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, June 29, 2016

Love at First Sight?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm feeling crushed.

A guy will pay attention to me, flirt with me, maybe ask me for my number, and I'll fall head over heels for him.

I'll be holding on to every thread of hope I can find to prove that he really does like me until I come to the harsh realization that, although he may have thought I was cute or interesting at some point, he does not have the same feelings that I have for him.

But before that realization I'll go through a roller coaster of being on Cloud 9 when he talks to me or is nice to me and being totally crushed when he ignores me or flirts with another girl.

That just happened AGAIN and I'm SO sick of it!!!

I am 20 years old and I have never had a guy feel the same way that I've felt about him.

There's nothing wrong with my appearance, I'm fit and moderately attractive.

I feel that it might be that I get friend-zoned super fast...but why is that?

How do I avoid this miserable cycle that I put myself through and actually get a guy to like me past the first time meeting me?

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

Don't you think going from "flirting" to "head over heels" and "Cloud 9" so fast is pretty extreme?

I mean, maybe you just need to relax and realize that flirting is just flirting and save the falling in love for someone you've actually been on several dates in a row with . . .

Maybe you're not getting friend zoned; maybe it's just the over-emphasis and drama that you're injecting into these situations that makes it seem that way.

Try reading through the things I've written on How a Girl Can Get a Boy's Attention  and How a Girl Can Get a Guy to Ask Her on a Date.

Put some of it into practice and see if that makes a difference.

Just be careful not to come on too strong.

- Bro Jo

Monday, June 27, 2016

She's Having a Problem with Her Parents

Dear Bro Jo,

For a while now I have been putting off this email because I keep feeling that I should be able to figure out these problems I'm having with my parents on my own.

Every time I try to come back to my problems though I feel like I'm getting into a deeper and deeper pit. So now I'm turning to you Brother Johnston because I feel that I have tried everything I can think of.

So last October I decided to move home because I had felt that I needed to go on a mission and upon praying I felt it was right for me to move home to make the process simpler.

Everything was fine till about January.

Yeah my parents got on my nerves with things I felt were kind of ridiculous but I kept my mouth shut and went along with it knowing that I would be gone on my mission soon. I even had a job at Amazon and was able to pay off most of my debt and it made me feel relieved to just be doing something.

Well end of January came and I got a call from my Stake President asking me to come in to meet with him.

I went in and had a meeting with him were he informed me that I was over the weight restrictions and that if I wanted to continue to go on my mission that I needed to lose 40-50 pounds.

At first I was so excited for the challenge, a bit upset but I understood why being that they want the missionaries to be able to perform the physical work put in front of them. I started my work with the help of my doctor because I have some medical issues. I was told by my doctor to start with a 1500 calorie diet and work my way down to a 1200 calorie diet if I could stand it but not to push my body too hard if I felt it wasn't working.

I was able to lose 15 pounds before it all came back. It’s not like I didn't want to lose it or that I still don't want to lose it. I lost the drive and the motivation. I would come home every day from either work or whatever I had done that day constantly hounded by my mother (I do have to emphasis that I literally mean EVERYDAY) how much weight I had lost or how she had found some new fad diet.

Now don't get me wrong I appreciate that my mother was trying to help me but she was going about it the wrong way especially because it was hypocritical with her bringing in candy and sugar and being heavier than I am.

On top of it I was constantly asked when I was going to get a job because I had been let go from my temporary job at Amazon.

I continued trying for 3 months before I couldn't emotionally take it and I felt like I was pleasing my mother more then I was myself.

This isn't the first time I have let her win though because growing up in the house I was constantly pestered about my weight.

The first time I ever remember having my weight mentioned to me was in third grade when I had come to my mother because some kids at school had called me fat.

She had said "Don't worry honey you’re going to grow taller and all that baby fat will even out" it later changed in middle school to (name withheld) "You’re getting fat you need to do something about it" and "You shouldn't wear that (name withheld) it makes you look fat".

That has been a long upward battle that I am still trying to win.

Near the end of my third month trying to lose the weight my brother started his mission papers because he turned 18 right after his graduation.

He turned them in after about 3 weeks (it didn't take long because we knew most of the insurance information from my papers) and received his call in a matter of 2 weeks.


When he opened his call all I remember feeling was a sense of longing toward wishing it was me and feeling like I couldn't do it because all the obstacles that lay before me and feeling that if I succeeded that it would be my mother’s triumph and not my own success.

That was when I knew that Satan truly had started winning the battle using my own family against me.

My brother got called to France - Lyon Mission and I am excited for him because I feel it will be the thing that makes him grow into the wonderful young man he can be.

Now at this point I had started getting questions from my dad about how my progress was coming and I appreciated my dad asking me and waiting till then to ask me but at the same time I felt still kind of raw with emotions and I felt like it was something I didn't want to talk about. I still feel it has to do with the animosity I fell towards my father.


(Quick back story) When I was in 8th grade I went through losing all my friends twice, second time around I met some girls that were nonmembers and became friends with them but after being friends with them for 4-5 months two girls one of which had just moved into town from NY, accused my father of touching them inappropriately. I still don't know if it actually happened. What made me so mad at my dad was that the night before I had found this out I had asked if the girl from NY could come over and hang out. 

His response was a quick "I don't want her anywhere near this family or this house ever again and you should stop being around her." When I asked him why he only told me that some accusations had been made against the family and said that it was adult stuff and that I shouldn't worry about it. 

After finding out what happened I felt so hurt losing all of my friends again and feeling like I had been lied to by my own father. I went through so much that year I have no doubt that if the Lord hadn't sent me a good friend I have to this day I would have committed suicide. 


So having these feelings towards my father, I haven't had the best of relationships with him since. (Skipping forward to August when my brother is about to leave on his mission.)

By this point my being at home is getting worse.

I'm being treated like a 16 year old having to ask to go anywhere or do anything and I am constantly being asked by my father what my plan is but to be honest I don't know.

By his definition I need to know what I'm doing with my life now!

I've prayed about what the Lord thinks and let him know what I feel would be the right direction but I still don't feel any inspiration of a particular way to go.

I also have to put in that my mother seems very anxious to get me on dates so that I can get married. I am constantly bombarded with questions about if this missionary came back or what about this boy we know. She even gave my number to a boy’s mother.

(I did meet this boy. At the hospital as a man I felt was like a second father to me died. He came across as creepy but my mother won't listen to me and leave it be).

I have been planning so far to move out at the beginning of next year and possibly move to Provo, Utah and work on my education to become a seminary teacher.

I love teaching and I love how much light the Gospel brings into my life.

I am making plans and I do have a job back at Amazon again so that I am making a steady income my plan is to have $5000 saved by the time I move which is defiantly achievable with the fact I'm making almost $1000 a week.


The question I'm getting at here Bro Jo is what advice would you give to me to make it through till I move out?

How do I get my mother’s constant matchmaking to come to an end without hurting her feelings?

The most important question I feel here though is how can I begin to start trusting my parents again?

I feel as if they expect my trust but I truthfully feel I cannot give it. I know this is a lot to take in but I can't take holding it in a bottle anymore.

Please help me.

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

This is going to sound harsh, perhaps, but I want you to know that I'm being sincere and saying this with love...

You need to grow up.

It really sounds like all of this drama in your life is self-inflicted, and you need to stop blaming everyone else and take responsibility for your own life.

Isn't it possible that your mother isn't all over your case about your weight because she's mean and manipulative, but rather that she's supportive and trying to help you achieve your goal?

It takes time to lose 50 pounds in a way that it stays off, and if your goal really is to lose the weight and go on a mission, then you need to persevere, not quit after only 15 pounds (that's great progress, by the way!) or because you have a setback (we all do, little sister, it's part of life).

Instead of blaming your parents for putting pressure on you to Get a Job, Get Healthy, Pay Your Debts, Make a Plan, you need to realize that, frankly, that's what adults do!

If you don't want to be treated like a child, stop acting like one.

Get a Job.

Get Healthy.

Pay your debts.

Make a plan.

If the people you thought were your friends turn out to be horrible people who don't have your back, sure feel sad, but then go out and get some True Friends.

Rather than suicide (the Ultimate Quitting), take prophetic advice and Heavenly Counsel, find the positive and let these challenges motivate you!


Whenever you feel like you're struggling, as Sister Jo says, go be of service to someone (and yes, your family counts).

Mom's on your back?

Do the dishes for her.

Father says things that hurt your feelings?

Go clean the Garage.

Feeling sorry for yourself?

Go rake someone's leaves.

Strange Advice Guy on the Internet is all over you instead of being sympathetic?

Babysit for a young couple so they can go to the Temple.


Lastly, take the chip off your shoulder; put the pride aside.

If you're mom brags about how awesome she is because you did something she approves of, don't get angry or depressed; let it go.

Be proud of your accomplishment and realize, in her own way, your mom is, too.

And if you're doing the right thing and no one is giving you the credit or support you feel you deserve?

Well . . . that's their problem, not yours.

If you're doing what's right, be happy.

If you need to make a change . . . welcome to the club.

Make the change.

Don't let someone else's opinion, even if they want to claim credit, keep you from doing the right thing. In your heart you'll know you're a good person and you've done what's right.


Opinions matter in the following order:

1. Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost

2. You.

3. Those you love and trust.

That's it.

No one else.

And, really, if you've met 1 & 2, number 3 can be crossed off the list.

- Bro Jo

Friday, June 24, 2016

Do You Tell Your Friend That Her Boyfriend is a Cheater?

Dear Bro Jo,

Mel here, with another question about the guy I wrote to you about last time.

It's a bit of a doozy.

He and I "dated" for about a month last fall. It was strange because sometimes I'd go a week without seeing him, which he always attributed to being busy with a certain sports team he is on, one that I know takes up a lot of time, but that I also know does not take up that much time.

Yet because I was so ridiculously infatuated, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and let it slide.

He frequently told me I was the only person he spent time with other than his family and his teammates.

We always had such an amazing time together when I did get to see him, so I figured I could put up with it.

Somehow he managed to be very sweet without ever stating any kind of feelings for me or even complimenting me.

That should have been red flag number one.

Red flag number should have been the discomfort on his face and how he just stopped talking whenever past relationships came up in conversation.


Anyway, after our best date yet, he dropped all contact, completely out of the blue.


A few days later, I saw a very couple-y picture of him with some girl.

One click later, I found out they'd been dating (seemingly long-distance as of that semester) for nearly a year, though his current Facebook relationship status was single.


Though I don't know for sure, I am relatively certain they had still been together when I was seeing him…basically, that he cheated on his girlfriend with me.

I felt far more sorry for her than I did for myself.

It actually explained a lot of the odd things he'd said and done. I didn't know what to do. I knew that if I were her, I'd want someone to tell me. But I also wasn't even sure that they'd been together at the time.

Even so, I figured it was something between the two of them, so I didn't say anything. I myself moved on relatively quickly.



I met someone just a few weeks later, and now, we're actually planning on getting married.

The only reason we're not engaged yet is because he has yet to meet (and ask permission from) my parents, who live halfway across the country. We're flying out there in a little over a month.


Here's the tricky part. The "ex" just got engaged to that same girl he cheated on with me.

My feelings of guilt have returned full force.

Granted, I did nothing wrong, since I didn't even know about her until after he and I were no longer seeing each other.


I just…I don't think he's told her.

If he has told her, then they've worked through it already and double-checking won't do any harm.

But if he hasn't...


On the one hand, I don't want to be a home wrecker.

On the other hand, I'll feel partially responsible if she gets eternally sealed to a lying cheater.


And I'm guessing I'm not the only girl he was with either. I personally am happier than I've ever been in my entire life. I'm marrying the man of my dreams, and even before that all happened, I wouldn't have taken The Ex back even if he begged.


So this isn't any kind of a vendetta. I just want her to have the same happiness I do, because no woman deserves to be lied to.

And I'd enjoy a clear/clean conscience as well.


So Bro Jo, what should I do?

Should I contact him and ask him if he told her/tell him to?

Should I contact her? How would I even do it?

Should I even do anything?

- Melody




Dear Melody,

When I first read your letter I was honestly on the fence.

My initial reaction was "keep it to yourself" . . . but then I started thinking about all of the failed marriages I know about . . . and I was wondering if maybe you shouldn't say something . . . not because you feel guilty (you're right, you have no reason to) but because she may be making a very important choice without enough information.

So . . . I asked one of my classes. (They were taking a test of sorts when I read your email.)

Ten women, four men, not all heterosexual and no Latter-day Saints to my knowledge.

Every single person in the class said keep it to yourself; mind you own business.

(Some were quite passionate in their response . . . particularly how negatively they think about this guy.)

But then an interesting thing happened.

I asked them if they'd like to know if they were the person that had been cheated on.

Every single one of the guys said yes, absolutely.

And every single one of the women said no.

That surprised me.

A lot.

Probably because I'm a guy.


Having to make a decision, my answer to you is: keep it to yourself.

People don't like advice they haven't asked for, and there's a very large possibility you'll come across as the mean and jealous ex-girlfriend.

Let it go, and be happy you've made a great choice in your new boyfriend.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What Is Her Relationship Status?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm currently a senior in high school, and I'm having dating struggles.

Not overly original, I know, but things get more complicated.

Although I live in Mormon-ville Utah, dates are very few and far between.

School dances get a decent enough turnout, but that seems to be the entire dating scene, and I personally despise dances because crowds, loud music I don't like, and the crazy lighting make for an atmosphere I prefer to avoid.

Thus, I have gone on a total of 3 dates (technically 4, but one kind of just happened, so I won't include it in this intentional count) my entire dating career.

Two of those three dates have been with the same person (let's call him John), and the accidental date was with John as well.

The date proportion on his end is about the same, and these dates have been spread out with months in-between.

We've been good friends since second grade, so we're both just really comfortable with each other and just end up on dates with each other because we're both somewhat socially awkward and our main friend group includes me as the lone female and a bunch of nerdy guys ("nerdy guys" meaning they share an extreme love of video games and the occasional lack of personal hygiene) and their various girlfriends, depending on their relationship status. (Generally single, but often not.) John and I are both in agreement that people shouldn't steady date in high school since guys are going to leave on missions.

This topic came up because of seminary class, it wasn't brought up between us of our own accord.

We generally avoid these topics as they apply to us, for no discernible reason.

Of my few female friends, they firmly believe that John and I are destined to be wed after he comes home from his mission.

He's even ended up choosing to go to the same college that I'm planning to attend. I'm kind of indifferent, since the situation can be easily ignored until after John comes back from his mission, so I mostly do.

John would make a great boyfriend, but it's not an option right now and I have no idea how he feels about that, nor do I want to bring it up since that would ruin the whole "ignoring it" bit.

But these questions will not quiet entirely, so I will as your expert opinion on a few of the matters.

1, Do you think he has any idea that this dilemma even exists?

2, Do you think we may be perceived as bf/gf?

3, If so, how do I fix that? Thanks for the advice. I anxiously await your sage advice.

- Confused on Relationship Status




Dear Confused,

1. Maybe. He may not see it with the drama you do, he may be totally oblivious (rather by accident or choice) as most guys are, or he may be concerned that this is something that might be nice, but that (agreeing with you) now is not the right time. If it's something you really want to know you could ask him . . . but I wouldn't recommend it. I just don't see the point in having the conversation.

2. Likely by some people. People LOVE to conjecture about relationships . . . especially teen girls.

3. Don't do anything. People's assumptions are their problem, not yours. Attacking the rumors tends to spread them, not make them go away.

Sadly in today's culture where guys don't date much (often because girls have created a scenario where they don't have to and parents have failed to train their sons) four dates is pretty darned good.

I hope more dates come your way. But if they don't that is in no way a commentary on your awesomeness! 

(Sister Jo, who is and always has been AMAZING hardly dated at all in High School. Worked out very well for me that so many guys that grew up with her were so dumb.)

- Bro Jo

Monday, June 20, 2016

Overcoming His Relationship Anxiety - part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you sir for your advice, it really means a lot.

I was shocked that you responded so quickly.

Thanks for being straight forward about everything.

It just hit me that the opposite of Fear is Faith!

It's kinda silly that I didn't get it right away on my own.. but thanks for the encouragement!

 All I needed was a solid push in the right direction.

- RM




Dear RM,

That's all any of us need, my brother.

It's always hardest to see what we ourselves need to work on . . . that's another great reason to marry a Good Woman.

Here anytime you need.

Best,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

So, Bro Jo, thanks for the advice you've given me a while back (I wrote to you in Febuary-ish about feeling anxiety while dating a woman whom I deeply love.)

After I started praying and fasting like you suggested I had the impression to buy some other books about relationships and specifically on the psychology of having relationships (not just romantic but also between family members, such as Father-Son for example). 

I was able to understand that my anxiety was due to my fear of losing the woman that I love, and I was able to find a way to address it and find more courage and more strength within myself thanks to the guidance of God. 

The reason that I had never felt that anxiety before is because I had never loved a woman like how I love my fiancĂ©. 

I never got that nervous before because I never cared about others before as much as I do care about her. 

Anyhow, even though there are always fears and sometimes problems I'm a lot better at addressing them than I have ever been, thanks to what I've learned from the various books I've read (including your book). 

God ultimately placed in my path those books along with the scriptures in order to help me along the way. 

I am so grateful that God has been so merciful that He'd care about my happiness!! 

Its been the greatest semester of my life and have never been happier! 

So . . . I'm writing this to thank you for your advice and for your book, and to let you know what your small amount of advice did for me. 

BTW . . .  we're engaged and getting married in August! 

Hopefully you have a good day and are able to find more people to help along the way, thank you!!!

- A Grateful RM 

PS I sent the photo just as a way to make the email more personal and human, but I'd prefer if you didn't publish the picture, its just for you.




Dear RM,

Congratulations and Thank You!

Happy for you both,

- Bro Jo

Friday, June 17, 2016

Overcoming His Relationship Anxiety - part 1


[Dear Readers,

Part 1 today.  Part 2 on Monday.

- Bro Jo]





Dear Bro Jo,

I’m an RM who just got back from serving his mission in (location withheld), and I was hoping for some advice so I bought your book and I’ve read it. It was very helpful but there are still a couple pointers that I wanted to get that I didn’t find in the book.

Several years ago back in high school I did not follow the Church guidelines to avoid steady dating. It was kinda a shocker to me when this girl I liked in seminary asked me on a few dates, and before I knew it we were going out steady.

It kinda caught me off guard since she asked me plus I was really shy and didn’t really want anything to do with anybody in that way, but the thing is that I cared about her & she was like my best friend.

We clicked very well together and had a lot of fun.

That young woman was like my best friend and my sister but was also a love interest at the same time. Her family is really cool too and overall we all got along.

Anyhow, after a year things kinda came apart and we separated.

A lot of it had to do with our being so young but also it was due to my inability to properly articulate what I felt. My being insecure and not confident also had a negative impact from my end.

Although we didn’t get back together in high school I still liked her (we had several breakups but in the very end I choose not to get back with her, even though I wanted to). In a way it damaged our great friendship at that time which was quite regrettable.

That was when I understood why the Brethren ask teens to avoid steady dating and so I went on group dates but never got in any other relationship before leaving on my mission. Fast forward two years and I’m back at BYU.

Since serving a mission I’ve changed in a lot of ways,

I have better ‘inter-companionship’ and communication skills and am more caring for others as well as more confident.

After coming back to the Y we, the same young lady and I, started texting each other again and communicating through Facebook, then we started just casually hanging out, before we knew it we went on a few dates.

Not long after I wrote her a letter to see if she wanted to get back together and she responded that she would.

Anyhow, we’ve had a lot of good times and have gone on multiple dates since then and we have progressed in our relationship.

We're at the point where when she goes grocery shopping she invites me to tag along, and vice versa. 

We like being together even if it means just to go pick something up at Walmart or meds at Walgreens.

Part of me is really scared of the idea of us being separated, and sometimes I stress out because I read too much into the little things.

It’s annoying because I thought that I got over that ‘no confidence’ ilk while I was in the mission. 

Also it took a lot of confidence to get to this point, to even consider asking her on dates let alone to be together.

I recognize that I’m being insecure and am not having confidence which is really aggravating because I thought I slayed those demons a while ago. I am not always insecure, it’s more like I have ‘fits’ of insecurity where I really start feeling unsure about us or in other words that she might break us up or that I said something really stupid, etc etc, but despite my fears everything has been progressing relatively well, and unbelievably quickly.

Most of the time I’m alright.

So essentially what I’m asking is how do I overcome those ‘fits’ of insecurity and low confidence that are triggered by reading too much into little things?

Also, is it normal for that to happen?

It seems in part that it stems from my fear of facing that great amount of emotional pain that I felt when we broke up back in the day.

How do I overcome that fear?

More than anything I want to be with her and we’ve been communicating well, I just don’t want to drop the ball on my end.

Everything has been going smoothly but I still get really anxious sometimes for no reason.

So what is the root of my problem?

Thank you for your time and consideration,

- RM Facing Down Old Demons




Dear RM,

I'm not certain of the psychology behind why you're reacting the way you are, but as an RM you surely know what the opposite of fear is . . .

And you know how we strengthen that opposite.

Some of us (including yours truly, by the way) suffer from insecurities.

We're just wired that way.

It never totally goes away.

We can either let it cripple us, or channel it in a way that motivates us to serve and succeed.

If I'm feeling insecure in my calling (am I doing enough? am I the right person? am I who the Lord needs?), what would you tell me to do?

Do you see what I'm driving at?

You have the power to take these negatives and turn them into positives.


Deep down I know that Sister Jo loves me and would never leave me. But there are times when I worry about how much I'll miss her if something ever were to happen to her.

She appreciates confidence.

So when I'm feeling that way I go buy her some flowers.

And when she asks why, I tell her because I'm smart enough to know that sometimes a beautiful woman deserves flowers.

Her reaction always helps me feel more confident in our relationship.

Get it?


So one last thing, my friend . . . and I mean this: Marry Her.


She's everything you could ever hope for in an Eternal Companion.

Fast.

Pray.

And don't let her get away.

- Bro Jo

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Out-of-the-Blue Breakup

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello again!

So, I have a bit of a situation . . . there's this guy (oh how cliche)..he's wonderful, interesting, and smart. We have been in the same ward for quite some time but haven't really been able to talk much (I've been spending time out of the country) but he's the same age as my older sister and so I kinda know him, but had never really talked to him.

But now we are both back, and single.

So we started talking and eventually went out on a few dates, just to clarify I'm 19 and he's 22 (R.M.) so they were fun, one on one dates.

(He invited me to his basketball game, then we got hot chocolate and talked at the temple for a few hours, he came over to my house and played games/watched a movie, and we went to a hot air balloon festival) plus we had been texting/calling quite a bit..this all happened in the space of about a week and a half.

I liked him immediately and surprisingly very intensely, (I haven't felt that way for a guy so fast in a long time..)

I have a missionary whom I really like, (but we both decided that it would be good to date other people) so I've been on quite a few dates since he's been gone--and have liked a few guys, but some of them were preparing for their own missions, or I'm not really into it or vice versa or whatever (something always happened)--and frankly I haven't really been heartbroken about it.

Anyways, back to this guy . . .

We went on those few dates and afterwards he came back to my house to watch a movie and we started talking, he said that he had just gotten out of a long term serious relationship (he had been with his ex for a year).

So, I asked if he still liked her (not wanting to get into anything if he still had feelings for her) and he said that breaking up was mutual and they both saw it coming, he only sees her as a friend, he wants whats best for her and all but doesn't see anything romantic.

Earlier in the week (right after our 2nd date) his ex texted him and he said he was confused about it.--I have no idea what he or she said..but, I mean, if you date someone for a year and you aren't sure if you should be together then you probably shouldn't be together, am I right...?

Anyways, after him telling me all this about his ex and everything he said he wanted to "take things slow" and "be fair to me" and he "didn't want to hurt me".

I ofcourse not wanting to lie to him told him about my missionary and that I'm not waiting for him, but I also like him too but I wanted to give the current guy a chance and "not hurt him" either. 

So . . .naturally I thought taking things slow meant being casual and dating others, but he surprised me with a kiss. (we ended up making out on a couple occasions) which was awesome/confusing.

So I was trying to be cool and casual about it but he sure didn't kiss me very casually.

I ended up going on a couple of dates with other guys during that time to try to protect my heart buy I felt nothing for them and could only think about this current guy.

I also didn't want to play games so I told him that I had gone out with those other guys and if he was okay with it and he said that yeah he was cool with it and that we should keep on trying to be casual.

I really started to develop feelings for this guy though, but I kinda felt him start to back off a bit. I was super confused about where his head was so I decided to be brave and tell him my feelings.

So I said: "Hey so I just wanted to clear this up and be real with you..and let you know that even though I've been on a few dates with other guys I can't stop thinking about you! Gosh what is it about you (name withheld)!?

But I wanted to let you know that I really feel like there could be something pretty great between us. I don't want to make you uncomfortable, but I would really like to see where we could go. I would rather let you know how I feel and possibly be hurt -- than to never take a chance.."

To which he replied: "Yeah I've been wanting to talk to you. (name withheld) you're a really great girl and its been so much fun hanging out with you! I think we are just in different places in our lives. I've had fun with you but you've just come on really strong. And with where I'm at in my life I don't want that. Things just got moving really fast and it freaked me out. And I needed time to think and pray about things. I want to still be friends but I think I just need my space for now. Are you okay with that? I really don't want to hurt you and just want you to be happy and I don't think I could give you what you deserve."

So, I was pretty sad and a little humiliated.

I just said okay with a smile and that was it. Okay, I know it seems like I'm a crazy girl who just wants to get married, but that really isn't me.

I just wanted to date him and see how things went! (I still don't feel ready for marriage just yet) I really don't feel like I did anything wrong. But I'm not sure how to handle this now. I saw him in church today and it was hard for me to even look at him, let alone talk to him..so I didn't. I would still be okay with being friends with him but I don't want to come off as intense or anything.


What should I do?

 And uh, why did he kiss me?!

Again.

HE kissed ME.

Not the other way around.


Sure if he was like most guys I'd say that's just how they are..but this guy is different, he's honest and spiritual, he's a really great person.

Any advice?

Thanks.

- Confused




Dear Confused,

I'm guessing that he kissed you because

A) Kissing is fun

B) He finds you attractive

C) The timing seemed appropriate (and I'd argue that it was) ,and

D) He wanted to kiss you (and you let him).


All of which are good things.


I don't think you came on to strong, I don't think you were out of line to think this was going somewhere (and I agree that it probably should have), and I think he may have made a big mistake. 


But the bottom line is that he broke up with you; and as I've said often, while you two can be friendly, you can never really be close friends. You either end up together or apart; he either becomes your best friend, or someone else will. So I think it's best to move on.

I know that may be difficult, but consider this: him breaking up with you doesn't mean that you're not great; it means that for a period of time he was smart enough to realize how great you are . . . and then he wasn't.

Some other guy will figure it out, and that guy won't be dumb enough to change his mind.

So keep dating!

And, who knows?

Perhaps if you continue to be nice to this guy he'll figure it out.

And, if so, maybe . . . Just MAYBE . . . you'll let him crawl back and beg you for another chance . . . 

But that will be your decision to make.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom, it seriously made me feel so much better about this situation!

I have a couple of things to ask about though (sorry) but when the guy mentioned me coming on really strong I thought long and hard about what that might mean..

I'm not the type to come on strong..ever..

I really should work on coming on stronger actually, or else most guys think I'm indifferent to them. 

The only thing I could think of was that other people were kind of pressuring him in a way.

One of our mutual friends told the guy that I was really awesome and that he should put a ring on it (I know this sounds presumptuous) but several other people (his baseball coach, some people in the ward, one of my friends) said the same thing while I was with him (and I'm not sure who said what while I wasn't with him) I didn't ask them to say this either!

The bottom line is that how is it my fault that he was being pressured by others and not by me..?

Is it wrong to be like-able? (k I'm really not a brat I promise.) but for real.

How does a girl fix that?

I know this is a little desperate but I really like this guy.

A whole lot.

And I'm not asking him to fall in love with me..(I can't predict the future! Who knows maybe its not meant to be..) I'm just asking for a chance. Is there anything else I can do in this situation??

(I mean besides show up to all the FHE activities and Sacrament meetings looking ravishing;))

ha.

Help..?

- Confused




Dear Confused, 

We can't "fix" people; we can help them, but even then only if they want our help.

And let's be honest with ourselves: you absolutely want him to fall in love with you; if you didn't there would be no reason to write me about him.

You could try talking to him and asking him what happened; I think that's a fair thing to do, but I don't know that you should waste your time.


Sister Jo is a HUGE advocate of showing up, looking ravishing, and making him regret he ever blew it with you.


But she's also right when she says that even if you didn't come on too strong (and I believe that's the case), the response to someone who has freaked out about feeling pressured is never positive if you pressure them more.


You had a chance, and so did he.


As great as he may be, he wasn't smart enough to realize it at the time, so you need to move on and make him regret it. Then and only then will there be a chance he'll come around.


If he does, you frankly may not care.

And THAT'S the position you want to be in.

- Bro Jo

Friday, June 10, 2016

Is She Being Shallow? Or Is She Just Not In Love with the Guy?

Dear Bro Jo,

I read your post "Is Romance a Requirement?" and parts of it are very similar to my situation.

I spent my summer working as a camp counselor and I met this amazing guy!

We have so much in common, we have similar personalities, we have a great time together, he's strong in the gospel, an rm, and EVERYTHING else I want in a guy.

We became really good friends and then he asked me out on a date, and then a second date, and then a third date...things were going great!

We didn't know for sure if we had mutual feelings the third date, but then we told each other and our relationship changed in like 5 minutes.

The first half of the date we were just good friends and then when we told each other that we like each other, we were holding hands, getting very cuddly, and he kissed me...a lot.

Holding hands and cuddling was GREAT, I felt so safe, comfortable, and wanted.

But when he kissed me I felt NOTHING.

I had never been kissed before and so when he was kissing me, I was thinking, "people do this for fun?! This is just weird!!"

I was expecting fireworks and I felt nothing, but I wasn't grossed out or anything.

And after that I was unsure about him.

He definitely liked me a lot more than I like him.

Even though we are long distance, we still decided a few weeks later to be boyfriend and girlfriend. Some days I feel like I really really like him and I miss him a lot, and other days I don't know if I like him very much and I don't mind the distance.


And I think the main reason for this is because I don't think he's very attractive.


On the inside, he is great!! But when I see pictures of him or when I kissed him...he's not repulsive to me, just not so cute.

So my question is, do you think we should stay together?

Can I and should I just try to overlook my dissatisfaction with his appearance?

Is it rude to ask him to change his hair to be a little more attractive?

I'm just afraid of having him waste his time on someone who doesn't like him as much as he deserves to be liked.

And is it weird that I felt nothing when we kissed?

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

Weird?

Not necessarily.

I think it's a little weird that you did so much kissing him if you didn't enjoy it at all . . .

 And it does sound to me like you had some unrealistic expectations of what kissing is.

Understand: I love kissing Sister Jo, but every kiss isn't filled with lust and sexual excitement.

That would be silly.

One thing you may want to consider: kissing gets better with practice.

It was your first time, and he may not be that much more experienced, either. So that may be part of it.

I know Sister Jo doesn't pine for me every minute we're apart, and even on our Super Dates (usually 3+ days) where we love spending time together each of us has moments (we fight at least once on these dates, btw) where we're thinking "okay, I need to be away from you for a little bit".


You should never enter into, or stay in, a relationship where you think "it would just be perfect if the other person would change a little" - that's a sure path to sadness . . . even disaster.


Should he get a better haircut? That's likely!

Can you, as the girlfriend, recommend that he do? Well . . . yeah.

And you should.


You should also understand that bit of manipulation may cost you the relationship. (Wise people will tell you that it's much more effective to compliment improvement than to suggest change.)


(Personal story: at one point early in our dating Sister Jo said I should grow my hair out longer; I did, it looked horrible, and she said "yeah, you look awful, go get it cut"; and I did. Not a deal breaker. I think that kind of stuff might matter more to girls than guys. For example, even if I ever thought so, I would NEVER suggest a hairstyle change to Sister Jo. Ever.)


Candidly, if your only problem with this guy is that you'd like him to change his hair, and that's enough for you to be thinking of breaking up and moving on, then I'm not sure you deserve him. 

However, that said, I think you should make the suggestion and see what happens.

Even if he'd be better off without you, you might not be better off without him, and that's a great reason to keep trying.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I knew I was going to sound like a shallow person...

Let me explain, it's not just the hair.

When I look at him, I'm just not that attracted to him. I would never break up with him because of a bad haircut!

(Although he would look better with a different hairstyle . . . )

I'm just afraid that if we get to the point of deciding if we should get married, that I'm not going to know what to do because I don't know if I want to spend my whole life with a man that I'm not very physically attracted to.


I know that sounds shallow, but I do think physical attractiveness is important in a relationship.


I guess a better question would be, should I continue pursuing a relationship with someone who I am very compatible with, but I do not find very physically attractive in hopes that the deeper our relationship grows, the more attractive I will find him?

And, by the way, I feel like a terrible person that I don't think he's very cute, because he is an incredible, loving, selfless guy.


And the kissing thing....we maybe kissed for 5 minutes which I consider a lot for me and then he gave me some good night kisses too.

I kind of just went with the flow and let him kiss me because we weren't going to see each other for a while, so that's why.

Thanks so much for your response, I really do appreciate it!

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

I'm torn about your question, so I've been discussing it with Sister Jo (who not surprisingly is much smarter than I am).

I told Sister Jo that I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with someone who didn't find me attractive and didn't like to (or worse, refused to) kiss me.

If this guy you're seeing feels the same way I do, he'd rather be cut loose to find someone else.

But Sister Jo thinks that we as a culture are too hung up on physical attractiveness and things like kissing.

She points out that lots of cultures on this planet don't kiss at all; some even find the practice disgusting.   (Which, as someone who loves kissing, I don't get at all . . . but I know it's true.)


Sister Jo said that maybe you should move to one of those places.


We both subscribe to the theory that, generally speaking, men fall in love with women that they are attracted to and women become attracted to men they're in love with . . . so maybe that's an answer to your situation?

Perhaps over time you'll find him more physically attractive.


What I'll leave you with is this: physical attractiveness is one of the most-likely to change things about any person.

Hairstyles, weight, fitness, and age are all factors that can change drastically, and often do.


If this guy was more, or less, of something that he is now, would it change how you feel about him? 

And if so, how long would that last?


Within our time together I weighed 100 pounds more than I did when Sister Jo and I married.

I'm somewhere in the middle now, but I don't know how long that will last.

Despite that weight gain Sister Jo loved me . . . and kissed me.

There must have been something more to that than just my appearance, don't you think?


Perhaps it's not that you're not attracted to him, perhaps it's that regardless of how great a guy he is you're just not in love with him.

If that's the case, then by all means move on.

It will be better for him and for you.

Someone can be a great person and still not a good person for you, which does not mean that you are a bad person.

Just be aware of what you told me: you're going to be losing a great guy.

- Bro Jo

Monday, June 6, 2016

How Do You Feel the Love of God Again?

Dear Bro Jo,

My name is (withheld). 20 years old and a member of the Church but not active.

I have a feeling to write to you for some reason. I wanna tell you a little bit about my story....

I practically grew up as LDS.

Was baptized at 8 and finished personal progress, even graduated seminary.

I had many testimonies about this faith. Strong ones, that I could go on and on about.

Many people looked up to me and told me how strong and true my testimony was. I had lots of admirers in the Church...

With me being the president of the young women's and planning most of the activities.

Those were my best years and I loved every minute of it.

Going to Church and meetings and young women's made me so happy.

My parents divorced in (date withheld). Leaving me heartbroken and very depressed.

I started hating going to Church, seeing families happy and singing songs together.

I started growing in hatred towards people.

In (date withheld) I tried to commit suicide because my depression got the best of me.

I felt so alone... Felt like God left me.

Ever sense my suicide attempt I haven't set foot at the Church.

I grew to hate God and Jesus.

I stopped believing He was there.

How could He have left me?

How could He have forgotten me?

After my true testimony of him.

I'm not that strong I kept saying...

I found my patriarchal blessing.

Wow.

How amazing it was to read that again.

You don't know how good I felt and how amazing it was to read it!

That's exactly how I want my live to be.

That's what I wanted to hear.

But that can only happen if I went back to the Church and became faithfully to the commandments of God.

I have done a lot of stuff wrong and against the word of God.

Drugs, drinking, sex, porn . . .

This was weekly stuff I was doing.

Things I'm still doing.

But I want to stop.

I wanna feels God’s love again his guidance in this really hard time I'm going thru.

With no job and no income to survive off. I don't want him back for my needs. I want him back for love.

I'm doing things against what the Church says.

I don't want to repent and then do the same things again.

I know nobody is perfect, only God.

But I don't wanna make mistakes to my Savior.

I don't wanna make fun of the Church when I don't believe something.

I'm really stuck right now.

I feel like its not the right time to go back to Church.

But I also feel like I need to.

I want to have that testimony again. Also feel his love again.

Do you have any advice or help for me.... I could really use it.


- Name WIthheld




Dear NW,

I'm very impressed with your English - a horrible language to have to learn, and you’re doing great!

I believe that all good things come from God and all bad things come from Satan.

That includes feelings. The desire you have to feel the Spirit, to feel God's love . . . those are good things.

The doubts and other things keeping you from Church are Satan's way of keeping you from feeling happy again.

Even the longest journey starts with a single step, and even the path to the best destination will have ups and downs.

Pray.

Read your scriptures.

Go to Church.

When you're ready, confess your sins to priesthood authority and begin the repentance process.

Do those things that are right that you know you're supposed to do.

You'll be glad you did.

 And the longer you wait, the more regret and sorrow you'll feel.

You WILL feel His love as you are more often found doing what you know you're supposed to do. 

No more excuses.

Go and do.

And know joy!

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Friday, June 3, 2016

Relationship Anxiety? Or Discouragement from Satan?

Dear Bro Jo,

I am 22 years old. I've been home from my mission for a little over a year and in that time I've officially dated 2 girls (I never steady dated before my mission) and have had the opportunity to date a few others.

Neither of those relationships lasted more than a few weeks (and the "few others" lasted even less).

With each of those girls I had a lot of fun but I felt like no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get deeper than just the surface stuff.

Now I don't expect a girl to tell me her deepest secrets right off the bat, but I think building a relationship involves a steady flow of disclosure and a sort of emotional/spiritual connection.

Not being able to reach these girls on a level that I wanted, I got a lot of anxiety and called it off.

Looking back, I think it was the right thing to do in both cases.

But now I'm in a pickle.

I've admired a girl for a while. For the first time ever my initial interest had nothing to do with looks (we guys are visual, what can I say?). I just simply thought she was a great girl.

Last month we started going on a few dates.

We've been able to talk about important things.

After one conversation where we talked about how we want to raise our families, I was so happy I could have floated home.

But after the winter break, the same sort of anxiety I felt before came back.

Because of the sick feeling in my stomach and the gloomy feeling that followed, I started losing interest and now I don't feel any desire to be with her even though she seems perfect. I guess I don't have as much fun with her as I do a few other girls, but is that something that should cause me so much anxiety?

The question is, should I try to rekindle some interest and overcome my anxiety, or is anxiety a legitimate indicator that, for whatever reason (including lack of personal preparation), it's not time for a relationship?

My mom seriously recommended seeing a counselor.

My roommates tell me that I just haven't found the right one yet.

I just want to know if what I'm feeling is normal or if it's something I need to get checked out.

- Name Withheld

PS: I really appreciate what you do. I'm amazed that a man would go through so much trouble for a bunch of strangers. God bless you.




Dear NW,

Come on, Elder!

Where do negative feelings come from?

If it's righteous to get married, and it certainly is, who might want you to feel anxious?

Who has a goal of keeping you from finding a Good Woman and going through the Temple with her?

When it comes to dating, I think anxiety is like getting in a swimming pool … sometimes you've got to just stop psyching yourself out and jump in.

Do Not stop seeing this Great Girl.

And do yourself another favor : stop treating every girl and every date like your eternal salvation hangs in the balance.

For now, Brother, they're just dates.


If you're not ready to be exclusive with this girl, or any other for that matter, then don't.

(A Good Guy, by the way, makes that clear. Simply tell a girl that you like her, would love to keep dating her, but you're not quite ready to be exclusive yet.)


And your roommates are right in that you need to be dating a lot more girls.


My RM recommendation, by the way, is at least one date a week, whether it's with the same girl or different girls.


Counseling may help; moms often know what's best, but I think you just need to stop letting Satan rule your life and power past this, too.

- Bro Jo


PS:  Thank you for the kind words, though I'm fairly certain I don't deserve them.  Cheers, - Bro Jo

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

What If What You've Done is Too Embarrassing to Talk to Your Bishop About?

Dear Bro Jo,

I have been reading your blog and I need some answers.

My heart is heavy and I feel awful. I want you to know it’s hard for me to tell you this because I haven't told anyone yet.

I’m a female and I am 20 years old. I’m preparing to go on a mission right now.

I know I have a Loving Heavenly Father. I know repentance is a real.

I never thought I would have to talk to my Bishop about my past transgressions.

I feel as if I'm am no longer sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit.

I feel confused and lost.

When I was 17 years old I had my first boyfriend.

At this time in my life I felt very in tune with the Spirit and I was doing much good. I never knew I could have such strong feeling for someone. I loved the attention he (my boyfriend at the time) gave me. I loved the physical attention even more.

We just kept pushing it and pushing it till we crossed the line. We didn't have sex. We didn't do everything. We did touch inappropriately.

The sad thing was it that I always had mixed emotions about it. It felt so good but I felt awful every time.

After we broke up I told my Bishop about it. I didn't go into any detail.

I'm not even sure if I have to go into detail.

All I said was that we almost had sex but we didn't.

I cried telling.  I thought I got it off my chest but I'm still not sure if that was all I needed to tell him.

I've repented of this sin and I've have respected other guys since then. I'm still not sure if I completely repented.

I don't feel guilt like I did when I was doing it.

But I also don't want to keep bring it up to my Bishop because its just so embarrassing and not a part of me anymore. What should I do?

I have more.

I've been struggling with masturbation for a long time. It started when I was 10 and it just "felt good".

At the time I didn't even really know what I was doing.

I knew it was a pleasing feeling like when you have your head scratched or having your head rubbed.

I grew up kinda sheltered and didn't really understand the concept of sex till I was 13 in a sex ed class in middle school.

I continued masturbating on and off till I was 16 and someone told me it was a sin.

I felt awful.

I felt lower than the scum of the earth.

I stopped doing it and I repented of it and told no one because what kind of LDS girl has these kind of problems?

I felt good about it.

I have masturbated quite a few times after I found out it was a sin.

I did it again this morning right when woke up and I didn't even feel bad.

I know I should feel the Spirit but I believe my past is not letting me.

Should I talk to my Bishop?

How should I start it?

I believe the Lord and His tender mercies.

I just want it feel again.

I want to stand clean before him on judgment day.

I feel weird about this email.

I just don't have anyone to talk to about this.

My Church is having a recovery program and I think I should go but do you have any idea. . .

Is my problem serious enough for me to go or am I over exaggerating?

If you have anymore questions feel free to ask.

I believe I skipped many details I'm just too embarrassed to write.

- Future Sister Missionary?




Dear Sister,

I think the best way for me to answer your question is this: whenever you're concerned that your behavior will jeopardize your worthiness, whatever that behavior may be, stop the behavior and talk to your Bishop.

When you go to talk to your Bishop, pray first, and be forthright in your discussion with him.

Don't give graphic details, but do say what you've done.


On a personal level I think discovering one's own body as a young child is harmless.

And very normal.


What I think can be harmful is behavior that is addictive, done for the wrong reasons, or that keeps us from feeling the Spirit.


Let me be clear: the problem with masturbation, IMHO, is that it can be seen as a replacement for the kind of things that should happen between a husband and wife, it can distort one's view of self, confuse us about sex, and is often coupled with pornography (which comes in many forms, by the way).


You clearly feel like your behavior has made you unclean; so go to the Bishop and ask his help in becoming clean.


Don't let fear or embarrassment get in your way.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much!

I have been praying and fasting these past few months and I felt relief reading your message.

You are awesome!

Sometimes it is easy to get to caught up in past transgressions that it’s nice to have guidance. It’s also nice to know that in today's world I can find help online.

Repentance is amazing!

Thank you once again.

- Future Sister Missionary




Dear Sister,

Happy to help.

God bless.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Merry Christmas!

I wrote you a while back.

I have truly repented.

One of the posts on your blog has really helped and inspired me to do better.

I feel as if I have gained a deeper understanding of the atonement.

You are awesome!!!

Thank you for the advice and example.

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

- Sister

PS:  My mission papers were submitted on Sunday!




Dear Sister,

What a wonderful email!

Thank you for the update, and kind words.

God bless.

And Merry Christmas!

- Bro Jo