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.

Please like our Facebook page, and check it often for Discussions, Notes, Events and just General Good Stuff!

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

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Upcoming Series: Scared and Alone

Dear Readers,

Starting tomorrow, Monday, June 1st, I'm going to run a 15-part series.  It will publish every Monday through the summer.

The series is a collection of emails and conversations between myself and "Scared and Alone".  She was a Young Woman struggling to find the Spirit and Regain her testimony.  In addition to your questions, please be sensitive and uplifting in your comments.

We all struggle.

We all have questions.

That's not a bad thing.

What we need to do is to never let go of the good things that we know to be true.

I hope this series strengthens your testimony as it has mine.

All the best,

- Bro Jo

Monday, May 25, 2015

How Can a Girl Get Guy Friends? (And should she?)

Dear Bro. Jo,

Hello, I love your advice!

I am a 16-year-old active LDS girl. I am also a varsity cheerleader and AP student.

Now, your natural stereotype would be that I would get guys easily.

Sadly, no. I turned sixteen a few months ago and have yet to have a date.

I am smarter than the A-typical cheerleader, and I take hard classes. I wonder sometimes if that's one reason. Guys don't tend to like smart girls.

However, in looks, I feel I am perfectly equivalent to the majority of the cheerleaders and I am simply very confused why I am universally not appreciated by guys.

Granted, I have yet to try your advice on how to get a guy to ask you out, because I am slightly shy.

Not completely.

I talk to most people very willingly.

I went to a more private-like school in my youth, and was basically very exposed when I went to high school.

I have never had any "guy friends"; in fact, I still don't.

So, question: How do I get guy friends?

How then do I get these guys to ask me out?

Thank you,

- June Bug




Dear June,

Hello!

I'm not sure what you mean by "get guys" . . . (sigh) but I think you need to stop looking to their attraction (or lack thereof) to you as a sign of your value or appreciation.

You're shy.

They're shy.

Everyone's shy . . .

Your goal here, IMHO, should not be to "get guy friends", but to learn how to talk to guys.

Those are very different things.

The first one leads to guys telling you about all of their other girl interests and ignoring you, their "pal".

The second is a valuable communication skill that will help you in school, mission (if that's for you), marriage, and life in general.

See, if you focus on talking to guys, asking them about them, and (this is the big one) LISTENING, then you're on the right path.

Friends hang out. You don't want to do that.

Potential Dates are nice and require effort. That you want.

If you're not sure where to start, throw a video party or game night. Invite tons of Guys AND Girls. 

Check out Bro Jo's LIST of FLIRTING DO'S and DON'TS for ALL AGES found in this post: 

FLIRTING

And then, when you're ready and if it's needed, put those "How a Girl Can Get a Guy to Ask Her on a Date" tips to work.

Oh, and one more thing: if you go all through High School and end up going on few, or even zero, dates, please understand that happens to lots of girls who are pretty and smart and talented and fun.

It happens because boys are scared and dumb and, more importantly, not well trained by parents and leaders.

And, if it's any consolation, Sister Jo didn't date much in High School, either . . . which as we all know worked out pretty well for me!

- Bro Jo

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why Do Guys Give Mixed Signals?

Dear Bro Jo,

I’ll try to make this to the point. I have a couple of questions for you.


First, I heard someone say once that guys do exactly what they feel and they don’t give mixed messages, they either like you or they don’t.

This guy at Church has been paying a lot of attention to me lately, talking to me every time he sees me at church, gives me hugs, says we should get together sometime, playfully teases me, tells me I look nice, and even asked me to come sit with just him in sacrament meeting.

But he’s never asked me for my number or made actual plans for us to do something.

He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, so I know he’s not being insincere, but what gives?

He’s not shy or anything, so why would he act like he likes me, then not do anything about it? 


Second question:  someone told me once that the reason I don’t have a boyfriend is because I’m so shy, so do you think being shy or awkward is a turnoff once a guy gets to know me a little better?

I was hoping my awkwardness was endearing but maybe it’s just awkward haha.

So if a guy is super outgoing and confident, would my quietness/shyness be a major turnoff? 

Thanks!!

- LC

p.s.- We're both YSA and he's an RM (and rumored that he's looking for a girlfriend)




Dear LC,

I think guys can absolutely give mixed messages.

Now it may be for a different reason than girls, though.

Some guys are manipulative, but for a lot of them, if the signals aren't clear it's because they're confused.

I bet the latter is the case in this situation . . . it sounds to me like this guy doesn't know what to do. 


Another thing that happens a lot with guys your age is that they're afraid.

They're afraid to ask girls out because those first few dates should just be "get to know you" dates, and our culture wants to make them out to be more than that.

What if you get too excited he asks you out?

What if he messes things up?

What if he likes you but isn't ready to be a Boyfriend yet?


Get it?


So the solution often is for you (as the girl) to take the pressure off and give him a signal back.


First the signal.

Put him on the spot a little. Say to him "So how come you've never asked for my number or asked me out on a date?"

If he takes the bait (and if he doesn't, you'll need to move on), then you make sure that you don't put to much weight or emphasis on those first few dates.

Date with a purpose, but keep those first YSA dates casual.

And I wouldn't say that being shy is by itself necessarily a turn off.

Some of us would rather stay home with our spouses than go out to parties with lots of people.

But I do think that one's dating possibilities, and thereby relationships, is curtailed when one avoids getting to know new people.

We date whom we're comfortable with, so if guys are going to ask you out they'll need to feel comfortable around you.

Nothing achieves that better than talking to them, or rather, getting them to talk to you about themselves.

Happy Dating!

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo

Thanks for your great response!

I think you're right, that he's confused.

I've talked to him a couple more times (I didn't ask him when he was going to ask me out) and I have come to the conclusion that at first I think I intrigued him, but as time went on, his interest has faded.

Makes me sad because he was SO perfect and I kind of ruined it, but always next time, right?

Thanks again!!

- LC




Dear LC,

I wouldn't say that you've ruined anything.

You may be giving up too easily or too early . . .

His loss.

- Bro Jo

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Off to BYU

Dear Bro Jo,

I originally wrote this as a comment on your February 13th post, When All The Girls Around You Seem To Be Waiting.

However, it exceeded the character limit by a just a smidge:) So here's the 'ole copy/paste:

I don't know about JA, but I think that opening line for dates is perfect!

I intend to go to BYU in the fall, and frankly I'm feeling a bit uneasy about the dating scene, myself. 

Some of this comment is for JA, some for Bro Jo, some for both.

I am BEYOND excited at the idea of there being a sea of genuinely Good Guys to date.

However, I am 18!

And as we all know, there are a lot of anxious-to-be-wed RMs.

In fact, with the announcement, that'll be most guys. I don't want to get married for another couple of years, at LEAST.

And on top of that, yes, I do have someone I hope to be able to consider when he returns from his mission.

As long as I'm still open to dating other guys, even getting into a relationship with someone if I so choose, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Do you?

I could go into details about why I really want to keep the heavy stuff (talk of marriage, engagement, etc) off the table next year, but it is enough to say that the missionary is only a small part of it.

Also, from what I've seen with other people, I think a lot of girls just use the missionary as a scapegoat/excuse when they're just not interested.

Look at all the e-mails Bro Jo gets from the Dear Johned and the Dear Johners.

There is one pattern: if she's honestly likes you, she will keep going out with you, despite whatever missionary she has.

This is one of those harsh truths, but it is a truth nonetheless.

Only a small percentage of the girls with missionaries are actually so blinded by their "love" for "their guy" that they can't consider other people, but there IS a reason she chose to wait.

Obviously, she really cares about him. Respect that, don't push it too hard, and I guarantee things will go much better, because moving too fast will definitely establish you as "the bad guy", with most girls.

I speak from the experiences of both myself and several MG friends.

When I've dated guys since My Missionary (pardon the phrase, Bro Jo, I know you hate it) left, I've always been open from the start, and I'll say something like "Hey, there's something you should know.

There is someone I really care about, who is very far away.

So if I ever seem like things aren't going as well as you'd like, it's not that I dislike you. " I say that rather than telling the whole story because it's short and simple, and also because it's easier to understand than the whole standards thing (there aren't any member guys of dating age for hours in any direction).

They always say "Yeah, that's fine. No problem", and I think everything is fine. Then on literally the second date, they're trying to kiss me and ask to get in a relationship, and when I turn away and say no, they get really angry, even though I asked them not to move quickly at all. It hurts that they would disrespect my feelings and comfort zone so much.

By pursuing so hard, so fast, it feels like they thought the feelings I have for my missionary didn't matter or weren't even real.

And that, my friend, eliminated any chance they had of going on another date with me.


Summary advice to JA: If she's an MG, take it slow, and you just might have a good shot.

Seriously dating an MG takes patience.

That patience shows her that you respect and recognize her feelings for the missionary, and it honestly makes her like you more.

When an MG goes on a lot of dates with a Legitimately Nice Guy, she often feels guilty and confused when she starts liking him. Taking it slow lessens that uneasiness, or even eliminates it (which is how you win her over).

If you rush it, of COURSE she'll emotionally go back to solely the missionary.

Savvy?



Here's where you really come in, Bro Jo:

It's been a long time since I lived somewhere with date-able guys (date-able = mentally/emotionally stable, good standards, able to speak a language I understand, age 16-23), so I'm really at the "I just want to get to know people, have fun, learn, grow, prepare for when I DO want to start looking for an EC, and all that jazz" stage. BYU will be great because everyone will understand standards and things, but I am legitimately worried that it will be the same thing all over again, but worse because it's on a bigger scale (going from high school guys looking for relationships, to RMs looking for an eternal companion?!?).

My question is:

What's the best way for me to get that across to a guy, especially an RM, without giving the impression JA and others seem to have of all MGs?

Also, like Cheese (many of my favorite posts on your blog are her stuff), I've already been getting creepy proposal-like things.

How do I best avoid those without stomping on people's hearts?

Is there any way to tell when those things are coming?

Do all guys start when-you-get-married q/a conversations with the ulterior motive of proposing in the near future?

Any other essential BYU dating advice?

I can handle normal plain old just-for-fun dates.

Those are cake, and I enjoy cake. But the "MUST HAVE RELATIONSHIP OR MARRIAGE ASAP" guys are plain intimidating, and I seem to encounter more and more of them as I get older.

And I'm not even old yet!

Though older girl friends who tell me dating horror stories don't exactly reassure me either, haha. 

Past Solely Group Dating, But Don't Want Anybody To "Put A Ring On It" For A Good While (or as you're coming to know me by my regrettable plethora of letters),

- Melody

P.S. Sorry for the novella.




Dear Melody,

No, I don't think there's anything wrong with you being open to dating whomever asks, but willing to date a guy you already know when he comes home should you still be single and each of you still interested . . . that's what I've been suggesting for years!

I think your comments about girls "waiting" often using that as an excuse or a crutch and that going away if she meets a guy she likes is absolutely spot on; I appreciate your candor and honesty.

I think the key to dating at the Y (or any college or institute, frankly) is a lot like attending sacrament meeting or a conference: you get out of it what you put into it; your attitude will have an awful lot to do with your experience.

My general advice is, like going on a mission, Be the Best You You Can Be.

Be Happy.

Be Positive.

Be of Good Service.

Don't make too much out of a First Date.

Or a Second.

Or a Third . . .

And Be Open to meeting new people. 

Don't worry about what might or might not happen or when.

Anyone, guy or girl, who's more focused on commitment instead of getting to know someone better is missing the point.

You'll meet some of them (it sounds like you perhaps already have), and that's okay; it's all part of the experience.

Heck, it happened to Marjorie Pay! It can happen to you!

Laugh it off and move on.

Happy days,

- Bro Jo

Friday, May 15, 2015

Telling Her You Like Her - Part 2 of 2

Dear Bro Jo,

I have one more follow up question: Is it best to tell her I like her in person, on phone, through email, or through text?

And if she does than should we have a discussion were we explain where we think our relationship is hung and where it should go?

Thanks again,

- Y




Dear Y,

 It's BEST NOT TO tell her you like her. (Didn't I say that???)

The DTR talk is something you should have when a relationship Actually Has The Potential to go somewhere, and with you going on a mission in a year (you'd better) then the "relationship" can't go anywhere, so there's no point.

Look . . . I get it.

You're smitten and you think that it will unburden you in some way to tell her. You think you'll feel better, and you hope that she'll say she likes you too . . . perhaps there will be some kissing . . . blah blah blah.

The thing is, you're "dying" to know . . . it's "all you can think about". It's clouding your judgement and occupying Way Too Much of your time.

It's a mistake, I think, but if you must tell her how you feel, at least be man enough to do it in person. 

Imagine. "I really like you, but not enough to have the courage to tell you to your face." 

Phone?

Email?

How impersonal!

And shame on you for even suggesting that you tell her via text.

Why not write a note confessing your undying love with a box that says "check here if you like me too" and send it with one of your 8-year old class mates?

You know, I asked Sister Jo about this, and we never had a "Determine the Relationship" talk.

We simply spent all of our time together.

The fact that we liked each other was evident in the kissing, and the fact that we were a couple was clear in all the hand holding and time spent.

She said "if you'd felt the need to ask if we were in an exclusive relationship, I'd have pitched you for being an idiot".

Good luck,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I must have misread the email, cause I thought you said do tell her so that definitely clears things up:)
Thank you for that information, when the time comes (after my mission; I am going there is no question in my mind) I will know how to proceed.

I figured I knew the answer of what way to ask but I wasn't sure what you recommended.

Thanks for all your help.

Oh and um I never intended to tell her with the intention of starting a relationship but to tell her I can't because I'm going on a mission and hopefully leave her less confused and not hurt.

Am I wrong in thinking there needs to be some sort of communication about why not so that there aren't assumptions?

If you have any recommended plan of procedures it would definitely help:) again I'm sorry for the nagging and the confusion (emails do not convey tone at all) and I'm thankful for your time and help.

- Y




Dear Y,

Not nagging at all.

Communication is always good.

But what leads you to think that you need to have the conversation then, if not to find out how she feels?

Don't get me wrong, I agree that if the subject has been broached either directly or by actions, then a conversation needs to be had.

However, if the subject is not out there, then having the talk is a little like announcing what you're going to speak about at the beginning of your speech; it's superfluous and unnecessary.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Alright cool!

Thanks for your help.

I shall email you if I have more questions.

You've been a big help and helped sort out what to do.

Thank you,

- Y




Dear Y,

Anytime.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Telling Her You Like Her - Part 1 of 2

Dear Bro Jo,

 I just started reading your blog today as you were suggested by a cousin of mine.

I am happy that you give frank answers and not straight reference answers as that's what I need.

So I have a couple of questions:

1. Is going to the temple with just a girl , no one else, a date (both if you are interested in them or not) and is it wise?



This one might be lengthier. I am 17 (18 in a month) just graduated out of high school and will be attending the Y in the fall.

In the last two weeks of high school I started spending more time with this girl (shes 18) I had met earlier in the year. (life is full of irony, I wait two years of high school to find a girl that actually maybe likes me and it happens in the last two weeks)

We've been texting and emailing a lot (I'm currently out of the country and only have WiFi) and been on one maybe two (depending on your answer to number 1) dates.

I believe that we both like each other by the way she acts and talks, things like I miss you at the end of emails( but I may be reading too much into it). so I guess this is going to be a couple of questions:

2A)  Is the best way to find out if she likes me to just ask?

I think assumptions lead to trouble, tell me if I'm wrong.


2B)  Both of us are planning on going on missions, but is it too late/early to be starting a relationship?

(I do not plan to ask her to wait while I'm on my mission as I see it as cruel to deprive her of a social life)


3:  Continuing from 2B is there such a thing as a non-exclusive relationship where both are dating the same person quite frequently but sprinkling other people in as well, and if there is such a thing, is it wise in my situation?


4:  My parents do not go on dates with each other and rarely show anything that suggests they love each other, my dad tries (though he was in a motorcycle accident 14 years ago and has a brain injury which means my mom is dominant) but he tends to normally just try in gifts kind of a thing, is there anyway that I can help my parents besides praying for them?


5:  Did the rules of dating change because I left high school or for young men is it the same rules till after your mission?


Sorry that turned out to be a lot more questions than I thought.

I'm kind of at a point that I feel like my parents are against me dating much (for a lot of high school I felt like I could only date people my mom knew because then she'd approve) and I feel very controlled.

I want to choose the best choice here but also have fun, the Lord is counting on me to go on a mission, and I don't want to put myself in a position that will in the future lead me into a spiritually dangerous situation.

Thank you for your help.

I'm sorry if I rambled and I totally left untied pieces.


I may be totally making things way harder than they are but I just felt like I needed to talk to someone.


- Y




Dear Y,

Welcome, and thanks for reading "Dear Bro Jo".

1. Yes, it's a date. And no, it's not a good idea to take a date to the Temple unless it's your wife. 

2A). It's a good way. A better way is to tell her you like her and pray she responds. As great as she may be, now is not the right time for a girlfriend, mi amigo, so I don't think you should sweat it right now. If you want my opinion, and I'm guessing you do, yeah bud, I think she likes you.

2B). No, I don't think you should ask. Girlfriends are best saved for post mission. See above.

3. Yes, it's called "Casual Group Dating". You can stick to the Rules but still date one girl more than the others. I happen to think that's okay.

Hey, I'm old, but I'm not an idiot. I get that Guys and Girls tend to pair off. I understand it, and I understand why. (Not only am I a guy who still remembers what it's like to be a teen, but I've got a house full of teens, too.)

It's just not a good idea.

4. I think kids should stay out of their parent's love lives. He loves her. She knows. If you want to do something cool for them, get together with your siblings and give them a night out. Buy them some movie tickets and a gift certificate to dinner. If there's a lot of you who can chip in and grandma can come stay for the night or weekend, spring for a hotel room.

5. Same rules until you come home, my brother. Casual Group Dating is all you should do. Stick to that plan, and you'll be grateful you did. Keep dating. Once a month minimum is my recommendation.

Then, when you come back Elder, once a week.

Minimum.

You didn't ramble, and I like the numbers.

Very organized.

Good to talk to you.

Send an email whenever you feel like it.

And tell your cousin "thanks" for me. 

Best,

- Bro Jo

Friday, May 8, 2015

Can Anybody Really Make Eternal Marriage Work with Anyone?

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for being a blessing and serving others with your straightforward and sound advice.

I wish I’d found your resources in my teenage years.

I have recommended your website and book to many teenagers and adults I know though, so hopefully they can also benefit.

Anyway, the question I have for you may sound kind of crazy, but it’s something I’ve been wondering for a long while. I have followed the church’s council and actively single and group dated in the three years I’ve been out of high school.

A LOT.

And truly, all of these experiences have been for my benefit and education (according to my Optimistic side).

At my YSA Stake Conference a few months ago, the stake president gave an emotional (on his part) talk about how concerned he is of the YSA being single and the low rates of marriage worldwide.

Obviously I can’t recite the entire talk to you, but he literally said “Please Brothers and Sisters, stop being so picky.

Open your eyes to the possibilities and realize that marriage is the best thing in the entire world.”

I don’t doubt what he said, and trust me, I’d love to fall in love, but he made it sound like any two strangers could fall in love.

Do you believe this is true?

I’ve heard other conflicting advice about this, and I've beaten myself up emotionally about it many times.

I've had opportunities to get married, but never felt my feelings or devotion went deep enough to see those relationships going the distance.

In fact, because I knew my last boyfriend loved me so much, I drug the relationship out way too long while I tried to force myself to fall equally in love with him.

You can imagine how that ended.

In your book you talk about how older people find it much easier to enjoy the companionship of another and get married without much pickiness in their second marriages; but on the other hand you said if a person has to ask whether they're in love, they're probably not.

I've heard instances of arranged marriages working out well and I go back to Nephi and his brothers taking Ishmael's daughters to wife.

They certainly didn't have the option to be picky!

I don't mean to discredit personal revelation by any means, and I do feel all these relationships ended because I was listening to the spirit and my heart. I also understand that marriage is much more about me becoming the right person than finding "the one".

Sometimes I get sick over it though, because if anyone's been trying,

I've been trying.

So why, in so many instances, am I finding myself disappointed and being the one who has to say goodbye?

People who truly are in love truly are in love, there is no denying it. I believe in it, I just don't understand it.

So where do you find it?

Sincerely,

- Break-up Pro




Dear Friend,

No. I don't believe any two strangers could meet and fall in love. That's ridiculous.

But I suspect that's not what he was saying.

It IS true though that any man and woman that are selfless and love God and willing to serve each other can be Great Eternal Companions.

The reason, dear sister, is because marriage is not about Love.

(I'll pause should you want to read that again and digest it.)

It's about Trust and Sacrifice and Communication.

Perhaps you're still single because you haven't dated a Good Guy yet.

Or perhaps it's possible that you just haven't reached a point in your life where you've met someone whose happiness you’re willing to put ahead of your own . . .

That, dear sister, is True Love.

And often you don't find it; it finds you.

Meaning that when we search too hard, stress out too much, instead of just letting things happen, opportunities are missed.  Even driven away.  People want to be loved because of whom they are, not just because someone is desperate for companionship.

So don't stress out.

Relax.

Keep dating.

And if you feel the need to focus on something, focus on being the type of person who someone would be lucky to marry instead of whether or not every guy is "the" guy".  (Which is a myth, by the way.  No such thing as only one person out there for each of us.)

And, of course, as Sister Jo says: let yourself be often found in the service of others. When we are of service we relax and become humble and grateful and open to possibilities.

Remember: if none of the guys around you are smart enough to recognize what a great catch you are, that's not your fault.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Is It Over?

Dear Bro Jo,

I have been in a relationship with a wonderful guy for about a month now. He is so funny, kind, chivalrous, and he gets along with my family!

He's a really great person, one of the best men I've ever had in my life. In only month, I feel so close to him.

 The past couple weeks however, it feels like we're pulling apart just a little bit.

There are more awkward silences, it feels slightly odd to hold his hand or look him in the eyes.

I'm not sure what's going on.

I want to ask him how he feels about us, if anything has changed, but I'm scared something's wrong. 

I'm not ready for the relationship to be over right now, if ever!

I still want to be with him and I know there is so much more that could come out of this relationship.

What should I do?

Thanks!

- Hopeful




Dear Hopeful,

You have to talk to him.

If it is over, waiting certainly won't make it better or easier.

It may be that nothing is wrong.

This might just be a mood he gets in.

You'll need to decide if you can live with that or not.

And it could be that something is wrong and he just doesn't want to tell you.

At only one month, that's very understandable.

When you've been in a relationship for several months and the person you're seriously considering marrying starts keeping new secrets from you, more than just being a private person, then (if this bothers you) it's time to move on.

As I said, talk to him.

Don't back him in to a corner.

Simply and lovingly state your observation and concern.

It's better to know than to not.

- Bro Jo

Monday, May 4, 2015

Why NOT To Wait

Dear Bro Jo,

So my story starts off 3 years ago.

I moved to a new ward my senior year of high school and I was one of two seniors, the other was a young man. I got a strong feeling that I needed to get to know him and we went on a few dates before we established ourselves as a couple (I know, I know...shame on me).

We dated for about 6 months before he headed off to BYU and I went to a university in our home state. We remained great friends while apart, calling and Skyping daily.

Things picked back up when he came home for the summer before we left on his mission that August.

He told me that I should date while he was gone (which I agreed with) but said that if I was single when he got home, he would want to date me again.

Fast forward almost two years and I'm single with a month before he gets home.

I dated plenty while he was gone but still wrote him.

I was always friendly in letters and made sure to not come off as flirty.

This past week, I got an email from him asking me if I knew he was going to date other girls when he got home. (He's going back to BYU and I'm moving to Orem to attend UVU, FYI).

I did not know this but it wasn't something I had brought up in letters or planned on bringing up until he got home.

I'm not necessarily hurt that he wants to date other people (I do love him very much and have prayed about marrying him) but I understand that he needs to do what he needs to do.

I'm more disappointed that he brought up while still on his mission.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I have no idea how to respond this without coming off as mad and disappointed and without damaging our friendship.

Any and all advice is appreciated!

- In Love?




Dear In,

I'm glad that you didn't "wait" for him . . . and it sounds like you've discovered why I tell girls not to. 

Life is full of pressure, and not everyone responds to that the same way.

Certainly there's pressure in the Church (or at least from its members) put upon young men to marry quickly once they come home from a mission. (Girls, too, for that matter.)

And, as we all know, finding someone you can love and care enough about to spend Time and All Eternity with is daunting.

I think he's wise to warn you not to pin all of your hopes on him.

I think he should date lots of different girls when he first comes home. (My recommendation to RMs is at least one date per week.)

I think it takes the pressure off of you both; it sounds mature and realistic.

And I think you dating BEFORE he comes home was also very smart.

Now he's set the tone, and you'll have no reason to be surprised when he doesn't come over to your house with a ring the day after his release. (Not that you were expecting that, but as this Young Man and I both know, many Many MANY girls do.)

But I also think that at some point you need to tell him that his choice to date a bunch of other girls is fine with you, so long as he understands that you're not going to wait around or be single forever.

Not angry.

Just matter of fact.

You're reminding him that you're not going to just sit idly by, being the consolation prize.

As the reactionary that I am, in your shoes I'd probably respond with that right away.

Sister Jo, who is much wiser than I, would ignore the email for a while; make him sweat it out. Then, if he fails to ask out out in the first 6 weeks he's home or brings this little piece of information up again once he's home (heaven help him if he's dumb enough to say something like this on a date with you) then you say your piece.

But, like I've said, Sister Jo is the Master!

As she always says: "make him earn it!"

Don't Be Hurt;

Be Confident and In Control.

- Bro Jo


PS:  While the "Shot Gun" approach to dating is a good way for Return Missionaries (guys and girls) when they first come home, at some point they need to switch to "Rifle Dating", where they focus on one great person and keep dating only that person until they either realize they want to date someone else (perhaps "anyone else") or that they should marry that person.

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Testimony of the Savior and The Atonement

Dear Bro Jo,

A long time ago I wrote you the following . . .


Dear Bro Jo,

After about four years, I finally have my life put back together.

My first year of middle school, I became disillusioned I guess with my life.

I feel like I have committed almost every sin there is to commit, and came very close to the worst ones.

I became addicted to pretty much everything there is to become addicted to, whether it was not eating, masturbation or pornography (two of the most dirty words to me...), or self inflicted pain.

Ironically, because I have never tried alcohol or illegal drugs, people for the most part didn't notice. I continued to break commandments and I hurt so many people, most of all myself. I have broken every promise, every covenant really, I have turned away from the gospel, from Christ and My Heavenly Father, at the time I most needed them.

I was (still am?) not chaste, and the only thing left was murder.

Ironically, the very first mistake I made, turning away the promise of help and healing from the Gospel, still came to my aid. 

I was so close to killing myself, so close, when we had a fireside on Christ. 

What an amazing experience! 

It gave me such a new look into Christ's pain and suffering on my behalf, and it was then that I decided to stop cutting. 

Of course, it was addicting, and I didn't stop then. 

But then it just...wasn't a part of my life anymore. I don't have any good way of dealing with pain and stress, which makes me still want to hurt myself, but I don't cut. 

Why? 

I don't know. 

God has helped, has helped me learn that I can survive without it. 

I told a few people of the problems I had, and they tried to help, but it was only half truths. 

After a while I just stopped reaching out, and it was really bad. I never told anyone about anything else, and I lied continuously to my Bishop. 

I have changed so much this year though! 

I don't read pornography, I don't obsess over my weight, I haven't thought of suicide as an option for weeks. 

And the best thing, I haven't cut myself. 

I am sad whenever I see the scars on my arms and legs, but I know that I will never go back to that. 

 I know my Heavenly Father loves me, I know I am beautiful, even if not by the world's standards, and it's so easy to find beauty and worth in others because of that. 

I love being the Mia Maid Class president, and I love my leaders and friends and try to serve and build them up the way they've helped me. 

My MM adviser said a few weeks ago that I was perfect, the most righteous person in the present group. 

She believes that I am doing great, well on my way to the Celestial kingdom. 

Bro Jo, I AM doing great, I am following in the footsteps of Christ, and have a strong testimony. 

Will I ever be able to shake my past off? 

Will it continue to haunt me, regardless of what I do in my future? 

In seminary we had a lesson on how sins are forgiven. 

They aren't just canceled out, as if you can sin as long as the scales tip in favor of your good works, but I think that's what I'm doing. I am so involved with service and leadership, I know I am doing great with my calling as class president, everyone says so, especially the Bishop, but it doesn't really count, does it?

~ (Name Withheld)


You wrote back, but I don't have that stored online, I printed it out and have it with me. You bore your testimony, shared what you believed I should do, and begged me to call my Bishop.

I didn't.

I kept pretending that I was whole. It was just me pretending.

Then maybe half a year ago I met with my Bishop and tried to tell him, but I couldn't. I couldn't do it.

I continued to grow. I love seminary!

I love young women’s (a Laurel now) and my leaders are amazing.

My brother went on his mission.

All these things started to happen, and my focus in life moved to the Gospel.

I began to love the Gospel.

My parents volunteered at the temple baptistery, and I went with them.

I felt so good there, but was still trying to cover the hole by myself that my sins had made.

I felt guilty.

Last Saturday I went to the Temple.

I realized that I loved the Temple, that it was a holy place, a sacred place, and that I didn't belong there, because I was still unclean.

But the thing was, I had felt perfect joy. Just for a little bit.

I had felt how I could feel forever, if I could get my sins from so long ago to stop haunting me.

So today I spoke with my Bishop.

I told him everything...and it was easy.

If there is a way to feel Hell, the outer darkness, or whatever, I had felt it during the past few years when I was sinning so seriously, and when I was lying to myself.

Do you understand?

It was easy, it was painless, but it would have been impossible if I hadn't wanted that perfect joy I felt. I'm whole!

I tell you this now, because I remembered your letter,

Always, I remembered you asking me to talk to my Bishop.

I knew I needed to. I wouldn't though. But now I have.

Your postscript asked "Please keep me apprised of your progress" Well, it's a little bit later than what it should have been, but this is it.

I am whole. and happy and peaceful and joyous and I will be worthy to see my Heavenly Parents someday.

I feel really, really good.

I guess it is because you don't know me, because I will probably never see you, or because you write about teenagers and their issues that I asked for help (back then), and that I now feel it important to tell you about my experience.

Thank you.

Now, it's time for me to get to work.

My friends need the Gospel.

They need to hear my stronger testimony.

I want to be good, and strong in this true Gospel, because Satan will not give up on bringing me back down to where I've been.

But I will not go.

I am stronger than him because I have a whole arsenal of awesome spiritual things.

- (Name Withheld)




Dear NW,

Thank you so much for your letter.

I've thought about you from time to time, and wondered how you've been.

I wish I had done a better job when you wrote . . . I'm sorry I wasn't more inspirational.

If you think of anything I could have said or done better, please let me know.

But I'm very happy for you and where you are now!

As you share the Gospel with others, please remember two things: honey is sweeter than vinegar, and confession of past sins can wrongly be interpreted as permission (especially by young people).

Thank you for sharing your testimony of the Savior and the power of His atonement in our lives.

May the Lord continue to bless your life,

- Bro Jo