Things to know

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

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

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

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Monday, February 29, 2016

Staying Temple Worthy Once You're Engaged

Dear Bro Jo,

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you.

Here is the plan:

My future mother-in-law is a little bit hurt that she won't be able to see the wedding, but she has been very understanding.

She loves my idea of an outside ring ceremony. That way she can get the "traditional" wedding feeling she craves!

She has been very helpful with planning and increasingly understanding of our beliefs.

My future father-in-law is a little bit sarcastic about the whole thing, but he's not much of a party guy anyway, so it doesn't seem like he minds that much. He doesn't talk much, so it's hard for me to tell. But he's supportive, in a passive kind of way.

My future sister-in-laws are just excited to be involved - and the older one, who I have chosen to be a bridesmaid, is excited about the fun privileges AND excited about the lessened duties!

My brothers are completely fine with the temple wedding, as I expected. It still is a little bit of a minefield around here, but it's getting better all the time.

Thank you.


Now the main concern is keeping ourselves clean until the wedding.

Wow!

My dad always told me it was hard, but I never imagined.

The fiancé and I made a mistake last night - not Bishop worthy, just too close for comfort - and we are both having a hard time getting rid of the sick feeling in our stomachs.

I am very worried because I can't even bear the thought of being unworthy to go to the temple!

We have set new, super-strict rules for ourselves and I am praying for faith that we will be able to make it.

If it wasn't hard, it wouldn't be worth it, right?

Anyway, thanks for the help, and if you have any words of wisdom in regards to the chastity struggle, that would be welcome.

But we're doing our best!

- Daisy




Dear Daisy

Yes, it's worth it.

And your father is right: it will get more and more difficult.

You don't mention what "rules" you've set, but essentially I advise people three things:

     1. Make sure the wedding isn't too far away; if you need to, move it up. If it's at three months, move it to 6 weeks. If it's more than three months out, move it up to 3 months (or even six weeks).

     2. No more in-the-dark alone time. Period. No exceptions.

     3. No alone time during the day behind closed doors, on a sofa, in the park (or other excluded area), in a car, and don't go anywhere near a bed (unless it's to buy your mattress, and even then take a couple chaperons).

I know that all may sound extreme, but you'll thank me.

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 26, 2016

Does it Matter if the Girl is Right if the Timing is Wrong? - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for getting back to me so fast.

Yeah...I suspected you would say that.

It just hurts so much even thinking about it..

I'm going home for a week a couple days from now, so I'll have time to sort out my thoughts and maybe build up the courage to tell her... I'm so worried about her though.

Like I said, she's really depressed, and sometimes she hints that she's even having suicidal feelings. I think my spending time with her helps her feel better...

But that's so much pressure on me to save her, and I don't think anyone can save you from yourself.

Except Christ, of course.

She needs help.

But I can't tell her that, because she gets mad at me.

She told me that I should be able to make her feel better myself and not call outside people in to help her.

Plus, she's technically getting help.

She takes antidepressants and stuff.

I just hope she doesn't try something...

Thanks again.

It's nice talking to someone, anyone, about it.

- Confused




Dear Confused,

I'm always here for you, bro.

Now I'm even more convinced that she's dangerously manipulative.

I think for her sake, and yours, you should have this talk BEFORE you go home for the Holiday.

In fact, I think you should do it first thing in the morning.

These things are better done at the beginning of the day than the end of the day, ESPECIALLY if you're worried about depression or suicide.

(Seriously. If you're honestly worried that she might do something . . .  uninspired . . . for any reason, strongly consider also involving people that can be on alert to help her, such as her parents or yours.)

It will give her all day to work it out, she can't say you abandoned her and left that day, she'll have all day to deal with it (nights are when we're the most lonely - until we get married - and the most likely that time that we'll feel depressed), and you'll be less . . . "tempted" . . . to "make her feel better".

Do it.

You'll be glad you did.

And I promise your time at home will be more fun once this monkey is off your back.

Good luck.

- Bro Jo


***


Dear Bro Jo,

Just wanted to let you know that I finally cut off all contact with her.

I couldn't do it before - I loved her too much.

I continued to be her friend and talk to her until about a week ago, when she hinted that she wrote a suicide note and explicitly said that if she had a plan and a little more desire, she would have taken her life that day.

I was scared for her so I contacted her family (we were back home in different states by this time).

When her family confronted her about it, she got angry at me because "I was just supposed to listen" and she claimed it was none of my business, especially since she told me she had gotten over it and was going to bed.

I was shocked.

You can't threaten suicide, then say you're "okay" and suddenly turn it into no big deal.

Or be ANGRY when someone tries to legitimately help.

I should have told her family a long time ago. I know I did the right thing, so my conscience is clear. 


The next day, she texted me "I forgive you,"

Honestly, at that point I got angry.

All night she had been sending texts demanding that I apologize for telling her family, etc, but I refused to respond because I know I did absolutely nothing wrong in this situation.

Her saying she "forgave me," like it was still all my fault, pushed me over the edge and I finally blocked her and cut off all contact.

I did it in a moment of anger, which wasn't the most Christ-like response, but I do think it was for the best.

Maybe it was that push I needed to finally get over whatever feelings I had for her. I now suspect she's not really suicidal at all. I think she was telling me so to manipulate me, like you said. I still love her as a friend, but she has issues she needs to work out, and I'm not helping.

She's pretty cruel to me, too, and that's not exactly an attractive quality.

I told her as nicely as possible blocked her on Facebook, Skype, Spotify, email, and my phone...

She has no way to contact me now.

She probably hates me now, which makes me so sad, but oh well.

I wished her all the best and hope that she'll be able to work through her problems.


In the meantime, I'm currently on vacation with my family, so that's distracted me from feeling guilty and trying to contact her again.


I'm having a wonderful time with them before I head off on my mission to (location withheld) for two years. I saw this old conversation in my inbox and just thought I'd give you the update.

Thanks for the input!

- Confused




Dear Confused,

I appreciate the update.

And I think you've made a healthy choice, even if it took a long time to get there.

A Mission will be the hardest, most rewarding two years of your life.

Proud of and excited for you!

Godspeed,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

When You Future Non-member In-laws Can't Attend the Sealing

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi!

I am in a bit of a sticky situation, and I bet that both you and Sister Jo could help me out.

Think you could ask her opinion on this, too?

I’m engaged to be married to my best friend, a wonderful, righteous man.

We will be married in the Lord’s temple – neither of us is willing to compromise on that.

The trouble is that he’s a convert, so my future in-laws are not members.

Although they generally disapprove of the Church, they have been wonderfully supportive and I really love and respect them.

It is very sad for them that they can’t attend the ceremony.

How can I make this less painful for them?

I come from a Mormon family (the only daughter of 8 children), but most of my brothers left the Church long ago. Along with my parents.

I only have one brother (and his wife) that will be able to attend the temple ceremony.

My nonmember brothers are familiar with the Church and understand why they can’t attend.

My future in-laws don’t.

I plan on only inviting those immediate family members to the temple (not friends / neighbors / extended family) out of courtesy for my in-laws, so they’re not SO left out.

But should I make it even smaller?

Should I explain the situation to my one brother and suggest he not attend so it's just my parents?

I’ve been thinking of having a separate ring and vow ceremony after the sealing.

We’ll have it inside a local church, more similar to the “traditional” wedding that my in-laws were expecting.

I haven’t decided how much of the big show to put on (I don’t like big shows) – all I know right now is that his two sisters will be my bridesmaids.

I think it'll help but it’s still not the real thing.

I love my future in-laws and want so badly for them to be happy and honored at the wedding.

Besides what I’ve already considered, do you have any suggestions for how to help non-member families during a temple wedding?

I want to do everything I can for them!

Thank you,

- Daisy




Dear Daisy,

It's a sensitive moment, to be sure, and a tough balancing act.

You can't keep Temple Worthy Immediate Family Members (your brother and his wife) from witnessing your sealing, and I don't think you should make anything you do outside the Temple more grand than what happens inside the Temple.

I certainly don't agree with "mock weddings", especially if they're going to make your sealing for Time and All Eternity seem like a side note.

Any "vows" you make outside the Temple will pale in comparison to the Covenants you make inside.
I think you need to have some conversations.

Communication is the key, and rather than guess at what should be done, you should ask.

Your siblings know better; frankly I wouldn't worry about their feelings at all.

They're welcome to come inside the Temple and witness the greatest moment of their sister's life if they choose to; they know what they'll have to do to get there, and if they don't care, that's their problem.

Just like it's their problem if they chose to be offended.

But give them a little credit, I bet they'll be supportive and cool.


As for your future in-laws, you and your fiancé should have an adult conversation with them. Express your love for them, and let them know that while they can't attend the sealing, you want them to feel included and then ASK THEM what they would like.

People are much more likely to buy off on the solution if their part of the process.

And you may find that your in-laws will be happy to be in the non-endowed waiting room, especially if you have immediate family members waiting with them.

Mazal tov!

- Bro Jo

 PS: Let me know how the conversation goes and what everyone decides, would you?




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you very much!

I have been afraid to ask, but in retrospect that is a little silly, isn't it?

I will talk to my in-laws and let you know what the outcome is.


But on another note, I'm wondering what you mean by "mock weddings"?

Like an entirely separate wedding with the whole sha-bang?

That seems peculiar to me.


What I had in mind was a very small (immediate family only) ceremony where my sweetheart and I exchange rings and self-written vows - but no procession, no speech, just a close family friend officiating to keep things organized.


Does that seem reasonable to you?


Anyway, I'll run that by the in-laws and see what they think.

I'm just curious about your opinion.

Thank you again!

- Daisy

P.S. My brothers will not be offended. They are sweet guys, and it's been long enough since they left the Church now that they are not openly bitter anymore.

I know they won't mind at all, although it hurts me a little that they won't be in the temple with me. Oh well. Someday they will be!




Dear Daisy,

Good for you!

Cheers,

- Bro Jo

Monday, February 22, 2016

Should She Go to College?

Bro Jo,

May I just start by saying that I love love love your blog.

I stumbled upon it when I was in a bad relationship with my ex-boyfriend and I’m so glad I found you because I have learned so much about relationships in general and dating from your blog so thank you!

So I know you mainly give dating advice but I need help with something else.

I’m almost 18 and I am in the process of deciding which college to go to.

This has been kind of tough because my parents never talked about me going to college.

Neither of them did so I am a first generation college student, or will be.

I have had some trouble on deciding where to go.

I have talked to people about my three choices, fasted and prayed, and received a priesthood blessing to help me maybe feel some kind of inspiration or prompting from the spirit as to where I need to be.

I have lived in the same house since I was born and have been going to the same school with the same people since kindergarten. I am currently in my senior year at a private school in (location withheld).

The first college I was accepted to was Old Dominion University. The good thing about this is that it’s close to home and it has my major, the bad thing is that it is not an LDS environment which is something I highly prefer, and the price isn’t really bad or good.

The second school I was accepted to was BYU. Everyone I know except my family is really pushing for me to go there. The distance from home is what’s holding me back on this one. I’ve never been so far away from home without my family before. The price for this school is probably the most affordable for me so that’s good, and they also have my major.

The last school I applied to was Southern Virginia University. They are a private LDS school here in Virginia, which is good because I’m used to being at a private school and it’s an LDS environment and its 4 hours from home and I have visited this school and I met the professor of the field I want to go in to, but the price is pretty high because it’s private.

The thing is that my parents already pay for my education since I already attend a private school, but they never thought about me going to college which is weird.

I don’t know if it's because I never really mentioned it, or if it’s because they never went themselves. I’ve prayed so hard about this and I still don’t feel like I know where to go.

I’m scared about leaving home but another part of me is so so excited to go be on my own and learn new things and meet new people and sometimes I just feel like my fear of leaving my family is keeping me from opening new doors for myself.

See I live at home with my grandmother and she is almost 80 and not in the best health and my parents have mentioned that if I go to BYU and something happens at home or something happens to me out there, they won’t be able to get to me fast enough or I won’t be able to get home fast enough.

I really need some help deciding.

Again thank you so much for reading my email and I look forward to reading your response.

- Future College Girl




Dear Future,

When you're struggling with decisions of this type it's best to go to the Lord.

This is what Fasting, Prayer and Personal Revelation are for.

My opinion?

Go to school.  

Each of the ones you've picked is a good school.  Consider visiting the campuses, talking to students and attending Church and an Institute class.

When picking a college you're also picking a home, so keep that in mind.

It's normal to be scared about new things, but never let your fears OR the fears of others keep you from doing what's right.

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 19, 2016

Does it Matter if the Girl is Right if the Timing is Wrong? - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey! First of all, I'd like to start off by that I think you're an awesome guy with lots of good insights.

I don't necessarily agree with everything you say, but for the most part I believe you have really good advice. Thanks for doing what you do!

So, a little bit of background on me and the girl I'm writing to ask about.

I apologize in advance because this could be a pretty long letter.

Anyway, I'm currently a freshman at BYU.

About a year ago, I was a member of a Facebook group called (name withheld).  It was basically just a page where youth from around the world could get to know each other and talk.

I thought it was a cool place to meet other LDS kids my age since there weren't a ton in my area. I was pretty active on the group, participating in conversations and becoming recognizable on the site.

It was pretty fun.

One day, this girl from the group messaged me.

She said I had caught her attention with the things I would talk about, and she was interested in getting to know me better. I was honestly flattered, because I had never really gotten much attention from girls before and even though she didn't know me at all it felt nice. So, I started talking to her.

We exchanged phone numbers, and kept talking. We lived thousands of miles apart, but that didn't stop us.

I thought she was awesome and she clearly liked me.

One thing lead to another and soon we were Skyping, calling, and in a bona fide "virtual relationship."

Since we were both going to be headed to BYU that summer, we were hopeful that something would work out in person when we finally met.

Except that I cut it off.

After the excitement of being in a relationship - if you can call it that when you've never met - wore off, I realized that there was every possibility things wouldn't work out when we did meet, and that being a couple prior to that meeting would increase the pressure and probably make it terribly awkward.

So, I broke up with her.

I told her I was still excited to meet her and that I would absolutely give her a chance in person.

She was really upset, and for a while was really angry at me - we argued more than we had good talks.

She told me I was being stupid and trying to follow silly "social norms" and that I should follow my heart.

The ironic thing, of course, was that I WAS following my heart.

Even though I liked her, I didn't feel that it was a good idea to be in a relationship before meeting. Which seems so obvious in hindsight that I don't know how I got so excited by it at the time. 

Anyway, that's just the beginning.

Fast-forward to the end of August, where we both did show up at BYU and finally got to meet each other.

At first, just as I had feared, things were really uncomfortable. But I guess we got used to it quickly and a couple hours later she was cuddling with me in her apartment watching internet videos.

I remember thinking at the time that she was moving really, really fast...I wasn't necessarily ready for cuddling or anything yet.

Like I said though, girls had never paid me any attention before, so it was a huge shock that she still liked me after meeting in person. I mean, it's nice to be touched.

Well...Sometimes (more on that later).

Anyway, we warmed up to each other, and it got to the point where I was hanging at her apartment all the time, and we were pretty much constantly together.

Don't worry - I insisted on taking her on real "plan, pick up and pay" dates, too.

Eventually, I shared my first kiss with her, and things escalated quickly from there.

Soon we were making out - we never did anything that would require us to go to a Bishop, but it may have gotten there if I hadn't done something about it.

I don't regret the little kisses - My first kiss was really special. But I didn't feel very good about where were going with the more intense stuff. I hadn't wanted the label of "boyfriend/girlfriend" yet, but we were basically there already.

So, as I was reflecting more and more about why I was uncomfortable with the kissing, I realized that I just wasn't ready for it yet - for lots of reasons.

I'm not that overweight, but I am heavy enough to struggle with self-esteem and self-image problems, and being touched made me self-conscious and so uncomfortable...

That's part of what I didn't like, even though kissing was really fun. I'll never be totally comfortable with someone else unless I'm comfortable with myself.

There's also the issue of my Mission - Which of course isn't really an issue, but you know what I mean.

I've always been of the opinion that waiting for a Missionary is a bad idea.

There's the issue of distraction - I want to be able to focus on my mission wholeheartedly, without having to constantly worry about whether a girl back home really will wait, or what she's doing, etc.

There's also the fact that I don't want her (and she has the hardest time understanding this) to go into cold storage while I'm gone.

She claims that if I really cared about her, I'd want to keep her for myself, but the truth is...I don't know how things are going to work out and I'm not comfortable making a commitment like that until I'm really confident.

People can change a lot in two years, especially when on a mission.

If I don't come home a changed person, I don't think I will have truly fulfilled my calling.

But, who knows for sure if that new person will still like her?

One of the worst things I can imagine happening would be if, after I had her wait for me for two years, I came home and decided it wasn't going to work with her. She would have wasted two years of her life waiting for me, when she could have met the man of her dreams (who, again, she claims is me, but I'm not so sure).

Being in a relationship and then breaking it right before my Mission also seems silly - I don't think relationships should have expiration dates.

Furthermore, there's the fact that I've never really dated before, and even though I think I do love her, there's a thousand amazing girls here that I want to go on dates with, and get to know, because I'll never be able to be confident in choosing someone to marry unless I've had the chance to see what kind of personality traits I compliment best.

That's just my personality - I like to have all the facts before jumping into something.

So, one night, I told her all of this.

She . . . didn't take it well.

For the past few months, we've been arguing pretty much nonstop.

A few times she's stopped talking to me altogether, but she always contacts me again, angry that I didn't try to contact her and prove that I actually care. I was just trying to give her space...I mean, what am I supposed to do when she says "I want to forget you"?

This is all complicated by the fact that I really, really like her - Maybe even love her - and she thinks that's more than enough reason to be in a relationship.

How do I argue with that?

Do I really love her if I still don't think now's the right time?

She says that if I really cared, I would want to do anything and everything I can to hold onto her, and that the fact that I want her to date while I'm gone proves I don't really care for her.

That I want to date other girls and not worry about commitment, too, seems to tell her that I don't really care about her.

But she goes back and forth from being okay with being just friends to saying that she hates me and that I'm a coward who's afraid of commitment.

And I feel so bad for her...

She's had a really hard past.  (Details Withheld)

I feel awful because she thinks I'm abandoning her and in her mind I'm just confirming that all men are selfish and awful and reinforcing that hatred. She struggles with severe depression and other emotional issues, and I wish I could help her, but by trying to do what I feel is right I'm just making things worse.

And I feel REALLY bad because she accused me of using her when we were making out and stuff, and I guess she's kind of right.

I truly do care about her, but that's only part of the reason we got involved with that. It was just so thrilling and exciting...I got carried away.

I regret it now, but you can't take that back.

Another interesting thing...At the moment, she's saying that she knows I won't change my mind and doesn't care, because she still wants attention from me.

She keeps begging me to cuddle with her and even make out with her, and I'm having a really hard time saying no.

I feel like that should be reserved for a committed relationship, but she says she doesn't care and just feels starved for physical touch. It's hard because that was really fun, and when I have a pretty girl begging me to kiss her all the time...

It's so, so hard to resist.

What makes it easier is the fact I mentioned earlier that sometimes I don't fully enjoy touching because I'm so insecure about my body, so maybe that's a good thing?

Anyway, the world is upside down because I'M the guy and normally I would be the one asking for physical things and here I am trying to say no.

And, I'm not all that good at it.

A couple times when she was crying, and I wanted to make her feel better, I kissed her.

Moments of weakness, I guess, but to her they just reinforce that what I'm doing by choosing not to be official with her is fighting my true feelings.

Of course, my true feelings are conflicted, so in the end I guess she's partially right and we both feel worse.


Should I just give in and give her what she needs?


 I'm stuck between trying to do what's right and trying to be her friend and make her happy, but I think she's going to keep fighting me until I "give in to my real feelings" and let us be a couple. I'm not willing to do that yet, but I also don't want to lose her as a friend...I care about her. I've talked to my family some, and they think I'm being dumb by not just letting her go.

But, I can't hurt her that way. The problem is, I'm hurting her by not committing to her, too.

What on earth am I supposed to do?

If you have any clarifying questions, just email me.

Sorry for the long, reflective letter.

I just feel lost.

This drama and anger and arguing is too much for me...I just want to be happy.

To enjoy college and dating and making friends while I can, when I don't have to worry about pressure to get married.

Maybe that does make me afraid of commitment. I'm just not ready for her.

But I also don't want to lose her completely - I still consider her one of my best friends.

Thanks so much again for all that you do. You're awesome. 

Sincerely,

- Confused Preemie




Dear Confused,

This is kind of a tough one.

I can see that you really like her, and I can understand why.

Not just because she's pretty and kissing is great and all, but it's nice to be needed and despite all of the crying and begging and manipulation, you seem to really like spending time with her.

But I can't get past what you keep saying about the timing being bad . . . and I totally agree.

(By the way, even Sister Jo doesn't agree with everything I write, so we're good, you and me.)

I believe that Satan can use Good Things for Bad.

You two being together may be a good thing, but putting the Mission in jeopardy is bad.

And then there's the manipulation.

That bothers me a lot.

Are you using her because you like kissing?

Maybe.

But that seems to be mutual.

Is having a pretty girl say she likes you and can't live without you very flattering?

Sure!

But this girl is so emotionally needy that she . . . well, bro . . . she scares me.

And I think it's to the point where she's putting her needs ahead of yours.

Now, sure, in any good relationship we should be concerned with the needs of the other person. But what seems to be happening here is that BOTH of you are putting Her first.

Some of the things she says . . . some of the things she's doing . . . the crying, the guilt, the yelling . . . it's just not healthy.

Not to say that you're guilt free, but I'm not talking to her right now.

I'm talking to you.

And so I agree.

I think it needs to end.

And not Charley-Brown-wishy-washy-sort-of end like you've tried so far.

But END end.

As in:
"I really like you, but the timing is totally wrong. This is very difficult for me, but I know it's the right thing, the grownup thing, to do. We can't see each other anymore. I need some space to figure out who I am. You need to realize that you're a wonderful daughter of Heavenly Father and are awesome and valuable regardless of whether or not you're in a relationship. I need to be preparing to go on a mission, and I can't do that if I'm in a relationship this serious. And let's face it: we can't be alone together without 'being together', and that's not good. I still like you. I'll always like you. But we can't go on any more dates or be alone together until I come home from the mission. If you care about me at all you'll understand." 

And, as painful as this may be, brother, if she starts to turn on the Manipulation Machine, as I suspect she will (be it trying to kiss you, yelling at you, crying, or perhaps and very likely all of the above), you'll need to be strong and see that as a sign that you're absolutely right to be getting out of this thing right now.

Good Luck.

Be Strong.

Don't wait.

And let me know how it goes, would ya?

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What Can a Future Sister Missionary Do If She's Worried About Dealing with Her Period on Her Mission?

Dear Bro Jo,

So I'm wondering on how to ask this question without it seeming like I'm a bad person.

Also I don't want to ask anyone else this question in case it is really wrong, because I absolutely don't intend for it to be bad in any way.

So a couple years ago I worked at a gym and my co-worker mentioned that she (who is LDS and living a righteous life) used birth control to stop her periods (just for the inconvenience of periods, not for anything else).

Honestly I know nothing about whether or not that is wrong. So please keep that in mind.

I am 19 years old and I am going on a mission to Brazil in March, the thing is that in Brazil you can't flush toilet paper.  I know that when I am on my period I'm a little anemic and so I get so so so tired and don't even feel like moving.

And I'm just really Really worried that my period will prevent me from being the best missionary I can be.

So I can try to take iron pills which might help, but then there is the problem of walking around all day in the sun and having to use members’ bathrooms because of my period, and if you can't flush toilet paper...ahh!

Anyways I'm just really worried about this, and I don't know if this is an appropriate question to ask you (sorry!) but I don't really want to "Google" it too much because there are all sorts of random answers you can get, and things like that.

Also if it isn't a bad thing (to only use while on my mission, because I heard it stops your periods- which could be totally false and have negative side effects which I really don't know anything about) then I will for sure talk to my parents about it.

I just don't want to ask them and Then find out that it really is a bad thing and feel judged for it, because honestly I am completely clueless to details about this.

Anyways please let me know if taking the pill is simply a wrong thing to do, or if it would have negative consequences

Sincerely,

Me




Dear M,

Here's what I know (as taught to me by Sister Jo):

Birth Control pills don't "eliminate" your period, they keep the egg from being released so that it can't get fertilized.

A woman's period flushes unfertilized eggs on a regular basis, so you still have to have one.

A typical pack of Birth Control Pills has 21 pills that prevent fertilization, and 7 pills that are placebos.

It's while you're taking the placebos that you'll have your period. (So I'm struggling to buy the "just for the inconvenience of the period" thing your coworker said . . . we'll just let that go for now.)

I don't know anything about not flushing toilet paper in Brazil or how women deal with their periods there, but rest assured I don't think you're blazing new territory.

I'm certain millions of other women, including thousands of Sister Missionaries, have dealt with what worries you.

Talk to your mom.

Talk to your doctor.

Talk to other Sisters who have served there.

I'm sure all of them will be able to help with this much more than I can.

I can tell you that Sister Jo has chosen not to take birth control pills because she doesn't want to deal with the side effects of the hormones and chemicals. (No one seems to talk about those much, or that women who take them often find it difficult to get pregnant when they stop taking them.)

I think that's a personal choice.

We've been taught often not to put off having children because its "inconvenient", and we're taught not to do anything that might put us in a situation where we might conceive outside of marriage . . . other than that, I think this is a decision between you and the Lord.

And one you should have a lot more information about before you make any decisions. 

Congratulations on your Mission Call!

- Bro Jo

Monday, February 15, 2016

How to Start Writing to a Missionary

Dear bro Jo,

I am wanting to write a missionary, but I am wondering should I ask him before I write him?

If so what should I say?

And what are some good things to write him about?

Thanks!

- M




Dear M,

You don't have to ask permission to write a missionary - just write him!

And then only write again after he writes you (and not immediately after) or once two months have passed.

Keep your initial letters casual and encouraging.

Ask the missionary lots of questions about what the mission is like, what they're learning, and how the work is going.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks Bro Jo!

My only dilemma is:  how to start writing him.

Should I ask his sister for his address?

How should I start the letter?

What do I talk about in the first letter?

Do I start writing him in the field? Or in the MTC?

Thanks for the time spacing idea for letters!

What a great way to stay in touch without becoming the focus of his mission.

Sorry for all of the questions!

And I appreciate you sharing tour knowledge on the subject!

- M




Dear M,

A letter in the MTC is fine.

 And, even if you don't hear back from him while he's there, one a month or two after he's in the field is okay, too.

Missionaries tend to make their addresses public knowledge. I bet you'll find both his MTC address and his mission home address on his Facebook page and in his ward bulletin.

If you don't, there's nothing wrong with asking his sister.

The first letter is no different than any other letter.

Be Kind, Be Encouraging, and Keep It Short.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks Bro Jo!

Ha ha ha obviously this is a first for me.

Thanks again!

- M



Dear M,

Anytime.

Remember, all Good Habits had to start somewhere.

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 12, 2016

Are They Kissing Too Much?

Dear Bro Jo,

I met a returned missionary and we've been dating exclusively for a month now. I have loved every second being with him, and he's impressed me in a lot of ways.

He's a worthy Priesthood holder, strives to do his best in school and work, is sincere, kind, treats me wonderfully, etc.

Of course, you probably wondering why I'm writing you if this is all so perfect.

The thing is, I've felt slightly guilty about the physical nature of our relationship.

We kiss frequently.

We french kiss often and once he kissed me on the neck.

I know in the For Strength of Youth it says not to kiss passionately or to do any necking...so that's where the guilt comes in.

We never kiss longer than a couple of minutes and when I communicate to him I'm done kissing (lightly pecking him on the cheek) he stops.

And we've never touched each other inappropriately...but what I'm doing is still going against the Strength of Youth, isn't it?

And then I also justify what I'm doing by saying that I know tons of now married LDS couples who kissed passionately while they were dating and ended up just fine.

But I think I'm making excuses here.

Am I headed for dangerous waters if I continue to kiss like we have?

I feel like I am, but I don't want to admit it. I don't want to have the awkward conversation where we draw up lines on kissing, but Bro Jo. I have the feeling we should probably have it.

Do you have any advice on how to go about it?

Also, what do you think are some good rules to prevent passionate kissing that could lead to chastity problems?

I've heard stuff like "No kissing while sitting down" and such.

Do you have any ideas that might help me?

I love my boyfriend, more than I've ever loved anyone and our relationship is far more than the physical aspect. I would never want to get into trouble with him.

For my sake and his. I doubt that we will, but I want to be safe.

Can you help me out here?

Thanks,

- Kissing Too Much?




Dear K,

The For the Strength of Youth also says no single dating ...

But you know what?

You're not a youth!

I think where you're at is fine ... even advisable.

You don't want to end up on any situation that may jeopardize your Temple Worthiness, so I think the best thing to do is to stay vertical.

Once horizontal happens avoiding sex and heavy petting becomes much more difficult.

Passion and physical desire is good in a relationship at your age and un-married status.

If you find that things are escalating to the point where self-control is a problem and you hope to marry in the Temple, then you'll need to reduce your alone time and even consider getting married sooner rather than later.

If marriage isn't a strong possibility at that point, it may be that your relationship is all physical and it's time to move on.

For now I think you're fine.

(You may want to check out Bro Jo's Guide to Kissing.)

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for responding, and so quickly!

This has been making me feel kind of guilty, but what you said does make sense.

I'm 19 and he's 21. We are both adults, and when we kiss I feel like we both have a good handle on things.

I guess what has made me feel guilty is my family's culture is...somewhat strict I guess?

For example, my brother and sister in law had minimal physical contact while dating (didn't kiss often and rarely cuddled).

And my parents have warned me against kissing too long.

I do make out with my boyfriend, though as I mentioned they are pretty short and we never cross any lines.

It was good what you said about horizontal kissing though.

Personally, I think I may want to establish a rule of no making out on couches, because I think that could definitely lead to horizontal kissing.

I would like to talk to my boyfriend about it and see what he thinks. And I'll also check out the guide too.

Although we've only been dating for a month, we have hinted at marriage.

I try to imagine marrying somebody other than him, and worry I'll never find anybody who matches me so well, has such high standards, and treats me so well.

And we've told each other that even if we were old and grey and wrinkled, we'd still love each other.

So yes, physical aspect is part of our relationship, but it's not at the core of it.

Thanks again for answering so quickly.

I feel a lot better about where we are at!

- K




Dear K,

I personally think a month is too soon to get engaged (not that you are saying that) . . . unless the two people knew each other pretty well before they started dating.

My general recommendation is "long courtships, short engagements".

Of course "long and short" are relative terms, especially in LDS culture. 

No couches is a good rule.

As are No Blankets, No Cars, and absolutely No Bedrooms (horizontal or vertical).

The link to Bro Jo's Guide to Kissing is HERE.



- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Yep, I think I'll go with no car, no couch, no blanket rule.

It just seems smart and would prevent a lot of stupid decisions.

And while we have hinted at marriage, we aren't getting engaged for a long time if we do.

I would like to date for at least six months to a year before I get engaged.

If we were to get married, it probably won't be for a while until we know each other even more and are more stable in our education and work.

Thanks for all the helpful advice!

- K




Dear K,

Anytime!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Aftermath of Having Violated the Honor Code at BYU

Dear Bro Jo,

My boyfriend and I just had sex.

One time.

We both went in and confessed.

He is endowed and an RM.

We have both never messed up before.

My Bishop said we could keep dating and that things will be okay after we repent.

His Bishop said to break up and cut off all contact.

He had a disciplinary council and his Bishop's requirement is that he not have any contact with me for at least nine months. He is on formal probation and his Bishop told him that he could be kicked out of BYU for not following his Bishop's council.

I think this is overstepping the line of a Bishop to not allow someone to speak to another person for NINE months.

My boyfriend is one of the greatest men I have ever dated.

I know that people make mistakes.

We were very stupid.

I am going through absolute hell because of my stupid one time decision. I know it is important for us to never do this again. I truly care about him and I want him to do the right thing. I just have never heard of such a strict request from a bishop.

What do you think?

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

I think Bishops are called with keys designed to help each member under their stewardship be worthy to enter the Temple.

Your boyfriend has made Temple covenants regarding chastity that you may have not made yet. 

While he holds no keys respective to you, perhaps it would help you understand his thinking if you spoke to your boyfriend's Bishop.

He can't (or at least shouldn't) share with you the specific details of his conversation with your boyfriend, but maybe you'll at least see that he's a good guy that is doing what he feels the Lord would have him do to help the boy.

I would like you to consider some other things as well:

     1. There's a possibility, no matter how remote, that your boyfriend's Bishop knows more about your boyfriend and his situation than you do, those details may not be your business at this exact moment, and they may include information that explain the promptings the Bishop received.

     2. Nine months is a long time, but not too long to wait for a wonderful and worthy eternal companion.

     3. If you "just had sex" (not sure how recent you mean), your boyfriend (and likely you as well) should not expect to be allowed to be Sealed for Time and All Eternity in the Temple for a year, not to each other or anyone else for that matter.

     4. Before you freak out about how long "a year" feels like, I invite you to consider how quickly this last year has gone by.

     5. While there's no need for you to be completely forthcoming with me, I want you to know that this Old Guy doesn't believe that anyone wakes up one day and accidentally commits a big transgression. This was not just a random "one time decision". I think it's much more likely that the two of you have been doing much more than "simple kisses goodnight". The only point in bringing this up is the hope that you'll be more aware in the future of what the result is when we do what you two were doing in the weeks, days and moments that lead to sex.

(By the way, that's also good when you're married. When you want to have sex with your spouse knowing what buttons to push, and being aware of when they're pushing your buttons on purpose, can be very good things.)

     6. It's only important that you not do this again Until After You're Married. (See #5 above.)

     7. You're not a bad person, and there's no reason why you can't mend things so that you can enjoy the blessings of both the Temple and Eternal Marriage. You just have to be patient and do the things required.


Lastly, and I realize that you may not hear this from anyone else, but if the two of you really are in love, if you're really committed to making an Eternal Marriage work (and, believe me, it IS work), and if you can't abide by the nine months . . . if you have no hope of keeping your hands off each other . . . then as much as I'd much rather see you fix things and get married in the Temple . . . MUCH RATHER . . . maybe you two should just get married now and plan for a Sealing in a year. 

While it's not my first choice, and shouldn't be yours, I'd rather see you guys do that than to keep pushing the Temple Marriage back because you keep "messing up". HOWEVER (and this is a big "however"), before you agree to marry anyone you'd better be able to answer the "Bro Jo's Stuff You Need to Know Before You Get Engaged"

- Bro Jo

Monday, February 8, 2016

He Really Wants this Girl to be His High School Girlfriend

Dear Bro Jo,

I think this is how I am supposed to contact you . . .

Anyways, I saw your blog and thought it would be a good idea for me to ask you about my dilemma. 

I've been on multiple dates with this girl in my ward. It has never been twice in a row, because my mom has set the rule of not dating the same girl twice in a row, and I fully support that.

I realized I liked her on our first date a couple months ago, and have been trying to figure out what to do about it.

I have never been in a relationship before, and I am 17 years old, so its nothing to do with the dating age.

I took her to our Mormon prom, and it was a wonderful night.

The day after prom, I told her that I liked her, and didn't know how she felt.

She told me that she didn't like me like that.

I by all means want to follow the Church's standards, and don't want to get involved with anything too close.

I am not really sure what to call it, and I think it is alright to have a "girlfriend" in high school.

Anyways, I made sure I told her I still wanted to be friends, and didn't want this to come between us.

Now, weeks later, I still feel like I need to "follow up" somehow, like I just heard in this General Conference talk today. I am just mainly confused about my feelings.

I think she likes someone already, but she hasn't really acted on those feelings.

Am I wrong to want to have a girlfriend in high school?

This whole thing is new for me, and it just has been driving me crazy for awhile now.

I think I have pretty much covered everything that is relevant.

Thank you for your time, and hopefully I sent this right.

- Confused




Dear Confused,

The talk on "following up" was about missionary work, not getting a girlfriend in high school. 

(Remember, the anecdotal story at the beginning was about a guy In College.)

I fully understand the drive to be in a relationship pre-mission . . . all of the Jo Boys at one time or another had a girlfriend (one of them had MULTIPLE girlfriends . . . some even overlapping) and all of them will tell you that they now agree with my opinion that's it's not a good idea.

(And that's a big deal, by the way, admitting that Dear Old Dad was right.)

Advice from Church leaders is also contrary to your assertion that it's "alright to have a girlfriend". 

My advice?

Don't act on anything. If my advice isn't enough, at least pay attention to the fact that she's already turned you down.

Look, how you Feel isn't wrong - it's good that you like girls and want to be in a relationship with one; but the timing is bad.

Casual Group Dating is what you do from now until the mission,

THEN get more serious when you come home.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Dang that was fast!

With the talk today, I was just relating it, wasn't necessarily saying it was the same.

I understand what you are saying though.

I’m going to try and stay friends, it’s just hard.

I am not really sure entirely how to deal with it.

With the title girlfriend, I feel like it is different then what I may have asserted.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but if we did like each other?

I see it as being something where we still go on double dates and nothing changing with that, but just that small step ahead where after mission, it could potentially go somewhere.

Hopefully that makes sense.

Thanks for your reply!

 - Confused




Dear Confused,

It makes sense, and I agree with you.

"Girlfriend" is a title that communicates exclusive commitment.

Even when the Jo Boys had Girlfriends we required them to take out other girls . . . which, BTW, made the Girlfriends (and sometimes their mothers) angry.

- Bro Jo

Friday, February 5, 2016

Is She In Love with Her Friend's Brother?

Dear Bro Jo,

Dating = not my strength.

I guess I will just throw it out there that I am 20, and live in good, ole Provo, UT where the Church reigns and dating (for me) seems to...well, not.

But that's not my point.

I have interest in the brother of my best friend.

He is a really awesome guy!

She knows about it, even encourages it because she believes he and I would legitimately work well together.

The first time I met him he actually gave me priesthood blessing because I was very ill.

I have since talked to him here and there, but nothing much. I always think I have gotten up the nerve to talk to him, but when it comes down to it, I always bail at the last second.

I am normally a pretty outgoing, friendly person, but he is so intimidating.

I have talked to my friend about it and she just kind of laughs and says he is just "that way."

Which is fine, but makes my life difficult just a bit.

How do I work up the nerve to actually talk to the guy, when he is so serious, I feel like he might punch me in the face (over exaggeration, but, you get the point)?

- McStruggles




Dear McStruggles, 

I don't get the point at all. 

I think your problem is that you're putting too much emphasis on the situation and too much stress on yourself. 

You have no idea if this will even turn into something. 

Talking is just talking, and those first few dates are just dates. 

Your eternal happiness does not ride on everything going perfectly with the only perfect guy in the universe. 

So relax. 

Get over it. 

Pray if it helps. 

But you need to dig deep and take the risk. 

Not just to talk to him, but you may even have to suggest to him that he ask you out. 

If you don't you're going to regret it. 

Serious Single Dating does not mean that we take ourselves or every date too seriously. 

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How Can a 16-year Old Girl Get Guys to Be Her Friend and Ask Her Out?

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 over the summer 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 had 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: HERE.

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 no, 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 not well trained by parents and leaders. 

And, if it's any consolation, it happened to Sister Jo. Which worked out pretty well for me! 

- Bro Jo

Monday, February 1, 2016

Transitioning from Shy Missionary to Serious Single Dater

Dear Bro Jo,

Before my mission, I was always a pretty shy guy. More so around my family, and I don’t know why.

My parents are awesome and would never judge me for something I’ve done or am doing. But I’ve just never been able to open up to them the way I should.

The same with everyone who aren’t my closest friends. I can talk to them and be open and loud. But with my parents, I’m silent.

While In the field, I learned how to be outgoing and confident.

I could talk to random people and make them laugh, and I just didn’t care what anyone thought of me.

That constant objective of finding people, and helping them gave me a confidence that I had never had before (I never knew how having a clear objective, or having pure love could make me so outgoing and confident).

But since I’ve gotten back from the mission, I’ve lost that confidence.

I still feel it very hard to open up to my parents, or talk with people. Even more so than before the mission!

Talking to people who I haven’t seen in two years is painful (Hugs or handshakes is a decision that scares me. I never know which to do with casual acquaintances.).

I thought this would ware off after a month, and I’d be back to who I was before. But it’s been almost two months, and I’ve lost a lot of self-confidence.

During my last interview with my mission president, he told me that I never reached my potential in the mission. He told other missionaries that they had reached their potential, but apparently I didn’t give as much as they did.

I felt that I served the Lord well.

Not perfectly.

But that comment made me feel like a failure.

Now I think back to my mission, and more often than not, I see where I failed.

I sometimes avoid looking at things that remind me of my mission.

Now I feel like I’m in a little bit of a rut.

I know you speak / blog about dating, but I figure a back story helps.

I am at that stage of my life where I should go out on dates, and that requires self-esteem.

I can move on from all this, I learned a little bit about repentance on the mission (apparently not enough), but how can I build up the confidence to talk with a girl when I really doubt myself?

I feel if I could just get back into the dating scene, back into a normal life, I could get some confidence again.

Feel normal.

But how do I get that confidence to even talk normally, let alone date?

Sincerely,

- Lacking




Dear Brother, 

(I don't think you're "Lacking" anything.) 

I feel impressed to tell you that you may have misunderstood your Mission President. 

I don't think he wanted you to go home thinking that you were a failure; I think he wanted you to understand that, much like baptism, a mission isn't the end of our journey, but the beginning. 

For you it was clearly the beginning of your deeper understanding of the Gospel and Atonement; it was the beginning of you seeing what you can accomplish when you believe . . . In Yourself. 

The potential you have is limitless (I ask you to consider what we learn in the Temple about that). 

Not everyone is a huggy-tell-everybody-everything-always-open kind of a person. 

Heck, I think too many of us are Too Open. 

Your job, whether Elder or Member, is to be the Best You, not to be someone else. 

And as for dating, it's really no different than sharing the Gospel. 

(I often say that Casual Group Dating is great Mission Prep.) 

You found your confidence because you stopped being worried about what people would think about you. 

Even though it's time for Serious Single Dating, that concept still applies. 

Focus on being The Best You, and don't put to much emphasis on those first few dates. 

They're just dates, man! 

Don't wait for a girl you think you're already in love with, just go out to have fun and get to know someone better. 

And, like so many things in life, it will get easier if you stop talking yourself out of it and just go do it. 

Go on . . . Go ask a girl out right now! 

Trust me, it really doesn't even matter whom. 

Seriously. 

If she goes, great! 

Have fun. 

If she turns you down, her loss. 

Go ask someone else. 

Take it from a guy who gets piles of emails every week from Young Single Sisters . . . they're just hoping you'll ask them out. 

Keep it simple. 

Many, many, many, in fact I think most, RMs struggle making the transition from No Girls to Go Date; you're not alone. 

And you're going to be fine. 

- Bro Jo