Things to know

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

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

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

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

One Young Man's Story - Part 2

Dear Readers, 

With Easter Sunday at one end of this week, and General Conference at the other, I wanted to share with you this special story. I'll post it in three parts. 

Below is Part 2.

Enjoy.

- Bro Jo 




Dear Bro Jo,

Disclaimer: This came out way longer and way more rambling than I ever intended... But it is what it is! :)

I reached out to you towards the end of last year. I was struggling with a pornography addiction...

Well... Good news there!

The 1st of the month marked 100 days in the clear! :)

There is still a lot of work ahead, but it is a good step! I've been seeing a counselor about it and that has been a huge help!

Anyways... I have a few other things on my mind... I'll start out setting the background... Last year in February or March I started dating a girl. She really is a great girl and I get along really well with her family. I've been friends with them for years, and her older brother is one of my best friends.

Well... She left on a mission last year and she will be back this coming fall (She'll probably be going back to BYU-I after that, and I'll be transferring to USU in August.). She was one of the 19 year old missionaries. I admit we didn't date all that long, but it went really well and It was a really positive experience. We had gone on a number of dates within a few weeks (They were some of the best dates I have ever gone on too!)

Well... I was driving out to Utah to visit family for a few days and last minute (Literally minutes before I was going to leave, lol) she asked if she could ride with me so she could see some of her family before she left on her mission.

During the drive out, we got talking and made the determination we were boyfriend and girlfriend. I admit, it was a bit silly with her leaving in a few weeks. But we did it... I was planning on staying at my relatives, but because she came with me, she stayed with her sister and I stayed with her brother (The one that is one of my best friends).

It was a great trip, and it worked out well. I introduced her to some of my relatives and I met some of hers. We spent a lot of the time together, and I altogether really had a wonderful time. So fast forward a few weeks... We spent a lot of time together leading up to her mission, and I had decided that I could see myself marrying her...

Well I ended up being the over-emotional one.

Thankfully I didn't do anything too rash and she was a lot more emotionally stable than me!

I did ask her questions like, "Could you see yourself dating me when you come back?" to which she intelligently replied, "If you are still single."

At some other point I also mentioned that I could see starting a family with her, and she responded with something along the lines of, "If it is right, it will work out"

Honestly, at the time I would have quite happily said I would wait, I think I said I would date, more because I felt that was what she wanted than what I wanted. But I do look back and I am very grateful that she was wiser than I and left me that freedom to date.

After she left I kept spending time with her family. I would go over almost every Friday night and spend time with them. I get along really well with them. Even before we were dating, I was practically considered an adopted member of the family.

Well, she left on her mission, to serve in (location withheld), I started out writing letters to her via pouch. I was trying to follow the rules of email being only for family. I did find out that pouch is a VERY SLOW process...

It would take about 4 weeks for letters to get there, then it would take a bunch of time for her to have time to respond.

Then there was a mail strike in her mission, which delayed about 3 months’ worth of mail!

And by this time they had expanded the rules correspondence via allow email. So I switched over to writing emails. It was a lot easier and I didn't feel like I was leaving her hanging...

But I still tried to avoid writing too much. I mentioned that to her in one of my letters and she was like, "Don't worry about writing too much!"

And I next thing I know I've been writing almost every week. I find it easier since I already write my sister every week, then I can sit down and write them both at the same time, and in some cases copy parts of the letters.

Just to be clear, I work to keep it clean and uplifting, no sappy stuff, and I try to focus on what is happening in my life, especially spiritual experiences, or gospel principles I learned that week. I'm pretty sure everything I've ever sent her I would have zero problem sending to my own sister.

Well... when she left, I went on a few dates with other girls. I really wasn't interested in dating, but it was what I was "supposed" to do, so I did it... I admit my heart wasn't in it from a relationship standpoint, but I tried to keep it simple, have fun, and get to know other girls.

Since then I moved out of my parents' house and the whole pornography struggle came back into my life. And that was around when I wrote you last.

It has been a long battle getting back to a stable point, but I've been making progress, and I am working towards my endowments (As it is I have been doing baptisms every week in preparation.) 

Well, I've been meeting other girls, and I've gone on a few dates since I moved out here (I'll admit not enough). I think I have come to a point where my heart is open enough that I can much more easily consider dating other girls . . .

In fact there are a few sisters I know that I could see pursuing a relationship with, and I'm working on improving my dating consistency to see what happens...

My question I guess is... How do you decide?

I've gone on a lot of dates with a lot of different girls in the past... This relationship was the first time that I had been "officially" in a relationship, and the first time that I felt really comfortable with the idea of marriage.

But now I've started getting to know some other girls and I find myself saying. "Wow! She is an awfully swell girl! I could get to know her better" And I see that they have a lot of great traits! And in some ways are "better"(Mostly things that are better in my eyes, but are relatively superficial and don't necessarily matter in the eternities. Things like she plays piano, etc.)

With these thoughts there are a couple of things that start happening for me...

1. I start feeling a little bit guilty, I feel almost as though I'm being disloyal in some way to the girl I have been writing. 
2. I also wonder whether it's just a matter of the here and now vs the distant and in the future? In other words is this just a physical craving for the connection that comes with a relationship? Am I trying to fulfill that desire whatever way I can? 
3. I also start asking myself... If they are all great girls with the essential traits that are important to me, How do I ever decide who to pursue a relationship with? I can sit here and go back and forth comparing other traits all day long (I do recognize that in all of these cases it is not solely my decision as the girl has just as much say in the matter.) 
4. I then start asking, Why give up a great relationship with a great girl that has gone really well before?

I guess really I feel torn... Part of me would feel guilty if I ended up falling in love with another girl and had to pull a Dear Jane.

I would feel like a bit of a jerk even though she has tried to give me space. I feel like as is, I've kind of hidden the dating side of things, I kind of figure she really wouldn't want to hear about the dates I've been on, though she did ask me if I'd been dating in one of my letters... I didn't give much detail.

Should I have been more open about my dating life in my letters?

I guess part of me is afraid of losing the relationship we have had... She really is an amazing girl, with an amazing spirit and testimony, and I really have no question that whatever happens, she left me better than she found me.

I only hope that I've been able to do the same for her. At the same time, It is not like I'm about to ask anyone to marry me right now, but there are a few other girls that I could see a relationship happening with...

And then I start asking myself, If I were to pursue a relationship with one of them, which one would I?

How would I decide that???


One thought I had, Usually when there is fear it gives me a hint of what I need to do... Face that fear... I think of 2 Timothy. "God hath not given the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind"... Faith dispels fear... I need to have more faith!!!

Why do I always feel so lacking in the faith department!

I feel like every time I turn around I'm at another leap of faith! It is hard!

I guess this might be one of those times...

I'll have to think about this one...

 And I would invite any thoughts you have on the matter as well!

 As a note, now being 27 years old I've gone on a fair number of dates, but I haven't really done any serious dating other than this one relationship. I haven't kissed yet (I did try the night before she left... I was pretty stupid... Though to be fair I did ask before I tried.

Thank you for everything Bro Jo,

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

First and foremost I am so proud of you brother for getting help with your addiction!

Fighting addiction is a not-always-easy never-ending battle, but it's worth every effort and struggle.

I have no doubt you've noticed a difference in the level of Spirituality in your life. Keep it up!

As for your questions . . .

You'll know who to pursue a relationship with because you'd rather spend time with her than anyone else, and you are perfectly happy giving up dating "other possibilities" rather than lose her because she's free to do the same.

You are no longer in the relationship you were in before. 

She left on a mission and there was no commitment. (Wisely on her part, I might add.)

So there's no reason to feel guilty.

If you ARE still single when she comes back (and I don't think you should wait around) and if she IS still interested in dating you (realize that it's possible, even statistically more likely, that she won't be), and IF you still like her, I think it would be foolish to not pursue that.

But if you're married before she comes back . . . well . . . that's fine, too.

- Bro Jo




Dear Readers,

Don't get caught in the trap of trying to find the "perfect person".  Don't weigh traits and talents, looks and abilities, as if one is more important than another.

When we do this one of two things is going to happen.  The most likely one is that we keep passing on people who are great Eternal Companion choices, one after another, only to find ourselves alone, set in our ways, and wondering where all the great ones have gone, too old to easily find a companion.

The other is that do find someone we think is perfect, only to discover that they, like everyone else, is not; our shattered and albeit unrealistic expectations of love, marriage, and the person we've chosen, feel like a pit that we can't climb out of.

Rather than search for the "perfect person", that unobtainable unicorn that we've created in our media (including books, sisters) fueled fantasies that never truly exists, let us seek out and marry a Good Person.  One that cares for us and others.  One that loves God.  One that is decent and kind and will help us, and our future children, grow closer unto Heavenly Father and whom we feel inspired to help as well.

Yeah, you need to find them attractive and like kissing and holding and talking and being with them!

But let's stop dismissing great people because they don't have all of those minor traits that, let's face it, in the long run really aren't that important.

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 28, 2016

One Young Man's Story - Part 1

Dear Readers, 

With Easter Sunday at one end of this week, and General Conference at the other, I wanted to share with you this special story. I'll post it in three parts. 

Below is Part 1.

Enjoy.

- Bro Jo 




Dear Bro Jo,

I started out writing this huge rambling letter about everything and anything happening in my life when I realized that I could drop out most of what I wrote and get to the point across. There are still a lot of other things going on in my life that I would love to talk about, and lots of side stories I can tell you, but for now I think this gets to the core of one of my questions…

I am (age withheld) and I am addicted to pornography.

This addiction has plagued my life for as long as I can remember. It feels like it has taken control of my life. Right now I feel so trapped. I have been a member of the Church all my life and active for most of it. I try to live the gospel, I work to fulfill my callings and I want to serve a full-time mission but this addiction has held me back.

Now I am too old to serve a traditional mission. I have managed to abstain for periods of time here and there, sometimes enough to have been able send in my mission papers and get a Temple recommend to go do baptisms for the dead (I love it there and have started going every week even if it means I have to sit outside) but it seems that no matter what I do, I eventually fall back into the same trap.

I have been attending the Church's addiction recovery program (I highly recommend it BTW) for quite some time and am trying to be better at working through the steps. I am in desperate need of help and am in the process of trying to find a sponsor to help me through the steps.

One minute I declare how much I want to be rid of it, but then hours later I find myself doubling back and acting upon my carnal desires. I hate it!

This addiction has been a central part of my life for far too long!

Between addiction recovery books and addiction recovery meetings I have heard many stories of spouses who have been had immense emotional pains inflicted upon them by their husband's through acting out in their addictions. I hear these stories and I think about my future. I want to be a good husband and father, I don’t want to inflict that kind of pain upon another whether they are my family or not. And I also want to be worthy to take whomever I marry to be sealed in the temple.

Now I have dated, and I want to continue dating, but the thought of causing harm to one of Heavenly Father’s daughters terrifies me. I know that you consider Addiction to be a reason not to marry, and I have made the decision that if/when I am in a relationship that is definitely heading towards marriage I will be up front about my addiction. I believe that if I’m not comfortable enough with her to be completely honest about it before marriage then I’m not ready to marry her.

I’m scared…

I want to progress, I want to date, I want to start a family, but how can I even consider it when I currently face this addiction so regularly? Yet at the same time, what alternative do I have? Remain in a state of no dating until I am free of this?

I feel like I have tried that before. I put a lot of things on hold, waiting until I could serve a mission. Instead I ended up as a (age withheld) year old non-RM, who just barely moved out of his parent’s house and is just now starting to gain a lot of valuable life experiences.

I guess what I’m really afraid of is becoming a 40 year old still struggling with an addiction that has not gone on a date since he was (age withheld)…

Any advice?

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

I guess the question is: are you scared enough to get clean?

Look, I'm going to be really candid with you. Everything you've said is true, but unless you're willing to act its just talk. Now I don't know you, and I agree that you need to keep getting counseling from priesthood leadership and the Recovery Program (thank you for your endorsement of that by the way), but it sounds to me like you're hiding behind your addiction; like you don't want to get clean because then you'll lose the excuse you've been using all this time.

It's like you've lived with it so long that you're scared to be free. No doubt you've been taught at this point to recognize your triggers. Loneliness. Depression. Up too late. Using your computer in private places late at night and in the dark...

Now you need to remove those from your life.

That may mean no more computer for you. Ever.

Hard as that may be, isn't it better than the alternative?

Perhaps that's extreme.

Perhaps you haven't moved your computer into the kitchen or had someone install passwords and limits on it that block websites and shut off the internet access from 8pm to 6am...

Perhaps you're not turning to the alternate activities that have been suggested you do when tempted (like reading scriptures, getting out among others, or my personal favorite: going for a run).

But the bottom line is , Little Brother, it's worth making the change.

Don't give up.

And don't punish yourself by not dating at all, either.

Yes, addictions never go all the way away, but an addict can bring their cravings under control and live a very good life. Including you.

Don't give up.

You deserve the blessings and happiness that Heavenly Father has in-store for you!

You are a good and valuable guy.

Now make the commitments you need to get clean.

No more talk.

Go and do.

Always here if you need.

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 25, 2016

She Needs to Repent . . .and So Does the About to Leave Missionary - Part 2 (When You're Depressed)

Dear Bro Jo,

I've been I guess depressed for a while for many reasons really and I can’t seem to get out of it.

- NW




Dear NW,

Depression is a very real thing, with several possible helps.


Some thoughts:

  - Have you talked with anyone about your depression?

  - Is your depression constant? Or does it seem to come in waves?

  - How do you deal with being depressed? What makes you feel better?

-  Do you find that you do things that actually make it worse?


BTW - Sister Jo is an advocate of eating ginger when depressed. Ginger cookies. Ginger snaps. Stuff like that. She swears by it.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Ive mentioned it before to a couple people.

It seems to come in waves like when I go to bed and have time to think or sometimes at school I feel like breaking down and crying cuz nobody talks to me or sits with me or even really notices me.

Honestly being depressed kinda scares me.

I dont want to be like this like this isnt who I want to be.

A lot of the time talking about my past somtimes it makes it worse but at the same time it helps.

I cry a lot like almost every night.

I dont think I have ever tried ginger for it . . . hmm something to look into I guess right?

- NW




Dear NW,

Ginger is highly recommended. 

The other thing Sister Jo recommends, VERY Strongly, is Service.

Doing good things for others Always helps us feel better about ourselves.

I'm off to bed, but I'll be up early.

Feel free to email me whenever you need.

Even if it's just to vent.

Make that appointment with your Bishop!

And remember: you're a great and valuable person.

Why?

Because Heavenly Father says you are!

Let me know how things go.

Best,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I love doing service!

Thank you so much.

I’m sure you will hear from me more.

Thanks again and I will make that appointment

Thank you

- NW




Dear Bro Jo,

Here is my big update!

I talked to my Bishop and I am now seeing a counsellor.  I think it is helping a lot!

This guy that left on his mission well I kinda liked him and he was saying he loves me and that he would wait for me after he is back and I am gone.

However today I found out he emails like thousands of girls and that is number one is his girlfriend who he told me was just his friend.

I kinda expected this because he cheated on his girlfriend with me and he cheated on me with the girl he is dating now... it is a huge mess.

Anyways I am really sad and wanted to get your opinion on things.

- NW




Dear NW,

My opinion is that you're well to be rid of him.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I've been trying since the first time he hurt me.

But I think going on my first real and proper date with a guy I know is great will help.

- NW




Dear NW,

Undoubtedly.

But remember that you are valuable all the time, whether or not you're in a relationship or some guy likes you.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you :)

You actually did help you got me re-excited for this date :)

- NW,




Dear NW,

Anytime.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

She Needs to Repent . . .and So Does the About to Leave Missionary - Part 1 (What to Do.)

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello my name is (Withheld).

I have a friend that is leaving on his mission in about a week and he is unworthy to enter the Temple and I don’t want him to leave knowing I could’ve done something to change that.

I have tried before but nothing has happened.

He has gotten into porn and masturbating and he used to cut and has threatened to do it again.

He has also sexted me and kissed me and made out with me all while having a girlfriend.

He has touch me inappropriately and has gotten me to do things I am not proud of and am trying working to get rid of.

I need help idk what to do.

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

You need to ask the Lord for help and comfort, and then you need to go talk to your Bishop.

Some of what you mention (making out with you while he has a girlfriend) qualifies him as a bad guy, but isn't the type of stuff that would preclude missionary service.

Some of the other stuff (the cutting, the porn, the sexting) are bigger issues.

Your Bishop can not only help you Spiritually overcome your own concerns, but he can warn the Bishop and Stake President of this Young Man so that they can help him get the help he needs before he leaves.

If what you say is true, and I have no reason to believe it's not, the longer he hides his sins the bigger the fall will be, and he may end up taking others (like his future missionary companions) with him. 

So call your Bishop right away.

Tonight or first thing in the morning, and tell him you're having some Spiritual challenges that you need to talk to him about right away.

And then do.

As a dad of three young men on a mission, I can tell you from my perspective that I hope someone like you, who has the information you do, would speak up before one of my boys gets stuck with a companion who is not worthy, mentally or spiritually ready to serve.

The boy is not just in spiritual danger . . . he's in emotional and physical danger as well.

Cutting is serious stuff.

He needs help.

More professional help than either your or I can give him.

By calling your Bishop, you may just be saving this young man's life.

If there's anything I can do to help you, please let me know right away.

God bless,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Idk what ward or stake he is in so idk how to contact anyone about that.

I know I need to talk to my Bishop as soon as I can to clear my stuff up.

I would feel awful if he brought other missionaries down.

I wish I could do something more to help him.

Thank you so much!

- NW




Dear NW,

If you know he's leaving soon, I imagine you know where he lives and what mission he's going to be serving in and which MTC he's reporting to.

And, certainly, you know his first and last name, right?

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I know his first and last name and the MTC yes and where he lives, what will this info do? 

- NW




Dear NW, Knowing where he lives is all your Bishop will need to know should he feel it appropriate to find out what Stake he's in and who his Bishop is.

The mission he's been called to, which MTC he'll be training in, and the date he's leaving will help the Bishop confirm that he's got the right guy.

Now, all of that said, are you okay?

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

With this yes.

Other stuff idk.

- NW




Dear NW,

Do you want to talk about that other stuff?

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 21, 2016

Is a Ring Ceremony Appropriate?

Dear Bro Jo,

I love your blog!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions. You're advice is awesome - in fact, I followed your advice in how to get a guy to ask you out on a date, and he ended up being my future husband!

I'll tell you the story because it's thanks to your advice that helped us along.

We were at a YSA activity. I thought he was really cute, and I wanted him to ask me out. So I remembered your advice, and asked him, "Have you been able to go to (a certain fun area of the world) yet?" He said "No, I have been wanting to go though." And I said, "Well, I go pretty often, so if you ever need a tour guide I would be happy to go!" The result was him asking for my number, setting up the first date to go to that area, and that was the beginning of a wonderful relationship. This honestly happened because I read your advice before I attended a YSA activity, and used the tips you had written about. Thank you so much! Now I hope you can help with some advice about planning our wedding. I just have a question about ring ceremonies. My fiance and I want to have one, because we have some close family members who won't be in the temple with us for the sealing. I am just curious about what sort of guidelines there are about having a ring ceremony? We are planning on having it right before our reception at the venue. We were thinking of sharing brief, simple expressions of love with each other or, and then exchanging rings. We were also thinking of exchanging vows/promises as well, or including promises in our two minute... speeches? (Not sure what to call them). But I just want to make sure we don't take away from the temple sealing. Do you have any advice on what an ideal program would be, and what guidelines there are about that event? Is it okay to share promises along with our expressions of love for each other? What is appropriate to say in our expressions of love prior to exchanging rings? I want it to be special for our family, but not be like a second wedding, or take away from our sealing. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks again!

Best,

- Happily Engaged




Dear Engaged,

Well . . . no one has ever said anything more wonderful than your report on using the "How to Get a Guy to Ask You on a Date"!

Your Sealing will be one of the most unique, important, and powerful things you do, so that's pretty hard to take away from.

There are no official guidelines for a "Ring Ceremony".

In fact, there's really no way to do anything like that without it seeming like a "second wedding". And really, isn't that the point?

Trying to make those that are not able to enter the Temple at this time feel like they haven't missed out?

Particularly those that aren't members and have an expectation of the type of ceremony we've come to see in movies?

There was an interesting Q & A in the Ensign a little over 10 years ago that you may want to check out HERE.

Which is not to say that I don't totally understand where you're coming from.

While we embrace and celebrate our culture and Eternal Covenants, we do not do the Lord any favors when those not of our faith feel belittled or excluded.

One of the best pieces of advice that I picked up from that Ensign article is to bring up how things work Early, so there are no surprises.

Invite those that are immediate family members to gather in the Temple waiting room.

Include them in pictures taken at the Temple.

Feel free to describe the Sealing Room, the general outline of what was said and how you felt.

On a personal level I have no problem with, perhaps at the reception (outside the Temple is, IMHO, inappropriate), calling everyone to attention and doing the following:



BRO JO'S GUIDE to an LDS RING EXCHANGE 

I. Introduction   "Welcome, everyone, to this celebration of this new Eternal Family. Today __________ &; _________ were Sealed for Time and All Eternity in the _________ Temple.

There they have made covenants to love and honor each other, to help each other grow closer unto God not just in this life, but forever. At this time they would like to say a few words to each other and exchange rings."

II. New Husband speaks and places ring on finger.

III. New Wife speaks and places ring on finger.

IV. Closing "Congratulations to Mr & Mrs ______________________" (Applause is okay if traditional.)

"Thank you all for being here. We've now asked _______________________ to give a prayer on the refreshments."


Short. Simple. 

And notice that the prayer comes AFTER and I don't use the word "ceremony".



Congratulations on your Sealing!

Marriage is hard work, but worth every effort you give. And, remember,

Communication is the Key!

Cheers,

- Bro Jo



*Readers:  On our Facebook Page one dear sister mentioned how she and her husband gave small presents to the opposite parents to say "thank you for raising this person I've married in such a way that has made our eternal marriage possible" - I think that's BRILLIANT! - (especially in a case where one or more parents are not, at this time, able to enter the Temple) so I wanted to make sure to add it here.

Eternal Covenants should, IMHO, not be delayed to make allowances for those that need to repent.  No one should have that kind of control over the Spiritual progression of another.

And I agree with the comments made, if words are said, an expression of love is appropriate; a vow is not.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and stories!

Cheers,


- Bro Jo

Friday, March 18, 2016

How to Find a Good Eternal Companion After College Graduation

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a 22 year old college graduate who is seeking some advice!

Over the last few summers I have had the opportunity to work with young single adults at various camps. It's been a wonderful experience and I have met a lot of great people.

Some of which that I dated.

I was fairly involved at the LDS institute that I attended and I made every effort to serve on the councils they have there. I found myself going to the school football and basketball games and had a blast embracing every opportunity college offered me.

I recently earned my bachelor’s degree. I am now moved out into a new apartment complex and am working full time.

Most of my close friends are married.

Each time I make new friends they quickly find people and get married. It's all a part of the process of growing up.

Now I find myself seeking to settle down with someone.

My struggle is finding a someone to settle down with.

There aren't many prospects in my ward and let's be honest... I don't go to Church to find an eternal companion. I go to strengthen my relationship with God.

Now that I am graduated and am working odd hours due to the nature of my job it is difficult to know where to look or how to find new friends.

If there is a guy that interests me, I have no problem in pursuing him and asking him out. I feel as if I am a forward person and I enjoy putting forth that effort.

Lately I feel as if my attempts have not been successful. I don't want to be idle. I want to continue to be a woman who acts.

I understand that the Lord has specific timing for each of us and right now I need to focus on becoming the kind of person I would want to marry.

As I wait upon the Lord I want to continue to seek out dating opportunities but I don't even know how or where to begin!

Sincerely,

- Going in Circles




Dear Going,

It sounds to me like all you need to do is make a couple adjustments in your approach and thinking. 

For example, while I agree that our primary reason for going to Church should be to strengthen our relationship with God, as a Young Single Adult that BY DEFINITION includes finding an Eternal Companion.

I'm not saying that you should go to Church for the sole purpose of hitting on members of the opposite sex (I've been to YSA Wards; I know that happens - pathetic), but you're working against yourself if you're putting out a "don't talk to me, I'm only interested in talking to Heavenly Father" vibe.

You strike me as an open, outgoing and friendly person; that shouldn't shut off just because you walk into the Chapel or Sunday School.


Secondly, I think you may want to consider widening your "interests me" pool.

You should show interest, and by that I mean "talk to and get to know better" ALL decent guys your age.

I don't know for certain, but something in your phrasing has me thinking that you may be ruling out some guys you shouldn't.


Third, and to my mind most importantly, you need to change your approach to dating.

You're giving me this image of a girl who's stand off-ish until she has the hots for someone and then she shifts from zero to hot pursuit in five seconds.

One can be "active' without being "aggressive".

I have this picture in my head. I'm in your ward and a great guy comes up to me and says "I really like that girl, and I'd like to ask her out, what should I do?" and, based on your email, I'd have to tell him "well, there's really nothing you can do; hopefully she'll take an interest in you and ask you out, of course you won't know if she's interested until she asks you out, and if she does she's going to want to go from nothing to engaged right away because, although she's been avoiding relationships all of her adult life, now she's ready to get married and doesn't want to waste any time".


Do you see what I'm saying?

First dates aren't reserved for the guys who've already made the cut and you're willing to marry; they're about getting to know people.

Casually.

No pressure.

We call it "Serious Single Dating" not because we only date people we're already serious about, but because we're now taking dating seriously.

You should be dating every decent guy that asks.

Now is not the time to be limiting the pool.


AND, I can't stress this enough, you have absolutely Got To STOP Asking Guys Out.

Seriously.

This is not an issue of "men oppression" or "woman power", it's about culture.


Guys who liked to get asked out fall into one of only two categories:

     a) Lazy Guys with no goals who have no intention of getting married anytime soon (typically because it will mean less time for themselves)

     and b) Bad Guys who figure that a girl this desperate is like to be willing to be more physical than she should.


Little Sister, you need to learn how to get guys to ask you out.

Still requires intelligence.

Still places you in a position of femininity and power, but has a totally different result when it comes to how men will see (and value) you.


Check out Bro Jo's "HOW a GIRL CAN GET a GUY to ASK HER on a DATE"


You're a great girl; allow the men around you to discover that.

Don't change who you are by any means, but allow them to realize that you deserve to be chased and treated well when caught.

Oh, and don't be negative about set-ups and blind dates and Social and Service (Especially Service!) Activities in other Wards and Stakes.


This is the point where we look to create opportunities.

Let your Roommates and Relatives set you up!

(Heck, I have no idea why y'all don't do a better job of setting each other up on dates.)


There's no reason to label you as desperate; all I'm saying is that you need to focus all of that energy in a slightly different way.

Be Approachable.

- Bro Jo


[Dear Readers, 

I have no idea if anything I wrote helped this young writer, or even was anything she thought was worth listening to or trying, but I've learned that she is now married. 

Thought you might like to know.

Cheers,

- Bro Jo]

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

When You're the "Other" Sister

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro Jo!

So I’m stuck in a proverbial rut. I'm stuck in the 'Other sister' Zone (so much so that I live there and am practically the President) and until recent years have been referred to as (insert older sister's name)'s younger sister.

I'm kind of the weird one that makes people laugh but when they've finished laughing I just get put back in the corner and turn to my older (much prettier) sister.

My dad says that I can be quite intimidating and I want to know what guys are intimidated by and what can I do to change that.

My sister is a couple years older than I am and is engaged, yet guys still flock to her and would cut off their right and left arms to be with her and I well....have never been asked out...let alone kissed...

She is more fun to be around and I enjoy having fun too but sometimes I’m seen as the fun police as I’m a stickler for the rules as I know the limits and bounds and am not willing to toy with them.

I've always been the mature one with a level head on my shoulders.

Some people only see that and think that I’m super uptight ...Is this part of the reason?

 ...Help?

- The Other Sister




Dear Sister,

I'm not certain how old you are, and that might be important.

But I think the best way to get out of this rut is for you to make your own path.

That may mean that you need your own friends.

I don't think you need to change who you are, but I do think you could benefit from being more positive. For example: rather than be jealous of your sister, think of how lucky you are to have a sister that others admire so much. Rather than compete with her (after all, she's going to be off the market soon, anyway) ask her for advice on how to get dates and get noticed by boys (she must have something figured out, right?), There's nothing wrong with being level-headed, making good decisions, and having high standards, but in general people are attracted to those with similar interests, and are positive and fun.

Be Happy,

Be Friendly, stop hiding in the corner, and I bet you'll see dates happen.

And, of course, you can always check out:

  Bro Jo's "HOW a GIRL CAN GET a GUY to ASK HER on a DATE"

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro. Jo

Both my sister and I are in YSA.

Thanks for the advice!

Love reading your blog (and now, especially the dating tips).

I'll do my best to up the happy, friendly, positive me (miracles happen every day right?)

- Breaking Out of the Corner




Dear Breaking,

Every Day.

Cheers,

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 14, 2016

Can You Date Someone You Work Closely with or Supervise?

Dear Bro Jo,

I never, ever thought I would write into an advice column. I recently started reading yours, though, and I am very impressed. Thank you for taking the time to help so many young people.

To give you some background, I am 20 and a student at the Y. I get asked out on a fair amount of dates, or at least I did during the fall and winter semesters when there were more guys around. However, I have a really hard time getting to know someone on a date.

In my experience, it takes seeing people in a lot of situations before I can truly be interested in them, and I don't even want to hold hands or anything unless I know I am interested.

The bigger question for me, however, is what your opinion is about dating people in organizations you are a part of?

I mean in your major, in your ward, etc.

People tell me to get involved in things to solve the problem I have above, and I do. I am very social in my ward, in my major, and in any other organizations I am in. In these situations, you always have an immediate rapport with those who are in the same places as you.

From your blog, I can only conclude that for many of these people, I am automatically put in the friend zone. And we should be friends (but not necessarily the close friends you often refer to), if we are going to be associating often with each other and working together toward some goal, whether it be building the kingdom of God, getting an education, or whatever the case may be.

How then does participating so fully actually put me in the way of dates?

And if I ended up dating someone in one of those places, is that even appropriate?

If we broke up, there could be great chances for awkwardness and lack of progress just because we took a chance and dated. In a certain seasonal organization I am in, I did date a guy in it and it ended rather well, all things considered.

It wasn't awkward too often when we were both in it after we broke up.

But now I am in a leadership position, and I like another guy in the organization who I will now be over (the first guy will not be doing it again because he's doing something else this year).

Maybe part of my problem lies in not understanding how a guy thinks. Do I even have a chance if we've been associates?

Wouldn't the usual bold (and by bold, I mean getting him to ask me on a date and not me doing the asking) tactics you suggest especially risky in this situation? Would it even be appropriate to try and get him to ask me out if we're going to be together in this organization next year, especially since I will be in a leadership position over him?

That was very, very long-winded and contained many questions.

Sorry about that, but these are things that have been bothering me for a while and I've never quite been able to figure them out.

Thank you so much!

- Confused




Dear Confused,

The only "organizations" where I think someone in a supervisory capacity needs to be cautious, even hesitant, to pursue a relationship with someone they supervise are the workplace and school.

Many employers have policies against this sort of thing, or at least guidelines requiring some form of disclosure agreement. So that needs to be considered.

And teachers dating students, regardless of how close they are in age, is (in my book) verbotten, even if the school allows it (and I can't imagine that any do).

Clubs, groups, teams, wards . . . I say those partially exist for the very reason you mention; they're great ways to meet new people and get to know them.

That makes for some excellent dating opportunities!

For the record, Sister Jo and I met working for the same employer. We only went on one date while I was still working there, a date (by the way) that I count and she doesn't, but we never would have met had we not worked at the same place.

 And our experiences there are still things that color our relationship.

It is absolutely possible that being in a relationship, or having broken up, will make being involved in the same organization very awkward. It's worth the risk!

After we had been dating a short while I enrolled in some summer courses at the same college Sister Jo was going to. I signed up for one of the same classes. THAT did not go well. We actually "broke up" for a short time over the whole thing.  Too awkward.

And she felt that I was invading too much of her space. (She was right, as always, of course.)

I think this might largely depend on what your leadership role will be, and how much of a boss this role will make you over him.

I think the chance for romance outweighs any other concerns.

Ask yourself this: would you quit this organization if it meant your eternal happiness with this man?

I don't mean to be jumping the gun here, just giving you a way to weigh the risks.

Once we're married, especially for time and all eternity, no organization should come before our marriage.

I love my job, but if Sister Jo strongly felt that it was ruining our marriage, her happiness would have to come first. Right?

I'm not saying to quit your organization, just asking you to consider it's importance in your life. And I should add here that I married a woman that always said that she'd support me in my vocation.

Of course, I've never chosen a job she'd object to. Not that I would, but I imagine that if I ever took a job at, say, a seedy bar, she'd have a serious problem with that, and I can picture her demanding I quit that job . . . and she'd be right to do so.

You know, Confused, on option for you is to use this whole concern as a way to see if this guy is interested in you. You could go up to him, one-on-one, and say "I'm sure you know I have a crush on you and am hoping you ask me out soon, but I'm wondering if one of the reasons you haven't already is that you and I being in this organization, especially with me in a leadership roll, is giving you cause for concern". THAT would be an interesting conversation!

Good luck.

And stop getting in your own way when it comes to happiness.

Take some risks,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much for your advice!

When I was a teenager I was determined that I would not be one of those people that let their dating lives interfere with other things I participated in. People often get involved in far too much drama that way.

I think that was the main reason for my concern, along with talking to a lot of other people who thought the same way.

However, I do agree with you now, especially after having a day to think about it.

Also, the hope would be that if I already know him as well as I think I do, there will be very few reasons why it would end poorly. If it did end, I know any past relationship can cause some awkwardness.

However, I think that there need not be too much, especially if both people are kind people and not prone to drama. I was going to do something about getting him to ask me out today, especially since he doesn't ask girls on dates often at all, but turns out he's going out of town. I guess I will just have to wait a bit before I take that risk.

 Thanks again!

 - Not so confused anymore

P.S. I was reading more of your blogs today and in one of your responses I noticed you said something about a lot of readers signing their letters with "confused." I laughed when I realized I was one of those people. But I guess if we weren't so confused, we wouldn't be asking for your advice!

- Not So Confused Any More




Dear NSC,

Anytime!

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 7, 2016

How to Get More Dates at BYU - Idaho

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey there!

I'd like to start off by saying thanks for all you do with your blog and other writings.

When I am feeling low I tend to wander to your blog and find some inspiration.

So thanks!

Well, we all have problems.

Here is mine. I am an 18 year-old, second semester freshman at BYU-I. I didn't date before I went off to college... at all.

Now that I'm here I don't really know what I'm doing.

I went on a Casual Single Date with a boy from class in my first semester, but that didn't go anywhere, and I am ok with that...

But that is the only date I have ever been asked on...

Not that I haven't tried.

I have decided that I just don't know HOW to get asked on a date.

Part of me wants to feel like there is something wrong with me, but I don't really believe that. I am reasonably attractive. I have good hygiene. I am involved in many activities, especially country and latin dancing.

And on top of that, I am a pretty fun person to be with!

I have plenty of guys I count as friends, and I get along well with almost every guy I meet. I have a great time with these guys and they always tell me how awesome and how pretty and how fun I am, but I never get asked out...

I'll have a great time with them one day and then they have a girlfriend a week later.

Either that, or they will find out that I am 18 and just stop talking to me.

My roommates always have dates and I have tried to do the things my roommates do, but nothing works.

I just don't get it.

I just want dating experience, I am not ready to get married and frankly I don't think I will be for a couple of years!

I don't want a boyfriend, I just want to go out on dates!

I told this problem to a good friend (a guy who served his mission in my area... and we are just friends.

He is 24 and says I am too young for him and I see him as a brother anyways...) and he told me just to ask a guy out. I don't feel comfortable about that... But at this point, it seems the only way to not be alone on Friday nights!

The weird thing about this is that I asked my real brother and he told me the same thing.

Well, I guess that that is all...

Any help would be great.

Sincerely,

- Lonely on Friday nights




Dear Lonely,

Do not, I repeat DO NOT ask a guy out.

Unless it's a girl-ask-guy event, and even then you should try to only ask guys who have already taken you on a date.

I have no doubt that your brother and your buddy said it's a good idea; they're both totally wrong. 

Sure, guys like it when girls ask them out, but not for the reasons you're hoping.

See, Good Guys will think you're too aggressive,

Cowards will just be happy to not have to do any work, and Creeps will be thinking that they'll get somewhere.

 All of them will think that you're desperate.

And, let's face it: they'll be right.

And "desperate" is not something a girl wants guys thinking of her.  Ever.

Especially if she is.

See, what you need to learn is how to get THEM to ask YOU out, and that, my friend, is not as hard as it sounds. 

It's a valuable skill and it's past time you learn it.  It may be difficult at first, but will get easier with practice.

I've written about this a lot (you can find all kinds of information along these lines in both the Facebook site and in my books), but let's get a little remedial.


Bro Jo's STEPS a GIRL CAN TAKE to GETTING MORE DATES 


1. Realize that you have no "guy friends".

Yes, they are guys, and yes, you're friendly; but every guy from here on out that spends any significant time with you (including texting, chatting, calling, or just hanging around) is not your buddy, he's a potential date.

While you may not be ready to believe this, the truth is he wouldn't be investing the time with you if he wasn't thinking about dating you. Men are just wired that way.


2. Flirt and flirt well.

Learn to smile with your eyes (and all that really means is thinking happy thoughts when you look at him); smell good; learn how to touch his arm, hand, or shoulder softly but intentionally to let him know you're a girl who's interested in him because he's a man.


3. Learn to listen.

If you can get him talking about himself and engage him in the conversation with real interest, that can be much more powerful than any other flirting you do.

Listening makes you approachable, and a guy is going to have to approach you if he's going to ask you out. (At least you should MAKE him approach you; dates setup via text are lame.)


4. Put a little pressure on the guys that are slow and shy.

Lines like "so, how many more times do I have to touch your arm before you ask me out?" and even the direct "I think you should ask me out on a date and take me to the new movie tonight" may seem bold, and they are, but in today's world a little boldness is a good thing.


5.  Be Patient.

Don't attack the world hungry for dates.

Sure, go to work, but heck, you're only 18.

Relax and have some fun!

The dates will come if you'll put in the time.



Oh, and while I'm thinking about it: stop advertising your age.

Who cares? 18, 19, 20 - at your school it's all the same.

If he asks, demure and remind him that gentlemen don't ask ladies their age.

When one of these studs becomes a boyfriend and he's been around long enough to buy you a birthday present, then he can know your age.

Happy Dating!

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks Bro Jo!

Everything you said was helpful. I think I'll try the "So when are you going to ask me on a date?" 

Well, that's about it!

Thanks again!

- Lonely




Dear Lonely,

Anytime!

And if I may add one more thing:  Sister Jo often teaches that the best way to ensure that boys won't ask you out is to keep talking about "not being ready for marriage" and "I'm planning on serving a mission soon".

A First Date is certainly not a proposal (unless he's . . . C R A Z Y . . .), but a guy would like to know that there is at least some hope of this maybe someday going somewhere.

If you kill all of that hope before he even asks, he'll never ask.

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 4, 2016

Getting Him to Ask You to Prom . . . Again

Dear Bro Jo!

I did look at the article on your site about "Getting the Guy to Ask you to Prom" but my situation is a little different.

I am a sophomore and he is a senior and last year at the Strike for our musical he was planning on asking the girl who was his love interest in the musical to prom but later that day he found out she had a date so I went up to him and said:

     "If you need a date you know I got you!

                  1) I am a really fun dancer.

                  2) I will laugh at everything you say, and

                  3) we would look great together!"

and he asked me!


At the time I thought he was gorgeous, but this year I actually really really really am in LIKE with him a lot.

I want him to ask me so much it hurts!

And I don't want like a relationship with him but prom would be so much fun.

We have gone on 2 group hang outs in the past month and are in the musical together this year.

He won the Best Looking Senior Superlative so I'm sure a lot of girls like him.

I know this sounds complicated but he is just that great.

Please give me any advice on how I could get him to ask me again....I want it more than anything.

Thank you~

- LB




Dear LB.

What you did last time worked great; there's no reason to think something like that might not work again . . .

But I've got to tell you, I like to see teens mix it up a little, so if it were up to me I'd like to see you go to prom with someone different.

And don't tell me you don't want "a relationship" with him . . . I'm old . . . not dumb.

Anyway, as I said, I think you should relax and see who else asks . . . AND I think there's some value in you acting a little more coy, a little more "worth extra effort" this year . . . but a well placed hint or two (perhaps even a friend shilling for you; planting the seed by asking him if he's going to ask you again) would work.

Just don't get too bummed if he wants to go with someone else.

Go with another guy and have a great time!

- Bro Jo

PS:  Not that you asked, but IMHO unless you were 16 as a Freshman last year you were too young to be going to prom.  The Prophets have been Very Clear about not dating until we're 16, and school dances should be no exception.  Even formal ones.  I hope you're old enough this year.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

What Can a Girl Do When She Finds Herself Falling for a Bad Guy

Dear Bro Jo,

I’m an 18 year old girl, who’s recently met a 21 year old boy, and I think I’m starting to fall for him a little.

The only thing is, more or less, you name the sin, this guy’s done it.

Porn, sex, drugs, alcohol, the whole shebang.

He was inactive in the Church from the time he was 16 until really recently, when he realized he was totally unhappy and decided to turn his life around.

And now I’ve heard his testimony of repentance and prayer and scriptures, (we met in our Book of Mormon institute class) and it is amazing.

He told me about his various mistakes before asking me on a date.

He said he felt like we’d become pretty good friends and if we were going to become something more, I should know his past.

We went on the date, and had good clean fun, but I was a little bit nervous around him knowing what he’d told me.

And it kinda seems now like I had a reason to be, cause he told me that after our date, he went to his friend’s party and got drunk and missed Church.

He was really upset when he told me, and that he already has an appointment with his Bishop again, but I’m still nervous.

I’m trying not to judge. I know that people can repent and change. I just don’t want to be stupid and end up with something bad happening to me because he ‘slipped up’.

Any advice?

Thanks,

(Name Withheld)




Dear NW,

This guy is a nightmare. That's not judgement; it's observation of fact.

He's a Class A manipulator (I'd likely give him "predator" status), has serious problems that he certainly HAS NOT dealt with (and that you can't possibly help him fix, by the way), and I think you need to avoid him.

Consider the facts and details.

     1. No one in their right mind who has truly repented and put their sins behind them shares them as a way to hit on someone, and that's exactly what this guy did. He doesn't know you well enough yet to be sharing things that should only be between himself, his Bishop and the Lord. Come on! Are you kidding me???

    And then to use that line . . . "I want you to know about my bad guy past because I think I'm falling for you" . . . puh-lease.


     2. If he was that upset, why the heck would he tell you about getting drunk right after your date? Why didn't he feel embarrassed or ashamed? What is he trying to get you to feel sorry for him? Does he want you to rush right over and console him? Is he using you to alleviate his conscience and make himself feel better? How pathetic!

And if your date was so great, why did he go out after? Why did he get drunk? And what's a repentant alcoholic doing hanging out with guys who drink, anyway?


     3. Extrapolate the problems. Like you suggest, is he going to turn to porn after your next date? If you have a disagreement is he going to do drugs? Look, I know the type and I know the patterns: this dude is far from sober, and his whole "repentant act" is just him kidding himself and trying to pull the wool over everyone else's eyes, too.


Too many people get hung up on this "who am I to judge another?" garbage. It's taken totally out of context and whitewashes the bigger points.

You not only have a right to judge, you have a responsibility.

Sure, we should be concerned about our brothers and sisters, but that doesn't mean that their actions and behaviors are beyond reproach.  And yes, repentance is real and people deserve a second chance, but saying you've repented and lying about having repented are two different things.


Yeah, I make mistakes, but that doesn't mean that anything and everything anyone else does is acceptable behavior.

This guy can absolutely repent and change. I have a testimony of that. And I hope he does.

But clearly right now you and I want that more for him than he wants it for himself.

We can and should care for him as a human being, but that doesn't mean that it wouldn't be stupid for you to date him again until he's been clean and sober for at least a year.


And frankly I think you'll be married long before this dude is clean for a year.

Cheer him on towards mending things with God, but don't make that process any of your business. 

It's between him, his Bishop, and the Lord, and it needs to stay that way.


Was that answer direct enough?

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks, definitely direct, and I think you put into words a lot of what I was feeling, but wasn't sure if I was over reacting about or not.

So any tips on how to avoid him?

We're not in the same ward, and the school year has ended so we don't run into each other at institute anymore, which makes things easier.

But if he starts seeking me out, do I just say "I don't want to be around you anymore" or what?

- NW



Dear NW,  

Yes.  If he's trying to use you or manipulate you or lie to you, that's exactly what you say.

Being a good friend does not mean that we need to enable or be taken advantage of.

- Bro Jo