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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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How Can He Move Past Divorce?

Dear Bro Jo,

I wrote you when I got back from my mission and you helped me out a lot.

I found a girl got married, and lived happily.

Then she cheated on me, ran away, and today filed divorce papers.

I am a mess right now but any tips you can give me with trying to move forward and build relationships would help.

I think right now it would not be romantic but you never know.

Thanks,

Hit Rock Bottom




Dear Rock,

I'm sorry, bro; that sucks.

Some point in the future, perhaps a ways out, you may be able to look back and say "wow, I sure am glad I found out about her unfaithfulness early, rather than find myself single and in my 50's having spent too much of my life married to a woman who never loved me, and whom I never should have trusted".

Moving forward will take time; healing always does.

You're about to find out who your real friends are . . . and you may need to make some new ones.

You're entitled to some bitter, angry and hurt feelings; some people find writing those down in letters that never get sent to be very therapeutic.

Talking to a good friend or two that you can vent to when needed - you're certainly always welcome by writing me - is always good.

But, in public, try to not let those feelings become a description of who you are.

Honesty is appreciated, but it's a positive attitude that's attractive (and not just in a romantic way, either).

Do your best to find the humor.

As we say with interventions, the best thing about being at rock bottom is that you know it's going to get better.

Just remember, not every woman is as awful as your ex.

And, as Sister Jo always says, nothing helps us get through difficult personal times than being of service to others.

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bad Date Recovery

Dear Bro Jo,

So I've been reading your blog for a couple of months and it has been very helpful, but I think I finally have my own question now.

I just got back from a horrible date....

We met at a YSA conference and talked for awhile, I introduced myself to him (not knowing that he was 28! I'm 19...) anyway he asked for my number and we went on a date.

On paper, he is a very accomplished man.

In person is a different story.

When we talked at the conference I couldn't tell how strange he was, but when he came to my apartment to pick me up he walked right in when my roommate answered the door and plopped face first on the couch.

WEIRD.

He just acted very strange the whole date and talked a lot, especially about himself.

I dressed very nice, he wore a white undershirt.

He kept me out for like 5 hours just talking after we ate (my roommates were so worried that they called the campus police...that's a whole different story)

So my concern is that this is the best I can do.

I really want to start Serious Single Dating.

Not to marry soon (I want to go on a mission in the next couple of years), but to get some kind of experience and get to know people.

This date is about the best I can come up with.

(and btw, I'm pretty normal, in good shape, take care of my appearance, etc.)

I don't really date at all, and I would love to!

But I go to a non-church school and I'm starting to get more attention from guys, but things are just not happening the way I think they should.

What can I do to kind of kick-start my dating life as a young single adult?

Am I missing something that I should be doing?

Any advice would be appreciated!

- Dating Underachiever




Dear Dating,

I highly doubt that an inconsiderate-too-old-for-you-weirdo is the best you can do.

Yes, it could be a lot easier for you to meet single guys much closer to your age at a Church school, and yes I often encourage people to make that move, but that isn't always necessary and I don't sense that the local well has run dry.

Here are some things you can do:

1. Don't share your mission plans with anyone. It's a huge turn off. Few guys, especially few good ones, are going to pursue dating you if you've told everyone that it has no chance of going anywhere. Don't make the "I'm going on a mission announcement" until your papers our submitted. 

2. Don't publicly talk about the bad dates (by the way, it's a huge concern to me that you didn't get yourself out of that one much earlier than you did; if you weren't having a good time or were concerned in any way for your safety you needed to first ask, the demand, that he take you home; if he refused then you needed to call for help right away; there's no excuse for being that "helpless" anymore, little sister). In social settings guys will want to know that you're not going to embarrass them the next day if everything doesn't go perfectly. 

3. Don't make first dates out to be more than the are. Often within the Church guys are hesitant to ask out girls because our culture often makes the mistake of putting too much emphasis on those first few dates. These are "get to know you" experiences, they do not mean that he's in love with you, or worships your attractiveness, or is ready to propose. In fairness, I think the guys are as much to blame for the cultural problems as the girls are . . . because too many of them only ask out girls that they already know really well, are in love with, worship their attractiveness, or are ready to propose to. (sigh) 

We have lots of things on the column page and Facebook page that you can read through about getting attention and getting guys to ask you out. You might find them helpful, too.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for your response and for getting back to me so quickly, I really appreciate it!

Very good advice.

And don't worry, only a select few know about that disaster date.

Hopefully that won't ever happen again...live and learn I guess!

It's nice to get kind of a "parent's" perspective about stuff like this.

Thanks again!

- Dating




Dear Dating,

Oh . . . it will likely happen again!

The point is to laugh it off and chalk it up to experience.

That's why I'm here.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Should Marriage Be an RM Priority?

Dear Bro Jo,

I have a situation that needs your advice.

I am a 24 year old LDS female so I have been in the LDS YSA dating field for awhile now.

Last year, I had the opportunity to move to another country to go to graduate school.

The Church here is very small so there is a very limited supply of dating LDS guys.

2 months ago, a new guy moved here to go to the same graduate school. He is also LDS. He's 26, returned missionary, very active in the gospel, worthy priesthood holder who upholds all of his covenants, temple worthy, and is an all around great guy.

We have hung out quite a bit, and with each meeting, we learn more about each other. The more time we spend together, the more my feelings for him develop.

Sometimes it is just the two of us when we hang out. He's shared personal things about his life, family, and future goals with me, and I've shared similar personal things with him.

Last week, we discussed why each of us is still single, and his response is that he may be putting it off because he has so many life goals. He seems like a very independent person, and it seems that getting married is not on the top of his list.

Since he is an active returned missionary who is active in the gospel, shouldn't getting married be on the top of his list, especially if he is 26?

What is wrong with some of the LDS single men that feel it is not their priority to get married or at least work towards it?

I've been hurt in the past so I have reservations about opening myself up to people I have feelings for. I have never been very good at expressing my feelings, and I am wondering if I am giving him any hints at how feel about him.

Sometimes when he looks like at me, it feels like he is looking right inside of me seeing the whole me. I've never felt like this before when someone looks at me like that. This feeling is intoxicating and incredibly frustrating all at the same time because I don't know how he feels about me.

Sometimes I think he has to have feelings for me if he shares so much with me, but then sometimes he is so independent that it makes me feel like he doesn't have feelings for me. Is it possible that he just wants me as a friend?

How do I make it known that I want more than that in my life?

If I do tell him my feelings about him, I don't want it to be awkward since our church branch is so small here.

I've prayed about him and the situation between us, and my mind keeps being drawn towards him. Does that mean I shouldn't give up on him?

Any advice would be helpful to ease the mental turmoil that I am in.

Thanks.

Sincerely,

- Inept in Relationships




Dear Sister, 

(I don't know that I'd call you "inept" . . . "naive", maybe; definitely "lacking in confidence" . . . but not "inept")

You raise a common question: what exactly is wrong with Return LDS Missionary Men who are still single at 26?

Should marriage be a priority for Young Single Adult RM Men?

Church Leadership certainly thinks so.

And so do I.

You've also discovered the answer to why many of them don't:  they're living only for themselves.

You can call that Selfish if you want.

And Sister Jo would say that you're absolutely correct if you do.

(It's a problem not just exclusively with the Young Men, by the way.)

Clearly your biggest mistake is that you're "hanging out".

How is he ever going to see you as a potential date if you don't act like a girl who should be dated?

And why would he ever ask you on a date if you don't require that kind of effort?

After all, we are talking about a guy who's pretty inept himself when it comes to relationships.

The guy needs some training, and it's probably going to be up to you to be the trainer.

Don't make things too easy for him, but put your "teacher" hat on.

"You know, you and I spend lots of time together. You may not be ready for anything serious, and frankly I'm not either, but I deserve to go on some dates with a nice, smart guy. You're the only one around that qualifies, so you're taking me out this weekend. Do it right. No hanging out. Come up with a plan, and then call me or better yet, bring me some flowers, and ask me on a date. Trust me, I'll say 'yes'. But don't make me wait too long, a girl needs time to plan." 

Then kiss him on his cheek, give him a hug, or touch his arm or something and walk away.

If he doesn't bite, he's neither as nice nor as smart as we're both hoping.

And if that's the case, you'll need to move on.

Good luck!

Let me know how it goes,

- Bro Jo

Monday, May 19, 2014

Dating in a Different Country

Hey Bro Jo,

I'm in a pretty unique situation at the time and I was wanting some help on this issue.

I am an American who moved to Germany seven years ago. I just turned seventeen, which means I should be going on dates. The problem is, I don't.

The reason is because Germans don't understand what Casual Group Dating is.

If I were to say I went on a date with someone, they would think I'm in a relationship.

Bavarians don't date much, they hang out.

Non Mormon Bavarians also like clubbing on the weekends and drinking (You can legally drink when your 16 here). So the question is, how do I date in this situation?

In a couple of days, I'll be visiting the states for summer with my family. When I'm in the US, is it a good idea to date people from my old ward that I don't know well (I moved out when I was 10)?

I've only been on one date in my life. It was last year when I visited the US with my family It was a blind group date with a friend of my cousin's (female), who planned the whole thing, planed my date, and basically did all the work herself.

She's planning another date when I'm there this summer.

What should I tell her, because I want to go on a proper date, not one where I just tag along?

Thanks a lot for helping me out.

Sincerely,

- Germarican




Dear Germarican,

Interesting twist, but not unique.

I get letters like yours from youth all over the world.

Just last month I was writing back and forth with a guy who lives in Hawaii that's going through the exact same thing you are.

So cheer up, my friend!

You're not alone.

What you want to be doing is Casual Group Dating, just like you said, and you may need to teach the kids your age that you're around what that's all about.

Step up and be a leader.

By keeping it Casual and going in Groups people will understand that this is more like a Priest-Laurel Activity without adults than it is a Romantic Interlude.

The education you need to be doing may start with yourself and your parents.

Take a look at "Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating" and my "Dating Rules for Teens".

Get familiar with the concepts and then get your parents on board. 

Then find yourself a good dating buddy.

Or three.

Once you have a group of guys willing to give this a shot, throw a movie party, or better yet a game night and invite a bunch of girls.

During the event ask the girls if they've ever heard of "Casual Group Dating" and then sell them on it.

Point out things like you and the other guys would be Planning, Picking up and Paying.

Tell them that because it's Casual there's no pressure, no expectations of romance, and it's all just about going out and having fun.

Youth will go for the concept, you're just going to have to do the leg work to put it in motion.

And yes, when you visit the states get in some dating practice.

Even though you're far away you can still do some planning.

And, lucky for you, you've got a cousin that can help.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo

Friday, May 9, 2014

Girls Who Love Boys They Can't Have

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a mom of a teenage daughter.

I have had other teenage daughters, and sons, and all of the rest of them are grown and in college, on missions, or married.

My youngest daughter is my concern today, even though I have been to this rodeo many times before, and should be able to write my own column on teenagers and advice...I need some help with this one.

She is in love with a boy who does not like her.

The book "He's Just Not That Into You" may have been written for her.

She is cute, popular, a cheerleader, a Laurel class president, on the student council, the school newspaper, orchestra, Distinguished Young Women...the list goes on and on. She has a lot going for her!

We live in a small town with 3 stakes...lots of LDS kids, she has lots of friends, they go in various groups to school dances. She has liked this boy since they were in 8th grade, and in those early pre-dating years I know he liked her back.

He wrote embarrassingly mushy things in her yearbooks about how beautiful she was and how much he loved her. Silly stuff that 14 & 15 year olds write.

They would meet at Stake dances, and talk on the phone, and looked forward to the day they would both turn 16 so they could date.

That day came last May, and even as they both turned 16...he gradually stopped liking her.

She waited all summer for him to take her on their first official date, which kept getting postponed and rescheduled...trying to find another couple or two who could go with them, or some other excuse.

They talked about hiking to the top of a certain peak on an outing with friends and family. Nothing ever materialized.

It seemed like he just wasn't much into dating, but then she went to EFY for a week, and while she was gone he took another girl, a friend of my daughter's, on that hiking trip. Ouch.

We went on a family vacation, and she was told how he was cuddling on a beanbag chair at a movie party at one of their mutual friends houses. Ouch.

School started and he asked another of her friends to the Homecoming dance. Ouch.

He started hanging out with freshman girls who were too young to date, sitting with them at football games where my daughter was cheering. Ouch.

Their Jr. year is almost at end, and he has still not taken her on a date or asked her to a dance.

Recently she sat home without a date to her Junior prom, the only girl in their large group of friends to not have a date, and he decided to just not go either. He is saving money to fix up his car, he told her. (But back at Homecoming time, if there was a girl in their group who did not have a date he was able to part with some of his automobile restoration fund to take that girl.)

And I suspect that the reason she didn't asked to Prom is because all of their friends thought he would ask her, since they had been spending a little time together recently for the reason in the next paragraph.

For most of the past six months they weren't even Facebook friends, he "unfriended" her.

Then she decided to do the local Distinguished Young Women program (formerly Jr. Miss.) The theme for this year's program was "twist and shout" and each girl was required to find a boy for the opening number, which was a sock-hop type of swing dance thing.

Well this boy she's loved since 8th grade was her very good swing-dance partner from all of those Stake Dance instruction days, and they were actually pretty good. She is small so he can swing her around and lift her high, and wow, she said, it would be perfect if he could be her partner for Jr. Miss.

So she asked him, and he said, he would have to think about it.

He thought about it for several weeks, until the time came to finally do it, and he agreed, I think because she begged him.

So they had to spend a little time together again rehearsing, and she got to feeling like maybe he could like her again.

This is where she is now.

She will go and watch his rugby games, look for chances to see him...even though he pays her no attention other than as a friend, and I think he was being a good sport, and possibly enjoyed the attention, of getting asked to be her dance partner for the popular local Jr. Miss program.

There was a stake youth service project on Tuesday night, he was there, but didn't even talk to her.

She was fine with that, at least she got to see him. (!)

This email is too long I know, but I was just reading your post about creepy stalker boys, and you said that sometimes girls are the stalkers, and I am afraid that my daughter is starting to look like that, to me.

He has told her, recently, when she was hoping for him to ask her to Prom, that he thinks he is just not good for her. She meanwhile is still waiting for him to come around. I don't want her to spend her entire Senior year, as she has her Junior year, waiting for this boy to feel like he did when they were Freshman.

She needs to move on.

He has told her, her friends have told her, I have tried in every way to encourage her to move on.

She won't move on.

It's been months.

She doesn't mope around, she is involved in a lot of other activities at school, but she doesn't do much outside of school with friends.

Her two older married sisters found wonderful husbands when they were in college, and I believe that youngest daughter will too.

I know that after high school, and this kid hopefully leaves for a mission, she will eventually see this one-sided relationship for what it is, and move on to her young adult life.

But my fear is this. This kid knows how crazy she is about him, and knows that at the drop of a hat, he could get her to do most anything for him...bake him cookies, go to his games...other things come to mind. When one of his Freshman girlfriends dumps him, he knows that my daughter is there waiting and pining for him.

I worry that he could use this to his advantage...and take advantage of her.

And if she is in a state of mind of "he finally loves me again"...what values would she be willing to set aside for him if she seems to be more than willing to set aside all self-respect?

I don't have any reason to believe that he isn't a good kid, kind of immature maybe. Having had teenage sons and daughters, this one has set off my mom radar I guess, because it's been going on for so long, and she seems so blind. I have tried to counsel her on this, but that just kind of makes her not want to tell me things, and my husband is afraid if I tell her too firmly, (in other words but this might be what she hears): HE IS A JERK WHO DOESN'T LIKE YOU, QUIT GOING TO HIS RUGBY GAMES, YOU LOOK LIKE A STALKER, IT'S BEEN 3 YEARS, MOVE ON, that she won't confide anything in me anymore.

She talks online with her sisters from time to time, but they aren't here to see it in living color, they live a couple of time zones away.

Does she need counseling?

Should I talk to her YW leaders?

Her friends?

This boy's parents are in our stake, but kind of odd-ducks . . .

And he's not the problem, he just doesn't like her. I think when he broke off their friendship for a season, it may have been to get her to quit hoping they would get back together. 

But she just keeps hoping away.

Sorry to go on for so long, you are busy, and this might not be one you can answer. It made me feel better typing this out.

Maybe I can solve it myself.

Maybe time will solve it.

Maybe I can find a column of yours where you address some things that would be helpful to her.

Maybe it just takes some girls longer than her mom or her sisters to get over a boy who everyone else can see just doesn't like you like that.

Thanks,

- Worried Mom




Dear Mom,

It's tough to say why this boy isn't interested in your daughter . . . maybe he's stupid . . . maybe she's being too aggressive . . . maybe he's just interested in other stuff (or another girl) right now . . .heck, it's even possible that he does like her, but is smart enough to realize that he's reeling her in pretty good . . . or, perhaps, he's a Good enough Guy to recognize that the timing is wrong.

Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter much the reason.

The bottom line is that your daughter has "self-esteem issues".  (I hate psycho-babble phrases like that, but in this case it was the only way I could think of to say it.)

I think you know that.

She's looking to this boy for some kind of validation, and the rejection she's going through isn't helping.

The good news is, as far as I can tell, she hasn't yet crossed the line from Intensely Interested to Creepy Desperate Psycho Chick that will Drop Standards to "Get" Her Man.

I think being able to talk to her sisters is a huge help.

My advice to you, mom, is to land the helicopter.

Don't ignore what's going on, but be less obviously involved.

No, she doesn't need counseling; and no, you shouldn't be talking to anyone on her behalf.

Your husband is right, that will drive a wedge between you that may take years to repair.

If she begins to be depressed, to withdraw . . . if her grades suddenly drop, or she cuts off communication with all of her friends and family, those are Big Warning Signs that things have taken a turn for the worst.

I'm talking about more than just the standard teenage Bad Day or Mood Swings.

I'm talking about when her personality seems to change; when the light goes dark.

At that point, get her, and both you and your husband, into professional counseling; you may want to start by talking to your Bishop.

But, before we get there, look for opportunities for her to feel better about herself.

(And, NO, that does not mean that you become her cheerleader or compliment her all the time. Teens don't buy that . . . even if it's true.)

Have her host some boy-girl movie parties over at your home.  (I think it's best if this boy is not invited, but I doubt you'll get her to buy into that; just make sure lots of other guys are so when he doesn't show she'll have them to socialize with.)

Help your Stake's and Ward's Young Men Leadership learn that Casual Group Dating is great mission prep (that's one of the reasons it exists you know).

Get her to dances regardless of whether or not (and especially if not) he's there.

And look for service opportunities. Especially ones that you can do as a family.

Nothing helps us to feel better about ourselves than of being service to others.

Don't worry about being her friend, her pal, her confidant.

Be her mom.

And if that means saying "no, you may not go to the rugby game" then do it. Have some backbone!

(If you don't take a stand on her behalf, she won't either.)

She'll talk to you when she's ready.

Good Luck!

And God Bless, 

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you.

"Landing the helicopter" really made me think!

Is it possible that after 6 children and 32 years of marriage, that this last child left at home is occupying more of my time, and that I might be hovering more over her than the others?

I guess it's impossible that it's not that way, as I am so much older and wiser and have more free time to worry. :)

Perspective is great.

- RSP




Dear RSP,

It's not only possible, it's clearly true.

It's easier to have perspective when you have distance.

For what it's worth, not every teenager is lucky enough to have a parent like you who is smart enough to care as much as you do.

She may not always appreciate that now, but she will.

Hang in there!

(Just don't hover as much . . . or as close . . . or as obvious.)

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"Expressing Your Feelings" Before You Both Leave on a Mission

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a freshman guy in college at BYU.

I guess I could just leave it at that.

Anyways, I recently read your article response about how guys and girls can't be friends... and I suppose I mostly agree. The things you say about guys are spot on. I was actually one of the guys that you warn against for young women.

Your advice concerning them is spot on as well.

I suppose I would have been much happier had I treated dating differently.

Anyways, I'm now in a situation where I understand dating better.

The problem is this: I have a mission approaching quickly, and the girl I'm interested has her call as well.

I feel like we're both in the situation where we realize that we can't date, but we're incredibly friendly.

We've both expressed interest in looking each other up post-mission, but I'm having trouble dealing with this crush for the time being.

It's difficult to express how I feel without making things difficult in many ways. I feel like this is a situation where "just friends" applies. What else would you call mutual attraction without dating?

I've held her hand, but A) It was extremely casual, B) We were far from alone, and  C) We were watching April Conference.

To make matters even more complicated, even the optimism I have for things after our missions is tainted.

She's also had plans to attempt to rekindle some kind of relationship with a guy who returns from his mission when she does--while I'll be still in the field for 6-7 months.

What do I do for now?

I feel like the rational response is to not worry about it, if it works, it works, if it doesn't, it doesn't.

If that's what I'm supposed to do, I need help figuring out how.

I'm quite tangled up in this crush, and I can't make out the ends of my rope.

The last thing I want to do is distract her or myself from the work.

I'm sure I'll be able to focus, but I don't want to cut all ties or distract her from her mission or make things worse by fully expressing my feelings. Is it okay to be "just friends" for now?

I've been on group dates that aren't dates with her.

We see shows with a group of people our age with an approximately equal gender ratio.

I'm not paying, we're not officially paired off, and I don't even pick her up or drop her off.

It's a "Casual Group Date" in every other way.

Considering all factors: Imminent missions, mutual attraction, my potentially dangerous history (I severely doubt it will manifest itself, but I can't ignore it), the other guys she's shown interest in in the past, and the consistent, ongoing "casual group not-dates", what do I do?

I've been in and out a fairly wide spectrum of relationships, and I think I can say that this is one worth reviving after 2 years.

My conclusion is to be friends until after our missions, at which point we are in a position to resume on better footing, God willing.

I understand your reasoning with guys and girls not being able to be friends, but I feel like I have no incentive to 'make a move'. (Expressing my feelings more exactly)

Sincerely,

- Let's Be Friends.




Dear Be,

Nor should you.

Once a young man has his call, I think he should stop dating all together. After all, what's the point?

And who says you need to be "expressing your feelings"? (Sounds like you've been watching too much Jane Austen.)  What's the point of that?

To make yourself feel better?

To try and hold onto a relationship that doesn't exist?

Or that shouldn't possibly exist for much longer?

Look, there's nothing wrong with liking her; nor is there anything wrong with the feelings you have.

It's just that the timing is off.

(Heck, I'd rather you kissed her than told her you have "feelings" . . .)

For the record, the phrase is "Guys Can't Stay Just Close Friends with Girls".  That doesn't mean you can't be in the "Friend Zone" for now. If that includes a little hand-holding, I think that's fine.

Be Rational.

And, yeah, she may be "taken" before you come back; like you said: if that's what happens it's what happens.

It' ain't like she's the only Great Girl in the Church.

Enjoy the little moments, keep yourself focused on your mission, and save the Expressing Your Feelings for when you come home from the mish and doing so can actually lead somewhere positive.

- Bro Jo

Monday, May 5, 2014

Being Your Brother's (or Sister's) Keeper

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi!

I only recently discovered your blog, and gee do I wish I had found it when I was being a stupid teenager and steady dating. This would have been extremely helpful.

Anyway, I shall not waste your time wining about things that I can no longer fix.

The real reason that I am writing to you is because I am concerned about my younger sister. She has been steady(?) dating since she was thirteen, and in the last three years she has had a relationship with over twenty boys. Hence the question mark next to steady.

It isn’t steady at all, but she considers herself committed to them for however many weeks she stays in that “relationship.”

Now she is sixteen, and dating is actually allowed. My parents have set up rules about who she can date, and have set up Meet the Date rules.

You are probably thinking “This is not a question.” You would be right, it isn’t.

Yet.

Sometimes, okay, a lot of times, my sister breaks these rules.

She goes on dates with nineteen year old drop outs. She goes on dates with guys that are currently using recreational drugs.

And sometimes I find out about it. I want to know, is it the right thing to do to tell my parents?

My sister has come to resent me on some level, because I was in charge of determining which of her friends were okay to hang out with. I went to high school with her, my parents did not. So if her friend invited her to a party over the weekend, I was the one that told my parents what kind of person they were. (As in, will this party have drugs?)

I have heard her and her friends calling me words that I don’t feel like repeating, and this has gone on for years. I always felt like I was doing the right thing by playing the “snitch.” But recently I had a friend tell me that it was her life, and that I should stay out of it. I date who I want, and let her date who she wants.

And who cares what rules she is breaking because hey, its her life.

And now I am confused.

I realize it is her life.

I know she has to make her own choices... but.... I love her.

And I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t really know if I should trust my over protective older sister senses, or the advice of my friend. But, from reading your blog, you seem like a pretty smart guy.

Can you ease my confusion?

Thank you in advance,

- The Snitching Sister




Dear Snitch,

In general, no, it's not okay.

Consider: What's your goal, here?

And is it a Righteous Goal?

If your goal is to harp on your parents, tell them they're wrong, or get your sister punished, those are unrighteous goals, and you should let it go.

If your goal is to help your sister because you love and care about her, that's a righteous goal, but it is crucial that your desire to do good be followed by things that will actually accomplish good.

Resentment and contention do not bring change or positive improvement.

Ever.

I try to not criticize parents in my writing; no one can truly know what's best for a child as well as the people God entrusted that child to; we who critique from the outside are just that, outside; it's very difficult to have an understanding of the nuances of what's going on, the time and energy put in; and we need to remember that long before it's our responsibility to get that child to the Celestial Kingdom, it's theirs.

But I think I can say with fair analysis based on the (albeit limited) information you've provided that your parents have done you a huge disservice: they've put you in the role of parent so that they can ingratiate themselves and buddy up to their other child.

As you've seen, it doesn't work.

Remember that when you become a parent.

It was your parent's responsibility to find out who your sister's friends are, and what they're like, and not just rely on your input. They needed to be talking to her about her friends, inviting them over to the house, calling the parents of those friends to be sure they'd be chaperoning the parties, and getting to know those families and what kind of people they are. Inviting people to Church and into our homes isn't just about spreading the Gospel, it's also very valuable to know the people your kids spend time with.

Remember that, too.

I believe that a line has to be crossed before it's okay to "rat out" your siblings, and that line is that there has to be certain and immediate physical or Spiritual danger.

So here's what I think you need to do.  If you hear that your sister is about to go on a Serious Single Date with a boy who's likely to be high, drunk or stoned when he drives her around, or that his (or her) goal is to have pre-marital sex when they're together, follow this pattern:

1. Consider the source. Are you getting information or hearing jealous gossip? 

2. Talk to your sister. Rather than snitch to your parents, go to the source with your love and concern. 
"Hey, I heard you have a date this Friday night! Who's the guy? What's he like? Are you excited? Is he a nice guy? What are your plans?" 
Don't grill her. 
Show genuine sincere interest. 
If in that CONVERSATION (where you actually do more listening than talking, by the way) you begin to have your previous concerns confirmed (as in, yes the guy she's going out with is the rumored addict, or she begins to talk about "protection") then ASK her for permission to be concerned. (It's a great technique that I highly recommend.) 
"Hey, you know I love you. I've heard some not nice things about that guy, is it okay that I'm concerned?"

See the difference in the approach? 
Can you imagine how it might be taken differently than things you've done in the past? 
If she asks why you're concerned, then be honest but open. 
"Well, I've heard he drives drunk. Is that true?" 

3. If she's convinces you on any level that the rumors are false, that you're jumping to conclusions, that you have nothing to worry about, then tell her you're glad, you hope she has a great time, and let her know that if she does ever end up in a bad situation that she can call you for help, anytime, no questions asked. 
THAT'S how you build the Relationship of Trust that siblings should have with each other. 
Now, if in this conversation she confirms your fears, you let her know that you're worried.
You suggest that she go to mom and dad for help if needed. 
You testify of her worth and value and say things like "I just don't see why anyone as awesome as you needs to be risking your future like that". 
And if the danger is real (BE CERTAIN) and imminent, THEN you go to your parents.
You still don't rat her out. 
What you say to them is "hey, I was talking to sis and I'm really worried about this date she is going on this Friday". 
When they ask you why, you're ONLY RESPONSE should be "you know, I think you need to ask her about that". 
Don't get in the middle. 
If they do step up to the parent plate, that's a win-win. 
If your sister comes to you angry and accusing you of ratting her out, you say "hey, all I told them was what I told you, that I was concerned about you; I didn't give them any details".
Which will be true. 


That's my advice, anyway.

Oh! And don't be uber uptight. 

There's a huge chasm between "not a good idea" and "Spiritually damning".

Respect the gap.

Good luck!

- Bro Jo

Friday, May 2, 2014

Guys, Make the Call

Dear Bro Jo,

So I don't know exactly where to start, so I will just give you a little background on an experience that has me thinking.

Not too long ago, one of my friends came home from his mission.

He was dating one of my really good friends before he left, and we became acquaintances through her, and I wrote him some while he was gone.

After he came home I messaged him on Facebook (he lives close to 2 hours away, but we are in the same stake) and we talked some.

I saw him at seminary graduation, and we didn't really talk much there.

I messaged him again yesterday on Facebook and we talked for a few minutes, then that continued today and eventually he said he had to go but that if I wanted to reply I could text him, and he gave me his number.

Then I responded, something like "well I can't do that now, can I?"

And I gave him my number.

So another one of my friends who I met at EFY a couple years ago actually met this RM at a YSA activity.

So I was telling him what I said and in response to what I said at the end he said, "grow up and stop being coy." Was I being "coy"?

 Maybe, but I have tried to make it a general rule that boys should text me or call me first if they want to talk to me.

Some guys think it's ridiculous.

But I can think of numerous occasions where I've been taught that I am worth it, and that a guy should make the effort.

My friend's point was this "the fact that when a guy respects a girl even though they're equal means that he truly loves them.

It's not about equality or not because in the end he will always hold you in the highest respect, so it doesn't matter if you take the first step."

Well, to me I did kind of make the first step already.

And it would be nice to see some effort on the other person’s part, so I know they actually want to talk to me.

And I explained once again, I have always been taught that the guy should have to work for the girl.

So maybe what I'm looking for is what you think is "initiating conversation appropriateness."

In person: I think then a girl can go up to the guy Phone call/text: I think he should make the first move on that one.

And of course a girl can lead a guy in the right direction in order to do so.

I feel like some people think making a guy take the initiative is old fashioned.

My friend said there is a reacher and a settler, usually the reacher is the boy, but it can also be the girl.

I think of it more as the boy should be the reacher and the girl should meet him there.

Am I right in my thinking?

I don't think I am expecting too much.

Sincerely,

- Wanting Some Backup



Dear Friend,

I've got your back.

The guys who think girls should make the first move are either lazy, cowards, or bad guys.

(And that’s why you’ll hear so many guys say that they think it’s fine.)

That's an international fact, and it's been true since the creation of Eve.

Stick to your standards, be coy, make them text and call you first.

There's no better way to convince guys that you're worth the effort.

However, it's totally okay to go encourage conversation.

Flirt, get him to talk about himself, even tell him to ask you for your phone number or ask you on a date; all of that is brilliant!

In short, you're right and he's wrong.

And if he doesn't figure that out soon, he may be single for a long time.

- Bro Jo