With Easter Sunday at one end of this week, and General Conference at the other, I wanted to share with you this special story. I'll post it in three parts.
Below is Part 2.
- Bro Jo
Dear Bro Jo,
Disclaimer: This came out way longer and way more rambling than I ever intended... But it is what it is! :)
I reached out to you towards the end of last year. I was struggling with a pornography addiction...
Well... Good news there!
The 1st of the month marked 100 days in the clear! :)
There is still a lot of work ahead, but it is a good step! I've been seeing a counselor about it and that has been a huge help!
Anyways... I have a few other things on my mind... I'll start out setting the background... Last year in February or March I started dating a girl. She really is a great girl and I get along really well with her family. I've been friends with them for years, and her older brother is one of my best friends.
Well... She left on a mission last year and she will be back this coming fall (She'll probably be going back to BYU-I after that, and I'll be transferring to USU in August.). She was one of the 19 year old missionaries. I admit we didn't date all that long, but it went really well and It was a really positive experience. We had gone on a number of dates within a few weeks (They were some of the best dates I have ever gone on too!)
Well... I was driving out to Utah to visit family for a few days and last minute (Literally minutes before I was going to leave, lol) she asked if she could ride with me so she could see some of her family before she left on her mission.
During the drive out, we got talking and made the determination we were boyfriend and girlfriend. I admit, it was a bit silly with her leaving in a few weeks. But we did it... I was planning on staying at my relatives, but because she came with me, she stayed with her sister and I stayed with her brother (The one that is one of my best friends).
It was a great trip, and it worked out well. I introduced her to some of my relatives and I met some of hers. We spent a lot of the time together, and I altogether really had a wonderful time. So fast forward a few weeks... We spent a lot of time together leading up to her mission, and I had decided that I could see myself marrying her...
Well I ended up being the over-emotional one.
Thankfully I didn't do anything too rash and she was a lot more emotionally stable than me!
I did ask her questions like, "Could you see yourself dating me when you come back?" to which she intelligently replied, "If you are still single."
At some other point I also mentioned that I could see starting a family with her, and she responded with something along the lines of, "If it is right, it will work out"
Honestly, at the time I would have quite happily said I would wait, I think I said I would date, more because I felt that was what she wanted than what I wanted. But I do look back and I am very grateful that she was wiser than I and left me that freedom to date.
After she left I kept spending time with her family. I would go over almost every Friday night and spend time with them. I get along really well with them. Even before we were dating, I was practically considered an adopted member of the family.
Well, she left on her mission, to serve in (location withheld), I started out writing letters to her via pouch. I was trying to follow the rules of email being only for family. I did find out that pouch is a VERY SLOW process...
It would take about 4 weeks for letters to get there, then it would take a bunch of time for her to have time to respond.
Then there was a mail strike in her mission, which delayed about 3 months’ worth of mail!
And by this time they had expanded the rules correspondence via allow email. So I switched over to writing emails. It was a lot easier and I didn't feel like I was leaving her hanging...
But I still tried to avoid writing too much. I mentioned that to her in one of my letters and she was like, "Don't worry about writing too much!"
And I next thing I know I've been writing almost every week. I find it easier since I already write my sister every week, then I can sit down and write them both at the same time, and in some cases copy parts of the letters.
Just to be clear, I work to keep it clean and uplifting, no sappy stuff, and I try to focus on what is happening in my life, especially spiritual experiences, or gospel principles I learned that week. I'm pretty sure everything I've ever sent her I would have zero problem sending to my own sister.
Well... when she left, I went on a few dates with other girls. I really wasn't interested in dating, but it was what I was "supposed" to do, so I did it... I admit my heart wasn't in it from a relationship standpoint, but I tried to keep it simple, have fun, and get to know other girls.
Since then I moved out of my parents' house and the whole pornography struggle came back into my life. And that was around when I wrote you last.
It has been a long battle getting back to a stable point, but I've been making progress, and I am working towards my endowments (As it is I have been doing baptisms every week in preparation.)
Well, I've been meeting other girls, and I've gone on a few dates since I moved out here (I'll admit not enough). I think I have come to a point where my heart is open enough that I can much more easily consider dating other girls . . .
In fact there are a few sisters I know that I could see pursuing a relationship with, and I'm working on improving my dating consistency to see what happens...
My question I guess is... How do you decide?
I've gone on a lot of dates with a lot of different girls in the past... This relationship was the first time that I had been "officially" in a relationship, and the first time that I felt really comfortable with the idea of marriage.
But now I've started getting to know some other girls and I find myself saying. "Wow! She is an awfully swell girl! I could get to know her better" And I see that they have a lot of great traits! And in some ways are "better"(Mostly things that are better in my eyes, but are relatively superficial and don't necessarily matter in the eternities. Things like she plays piano, etc.)
With these thoughts there are a couple of things that start happening for me...
1. I start feeling a little bit guilty, I feel almost as though I'm being disloyal in some way to the girl I have been writing.
2. I also wonder whether it's just a matter of the here and now vs the distant and in the future? In other words is this just a physical craving for the connection that comes with a relationship? Am I trying to fulfill that desire whatever way I can?
3. I also start asking myself... If they are all great girls with the essential traits that are important to me, How do I ever decide who to pursue a relationship with? I can sit here and go back and forth comparing other traits all day long (I do recognize that in all of these cases it is not solely my decision as the girl has just as much say in the matter.)
4. I then start asking, Why give up a great relationship with a great girl that has gone really well before?
I guess really I feel torn... Part of me would feel guilty if I ended up falling in love with another girl and had to pull a Dear Jane.
I would feel like a bit of a jerk even though she has tried to give me space. I feel like as is, I've kind of hidden the dating side of things, I kind of figure she really wouldn't want to hear about the dates I've been on, though she did ask me if I'd been dating in one of my letters... I didn't give much detail.
Should I have been more open about my dating life in my letters?
I guess part of me is afraid of losing the relationship we have had... She really is an amazing girl, with an amazing spirit and testimony, and I really have no question that whatever happens, she left me better than she found me.
I only hope that I've been able to do the same for her. At the same time, It is not like I'm about to ask anyone to marry me right now, but there are a few other girls that I could see a relationship happening with...
And then I start asking myself, If I were to pursue a relationship with one of them, which one would I?
How would I decide that???
One thought I had, Usually when there is fear it gives me a hint of what I need to do... Face that fear... I think of 2 Timothy. "God hath not given the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind"... Faith dispels fear... I need to have more faith!!!
Why do I always feel so lacking in the faith department!
I feel like every time I turn around I'm at another leap of faith! It is hard!
I guess this might be one of those times...
I'll have to think about this one...
And I would invite any thoughts you have on the matter as well!
As a note, now being 27 years old I've gone on a fair number of dates, but I haven't really done any serious dating other than this one relationship. I haven't kissed yet (I did try the night before she left... I was pretty stupid... Though to be fair I did ask before I tried.
Thank you for everything Bro Jo,
- Name Withheld
First and foremost I am so proud of you brother for getting help with your addiction!
Fighting addiction is a not-always-easy never-ending battle, but it's worth every effort and struggle.
I have no doubt you've noticed a difference in the level of Spirituality in your life. Keep it up!
As for your questions . . .
You'll know who to pursue a relationship with because you'd rather spend time with her than anyone else, and you are perfectly happy giving up dating "other possibilities" rather than lose her because she's free to do the same.
You are no longer in the relationship you were in before.
She left on a mission and there was no commitment. (Wisely on her part, I might add.)
So there's no reason to feel guilty.
If you ARE still single when she comes back (and I don't think you should wait around) and if she IS still interested in dating you (realize that it's possible, even statistically more likely, that she won't be), and IF you still like her, I think it would be foolish to not pursue that.
But if you're married before she comes back . . . well . . . that's fine, too.
- Bro Jo
Don't get caught in the trap of trying to find the "perfect person". Don't weigh traits and talents, looks and abilities, as if one is more important than another.
When we do this one of two things is going to happen. The most likely one is that we keep passing on people who are great Eternal Companion choices, one after another, only to find ourselves alone, set in our ways, and wondering where all the great ones have gone, too old to easily find a companion.
The other is that do find someone we think is perfect, only to discover that they, like everyone else, is not; our shattered and albeit unrealistic expectations of love, marriage, and the person we've chosen, feel like a pit that we can't climb out of.
Rather than search for the "perfect person", that unobtainable unicorn that we've created in our media (including books, sisters) fueled fantasies that never truly exists, let us seek out and marry a Good Person. One that cares for us and others. One that loves God. One that is decent and kind and will help us, and our future children, grow closer unto Heavenly Father and whom we feel inspired to help as well.
Yeah, you need to find them attractive and like kissing and holding and talking and being with them!
But let's stop dismissing great people because they don't have all of those minor traits that, let's face it, in the long run really aren't that important.
- Bro Jo