Things to know

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

At What Point Do You Talk to Your Bishop?

Dear Bro Jo,

Recently I've been dating a returned missionary.

He's 22 and I'm 18.

We're both Freshmen in college.

Now when I say I've been dating him, I specifically mean that we're in a relationship. We went on a seven months ago but weren't officially in a relationship until about six months ago.

Lately, he's been talking about us potentially being married in a year or two, but we both know we both want to wait, to be sure.

Last night, we went to a wedding reception. He went to the actual ceremony in the Temple (in the afternoon) while I walked around the temple grounds (not because I was unworthy, but because I'm not endowed yet).

Between the ceremony and the reception that evening, we went to his brother's apartment to eat lunch. The wedding and reception were both 20 minutes from where we live but only 5 from where his brother lives, so we just decided to eat lunch and talk there before going to the reception that evening.

We ate and sat on the couch in the living room and talked for a few minutes. We were both a little sleepy after eating lunch, so we laid down on the couch next to each other to take a nap. He went to give me a light kiss before we went to sleep, but the light kiss grew to a longer kiss, which grew to making out.

He gradually moved to be halfway on top of me, with one of his legs between mine. Our hands never wandered to any private areas, but we were both aroused, and things were still sensual enough with his hands rubbing over my back. I rubbed my legs against his, and there was quite a bit of French kissing as well.

We didn't have sex, and no clothing was ever removed, but when he finally pulled away and decided we had crossed several lines, we were both very out of breath.

There were a lot of warning signs and red flags that I ignored that day.

- We were alone in an apartment.
- We were both tired.
- I was in a dress (making it easier to expose more leg than what's modest)
- We had just come from a wedding ceremony so we felt all lovey-dovey.
- And to put it bluntly, we were both horny and we knew it.

All of these thoughts came to my mind before we even ate lunch, and they continued to come to me as I kept ignoring them.

I know I ignored the Spirit, and I feel awful because I did.

We talked about it, and we literally had the same thoughts all along. I think it's easier for me to go too far because I had never actually hit that point before. I've never really had the opportunity. I didn't want that opportunity, and now I'm even more sure that I'll never let myself get into those situations. 

After all of this happened, the two of us made rules for ourselves.

- We will not ever be completely alone.
- We won't lie down together.
- We will avoid the things that turn each other on.
- We will not French kiss.

There are definitely several more rules we've set, but you don't need to hear all of that.

Long story short, we'll drive as far away from the edge of the cliff as we can, instead of driving on the edge.

After we stopped making out and caught our breath, we talked for probably 10 to 15 minutes or so.

I felt horrible. I had a pit in my stomach. While he went to the bathroom and I was supposed to be putting my shoes on, I cried harder than I've cried in a long time.

I couldn't feel the Spirit, and I knew that it was my fault.

Yes, I know it takes two to tango, but it only takes one to stop dancing.

Well, he wiped the tears off of my cheeks, and we went to the reception.

There was food there, of course, but everything I ate just made me more sick. I haven't had that horrible of a feeling in years. I felt like the most despicable human being. I'd had the power of hurting not only my soul, but another person's soul in the palm of my hand.

We talked about the Atonement and I felt a little bit better, but I still feel like something is unresolved. That may just be my overactive worry gland, but it may be the Spirit. I can't tell.

I've prayed to Heavenly Father for forgiveness, and I've apologized several times to my boyfriend.

He felt just as bad as I did, but he got over it quite a lot faster than me.

I'm not sure if that should worry me or not...

Anyway, what my main question here is:  do I need to talk to my bishop about the things that have happened between my boyfriend and me?

Am I unworthy to go to the temple now?


- Worrywart

Dear Worry,

Worthiness to enter the Temple is between you and your Bishop ... and ultimately, the Lord . . .so it's not really my place to answer that.

What I can do is suggest that you consider the questions we're asked as part of our Temple Recommend interview, specifically those about sex outside of marriage.

And I always think that it's better to talk to priesthood authority if you're worried than to continue being worried.

You know what you did wrong, and you know how to avoid those temptations in the future. I think not being alone and not lying down together are the big ones.

One last thing I'd ask you to consider: waiting to get married at this point is fine, so long as you're actively trying to get to know each other better.

Just realize that you'll never be able to know the answers to all the what-ifs (though you should certainly read Bro Jo's Things You Need to Know Before You Agree to Marry That Person), and that once two people decide to get married, the longer they wait the more difficult it is for them to save the things for marriage that are supposed to be saved.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you.

A lot of these things have gone through my head as well.

I'm a little confused about the part where you said, "Just realize that you'll never be able to know the answers to all the what-ifs."

Could you clarify a little?

I'm sorry I'm not understanding...

Thank you so much. I looked at the Temple recommend interview questions, with the focus on the question, "Do you live the law of chastity?"

What exactly is the law of chastity?

Is it just not having sex before getting married (and remaining completely faithful to your partner after marriage), or is there more to it than that?

The For The Strength of Youth Pamphlet talks about sexual intimacy, but does that apply to sex, sexual arousal, full body hugs, etc.?

I know I would like to believe that I live the law of chastity, but I also want and need to be completely honest with myself if something isn't quite right here. 

I'm sorry I have so many questions.

I'm going to set up an appointment to talk to my Bishop within the next day or two, but I don't know exactly how to convey to him what happened without being overly graphic.

- Worry

Dear Worry, 

Regarding the "What-ifs", what I mean is that people often delay major decisions (like marriage) because they're trying to plan for every possible contingency . . . which you just can't do. 

The Law of Chastity certainly includes only having sex with the person you're married to, but it also has to do with the other things you've talked about that relate to keeping oneself, as we say in scouts, "physically clean and morally straight". 

I think the reason we Old People are a bit vague on chastity sometimes is that we're afraid that if we say "here's the line" some of you Young People will run right up to the line, and perhaps occasionally stick your toe over to test the waters, so to speak. 

'Cause, let's face it, that's what Young People do. 

My opinion is that Chastity means no sex and nothing that has you or other people getting too darned aroused. 

So, yeah, I'd include petting, rubbing, fondling, parts touching parts (and I'd put full-body hugs in with that), and even dressing, talking, texting and writing provocative things. 

I know of couples that figured simply talking about sex, graphically, over the phone was okay because there was no "actual sex" happening . . . I don't think that's what the Spirit of the Law means.  
And, of course, once couples start doing that, then when they see each other again . . . well . . . what's to stop them from doing what they've already talked about in depth and detail?

So talk to your Bishop.

If you need to be graphic, be graphic.

He can handle it.

But if that makes you uncomfortable (and it likely will make him uncomfortable), just convey the situation. "My boyfriend and I laid down together and ended up making out on top of each other and now I feel awful" is sufficient.

- Bro Jo

***** Six Months Later *****

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you.

I'm so grateful for all of your help.

Shortly after I emailed you, I talked to my Bishop, and my boyfriend did likewise.

We turned things around and repented.

Then we got engaged in two months later.

Progressively things got bad again.

Although we went beyond where we should have, I'm glad that we did not have sex before marriage. 

I'm glad that we stopped and I called my Bishop when we did.

We both worked together to make sure we would stay temple worthy.

I would never wish these struggles on anyone, but through everything, it made the two of us stronger, both as individuals and as a couple.

Two months ago we were married and sealed in the Bountiful Utah Temple.

Bro Jo, thank you for helping me to be strong.

I will always remember your words, your help, and the hope you gave me.

- Your Friend

PS:  Attached is a picture of my husband and me at the Temple on our wedding day.

Dear Friend, 

Your email made my day! 

Thank you so much for the kind words and the photo. 

Congratulations to you both,

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 28, 2015

Standing for Your Standards

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm sure you've gotten lots of letters like this one, but I'm turning to you anyways.

I am 13 and have had some awkward situations related to dating arise recently.

I have a guy friend that I've known for a few years and we have a couple classes together in school, we play the same instrument in band class, and we actually look kind of similar. He's like a brother to me, or a best friend.

But... Apparently my other friends, who are non-LDS, have been secretly trying to get us to go out.

One friend said she "shipped" us, and said that I was "perfect for shipping." (In the Internet and fandom world, that means imagining, pairing up, and liking a certain couple that may not be real in the book or TV show, or wanting it to happen. Sorry, it's confusing. Fandoms are the "kingdoms" of fans from certain shows or book series. They do some pretty crazy stuff, I know because I'm part of a few.)

I guess I'm a target for gossip and "shipping" since I'm not dating anyone and I'm kind of cute and innocent. Another friend is always turning around in his seat and saying, "Why don't you and ___ go out?"

Even classmates I barely know say that me and ___ would look good together!

They tease us about it and it's really getting to me. I think it's ridiculous and stupid, and an invasion of my privacy and lack of respect for me.

I don't like him that way, but I know for a fact that he likes me.

I don't want to date anyone (and I know I can't) and I don't think I will until college or late high school.

The hardest part is that I don't know how to explain to everybody that I won't date anyone until I'm at least sixteen because I'm LDS.

They probably wouldn't understand what that meant and just try harder or tease me about it. I haven't gone to my parents for advice, because they would tease me about it too (they try to embarrass me out of thinking about dating and boys) and I'm too shy and embarrassed to talk about it,

I guess. I don't know what I would do if he asked me out... I mean, I'm not interested, even if I was sixteen or older I wouldn't be. But I enjoy his company and would like to hang out with him in a group and go do something fun.

On Fridays, the school lets students walk downtown to the shops and restaurants after school. Would that be okay to do?

So the bottom line is, what should I do about this and how do I get my friends to leave me alone?

And if I would like to hang out with my guy friend and other friends outside of school, what's the best way to do that without it being a date?

Thanks in advance.

- Trying to Be Strong

Dear Strong,

You're old enough now that it's time you start standing up for your beliefs.

That isn't license to be obnoxious or self-righteous (not that you would be), but you do need to answer the questions your friends and classmates are asking.

When someone asks you out, or why you won't be some guy's girlfriend (which is what people, confused though they may be, seem to be saying when they say "go out"), the correct response, just like you said, is: "I believe in not going on group dates until I'm 16, and not going on single dates or having a boyfriend until after I'm out of high school."

Which is true.

When they ask you why, you can say "because teenage life is too hard and too filled with drama to begin with without mixing in 'relationships' too young; plus that's what we're taught at Church and I believe in it."

And if they give you a tough time about being Mormon, or saying you're "uptight", or whatever, you can reply "I am grateful for the standards I've been taught; it's how I choose to live my life; I don't judge anyone else by their standards and beliefs, and I hope no one else judges me for mine".

And smile.

Hard as it may be, your true friends - and other good people - will respect you for standing up for what you believe.

All of the Jo Kids that are older than you (which is most of them, actually) have had to go through the same thing.

They would all tell you that being straight with people in a kind way was a wonderful choice, and they're all respected for standing up for their beliefs.

The most difficulty they've had has been because not all LDS kids follow what we're taught or take a stand.  (Don't get caught saying anything negative about those kids.)

When people say "but so-and-so is a member of your Church and she ___________" - and they will - just shrug and say "this is what we're taught, this is what I believe; each of us has agency and can choose for themselves what to do; I love her regardless of whatever she chooses to do; I just choose to do this".

Those other kids, the LDS ones that aren't doing the right thing, may make some difficulties for you. You'll always be best off being kind and loving to everyone.

Jesus taught that, you know.

As for the boy . . . smile, be nice and, if he asks, let him know your standards (in a non-judgmental way, of course).

And don't burn any bridges.

Today's creepy 8th-grader could turn out to be junior year's fun prom group date.

True story.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much for your advice.

I feel more confident about telling my friends about my standards now that I know what to say.

If they do react in a negative way, it will probably confirm that these people are not the best friends.

Before this started happening, I was starting to think they were not very good friends or people to be around, and it's been hard to think about. I have had a lot of friends that left me because I was not doing or saying the things they thought were "cool".

I'm starting to think these friends are drifting away too, and that's hard to think about.

I just know that my friends who are LDS will never leave me.

Again, thank you.

- Strong

Dear Strong,

I hope your LDS friends don't drop their standards.

But they may.

LDS or not, treat everyone as if you want to be their friend . . . even if they should be living better standards than they are right now.

- Bro Jo

PS:  Talk to your parents about walking places with your friends.  The more you include them in the things that are going on in your life the easier it will be to talk to them about stuff like this.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Questions About Sex

[Dear Readers,

I received the following as an anonymous comment on on of our most popular posts:

Bro Jo's "List of Stuff You Need to Know Before You Get Engaged"

I told the writer that I would respond in a special post today.

- Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

A couple of questions that stem from the last section...

1) As a young woman who grew up living the principles of the gospel and being chaste, how am I really supposed to know what my expectations are regarding sex? Or how "adventurous" I'd want to be when I am not even quite sure what that means?

2) Can you suggest any good LDS-based resources that may help me understand the true purpose of sexual intimacy better?

I feel like growing up we were often just told the "don'ts" and about remaining pure, which is great. But I was not really ever talked to frankly about sex and its benefits to a couple.

Now that I'm in a position where I may soon be engaged, I just want to educate myself on these things.


- Anon

Dear Anon,

I'm glad you asked.

1. Even the “most sheltered” person is going to have expectations. Only you can really know what those are, but they might include thoughts, feelings and opinions about: duration, frequency, what happens and how, when, setting . . . and just what the whole experience will be like.

“Adventurous” in relationship to sex is about how comfortable you are. Or how nervous. Are you willing and eager to “try new things”, or are you more of the thinking “all of this is new enough; no need to push any boundaries”?

If you have no clue . . . that’s OKAY!

My general recommendation is to take things slow. Don’t set unrealistic expectations.

In fact, I’d say that in the beginning you should try to avoid having any expectations at all.

Good sex is about being selfless. We live in a culture where we’re often told we need to focus on what we want . . . on our needs. Good sex is about the needs of the other person. And, if they’re focused on your needs (and hopes and wishes and stuff) and you’re focused on theirs . . . well . . . that’s Great Sex.

While it’s a very natural thing to do, no one is naturally “awesome” at sex. It’s messy and awkward . . . and extremely personal.

That’s why sharing it with someone you trust is important. You get better with experience.

Neither person should ever be made to feel guilty or not valuable . . . or made to feel like they need to do anything they don’t want to do.

When it comes to sex, it’s nice to have it if you’re not in the perfect mood and the other person is. That’s part of being unselfish. But the other part of being unselfish is realizing that there is a line between being giving and feeling used, and that means not pressuring your partner for sex.

It’s okay to tell your partner what you like and don’t like (even during sex), what you’re interested in and not interested in, but it’s best not to expect, Or Demand, that they do or say what you want if they’re uncomfortable.

Like so many other things: Communication is the Key. Before. During. And after.

2. I don’t know of any LDS-based resources (and while I’m sure there are some – no doubt readers may try to suggest some in the comments below – my policy is generally not to give out specifics on resources that I haven’t vetted – and, NO, I’m not going to run out and read every book suggested – Too Busy! – so if you don’t see this post followed by a list of suggestions it’s likely I just didn’t approve the comments lest they seem like advertising or an unqualified endorsement) . . .

BUT . . . I can offer you my opinion.

I believe sexual intimacy (including, but not limited to, intercourse) has two purposes: to bring a couple closer together and to create children. I believe that both purposes are why Heavenly Father wants us to reserve sex for marriage.

So one thing you and your fiancĂ© (I suggest waiting until that’s official) will need to talk about (in addition to all of the above – which I recommend talking about with the lights on and in a situation where you’re not tempted above that which you’re able) is having children.

Not every couple has the same ability to make babies as anyone else, but it is wise to think that every time you have sex you may be making a baby (unless you’re already pregnant).

So, while sex isn’t only for baby making, that’s one of the big intended results, which means you need to be talking about when you want to have children and how you will have sex and not make a baby if the timing isn’t yet right.

Lastly, remember this:  as great as sex is, or Can Be (it never "always is"), as important as it May Be to one or both of you, it is Not the Most Important thing in your relationship.

Trust.  Respect.  Communication.  Patience.  Understanding.  Caring.  Love.

I hope that helps.

Should you have any other questions, I will give honest answers and opinions about sex and intimacy to you and any of our other readers.

I will be specific but not graphic or vulgar or gratuitous.

Just send me an email. (You can click on my name below.)

Anything you want to know.

Ask away.

And don't just ask me.  Talk to trusted friends and relatives.  Do a little research (just be careful to avoid pornography).


And, when it's right, talk to your future partner.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Three Quick YSA Questions

Dear Bro Jo,


I have three quick questions:

1.  I wondered what you thought about LDS dating websites?

2. What do you think about a girl asking a guy out on a group date?

3. When do you think a girl should have her first kiss?

- C

Dear C,

1. I'd stay away from LDS dating websites as a YSA, but as a SA, particularly one over 45, I think they can be a needed help when it comes to meeting someone new.

2. I don't think a girl, of any age, should ever ask a guy out on a date, group or otherwise, unless it's a special and unique occasion (like a girl-ask-guy dance) and she's already dated him.

Instead she needs to get him to ask her out.

3. When she's ready. In general (you may want to see "Bro Jo's Guide to Kissing" for more details) I think 16 is old enough, but if it hasn't happened by 19 that's not a disaster.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 21, 2015

What Can You Do If You're Shy Around the Opposite Sex?

Dear Bro Jo,

I believe I've read every post on your blog. I love it, and thank you for helping us.

Now, I think it's time for me to ask you something. You've probably posted something about it already, and I'm sorry, but I think I need more.

I'm 19, and I'm completely clueless about guys. It's sad because many girls at my age are already getting married, and I'm still stuck in the phase which I panic every time I realize a boy is interested in me.

I don't know how to act around them. I try to be myself, but it does not always work out very well. Sometimes I think I know what they like, and what I need to do to get attention from the boy I like, but I really don't.

There are these girls that go into a room and instantly get all the boys attention. Why?

What do I need to do to change my position in these situations?

I'm quiet, and shy, and... yeah. Any advice for a girl who wants to change that?

- Too Shy

Dear Shy,

I often think the difference between super shy and very confident really just comes down to experience.

Not that nervousness ever goes totally away.  And that's okay!

I've spoken in front of lots of classes and groups, but even when I'm very comfortable with the material I'm covering I can get nervous.

The experience I have makes the nervousness easier to handle, and the more experience I have and the Better Prepared I am the easier all of that is.

Since all of this is new for you, I think it can help to start small. 

Start by working on your get-to-know-you skills. Practice meeting new guys and learning some things about them.

These don't have to be your dream dates!

Just nice people.

Show genuine interest. Ask them some things about them. Listen to what they say and ask good follow up questions.

When you do see a boy you like, even if it's one you already know, smile. Maybe even wave.

Then, when you're more comfortable with all of that, add some basic flirting, like briefly and gently touching his arm when you talk.

Practice will make you more comfortable.

Lastly, be sensitive to others who might be shy as well. Help them to feel more comfortable around you the same way you would want to be more comfortable.

Relax and Have fun!

- Bro Jo

PS:  The same techniques work for guys who are shy, too!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Her Boyfriend Has an Internet Girlfriend

Dear Bro Jo,

I just found out that my boyfriend had an inappropriate cyber relationship with a 17 year old before we became a couple.

He still talks with her from time to time.

It's not my place to judge him and he seems repentant, but I wonder if I can date someone who has happily accepted child pornography.

- The Worried Girlfriend

Dear Worried,

1. You can date whomever you want, but you're not very bright if you keep dating this guy.

2. This is not an issue of faith in the atonement or "judging" people. You're not judging him, you're judging his foolish, dangerous, criminal behavior. It's called "discernment" and it's a Gift of the Spirit that allows good people to avoid evil.

3. This guy's behavior is evil. There IS NO gray area.

4. I don't think he has stopped virtually raping this girl - not that she cares - I don't think she's the only one, and I don't think you know the full extent of his problems.

The fact that he's still in contact with her makes it clear to me he NOT repentant (repentance includes turning away and forsaking the sin); knowing that and still dating him doesn't say much about your ability to evaluate character.

5. This guy is not worth one more second of your time. No explanation to him is necessary.

6. If you care anything about other human beings you'll tell someone in authority about this creep right away, before he harms more young people. If all of that sounds harsh ... well... it's supposed to.

This is a big deal and your blindness needs to stop.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Sorry, I was misinformed.

She's actually 18.

I guess it wasn't as serious as I thought it was.

- Worried

Dear Worried,

Are you kidding me???

Whether she's 18 or 17 . . .it doesn't change anything!

He may not be a "child" pornographer ... that we know of ... but he still had a porn problem.

And he LIES to you. (If he's your only source for her age, I wouldn't believe him.)

And, perhaps most importantly, HE'S STILL IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH HER.

You deserve better.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

To Be a Freshman at BYU Idaho

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm an 18 year old girl in my first semester of college at BYU-I.

I don't really know how to state my question because I don't even know what I want an answer to.

I just need an answer.

I don't have very many guy friends.

In fact, I can only think of one guy that I can really say is my friend.

I never got asked to any high school dances.

Guys just have never shown any interest in me.

They don't compliment me or make any effort to be my friend.

I don't think I'm hideous, I'm not odorous or revolting.

But maybe in guys eyes I am.

Now that I'm in college, I talk to guys that come over to our apartment and hang out but I feel I am forgotten because the other girls in my apartment are loud and always talking so they get all the attention.

I think I'm socially awkward around guys.

I don't know what it is, like I love guys and I like being around them. But I just don't feel confident or pretty enough to say much unless they talk to me first.

And usually they don't.

I'm that typical Mormon girl that wants to get married young but I don't see that happening anytime since I'm so awkward.

I guess the question I want to ask is: What can I do to change this?

Is there something wrong with me?


-  I Don't Know What to Do

Dear Sister,

I highly doubt that there's anything wrong with you . . . you certainly haven't given me any reason to think that there is!

Dating is not about having "guy friends", and having guys hang out at your apartment (though it sounds like it's your roommates that are confused about this more than you) is not very effective either.

I think the first thing you need to do is widen your circle.

I know you're shy and nervous, and that's okay.

No one is saying that you need to go from 0-60 in five seconds flat.

But you do need to be socializing with more guys than just those that happen to be after your roommates.

You say you like to talk to guys, so do that!

At Church.

Before and after class.

In the Library.

The Grocery store.

Get to know people better by being you!

Be sweet and sincerely interested in them as people.

Ask them about them. 

Don't be looking for "more guy friends"; focus on getting to know more guys. Does that make sense? 

You don't want to become every guy's pal, stuck in the Zion Friend Zone forever.

You want to become a girl that guys are comfortable talking to and being around. 

See the difference?

As you get to know more guys and become more comfortable around them, you'll become more confident.

Avoid those common co-ed traps.

You know...

Going out in sweats.

Allowing boys to think they can "hang out" with you.

All in all becoming just a little too casual.

One step at a time.

You'll be just fine!

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 14, 2015

Does Having a Particular Calling Get You More Dates?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm 20 years old and was recently called to be Relief Society President in my singles ward.  Holla to the RS!

And when I called and talked to my sister she assured me that I would get all the dates because how can a RS President not be date-able?

And I found myself agreeing with her.

Fast forward to general conference weekend when I'm chatting with a boy in the ward who tells me straight to my face that Relief Society Presidents are 'unapproachable'.

I've only been on a few dates in my life, and never in a relationship, and I'd really like to, even if it doesn't eventually lead to marriage.

I want to date to DATE (and eventually marry, of course).

I want to get to know boys and reaffirm some self-worth.

It just seems like the longer in college I am, the less date-able I am becoming.

I don't even know what my question is . . .

How can I fulfill my calling but not be 'too much'?

And basic dating advice really, for girls.

Am I allowed to make a move?


- The Prez

Dear Prez,

One guy's opinion does not an axiom make.

Fulfilling one's calling and being of service to others (same thing, really) is never "Too Much".

The column page is FULL of Dating advice, as are the Facebook page and Books.

I'm not entirely certain what you mean by "make a move", but I advocate NOT HANGING OUT and rather BEING DATABLE.

And I certainly think that Talking to Others, Being Flirty, and Encouraging Guys to Ask You Out are all good ideas.

I'm also a fan of The Set Up Game, and recommend it, especially to sisters.

One thing to definitely avoid, is any talk about how you want to delay marriage.

Doesn't matter what for.

Don't go around being desperate and begging for dates and saying how you want to get married RIGHT NOW (not that you are), but present yourself as someone who's open to the possibility should the right guy come along.

Oh! And whatever you do, never come across as "I'm awesome because of the calling I have".

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 11, 2015

Dating in the Navy

Dear Bro Jo,

I joined the US Navy in July of this year.

I made it through basic training (aka boot camp) and now I'm going to school to learn how to my job.

I've been attending the local on-base branch and there are about 18 of us active in the Church.

While there I met a really nice RM he's also in the Navy.

We've hung out a few times at Church events and went to the beach together with some shipmates.

We also text back and forth throughout the week because we live on two different bases and can't see each other during the week because I work nights and he works days.

Needless to say or I wouldn't be writing you I have a huge crush on him.

There are a few problems though.

For one thing he'a 23 and I'm only 18.

He also just broke up with his girlfriend back home.

He hasn't really shown much interest in me except to invite me along to a few events.

None of this would phase me and I would plan on using your flirting tips and pulling the you should ask me out thing.

However, our times at this command are short.

In fact he leaves next month and I leave in January.

The odds of us being anywhere near each other are slim to none.

What I want to know is should I leave it alone and just be friends until he leaves and forget about him?

I'd appreciate some advice!

- Lovesick Sailor Girl

Dear Sailor,

In general I say take advantage of any get-to-know-someone-better opportunities that come up, and worry about being separated when it happens.

Now missionary service is an exception.

Once papers are in for guys and a call received for girls I say don't date.

The military may have its own exceptions, and you'll need to know whether or not dating fellow trainees is allowed... or even a good idea.

But I wouldn't allow the existence of an ex-girlfriend or the unknown timelines or future transfers to keep you from . . . getting to know someone better.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for your reply and the advice!

I love your blog and my best friend and I love reading it!

We love discussing it together and we enjoy how it has something for all YSA not just people like her at BYU.

Thanks again,

- Sailor

Dear Sailor,

Any time!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mission or Marriage?

Dear Bro Jo,


First, I want to say that I love your blog. Thank you for giving us great advice.

Now I'm the one who needs your help.

I don't want to write a huge story and take all your time, so I'll try to make it short: I always thought about going on a mission.

Ages changed. I started my papers.

I stopped it because I'm an international student and I figured that I should try to get accepted in a college before I went on a mission (I was at the English program).

I started dating.

I started college.

I went back to my mission papers.

So, now my mom says I should stay here and get married, and my sister says that I should go on a mission because I can find better guys in the future.

I don't know what to do.

My relationship is getting pretty serious. We are dating since July, which does not seem like a very long time, but we know each other since last year and we have been going on dates since March and the pressure is ON. (BYU kids, you know) I go back and forth with this.

I really want to go on a mission, but my boyfriend is such a great guy!

I feel like he doesn't deserve this.

I know he really likes me and I know I'll break his heart if I tell him that I'm going on a mission.

But on the other hand, I don't know if I love him.

I know I like spending time with him because he is my best friend, but do I want to spend the eternity with him?

I don't know if I do.

I could probably work on that, but I always imagined that it should not be like this.

I always heard that when I find the right guy, I will not need to work on "liking him more" so I can handle an eternity together.

I know that in marriage you need to work on accepting the other person's flaws to make things work out, but should I have to deal with this even before marriage?

I hope it makes sense because it does in my head.

When I picture myself getting married, my imaginary husband does not look or act like my boyfriend... but it does not mean that he's ugly and boring, because he's not.

I just never thought I would end up with someone like him.

Also, I'm 19. It seems kind of random to mention it now, but I'm afraid that I'm being immature and making a big mistake for thinking this way.

Should I not get married with the guy I have now because he doesn't fit my definition of prince charming?

What if I never find anyone who fits it?

Or what if people who fits my definition do not think I fit their definition of future wife?

I have SO many questions.

And I pray. I know you will say: You need to pray for the answer. And I do!

But I must be missing something.

I need someone to tell me to stop being a drama queen, or to say that it is normal to feel this way, or to just tell me what to do.

I don't want to break up with him and regret it because I realized that he was the one.

And I don't want to get married with him and regret it because I realized that now I'm stuck with the wrong one.

And I think I'm getting more and more worried about it because I know I need to make this decision now, before it is too late.

I'm sorry I'm bothering you with all this.

I hope you can forgive me for this extra long letter.

I tried to make it short and it didn't work.

I know it looks confusing, but I would appreciate your opinion on this.

You are married.

You already went through the "searching" process, so you know what is normal to think, and what is not a good sign.

Okay, that's it.

You can be straight up honest with me and I won't cry (out loud).

And thanks for reading this.

- Which to Choose?

Dear WTC,

You're 19, you've been steady dating the same guy for 4+ months and you've known him for over a year; you recognize that he's a great guy, but just can't picture spending Eternity with him.

Sounds to me, at least as far as your relationship goes, you have your answer.

Go on the mission because that's what you feel compelled by the Spirit to do.


Get married because that's what you feel compelled by the Spirit to do.

When it comes to making big life grown-up decisions, don't just "check the box"; do it because you just can't imagine that life would be better if you didn't.

Often we take action simply because we're not sure what to do; but I think No Answer is often The Answer.

If you're asking Heavenly Father "should I marry him?" and you don't get anything, no sense of comfort, no reassurance, no strong feeling that you should, then the answer is no.

Get it?

When we pray, if we're not getting the answer we're expecting, we need to try asking a different question.

Now that said, I have begun to think that Satan has found a New Way to stop us from making Eternal Covenants.  If a Young Woman finds herself at Mission Age and not in a relationship that is Temple-bound, and if compelled by the Spirit, then I think a Mission is absolutely worth consideration.


If a woman is in a serious relationship and Eternal Marriage and Family with a Good Man is a strong possibility then, in my opinion (and I think you'll find that some Church leaders, if not all, agree) to put that aside for Sister Missionary Service is the wrong thing to do.

Maybe that's an indication that she's not mature enough, that she's not ready . . . but I suggest that be balanced with the fact that very rarely are we totally ready, and that the world in which we live has become so anti-family, so anti-marriage, that our doubts are frequently fed by people who, frankly, have no idea about how to make a marriage or family work.

I worry that, even within the Church, Young Women (and Young Men) are being . . . mislead . . . being given bad advice . . . from well meaning parents and other adults . . . advice that just doesn't follow Heavenly Father's plan or Prophetic Counsel, and the result is that training is not happening and Eternal Marriage is being . . . AVOIDED . . . postponed . . . because of a lack of faith, lack of Gospel readiness, or increased worldliness that is just not Spiritually Healthy or Statistically Accurate.

I think we're reaping the results of that, and they're not good.

For example, with all due respect to your sister, the idea that AFTER a woman serves a mission "better men" will be available and interested is just . . . well, misleading.

The one thing I can tell you is that, and this is only meant to inform not scare, the further into life you push marriage, for whatever reason (including school, career, AND mission) the harder it can be for a Young Woman to find a Good Eternal Companion.

- Bro Jo

PS:  Stop being a drama queen.  It's normal to feel this way.  No one will every live up to the unrealistic expectations we have and the picture in our heads.  It's not fair to expect them to.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Scared and Alone - Part 15 of 15: Taking Note of Spiritual Things

[Dear Readers,

Final post in this series.  Again, colors used to make the conversation easier to follow,


- Bro Jo]

Dear Bro Jo,

I believe in God, but I don't know how to explain who He is to me.

- Scared

Dear Scared,

Do you believe, as I do, in God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost? 

I believe that they exist, that the Father is the Father of my Spirit, that the Son atoned for our sins, and that the Spirit communicates things that I'm supposed to know.

- Bro Jo

I do believe that.

Where does that belief come from?

I guess because we wouldn't have life without it and those around me always say it.

So, not to put words or question, but to come to understanding, are you saying that you believe in God because you know that without Him we wouldn't have life?

Are you saying that He is the Creator of all things? (I'm not that interested at this point in what others say; I want to know what you think, say, know and believe.)

Yeah, I guess that's pretty much what I'm saying.

Now, I happen to agree with you, but tell me, please, without relying on the words or testimonies of other people, how do YOU, dear sister, know? 

What is it inside you, that you've seen, felt or observed, that makes that so?

That's gonna be a problem. . I don't know. 

There have been times when I've felt and seen things that have made me feel that way and things have happened that couldn't have other wise happened, but I can't honestly explain it.

Can you give me an example of a time when you felt something? Saw something?

I can't really think of an example off the top of my head, but things have happened.

I have no doubt that they have. (I think this is one of the reasons we're advise to keep a journal, btw.) 

Can we try something? 

As you go through today, will you look for things? 

See if there are any times when random good or thoughtful thoughts come to you. 

Anything. Like: "hey, I should go see how that person is doing" or "oh, yeah, that's the answer to that" or anything good that happens. 

And can you just keep a little list of those things for you and I? 

It doesn't matter how small they might be. 

And, certainly, if a bigger something comes up, write that too. 

For example: I just bought some City passes for Sister Jo and I for a City we're going to visit next week. I forgot to put in the Discount Code that I had gotten in an email when I was making the purchase. After the purchase I remembered the email. Then I "felt" that I should try emailing the company that sells the passes and ask if we could still get the discount. This morning I got an email saying that we could have the discount. 

Stuff like that is fine. 

Will you do that today, please? Write that kind of stuff down?

I don't really keep a journal and never have, but I'll try.

It doesn't have to be a journal - just a list of notes the idea is that you notice things like that today so that we can talk about them later.

I'll try.


- Bro Jo

[Dear Readers,

I haven't heard back from "Scared and Alone".  I hope that she did the exercise and realized that everyday Heavenly Father watches out for her, that so many things around us testify of God and that the Atonement of His Son is for all of us.

Like this young sister, each of us has seen His goodness and felt of His Spirit; it's just that the world and many things in it are trying to make us forget.

Each of us is loved, no matter what we think or do, regardless of the mistakes we make.  We can all repent and feel good again.

That's the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:  joy!

God bless all of you,

- Bro Jo]

Friday, September 4, 2015

When Someone Makes Us Feel Guilty

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro Jo!

My name is (withheld).

First off let me start by saying that your advice here on Dear Bro Jo has really helped me get through some really tough times lately.

This is my second semester away from home and I just have to say that I love being on my own! It has defiantly been a blessing!

I'm learning new things about myself, good and bad, and I'm trying to improve more and more every day.

Well now that I have beat around the bush long enough I'll get to the problem.

Monday I was getting ready for work when my boss reminded me that it was a holiday and to look at the TRAX schedule to make sure that I was on time for work.

Well I looked and knew that there would be no problem with getting to work but as I looked at the schedule I realized that I would have no way home because the TRAX's closes before I was supposed to get off work.

My roommate has a car and she has always said that if you need a ride at least ask me and I can tell you if I can help you. I called her that morning at around 11 am. Plenty of time for me to get word back from her so that I could possibly get another ride.

Well 8:30 came around and I still hadn't heard anything and I had tried to call her again. She hadn't answered and I was still worried that I would have to walk home and hour and a half away and in a not so great part of town.

I was scared and told my parents after trying to contact everybody I knew that wouldn't be offended if I asked them to pick me up.

My parents got a hold of our family friend that lives here in Utah and we found out that they were actually in Florida on vacation so there was no way that they would be able to come and get me.

At this point I was panicking but I didn't show my parents because I knew that if I did they would only freak out more.

I started silently praying to myself trying to keep calm so that I could continue with my work.

Not two minutes later one of my good friends called me back and was luckily able to come and pick me up. I got home and my roommates call a meeting (we call these meetings so that we are able to get over issues that are bothering us in and adult manner).

After sitting down and talking a bit, the time comes for us to bring up whats bothering us. I turned to my roommate and asked her if she had gotten my message at all.

She responded yes but felt that I wasn't her responsibility so she didn't pick me up. (At this point I hit a huge bottom and almost started crying but held it in knowing that I didn't want to look like a fool.)

I then pointed out to her that I would have been walking home and that it would have taken me over an hour.

She responded saying her exact words "Then you would have walked."

I personally didn't know what to say so I dropped it at that point not wanting to feel more worthless then I already was feeling.

Well fast forward I and my roommate and best friend left the apartment with me.

After getting some alone time I went and found my best friend and talked to her. She said (her exact words) "How dare she. How un-Christlike and selfish."

I listened to what she said but felt no need to say anything to my roommate already feeling lower than dirt. (This is where I started to cry.)

I haven't talked to her since and feel no need to since I feel worthless when I talk to her.

My best friend talked to her and is now on better terms with her and I have no problem with that but now it makes me feel guilty for how I have been treating her.

I don't know what to do!

I feel as if I have been so kind to her this last semester and this semester so far but the way she treats me and how most of the people in this apartment treat me besides

My best friend makes me feel as if I have a right to be angry and not talk to her.

I know it’s un-Christlike and I just want to get rid of the guilt I feel for treating her this way!!

Bro Jo can you help me? 


- (Name Withheld)

Dear NW,

The three things that I find help me get past guilt feelings are:

1. Apologizing, even if it's not my fault

2. Being of service to others  (that's a Sister Jo favorite)

3. Time.

And sometimes, even after all that, I can still feel a little guilty.

There are things I wish I had done, or not done, many many years ago that I still think about from time to time.

I can't do anything about them specifically any more . . . but they still bother me.

I think the Lord gives us these feelings to remind us to be better today than yesterday, to help us be grateful for the atonement, and to be more forgiving of the follies of others.

Roommates are a challenge to be sure.  I think this situation is an opportunity for you to learn and grow.  Which is not meant to say that I think that you did anything wrong.  Just trying to look on the bright side.

Along those lines, what an amazing testimony of how Heavenly Father answers our prayers!


- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

She's 16; Why Isn't He Asking Her Out?

Dear Bro Jo,

I just wanted to say THANK YOU for all the great advice you give!!

It has definitely helped me and I know I'm not the only one.

I'm not sure if you have addressed a situation like this before or not, but I haven't come across it n your blog so I thought I'd ask. I think some outside insight would be really great to have.

Here's a run-down of the situation:

There is this boy. Crazy, I know.

I have liked him for about a year or so.

It started out as just friends but then I started liking him pretty soon after.

And I think he mayyy have started to like me as well around the same time.

I think that for a few reasons:

A) we text/message a lot, before 9 of course

B) he compliments me, at least more-so than he does other girls

C) there has definitely been some flirting going on...

D) we make eye contact across the room at random times unintentionally

E) he knows a little bit about a health trial I have been going through lately (we've talked about it a little bit because he asks) and he has told me that he is praying for me and he can't "wait to celebrate" when I'm finally better

F) he asks me to dance more than once at the church dances (which he doesn't usually do with other girls)

G) etc.

He turned 16 a few months ago and I know he has been asking lots of other girls, some of which are my close friends, on dates.

Just like he should.

And I'm glad that he is. BUT... I have been 16 for about a month and... nothing.

We still talk and text and it's the same as before I turned 16, but he still hasn't asked me out.

And I know he has asked a lot of the other girls in our ward right after they turn 16.

I don't want a steady relationship or anything like that, but an occasional group date would be nice... 

Have I been reading him wrong?

Does he not like me?

Why do you think he wouldn't ask me when he seems to have no problem asking those other girls out?

Like I said, I don't want a steady relationship. I want him to date other girls. I want to date other guys.

But I also want to date him every once in a while.

What's going on?

Your thoughts?


- Random, Confused 16 Year Old Girl

Dear 16,

It's only been a month.


Give the boy some time.

I'm sure he thinks you're great!

When you do get asked, by this boy and others, be sure to stick to the Dating Rules, and don't pressure anyone to be in a relationship.

And, should you not get asked on as many dates as you hope to (by this guy or anyone else), please know that it doesn’t mean that you’re not beautiful, talented, smart, fun and valuable.

Many of the most amazing girls date very little. Sister Jo went on very few dates until I started asking her out. This is why I think I’m smarter than all those guys she grew up with!


- Bro Jo

PS:  I believe that guys are not asking girls out as much as they should because they're not being properly trained and encouraged to do so.  I'm glad this Young Man is being trained well!  Please, when your sons are that age, teach them what you wish the boys around you had been taught.

PSS:  It would help if you girls would stop looking for Relationships in High School and instead be open to Casual Group Dating!  Not that you are, but he might think you are.  Evaluate your actions and see if you need to tone things down at all.