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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Everything here is copyrighted. If you're going to quote any part of anything here, please get Bro Jo's written permission. You can reach him at dearbrojo@gmail.com.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Is It Okay for Single Adults to Date Outside the Church?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello again!

I find myself in somewhat of a place I have never been before and need advice from someone not emotionally involved. I am certainly hoping that you and Sister Jo can give me some advice.

I wish I had had someone with your wisdom that I could have asked questions of a long time ago. But there you have it, I didn't.

I think I told you my ex was ultra-abusive. I might have been better at seeing the signs had I had more extensive experience dating but prior to my marriage I wasn't asked out a lot, almost never, and dates consisted of group events mostly set up by me, or other activity directors, etc.

Even though I don't go out on a lot of dates I watch a lot of people, I pay attention to what goes on around me.

After this divorce ten plus years ago, I find myself in the same spot. I have not been out on a single date. I have been with several group dates, again almost exclusively arranged by myself.

A lot of my guy friends see me as someone to talk to, someone who solves problems, someone who can make things happen.

I have followed your suggestions for getting dates.

Nothing.

I actually have a good guy friend who bluntly asked another guy why the heck he wasn't dating me. his response - we are just friends.

I have asked my guy friends what they see in me, good and bad. I have been told I am the life of the party, the light in any room, the nicest girl, they say I a one of the most active women they know, church wise, etc.

ll positive, even though I asked for honesty good or bad, it all came back good.

So what is the deal?

I live in a very rural place which I love but it also cuts down on the amount of single guys available so I make it a point to travel to dances and other activities in bigger areas, including Utah where I go on business occasionally. I dance, but mostly because I have good guy friends who will ask me or I will ask them, (they are good enough friends to know which songs I like, etc.)

I have been on several of the dating sites and recently it was suggested I try a newer one, Plenty of Fish. It doesn't delineate between LDS or non LDS, but it will allow you to stipulate non drinking, nonsmoking, non-drugs, Christian, etc.

So I met a guy on there who is catholic (and can I say for the record that I always thought Catholics were Christian but after multiple conversations now don't believe that). he is a very good guy and very much like me in all points except that he isn't LDS, and he doesn't have a very good concept of Heavenly Father, etc.

Major conflict there.

He also lives in on the other side of the country.

But I do like talking to him, I have been teaching him the plan of salvation, etc.

He thinks I am wonderful, he wants to date me, he is sending me a Christmas gift, he is very chivalrous, perfect gentleman, in fact MUCH more so than any other single guy I have met in the last ten years bar none...

If this guy was a high priest, current temple goer, etc, this relationship would be a foregone conclusion. But he isn't.

I already go to the temple once a week and when I get further along in life and the kids are out of the house I really want to serve in the temple. that's a major goal that I won't be changing.

Bro Jo, I am not in any hurry here at all. I have three kids still at home and while they want a dad I am not going to rush into any relationship - I can't afford to because it isn't just me and my future at stake. I am thoroughly enjoying the conversations, the attention, and having someone think I am wonderful but what the heck do I do from here?

I do not want to lead this guy on, I am just flat out too honest for that and he is too good a guy.

The biggest mess I see is women getting married because they are lonely. I know what that feels like but I have also been blessed with good friends who help balance out the loneliness. It has taken a long time and a lot of therapy to undo the horrible voices in my head from my ex-husband telling me how I would never measure up and for the first time I am actually hearing a man tell me that I am worthwhile and it isn't a line to see how far he can get.

So there you have it.

Your thoughts please, as well as those of Sister Jo.

I have no desire to have a part member family, as a huge part of who I am is the gospel. I told him that what he is attracted to is the light of the gospel, not me, but he says he thinks it is me.

A huge chunk of me is service and I used to take a verbal beating from my ex when I took time to help others. I don't ever want to go into another relationship where a guy puts me through that again as it is so much of who I am.

This guy is an active catholic, active as in attends church several times a week. Good heart, helps others, sees things positively, just like me. Just missing the light of the gospel.

Ironically several members of my family served missions where he lives, I just moved my folks back in August and I wouldn't have a single problem hooking him up with the missionaries once he is ready, if he gets to that point, and that is a big if...

There is always the chance that when he comes to visit (he is already thinking and talking along those lines) that the height thing might bug him too much but he says it doesn't. Even meeting me he might realize that he is in love with a pipe dream.

That thought stays in the back of my head and I also realize that part of the crap I am fighting against are the horrible words of the ex. I know I am worthwhile, I know my Heavenly Father loves me, I also know that I am supposed to get married again (Heavenly father told me that, not anyone else.)

I think that I can wait to find the right guy for me but I think I am invisible to all of those guys.

UGH!!!

Thank you for your time and service to others. You are a wonderful asset.

- A Friend




Dear Friend,

In general I feel that, for someone who has Eternal Companionship as a goal, dating someone who is Not Yet a Member is a waste of time.

Now, helping a person become a member of the Church . . . that's an EXCELLENT use of our time.

Membership need not be a requirement for friendship, of course, and never should be.

But Serious Single Dating?

Yeah.

I don't think you should waiver on that.

Be Patient.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for you advice!

We had another conversation the middle of last week and I told him the story of the 2000 stripling warriors and about the title of liberty (as I have a copy on my wall and it is a big part of who I am).

He told me that he would love to read the book of Mormon which is a good thing as I am sending him one for Christmas, marked with some of my favorite scriptures.

He really is a good guy, and I am glad there is a whole distance between us as it gives me time to adjust and have some good conversation before we meet. I am enjoying the friendship.

Thanks again!

- A Friend




Dear Friend,

Anytime!

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 25, 2016

What Comes First: Roommates or Romance?

Dear Bro Jo,

So there is a guy I am quite interested in.

He's not in my ward and we met a couple months ago, so besides our mutual friends I don't know him all that well.

Nonetheless, he has certainly caught my eye and I would very much like to go on a date with this young man. Here's the kicker.

A friend of mine recently asked him what he thought of me.

He said that his roommate really liked me, and that they have a rule in their house when it comes to girls. I get where he's coming from. My roommates and I would never go after the same guy.

It makes for an awkward living situation.

But still. I would really like to get to know this guy better, unfortunately it seems the only way of doing so would be through his roommate and that is just mean.

Should I just give up the thought and move on to other prospects?

Or should I peruse him and risk ruining a friendship?

Sincerely,

- Slightly Perplexed




Dear Perplexed,

One does not cling unto one's roommates for Time and All Eternity.

A gazillion years ago I was one of those guys who dated whomever he wanted, regardless of the feelings of his buddies. And I lost a lot of buddies.

So then I became a guy who decided he would never date anyone that his friends liked. And, sure enough I found myself in a situation where there was a girl in our social group that I really liked; we flirted a lot, and really got along.

But one friend specifically asked me to not ask her out. He really liked her, and had for a long time. 

In fact, he was the one that had introduced her to our social group and had done so in hopes that he'd get to know her better and eventually get up the courage to ask her out.

Time ticked by.

I really liked her, she and I had great conversations, and tons of fun. But I did nothing.

And neither did the other guy.

I waited.

Time kept going by . . . and still he didn't act.

I kept pushing him to ask her out, and he kept delaying and making excuses.

And she and I kept growing closer.

Finally, during one phone conversation she said "I have to know: we get along great, I like you and you like me; how come you've never asked me out?"

I told her about how much our mutal friend liked her and how he asked me to never ask her out.

She sighed and said "look, he's a nice guy, he's been chasing me since elementary school, but he's never asked me out, is never going to ask me out and if he ever did I would say no, and not just because I don't think of him in that way but also because I like you."

So I, without hesitation said "would you like to out on a date with me this Friday?"

My friend was mad at me for a long time.

He felt that I had betrayed him.

The girl eventually told him that she and he were never an option in her mind . . . and then eventually she dumped me (twice in 18 hours - that story is in the postings somewhere), and those two things together helped my friend feel a little better, but it was still a long time before he and I were really pals again.

I don't regret dating her, or "sacrificing" my friendship with him.

The truth is, had he been a better friend he wouldn't have stood in the way or begrudged me taking action when he A) had no chance and B) wasn't taking a chance anyway.

And those lessons paid off for me a short time later when I was the only guy who had the courage to pursue a girl that ALL of my friends wanted to date.

That girl, the one that I had to work for and did so while others only talked about it, the one I dated regardless of the "risk" of losing all of my friends who also wanted to date her (and it was many), we now call Sister Jo.

So my answer for you is this: if you're interested in dating the roommate, then tell the roommate that you'd like to date him and you're wondering if he's ever going to ask you out.

If you like this guy instead, then tell him "look, I hear your roommate likes me and that's the only reason you won't ask me out"; and if he confirms that's true, then tell him what the one girl told me. 

Because, when we're all done, it's our spouse to whom we're bound for Time and Al Eternity, not our roommates or our pals.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Being Happy

Dear Bro Jo,

First I would like to say thanks for all that you do. You probably hear this all the time, but your site has helped me out A LOT!

I suppose I'll start out with a bit of back ground information: I am a 17 year old girl. I've been a member of the Church my whole life. and I live in (specifics withheld) in New York City.

If ever asked what my happiest memory is I can't say I would have a good genuine answer.

Its not that I'm a sad, and unhappy person (although lately I think this description would fit), I can laugh and have fun I just could never identify those moments with happiness.

I have been going to therapy for around three years to help with my social anxiety, and although I would say I have made substantial progress, I cannot say that I am happier.

I try to be a good person.

I serve others to the best of my ability.

I have attended so far three years of seminary.

I very rarely miss a day of Church and I go to the temple when ever the youth have a temple trip.

I am an honor (AP) student.

I am the Laurel class president.

I have received my young women's medallion for completing the personal progress, and I am on my way to getting my Honor Bee.

I try to be an example to those around me, i read my scriptures almost every night, and I pray often.

Yet regardless of all these things I cant say that I am happy.

I have so many blessings and things to be happy and grateful for, and the fact that I am not makes me feel terrible.

I wish I could take everything I have and give it to someone who really needs it, because they deserve it much more than I do.


And now that you are caught up I'll explain what has been going on.

This past week has been pretty bad.

School is out and I have had nothing to occupy my time.


I wouldn't say I have been feeling sad but rather empty.


I like doing many things yet none of them have been able to really make me happy.


They act as more of distractors that keep my mind off of how I am feeling.

Furthermore, I have been really irritable. Even the smallest things will set me off, and I don't know why.


Though obviously I get angry like any one else, but recently I has been magnified.


I guess my questions are:

     -  Any advice on how can I be happier?

     - Would you recommend talking to anyone (Bishop, Young Women's president) about my situation?

     -  From what you have read so far can you help he figure out where this "emptiness" comes from?


I know these questions are subject to ones opinions and frame of view, but at this point I need any help I can get.


Other information that might be useful:

     - I've never been good at making or maintaining friendships. And in too many of those friendships I have done much of the chasing.

     - Most people don't really come to me to try to be my friend. As a result I have been very lonely. Even in church the other girls in my ward don't really care to talk to me or help me in establishing a friendship. Which has lead me to be very lonely and question if there is anything wrong with me? (ex: why am I not good enough for people to WANT to talk to me?)

     - I'm a natural introvert

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.

- Empty Well





Dear Well,

I want you to know that I've given your email a lot of prayerful thought.

What I write here is not meant as a substitute for the counseling you've been receiving.

You may also want to consider taking control of your situation and your life.

See, you have the fortunate situation of being in a position where everything that's bothering you is something you can fix.

And fix quite easily, I might add.

You've achieved so many good things!

Let yourself enjoy those things and be proud of your accomplishments.

Rather than giving your things away because you feel unworthy to have them, use them to help others.

I'll explain.

AP student?

Go tutor someone who needs help. (Great way to make a new friend!)


See, I think you're "choosing unhappiness" because, on some level, it makes you feel better.

Perhaps it makes you feel less guilty.

Perhaps you think (wrongly, btw) that unhappiness equals humility.


Having traveled to New York a few times, I refuse to accept your claim that there's "nothing to occupy" your time.

I'm sorry, but I care to much to sugar coat this: that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard!

I could spend a week at the Museum of Modern Art alone!

And then there's the parks and other museums . . . and historical things . . . and great things to see . . . and DO!


Afraid to leave your home? Even then you can find things to do!

There's a great history of the area ("Gotham") that's over 1200 pages; well worth the read!


In short, if you want to Be Happy, choose to Be Happy.


If you really are done feeling sad and sorry for yourself then (love this talk!) Stop It.


If you don't like your life as an introvert (which, frankly, is a label I think you're comfortably hiding behind) then CHANGE.

And if you do like the idea of being an introvert (and beleive me, there's nothing wrong with being shy) . . . then stop complaining!


Do the righteous things that help you to feel joy.

If you want to go make friends, go make friends.

If you'd rather stay in and read, then do that!

Both are great and wonderful ways to spend your time.


My father says that the cure to all depression is WORK.

Maybe you need to get a job?


Sister Jo says nothing makes us feel better than being of service to others.

You could certainly find people in your area that need some service.


I don't think you're an empty well.


I just think you're expecting someone or something else to fill that well, when the only person that can fill it with any positive long tern results . . . is you.


All around you are miracles and blessings.

See them.

Be Grateful for them.

Fill your well with the love that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ put around us, put into our lives, every day.

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 21, 2016

Talking to Each Other

Dear Bro Jo,

Keep loving the blog. Thanks for every single post.

My question deals with a problem that I would love to be able to fix if it lies with me, and do something about even if it's not my fault.

What do you do when you can have a great conversation with a guy, (in person or online, I don't have a phone) and then the next time he sees you he can act like you barely know each other.

Is it up to me to break the communication barrier and infuse some casual friendliness into the relationship or should I wait for him to open up a little more and treat me the way he has before or does online?

It seems like when I wait for him to do something we just grow farther and farther apart until we never speak, in person or online, and if I do something like continue the conversation or just start a new topic, (in person of course) they feel uncomfortable with that too.

Could it be that I''m too forward?

Okay, well where's the line between being a friend and starting a conversation and acting desperate?

I'm afraid I have zero social finesse with guys, though I have a few good male friends, and I'd like to know what to do before I get to the college campus in a few months and squelch all my chances.

I want to be someone they look on as friendly without being in the "friend zone". I'd like to be able to have them ask me out and feel comfortable that it won't be a commitment, but just a nice way for the two of us to get to know the two of us, without other people around, like when hanging out.

I hope this isn't too confusing and I really, really hope that you can give me some good solid Bro Jo advice.

I am willing to get out of my comfort zone if good results are guaranteed, just so you know.

Thanks in advance!

- Dateable




Dear Date-able,

In general, guy, girl or otherwise, I think if you have a good conversational relationship with someone and the next time you see them they seem distant and unfriendly, you should ask them about it. 

Communication is the key to all successful relationships.

Communication and understanding.

If something seems weird, you ask about it, and then you're sensitive and try to be understanding about their answer.

Understanding doesn't mean that you have to agree or comply; it just means that we acknowledge that we're all different, with different points of view and experiences that control what we bring to the table.

Technology can really mess up people's ability to communicate with other people, especially in person. I think its creating a serious social problem world wide . . . but I digress.

Whether its now, or when you're in college in the future, I think the best way to act around people is to be yourself, be sincere, and make friends.

The best way, of course, to make friends, is to listen more than you speak, and treat everyone like the have value (which, of course, they do) and are special (which, of course, they are).

You might be wondering how all of this applies to meeting a guy and getting dates . . . well, the thing is . . . it all applies.

At this point I think you should just focus on being yourself and meeting new people.

As you make those around you more comfortable with you and themselves, dates and relationships will happen.

If you find yourself in college not getting asked out as much as you'd like or by some of the guys you wish would ask you out, well . . . let's cross that bridge then.

For now just be happy and confident with whom you are, and help others to be the same.

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 14, 2016

How Do You Approach Someone Who's Closed Off?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello again!

I know I've sent you some rather melodramatic letters in the past, but I hope you'll forget those and help me with something that I think is a real issue, for me at least.

What do you do with a guy that is kind, mature and athletic, but is used to having girls swoon over him and so he just treats them all exceedingly nicely, but not really genuinely?

That sounds awfully confused . . .

This guy is nice and definitely attractive to me in more than just the physical way, but he doesn't want to let anyone in.

He's nice, but doesn't want to share who he is with someone.

What do I say or do so he knows I really want to get to know him as a person, and not just as eye candy?

Any light you can shed would be appreciated.

- No Clue




Dear Clue,

You talk to him.

Often.

About meaningful things.

With sincerity.

Show him that you're interested in him as a person, not just superficially.

Don't "hang out"; you want to be a pretty girl that cares about him, not a buddy.

Encourage him to take you on some fun dates.

Oh, and be understanding.

If he's pre-mission he shouldn't be looking for anything too serious.

Respect that.

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 4, 2016

Should She Keep Him?

Dear Bro Jo,

I’m thinking about sending you an email for a while now, and I finally got the courage to do it.

I’m sorry if you receive emails with this same problem every day, I just don’t know what to do, and to talk with you seems like a good idea at this moment.

First of all, I’m 19 and I never had a boyfriend.

Yes, I know.

And I agree with you. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

Anyway, it’s not like I never had a guy chasing me.

The problem is that I never like them back.

The guys I like are totally out of my league, and I don’t know why I keep torturing myself with it.

I am a very quiet girl, but I’m working on it.

I try to make friends, especially in my ward, and I know most of the people there. But, for some reason, the guys that end up interested in me are the ones that would never get my attention.

That’s my first problem.

The second problem is, I know this guy for quite a while now.

We were friends, but now it’s different.

He has given me a lot of attention in the past few months. I LOVE it!

I like him, and he acts like he likes me back, so I was really happy when it started. We went out twice.

He texts me a lot, and he always will sit next to me in class and church activities. However, it never moves forward.

This texting phase is lasting FOREVER. I know that “guys” like texting, and “men” like talking. But I don’t think I want to give up on him.

I already tried to stop talking with him because I thought it wasn’t going anywhere, but then he comes back and I just forget everything about the “guy and man” thing and act like nothing is wrong.

I did text him first a few times, and that may be one of the problems here, I really don’t know.

We do talk when we see each other, but it’s not the same.

So, I don’t know what to do anymore. Is it a lost cause?

Should I just give up on him?

Or give up on dating at all?

(Just kidding. I do think that sometimes, but it’s just drama – I hope).

Bro Jo, I know you can’t guess a lot of what’s happening by reading this email, but you are a wise man and you know things. I don’t.

Just give me your best advice, and I’ll be very happy with it.

- 19 and Wondering




Dear Little Sister,

I've never understood why people want to drop out of a potentially great relationship simply because of one small problem . . .

 I have news for you: the problems never stop!

Sister Jo and I constantly have conflicts crop up in our relationship . . . seriously, like every week! 

(Sometimes it seems like more than once a week.)

Let me ask you: just exactly what is the problem here??? 

Is it that after two dates he hasn't proposed?

Is it that he texts you all the time, and gives you lots of attention?

Is it that you can't wait to jump from "never had a boyfriend" to "we're glued together all the time"?

Do you see how ridiculous all of that is???  

Let me ask: when was the last time he took you on a date?

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

College Dating Plans

Dear Bro Jo,

Ok so this blog thing is like... the coolest ever!!

I love it and have had so much fun reading it and learning, its great to see other people can feel just as confused as me and that there are simple answers for it all.

SO... I am 18 years old and will be heading off to college next fall.

I dated, as in AWESOME GROUP DATES :), a ton in highschool and loved it and met so many great people.

My junior year I totally fell in love with this guy, hahaha ok actually just had huge crush on him, and he is my best friend. We never had a physical relationship, and never talked about anything romantically until the summer before his mission.

I think we did things maturely and I don't have any regrets because I am not "waiting" for him, but we do write every once in a while.

Now that he has been gone for about a year I have dated alot and met alot of boys that are cute and even liked a few of them, but I still just love him :)

I'm not ready for a serious relationship right now, and I don't even know if I will be when "missionary man" comes home, but as I go to college and start dating alot of RMs and such, what do I tell them?

Do I tell them I am writing a missionary, cause its not like I am his girl friend or whatever, but I do LOVE him?

Do I just say I am not interested?

I do want to go ON dates but I don't want to be DATING someone, is that just not the case in college?

I know that if I continue to do the best I can to follow Heavenly Father I will marry someone that I completely love and they love me and it will all work out but for the next year or so what do I do?

Thank you so much and sorry if those are lame questions :P

Sincerly,

- Growing up?

P.S. since I didn't know what all you needed to know I just gave the basics...not really sure what else I needed to say to get an answer




Dear Growing Up,

The basics are often all I need. You did great!

So my opinion is this:

1. Date lots in college (in fact, go out with any decent guy that asks; go out twice if he's nice, and more if you have a good time with him) 
2. Don't tell anybody you're writing a guy in the field unless they ask, and even then play it casual ("I do write this guy I went to high school with once in a while; yeah, we dated, but it's not like I'm waiting for him" - all of which is true) 
3. Don't worry about or put any effort into NOT getting in a relationship; if it happens you'll be glad, if it doesn't happen no big deal at this point 
4. Realize that it's okay that you "love" the guy that's gone, but that part of those feelings is that he's gone (can't fight with or stress out over anyone that can't date, can't call, and isn't supposed to have any other possible girls in his life), and part of it is that you like "the idea" of him  

I hope that helps.

And thanks for reading "Dear Bro Jo"!

- Bro Jo