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, February 28, 2014

The Courage to Go See the Bishop - Part 5

Dear Bro Jo,

He's called (Bishop's first name withheld) and he has (number of kids withheld) children!!

I'm scared about calling him!

Is it inappropriate to text him?!

Thanks so much!!!

- NW




Dear NW

You could text him.

But calling is better.

And it's okay to be scared.

Really.

It's not like you killed someone!

The point, NW, is that if you call him you'll be sure to meet with him.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for saying that it definitely made me feel better!

Okay, what number is it I need for him then?!

Or do I call the stake number to get it?!

- NW




Dear NW,

I found the home number for a (same name as the Bishop) in (a nearby town) . . . but I'm not sure it's the same guy . . . the phone number to your ward building is: (ward phone number withheld) try that first then you can try the Stake Center (Stake Center Number withheld)

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

You're so good at this, thank you! I'll try them!

I'll let you know how it goes!

Thanks again,

- NW!!




Dear NW,

Cheers!

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Hey Bro Jo, I know it didn't happen as soon as it should so but I've finally got an appointment to see the Bishop tomorrow!

It maybe seems random that I'm emailing you but I just had such a nice experience!

I'm at a baptism and the Bishop just came to me and I felt the spirit so much it was so nice, I feel like a really strong connection with him as its like he's no longer a stranger!

It sounds like something out of a book but it was such a spiritual uplifting moment!!!

- NW




Dear NW,

Good for you, NW!

That's how the Lord works, I believe.

And look at the blessings that have come to you because you were in a good place doing a good thing!

Very cool.

Sounds like something one might want to write in one's journal . . .

All the best,

- Bro Jo




[Readers,

Now I know to some of you it’s going to seem like I was pushing pretty hard, and maybe that’s true. But I also think it’s true that Satan knows that if we put things off we’re less likely to do them. And I think, in this particular case, the writer needed some extra hand-holding and to be shown that she was making excuses (I was able to find all of the information she said she couldn't find simply using basic internet searches, even though I live very far away) and that making excuses can be dangerous. If I had any indication from her that I was pushing too hard I would have backed off, but the conversation was positive and she was grateful, so I kept pushing a little. I suggest that sometimes that little bit of encouragement, said with love, is what we all need from time to time.

Best to you all,

- Bro Jo]

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Courage to Go See the Bishop - Part 4

Dear Bro Jo,

I think that's what's holding me back from calling him because I'm in a new ward with a recently called Bishop!

I used to be in the First Location Withheld Ward but now I'm in the Fifth Location Withheld ward!

Do you think calling him is okay?!

Should I not just ask him tomorrow?!

I've never thought of it like that I guess it would make me a worse person if I wasn't going to the Bishop! 

You don't understand how much better you've made me feel!

I'm so glad I emailed you I know if I hadn't I definitely wouldn't of planned to go and see him!!!

- NW




Dear NW,

Ah!

The Fifth Location Withheld Ward - on Location Withheld Road. Bishop (Name Withheld)?

Yes, I think calling him is okay.

In fact, I think it's best to start there.

Just call and tell him you'd like to talk to him tomorrow and ask if that's okay.

He may have you call his Executive Secretary to make the appointment, which is totally okay.

Often the secretary has a better handle on the Bishop's schedule than he does.

If he offers to meet with you today . . . take it!

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Yepp that's my Bishop!!

How do you find out these things!!

I've just found out its the group meeting tomorrow so all the groups are together for the first lesson so I doubt I'll get chance to see him but I'm going to try!!

It's just hit me how silly I sound putting it off I don't feel so scared thinking about it you've definitely calmed my nerves!!

Thank you!!

I'm just going to see him as soon as I can tomorrow!!!

Thanks,

- NW!!!!!!




Dear NW,

Good for you! (I still think you should call and set an appointment . . . no excuses! Right?) 

You'll be fine.

And I'll be praying for you.

Cheers,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I don't want to ask anybody for his number so I'll settle for first thing at Church tomorrow!!

I'll let you know how it goes!

Thanks again :)!

- NW!!!




Dear NW,

You don't want to ask because you're afraid it will raise suspicions, right?

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Yepp!

That's why I didn't want to go to the secretary person!

- NW




Dear NW,

You know, a need to repent is not the only reason people call the executive secretary and ask for an appointment with the Bishop . . .

What's your Bishop's first name?

(You can always look it up in the directory or on line.)

 Does he have any kids in your ward?

(Knowing that can help you find his number in the ward directory.)

I think your building's phone number is (ward building phone number withheld) you can also get his number by calling the Stake Center that number is (Stake Center Number withheld) (in case you were wondering) ;)

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Courage to Go See the Bishop - Part 3

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you!

I'm so glad you have faith in me because I don't!

I'm going to go and see tomorrow I really am!!

I think I am making too many excuses, I'm just so scared I feel like I'm about to get a roller-coaster :(!!!! Thank you so much!!

- NW




Dear NW,

Nervousness and hesitation come from Satan.

Seriously, do you want me to find his number for you?

'Cause I can, you know. ;)

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

It's so scary!

I'm not going to find it!

I'd hate to call him!

But I keep thinking he's still a person he will think bad of me!!

I'll definitely go and see him!!

I like your status haha :)!

- NW




Dear NW,

As scary as it may be, going through life without the Spirit . . . or wondering whether or not you've made things right with Heavenly Father is MUCH scarier.

I've worked with many Bishops and Stake Presidents . . . none of them ever think less of a person who's trying to make things right with God.

In fact, they think of those that are trying to make things right with love and respect.  They may not love the sin that was committed, but they love the person, and they admire the courage it takes to do the right thing.

Are you in the (First Location Withheld) Ward?

The (Second Location Withheld) Ward?

The (Third Location Withheld) Ward?

The (Fourth Location Withheld) Ward? ;)

Like I said . . . I'll help you get the number if you want! I know you can do it! And I know you'll feel better once you do.

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Courage to Go See the Bishop - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm 18, yep that's right!

It is the same guy but it happened after we were together that's what the bad part is!!

I totally see where you're coming from and that's what I've been thinking!

Making me question things that I've always been so sure of!!

I just can't seem to find the faith to pay tithing I know it's all part of being obedient so I really need to work at it!!

I keep trying to convince myself that I don't need to go to the Bishop but I know I do!

I have a calling as well so I guess I am a little scared about that!!

I wish I could meet up with my old Bishop but I know I can't which makes me feel worse about it!!!

- NW




Dear NW,

With Tithing, NW, don't gain a testimony and then pay; pay your tithing so you can gain a testimony of it.

A lot of Gospel Principles (most, actually) work that way.

We have to live them to know them.

Stop working against yourself!

Instead of trying to convince yourself NOT to see the Bishop, convince yourself TO see the Bishop.

Instead of making excuses, make plans.

(Oooo . . . I like that one! I'll go quote me on the Facebook page!)

Go call and make the appointment to see your Bishop right now.

Go on!

You can do it.

You need the Spiritual help that he can provide because he holds Priesthood Keys (which neither your former Bishop or I hold for you).

Call.

And then let me know you've made the call. I promise you'll feel better!

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I do totally understand everything you're saying!!

I'm so grateful for it!!

I'm so scared I have butterflies even thinking about it!!

I really don't want to do it!!

I'll go and see him tomorrow about it, I can't call him because I don't have his number but I will go and see him!!

I'm going to start paying tithing next time I get paid and I'll let you know it goes!!

I don't have to speak to all the Bishopric do I?!

It can be just the the Bishop right?

- NW!




Dear NW,

NW . . . you're making excuses.

You can get the Bishop's number if you want to, and you know it.

Yes, you can just speak to him.

This is like jumping in the swimming pool.

We know we should, but we convince ourselves that the water will be cold, then we wait . . . then we find ourselves not jumping.

You can do it!

I have faith in you!

- Bro Jo

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Courage to Go See the Bishop - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm so sorry to email you again!!

I really hope you can help me :).

I know I seem like I'm making things unnecessarily hard for myself but I'll explain!

Firstly, my life is pretty amazing at the minute I have an amazing family who support me so much!

I'm getting an education and I have some amazing friends!

The problem is I've done something's with a guy and I just can't bring myself to go and see my Bishop.

I feel like I should automatically want go and see him. . .

But I just really don't!

I've prayed about it but I just don't get the feeling I should go and see him.

I really don't know what to do!

I've got so many questions about the gospel and I think that might have something to do with it.

I do have a testimony but I've got so much I've got to work on and I find out for myself rather than just relying on other people!!

Thanks so much!!!!

- (Name Withheld)




Dear NW,

Alright, NW.

(And good morning, by the way.)

Help me help you.

What did you do?

And what are your questions about the Gospel?

And why do you think you're hesitant to go talk to your Bishop?

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Okay, thanks for getting back to me so soon!!

Well we did some pretty serious things . . . we didn't have sex we just did other things!

He touched me and I touched him.

I regret it now but I feel I regret it or the wrong reasons.

Firstly because I fell for an idiot and second I'm worth more than to act the way I have!!

I have so many questions, like tithing I just can't seem to find the faith to pay it!

I've prayed about it so many times and I just can't!

Also about seeing my Bishop!

I just feel like he barely knows me so it's weird confessing to a strange who I don't feel comfortable around!!!

And lastly I think I'm hesitant because I know I it's wrong but I just don't think it's the end of the world and I hate to that attitude because I normally disagree but I just can't shake it off!!

I've been thinking so much recently about life after death and I find it so hrs to comprehend! Thanks so much for your help!!!!

- NW




Dear NW,

NW . . . can you please remind me how old you are?

I seem to remember talking to you about focusing on Casual Group Dating and telling you that I thought you were too young to be in a "serious relationship".

Is this the same guy?


Sexual stuff is pretty powerful.

First of all, we like it. And it's supposed to be enjoyable!

The thing is, the stuff we do doesn't just lead to sex, it leads to Making Babies.

(I've always hated the phrases "making love" and 'having sex" because, well . . . the first one implies that's what two people do when they're "in love" - which can be the case, but isn't always - and they both leave out the "baby making" aspect.)

No "birth control" is 100% effective, and that's awful difficult to remember when one is in the moment and excited.

That's why the Lord gives us boundaries and advice about holding back until we're married.


I have a strong testimony of Tithing because I've personally seen the blessings that come into my life from being obedient to the Will of Heavenly Father.

I think Tithing is one of those principles that one must live in order to gain a testimony of it.

As we obey God's commandments he blesses us, and that includes us feeling the Spirit . . . and as you well know, you need the Spirit in your life a little bit more right now.


Take a look at how Satan is working on you!

Eating at your testimony a little bit here . . . a little bit there . . . doubting tithing . . . questioning the value of priesthood authority . . . helping you find yourself in situations where your hormones override your judgment . . .

See what's going on?

Satan gets us to stop doing the little things . . . paying tithing, going to Church, reading the scriptures, praying . . . and then we don't feel the Spirit like we ought to . . . and then it becomes more difficult to resist temptation.

- Bro Jo

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Courage to Go See the Bishop - Intro

Readers,

This week we're going to do something different.

Each day I'm going to share with you part of a discussion I had with a young person who had messed up and was afraid to talk to the Bishop.

I want you to see:

A) that if this is something you're going through, you're not alone

B) how Satan works on us in little ways

and

C) the process that we all, in some way or another, go through.

Will this reader go see her Bishop?

Will she continue down the same path?

How will it all work out?

I hope you find the posts this week valuable.

I love you, and I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ do, too.

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 21, 2014

Is There Such a Thing as Kissing Your Fiance Too Much?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi there,

So, I've read your notes on passionate kissing, and I still feel kind of in the dark.

I'm currently engaged and up ‘til recently had never made-out or anything of the like.

I don't mean to try to push the limits, I just want to know, because I find this to be hard to gauge.

(And it's not as if this topic gets covered anywhere.)

At what point does a kiss become Too Passionate in your opinion?

I realize that you shouldn't pet or neck or the like, and I haven't, but does a kiss go too far if it causes a small ejaculation?

For guys, you know what happens when you're kissing, so when do you think it gets out of control?

Thanks for your help,

- Confused




Dear Confused,

I think there's too much kissing going on, or it's Too Passionate, when there's the slightest possibility of one's Temple Worthiness being jeopardized.

Does that make sense?

As you know, I don't have a problem with committed couples kissing, but I do profess the Dr. Seuss Guidelines:

Not in a room
Not in a car
Don't get too close
Don't go too far

Not on a couch
Not in the dark
Or alone in a house
Or in the park


Or, if you prefer, take advice from Enchanted:

That's what brings ever-aftering (so happy)
That's the reason we need lips so much
For lips are the only things that touch
So to spend a life of endless bliss
Just find who you love through true love's kiss



On a related note, I believe in very short engagements, and I think that once a couple is engaged they should spend very little time alone together because Satan hates Eternal Marriages and will make situations as tempting as possible so that they won't happen.

Once a couple is sealed, there's not much they can do in the ol' make-out department that will harm their Temple Recommend holder status.

And, while you didn't ask specifically, what's happening as a . . . byproduct . . . of your kissing in and of itself is not a bad thing.  Kissing is often a . . . warm up . . . to sex, and your body is responding the way it's designed to, so that's not bad in-and-of-itself . . . but what we're supposed to save for after marriage can be very tempting before marriage, especially if the engine is running, so it's best to cool things off.  For now.

Be sure to keep your hands off each other's parts and keep your parts off of each other and keep your parts safely clothed. That will help. And then, after you're married and you gain more . . . experience . . . in intimate stuff, this won't be happening with this low level of stimulus anymore.

At least it shouldn't.

If it never gets better, if you find that after marriage and more experience you consistently can't have sex because you're too excited too soon, you can and should talk to a doctor.

But let's worry about that later.  After you're married.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

More than Friends but Not Dating?

Dear Bro Jo,

I’ll try to limit this to the information related to the specific question, but let me know if you need to know anything else to get a better answer!

There’s a lot of information because I’ve known this guy since freshman year. 

I am a 17 year old girl.

Basically I really like this guy, and have for quite some time.

He’s made some mistakes in the past (nothing inappropriate, just stupid), but eventually at the end of it all, I still end up liking him.

He knows I like him because I told him, after a long, long time of being too scared to do so.

We’re both seniors now and will be 18 in a few months.

Freshman and sophomore year I saw him quite a bit because we went to the same school, had some similar classes, and were in the same seminary class. (Early morning)

Junior year I started going to a community college to earn concurrent enrollment credits toward my Associates degree that I can graduate with in the spring.

That meant that I was pretty much never at the high school any more. But, we both still saw each other at seminary.

And, of course the extra times we would hang out on the weekends and such. However, this year, senior year. I am still at the college, and he is taking a zero period AP class, which means he has to do home study seminary.

So, the only time I see him is if/when we make plans to do something.

We both really enjoy the time we spend together; whether it be at a dance, going on a walk, watching a movie, eating dinner, etc.

When we watch movies we’ll cuddle and hold hands, and when I leave he’ll hug me goodbye.

That’s as far as we’ve ever gone.

And he has made the decision that he doesn’t want to have a serious relationship before his mission.

I told him that I agree that this is a good choice and that I fully support him through this.

But, I feel like we’re in this weird in between zone-- more than friends, but not dating...if you know what I mean?

This is where my question comes in. He’ll either be leaving on his mission after graduation sometime, or he’ll go to college for a semester first. (Things have changed now with the new missionary announcement) So, is it really worth my time to continue on with this when he’ll be leaving?

I mean, he’s not the one stopping me from going out or doing things with other guys, that’s just because no one is asking me... If someone asked, I would say yes, because me and this guy aren’t dating exclusively.

But I just worry that he’ll be hard to get over and that I should just start the process now, because there’s a huge, huge chance that I will go off to BYU/BYU-I (haven’t heard back yet) and meet some really great RM and get married or engaged at least before he even gets back from his mission.

It’s hard for me to think of what the right decision is because the thought of not having him in my life like he is now is not a good one.

So your outside input would be helpful!

Again, let me know if you need more information!

Thanks,

- Wondering




Dear Wondering,

No more information is necessary.

No, it's not worth your time to continue this pseudo relationship.

You should not be cuddling on the couch watching movies, either.

Can and should you continue to go on Casual Group Dates with him?

Of course! 

(Although I get the impression that Casual Group Dating hasn't been part of your activities to date . . . and it should.)

And, DUH!

OF COURSE NO ONE ELSE IS ASKING YOU OUT!!!

No Good Guy is going to take some other guy's girlfriend out on dates unless there's some rule (see the Casual Group Dating Rules) that makes it okay (unless he's trying to use his Good Guy-ness to get you to realize that you shouldn't be in a relationship . . . but it's rare to see that kind of effort since it typically goes unappreciated and wasted).

Oh, and by the way, since it seems that you two may not be clear on this: yes, you're Boyfriend and Girlfriend.  I'm sure everyone that knows you thinks of you in that way.

And you're pretty darned exclusive, too.

There's nothing wrong with the two of you liking each other; nor is there anything wrong with you wanting to hug and hold hands, but there's a lot wrong with the context and the lack of either of you spending time with other dates.

Diversify!

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Okay thank you so much for your input!! I will keep that in mind!

- Wondering




Dear Wondering,

Which of course means that you didn't get the answer you want and you're going to do whatever you want anyway, right?

Please, if you do get a chance to go on dates with another guy, go.  And I urge you to find a way to give up the on-the-couch cuddling before it goes further than it already has.

- Bro Jo

Monday, February 17, 2014

He Picked the Other Girl Instead of Her on Valentine's Day . . . What Can She Do?

Dear Bro. Jo,

I have a friend and he is LDS. He is a good (ish) kid. But I'm worried about him because he just turned 16 and on Valentine’s Day he got a Girlfriend and he got his first kiss (he had only known her for less than a month)

Well I asked him where his line is (like where he is willing to stop with a girl) this was my diagram Hugging----------holding hands---------- cuddling----------kissing----------Making out------------not appropriate things (like petting) ---------- sex

And I asked him where he would draw his line (and for your information mine is before cuddling) he said he would draw his line right before not appropriate things.

I am worried about him because his new girlfriend doesn't have the same standards (I’m not even sure if she is LDS) and I feel that he has jumped into things to fast considering he just met her and he already kissed her and now they kiss pretty much every chance they get, and he advances (on the line) really really fast.

I asked him what he would do if she wants to pass his line and he said he would be able to say no.

So I then asked him how he knows that he would be able to.

He said that a girl has already tried to have sex with him and that he was able to say no because he is confident in himself, but this girl was not his girlfriend.

I am worried that he doesn't realize how he is so close to inappropriate things. I was wondering what you would do in a situation like this. I really don't want him to get into trouble, but I don't think he realizes he is in trouble.

By the way I love love love your blog!!

Thank you so much for answering all of the questions and for posting some of them, it is a great help for me to find other teens in the same situations (or close enough) to me and to read what they have done and what you suggest.

Thanks again!

-Worried friend




Dear Worried,

You're right to be concerned, but there's not much you can do.

You've expressed your concern, he heard you, and he doesn't care.

I'm sorry he picked her instead of you, but he sounds like a bit of an idiot, so you're probably better off without him.

Okay.  I just said that last part to make you feel better.

But let's be honest here:  your problem is less what he's doing (though you and I agree he shouldn't be exclusive or moving so fast down the "line"), but that he didn't choose you; protest all you want, but it's clear you wish he was holding your hand instead of making out with her . . . and while that's understandable, it has nothing to do with your concern for his well-being.

And you should be in a relationship at your age, either.

Oh, and while I'm thinking about it: I think you should swap kissing and cuddling in your diagram.

You've broken out "making out", so "kissing" would mean a quick kiss on the cheek or a good-night kiss at the end of a Casual Group Date.

Both of those are much more benign than cuddling.

Thank you for the kind words,

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 14, 2014

Making the Most of Valentine's Day

Dear Bro Jo,

It’s my second semester at BYU-I and I have a crush on one of my FHE brothers.

Just for some background my track record with guys isn’t the best.

Seems like I scare them off, rub them the wrong way, or just seems like I’m a magnet for all the wrong guys.

First guy I went on a date with (knew I had a crush on him) said he had fun and promised me another date… but before that could happen he got a girlfriend and never talked to me about it again.

Next guy was too young, not a member, didn’t have the same standards, and I was chasing him more than he was chasing me (I had to organize everything: conversations, get-togethers, etc.—it all just wasn’t worth it.)  We never really dated, just spent a lot of time flirting when we saw each other. Needless to say he too now has a girlfriend.

These two were the only ones I really liked in high school.

Now, this semester I’ve done a better job at communicating with guys and getting comfortable around them.

But I always feel like I have to hold back so I don’t rub them the wrong way.

Bro Jo, it’s so frustrating when my roommates seem to get really nice boyfriends so fast.

Makes me wonder what I’m doing wrong.

I’m very involved in my ward activities: FHE, service opportunities, calling, etc., have a strong testimony of the gospel, and doing my best to be patient (I’m a firm believer in the guy making the first move…since that experience with the other young guy I was interested in. But also being patient for a guy to express interest).

Despite my best efforts to flirt with this FHE brother without overdoing it, I’ve had no luck.

Who knows, it’s possible he’s interested in someone else, maybe he’s just a nice guy and I’ve mistaken it as flirting, maybe I already rubbed him the wrong way, maybe (the list could go on and on). I’ve contemplated asking the Lord to help me out on this, but seems like something that I shouldn’t ask for—just seems a little immature.

I don’t know, maybe it’s the nearness of Valentine’s Day that’s getting to me and making me feel more than a little pathetic.

I’m sorry this is probably the millionth woe-is-me-cuz-I’m-single sob stories you’ve received this month, so sorry about that.

I'm really fine with being single when I'm not thinking about it (if that makes any sense).

But, anyways, do you have any advice about how a girl can move on after she’s pretty sure he’s just a nice guy and probably not interested?

Or any other advice about what I could do better?

Thanks,

- I Want a Valentine




Dear V,

OFCOURSE you should ask the Lord for help with this!

You should ask the Lord for help with anything and everything, including relationships.

If it means anything, we've been together almost 25 years and I ask the Lord to help me with my relationship all the time. (Not as much as Sister Jo does, though!)

And you might want to have a chat with this guy you're interested in as well.

After all, Information Precedes Revelation.

And if I've learned one thing about guys at your school . . . LDS guys in general, I suppose, it's that they're lacking in training and confidence when it comes to dating, so you may just need to go into training mode and tell this guy that you'd like him to ask you out on a date . . . no pressure (don't make him feel like you think of this as anything more than an opportunity for him to be a Good Guy and the two of you to get to know each other better) . . . just have fun!

I don't think you're doing anything wrong.

It sounds like you're improving.

Be Patient.

But don't give up just yet.  You can't quit trying until you've actually tried.

Does that make sense?

Lastly, you and your roommates are different people . . . you're not all going to find love at the same time or in the same way.

It will happen.

But it's often better to make our own destiny than to sit around waiting for destiny to find us.

So rather than give up, use this Holiday as an Excuse to Be Brave . . . to give it a shot.

You have nothing to lose, you know.



-Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Valentine's Proposal

Dear Bro Jo,

I found your blog near the start of summer last year, as I was just starting my second year as an efy counselor.

Well, my first co-counselor and I clicked really well, went on a few dates over the summer and into the semester.

We started dating seriously at the start of December, and honestly things have been amazing, lol.

I love her, my family loves her, her family is amazing and both our families connect well together, we've discussed many of the topics in your before getting engaged list, we have so many of the same, if not really close ideas on them, and I'm planning on bringing up the last few we haven't talked about before I actually do propose.

 (By the way, I'm not very good at describing things in detail if you can't tell.)

I'm planning on being romantic/cheesy and (sadly she has work ON Valentine’s) propose on the 13th (the day before Valentine’s Day).

I've never been even close to this point before, lol, do you have any suggestions for what I should do to prepare for it, make sure it's what I want and what The Lord wants, or any other suggestions in general? 

-M




Dear M,

Everything I might suggest is stuff that it sounds like you're already doing (meet her family, discuss the "before you get engaged" topics, have a plan, and PRAY) ... Good for You!

And congratulations!

A good marriage requires communication, sacrifice, and commitment. It's a tremendous amount of work ... and worth all of the work you can put in.

God bless,

- Bro Jo


Readers,

What do you think?

Good idea?

What else, if anything, do you think M needs to do before he pops the question?

- Bro Jo

Monday, February 10, 2014

Future Missionaries and Valentines

Dear Bro Jo,

First off I would like to thank you for your blog!

I have found so many answers to things that I have been looking for! Thank you for taking the time to answer every question and responding to the best of your ability.

I have a couple questions for you today, and they all tie in together.

I was wondering about mission papers, I'm not sure I understand, if a male is in high school, is 18, and fills out his mission papers, would he leave a month or so after graduation?

Or does he choose a date to leave?

Okay and now my other question still involves this boy, let's just say that I really like him, and I have reason to believe he likes me (at least that's what my friend, and my dad says... And he has dropped some hints )

Well I am wondering if it is a bad idea to start "kindling" a relationship with this boy because he has already turned in his mission papers. Does that mean he is really close to leaving?

And I understand that we can still go out on dates and stuff, but, I guess I'm getting into a slightly serious relationship topic. I don't know what do to..

I want a serious relationship but I don't want to go against Church dating standards.

And my final question is about Valentine's day:  what does it mean to have a valentine?

Is it someone you like?

Does it mean anything relationship wise?

Thanks again for spending the time to read this and respond!

Love,

- the awkward teenager




Dear Teenager,

When a guy, or girl, or older couple, fills out mission paperwork they can indicate the date after which they are available.

That might be after graduation, the end of semester, when they anticipate having everything in order, or have completed certain work or other obligations.

A guy may begin his mission paperwork before high school graduation, if his Bishop says that it's okay, but he must graduate high school (or his local equivalent) before he can serve.

The application asks for a guy's Melchizedek Priesthood ordination date, and it used to mean that that he needed to be ordained before hitting send on the application, but with the change in missionary age that's no longer the case.

With the influx of applications over the last year, I'm less and less certain (not that I ever had it all figured out) what the timing of reporting to the MTC will be. I've known recent missionaries to have everywhere from three weeks to five months to report. The Lord calls us on his timetable, not ours. 


Kindling a relationship?

No. Not a good idea at this age.


Going on Casual Group Dates with this boy and getting to know him better?

You bet!


As far as Valentine's Day . . . It means different things to different people, and that can vary widely depending on the local culture. Where we live, everyone is my five-year old's Valentine.

My middle school kids don't have a Valentine (though they may wish they did), and our one high-school boy who has a "special friend" bought her flowers and candy on Valentine's Day.

Sister Jo is my Eternal Valentine. I always just think of it as an expression of love. My advice is to keep it simple.


[BTW:  Bro Jo thinks that all of the Single Adults who get bitter about Valentine's Day need to build a bridge . . . and "get over it".  Like so many things in life, if it bothers you, fix it; if it doesn't bother you, stop whining.]

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for the insight!

And now that I understand the whole missionary thing, it solves a little bit of my dilemma.

Yeah... I didn't think about that... I guess I could go out on some group dates with him and that would be great!

Also thanks for clarifying the Valentines thing for me too.

I thought that Valentines were just for the special someone / boyfriends and girlfriends.

I appreciate it!

Love,

- the less awkward teenager




Dear Teenager,

Happy Valentine's Day!

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 7, 2014

Saving the Relationship

Dear Bro Jo,

I am not a member of your Church, but I know you have published a lot of books. I am curious what you have done as far as relationships go?

My girlfriend and I have been trying to work things out, and I was curious what you have as a tool that I might be able to use?

I look up to you and Sister Jo's relationship and want to know what the secret is?

Any info you have or tips are greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

Mr. Fix It




Dear Fix It,

Every relationship is different . . . but basically people act and react in predictable ways.

The key is to discover what motivates them; what is it that is behind why they do and say what they do and say.

Most of the relationship stuff I talk about boils down to helping people understand what those motivations are and why.

What they chose to do about them is their call.

Sister Jo and I can be volatile. We're outspoken, opinionated people. Two of those in a relationship can be an additional challenge.

Add to that my drive to want to "talk things to death" and her need to be left alone when she's upset, and we've had some whopper arguments.

I'm not sure what's going on with you and your girlfriend, but I know that women don't like men to "fix" them, and men think women come to them with issues because they want us to offer solutions.

Women just want to be heard.

When they're done venting they want us to say "honey, I love you; I know you can handle it" or as was said in a show I watch, "those three magic words:  wow, that sucks".

As for us, we men need to be appreciated.

Whatever it is we're bringing to the table we think it's valuable and we want to be thanked.

And our brains are wired differently. Ever see this VIDEO?

I believe that the thing that makes relationships work is being selfless; the willingness to put the other person's needs and wants ahead of our own, and communicating enough so that we know what those needs are.

The problem arises when we start to feel (in economic terms) like we're not getting any "utility" from our relationship.

We think the other person is selfish and here we're always being selfless, and how come their not doing for us like we're doing for them!

Which is, of course, selfish.

For us, brother, in order to make things work we need to fight our tendencies to be selfish, and the best way for us to do that is to be of service to others, but mostly of service to each other.

For Sister Jo and I that's where Church comes in.

Getting that regular reminder of the things that are truly important in this life is something I have to have.

It's like the God-Husband-Wife Triangle.

(Which I really recommend you look at if you haven't before.)

As Sister Jo and I work on being selfless we grow closer to God, and that brings us closer to each other.

Of course, both people need to be willing to do that.

Just as both people need to care about the relationship succeeding.

You know what it's like when only one person cares . . . that sucks.

There's no magic salve. ..

And what works for some doesn't work for everybody. ..

And it's not like our marriage is all dancing trees and singing flowers. ..

But I wouldn't want to live without being married to Sister Jo, and I know she feels the same about me.

And that's pretty cool.

It's worth all of the effort - and it does take a lot of effort sometimes!

(I'm sure Sister Jo has to put forth a lot more effort to get along with me than I do to get along with her. Heck, we ALL know that's true.)

So decide if this is someone you can trust (that, TRUST, by the way, is more important than perhaps anything else in a relationship; certainly more important than attraction and love) will put your needs before her own AND (this is very important) that she can trust that you'll do the same.

That means you two need to have a very serious talk.  Very soon.


And you know, brother . . . maybe Church is what you need . . .

You don't have to be a member of the LDS Church to go to Sunday meetings . . . I think a lot of people don't know that.

Perhaps the LDS Faith has something to teach you about growing closer to God and how that can help you grow closer to each other.  I can tell you that it works for me, and I'm very grateful to have that regularly in my life.

If I can help in any way, I'm always here for you.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

When the Person You Really Like (in High School) is in a Relationship with Someone Else

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey there, Bro Jo!

I stumbled across your blog on Facebook and must admit I have spent a few hours on here.

It has been so helpful for me to learn and read more about dating and relationships and such.

Especially as a girl at the age of 17 and entering into my Senior year of high school, it is something on my mind quite a bit.

I'm grateful that you put so much heart and thought into your replies and I've been touched by many of them!
Now, I have my own little story and am seeking advice on how to deal with this situation.

So, there is this really wonderful boy I know, (name withheld).

He is basically amazing--straight A student, talented cross country runner, pianist, friendly, kind, sweet, funny. I've never known a guy as close to perfection!

And even better yet--he is in choir with me at school.

A few months ago, we had our choir Spring Tour to Cali, and during that weekend, I guess you could say we became very close friends.

We talked about everything, laughed, went on a sort-of "date" on the pier, sat by each other everywhere, hung out a lot, and he saved a seat for me on the bus everywhere we went.

Before this point, we were casual friends, just the usual say-hi friends or engaged in small talk, and we've known each other since 5th grade (might I add we had crushes on each other back then, we found out). But on this trip, I felt so close to him and wow-I was SO impressed by him. And how easy it was to just talk and be myself. He is the best listener and each conversation was so intelligent and worthwhile, which I so value.

And he is extremely polite and thoughtful!

There are very few genuine gentleman like him.

It's hard to put in words just how highly I think of him.

Might I add I am a pretty sweet and friendly girl, so I have opportunities to date and meet lots of boys, but never before have I felt like I wanted to be the best I can possibly be for someone.

He truly brings out my true self.

I just felt sooo good around this boy!

Anyway, I started having feelings for him from the get-go, basically. But I thought I could easily hide them and nothing would come of it.

So that was my plan.

But a few people found out, like they always do.

Guess I couldn't hide my feelings after all huh?

Not that this was a problem--I actually found out that (he) told his roommates I was "very pretty and he loved being around me."

Not sure what that means, but I thought he maybe liked me!

He sure acted like it from the way he looked and talked to me...

Anyways, it was so hard on me throughout the weekend because of one significant detail: he had a girlfriend back home...and though they were just good friends and dating "casually", I definitely didn't want to get in the way.

I know the girl too, and we are friends in Math class.

I don't exactly know the status of their relationship, other than they've been together for a few months.

And I know they shouldn't exactly be dating....but I don't want to judge because he entrusted in me some difficult family problems, which may increase his need for a steady girlfriend?

I'm not sure...

However, I also don't want to give him up.

He is the only boy in my mind right now who remains interesting to me.

We texted for a while after our trip, and he still talks to me at school, but obviously our friendship's not the same because we are both very busy!

Also, hanging out might be awkward, considering his not-single relationship status. I've had a few other boys and several dates since with good friends, but I can't stop thinking about (him), and I really felt a deep connection to him, and still do- as a friend and romantically as well.

Also, I might add, I'm very casual about dating--I've never really had a boyfriend and have not been kissed, though I've had boys who've liked me very seriously.

This is one of the first times I've felt this drawn to a boy--personality, looks, his testimony, just everything. 

The feelings have obviously calmed down quite a bit since the trip 2 months ago.

But I saw a picture of him tonight and my heart sort of fell for a second and I remembered all our sweet talks and my memories of him. (as cheesy as that sounds).

No, we never talked about our feelings for each other openly, just that we wanted to remain 'really good friends'.

I'm not exactly forward when it comes to these things. I know he's still with his girlfriend though.

So, you are a very wise man! What are your thoughts on all this?

Do you think I stand a chance in his mind?

Would it be weird for him to have slight crush on me while dating this other girl?

Should I try to stay friends with him to stay a prospect for the future?

Does it sound like he was into me at all?

What should I do?

I hope this doesn't sound like too much of a mess...I'm just surprised at how much I actually feel for this boy and how much I miss him.

I hope to hear from you!

Sincerely,

- Miss Lovesick




Dear Lovesick,

I think all is fair in love and war (more on that later), but if this boy is the age you paint him to be, his focus should be a mission, not a relationship with a 17 year old girl still in high school.

I do think you "stand a chance", and it's certainly possible for him to be in a relationship with someone else bit have a crush on you.

[A guy acting upon those feelings is only a big red flag if he's married or seriously committed to her; girls (and guys) need to understand that anyone who cheats on another for you could just as likely cheat on you.]

I don't believe that guys can stay 'just friends' with girls because, well . . . they can't.  (And shouldn't.)

And I think that getting into the "Friend Zone" often kills any romantic possibilities.

I think you should go on Casual Group Dates with him, regardless of whether or not he has a "girlfriend" (that's the "all's fair" part) so long as you both follow the rules, and that includes him doing the asking.

- Bro Jo

Monday, February 3, 2014

Can You Kiss Without Commitment?

Dear Bro Jo, 

Hi!

I have a couple of questions for you and I'm going to try to keep this short and sweet.

There's this boy I really like and I know he likes me back. So far we've only gone on one date (yes a Casual Group Date) but I'm taking him to our formal in a few weeks.

To get straight to the point, I know he wants to kiss me, eventually, and I want to kiss him too.

Now this could still and probably will be a little while off, but I'm nervous.

This boy is probably going to be my first kiss!

(Oh I'm a junior in high school by the way.)

The thing is, a kiss is kinda like a commitment, but would it also be a commitment to be his girlfriend?

I'm trying to stay away from that whole boyfriend girlfriend thing, because we're not supposed to steady date in high school, but I'm almost a little confused on what qualifies as having a boyfriend.

If he kisses me does that make me his girlfriend?

I guess I'm just not sure on how to not become the BF GF thing.

Do I just still continue to date lots of people and him every once in a while?

I'm just not sure.

Do I let him kiss me at all?

(Please say yes!)

And what can I do to make sure he understands what I want?

I'd very much appreciate your help.

Thanks,

Girl who wants her first kiss




Dear Wants,

Well . . . you've got a lot of questions there!

For starters, if you haven't read it yet, check out "Bro Jo's Guide to Kissing" (on the FB page HERE, and also in my book, "Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating" )

Kiss or no kiss, I think you still need to follow the Casual Group Dating Rules, and that includes not going out with the same guy twice in a row.

The only way to have anyone EVER understand what we want is to talk to them.

Of course, that can become a real moment-killer if he's about to kiss you good night and you stop him to talk about it first (not to say that's a bad idea), so this may be a conversation you should have with him BEFORE the . . . moment.

I know that sounds awkward . . . but communication really is the key.

So early on, perhaps even before the formal dance, you bring up the subject of BF-GF and kissing and commitment and give him an opportunity to express how he feels. You can tell him that while most people think a kiss is a commitment, and while you agree that kisses shouldn't be given away to just anybody, that you also don't think boys and girls should have pre-mission commitments, so you think a simple goodnight kiss at the end of a date is okay and doesn't have to imply that people are in a relationship.

Once that's out there, I think that's all you can do.

What makes something a "relationship" is an understanding between two people that is what it is.

Often that means a kiss . . . or a DTR talk. (Sister Jo and I never had "the talk", we just stopped dating and spending time with other people.)

I think these things go best if you make some decisions beforehand.

For example, I don't think you should let your wish to be kissed override anything else you've decided. If you don't want it to be a commitment, then don't give in on that standard just because you want your lips to touch, particularly if he makes that a "condition".

Don't ever betray who you are, do things you know you're not supposed to do, or give in to something you're not ready for just because you think you're supposed to.

And don't pressure anyone else to, either.  (Just because you're ready to smooch, that doesn't mean that he is, and that needs to be respected.)

During the date one way to see if either of you are ready is to, if you haven't already, hold hands.  Now holding hands isn't a sign that kissing is a certainty, but jumping straight to kissing can be a pretty big leap on it's own.

Hope that helps,

- Bro Jo