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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Everything here is copyrighted. If you're going to quote any part of anything here, please get Bro Jo's written permission. You can reach him at dearbrojo@gmail.com.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Depression

Dear Bro Jo,

For many years I have really struggled with depression.

I made it through high school with the help of a very good friend and thought things would be so much better when I went to college.

And at first they were.

It was a whole new experience and I loved it.

I had made a really good friend and I knew he liked me but I thought he was a little weird so I wasn’t interested but he started liking me more and more and I got depressed so at the advice of my friends I stopped talking to him.

From there my depression got so much worse.

I felt so lost and I had thought getting rid of this guy would fix things but it didn’t.

So I talked to him again.

I realized I had feelings for him and we started dating and everything felt right and okay again.

Last semester was my off track I moved away to work and felt very alone and sad a lot of the time because I was stuck in a small town with no friends and no singles group.

My boyfriend got his mission call and I realized I would be going back to school completely alone because all of my friends would be off track at this point. (Or on missions.)

I contemplated going to see my boyfriend before he left but didn’t at the advice of my family.

Eventually we came to the conclusion that I shouldn’t wait for him and we would see where things are at in 2 years.

I came back to school and he left on his mission 2 days later.

Since then I have been an emotional wreck.

I have tried to be social but I feel very alone.

None of my old friends are here and my roommates are never around.

I did college level work in high school so I am now in higher level classes and so everyone around me is older and married and the material is difficult.

Sometimes the teachers tease and make me feel incompetent. (Today one of them said that nothing I ever said made sense) I just hate feeling dumb.

None of my friends from high school talk to me anymore.

No one I went to school with talks to me anymore.

I feel awful because I invest a lot of time and energy into relationships with people and they haven’t been there for me at all.

The other day I got called all sorts of mean awful names by kids I was friends with in high school and it hurt.

A lot.

I also just feel like my life has been off lately. Something just isn’t right despite reading my scriptures and regular Temple attendance.

On top of all of this my older brother is here this semester and he has a lot of emotional problems too (it runs in the family) and he is always calling me depressed and freaking out and I can’t help him and it makes me even more stressed on top of my course work and emotions.

I break down all the time and I can’t predict when it will happen next.

I am afraid of what I will do when I break down and I feel like I have no one to turn to.

My best friend is now on his mission (and I can’t talk to anyone about how much I miss him because my parents didn’t want me to date a pre missionary) so I can’t talk to him.

All my other friends are gone.

I don’t have a great relationship with my roommates.

I don’t want to bother my parents and I feel awkward talking to them and I don’t want anyone to see how weak I am.

I have always been so strong willed and determined and I don’t want to show that I can’t do this.

What do I do?

How do I deal with this?

Who do I go to?

Thanks

- S.O.S.




Dear S.O.S.,

Depression is very real, and like many troubles it's not something we can easily overcome on our own.

Christ will, of course, always be here for you; the Savior's love and Atonement can help us overcome many things.

When we realize what he did for us was done out of love and consideration for how much he cares for us, it can make our trials easier to endure.

Remember when Joseph Smith was imprisoned and was complaining about how awful his life was going and the Lord rebuked him, saying that surely he didn't even have it as bad as Job did?

In that moment, despite the tremendous trials and difficulties that he was enduring, Joseph found things for which to be grateful.


1.  A starting point for you might be to list all of the things for which you have to be grateful and posting that list somewhere you can see it at the start and end of every day (perhaps on your bathroom mirror).


2.  A second thing is that you're going to have to admit that you're just like the rest of us; we occasionally need help from others, and allowing ourselves to be helped not only blesses our lives but theirs as well.

Set your pride aside and allow others to be of assistance.


3. Third, you're obviously a good friend, so get out there and make some new ones.

Please realize that you're not the only one out there who has bad days, gets bummed out, or feels down. Other Good People, just like you, around you need to be uplifted, too.

It will make you feel better as you lift and sustain others.

Cheer your day by brightening someone else's. Rather than focus on your woes, help them to overcome theirs.

I promise it will make you feel better! (Sister Jo says that nothing makes us feel better about ourselves than serving others.)


4. Fourth, consider getting professional help.

There are help lines and crisis centers everywhere that help with depression, often for free. Your Bishop, school, and community can be resources for helping put you in touch with experts who can help you.


You may need to reconsider telling your parents; I promise that those that love you will want to help you.

You deserve Joy, and I pray that you'll feel the Love of God in your life.

- Bro Jo





Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much for your advice and thoughts. I am trying to do what you have suggested. It’s a work in progress. I will talk to my bishop this Sunday.

I will keep you posted.

- SOS




Dear Sos,

God bless.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

When the Relationship Downgrades from "Boyfriend-Girlfriend" to "Friends"

Dear Bro Jo,

I have been dating this guy up at school for the past few weeks.

Everything was going great, then today he decides "we need to talk".

He has decided we need to become friends before we can continue dating.

The idea of this is confusing to me.

We are friends, we enjoy each-others company, we have great conversations.

We do kiss and hold hands but that is not the center of the relationship.

So once I finally got him to say what is behind all of this, this is what he said... "I just don't want to keep going then maybe get married and not know you, as well as I should. From where we are now, I see it going in one of two ways in a short period of time. Those two directions being, getting married or breaking up."

So from what I understand is he just wants to slow down a bit, the thing I am having a hard time with is going backwards to friends.

I feel like this falls under hanging out, and I am dead set against that.

I mentioned why don't we just continue dating and continue to get to know each other, my friend suggested we have like a timeline.

So say we will continue dating, but won't bring up engagement until,  say . . . December (just a time we are both comfortable with).

Bro Jo, how would you recommend handling this?

I am so out of practice with this.

I haven't been in a relationship since high school about 4 years ago.

I am trying to follow the guidance of the general authorities. How do they define Hanging out?

Is being "friends" looked at as the same thing?

Thanks,

- To Be or Not to Be




Dear Not to Be, 

What does his version of "friends" mean? 

No more kissing? 

No more dates? 

Does he want to date (and kiss) other people and he wants to sow some oats before he marries you? 

See, to me, it sounds like you just got dumped. 

That's harsh, I know. But it's not my fault this guy is stupid. 

Now, is he hoping to keep you dangling out there in case he changes his mind someday? 

Gets bored kissing all of those other girls? 

Can't find anyone "better" than you? 

Is he maybe just not mature enough to be considering marriage? 

All of those things may be true. 

The bottom line is, you're too valuable to pal around with a guy who doesn't get it, waiting and hoping that someday he'll figure it out. 

I say cut him off. 

If he comes to his senses, perhaps begging you to take him back, 

IF you feel so inclined, and IF the begging is really good, and IF you want to, then I say give him one, and only one, more chance. 

Until then, painful as I know it is, you're better off without him. 

Be Kind. 

Be Polite. 

But you're right: certainly don't become his Waiting In The Wings Friend. 

- Bro Jo




*** A coupe weeks later ***



Dear Bro Jo,

I did give him a second chance he blew it two days later. 

So I did cut him off. I have moved on since. 

I am so much happier now!

- Not to Be




Dear Not to Be,

Good for you. 

Curious: how did he "blow it"?

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Well we had talked everything out, he had just gotten really scared, so we just decided to take things slower. 

Two days later he just stopped talking to me completely. 

Never told me what was really going on. 

He even came to a party at my complex, ran into him and he wouldn't say a thing.

- Not to Be




Dear Not to Be,

We may never know what his deal was. 

I've had that happen. 

It's tough. 

But you move on. 

It gets better! 

And if you're not already, I promise you'll be glad you moved on. 

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Love of Her Life Just Left on a Mission

Dear Brother Jo,

I am sixteen years old and the guy I like is 19 and he left on his mission yesterday.

I met him my Freshmen year, I was 14 and he was 17.

After he graduated we continued our friendship and I grew to care about him more.

I found he has qualities that I like and want in a man.

You know how in Young Women's leader's tell us to have a list of things we want?

I've never done that.

Every Young Man, has something to offer and every guy is different . . .  but this missionary has everything I want.

I told him on Sunday that I like him as more than a friend.

He thanked me for being honest, but I know he likes me that way too.

Even though he didn't say how he feels.

I know he has to focus on his mission.

Bro Jo, I don’t know how to talk about this or deal with this.

One of my friend's says I should move on, that he's too old for me. 

Three years isn't that much older!

Bro Jo, please help.

He's my best friend. I could see myself as his wife and being with him forever, and when I'm with him I see a side of myself, I've seen of myself before. It's a good side. 

Please help, Bro Jo

Sincerely,

- Hoping




Dear Too Young,

At your age three years IS a big deal.

Your friend is right; move on.

Right now is the time for Casual Group Dating; do lots of that.

When he comes home he'll be 21 and getting ready for marriage; you'll only be 18 and still a bit too young.

19 and 22 is okay, and there's nothing wrong with 20 and 23.

But, and this is the thing that you can't let go: you may WISH and HOPE and THINK he feels the same, but he DIDN'T say anything.

(Which is perfect, by the way; as a guy who's headed out the MTC door he should be keeping those feelings to himself, whether he likes you the way you like him or not.)

Perhaps when he comes back things will strike up for you romantically; perhaps not.

One thing you need to realize is that TONS of guys have those same qualities you see in this young man.

Oh, and one more thing that speaks to you being too (forgive me, but the word is correct) immature to be making long term plans about a guy who can't even take you on a date for the next two years: marriage isn't about what the other person can do for you, but about how your love for them makes you want to do things for them.

Okay.

Lecture over.

Now go have fun with kids your own age.

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 24, 2014

Should She Get Married or Go on the Mission?

Dear Bro Jo,

I used to be friends with a young man from the Church. He would sometimes take me on dates but it never got serious.

I liked him a lot, but he didn't seem to like me as much so I stopped talking to him.

He wasn't planning on serving a mission and I was still his friend so I pushed him that he should go.

Finally one day he called me and said he spoke to the Bishop and that he was going on a mission.

We continued to be really good friends.

Finally he left on a mission 5 months ago, and ever since his mission we have been writing each other weekly, sometimes even more.

A little while before he left on his mission, and we were just friends, I had decided that I wanted to serve a mission too.

I am only 18, so I won't serve until next year but since October general conference I have had a desire to serve.

The only problem is, the young man I am writing just sent me a letter saying he hopes to marry me when he comes home and that we should have been together from the start.

What do I do!?

This letter kind of made me like him again, and the possibility of getting married in 19 months when he returns is real, but I still have already told everyone in my ward that I would serve a mission, and I've tried praying about it but it seems like I am not getting an answer. Help!

- A Friend




Dear Friend,

I think you chalk his letter up to "lonely missionary", smile and give it no more thought or attention until you and he are both single, available, and in the same place at the same time.

(Which, by the way, may never happen.)

I think you were premature to announce your mission service to your ward, but that ultimately it doesn't matter what you said or what they think. 

I also think you're writing him WAY TOO much.

You're a distraction. (The Jo Boy Missionaries agree with me.)

When you get a letter from him. Read it. Perhaps begin writing your response, and then send it when three or four weeks have passed.

If he writes you multiple times during that window, put all of your responses in just the one letter. I'm not saying to ignore him, just slow things Way Down.

(Sister Jo would tell you that there's power in letting him miss you.)

Keep praying.

Realize that sometimes "no answer" is an answer; and sometimes it means we're asking the wrong question. 19 months is a long time away.

Live life.

Date other guys.

When you're much closer to 19, if you feel INSPIRED, then start the missionary paperwork process.

If you're UNCERTAIN, then you can wait to submit your papers until after he comes home.

Be Patient.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I hate how blunt you are but I needed it and you really helped me. I was only writing him once a month because a missionary in my ward said letters were a distraction to him on his mission, but when he insisted on writing me twice a week I thought maybe he needed the encouragement!

I guess I was wrong and I will listen to you, thank you very much, Bro Blunt!

- Friend




Dear Friend,

Sorry about that.

And you're welcome.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

When It's Time to Make Things Happen

Dear Bro Jo,

I have written to you a couple of times about different things, and I always feel a little silly doing so, but sometimes it is nice to just get someone else's perspective on things, and I very much agree with many of your views on dating...

So here is the current situation:  I am an "older" (for Utah) single girl and I date a bit, but I find it very hard to find a guy that I want to continue to date, and when I do they usually end up saying that they are not ready for anything serious and then end things.

Well a while ago I started dating a guy that I had known for a while, we were friends and he just asked me out one day and things went well from there...

We dated for a couple of months but nothing official was established (by the way I was 25, he was 27) so we are more than old enough for a serious relationship and I feel like that is we're things should have been going.

However, as we kept dating he was still dating other people, though not as much, and I went on a coupe of other dates, (it was always a bit touchy like neither of us wanted to be dating other people but we also didn't want to try and get the other one to stop, it was a little weird) but the problem was I kinda felt like I was a second thought to him...

Sometimes it was like if he didn't have anything else to do than he might as well go out with me, now this very well could have been reading into the situation because I have some pretty significant insecurities that I am trying to work on (I wish I could figure that out better).

Anyway, things just kind of fizzled out because I think neither of us knew how to talk about what we wanted.

Fast forward to a little over a year later.

I had been thinking about him a lot and a mutual friend of ours got engaged, this was someone we had talked about and stuff . . . so I texted him to chat about it a little, we had a small conversation and updated each other on our lives a bit but that was the extent of the conversation.

Now it is more than a year and a half after we stopped dating and for the past couple of months I have been thinking about him a ton, I think that I have learned some things and grown up a lot and I would really just kind of like to try things again however, I don't know if I should and if so how would I even do it?

I can't decide if I have been thinking about him so much because of him, or just because I don't have anyone else to think about right now... I just wanted to get your opinion on if you think I should try and contact him or anything, and if so what would be the best way to do that.

Or should I just let it go and continue to focus in trying to meet some other guys... ?

Which seem to be pretty hard to find around these parts. (At least ones who want to date)

Thanks for your advice!

-L




Dear L,

I think at your age you need to be putting in a little more effort.

I do think you need to talk to him, and I think it needs to be in person.

The preference would be for him to call and ask you out, but I don't think you should wait around for that to happen.

I think you should call him and say "hey, I was hoping we could get together and talk soon . . . when and where can we meet?"

If he's unwilling to meet, meaning he won't make seeing you any kind of priority, there's nothing there and you can confidently move on.

If he is willing to meet (and I hope he's smart enough to make that choice), then after a couple minutes of pleasantries I think you need to come out and say it. "So here's the deal: I've been thinking about you a lot lately; we've always been good friends and it seemed like we had a lot of fun when we were dating; I need to know why nothing has gone any farther, relationship wise, between us".

And then Be Quiet.

Let the man speak.

You'll either find out that the guy is a dead end and you need to move on, or you'll be inspired to kiss him.

And if that's the case, I think you should.

Either way, you'll know.

Communication is the key in any relationship. Rather than aimlessly wandering and wondering . . .

Talk.

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 20, 2014

What's a Good Age to Get Married?

Dear Bro Jo,

I love your blog!

It has helped me really see things in new ways!

Ok, so for my question. What's a good age to get married at?

I know it's different for all people and you should rely on the Spirit and it depends on maturity level and so forth.

But even though people say it totally depends on the person, I see them turn around and whisper about a 19 year old girl getting married and how it is way to young.

I guess I have hidden motives for this question... I'm not about to get married or anything but I am about to go to college. And I have been told by countless people that college is where many meet their Eternal companion.

I'm going to BYU-I and I've heard there are lots of potential husbands there. There's just one itsy bitsy problem: I'm only going to be 17!

I skipped a grade when I was younger, so I have always been a youngin.

It was hard enough watching all of my friends dating and even have to turn down dates before I was 16. Now I'll be thrown into BYU-I where everyone's dating to get hitched. And I'll just want to be dating around still.

Don't get me wrong, I have my sights set on the Temple and a family is first and foremost on my mind, but I'm nervous that if I do find the man I want to marry I'll only be 18.

My dad as told me countless times that if I meet the right one, I should not let him go just because I'm only 18. But I still hear from so many that 18 is simply too young and they don't care if the Spirit confirmed it or not.

I know it's mine and my future husband's choice and all but... I'm nervous in all honesty.

I could meet the man I know I want to marry, marry him, then have many people say I'm way too young without even knowing anything.

Or start dating, find the right one, and I'm still 17, and then I'll just have to wait.

Or meet the most amazing guy and he's three to four years older than me. And I'm still this 17 or 18 year old. Then what do I do?

I've been told I am a very mature girl for my age. I guess that's what being thrown in with the big kids does to a person.

But I am still nervous.

I'm sorry if that's really a pointless concern, but I am truly nervous. I appreciate any help!!!

- Too Young




Dear Young,

Not a pointless concern; a real one shared by many girls just like you.

It is an individual thing, but I personally don't think 19 is too young for a young woman to marry. 

(Neither does Sister Jo.)

I also believe that when a couple decides they should marry (in my world we call that a "proposal" - anything less is just talk), they should get married SOON. Especially if their goal is to get married in the Temple. Satan works very hard to keep couples from being worthy for Eternal Marriages; once you decide to get married, the temptations to do married people stuff become even stronger.

I define "married soon" as 2 - 4 months. Sister Jo says 3 - 6 months.

A year?

Wow!

That's a really long time . . . unless the couple lives in separate towns and is chaperoned when they're together! 

So . . . if a girl is seriously talking marriage at 18+, I'm not going to think she's too young. BUT, if a girl starts talking seriously about marriage at 17 . . . well, that freaks me out.

Because, for me, the line is 19.

I think 18 is too young. (Although I agree with your dad about not letting the relationship go; I would advise in those situations to Slow Things Way Down.)

That's why I tell young people, girls and guys, that until you're old enough to seriously be considering marriage as a possible relationship outcome, you shouldn't be Serious Single Dating.

I define "old enough" as 18+ for girls and post-mission for guys, so I think, college or not, you should still be Casual Group Dating at 17.

Sister Jo disagrees with me a little bit there, by the way.

She says that at 17, if a girl is mature enough to be in college, she's mature enough to start Serious Single Dating.

But even Sister Jo says that 16 is too young, regardless of how many grades a person has skipped. 

That's our take, anyway.


Now, that said, I think you should just relax and enjoy college!

Don't let stuff like this get to you.

When guys ask you out, and I certainly hope they're smart enough to, then don't take first dates too seriously.

Give every guy that's not "too old" or too creepy a chance.

Meet lots of new people, and have a Good Time.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

She Waited . . . He Came Home . . . and . . .

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a young single adult .

Right now, I'm preparing to go on mission and I'm seeking advice about forgiving someone that I used to know.

The story goes like this;

I met a guy (he’s a member) 2 years ago. we were together in a relationship for almost 1 year. Then he went on a mission.

He's really nice and I became close to his family.

I was expecting that when he came back from his mission that things would pick up where we left off, but now that he's back . . . what does surprises me and I feel like he made me wait for 2 years for nothing.

That makes me think that he really lied . . . that he has left me with broken promises.

The only words I heard from him when he got back "I'm sorry that I promised you those things; I was afraid to be alone on my mission."

It sucks that we see each other every Sunday in the same chapel even in the institute and at Stake Activities.

I am really hurt.  It's been 5 months since he broke up with me I still didn't talk with him because of the pain he gave me.

He wanted me to be friends with him because he doesn't wanted his image being a Returned Missionary and as one of the siblings of our stake president to get ruined.

It seems what he has done to me hasn't affected him at all . . . like he has no conscience.

From that terrible experienced I am afraid of getting married.

Now he has a new girlfriend from another ward.  It's really obvious from the pictures that I've seen. 

His new girlfriend added me in a social website and tried to asked me about our past.

So,  Bro Jo, what advice you can give to me?

- Shattered Dreams




Dear Shattered,

The best way to feel better about our own circumstances is to be of service to others.

And no experience will give you more service opportunities than a mission.

You both made mistakes, it's time to move on. And I think five months is long enough you should have already done that.

At least he was honest with you.

And you, dear sister, have learned some very valuable lessons.

I promise you'll recover from this.

Just do me one favor, when you hear other girls talking about "waiting" for a missionary, about not dating anyone else while he's gone, when you hear missionaries asking girls to wait for them, share your story.

Sometimes the "wait" works, but most of the time it doesn't.

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 13, 2014

His Girlfriend Wants to Serve a Mission - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

We've been together for a while.

We have been talking about marriage as a "when" for about a month.

She said she wants to be married before her 21st Birthday (A year from next Friday).

She told me Sunday night last week.

She said she feels the spirit telling her to go.

I'm just torn about it.

I know there are other out there, but I don't want anyone else.

I love this girl.

I've dated a lot, had several Girlfriends, but THIS girl is almost make-believe like in how compatible we are.

Like I said, if she does go, I'll wait.

- Waiting




Dear Waiting,

No you won't.

And you shouldn't.

Just like it does when the roles are reversed, you'll need to date while she's gone and see what happens.

HOWEVER . . .

Could she be more obvious?!?!!

1) She's told you she wants to get married within the next year. (That can't happen if she's gone, bro.)

2) You've been talking about marriage for a while.

Dude, either she wants you to fight for her to stay, wants you to tell her that you can't live without her, wants reassurance that you're really going to get married (that means a ring and a date, my man) . . . or she's realized you're not the guy for her.

At least not right now.

Look, the prophets have been pretty clear, no young woman should postpone marriage for a mission; it's not required of girls the way it is of us.

So there's no way the Spirit is telling her go instead of marry you if the two of you would be a good eternal match.

This is no different for guys than it is for girls, a mission call is a break up.

When the person you're involved with puts in their mission papers, it's over.

You're supposed to go out there and date other people.

Choosing to "wait" for a couple weeks or months is one thing, but over a year is a mistake. You may miss too many opportunities, become a distraction to the missionary, and are making promises that, more often than not, don't work out.

Now maybe you'll still be single when she comes back, maybe you won't.

Maybe you'll still feel the same about her after the mission, maybe you won't.

Maybe she'll still be interested then, maybe not.

But that's too many "maybes" to put your life on hold, or hers either.

By the way, Sister Jo says that this girl is subtly telling you that if you don't make a commitment (which she believes is what this girl wants you to do), she's out of here, and if that's not the case, then Sister Jo thinks that this girl is trying to tell you . . . well . . . it's over.

Either way, you either let her go with the understanding that, at least for now (and likely forever), this is the end, or you go for broke, beg her to stay, and actually propose.

Let the Spirit help you know which is the right move, but don't count on being able to have it both ways.

Talk to her.

Lay it on the line.

Whatever the result, you'll always regret it if you don't tell her how you feel.

Good luck, and let us know how the talk goes!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

His Girlfriend Wants to Serve a Mission - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

I really hope that comment was said in jest.

Or just really bitter.

My girlfriend told me a few days ago she wants to serve a mission.

She turns 20 next week.

I have mixed feelings about it.

On one hand I want her to have the great experience and blessings that come from serving.

On the other hand, I wanted to marry her next year in between semesters at BYU-I.

I've decided I'll wait if she does go, but I really just wanna marry her.

- Willing to Wait




Dear Willing,

You shouldn't wait.

It's not likely you actually WILL wait.

And, more importantly, have you told her how you feel?

Have you told her that you want to marry her in 8 months?

Have you proposed???

How can she possibly make this decision if she doesn't have all of the information?

And WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

If you've been together long enough to know you want to marry her, and you're in a Serious Relationship, there's no reason to wait.

Heck, I don't even think you should wait for June!

Marry her between semesters in JANUARY if you're lucky enough that she'll have you.

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Girls Please Don't Dump an RM for a Mission!

Dear Bro Jo,

Girls please don't go on a mission if you're dating an RM!

Just don't complicate things.

Let the single girls be the ones that go if they want to.

We guys accept that you girls are superior to us guys in every way, that we're like the scum of the earth compared to you girls, and that we may not even be worthy to be in the same date as some of you; our Church local leaders treat you and us in such ways that reflect those ideas.

We admit our inferiority compared to you, you don't have to rub it in by going on a mission and doing it better than us.

If you're single and don't really go on many dates, then great go.

If you're not single (or you're single but get asked out constantly) then please don't go...please stay and be a blessing to a lucky guy and a lucky family that only you can create and nurture.

- Anon




Dear Anon,

Is the comment above an honest plea?

Or just sarcastic and bitter?

Readers, what do you think?

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 6, 2014

RM Boyfriend or Mission?

Dear Bro Jo,

What advice do you have for the girl who can suddenly go on a mission and wants to whose boyfriend is already an RM?

How do you tell him?

- Future Sister?




Dear Sister,

That may depend on how close you two are . . .

I suppose you could start with "rather than marry you, I've decided to serve a mission".

Should be easy if he's not a good marriage choice for you.

Just remember, sisters have been taught not to put off eternal marriage and family for a mission. Let us know how it goes! (You can email me if you like at: dearbrojo@gmail.com)

- Bro Jo

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Upcoming Posts

Dear Readers,

Every day this week (and throughout this month) I'll be posting letters and comments that deal with how the Change in Missionary Age has effected Young Single Adults and Dating.

I look forward to your comments and perspective.

If you'd like to search our posts on this, or any other topic, it can be helpful to use the tags or Google Search bar in the left column.

Also, I'd like to know your thoughts on our "Pick Your Eternal Companion - 6-month Challenge".  (If you haven't seen it yet, you can find it on our Facebook page HERE.)

Have a great Conference Weekend!

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Friday, October 3, 2014

Her Boyfriend has a Girlfriend

Dear Bro Jo,

Let me just start out by saying that I've been a follower for years.

I started reading when I was 16, and you have definitely been a great help on a lot of subjects as I've learned and progressed through these past couple years.

I'm 20 now, and I can honestly say that in reading your posts and doing a bit of dating on my own, what you speak is the truth.

How to get guys to ask you on dates?

It works.

The six L's of how to get kissed?

It works.

But the biggest one that I've seen over and over again is the men and women can't be just friends concept.

I'll be honest.

When I was 16, I didn't get it. I probably didn't REALLY get it until I was 19, and my "friends" that I spent most of my time with in high school were leaving on missions.

I spent more time with the guys in my ward because our interests were more similar, and I didn't want to deal with the drama of girls.

I avoided singling any of them out and went on dates with plenty of other guys, so I felt like it was fine. I was "one of the guys" and I was very okay with it.

Fast forward to the time when they were about to leave on their missions: the truth came out. They didn't ask me to wait, but two of them made it clear that if I wasn't married by the time they got back, they would really like to pursue something, and the third hinted that he'd had feelings for me all along.

They all said that whoever married me was going to be a lucky guy.

So why didn't these guys take me on dates in high school like gentleman?

Who knows.

Maybe preparing for their missions gave them a little more perspective and they decided that the girl that was there all along was a better option than the girls they had dated in high school.

Maybe I was a backup plan all along.

These are the guys I viewed as brothers.

The ones that said they viewed me as their sister.

The guys I went to for boy advice, and in turn went to me for girl advice. AND THEY LIKED ME?!

What. the. heck.


Fast forward.


I moved and became really close to another guy that I really couldn't see myself dating.

And guess what!

Something changed my mine, and we dated.

We were together for a good amount of time before realizing that we weren't meant to be. We broke up.

I started attending a singles ward and ended up in a group of friends that were (surprise) all guys. (Maybe if I liked shopping more than video games, I wouldn't have this problem)

Did I attempt to spend time with other groups?

You bet.

Did I try to make friends with everyone?

You bet.

Did I get invited to join the group of boys more often than any of the other groups?

You bet.

And then my little group of friends started asking me on dates.

Which was great!

I didn't have much interest in dating any of them, but apparently they were interested in dating me.

But at least these RMs could figure out how to ask a girl on a date.

But this goes to prove, AGAIN, that guys and girls can't be just friends!


Fast forward AGAIN.


I'm in a serious relationship with a rather handsome young man.

With him, things are different than they've ever been with anyone else.

He treats me like a princess, and I'm always laughing when I'm around him.

We started out as (you guessed it) "just friends" which developed into a relationship. It has a lot of potential to turn into an eternal marriage, and we've even talked, in depth, about this being a possibility.

I love him and would love to be sealed to him for eternity, but there's a problem.

While I've made an attempt to distance myself from my guy friends, (which is probably easier since most of them are on missions) he has a friend that really just rubs me the wrong way.

They have been really close friends for a long time, and she suddenly has an interest in joining the church. Having been such good friends with him for such a long time, she's taking her questions to him and even wants him to baptize her.

While I think it's wonderful that she's looking into the church, their friendship makes me uncomfortable. REALLY uncomfortable.

We talked about this several weeks ago, and I thought we had reached an understanding.

Apparently not.

They go to the same school, and he casually brought it up in conversation that she was talking about switching her classes around so that they could have a class together.

In a different conversation, he mentioned that he was planning some sort of surprise for me and was involving my (girl) best friend in the process.

Later, he mentioned that he was meeting up with my best friend and this other girl to plan this surprise.

I was irked, and I (again) expressed my discomfort with his friendship with her.

He disregarded that since they were apparently planning a surprise for me, and went ahead with his plans. I was, and am, rather upset about this.

I don't really know what to do here.

I feel like I need to have a serious conversation with him, but I guess I'm struggling with how to make him see my side. I honestly don't think he understands what he did wrong here, which makes me second guess myself.

Am I the one in the wrong for being upset?

I've talked to a few motherly figures in my life about how to handle the situation and got conflicting answers. My mother thinks I need to address the situation.

The other thinks that he was just trying to do something nice for me, and wanted a girl's opinion on the plans, and that I should just let it blow over.

I also want to be clear.

I am not in any way accusing him of cheating.

I don't think the thought would ever cross his mind. I just think that if he's considering marrying me as seriously as he says he is, the friendship that he has with this girl is a dangerous one and I don't want it to be an issue later down the road.

I guess my question is this: Am I in the wrong?

What do I do to address this situation?

I need some perspective here.

Help?

- The Concerned Girlfriend.




Dear Concerned,

First of all, thank you for the kind words, long-time readership, and feedback!

Now, to your situation . .. You're not wrong.

Sure, there's a jealousy component to how you feel . . . and, yes, that's your problem not his . . . however, and this is the point: if his association with her makes you uncomfortable, for any reason, and if you tell him about that and he's unwilling to honor those feelings, then the painful truth is that he loves her more than he loves you.

Now, if you haven't told him how you feel, again that's your problem and not his. And by that I mean told him clearly.

That doesn't mean that you need to give him an ultimatum.

What it means is that you need to express your feelings.

See, as you know, the concept is true: A Man Can Not Stay "Just Close Friends" with a Woman.

Not for very long, anyway.

Opposite sex relationships seem to either grow or die. It's the natural order of things.

And I truly believe that this axiom divides us into three groups of people:
1. Those that get it 
2. Those that are naive 
3. And those that lie 


Your friend who wants to dismiss everything, who thinks it's no big deal, falls I believe, into Category 2.

Your boyfriend . . . well, for now I'd like to believe that he's in Category 2 . . . but I worry he's in Category 3. Not that he's necessarily lying to you . . . but he may be lying to himself.

See, here's the thing: if he was as madly in love with you as he professes to be, why would he spend any time alone with her?

He would neither need to nor want to.

He would see you as meeting all of his needs, and wouldn't need her companionship.

Now, perhaps what he needs IS companionship.

Perhaps he's lonely.

That's certainly something to consider.

I get the impression the two of you live in two different places; the two of them at one school and you somewhere else.

That might be part of him lying to himself.

He misses you, or at least misses being around a woman; she CERTAINLY likes him and being around him, that flatters him, and when they're together he's less lonely.

(Tangent: I hope she's joining the Church for HER, not because she thinks it's a way to land him. Whether they end up together or not, that's not the right reason to get baptized.)

Let's assume, for the sake of our current sanity, that even if she's attractive and he's lonely (or excited about helping her know the joys of the Gospel), that from his perspective he's really just being nice . . . or doesn't want to hurt her feelings . . . or she's stalking him and he doesn't know what to do . . . something like that which puts him firmly in the "naive" camp.

That's okay.

Naive we can help.

When people, young people mostly who haven't gained enough life experience yet to understand the truth about men and women and friends struggle with the concept, this is what I tell them:

I'm a married man. If I make a new woman friend and begin spending time alone with her, what will people think? 
What if we go to movies and lunches and dinners and walks in the park? 
Does it matter why she and I are friends?
Is it better or worse if I like spending time with her because I need someone to talk to and right now my wife and I aren't getting along? 
Is it better or worse if I'm worried about how my wife might feel about this relationship, so I keep it a secret from her? 
What if this woman is really pretty? (Yes, that matters.)

Or sympathetic when I'm feeling down or sad or frustrated? 
What would my children think if they saw me chatting and laughing on a park bench with a beautiful woman who wasn't their mother? 
What if we were flirting a little? 
Even if it was "all really very innocent'? 
What would my seminary students think if they saw me out on a lunch date with someone they recognized is Not Sister Jo? 
And, most importantly, how is the woman I love, the woman I've committed to spending Time and All Eternity with, how is she supposed to feel when she finds out about all of this? 


When you can answer those questions, you'll understand why I have no Close Women Friends.

Nor should I ever.

And this is what your boyfriend needs to hear.

Because when you two get married, He can't hang out with Her anymore.

He can't call her.

Can't text her.

Can't spend time alone with her.

Even if it's All Very Innocent, it will look to the world like he's cheating on you.

And you know why?

Because he would be.

Cheating includes more than just sex or kissing or whatever physical stuff with someone other than the person you're in a relationship with.  It can be mental, emotional, social . . .


So, if this man loves you, if he respects you (and I sincerely hope he's smart enough to do both), he must respect your feelings and stop treating her like the substitute for you when you're not there.

He must stop hanging out with her, just the two of them.

(Heck, in this crazy world of accusations I don't meet with ANY Women - Church, School, Clients, Anyone - it's just not prudent or safe - alone. I always make sure my office door is open, or there's someone else in the building or something like that.)

(Another Tangent - this is part of why Missionaries don't meet with women alone, either. Even if it's two missionaries and one sister, or two missionaries and two sisters . . . it's just not wise. And it looks bad.)

So talk to him.

Soon.

(If I were you, I'd have the conversation NOW, but Sister Jo says I'm too impatient sometimes.)

Don't back him into a corner.

Simply tell him how all of this makes you feel.

And then let him decide what to do.

And then you'll know.

(Another way to check, by the way, is how he acts towards you when she's there. Does he still hold your hand? Does he still sit close? Does he still kiss you? Or is he shielding her from that?)

Good luck!

Let me know how it goes.

And, again, I hope he's smart enough to clue in, man up, and do the right thing!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Teaching RM's How to Date

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello again and happy October!

I emailed you a while back about how I had been pushed a lot (and therefore concerned over) marriage and the next stage of my life. Your advice was short, simple, and sweet. So thank you for that!

I thought a lot more about it, and decided I don't know why I am stressing over it. I'm not doing anything wrong, and I am exactly on track with life...and when I graduate, go to college, and am ready for that next stage, I will be ready..... No need to worry over it beforehand!

So here is my next topic of concern, what do I do with a just returned RM who seems to have a "mini crush" on me?

(Actually, I don't know what you would call it...I don't guess it's really that.)

It's really not a big deal...and don't worry, it's not like he's a wack-job who has come home and proposed to the first girl he's seen (being me...as the only girl in our ward that is a Laurel).

Nothing like that!

It's just quite simply, I feel stuck in a somewhat rough position.

I saw him at Church a bit when he got home, but never talked to him...and he began talking to me via chat on Facebook about two weeks ago.

He seems nice and all, and I mostly kept the subject around books and where he wants to go to college.

I hoped he was just looking for a friend or maybe just using me to get used to talking to girls again (Which I am fine with that.)

But then last Thursday he asked if I was busy over the weekend.

Not what I was hoping for.

I'm in my senior year of high school, finishing up my associates, with a job and an internship AND trying to have a life...so yeah...I was busy (HELLO, if you want to do something with a girl, ask her more than a day or two in advance!) so that was an easy way out.

Then he told me that he was hoping we could "hang out" sometime (what does that even mean anyways!?) and gave me his number and said to let him know if I ever had a chance to do something and wasn't busy.

(Honestly though, no. Set a time, make it official, and don't expect me to call you on the off chance I am free...goodness, boys!)

I lost my phone though which I told him, and I avoided him at church last Sunday just because I didn't know what I would say.

He keeps talking to me on Facebook, and has said "hi" and had a conversation with me via Facebook about 4 or 5 times since.

I don't really know what to do.

I told my friend that I didn't want to "hang out" with him and she said that I was overreacting and it's not like he wanted to marry me (uh, I sort of figured that....) and to just do one thing with him.

But I'm busy, and to be honest, I don't feel comfortable with randomly "hanging out" with an RM whom I don't even really know...especially alone.

I love going on dates, don't get me wrong........but this is just different.

So, how do I nicely show him I'm just not "feeling it"?

Thanks so much!

- B




Dear B,

When a guy asks you if you want to "hang out” you should tell him "I'm choosing to follow prophetic advice ; I don't "hang out " with guys, but I do say yes when nice guys ask me on dates ".

(I wish more girls, like your friend, would get that . . . and guys, too.)

And, yes, if this guy asks you out on a date, you should go.

(Typically I would say that since you're still in High School and he's at least 21 that he needs to wait until you graduate, but in your situation, where you're a touch older and also going to college . . . let's just say I can understand both sides on this one.)

Give each of you a chance.

There's no truth to the notion that you need to be super attracted to or in love with, the people you go on dates with.

That said, there's also nothing wrong with doing a little date education, either, and requiting guys to give you proper notice and expecting them to be willing to work around your schedule.

- Bro Jo