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.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How Do You Get Your Kids to Go to a Church School?

Dear Bro Jo-

My daughter will be a high school junior this year so we talk about careers and colleges a lot.

She has never really wanted to attend a Church school but has been more willing to consider it now that the decision must be made.

I attended BYU when I was married so I don't think I can say how the school is socially.

I enjoyed my married wards but I don't know what the current spiritual and social climates are like.

The students attending BYU right now from our home ward are not giving BYU glowing reviews.

They were disappointed.

My daughter has been disappointed that some of our strongest young women are not posting things they never did here and were so strongly opposed to.

My only desire is that she attend a university with a strong single adult ward and good institute program.

We are looking at New York City, Boston, San Antonio, and Jacksonville Florida.

Is BYU still better than other universities when it comes to spiritual and social environments?

Are the singles wards outside of Utah getting bigger and stronger?

Perhaps you and your readers can give me on the ground analysis:)

Thanks-

- A Confused Parent




Dear Confused Parent,

School, like Church, is one of those things that you get out of it what you put in.

And no one magically becomes a different person just because they went off to school.

When someone goes to a positive place filled with Spiritual opportunities and they have a lousy experience its because if what they brought to the experience.

Wherever she considers going to school, visiting the student ward there, meeting the Bishopric, Institute Director and some of the students is crucial before she commits to a decision.

This is a tough transition time for parents, too.

Give her encouragement and support, but the choice will have to be hers.

Hang in there, mom!

If it helps, yes I think there are benefits to attending a Church school (or Church-based, like Southern Virginia University), but there are also many, many amazing University Wards and Institutes of Religion outside the Zion Curtain.

- Bro Jo

Monday, July 28, 2014

Do You Keep the Presents After a Breakup?

Dear Bro Jo,

I hope this is the right way to contact you for the blog and getting a reply.

Okay, long story short the guy in this I liked 6 years ago and when he got back from his mission 10 months ago we got together after a week and within the second month we were both completely in love and he kept saying he knew we'd be together forever.

After 10 months he now says it’s not the right time, won't say exactly why, but we have both spoke and agreed to keep everything we have from each other, presents, photos etc. in boxes and we're still going to meet up every now and then.

I’ll see him every Sunday at Church and we both have the same friends which is why we are doing this, but we've said we're not going to draw a line in the sand yet because who knows what may happen when we've both finished college.

Do you think it’s the best idea to stay friends?

And keep presents and photos?

And to not draw a line in the sand just yet?

Thanks,

- Name Withheld




Dear NW, 

Actually, the best way to reach me for "Dear Bro Jo" stuff is to send emails to dearbrojo@gmail.com.

And, no, I don't agree that what you're doing is the best idea.

After 10 months you deserve more of a concrete explanation than "now is not the right time".

You should be told why, and the fact that he's not coming clean is a huge red flag.

Whether he tells you or not, I think you both need to realize that it's over.

Presents belong to the receiver to keep, trash, sell, pass on, set on fire, or do with whatever they wish. They're presents, after all.

But, frankly, he has drawn a line in the sand; it's just that neither of you is willing to admit it. He ended the relationship and he doesn't trust or respect you enough to give you a reason why.

That's a deal breaker right there.

You can, and should, still be polite and cordial, especially among mutual friends, but you deserve much better than to be put into cold storage until he clues in that he never should have broken up with you in the first place.

That is, assuming he ever does.

The bottom line?

The guy isn't ready for marriage.

He wants to date (and kiss) other people.

He's realized on some level that he should probably marry you, if you'd take him that is, and yet he's not ready to grow up.

He has doubts and fears, both of which are very normal, but he wants some time to play around and see if he can find someone better than you.

That's not the kind of guy you should be clinging to.

Move on.

Keep the photos and other stuff if you want, but don't pretend that you two are still together or might get back together some day.

You can't count on that.

If he does come to his senses, make him beg.

(When I say stuff like that last sentence I usually get grief from the whinny guys who think I'm one-sided and too hard on them . . . which I think is proof I'm right.)


- Bro Jo

Friday, July 25, 2014

Becoming Your Own Person

Dear Bro Jo,

Unlike most Mormons I didn't go to BYU or BYU-I, I ended up going to a small Catholic university close to home. I can say that it has not been easy.

My parents don't want me to live on campus because they don't feel that it would be a safe environment.

So I have been living at home and commuting every day.

This has caused a couple problems.

1) My social life is basically non-existent because it is a 45 minute drive from home to school and because my mom wants constant updates about where I am and who I am with. I understand that she wants to make sure that I am safe, but it's a little much sometimes. I always have to get her approval to stay for something. I can't just text her and say I'm doing this and I'll be home later.

2) I have found it hard to make friends because everyone just wants to go out and party. I have a few friends from my major, but it's not like they are inviting me to hang out with them. I often feel very lonely.

3) Out of the few friends I do have, I have one great guy friend that is basically the only one who ever invites me to hang out. But my mom does not like him. She thinks that he is telling me that I don't have to listen to her because I'm 18 etc. That is only somewhat true, he was like that at first, but I explained to him that my mom is concerned about me and I need to keep her updated. So now he knows that I have to ask my mom first. This often causes me and my mom to argue.

4) My mom promised that since I was staying at home for college that she would give me more freedom and that I wouldn't have to do as much around the house so I could focus on school work. That promise has not really been fulfilled. Like I said before I can't even leave the house without telling my mom where I'm going, who I will be with and how long I will be gone. I'm okay with telling my mom all of that, but I'm not okay with having to get permission to go out.

I'm 18, shouldn't I be able to tell my mom that I'm going out and not have to ask if I can go out?

Especially since she promised that that's the way it would be.

Whenever I try and bring this up she always gets mad at me.

I tell her that if I had chosen to go to BYU-I (I was planning on going there, but plans changed) instead of the school I'm at now that I wouldn't have to inform her about every little detail of my life.



As for helping out around the house, that has not changed . . . I should tell you a little about my family.

My parents have adopted 8 kids, which turned our family of 7 into a family of 15.

For the last 5 or so years, I have been the main helper around the house.

My older sisters could always find ways to get out of helping.



Now back to today.

My mom said that I wouldn't have to help with the kids so much so I would be able to focus on my school work.

Yeah not so much. 4 out of 5 days I'm not home until 6 or 7, but I am still roped into getting kids in pjs, helping with homework, bathing, and getting them in bed.

Getting 8 kids ready for bed is no easy task, but we get done with it around 8:15 or so.

After this I usually have dinner and then it's time for homework before I go to bed between 10:30 and 11. 

More often then not, my mom asks me to help clean up the house.

So this means that I'm not free to do homework until almost 10 and by then I'm exhausted.

I try to get as much homework done during my breaks between classes, but I still have a lot when I get home.

When I try to talk to my mom about it she says that I barely do anything and that she and my dad do everything.

I don't know what to do.

I realize that this is a lot to take in, but these problems are making me think about moving up to campus (which is very expensive) or transferring to BYU.

I don't want to leave my current school, but I'm just getting so stressed out with everything that it's really hard to like staying here.

I could really use your advice.

- Stressed Out Commuter




Dear Stressed,

Look, I need to let you know that your email caught me in a particularly ornery mood . . . I don't think my advice on this is going to change, but it might come out more harshly than usual.

For that I apologize.

I think you need to start acting like the adult you are.

It's time to be your own person.

Take responsibility for your own life and your own education.

Transfer to the Y.

Get scholarships.

Get a job.

Support yourself.

Hug and kiss your parents.

Tell them you love them.

Then move away and become your own woman.

Your parents are the ones that adopted all of the kids, not you.

It's not your job to raise them.

Now is the time in your life when you need to find and make your own way.

If you're going to live at home, then commit to that choice and live that life.

But if you're as stressed out as you say, I think it's time to go.

- Bro Jo

PS:  For the record, "most" Mormons do not go to the Y OR the Y of I.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How Do You Deal with the Death of a Young Friend?

Dear Bro Jo.

Thank you for all you have written to me these past few days they have really helped.

I hate to come at you with another problem but when it rains it pours.

Late Sunday night or early Monday morning my friend passed away in her sleep. She was 32 and a wonderful member of our Church.

She was very active in theater and the community that we live in.

That being said, she and I shared many mutual friends who are non-members.

They keep asking me why someone who seemed so healthy and happy would die so suddenly and why God would allow such a good person to leave this earth, and I don't have an answer.

I am asking myself the same questions.

I have been looking for talks or scriptures to help give myself and those around me comfort, but I can't seem to find anything that can explain to our non-member friends why these things seem to happen.

Do you have anything in mind?

Thank you,

- A




Dear A,

There are many things that happen in this life that we just aren't going to understand here . . . but I do believe that we'll understand them later.

I am grateful that life is eternal, and that our time here, no matter how long we live, is but a blink of an eye compared to our whole existence.

You will get to see your friend again, and she will greet you with love and joy as a fellow Daughter of God. 

Sometimes I think that people die before we're ready for them to because Heavenly Father wants us to remember how precious life is, how important it is to Be Good and Do Good during the short time we have here, and how important it is that we all live our lives in such a way that we can all be reunited again in His kingdom.

Death is not a test for those that have died, but a reminder of what's important to those that remain.

We are sad because we miss those that have moved on, but they are not sad. If it helps, consider this: your friend got to live 32 years here instead of 31 . . . or 25 . . . or 1.

Rather than morn that she didn't get a 33rd year, let us be grateful for the time that we got to spend.

Let us not blame God for her passing, but thank him for the blessings we get every day.

Let her early death remind us to hug those we love, be a little kinder, smile a little more.

One of the wonderful things about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what it teaches us about our Eternal Nature:  we came from our Heavenly Parents, and because of the Atonement of the Savior we can return and live forever with our Friends and Families.

I find that gives me a lot of comfort . . . and motivation.

Now is a good time to be sharing the message of the Gospel with your non-member friends.

Well . . . anytime is . . . but you know what I mean.

- Bro Jo

Monday, July 21, 2014

Should She Have Told Him How She Feels Before He Left?

Dear Bro Jo,

I am in a situation that I am not quite sure how to deal with.

I am 18 years old and I am starting to prepare for a mission.

The problem is that there is a Young Man you I have very strong feelings for who has been out in the field for about a month now.

I want to tell him how I feel but I feel if I tell him now that I would just be a distraction for him and that is the last thing he needs right now.

On the other hand I feel if I do not tell him soon I may not get the chance to.

We both know that we like each other but because I knew he was planning for a mission I did not press on trying to make a romantic relationship out of it. I wanted to keep us as best friends and hang out as friends to better know each other before he left.

When I found out officially when he was leaving for his mission I made a promise to myself that I would wait for him because I care that much about him.

I somewhat told him I would wait for him because I wanted him to know that I am always here for him.

I know that I would never send him a Dear John letter because my father had a Dear John sent to him on his mission and I definitely do not want to be "that" girl.

What advice do have for me that would help me in this interesting situation?

Sincerely,

- Girl Who Waits




Dear Girl Who Waits,

My standard answer is that no girl should "wait" for a guy while he's on a mission, and no guy should ask her to wait. (For that matter, no guy should wait for a girl that's on a mission, either.)

You're right, it's not good to tell a guy while he's on his mission that you have feelings for him.

It's a distraction at best, and could be quite confusing.

What you're supposed to be doing is going on dates with other guys, not waiting around for something that may never happen.

These are some of your best dating years!

Go out and enjoy!

Then, once you submit your mission papers, stop dating until you come home.

"Having strong feelings" is not the same as "being in a relationship"; you can't "Dear John" someone unless you had some sort of commitment before he left.

Your father's experience is another reason why I tell young people that "all bets are off" once the paperwork is filed.

I think you should "un-promise" yourself.

People change . . . A LOT . . . in two years apart; while it occasionally works out, most of the time it doesn't.

Even couples that are, at the time, convinced that they've found their One True Love discover that they're in love with the idea more than the person, that they don't really know the person like they think they do, and that what they're clutching to is Security and Comfort much more than a potential Eternal Marriage.

(Long separations, IMHO, really only work when a marriage-level commitment is already in place.)

A Good Guy will understand that you’re focusing on Dating and then, if it's right, a Mission, while he's gone. 

Ergo, any guy that doesn't understand is not a guy you want.

Hope that helps,

- Bro Jo

Friday, July 18, 2014

Is "Romance" a Requirement?

[Readers,

Like most of what gets published here on the blog page, I received the following email more than a year ago.  As I was re-reading it today, getting it ready to publish, I had some additional thoughts and comments beyond what I sent in my reply to the writer.  They will follow at the end.

Best to all,

- Bro Jo]




Dear Bro Jo,

I'm am very confused.

I'm not usually the type to ask for dating advice, mostly because I haven't ever really cared to date.

I'm very independent and have always been better at being friends with guys (either being one of the guys or the girl that gives them relationship advice) and I've never minded that.

I like who I am and who I am has always been single.

I depend on myself and get help from my really close friends and family.

In high school I went on dates, liked a few boys and had one guy you could maybe label a "boyfriend."

That "boyfriend" is about all the relationship experience I can lean back on and all it was, was a few dates, we held hands once and shortly after I gave him the "just friends" talk because being a relationship made me uncomfortable.

I wanted to have fun with my friends and meet new people as it was my last year of high school.

I'm a pretty independent person.

I can be very reserved at first but as I get to know people I really open up.

My sister died some years ago and I've discovered over the years that I have a lot of walls that I built up over the years to protect myself from getting hurt and losing someone else again.

I have a lot of friends but I have only a few that I fully trust and feel completely myself around.

My first year of college I was pretty closed to the idea of boyfriends or lots of dating. I was more focused on meeting people and I had a guy on a mission that I was writing to that I kind of liked.

My second year I felt more open to it and became really interested in a guy in my ward (we'll call him Jimmy because I don't know anyone named Jimmy).

I went on a few dates here and there and finally admitted to Jimmy that I had feelings for him.

We went on a date but he was having trouble deciding between me and another girl.

I didn't like being treated this way and he lost a lot of respect in my eyes for some of the things he did.

I knew that I needed to move on but I wasn't sure how, especially since he is a genuinely good and nice guy, he is just an oblivious jerk when it comes to dating.

Well I was participating in charity event that went all night with some of my friends and Jimmy and his roommates agreed to come and support me (this event was really important and meant a lot to me). Jimmy seemed really interested and even excited to come. Jimmy and his roommates showed up but he hardly talked to me and acted bored.

After about an hour he left, without saying anything to me. I thought maybe he meant to come back, but he didn't.

His roommates however did stay, and ended up having a lot of fun.

One of my friends invited a guy (we'll call him Benny because again, I don't know anyone called Benny) to come for a few hours.

I didn't really talk to Benny for the first little bit but we started hanging out and talking.

Everything that had bothered me about Jimmy or that I had ignored about him was completely the opposite in Benny.

It was so easy and comfortable talking to Benny (which for me is saying a lot because I take a bit to warm up to people). I'd never felt this comfortable around Jimmy or really any guy before. It wasn't even hard to not like Jimmy any more because I saw what a real guy was like and I really liked Benny.

Benny got my number that night and soon we went on a few dates over the next little bit. I knew that he liked me a lot but I was still a little hesitant at first.

As I got to know him better I was able to open up more and I realized that I didn't just like him, I really really liked him.

The only downside with this is that school only had a few more weeks and I would be moving home (almost 3 hours away) and he would be staying there.

We kind of had to "rush" our relationship but for some reason my usual inclination to move slow wasn't there.

We didn't kiss or hold hands (we took it slow in that regard, mostly because of me, I wasn't ready to move that quickly) but we spent a lot of time together and got to know each other. We decided to talk a lot over the summer, visit a few times and when I came back in the fall we would see where our relationship stood and possibly put the official title of boyfriend and girlfriend on our relationship.

I moved home and we texted a few times each day and called twice a week.

I thought maybe conversations over the phone would be a little awkward but they were just as comfortable as talking in person. We easily talked for a few hours each time.

He came to visit me a few weeks later for a weekend and that's when everything changed.

That Sunday as I was at Church I felt overwhelmed and scared.

Thoughts filled my head and just became too much.

I didn't want to date him, I didn't want to see him again, I wished that we had never met, I wasn't ready for a relationship or marriage and a million other things.

I guess you could say I had a meltdown in the car with my mother.

I've never had anything like that happen before.

I felt a lot better after talking to my mom but I still wasn't ready to see him(he was supposed to be coming over for Sunday dinner after he got back from Church, he was going with an old mission companion he was staying with that lived in the area).

I hesitantly texted him that dinner was at 3 if he still wanted to come (his companion had late Church that didn't get out till 4). He said he would just come over later after Church.

I thought that was weird that he was staying for all the meetings instead of coming to dinner to meet the rest of my family but I was honestly very relieved.

I was still hesitant to see him but I knew it would be ok because I had never felt uncomfortable around him. I later told him a little bit of what I had been feeling earlier that day and explained that I just needed a little extra time and space but assured him that I still liked him, but relationship stuff, for whatever reason, was hard.

He was understanding (or at least trying to be, I know it didn't make a whole lot of sense to him, especially since it wasn't making a lot of sense to me).

He did tell me that he had felt very strongly that he needed to stay for all of the meetings and thought it was because he needed to learn something there but when nothing stuck out he was confused.

He explained that he thought that me needing that time and space to think must have been it.

Well he left and went back but things weren't quite the same after that.

Some days I really really liked him...and other days I didn't know.

Some days I really missed him and other days...I didn't. I was fine with not seeing him.

Some days I would have loved to be "officially" boyfriend and girlfriend and other days I just wanted to only be friends..ever.

I grew more and more confused as days and weeks passed.

The things that I did know were that I liked spending time with him, I liked talking to him, I valued his friendship a lot (like a lot, a lot. He's one of my closest friends) and I felt comfortable around him.

But my feelings, I had no idea about. It was a day to day, hot and cold thing.

I had to travel down nearby where he lived and was able to visit him for a day. I was a little awkward at first and wasn't sure why I couldn't relax around him, as the night went on I relaxed and became more of myself.

We went on a walk and he held my hand for the first time....and I didn't feel a thing.

No fireworks, no butterflies, no feelings of flying to the moon and back.

I know I don't have a lot of relationship experience but isn't this supposed to be a really good thing?

With the guy in high school that I held hands with, I remember feeling like I was on cloud nine that entire night...but that night as I was with a guy I cared a lot more about and knew a lot better, I felt nothing.

For the most part it felt comfortable holding hands, the only uncomfortable part was wondering why it didn't feel wonderful.

Later that night we sat on his couch and talked and cuddled...but it still felt like I was doing it more out of comfort than anything else(we had cuddled before in our relationship and it had felt completely different than this).

 Now I am just more confused.

Now I'm doubting if I'm even physically attracted to him like I once was.

I miss him like I would a good friend, not as one should miss a boyfriend. It would be nice to see him and spend time with him but I ok with not.

I don't know if I'm using the distance to detach myself from him so that I don't get hurt or if these are signs that this just isn't meant to be or we're incompatible.

I don't know if I should say anything, or even what I should say or if I should wait till Fall when I'm back there for school and we spend more time together.

But what do I do until then?

We still talk about the same but I don't feel the same about it.

Some days I almost feel like I was meant to come into his life to help him with some stuff (and learn something along the way) but that that's all there is to it.

But I know that he never feels like that. He really likes me and cares a lot about me.

I don't want to hurt him, because I care for him a lot and I know he doesn't have a lot of close friends.

I also know that I can help him with some stuff he's trying to figure out in his life right now.

I feel like I'm supposed to help him but I'm confused as to whether I'm supposed to be more than that in his life.

One of my old bishops once said that if he doesn't make you want to fly to the moon and back then he isn't worth it.

I don't feel that way at all.

I don't know if it's something that needs to come with time or that he's just not right for me.

I know this is quite the biography to take in but any advice?

Thanks,

- Very Very Confused Girl




Dear Very,

Relax.

Worry less.

Stop being afraid of letting yourself be happy.

Keep dating any decent guy that asks.

Realize that at your age it's okay to kiss your dates good night.

Oh, and you need to know that "romance" as it's defined by others, especially in the media, isn't reality for everyone.

People who think that the only kind of love is "Fairy-tale Romance" kind of love often find themselves either Old and Alone having missed out on several great Eternal Companions or Shocked and Shopping when the "magic" wears off.

One thing about "Shocked and Shopping" is that if those folks had been a little more mature and willing to Work at their relationship they could have had something great.

- Bro Jo



[Readers,

Okay, here are some additional thoughts:

1.  I'm very concerned about those of you that are afraid to date in college.  Even though an RM is marriage focused, that doesn't mean that when he asks you on a first date (or when she agrees to go) that it's a proposal.  I meet so many great singles in their late 20's and early 30's and wonder:  "how is it possible that no one ever snagged this great catch!"

The answer is almost always the same.


They were so afraid of getting hurt, or a relationship, or getting married too young, or whatever phobia they allowed themselves to be trapped by that they shunned or repelled too many people.  If they had simply RELAXED about dating and the whole relationship thing and been more open to being social  . . . well, you know.


2.  The writer complains about the guy she likes not ditching some of his Church meetings to come over to a Super Early Dinner.  Good for him!

I'd like to see Latter-day Saints stop skipping all or part of, Church because "family is in town" or they're traveling or they are on vacation or  . . . or  . . . or . . .

I know there are exceptions, but they should be extremely rare, not "that's the way we do things".

Wherever you are on visiting, plan on staying for the whole block.  Get to know the people you're visiting!  Enjoy the lessons.  Make a friend.

I think she should have moved dinner back to 4:30 so the guy could do both Church and make dinner on time.  Shame she didn't.


3.  There's nothing wrong with comfortable!  My gosh!  I really hope this writer realized she was making a mistake by pushing this guy away.  "Comfortable" is one of the best things one can feel in a relationship.  When we mature passed the "giddy" stage, when we're at the point that being together no longer makes us nervous and instead we feel relaxed and safe . . . Brothers and Sisters THAT'S what you want.  (And, if it means anything, I'll tell you that's when all of the kissing and stuff, when you can trust the person you're with, well then it gets even better!)


4.  I get very frustrated when young people, including my non-member students, limit their options in life because they "have to move" or "can't move".  We don't live in those times anymore . . .and haven't for a very long time.

No LDS Singles in your area?

Move.

As I've said before, don't just sit there and complain that nothing is happening where you are, go to where stuff is happening!


Falling in love with the person you're dating?

Stay.

Find a new place to live, get a different job . . . cut the umbilical cord and tell you're parents you're not coming home this break.  You're an adult.  Act like one.


5.  Don't fear being scared.

Seriously.

Some of the best things in life (perhaps all of them) require us to take a risk, to be a little afraid, to push ourselves to grow.

Everyone will have regrets in life.  Many of mine are because I did something or said something dumb.  But a lot of them are because I didn't take a risk on something great.


Just some thoughts,

- Bro Jo]

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Do Relationships Boil Down to "Reachers" and "Settlers"?

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 WSB,

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.)

Guys hate it when I say that.  They get uber defensive, call me "old fashioned", and both guys and girls start to bombard me with "relationship success" stories where the girl took the initiative . . . even proposed.

But all of that neither changes my opinion, or makes my statement untrue.

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

Stick to your standards.  Be Coy.  (I think "coy" is a good thing, by the way.)  Make guys text and call you first.

There's no better way to convince guys that you're worth the effort than to Require that Effort be made.

It's also totally okay to go encourage conversation, just like you said.

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 that includes the "Reachers and Settlers" theory.

I do agree that at first makes sense.  We see all these couples and judge that one person is bringing more to the relationship than the other person.  Or we theorize that to ask someone to dance or on a date is "reaching" and agree to dance or go out is "settling".

But that's not true.

Relationships work because BOTH people are not only GETTING something out of the relationship, but more than that, both people are GIVING something to the relationship.

It's very common for us Old Guys to sit around and talk (almost brag) about how we "married up", and about how our wives are so much better than we are . . . so much out of our league.

Okay.  On some level that's true . . . kind of.

Sister Jo is amazing, and I'm very lucky she agreed to marry me.

Like all guys who say we "married up", what I really mean to say is that "I'm very lucky and grateful to be married to such a great person".

But do you want to know the truth?

If Sister Jo felt like she was "settling" and that I brought nothing to the table . . . that I'm beneath her . . . if she felt that I was much better off having married her and she got nothing from being married to me . . .

then our relationship would be a disaster.

I need to feel appreciated by Sister Jo.  (Doesn't everyone need to feel appreciated by somebody?)

Some couples stay together for years . . . perhaps even eternity . . . in a lopsided relationship where only one of them feels like they bring anything to the table.

I think that's sad.

Horrible.

And, IMHO, often doomed to failure.


Asking someone to dance with, date, or marry you is not "reaching"; it's an invitation to join you.


And agreeing to dance with, date, or marry isn't "settling"; it's saying "thank you for the invitation; I'd love to!"


- Bro Jo

Monday, July 14, 2014

What About Birth Control for Newlyweds?

[Dear Readers,

I received the following comment on the June 11, 2014, post "What is the Church's Position on Birth Control?".  Felling it worthy of it's own column, I'm posting it, and my response, below.

Best to all,

- Bro Jo]


Anonymous said...

Hi Bro Jo! I love your blog and it's very insightful. :)

That being said, although you answered the question about birth control, I just wondered what you personally feel in a situation that I came across when I met one of my roommates at BYU last year.

As usually happens, us roommates were talking amongst ourselves about silly things like wedding colors and honeymoon destinations we wanted, when one particular roommate started talking about her parents' wedding. We came to find out that she was a product of two virgins having sex for the first time on the night of their wedding (I'm not sure why her parents told her this, nonetheless, they did).

Now, I don't know about you and your wife or anyone else, but if I was a newly married bride who became pregnant the night of her wedding, I'm don't think that I would be ready to take care of a child, and even if I was, I'm not sure I'd want to. I know that's extremely selfish, but I'd rather take at least a few months to enjoy time with my new husband before embarking on that path of life, which I am excited to do eventually, just not my wedding night. From what my roommate said, her parents sort of felt the same way. They had no money, her dad had lost his job, and her mom was very sick throughout the pregnancy, they could barely pay bills, let alone buy food and baby things. Although she was/is a great blessing to their family and is an amazing young woman, it seems her parents just weren't prepared for a child at that time in their lives.

So, I guess what I might be trying to ask is, what do you personally believe (or even practice, if that isn't too personal and without details) as to the whole "night of the wedding" or honeymoon thing? If you don't want "risk" impregnation on your honeymoon and have a baby 9 months later, but also know the failure rate of birth control and of problems it can cause later down the road, but also realize and appreciate the higher purpose of sex is procreation, what do you personally think is acceptable in that situation?

Thank you! I hope that wasn't TMI or asking too many questions.

- Anon




Dear Anon,

I think the only reason parents tell their children stories like that is because they're trying to do some social engineering.  They may be trying to convey the message "don't have sex before you get married because we got pregnant the very first time we had sex" . . . and I certainly understand their motivation in doing so.

My take on when a couple should start having children is, frankly, one big mass of contradictions which I readily admit.  And I think that's because there are some strong arguments to be made for all sides.

Sister Jo and I had lots of kids very quickly.  We struggled emotionally, financially, and in every other -ly you can possibly imagine.

But, like your roommate's parents, not only did it all work out, it worked out well, and we wouldn't go back and do things differently.  Sometimes we look at our friends that are the same age who have fewer and younger children than we do - not the ones that struggled to have children, but the ones that put children (and / or marriage) off for worldly things - and we think how sad it is that they've missed so much and how old they're going to be before they get to know the joys of grandchildren.

I'm in my mid-40's, but I'm still young enough to coach my youngest child's baseball team.  Not sure I'd be doing that if I were 5-10 years (or 15-years) older.

Those that put off children because they're "not prepared" have a HUGE surprise coming:  they'll never "be fully prepared".  No one ever is.  There's no such thing.  (In fact, the parents that often brag about how awesome and prepared they are at "the whole parenting thing" are typically quite horrible, naive . . . and obnoxious.)


Sister Jo and I have reached a point in our lives where we feel the next children in our home should be visiting grandchildren, not our babies.  That's a personal decision, and one that we believe each couple needs to make for themselves.

And yet we're still "fertile".  And . . . "active" . . . so we take certain precautions.  The specifics of that I'll keep personal and private.

As you contemplate birth control as a married couple (and I think soon-to-be-married coupes NEED to have this discussion) there will several factors you want to weigh.

As you've noted, there is no such thing as "100% effective birth control".  Sister Jo and I often conceived while using one (or more!) methods of birth control.  True story.

Sister Jo warns people that one little-known or discussed side-effect of "the pill" is that when a woman decides to stop taking it because she's ready to have a baby that it can (not always for all women, but often) take quite a while before she's able to conceive.

I warn people that all other methods take patience and self control and consistency.

I'll add these two things:

1.  One of the things in the Church Handbook (at least the last time I looked) that no one seems to know, say, or talk about, is that the Church tells leaders to counsel their members NOT to do anything permanent (like tying tubes or having a vasectomy) unless there's a clear life-saving (not "lifestyle") reason

2.  As much as I'm looking forward to grandchildren, I do think most couples - especially those where either spouse is under 25 - should wait a year (or two, but not more than two) before trying to have children, for exactly the reason you mention.  Those "just us" months go by quickly, they're kind of special, and they don't come back for a very long time (except for Date Nights, which I maintain are REQUIRED for a long and healthy marriage).  Enjoy them.  Just the two of you.  For a short while, anyway.


Please, all of you, don't get married without having this discussion.  It's part of

Bro Jo’s "LIST of STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW TO BEFORE YOU GET ENGAGED".


- Bro Jo

Friday, July 11, 2014

Bikinis

[Readers,

The following was a comment on the June 9, 2014 post "Swimwear".  I felt it brought up some good questions and deserved it's own post, which follows.

You can jump to the original post by clicking HERE.

- Bro Jo]



Anonymous said...

Bro Jo, Your last sentence in your previous comment may have answered the question I'm about to ask, but I'll ask anyway.

First, background to the question.

There was a YW in my ward who was 17/18 when I first turned 12 and entered YW. I really looked up to her because she was an exceptional young woman who was a straight A student, Laurel President, Captain of the Volleyball Team, and had a very strong testimony. She always advocated the Church's standards, especially modesty.

Fast-forward a few years to when I was 17/18 and she was getting sealed to the missionary she had waited for while at college.

Sometime after her honeymoon was over, she posted pictures of the affair on Facebook. And what I saw kind of shocked me because of the kind of person she was.

She was wearing a bikini with her new husband at the beach, snorkeling, on ziplines, etc.

I know that that should hardly be shocking, as we see it everywhere, but that got me to thinking:  are bikinis considered immodest?

I always thought they were, but when I looked at the old and new versions of the FTSOY, neither said anything about swimwear.

A few years passed after this, and one of my fellow YW was sealed earlier this month. With her honeymoon pictures, she too was wearing bikinis in her pictures, when she had had strong standards in regards to modesty previously.

I don't wear bikinis personally, but the Church doesn't have specific rules about swimwear, does that make them okay?

Or should we try to cover up as much as possible to stay modest?

Does the circumstance change at all when we get married?

Is wearing something like that for the eyes of your spouse acceptable?

Thanks in advance!

- Anon




Dear Anon,

Great questions!

The Church doesn't have specific rules about a lot of things.  Such a list would, IMHO, be ridiculous.  See, the more specific commandments are the more likely we are to say that the excluded items are okay.

For example, the Word of Wisdom doesn't specifically mention crystal meth, but it does say not to put harmful things into our bodies . . . and certainly meth qualifies.

And let's say the Prophet came out and listed every possible "bad for you" substance by name and slang . . . is he supposed to do that every time something new comes out?  Does Church leadership really need to come out and say "you know, e-cigarettes are habit forming and contain harmful nicotine, so don't smoke them"?  Isn't it enough to simply trust that mature and intelligent people get it without being told every little thing?

And two things about "commandments:

1.  Regardless of the root "command", the truth is that all commandments are guidelines given by Heavenly Father for His children with the design and purpose of helping us have more joy and ease in our lives, helping us feel the Spirit, and ultimately making it easier for us to return to Him.

2.  I believe one need not be perfect in living all of the commandments to know what's right and wrong, or to point those things out.  I am not perfect (very long list of people - starting with Sister Jo and the Jo Kids - that will testify to that), but that doesn't mean I don't know right from wrong; nor does it mean that I'm not entitled to have an opinion on right from wrong, or to share that opinion.  Doing so isn't "judging" people; it's qualifying behavior.  Judgment is the Lord's, but that doesn't mean we can't say "hey, that behavior is stupid, and I think it's dumb to do it".


For the Strength of Youth may not say "don't wear a bikini" . . . but does it need to?

It clearly talks about modesty, what should be covered, and not to "make exceptions" for special occasions.

You know what I think is a good test?  For us to ask ourselves why we're wearing that item.  If the answer is ever "because I want to show off how hot I look" or "I want people to be turned on" . . . well, I think those are clearly a sign that we ought not be wearing that.


Remember, I'm not a spokesperson for the Church.


I can tell you what I know, and what I think, though.

Sister Jo and my daughters do not own bikinis.  Not because I'm a prude.  Or old.  Or ashamed of the human body.  Or uncomfortable with . . . whatever people will claim.

And it's not because I'm an oppressive ogre who exerts some kind of misogynistic power over the women in my home.

It's because we think bikinis (and some other swimwear, too) are immodest.

We know lots of Good Church members who disagree with us on that.

I think parents who let . . . encourage . . . (even buy) their daughters bikinis are, frankly, naive and stupid . . . when it comes to this particular issue.

Or, perhaps something worse than naive . . .

Sister Jo thinks that some people want their children to look sexy so they can convince people that they too are (or once were) sexy.

I find that very disturbing.

And I think in many cases she's absolutely correct.


For the Record:  I think these same concepts apply to guys sometimes, too.  Girls aren't the only ones that are ever immodest.


In our home we recognize that there are certain activities (sports, dance) where the items worn to participate could easily be called "immodest" AWAY from that ACTIVITY.

And I think that's an important distinction.  We would neither condone our wrestlers wearing singlets outside the gym than we would our ballerinas wearing tights and leotards outside the studio or off the stage.

We may change into swimsuits at the beach or pool, but we don't wear them around town.


And let's be clear:  the purpose of a bikini is not "because it's really hot today" or because they're great for swimming in;  their purpose and function is to show of the body and arouse those looking.  Anyone who says different, again IMHO, is a liar.


There are times when we have felt intimidated to stand up for modesty, especially with dance.  I think those feelings come from Satan.  On the (albeit) rare occasion when a costume has been selected that we found too risque when we spoke up to the person selecting the costume rather than mock and argue, they were supportive and understanding.  And, I might remind, we live "outside the Zion Curtain".  (Perhaps that's why.)


I don't think modesty starts at a certain age.  I don't think parents should give in (finding modest clothing, even for toddler girls, can be very difficult) or give up.  It's so much easier to set a standard of modesty in our homes EARLY, and stick to it, than to try and impose it later.  (Yeah, good luck with that!)

And I don't think that modesty relaxes after a certain age or with marital status.


As for what married people allow their spouse and spouse only to see them in . . . I say "Go for it!"  You're married - I expect you to see each other naked, for gosh sakes.  If she likes to see her husband walk around in a Speedo (not very likely) or it turns him on to see the wife in lingerie (which, honestly, never gets old) then Great for Them!


Now, I'll tell you that expressing this opinion is not going to endear me to any of my bikini condoning friends or their wives or daughters . . . or mothers.

Don't drop your standards.  But don't go preaching to people on this issue, either.  You worry about you and your children (when the time comes).  I can tell you from experience, if someone asks your opinion on this, give it, but if your opinion is like mine no one who doesn't ask is going to want to hear it.

When it comes to modesty, I think the best thing to do is live your life your way and allow others to live theirs.

Unless you're in a position where you're required to say something, but even then you need to be very delicate.

A quality that, I'm sure you've noticed, I lack.

- Bro Jo


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What If You Don't Want to Give Out Your Number?

Dear Bro Jo,

I just had a great time at EFY!  I met lots of great people and really felt the Spirit.

The only dark cloud was that at one of the dances this boy kept trying to get my number.

It wasn't like he was a super nice guy . . . or super creepy . . . but he isn't someone I want to go out with.

I danced with him once because he asked and it's my thinking that a girl should dance with every guy at least once if he asks . . . especially at Church dances.

Also I think he was one of those guys that goes around at dances and tries to get as many phone numbers as he can to show off to his friends, like a contest or something.

I kept trying to avoid him, or come up with an excuse, but eventually I just gave him my number so he would go away.  I hope he doesn't call!  It was either that or leave the dance early which I didn't want to do.  I don't think I should have to leave a dance just because some guy won't leave me alone.

Help!  Bro Jo, how do I not give out my number next time?  And what do I do if this weird boy calls?

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

I'm actually surprised I don't get asked this more often . . .

The problem is, on some level, that you're a nice person.  You're approachable; your sweetness shows through tour smile, the things you do, and how kindly you treat others.

That's why you danced with him when he asked.  (And I agree with your "policy", by the way.  The girls who run off, freak out when slow songs come on, or turn guys down who are not their "ideal" guy end up not getting asked to dance - or on dates, btw.  At least that's been my observation.)

So what's a nice girl supposed to do?

I agree that you shouldn't leave early.  And I'm a little bothered that none of the adults there saw what was going on and stepped in and told the guy to back off . . . bothered, but not surprised.  Still, perhaps it's best that you (and other girls . . . AND guys) learn how to deal with these things on your own without adult protection".)


So, here's:


Bro Jo's Guide for What to Do When You Don't Want to Give Out Your Phone Number

1.  Give your number.  Never answer his call or reply to his text.  (You should never answer from a number you don't know anyway. )  When he calls, block the number.

2.  What he needs to hear from you is "no thank you", even "I'm not interested".  You may think you're being nice by sparing his feelings, but anything less than direct will harm him in the long run.

3.  Guys fear girls in groups.  Stay in your big group and that may scare him away.

4.  Send a friend.  "I need to tell you that she thinks you're a nice guy but she's not into you; the reason she's avoiding you is because she's to nice to know how to tell you; she doesn't want to give you her number, so stop stalking her, it's creepy".  Friends can be more direct, and frankly I don't think we use their help enough.

5.  Ask an adult for help.  Especially if you're one of the younger people at the dance.  That's one of the reasons chaperons are there, by the way.



This isn't just advice for girls; guys often find themselves in he exact same situation.   These things to do work for them,  too, and girls can be just as creepy (the Jo Boys might say "even more creepy") as guys are.

I think that now you've given out your number you can use option #1, although the truth is that he may never call.  (That's a good thing, right?)

See, if he is just playing the game, he's likely not really interested . . . or is too shy to actually call . . .or is only really interested in one of the girls whose number he's getting, but is using the "game" as a cover.

What he'll likely do is text first.  That's what guys do now.

(I think it's lame.  And a bit cowardly.)

And unless you want to get trapped getting texts from him all the time, you won't reply to his texts.


Note:  if you are "a little interested" and you block him you'll never know if he texts or calls in the future.  If you don't want to burn that bridge forever (important to know:  often today's "stalker / creepy guy" becomes tomorrow's super-cute, super-nice guy) you'll not answer, not block forever.


I know there are those "fake number" services, where the guy calls and hears a rude message, and that sometimes people just give out a fake number, or someone else's number.  I don't think that's a good idea.

It's dishonest.

And at Church dances, even at EFY, you never know when you could end up seeing that same guy again.

Trust me, you don't want to deal with the fallout from having lied.


Keep going to dances and having fun!

- Bro Jo

Monday, July 7, 2014

Head Over Heels at BYU-Idaho - Part 3: Where Can You Look for Good Examples of Relationships?

Dear Bro Jo,

Sorry, it's taken so long to reply.

Lots of things have happened all over my life, and I feel like the situation is both better . . . and worse.

So, I no longer have feelings over this guy.

Its pretty amazing how quickly I can get over a guy if given a good reason. 

Right before I mustered enough courage to directly ask him, I heard him complaining about this girl who he considered just about perfect in looks and personality.

There was just one problem: she was taller than him BY TWO WHOLE INCHES.

And I'm taller than that, so I knew my chances with him are about nil and that he's a shallow Hal anyway.

Most of my other single coworkers also have the same irritating attitudes towards women like their bodies are open to critique.

It makes it pretty relieving that they don't seem to think of me as a girl.

So anyway, I'm over him, albeit embarrassed that I was ever interested in him in the first place.

And once I got over him I felt much better about myself, and decided I would never try to mold myself into anyone else's expectations.

And at first I got a lot of dates with other guys immediately after that (at least, a lot for me.)

But now I'm starting to feel lonely again.

Maybe I got too confident after that.

I don't feel like I am unattractive, but there has to be a reason guys find me so unapproachable now.

As I said before, my personality is not naturally that feminine and maybe I should just change who I am while somehow maintaining some self-respect--I've yet to figure out how that's accomplished.

I'm not sure what I want out of a relationship anyway.

I just know that it's what all the chemicals in my brain want.

I feel hijacked, like I've lost not only control of my body but my mind too.

It's just this huge physical craving for cuddles and kisses.

Maybe someone to talk to as well I guess.

My family has gone through a good deal of trauma this year and that might be why I'm feeling this hole in the first place.

Last time it was because my sister and best friend betrayed all her family and friends to marry an abusive loser, and this time its that all the stress on my mom has caused something of a rift between us lately.

I guess my main question is, how do I pull myself together?

Where are good places to look for good examples of relationships?

And when I'm a little less of a mess, how can I find someone who accepts and maybe even appreciates my...quirks?

- Heels




Dear Heels,

Those are all great questions.

I'm sorry if these answers sound cliché, but they also happen to be true.


You pull yourself together by being grateful for the blessing you have and by letting time pass.

You feel better about yourself by losing yourself in service to others.

You look to those who have been married for a long time as examples of good relationships.


And you find someone who will love you for who you are, quirks and all, by:

1. Being yourself

2. Widening your circle of friends, and being a Good Friend to those in the circle

3. Stand in Holy places; be found where Good Guys look for Good Women, and be found doing the things Good Women need to be doing.


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

Learn to love who you are, and others will, too.

They'll see your joy and your positive attitude as something attractive that they want to have in their lives.

Because, after all, you are a Chosen Daughter of God, and there's nothing more awesome than that!

- Bro Jo


PS:  Cutting down on the melodrama a bit might help, too, you know.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Head Over Heels at BYU-Idaho - Part 2: Isn't it Good to Put Off Marriage for Your Education?

Dear Bro Jo,

Yeah, I'm sorry, I should have clarified: I am 21.

Quite college-age.

But before you get started on the lecture about putting off marriage, I should provide more context.

You see, my biggest fear is getting myself into the same situation as my mom was in, as well as her mother before her: being financially trapped in a toxic marriage due to poor education.

If my mom had gotten her bachelor’s degree, my childhood would have been a lot easier.

Of course I'm going to be extremely careful in who I choose to marry, but I also fundamentally need a safety net.

I need to be able to financially provide for myself and whatever future children on my own, if need be.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst kind of thing.

And that's where I also begin to take issue with having a crush.

It clouds my judgment.

For such an important decision as choosing a spouse, it's bad enough that it's impossible to make that decision objectively--a fact that has always given me more than a bit of anxiety.

But to develop feelings for someone prematurely--before there's even a relationship to base it off of, it feels like I'm flying blind.

Regular Dating with someone I have no prior feelings for is more comfortable, and I can accurately assess whether or not he's the right guy and I'm the right girl.

Anyway, I'm hoping to find a way to set these anxieties aside while still keeping my wits about me in such emotionally-charged things as crushes and dating.

Sorry for any earlier vagueness and thanks for your help!

-Heels




Dear Heels,

I appreciate the context; it does shed some light on things . . .

At the risk of dissecting things that I don't have all of the information on (and don't really need, to be honest), you're not your mother or grandmother.

It's great to continue one's education beyond High School!

Whether it's a certain degree, completion of trade school, or specific training, it's all good.

(Spoken like a university professor, right?)

In fact, I recall several conference talks saying that even those who have completed that kind of additional schooling have been reminded to keep getting training and taking courses throughout life.

But lack of education is not the only reason, or dare I say even the main reason, that your mother was "trapped in a toxic marriage".

I'm not here to criticize your mother, or even your father for that matter, but I invite you to consider that there were several choices that were made, forks in the road if you will, that were taken and not taken.

There truly is no way to know exactly how a marriage is going to turn out before we wander down that path,  nor can anyone say with certainty that simply the act of competing her degree would have improved your mother's life.  But information is power.

I invite you to read to notes I've written which you can find on our Facebook page or in my "Guide to Relationships" book.  They are:

Bro Jo’s "LIST of STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW TO BEFORE YOU GET ENGAGED" 

and

Bro Jo's "Five A's of Why NOT to Marry That Person"


(I'll bet your mother would like to have known some of the stuff in the first one before she said "I do", and I'll bet she can see some things in the 2nd one that she agrees with.)


I'm all about "hope for the best, prepare for the worst", but we can't put off happiness because we're trying to solve every possible "what-if".

At some point we have to take some risks, some leaps of faith, in order to know true joy.

You can use the articles I gave you above to help you assess whether or not a guy is the right guy, but you also need to know that crushes and attractions are BY DEFINITION the beginning of a relationship.

And, heck!

You're not even close to that yet.

You need to be going on some dates, preferably with guys Like This One that you find attractive and are interested in.

Look, I come from a family where most of my generation got divorced before I was dating age.

Of the 21 cousins, one has never been married, and only five of us have never been divorced.

When I was fresh out of high school I was convinced that I wouldn't marry until my late 20's early 30's. But then I met the future Sister Jo . . .

I ABSOLUTELY had a crush on her.

Still do.

I'm grateful that I didn't let her get away simply because I hadn't finished college, or as was the plan, bought a house yet.

Married or single there will, for nearly all of us, always be financial struggles; always be times when there doesn't seem like enough money.

Faith, hard work, paying your tithing, living within your means . . . all of those things help to bridge the gaps.


So . . . about this guy . . .


Maybe he likes you, and maybe he doesn't.

Maybe he's looking for a way to get up the courage to ask you out, and maybe he's too dumb to ask you out.

It's tough to say.

At Serious Single Dating age, which you are, so long as he meets the two major criteria: that he works hard at whatever he does (he has a job, so that's a good start) and he's a worthy and active priesthood holder (which you may not know him well enough to know yet, but could likely ascertain on a first date) then I say DATE HIM!

In your specific situation, I think you should pre-write your name and phone number on a card or in a note that says "call me", and give it to him saying "you should call and ask me out on a date sometime Soon".

I hope he's smart enough to call!

And then relax and enjoy.

After all, a first date is Just a First Date; you're a long way off from an engagement.

And just remember: no matter how bad your parents' marriage was, it still produced you, and that's a wonderful thing!

Keep me posted!

- Bro Jo

Friday, July 4, 2014

Head Over Heels at BYU-Idaho - Part 1: Is There Anything Wrong with Having a Crush?

Dear Bro Jo,

I need help!

I have a crush, and I can't get rid of it!

It's on a coworker here at BYU-I.

I believe that getting a crush kind of screws up your judgment and ends up distracting you from more important stuff, like school and work, so this is problematic.

Pretty much out of nowhere, after months of me working with him, the heavens opened up and proclaimed, "You kinda like this guy all of a sudden!"

And over the past few weeks this crush-feeling has grown no matter how much I try to ignore, stifle, and smother it.

So I've got a bit of a conundrum now: I want to get rid of these feelings, but I also kinda don't.

I eventually gave up on trying not to think about him.

I've even taken to getting in touch with my feminine side: putting on makeup, trading warmth for "wow" in my wardrobe, and not wearing ponytails anymore.

Though you'll probably say I shouldn't, I feel like some desperate poser for doing that. It seems that his dating life hasn't exactly been going swimmingly lately.

One girl he likes is moving out of town, another girl he likes flat-out rejected him, those sorts of things.

So obviously, he's available (if a bit disheartened), and just about any other girl in my situation would make a move.

But I've got a few barriers here:

1. I'm about 87% sure he isn't into me. He talks to me just like any of the other guys here.

2. I don't have a lot of experience, confidence, or (until recently) interest in dating or flirting and therefore don't know the methodology.

3. The way the office is set up, there are virtually no opportunities for one-on-one chat, which would be more appropriate for flirting and date-planning.

4. Finally, as you can see, I clearly have no idea what I really want, so this might be a bad idea anyway. So I was hoping you could shed a little light on this mess for me. Whether you think I should move on or move in, I need to get in the know-how.

Thank you so much!

Signed,

- Heels-over-Head




Dear Heels,

So I could actually answer your question in two different ways based, mostly, on where you're at in life; whether you're a Casual Group Dater or ready for Serious Single Dating.

When I read that you work at the Y of I, I initially assumed you're a college student.

If that's the case, I'd give you my lecture about how Marriage should not be put off for school and work . . . 

Then I figured you could be a high school student who happens to work at the school, and that would come with my "go on lots of Causal Group Dates" speech . . .

But either way, and this is the bottom line, you need to understand that there's nothing wrong with having a crush!

Nor is there anything wrong with a girl "getting in touch with her feminine side".

(Seriously, who is it out there that's been poisoning your brain?)

As I said before, whatever "move" you make has a lot to do with where you are in life, with what your end goal is.

But, either way, enjoy the journey!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

He's Not Marriage Material?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey.

So...I have a somewhat painful but necessary question.

As soon as I graduate, I plan on going on a mission (these new missionary age-changes are quite convenient), then returning and studying to become a radiologist.

But I just bring myself to consider marriage.

Why?

Because I'm not a good person.

I recognize that I'm selfish, lazy, and prideful, and certainly not attractive.

So with that acknowledgement, why on earth would I inflict all my weaknesses on some poor girl for time and all eternity?

Even if I do fall in love, and by some miracle the girl in question loves me back, how can I condemn her to life with me when I know there are thousands of men out there that would make far better husbands and fathers?

If I truly have as selfless love for someone, wouldn't it be more Christlike to let her go and marry a better person than I?

I realize I haven't even been on my mission yet, so girls are entirely irrelevant at the moment. But this has been tearing me up for awhile.

- Name Withheld



Dear NW,

Are you, or are you not, a Son of God?

Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ do you, or don't you, have the ability to repent of your weaknesses and become a better man?

And lastly, do you intent to fall in love with someone of very little intellect?

Look, Little Brother, we all marry up; Sister Jo is WAY out of my league.

But she inspires me to be better, to do better.

All of this is cursory at this point anyway, except for the fact that it speaks to your need to grow in your testimony of the Savior and of the Divine Nature that we all possess.

Stop the pity party.

Stop making excuses.

Start doing the best with what you have and improving every day.

As one of the Jo Missionaries says:

"We are not called to be someone else, nor someone else's idea of who we should be.  We are called to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.  Be true to yourself."

Don't worry about becoming a better person overnight, but if you truly see something about yourself that you'd like to change, something REASONABLE, then make the change. 

Maybe start with being less lazy.

Or combine that with your selfishness.

Go rake someone's yard for free.

The exercise will do you good, and the selfless service will help you feel better about yourself.

- Bro Jo