not only does this guy need some encouragement, he needs some training.

Don't fall into the pit of making all the decisions, of being the person that puts forth all of the effort; when a girl does that she puts both she and the guy in a position to be unsuccessful.

- Bro Jo

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Five Year Anniversary Approaching!

Readers,

On February 1st "Dear Bro Jo" will be celebrating our Five Year Anniversary!

I can't believe how fast five years have gone.  I'm grateful for your readership, your friendship and your fellowship.  Sister Jo and I have been strengthened by the testimonies you've shared as you've faced life's challenges, and by the positive examples you've set for us and the Jo Kids.  We hope in some small way this column has brought you joy, edification, and perhaps a little closer to Heavenly Father.

And I personally apologize to those whom I've offended; I'm sure there are many.  One can not be a publicly opinionated person without rubbing a few folks the wrong way; I hope I've stayed true to the teachings of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church, but I'm sure I have not been perfect.  In that light, I thank you for your patience and understanding.

Anniversaries, of any kind, can (and IMHO, should) be a time of reflection and opportunity for improvement.  So with that I invite you to offer some suggestions on what we can do to make this page better.  While I can't quickly change who I am, I do promise to consider (and if appropriate respond to) all suggestions and comments . . . SO HAVE AT IT!

What can we, here at "Dear Bro Jo" do to make this a better experience for you?

(You can post comments here, or send me an email by clicking on my signature below.)

With love and blessings wished for all of you,

- Bro Jo

Friday, January 17, 2014

How Can a Parent Help a Child Who Self-harms?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi.

Did you finish your book called "Bro Jo's Guide to Serious Single Dating?"

- Mom



Dear Mom,

Not quite yet . . . I've got to get my act together!

Thank you for asking is there anything I can help with?

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo

I was wondering about your book, thinking it might be something to try get my daughter to read. (Yes, not all your your followers or FANS are teenagers/young adults!).

Anything you can help with???

I'm looking forward to your topic regarding self-harm . . . I saw that you mentioned it was coming up.

This same daughter that I feel could use help with dating has also been involved with self harm . . . cutting.

Bro Jo, this need to inflict pain seems to be approaching epidemic proportions.

Here in Australia it is claimed 1 in 8 people will inflict self harm on themselves at some time... mostly young girls.

I also read somewhere that 50% of girls who cut have experienced some sexual abuse . . .

There is a definite connection.

We found out that my daughter had been interfered with at age 10 by an older boy about 14 (a Church boy, visiting our home).

By age 19, when everything came out, she had been cutting on and off for about 6 years.

She is nearly 21 now, really pretty, and intelligent.... BUT has low self-esteem..or self-respect, thus causing her to feel unworthy or desirous of aiming high on the dating scene.

Despite counselling with Family Services, I believe she feels inferior and unable to 'compete' with other 'pure' LDS girls.

I believe the cutting has now stopped since getting counselling and finally talking about what happened to her.
Anyway, I tell you all this not so much asking for help but just for your info when covering this topic.

I really cannot get my head around why my daughter needed to watch herself bleed to feel relief and better about herself.

It truly breaks my heart when I see her scars on her arm and upper legs.

Also wondering how much she will be stigmatized and judged as a result . . .

I have wondered if LDS girls who experience sexual abuse have a harder time because they are have been taught how important their virtue is, so they feel more worthless than those who have not been taught this, thus making them more prone to self-harm?

Thanks for your page and website Bro Jo,... you are so right with all your advice!

- Mom

ps. I have raised 4 children, only one left at home... it's tough raising kids in this world.




Dear Mom,

It IS tough!

The horrors of sexual abuse extend to all women and girls, and is not just a Latter-day Saint trauma.

The emotional hurt is so deep that many victims turn to cutting, or other self-harm, as the only way they can control the pain they feel.  (Pain, and a desire to control that pain is at the root of all addictions, and "cutting" falls into that category.)

Counseling and unconditional love are the only things I've found that are helpful.

As she grows to regain her sense of self-worth your daughter will eventually recognize the value that we all see that she has.

It will take time.

And a lot of patience.

Her timetable will be different than it might otherwise have been.

I believe that the Gospel and the Savior's love will go a long way toward helping her realize her divine nature.
For now all you and I can do is love her.

We need to fight our tendencies to condemn her behavior (which, believe me, is my natural tendency) . . . not to condone the cutting, but love and build her esteem (in very sincere ways, of course).

Might I suggest that you seek some help (if you haven't already) from a professional counselor?

A well trained and caring professional can give you some great advice and tools on how to deal with your daughter's issues, on how to better understand what she's going through and what she needs.

Keep up the Good Work, mom!

It’s difficult, but oh so worth it!

Thanks for reading and for your kind words,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What Does It Mean When a Guy with a Girlfriend Flirts with You?

Dear Bro Jo,

This is my first time doing this, but I desperately need advice for my situation.  I know you've already done something like this, but it is different for me.

Or at least I think it is.

We didn't really meet through Church, but met through a sport we both love to play competitively.

The first time I met him, he came to one of our volleyball practices, because he is really close with the coach through family.

I didn't notice him at first, but later on throughout the practice, I felt like he was staring at me.

I didn't pay attention to it, because it was practice, and I had to focus.

Some of the girls had to leave to catch the bus while we were scrimmaging, so we needed another player.

He ended up on my team, and we did really good together.

When our practice match started to get really competitive, I got hurt.

He helped me up, took me to the trainer’s room, etc.

I had to tell myself he was just being nice to me, and he was--at first.

After that practice, he came to the practices more frequently, and never talked to anyone but me. I started to slowly develop feelings for him.

Because I'm younger, I was fighting these feelings.

But it has become more overwhelming for me.

He started to flirt with me, always smiled when I would stare at him and he'd see me looking.

My feelings started to go past just a small crush, then came the devastating blow, he had a girlfriend!

I found out through a mutual friend.

I started to avoid him, but one day after practice, he confronted me about this.

He asked me why I hadn't talked to him in so long.

I told him I was just busy with my life.

We started to talk, and we got to the subject about his girlfriend.

He tried to avoid the topic, because he knew I liked him, but I insisted telling myself that this would help me.

But after this conversation, my feelings for him have deepened.

He hasn't stopped his flirting either.

When I went to seek advice from our mutual friend, she said that it’s because his girlfriend doesn't go to the same school, and that he just needs attention.

I'm not sure what to do, because I didn't stop this early on, and I'm starting to feel like I'm his rebound, which could very much be true.

Our friends tell me to be a good friend and listener for him, and just to wait.

Everyone who knows us always says that they can see that he likes me, and they say that his relationship with his girlfriend is starting to become unstable, and that they won't last long. I'm not so sure about this, because when I was talking to him about her, I could see he really likes her.

I'm sorry to bug you, but I just need advice, because I don't know what I should do.

Sincerely,

- Hopelessly Confused




Dear Hopelessly,

Forgive me, but your email seems familiar . . . perhaps I answered it before and have forgotten . . .

As great as this guy may be, you're a little too hung up on him for my taste.

This is the time in your life when you're supposed to be Casual Group Dating, not pursuing a relationship.

I think it's great of the two of you go on dates, and I think part of that is you should each date lots of different people.

I'm sure he likes you.

And he's clearly flirting.

It also seems to me that he's one of those guys who overlaps girlfriends . . . that's not typically a good thing.

Yes, you should be friendly, but no, you should not live under the illusion that Guys and Girls can be "just friends".

Heck, that's not what you want anyway, right?

One last pitch: one of the great things about Casual Group Dating is that you don't have to deal with any of this drama!

I say "nice guy, could be a super Casual Group Date, but avoid the Boyfriend Girlfriend thing at your age".

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 13, 2014

Avoiding Online Arguements

Dear Bro Jo,

I am very argumentative and I'm trying to stop.

Lately, I've gotten into a few internet arguments and I realize that they're silly and do no good, but it's just so easy to read something, get defensive and then try to prove that I'm right.

So, what I'm asking for is advice on how to stop and stay away from arguing over the internet and how to keep from getting defensive?

Sincerely,

The Sassy Sister




Dear Sister,

You may be asking the wrong guy. Getting worked up about stuff that people post can be pretty easy to do!  I've been dragged into debates that I had no intention of being in, and if you're not careful not only is it frustrating, it can also eat up massive amounts of time.

I think what works for me best is to:

A) Remember that you can't ever argue someone into conversion 
B) Understand that when people are entrenched in their ideology no amount of links or logic is going to change their mind 
C) Realize that no one agrees with anyone else on everything 
D) Consider that most people are basically good people who mean well, even if they're dumb 
E) Concede that debating with closed minded and ignorant individuals is just a waste of time

If you can't control yourself, block the person, don't visit the site, or simply just put down the mouse and walk away.

Go read your scriptures, hum a hymn, or do something positive to help you refocus your heart and mind. 

Good luck!

And if you come up with anything you find particularly helpful, let me know!

- Bro Jo

Friday, January 10, 2014

How to Break Up

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm not LDS, but I've read your blog and you seem to have amazing relationship advice.

Here's my problem. I'm a sophomore in high school and in a pretty serious relationship. I've been dating my boyfriend since the seventh grade, and lately, I feel restless and irritable because of it.

I feel like we'll be together in the future - we've always been able to talk about the future, like getting married and having kids and everything, but I just want time to see what's out there.

I'm on a different maturity level than he is right now, and as of right now, it just isn't working.

The thing is, I know it will hurt him, even if I explain all of this and I don't want to lose him as a friend - we act like friends half the time anyway.

And all of our friends are just that - OUR friends.

I don't want to make it so they have to choose.

I still want to be his friend, even during our 'break'. It's just a really tricky situation.

Do you have any advice for me?

Yours truly,

- Stuck




Dear Stuck,

Seventh grade is pretty young to pick the one and only person you're going to spend the rest of your life with . . . sure, it can happen, but as you've noticed we change so much during those years that a "serious relationship" can become a stifling trap.

I'm not gonna lie, this is very likely to get messy, but I agree that it’s time to take a break.

(Passed time, really.)

You may indeed lose him as a "friend" (but, if you've read the blog much, you know that unless you end up happily married, that was bound to happen anyway), and many of your mutual friends will take sides.

You may have to deal with one of your best girlfriends becoming his new kissing buddy, and you may find that a few of the guys in your circle have been waiting for this moment to ask you out . . .

Like I said: it could get messy.

The mess and heartache are part of the reasons why I recommend NOT getting in serious relationships until after high school.

A young person's life is already filled with enough drama, right?

Look, I know relationships happen (heck, all of the Jo Kids have had teen relationships, as did Sister Jo and yours truly), but that doesn't mean I recommend them.

The best thing to do is to talk to him.

In person.

Soon.

And preferably during the day in a relatively public place (that will keep the temptations and begging down a bit).

Be Gentle.

Tell him you still care about him (you're trying not to burn a bridge here), and tell him that you're both still very young and you feel that you need some space.

Tell him that during this time you'd like him to date other people so that, when you're both older, if you do end up together, you'll never have to worry about either of you being uncertain about the relationship.

It’s going to be a painful situation, but the longer you wait the harder it will be.

He may beg.

He may cry.

He may be angry.

But your job is to be as calm as possible.

When you've said what you have to say, don't say too much.

Don't apologize and don't say things you don't mean to try and make it all better.

When you've said what you have to say just be quiet.

Give him a chance to react.

And when it’s all over, no goodbye kisses.

The physical stuff will just make all of this more confusing.

Trust me.

Who knows; it may all go better than you think.

Until you get older and have marriage and kid stuff to deal with, this may be the most difficult thing you have to do.

I feel for you, and wish you luck.

And I can promise you that both of you will be better for the experience, though it won't necessarily feel that way at first.

The only other thing I can tell you is to tell a couple very close girlfriends what you're about to do (if you haven't already).

They need to be girls you can trust to say nothing to no one.

Not to gossip, but it will help to have friends in the know to go to when its all over.

(Don't put much time between telling them and talking to him.)

Thanks for reading and writing in!

And, if you feel so inclined, let me know how it goes.

And, again, good luck.

- Bro Jo

PS: I'd love to hear sometime how you heard about "Dear Bro Jo".




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much.

That's really the best advice I could have hoped for, and it makes me feel a lot better about doing what I have to do.

If there's one major thing I agree with LDS on, it's super serious teen relationships.

They have their upsides, but they definitely have their downsides, as I've unfortunately learned.

I'll definitely take your advice - the sooner I do this, the better.

And I stumbled upon your blog because of a mix of web searches.

I was actually looking online for some advice on this situation and your blog popped up.

One of my best friends is Mormon and he and his family definitely have a lot of good policies so I decided to give your site a shot.

I'm really glad I did - you give everyone who writes in really good advice.

Once again, thanks a lot for your advice!

I think it'll be really helpful.

- Stuck




Dear Stuck,

Anytime.

And thank you.

Cheers,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Two Quick Questions

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey!

I was just wondering if you think its okay to tell a teeny tiny fib to get a creeper stalker off my back?

'Cause I felt kinda bad about lying that I'd gotten a new phone, but mostly I'm just relieved he won't try to text me anymore.

And if he asks for my new number?

Should I just give him the nearest Pizza Hut's number?

- Curious



Dear Curious,

I think it's okay to kick a creeper stalker in the groin if that's what it takes to get them to go away.

So there!

But I will tell you this: when it comes to guys that like you that you don't like, lying almost never works.

Honesty, sometimes brutal honesty, is the only thing that works.

Frankly, C, I think it would be smarter to just block his number.

Seriously.

Then no texts and you don't have to lie

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Oh, I don't know if I can do brutal honesty!

I don't want to hurt anyone.

That would be awful.

Also, I've been thinking, and do you think it would be inappropriate to like a guy who is 20 when the girl is 17?

It's not me, or my situation, but when my friend gets back from his mission it could be and I just wanna avoid doing anything wrong... I just don't know.

The age difference isn't bad and I've known him forever, but I know you were like, "15 and 19 year olds can't be friends".

Well . . .  now that I think about the time line, I'll be 18 and off to college when he gets back.

So I guess that's different?

- Curious,



Dear Curious,

Being honest is only painful if you're mean.

Lying can be much more harmful.

There's nothing wrong with LIKING a 20-year old guy when you're 17, but dating?

That's a "no".

18 and 21?

A bit of a stretch.

Less so if, like you said, you're out of high school.

19 and 22?

No problem!

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 6, 2014

Should Him Having Chats Online with Other Women Keep Her from Proposing?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello.

I am writing because I am confused.

I have been with my boyfriend for 11 months now.. and we have a relationship that only people dream of.

Well I just found out that he is flirting with on girls on the internet.

He tells me he loves me all the time and he wants to spend the rest of his life with me.

He also told me . . . no matter what, he promised me that he would never break my heart.

He flirts with girls calling them "hun" and beautiful and stuff.

I dont know if it just me.

I have been hurt so much before.

I don't want to lose him.

He also says the same thing.

I don't know what to think or do. I am so confused right now.

I was going to ask him to marry me soon as it will be our 1 year.

I have never felt such a connection with someone and would be so crushed to lose him.

Any advice?

Thank you,

Name Withheld



Dear NW,

Whoa, whoa, whoa

You two have some serious communicating to do before anyone proposes, and it certainly shouldn't be you doing the asking, anyway.

Instead of telling me how his behavior is making you feel, You need to be telling Him.

And if he isn't understanding, sensitive, and willing to stop then you need to cease being his girlfriend immediately.

A relationship where one of the people is an emotional cheater (yes, that's a real thing - Christ talked about it, you know) and doesn't care how the other person feels, is toxic and doomed to failure.

And you have to realize that there's something wrong if he feels the need to go outside the relationship for flirting and attention.

The fact that attention is online and not in person doesn't make it better, it makes it worse.

One last thing : I don't feel this relationship is as mature or far along as either you do or is appropriate for eleven months.

May I suggest that you both review Bro Jo 's List of Stuff You Need to Know Before You Agree to Marry and Bro Jo 's Five A 's of Why Not to Marry THAT Person.

I think they will help you have a better grip on what this relationship is, where it's at, and where it's going.

Because right now I'm very concerned.

- Bro Jo

Friday, January 3, 2014

Teen-age Long Distance "Relationship"

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey there!

I have liked this guy since 8th grade and now I am in 11th grade. I went through some guys and he went through some girls as well. Now we are both available and have been talking a lot.

There is only one problem, he moved to Utah about two years ago, and I live in Washington.

He does not want to call what we have a “relationship" but because of what we have done (cuddling, holding hands, kissing, nothing sketchy) I feel like we are in one.

Basically I don’t know what is okay and what's not. Is he out kissing other girls?

Is it bad that I feel so attached to him that I don't want to do anything with any other guy?

We have agreed that we can and should go on dates with other people, but I do not really have the desire too.

- In a Relationship?



Dear Ina,

I agree that you're in some kind of "relationship" . . . or, at least, I can understand why you feel like you are . . . AND why he doesn't want to say that you are (it all kind of speaks to the differences between guys and girls, and maybe an understanding that he has and you don't about distances and how a guy can get a girl to kiss him).

The problem, little sister, isn't that he moved.

The problem is that you want to be in a relationship and you're only a junior in high school. Believe me, I understand the appeal. But the truth is that teen-aged relationships are not worth the drama, headaches and heartaches.

Plus, as you've felt, they limit the "Casual Group Dating" that you're supposed to be doing. Now is the time for you to have fun, get to know other people . . . be social . . . practice dating with no pressure and expectations . . .

How you Feel isn't bad, just your desire to Act on those feelings.

As for him kissing other girls . . . I don't know if he is . . . he may not be, but I wouldn't be surprised if he is . . . and neither should you be.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I had a feeling you would say something along those lines. Thanks for taking the time to respond and for the advice!

- In-a




Dear In-a,

That's why I'm here!

Best,

- Bro Jo