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, January 31, 2016

Dear Bro Jo Seventh Anniversary!

Dear Readers,

Happy "Dear Bro Jo" Anniversary today!


I thought you might like to see some stats:



Seven years.  


Almost 600,000 page views.

75,000 readers.


Over 50 countries.


Top 10 Readership Countries

1.  United States of America

2.  Australia

3.  Canada

4.  United Kingdom

5.  New Zealand

6.  St. Kitts & Nevis

7.  Germany

8.  Sweden

9.  Philippines

10.  Portugal




Top 50 Cities

1.  Provo

2.  Salt Lake City

3.  Rexburg

4.  Melbourne

5.  Brisbane

6.  Denver

7.  Lethbridge

8.  Edmonton

9.  Logan

10.  Orem

11.  Ballarat

12.  Idaho Falls

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14.  New York

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16.  Sydney

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18.  Midbvale

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37.  Houston

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39.  Phoenix

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43.  Portland

44.  South Jordan

45.  Garden City

46.  Aliston

47.  Manchester

48.  Orlando

49.  Ogden

50.  Horta



Thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings, and stories.

God bless,

Friday, January 29, 2016

Can He Get His Girlfriend Back?

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for your message.

I am definitely trying.

Although I feel at times that I do these inconsiderate thoughtless mistakes that ruins it for me.

It's as if I'm building with one hand and tearing down with the other.

I have been apologizing and it's been too much to where she won't accept it.

The thing is I make the same mistakes.

Not exactly the same ones but they're all interrelated and it's been going on for over a year so that is why she won't accept apologies.

I try to tell her that the trust needs to be earned through time and that it won't be easy.

I think I just ruined it.

Let me give you some more details... in 2009 I was engaged to a great girl.

She ended our relationship near the end of the year.

A few months later I found a better girl and we dated and I soon proposed and we were going to be married in August of that year.

She ended it an hour before the wedding and I was let down.

Well we tried to date and it was off and on (she always ended it) and finally in December 2011 I ended it with her because I wasn't seeing any progress with us.

One week later I met the best girl.

I was head-over-heels and smitten by her.

She was amazing.

We dated for about four months.

Then in the summer (2012) I had an internship that was out of date.

Since I was her boyfriend and we wanted to be sure about knowing if we were right for each other we decided to take a break during the time I was gone then see where we were in the fall when I returned.

The thing is since we weren't sure I decided to from a plan B in case it didn't work.

I'm a planner so I figured it'd be good.

But I am very bad with timing.

So right before I left I talked to plan B girl to establish a date for the fall when I returned.

Soon after, the crap hit the fan and she told my girlfriend that and I was in the doghouse.

Also about that same time my ex-girlfriend wanted to talk because she needed some help and she owed me some money and wanted to speak with her about paying me back.

We met and I took her out for dinner because it was her birthday and she had no family in town and I didn't want her to be miserable.

This also did not please my girlfriend.

So fast forward to the fall and even spring of this year and we are dating but not exclusive.

I continue to be friendly with plan B girl and talk every once in a while to the ex because she wanted me back so bad and I was trying to give her closure (I didn't want to be with her anymore).

So I'm trying my best to win over the best girl because she is whom I want but she is unsure still because of my past actions.

Now I am in Jordan (the country) doing an internship for two months.

Our "relationship" is continuing to wither and hang by the edge of a knife as I keep making unintentional mistake after mistake with this amazing girl.

So I don't know what to do.

She says she's done with me and no one has hurt her this bad as I have.

And I just hate what I've done and become.

In the beginning she said I was the best thing to happen to her and I also said I would never be like those "other guys" that treated her bad. When in fact I've become worse than that.

The truth is, no other girl has what she has and no one makes me as happy as she does despite our arguments and hardships because of me.

I've tried my best to cut ties with all the "bad girl influences."

But I did it too late.

I should have stopped months ago.

But yet never did it at all. I was unsure and didn't know.

Now she keeps prying every little detail in our whole dating career to see what really happened.

I don't want to give her every detail because it only makes things worse and I just want her to trust me that I'm not like that anymore (which is a problem because she doesn't trust cuz of what I've done and I don't have any time under my belt for her to see the change).

I'm 26 and getting older.

If I lose her for good then this will be the worst for me.

I can't do anything for the next two months because I'm thousands of miles away and I can barely talk to her because of the time difference and we mostly argue because of my past and we can't resolve it because of how huge the issue is and I need to either go to bed or work so we can't discuss it for hours and hours like she'd lie (plus internet is expensive and I'm poor).

So I try my best out here in the desert and I just hate myself more and more while the war just rages in my head of what I've done.

Is there any hope? 

I hope this made sense.

Thank you for listening.

I appreciate it.

- Name Withheld




Dear Friend,

It makes total sense, Brother. 

You need to suck up, and suck up big. 

You need to let her know that she's a priority in your life. 

Stop "discussing" things. 

You go see her, or call her, or whatever you can do that shows some sacrifice on your part, and you do it now. 

You apologize. 

You confess your love. 

And you stop arguing with her. 

If you need to send so many flowers that she can't stop thinking about you, that's what you do. 

If you need to sing her a love song and post the video on YouTube, then that's what you do. 

If you need to fly home from Jordan, that's what you do. 

Stop talking about "doing your best" to cut ties with other girls and Actually Do It. 

Show her that she can trust you by your ACTIONS, not your intentions. 

Give it your best shot! 

And . . . if it doesn't work . . . then it wasn't meant to be. 

Let her go, great as she is, and move on with your life. 

Just don't look back at this moment later saying "I wish I had done more". 

And for gosh sakes, LEARN from this.

Let me know how it goes, 

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Dealing with Her Mother's Death

Dear Bro Jo,

With the death of my mom.. I've had a few problems.

First of all it is about six months after her death on (date withheld) and its harder than ever.

I've been having a really hard time with depression and self-worth and keeping my concentration focused. How do I get myself out of this?

I know about the plan of salvation and I have faith in that or I'm sure I would be much worse off, but it is still affecting me really bad at times.

And I cry all the time without knowing why.

My Dad had been dating for a while and proposed to a woman in December of 2012, only knowing her for only a week.

I had only met her once before the proposal day.

Their marriage is to occur as soon as they can get it approved to be married in the Temple.

My problem is I really REALLY don't like her.

I am quite a loving person, but she annoys me and seems really fake all the time.

I am not mean to her, but I kind of avoid her.

I hope that the only reason why I am not liking her is because I don't want her replacing my mom, but what if I actually don't like HER.

So far my three little sisters love her (ages 13, 11, and 7).

My older sister doesn't have a preference since she is moved out of the house anyway.

I hope she can be a loving mom to my younger sisters because I know they need someone... but I do too.

Just . . . I can't trust her.

Hopefully over time things will change.

My aunt who had been living with us since before my mom died, has just moved back home.

I've been having more fights with my Dad since he really isn't a good mom.. and now here comes a step-mom.

I feel like I don't have an adult-ly motherly figure that cares about me and loves me and that I can talk to. I feel so very alone.

Thanks!

- Name Withheld

P.S. I am sorry for sending you all these emails.. I'm sure you are tired from hearing from me. But I love how you try to help with problems with a twist on them that keeps the Savior in mind.

And you can't judge since you don't know me personally.




Dear Friend,

Losing someone close to you is always difficult. It gets better with time. LOTS of time. 

Be patient with yourself. 

And never stop leaning on the Lord. 

He who has suffered all things knows exactly what you're going through. 

Talk to him. 

Often. 

I think you have several good reasons to cry; and I think crying is okay. 

Your dad is lonely.   I think that's very understandable.

He's ready to move on. 

I hope he's chosen well. 

The best thing you can do is be loving and supportive. 

Be the Best You, the nicest you, the most understanding you, that you can be. 

I'm always here for those moments when you feel alone, and you can email whenever you want. 

But I think it will also be good for you to find someone who can be there for you in ways that some random internet guy can't. 

What I mean is, seek out counsel from your older sister, or one of your young women leaders, or even an older sister at Church. 

You're not the only one out there who needs someone to talk to, you know. 

A good strong sister can fill a void that a dad, or any other guy (including yours truly) can never fill. 

Maybe your aunt! 

Or a grandma . . . or just someone else that will be understanding. 

Satan loves it when we feel alone. 

That's when he as us at our most vulnerable. 

Always remember that in Christ we are never alone. 

And you're right. 

Kind of. 

I don't judge people. 

I judge situations. 

In that regard I may someday say "Hey, you're doing something dumb!"; that won't mean that I don't care; it will mean that I care enough to tell you the truth. 

Write whenever you want. 

But get out there and make good friends, too. 

And do this Old Guy a favor: never drop your standards! 

Your mom wants to see you in the Celestial Kingdom; and so do I. 

So that's the goal! 

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 25, 2016

Why Won't Her Boyfriend Kiss Her?

Dear Bro Jo,

How long does it take until a guy kisses a girl?

I have been going on dates with this guy since forever (5/6 months) and what I have from it?

Nothing.

He gives me all the signs that he likes me, but not this specific one.

I'm freaking out because I don't know if he is just playing with me, or what's going on in his mind.

Does that mean that I'm not kissable?

Because that is what I'm starting to think.

Yes, we hold hands, we have all this physic contact that shows me that he likes me.

Am I right?

Okay.

So, what am I doing wrong?

All this time going out together, and not a single talk about our relationship.

Nothing.

Should I give up on him?

Should I stop answering his texts, and pretend I don't care?

I thought we were over this phase, but apparently we are still on "high school dating" phase, which we just hold hands and laugh at each other the entire day.

- Ready for a Committment



Dear Ready,

I could recommend that you read Bro Jo's Guide to Kissing or The 6 L's of How to Get Kissed ...

But what I don't understand is, if you two know each other so well, have been dating for this long, and have this "great connection" and all ... then why are you asking me and not him?

Where is it written that you have to just wait around wondering how he feels???

Communication, dear sister; it's the key to any good relationship.

NO, don't confront him.

In between all of those great "laugh all the time" moments (which, you must know, many people would kill for), have an adult conversation.

Tell him how you feel, and ask him the questions (perhaps in a much less dramatic way) that you've asked me.

Be Understanding.

After all, if he didn't like you he wouldn't be putting in all of this time and effort.

So there's got to be some reason.

And don't come across like you're begging, either.

I mean, talk to him; do some teaching about feelings, expectations, and relationships; but also Be Considerate of his feelings, too.

Be prepared to get kissed.

But I wouldn't just chuck this great relationship until you hear what he has to say.

Good luck!

Don't wait forever.

And tell us how it goes.

- Bro Jo

Friday, January 22, 2016

She Knows a Missionary Who's "Girl Back Home" is Planning on Marrying Someone Else

Dear Bro Jo,

Ok, Bro Jo, I have another missionary letter writing question for you.

Remember Rugby Boy #2?

He's now off serving his mission in (location withheld).

After we quit dating each other we stayed close friends; we talked about our new heartthrobs with each other often, gave each other advice, and have just generally been good buddies since then.

He quickly picked up another girlfriend whom I LOVE; they were very serious in their dating. (Both Freshmen at the Y if that information matters.)

Both Rugby Boy #2 and New Girl were delighted with the mission age change for sisters.

She put in her papers as quickly as she could and now has a call to (location withheld), leaving at the end of April.

So far so good with this story, right?

Well here's the problem: New Girl seems to have found a New Man.

He's an RM and their love story is all over both of their Facebook pages.

Trust me, this is no joke.

I think it's highly likely she's going to skip the mission and marry New Man.

Rugby Boy #2 has no idea of what's going on back home, and thinks New Girl's letters are getting shorter and less frequent because she's preoccupied with getting ready for her mission.

Elder RB #2 and I write each other about once or twice a month. Should I say something to him?

If he knew I knew something was up with her and I didn't tell him, he would be furious . . .

But, on the other hand, I feel like it should really be her job to write her own Dear John letter.

Hearing about it secondhand would really hard for him . . .

But I think it's likely she won't write the letter.

I think she'll just quit writing him altogether leaving him to wonder and worry.

What's a friend to do?

- Cheese

P.S. I think this whole situation nicely illustrates the stupidity of leaving a girlfriend behind. RB#2 is a very good missionary but this is bound to cause some serious heartache and distractions.




Dear Cheese,

All of the Elder Johnstons (current and former) would agree with your PS . . .

Just like any time when a friend is doing something wrong, you need to give them the opportunity to make it right.

Talk to her first.

Tell her how you feel and suggest that she write the letter.

If she won't do it (or hesitates), then tell her that you're going to write him and tell him that you told her to tell him and she refused.

And if she still won't tell him . . .

See, I'm a little torn here . . .

It's not really your place to tell him BECAUSE he's on a mission.

Here's why: Letters from you should be mission focused; even though he's writing the girl back home, he shouldn't be, so you shouldn't be talking about her at all.

Now that I think about it a little bit more, let me amend my previous thought: tell her that if she won't tell him, that you think he'll eventually ask you what's going on, and when he does you'll be forced to tell him the truth.

If he's mad because he has to hear it from you after the wedding . . . well, he's a big boy; he'll just have to man up and deal with it.

Shouldn't have had a girlfriend back home when he left, anyway.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

She's 16 Now; How Come Boys Aren't Asking Her Out on Dates?

Dear Bro Jo,

I have been sixteen for 6 months now.

Before I turned 16 I thought the boys would be more into asking girls out - but they aren't really at all.

I haven't been asked out yet and I know many other girls from my ward that haven't either.

Is there something wrong with us ???

I go to the annual dances each month, go to any stake activities and are friends with a few guys from different wards who I wouldn't mind asking me out but they haven't.

I know we shouldn't be focused on dating right now, but I don't want to have my first date when I am in college !!

I just want to know why guys don't take the very obvious hints us girls give them ??

Sincerely,

- Very Confused Girl




Dear VCG,

Guys don't seem to take the hints girls give because we're either:

  a) clueless

  b) shy

  c) afraid

  d) all of the above

I doubt there's anything wrong with you.

There are some things you can do.

Start with hosting some Video Parties and Game Nights so everyone gets to know each other better.

You may also want to check out Bro Jo's How a Girl Can Get a Guy to Ask Her on a Date.

Just make sure that you all follow the Casual Group Dating rules when you do start dating.

And if you don't get any dates before college, or not as many dates as you hope for, please understand that it is no way a commentary on your awesomeness!  Parents and Leaders right now seem to be failing to teach Young Men not only how to date, but that it an important social skill (not just for finding a spouse later, but Casual Group Dating can also prepare one for missionary service).  On top of that, the truth is that many of the most amazing girls date little or not at all until after High School.

Including Sister Jo.

Which worked out great for me!

Cheers,

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 18, 2016

What Do You Do When You Get on the Wrong Path? (Part 2 of 2)

[Readers,

Part 1 of this email was posted on Monday, January 11th.

You may jump to it by clicking HERE.

Best,

- Bro Jo]




Dear Bro Jo,

I am on the right path now.

I made an appointment with my Bishop 2 weeks ago, and we talked about it, he said I was still Temple worthy, and even before I went to him, I started changing.

I actually started changing before I sent the first email,

I knew I didn't want that kind of life style, I wanted to marry someone in the Temple.


My Dad said not to judge the druggies, because some of his best friends in high school growing up did do drugs and drink, but he was smarter than me and he told them not to do it around me from day one and enforced it, I on the other hand said don't do it around me, but eventually gave in and didn't care if they did or not.


I talked to both my best friends, one does drugs, but she says she does it wisely.  She said there are 2 types of people who do drugs, the ones who don't care about life or school, and the ones that still get good grades and want to do good things in life.

She gets straight A's and wants to be a nurse.


Anyways. I told both of them I was done with that stuff, and I wouldn't come over if they were going to be doing that stuff.

The one friend with good grades, S,  has never asked me to drink, smoke, or do drugs, she's never even had that stuff around when I was over.

My other "friend", M, on the other hand, has had her friends over that do that stuff.


She and I had a talk, and she doesn't want to be around that stuff anymore either, so I've tried to help her.

She's having an end of the school year get together with a few friends this Saturday and really wants me to go.

I told her I wasn't going if they were going to be drinking or doing drugs, and she told them that, but she said they could do it at their house and come over afterwards, and I told her no, tell them they can't come over if they are drunk, or high, and if they do, then they aren't welcome to stay, and so she did, so I'll go to the thing on Saturday.

But as soon as they take out cigarettes or alcohol, I'm putting my foot down and either leaving or saying they can't be here if they do that stuff.


With my friend L . . .  well ex friend now . . .  we talked and she was never mad about me being around them and doing that stuff, but she was mad at me, or distancing herself from me because she thought I was mad at her for doing the school musical.  I tried to work things out with her, but she said "At this point I don't know where we can go from this point."

So after 3 months of not talking I just finally gave up, because I've tried talking to her and work things out 3 times.

And she's hasn't tried at all, but friends will come and go.

Oh well.

Thanks for all your advice and help though.

- On the Right Path Now




Dear Little Sister,

Any time.

Wishing you the best,

- Bro Jo

Friday, January 15, 2016

Is Going to the Gym a Date?

Dear Bro Jo,

Quick question:

Remember Rugby Boy #2?

He's off serving a mission.

We write, we're friends, no romantic interest there.

He has a girlfriend who we're both hoping he ends up marrying someday.

Anyway . . .

He has a big brother who just got home from his mission and is at the Y.

Big Bro & I go to the gym together as workout buddies.

We're just friends.

Not a date, right?

- Cheese

P.S. Big Brother did take me on a real "Plan, Pickup, Pay" date about a week ago.

But I don't think just going to the gym is the same kind of thing.

We're not "interested" in each other.




Dear Cheese,

(BIG sigh)

Going to the gym is a date . . . and it's not a date.

You set a time, and it's just the two of you, so that part makes it a date.

A cheap date . . . a bit of a "coward date" because he won't come right out and say it . . . but a date none-the-less.

But it's also kind of a "hang out" in that he's not picking you up and you both just kind of happen to be in the same area.

(Lame! Or: Smart! Depending on your point of view . . .)

Consider this: would it be wrong (or at the very least appear wrong) for the two of you to be spending this time together if he was married?

Of course it would!

Why?

When you understand that, you'll understand two other things . . .

One of which is, whether you're interested in him or not, he wouldn't be going to the gym with you if he wasn't interested in you.

And you know why that is . . .

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

So are you saying we can't be just friends?

Jk.

I'm on my way to the gym now

- Cheese




Dear Cheese,

Say hi to your "date" for me!

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

A date.

Sigh.

That's too bad.

I thought he was "attracted" to me, but not "interested"-

- I thought the Bro Code would inhibit any possible relationship, what with me having dated Little Brother previously.

Is it wrong for me to go out with him when I'm really not interested?

I like his friendship and company, but definitely not anything more.

I don't want to give him any false hopes.

- Cheese




Dear Cheese,

The "Bro Code" only means something if people follow it.

Plus, it's kind of like The Pirate Code . . . "it's really more of a guideline".

As Sister Jo says, all is fair in love and war.

If you don't want to lead him on, you're going to have to stop going out with him.

And I don't know if I've ever mentioned this to you, but you're at the point in dating now where you need to realize that a Good Guy often won't ask a girl out if he thinks she's serious about someone else (that's of course, if he's following "The Code") . . . so "hanging out" with this guy you have no intention of dating may make other guys that are interested in you think you're taken.

More than one Great Girl has found herself surprisingly single because she didn't understand why you're not supposed to "hang out". 

Cheers!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What Can It Mean When Dates Get Cancelled?

Dear Bro Jo,

To recap:  I'm a sailor learning how to do my job for the Navy.

I met a seemingly perfect guy (RM, smart, handsome, funny, also sailor), 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 his base has an early curfew that day.

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 on my base twice since he canceled on me.

I confirmed this with 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 deployed 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,

- A Not So Lovesick Sailor




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.

- 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!

- Not So




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.

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 11, 2016

What Do You Do When You Get on the Wrong Path? (Part 1 of 2)

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello.

I'm sorry for not replying to your other email, but I do need to talk to you about something.

Recently (for about 2 months) I've been hanging out with the "wrong" crowd, AKA the druggies,

I don't judge them because they do drugs, but it's just easier to call them that.

One has been my best friend since 4th grade, she tried it once but didn't like it so she doesn't do drugs, but she'll smoke and drink sometimes (I never would have taken her for that kind of girl...)

Okay so what happened when everything first began was, I was at my friend M’s house and we went over to her friend C’s house( the major druggie)

C was smoking some weed, but I told him to stay away from me because I didn't want to be around that kind of stuff, but then later they were smoking an E-cig, and at first I said no, but then I was curious to what it was like.

I'm in my freshman year of high school and I was trying to find out who I am supposed to be, or just who I am.

I know that stuff is wrong but I gave into my high standards.

I only smoke the E-cig when I'm with M’s friends.

I only do it because it's there I guess.

A couple hours later I was spending the night at my best friend L's house (She's a goody two shoes.)

I told her what I did, and she got very mad at me,

I was already Upset with myself, but then she went and turned on me because of that one mistake, after that things weren't the same, we didn't talk, we didn't text, and we never hung out.

Now because she's been pushing me away I go and hang out with M and her friends every weekend, so I'm around that influence and bad things even more.

Then just last weekend, I did something even worse.

I tried Vodka (only a sip) then later that night tried whiskey and had about 5 drinks of that.

My friend M was drinking, our friend S and his friend T were drinking and it was bad, luckily I was the only one who didn't get drunk or have a hang over the next day.

I was so upset with myself, I couldn't even handle being at my friend’s house and I just wanted to go home, but I ended up staying.

I was so ashamed, and I felt that now nobody in the Church will want to marry me because of my mistakes, it may sound like I don't have a strong testimony in the Church but I do,

I love the Church,

I love having the elders over for dinner, and I love going to Church and mutual, but especially love going to the Temple,

I love everybody at Church, and I have such great friends there,

(You may be thinking why don't you hang out with them at school then, well I can't; I'm the only Mormon besides my brother that's active that goes to my school, I live 30 minutes away from Church, so I go to a different school then everybody else which is also hard.)

Anyways, I guess what I'm trying to say is how do I get out of this?

I don't like it.

I told my #1 best friend at Church what I did, and she told me she'll always love me no matter what (I wish I had friends like her at school)

I was crying the whole time I was telling her what happened, If I leave my group of "friends" then I won't really have anyone at school to go too, I only have 2 weeks left, so it will be hard to find new friends, L and I sort of talked today about everything going on, and she told me she wants what's best for me and the last thing she wants is for me to be with that group, but me and her still have a lot to work through.

So my questions are

     1.) What do I need to do to be temple worthy again if I'm not already?

     2.) Will members still want to marry me even with my mistakes?

     3.) Can I still go to live with Heavenly father and Jesus in the celestial kingdom? Or have I screwed that up.

     4.) How do I tell my friends that I don't want to do that stuff anymore, and if they still want to be friends with me then don't do that stuff around me?

     5.) Is the mistakes you make when you're younger, have a huge impact on who will want to marry you?

Because for as long as I can remember I've wanted to get married in the temple, and have a husband that's strong in his faith as a Mormon.


Please help me, I'm so confused about this right now.

- On the Wrong Path




Dear Little Sister,

I'm going to give you some Tough Love here . . . I think you need it, and I think you're mature enough to take it.

Two axioms that you need to know:

     1. We are who our friends are.

     2. We marry whom we spend time with.

You can't hang out all the time with people who drink and smoke and do drugs without becoming like them. THAT'S why your friend was so upset!

She saw coming what you did not.

She was more worried about you than you were about yourself, that made her scared, and rightfully so. (You see that now, don't you?)

First we justify in our heads that "well, they're good people, and they're nice to me, so I'm not going to "judge" them . . .


[ RELATED TANGENT: I am SICK of how common it's become in our world to misuse the word "judgement". "Don't judge me", "I don't want to judge them" . . . and on and on and on. 

People take what the Lord said about judgement being His totally out of context. 

He was talking about condemnation and damnation, and talking about holding grudges against people. 

It's His job to help us to understand the eternal consequences of our behavior, and grudges harbor our own repentance and bring bitterness into our lives. 

He WAS NOT saying "treat everyone as if their behavior choices have no consequence". 

That's ridiculous! 

It's Not Good for them, and it's horrible for us.]


Just look at what your acceptance and dismissal of the bad behaviors of those around you has led to! 

OF COURSE your "friends" are druggies!

And drunkards and . . . quite frankly, idiots.

And unless you make some changes in your life, that's exactly the type of person you're going to marry.

Let me tell you what's really "hard": not obeying the commandments.

Think about it.

Obeying the Commandments (and I include in that The Advice of the Prophets) makes our lives EASIER.

It's when we're disobedient that our lives become more difficult. And I think you're gaining a testimony of that.


And that's why I have hope!

You've done some dumb stuff. 

That doesn't make you a bad person, and you're certainly not un-redeemable.

But you have got to make some changes.

The Savior is your way out, and your Bishop can show you the path, and the Spirit will be your guide. 

(Go check out Hymn 143)


It's better to have no friends at school than to only have bad friends at school.

Plus I believe that if you tell your "friends" that you're going to make a change in your life, if any of them are True and Good Friends they'll support you in that.

Perhaps one or two of them will join you in leaving this dangerous lifestyle behind . . .


And you do need to leave it behind.

No more parties.

No more hanging out where temptation and trouble are.

Start by confiding in your desire to change to one or two of your closest friends in that group.

If they support you, great!

If they don't, then they were never the good friends you thought they were, and it's time for you to leave them behind and make some new ones.


And, all drama aside, I'm sure there are Good Kids who don't do what these kids are doing at your school.

Yeah, they may not be members of the Church, but so what!


Some of the Jo Kids Best Good Friends are non-members. Some are Christian, and some are not. 


When we surround ourselves with Good People it helps us to Be Good People.


So here's what you do next:

     1. Change your social circle. Now.

     2. Stop hanging out with people who are doing things you ought not be doing. Period.

     3. Make an appointment to talk to your Bishop right away. He will help you mend your relationship with the Gospel. Trust him.


Yes! You can become Temple Worthy again.

Yes! You can marry a Good and Honorable Priesthood holder.

And YES, you can return to live with our Heavenly Father!


The only mistake we make when it comes to repentance is failing to do it.

So go call and make the appointment with your Bishop right now.

Know that despite our mistakes our Savior always loves us.

He will help you!

Of this I have no doubts,


You can do it!


God bless,

- Bro Jo


[Readers,

Part 2 of this post will publish Monday, January 18th.

Best,

- Bro Jo]

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Can You Still Be Friends with an Ex in High School?

Dear Bro Jo,

So I'm a senior in high school, and I have never been very wise when it comes to the dating scene.

My parents aren't married and it's taking a little bit of searching on my own to figure out what appropriate dating is, and set my own standards, and that's come over time, after a few mistakes (meaning a couple of boyfriends I wish I wouldn't have had, as I have discovered it really does ruin friendships and cause unnecessary drama).

So last fall one of my best friends "Willow" finally broke things off with her off-and-on my-parents-don't-allow-me-to-have-a-boyfriend-so-we-aren't-official boyfriend of a year and a half.

All of our friends pretty much thought they were going to get married and it was a huge surprise when she started liking another boy, and he was crushed.

The thing is, her old boyfriend, "PJ", and I became really good friends over the course of the summer.

He confided in me a ton about Willow and about his other problems, and I trusted him with a lot about me as well.

We became best friends, but STRICTLY friends.

He had actually told me about a month prior that he would kiss me because he thought I was future wife material, but I brushed it off as a joke.

But that's the kind of friendship we had: I would tell him about the qualities that he had that would make him a great spouse and parent, and he would do the same for me.

It felt as if we were lifting each other up more than anything, and there was nothing romantic between us, ever.

So I was really thrown through a loop when he started flirting with me.

One day he was talking to another friend about a girl he wanted to ask to a dance.

I overheard and joined the conversation, because he told me everything! So why not this?

And he wouldn't tell me and said it didn't matter because it was too complicated anyway and somebody else wanted to ask her.

I was really bothered by this so I pestered him until I got it out of him. He finally told me it was me, and I was really confused because I found I really wanted him to ask me.

I told Willow I was afraid PJ liked me and she brushed it off saying it was fine.

She never told me not to pursue him so I guess I took that as a green light. I saw lots of pain along the way, which I regret, but I tried to be the best friend I could considering the situation.

I tried to balance my life between Willow and PJ, and I almost always put Willow first, and PJ knew that and supported me in that.

I was so twitterpated with PJ. I was living in bliss, falling for my best friend.

Things were great, until about three months later, when he showed signs of still caring about Willow.

I started fearing I was a rebound, and that I was a really good distraction when deep down he still just really liked Willow.

My fears were confirmed when on one fateful group date that just so happened to have all of us present there but with different dates, he told me to "make sure Willow has a good time."

The next day I confronted him about it and he told me that Willow didn't compare to me and gave a lot of other promises, but I couldn't believe him and broke up with him.

It was the hardest thing I've ever done, because I still liked him. I still do.

I was amazed at Willow's kindness, because she called me on the phone that night and cried with me.

I was truly grateful our friendship managed to survive, and if nothing good came from it all, our friendship is stronger. I know he still likes me, and in fact is having a really hard time.

I was his very best friend, and he doesn't really have anyone else to talk to. He is very shy and sensitive and I have heard through sources he doesn't feel comfortable when he is in the same room as me and Willow because he is afraid he is just causing both of us pain.

He practically runs out of the school doors or out of any social event. I wish that we had never become romantically involved because I really just want to be there for him.

And yet I still like him as well. And yet I know I deserve better.

He is going on a mission anyway, and we have both confirmed there is no way we are getting back together, but it is still really hard to have to be around each other every day and not know how to act. 

Is there any way of salvaging a friendship with PJ?

Can you even be friends with an ex?

What can we do to get over the emotional pain?

Can I help him in any way?

Can I do something to make things easier? For both of us?

Sincerely,

- I Don't Want My Life to be this Complicated




Dear Little Sister,

Okay . . . (sigh) so have you learned a little something about guys?

Frankly, if it wasn't for the fact that I get emails like yours all the time I would find it very difficult to believe that you were "really thrown through a loop when he started flirting" - I assure you that everyone else who knew how much time you two were spending together knew that was EXACTLY what was going to happen.

See, as I've written and said many, many times, Guys Can't Stay "Just Close Friends" with Girls.

Not only is it not in our nature, it's really not even a good idea.

To that end, any "friendship" you have with him is either going to be romantic at one point or slowly dissolve.

Sure, you can and should be nice to each other.

But best friends?

No.

Opposite sex best friendships are reserved for the people we marry.

Unless it's this guy, both you and PJ will someday need to find different best friends.

The pain only goes away with time.

And the best thing you can do to help him get over it is to leave him alone.

Stop re-opening the wound and confusing him by acting like everything can still be the same except the kissing . . . because it can't.

I agree that these types of complications are not a good idea in the teenage life . . . so, until you're ready to start looking for a husband, I recommend no more boyfriends.

Dates?

Yes.

Kissing?

If it's limited and appropriate.

But boyfriends?

No.

Stick to Casual Group Dating.

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 4, 2016

When Your Boyfriend Gets His Mission Call

Dear Bro Jo,

This boy and I have been a thing for 2 years.

We've still gone on plenty of dates with other people, which makes sense both for our age, and because we've lived across the country from each other the whole time. I am very close to his family and have visited for period of as long as 2 weeks before.

We do refer to each other as boyfriend/girlfriend.

If I'm being honest, though we have not been outwardly not exclusive, we're still each other’s "favorites" and are hoping for a future together.

I do intend to date plenty while he is gone.

Well, he is leaving on his mission soon.

We're not sure when.

It could be as early as the end of July but he will be submitting his papers this week.

I'm not sure how it all works, but I assume it will be later than that because they wouldn't want him to get his call and say he's leaving in only a few weeks.

But maybe that's just a bit of wishful thinking.

Well anyways, I just got back from a 2 week trip with him and his family and he's starting to really dive deep into mission mode.

Right now we're working on emotionally distancing ourselves; not talking as much, "breaking up" for all intents and purposes.

I am so grateful for his strong desire to be a missionary and the best he can be at that, but as you can imagine it is all very hard for me. He has been my best friend who I talk to about everything, through deaths in both of our families and struggles with friends and all the times we've both felt down in the dumps....

I keep having thoughts that we can drop the boyfriend/girlfriend thing but still keep the close friendship.

After all, you don't "dump" your best friends before you leave.

But I also know it's different when you've started so much closer.

Now my questions are: His family is having me again for a few weeks for a beach trip near the end of June. His parents, who talked to us about it being a good idea to break up in the first place, are okay (even enthusiastic) about it and I trust their judgement.

In these next however many months and my upcoming trip, what things should I make sure to be doing so that he can prepare fully?

Is there a way I can still stay best friends, or something, and not risk interfering?

Would it be alright for me to see him for a short time right before he goes for a sort of closure?

And how can I myself deal with him leaving?

Well I apologize for the novel, and I sincerely appreciate any advice you can give.

Signed,

- Losing My Best Friend




Dear Friend,

I don't think you should make the trip. I think it will complicate things.

I think once a mission call is received things should go into "no longer dating mode"; I think Satan works very hard on missionaries to make them homesick . . . and less likely to go in the first place.

I think if you truly want to support him in doing the Lord's work you should let him go, in every sense of the word.

Write while he's gone, but not often, and keep any relationship - past, present or future - out of your letters.

Don't email each other, even if he's in an area where that's okay.

Your separation will get easier with time, especially if you focus on being of service to others and dating Good Guys when they ask you out.

Not just to be polite, but give them a chance.

Be a little less dramatic and a little less self-involved.

He's not dying.

And you're not "losing" him.

He's moving away for his good and the good of others.

The pain will get better with time.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

We've cancelled the trip.

But I still feel one question of mine goes unanswered.

During his preparation for the temple and the mission, is it alright for us to still talk?

Not as much, and we intend to leave our previous relationship out of it.

But when bad days happen, or good things, or just a chat occasionally like friends do.

Or should we tone all that way down, because of how close we were before?

He receives his call this coming week.

Much Thanks,

- Just Friends




Dear Friend,

Please understand, you two are not now, nor will you ever be "just friends".

You will either one day end up together (which could be great, but is statistically unlikely), or you'll end up with someone else (in which case the best thing you two can be to each other is "exes who are still friendly - meaning kind and polite - and nothing more").

I'm sure that comes with sadness.

That's part of the risk we run when we put ourselves out there . . . which is part of the reason why I don't recommend these serious relationships before missions are served.

Post mission? Absolutely worth the risk!

Because at some point you end up in that relationship where there's never going to be a break up . . . and that's pretty cool.

Of course it's alright to talk.

But you're so hung up on this guy I don't think running to him every time you have a bad day is a good idea or want to chat.

In a very short period of time you won't be able to do that at all . . . so let him go.

For his sake and yours.

Yes, by all means, tone it down.

Be Kind.

Be Polite.

Be Congratulatory.

But realize this: it's over. At least for the next 24+ months.

(Missionaries typically report 3-6 months after receiving their calls.)

The longer you wait to realize that, the harder it's going to be.

Trust me; I'm sure he's a great guy, but he's not the only one out there.

Nor is he the only person out there willing to be your Very Good Friend.

- Bro Jo