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, November 28, 2014

Be Happy

Dear Bro Jo,

First I would like to say thanks for all that you do.

You probably hear this all the time, but your site has helped me out A LOT!

I suppose I'll start out with a bit of back ground information: I am a 17 year old girl. I've been a member of the Church my whole life. and I live in (location withheld).

If ever asked what my happiest memory is I can't say I would have a good genuine answer.

It's not that I'm a sad, and unhappy person (although lately I think this description would fit), I can laugh and have fun I just could never identify those moments with happiness.

I have been going to therapy for around three years to help with my social anxiety, and although I would say I have made substantial progress, I cannot say that I am happier.

I try to be a good person. I serve others to the best of my ability, I have attended so far three years of seminary, I very rarely miss a day of church and I go to the temple when ever the youth have a temple trip. I am an honor (AP) student, I am the Laurel class president, I have received my Young Women's Medallion for completing the personal progress, and I am on my way to getting my Honor Bee.

I try to be an example to those around me, I read my scriptures almost every night, and I pray often.

Yet regardless of all these things I cant say that I am happy.

I have so many blessings and things to be happy and grateful for, and the fact that I am not makes me feel terrible.

I wish I could take everything I have and give it to someone who really needs it, because they deserve it much more than I do.


And now that you are caught up I'll explain what has been going on.


This past week has been pretty bad.

School is out and I have had nothing to occupy my time.

I wouldn't say I have been feeling sad but rather empty.

I like doing many things yet none of them have been able to really make me happy.

They act as more of distractions that keep my mind off of how I am feeling.

Furthermore, I have been really irritable. Even the smallest things will set me off, and I don't know why. Though obviously I get angry like any one else, but recently I has been magnified.

I guess my questions are:

     Any advice on how can I be happier?

     Would you recommend talking to anyone (bishop, young women's president) about my situation?

     and

     From what you have read so far can you help he figure out where this "emptiness" comes from?

I know these questions are subject to ones opinions and frame of view, but at this point I need any help I can get.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.

- Empty Well

PS: Other information that might be useful:

 - I've never been good at making or maintaining friendships, and in too many of those friendships I have done much of the chasing.

  - Most people don't really come to me to try to be my friend. As a result I have been very lonely. Even in Church the other girls in my ward don't really care to talk to me or help me in establishing a friendship. Which has lead me to be very lonely and question if there is anything wrong with me?

(Ex: Why am I not good enough for people to WANT to talk to me?)

  - I'm a natural introvert





Dear Well,

I want you to know that I've given your email a lot of prayerful thought.

This is not meant as a substitute for the counseling you've been receiving.

You may also want to consider taking control of your situation and your life.

See, you have the fortunate situation of being in a position where everything that's bothering you is something you can fix.

And fix quite easily, I might add.

You've achieved so many good things!

Let yourself enjoy those things and be proud of your accomplishments.

Rather than giving your things away because you feel unworthy to have them, use them to help others.

AP student?

Go tutor someone who needs help. (Great way to make a new friend!)

See, I think you're "choosing unhappiness" because, on some level, it makes you feel better.

Perhaps it makes you feel less guilty.

Perhaps you think (wrongly, btw) that unhappiness equals humility.

Having traveled to where you live a few times, I refuse to accept your claim that there's "nothing to occupy" your time.

I'm sorry, but I care too much to sugar coat this: that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard! I could spend weeks at the Museums there alone!

And then there's the parks . . . and historical things . . . and great things to see . . . and DO!

Afraid to leave your home?

Even then! There's a great history of the area that's over 1200 pages; well worth the read!

In short, if you want to Be Happy, choose to Be Happy.

If you really are done feeling sad and sorry for yourself, then stop it.

If you don't like your life as an introvert (which, frankly, is a label I think you're comfortably hiding behind) then CHANGE.

And if you do like the idea of being an introvert . . . then stop complaining!

Do the righteous things that help you to feel joy.

If you want to go make friends, go make friends.

If you'd rather stay in and read, then do that!

Both are great and wonderful ways to spend your time.

My father says that the cure to all depression is WORK. Maybe you need to get a job.

Sister Jo says nothing makes us feel better than being of service to others. You could certainly find people in your area that need some service.

I don't think you're an empty well. I just think you're expecting someone or something else to fill that well, when the only person that can fill it with any positive long tern results . . . is you.

All around you are miracles and blessings.

See them.

Be Grateful for them. Fill your well with the love that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ put around us, put into our lives, every day.

- Bro Jo

PS:  Depression is a very real thing; by all means if you find that your suffering from depression that you just can't overcome on your own, then talk to your Bishop and/or Young Women's President and/or Parents and get some professional help.  Don't delay!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

When to Break Up

Dear Readers,

A week or so ago I got this comment on a post:

Anonymous said:
Dear Bro Jo,
... In your opinion what falls into the category of a good reason to break up?

And I thought it deserved it's own post, so here goes.


Dear Anon,

Great question!  Here are:

Bro Jo's REASONS to BREAK UP

Casual Group Dating age (pre-mission for guys, pre-high school graduation for girls) – everything.  

You shouldn't be in a Serious relationship at this point.   At all.  I don’t care how “cute” other people think it is, how supportive or encouraging your parents are, or how common it is where you live, exclusive relationships at a young age lead to 1) temptation, 2) drama no pre-adult should invite into their life, 3) missed social opportunities, and 4) confusion and control you don’t need when you’re still trying to figure out who you are and what you want.


Serious Single Dating (post mission for guys, post high school for girls, adulthood required) – assuming that you’re actually IN an exclusive relationship (you've been Out On Several Dates, typically kissing and holding hands is happening, and you've either had “the talk” or you both spend so much time with each other you just know, you know? – then these are reasons I think it’s okay, even advised, to break up, and to do so right away:

1.  You discover any of the things in:

 Bro Jo’s FIVE A’s of  WHY NOT to MARRY THAT PERSON
(See HERE for the link), which include:

a.       Absolutism – they’re never wrong, they boss you and everyone else around

b.      Abuse – of any kind, toward any living thing, including themselves

c.       Addiction – if it’s repented of, in the past, and you can live with their history, fine, but NEVER hang around waiting for them to get over it; safely in the past is one thing, no other situation is worth the risk

d.      Anger – everyone gets upset, but this is about How they deal with being angry; if they don’t deal with life’s trials well, or they’re just mean, get away

e.       Apathy – won’t work, won’t participate, a real downer

And the bonus 6th A . . .

f.        Attitude – theirs is bad, or yours and theirs, at least about the big stuff, isn’t the same, this is going to be a long hard road


2 .  You realize that:

a.       They’re No Fun - you don’t enjoy being around them much, no particular reason, you’d just rather be by yourself, or with anyone else, than with them.  There are people out there for everyone, and if you can’t stand being around this one, for whatever reason, go find someone you like being around, and let them do the same.  Understand, even couples like Sister Jo and I, who hang out a lot, don’t spend every moment around each other – as you learn with your family, roommates, and mission companions, no two people get along All of the Time, but if you don’t like being around them all or most of the time, move on.

b.      You Can’t Trust Them - they’re not who they pretended to be, you get a bad vibe, or you learn something that they can’t answer satisfactorily.  Trust is the most important ingredient in any long term relationship, and absolutely required for a positive marriage.  If you’re invested in this person, you should give them a chance to explain, but if you don’t buy it (let the Spirit Guide, and maybe get some input from some great friends or family) you’ve got to get them out of your life.  Now. 

c.       You’re Attracted to Someone Else – looks will change, personalities don’t.  If you can’t stop thinking about that other person now, it’s not going to get better later.  Best to cut this person loose and let them find someone who actually values, likes, and wants to show them some physical affection.  Just remember, if you’re being shallow you may really live to regret it.


3.   For whatever reason, Temple Marriage is just not in the foreseeable future.  Look 1 year ahead.  If you’re serious with this person and you just can’t imagine being sealed for Time and All Eternity within 12 months (not to say that it will happen for sure in that time, but you just don’t see it) then both of you need to move on, no matter how great each of you thinks the other person is.  If they’re so great, and you’re so great, and everything is great, stop dragging your feet. 
A word about that last one:  it includes missionary service and other things that may make a 1-year separation into a 1-year + non-dating situation.  Too many possible great Eternal Companions can pass your way in one year, and If you’re blinded by sticking in an unlikely situation the chances of you being in No Situation are very high.

Remember, like auto parts, relationships only have two directions, if they’re not growing they’re dying.

I'm not ready to say that this list is complete, but I think you get the general idea.

(I'm sure we'll see a bunch of comments from readers who have either great reasons of their own - and perhaps some lame reasons, too - to a bunch of justifications to why I'm wrong on the above, so stay tuned!)


Monday, November 24, 2014

Workout Buddies

Dear Bro Jo,

How are you?

How is your family?

I haven't written in a while, but it's mostly because I don't have a ton of questions until now.

Here's the story: I have a friend from work, I'll call him Steve Rogers (he is an ROTC student, I feel like the military connection just works. And he thinks he's a superhero.) and he is married to a friend.

On Halloween our work had a party and I met her for the first time and she and I were instantly friends.

After that we started going to the gym together for our workouts and sometimes "Steve" would join us.

I didn't think much of it until the last few days.

In a week she will be deployed for military service for 9 months.

Steve helps me a ton when I go to the gym.

He spots me, makes sure I have proper form, and pushes me so I get the best workout.

After my friend is gone she has told me if I want to continue to work out with Steve that it's fine with her.

But would that be weird to be working out with my friend’s husband while she is out serving the country?

I am friends with him independent of her, but I would have never started working out with him if it weren't for her.

Thoughts?

You always seem to know what to say.

Thanks for all you do, and Merry Christmas!

- Natasha




Dear Natasha,

Yes, it would be wrong to spend ANY time with him when she's not there ... but especially at the gym.

Even more so while he's lonely because she's out of the country.

It doesn't matter how you feel or whether or not she gives her permission; a man in a committed relationship shouldn't be spending any one on one time with a girl who is not his wife.

Ever.

There is not any situation where that is appropriate.

Merry Christmas,

- Bro Jo 

PS: Relatives are the exception to the one-on-one rule, but by that I mean moms and sisters, not sister-in-laws. At the very best it looks bad, but it can also lead to hurt feelings, confusion, and . . . well . . . some pretty bad decisions.

Friday, November 21, 2014

He's Lost the Will to Seriously Single Date - Part 3

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you again for your help. Sorry for all the drama and whining.

I didn't mean for it to come out that way but I guess what other way would it come out. I realize that I probably just complain a lot more than I should and I'm just a selfish jerk.

I know I need more dating experience.

I'm just too stupid to know how. I've only posted my frustrations on Facebook once and I regretted it and never did it again.

I try to talk and text to women. Texting is the chicken’s way out,

I am an idiot for doing it.

I do not live in Rexburg any more I moved away from there a long time ago.

The group date thing was before my mission not after.

But like I said I am to stupid and pathetic to know anything about dating.

I will just always be some stupid awkward computer geek that scares all the girls off.

Thank you for all your service and hard work helping us crazy single people out.

Even if I am the only crazy one.

- Dateless




Dear Dateless,

I didn't say you're a selfish jerk, and I don't think you're stupid.

You're not crazy, either.  And if you were, believe me, you wouldn't be the only one.

(If you really are struggling with mental health, please get help.)

It does sound like you're being melodramatic again, though . . . (I did mention that girls don't dig that, right?)

Look, you have an opportunity here.

You've realized that there's something in your life that you don't like and you want to change it for the positive.

So ... do it.

Complaining is only worthless if we don't do anything about the things we're complaining about.

Rather than throw in the towel, why not seize this moment?

Why not let this be the point where you go out and start running the race?

Go start doing the dating you've always wanted to do.

Ask out that girl you're interested in!

Don't make it a big deal.

Just think "I'm asking her out because I want to get to know her better".

And ask out some other girls, too.

If a girl you ask to dinner turns you down, shrug it off as her loss and ask out someone else.

There's nothing wrong with being into computers. We nerds get great jobs and can fix stuff that other people can't.

And, let's face it, we're pretty nice guys.

No go get some dates, my man.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bro Jo's SIX STEPS FROM ZERO to TEMPLE MARRIAGE for YOUNG SINGLE ADULTS

Dear Bro Jo,

I just came across your page and love reading your advice!

First off, you probably get a million emails, so I thank you if you take the time to read and respond to mine.

My situation is, I am almost 23, female, active in YSA ward, pretty, funny, tad shy but friendly.

I have never kissed a boy (besides a kid who tried to stick his tongue down my throat in 4th grade, but that dosen't count).

Its strange, I know.

I used to worry a lot about it, like whats wrong with me?

Am I ugly?

...Still bothers me a little but I know I'm not ugly or have a defect, I just haven't given anyone a chance or acted interested in anybody due to a lot of stress in my family life.

My real question is about this guy I have been hanging out with that I really like, he is 30 and has had a few serious girlfriends, he knows I haven't had any serious relationships but not that I have never been kissed!!

What if it comes up before he kisses me?

How do I tell him?

Have any funny ways to break it to him if he asks?

Oh, and I read your L's on getting kissed and plan to use them, but is the first official date too soon?

We have hung out with friends a few times and gone to the gym and after he bought me lunch, so was that considered our first date?

I dont know!... but I'm pretty sure he is in to me, he called me and we talked for over an hour and he told me after our gym "date" he would really like to hang out again.

Oh, and this is a pretty dumb question but what do I do if he does kiss me?

Like, do I let him do all the work?

Or is there a way to do it?

Will my lips just know what to do?

haha!

Maybe, Im just way over-thinking all of this?

But, I like him a lot and I don't want to scare him off when he finds out he'd be my first kiss!!!

I know your advice will help!

Thank you!

- Ready to Be Kissed




Dear Ready,

Thank you.

And it's not "a million" . . . but I do get quite a few.

First of all, 4th grade counts, so yes, you've been kissed.

Not well . . . but kissed none the less.  So you can let go of that worry.

I doubt he's going to ask if you've ever been kissed.

In fact, at your age and his if he does . . . well . . . that's a weird question to ask . . .but if he does ask "have you ever been kissed", I think the best response is a coy "not by you".  (Smile, wink.)

The L's really work.  (For the original column, "The Six L's of How to Get Kissed", click HERE.)

And yes, I typically say that the first date is too soon.

However . . . despite my best efforts . . . I couldn't help kissing the future Sister Jo on the first date . . . and that's worked out pretty well.

Most importantly, and I can't emphasize this enough . . . STOP HANGING OUT!!!


Let me make this super clear, because y'all have obviously not been taught correctly:


Bro Jo's SIX STEPS FROM ZERO to TEMPLE MARRIAGE for YOUNG SINGLE ADULTS 

1. Once you're ready for Serious Single Dating (back from the mish for guys, out of high school for girls), then it's time to Date With a Purpose.
No, that doesn't mean that you go from nothing to a proposal on the first date, what it does mean is that you stop hanging out, stop playing around, stop being a baby about all of this.
("I'm not ready" is invalid - a date is not a proposal, and if you delay Dating with a Purpose . . . well, that's where many of you will end up writing me at 27-32 freaking out - and rightly so - that you've "missed your chance"; it's not entirely true, but the feelings and concerns are real.)
And stop being selfish.  Putting video games, school, career, travel, lifestyle, etc. ahead of an eternal family is, IMHO, not God's hope for us.  Pretty sure that's in some kind of Proclamation somewhere . . .

2. First Dates are No Big Deal.
Guys need to ask everybody and girls need to say yes to everyone who's not on the list of offenders and abusers on the bulletin board at the police department.
(By the way, girls, if you haven't checked that list out, I suggest you do at least once a month.)
There's no such thing as Too Old, Too Fat, Too Shy, Too Different or Too Whatever at this stage.
First dates are how y'all are supposed to get to know people, NOT by hanging out with them.
(This, by the way, is where Many Many of you have it backwards.)
Why?
Because the lack of formality in a Hang Out versus a Date means that you're not really getting to know the person well.
In one-on-one situations people act differently, the conversation is more personal and intimate (The Conversation, you guys; I'm not talking about other "intimate" stuff), and you get to know The Real Person.
And NEWS FLASH - it may take (and almost always does) more than one date to get to know someone. (Duh!)
If you go on a date and have fun (which you should be cause you should both R-E-L-A-X) and the person seems interesting and you're remotely attracted to them - at all - then you should go on one or two more dates with them.
At least.
And YES, unless you're head-over-heels for them, you should be dating other people, too.
THAT'S part of what will keep things from getting Too Serious Too Soon.
When you space out your second and third dates with others in between, then no one is breaking out the wedding notebook too soon.
And, for the record, while I don't think waters should be muddied in the first couple dates, if there isn't at least a "good night" kiss at the end of the third to fifth date, then you both need to realize . . . well, heck, let's just say that at the end of the third date I think there should be some kissing, and if either of you isn't interested in kissing the other then let them move on to someone else.
Have the kindness and courage to call it off and let them get back to dating everyone else.

3. Once you get to the point that you want to keep seeing Only That Person, then yes, by all means Formalize Things a bit.
For many of you this means having the DTR (Determine The Relationship) conversation.
I asked Sister Jo. We never had one. Didn't see the need.
We were going out with only each other all the time (several times a week), so it was pretty clear there was no one else.

4. AFTER you're in an exclusive Not-Dating-Anyone-Else Relationship, THEN you can start Hanging Out.
However, until the Eternities End (or you're no longer together) you should make every effort Keep Dating at Least Once a Week.  Go Out (movies on the sofa don't count).
Sometimes life won't let that happen, but you need to continue (especially after marriage) to get away from your home and daily routines (and kids) to spend time together holding hands and talking.

5. If you find yourself doing the exclusive thing with someone for three months, you need to Ask Yourself Whether or Not You See This Relationship Going to the Temple some day.  (Ask them, too.)
NO, that doesn't mean I think you should necessarily propose at the three month mark, but you should know by then whether or not you have any intention or desire AT ALL to be with this person forever.
AND that they feel the same about you.
(Very important, that.)
If the answer is no, then let them go.
And if you're unsure, the answer is no.
If you've been getting to know them (like you're supposed to) and spending all of that time together and you have no desire to spend time with anyone else, then you should have thoughts about Forever.
If you don't there's no reason to expect that's going to magically change after you've spend a few more months (or years) together.
Don't let yourself get caught in the Casual Relationship that's Going Nowhere because it's Comfortable.
Old shoes are comfortable, but if they smell bad or aren't good for your feet you need to toss them.

6. I believe in Long Courtships and Short Engagements.
How long?
In LDS culture, if you're unselfish and doing your due diligence (and the other person is, too), then barring other circumstances (and I understand that there can be lots of those) I think 6 months is long enough.
The only reason to not officially plan a marriage at six months is that you haven't put in the work you should have getting to know the person (and their family) up to that point.
If you're not ready to commit, then it's time to quit . . . to quit looking and realize you've got a great person in your life and you need to make that relationship permanent.
There's no shame in being aware enough of one's self and situation that you can admit things are not working.
Does that mean the relationship needs to be perfect?
I hope not!
I have no doubt I make Sister Jo roll her eyes or get mad at least once a week (she says much more often, btw).
Marriage, good marriage, is about Communication, Trust, and Selflessness.
That's what makes it work.
And if you can't see that at all in six months . . . well, there's just too many other available people out there.  
I'm not saying everyone should be married in 6 months!  
I AM saying that at the end of six months of exclusive dating if you don't care enough to make a plan, care enough to let them go.  
Just realize that may be the dumber of the two options.



Now, as for you, Little Sister . . . the lips know what to do.

Kissing gets better with practice, so don't worry if you're (or it's not) amazing the first time.  It almost never is.

Those kisses you see in movies?

So fake.

Trust me, to get a kiss to "look right" (whatever that means) on film . . . well . . . let's just say it ain't like real life.

As for him finding out he's your first kiss . . . I don't see any reason why you need to tell him that now, or soon after.

Maybe tell him on your 10th wedding anniversary . . . or your fiftieth.

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 17, 2014

How Do You Transition from In-Class Flirting to Getting Asked Out?

Dear Bro Jo,

First of all, thank you so much for your blog and all the answers you give. I really like how blunt and to the point they are. So thank you!

Okay. There's this guy in my class and he's been coming to sit next to me since just before the middle of the semester. I hadn't really noticed him until he sat next to me one day and started talking to me.

Now, I'm really shy and I don't feel like I've been able to be myself around him and talk a lot, of course we are in a classroom setting so I don't like talking much in class anyway.

But he talks a lot.

The very first thing he started talking about is how 18 year olds don't have much life experience and that actually made me pretty mad. I went home to my roommates and told them that I really didn't like this guy because he seemed like a jerk.

Then he sat next to me the next class.

I was really confused because he would sit by me and talk to me all class and just leave at the end of class without saying anything.

I thought that was a little weird, but I didn't say anything about it.

Then one class he started telling me how to show a guy that I want him to take me on a date and he said touch is a great indicator that I want a guy to ask me on a date.

Then he started walking out of class right in front of me but he wouldn't say anything and he would kind of walk a couple feet away and just barely in front of me if that makes any sense.

And that continued.

Then he started walking out with me and held the door open and would make small talk.

I actually can't believe he still sits next to me because I'm not the most talkative person around him which is weird because usually I've warmed up to people once we've talked for a while.

I told him that I'd be living in the area for this next semester which is my off track and he seemed pretty interested and excited that I would still be around.

So anyways . . . we have had about three quizzes in this class and our teacher lets us take them with a person in the class if we want and I usually take it with my roommate because she has the class the hour before me . . . but this time when the teacher told us we could take the test with someone else, the guy that always sits next to me asked if I wanted to take the quiz with him (this is the last quiz of the semester) and I said sure so he handed me his phone so I could put my number in it.

So we planned a day and he said he would text me when he's done with classes.

We're taking the test tomorrow and I'm honestly dreading the fact that he's coming over to my apartment.

I don't really know why.

I like him when I'm around him but sometimes it's like I start to second guess myself.

He's a really awesome guy and I just don't feel like I'm good enough to even be his friend!

I'm praying that I can be more myself around him because I feel like he doesn't know the real me and I'm worried that once he does he's not going to like that.

I don't really know how to feel and I don't know if I should worry about it.

But a lot of people have said that they think they like me but I'm not sure.

What should I do?

- Flirting




Dear Flirting,

I think you should put him on the spot.

We often aren't communicating as well as we think we are, and I think that's the case with this guy. 


Quick story.

At one point in high school I started eating lunch in the library. For reasons I don't remember it had occurred to me that rather than going home to a mountain of homework every day I could do some of it in the library during lunch.

This was during a particularly cocky period in my life (neither Sister Jo nor I can figure out why), so one afternoon when I went in there I saw this really cute girl sitting by herself at a big table, so NATURALLY I sat next to her and we started talking.

We were getting along great and I was seriously thinking of asking her out on a date.

For reasons I regretted for a very long time afterwards I thought I could ingratiate myself to her by putting down the cheerleaders at our school.

I think that in my ignorance I figured that since she was in the library that she was probably one of those more "studious girls" at our school that hated the cheer squad. (The Jo Girl who's currently a 4.0 student and a cheerleader loves to roll her eyes and get indignant and hurt whenever I tell this story.)

You guessed it: that was the end of the flirting and any date hopes I'd had with this girl.

Not only was she a varsity cheerleader, so were all of her friends.

(Ever wonder why I keep telling y'all that boys are dumb?)


Anyway, the point is that, intentional or not, this guy is clearly giving you signals that he's hoping you'll tell him it's okay to ask you out.

I say "do him the favor"; touch him on the arm and say "so, when you said that girls are supposed to touch guys to let them know that they should ask them out, is this what you had in mind?"

His reaction will tell you all you need to know.

Yeah, he may start sitting somewhere else, but he may also be grateful that you picked up on all of his, albeit not very smooth, hinting.

Let me know how it goes!

-Bro Jo

Friday, November 14, 2014

He's Lost the Will to Serious Single Date - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo

Thanks Bro Jo for your reply.

I guess to start off with I'm a 24 years old RM.

I consider myself a pretty average guy with average looks. I am quiet and not to outgoing.

I grew up in a small town with not many girls my age.

I usually just kept to myself when I was younger.

Now that I am older I try to stay social and go to all YSA activities. I try to treat every girl like a princess.

I have not asked out a whole lot of girls not even close to your 50 suggested dates a year.

I have only ever asked out 6 girls.

Most of them I would not consider to be the popular girls that every guy wants to ask out.

I have asked out both girls that I was hoping would go somewhere and girls that I just wanted a friendly experience with.

To be honest half of the girls I asked out said yes to a date the other said no either they weren't interested or they were always busy when I asked.

Out of the 3 girls that said yes one of them I straight out asked if she would be interested in going out again sometime and she said no. I was not expecting anything to much she was just one the few girls I actually knew at the time.

Well attending school at BYU-I I Went on a group date with a bunch of friends to a movie.

After the movie my date said she was not feeling good and wanted go home. The rest of the group went to have ice cream after the movie.

This was the only time I had a girl go home from a date even though I know the first message I said girls.

Now for the girl that said no when I didn't ask. There was a girl I kind of like and I thought she kind of liked me to. I never asked her out because I was kind of tired with this dating thing and I only wanted friends. I thought we were pretty good friends but she started to ignore me and I got frustrated and posted on Facebook how I hate it when girls ignore me.

She was quick to text and apologized for ignoring me and told me she just didn't want lead me on and all she wanted was friends.

I told her I was fine with that and I was not trying to be anything more than a friend.

She continued to ignore me after that.

I just feel like girls are not interested in me for anything more than friends.

I would define success in knowing that someone actually had some sort of romantic interest in me.

Maybe someone that would actually go on a second date because they wanted to.

I feel like I have not been successful because every girl I have asked out even if they said yes to a date I felt like they made it clear they didn't want to go on a second one.

I don't feel successful because the girls that I thought were interested in me straight up told me they are not.

Over all I stopped carrying and I have never been happier.

But what has me frustrated now is there is a girl that I like and she has done a few things to make me think she might like me.

The biggest thing is just a little while ago she went out of her way to come talk to me and she got really close and brushed her arm against me and not just like a bump into you but she held it there for a while.

The thing that frustrates me is if I text her thanking her for her lesson at Church or something like that she will reply but if I actually ask her a question when I text her she ignores it.

I just feel like girls act like they care sometimes just to get a reaction and build their self-esteem while it is tearing apart the self-esteem of others.

Thank you again for your help.

- Dateless




Dear Dateless,

I'm sorry, but clearly you need a little tough love in your life.

You've come to the right place, my man.

1. You don't have nearly enough dating experience to claim to be "tired" of anything. Less drama, please. 
And less whining. 
Dude, I dated 65 different girls before I started dating the one I was fortunate enough to marry, and I was dumped by more than half of them. 
I had one girl breakup with me on our anniversary, another dis me because she wanted to date my best friend (they had actually been making out for a week before she told me), one girl stood me up and then I never saw her again (she quit where we worked, never took my calls again, and told her mother to send me away when I went to her house), and another break up with me one night, say she wanted to get back together the next morning, and then dump me again after smooching for a while.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. 
So don't come at me with your "one girl who you never dated said she just wants to be friends", "one girl got sick and asked to be taken home", and "no success after dating a whopping 6 girls" throwing your hands up and ready to quit dating altogether.
Brother, you can't quit a race you've never run.

2. Stop posting your frustrations about dating and girls on Facebook. I can't think of anything more pathetic. 

 3. Put down your freakin' cell phone. 
Stop texting women and start talking to them.
In person!
Seriously.
There's no excuse for a guy at BYU-Idaho not to have a date every weekend.
I've been on that campus many times. I've got more emails than I can count from great girls who would love to be asked out by guys just like you.
Well . . . the less whiny version of you. 

Also: when one comes back from a mission, a Group Date is not a date anymore . . . it's a Hang Out. 

Or an "activity".

Until you're in a relationship, no more hanging out.

Forget about looks.

Forget about what everyone else thinks, says and does.

The world is full of great girls your age, LDS and Single, who want to go out.

Stop thinking that you have to know someone super well before you ask them out.

Getting to know someone is what those first few dates are for!

Make up for lost time.

Get a date for tonight.

And plan one for tomorrow.

During the Christmas holiday you should have - at least - six dates.

And don't be lame.

Plan.

Spend some dough.

Go up to a nice single girl (I'm sure you know tons of them, but even if you ask a stranger that's okay) and ask her if she'd like to go to the new movie tonight.

Then go up to another girl (in person, no texting!) and ask her out to lunch for Saturday.

Then find another girl to take to dinner.

When you've got more experience you'll know whether a brush up against the arm means anything or not.

No excuses.

Just get out there, man!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Relationships for The Soon to be Missionaries

Dear Bro Jo,

As like most of the people who email you, I've read a lot of your blog, but I've never emailed you with a question.

So here goes.

My friend got his mission call a few weeks ago. My papers are also in, and I should be receiving my call any week now.  We'll most likely be leaving around the same time.

This friend and I dated a bit our senior year.

I was new to the area, and after a few months of living here, we became friends.

We would hang out at Church dances, we went to Sadie's and Prom, but we both decided to tone down the romance and just be friends since we are both preparing for missions and don't want to risk anything.

However, we have both made it clear that we want to write each other while we're gone, and are open to the idea of dating once we're both back from our missions.

I also explained to him that since my mission is 18 months, I'll be returning home before he will, and I'll be attending a semester of college.

If I get asked out on a date, I'm not going to say no just because he's still away.

Also, if I meet someone else and I feel like it's the path I'm supposed to go on, I'm going to follow it.

Basically, I'm not going to go out of my way to wait for him.

And he agrees.

He said that he doesn't expect me to wait for him.

I told a friend of mine who's like an older brother to me about this conversation and he did remind me that just because he said he doesn't expect me to wait, that doesn't mean he doesn't *want* me to wait.

Judging by his reactions during the whole conversation, he wants me to wait, but understands if it doesn't work out that way.

Anyway, that's looking way too forward into the future. I have no idea how that'll turn out, I just have to wait and see.

I'm trying to be logical and not get my heart set on anything in case it doesn't work out a certain way.

What I want to know is how often we should be writing each other while on our missions?

I'm thinking once a month, if that.

Our missions are not about each other, and I don't want to distract him, nor do I want him to distract me.

I do want to keep in touch though.

Is once a month too often?

I have no idea.

I've never had anyone ask me to write them on their mission before, and this guy is more than a friend-- he's my best friend.

I've prayed about it, and staying in contact with him is definitely something I should do.

I don't know if he's "the one" (honestly, I don't really want to think about that quite yet. Mission comes first), but I know he's going to be an important aspect of my life in some way or another.

I'd follow the mission letter rules -- no romance, no mentioning of plans for returning home, etc -- I just don't know how often is too often. I'm probably over-thinking this, but that's why I'm asking you.

I'm sure once I get a mission leader of some sort, he could also give me an answer, but I'd really appreciate your thoughts as well.

So yeah. That's the story. Any advice at all would be awesome.

Sincerely,

- The Prospective Missionary





Dear PM,

My general feeling is, regardless of how close or not close a guy and girl may be, that one letter a month is enough; just as you said.

Anything more is too intimate, even if the content is strictly mission related.

You write him while he's in the MTC, then wait to get a response. (Not waiting until you hear back before you write again is the hardest part for many of us.)

When you hear back you can start crafting your letter, but don't send it until 3-4 weeks have passed. 

If he writes during that time, include responses to all of his letters in your letter that will go once the 4 weeks since the first letter was received.

If he complains that he's not hearing from you enough, that's a red flag that he's focusing more on you than the work, and if the Spirit confirms it wouldn't hurt to tell him so, perhaps by saying something like "sorry I haven't written sooner, but I've been so busy with missionary work; I'm sure you're busy, too" (that last part makes it more affirming and less of a lecture).

That's my opinion, anyway.

And it doesn't change even if you're allowed to email each other.

You could include each other in your weekly "dear family, this is my generic email telling everyone how the work is going" email if allowed by your mission president and his, because those are not so personal, if you wanted.

The goal is to reduce the personal one-on-one contact so that there's less distraction.

Sister Jo and I at one time had three missionaries in the field.

All have noted that one challenge with the age change is the extra difficulty that younger missionaries are having setting aside their social tendencies and focusing on the work.

The Jo Boy who was most recently in the MTC was disappointed, though not surprised, in just how much flirting was happening when all of them were supposed to be training . . . but that's a challenge that I think can be overcome.

I'm sure you'll be a great missionary!

God speed,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks so much for the advice :)

It's what I was thinking, but I wanted a second opinion on it.

Well, I got my mission call today and I just opened it. I've been called to serve in the (location withheld) mission!

I report to the MTC on March 27th.

I am so excited!

Thanks again for the advice!

I'll make sure to follow it :)

- PM




Dear PM,

Congratulations!

March 27th is a Very Cool day . . . wishing you the best,

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 10, 2014

How Important is Political Agreement?

Dear Bro Jo,

I live in (location withheld) and with the big election that just happened that I'm sure you are aware of, it got me thinking:  how important is it to have the same or similar political views as your significant other/potential spouse?

At what point in your relationship should you start discussing political views with them?

Could different political opinions be a deal breaker?

Should they be?

What if everything else about them is perfect except their political views?

- Active Voter




Dear Voter,

The issue isn't whether or not you agree on everything, but how you deal with the things that you don't agree on.

Sister Jo and I share many similar opinions, but when we disagree we can argue rather passionately. 

She's a skilled debater, and I always think I'm right, so it can be kind of volatile.

Sometimes we need to each retreat to our separate corners.

Heck, there have been more than a few times when we'll argue even though we agree.

Our disagreements never get physical or violent, but there has been yelling . . .

Somehow we still make it work.

Really, I have no idea how I deserve her or how she puts up with me (and I'm sure she'd often agree with that sentiment).

But, and this is a big thing, I don't think that kind of relationship works for very many people.

In fact, if we disagreed a lot about stuff that either of us thought was truly important, I don't think our marriage would work.

No one in their right mind wants to be disagreed with or fight all of the time . . .

So I think in addition to looking at what you disagree about, you need to also address how you disagree.

Some people (certainly not us) can have very strong opposing opinions and simply express them, agree to disagree, and move on with no fuss. (That would actually make me more angry, by the way.)

I think your opinions on things, including politics, is really something that ought to come up in the first couple dates, if not the very first date. 

Just remember, no one agrees with anyone all of the time.

Can differences of opinion be a deal breaker?

Sure.

Should they be?

Sometimes.

Better to find someone you generally agree with.

Best (and more importantly, I think) is to find someone with whom you can resolve your differences because of how much you both, in a Christlike way, put the other person before yourselves.

As I've said often, Communication is the Key!


- Bro Jo

Friday, November 7, 2014

He's Lost the Will to Serious Single Date - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

I have lost all courage and almost all desire with dating.

Almost every girl I have asked out on a date has told me no.

I have been told no by girls I wasn't even chasing.

I have even had girls decide that they want to go home early from group dates.

How can I have the courage and confidence needed to keep dating when I have never had any success?

Sincerely

- Dateless Wonder




Dear Dateless,

You've got to help me out, champ; I need more information.

If girls are telling you that they want to go home early from group dates . . . well, that conflicts with your statement that "almost every girl" you've asked out has said no.

And what do you mean when you say that girls you aren't chasing tell you no?

Are you just walking down the hall minding your own business and random girls come up to you and say "hey, just in case you're thinking about it, don't ever ask me out"?

Just exactly what are you doing?

And what would you define as success?

How old are you?

What is the reason for the girls you're out with wanting to go home early?

What do they say?

How many girls are we talking about?

How many dates are we talking about?

And what is it you're looking for from these girls?

If I'm going to give you an honest answer, I'm going to need you to be honest with me.

And with yourself.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Love Isn't a Feeling, It's an Ability

Dear Bro Jo,

I have a question about Love.

I'm just three months away from my 19th birthday, and confused...

When I was Fourteen my parents paid a Young Man from our Ward to come over and babysit my Brothers when they went out.

This Young Man went to Church with us,

He is really good with all the little kids at church and they chase after him, latch onto him and won’t let go.

He is a Seminary Graduate, Eagle Scout and has worked with the Bishop in the Young Men’s Program,

He is a worthy Priesthood holder.

We went to Homecoming and later to Prom together his senior year,

We have liked each other since the first time we met, and have been friends for a few years.

He was my Math and Science tutor when I was having trouble and helped me pass Chemistry and Math.

I found myself getting close to him and Shut down, completely ignored him and really hurt him but He is still here for me.

We talk about life, about the gospel and he likes to tell me what he sees in me, my sense of humor and everything.

When I found myself faced with a great Health challenge, a chronic illness he told me he would be there for me, and has asked me how I'm doing,

What it's like to be sick all the time and really cares. but with my Illness I have not been the greatest person to be around; I'm mostly an Optimistic Daughter of God but once in a while I get really irritable and shut everyone out.

Someone at Church told me that I shouldn’t let him go, and it really got me thinking and made me reassess my actions the last few years. a Friend convinced me to talk with him about my feelings from our last date and I did, only to have him tell me it was okay and that He forgave me already.

So I sit here wondering what I did to deserve him and He actually gets me to open up, something I have had a hard time with since my childhood was full of fake friends and Bullies, low Self Esteem and all that.

He lets me know that I'm beautiful and perfect the way I am and I don’t have to change to impress him, he cares about me, despite all my Flaws and imperfections that He sees right through.

We told each other that we want the best for each other and I'm watching him leave next month for his Mission to India; I know there are Children of God there that need him.

So I guess my question is:  if you could describe Love what would it be?

I know it’s an Action and it’s something you do, but I'm not sure Caring about them and wanting the best for them is all that love is.

I keep thinking there is something more to Love that we haven’t covered yet, other than Forgiving, and caring, looking past the imperfections and to the Heart, being able to trust them and all of that which we have covered in our relationship.

I walked away, and it’s almost like something pulled me back.

Like Heavenly Father has some plan.

We are both to the point where we are trusting in Heavenly Father.

If we are meant to be together, we’ll be together, if not then there is someone else out there who is better for the other one and we only want the other to be Happy in life.

So I will stop rambling now.

Hope it’s not confusing.

Sincerely,

- Confused and wondering...




Dear Confused,

There are many, many legitimate definitions of "love".

I think you clearly love this guy, and he clearly loves you.

Is it romantic love?

Perhaps.

I believe that love for an Eternal Companion is best described as caring about their happiness more than your own at the same time that you can trust that they feel the same.

In that regard, it certainly seems like you've hit the jackpot.

And so has he.

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 3, 2014

Heads and Shoulders

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro Jo!

So I'm having some issues with this boy I like and I don't know what to do...

First, I'll give you a little background.

I'm 18 and a senior in high school, he's 17 and a junior in my stake.

I've had a bit of a crush on him for quite some time, but not until a few months ago did we actually ever see each other outside of church activities.

He invited me to Church Prom with him, and I invited him to my school prom.

They were great!

It really seems like he likes me and I like him too, but I just don't know what to do.

I'm heading off to college at BYU this fall and he will still be back here in high school, but will probably end up going to BYU the year after.

I know that I should just move on and not worry about it, but that's a lot easier said than done.

I can't stop thinking about him and how well we get along, etc.

I know I should just get over the crush, but other than the slight age difference I don't really see any good reason to.

How do you get over someone when they haven't done anything to give you reason to not like them?

Also, I've been wondering....so after both proms on the ride home I like fell asleep on his shoulder.

It seems pretty innocent to me but I just wanted another opinion about it.

Finally, should I ever tell this boy how I really feel before I go to college?

I think he probably can tell I like him, and my friend told me that he likes me...it just seems like a big elephant in the room at this point.

Even though I can't and shouldn't expect anything to come out of it, I still feel like he should know how I feel.

But I don't know if this will just make things more complicated for both of us.

Sorry if I rambled, I'm just so confused about what I'm feeling.

- Conflicted




Dear Conflicted,

No one says you have to "get over" your crush.

Enjoy it!

Write about it in your journal.

Have fun! I don't see anything too wrong with you falling asleep on his should on the ride home, especially if other people were in the car and the car wasn't "parking".

Don't make it a habit, or take it any further, and don't put yourself in situations where because you may be asleep, someone else's hands can wander.

And, no, you shouldn't tell him you like him before you go to college. There's no point and no advantage.

Enjoy these moments, but keep it casual.

- Bro Jo