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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Friday, July 29, 2016

When Mom Makes a Small Mistake

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro Jo.

I told my Mom that I wanted a stuffed animal and I told her all about it and she got mad because she said I didn't tell her right and I know I did so what should I do?

Buy the animal that is the right one or just forget about it?

From,

- C




Dear C,

I'm not certain how old you are . . . but if you're young enough to still like buying stuffed animals then I think you’re young enough for your mother to tell you no.

If you're old enough that you don't need to ask your mother's permission, then stop asking.

If what you're saying is that you asked her to buy something for you and she picked up the wrong one, then you should apologize for telling her incorrectly (even if you didn't) and then go change it for the one you wanted.

And next time realize that, as is said, if you want something done your way you have to do it yourself; no sense complaining otherwise.

We love and respect our parents, even when we disagree with them; even when they're wrong.

At least when they're wrong about stuff as trivial as this.

Cheers,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Online Dating and Blind Dates

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey! It is me again.

I was just wondering what your thoughts were on online dating, aside from the obvious safety concerns.

My dad suggested it to me after things went downhill with the other guy, and so I humored him and signed up for one of the LDS dating sites.

And immediately I have gone from unnoticed, un-talked to girl, to having a million guys trying to talk to me!

I think I've already found one I'm interested in becoming more acquainted with...

He's ten years older than I am, but I find that I really don't mind that very much anymore.

The guys I dealt with that were my age just didn't jive well with me.

Just curious.

- Bug




Dear Bug,

There's no such thing as online dating.

If you're online, it's not a date.

I do think that in some situations the internet can be a good way, perhaps one of the few ways, for people to meet.

In some areas and with some age groups there just aren't a whole lot of options without going on line.

And I think that's fine.

Not my favorite or first recommendation, but I see its value.

They key, regardless of one's age or location, is to realize that the reason we out the word "virtual" in front of the word "reality" is to remind us that these things are not real.

No one's picture is true.

No one is forthcoming with all information.

And no real relationship can happen or grow in cyberspace.

If websites can introduce you to new people, and those introductions lead to actual in person dates, then that's fine.

If this becomes a substitute for real dating and talking face-to-face to people ... then that's not good.

Stay away from "hook-up" sites.  That's not where people go who are looking for someone to respect.

And, as always,

Be Safe.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I agree.

But I also agree that it is a good way for people to meet, particularly when they are in circumstances that are not accommodating to much social activity, such as my life-sucking work schedule that requires me to work nights, and every other weekend with a day off at the beginning to middle of the week.

I prefer the face-to-face stuff. And when starting out, I prefer it in public areas where if something became a problem, people would be around to intervene or seek help from.

On that note. Ten year age difference?

I'm 21, he's 31 but we seem to have a lot in common.

(Granted, face to face, in person conversation is required.)

Is that weird?

I used to think that much of an age gap was weird before, and now it doesn't bother me.

The ones my age don't seem to jive very well with my personality and who I am.

Thoughts?

Thanks,

- Bug




Dear Bug,

I disagree that your work schedule will keep you from meeting people.

Staying home when you’re not working does that.

Especially at your age.

And I'd like you to consider this: if the only time and way you can meet people is at home during the day on the internet ... what kind of 31 year old is chatting online in the middle of the day???

In general I do say that 31 and 21 is too far apart ... but there are always exceptions to the rule.

I think you should meet this guy.

Public place, take your phone, make sure someone knows where you are, get yourself there, and don't leave to go anywhere else with him.

Unless it's arranged by a mutual trusted friend or relative, a girl needs to be super careful with blind dates in this day and age.

- Bro Jo

Monday, July 25, 2016

When Intimacy Escalates

Dear Bro Jo,

I love your blog and I have contacted you before and thank you so much for your advice in the past.

I don't know how to say this.. but my boyfriend and I have been getting way too carried away with each other.

We usually live in two different countries (in Europe) so when we do see each other we make out too intensely to the point of dry humping and it's now crossed the line of law of chastity but we haven't done "it".

But basically we are in some serious trouble and I'm currently in his country to live here for three months for the Summer.

We have been together nearly four months now and it is ridiculous how things have escalated.

We both have the same goal of making it to the Temple but we just keep failing to do what's right.

We have tried many strategies in the past like giving each other four options of what would happen if we fail again but that didn't even work.

We've now agreed to go cold turkey and stop kissing for a little bit because things escalate and yes I definitely am due to talk to the Bishop and yes I know it won't be a easy meeting.

Can I add that we do love each other very much and we want to do things the right way.

I can definitely say that I can see myself married to him because he is such a wonderful man and treats me with such great love and kindness, it's just this problem we just can't get over.

We'd like to take our time with the whole marriage thing as it is a huge commitment and we want to be the best we can be before marriage.

I'm 20 and he's 23 if you were wondering.

Thank you for your time,

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

I'm not convinced that "cold turkey" is going to work. 

I think you two need to be chaperoned until you get married. 

And I think you should get married soon. 

Look, if you're comfortable with the list of things you should know about each other, if he passes the "Five A's of Why Not to Marry That Person" and you're both willing to work hard at your marriage and put the other person first ... I think it's time to get your recommends and head to the Temple.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for the advice and yes we will talk about the chaperoning together. 

We're seeing the Bishop as soon as we can to talk about our issues. 

Marriage is certainly an option but ideally we wanted to date a little longer but I guess realistically we should re evaluate that. 

Thank you for the advice!

- NW

PS: Oh and where do you find the 5 A's?




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for your advice and we're now getting married in August! 


Thought I'd let you know and Happy Sunday

- NW




Dear NW,

Here's the 5 A's.  

And congratulations! 

I'd love to her the story. 

- Bro Jo

Friday, July 22, 2016

Does He Need to Date More Girls to be Better Prepared for Marriage?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey there!

I've recently discovered your blog through my mom, and I've really enjoyed what I've read.

Thanks for all your advice, it's really helpful and inspired.

I have just a small question for you, but I figure I should probably give you some background info so you know what to work with here.

I'm a 21 year old RM, just came home right a few months ago

I'm in my first semester up at BYU-I and having a great time of it!

I've been dating a girl exclusively for almost two months now (yes, courting is definitely a better word. We're boyfriend/girlfriend status and have been for over a month).

She's 20, in her third semester at school.

We just recently had a DTR at the recommendation of my mom/my Bishop/some other friends I talked to, and we're both on the same page about our relationship.

We see it leading towards marriage if we continue, and we're both willing to work towards that and see how things go.

I'm really happy with that, she's a fantastic girl that I admire so much and I think I can safely say that I really love her.

She tries to go to the Temple regularly, she's great at scripture study and visiting teaching, and she has a strong testimony.

The thing I admire most about her is that she is very careful about not going too fast with things. For example, she told me that she didn't feel comfortable kissing until she had known someone for a significant amount of time, and I respected her wishes.

We're past that stage now, but it took a month to get there.

I really admire that she isn't just here to "find a husband" and definitely isn't the girl that would rush into an engagement after two or three months, she's taking this seriously.


Which leads me to my question: I have to confess first: I've really only dated a very small amount of girls. I dated a girl exclusively in high school for almost three years, which ended in disaster right before I left to serve a mission.

Long story short, we got too close (yep, exclusivity in high school just isn't worth it OR safe!), and I severed it before it could get too far out of hand.


After returning home from the mission field, I went on a grand total of one date before meeting this girl. And it's just been her since then.

We first met when a friend introduced us at a game night one Saturday, we sat at devotional the next week, she asked me to go dancing with her that night and the following night, then I asked her out that weekend.

She invited me over to watch a movie and do a puzzle the following Monday, we went dancing again that week, next thing you know I asked her to be my girlfriend.

We probably see each other or talk at least once a day, and go on dates once or twice a week, with more casual hanging out in between.


Okay, so the question for real this time: on your blog, you strongly encourage dating a LOT of people.

Is the fact that I (and she's in the same position as me with not having had many exclusive relationships, but she's been on dates with a lot more guys than I have girls) have only dated a few other girls before going to be a problem in deciding whether she's the right girl for me to marry?

I certainly don't want to just end this relationship because I want to "date other people", that seems like a bit of a terrible thing to do. I suppose I'm just curious about what you'd say to a couple in this situation.

So far things have gone great, we really enjoy our time together (she's even taught me how to dance!), and we have a lot of similar interests and a lot of similar goals for our futures.

So whuddya say?

Keep it going and see where it leads?

Thanks!

- Not experienced enough?

PS:. you should know that even though we've broached the topic of marriage, I'm not even close to the point of popping the question.

She considers us to be in the "early stages" of our relationship as well.

We're not racing for the fences or anything, I just want to make sure that we're on the right track before I get to that point where I've got to make that decision.

I have lots of other questions about dating of course, but I'd bet that most of them can be chalked up to inexperience...hence the question!

Thanks!




Dear Friend,

DO NOT BREAK OFF THIS RELATIONSHIP!

Certainly not under any pretext or pressure that you should have dated more girls before you met this one.

Count yourself lucky.

Sure, dating a lot of different people can help us figure out what's a good fit for us and find someone that will make a great companion, but you're already in a good relationship with a great girl, and I see no reason to risk that.

You’re doing it right.

Take it slow.

Get to know each other.

And when it's right, step to the next level.

Now, if you're still not sure (or, hahaha, not smart enough) to realize that it's time to move forward by or before the one year mark, maybe then it will be time to let her go find a better guy . . . but I don't recommend it!

Enjoy, my brother.

Sounds like you're a lucky guy.

Very lucky.

- Bro Jo

PS: Sister Jo and I are at BYU-I tonight! Here to celebrate our anniversary and see our son perform in "Savior of the World".

If you see us, come say hello!




Dear Bro Jo,

I really appreciate you getting back to me so soon, I know you probably have a lot of emails to go through each day!

No, I definitely am not planning on breaking it off anytime soon!

I think that, given how well things have been going, there's a lot of pressure from the adversary to make it not work out.

I think that if things continue how they've been going, this relationship could be (and in a lot of ways already is) exactly what I've been hoping for and definitely what I need in a lot of ways as well.

I've had a lot of fear that it's "too good to be true", so hearing your reassurance and encouragement helps a lot as well.

I'll keep the course, and I have lots of high hopes for this relationship!

Thanks again!

 - Name Withheld

P.S. Happy anniversary!

Hope you enjoyed the show, I saw it last week and it was great!




Dear Friend,

Thank you.

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Never Been Kissed: When You've Been Raised to Fear the Opposite Sex

Dear Bro Jo,

I am almost 19 years old and I have never been kissed....

But before you say something like "oh that doesn't matter!" I need to explain more.

Everyone says that I am scared of boys, snd truth is.... I am really awkward around them.

I don't know how to act, or what to say... and its not the normal jitters.

My mom says that I was raised to be afraid of boys because she is.

My mom was raped when she was a girl, and when her parents found out, they did nothing.

No help, no therapy, nothing.

She says that because she was raped, she raised me to be scared of boys.

And I suppose its true....

I am extremely cautious with boys. I automatically assume the worst.

I don't like boys touching me (unless I want them to... like hugs) and I get really awkward and strange if they do.

For instance, I went on a blind date once with my cousin, I didn't know the guy and about 10 minutes into the date he sat on my lap. I wasn't okay with it, but I didn't know what to do.

I froze, and then as soon as he got off, I ran upstairs and completely ditched him the rest of the night.

I know that it was a horrible thing to do, but I physically couldn't handle it.

I feel pathetic.

My dad, mom, cousin, aunt, and friends have all seen it and feel the need to tell me every time it happens.

Even in a normal day to day situation, I always assume the worst. I see most men as predators.

I try to avoid any person who looks "sketchy" and I'm not sure how to explain what makes me see them that way,usually it is just older men though.

When it comes to boys my own age, I still see them as potential predators (Unless I like the boy, but I am still really awkward around him).

I don't know what to do about it.

I feel like there is nothing I can do.

Everyone tells me I need to just get over it, but I don't know how.

I am hoping that you can give me some sort of advice to help me get over it.

Thanks for everything!

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

If I showed your email to the Jo Boys that are your age they'd say "well, heck! give me her address and I'll go take care of that problem right now!"

All jokes aside, I don't think the solution is to just run right out and start kissing guys, nor do I think that this is one of those things that one just "gets over".

You're not pathetic, and your concerns are both understandable and real.

You may want to consider getting some professional counseling, especially if these phobias are effecting your life in a consistent negative way.

(I don't think you were wrong, by the way, to ditch the boy that sat on you. He went too far, made you feel uncomfortable, and that's not okay. I'm also disappointed that when you left him he seems to have made no effort to fix what he did wrong.)

I think that, shy of counseling, what you can do is take things one simple step at a time.

Consider yourself a "late bloomer"; it's like you're starting over.

First dates, even when we're Serious Single Dating age, are not supposed to be big pressure deals. 

When you feel comfortable with a guy, perhaps because you've dated him several times, let him hold your hand.

When that becomes more comfortable, maybe you let him kiss you goodnight.

One step at a time.

And only when you're ready.

Good Guys will understand.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thamks a bunch!!

It really is a confidence boost to see that, so thanks again!!

- NW

Monday, July 18, 2016

Feeling the Spirit Again - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for the quick response.

All yesterday evening, I was praying and repenting.

I’m just trying to forgive myself right now because if I don’t I know I’ll end up just messing myself up even more. Why is it so hard to forgive myself?

I don’t think I can go to the Bishop…I don’t even know what I would say to him.

I’m scared of what he might think of me.

I haven’t talked to my parents about it either because I don’t think I can stand to see what would be on their faces—totally disappointment.

My older sister is leaving on her mission soon…I feel as though I could talk to her but I honestly don’t want to burden her with this.

I know Heavenly Father is always there for me, I can feel his love and I’m going to continue repenting not just through prayer, but through actions.

I put myself between a rock and a hard place here.

I must admit, I’ve had thoughts before that it’d be easy to do stuff like this and just not think about it much.

This pain I’ve been feeling is something I don’t want to go through again.

This guy and I are both attending a drama camp that’s a week long during the summer…and I know that that’s not going to end well if I don’t get myself out of this situation. 

It all just really hurts…because I honestly really care for this guy.

Even after all this.

- Feeling Alone




Dear Feeling,

This is an amazing moment in your life!

You've grown up a member of the Church, but have yet to gain a testimony of repentance and the love the Savior has for each of us.

While I would never encourage anyone to do something that requires repentance, we all are imperfect and have need of the Savior and the Atonement.

It's okay that you're not sure what to say to the Bishop.

The fear you feel about what he might think is, as you know, something that Satan is using to keep you feeling guilty and unworthy, keeping you from talking to him.

At this point I don't think you need to tell your parents.

If you want to, I think that's a good thing. But repentance is between us and the Lord, with priesthood authority occasionally needed to help us.

Parents can help, too. But they don't always have to.

Your Bishop can help you know what to do.

You need to realize, little sister, that these people (your sister, your parents, the Bishop, the Savior) that are in your life who can help you feel good again aren't going to feel burdened with your need for help, they're going to feel joy that you want help and are trying to make things right . . . because they love you.

One more thing as I wear my "dad" hat . . . if you can't control yourself around this boy, and he can't be trusted (which, frankly, I don't) then I don't think drama camp is in your best long-term interest. 

Best go talk to the Bishop right away.

- Bro Jo

Friday, July 15, 2016

Cursing in the Movies

Dear Bro Jo,

I have some questions about swearing.

I know we aren't supposed to swear, and that we are disciples of Christ and as such should speak like it,

But my question is about swearing in media.

I have always thought that swearing in movies could make the movie better by creating emotion and having better character development.

But I was talking to a friend who walks out at the first sound of swearing in movies.

After she called me stupid several times she sourced the Strength of youth saying:
"Satan uses media to deceive you by making what is wrong and evil look normal, humorous, or exciting. He tries to mislead you into thinking that breaking God’s commandments is acceptable and has no negative consequences for you or others. Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable. Have the courage to walk out of a movie, change your music, or turn off a computer, television, or mobile device if what you see or hear drives away the Spirit.'' 
I agree with this completely, But does the spirit leave the second any of the above happens? For example, take violence,

A classic good story has opposition, Good and Evil, Violence is often involved.

So does that make it bad?

Does that mean Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Star Wars are from Satan?

Or is violence somehow different from swearing?

If not, Is there a level of appropriateness with these things in media?

Or is it all bad and we should walk out the second it shows up?

Or is there a middle ground where you can keep the spirit whilst seeing some of these things?

While I would never watch ''The wolf on wall street'' I have always thought it was okay to watch some of these other movies.

Am I wrong?

- Confused.




Dear Confused,

"I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean 'bad'?"  

(Sorry, couldn't resist).

Okay, here's my take: (and please understand that a large part of my opinion is influenced by the fact that I have a degree in Theater / TV and Film and LOVE the stuff)



1. Swearing never makes a movie better.

In life when we hear someone swear what we should realize is that person lacks self-control. In media what we should realize is that the writers, director and actors lack ability.

Consider: what are the purposes of swear words? 

To express anger, frustration, or to shock people. Right?

Or, as Sister Jo correctly (IMHO) identifies "because one lacks the class or vocabulary to intelligently express themselves.

Are those reasons that INVITE the Spirit?

Of course not.

If you expand your exposure to media beyond the last few years you'll find that phenomenal movies and TV shows, with top-notch acting, directing and writing, with outstanding character development, didn't contain those things.

In the same way that "To Catch a Thief" is one of the sexiest movies of all time (and we never see the leads do anything more than kiss, and no clothing is ever removed) Good Classic Movies and TV shows contained none of the "curse words" that we hear so often today.

I submit that no TV show did a better job of Character Development than Star Trek the Next Generation. Deep cast. Outstanding writing and acting and direction.

Swearing?

No.

I love Star Wars, but I can't hold it up as an example of good acting, writing or directing, but I sure can Lord of the Rings.

If you look those three movies up on, say, Kids-in-mind you'll see that they only score a 1 out of 10 in the Profanity category.

In fact, for Fellowship it actually says "Though unclear, it is possible that there was one scatological term".

That's not very profane.

And is or is not the character development top notch?

Of course it is.

And they are (certainly for me) very emotional movies.



2. Does the Spirit leave once cursing starts?

I think it can.

And I submit to you as someone who has been trained as an actor and director (and done a little writing) that is exactly the point.

Every honest person will tell you that nudity is never required in a movie.

No movie.

So why is it in so many?

Well . . . the number one reason is because many in Hollywood think you won't go pay to see their movie without it.

Now that's true . . . and it's not.

It still holds that the top grossing movies of all time (most, anyway) are PG and PG-13.

See, most money spent on movies is by families on family movies (when you take a date you buy two tickets, when I take all of the Jo Kids and Sister Jo I buy nine tickets) and those movies tend to be UPLIFTING . . . so people see them more than once and are more likely to buy the DVD.

But that's what movie makers (producers) believe . . . so the nudity happens.

The other main reason is, frankly, because the people making the movie want to see people naked, and this is a way for them to do that.

Nudity in a movie?

Yeah, I promise you someone making the decisions wanted to see those people naked.

In person.

All day.

Perhaps for several days.



3. I think you're missing a crucial phrase in the FTSOY paragraph you quoted: "anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable".

You've seen A Christmas Story, right?

Do we ever hear Ralphy or his dad or his mom (or Mrs. Schwartz, for that matter) actually say the really bad word?

Nope.

And yet the whole bit is hysterical!

 AND we know what's going on without hearing the word AND it's presented in a way that we know it was wrong.

Is the violence in the movies you mentioned presented in such a way as to make you think "hey, that's acceptable!"

No again.

The bad guys use violence because they're evil.

The good guys use violence because they have to, because they are protecting someone, something, or an important ideal.

And I want you to consider a contrast.

There are Church movies that depict the crucifixion of the Savior.

No blood spatters.

Nothing is shown to make you think you're actually seeing the torn flesh.

Still violent?

Yes.

Moving?

You bet!

Do you feel the Spirit?

I know I do!

Excellent film making!

And there are movies out there that go out of their way to make the violence the POINT of the story. 

It's gross and disgusting and graphic.

Some of them go so far in their efforts to desensitize that they make the gratuitous and graphic into a joke.

I don't watch those because of how they make me feel.

I don't like it.

And therein I think you see the point.

If you don't feel the Spirit, walk out.

If you feel that the language or violence is age-appropriate (we didn't talk about that, but I think you understand that what's okay and understandable at 6, 16, and 26 are different things) and, well, "the smooching" (as we call it here in our house) then I think you're fine.

As a rule our family takes all R-rated movies off the list, regardless of how "great" everyone says they are. 

When in doubt, all PG-13 movies are researched (usually by me) at a service like Kids-in-Mind.

And I will tell you that on a personal level, I'm more tolerant of Violence than I am Nudity.


A famous actor's son once pointed out to him that the reason he was more comfortable seeing his father be violent than "romantic" in a movie is that we all know the violence is fake, but when dad is kissing that woman who isn't mom . . . well, he's really kissing her.


Now, let me also say that I think that we Latter-day Saints, as a group, are often horrific hypocrites when it comes to swearing.

In American English (swear words vary by culture and location, you know) we know that the "big four" (F, S, D & H) are replaced by Mormons with words like "Frick", "Shiz", "Dang" and Heck" . . . . ALL . . . THE . . . TIME.


The problem, as I see it, is not only are they horrible substitutions (we all know what the person WANTS to say - it even starts with the same letter and SOUNDS the same) but, and this is I think the point, they are used to communicate the SAME THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS.

Does it then matter?


Other than that the people around us don't think of them as swear words, I think using the "Mormon Substitutes" is every bit as bad as the real words.

Every time I hear a Latter-day Saint say "Frick" I know he means to say the other F-word, and I think that's still cursing.

Softer?

Yes.

And no.

Again, I invite us to consider the Reason, Motive, and Purpose.

Maybe.

A bit. But if the purpose is the same . . . See what I'm saying?


Now, to you and your friend.

Based on the information given I think she's too uptight and you're not uptight enough.

Still, while I think she's sheltered, I think she also needs to follow what's right for her and applaud her for having and sticking to high standards. I would never support anyone making her feel bad for only watching media that she feels is uplifting and invites the Spirit.


I think you're a good guy with your heart in the right place, but you should let go of your ill-conceived notion that swearing makes a movie better.

It never does.

And, candidly, I say that as an expert.

Thanks for the email. Fun topic to discuss. Hope my response helps.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for your response. Indeed it is a fun topic.

I think you're right on with the strength of youth part that I missed. I think it's great that you research the movies that are questionable, I do that as well.

I absolutely agree with your thoughts on nudity.

Thank you for your thoughts, they have helped.

- Confused




Dear Confused,

Anytime!

Cheers,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Dating Someone Who is Inactive

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello Bro Jo!

I just discovered your blog and hoping I could ask you a question or two.

I'm 25, and never done a whole lot of dating.

I have never had patience for the immaturity of the YSA dating scene in the area I live.

I have a hard time finding people with similar interests, and I don’t want to spend time 'hanging out'....would rather make meaningful connections and do productive things.

So for the most part, I've always said no when asked out.

I've also not been looking, at all, for any kind of serious relationship.

My life is full with family, school, work etc.

Three months ago I met a guy at work who spent a month and a half trying to draw me out in conversation and eventually asked me out.

I surprised myself by saying yes, and we've been in a relationship for a month.

The problem I am facing is he is an inactive member, hasn't been to church in over ten years, and in the meantime has led a drastically different life than mine. He seems very nice, and thus far has been respectful of my physical boundaries(I was very quick to set those).

The thing is, its my first serious relationship and I don't want to let myself get carried away too soon or too fast. Especially as I ultimately want a temple marriage.

I really like him, more than I have liked anyone before. We have a lot of similar interests, our goals and dreams are align very well.

I am a fairly reserved person but from day one have felt completely at ease with him, and I sincerely enjoy spending time with him. We have intelligent conversations, and while some dates are movie nights, we do lots of productive things too.

He likes me a lot....fairly certain he is already naming our future children.

Probably an exaggeration but he does like me a lot.

I am holding back a bit...more than I want to, because of the inactive member thing. I have never met anyone I got a long with so well, or liked so much.

 We've talked about God, religion.

He has come to church with me, and said he would be willing to make some changes in his life. I don't want him to make those changes because of me, and we have talked about that.

I guess my question is ...should I wait and see if he can make lifestyle changes and come back to church?

How long should I wait?

What should I look for to see if he means action or its just words? Is there anything I can do to help?

I don't think he really understands, when it comes to the Word of Wisdom...how important the standards of the church are.

Am I taking all of this too seriously, especially as its my first serious relationship?

Should I stop looking so far in to the future?

Sorry this was so long,

Thank you!

- Ever So Concerned




Dear Ever,

I certainly don't think you're taking this too seriously.

Nor do I think you should stop looking towards the future.

At 25 I think it's okay to wait . . . for a short while.

At most I'm thinking 3-6 months.

And even then, I think you need to see sincere progress during that time.

If he's going to Church . . . cutting those things out of his life that have made him unworthy to take the Sacrament . . . or to enter the Temple . . . if you can tell by his words and his actions that he is gaining his own testimony, if you can see the progress, if things are moving forward, then I think you're okay.

But if at any point he begins to try to drag you away from Church, be it subtly with invitations to do something else on Sunday, or angrily (perhaps by claiming that you're forcing or manipulating him), then it will be time to cut bait and move on.

The bottom line, I think, is that if the Temple is not clearly a goal for him, if you can't see him taking you there, if there's no progression in that direction, then you're wasting your time.

Give him at least three months to see how things are going.

If, between there and six months you feel like things are at a dead end, have a very honest and serious "I love you, but if you can't take me to the Temple, if you have no intention of doing that, then we'll have to part ways" discussion.

At least then you'll know.

- Bro Jo

Monday, July 11, 2016

Feeling The Spirit Again - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

So I’m 17 years old, & I have been a member all my life. Growing up in the Church, I got to know my standards quite well & I always promised myself I would never date a non-member, never date seriously until I was ready for marriage & I would get married in the Temple.

Well I met a guy in March. I guess you can pretty much know what happened?

We started talking everyday (he likes half an hour away & with no drivers means not seeing him a lot) and at the end of April (after a few dates) he asked me to go steady.

I agreed overjoyed because I’m crazy about this guy.

He’s not a member & I can’t say he exactly has the best standards.

You see, his life growing up wasn’t exactly great. He came from a broken family, drugs, crime & death happened to a lot of his family members.

He was adopted when he was a little kid & stuff has happened to him over the past while (drugs) but he told me he was done with that.

I’m getting a little off track but I just thought I’d give a bit of back round on the both of us…

So I’ve broken two promises to myself already.

But that’s not exactly the problem…or not all of it at least.

We saw each other Tuesday (me sneaking over to see him with my sister - I know, not good) we met outside his house and went for a drive down to a place we could be alone.

The reason was that he was very likely leaving to a place far away because of problems between him and his family.

Anyways well…we were alone..and stuff happened.

Making out.

Inappropriate touching.

I didn’t feel guilty about any of it…but I should have.

So I saw him again…and it was worse.

It was touching…down there…and other stuff.

All over clothing but still…words can’t explain the guilt I feel now.

I feel broken inside because I have given a part of myself…we didn’t have “that” or anything exactly close to it but we were doing wrong things & I knew it.

He did ask me…but every time I said I wasn’t ready, he asked again and again and basically I felt I had to.

So I gave in.

I don’t feel worthy anymore…

I know I must repent. But I feel like when I see him again, he’s gonna expect it.

I let myself and Heavenly Father down …

I’m the Laurel Class President so what example am I setting?

I’m so confused and sad…

But after all this I still want to be with him & it just farther confuses me …

I always thought it’d be easy to avoid temptation.

But it’s not…I feel stupid…and the fact I liked it makes me even more disappointed in myself and disgusted. …

I just really needed to talk to someone about this. …

What can I do?

What should I do?

- Feeling So Alone




Dear Feeling,

Listen to what the Spirit is telling you ... to what he's been telling you.

You feel the need to talk to someone and to repent.

I think you know who you can talk to about both of those things.

First God.

And then the Bishop.

You're not a horrible person. You're learning some lessons the hard way.

You knew you shouldn't get romantically involved with his guy. You knew you shouldn't sneak over. And after going as far as you did you knew you shouldn't go over the second time.

You know if you see him again he's going to expect you to do what you did ... and more ... and you know how you'll regret going over and giving in.

So don't.

All of that stuff about his background is frankly just you trying to make it a little less bad that you did what you did. Do us both a favor and don't lie to yourself.

You deserve better.

I want you to please consider one more aspect of all of this, and that is your feeling that you "had to" give in to the begging.

That's not good.

The manipulation. The pressure. That's not love.

And it's not respect.

Either for yourself or for you from him.

Doing things that we know we shouldn't and we deep down don't want to do because we feel the person we're with will think less of us if we don't is a Big Red Flag.

It means that they aren't the good people we pretend them to be and our hanging out with them is not a good idea.

Remember your training.

We make the decisions about what situations we're going to allow ourselves to get in BEFORE we get in them.

We determine how we'll respond when faced with temptation BEFORE we're tempted.

Go talk to your Heavenly Father.

He loves you.

He'll always love you.

And He's hoping you'll come talk to Him now when you really need Him.

As soon as you can, make the appointment to go talk to the Bishop.

And no more seeing this boy.

Honestly, I think once he realizes that you have no intention of doing this stuff again, no intention of letting these sessions eventually lead to sex (which is his goal, by the way, and once he gets it he'll expect that all the time, too, until he's no longer interested in you ... which may be the moment after it happens...because he doesn't respect you .... and no one lives anyone they don't respect) ... once he realizes that's never gonna happen, sadly I predict he'll dump you.

So I say get out now. Before you go through all of that garbage.

Everything thing is going to be okay.

Just go do what you know you're supposed to do.

- Bro Jo


[Dear Readers,

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

- Bro Jo]

Monday, July 4, 2016

Marriage Pressure

[Dear Readers,

I am hoping that this post, and my commentary that follows, will be a point of discussion.  I'm hoping it will help communication, understanding and growth.

So I'm going to make this the only email I post for the next seven days.

Share.  Comment.  Enjoy.

And know that I love you.

- Bro Jo]





Dear Bro Jo,

You posted something that really rubbed me the wrong way and I really feel the need to respond.

There seems to be an attitude of "entitlement" here.

To "Confused Collegiate", I'd suggest working on yourself and your own attitude.

I say that with love. I've been where you are!

I know how it is to feel lost and lonely.

If you are so adamant about getting married as a 20 year old, maybe you need to really understand what marriage and dating REALLY entails.

While the fairy-tale life seems great, it's fiction.

Marriage and dating takes serious work, understanding, and love.

It doesn't include judging a guy between the age of 23-28 for why they aren't married yet.

I don't appreciate judging anyone for why they aren't married yet.

You don't know where they've been.

You don't know what they've been through.

You don't know if they have gotten their heart broken and been rejected.

Instead of getting angry about why they aren't asking you out, genuinely seek to understand and serve them.

This will go a lot farther than gluing something to their door and expecting them to read your mind.

Actually talk to them and voice your concerns.

Maybe you'll learn something in return.

Try to find hobbies and have direction.

Be excited about something in your future besides marriage.

Yes, I realize that is a great, righteous goal to have. What if you never get married?

What if the Lord has something else in store for you?

Don't be so quick to place blame on all the men around.

Work on yourself and your own plans.

Be independent and content with your life and people will naturally flock to you.

I'm in my 6th semester at BYU-I and I'm planning on grad school at BYU next fall.

I've had the time of my life with the dating scene.

There are some awesome guys on campus. I've dated a ton and really learned a lot...

It hasn't been easy.

As far as the social life up here goes, you get out of it what you put in.

Like Dale Carnegie says...“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

My current boyfriend and I got to know each other by hanging out.

My roommate liked him so I had no interest in him.

The more I ignored him, the more he went after me.

I didn't even know what was going on.

We got to know each other in a group setting.

One day he pulled me aside and told me he really liked me and after months of spending more time together, we are dating exclusively.

Marriage is in the works, but it's not a rush. It never was.

With the divorce rate higher than ever, it's important to take your time.

Don't be in such a hurry to get married.

Our relationship is based on communication.

Dating doesn't have to have a perfect mold...and especially with the evolving culture up here, you need to accept that no guy is perfect and will do things that drive you crazy.

He isn't going to always work on your timetable.

This doesn't mean lowering your standards, but be open to different ways of getting to know people and different types of guys. Don't be so set that there's only one way of doing things.

Don't be closed to opportunities and experiences other than dating and getting married.

The Lord works in mysterious ways and afterall, you should be on HIS timing.

Enjoy life and love yourself.

God is so good.

He'll lead your path if you let Him.


I guess what I'm trying to say here, Bro Jo, is that I don't like how the blame is constantly being placed on men lately.

I've read your blog for years. I love some of your insight...and I agree with you most of the time.

I agree that girls need to respect themselves and be strong and bold, but I think it's more important to be Christ-like.

Seek opportunities to help each other...as men and women.

We literally NEED each other in this life. I think it's okay to be friends and hang out before dating.

I think it's okay that men aren't perfect...because women aren't either.

We should use the people that come into our lives as opportunities to serve Heavenly Father. I've tried some of your "tips" before with flirting and "getting a date".

I've played the "independent woman" card and refused to be seen as low-hanging fruit.

Most guys think it's condescending and they get annoyed.

They don't get near a girl who is going to undermine their masculinity like that.

They are good guys too.

It's important to show respect and, in-turn, receive it.

We have separate but equal roles.

Be kind...be genuine.

I think it's important to embrace this stage of life we are in and while the pressure of marriage should always be in mind, it shouldn't be a RUSH.


Do you agree?

What are your thoughts?


My uncle is going through a divorce.


He married his wife 3 months upon getting home from his mission and she was 19.

13 years later, she feels the need to liberate herself and enjoy those lost years of finding herself.

She wasn't ready for marriage and didn't know what she was getting herself into.

Now my uncle and his 3 kids are suffering because of it. I think this is a huge issue that needs to be addressed.

I also feel the need to reiterate that there isn't a perfect way of doing things and there isn't a mold for life.

My uncle can find happiness again. He is 36 and has to get back into the dating world.

The Lord hasn't forsaken him.

He is temple worthy and the Lord has good things in store for him.

Everything happens for a reason.

We can't control the agency of others, but as long as we always have the Lord in mind, he will never lead us astray.


What are your thoughts on the LDS dating culture?

Do you think it's a bit rushed?

Do you think it's important to embrace the single life before committing to someone?

How old were you when you got married?

Were you grateful for that time you had to figure yourself out before getting married?

You seem to think that a guy back from his mission shouldn't waste any time at all to date . . .


Especially with the 18 year olds going out. They'll be 20 year old RMs. 20 years old.

That's SO young.

Do you think they should be in such a rush to get married?

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

Hi! I have lots of thoughts on LDS Dating Culture!

I don't think I could lay a blanket statement saying that LDS Dating Culture is altogether rushed or not.

I do think there are advisable paths, general advice and rules that work for many, if not most, people. 

I also think that when someone says "this is my general opinion" people often forget that of course there are exceptions to the rules, but those exceptions don't necessarily mean that everything else is null and void. I do not agree that it's "important to embrace the single life before committing to someone".

I think that, in general, it's "embracing the single life" that is messing up a lot of our Young Single Adults, but I also submit that it's possible you and I are thinking of that phrase in different lights.


I think there's value in accepting who you are and realizing that you may be single longer than you anticipated or hoped; and I think that one's value should not be based on one's relationship or the lack thereof.


But I also know that many Single Adults (regardless of age) in the LDS Culture are single not because of circumstance, but because of selfishness, and I see that as a HUGE concern.


 And, no, I'm not saying that I think that you, your boyfriend, or any of the singles you know are selfish.

If I knew them or more about their specific situation I may at that time become of that opinion about some of them.


I was 21 when I got married. I think I was too young, not in years, but I lacked maturity, but I wouldn't go back and change; I don't regret getting married when I did, I only wish I was more mature then.


I can think of several young men for whom I would say that 20 or 21 is not too young to get married, and several who I just don't think are ready.


For young women I feel the same way when they're 19. Sister Jo turned 20 just after we married.  She was much more prepared than I.


I'm STILL figuring myself out.

I'm grateful that I have a Good Eternal Companion to help me, and much prefer that over doing it alone.



I'm sorry to hear about your uncle's divorce.

They are not getting divorced because she was too young then; they're getting divorced because she's too selfish now.

I don't suggest that people rush to the altar at all.

I tell them not to make excuses for not looking, to get out there and be social, and when they think they've found someone I implore them to do their Due Diligence.


I have said . . . often . . . "long courtships, short engagements".


And I've written some very specific advice about why not to marry someone and the things you should know before proposing or accepting a proposal.


Thank you for your email!

And best of luck to you.

- Bro Jo




[Dear Readers,

Much of what this original letter writer had to say is true.

Some of it, IMHO, is not good advice.

She's right about respect and love and treating each other kindly.  And I am grateful for her testimony of the Savior.  She is spot on there.  No question.

I think she's wrong about hanging out, waiting until you "find yourself" and delaying marriage.  



We all bring to each issue the biases of our experience.

In the same way that her uncle's divorce likely made her marriage-shy, her opinions about rushing and being too young are because . . . well, she didn't want to be rushed and felt that she herself was too young.

That's real and understandable and right.

For her.


I know this particular young woman well enough to tell you that she's an amazing young person with much to offer an eternal companion . . . when she's ready.


As of right now, several years later, she's still unmarried.


She spends lots of time traveling and with her friends.  She is a kindhearted individual who works hard and serves others.  She has since this email graduated college and is successful in her work.  She tells me that it's getting harder and harder the older she gets and the further she is from college to meet and date Good Single LDS Men.

Sister Jo might say that this reader has lived a life like many LDS Singles . . . pushing marriage aside so that she could "enjoy the single life".  That the "hanging out" and "we're just friends" things have worked against this reader getting married.  


Perhaps that's true . . .

That doesn't make her a bad person.

Nor does it mean that she won't ever find an eternal companion.  

It does seem that the "not until I'm older and have lived and experienced more of life" attitude leads to an awful lot of "still single over 30 (or in my late 20's) and now that I'm ready I can't find anyone" feelings.


Many of our young people tell me they feel a lot of pressure to get married.

They say it comes from me . . . their parents . . . Church leaders . . .

I get that.  See . . . we old folks know that it's tough to stay active in the Church if one finds oneself older and never married.  So we worry about you.  And we talk about how awesome it is to be Married for Time and All Eternity.

Which it is.

And we do talk about it.  A lot.

It's important.  And we love you.

We're watering what we want to grow.

And you feel pressured . . .



But I submit to you that pressure is more internal than external.

And I think you know that.

I mean, really.

How often do you YSA do stuff just because your parents said to?


Most pressure IS internal.


Sure we say things like "peer pressure", but even then what we're talking about it how INSIDE we feel a desire to be accepted . . . to go along . . . to be part of the group.

That's Internal.  Not External.


I have that, too.

There are things in my life I feel pressured to do.  It can stress me out.  But that stress is really more from inside than outside.



I know you want to get married.

Most of you, anyway.


And I know it's not easy.


And I know it's scary.


And I know it's not what lots of people are doing anymore.



Another thought:

Don't make Eternal Marriage a box you check off in your life.  Yeah, I want to see you actively find a Good Person to marry . . . soon.  I want you to know the joys and blessings of marriage and family.

Don't put it off for worldly things.

Don't get so wrapped up in being single that you find yourself too old for marriage to be likely.

But don't just get married to get married, either.



The original writer is correct when she says that marriage is no fairy-tale; that it's a lot of work; that communication is essential in any good relationship.

What I want her and all of you to gain a testimony of is that it's worth it!

That there's no such thing as only one person out there for you.  The Heavens don't open, light doesn't shine down, and there are not butterflies every time you talk to that "special someone".

Stop dismissing people who are potentially great spouses for trivial reasons.

Stop thinking that you don't have what it takes to be a great Eternal Companion.

Stop dating no one or everyone.

Stop allowing your parents to keep you from growing up.  Treating our adult children like their still kids is not the way to hang onto our youth.  We need to grow up.  And so do you.


Give yourselves a chance.


Don't gamble, but take a leap of faith.


Love to you all,

- Bro Jo]


Friday, July 1, 2016

She Wants Him to Ask Her Out . . . Now!

Dear Bro Jo,

First off I want to say thank you because I really do admire your blog!

On all the nights where I think about stupid boy problems I also find my way on your blog searching for advice and it always helps.

So to the problem... there's this boy. And let's call this boy . . . Drew . . .  because I do not know a Drew.

So anyway, last year at school Drew and I became good friends, and it wasn't even like we were into dating each other, we just would talk in the halls and he was in my seminary class and he seemed like a good kid.

I wasn't really interested in dating him or liking him in "that way". . . . until just recently.

I switched high schools this year and I never thought that I would see him again.

A couple Saturdays ago I had a dance performance where his little sister and he were both performing.

He came up to me and just talked to me about how summer was going, and how life was, and I didn't really think about it in any way that was special I just thought that it was two friends catching up on each others summer.

No big deal right?

Well actually it turned out to be a kinda big deal.

We talked while I was waiting to go on the stage and it was like nonstop talking.

He came over me and offered me his food while I was standing right by my mom.

My mom was like "that's so flirting" . . . but I didn't think it was flirting.

Anyway it was my turn to be on stage and so he went out to the audience to watch because he's just a nice kid.

I went on and when I came off he was waiting right there and was like "hey are you coming back later to watch me perform?!"

I wasn't going to stay, and I still didn't.

I told him that I had a couple errands to run and that I might be back if the errands didn't keep me too long.

My mom heard this and was like "ohh you're going back tonight; that kid's so into you!"

I don't think he is.

Anyway, my mother made me go back that night and I sincerely hoped that he wouldn't see me, but when he did his face lit up like a firework and so then I was like SHOOT HE SAW ME.

I went to sit with a mutual friend that was there for her boyfriends performance.

Drew came up and sat right behind us and wouldn't stop talking to us all night.

It was a sweet talk not like OH MY WORD CREEP GET AWAY FROM ME.

So I stayed and then had to leave right after he was done so that I could make it home on time.

I didn't see Drew at all or talk to him until like midnight that night when my phone vibrated and it was a message on Facebook from Drew.

He just said thanks for coming back and hanging out with him all night and then I was like "it was no problem it was fun! I just need to go to sleep for nine o'clock Church tomorrow."

And he was like "oh okay yeah it's late. But I don't text on Sundays so I guess I'll talk to you on Monday?"

 And I was like "yeah sure whatever."

So Monday comes around and at like 7 in the morning I got this message from him asking for my number so I gave it to him because he's my friend.

So then we start like hard core texting and it's like a response every twenty minutes.

So then I was starting to maybe get the idea that I needed to encourage him to ask me out just so that if there are feelings on both sides then we can resolve them or just go on a date with one another.

So I went to your blog and I read about it. And I totally tried everything on there.

And he's not getting it.

I went to visit my old school and he saw me there and we hugged but that was it.

But I don't know what to do to try to get a date because I don't think he's interested.

And it would just be a casual group date with other friends but I don't know how to encourage it from here.

Thanks,

- Little Encouragment




Dear Little,

You could just ask him . . .

"Hey, we seem to have a good time together, so I'm wondering, have you ever thought about taking me on a Casual Group Date?"

Worst case is, I guess, that he says "no, not really", but at least then you'll know.

However, let me warn you: you just started flirting with this guy, and if you push too hard too soon he's likely to back off. Lots of guys (the good ones, anyway) hate it when girls are too eager or too pushy.

So, what I'm saying is, before you ask him to ask you out, give the guy some time.

I'm thinking . . . three to six months.

If he continues to show an interest then and still hasn't asked you out, maybe then you ask him if he's planning to someday.

For now . . . breathe.

At this point in life your dating should be limited to Causal Group Dating.

Hold off on Exclusive Dating until you're out of high school.

 - Bro Jo