Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (with occasional additional posts, too).

This is column is just one guy's opinion, and while he does his best to keep what he thinks, says and writes in-line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Bro Jo is not a spokesman or authority for the LDS Church. (And Sister Jo thinks you should know that he's sometimes wrong, and often way too opinionated for his own good.)

Nothing here is meant to take the place of talking with parents, leaders, or Church authorities. Please, if you need serious help, talk to a trusted adult, leader, and / or professional counselor.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Is Now the Time to Take Out Her Endowments?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey Bro Jo, It's Melody again.

So, I am ridiculously ecstatic to get my endowments, but after much fasting and prayer, I've concluded that I'm not going on a mission. Should I wait until I'm engaged?

I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve, except instead of a day it's been years and might be more.

I'll be 19 before the year is out, so I don't know if I'm "too young" and should wait, or if it's like a patriarchal blessing where you just get it whenever you're ready. I've asked my parents, but they were super vague about it, saying something about crossing that bridge when we get to it, but I'm like "The bridge is here!

Now do I cross it, or sit and wait?

And if I wait, what for?"

 The only reason I'm not fasting and praying like crazy about it right now is because I won't live anywhere near a temple for a good while.

We move back to the States this summer, but I want to get my endowments while I'm at BYU (I start this fall). I just don't know when.

I don't know, I'm just the kind of person who is uncomfortable with not having a plan.

Slight tangent: there's a young man I've mentioned a few times to you.

He's nearing the halfway point in his mission.

We dated for a few years before he left and are definitely still writing, to say the least.

Anyway, after he got his endowments right before he left, and a few times since then, he told me how he can't wait to be there with me when I get mine.

Sweet as that is though, I don't know if I want to wait that long.

I have no qualms about waiting for him (and by wait, I mean wait and date), but I'm not so sure about waiting for my endowments.

Should I?

If I don't wait, I don't know how or when would be the best way to break it to him because I'm pretty sure he'll be a little hurt, not that that'll affect my decision.

Thoughts?

- Melody  




Dear Melody,

I was taught that we don't take out our endowments unless there's a reason . . . like a pressing event, and the only two things that qualify for a Very Young Adult (which you are) is Missionary Service and Temple Marriage.

So coming from that perspective I think it's the wrong time for you.

But that's a decision that should be left to you, your Bishop and Stake President, and the Lord.

Until it is right, there are things you can do at the Temple, such as Baptisms for the Dead (many people your age have Baptismal Recommends for just that purpose and they go whenever they want / can). 

And, of course, there's always Family History work . . . you can never do too much of that!

You're only 18.

Don't be in too much of a hurry to grow up.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Wow, that was remarkably fast. Like, ten minutes fast. Ah!

I never heard that, that's very interesting.

What with the sacredness of it all, I suppose it's just something my leaders and parents never addressed.

Thank you, this is why I e-mailed you!

It's not a hurry to grow up, I'm just constantly hungry for more/new gospel learning, I guess.

This may sound odd, but I read churchy things for…fun?

Manuals, old CES devotionals, books by apostles, even the Journal of Discourses…with caution and the Spirit, of course, because I know not all of it's inspired/correct.

I just love it all.

But yes, there is plenty of work to be done just within the baptistry and the FHC.

I'm just excited to live so close to a temple again!

Right now, the closest one is a six hour flight away.

Yeah.

Thank you again!

-Melody




Dear Melody,

Melody, There's nothing wrong with being excited about the Gospel and the Temple!

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 27, 2015

Three Questions from a 15-year Old Girl

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey Bro Jo!

I've been reading your blog for a few months now, and I love it.

You give great advice, and it's helped me quite a bit, if only as preparation for the future.

1.  I've been thinking of having a movie party, and I'm wondering what movies you recommend for those?


2.  My cousin (he's 16) now has a girlfriend, even though it was supposed to be against the family rules.

My mom is very concerned by this, and she was asking my 13-year-old sister and I (I'm 15) about what she can do as a parent and what we can do as a family to prevent the Boyfriend-Girlfriend Thing?


3.  And one last question: I have one friend who is going on a mission this summer, and I'm wondering whose farewells a girl is supposed to go to?

Thank you so much,

- Clever Pseudonym




Dear Clever,

Three great questions!


1. That depends on a couple things.

Do you want to actually see the movie, or are you thinking of it as background while you all talk?

Do you want both boys AND girls to enjoy it?

In general I recommend movies that are fun, not too dependent on paying real close attention to dialog or details (like costume dramas and mystery movies); action movies are a great choice.

Save Jane Austin for girl's only nights.


2. I suggest you discuss Bro Jo's Dating Rules for Teens and the things I've written about kissing.

If you rotate who you date, and understand why we kiss that will go a long way towards helping all of you to fend off the Boyfriend-Girlfriend thing.

You girls need to remember, too, that you're wonderful, beautiful, talented and smart and that those things come because you're daughters of your Heavenly Father; being in a relationship with a boy doesn't make any girl any more of any of those things.


3. Go to all the farewells you can!


- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Overcoming Her Obsession

Dear Bro Jo,

After banging my head around for ages trying to figure this out, I feel compelled to ask for your advice.

I've sent you letters before on more general topics, but I need some personal advice now.

First, my background: I'm nearly 20 and a girl. I grew up semi-active in the Church with inactive parents. I was never very involved in youth activities growing up because of typical youth issues- didn't get along with the people, too cliquey, etc.

For the past two years, I've gone to college where I was one of 3 members.

With all of this, and other factors of course, I haven't really dated. And while I know I'm not yet ready to be in a serious relationship or get married, I'm tired of never having any romance in my life and painfully aware that never having been kissed at age 20 is not normal.

But, I have hope because I'll be transferring to a Church university next year which, if nothing else, will take away most of my excuses for not dating.

Now, my situation:

Last winter, I was home for a month during the holidays. I go to the YSA ward when I'm home, and it's hard to be really comfortable there, but it's better than going to my "home" ward without my parents.

During this past break it was better because I had a couple friends in the ward with me.

Through one of these friends I started to become friends with a guy who had always been the talk of the girls at church when we were Beehives, but that I had never really spoken to before.

I've always had a mild interest in him because he's so gorgeous, but after starting to actually talk to him, I developed a huge crush. I knew nothing could, or would, happen between us, since I was only home for a month, and he was supposed to be starting his mission papers and leaving in May (He's now nearly 20, as well).

In discussing a situation about a friend, we had both expressed that we were of the opinion that steady dating before a mission wasn't a good idea.

But with my full-blown crush on him, I still had hopes that we might go out on a date or he might be my first kiss.

None of that happened, but I was still overly gratified with the flirting that went on between us... and the one night of holding hands (at FHE, none the less) that he initiated.

I realize that I was stupid about the entire situation... my expectations and hopes for what would go on between us were unrealistic and paradoxical, and there was hanging out, so the relationship was never actually defined.

Toward the end of my break, it became clear that he wasn't just in a flirty relationship with me, but with another girl, too. I was upset, but I knew I couldn't fault him.

I mean if we had actually been going out on dates, that's what casual dating would be, right?

We said goodbye when I went back to school assuming it would be for more than two years, since he was going to leave on his mission in May.

This past semester, I have retained this ridiculous crush on him.

We've talked a few times, although I haven't heard anything else about his mission, I don't even think his papers have been turned in. It's June now, and I'll be going back home soon.

And his Facebook status has just changed to "In a Relationship".

As much as I know that I have no reason to be sad or upset, I am.

I was getting excited to see him again, and entertaining romantic fantasies...

I suppose what I'm asking is how do I get over this huge, irrational crush on him?

I mean, he's obviously unavailable, and even if he wasn't seeing anyone, I guess he's still planning on going on a mission so there is obviously not no kind of a future with us.

I need to get over him.

I'm just not sure what I can do to get him out of my head.

Here's hoping you have some advice, and thanks in advance!

- Obsessed




Dear Obsessed,

I'm sad, too.

It sounds like this guy is putting off missionary service because of a girl. I wish he wasn't.

But I am glad that you're not the girl!

The way to "get over" someone is to be social with other people and let time pass.

Put away all the things that remind you of this "relationship" that isn't going to (and shouldn't) happen.

Spend your time focusing on guys that present possible relationships that might actually lead to the Temple.

Going to a Church-centered school, or at least a school where a strong institute program exists, will help.

Be Patient.

And Be Smart.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks.

I know that this is what I need to do, but it helps to hear it.

How do I approach the situation when I go home in a few days, though?

I'd like to be friends with him (at least friendly at Church and stuff), but I'm afraid of being awkward or showing that I like him so much and also still being able to get over that.

- Obsessed




Dear Obsessed,

If you want to be friendly at Church, and you should, then be friendly.

If he figures out you like him, then he figures it out.

If you want to stop obsessing (and I think you should), then focus on other people.

Sorry, but it's really not any more complicated than that.

It may be painful, and it will definitely take time.

Be Patient.

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 20, 2015

Why Teen Guys Don't Date . . . and How to Fix That

Dear Bro Jo,

I haven't read a lot if your stuff but what I have read, I really enjoy!

You are very wise and give the kind of advice I would give. Props for that!

So I just had a question you probably get a lot and you may not know the answer to, but I am going to ask it anyway.

I am 17 and I feel like guys in my town don't date unless they are into the girl/in a relationship. This really bothers me!

Why should you have to be in a relationship when first, the prophet has counseled against it and second, it isn't worth it!

I have been there and it stinks.

I guess the question is why don't guys ask girls on dates more often?

Why does it have to be a school dance or a major event for a guy to ask a girl?

I hope this all made sense and hope to hear back from you.

Thanks!

- M




Dear M,

Sister Jo and I believe that guys don't ask girls on dates because they don't have to.

Outside of our moral standards, it's the same thinking that keeps guys who are having sex with their girlfriends from proposing to them.

Why put forth any effort or show respect when you don't have to?

After all, if you're getting what you want with no commitment and no effort, why bother?

See, their parents and leaders don't teach them the value of Casual Group Dating when they turn 16. (There are lots of reasons why, none of them are valid.)

They fail to understand that it builds good social skills, helps to prepare for missionary service, and teaches skills that will help them find an Eternal Companion when they get older.

And, let's face it, as a group you girls don't require them to date you. It's a sad circle, really.

See, guys get to hang out with girls, hold their hands, kiss them, even say that they're "dating" . . . without actually taking girls on dates.

And in the long run it's the girls who get cheated.

Not just the girls who are being (yes, on some level) used by these boys, but also those girls who don't get asked out because their sisters let them down.

The next question you ask should be "what can I do to fix it?"

I believe that you have several tools.

Bro Jo's HOW to GET LDS GUYS to START DATING

     1. Ask them. Hold their feet to the fire. In a group setting, perhaps even a Sunday School or Seminary Class, ask the boys (as kind and sincere as you can) "if the Prophet of the Church suggests that we not Seriously Single Date until we're old enough to get married, and we're advised to go on Casual Group Dates at this age, how come you righteous priesthood holders aren't setting up more Casual Group Dates and asking us girls out more often?" (I'd love to know what they tell you, by the way.)

     2. Talk to the Young Men Leaders and ask THEM the same question, this way: "How come the young men in our Branch / Ward / Stake aren't setting up Casual Group Dates more often and taking us girls out on dates? How come they're in exclusive relationships? Aren't you teaching them correct principles?"

     3. Talk to your girl friends about all of this. See if you can't, in a loving way, help them to see your point of view. Teach them that dates need not be a relationship, nor should they say that they're "dating" a guy if he never actually takes them on dates. Help them to understand that a date need not be expensive or complicated, and that a first date is not a proposal. Nor is a second or a third.

     4. Keep your attitude positive and friendly. Though you may feel understandably bitter, no one wants to date, or dance with, a sour puss.

     5. Don't hang out, but do put together some Group Activities. No one says that boys and girls can only do things together at EFY or on Mutual nights. Movie parties, game nights . . . as the boys get to know you girls better they'll be more comfortable asking you out.

     6. Read the Dating Rules. Share and discuss them with your parents and peers.

     7. Teach your future sons and daughters the value of Casual Group Dating. It might be the best thing you can do to change the culture.  Sister Jo, much to my amazement (because she's awesome!) dated very little before I came along. I suppose that worked out very well for me . . . and the Jo Kids, but because she shared many of the frustrations that you have now, that's a large part of the reason why this whole "Dear Bro Jo" think even exists.

Cultural Change takes a long time, and it requires effort on BOTH sides of the situation.  Be Patient, but also Take Action.

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 17, 2015

What to Do When the One You Like is Dating Someone Else?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro. Jo!

I am a 20 year old girl at BYU, just trying to figure out my dating life and come out as unscathed as possible.

In January I met a boy who I kinda liked. And as the semester came to a close, we began talking a lot more. I started to like this boy more as I got to know him, and we dated some.

Our first date was like magic, simply because I LOVED being with him.

I felt connected to him in a way I've never before, and I have dated my fair share of boys.

He truly is amazing, so humble and caring and gentlemanly, and compassionate.

I knew he was interested in me, and I wanted to be. But I was afraid and I wasn't ready for a relationship at that time, so I pushed him away.

I didn't allow myself to feel so deeply for him because it really scared me.

Every time I saw him I tried to disconnect how deeply I felt for him, until a few weeks ago. I had a dream about him, and I realized when I woke up that I needed to stop pushing him away because I loved him. I woke up happier than I have been in a long time, smiling from ear to ear. I needed to tell him that I was sorry for pushing him away.

I needed to tell him how I felt, and how very sorry I was. I realized then, when I woke up, how much he means to me.

It had been nearly 3 months since our last date when I had this dream.. I wish so badly I hadn't pushed him away because he really does mean a lot to me, but I have grown a lot as a result of my actions.

We have remained friends, but it's different now than it was before.

I have grown so much since that time, and I feel more ready for a relationship, and he means so much to me.

I want to date him now that I feel like I can be a part of a healthy relationship, but last week, he officially started exclusively dating another girl in the ward. I hadn't told him how I felt. I hadn't told him how sorry I was.

I know he still had feelings for me, but because I wasn't reciprocating I think he moved on.

I wish I had told him, because now I fear it's too late, and the man I love may be falling for someone else. I don't know though if he really loves her/likes her/she likes him/feelings are mutual (you get the idea) because they don't spend much time together; today they didn't sit by each other in Church or at ward prayer or at the stake party on Friday.

I don't see them together hardly at all even when they're both at the same events. I've only seen them together at Church last week where they were holding hands.

It's none of my business though what they do or don't do, it's only what I have observed in the past week,

Bro. Jo, I feel as if I made a mess of this. And I really do love him.

What do I do?

He's dating someone else, not me. But it breaks my heart and I don't know how to tell him.

What would you do?

Many thanks in advance!

-E




Dear E,

Go talk to him.

Now.

Until he proposes to someone he's fair game.

He may have moved on, and if he tells you so, then so can you. But if you don't give it a shot both you and he may regret it.

Sister Jo says take a fresh baked plate of his favorite cookies with you. Good luck!

And let us know how it goes.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro. Jo,

So, I talked to him.

I told him I was so sorry and that he deserves to be treated better.

Interesting enough, he's not dating that girl anymore. I'm pretty sure she broke it off. I don't know details, but I know he is sad about it, so I didn't really tell him how deeply I feel about him besides the apologies.

I know, I need to be more brave, but I just didn't want to tell him how I felt so soon after a break-up. I'm going to take things slow, continue to be his friend, and see where things go.

Do you think that sounds like a good idea,

Or should I just tell him already?

Maybe I'm being a sissy...?

Thanks bro. Jo

- E




Dear E,

Hmmm . . . the boy you think you might be in love with but never said anything is suddenly single . . .

(Ever hear of the Lord's timing???)

Yeah, I think you need to be his friend and be there for him . . . but I wouldn't wait very long!

The next time you see him, and I hope it's today, I think you should tell him that while you're sorry he's hurting you're glad he and that girl aren't dating anymore.

And tell him why.

. . . arm touch . . .wink wink . . . eye flutter eye flutter

Be Kind, but don't Hang Out or get caught in the Friend Zone waiting for him to make a move . . . and then be sad when he ends up asking out someone else.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro. Jo,

You're so right. (Like always, of course :) )

Thank you for the advice, and for helping me gain the courage to tell him how I feel.

I'll keep ya updated !

Thanks,

- E




Dear E,

Please do.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How Does a Near-30 Single Have More Dating Success?

Dear Bro Jo,

So I've read through your blog and there's some good advice here and there, but not enough specifics.

I'll just put it out there, I'm 29 and not to boast in myself but I am attractive as far as looks go, I dress modestly, but not still wear flattering clothes and wear a small amount of makeup (enough to enhance but not overdo it) and perfume.

So I'm able to get guys initial attention at least.

I regularly attend Church events and other places where there are LDS single men and I mingle, talk to and otherwise flirt (so I'm not just sitting in the corner pouting).

I always try to be open and have tried multiple flirting "techniques" that you and other relationship advice people have said and all to no avail.

Despite trying for years I have not gotten anywhere with dating.

Guys have no problems being friends with me and seem to always prefer that, but I cannot get a date at all.

It's been 8 months since a guy has even hinted at a date.

I have never said no to a first date and I'm not unapproachable, so I just don't get it.

What am I doing wrong and how in the world do I get a guy to ask me out?

What more can I do than I am already doing?

How does someone become "dateable"?

And yes I have tried to avoid the whole friend zone thing by avoiding just hanging out.

But honestly that has just turned into me sitting at home alone rather than at least having something social to do when there are no activities or other socials going on.

It's more than a little frustrating for me.

I don't like the idea of asking a guy out (and I see you don't either) and I've tried blind dates and set ups (I have yet to have one go anywhere past an awkward dinner) along with online dating (I did not enjoy it at all and found it to be not so fruitful).

I'm running out of ideas here.

 Please help me out

- Looking for tips




Dear Looking,

You're not alone.

Us Old People often say that we have no idea how a great catch (such as yourself) could still be single in their late 20's and early 30's . . . but it does happen.


We blame the guys saying they're too into themselves, too shy or inexperienced, not motivated (though we can't fathom how or why), or holding out for some fantasy girl who

  A) doesn't really exist,

and

   B) would never date them anyway.


We blame the girls . . . typically saying the same things: she scared guys away when she was "marrying age" (whatever that means) by proclaiming her desire to go on a mission or "focus on her schooling / career / whatever", she's too shy or inexperienced . . . or holding out for some fantasy guy who

   A) doesn't really exist,

or

   B) would never ask her out anyway.


Unlike guys girls do seem to be motivated . . . and don't seem to be as into themselves.

See, when you're an Old Married Person it's as easy to look past the garbage reasons that y'all give for not being married (or not even seriously dating) as it is to forget how hard it was when we were there.
In our efforts to understand, and even to help, we can be a bit insensitive . . . even though we're probably correct.


I get PILES of emails from Women Your Age who feel exactly as you do; great sisters who would make a super spouse and just don't seem to be getting pursued the way they should; and PILES of emails from Great Guys, in the 26-37 range who just can't seem to find a decent woman to date.


I look up some of you on Facebook and I think "wow, he's really handsome; hey, she's really pretty; what the heck is wrong here!" How is it possible that these great LDS Singles are still unmarried??? 


And then I wonder "wouldn't it be easier if all of these people could be in the same Stake Center on the Same Day . . . perhaps a convention of sorts . . . (I'll bet we could fill the Conference Center with no problem) . . . and then some old married people who have no biases and nothing to fear or risk could go around interviewing all of you and then pair you off . . . HA!

I've even had people your age write to me with some seriousness and ask me to set it up . . . though I think y'all'd be much better off with someone several levels of revelation above me doing the pairing!

The truth is, little sister, there's no way I know what you're doing wrong.

I do have some suggestions for you, though. But before I get to those, let me invite you to do a little self-examination; I have a suspicion that deep down you do have, on some level, some ideas of what you need to be doing or not doing.

It seems like we always know . . . but we're not comfortable with the answer.

Information precedes Revelation, and in this situation you have more information than I do.

And you could also get some very valuable information from those around you that know you well and love you enough to tell you the truth.

As undoubtedly great as you are, we're very rarely the best at evaluating ourselves and yet our friends and family always seem to have a very good sense of what we could be doing better or different.

So ask them.

Ask the guys you know.

Don't be whiny.

Be Sincere.

One on one or in a group, ask a couple guys "hey, why aren't guys asking me out?"

The goal isn't to make them feel guilty (although it may be interesting to say to one or two, or more, of them whom you'd like to go out with "how come you've never asked me out?"), but to gather information. I seriously recommend trying that.

Perhaps several times.


The other thing that seems to be lacking in your approach is what I call "the push"; you know them, you're friends, you're looking and smelling good, you're flirting instead of being a wallflower, so do what we in sales call "closing the deal".

I've written about it often.

There's a Facebook note called:


that may be helpful, but the point is that I think that at some point in your Flirty Conversations with these guys you need to say something like "so, this is the part where you ask me out on a date" and then touch his arm, bat your eyes, smile . . . AND SAY NOTHING.

You've got to do something that gets these guys to make the move, and I think you're missing that one little but important step.

But I'm curious what the people who know you will say.

- Bro Jo

PS: There are tons of things on the Column Page and Facebook page that speak to your topic very specifically. Check out the Notes on the Facebook page and try clicking on the Blog tags "Serious Single Dating", "Single Adults", and "Getting a Date".



Dear Readers,

I'm not certain what this original writer decided to do . . . but I noticed the other day, as I was preparing this post to publish, that she is now happily sealed for time and all eternity.

Thought you might like to know that.

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bad Boys VS Good Guys

Dear Bro Jo,

I went out on a date today with a very cute young man.

The date was fun but I found out some things about him that worried me.

He did not go on a mission, has not been to Church for a while, and recently tried alcohol.

Other than that we get along really well and have a lot in common.

I really like him other than the fact that he is sort of a Bad Boy.

I am barely 20 and still young to get married . . .  but I want to get married in the temple.

In his current state he could not take me there.

I am confused whether or not I should be in a relationship with him.

It’s not like I’m going to marry him... I know there’s the saying "you marry who you date".

But that isn’t for every guy right?

I want to date him, but his actions suggest otherwise.

And what if I date him and then miss out on that special someone??

- Conflicted




Dear Conflicted,

This guy is not worth your time.

Not right now, anyway.

First of all, you're wrong: 20 is not too young for a young woman to get married, especially in the Temple.

Maybe you're not ready yet . . . and I submit that's because you're not in the right kind of relationship with the right kind of guy . . . but no, 20 in and of itself is not too young for a young woman to marry.
I see no point in you going out with this guy again.

At all.

Toads DO NOT turn in to Princes just because you kiss them.

If he gets his act together. Goes to Church. Changes his attitude. Becomes Temple Worthy.

Then, IF you're still single, I'd say okay.

But until then he's just a wanna-be rebel hoping he can impress you with his poor choices enough that he can get you to do stuff you ought not do.

And, YES, little sister, it is absolutely true that you marry who you date.

You keep seeing this guy, and the Good Guys will back off.

Be Nice to the guy.

But don't be his best friend or treat him like a project.

As for dating him . . . move on.

Instead of Bad Boys give your time and attention to Good Guys.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much for getting back to me.

I told my best friend what you said and he couldn't agree more.

I know the advice you gave me is right and I’ll be letting the guy know soon that there will be no more dates between us.

I hope I do meet someone who meets my high standards and if I get married at 20 then so be it.

Oh and I also appreciate your advice and your awesome blog!

Take care,

- Conflicted




Dear Conflicted,

Sounds to me like you already have a Good Guy in your life that you should be dating.

You just need to take him out of the Friend Zone.

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 10, 2015

Helping the High School Boyfriend Prepare for a Mission

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a girl who is 16 years of age who is currently dating a guy age of 18 who is preparing to leave on his mission.

I ask him all the time if I ever become a distraction to let me know and I will back off.

He says I have not.

But, he is struggling.

He is behind a lot of credits to graduate...I really want to help him so he can leave!

He put his papers in already and his call should be coming soon.

I have been nothing but encouraging, being very careful not to say "I’ll miss you" any of the sort. I have told him right now he's allowed to go out with other girls and I can go out with other guys. I'm still in high school, so of course I'm going to date other people while he's gone!

I told him I’d wait for him though.

I pray for him every night, and I pray if I should date him when he comes back and I always feel the spirit telling me yes.

I feel it from my head all the way to my toes.

I know I’m young, I understand that. I've faced the reality that it may not work out but I also need to face the reality that it could.

I just want to help him get through school, and there's not much I can do!

His patriarchal blessing says he will serve a full time mission.

Ever since I met him I've become a much stronger member of the Church ever since he came along.

I don't know what else I can do....

Help?!?

- What to Do?




Dear Do,

To do better in school you could try giving him the space and time he needs to do his work.

Cutting down on the texting would help. (You didn't mention that you text, but many kids your age do, and I've found that kids who text or IM or whatever a lot often have no idea how much time their spending with that stuff.)

Other than that, I think the best thing you can do is give him the space he needs to focus on preparing for missionary service.

That means that right now he should be spending more time thinking about the Savior, and less time thinking about you.

One other thing to consider, which may or may not apply to you and your situation . . . but it's worth mentioning: is that the way we know if what we’re hearing and feeling is from the Spirit and not from us is that if it's from us it's only for our benefit, if it's from the Spirit it's for the benefit of others.

Just something to ponder as you seek the guidance the Lord wants to give you.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Difference Between Attraction and Lust

Dear Bro Jo,

I just got back a month ago from my mission to Finland and life is awesome.

I'm averaging about two dates per week and I feel like I should be proactive about starting a family soon. 

As I've started focusing on women again here's one question that has come to mind quite a bit.

It's probably obvious but I tend to be a little irrational occasionally.

How do you tell the difference between lust and harmless admiration when it comes to checking out women?

Especially when they're not wearing as much clothing like sports clothes or swimwear?

My intention isn't to lust after anyone.

Some would say that it just depends on if it leads your mind to inappropriate thoughts but in my experience that pretty much only depends on how horny you are.

Obviously this is more of a spirit of the law thing but I have trouble properly discerning those sometimes.

Also, I've noticed that often even normal, everyday activities like riding the bus or showering can potentially be highly sexually stimulating which makes these things more confusing.

I tend to struggle with guilt issues and I know exactly where such feelings are coming from but it's still hard to power through them, so please help.

Thanks,

Objective Admirer




Dear Objective,

Excellent pseudonym.

That's the question, right?

Where's the line between admiring the attractiveness of a woman and objectifying her?

And it's tough, too, because right now it seems, as you alluded to, that so many women are told that they should dress and act like objects.

Heck, I don't know which is worse; the girls that have no idea that they're presenting themselves as objects or those that know darn well what they're doing but are angry that men see them as such .... but I digress.

We men are by wiring visual creatures.

That's not an excuse, just an acknowledgement of biological fact.

My take is this: it's very normal to be ... "sexually charged" ... especially when one is a young guy with no ... outlet, if you will, for those feelings.

I say that because I don't think you should feel guilty for being turned on.

I think the problem comes when we allow the Natural Man to control our actions.

I've heard it put these two ways:

     - Any man can look, a gentleman only looks once

     - I can go to the museum and admire a work of art, but that doesn't mean I take it off the wall and take it home

Temptations don't necessarily go away just because one becomes older or married, either.

And even if one is not attracted to a particular girl, in today's world a man needs to be very careful about appearances and the potential for unjustified accusations. (That's why I never meet with students behind closed doors, by the way. A man has to be careful about what someone might claim happened, because no matter how good a guy we may be, to be above reproach we need to never be in a position where our actions or intentions can be questioned.)

I think the typical things work pretty well: sing a hymn, take a shower, go for a run ...

Sister Jo, mother of five boys, says these feelings of attraction are good things; they're supposed to motivate us to marry.

Not that one should get married because one wants to have sex, but this .... motivation ... to start a family . . .  is a good thing.

(Sister Jo is very candid about her belief that one thing keeping LDS Men from getting married when the Lord would have them do so is that they are . . . watching porn and "having sex by themselves" . . . rather than righteously seeking an eternal companion with whom they can enjoy sex in the way that Heavenly Father recommends.)

The last thing to say, I think, is don't feel guilty about dreams and other things that happen while you're asleep. I hope that helps.

If you want to talk more or need some clarification, just let me know.

Best,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

The art museum analogy is really helpful.

But what do you mean by "A gentleman only looks once"?

It seems like there's a big difference between looking the art piece twice and taking it home. 

- Objective




Dear Objective,

What it means is that we're all human, and something can catch one's eye, but a gentleman realizes that to continue to stare, or to look over and over at a scantily clad woman is to objectify her.

Even if she doesn't care or isn't aware.

And yes, there's a big difference between admiring the art and coveting it.

You just keep dating RM, and it will all work out.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks

- Objective




Dear Objective ,

Anytime.

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 6, 2015

Relationships and Addictions

Dear Bro Jo,

I am writing you because in the past I have read your blog and you seem to have trusted advice.

I am nineteen and I recently started dating this young man.

He has been home from his mission for about a year now and he is twenty three.

I do not believe that our meeting or relationship is any way by chance and I know that the Lord had his hand in directing me to meet my boyfriend.

He is an amazing young man who is always trying to be his best.

He is constantly serving others, bearing his testimony, and fulfilling his callings.

Unfortunately, I know that he has a past and things that could haunt us in the future.

Before his mission, he was not on the best path.

I know that he was naked with a girl and had a pornography addiction which is why he did not go on a mission at 19 but rather 20.

He went through the repentance process then was clean for a year then for the duration of his two year mission.

When he came home from his mission he then fell into a state of depression, turned to pornography once more, which then just fueled a cycle of depression and addiction.

Three months before we met he realized the road he was on and went to see the Bishop to repent.

The Bishop though shattered his hope in a lot by being harsh and critical and, I am sure, misunderstood.

This only furthered the depression so instead my boyfriend began to see a psychologist which helped.
It was about two months before he fully was committed to changing and repenting.

It has been four months now and he is still working at it.

The mistakes have been much less frequent now and he is determined to overcome this.

He has been completely honest with me and continues to be.

He is also very rational about the fact that addiction is never something that really goes away completely.

I have faith in the atonement, as I have experienced it in my own life.

I also had an addiction (not to porn) that I have conquered, but still battle.

I know that he can overcome this and that he has the desire and faith to do so.

Previously, I dated a guy who struggled with his testimony, went on a mission but came home, and had similar but more severe issues.

I continued to give him second chances until the Lord steered me away from him and gave me peace enough to let go. I do not want to repeat the past with my current boyfriend.

I have prayed and felt peace about being in the relationship that I am in now.

I love my boyfriend and I want to help him get through this.

I would like an outsiders opinion on whether I seem to be just repeating the past.

I would also like to know if I should continue to date him, be seeing other people or should walk away entirely.

I would also like to know if it is stupid to marry someone with an addiction even if it is dormant (which seems rather hypocritical because I know that I had/have one too).

How long of being incident free is enough to enter into marriage?

In addition, is there any advice that you can give me on how to help him?

Also, my boyfriend suggested that it may be helpful if I talk to my parents about all this.

I would like to and think I will but I am not exactly sure how to approach them on the subject. 

Sincerely (and thanks in advance),

- Trying to be Realistic




Dear Trying,

I agree that addiction never totally goes away.  However, and this is Very Important, there's a HUGE difference between being, say, A Recovering Alcoholic and BEING An Alcoholic . . . and that difference is both in Attitude and the Atonement.

The very general rule about time in the past is 1 year, but more importantly is that Repentance has happened.

Remember, the final stage of repentance is to "turn away from the sin".

If that has happened, I think it's fine to date and even marry him.

If it hasn't, then I think you need to be out of this relationship.

While he is making progress, he clearly isn't out of the woods yet, and I'm concerned about things like blaming his Bishop and leaning on you to help him recover.  There's an element there that indicates that he's not taking the responsibility he needs to take.

Depression is often a trigger for addictions, and very real, but part of recovery is learning that one does not have to give in to the trigger.

Even the happiest of people get depressed every now and then.

Before this relationship continues you need to know that the addiction is over for good. And he needs to know that, too.

I think that he needs is to learn more positive ways to deal with the challenges and trials that come into our lives.

Can you help him with that?

Perhaps.

It's possible that you can help him see the triggers, and learn how to overcome his addiction.

If he's "clean and sober", then I say stick it out.

If he's not, then I say part ways, love him as a fellow disciple of Christ, and tell him that, should you still be single once he's fixed what he needs to that you'd love to pick up where you've left off in this relationship.

Look, no one is perfect, and any successful marriage is going to have to accept that each person has flaws.

But the problem with addiction is that it places your needs below that of the addict; they choose the behavior . . . the substance . . . over you.

That's why it's so destructive.

If he can't choose you over pornography, then he's not ready and you should move on.

His suggestion may be wise:  talk to your parents.

No need to make it dramatic or weird.

Simply ask their help with how to deal with a situation.

But I must say I'm a bit surprised that he'd make such a suggestion. It seems odd to me.

Like I said, we all have flaws; Sister Jo certainly knows mine, but I'd hate for her to share them with her parents. Heck, I'm sure they know more of my flaws than I'd like them to, but that doesn't mean I want her telling them the others.

Before talking to your parents, it might be good to ask him why he wants you to spill his problems to them.

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 3, 2015

How Not to Screw Up Prom (and Other Good Dating Advice)

Dear Bro. Jo,

Thanks so much for your blog posts, especially the one about writing missionaries.

It was really helpful!

I'm writing because I need some advice, on well, how not to screw up prom.

Here's a little back story. I got asked to prom by a really nice guy who wanted to ask me specifically and who I've gone on a couple dates with, not exclusively.

I'm writing because I want prom to go well and I want him to have a good time with lots of fun.

Most times when I am in a "guy girl situation" where I have to focus on specifically one guy, I get pretty nervous at the beginning and don't know what to say, but then warm up.

Do you have any tips on what LDS girls can do to make prom "good"?

Sorry for the kind of weird question, but its making me nervous. 

Thanks so much for all you help,

- Nervously Optimistic




Dear Optimistic,

I'm glad the Missionary Writing Advice was helpful!

Since this is a guy you're familiar with, and have even been on dates with in the past, that's a great start.

I think the key is to not put too much pressure on yourself and not put too much pressure on him.

I'm sure he asked you because he thinks you're a great person that would be fun to take to the dance, so the hard part is already over!

No need to convince him of what he already knows.

Being a good date is about helping the other person to be relaxed and have fun; as Sister Jo always says, asking a person questions about themselves not only helps you to get to know them better, it helps them feel important and special, AND it takes pressure off of you when it comes to worrying about what to do and say.

Don't interrogate your dates, but help them to feel comfortable by conversationally asking them how things are going in school, with activities they're involved in, and ask their opinions on stuff.

Good conversation is to listen to their answers and ask follow up questions.

Don't just ask "how is baseball going?", but follow up with "what position are you playing?", "how was your last game?", "is it weird that your dad is one of the coaches?"; stuff like that.

Remember, particularly at your age, dating can be great Missionary Preparation because it puts you in potentially awkward situations where your goals are to talk to people, get to know them better, and connect with them in some way.

Look for things that you and the person you're talking to have in common so that you can both add to the conversation.

Avoid topics that are too deep or too sensitive until you know them better.

You don't ask a first date, or an investigator you just tracted into, about deep personal stuff unless the Spirit prompts you to do so, unless the conversation leads there.

And hopefully your Prom date is taking escorting you as part of a Fun Group; Casual Group Dating (even if it's to a "formal" occasion) can reduce the pressure of having to do all of the talking and remove any other pressure that's not supposed to be part of dating at your age.


If it helps to have a list, here's:


Bro Jo's THINGS YOU CAN DO on a DATE to MAKE SURE IT'S FUN 

1. Be Clean. In mind and in body. Do your best to look your best, and keep the evening (and conversation) appropriate.

2. Be Relaxed. Breathe. Realize that this is "just a date", and don't put too much pressure on either of you. Keep expectations realistic.

3. Be Yourself. We can tense up when we pretend to be someone else; and, after all, he asked you because he wants to go with YOU, not someone you pretend to be. Be the BEST YOU, you can be: look your best, smell your best, be your happiest, but don't be fake.

4. Be Appreciative Everyone, especially guys, likes to be thanked and acknowledged for the things they do for others. It makes us feel good and makes us want to keep doing things for people. Don't gush, just be sincere. Over-thanking can be annoying, so don't go on and on, don't repeat thank you's you've already given, and save the "thanks, I had a god time" compliment (if it's true) for the end. If he opens the door (he'd better! and she should let him), then say thank you; every time. If she compliments you, be gracious.

5. Be Positive. Even if you've had a rough day. No one likes to hang out with someone who's a downer all the time. Find a way to put a positive spin on things, Polyanna! Smile!

Have Fun!

I'm sure it will be a night to remember.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks so much for the advice, and the list was a nice way to put it.

I'll let you know how it goes, and thanks for the well wishes.

Also thanks for using the optimistic part of my signature, it'll help me be more so. 

hanks again,

- Optimistic





Dear Optimistic,

Any time!

Hope you have a great time at Prom.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Does He Owe Her a Date?

Dear Bro Jo,

To recap:  I'm a sailor learning how to do my job for (employer withheld).

I met a seemingly perfect guy (RM, smart, handsome, funny, also works at the same place), we text a lot and he asks me out.

Anyway so I agree to go out with him.

He cancels last minute citing the fact that is something work related.

I figure whatever sounds reasonable and we reschedule for the next weekend.

Lo and behold the next weekend he cancels again this time saying family problems again I figure reasonable.

Then he never texts me back for like 2 weeks.

And I find out through the rumor mill that he's gone out with the only other Mormon girl at work twice since he canceled on me.

I confirmed my facts from her.

I just wanted to know what you think about that. Is it fair to ask me out cancel twice then go out with another girl without even another word?

Or am I just overreacting?

It's not like we were a thing but he asked me out and so he owed me a date.

It seemed really rude to me.

It doesn't matter about this particular guy anymore because he's been transferred and the odds of me running into him again are slim to none.

Plus I found out he's not so perfect after all.

In 3 months here he's gone to church 4 times.  Not good.

But I'd just like to know for the future.

Thanks,

Not so lovesick




Dear Not So,

I think he found out that he liked dating the other girl and he wasn't prepared to throw that away on an unknown (you).

I understand his thinking, and I don't really have a problem with what he did.

I think it would have been worse for him to just go out with you because he felt obligated when he really had no intention of pursuing anything with you.

Dating you under that circumstance would have been much worse than cancelling.

Are you within your rights to be upset or bummed out that the dates with you as planned didn't work out?

Sure.

For a little bit.

But then you need to move on.

I don't agree that he "owed" you a date.

He asked you out.

It didn't work out, for whatever reason, and he cancelled.

End of story.

I don't see that he owed you anything.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Makes sense.

Thanks.

This actually will help me move on.

I think my problem is that I get a little too intense when it comes to this kind of thing.

I need to learn to be more chill at least at first.

After all I am only 18, I don't even know if I'm ready for serious single dating yet anyway.

Thanks again!




Dear Not So,

No problem.

I think you're ready for Serious Single Dating, but, as you said, you need to relax a little.

The first few dates are just getting to know each other.

No big deal.

No pressure.

That "intensity" (and dare I say, attitude of entitlement) could turn out to be a big turn off for a lot of guys.  Be Aware.

- Bro Jo