Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published several times a month.

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, "Dear Bro Jo" is not an LDS Church website. (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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Monday, March 30, 2015

Afraid to Hug?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey there.  I was reading your post from today, about kissing/touching and it reminded me of something that's been on my mind.

I'm a 16 year old teenage girl.

See, I've never really been a hugger.

Well, maybe just with girlfriends, but I hardly ever initiate a hug or physical touch.

The thing I can't figure out, is why it's so hard for me.

I don't hate it just to be different in this touchy world. I really do want to be able to show appropriate physical affection to those who I love. It's just not comfortable to me.

I always dread the after date hug and any sort of greeting hug with guys because I feel so awkward at it.

I've noticed it with nearly all guys, even brothers, cousins and other family. I don't come from a huggy family at all, although we are close knit.

When my older brother asked me for a hug out of nowhere, it just gave me a rush of anxiety and I said no.

Anyways, could it just because of my family culture, and is the only fix to make myself hug guys?

I know it seems silly, maybe it is that simple but I just feel like maybe there's something more to it than that.

I thought maybe you've heard lots more about this problem than I have.

- The Awkward Hugger Girl

Dear Awkward,

You're 16 . . . just how many "awkward after date hugs" have you had???

I'm a "touchy" person, but that doesn't mean that I think everyone should be hugging everyone.

Nor do I think it's a good idea for you to go around hugging guys to try to get over it.

BTW - I also think lots of young people are too "huggy". 

People show affection in different ways . . .  and that's okay.

But if we could set that aside for a moment . . .

You used the phrase "rush of anxiety" when your brother asked to give you a hug . . . I find that to be an interesting choice of words.

I mean, he's family, so I'm struggling to see what you mean when you say that hugging is not part of your "family culture" . . . Can you dig a little deeper?

Why is it that you think you feel the way you do?

And, have you ever talked to anyone, like an adult, close trusted friend or relative, or counselor, about all of this?

Just in case this is a little deeper than you and I can discuss here, having that conversation may be a really good idea.


- Bro Jo

Friday, March 27, 2015

What Do You Do When You Know Someone's Not Temple Worthy?

Dear Bro Jo,

So this may be a bit much but it has been driving me crazy because I'm at a lost as to what I should do.

So I know a girl, we grew up together, have known her sense kindergarten and we have maintained a off and on friendship sense then.

We all know how teenage girls can be and that turned out to be what "ruined" our friendship, back during our senior year in high school. Anyways, after recently coming to school here at BYU-I I found out that she was attending school as well, after awkwardly running into each other.

I said hello and because of whatever had happened back in high school she didn't say anything back.

Totally fine whatever.

Well at the end of last semester she actually friend-ed me on the good ol' Facebook, and then shared with me that she had found her eternal companion and expressed to me her excitement about taking him home to California for Christmas and that he would be proposing and then they intend to be married in January.

I was shocked... totally taken by surprise, and this is where the problem lies.

In high school the reason our friendship came to an end was because of the choices she was making.

I felt very uncomfortable supporting her in her decisions and then decided to move on.

Though I'm sure you have figured out the situation already, but to say the least she is NOT temple worthy.

Now the question may be "What if she had repented sense then?"

And I cant say I know for sure but I have prayed about it because it bothers me immensely and I feel strongly that there is a huge problem.

Another thing,

We have a mutual friend who happens to be in the same ward and she actually went to her Bishop about it because of her uneasiness, then after he spoke to her he pursued to tell "Mutual Friend" that she denied it all and says there is not problem.

So therefore she hasn't taken care of it as far as I am concerned.

As much as I want to support her in this exciting period of her life I do not feel comfortable supporting a temple marriage that's not so temple worthy.

So here is the question, as a friend that is strongly worried about the situation what should I do...?

Should I talk to her personally?

Should I speak to someone?

Should I not worry cause its not my place?

Or should I just hope that her conscience gets the best of her and she will make the right decision? 

Thank you, for the help.


- Worried "Friend"

Dear Worried,

You do nothing.

A Facebook add does not a friendship make.

And you two are Not friends.

She hasn't confided in you, hasn't spoken to you about personal things, you don't hang out, and she certainly hasn't asked for your help.

Whether or not she's worthy isn't your business, isn't your place to judge, and frankly isn't even something you'd know.

Remember, she had to have an ecclesiastical endorsement to even apply to the Y of I, and she'll have another two worthiness interviews in order to gain a temple recommend.

If she's lying about her past, that's between her, her Bishop, and her God.

Plus, and please consider this, you may not know what you think you know.

Even if you do, and I mean KNOW like eyewitness testimony in front of a judge, not "well someone told me this ", if no one asks, and no one has, this is more a situation of you needing to get over it than you standing for truth and righteousness.

Trust in God that it will all work out.

He knows the truth, whatever that may be.

The lies we tell ourselves and others do not fool the Lord.

Be polite.

Congratulate her.

And focus on your own life.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Afraid of Dating Someone in the Military?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello, I attend a YSA and I saw that you had some advice on dating someone with a kid, "Her parents hate the RM she loves because he fathered a child," but I was hoping you could advise me because my situation is different.

See my problem is, I attend BYU-Idaho so I go back and forth between school a lot.

I am graduating next spring and some young men here in the singles ward have been showing me attention.

Recently one guy has stood out.

He is in the army and has a son that will be 2 soon.

He got divorced soon after his child was born due to the mother cheating on him and leaving him.

That happened when he was inactive and now he is a strong member of the Church.

It's not being in the army doesn't bother me, nor does having a kid . . . or so I thought.

The more I get to know him, the more I liked him and it scared me because for the first time I could see myself marrying someone I just met.

It scares me that he is in the army, he leaves for (location withheld) in September.  I'll finish school around the same time he comes home, but I'm terrified to become attached to someone that could possibly die.

I know anyone could die, but I really care about him and do not want to see him get hurt.

My mom was a little skeptical because he has a kid, but then I brought him over to the house and my parents liked him.

I thought all was well but people kept saying I would throw my life away because if we did end up together I would automatically become a step mom.

I thought about it and I had always had the opinion on how the first time I experience all that marriage has to offer it would be the first time for both of us, is that selfish to think that way?

After all this going on in my head I told him I could not go on any more dates with him.

A week later I started to date an upstanding RM, that everyone loves, but he's boring, so I ended it because the whole time I kept thinking of my army man.

My dad for the first time in my life commented on my dating life saying he would rather have seen me date the army man, than the boring RM.

The army man has made it known to our mutual friends that he would still like to pursue me, but do I chance it?

I'm 20 and he's around 25.

I'm not asking if I should marry the guy, but allow him to pursue me and see where things go or should I just trudge on because I know he's not the only fish in the sea? 


- Lost Sister

Dear Sister,

EVERYONE could possibly die.

It terrifies me sometimes that at any moment something tragic could happen to someone close to me, like Sister Jo, the Jo Kids, or my parents, or . . .

(Sister Jo, by the way, has a strong grasp of Our Eternal Nature, so death is much less of a fear or worry for her.  She rightly sees it as a "temporary and brief parting", sad yes, but not terrifying.  Like I've said before, she's quite brilliant.)

We can't live our lives in a shell.

You could miss out on a lot of joy spending all of your time avoiding pain.

I say, if he's the Good Man you say he is, give him a chance!

If you don't you may regret it . . . for Eternity.

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 23, 2015

Letting Go

Dear Bro Jo,

Well I haven't emailed in a while, so I thought I would email you now!!!

The thing is, I was dating a guy for about 3 months!

He was perfect, a returned missionary, had callings in the church and gaining himself an education at university!

Everything was going really well, maybe I didn't see him as much as I'd of liked to but with his calling and uni once a week was fine!!

We did spend a lot of time together over the summer before uni though!!

Well here's the problem, out of the blue this weekend he ended it by TEXT, can you believe it?

In text!

He's 23 and thought it was appropriate to do that to me!!

So here's the problem, I feel bad because even though he did that to me I still can't let it go and I miss what we had!

I probably would start dating him again if he wanted to!!

I'm just wondering what I should do?

Shall I just leave him and not speak to him at all, we were really friends before we started dating and getting to know each other so I doubt friends is on the cards!

But I'm not sure if it's right to just not talk anymore!

This all sounds so long winded, sorry!!

Do I just leave it with this guy and forget about him or do I try and rectify what we had?!

Thanks soo much for your help,

- M

Dear M,

Never tired of hearing from you.

What was the coward’s reason for ending the relationship?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you!

Well he just said he doesn't think it is working and gave me all the usual rubbish about us still being friends and that he does like me but he just doesn't think it's the right time!

At first he suggested we go on a 'break' so he could think about it, but I said surely that it just like ending it and in the end he just went 'I can't do this'!

Thank you so much for replying!

- M

Dear M,

I hate to be the bearer of bad news . . . but it's over.

Sure, he may clue in one day that he's made a mistake, but there's no point in you waiting around for it or him.

I'm sorry.

I know it's painful.

I know you'll be replaying the whole relationship over and over again in your mind, trying to figure out if you did something wrong or what might have been had this all turned out differently.

There's a certain amount of healthiness to that, but not enough that you should let those thoughts consume you. 

The bottom line is, for whatever reason, he wasn't smart enough to hang on to you.

That means you'll have to go out and keep dating until you find a guy that is smart enough.

Write all of your feelings and thoughts in your journal; it's therapeutic.

Chin up!

It will get better.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much!

I'm glad you said about the journal that's such a good idea I'm going to do that!

It's just learning from experience I guess.

Well there's just one last thing, it's Stake Conference on Sunday and he'll be there?

Shall I smile at him and be polite or avoid him?!

It sounds petty but I'm just going to make sure I look extra nice


Thanks Bro Jo!

- M

Dear Melody,

Looking "extra nice" is always a wise idea.

Go to conference.

Be social with your friends.

If you see him (and don't go out of your way) then be polite, but not overly friendly.

If he comes to you, fine, but don't go to him.

All of the Single Men in the room need to know that you're no longer attached.

If at the sight of you he's changed his mind and wants to get back together, don't be too quick to say yes.

Make him earn it.

That means at least an apology and an explanation and a present (like flowers).

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

I thought it would be a good idea too!

Thank you,

I'm going to be polite and that's it!

I'll just be reserved if he does want to be with me, although I highly doubt it!

I really appreciate advice.

- M

Dear M,

Good luck!

Keep us posted

 - Bro Jo

Friday, March 20, 2015

How to Deal with a Boy Before Her Mission

Dear Bro Jo,

(This is a long message, and I’m sorry for that, but I need someone to talk to that I feel won’t judge me unfairly.)

I am turning 19 in 3 months and after fasting and praying I’ve begun my mission papers.

I went to see my Bishop this past Sunday and he helped me get started on the process.

During our talk he asked me the questions for a temple recommend.

I could truthfully answer that I am chaste, but when he asked if I had any moral issues that I hadn’t yet resolved with a Bishop (I’ve recently moved) that’s when I hesitated. I confessed to him that I have done some things with my boyfriend that I’m regretting.

Even though I still have my virginity and the things we’ve done aren’t as extreme as some things I know my friends do, I knew I needed to take care of it.

I explained it all and he said it wouldn’t require disciplinary action, but that I should talk to my boyfriend and tell him he should see his Bishop too.

He added that depending on the reaction I may need to consider ending the relationship.

I’m going to see my Bishop again next week with a status report.

Later that day, I saw my boyfriend.

I just went to his house to play some video games and watch movies (we do that now and then after Church).

He could tell something was on my mind, and finally I just told him that I was repenting of what we had done months ago and that maybe he should too.

We took some space for about half an hour right after that.

No words spoken.

Once we did talk though, he broke down crying, telling me how hurt he felt.

He listed so many things, like how he never feels good enough for me despite all his trying.

He told me how he agrees with the Gospel 100% but not so much the organization of the Church (mostly because of the rude, judgmental people in his ward growing up) and stuff like that. I can see his point, especially since I knew some of the people he had to deal with.

But there are rude and judgmental people wherever you go, right?

I don’t remember everything he said, but let me back up a bit.

He’s not just some boy I’ve met this semester in college and had an infatuationship for.

We were best friends through high school and began dating senior year.

I’ve never had a friend like him, and he says the same about me.

At this point in our relationship, we’re pretty much just best friends with benefits, meaning we don’t do much PDA (on the occasion that we do any) or have lovey dovey conversations all the time.

Our main conflict we face though is the Church.

I’ve always been a churchy girl, always done what’s expected of me.

As I mentioned before, he doesn’t fully agree with the organization of it.

I can respect his reasons, but I’ve always expected myself to marry a 100% churchy guy cause that’s what they always teach in young women’s.

I’ve come to realize that I don’t want someone who is really die-hard Mormon, but definitely someone who is active, can take me to the temple, and can hold the priesthood.

He goes to Church with me and he is going to go on a mission once this school year is over, but sometimes I worry if it’s mostly to avoid disappointing me and his family.

Bottom line is this: if my Bishop suggests next week that I end this relationship, will I be happier, or will I be miserable not having my best friend to help me through this really stressful time?

That’s what I’m trying to decide.

And besides that, if I end it with him, that’s probably the end of it forever.

I can’t think of anyone I would rather marry in the future than my best friend. Someone who cares about me even when I’m being dramatic or weird. And vice versa.

People make it sound so easy to end a relationship and find someone else who will care about you a lot, but it isn’t.

Even if I did find someone that would care about me, what if I wouldn’t be able to care for them completely?

Does all of this make sense?

I didn’t date a lot in high school and I’m aware that I’m not the person every guy wants to ask out. 

And where I’m going to school it’s harder to find good LDS guys than it is at BYU.

So basically what I’m saying is that:

1) If I need to end this, do I have the strength?

2) Would it make me happiest?

3) It would destroy him if I ended it with him, I know from past experience. But more than that, I would lose my best friend, and would I ever have such a good friend again? I’m good at making friends but true friends are hard to come by.

4) I don’t know if I could live with myself. What if I found out later in life that he ended up changing and being everything I wanted after all? It happens, but I also know not to invest too heavily in it.

5) I don’t want to just meet some guy in college and get married in 6 months (I live in Utah). I know I would want to get married once I was into a guy, but I want to really know who I’m dating/marrying and that’s easier when you’re not dating (at least, from what I’ve learned and experienced).

6) I realize boys aren’t my main priority right now, but my mission is only so long and it’s life after that.

7) This repentance process has been hurting me mentally so much, and now that I’ve typed all this I think this is the reason. I feel I’m being forgiven but that I’m not done with this yet. That I’m not quite free.

I just want this to end, but I’m not sure I’m willing to do WHATEVER it takes.

Thanks for reading my long letter. I already feel a bit better getting this off my shoulders.

I know this is all my decision, but I know you give honest answers, and that because you don’t know me you won’t judge me, both of which I need right now.

- Complicated Pre-Mish

Dear Pre-Mish, 

And an honest answer you will get. 

I bet you'll feel pretty bummed out when you and this boy breakup. 

Then, perhaps after a time, you'll feel comforted. 

Maybe even relieved. 

I do think this relationship needs a change. (I also think this guy comes with a lot of emotional baggage, is a bit unstable, puts himself ahead of you, lacks maturity, does not consider you "just a friend ", and has a lot of issues he needs to work out. . . . on his own.)

First if all, the hanging out playing video games needs to stop. Dangerous situation that.

Secondly, you need to be mission focused. That means no boyfriends until you get back (and make no mistake, he's your boyfriend).

It will be difficult, but worth it.

And who knows?

Perhaps you holding him to a higher standard and showing him your determination will inspire him to better connect with his Savior. . . . And do some much needed growing up.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo, 

Thanks so much for the advice. 

I took it and I feel much better already. 

I'm almost done with my papers and I'm really excited for what's coming up. 

Thanks again! 

- Excited Pre-mish

Dear Excited,

Good for you! 

We'd love to hear when you find out when and where you're going! 

- Bro Jo 

Dear Bro Jo, 

I just remembered you asked me to let you know when I got my call. I got it in Decmeber,  

I'm going to the (location withheld) mission! 

- Excited Missionary

Dear Excited,


- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tired of Trying

Dear Bro Jo,

I know you get a lot of these letters, but I need someone to listen to me who won’t lie in order to make me feel better. I hope you can handle one more.

I’m a 23 year old single, LDS woman. I recently graduated from university and moved from a college town brimming with YSAs to one with one with a comparatively tiny singles' ward.

I know that making this change was the right thing to do, my new ward has been very welcoming, and I’m excited to be in this new phase of life. However, I now find myself in a much smaller dating pool where the men don’t have much interest in dating.

For example, the Bishopric and their wives recently organized a date night to which no one came.

No one.

I’m not all that anxious to get married.

I feel like there are still some things I need to do before I’m ready for that. In a lot of ways I have maturing to do, and I've had personal revelation that I need to be furthering my schooling and thinking about a career (for the time being).

All the same, I do realize that marriage is incredibly important and is something I am preparing for and desperately want to happen someday, when I meet the right man.

I recognize that in order to prepare for and make this possible when the time does come, I need to be dating. My problem is that even when I lived somewhere filled with good men who wanted to get married I was rarely asked out. In my seven years of dating I’ve gone on two dates.

I’ve been asked out a couple more times than that, but during college I was very busy and my schedule was a barrier.

I did what I could to encourage invitations and would suggest alternate times and days when I couldn’t accept dates, but if I couldn’t make it for when they asked they’d never ask again.

I’ve never been kissed; no guy has ever even tried to hold my hand.

That’s completely abnormal for a 23 year old, isn’t it?

At times this makes me feel like I must be undesirable in every way, despite the fact that I live my life in accordance to the gospel and deep down I believe I’m intelligent, attractive, funny, and kind.

There are a lot of days where it’s incredibly hard to keep believing that I’m a worthwhile person and deserve to find a righteous man to marry.

All the evidence says the men I know don’t see me as a prospective date, let alone a prospective eternal companion.

I may not be the most outgoing person, but I attend all my church meetings as well as what ward and institute activities my schedule allows.

I mingle and talk with people I haven’t yet met as well as those I know, and I do my best to flirt.

Socializing and putting myself out there is something I have to work on consistently, especially during the periods I feel the most down about myself. It's something I consciously try to become better at every day and has been a slow process but I’ve become more outgoing and open in the last several years.

Unfortunately I haven’t seen any results from all this hard work (the last time I was asked out was two and a half years ago, and it was a blind date my roommate set up so she could go out with his roommate) and I’m about ready to give up and accept the fact that I’m going to live my life alone. 

How can I find the motivation to keep trying when all the effort I've been putting in has gotten me nothing and leaves me exhausted?

Thanks for being a listening ear,

- Tired of Trying

Dear Tired,

Each of us has different trials in our lives, though if we think about it we're never alone; nor are we the only ones to ever deal with that which we must deal.

If you'll tolerate one correction: personal revelation can never contradict the will of God, it's the calling of the Prophet to let us know the will of God, and recent Prophets have all been clear that marriage should not be delayed for education or career.

And it's my opinion that "lack of personal maturity" is more of an excuse than a realization.

I'm certainly more mature than I was when I got married nearly 25 years ago (although Sister Jo might dispute that), but that doesn't mean I should have put off marriage from then until now.

The one bit of advice I can give you as a Young Single Adult Sister (you are still quite young, you know) regarding the single life in a small LDS population area is that you may need to do quite a bit of ego boosting and training the single men your age about dating.

Regardless of you lack of experience, you very likely will have to take the lead on this one.

That means no hanging out, and encouraging guys to ask you out.

And that may mean being a tad forward.

You may want to check out: Bro Jo's "HOW a GIRL CAN GET a GUY to ASK HER on a DATE"

It's not that unusual that you haven't been kissed yet, but don't let that shy you away from the opportunity should it arise.

Lastly, sometimes you'll feel motivated and sometimes less so. In those moments, the moments when you feel most blue, go find an opportunity to be of service to someone. Helping them feel better will help you feel better.

Good luck!

And keep us posted.

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 16, 2015

One Last Slow Dance?

Dear Bro Jo,

G'day Bro Jo.

I've got a question (as you can well imagine).

I'm 18, started university whilst preparing to go on a mission during this year and she's 16 turning 17.
We met when we were both still in youth, and though it took time, we eventually started talking to each other (through Facebook because it was the cheapest method) and a friendship developed.

We always greet each other with a hug on the rare occasion we see each other (which are few and far between- we live in neighbouring wards but in different stakes).

So what's the problem?

I think we're in 'like' with each other, though of course there's no guarantee she does like me.

I figured out the obvious- no dates because she's still a YW - and so we've still just been talking to each other.

I don't really want to date the YSA pre-mish, lest I inadvertently end up in something serious months from departure.

I'm about to see her for what I expect to be the last time before I have any sort of mission farewell during a youth dance.

My question being- do I tell her that I like her?

Or say absolutely nothing?


- The Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister,

I can't think of a good reason for you to tell her you like her . . . Can you?

I mean, what would be the point?

What are you hoping will happen?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

I don't know, I suppose I just didn't want to die wondering.

But, on contemplation, I guess nothing will happen ad interim.

Should I just go with plan 2?

One last slow dance, maybe a photo and just leave with a happy memory?

And then wait until I'm home and we're both YSA?

- The Prime Minister

Dear PM,

Die wondering what?

If She likes You, right? 

You're hoping that if you confess that you like her that she'll respond in kind?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

I guess, but I'll accept your wisdom.

- PM

Dear PM,

It's not my "wisdom"; it's a matter of you getting in touch with what you want, with what your goals are.

Figure that out, and you'll know what to do.

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 13, 2015

Three Strikes?

Dear Bro Jo,

Brother Johnston I am a sophomore here at BYU-Idaho and have had my fair share of dating.

However, my dating is not all I want it to be.

I am not saying I am desperate for marriage.

In fact, since the last relationship I was in I don't even care for marriage.

It's not a part of my plan.

We all know however BYU-Idaho's reputation and because of that I am a 'stick in the mud'.

I grew up in Southern California and spent a little time in Oregon before coming out here to BYU-I.

My first relationship was to a guy who got sent home early from his mission because he had gotten physical when him and his companion got in a fight.

My next relationship was with a guy who had gotten kicked out of school his first semester because he wasn't living by honor code.

My most detrimental relationship I was in was just this past winter.

He seemed like everything I had been looking for and we were quite serious. However he always had these snide remarks. From taking me to the gym and having me weigh in in front of him and him telling me I needed to loose more weight to him making me wash his car because it wasn't clean enough for him to drive around to me catering to his Superbowl party and being uninvited to him kissing me and saying my lips were chapped and then handed me Chapstick.

Needless to say this poor excuse of a man has made me not even want to date let alone consider marriage.

As you can tell from my track record I tend to date the bad boys and attract them faster than I can run away.

I don't know what to do and how to change my dating techniques to where I can find the right guy that I deserve to be in a relationship with.


 - Cynical at BYU-I-Do

Dear Cynical,

Well . . . you sure have a collection of losers there, don't you?

But they're not emailing me, so there's nothing I can do about them.

(Someday you'll have to hear about all the losers Sister Jo went out with before yours truly - worked out great for me!)

Instead we'll have to focus on you.

Let's start with your take on marriage.

Don't you think you're being a little too melodramatic, and perhaps focusing your energy on the wrong thing?

I mean, three horrible relationships (with guys you picked, by the way) hardly means that the entire institution is flawed.

To answer your question about how you change your dating techniques, I need to ask you:

- What ARE your dating techniques?

-  And how do you define "relationship"?

-  Do you go from 1st date right into commitment? 

-  How did these relationships become formalized?

-  You were in three relationships, but how many different guys (other than these jerks) did you date during this time?

And, perhaps most importantly, with all of the Great Guys available at BYU-Idaho (I know several personally) why did you choose these horrible people???

It sounds to me like you need to be surrounding yourself with some of the many Good Guys at your school.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Dealing with Sexting

Dear Bro Jo,

First of thank you so much for everything you do!

I check your blog and read every letter as soon as you post it and wait for more all the time!

I have wanted to write to you before but have decided not to a few times and tried to work things out and figure them out.

Well it works for a moment and then in the end doesn't work and makes more problems.

That's where I am now.

To make things more clear I will kinda explain my family situation.

First I'm 16, been a member my whole life.

My father wasn't a member and he left our family when I was 14.

My parents got a divorce and my mom, sister and I went through all that.

My sister and I never talk to him anymore.

So that's the father story.

Well that hurt me lots and still does all the time and I don't know when it will ever not hurt me this bad.

Well anyways there is a family at Church who our family became close with.

We can call them the S family.

Brother S is actually our home teacher, but he's not just the stop by once a month kinda home teacher. Their whole family is really close with ours. They have two little kids and they are like my sisters.

Our two families are always together doing something fun!

Brother S has pretty much became my dad role model and he treats me like his daughter.

Well now jumping to the W family. (they come together in the end).

The W family is a big family in a different ward then ours. There is like 11 kids.

Well I became good friends with DW who is like 7 months younger then me when we were 12.

He helped me through my dad leaving and uncle dying and lots of things.

He always had a scripture for me to read or something that made things OK.

Well just this year I became friends with his brother who's just a little younger than him (SW).   We became good friends and I help him through things.

I sometimes spend time at their house with their family because they know my home life and how my mom and sister are always gone at dance do I'm left home alone. So pretty much they just let me come along with their family.

Well here's where brother S and the W family join.

A while ago SW asked me for inappropriate pictures.

He made excuses like "oh it's for a girl who dresses immodest and I'm trying to show her what's wrong" and then he tried to make me feel bad because I said no and he said I was stopping her from understanding modestly.

Well I didn't fall for it.

I told him no and that I would be more then glad to send him a modest picture and good examples.

Well not like a week later his dad found out about him asking some other girl the same things.

I got really mad and everything at him.

Well he wrote me a long letter apologizing and everything. I talked to him and told him he better make things better with the Lord.

He talked to his bishop and got everything worked out.

Well when this happened it really hurt me because he was a friend I was supposed to be able to trust.

Well I needed someone to talk to about it so I talked to Brother S.

He helped me though it and everything. When I told him I was super worried he would hate SW. He said no and that everyone makes mistakes and its more how they take care of them that matters.

Well today Brother S was here at my house and we were talking about how I was babysitting the little girls on Friday and I asked him if we could go to the park or zoo because I didn't want to sit at home with them all day doing nothing.

He said yes of course, but who would be with you?

And I said well me and your girls and my sister.

And he said okay good because I don't like SW around my girls and don't want him there.

He said it in a very demanding rude way.

That really hurt me for many reasons.

First I don't understand why he would think I would bring someone with me without asking him.

And also SW is a great person and made one mistake and I trusted Brother S to help me with it and not treat SW different and he said he wouldn't.

Also I wasn't even planning for SW to come and if I was I would have asked. I respect the fact that he didn't want SW around his girls and he has that choice, but how he asked and how he made me feel horrible about myself hurt. I don't know what to do.

The dad in my life doesn't like my friends because of something they did and repented for.

I feel like Brother S is judging him and that he shouldn't because that's the Lords job.

This isn't the first time Brother S and I haven't gotten along.

A while ago he pretty much called me a liar and wouldn't talk to me.

He then later realized I wasn't lying and said sorry.

So now I don't really know what to do.

Or even ask you.

I kinda just want an outside view and help with everything that's happening.

I know that's a lot and I appreciate anything!

I kinda need help with my relationship with my real father and with brothers now and the W family!

Thank you so much!!

- Name Withheld

Dear NW,

First of all, my apologies; I thought for certain I had answered your letter, but I can't find anywhere that I had.

I'm sorry for the delay.

I think I've been able to sort all of what you wrote out, so here goes.

I don't think any of this is your fault by any stretch of the imagination, but I think you're fueling the fire with all of your own drama.

You act like you want everyone to just forget everything at then it will all go away, but at the same time you're all worked up about how everyone feels.

I've got to tell you, if I found out that some kid had the audacity to ask my daughter for inappropriate pictures I'd be pretty upset, too, and I don't think that would go away very quickly.

Sure, vengeance and judgment belong to the Lord, but we're also supposed to discern between right and wrong, good and bad, and that's kind of like judgment, too. The good kind.

Plus I think it's a little unfair, if you will, that you expect your father figure to not let someone's bad behavior impact his thoughts and feelings, but you're still worked up about when he incorrectly labeled you a liar.

Look, we all make mistakes, and we all need repentance, and we all too often let our emotions get the better of us.

Right now I think what everyone needs to do, including you, is just give things some time; let the dust settle.

I'm not excusing his behavior, I think your surrogate father may regret his outbursts of emotion; but I understand them.

We old people can very easily jump to hyper-freaked-out-panic mode when we're confronted with the moral dangers our young people.

That's not to excuse what we say and do, or how we react; just to explain.

We pray that we'll get it right and that you'll be understanding; we hope that you'll know that our freak outs come from our own fears, and fears of failure, and out of (albeit imperfect) love for you. 

Give all of this some time.

Things will settle down soon.

In the interim, let me say how proud I am of how you handled the situation.

I'm glad you didn't do anything you'd regret, and I'm glad you told an adult about this boy's request.

(I can’t believe he used the “send me some immodest pictures of you so I can show some other girl what not to do” line; what a jerk.)

Hang in there,

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 9, 2015

PDA with a Future Missionary?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey Bro Jo!

First of all, I want to thank you soo much for your blog! It is so awesome that you care so much for people that you can take your own time to answer so many emails from people like me!

Thanks soo much!

I hope that I can have as much impact on people in my life someday!

Now, I have a small dilemma.

Well, first of all I'll tell you that I'm 19, so my dating life is more "serious" now!

I feel like everyone is trying to get everyone married here!


So, dating is very important at this stage in my life and I feel like I need to take it seriously!

I love dating and getting to know people, but I don't feel like steady dating pre-missionaries is a good idea.

Well, Me and my good friend (name withheld) (a pre-missionary) like each other.

I feel really bad about our relationship though because he still needs to go on his mission in a few months.

He asked my roommate, who I am very close to, if he had the green light to hold my hand, and I didn't know what to say about it.

I think that holding hands makes the relationship more serious and I don't want our relationship to get serious when we only have a month left of college before we both move back to our hometowns (about 3 or 4 hours from each other).

I feel like the few months before someone's mission are super important for them to prepare themselves and to strengthen their relationships with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ during this time.

I also know how powerful Satan's temptations seem to get during this time and he will fight hard to keep every young man (or woman) from going on their mission!!

So I don't want to add ANY temptation to what he is going to be feeling.

But, I explained this to my friends and they all think that just holding his hand and being a good friend is okay and will not do any harm.

So the other night, my roommate, the Pre-Mi, and I went and watched a Disney movie under a gazebo outside and the whole time my roommate was texting him, telling him to try holding my hand, so I guess he did, but we were laying on our stomachs and I never noticed him trying and I didn't feel like I was ready anyway since we've only starting talking for about a month now (I guess I'm old fashioned, but I think that's moving too fast anyway).

Well, the next day he wasn't talking to me and he didn't come talk to me after devotional like he usually does, so I texted him and asked him why he didn't come talk to me and he said he didn't really see me, which I'm pretty sure he did!

And then he said he was a little mad about the night before.

By now I was pretty confused about what I had done and asked him about it and he kept saying that he was upset that I didn't hold his hand.

I thought it was pretty immature that he was mad about that and I was hurt that he seemed like he didn't really care about me and my feelings, but only about holding my hand.

And the whole time he kept trying to make me feel bad about it and was pretty rude with his comments. I explained to him that my relationships don't usually move this fast and it takes me awhile to warm up to someone before I can take the next step.

(When I tell people this, they make me sound immature, does this make me immature?)

He also made the comment that "I thought holding hands would be fine, but I'm dumb for thinking that I could just do that."

And then he turned the blame on my roommate by saying that he was told he could do so.

I told him if he really liked me he would respect the way I feel and not make me feel bad about it. And by this time I had lost quite a bit of respect for him and told him we needed to talk in person because texting is a dumb way to communicate your feelings.

He agreed and that night we went on a walk to talk about things.

That was the best idea all day because the time in between the texts and the time that we talked in person, he was able to think about things and talk to others for advice and I was able to do the same.

When we talked that night, the first thing he said was that it had been very childish and immature of him to say the things he said and that we had a bad lack of communication and I agreed!

But I feel like I had been somewhat immature about things too!

So we both said sorry, both forgave and all problems seemed to be solved.

But not for me.

He said that for him, holding hands is a confirmation that a girl likes him back, so I told him that I do like him and that holding hands isn't such a big deal, but inside I still felt like it would be a big deal.

I still feel bad thinking about it because nothing can come from this relationship for a few years and I can't just put my life on hold while he is on his mission, so I don't want to fall hard for this guy.

I've already told him that kissing is a no no because kisses are special to me and I don't want to just give them out freely, but I guess my main question is: Do you think it's okay if I hold this guy's hand?

Will it cause problems for him in his preparation for a mission or is it not a big deal for guys to hold hands?

What do you suggest I do with this guy?

Do you consider our relationship pointless because we can only date for a month before we move to different towns?

Thanks a bunch!


- Your Little Sister,

Dear Little Sister,


That was a lot to digest!

Here goes.

Yes, I think it's okay if two adults on a date hold hands. (But then I also think it's okay if they kiss "goodnight" at the end of the date. Heck . . . I even think that's okay for teenagers who are on Casual Group Dates.)

However, I also believe that any type of Physical Stuff advances a relationship and can make it more serious.

Or, at least, it should.

Holding his hand won't cause problems for him preparing for his mission.

 If he has problems, the hand holding won't be the cause.

Yes, it's a big deal for guys, too. Unless of course, like some girls, they've done so much hand holding (and other stuff) that they're a bit desensitized. If you want to hold his hand, hold his hand.

If you want him to kiss you, ask him if he's planning on kissing you at some point.

If you don't want to do either of those things, then don't.

Is your relationship pointless?


But neither should you plan on it going somewhere.

I don't think you should make any commitments to each other regarding what may or may not happen during or after his mission other than, perhaps, that if you're still single (not likely) when he gets back it might be nice if he asks you out again.

And, as a bit of unsolicited commentary, I worry that we in the Church have made kisses and hand holding Way Too Taboo.

Yes, it's special; yes, you shouldn't do anything that makes you uncomfortable (or would lead to jeopardize your Temple Worthiness) but, really, holding hands is not monumental and this notion (not that you said so specifically) that our first kiss should be across the Sealing Alter is, in my opinion, a . . . Wrong Idea.

Frankly, that's why I think the two of you are so obsessed about it, it's why that's all he can focus on, and it's getting in the way of both of you.

But that's just one old guy's opinion.

Thank you for the kind words!

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for your response!

Well, I took your advice and we held hands,

AND kissed!

I think it went kinda fast, but I guess that's where me being "desensitized" comes in.

So I'm working on that. I'm trying not to be so immature about things.

He got his call this week, to Canada, French speaking!!

Pretty exciting!

I'm really excited for him and know that he will be a great missionary, and I'm glad to hear that me dating him is not going to get in his way.

And we both know that we need to break it off when it gets closer!

Thanks again for everything!

- Little Sister

Dear Little Sister,

Any time.

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 6, 2015

Can a Dark Skinned Woman Find Love in the LDS Church? - Part 3: The Importance of Trust

Dear Bro Jo,

That was not at all the answer I was expecting, but that's ok.

I feel the need to further clarify my boyfriend's thought process.

He is divorced.

His ex-wife was a promiscuous girl before their marriage, but she was in the process of repenting and he accepted that.

Three years later she cheated on him.

Needless to say he has a set of trust issues that stem from her tasteless actions. Since then, he made a promise to himself to only date virtuous girls.

This is the part where I came in.

He was under the assumption that I had made one mistake in my life, but I haven't. To be frank; I've made several.

Not to the magnitude of his ex-wife, but surely enough for him to get the feeling of de ja vu. During the time my boyfriend was courting me, but before we were official, I was hanging out with another guy.

He wasn't LDS and I didn't really see any future with him, but we hung out anyway.

And he and I would make out.

My boyfriend doesn't consider that very virtuous behavior on my part and it took him a while to accept that I was kissing another guy while he was an option in my life.

He didn't kiss me until we were officially dating.

I feel like that situation (which comes up constantly) planted seeds of doubt and I just watered them for him.

He wishes that he had known about the entirety of my past before he had made such serious future plans with me.

He said he's having a hard time seeing me as the same girl.

I'm disappointed that I did not tell him earlier.

Maybe we would be together and maybe we would not, but at least he would have had a chance to make a more informed decision.

I'm not telling you all of this in hopes that your advice will change; I suspect that it will not.

But I don't want you to think he is being evil toward me. I understand him.

I am in love with him.

And I want to be with him.

But I won't spend the next 50 years apologizing for mistakes I made in my late teens and early 20's.

The Lord has forgiven me and I have forgiven myself. I'm just afraid if I put the ball in his court he might walk away from me.

I truly do want to be with him.

But the longer this email gets, the more I realize it's not really my call to make anymore.

Thank you for all of your help.

- Chocolatey

Dear Chocolatey,

I agree that you shouldn't have been making out with a man whom you had no hope a future with, but both you and your boyfriend need to understand that courting is the period of time when we get to know each other better; one does not go into a first date and mention anything and everything.

That is not only ridiculous, it's dumb.

And unrealistic.

Someone I see as a bit of a mentor told me once that many people are confused about the value of "love" in a marriage. They see love as the most important thing. Love is nice, but the truth is that even the best couples don't love each other all of the time.

That's reality.

Trust is one of the most important things in a relationship.

It's HUGE.

Your boyfriend had his trust violated because his ex-wife cheated.

I get that.

(BTW - Divorce is never totally one-sided. Ever. I expect him to tell you what a shrew she was; and he's likely very right; but it's important for him to tell you what mistakes he thinks he made in the relationship and whether or not he sees those as things he's fixed. If he feels he had zero responsibility for the failure of the marriage, that's another Huge Red Flag, and sign that you need to move on.)

Your boyfriend needs to be married to someone he can trust.

So do you. 

I see no reason at this point why you should trust him any more than he trusts you.

It's worth repairing, but only if each of you is willing to do the work.

Lopsided relationships are doomed.

So no, none of what you said changes my original advice.

If you can't learn to trust each other, then you need to set each other free.

And, yes, you need to make sure that he understands that he's violated your trust, too.

For the record, Sister Jo absolutely agrees with me.

And, just so you know, The Importance of Trust has nothing to do with race.

We started this conversation all that time ago because you were worried that someone of your background wouldn't be able to find an Eternal Companion at BYU.

I'm still not convinced that's true.

Nor do I think you, or any other person (girl or guy, whatever their race, background or color may be) should ever commit to someone they don't trust or that doesn't trust them.

You're all worth more than that.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Can a Dark Skinned Woman Find Love in the LDS Church? - Part 2: Love Him or Let Him Go?

Dear Bro Jo,

I emailed you a couple months back with my woes about being single and my presumption that it was because of my race.

I agreed with most everything you responded with, but still had my doubts about what my future would look like.

Long story short...Mr. Right showed up after all!

Now my concern is completely different.

He and I have been dating for 3 months now and have already decided that we're going to get married at the end of May (I am a teacher and need to wait until the end of the school year).

We knew from the beginning that we both had pasts to accept of each other.

Because of some of his past experiences, virtue became a very important trait in a potential eternal companion and he was very forthcoming about what he had done and why.

I told him about my most recent, and serious, situation, but there were situations that happened before that that I didn't tell him about. I alluded to them, but never explicitly told him and I honestly don't know why.

Today he asked a question that caused it all to come out (in fairly explicit detail) and he feels like I completely misrepresented myself and my virtue for his benefit.

He feels trapped because he's already in love with me.

He says I didn't give him a chance to see me for who I am first, and then decide if he was willing to deal with my issues.

After a 4 hour conversation we decided to slow things down a little bit, but to keep dating.

But he has required me to find some way to restore the respect he feels I shortchanged him on. And I until I can do that, I don't think we'll be the same.

So I say all this, to ask: How do I earn his trust back?

Or what can I say to show him it was never a matter of disrespect, and that I just didn't know how to or if I should say it.

I know I was wrong and that I didn't give him a fair shot at loving me for me, and I just want him to know how much I truly do care about him.

We talked through the psychology of all of it: the why's and why nots, and he says all he needs is some way to be okay with it. I have no idea what to do, but I'm terrified at the idea of losing the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

Please help,

- Chocolatey. (and yes, I spell it wrong on purpose)

Dear Chocolatey,

Since he said he says he feels trapped, I think you should set the manipulative immature jerk free. 

Marriage isn't all about him and his feelings and his needs, it's about two people working through the difficulties of life together.

He says fell in love with who you ARE, now he wants to punish you for who you WERE . . . and that's not right.

He needs to understand that for you to open up to him required a great deal of trust FROM YOU, that you were honest with him because he asked you to be, and he, with his current reaction, has now violated your trust.

He asked, you told, and did so with the belief that you could share with him the deep personal feelings and regrets you have and that he would still treat you decently and with love . . . and he violated that trust.

Who wants to be married to someone that they feel they need to hide everything from?

Who doesn't have a testimony of the Savior and the Power of the Atonement in the lives of All of God's Children?

Why would you marry a man who professed his love for you and is now demanding that you earn his respect again? (Particularly over things that happened before you two ever started dating, and certainly long before you began planning a marriage . . . )

Forgive me, but what a tool!

Unless these are sins that you committed WHILE you two were dating, unless you've done something during that time to violate his trust, then it's not You who need to be earning His respect, it's Him that needs to be earning Yours.

You trusted him.

You were honest with him.

And now you've learned that both were a mistake.

Unless he's willing to repent of his demands, you're well off to be rid of him.

If he doesn't get that, then you'd better get out of this relationship before you find yourself in for a lifetime of abuse.

No joke. I say that you tell him that you've given it lots of thought, and you love him too much for him to feel hurt and trapped, and MOREOVER, you have no intention of being in an eternal relationship with someone who gives you ultimatums and whom you can't trust, so you're doing as he wishes and setting him free.

And if he doesn't realize what a mistake he's making and beg you to take him back, you're well to be rid of him.

As painful as that will be, you'll be much better off in the long run.

Trust me.

I hope he's smart enough to apologize to you. I really do.

Stand up for yourself!

You're worth it!

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 2, 2015

Can a Dark Skinned Woman Find Love in the LDS Church? - Part 1: The Race Card

Dear Bro Jo,

In a lot of ways I'm the typical YSA.

I'm a 23 year old girl, slowly growing tired of the "dating" phase of life.

And for me that's mostly because I'm not doing much dating.

I can't quite put my finger on why I'm hardly ever asked out, but I'm starting to think that it's because I'm Black.

Now I don't use the race card often, but I'm pretty sure I'm justified here.

Here's some back story: I've been a member all my life and I grew up in a small branch with a transient population.

When age 16 rolled around I started dating, but I never dated LDS guys because there weren't any.

By the time college came around it was apparent that dating outside the Church wasn't the way to go, but I thought I'd be ok. I was going to BYU and there would be tons of guys for me to date, right?


Three years in the dating capital of the world and I hardly ever got asked out. I couldn't understand it.

By default, I stood out in a crowd, so I didn't go unnoticed, just undated.

Some friends suggested that maybe I was too outspoken, so I tried to tone it down a bit. Somehow I still managed to scare guys off before any words came out of my mouth. I literally had guys tell me that I was intimidating, but they "couldn't quite figure out why."

On the few dates I did go on, it was normal to hear things like, "I've always wanted to go out with a Black girl" as if I was something to be crossed off of a bucket list before they found a girl they actually wanted a relationship with. I know that when most guys in the Church archetype their future spouse, she looks nothing like me, but is that my fault?

Is it fair that my blonde-hair-blue-eyed friends get asked out by guys who have genuine interest in them and I'm stuck with guys who "think mixed babies are cute?"

Should I settle for whomever just because so few guys are willing to date inter-racially in the first place?

I don't have a racial preference.

I don't mind being the token black girl in the ward; its what makes me who I am. I just want a Celestial marriage like anyone else, and I know that that's a righteous desire.

If I'm overreacting or over thinking this whole thing, please let me know. I really need some help making sense of this.

- Chocolatey

Dear Little Sister,

Can I start by telling you that it's a little weird for me that your letter addresses a perceived racial divide and yet you sign your letter as "Chocolatey"? (FYI, the spelling is correctly "Chocolaty", no E. Not sure if that was on purpose or not.)

I'm with you in that I never had a racial preference when I was single, either . . . but I sure found that a lot of girls did.

I asked out girls because I thought they were attractive and fun and interesting and smart and impressive . . . but I got turned down more than once by someone whose reason for not going out with me was that our backgrounds, race, or coloring was different.

Take a look at my photo, and you'll see that I think that kind of prejudice isn't limited to one color or race or another.

I don't know . . . maybe those girls were using the color thing as an excuse . . . maybe they just didn't want to go out with me . . . it's certainly possible!

Do you think it's possible that you have a chip on your shoulder about this whole thing?

I mean, are you putting a vibe out there that is making people uncomfortable so that even those guys that do ask you out feel awkward and nervous?

Despite what you're perceiving at BYU (which isn't correct, by the way), the makeup of the Church is not entirely Northern European.

Neither is your school.

Frankly, I find your characterization that "when most guys in the Church archetype their future spouse, she looks nothing like me" as offensive and off-putting.

And I say that with love.

Maybe you need to get out from behind the Zion Curtain . . .

Sure, I find it disturbing the percentage of 20-40 year old married women in Utah County that think one needs to be light-haired, underweight and on good terms with a plastic surgeon . . . but that's not true for most of the Church.

Trust me.

I get letters like yours all the time from girls at your school. They're upset that they don't get asked out enough, the guys they do date are not whom they're attracted to (and / or possess some other glaring flaws), and now that they're "getting older" they're worried that they'll never get married. I'm not sure what race they all are, but I get so many of those emails that I'm sure not every writer looks just like you.

What can I tell you? Guys can be dumb.

Especially in the Church. How a man can go to the Y, or the Y of I, and not find a great girl to go out with every single week is beyond me.

Some of them complain to me that y'all are:

1. Scaring them off because you put too much emphasis on the importance of a first date.

2. Not giving them a chance because of how they look (sound familiar?)

3. Setting standards that no man can live up to.

Look, I'm not trying to dismiss how you feel; what I'm trying to point out is that you're not alone, that guys complain about the lack of dating just like girls do, that other girls your age and where you live are having the same problems you are and it's not because of their race.

Remember this: most students at BYU don't get married while they're there.

It's a statistic that baffles me . . . but it's true.

So chin up!

Not all of the guys in the world will be dumb forever!

Even I had a brief moment where I was smarter than Sister Jo . . . that's the day I proposed and she said "yes".

It will happen for you.

Try to be a little less wounded.

Try to be a little more open and understanding.

Stupid and offensive as it may be, isn't it possible that when a socially awkward and dumb guy comments to you on a date that he likes the idea of "mixed-race babies" that he's not trying to be racist, but hoping you'll give him some consideration by trying - albeit in a lame way - to say that he could picture the two of you together forever and having children?

Maybe it's not a bucket list . . . maybe it's a life-long dream. Isn't that possible?

Keep your options open.

Be the type of person you want to marry.

I suspect that if you focus less on race, others will too.

And don't do what you feel some of these guys are doing to you! 

Don't dismiss a guy as a non-possibility simply because of his background or coloring . . . whether he's darker than you, lighter than you, or you match. (Is that possible? Have you ever met two people that were a perfect color match???)

I feel that what's really important is that all girls find a man who:

1. Is a worthy and active priesthood holder

2. Knows how to work and will work hard

3. Will cherish and protect you.

And the list of what's important stops there.

And, no, I don't think you should settle for anything less.

- Bro Jo