Things to know

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

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

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

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Monday, March 31, 2014

When a Girl in Your Group Asks a Gay Boy to Be Her Date for the Girl-ask-guy Dance

Dear Bro Jo,

I first would like to thank you for all that you do to give advice and helpful standing on dating to young people like me--I know you have made a difference in many lives!

I have a question for you, or more of a situation of which I would like to present to you and get your opinion on it. It has really been stressing me out.

So there is this girl-ask-guy semi-formal church dance coming up... and I ended up asking an amazing guy in my stake that I don't know all that well... but he's really excited and that makes me really excited too!!

After facing a huge fear of mine, I know I made the right choice in asking him, because I am so much happier of a person to know that he accepted! :)

In that aspect, I'm really looking forward to the dance.

But there is a problem, a friend of mine, whom has been planning this with me for a while about putting a fun group together and everything, invited some other girl to join our group before Okaying it with me...

And normally I wouldn't think that's a huge deal--the more the merrier right?

BUT... her date is gay.

And it doesn't make any sense why she even asked a gay guy!

And why she thinks it only effects her, because it totally effects the entire environment of the group she joins, which is just unfair to everyone.

The problem is, I don't know what to do.

We're not supposed to "judge" gays but my dad is absolutely against having him in our home for dinner that night if he is going to act that way.

And not to mention how uncomfortable I will be as well as my date and everyone else!

I don't want to be a jerk, to kick her and her date out of the group, but I have also been planning this out for literally MONTHS and I never agreed to letting her in in the first place and I have been looking forward to this for F.O.R.E.V.E.R. because this is actually my first dance!!

And I want to make the night special because I really like the guy that I asked to be my date.

I am sort of the group planning leader as desired by some of the other girls in the group, but I don't really feel like a leader if they are going to not even give me an option as to who can be in and who can't.

It's almost inconsiderate when I have spent so much time and energy and money working to make sure everyone agrees on our date plans!

It really bothers me!

Should I let them stay?

Or should I keep it safe by not allowing that type of material in our group date?

Maybe I am just worried too much about what people think, but I truly am concerned for the results of the dance when it comes down to this.

What should I do??

-Extremely Overwhelmed




Dear Extreme,

While it's poor etiquette to invite someone to join a group that you're not in charge of (much like inviting a guest to someone else's party), I personally think it would be very un-Christian of you to kick this couple out of your group.  (And, I might add, in this situation it is explicitly implied that your friend not only gets to invite a date, but she should have a reasonable expectation that she gets to pick that date . . . without having to seek your approval first.)

While I don't agree with the choice this boy is making regarding his sex-life, I find your attitude (and that of your father) selfish, intolerant, ignorant, and not at all in keeping with the teachings of Jesus.

And frankly, your attitude (both of you) is both naive and offensive.

You may be planning the date, and I understand that it's important to you, but you should never allow the choices made by others, how they're different, or how they act, to have a negative impact on your own joy. 

Please.

It's not as if this boy is going to put on a drag show or have sex in your living room . . .

Focus on you, your friends, and having a fun evening.

That's what you need to do.

And I think you should go out of your way to help this young man feel welcome and safe in your group and in your home.

In the Church of Jesus Christ we do not ostracize people or make them feel hated simply because they're doing things they should not.

Quite the opposite.

We invite them.

We encourage them.

We love them.

This event isn't just a chance for you to go to a fun dance; it's a chance for you to mature and become a better person.

I invite you to check out the "Mormons and Gays" website created by the Church.  Start by watching the first video featuring Elder Oaks.  I think you may find it encouraging and enlightening.

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sleep Overs

Dear Bro Jo,

G'day!

I've got a mate in YSA who I've pretty much grown up with.

We're both 19 and both of us have our mission calls, so we're just waiting to leave :) A month or so ago (before his call arrived), he asked me a question I wasn't expecting during a road trip to a neighbouring stake.

He's a very social chap, this friend of mine.

He told me that he often goes over to the homes of other YSA in our stake (normally female) when they hold small social gatherings with guys and girls and talk until the wee hours of the morning about all sorts of things- life, church, the guys and girls in YSA, etc.

I knew all this, but that's not where the question lay.

As he's not licensed, he often is dropped off by his parents or catches a ride with other YSA to these things, but then goes on to stay the night being the only male in the house with two girls.

He went on to ask me if I thought that was inappropriate.

To tell you the truth, I didn't know what to answer.

I said that if it had been just him and a female in the house, then it would have been an outright 'yes, that's wildly inappropriate' but since there was another female I said it wasn't as bad, but still not entirely ideal. 

Even then though, to me it still doesn't seem right.

I don't suspect him of doing anything wrong (and nor should I- it's not my place to judge), but I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Should I be more vocal in my concern?

Thanks,

- Missionary-in-waiting




Dear Missionary,

His actions are SO INAPPROPRIATE my head is swimming with where to start!


First let me address the topic that seems to never go away: y'all play too fast and loose with the word "judgment".

When Christ says that Judgment is the Lord's and warns not to cast stones at others, what he's teaching is that it's not our place to Spiritually Condemn a Soul, nor is it our place to decide if a Soul has been forgiven BECAUSE, and this is very important, we are neither the Savior nor his Appointed Judges.

For the record:  Bishops, Stake Presidents, and Apostles ARE appointed to be judges here on earth. Not to condemn, but to verify sinful behavior, act on behalf of the individual and the Church in regards to determining a person's worthiness and, most importantly, help with repentance.

Those responsibilities, the scriptures teach us, don't end with their death, either.

While serving as a Judge in Israel may have an Earthly timeout, those same people are told to be expected to serve again in that capacity when they're in the Spirit World.

This is also not to say that we are not to 'judge" behavior.

In fact, we're required to.

How else will we keep ourselves on the straight and narrow path?

We must be able to say "those people over there in the Great and Spacious Building are doing wicked things; my goal is to return to my Heavenly Father and I know that those actions will keep me from getting where I want to go, therefore I will not do those bad things like those people are doing".

Recognizing that does not mean that we're condemning them, but rather that we see that their actions, especially if not repented of, will lead to their condemnation.

We can see friends and relatives, people we know, people we hear of, people we love, people in our lives or that we observe (even in the media or on social networking), doing dumb stuff and righteously say "that's a dumb thing to do", and in their so doing lose respect for them, sorrow for them, worry about them, or dismiss their actions as stupid; AND we have a responsibility to do so.

If we can't tell the difference between right and wrong, how then Future Elder, can we help others to see the error of their ways and help them unto repentance, thus mending their relationship with God and growing closer unto their Savior?

Does witnessing that behavior, recognizing that it's bad, labeling it as such, give us the right to act as if we're better than someone else?

No way!

Does seeing the sin in others make us above reproach?

Not in the least!

Simply saying "wow, that's a dumb thing to do" does not mean that I'm never dumb; in fact, I must be careful that in my judgment of situations or behavior I not allow myself to think that I, a lowly sinner, am better than anyone else for that is the very sin that Christ was speaking of.

Whew!

I hope that all makes sense.


Item 2: Your buddy staying the night at the home of single women.

Heck yeah that's bad!

While they may not be fooling around, the temptation to do so is huge, plus (and I think this is the bigger deal) the Appearance of Evil is unmistakable.

A Good Man will protect a woman's virtue and reputation by never letting her be placed in a situation where either could be doubted or questioned.

I think Too Many People don't get that; too many "guys" are not Gentlemen.

Gentlemen respect and Honor Women.

Whether they want or think they deserve to be honored.


Shame on him.

And shame on the girls that let him stay over.

I hope your friend gains some insight and perspective Before he reports to the MTC . . .

Congratulations to both of you on your Mission Calls,

 - Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Trying "The Setup Game"

Dear Bro Jo,

I don't remember if you told me about this in an email or if I read it in a blog or book.

My roommate and I have decided to take your roommate challenge to set each other up on dates.

We are tired of waiting around for these young men at BYU-I . . . we have decided to take this into our own hands!

We are excited to give this a try.

Thank you,

- Trying


Dear Trying,

I know I mentioned it in an email reply to you last November. 

We called it "The Set-up Game".

Good luck!

Let me know if I can help in any way.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Well it kinda backfired on us on Wednesday.

- Trying


Dear Trying.

What happened?

And how many girls are participating?

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Right now it’s me my 5 friends.

My roommate tried to set me up with my home teacher.

Later that day he came over and told me that he was too good for me and that I am not worth his time.

Can I just say I am 20 years old?  He is 26 almost 27 and STILL SINGLE at BYU-I (I'm not saying anything is necessarily wrong with him just that he should be putting more effort in to dating and finding a wife.)

So this happened Thursday night.

Earlier that week I had broken it off with my best friend (my ex that we keep going back to each other).

I know that it is not fair to either of us, but now it kills me because I can’t turn to him.

But I’m handling that part.

So anyway him telling me that totally crushed me.

I am trying to keep my head up and not be discouraged with guys up here.

- Trying


Dear Trying,

He literally said "I know we're supposed to go out tonight, but I'm too good for you"???

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Not that we were supposed to go out . . . just that I’m not worth his time.  

- Trying


Dear Trying,

That’s what he said?  "You are not worth my time"???

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Yes.

- Trying


Dear Trying,

What a jerk!

And, well . . . then clearly he's wrong . . .  no wonder he's still single!

And you, little sister, are a Daughter of God, and as such have value that he could not possibly understand nor be worthy of Fret not; the "Set-up Game" works, don't give up

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Don't worry Bro Jo . . . I am not giving up.

Just momentarily discouraged.

But I’m back on track.

He came over to home teach today.

That was for sure awkward.

- Trying


Dear Trying,

You're a nicer person than I am; I wouldn't have let him in the house.

Let me know how the "game" works for all of you as you continue to "play".

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I had to be the bigger person.

I just sat there and stared out the window.

- Trying


Dear Trying,

Nothing else you could do, I suppose.

But worry not.

There are lots of guys out there, and this will come back to haunt him some day.

Trust me.

It always does.

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 24, 2014

Is There a Nice Way to Tell Someone You're Not Interested?

Dear Bro Jo,

So my friend is having this problem (and it really is my friend not just "my friend" implying that it’s me).

She's too nervous to ask anything though so I'm going to ask for her.

In our FHE group, there's this guy, let’s call him "Sam".

So Sam and his roommates came over last night for FHE.

Today, Sam sent a friend request to my friend (let’s call her Julie).

He also sent a text earlier today saying how he had fun last night, and then he also called Julie later that night, but didn't leave a voice mail.

She didn't reply to the text, or answer the phone, and ignored the friend request.

Julie doesn't want to start any relationship with ANY of our FHE boys, and certainly not him.

How can she get the point across that she doesn't like him like nicely, so that when we have FHE next week, it won’t be awkward at all.

Should she just ignore the texts and call or should she answer but in a non-interested way?

- A Friend




Dear Friend,

The nicest thing she could do is to say to him "Thank you for your interest, but I'm not interested."

It will hurt, but the clarity will help him move on quickly, and that's much less painful than dragging it on.

Beyond that she should continue to ignore the texts and calls.

However, she may want to consider dating him a couple times before burning that bridge.

Simply being in one's FHE group is not enough of a reason to write a guy off.

In fact, I hope all of you singles realize that one of the purposes of FHE groups is to introduce you to possible dates!

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Guy's Dating Questions - Part 3: Being a Good Conversationalist

Dear Bro. Jo,

Thanks again for the reply.

And on a somewhat related note...I've never been a great conversationalist simply because I can't find a good balance between listening and talking.

I consider myself a good listener, but it really doesn't matter how well you can listen if you don't know what to say to fill the silences.

And I never do seem to know what to say...

That's a totally different conversation though. Thanks for the thoughtful response to all my questions.

Aloha,

- HI




Dear HI,

Any time, bro.

Being a good conversationalist is a skill, and it takes practice.

Fortunately for all of us, it's not required that we're perfect, only that we improve.

Start by being a Good Listener.

Ask thoughtful questions, Listen to what the person says, and then Respond with a relevant question or comment.

Do your best to not try to hard to "relate" to what the person is saying.  Often that comes across as us trying to make everything about ourselves, and people hate that.

In a show I saw recently I thought a really good point was made about guys wanting to fix or answer everything.  The character said that men need to learn how to say those three little words when a woman complains . . .

"Wow, that sucks".

And then just be quite and keep listening.

Women don't want to be fixed; they just want to be heard.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Guy's Dating Questions - Part 2: Staying Positive

Dear Bro. Jo,

Thanks for the quick response!

Just a couple points of clarification.

Firstly, my Bishop also happens to be my dad.

I have talked to him and my mom about my concerns, and I'm not sure but I think he had a conversation with the Young Women's president (who was the one I had the argument with) because recently she's at least become less outspoken on her opinions.

She's still not exactly gung-ho for the idea of group dating, but she's no longer openly opposing it either.

My Young Men's president is much more enthusiastic, so much so that he is constantly suggesting I go on more dates (he, too, is a non-native).

His problem is that he doesn't know what to do about the lack of dating options, which I think is my main obstacle.

And while I really would love to expand my field of potential dates to outside the Church - most of my friends are non-members anyway - my parents have already established a set of dating rules very similar to yours...which is unfortunately dissimilar to yours in that it outlaws dating any non-LDS girls.

Period.

I think they're afraid of me falling in love with a non-member, marrying without a temple sealing and falling away from the Church.

Which is kind of silly because I'm going off to BYU Provo next year, where it will be practically impossible to marry out of the covenant even if I fervently want to.

I'm sure there's other youth in the stake who feel the same way that I do, but another problem I'm faced with here is that stake activities are extremely rare...I'm not really even sure how to meet anyone who might be in my situation.

We hold stake dances MAYBE twice a year, and the only really reliable annual activity is Youth Conference during the summer.

It's coming up next month, so I guess I can try to rally a sympathetic group of youth then, but I think I'm probably going to be met with as much resistance to the idea as I am within my ward. I'll see what I can do, though.

- HI




Dear HI,

I'm glad to hear your leaders are more on-board than I originally thought.

Sounds like you've got some things you can do. 

Try hosting a movie party or game night and including non-member guys and girls who have high standards; guys who would make good dating buddies and girls you think it would be fun to date.

Perhaps as your parents get to meet these other kids they'll feel more comfortable with you including them in your Casual Group Dating plans.

And if your Stake needs more youth activities, do something about it.

Think Positive.

Look for ways to make things happen; don't focus on why they're not happening.

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Guy's Dating Questions - Part 1: Feeling Like You're the Only One Who Believes in Casual Group Dating

Hello, Bro. Jo.

Okay...

First of all, I'd just like to thank you for your blog.

I read through a lot of the posts (I just discovered it the other day), and even though the vast majority don't apply to me yet, I found them fascinating and informative.

You're a smart guy, and I appreciate you're sharing your wisdom with a generation as clueless and seemingly hopeless as mine.

Thanks.

:P

 Anyway, as I was going through the discussions, I realized that I have a problem that I haven't seen addressed yet.

It's kind of a tough situation, and I'm not really sure there's anything I can do to improve it. But I figured it can't hurt to ask your opinion.

A little background.

I'm a 17 year old guy, and as such I am of the appropriate age to start Group Dating.

Ever since I started liking girls, I've quietly looked forward to the day I would be able to begin socializing with them in the context of Casual Group Dating, to build friendships and exercise the skills I'm going to need to find an eternal companion.

Naturally, I won't be looking for a serious relationship until a long time after my mission, but that shouldn't make the concept of casual dating any less exciting right now, should it?

Either way, it doesn't really matter because my dating opportunities are basically nonexistent.

See, I live in Hawaii and the attitude toward dating over here is entirely different from that on the mainland.

That's to be expected - being that it's the most isolated spot on the planet, there are bound to be some cultural differences.

But I'm finding it hard to adapt to or even accept those cultural differences.

Basically, the idea of Casual Dating at all is widely condemned over here.

Even among Church members casually going out with a bunch of different people is seen as a bad thing because if you're not focusing on a steady boyfriend / girlfriend, you're promiscuous or a "player."

Which is of course totally unfair, because I'm not looking for romantic involvement

And it's not like I want to go break a bunch of girls' hearts ... I just want to have clean fun with the opposite sex.

I moved here from the east coast about four years ago, and I was raised with standard LDS dating guidelines ... the usual; "Once you turn 16, you can (and should) begin casually dating in groups - don't pair off."

So you can imagine my frustration when I moved here only to find that those guidelines are inapplicable because of preexisting cultural norms that I have absolutely no control over.

I've even had heated arguments with the youth leaders in my ward, during which I brought out my copy of the Strength of Youth and pointed out exactly what was appropriate for kids my age.

But all they do is shake their heads and tell me "That's not how things are here." 

And of course, the "steady-dating only" philosophy so prevalent here presents another problem

Nearly all the girls in my ward and surrounding wards already have boyfriends.

And since my parents won't allow me to date outside of the Church, my options are severely limited.

I've been on exactly one date since I've turned 16, and it was with another non-native girl who was raised with the same ideas towards dating that I was.

The other couple consisted of her brother, the only other guy who was remotely interested in participating in this type of dating, and another girl who is now romantically involved once again (she was between boyfriends at the moment).

Unfortunately, both my date and her brother are now back on the mainland and I'm left alone in the most anti-causal-dating environment on the planet.

I'm considering giving up on all things female until after my mission.

It's not an attractive (no pun intended) option, but it's looking like the only one.

Any advice for me?

Thanks,

- Hawaiian Wanting Dates




Dear HI,

Well, if it means anything, you're not a "lone man in the garden"!

The cultural challenges you're having in Hawaii exist everywhere.

I get letters from around the world from youth who feel exactly like you do.

Guys AND girls; and, yes, even from the East Coast.

Heck, the Jo Boys have had the same problem here in Montana.

It took the oldest more than a while to more firmly establish Casual Group Dating culture in his school, and he suffered a few flaming defeats along the way.

You've got a lot of work ahead of you if you intend to change things, and the fact that your local Church leadership isn't being supportive won't make things any easier.

As I see it, you've got three fronts to fight.

1. Regarding your local leadership, work your way up the Priesthood Line of Authority with your "they won't support the For the Strength of Youth".
Problem with the YM President? Talk to the Bishop.
Problem with the Bishop? Talk to the Stake President.
Problem there? Write a letter to the Area Authority 70 or the General YM Presidency or even the First Presidency.
Each step of the way ask them what you've asked me. "My local Church leadership is teaching us to ignore the part of the FtSoY pamphlet that talks about not pairing off; what do you suggest I do?" 

2. Work with the youth in your ward and stake, one kid at a time, to gain some allies.
You need a good dating buddy, or two. I'll just bet that there's a couple other guys that deep down feel exactly like you do: they want to go out with girls but they don't want the drama and the temptation that comes with committed teen relationships.
You might have to widen your circle of friends, and you and your friends are likely going to have to widen your prospective dating pool. I mentioned the oldest Jo Boy; because of some Milquetoast LDS dudes and some "need a boyfriend to make me feel valuable" LDS girls, he had to expand outside the Church.
A lot of work, but worth the effort. 

3. And that leads us to your parents.
You haven't really indicated one way or the other, but make sure they know of the challenges you're facing and your fervent desire to hold true to your standards.
Make sure it doesn't come across as "I hate living here", but rather "mom, dad, I'm having some challenges and I sure could use your help".
Perhaps if they better understand what Casual Group Dating entails they'll jump on board. Share the Rules with them (they're on the side of the blog page). 


And after all of that my friend, you may just have to wait like you said. Look, it's worth the effort.

Everything of value is.

Never give up on your standards; never stop listening to prophetic advice; and never give in to the pressure to be like everyone else.

I'll help along the way as best I can.

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 14, 2014

You're Awesome Because God Made You That Way

Dear Bro. Jo,

Okay, so, I am turning 18 in less than two months and I just graduated high school.

I am in that slightly awkward transition from Youth to YSA, but I have only been on one date. (It was with a non-member. VERY awkward because he knew that I didn't like him THAT way and still insisted. Also, it was SUPPOSED to be a double date, but the other guy's date didn't show up. So, technically, I was on a date with two guys. :P)

I have never really been on any group dates either because I have never been asked. I've gone to the movies and bowling with a group of non-member friends, but it wasn't dating.

I have never been asked out, hit on, flirted with (to my knowledge. I swear when it comes to flirting I am no more knowledgeable than Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory.) or anything else like that by a member of the church, and honestly, I constantly feel unattractive and unwanted.

Also, it doesn't help that I, for some unknown reason, am always attracted to guys that are either a) too old for me, b) will never ever in a million years be attracted to me, or c) both.

I should probably mention that I am on the chubby side, but I am trying to change it.

Do you have any advice for me?

Sincerely, 

I-am-tired-of-watching-all-of-the-pretty-and-skinny-girls-get-dates-and-boyfriends-while-I-am-stuck-on-the-sidelines




Dear Tired,

Can I tell you something?

I'm a little over it when it comes to girls complaining that "only the skinny girls get dates and boyfriends".

That is SO UNTRUE.

Look around you.

Girls of all shapes and sizes get dates.

Look around your ward once in a while.

Do all of those married people look skinny to you?

Do all of the guys have great hair?

Are all of the people Sealed for Time and All Eternity that you know former models?

Come on.

Of course not!

And yet they got dates.

They had relationships.

They've been kissed and hugged and everything else.

Look, it's not just you; yours is one of hundreds of emails I've gotten with the same complaint.

From girls AND guys.

So my first piece of advice for you is "Stop feeling sorry for yourself".

I've never seen you, I don't know you, and yet I'm positive that you're attractive and have value.

I know it to be true because you're a Daughter of God, and that's all it takes.

I know you have talents.

I know you can love and serve others.

And I know that the Lord will provide opportunities (yes, plural) for you to get married. 

The questions are:
Will you take advantage of those opportunities?  
Will you miss opportunities because you're being shallow or have unrealistic expectations or because you're not being open, positive and willing?  
Will you do the best you can with what you have and try to be better tomorrow than you are today? 


Some things in life we can't do anything about, but each of us has areas where we can improve. Right? 

Maybe for you that means no more soda, chips and candy.

Maybe it means you need to start working out a little each day.

Maybe it means that you need to be positive, happy, and of service to others.

Truthfully, those are all things most of us need to work on.

So if that's you, take heart, you're not alone.

But complaint is not action. 

If you want to do something, then (in the words of President Kimball) DO IT.

Worry less about flirting. (There are some tips about that you can read on the Facebook page notes and in my books.)

Instead focus on being kind to others and getting to know lots of people.

And, particularly when you get to college, DON"T HANG OUT.

Our world is full of Latter-day Saint women who don't understand that when guys hang out at your house (or apartment or dorm) they see no need to date you.

Relax, Be Happy, and enjoy life!

You're awesome because God made you that way.

But if you're not happy, there's no reason why you can't make some positive improvements.

We all can!

Take it from someone who tries desperately every day to be a "formerly fat guy" instead of a "future fat again guy".  I'm making that effort because I wasn't happy with myself; but if you're happy, then Be Happy!

Best,


- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Should Kissing Wait Until the Altar?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey, Bro. Jo!

So...I have another question. It's kind of unrelated to my previous one, so I'll keep it short.

I'm sort of in a Facebook argument with a guy right now who is insisting that kissing before marriage should be avoided at all costs.

According to him, it's too sacred an act to participate in before you're sealed to your spouse.

He argues that the savior wouldn't have done it, and that it's one of those "vain things of the world" that we're cautioned to avoid.

I timidly mentioned that I wanted to know whether a potential spouse and I have any physical chemistry.

He told me (as politely as possible) that I am letting "the natural man" cloud my vision of what marriage is all about.

According to him, the physical aspect of marriage isn't that important as long as you're willing to make sacrifices for your spouse and for God.

He said that marriage exists to help us feel true love more deeply and not as an excuse to satisfy our desires.

And of course, while I agree with him to some extent, I also think that physical attraction and compatibility are important part of successful marriage, and that downplaying that fact can lead to real problems later on.

And it's not like I'm an expert - I'm a 17-year old with no kissing experience whatsoever and little desire to get any for a long time, but I think I know enough to confidently say that saving ALL your kisses isn't a great idea.

Besides, kissing isn't even necessarily about physical chemistry - It's just a sign of affection, right?

And while I'm not saying that kisses aren't sacred and that you should go handing them out to every girl that comes your way, I don't think it's something that needs to be saved until after the sealing ceremony.

Is he right?

Am I being selfish and "a natural man" when I say I want to kiss a girl before I propose?

- Future Missionary

P.S. Obviously, as a pre-mission dude myself, this topic isn't of terrible important right now - But it's still an interesting discussion.





Dear FM,

I'm a guy in his mid-40s with TONS of kissing experience (of course, that means only Sister Jo for the last 25 or so ears, but I did date A LOT before she and I started dating) and I have to say, with all due respect . . . your friend is an idiot.

I mean, he's right about one thing (I'll get to that later) . . . sort of . . . but totally wrong about kissing (you're right) and his argument doesn't hold enough water for the Savior to walk on.

That whole "the Savior wouldn't have done it" line is total guess and fabrication.

We have no information about that aspect of Christ's life, but we do know that he was a Man.

He had to be baptized, right? Why? To set the example.

We have no information, but it's more-likely that Jesus was married than not married. (Without being married at age 30 in Jewish culture of the time it's unlikely that Christ would have been accepted as a teacher of religion among His people, but admittedly that's still just conjecture.)

Did he date?

Was kissing girls who weren't your spouse acceptable for Hebrew teens 2100 years ago?

I don't know. Probably not.  But that part ("we know Jesus didn't kiss") of his argument is total rubbish.

You two will probably have to agree to disagree on this one, each go his own way kind of thing, but I hope for his sake and the sake of his future spouse that she feels the same way he does about the lack of importance of physical attraction and desire within marriage.

I'm going to give him a "young and naive" pass - I'm sure he'll figure out that he's wrong when your friend gets a bit older.

I'd sure hate to be in a marriage like that, though.

I also think his "Natural Man" argument is a bit bogus.

As you say, not all kissing is passionate, it's a sign of affection, and kissing is not the same as giving into carnal desire. Kissing is not sex. 

If it were the evil he professes it to be, a lot of people would be trouble for kissing their family, friends and pets.

So the bottom line is, I'm with you. I've said it many times, to each his own, but my advice is that you should never agree to marry anyone you haven't kissed (and the both of you really enjoyed it) first.

The alternative is, IMHO, naive and ill advised.

- Bro Jo

PS:  Where your is correct is that marriage is neither about love nor sex (this, by the way, young readers, is why the "pro-gay-marriage" folks have it wrong) - it's about creating a family as designed by God.  And, as your friend suggests, to make marriage work the two most important elements are Trust and Sacrifice.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Searching for Love

Dear Bro Jo,

I know you probably get tons of emails, but I hope you give mine some consideration because these are real questions and problems I have.

I am 15 years old girl and my mom died 5 months ago which still seems so very young.

I feel kind of lost with my problems without a person to seriously advice me in these times.

I have been home schooled my whole life until 9th grade last year.

I have four sisters and no brothers.

I had no boy troubles in 9th grade except for the fact that I've always forever wanted to feel loved and felt almost like I couldn't.

This 10th grade year I've tried so very hard to be outgoing and friendly and nice and now I have some problems.

I've gone from no boys to four boys and still no experience or knowledge on my part.

I believe that four boys have a crush on me, and I'm not sure what to do.

I was hoping you may give me perspective on these problems.

I am really really weak in this areas.. maybe you will just be able to tell me what I already know I need to hear, but I feel without advice.

Please help!

Boy #1: Is somebody who I met at a camp for kids who's parents are going through cancer, and I've been emailing him. He's super sweet and we say nice things to each other He used to give me notes in German and then translate it, one time he gave me a note in German but didn't translate it. I translated it myself on google translate and it said "I love you". Now we email each other about once every week, and he hasn't straight out said anything else to me.

Boy #2: Is a great friend of mine. When I told him that nobody "liked" me he got up the courage to tell me that he did. I kinda shunned that fact and told him I couldn't believe him. I had a partial crush on him until he told me he wasn't really LDS, then I forced myself to stop. He is a really inactive LDS person, and hasn't been to church since he was nine when his mom stopped going to church. I've had a lot of gospel conversations with him, and he knows I won't marry anybody outside of the temple. He told me that if he joins the church he wants to do it for the right reasons which I really admire.

Boy #3: Is a good friend of mine. He IS LDS... but his standards aren't really up to mine, and I unfortunately allowed him to lower mine. I danced with him at the New Year's Dance for the last dance and my friend told me to kiss him on the cheek. I decided that it would be okay because kissing on the cheek isn't that big of a deal, although I had never done it before to a guy my age before. However he turned his head and kissed me on the lips. It was a quick peck, and I turned and walked away as soon as he did it. He asked me to go to see a movie with him, and I invited a friend so it wouldn't be a date. BUT IT STILL WAS. He kept trying to hold my hand and stuff. And, because I am so weak at this, I didn't stop him. I told him that I liked him but I couldn't date till I was 16. Now he thinks I like him, and I don't know what to do with him. Because I do kinda like him.

But I like boy #4 the best. I almost feel evil or sinful because of what I've done with him, although most people would laugh about my hesitation of holding hands and peck kissing before 16.

Boy #4: Is my best friend. He is LDS. I trust him with just about anything and he was there for me with comfort when my mom died. He can make me laugh and be happy. And he checks off everything on my "list for future husband" even though I know its too early to really be thinking about this. This is the boy that I truly want. Because his standards are the same as mine he keeps holding back from me as well. He makes sure we don't have one-on-one time which I really admire. He helps me keep up my standards and makes me an even better person. I talk to him about spiritual worries and he really strengthens my testimony and makes me feel important. We give each other hugs sometimes and sometimes he squeezes my hand for comfort when I am crying. I'm really scared I met him too soon.. because I think it would be cool to have him forever and the chances of that lower because he is my best friend right now.


And I worry.

Maybe I'm stupid to worry about all this stuff right now, I'm not even sixteen.. but I do.

I'm especially worried that my problems with boys #2 and #3 might prevent me from getting what I truly want.

I don't want to be mean to any of these boys, and yet I keep accidentally encouraging them somehow.

I love and care about them all so so much.

And when they flirt with me... its really really hard to discourage it, because deep inside I guess I want attention. I want boys to love me.

But then things accidentally happen and I just feel really really confused right now.

What do I do?

- Unsure





Dear Unsure,

Okay, Little Sister, let me give you some advice.

First of all, boys don't give girls attention because they love them; they give girls attention because they like them.

Especially at your age.

And that's an important difference you need to learn.

Someone once said that girls learn to be attracted to the boy they love and boys learn to love the girl they're attracted to; and on some levels that's true.

Wait!

Before you jump to conclusions here, let me explain why I'm telling you this: at the moment you are in life right now.

At your age many girls feel the need for some kind of external validation of their worth . . . as if having a boyfriend proves they're pretty and have value.

I understand why that might feel like the truth, but the Real Truth is that as a Daughter of God you have Beauty and Talent and Value and Worth regardless of whether or not one of the boys around you is every smart enough to realize it or brave enough to do something about it.

So that means that "looking for love" (or "getting a boyfriend") at your age not only isn't necessary (despite the social and internal pressures that are telling you otherwise), it's also not a good idea.

Serious Teen Relationships come with extra pressure and drama and temptation that I just don't recommend.
Y'all are vulnerable enough as it is!

I think that what you need to focus on right now is meeting lots of people and getting to know them better. 

Practice being kind and compassionate and understanding.

When you're just a little older, go on Casual Group Dates (make sure you read the rules, go over them with your family, and understand that, at your age, dates are about having fun, not about "finding that special someone").

Get attention in a Good Way.

Have boys (and girls) love you because you're a good person, a person who perseveres despite adversity, a person who does her best to lift and sustain others; in other words, a true disciple of Christ. Read often.

Pray often.

Worry not now about the "forever boy".

That will happen.

In due time.

Keep your standards high! 

Set a goal of not doing anything today, or tonight, that you'll regret tomorrow.

I know you miss your mom.  And I totally understand.  But don't fill that hole in your life with a Serious Boyfriend at this point.  Make good friends, and yes that can and should include boys, but fill the things you miss about your mother with your family.

 God bless,

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 7, 2014

She Who Hesitates is Lonely

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a Young Single Adult.  Recently I have been going on dates and spending time with this guy.

This has been going on for a little over a month and we see each other 2-3 times a week.

Despite how much we do together there hasn't been any kind of discussion as to what on earth is going on.

I am just really confused because I am not sure if he sees us as just friends or something more.

We have never held hands or anything.

We have never even hugged each other but the way he talks makes it sound like there is something going on.
Which is why I just don't know what is going on.

So I guess that leads me to a couple of questions.

1. Is it wrong for me to ask what is going on? Or is that too pushy?

2. When it comes to things like hand holding whose job is that to initiate it?

3. Should I even bother bringing things up as there is only 1 week left before the semester ends and then he will go home for a month and a half? Is it better to just get it out of the way now?

Thanks,

- Confused and in the Friend Zone




Dear Zoner,

1. I think it’s okay to ask. Sure it’s a bit early to have the full on Determine The Relationship talk, but that doesn't mean you can have a "how do you think of me " chat. Very casual. "Hey, so we've been on a couple dates and you've yet to hold my hand or anything, so what gives? " If you're relaxed about it you won't be pushy.

2. This traditional Old Guy thinks boys should usually make the move, but I see nothing wrong with girls flirting, hinting, and sometimes coming right out and saying it: "its okay to hold my hand, you know ".

3. He who hesitates is lost; she who hesitates is lonely.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Is She Being Shallow?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello.

I'm 17 and I'm not looking for a boyfriend or anything but lately I've been faced with the situation where these two boys seemed interested in me but I don't feel the same way.

One of them actually asked me out but I told him I just wasn't ready and I also barely knew him.

The other guy tried to be my friend and I actually found him to be very fun to talk to but I pushed him away at the same time.

My friends believe I push them away because I'm shallow and you know what?

I think I am.

I'm not saying I'm the best-looking girl out there or anything in order to look down on people but I also believe a boy should try to at least make an effort to look presentable.

The first boy honestly freaked me out because he followed me around for a while instead of just talking to me.

The second one, as much fun as I had talking to him, there's some things that just bother me, like when he chews... close your mouth dude.

I honestly believe in liking a person for who they are on the inside and I might have actually liked the second guy if he only took a little more care of himself.

I guess my questions really is: am I too shallow and demanding or is it too much to ask for a guy to also try to be presentable?

Thank you and sorry for the long/confusing email.

- Shallow?




Dear S,

Shallow or not, I think you've missed some opportunities.

As my oldest daughter and her friends get closer to dating age I've been giving more and more thought to this concern that you all have : what if a guy asks you out and you don't want to go out with him?

And some of their reasons, like yours, are honest and real.

What if :
He's obnoxious?  
He smells bad?  
He's expecting this to be a relationship, or worse : he's expecting something physical?  
What if he isn't ... well, you know, part if the same social group at school? (Because, let's be honest, if it gets out that you went on a date with some of these guys it could send rumors and have negative social repercussions for years!)  
What if he's a creeper?  
Or a stalker?  
Or what it he's just plain scary? 

Right?

Sister Jo and I think Good Guys, including ours, need to be asking girls on Casual Group Dates, but they have A Lot of control over whom they ask.

Except for using things like Bro Jo's How a Girl Can Get a Guy to Ask Her on a Date, you girls are kind of at the mercy of whomever asks.

But does that mean that you have to go out with every guy that asks, regardless of how much a loser he is?

I think the answer to that can vary with who's asking and why exactly he's a Bad Dude.

Anyone creepy or scary, any kind of stalker, anyone who seriously makes you afraid for your safety (no, not the safety of your social circle) is automatically off the list.

But once we scratch off those guys, I think everyone decent is entitled to a Casual Group Date.

If Mr. Chews with His Mouth Full is willing to put forth the effort and follow the rules and plan something fun with fun people, then you should go.

And there are things you can do to influence the date.

1.  Insist that one of the girls in the group is one of your fun and trusted friends.

2.  Tell him you'll go if he promises to use his manners, including not showing you his food, and treat you well. Heck, you could be preemptive with that habit. The next time he does it tell him "you know, you'd be a lot cuter if you didn't talk with your mouth full ". (Girls have power over boys ...it's true!)

3.  You can also tell boys when the ask for dates what your standards and expectations are.

Be Up-front! 

There's nothing wrong with letting him know that you don't kiss on the first date, or that you'd love to go but you're not interested in having a boyfriend.

At this point in life, look for ways to make dates work, ways to have fun, not excuses not to go.

Because, if you don't change that, little sister, you may find that guys stop asking.

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 3, 2014

When Your Ex Becomes a Stalker

Dear Bro Jo,

A couple of months ago I broke up with my boyfriend of 4 years.

We dated throughout high school and he decided to attend college at (school name withheld).

We made it through 2 and a half years of long distance when I began to feel like we had really grown apart over the years and we were just not working out as a couple anymore.

He was really upset about the whole thing and kept trying to contact me afterwards and even blindsided me by flying back home and showing up at my house.

I was finally able to get home to stop calling me for a while, but now that he is about to come home for Christmas break at the end of the week, he has started contacting me again and wants to get together over break.

I keep telling him no and that it isn't a good idea.

I am just afraid he is going to show up at my house again and I will have no idea how to handle the situation.

I have tried to be very blunt with him but he doesn't seem to feel the same way about all of this as I do.

I could really use some advice if you have any for this!

Thank you!

- The Ex




Dear Ex,

Too many romantic movies have us believing that if we simply make a stronger effort declaring our love that somehow the other person will change their mind.

It does happen, but not all the time.

He tried.

You're not changing your mind (right?), he's crossing over into stalker behavior (you are honestly afraid and not just bothered?) . . . so it’s time to cut him off.

100%

That means no more calls, texts, or emails.

At all. Anything you do, any form if acknowledgement or communication will, I promise you, make him think he still has a chance.

Seriously.

Block his number.

Don't return his calls.

Refuse any gifts he may drop off or have delivered.

(Don't see him or return them in person, have a friend do that.)

Drop him as a Facebook friend.

Block him from seeing your page.

Remove any pictures you have of him, especially of the two of you together.

If he’s tagged you, remove all if those tags.

And ask your friends to do the same.

Trust me.

It’s the only way.

You'll be doing both if you a favor.

And tell your parents.  In situations like these you really need to have trusted adults in the loop, and your parents are there to help and protect you.

If he gets more aggressive then you and your parents may need to tell your Church leaders and, I really mean this, the police.

Don't take any chances.

- Bro Jo