Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published several times a month.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

When the First Kiss Does Not Go Well

Dear Bro Jo,

Okay so I'm just going to start by explaining what's happened in the last couple weeks.

I invited the missionaries (Elders) from my ward over for dinner. I also invited my cousin but turned out he couldn't come, so I really needed to find a guy that could come or I'd have to cancel.

There was a guy I had gone out with but not for over a year, we had gone out once or twice but he hadn't asked me out again which is whatever.  But when I would see him once and awhile around we would chat he'd give a hug or throw an arm around my shoulders. Which was more confusing than anything, I had decided if I had a chance I'd ask why he'd never asked me out again. I was going between I really do like him and he's such an idiot if he's not going to ask me out again I wish he'd leave me alone

Anyways I figured he would come to dinner on short notice if I asked and he did come. He said he'd been thinking about me and that we should do more stuff again. I said well you just have to ask! He said I know I know but since this was just yesterday I had yet to get around to the doing part.

After dinner he asked what  I would say if he asked me out again. I said I'd ask why it took so long. He said something like well I didn't really  know what I wanted. I asked well now you do? He said well I know better what I don't want. So I told him if he asked I'd probably say yes.

He did ask me and we went out where he asked me to the dance coming the next weekend. He also gave me a little kiss but I think he mostly missed but it was cute

The dance was fun we held hands as we went in to the gym (which as apparently spread ridiculously fast I got a text from my cousin this morning asking about it! Less than 12 hours after the dance ended!) we were slow dancing he mentioned I wasn't looking him in the eye I tried but I couldn't stare into his eyes it was awkward.

On the way home he said he liked me, he doesn't always know what he wants but he wants to see what happens with whatever this is he can't make promises about what will happen. I told I liked him and couldn't expect any promises.

When he dropped me off he said he wanted to try that kiss again we did it lasted a little longer than again about the same thing. I told him to call me and we would figure out a time to see each other again.

He's a good guy. I guess question is this I'm supposed to like kissing right? I have never been kissed before so maybe I'm something wrong but I was under the impression I was supposed to like it a lot. I just didn't, I can't say I really am dying to do it again or ever maybe.

I've wanted to get kissed for a while now but sex always been a scary thing for me which I haven't had to worry about so far but this kiss thing has got me thinking if I don't even like kissing... I don't want to be that wife who is like ugh he wants sex again... yuck

Is wanting to be more physical something that comes with a more serious relationship?

Thanks for taking the time to help, not sure how to explain this anyone else.

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

Did you know that in lots of cultures kissing is not something they do?

True story.

See, kissing is a cultural thing.  Some people like it, some love it, and some could take it or leave it.

I suspect you'll enjoy it more as you gain experience and as the person you're kissing becomes better at kissing.

It may help to realize that he's kissing you because he likes you and finds you attractive.

It may also help you to like kissing when you realize how . . . excited . . . kissing you makes him feel.

There's a big gap between kissing and sex.  While both can be scary, both can be enjoyable when they are shared with the person you love.

For now, enjoy your relationship, and see if kissing him doesn't get more enjoyable with time and experience.

- Bro Jo

Monday, December 4, 2017

One Guy's Story - Part 3 of 3 - Is "Loyal" the Right Word?

[Dear Readers,

The post below is part 3 of 3.  The first part posted November 20th, 2017.  The second part posted November 27th, 2017.

- Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

In the intervening time since I sent that last email, I have found at least one aspect of my loyalty that is not good, so you were completely right about my loyalty being a problem.

The problem is this: while I don't blow my significant other off (when I have one), or my friends when I can, I do tend to blow myself off. I hope that makes sense. What I mean is that I will often sacrifice my health or well-being if someone needs me.

When Kari and I were engaged, I was working as a TA, holding office hours and grading projects. She would be with me while I worked, but she would work on homework. I didn't have that luxury. And then, when I was done, we would spend more time together until curfew. (We never broke curfew or the Honor Code, and that fact was a big comfort for me after our failed wedding day. I knew that, regardless of anything else, I was still worthy of a Temple recommend.) I never got a chance to do homework until after she went to bed because she wanted to spend that time with me, and I obliged.

I shouldn't have obliged. I should have limited our time together so I would not be so tired because my exhaustion contributed to the mistakes I made on our wedding day.

Looking back to your comments about my loyalty in your first email, I had to admit that you were right; I was too loyal in that sense, and quite frankly, it was my "almost fanatic" loyalty to her that prevented me from seeing the coming storm. It prevented me from sensing when she was not being completely honest with me as I was with her. Benjamin Franklin said, "Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards." I shut my eyes too fast.

I'm sorry for being so arrogant and stubborn.

I will try to remain loyal to my friends without hurting myself; they deserve that much. I will also try to build friendship before romance because that was another mistake I made with Kari. And if those new friends find it hard to date "because we're friends," I guess I still have new friends.

As for what you wrote in your last email, I will do my best to do those things, but I don't think it will be easy; it's hard to trust in the Lord's timing when His timing gets thrown off by others' poor choices! Oh well.

That said, I can say that I will never give up or surrender. I haven't yet, and I am happier now than I was just a year ago.

Thank you.

- Loyal




Dear Loyal,

Good for you!

I've been wondering, though, if in all of those instances "loyal" is the right word . . .

Hang in there!  You really seem to be on the right path.

Best,

- Bro Jo

Friday, December 1, 2017

Medical Marijuana

Dear Bro Jo,

Is medical marijuana considered against the Word of Wisdom if prescribed?

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

While I'm not a spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I can give you my opinion and share what I know.

First of all, concerns a member of the Church has regarding the Word of Wisdom should be addressed with their Bishop or other Priesthood Leader.

Secondly, my personal opinion is that in the country where I live most people who have medical marijuana "prescriptions" (the vast majority) are actually just recreational users using loopholes in bad laws to get access to harmful and addictive drugs.

Third, if one truly needed to use mj as a medicine, pill form is proving to be much more effective than smoking it.

My advice to a Latter-day Saint trying to live the Word of Wisdom is to consult with priesthood authority; my expectation is that smoking marijuana is against the Word of Wisdom, regardless the justification.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Are They Friends or More?

Dear Bro Jo,

I usually don't just tell strangers about my dating life, but I am really curious to know what advice you might have for me.

I am a returned missionary and I've been home for almost half a year.

Where I live, (on an island) it is known to be a place where dating is SLOW and hard.

I actually haven't gone on a real date yet and it just frustrates me because it makes me feel as if I am not progressing the way that my Heavenly Father wants me to.

I read your post about finding someone within 6 months to be sealed to and I thought of a person-who happens to be my best friend. He just told me that things didn't work out very well with a girl that lived across the world and he wants to rant to me about her and what went all down because I am his friend and I feel that he just wants to vent.

Little does he know, I do have a seed of feelings for him because I realize that he is probably one of the only guys that I completely trust thus far in my life.

He invited me to go with him to town and eat some dessert at a local restaurant. but he said that he would explain everything between him and this other girl as we go get dessert.

I thought it was gonna be a date, but instead it just became a thing for him to rant about a different girl. Plus he just said that because there is space in his car for five people, I could invite other people to come.

(sigh)

I figured to just let God take the wheel in this and allow me to just be his friend who truly cares about him and can be my complete self with so that I can see if he can find me as someone that can become his eternal companion as well.

This is my story. i hope it makes sense.

All I can say is that I am just a little worried that he will just see me as a friend after it all.

With best regards,

- Friend of a Guy




Dear Friend,

If you want to be MORE than "Just a Friend", YOU need to do something about it.

I think you need to tell him.

Perhaps something like one of these:
"You keep ranting about these girls that are no good for you . . . or who live impossibly far away. How much longer before you wise up and ask me on a date?" 
"I'll go with you to dinner, but only if it's a date and if no one else comes along." 
"I like being your friend, but at some point you're either going to have to date me or I'm going to need to move on" 

If you allow him to treat you as nothing more than a friend, that's all you're ever going to be . . . until he does marry someone other than you . . . at which point you'll either no longer be his friend . . . unless of course your goal is to become "the other woman" . . . which I don't recommend and don't think is the case.

Seriously.

Unless you want to be the girl who is his back up or who he comes to complain to about his wife . . . you need to make a clear and obvious statement. Good luck! And let me know how it goes!

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I honestly prayed about it. I went out with him that day, went out for dessert and was able to go with him and only him instead of inviting others.

Ever since then, the seed of feelings sprouted.

Then I prayed about it and came to realization that I do like him.

Then I prayed again to ask God, what am I to do with such feelings?

I obviously had to do more than recognize it but do something about it. I received the prompting from the spirit to tell him how I feel, just as you told me.

Maybe I chose not to express myself to him in exact words as you gave me in your examples, but I was honest with him.

It was honestly the scariest thing I've ever done, but so rewarding!

I put myself out there and I told him how I felt.


He told me that he didn't even think of me in such a way, in a way of more than friends.


I made it clear that I needed to know if I need to move on or not.

He told me that for now, he feels that I should move on, but if he ever does end up liking me, he will tell me....and that I'm grateful for.


As I told him how I felt, I also explained that I am not one to send mixed signals, but to be direct and honest with my feelings.

I am so dang proud of myself!

haha!


I also made it clear that I wouldn't let this effect our friendship. So the results are these. We are still friends, he knows how I feel, I followed the spirit, following the spirit brought me so much peace, and two.....as I finished talking to him,

I went to class and got asked to go to the beach with a really cute guy.


Unfortunately I had to say no because I have an eye doctor's appointment that day...BUT I asked him to go laser tagging with me one day :). I feel great!

Thanks your advice. I didn't follow it exactly, but it did give me a push towards some type of progression.

Sincerely,

- Friend




Dear Friend,

Good for you!

And thanks for the update.

Cheers,

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 27, 2017

One Guy's Story - Part 2 of 3 - Stay Positive


[Dear Readers,

The post below is part 2 of 3.  The first part posted November 20th, 2017.  The third part will post December 4th.

- Bro Jo]



Dear Bro Jo,

I want to address the last part of your letter first, just to make sure I understand.

Applying your metaphor schoolwork to dating, when I take a girl on a date, and then she turns me down for a second, I should be happy that I got a first date, and that it went well, but I should not be satisfied with that; I should keep working on finding someone else.

I think that I can learn how to do that. Count your many blessings, right?


On to loyalty.

I know that at first glance, it may seem like my fierce loyalty may put friendships above a romantic relationship. Well, in both of my previous relationships, that didn't happen.

I have fierce loyalty to my friends, but I am even more fiercely loyal to a significant other. I am almost fanatically loyal.

When I was with my ex-fiancée (who I'll call "Kari") especially, I typically didn't even look at texts. I would occasionally, especially if I started getting text-bombed, or if Kari went to the bathroom, got distracted, or something like that. Other than that, it was the exception, not the rule. My friends know that if they have an emergency, they should call. And it had better be an emergency.

Frankly, my friends have never called; they've always texted. And those times that I did answer them, I would typically reply that I was with Kari, but that I would help as soon as possible. I never went to help a friend while I was with Kari. The exceptions were when Kari would come with me; we were quite a service-oriented couple, and Kari was that way without me. In fact, she was the one that helped me become more service-oriented. So we would sometimes go help that friend together.

As for Kari, she never called me when she needed help. But even when she texted, I would see it and be on my way within about 5 seconds at top speed, backpack or not, regardless of what I was doing.

There was one time when I was helping a friend understand something about homework, and I got a text from her that said "Can I call?" I grabbed my backpack at the same time I said, "I'm sorry; Kari needs me!" and I was out the door, dialing her number as I was running. (I don't suggest that, by the way.)

I never blew off Kari, or my ex-girlfriend. That I can say with complete confidence. They were always first when they were dating me.

On top of that, there were other ways I expressed my loyalty to both of them. (I did better at it when I was with Kari, so I'll just talk about what I did for her.)

I have a good friend, who is a woman (one of those that want me as just a friend). When I was dating Kari, they became really good friends, and it made me really happy. We would attend BYU devotional together, and I would always seat Kari next to my friend. They even had a girls' afternoon out (they had a picnic).

There were a few times when my friend talked to us about something that was hurting her. At the end, Kari, who was a very huggy person, would give her a hug, and then my friend would turn to me. The first time, without thinking, I turned to Kari and asked permission to hug her. Now, I have known this young woman for much longer than I've known Kari, but Kari had priority, and that was one way I tried to make it clear that she did.

If anything, I blew off my friends while I was with Kari. And they learned to live with that. In fact, after Kari left me, I took one of our mutual friends on a date (it was more about taking her out for ice cream because she was dealing with her own recent breakup), and during the date, she mentioned how loyal I was to Kari.

My friends knew my priorities: God, spouse (significant other), family, friends, in that order, and I have done my best to make sure that I not only say that, but do it.

So yes, I know how fierce loyalty can look bad, but I am pretty sure it's not in this case. I've talked with my bishop at length about it. And he knows me well; he gave me the blessing that told me that I would conquer depression, and he has had a front row seat on the entire process. He was also the one that gave me permission to stop dating for a summer.

Do I go into "beast" mode? Well, no, most of the time. If there is something that requires speed, then yes. Other than that, no. There was a time when that was my default, but ever since my first summer at BYU, actually working at a BYU camp, when it would have been very bad, I have been quite successful at not being that way.

Do I feel valuable? Well, not really. But I like to. More accurately, I feel like my life hasn't been such a waste if I am useful to those around me. There is a little joy in that, though not much.

As far as shotgun dating, well, I made that mistake once, and only once. I was working at that BYU camp, and I asked out two different girls that worked together. But even with that, when one of those two young ladies got married, she told me, at her reception and in front of her new husband, that her first date with me was hands down the best first date that she had ever had, so I don't think I do too bad at making a young lady feel special when she's on a date with me.

Thankfully, someone was smart enough to figure out that I didn't really know the stupidity of what I did, so she told me, and I have not made that mistake since. I've just been on a lot of dates because I've been off my mission for over three and a half years.

My mode of operation is, actually, nearly perfect rifle dating. I spend the first few weeks of the semester picking out potential dates and observing them in class (or in church, wherever). Then I pick one at a time and I ask her out. I usually make that first date an afternoon date, mostly so I can easily cut it short if I can tell that she just doesn't want to be on the date. (My record short date was 35 minutes flat; I think she only said three sentences that entire time.) I take her out, and then I (usually) ask her out again, at which point, I get soundly rejected. Then, and only then, do I move on to the next one.

The entire process for one girl takes about two weeks. Until it is over, I do not focus on anyone else.

So when I say "going on date after date," I meant that I was consistently asking young ladies out, not that I was overlapping dates. Bad choice of words, I guess.

Now for genuineness. Again, on this one, I used to be cruel; I used to share critique and criticism, even when it wasn't asked for. But that was knocked out of me by my ex-girlfriend.

By the time that I met Kari, I wasn't like that at all. In fact, if I had been, Kari wouldn't have been attracted to me at all; she is a very sensitive person and would have been easily hurt if I had been like that. I had learned by that time that I was really stupid to criticize so much; I had so much more to work on. As a result, I hardly ever mentioned any problems to Kari because I didn't think they were problems until they destroyed our relationship.

(Sigh.)

But I think you are right: there are negatives to my loyalty and genuineness. After reading your response, I don't think that they are negative themselves, per se, but that they appear negative. So I guess my new question is: how do I make them not appear negative?

One final note: I know that I can only ever have one close female friend. I've accepted it. That's why it's hard for me to read emails from good friends saying that they could never love me because they value my friendship too much.

But hey, that's life I guess.

I am so sorry for the long email, and I will definitely be patient if you take a long time to ponder this one as well. Or I will understand if you don't reply; you have a family! Please tell Sister Jo that I am sorry for taking her husband away from her, even if for a short time.

- Loyal




Dear Loyal,

I think all you need is to keep doing your best to stay positive and be of service to others.

Trust in the Lord's timing.

No excuses.

Never give up.  Never surrender.

I know that's a list of cliches . . . but they also happen to apply in this case.

Chin up!

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 24, 2017

She Caught Her Dad Looking at Porn

Dear Bro Jo,

I just accidentally saw my dad looking at porn...again.

He had problems with it years ago, and either he's relapsed or has just been secretly viewing it all along.

My mom is out of town at the moment, and is such that I'm home only a few days a week.

This is a difficult one. He is kind of a person without remorse, as far as I can tell.

I know he never went to the Bishop for help a few years ago, and still went to my cousin's Sealing in the Temple completely unworthily.

I was (age withheld - a young adult) at the time and that really shook my faith.

My parents have never been perfect examples, but I still looked up to them like crazy and had a really hard time dealing with my disappointment in my dad.

That being said, back then, I felt a seething hatred for him.

Satan had taken hold of my heart. And through the experience, Christ taught me how to love someone despite something terrible that they were mixed up in.

He really did.

But, I come to you now asking advice for a newly broken heart. How can I love my dad through this?

Before you tell me to have a heart to heart, let me explain that I've done that before. My dad just denies it and tells me to mind my own business.

My family is not the kind to talk about anything of a personal nature, pretty much.

They pretend to be perfect Mormons and my Mom, most especially, protects herself in a glass bubble and refuses to let anything close enough or deep enough to hurt her. I know not to take this personally, I know it is his decision.

But how do I NOT take this personally?

He's my dad and I love him, I just need to know what you suggest.

This is one among many adding reasons I have a hard time finding faith or any desire to marry and trust someone.

I know we are all learning, myself included. I know I have no right to judge. 

Please advise.

Thanks so much, you are awesome.

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

Some of my biggest disappointments on life have come because of my unrealistic and unfair expectations of people.

I've expected them to do more, say more, be more ... than they are either capable, or than they think they're capable, of.

I think the Jo Kids (and perhaps Sister Jo, too) would tell you that I'm the King of Unrealistic Expectations.

And yet ... once in a while. .. one of them will thank me for pushing them.  Probably not as often as they complain to their mother that I need to get off their back, though...

It's such a tough line... between being our brother's keeper and acceptance. .. between calling unto repentance and unconditional love...

I can not say I have mastered it.

And I must confess I am not a perfect person in everything I do.

What I can share with you. .. what I have learned and am trying to learn better ... is that no one likes to be chastised or corrected... and least of all a parent by a child.

It seems you have some experience with that.

You could go the next step above the heart-to-heart. ..which is simply telling him how it is ...

"Dad, I caught you looking at port again.  Don't deny it.  I saw what I saw.  I'm tired of you pretending everything is fine.  I'm tired of everyone looking the other way.  I'm tired of you acting like you're a worthy temple recommend holder when you're clearly not.  You're my father.  Maybe that means I have unrealistic or unfair expectations of of you.  That's the way it is with parents and kids.  I know no one is perfect, but you clearly have an addiction and you need the Bishop's help to get over it.  Whether you do or not is of course up to you, but I want you to know that your pornography problem is hurting all of us.  Even those that deny it or don't know.  I hope you hope that the man I marry won't have the problem you do.  I want you know that I'm afraid to get married and learn that my husband is an unrepentant pornography addict.  How am I supposed to trust a man enough to marry him if I can't trust my own father? "

Which is of course all true.  And would make you feel better when you say (or write and give) it to him.

But will it get you what you hope for?

Probably not.

As I know you've learned, we can't argue anyone into conversion.  Or repentance.

All we can do is teach correct principles and let the Spirit work on them.

Pray for your dad.

Personally and in Family Prayer.

Look for opportunities to bring the Spirit into your home and your life.  Music.  Talks.  The Temple.

Talk of Christ.  Testify of Christ.

Little Sister, if you believe that this situation is keeping you from feeling the Spirit in your home, then it's time to move out.

Don't run away.  Simply acknowledge that it's time, make a plan, and go.

Lastly, you're an adult now; it's no longer appropriate to hang your fate on the actions or testimony of others.  Regardless of what may be going on with your father, there are men out there that you can trust, that aren't addicted to pornography, and that are great candidates for an eternal companion for you.  Finding one to be Sealed to for Time and All Eternity is your responsibility, not your father's.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

What an inspired message to me. Thank you for the advice. Thank you for listening.

- NW




Dear NW,

Anytime.

Thank you for the kind words.

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

After the Breakup

Bro Jo,

I just got home from my second semester up at the Y. I started dating a super nice RM at the beginning of January, and I can honestly say I fell in love with him.

I messed up. We went into the relationship with him informing me that he wasn't ready for a serious commitment. I told him I'd be okay with that, and we continued dating anyway. We grew super close, and we'd make an effort to spend time together every single day. Towards the end, I think he realized how seriously committed we had become, and he freaked out and kind of abruptly ended it. Two weeks later, he was seen around campus holding hands with another girl.

I get that it's my fault. He told me he wasn't ready for a serious commitment and I insisted it would be okay. That was dumb. But I'm really struggling with the aftermath of this entire situation. I miss him so much it hurts. I've lost my appetite, I've become very ill, and I've lost the desire to do anything but stay at home and cry.

I guess part of me is just super confused. I don't really understand how he could have meant all the things that he said to me, but be able to move on as quickly as he did. At the same time, I'm not convinced he is entirely over me, either. He'll still text me quite often, and I've heard he's been jealous when I've been around other guys. I'm not sure what to do? I feel very used, and as this was my first relationship, I'm not exactly sure what's supposed to happen now. What are you supposed to do once you get out of a relationship? It's been a month now since we broke up, and I'm still distraught. How can I get over him?

Any advice you can give me would be much appreciated. I need help.

Thanks,

- Hopelessly Devoted




Dear Hope,

I'm sorry, but I just don't see how this is your fault.

Sure, you lied when you said you were okay with things staying casual.  But I think it was reasonable to expect that, despite what he said in the beginning, with all of the time you spent together and everything else that he had changed his mind.

Now clearly you and I are different people, because if someone I really liked had strung me along, bolted when AFTER SEVERAL MONTHS it occurred to them that things were getting serious, and a short time after dumping me was making out with someone else . . . I'd have No Desire to ever get back together with that person.

But then it DID happen to me.  More than once.


And, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but yes, he IS over you.  That may make him a jerk and an idiot, but it's also the truth.

You need to date other people.  That's the best way to get over him.  That, and as Sister Jo always says, Service.

I also feel extremely strongly that you need to cut this jerk out of your life.  Every time you text him back you're telling him that what he did to you is okay, that he need not feel bad about himself, and that he can continue to keep you as a back up because no matter how many other girls he swaps spit with or holds hands with in public you'll always be there . . . pathetically hoping he'll some day come back to you.

Believe me, once you cut this guy out of your life you'll finally be able to move on.

Now pick yourself up, put on your favorite outfit (the one that everyone says you look great in), and go get a sandwich.  Flirt with other guys, let the world know you're available for dates with Good Guys and block what's-his-name's phone number.

- Bro Jo

Monday, November 20, 2017

One Guy's Story - Part 1 of 3 - Love VS Loyalty and Shotgun Dating VS Rifle Dating


[Dear Readers,

The post below is part 1 of 2, first posted November 20th, 2017.  Part 2 of 2 will be posted in one week, on November 27th, 2017.

- Bro Jo]




Dear Bro Jo,

I hope you'll forgive the long email; I wanted to give you as much information as possible to get the best possible answer. Still, don't feel obligated to answer.

First of all, I entered the (name of specific military college withheld) straight out of high school. I was targeted from the start, for various reasons. Because of pre-existing depression, that negative attention did me no good, and within six months, I had to leave for my own safety. But I didn't leave unscathed; I had acquired habits and mannerisms that made me seem pretty callous.

About six months after leaving the Academy, I managed to get on my mission. But again, because of depression, I had to leave early.

I finished an Associate's degree at BYU-Idaho and transferred to BYU, where I currently am. In that time, I have managed to conquer depression (with the help of many family and friends). I have also managed to tone down my military habits significantly.

When I was at BYU-Idaho, I was blessed to work two shifts every week at the Rexburg Temple, and my baptistery shift had some very wise and experienced brothers and sisters. It was at that time that I truly fell in love for the first time. Suspicious of my feelings, I asked my Temple coworkers some very pointed questions about love. With their help, I eventually came to understand how to recognize it, and I recognized that I was feeling it. Unfortunately, that young lady was a BYU student; she was only in Rexburg for the summer, so she turned down a relationship with me. I understood, and I didn't question it.

When I arrived at BYU, I tested the waters and got enormous push-back from her dad. I was pretty devastated, but with the help of the Lord, I moved on.

I spent my first summer at BYU going on date after date, asking nearly all of those young women on second dates and getting turned down. I didn't really blame them; I was still fighting depression at the time.

I continued that practice for a while until my second summer when I got permission from my bishop to stop dating in order to focus on removing some of my unattractive attributes, like depression. It worked; when Fall semester started, one young lady showed up, and well, convinced me that she was worth my time. And she was. By the time she broke up with me, I had (nearly) finished conquering depression.

(We are still good friends, and recently, I enjoyed telling her father about how good she was to me.)

When the next semester started, I met someone else. Our relationship followed your Levels of a Relationship pretty well, and things were going really great. We got engaged.

On our wedding day, I made a couple mistakes when I picked her up to go to the Temple. Nothing huge, nothing she hadn't seen before (I try very hard to be myself wherever I am). I realized my mistakes and did my best to apologize.

It didn't matter.

By the time we got to the Temple, the stress of the day caused her to melt down, and she called her parents. They had never liked me, and well, let's just say that the wedding didn't happen.

I talked to my YSA bishop and my father about it (at the same time, actually), and they gave me a blessing. I was assured that, though I made mistakes, I had done my best. I was blessed with peace.

For the most part. I do want to be married, so I do feel pretty lonely a lot of the time.

One day, when the loneliness was particularly bad and I was feeling particularly frustrated, I poured out my feelings in a blog post and bluntly asked why I was not a good prospect.

Surprisingly, I got some answers from women that I know. And they were mostly along the lines of "our friendship is too valuable to risk ruining it through a romantic relationship."

Since my failed wedding, I've also been on some dates. Some of those young ladies want nothing to do with me, but surprisingly, some do. Just not romantically. It seems that, like the friends who think friendship is too valuable to risk, they want me around, but only as a friend, or perhaps more accurately, a surrogate older brother.

Let me explain. I am loyal, fiercely loyal, to my friends. They know that if they need me, I will drop everything in a heartbeat to help them, and I won't stop until the problem is solved.

On top of that, all of the experiences that I wrote above (and more) have helped me break what a friend calls "social programming." I don't care what people think about me. I will do what is right as much as I can, even if it's not social protocol. When I seemed callous before, it was often because I would do things outside of social protocol. I am also very genuine about who I am, as I said above.

As a result, not only am I too valuable as a loyal friend, I am...different. Thanks to my ex-girlfriend and ex-fiancée, I am much better now, and as a rule, I will follow social protocol unless it interferes with doing what's right. But I am still fundamentally different. And I guess that is not very attractive.

Before, when I actually had some really unattractive traits, especially depression, it was fairly easy to keep moving forward by telling myself that I would be wanted when I got better. Now, it's a lot harder.

I am happy to be of service to my friends; I wouldn't change my loyalty. I would never change my genuineness either. I consider them to be good traits. But they seem to be chasing girls away, or at least, convincing them to keep me at arm's length.

I am still doing my best to go on dates, to put myself out there, but I'm becoming discouraged.

I guess I have two questions:

First, how do I make myself seem like a good prospect, rather than just a friend? How do I make it seem more valuable to women to give me a chance instead of making them scared to risk losing friendship? 
Second, what is the best way to prevent myself from getting discouraged in this situation?
And maybe a third question. I have been told by several people to be happy just being single, so what's a good way to do that without becoming too happy being single?

- Loyal




Dear Loyal,

I've been thinking about . . . pondering . . . your email  a lot.

I wonder if your "fierce loyalty" has you putting your friendships above your romantic relationships?

While it's important and respectable to be loyal, a guy who blows off his wife to help his buddies would be a poor choice in a husband.

I also wonder if your loyalty is coupled with joy.  Do you go into "beast mode" when a friend needs help, ready to fight for them, do you feel valuable because this friend needs you, or do you feel joy at the opportunity to be of service?

Ultimately none of that may matter . . . but I have been thinking about it.

When you say that you are "genuine", does that mean that you are quick to share critique and criticism even when it's not asked for?  Because that's not honest, it's cruel.

I guess what I'm saying is, while Loyalty and Genuineness ARE good qualities, if you're expressing them in a negative way that could certainly be what is making it difficult for you to find someone who wants to live with you and be with you for time and all eternity.

As the Jo Girl (who happens to be a varsity cheerleader) often says "Be a Polly Positive, not a Debbie Downer"!

People want to be around others who lift them up, who help them feel better about themselves, who look on the bright side.

I don't know you, but I wonder if the struggle isn't with who you are, but how you're expressing yourself . . . might be something for you to consider.


To your questions, your description of your dating style seems to fall into what I call "Shotgun Dating".  That's where guys go on lots of dates with lots of different girls, often lining up the next several dates with a variety of women before they go on the date with the last woman they asked out.  It's very common among return missionaries.  It's an entirely bad thing, but carried on for too long and it can quickly give a guy the reputation of being "a player" or not very serious about dating . . . or life.

And women find that very unattractive.


People like to feel special, and it's very important for a guy to make a woman feel special when he goes out with her.


Instead I recommend what I call "Rifle Dating".

(There's a third kind, "archery dating", where guys stand around . . . FOREVER . . . waiting for that perfect specimen to come along, often missing great opportunities - read "women" - only to find that when they finally take a shot they miss entirely.  You don't want to use that style, either.)

Rifle Dating is when a guy pauses.  (I actually recommend that you guys date no one the first two Sundays you're in a new ward, UNLESS there's someone you are just so Connected with - I use the word "connected" very purposefully - that you can't help dating right away.  But that's the exception.)  He looks around, but not forever, figures out which girl in his world he is most Interested in ("interested in" is also chosen with purpose; note that I didn't say "attracted to") and he dates her.  And only her.

The first date should be casual in tone, designed to facilitate talking, and only after a one or two in-person conversations.  Hikes, walks, going for desert or lunch, things like that are all great choices.

Make sure she knows it's a date, but do not put undue pressure on her or the situation.

His focus is to have fun, ask her about her, and LISTEN to WHAT SHE IS SAYING so he can respond intelligently and with sincere interest.

Be Positive.

Plan.  Pickup.  Pay.

You may think you're falling for her, but your tone should be "I'd like to make a new friend today".


Unless on the date he finds her to be repugnant (making allowances for her nervousness and the newness of the relationship is strongly encouraged) then he asks her out again.  Usually for later that same week.  (Don't wait until the next weekend if at all possible.)

And he keeps his sights on her until she no longer wants to date him (note:  being unavailable or busy is not necessarily a rejection) or until he's honestly ready to move on (once you do, don't plan on going back to her - that rarely works), or until he finds that he is Much More Interested in someone else.  If he is the one initiating the end of this courtship it is his responsibility to Talk To Her In Person.  Don't burn a bridge, don't belittle, and NEVER NEVER tell her it's because you want to date someone else.

A simple "I don't feel that this moving in a more romantic or committed relationship is right for me" is all you need to say.  Then stand there and take whatever she feels she needs to throw at you.

That's what a man does.


That's Rifle Dating.


And that, my friend, is what I believe is the best pattern to follow when it comes to finding a spouse.


If you want to stay out of the Friend Zone, you'll need to accept that the only close female friend you can have will be your spouse.  All women, while you should be polite and kind and "friendly", are romantic prospects.  Treat them as such and they'll realize they're such.  (That's why you don't become "pals" with married women or any woman when you're married.)


We don't "hang out".  We date.


Should you Be Happy being single?

Well . . . yeah.  But remember that there's a difference between recognizing the blessings that are in your life at this time, and being satisfied . . . or complacent.


You can be happy that you've done well in class, on a paper or test, but if you think you have nothing else to do, nothing else to learn about that subject . . . that's complacent, and never a good idea.


Hope that helps.


Feel free to email anytime.


Cheers,

- Bro Jo

Friday, November 17, 2017

Setting Each Other Free

Dear Bro. Jo,

I'm 18 and so is my boyfriend.  We've been dating for a few months now and he's due to get his mission call in about two weeks or so.  We've gotten really close and I want the best for him. We already agreed to suspend our romantic ties from right before he leaves until after his mission so he could focus on his mission.  Also, we have done scripture study together and have a plan to read the Book of Mormon together before he leaves. He's truly a great guy and will be a fantastic missionary. But, what I could do to better support him in his mission?

Thanks,

- Miss Dot




Dear Miss Dot,

I think the best thing you could do is as you've suggested:  break up with him before he leaves.  (As soon as he gets his call is best.  Heck, you should probably break up now since his papers are already in.) 

I don't think you should be acting like married people and doing scripture study together.

And while I think it would be nice to write him every 2-3 months to ask how the mission is going, I think you should be open to dating other guys.

Yes, sometimes we end up eternally happy with the person we dated before they left for two years, but most of the time it doesn't work out.  So the best thing you can both do for each other is to set each other free.

- Bro Jo

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Is She Ready for a Boyfriend?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey! I'm single and lonely and want a bf. And I can't seem to get one. Can u please help me?

- NW




Dear NW,

Maybe.

How old are you?

Why do you want a boyfriend?

What have you tried?

Do you have a particular guy in mind?  Or does it not matter whom it is?

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I'm 18! And feel ready for a relationship! And I would like someone who is 18 or 19 and can love me unconditionally and treat me with respect . And I've tried dating websites and yeah that doesn't work out too well. And I would also want someone who can make me laugh and like to cuddle and watch movies and would hole me tight and hug me when I'm sad. That's why I want a bf. :). Blonde with blue eyes or brown with blue eyes.

- NW




Dear NW,

I'm going to set aside how I feel about your reasons and criteria . . . for now.

Are you attending a YSA Ward?

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

No I'm not.

I'm in (Home Ward Location Withheld) till I graduate and hopefully get my medallion.

- NW




Dear NW,

Graduation first.

Then, rather than focus on finding a boyfriend, approach Serious Single Dating with an open heart and open eyes.

Good Guys can be turned off by someone who's sole purpose is to get a boyfriend. Go on dates, Be Happy and Be Positive and be the type of person who is always found in the service of others.

And remember, we date the type of person that we are, so Do your best to Be your best and focus on people that are like you, that have similar interests and personalities.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Okay.

Well my dad wants me to go to some of the singles activities to get this guys named Stan phone number. Cuz he can't cuz he is too busy. And he doesn't think in should lose contact with him. He's an RM and only 3 years older than me. And I met him once at the Bishop’s Storehouse.

- NW




Dear NW,

That sounds like good advice

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

But he is 3 years older than me. :/! Plus I'll miss my friends.

- NW




Dear NW,

When we focus on reasons for failure it is impossible to succeed

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

True. Okay.

Thanks.

I'll try and meet up with him then.

- NW




Dear NW,

For the record, that's not what I said.

And I still think that rather than being "desperate to get a boyfriend" you should focus on Meeting Some Good People in your YSA Ward.

AFTER you graduate.

Best,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Her "Ideal" Guy? - Part 2 of 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Sorry to have scared you with the whole 'friends with benefits', sex is definitely NOT what I meant.

Sex in NOT in plans - AT ALL.

Making out with him not as boyfriend/girlfriend is what I call friends with benefits, because I do have morals, I promise!

The difference with me and him is we've been friends for 3 years, so the whole college/high school thing isn't such a big deal. With that said, I know he doesn't live up to what my mom and dad wants for me, and I know I can't change him -  but somehow even after your reply, I feel like maybe he would change when he actually grows up. He doesn't necessarily have a problem with drinking; he just parties on weekends - not even every weekend - like a regular college kid. No, I'm not okay with that, but partying in (a non-LDS) college is kind of regular, especially around here.

I know I sound horrible, like I'm okay with what does or I'm making excuses for the things he does - but since we've been friends for years and I know what he went through, I kind of just brush off the bad things he does.

I'm confused with my feelings; I know what I should and shouldn't do.

I've always been 'serious' about dating, I'm not sure why, but casual dating, I'm sure, isn't a bad idea!

Thank you for replying, it really means a lot that someone is there for me.

- NW




Dear Bro Jo,

Well I don't know, NW; I'm not sure that I would define "making out without commitment" (or NiCMO, as it's called at the Y) as "having morals".

I'm glad that when it comes to "friends with benefits" you're naive instead of slutty, but you are absolutely making excuses.  For him and for you.

You can care for someone without ignoring the bad stuff they do; your quickness to look the other way, especially given your reasons why, is not good.  Neither is your attitude of "well, that's just what people do around here".  One of the quotes I have on my office wall is from Michelangelo:  "The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark".

I'm afraid not of sinful behavior, but that you dear little sister, are setting your standards too low.  You are worth more than you give yourself credit for.  We're taught to love the sinner, but hate the sin, and I think that if you don't change your failure to do the latter, you're going to be in more trouble than you want.  It's the little things that matter.  Sometimes that's because, unchecked, they're the gateway to the bigger things.

I have no problem with a quick kiss good night or goodbye after one has Casually Group Dated someone for three or more dates, or perhaps on a special occasion (like a birthday or holiday), but making out should be saved for after one is out of high school and in a committed relationship, preferably with someone that is a serious Temple Marriage prospect.

I think you're allowing your hormones to cloud your judgment.  You're not alone; we all do it or have done it.  But I think its past time for you to gain some self mastery.

Casual Group Dating IS a great idea!  (If I do say so myself.)  And let's be honest, you've not been "dating", you've been (my oldest daughter uses air quotes when she says this) in "relationships".  Dating, little sister, is when a guy makes a plan, picks up, and pays (if he's dating correctly, and you're not letting him off too easy).  When someone jumps into a bad relationship, regardless of their age, it's because they're trying to fill some gap; usually it's because they're struggling with their sense of self-worth, and they mistakenly believe that being "with someone" bestows them with value.

It doesn't.

Our value comes from Heavenly Father and his love for us, not from the admiration of others.

One more thing.  You may hate to hear this, but it's true:  this guy doesn't love you.  Regardless of what he may say.  Why?  How do I know?

Because no man loves a woman he doesn't respect, and you can't respect someone who doesn't respect themselves.

We can't expect to be respected when we drop our standards for others and ourselves.

I know that as a Daughter of God you have great individual worth!

Always here for you,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for the reality check, I needed it.

Thanks for reminding me of my worth, I needed that more.

This whole thing that you're doing for not only, but everyone, is great. I especially appreciate it.

Bro Jo, you're awesome.

Thanks again. :)

- NW




Dear NW,

Any time.

Cheers,

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 23, 2017

Her "Ideal" Guy? - Part 1 of 2

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm 16, turning 17 in February. I've been dating since I was about 14.

I've always had these 'horrible break-ups' and I never seem to find a nice guy. Maybe it's because it's Ohio and there aren’t many LDS guys here or maybe it's because I'm picking all the wrong ones.

Finally, I seemed to have found the 'ideal' guy for me. The only problem?  Not LDS.

He's a Catholic who wants a family, perhaps much later in life. I'm a junior in high school; he's a freshman in college.

He drinks occasionally but he has the biggest heart.

His heart, his smile, his kindness, makes me forget about his flaws. I don't want a serious relationship, and he has issues with me being in high school and past relationships made him scared to a real one now.

For now, we're 'just friends' but dating-ish. I don't want to say its friends with benefits, but that's basically what it is.

We both have high morals, so it's nothing bad but...

Bro Jo, he makes me melt every time I look at him, every time his name pops up of my phone, every time his name pops up on my Facebook page, every time he looks at me and smiles randomly.

He loves that I'm a good girl and just like every other girl, I think I can 'change' him. Not change HIM, but his 'habits' he does at college, which is basically drinking.

My parents, sister, and my friends love him. I don't know what to do - go for it?

Still keep dating?

Or let him go because he's not up to my ‘standards’?

Thanks for your time!

- Name Withheld




Dear Little Sister,

NO!  Don't "go for it"!!!

Are you nuts?!?

A college age guy that has a drinking problem and hit's on 16-year old high school girls???

(BTW - Do you even know what "friends with benefits" means?  It means you're having sex with him, and if that's the case, KNOCK IT OFF!)

I'm sorry, I know this guy gets your head swimming . . . but he's a bad dude.  Plus, and read this very carefully, you'll NEVER change him.  (WE don't change people, they have to change themselves.)

Or his habits.

That's "old guy" experience talking.

You're attracted.  Infatuated.  And clearly not thinking clearly.

There's no way your dad loves a college age guy who drinks getting physical with his daughter.  If you honestly believe that's the case, give me your dad's cell number; I'd love to talk to him.

At your age "Casual Group Dating" is where you should be at.  You're rushing into adulthood too soon, and frankly much sooner than you're ready.

Looks fade, but addictions rarely go away without someone hitting rock bottom; and the problem with that, Little Sister, is someone like you always gets crushed between the rock and the bottom.

Trust me.  I've seen it.  I've lived it.  I know.

Have one last in public conversation with this guy where you tell him that he's too old for you and not living up to your standards.  If he stops drinking, starts going to Sacrament meeting, and stops touching, calling and texting you until you're 18 and graduated from high school, then you can consider dating again.

But, seriously, between you and me, I think if you cut this guy off physically he'll choose to be gone from your life forever, because frankly my dear, that's the only value a 16-year old girl has to him.

And, I hate to be this blunt, but the situation requires it; you need to know that he doesn't love you.  How do I know?  Because he doesn't respect you.  Oh, I'm sure that he says he does, but if he did none of what's happening between the two of you would be happening.

- Bro Jo

PS:  Casual Group Dating does not have to be only with LDS guys.

Monday, October 2, 2017

When Do You Confess Past Sins to a New Boyfriend or Girlfriend?

Dear Bro Jo,

A couple years ago I broke the Law of Chastity.  I went to see my Bishop and went through the repentance process.  It was hard, but since then I have completely changed my life.  I eventually was able to go through the temple. My testimony of the Savior and the Atonement is rock solid.  I am a completely different person.

Today: I have a boyfriend. We've been together for 6 months.  I feel like maybe I should tell him, but at the same time we haven't even said the L word yet (and I do, I love him, but honestly it scares me because my last boyfriend used that word only for sex). At the same time, it's been 6 months and I wonder if he would be upset I waited so long to tell him.  He isn't just "any guy" and I'm pretty confident that he's the one I'm going to go to the Temple with.  I'm just not sure what to say, how to bring it up, or how many details I am supposed to share.

Your advice would be so appreciated!

Sincerely,

Chaste Forever!




Dear Forever,

It's not good for couples to keep secrets, especially big ones, from each other, but that doesn't mean that we should divulge too much too soon.

The Spirit will prompt you as far as the right moment.

Be honest, but not graphic.


Perhaps something like:

"When you're ready, I'd like to share something very personal with you.  I'm nervous because, I really care for you and I don't want you to think less of me.  I want you to know that I've repented and I have a testimony that Heavenly Father has forgiven me."

And then wait to see how he responds.

He may not be ready yet, and that's fine.

Be patient.

When he is ready, especially if a bit of time has passed, repeat the opening from before.

And perhaps add what you've told me above.

"I don't think of you as 'just any guy', you're very important to me.  I care for you and, perhaps more importantly, I feel like I can trust you with things that are very personal and private."

And then . . .

"When I was younger I had sex."

Repeat that you've gone through the repentance process, that it was difficult, and that while you wish you had not sinned in that way, your testimony of the atonement is all the stronger for having seen how it has worked in your own life and that the love of the Savior has helped you become a different and better person.

And then wait.

This may indeed be a make or break moment.  It may be the time when you discover that he does indeed love and care for you.

Or it may be the moment that you, sadly (but fortunately) discover that he's not the man for you.


The knowledge will be worth the risk.


Remember:  you've needed time to get up the courage to tell him; he may need time to process the information.


And don't let yourself be pressured into sharing more than you're ready.  As I said in the beginning, there's no need to "over-share".


- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much for the advice!

We had that talk and everything was okay.  It felt really good to get it off my chest.

Thanks again,

- Forever




Dear Forever,

Sounds like you found a keeper!

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 29, 2017

Should She Let Him Kiss Her?

Dear Bro Jo,

My friend shared your blog with me and it has been quite interesting to read.

It was also my friend's idea to write in for advice, which obviously I am taking.

Let me share my situation with you. I am 16 years old.

My story begins when I met this boy who for privacy sake, I will call Johny.

I met Johny at EFY. I had a mild interest in him when we finished off the week. We stayed in contact and our friendship grew, along with our feelings for each other.

Almost a year passed by and we had gone on a couple of dates. We were hanging out and he held my hand. That was about 8 months ago.

We have continued to hangout, go on dates, he has introduced me to his friends, and I have introduced him to mine. Our families have met, and had dinner together. Even our siblings hangout now.

We have gone to stake dances and have just been growing as friends, all the while holding hands on verily often. Needless to say, I enjoy being around him very much. He has become one of my very closest friends, and has helped me become a better person.

But then I think to myself of the Prophet's council to people of my age. I want the best for Johny and I want to be able to serve a mission, and not have issues before that time comes. We are both trying to do what we think is best for us, but it is hard when our feelings get in the way.

We have not kissed, but I do believe Johny has gotten the idea he wants to. I personally can only see myself being comfortable with a kiss on the cheek. So this is where I would very much appreciate your advice.

Should I let Johny kiss me?

Or should I be okay with Johny kissing me on the cheek?

Thank you very much for your time and your advice,

- Sally (Not my real name)




Dear Sally,

You should never kiss anyone, or let them kiss you, if you're uncomfortable with the idea.  Moreover, you should never kiss (or do anything else) with anyone because you feel obligated.

If you want to kiss him, and he wants to kiss you, that can be okay, but keep it simple (no make out sessions).  You may want to check out "Bro Jo's GUIDE to KISSING", specifically the section for teens your age.

(You can also search "kissing" on the Dear Bro Jo website, or click HERE.)

The other thing I think you need to do to keep this "relationship" from becoming too serious too soon (and to make sure both of you stay worthy) is to cut out your alone time together.  Still date and talk and treat each other nicely, but keep all of your dates Casual Group Dates.

And date other guys, too, and don't get jealous when he takes other girls on Casual Group Dates.

Which means that you'll need to talk to him about all of this.  Tell him everything you've told me.  Tell him you're not ready to kiss yet (if that's the case), tell him you really like him, and tell him that you're worried that the two of you are getting too serious too young.  Tell him you still want to date him, but that it's best for you two to keep things Casual.

The sooner you have the talk, the better you'll feel.

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so very much for your advice. I appreciate what you do for youth everywhere.

- Sally




Dear Sally,

Thank you for the kind words!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

She Doesn't Want Him to Like Her "In That Way" Now That He's a Missionary

Dear Bro Jo,

    It's me again! I might not use my usual pseudonym for this issue, since many of my friends know who I am now... But anyway, I want to get your insights on this issue.

    I think you know this, but I'll give brief background information anyway. I'm an 18-turning-19-year-old female freshman at BYU-Provo. I'm about to submit my mission papers with plans to leave right after this semester.

   Well, this is slightly unrelated, but maybe some of my younger sisters out there in the LDS universe could use this message of hope- college dating is FANTASTIC! I've been asked out and gone on fun dates with guys from my ward, guys from classes and old friends in just the couple of semesters I've been here. I think I went on a grand total of two dates the year I turned 16, so the 5-10 guys I've gone on dates with, and multiple dates with some of them, has been quite the dramatic contrast! I love the atmosphere here. I never could have imagined in high school how much more awesome college is.

   That being said, if you had asked in high school which was worse, liking someone who didn't like you back or being liked by someone you don't like, I'd have answered the former every time. However, now I'm not so sure.

    Towards the end of winter semester, literally within the last month of it, I started going on dates with a guy a friend from my home stake introduced me too... Let's call him "Clarence." Apparently he had asked her to set us up after seeing me talking to her sometime. That's pretty flattering! So we went on an initial date and it went really well. He's nice, smart, attractive, pretty funny and a total gentleman (he always followed the plan, pick-up and pay rules). After that, he contacted me to set up more dates pretty frequently. Like, getting lunch together multiple times a week.

      Sounds great right? Here's the thing. He had his mission call and report date, and was leaving right at the end of the winter semester. We talked about missions on our very first date, so I knew that, and assumed we had the mutual understanding that given how briefly we'd be interacting, no serious ties or feelings would be developed. Dates would just be two people enjoying one another's company and getting to know each other better, nothing more. I guess it was a mistake to *assume* anything.

     Anyway, Clarence continued to ask me out on dates, and I continued to accept. Why not? I enjoyed them, I liked talking to him, I didn't see any problems with continuing to go on the dates, which were still for the most part pretty fun, creative and casual (although they weren't casual group dates- which I guess for a couple of pre-missionaries would have been smarter). It became clear somewhat quickly though that he was developing stronger feelings for me than I had for him. He started waiting for me after work and eventually asked me in an elaborate (and adorable) way to the Christmas dance his dorms were having. Then he was holding my hand... and giving me goodnight kisses... we had basically turned into a couple without my being fully aware of it. And we went to the Christmas dance, and it was great, and I didn't mind continuing to date him for a couple more weeks, I did like him though not as much as he liked me and figured there was no compelling reason to break things off in an untidy way when our relationship would sever of natural causes within a couple of weeks anyway.

   Ah. I feel dumb, and mean, and callous now though... He got really emotional when we said goodbye before we parted ways and called and e-mailed me over winter break, which I did my best to answer in as platonic a way as possible. I hoped that once he got out in the mission field he would totally forget me and get into the work and everything would be fine. He requested that I write him letters and I have been... He hasn't forgotten me. Last week he hinted that he'd be sending me a Valentine's Day package and I straight up told him not to, that he's a missionary and should be allocating his limited resources for his own purposes. In the response I got back he said he'd respect my wishes but asked if he could send chocolates as an early birthday present next week instead, before he leaves the MTC for the country he's serving in, where sending packages would be much more difficult. I don't want him to send me anything! Not that I don't love the concept of receiving chocolates in general, that sounds great, but I really don't think he should be focusing on anything but missionary work! The other troubling thing is that he has referenced a couple of times in his letters things he's planning on us doing in two years when we're both back. I do not consider myself a missionary girlfriend, and I hope he doesn't consider me that. I'm not planning on waiting, or counting on dating anyone after my mission.

   So here is the real point of this e-mail, after all that back story (which you can feel free to condense for the sake of the blog. Sorry it's so long). What is the kindest way for me to communicate to Elder Clarence that I'm not his girlfriend and get him to focus on being a missionary? I don't think a "Dear John" would do it because we were never officially dating and that seems pretty harsh. Should I casually mention dates with other guys in my letters- would that kind of subtle hinting do the trick? I know you favor being direct and forthcoming and I wish I had been more like that earlier... But what is the nicest way to get him to stop thinking about me? I didn't mean to be a distraction or something but I'm worried that I am. I should definitely *not* let him send me anything right?

Your thoughts would be much appreciated.

Thanks!

- Kicking Herself




Dear KH,

I think the easiest, and in this case the best, thing to do is to back your communication with this Elder WAY down.  If he did send you a Valentine, say thank you, nonchalantly as part of a letter . . . sometime in mid-March.

Like writing any other missionary, help him to focus on the work by that being all that you talk about in your letters.  When (and if) he sends letters whining about home or missing you or stuff like that, you can begin to craft your response right away if it helps, but keep your responses to mission life.

For example:

If he writes "I can't stop thinking about you" you ignore that in your letter and instead ask "what are the people like where you're serving?"

If he says "I hope you'll still be available for me to date when I get back" in your letter you write "what is your companion like, and who are you teaching right now?"

And, again, keep the letters infrequent.  Regardless of how much he writes you.  Monthly is about as often as you should write anyway, and it doesn't matter how many letters he sends.  And if you feel that less than monthly is appropriate, there's nothing wrong with that.

There's great power, future missionary, in answering the questions we hope someone had asked instead of what they say.  It applies to teaching the Gospel, too, you know.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 25, 2017

Why Does She Feel this Way?

Hey Bro Jo,

I have written to you a few times over the years because sometimes it's just nice to get an outside perception of things. I'm probably one of your older readers, but still learning and growing in my dating life. I think last time I wrote to you I was nearly engaged, clearly that didn't work. (Which was a good thing).

I am writing today because I have been dating a wonderful guy for about a month, and we are at a bit of a crossroads... Do we take our relationship to the next level and become more serious or break up?

I thought I knew what I wanted, but now that I'm faced with this decision I'm very confused. My feelings keep going back and forth, one minute I feel like I'm all in and the next I feel like I want to end it.

A little about him, we have been friends for a while and I convinced him to give us a try, he's younger (he's 24, I'm 28) and a little immature when it comes to dating, because he hasn't done much. He's done with school and trying to find a good job. He's a great man, strong in this church, kind, no pornography issues, treats me well, attractive, willing to do anything for anyone, and just overall good! He is just what I would ask for. However he is slightly immature, and in some ways we are very different which annoys me at times. Like when we are at ward activities and other public things I am quiet and reserved while he says whatever comes to mind, and is a little loud and mire the center of attention. He can also be slightly socially awkward at times.

We communicate extremely well, and can talk about pretty much anything. I even talked to him about the social awkwardness. I know that I am someone who can become annoyed at things a little too easily at times, and am not perfect at all.

I guess I just can't figure out where the feeling of wanting to back away is coming from, is it fear, is it that this is out of my comfort zone, is it from Heavenly Father telling me this isn't the right thing to pursue, is it Satan trying to prevent a good thing from happening, is it me just being slightly embarrassed by him? I really can't seem to figure it out and I was hoping for some advice.... How do I figure out my feelings and press forward in the way that I should?

- Confused




Dear Confused,

One month is pretty early in a relationship to think you're at a crossroads.

If you don't like the guy, if he's a loser, breakup and move on.

Otherwise I say keep dating him until you either

A) realize you want to marry him (and, by the way, we keep dating our spouses even after we've married)

or

B) find someone you're MORE interested in.

You say he's a good man and actively looking for employment.

Remember where fear comes from and who it is that wants you to NOT get married for Time and All Eternity.

AND, by the way, if you're going to put off marriage until you find a man that never embarrasses you . . . well, you're going to be single for a long, LONG time.

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 22, 2017

He's Hunting for an Eternal Companion

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey, I was wondering if you have some advice for a first time steady dater.  Or rather a guy considering it.

I’ve done some dating here and there but not a lot and not often.  I’d really appreciate some general dating tips and steady dating pointers.  If you’ve already got some articles, I’d love the links.

Thanks,

Jet




Dear Jet,

I've written about this a lot, actually.  If you go to the Blog Page and click on the topic Serious Single Dating you'll be linked to those posts.

There are also several Notes on our Facebook page that you might find helpful, like:




In general I'll tell you two things :

1.  If you're pre-mission, don't bother.   You should be Casual Group Dating until you've put in your papers, and then you should really not be dating at all until you come home.  There are links and resources on Casual Group Dating both on the blog page and the Facebook page.

2. In my analysis I see guys who are supposed to be "Dating with a Purpose" adopt one of three techniques:  Archery Dating, Shotgun Dating, or Rifle Dating.

Archery Daters sit around, forever.  IF they're out there, in the stand, at all, they keep hoping that the perfect target will walk by.  They Wait and Watch as plenty of Good, even Great, targets come and go, doing nothing.  They keep saying to themselves "sure, that's a good one, but I bet if I wait long enough a better one will come along".  When a target they're in love with finally does come into view, they're often too intimidated to take a shot.  They've had no practice.  When they do finally fire they often miss, only to find themselves waiting again, often regretting having not shot at any of the great targets that came by earlier.  Now, every Great Target that comes by will be compared to the one that got away.

Shotgun Daters shoot at everything.  They're hoping if they get enough pellets in the air one of them is bound to find the mark they're hoping for.  The problem is that they never spend enough ammo (think "time and effort") on any one target to ever truly be successful.  Sure they might pull down the occasional flighty bird once in a while, but if they're after big game all they're going to do with all of this shooting is scare it away.  Big Game hears all of the shooting and shies away.

Rifle Daters are different.  They're focused.  They're willing to do some walking.  They get to where they see the whole herd, pick out the one they like best, and take aim.  Focusing on that one Great Target they give it their best shot.  Effort and focus.  If they give it an earnest shot, maybe two or three, and things don't work out, they look for the next target to focus on.  They might stop aiming for a short while to survey the field, but they don't go back home and sit around and complain about how they never filled their tag.

(There are some guys that THINK they're Rifle Daters, but they're Truck Hunters.  They never get out of their vehicle, never make enough effort.  If they see a quality target and can't get it with an easy shot they'll drive on to the next field.  Too bad, too.  They could have had a lot of success . . . if only they were a little more aware of their situation and a lot less lazy.)

A Good Hunter does his homework.  He knows how to call a target.  He knows how to dress for the occasion.  He prepares, he spends the time, he practices and he never gives up.


That said, I hope two things:

A.  That true hunters don't take the analogy as a knock on one style of hunting or another.

B.  That none of you men are dumb enough to treat a woman like a slab of meat, or that you'd just leave an acquired target rotting on the forest floor.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

She's Looking for an Eternal Companion

Dear Bro Jo,

Ever since I have returned early from my mission, the next step Heavenly Father would like me to take is towards marriage.

Which the funny thing is, I don't even have a boyfriend.

Literally every guy I have tried to date was a complete fail, no potential at all.

Some to name a few: friend zoned me, wanted to leave the Church, told me I was the one then friend zoned me, less active, or just straight up rejected me.

I have now been actively seeking for priesthood worthy guy who loves the gospel as much as I do.

Some dates are great but then the vulnerability fear haunts me. I get afraid and find any and all reasons not to like them.

I guess the ultimate question is, how do I go about seeking out someone without fear of getting hurt?

Thanks-

K.




Dear K,

Contrary to what the world teaches, marriage isn't about love.  Or sex.  Or getting along all of the time.

It's about Trust.

As for failure . . . the reality is (hopefully) that every relationship you get into (or attempt) will be a failure until you find someone you'll marry.  And those failures can be quite educational!

Think about that.

(Did you know that Sister Jo and I broke up a couple times while we were dating?  True story.  We're two outspoken, opinionated, ornery people.  What we realized was that no matter how mad we got at each other, at the end of the day we still loved each other so much that there was no one else we'd rather be around.)

Be Patient with this process.  Keep dating.  Stop putting all of this pressure on yourself to get married.  Instead, focus on dates as being a great chance to get to know people better . . . and perhaps do some hand-holding . . . and a little kissing every now and then.

There are actually hundreds of thousands of single worthy young priesthood holders out there in your age range.  Good Guys who work hard and will appreciate you.

As you slow down, worry less about the timeline, you'll find one you can Trust.  The key part of "boyfriend" is "friend".  You'll open up to him.  He'll open up to you.  The trust will go both ways.

Yes, along the way to finding this man you will likely find a few men that you Think you can Trust, only to discover that you can't.

And it will hurt.

That's all part of the process.

As an SRM you know that nothing great in life comes without hard work and that it involves some risk.  The think is, K, that the hurting is worth the risk because the reward is so great!

One last thing about all of this:  while I want you to find a man that loves and cherishes you, that honors his priesthood and works hard at everything he needs to do, I need you to be a little realistic.

A Good Marriage does not mean that there are never sad times, never frustrations, never fights, never disappointments.  If you insist on finding that in a boyfriend, you'll either never get married or be very upset when reality sets in.

A Good Marriage is about finding someone that you love and enough to be willing to work through those things, and that you trust will love you enough to work through them, too.

Relax.

Have fun.

Find yourself constantly in service to others and the Lord.

And it will all work out.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Long Distance Relationships with Those in the Military - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for the quick reply! You told me exactly what I wanted to hear. I honestly did a little jig around my room out of happiness.

But then I thought for a while.

What if he really likes this girl? He wants to be a good boyfriend, but he's obviously failing (I'm not too unhappy about this). He knows I'm leaving, so starting something with me would only mean a tampered relationship with this other young lady. Is he using her as a backup plan?

Trust me, I want to kiss him!

That is highly desirable. In a way, I feel like I might be overly revealing in my affections toward him. I openly compliment him in my admiration toward his foundation in the gospel, and drive for life. Another problem though..he thinks I engage in this kind of conversation with every attractive young man, and that I'm just using flattery to get guys to like me, and in a sense he might be right. I do like to be liked. I'll admit to my vanity, but I also genuinely like different aspects of different people, and take conscience notice. But me being physically attracted to someone, liking an aspect about them, and complimenting them doesn't mean I like them, correct? Is that taken as flirting?

I feel like everyone starts in the same field, but eventually you weed out the ones that aren't worth your time. Have I skewed my own reputation with the young man I have feelings for? I'm okay with dating him without physical contact. A kiss means different things to different people. Personally, many of my opinions match yours, but again they are my own.

Should I be asking him about this other girl?

Am I the backup plan?

I honestly don't feel like it, but I'm not ruling it out of the realm of possibilities.

Should I pin him into answering my questions about his intentions? Should this be one of those "it's up to you, whatever you'd like" kind of deals?

I still think kissing would be a great option, one I'm not opposed to, but is that the best one? Do you have an opinion on this? QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS.

I assume that you are against long distance relationships, as am I. I believe the terminology "being together" should be taken in a literal sense.

I feel like I'm piling all of this onto you as if you somehow have all the answers. MAYBE YOU DO? And if not anything, I hold your opinion in high regard. I've only visited your blog a handful of times, and I've certainly never written you, but today I am glad that I did.


Appreciative,

- Still Pseudonymless




Dear Pseudonymless

I don't have all the answers, just lots of opinions.  And I'm not "against" long distance relationships, I just don't think they work without a marriage-level commitment. ..at least not very often.

I think you deserve answers to your questions...I just think you're asking the wrong guy.

The person you should be asking if you're a backup plan, if you're just someone to flirt with because he's lonely, if he sees the same possibilities here that you do, if this is nothing or could be something,  if kissing should happen, is him ... this guy you're kind of dating.

So go talk to him.  Soon.

Make sure you have gum.

Just in case.

Oh, and my advice here is to be practical and pragmatic. I don't want you to become the girl he uses for kissing because he knows he doesn't have to commit to her and she comes across as desperate and willing.

You're worth more than that.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 11, 2017

Long Distance Relationships with Those in the Military - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

So thus entails great details, maybe my questions can't be answered, perhaps they can, and advice would be greatly appreciated.

I recently began attending the YSA branch in my area, a military community . My father is in the military, as well as the majority of the men (youngish men in the branch. A young convert introduced himself to me the first Sunday. A very handsome, 20 year-old. We've attended activities (FHE, YSA camp-out, Institute, dinner with our YSA group) together, exchanged numbers, seen each other outside and spent alone time talking.

I like him.

He seems to like me (he's eluded to it, to an extent), all the correct signs, enjoys my company, thinks I'm nice to look at, we share similar views, being military/service oriented. There are so many things I love about him - his testimony, his curiosity, desire, and drive to continue learning about the gospel, his dedication to the church after only being a convert of a little over a year, his personality and humor, how he wants to continue to develop himself all-around, and respect for women. I feel really close to him, for such a short period of knowing him (3 weeks), I even asked him for a blessing, being that my father is gone to Afghanistan. He said he would love to, but he does not hold the Melchizedek priesthood yet. He's temple worthy and so strong in the gospel. We are very alike in our endeavors, beliefs, and faith. He's been nothing but a perfect example of what an eternal companion should look and behave like.

To an outsider it may seem like we're dating.

Here is the big problem. He is in a long distance relationship with a girl who helped introduce him to the gospel. Not only that, but I am leaving for college in 5 weeks, more specifically a Church school. I feel like I've developed feelings for him way too fast. Like, I can picture being married in the temple to him. Is that bad? Should I just write it off? Go to college and try to forget about his beautiful and inspiring spirit?

Also, he's a soldier with no car, only a bicycle, living in barracks. I've given him rides to activities, and I know that's a big no-no in your book, but our branch is so small, and our area is so big I don't mind doing it. I trust him enough to drive my car, so when we drove an hour away, alone together to a YSA campout, I let him drive the entirety of the ride. My mom preferred this as well, being that the insurance is paid by her and my father. If I give him rides, he's in general the one who drives, and he also gives me gas money. A few other soldiers without cars have done this as well.

I love spending time with him, and it seems to be mutual. I feel like I've been able to share my faith with him. He's also come to my workplace, a pool on the military post, and I've helped him improve his swimming. I have two jobs in aquatics, one on post - lifeguarding, the other through the YMCA teaching and coaching swimming. I've been to his barracks in between jobs, met his roommate, ate lunch with him. I've showed him my favorite temple, changed it to background on his laptop screen. I've taught him chords on the ukulele, and let him borrow mine. He plays the piano so marvelously and we sat together playing/singing after a church activity once. He'll open the door for me, give me hugs (short ones) goodnight. Text me to make sure I'm safely home.

I guess the predicament is that we're close friends, and because I don't believe in close friends, we're possibly "in-like" with each other. I feel bad, because he IS in a relationship, and he'll mention it periodically. It's like we're casually dating without the title. Is this bad? He's never told me how serious his relationship with this girl, just that I shouldn't do certain things (like grab him around his side playfully, because he feels bad). Also that them being apart is like mini-trial for their future relationship, to see if it will work out. Am I being to open? I don't really know what I'm doing, just that I know I like him and wish to continue spending time with him. He hasn't obliged. I feel a little bit like if I wasn't leaving for college he would end it with his girlfriend (from Texas) to pursue me, but then I feel like that's arrogance in me? I don't know anything about this young lady. Obviously she must be fantastic to be dating such a phenomenal young man.

I want to know your opinion on long-distance relationships? I myself could not stand for one, but what happens when summer rolls around next year? Should I try to stay in contact with him throughout the year? What if I do really like him? I just want an outsider opinion.

Also, I wanted to know what your opinion on young military men and serving missions? He doesn't get out of the military for another 5 years, does that mean he should wait until he's 27, after a mission, to be married?

What kind of questions should I ask him to clear these mixed signals? Is he "cheating" by being friends with me? I personally don't believe that the title boyfriend/girlfriend is a huge commitment, but I know many people do. I want to respect that if he does, but how do I do so? Leave him alone, and admire him from a distance? Stop sitting near him in Sunday school? (actually he came in late and sat by me last Sunday) Bro Jo, internet friend, do you have advice to offer? Your advice will probably lead to more questions on my part, so be prepared.

Also...if this is something you wish to publish, could I possibly approve beforehand? I feel like I gave many specific details, and someone could easily figure out my identity.

With Sincerity,

- Lacking a good Pseudonym




Dear Pseudonym,

There's nothing wrong with how you feel about this guy.  He's a Good Guy, and seems very nice.

I'm not a huge fan of teen girls and guys alone in a car, but you're adults, so I don't see that as a problem.  Parking for the sole purpose of sexually exciting yourselves and each other, yes that's wrong; but going for long drives?  I think that can be a Great Date!

(Tangent:  YSA co-ed overnighters, including camping trips, IMHO are incredibly naive.)

Not that he asked me (or you it sounds like), but given the timing of his conversion and his previous commitment to the military, I don't see a mission in this young man's future.  And I think that's perfectly okay.

And no, I don't think he should wait until he's out of the military to get married, either.

Now, I don't know if you're both just lonely, but it sounds to me like you're dating.  No commitment, but you're clearly a couple.  Without any kissing or holding hands, does that mean he's "cheating" on the other girl?  Well . . . yeah, it does.  Consider:  if he was married to her, wouldn't what the two of you are doing be "cheating"?  Of course it would.  Any wife with any amount of brain would be pretty darned upset if she saw her husband spending the alone time with a girl that this guy is spending with you.

Does that mean that I think you should back off?

Heck no!

Why?

Because he's NOT married.  Or engaged.  And she's not anywhere around.

Heck.  I think you should stop pretending and just kiss the guy already.

THAT'S sure one way to know if you're going to handle being apart.  Right now there's nothing to "wait around" for.  Up the stakes a little and you'll know for sure.

Summer Fling or the Beginnings of Something Eternal?

Time is running out.  You two better figure this out.

But, while there's no such thing as only one person out there for each of us, Great Relationships are Rare.  Especially for Young People.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 4, 2017

Transitioning to YSA

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro Jo!

First, I must say that I really love reading your page and have learned a lot from the advice you post.

So, I'm in a situation that is probably similar to many other people my age right now; I'm a senior girl in high school preparing to go off to college next year and fully immerse myself in the YSA social and dating scene.

However, the boys in my stake are not the best at getting group dates together, so I haven't really been on any.  I was wondering if you had any tips for transitioning more smoothly from high school group dating to the single dating that YSA should be doing, when I haven't really even done any group dating before?

Thanks a lot for your time and help!

- In Transition




Dear In Transition,

I ain't gonna lie:  it's going to be a touch more difficult for you than those that dated a bit.

The first thing I'd like you to do, please, is read the riot act to your Stake and Ward Priesthood leaders.  It's their responsibility to teach these young men how to date and that each of you young women deserves a few chances to be taken out.  If you've been active, going to Church Dances, being friendly and fun, looking and doing your best, and if they were doing their job, then you should have had a few dates.

Secondly, teach the younger sisters that you're leaving behind what they could do better than you did.  Tell them to host movie parties and game nights, teach them the value of talking to the guys - In A Nice Way - and testify to them of the value of Casual Group Dating.  Tell them that their insistence on "having a boyfriend" is driving Good Guys away and limiting their dating opportunities.

You're not alone; too many great girls never get the dating experience in high school that they should.  We need a major culture shift, and I think it's going to take a long time.

Now, as for you:  despite everything I wrote above, don't freak out.  Some of the most amazing women date little or not at all in high school, and they've turned out fine.

Like anything in life, look back at your experiences and use them to improve on the next go.


Here's a Quick List:

Bro Jo's THINGS a GIRL CAN DO to GET MORE DATES as a YSA

1.  Put yourself out there.  Go to everything, pursue your interests, be involved.  It doesn't matter really which clubs or activities you enjoy, but do stuff.  Get involved.  Meet people.

2.  Show genuine interest in other people.  Yes, of course, guys, but girls too; you never know when some girl is going to say "you're so nice, you should date my brother!"  The key to that is to Listen to other people when you talk to them.  Ask people about themselves and take an interest in what they have to say

3.  Be domestic and girly.  Don't change who you are, but understand that Guys (in general) like girls that are, well, girls.  Especially Church Guys.  If you don't know the tricks to Good Makeup, Clothing and Perfume, figure them out.  Learn how to make one heck of a cake, cookie or brownie if you don't already, and be prepared to randomly give treats you make to guys that you want to have take you out.  My apologies to the neo-nazi-woman-hating-"feminists" out there, but this stuff works.

4.  Date every halfway decent guy that asks.  You want to be known as the nice girl that is open to dating, not the snob that no one can get dates with.

5.  Don't be a buddy.  No guys over at your place, and you don't hang out at theirs.  Heck, make it a habit not to "hang out" at all.  Guys are for dating, not for hanging out with.  And you need to know this:  guys are lazy by nature.  Even the hard-working ones.  Guys are the ones that invented drive-throughs, fast food, and the TV remote.  If he can have you delivered to his place to watch a video with him while his rear-end is still on the sofa, there's no need for him to ever invite you to go anywhere.

6.  Do the best you can with what you've got.  Always try to be the "best you" you can be.  Pajamas, and that includes sweats, shouldn't be worn outside your home.  Not even to the gym.  Change into gym clothes while you're there, then shower do your hair and makeup and get dressed nice before you leave to go home.  Too many of your sisters are blowing it because they have an attitude of "I don't care how I look" (What the heck is this thing with the nasty "jeggings" and sloppy bun???); if you don't care how you look, then no one else will either.  And that's bad.



There's more, but you get the idea.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you!

I guess in our area it is harder to date because everyone in the stake lives so far apart, but you're right the guys should be asking more.

Actually, recently I had an experience that proves what you said about getting casual get-togethers planned. I organized a group of friends, boys and girls, to go bowling together. A couple weeks after we started planning it, I got asked on a date by one of the boys in the group! Also, I totally plan on being involved next year, and I think it will really help.

Thanks again for your advice and I'll definitely work on implementing it more!

- Excited for the future




Dear Excited!

Good for you!

I'm glad to hear that the Activity Setup thing worked for you.  Keep it up!  And hopefully others will learn from your example.

- Bro Jo