Things to know

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

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

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

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Power of Flirting

Dear Bro Jo,

I have been reading your blog recently, and first wanted to say I think you are going a great thing for the Youth/SA community who read your blog. Thank you.

I'm writing to you because I feel like I'm in a kind of unique situation and want some outside advice.

First, some background. I'm in my second year at BYU. I'm currently on a study abroad in Jordan (the country in the Middle East) studying Arabic. I absolutely love it here.

Part of the BYU rules for study abroad is no dating other people on the program. And it makes sense; they don't want to deal with any drama that could come from it. And I totally agree. Especially here in the Middle East with such a conservative culture, that's especially important to not look like the stereotypical "easy" Americans, and to keep the reputation of our program held high for future groups. I've got no problems understanding or supporting or upholding that.

Around the first month or so, I started spending time a lot with these two guys. They're both super recent RMs, and served together for about 9 months and then were in the same area with different companions for another 9 months until the first one was released. So they know each other super well. I'm not the best at socializing sometimes, but I've found it's been really easy to spend time with these two. At first I think it was because they're just such good people there was no way they would ever not include anyone. But now we're actual friends,at least I think so, and have a lot of fun. Of course, because of the nature of the program, we are all friends and get along and all that nice stuff, but naturally there are some we talk to more and some less based on the size of the group (about 50 students), and these two are probably the ones I talk to the most.

Another thing about the rules here, in order to go anywhere but the small radius that my apartment and school are in, we are required to be in groups, at least two during the daytime, and at least three after dark, and after dark one of those people needs to be a guy. So I feel lucky to have a couple of friends I can ask for help if I ever need to go somewhere. Especially now that it's dark by 5 every night. And of course, the girls have to be walked all the way to their building doors, and our buildings are around the corner from each other. These guys, and all of the others too honestly, are so nice and so willing to help us girls with these rules and safety precautions, and I've never had to worry for my safety, for which I am truly grateful.

I digress. Here's the thing. One of these two is engaged. (Coming back, this is going to be easier with names, so, M is engaged, S is not.) So there have apparently been rumors, people are talking about S and I. I guess it makes sense for them to assume, really why would they assume any different given how much the three of us talk, and each of our relationship status, one guy engaged, one guy and one girl completely single. I hadn't actually heard anything about it until about a week ago M asked me about it privately (nothing inappropriate, there's a room a group of about 6-7 of us do homework in every day, and because some were out getting lunch and at appointments and things like that we were the only two in the room for about 10 minutes) I guess they've been asking S when he's going to ask me out and things like that. Nobody has said anything to me though, which is interesting. And I'm not actually opposed to the rumors. I do kind of like this guy. I mean, right now we're just friends, but I certainly wouldn't mind going on a date or two with him after the program ends and seeing where that goes. But when M told me this, and I asked what they thought about it/what the response to it had been, he said they both just laughed about it. Then he told me that S was writing a missionary, the little sister of his best friend back home, not seriously, but had written a few emails to her. I think he may have been trying to get a reaction from me. And then he said something about how S "wasn't set in stone about anything." M told me this all in the context of asking "my opinion" on it, obviously trying to play matchmaker a little. Which he admitted to. But I know I'm not going to try and say anything now, because of the appearances in the culture, and I'm sure neither would Seth, if there even was any feelings there on his part. I think there could be, or at least maybe I hope they do, but I don't really know for sure at all.

We only have two weeks left in this wonderful country, and then will spend two weeks touring the West Bank/Jerusalem/Holy Land before returning home right before Christmas. So after M told me about the rumors, nothing else has been said, and I don't want to say anything about it directly that might complicate anything, and nothing else has been said from him again either. And nobody has said anything to me. So things are still as they were a month ago. It's not awkward, and I'm happy about it.

But I guess my question is, how do I try subtly try to hint to S enough that he might ask me on a date when we return to BYU where dating culture is not only allowed but encouraged? I don't even know completely if he has any feelings for me. Other than normal talking, and of course being willing to be an after dark bodyguard, I don't have much of a chance to tell anything. And because of the nature of the program and how nice he is, I don't actually know if I'm being treated any differently. I've almost convinced myself that it's completely one sided, and if I didn't make an effort to talk to him, we wouldn't talk any more than he does with most of the other girls in the program.

I'm also not the best at the whole relationship/dating stuff. Since I've been at BYU I've gone on exactly one date, and to say the least, I did not enjoy the date or the guy, and though he tried I did not go on another with him. In high school I had a relationship (I've read your opinions on those, I know, but I don't regret anything, it's over, and he's a great missionary right now) but it happened so naturally from our friendship. And for the most part this is the same, but because of the situation, I know that if I actually want to see him after we leave the Middle East I'm going to make some sort of effort, and I don't know how. In a way I kind of feel like it's high school again, "you can date after this, but now you can't" and so there's not really a point in doing anything about any possible feelings that may or may not exist anyways.

Thanks,

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

This really isn't as complicated as you're worrying it is.

Sometime between now and the time you go home tell M that you've been thinking about what he said, and when all of you get home if S asked you out you'd say yes.

And then let it go.

That's it.

I promise you M will tell S.

If he wants to, and has the courage, he'll ask you out.  And telling M, his good friend, will help with that because he'll encourage S to make a move.

If you are all on the flight home and S still doesn't have, nor has asked, for your phone number, write it on a piece of paper and go up and give it to him.  Say something simple like "I hope you feel like you need this", touch him on the arm, and walk away.

No one, little sister, is too inexperienced to try a little flirting.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 24, 2017

The "Out of the Blue" Breakup - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

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

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

I'm not the type to come on strong..ever..I really should work on coming on stronger actually, or else most guys think I'm indifferent to them.

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

The bottom line is that how is it my fault that he was being pressured by others and not by me..? Is it wrong to be like-able? (k I'm really not a brat I promise.) but for real. How does a girl fix that?

I know this is a little desperate but I really like this guy. A whole lot. And I'm not asking him to fall in love with me..(I can't predict the future! Who knows maybe its not meant to be..) I'm just asking for a chance.

Is there anything else I can do in this situation?? (I mean besides show up to all the FHE activities and Sacrament meetings looking ravishing;)) ha.

Help..?

- Confused




Dear Confused,

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

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

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

Sister Jo is a HUGE advocate of showing up, looking ravishing, and making him regret he ever blew it with you.  But she's also right when she says that even if you didn't come on too strong (and I believe that's the case), the response to someone who has freaked out about feeling pressured is never positive if you pressure them more.

You had a chance, and so did he.  As great as he may be, he wasn't smart enough to realize it at the time, so you need to move on and make him regret it.

Then and only then will there be a chance he'll come around.

And if he does, you frankly may not care.

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

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 21, 2017

The "Out of the Blue" Breakup - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello again!

So, I have a bit of a situation. There’s this guy (oh how cliché)..he's wonderful, interesting, and smart.

We have been in the same ward for quite some time but haven't really been able to talk much (I've been spending time out of the country) but he's the same age as my older sister and so I kinda know him, but had never really talked to him.

But now we are both back, and single. So we started talking and eventually went out on a few dates, just to clarify I'm 19 and he's 22 (R.M.) so they were fun, one on one dates. (He invited me to his basketball game, then we got hot chocolate and talked at the temple for a few hours, he came over to my house and played games/watched a movie, and we went to a hot air balloon festival) plus we had been texting/calling quite a bit..this all happened in the space of about a week and a half.

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

Anyways, back to this guy. We went on those few dates and afterwards he came back to my house to watch a movie and we started talking, he said that he had just gotten out of a long term serious relationship (he had been with his ex for a year). So, I asked if he still liked her (not wanting to get into anything if he still had feelings for her) and he said that breaking up was mutual and they both saw it coming, he only sees her as a friend, he wants what’s best for her and all but doesn't see anything romantic. Earlier in the week (right after our 2nd date) his ex texted him and he said he was confused about it.--I have no idea what he or she said. But, I mean, if you date someone for a year and you aren't sure if you should be together then you probably shouldn't be together, am I right...?

Anyways, after him telling me all this about his ex and everything he said he wanted to "take things slow" and "be fair to me" and he "didn't want to hurt me". I of course not wanting to lie to him told him about my missionary and that I'm not waiting for him, but I also like him too but I wanted to give the current guy a chance and "not hurt him" either.

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

So I was trying to be cool and casual about it but he sure didn't kiss me very casually. I ended up going on a couple of dates with other guys during that time to try to protect my heart buy I felt nothing for them and could only think about this current guy. I also didn't want to play games so I told him that I had gone out with those other guys and if he was ok with it and he said that yeah he was cool with it and that we should keep on trying to be casual. I really started to develop feelings for this guy though, but I kinda felt him start to back off a bit. I was super confused about where his head was so I decided to be brave and tell him my feelings.

So I said:

 "Hey so I just wanted to clear this up and be real with you..and let you know that even though I've been on a few dates with other guys I can't stop thinking about you! Gosh what is it about you (name withheld)!? But I wanted to let you know that I really feel like there could be something pretty great between us. I don't want to make you uncomfortable, but I would really like to see where we could go. I would rather let you know how I feel and possibly be hurt -- than to never take a chance.."

To which he replied:

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

So, I was pretty sad and a little humiliated. I just said okay with a smile and that was it.

Ok, I know it seems like I'm a crazy girl who just wants to get married, but that really isn't me. I just wanted to date him and see how things went! (I still don't feel ready for marriage just yet)

I really don't feel like I did anything wrong. But I'm not sure how to handle this now.

I saw him in church today and it was hard for me to even look at him, let alone talk to him..so I didn't. I would still be ok with being friends with him but I don't want to come off as intense or anything.

What should I do?

And uh, why did he kiss me?! Again. He kissed me. Not the other way around. Sure if he was like most guys I'd say that's just how they are..but this guy is different, he's honest and spiritual, he's a really great person.

Any advice?

Thanks.

- Confused




Dear Confused,

I'm guessing that he kissed you because
A) Kissing is fun
B) He finds you attractive
C) The timing seemed appropriate (and I'd argue that it was), and 
D) He wanted to kiss you (and you let him).

All of which are good things.


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

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


So I think it's best to move on.

I know that may be difficult.


But consider this:  him breaking up with you doesn't mean that you're not great; it means that for a period of time he was smart enough to realize how great you are . . . and then he wasn't.  Some other guy will figure it out, and that guy won't be dumb enough to change his mind.  So keep dating!


And, who knows?  Perhaps if you continue to be nice to this guy he'll figure it out.

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

But that will be your decision to make.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Will Breaking the Law of Chastity Prevent Her from Serving a Mission?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro Jo!

Let me begin saying I've been a reader for years and I really Like reading your blog.

I want to tell/ask you something very personal...

The thing is that I have the desire to serve a mission, but time ago I broke the law of chastity, I feel sorrow in my soul and in my heart and I'm about to confess it to my ward president.

What I would Like to know is if it prevents me from serving a mission

Looking forward for your answer,

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

That is a question you should ask your Bishop / Branch President when you meet with him.  I encourage you to have that conversation right away.

Regardless the answer, I promise you that if you follow counsel given towards mending your relationship with the Savior and continuing to do what you know to be right, you will be blessed.

I am proud of you for your faith in the atonement and your willingness to repent.

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 17, 2017

How Do You Know If You're In Love?

Dear Bro Jo,

How do you know you're in love?

- S




Dear S.,

When the other person's needs and happiness are more important than your own.

And in a healthy relationship, especially a marriage, that needs to go both ways.

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 14, 2017

Does He Regret Breaking Up?

Dear Bro Jo,

I will be honest I have ready many of your blogs and letters to other young adults and have disagreed with so many, but I do believe this comes from a cultural thing rather than a difference of opinion,

So I am living in the United Kingdom.  About a year ago I dated a girl from the same stake as myself although she did live around an hour away.  We dated and we were happy.

Sadly after the "honeymoon period" I realized that despite the fact that I cared for her (and I still do) I didn't want her to become my eternal companion, so I did what I believed was the decent thing and broke it off.

We discussed it for a long time and we agreed to part ways and still remain friends.

Well since then I have had a few girlfriends and I have still remained friends with this first girl, we will call her "Jenny".

Jenny remained a constant part of my life even while I was dating these other girls. we would text and remained pretty close friends. She would talk to me about the guys she would date and I would talk to her about the girls I would date.

We were pretty close. I always knew this was unhealthy but I still chose to participate.

Well I got a girlfriend who did not like the situation I had with jenny, and after discussing it I agreed to limit mines and jenny's friendship. Jenny and I talked it over and she left the conversation pretty mad, and I really was trying to be decent. I believe she is mad because she was still holding on to the idea of me and this was me picking another girl over her. I felt awful. I really did.

So for a while she wouldn't come to any stake activities and events because she didn't want to be in the same room as me, she removed me off Facebook and other social media and just cut me out of her life. she constantly and publicly moans about how horrible I was to her on twitter and Instagram and we broke up a year ago. It got to the point where she had to rearrange her whole stake conference attendance just so we were never in the same room..... our stake does it complicated.

The worst part is I have now been called into stake YSA, which means I have to organize events and institute for the Stake, and I can see that many on her side of the Stake have become distant from my YSA.....  It really is split in two sides.

It’s awful.

I believe she is a massive source of negativity and is draining many of the YSA, I see the advice she gives to people and it’s just so awful. It makes me cringe.

I believe that if she and I established a friendship again (albeit a limited one) that really could help improve the relationship of the YSA as a whole.

I never say anything negative about Jenny, or at least I try not to.

The whole situation makes me feel sick, I never meant to hurt anyone, and I constantly re-evaluate my past decisions to see if I made the right one, I still believe I have.

Drama and problems come with being a YSA, I get that, but as a leader in it I really don't want to be the source of it.

I really don't like that you are only hearing one side of the story from me as I can honestly say I have not been the best of people in this situation.

What should I do?

- Confused Leader




Dear Confused,

Somethings are universal, despite differences in culture.

We often think that avoiding pain now will lessen or even eliminate the possibility of pain later . . . but life rarely works that way.  Getting a vaccination to stave off disease or infection is not too much different than breaking up and pretending we can still hang out and be friends.

As long as you were hanging on to "Jenny" she thought there was a possibility you might come to your senses (her opinion, not mine) and get back together (or at least want to, thus making her feel desired and not rejected)  . . . and, let's face it . . . that's one of the reasons you held onto her friendship.  You weren't ready to let her go until you found another woman to replace her.

Jenny got mad because it was in THAT conversation that you began the end of the break up process.

Relationships can be complicated, especially if we make them so.  Has nothing to do with which Stake we're in.

Saying you "try to" never say anything negative about Jenny means that, well, you do.  And saying that you still believe you've made the right decision breaking her heart but that you keep re-evaluating that decision means . . . well, you're afraid you didn't.

That's why you have hung onto her as a "friend".

Keep her or let her go.

Make a decision and stick to it.

That's called leadership.

Whatever you decide, continue to be kind towards her.  That's called being A Good Christian Man.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

When Friends Wander

Dear Bro Jo,

So before going off to college I met a friend at youth conference and EFY.

We were just acquaintances, then I moved into her ward for college. We got really close, and I consider her to be like my sister.

She is 19, just finished her first year of college. She was active at Church. Her dad is in the bishopric. She was supposed to go away for college, but due to family circumstances ended up staying home for school.

Her mom and her brother have been living a state away over the past year as they are setting up a business. Her dad will be joining them in the next couple of months.

Last September, she started dating a boy of another faith. He was still in high school. I didn't think too much of it, but eventually she stopped coming to Church. She said she had always questioned the Church, but when I asked her what she believed she could never really give me a solid answer.

One particular night she said she wanted to talk about beliefs but it ended up her boyfriend just responding on her Facebook account a ton of scriptures attacking our beliefs.

Did not go well.

I just bore my testimony and let it stop.

I've seen her a couple times since then and she knows that I will be her friend no matter what.

Well...apparently she just got engaged yesterday. And I think she's making an incredibly bad decision.

Her boyfriend just turned 18, she has only finished a year of college. And I just feel like if she goes down this path she will really regret it later.

I was just married in the temple 6 months ago. I know just how important a Temple Marriage is.

She has been taught just as I have, and I can't understand why she thinks a marriage outside of the temple would ever make her truly happy.

Here's my question: I know she has her agency, and it's not my decision but do I say anything or just butt out?

Do I say congratulations I'm so happy for you when I don't see this being a smart decision at all?

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

If she doesn't ask you for your opinion, don't give it; she's not your child, nor is she someone you have stewardship over.

Do you say congratulations when you don't mean it?

No.  I don't think you lie just to make her feel better.

But maybe you can find a way to mean it.

She can be truly happy.  Not eternally.  Not yet, anyway.  But happy.

Can you congratulate her on that?

Remember, being LDS, being sealed for Time and All Eternity, does not mean you'll never make decisions you'll regret; so try not to judge too harshly or let your disappointment show.

If you drive a wedge between you now, she'll never turn to you when she wants to come back, or they're ready to be sealed, or when this relationship dies and she needs a good friend.

Everyone questions their faith; what we can't do is allow those questions to fester or talk us out of what we know is true.

You're right not to engage in Scripture Wars with the boyfriend; or anyone, really.  Never goes well.  Not because Latter-day Saints don't have solid scriptural ground to stand on (quite the contrary), but because contention drives out the Spirit.

Lastly, I have my own suspicions as to why a 19-year old inactive girl is marrying her 18-year old just out of High School boyfriend . . . rather than writing here what I'm sure you'll figure out, let's just say that your friend may have even more reason for her need of your love and support right now.

Likewise, we could come to some conclusions regarding why she feels the need to distance herself from her faith, but confronting her with those will not help.  Her, or you.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I've simply told her that I love her,

I hope she is happy, and that her wedding is everything she ever wished for!

And I do want those things for her.

It just breaks my heart knowing how much more she could have.

But you did remind me that this doesn't mean she will never get sealed.

The Church is true and the gospel is all about second chances. I just have to remember that.

Thanks,

- NW




Dear NW,

That's excellent!

And me too, NW.

Me, too.

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 10, 2017

Should She Get Additional Piercings?

Dear Bro Jo,

Hello!

So, recently I've been thinking . . . I've always wanted to get a second piercing. I think fashion and accessories are such wonderful ways to express yourself, and I think a small stud wouldn't do much harm at all. I dress modestly, live the word of wisdom, and I do everything to try and better myself every day. So how could a little stud change that?

I do know that prophets have recommended no more than one piercing, however.

I've read about it and prayed though, and I just can't seem to find the answer to if it's ok to get one or not. I know the temple would still accept me if I had an extra piercing, and as far as I know I don't think it would keep me from entering the Celestial Kingdom or anything...

So my question is, what is your stance on piercings like this? Would it be stupid for me to get one?

I'm sorry if it's a stupid question or anything, I just feel a bit confused.

Thanks!

-Considering Piercings




Dear Considering,

Does additional piercings keep one from the Celestial Kingdom?

No.

But attitude might.

You know that it is recommended that women only have one piercing per ear.  And yet you're looking for an excuse to do it anyway.

That's the problem.

There are several things that people are doing with their faces and hair and bodies right now that are trendy that, while there's no "law or commandment or handbook rule" against them, they are against the Spirit of what we're taught.

The Lord is very clear that for us to be commanded in all things is not His way.  If you think about it ... not only should we not have to be commanded in everything, it's actually very impractical.

Remember these three things:
1.  Our bodies are our Temples.  Like the House of the Lord and our homes, we should keep them clean and in the best condition we can.  They don't need a lot of extra embellishments; doing that would make them Less Beautiful.
2.  Rather than follow the trends of the world, we have been admonished to "be a peculiar people", meaning that those that have not yet joined the Church should be able to look at us and by our demeanor AND our appearance  (which of course includes modesty) know that we are members of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints.
3.  One way in which we need not be commanded but can still no the direction to follow is to look at Church leaders and those whom He has chosen to represent Himself as examples.  General Conference is coming up soon.  Look closely at those chosen as general officers of the Church and note how they are dressed, note what they wear as far as jewelry.  And then consider how missionaries are told to dress and what jewelry they wear as they encircle the world representing the Savior.
While some trends are more disfiguring and permanent that additional ear holes, the Spirit of why we choose them is the same.

Whatever you choose, I will not love you less.

And, no, I don't think Heavenly Father or Jesus will love you less, but I do think it will be tougher for others to see you as a Disciple of Christ.

Including, and I know young people have a tough time seeing and thinking this far ahead, your children.

So just trust me on this one:  it's much harder to hold your children to the rod when they know that you've let go from time to time and wandered a bit.

(That, by the way, is why it's a mistake for parents and other adults to brag to and share with their children about their past sins.)

My opinion?

No, little sister, don't get the extra piercings.

With love,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you very much!

The reason I was wondering if its ok is since my 16th birthday is coming up, my mom was thinking she could take me to the mall and maybe get an extra piercing or something. (She isn't in the Church anymore, but I think that kind of goes with what you were saying)

I know I want to be a good example to my future children though, and I realize now that I probably should've stopped wondering about if I should or shouldn't when the prophet said not too. (Which I feel silly typing, because that should've been obvious.)

Deep down I don't think I was ever actually going to go through with it, but I think I was trying to rationalize that it was ok because it was something my mom would be fine with, and I always liked fashion statements anyway.

Thank you for being there, and thank you for giving me a bit more perspective!

- Considering




Dear Considering,

I'm here anytime you need.

Sometimes we miss the obvious.  That can happen to anybody.

I think that's why it's so important to keep seeking spiritual things.  The more we put the Spirit in our lives the easier it is to hear and feel the Spirit.

Don't be too hard on your mom.  Show her the love and respect she deserves, but never drop your standards or stray from what you know is right.

Happy Birthday!

God bless,

- Bro Jo

Friday, April 7, 2017

Making Friends

Dear Bro Jo,

 I have two friends in the church. We talk, maybe hang out. We don't do much more. I thought that that was fine. I thought that it was okay to wave at all of the girls at the stake dances and firesides and have them ignore me. I thought that it was normal for all of the other girls to have scripture reading parties, and not invite me. I thought it was normal for the leaders to invite all of the laurels except for a few to get ready for Mormon prom. I tried to be accepted, but I wasn't upset because I thought that friends are just for some people, and I don't need any.

But then I joined a swim team. They didn't make me feel less because I did experiments and enjoyed them. They didn't make me feel less feminine for liking superheroes. They didn't make me feel weird for graduating early, because they were too. They didn't ostracize me for quoting Shakespeare because guess what we do during land workout? We go through the death scenes of LOTR, HP, and Shakespeare's Tragedies.

I realized that I not only benefited from having having friends, I needed them. I looked and I saw that I didn't have what the leaders to tell you to have in church- friends. Over the past six years, that I have been where I am, I have tried to organize activities at church, join things in the stake, talk to people about their interests, open up about myself, and everything that the church says to do to make and strengthen friendships. It hasn't worked. I just don't connect. Is there some extra advice that you can give me about making friends? So far I attend mutual regularly, I go to youth activities, I go to the dances, I go to seminary, I participate in class. Is there anything else that I can do without changing myself? or should I accept the fact that these girls will never be my friends, and move on?

- Tonks




Dear Tonks,

(Interesting name, btw.)

Everyone needs friends.  President Hinckley said that.

Every group has clicks; small groups who are more likely to associate because of the things they have in common.

Where I live it's the girls at Church you would fit in with and the swim team that would make fun of you for loving the things you do.

The best way to make a friend, of course, is to be a friend.  Unless someone's behavior is bad one should not change who they are.  And even them it's best to make that change for yourself, not for others.

Will you ever be part of this particular click at Church?

Probably not.

But as people get older their interests change and along with that their group of friends can change, too.  You may find one day that you and some of these girls have much more in common than you once did.

At that moment the best thing for you to do will be to be forgiving and open to new friendships.
Right now I think you should ask these leaders why you didn't get invited to Group Scripture Study and to get ready for the Prom.  I think the answer could be quite educational for both them and you.

In fact, I hope you'll let me know how that conversation goes.

There's power in moving on, but there's even more power in information ... and even more power in inviting your new friends to Church.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

I have decided to stop worrying about having friends in my word for a few reasons. I'm going to college next year, these girls aren't going to be there, and even if they are, it's highly unlikely that I will see them if I don't really want to at BYU. Contrary to what my Young Women's leaders say, Friends aren't necessary for a strong testimony. If I focus on Christ, and less on how other people treat me, I'll still look forward to church. I just have to try harder.

Lastly, I talked to two other girls who attend BYU and BYU Hawaii. They had the same problem as I'm having now. One girl even left our ward 2 years early to go to the YAG. It's unlikely that I will find a solution where they didn't, and the search for one will only frustrate me and stand in my way of growing closer to Christ.

I talked to my leaders about inclusion, and how there were so many cliques. I don't think that they realized what they were doing. They probably thought that all of the girls were really close because the clique encompassed so many people. They have decided to look at their rosters and invite everyone if they're having a YW sleepover, or makeover night, or something like that.

As to inviting my friends to church, all of my friends are my friends because of what kind of people they are. They all act like Mormons, even if they aren't. They're even more rigid on dress codes, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and their intake of media than most Mormon families are. Because they are so active in their churches, they decline going to our church. Some of them have been interested, but their families have said no, so it isn't the right time in their lives to accept the gospel. I can only hope that when they're older, and they question their religion, they will remember me and our church.

Even though I have given up on befriending the girls in my stake, I know not everyone is like that. However, a lot of people are. These people will be with me throughout my life: the kind that are so insecure that they manipulate their world to make people like, or act like, they like them. How do I handle and deal with these people effectively. I will likely have these people as roommates in college, as visiting teaching companions, as coworkers, as mission companions. How do I handle them so that it's a pleasant experience for everyone.

Thanks,

- Tonks




Dear Tonks,

I believe in killing with kindness. You'll never regret it and will always have a reason to feel good about yourself.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks, I've actually been made secretary of the class. That has helped a lot because I'm able to talk to the leaders more, and I actually know how to serve and what needs to be done.

- Tonks




Dear Tonks,

Wonderful!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

When Your Boyfriend Wants to Serve a Mission

Dear Bro Jo,

I recently discovered your blog and not only did I find it refreshing, but encouraging, especially in a world that is often confusing for young people.

I am 19 and about to start my sophomore year at BYU-Idaho.

My "boyfriend" and I recently broke up prior to his serving a mission.

I say "boyfriend" in quotations because we weren't exactly together, nor were we apart. His roommates called it "unofficially official."

We met at a youth retreat when we were 12. His family had just moved into my area and he was new - naturally, I wanted him to feel welcome.

I actually became better friends with his sister first, who is older than us. We were nothing more than good friends until I left for a summer job working at a wilderness outfitter in the middle of the woods, almost devoid of good cell reception. I gave him my address, because the internet there goes in and out and so I was left to writing letters to those I wanted to stay in contact with.

We wrote letters all summer long and then we school came, we decided to continue writing because we enjoyed it so much. He headed off to BYU Provo,

I went to Rexburg, and we went on our merry ways. We saw each other a few times during the semester when I would come down to visit family, and it was usually with his sister. As time went by, we started to spend more time specifically just the two of us. Eventually, it became apparent that something was happening between us.

We talked it over and decided that our situation was just too difficult to make a relationship work between us - we were going to different schools, he was headed on a mission soon, and we both are very dedicated to our schooling.

He took 17 credits last semester and worked two jobs, and I also had a taxing schedule as I prepared to take the prereqs for my degree program.

We decided that we didn't want to abandon the good friendship we had, so we chose to "take it as it came". We spent the semester calling each other, and occasionally hanging out when I visited on long weekends.

We hung out a bit before he entered the MTC, casually playing one-on-one basketball on BYU campus and Skyping when I left to go home for the summer.

Before he left, we determined we still had feelings for each other, despite the fact that acting on those feelings would be unwise. He said that he felt that he wasn't "mature" enough for me.

Now, this isn't the first time I've gotten that. I've always had older friends and boyfriends because they seemed to understand me better.

But he is different - finally, someone my own age I can talk to! I felt that because of my maturity, it was good for me - we balance each other out nicely. I help him to mature, he helps me to relax.

I told him that, but he didn't seemed satisfied.

Personally, I think it was mission nerves and a fear of being "dear John-ed". He did say he didn't want to limit me by asking me to wait for him, and I agree. After all, we are both going to change a lot in 2 years.

We agreed to keep writing, though. Now he's in the MTC, preparing to enter the field soon.

I'm working hard at my summer job, preparing to return to school soon.

But I can't let him go.

I just don't want to put myself out there and I'm afraid of what's going to happen socially when I return to school. I know he wants me to date around and I know it's probably best for me, but I just don't want to.

We weren't in a very steady relationship - we didn't even hold hands yet. Yet, I can't seem to pull myself away from him. I certainly don't want to distract him, heaven forbid. But then I'm stuck with myself at the end of the day, still wanting to be with him, yet not wanting to limit myself.

Should I let him go?

Many thanks,

- Mystified in Minnesota




Dear MM,

Yes.

- Bro Jo



Okay.  Since you're still reading I'll give you a little more.

Let him go.

Date when asked.

Realize that you have no boyfriend, and you need to be looking for a Good Eternal Companion.

No, don't throw away this experience; and no, don't treat first dates as marriage proposals.

When he writes write him back, but not more than once a month.  Keep your letters missionary appropriate.

If you're still single and he's still interested when he comes home,  by all means date him.

But realize that statistically you two won't end up together.

And that's okay.

There's no such thing as only one person out there for you.  Or for him.

So be happy with what you've had and enjoyed,  and move on.

For his sake.  And for yours.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for being a much-needed voice of reason.

- MM




Dear MM,

That's kinder than I deserve, but thank you.

Cheers,

- Bro Jo

Monday, April 3, 2017

Reachers and Settlers - Revisited

Dear Bro Jo,

I recently got married (considering the whole Dear John experience I had in the process of that, I’m sure I’ll send you something about that later for current and potential missionary girlfriends to read, but that’s a story for another day). The title of your post "Do Relationships Boil Down to "Reachers" and "Settlers" made me think of something my husband and I discussed the other day (I tried commenting on the post, but it was too long): When it comes to true and ideal love, I think both spouses are Reachers AND Settlers.

I love my husband dearly, there are so many things about him that amaze me and that I hope to someday emulate. He has told me the same applies to him. In that sense, we are both reachers.

However, there are definite things about each other that differ from what we had had in mind or hoped for during our single days, things that we had to "sacrifice" when we married each other. Sometimes those traits (or the lack thereof) drive us crazy at times, but we each decided that though they would have been nice perks, they were not absolutely necessary. I'll give some examples.

1. I feel a tad guilty about this, but I am not a fantastic cook. I am capable of following a recipe, but I have no way of knowing if it's a good recipe until I make it, and I have zero instincts about how to improvise in the kitchen or how to improve/fix a recipe. A wife that can't cook well?? Sometimes, he gets home from work/school, he has to rescue my failed cooking attempts. Could have been a deal breaker for him, but it wasn't, and I'm so glad. Because it's something I know he secretly hopes for, I'm always working to improve on it though.

2. My husband (bless his heart) is super-duper messy. I am a very type A, organized person. It doesn't have to be pristinely tidy, but I need to be able to know where stuff is and not dig through random piles of stuff. So when he's gone, I often end up sorting all of his/our stuff that has been left around the house. But you know what? It's okay.

3. I adore music and singing. In middle and high school, it was honestly my life. My previous boyfriend of four years (my husband and I have only been together for eight months) was a fantastic singer. He would serenade me by singing and playing his guitar or the piano, we did duets sometimes, and singing along in the car was a really positive experience. It was romantic! My husband, however, is mildly tone deaf. Sometimes listening to him sing in the car is actually downright painful. I'll be honest, this was almost a deal breaker for me. But he tries so hard, and he loves me more than anything. He even asked me to teach him how to sing better (including how to do the different parts for church hymns). And we both want our children to be taught music and for our home to be filled with it.

4. My husband is a very active person. He loves hiking the mountains we have in the area, and doing similarly rigorous things. Not only does he like hiking, but he loves doing the toughest hikes he can find, always challenging himself. He'd always envisioned someone who would "climb every mountain" with him, and go on these strenuous adventures. In fact, he'd dumped girls in the past because they weren't outdoorsy/adventurous/fit enough. So when I learned this early in our relationship, I got really scared because I have an autoimmune disorder that gives me such joint pain and fatigue that such hikes are nearly impossible for me (or at least very painful when I go, and then rendering me incapable of walking for up to 1-2 days afterwards). Finally, I told him. It was very disheartening news for him, and I'm sure he wishes I were capable, but he decided that this was not something of eternal significance (as he should). I love the outdoors though, and we go on excursions more on my level when my health permits it, and when he gets a hankering to do something more difficult, I encourage him to go with his friends, and take all the time he wants.

Though there are many things we are amazed by about each other, there were several things towards the top of our "My spouse must be" lists that the other simply does not have. I "settled" for a man who is messy and can't carry a tune to save his life. He "settled" for a woman who can't hike mountains or even cook well. One way we knew it was true love was our own tendencies to look past things like these, and judge based on what the other person's heart was like instead. As we did so, we discovered that we were actually Reaching. I reached for a man who serves me CONSTANTLY, often paying attention to my needs more than I do. I reached for a man who somehow came out amazingly responsible, spiritual, healthy, and level-headed, despite a somewhat bumpy upbringing. I reached for a man who is more loving and affectionate than I ever had dreamed of. Things he has mentioned he "reached" for with me are my love of (and talent with) children, my ambition, how physically hardworking/self-sacrificing I am despite my health challenges, and my devotion to the Gospel.

True and eternal love isn't finding the "perfect spouse" who fits every box you had on your checklist in Young Women's or Young Men's. Odds are that you won't find that person. Newsflash, your spouse won't be perfect, objectively OR subjectively. Even if they checked every box, they will still have other flaws. True and eternal love is about finding someone who you end up rewriting your checklist for because you realize what's most important to you.


Love,

- Melody





Dear Melody,

So very happy for you!

A good marriage is a lot of work and sacrifice ... and worth all of the effort we can give.

Thank you for the email and sharing what you've learned.

All the best,

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 31, 2017

He's Ready to Give Up Looking

Dear Bro Jo,

I don't know where else to turn right now.

I guess you could call me a "late bloomer." I never had much interest in dating while in high school and even following my mission I really only thought about dating because that's what was expected of me. About a year or two after I had returned from my mission I finally felt ready to truly start dating to find a wife. The only problem was that I had so little experience that I had no idea what I was doing. I ended up not having very much success.

I am an extremely introverted person and don't socialize very much. My friend group has always been pretty small and I have difficulty talking to and meeting new people. It would always take me weeks or even months of planning to work up the courage to ask a girl out. Then when I finally did it and went on a date with her, things after that didn't go exactly to plan.

To make a long story short I would very rarely get to go on a second date with the girl. There were a variety of reasons that things never worked out, but many times it left me feeling like I just wasn't good enough. I wasn't entertaining enough, I wasn't funny enough, I wasn't exciting enough, I wasn't attractive enough. All of those kinds of thoughts would run through my head. during this time. And the next time I wanted to ask a girl to go on a date it would be that much harder to ask. I knew that she wouldn't actually be interested in me, so why go through the effort?

And that brings us to now. I am now 27. I just graduated with my Bachelor's degree in May from a school in Utah and am now working on a graduate degree at a university in the Midwest. I have felt the Hand of the Lord guiding me to go here, but the opportunities to date just aren't here like they were while I was still in Utah. In fact there is literally only one YSA girl who is available to date in the area. I was fine with that because I find her very attractive and fun to be around. Except now that some time has passed it has ended up like every other time I have tried dating. She told me that I am a genuinely kind and cute person and that the girl that chooses me will be fortunate. But all I can hear out of it is that same thing, I'm still not enough.

At this point I feel like giving up dating entirely and accepting the fact that I'll probably end up never finding someone and should get used to it just being me for the rest of my life. I also know that isn't the plan Heavenly Father intends for me, but it is extremely hard for me to have hope in that plan. Every experience I have had with dating up to now has led me to feel that I am not desirable enough and that no girl would ever actually be interested in me romantically.

I guess my real question is how am I supposed to have hope that I can find someone, when I don't and feel like I can't believe that I am a person worth dating/marrying?

- Undesirable





Dear Brother,

I hope you're okay with some tough love . . . that's my thing, and frankly it seems appropriate.

I always kind of figure that people know that, and that's why they write me.



With all candor, brother, it seems like you're operating on the wrong side of the definition of "faith".  As an RM I suspect you know what I'm talking about.

You keep talking about "hope" . . . and that's good . . . but I'm not seeing any "action".

Remember when you were teaching people the Gospel and they SAID that they wanted to move forward but they just wouldn't come to Church?

That's Hope without Action.

When was the last time you attended a Family Ward?  If it's been a while, have a double-Church Sunday and go take a look around a Family Ward Sacrament meeting.  All shapes, sizes, personalities . . . some very, very shy, some overwhelmingly outgoing . . . and note:  there are no "hot" people over a certain age line.  (Hotness is something we grow out of, you know.)  They got married.  And so can you!

IF you're willing to do something about it.

If you're not, then that's fine, but accept that and move on.

Only one active single girl in your YSA Ward and dating her is off the table?  Go activate some sisters!  Or put your Missionary skills to work and go convert some potential dates.  All of those guys in your ward surely have sisters, cousins, friends, girls your age from back home that despite how great they are never got married.  (Sister Jo and I have a LONG list of amazing guys and girls that like you, despite their awesomeness, have never been married . . . in fact they've rarely dated.  Just like you.)

You don't have to change who you are, but if you don't like the direction your life is going then you need to change something.

LIFE, my friend, does not go exactly to plan.

That doesn't mean we can have that as an okay excuse.

My Brother there are only two people in this universe telling you that you're not good enough, to get a date, get married, or do anything else:  you . . . and Satan.

You need to do things that will help you feel better about yourself.

Start working out (if you're not already), set a goal of making one new friend a week, and (as Sister Jo always says) go do acts of service for other people.  Nothing helps us to feel better than acts of service.

Stop playing on the computer, watching movies by yourself, and sitting around.

Start going OUT.  For a walk.  Rake a yard.  SEE things.  GO places.

Live your life like you did on you mission.  In bed and lights out by 10 am.  Up by 6 am studying the Gospel, praying and preparing for your day.

The only exception is if you're Out with Friends or On a Date.


If you are trapped (and I mean TRAPPED) inside one afternoon, watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  Could change your life.


Let's you and I talk often.

For now, set some Action Goals.  Easy stuff that you can go do.

And Go.  And Do.

Chin up,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What is "Sexual Arousal"?

Dear Bro Jo,

I've really valued your advice in the past. I'll try to be short and to the point here. I'm recently engaged and we are currently meeting with Bishop for interviews together. We got a packet from the Stake to go through together about being worthy for the temple and stuff like that. The first page of the packet has this quote:

"Elder Simmons taught in our Stake Conference in March, 2002:
"-We are not authorized nor entitled to have any sexual experience outside of marriage, whether with the opposite sex, the same sex, or ourselves.
"-A sexual experience is defined as "any sexual arousal." Thus when the expression of affection turns to arousal, we have crossed the line.
"If we've had problems with sexual experiences, they need to be confessed to the Bishop."

It's great that they defined sexual experience, but I don't think that "sexual arousal" is that much clearer of a term. Do you have any light to shed on the subject?

I don't know what the difference is between enjoying affection and being aroused. The difference between having sex and enjoying kissing is pretty clear to me, and I know I haven't crossed that line. I just wonder how to know when I'm aroused. Being the Mormon I am, I don't know much about my own sexuality anyway.

Is my fiancé aroused when he has an erection?

Because he and I have talked about that and he says it's not serious. But that happens a lot, just about anytime we kiss for a few minutes. Is that something we need to stop?

Am I aroused when I have vaginal secretion? Because that also happens when we kiss. Is this something that needs to be confessed to our Bishop, as stated above in our packet?

I only ask because I had previously emailed you about this boy having erections when we were dating and whether or not that was bad. Your advice was that as long as we didn't act on that we were fine.

But this advice from the packet seems to tell me it's a bad thing to even experience it, and that we need to avoid even getting to that point. What do you make of this?

Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated! I just want to have a little something to go off of before I talk to my fiancé and bishop about it.

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

First of all, congratulations on your engagement!

Okay.  The way I look at it, Sexual Arousal is when we are thinking "I want to have sex!"

Thinking about sex, imagining sex, hoping for sex, planning, wishing . . . all of that is arousal.  Or can lead to it.  Touching parts, having your parts touched . . . other verbal and non-verbal communication can all be arousing.

Yes, physiologically speaking, erections and vaginal secretions are signs that we're aroused.  And, as I said before, there's nothing wrong with them happening, especially with one's fiancé, or (even better) with one's spouse.  And, as before, I think the key is to not . . . ACT upon the feelings of arousal with someone who is not your spouse.

We are Designed to want to have sex and to enjoy it.

The problem you and your fiancé are having is The Timing.

You have the goal of being married for Time and All Eternity in the Temple of the Lord as two worthy people, and that means no sex before marriage.  Satan, whom I believe is very real, doesn't want you to have an Eternal Marriage, so as that possibility becomes more and more likely, you'll be more and more tempted to  . . . do stuff . . . that needs to be saved until after your Sealing.

Which for your sake I hope is very soon.  (This is one of the reasons, by the way, that I believe in Short Engagements.)

So while I think how the two of you feel about each other sexually is a good thing, I think you need to cool your jets until after you’re married.

No more being alone.  No cuddling.  No being in the dark.  And certainly, no parts touching and no touching each other's parts.

Discuss it with your Bishop if you have concerns.  But I think you'll be fine.  Technically speaking, simply having an erection or vaginal secretion is not something one needs to confess.  Not to be . . . weird, or make you uncomfortable . . . but your Bishop is a married man; he knows how things work and what's going on; there's nothing going on here that he isn't familiar with; he's just trying to help you both stay Temple worthy.

(Some couples actually stop seeing each other the week or two before the Temple.  Whatever works, I guess.)

Being excited for sex with one's future spouse is not a bad thing.  It's good!

So don't worry too much.  Just make sure no boundaries are crossed.

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 27, 2017

Group Activities Can Lead to More Dates

Dear Bro Jo,

First off, I want to say thank you for giving amazing advice to many people. For helping so many that are in need.

I am a 16 year old girl that lives in a small town where there is only a small hand full of people that goes on dates. My dad tells me about his childhood and how he was a dateaholic. I want to (I guess you could say) follow in his footsteps.

I loves being with friends and especially having fun. None of the guys seem interested though. What can I do?

Sorry if its a terrible question.

Sincerely,

- Not sure.






Dear Not Sure,

At 16 you've just arrived at dating age . . . so my first piece of advice is "Be Patient".  You may not take comfort in this now, but there are lots of amazing women who didn't date much (or at all) before they were married.  (Sister Jo is one of them, by the way.)

When the numbers are few it's tough for dates to happen.  Look for some alternative activities with your friends.  Perhaps as everyone gets to know everyone else better the boys will be more comfortable setting up Casual Group Dates.

Try hosting movie parties and game nights, and encourage your friends to do the same.  It's summer!  Get outside and play games, go fishing, hiking, or go for a swim!

Invite lots of people to these fun activities.  It might take a while, and it may not result in a date every weekend, but widening your circle of friends and doing more things with them will yield some great results and good times!

Remember, if you want to Have Fun you need to Be Fun.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Helping Guys How to Be Better Dates

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for writing this great blog! It is very helpful.

I have met this very kind young man in Institute. Not going to dance around the obvious; he is attractive, athletic, talented, hard-working, extremely kind, smart and very strong in the gospel. He is the type of guy that I would get into a relationship with (but we both have missions to serve, so that wouldn't happen for a while).

Neither of us have graduated high school yet (we have an option where we live to go to community college instead of 11th and 12th grade, so we graduate with our 2 year degrees AND diplomas). Our stage in life could be the reason why he needs a little help. He asked me to go on a double date with him tomorrow night, a basketball game. But he has made a couple of errors:

1. He asked me via text message.
2. I live a little further from him, but he suggested that I drive myself (we talked, I told him that he needs to meet my parents and now he is picking me up).
3. He hasn't been fantastic at the planning, still throwing the details together even though it is tomorrow night.

He really is a great guy, and I'm sure that he didn't realize why these things aren't okay. My question: How can I help this guy realize what he needs to do? Should I drop hints or tell him nicely?

Thanks!

- A Guide Date




Dear Guide,

Now that the date is over, how did it go?

We can't do anything about the date that's past, but here are some things you can do next time:

1.  When a guy texts to ask you for a date, respond by saying "you should ask me in person or give me a call if you'd really like me to go out with you"

2.  This one you did Perfect!

3.  When a guy asks you out, you respond by saying "I'd love to go out with you!  What's the plan?"  When he says "I don't know", you say "Oh, well my parents are going to ask and I need to tell them what we're going to do in order to go, go get it figured out and let me know as soon as possible so I can tell them and then tell you yes".

There's nothing wrong with stepping into a training mode (Sister Jo trained me . . . A LOT) as long as your positive, encouraging, and complimentary when it's done right.

Valuable skills, this dating stuff.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you very much for your response!

The date went well, we ended up doubling with his younger brother and his date. Great basketball game, we talked the entire time.

He always made sure to open doors and offered to buy me a beverage at the concession stand (I graciously accepted).

My parents enjoyed talking with him too.
   

Thanks so much for the ideas!

I will definitely use them!

Just another question that came to mind when you mentioned "training mode":  I've noticed (mostly from older guy friends to their dates) that guys are either really good or really bad at romantic gestures. When the time comes, how can I help a date, boyfriend, etc. to be more romantic?

I mean c'mon, every girl wants a romantic guy to sweep her off her feet!

How can I help train a guy in that area?

Thanks again!

- Guide




Dear Guide,

Sister Jo LOVES it when I order for her at restaurants.  Not only does she see it as incredibly romantic, but it also makes her feel special.  (Now the trick is that she tells me what she wants while the waiter is gone, and then when he comes to take our order I rattle it off, in detail.)  She's the only girl I ever dated that wanted this done.  Know how she trained me?

She TOLD me to do it.

Actually, on one of our first dates (not THE first, but one of the early ones), she said "you know, I've always wanted a guy to order for me; I think it's incredibly romantic", and then she sat close, smiled, and told me what she wanted.  When the waiter came and asked her what she wanted, she put her hand on my knee and smiled again.  I looked the guy straight in the eye and said "the lady would like . . . "

He walked away totally bewildered, and probably thinking I was some oppressive jerk who wouldn't let the girl order for herself (which I still get from time to time by the way).  When he was gone she kissed me on my cheek and whispered how romantic that was.

And BAM!

I was trained!

We've been together nearly 25 years and I still do it every time.  (Except at places like Subway or Qdoba where she's making up her mind about what she wants as she goes.)  And every time she rewards me:  thanks, a smile, or a smooch (sometimes all three!)

That's what I mean when I say that you women have the power; use it.


- Bro Jo

Monday, March 20, 2017

Picking a Wedding Date

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey, Bro Jo,  It's me again.

So my fiancée and I want to get married in August but everyone else wants the wedding in December so they can plan.

So the real issue is my parents have to fly out to South Africa for a funeral ceremony the week after which is more expensive on their part with costs of flights etc.

Now I understand that but I don’t want an expensive big wedding at all. If I had it my way we'd go to the registry office and get married there and dash off to the Temple after.

I'm worried that we'll make mistakes in the next 6/7 months to come. Also we live in different countries so we can't see each other that often especially with my fiancée starting school in August for chiropractic studies.

So we basically have to take a step back and not forward in order for everyone else to be happy. But it's tearing my heart thinking that we have to be apart again for some time just because other people want the wedding.

I don't care about the wedding I just want to be with him and that's it.

I've told the people who want December that they can do the wedding and we'll just show up which is exactly what I mean.

Being engaged is supposed to be a happy time but I'm laying here awake at 3am looking for answers.

We prayed and individually pray and I feel August is a good time.

Maybe I'm just being bratty and ungrateful...

Please help!

- Stressed Bride




Dear Stressed, 

In the Grand Eternal scheme of things six months is not a very long wait. 

I share your concerns about the Temptations Satan will put in your way to try and wreck your marriage, and that's why I generally encourage couples to get married sooner rather than later. 

 And I also understand that you two being so far apart and your visits being so infrequent will add to the temptation. 

To be safe, that's going to mean not being alone together. 

Weddings are, by definition, a family thing; they are the uniting of two families together. 

In the Church we believe that uniting is for Time and All Eternity when Sealed in the Temple. 

So you have to keep the feelings and needs of your parents in mind. 

As a father, I absolutely want to be at the Sealings of my children. 

Sister Jo and I have, however, discussed situations where that could be difficult . . . even unlikely. 

For example: if the couple getting married insist on the wedding being at a place where we can't afford to travel, or if they insist on a date that conflicts with a previously planned, and equally important, event in the life of another family member. 

As you and your fiancé plan your wedding, keep in mind your culture and your family's needs; try not to be too selfish; and try to be patient. 

A couple months isn't too long to wait if it shows love and consideration for all and keeps the family peace. 

As you ponder and plan, share with your parents your desire to marry sooner rather than later; share with them your concerns about finances, living arrangements, and even staying Temple Worthy. 

As you seek the Lord in these decisions, you'll find comfort in doing the right thing. 

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 17, 2017

One Guy's First Relationship - Part 3

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey, Bro Jo.

Just wanted to let you know that I finally cut off all contact with NW. I couldn't do it before - I loved her too much!

I continued to be her friend and talk to her until about a week ago, when she hinted that she wrote a suicide note and explicitly said that if she had a plan and a little more desire, she would have taken her life that day. I was scared for her so I contacted her family (we were back home in different states by this time). When her family confronted her about it, she got angry at me because "I was just supposed to listen" and she claimed it was none of my business, especially since she told me she had gotten over it and was going to bed. I was shocked. You can't threaten suicide, then say you're "okay" and suddenly turn it into no big deal. Or be ANGRY when someone tries to legitimately help. I should have told her family a long time ago. I know I did the right thing, so my conscience is clear.

The next day, she texted me "I forgive you," Honestly, at that point I got angry. All night she had been sending texts demanding that I apologize for telling her family, etc, but I refused to respond because I know I did absolutely nothing wrong in this situation. Her saying she "forgave me," like it was still all my fault, pushed me over the edge and I finally blocked her and cut off all contact. I did it in a moment of anger, which wasn't the most Christ-like response, but I do think it was for the best. Maybe it was that push I needed to finally get over whatever feelings I had for her.

I now suspect she's not really suicidal at all. I think she was telling me so to manipulate me, like you said. I still love her as a friend, but she has issues she needs to work out, and I'm not helping. She's pretty cruel to me, too, and that's not exactly an attractive quality. I told her as nicely as possible blocked her on Facebook, Skype, Spotify, email, and my phone...She has no way to contact me now. She probably hates me now, which makes me so sad, but oh well. I wished her all the best and hope that she'll be able to work through her problems.

In the meantime, I'm currently on vacation with my family, so that's distracted me from feeling guilty and trying to contact her again. I'm having a wonderful time with them before I head off on my mission to Seoul Korea for two years.

I saw this old conversation in my inbox and just thought I'd give you the update. Thanks for the input!

- CP


Dear CP,

I appreciate the update.  And I think you've made a healthy choice, even if it took a long time to get there.

A mission will be the hardest, most rewarding two years of your life.

Proud of and excited for you!

God speed,

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

One Guy's First Relationship - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Thanks for getting back to me so fast.

Yeah...I suspected you would say that. It just hurts so much even thinking about it..I'm going home for a week a couple days from now, so I'll have time to sort out my thoughts and maybe build up the courage to tell her...

I'm so worried about her though. Like I said, she's really depressed, and sometimes she hints that she's even having suicidal feelings. I think my spending time with her helps her feel better...But that's so much pressure on me to save her, and I don't think anyone can save you from yourself. Except Christ, of course. She needs help. But I can't tell her that, because she gets mad at me. She told me that I should be able to make her feel better myself and not call outside people in to help her. Plus, she's technically She's getting help - She takes antidepressants and stuff. I just hope she doesn't try something...

Thanks again. It's nice talking to someone, anyone, about it.

- CP




Dear CP,

I'm always here for you, bro.

Now I'm even more convinced that she's dangerously manipulative.

And I think for her sake, and yours, you should have this talk BEFORE you go home for the Holiday.

In fact, I think you should do it first thing in the morning.

These things are better done at the beginning of the day than the end of the day, ESPECIALLY if you're worried about depression or suicide.  Seriously.  It will give her all day to work it out, she can't say you abandoned her and left that day, she'll have all day to deal with it (nights are when we're the most lonely - until we get married - and the most likely that time that we'll feel depressed), and you'll be less . . . "tempted" . . . to "make her feel better".

Do it.

You'll be glad you did.

And I promise your time at home will be more fun once this monkey is off your back.

Good luck.

- Bro Jo

Monday, March 13, 2017

One Guy's First Relationship - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

Dear Bro Jo,

Hey! First of all, I'd like to start off by that I think you're an awesome guy with lots of good insights. I don't necessarily agree with everything you say, but for the most part I believe you have really good advice. Thanks for doing what you do!

So, a little bit of background on me and the girl I'm writing to ask about. I apologize in advance because this could be a pretty long letter.

Anyway, I'm currently a freshman at BYU. About a year ago, I was a member of a Facebook group that was basically just a page where youth from around the world could get to know each other and talk.  I thought it was a cool place to meet other LDS kids my age since there weren't a ton in my area. I was pretty active on the group, participating in conversations and becoming recognizable on the site. It was pretty fun.

One day, this girl from the group named (Withheld), messaged me. She said I had caught her attention with the things I would talk about, and she was interested in getting to know me better. I was honestly flattered, because I had never really gotten much attention from girls before and even though she didn't know me at all it felt nice. So, I started talking to her.

We exchanged phone numbers, and kept talking. We lived thousands of miles apart - but that didn't stop us. I thought she was awesome and she clearly liked me. One thing lead to another and soon we were Skyping, calling, and in a bona fide "virtual relationship." Since we were both going to be headed to BYU that summer, we were hopeful that something would work out in person when we finally met.

Except that I cut it off. After the excitement of being in a relationship - if you can call it that when you've never met - wore off, I realized that there was every possibility things wouldn't work out when we did meet, and that being a couple prior to that meeting would increase the pressure and probably make it terribly awkward.

So, I broke up with her. I told her I was still excited to meet her and that I would absolutely give her a chance in person. She was really upset, and for a while was really angry at me - we argued more than we had good talks. She told me I was being stupid and trying to follow silly "social norms" and that I should follow my heart. The ironic thing, of course, was that I WAS following my heart. Even though I liked her, I didn't feel that it was a good idea to be in a relationship before meeting. Which seems so obvious in hindsight that I don't know how I got so excited by it at the time.

Anyway, that's just the beginning.

Fast-forward to the end of August, where we both did show up at BYU and finally got to meet each other. At first, just as I had feared, things were really uncomfortable. But I guess we got used to it quickly and a couple hours later she was cuddling with me in her apartment watching YouTube videos. I remember thinking at the time that she was moving really, really fast...I wasn't necessarily ready for cuddling or anything yet. Like I said though, girls had never paid me any attention before, so it was a huge shock that she still liked me after meeting in person. I mean, it's nice to be touched. Well...Sometimes (more on that later).

Anyway, we warmed up to each other, and it got to the point where I was hanging at her apartment all the time, and we were pretty much constantly together.

Don't worry - I insisted on taking her on real "plan, pick up and pay" dates, too. :P I don't think I was a total loser.

Eventually, I shared my first kiss with her, and things escalated quickly from there. Soon we were making out - we never did anything that would require us to go to a bishop, but it may have gotten there if I hadn't done something about it. I don't regret the little kisses - My first kiss was really special. But I didn't feel very good about where were going with the more intense stuff. I hadn't wanted the label of "boyfriend/girlfriend" yet, but we were basically there already.

So, as I was reflecting more and more about why I was uncomfortable with the kissing, I realized that I just wasn't ready for it yet - for lots of reasons.

I'm not that overweight, but I am heavy enough to struggle with self-esteem and self-image problems, and being touched made me self-conscious and so uncomfortable...That's part of what I didn't like, even though kissing was really fun. I'll never be totally comfortable with someone else unless I'm comfortable with myself.

There's also the issue of my mission - Which of course isn't really an issue, but you know what I mean. I've always been of the opinion that waiting for a missionary is a bad idea. There's the issue of distraction - I want to be able to focus on my mission wholeheartedly, without having to constantly worry about whether a girl back home really will wait, or what she's doing, etc. There's also the fact that I don't want (NW) (and she has the hardest time understanding this) to go into cold storage while I'm gone.

She claims that if I really cared about her, I'd want to keep her for myself, but the truth is...I don't know how things are going to work out and I'm not comfortable making a commitment like that until I'm really confident.

People can change a lot in two years, especially when on a mission. If I don't come home a changed person, I don't think I will have truly fulfilled my calling. But, who knows for sure if that new person will still like (NW)? One of the worst things I can imagine happening would be if, after I had her wait for me for two years, I came home and decided it wasn't going to work with her. She would have wasted two years of her life waiting for me, when she could have met the man of her dreams (who, again, she claims is me, but I'm not so sure).

Being in a relationship and then breaking it right before my mission also seems silly - I don't think relationships should have expiration dates. Furthermore, there's the fact that I've never really dated before, and even though I think I do love her, there's a thousand amazing girls here that I want to go on dates with, and get to know, because I'll never be able to be confident in choosing someone to marry unless I've had the chance to see what kind of personality traits I compliment best. That's just my personality - I like to have all the facts before jumping into something.

So, one night, I told her all of this. She...Didn't take it well.

For the past few months, we've been arguing pretty much nonstop. A few times she's stopped talking to me altogether, but she always contacts me again, angry that I didn't try to contact her and prove that I actually care. I was just trying to give her space...I mean, what am I supposed to do when she says "I want to forget you."

This is all complicated by the fact that I really, really like her - Maybe even love her - and she thinks that's more than enough reason to be in a relationship. How do I argue with that?

Do I really love her if I still don't think now's the right time?

She says that if I really cared, I would want to do anything and everything I can to hold onto her, and that the fact that I want her to date while I'm gone proves I don't really care for her. That I want to date other girls and not worry about commitment, too, seems to tell her that I don't really care about her. But, she goes back and forth from being okay with being just friends to saying that she hates me and that I'm a coward who's afraid of commitment.

And I feel so bad for her...She's had a really hard past. Lot's of family tragedy.

They've either been divorced and cheated on, and she doesn't trust men at all. I feel awful because she thinks I'm abandoning her and in her mind I'm just confirming that all men are selfish and awful and reinforcing that hatred. She struggles with severe depression and other emotional issues, and I wish I could help her, but by trying to do what I feel is right I'm just making things worse.

And I feel REALLY bad because she accused me of using her when we were making out and stuff, and I guess she's kind of right. I truly do care about her, but that's only part of the reason we got involved with that. It was just so thrilling and exciting...I got carried away. I regret it now, but you can't take that back.

Another interesting thing...At the moment, she's saying that she knows I won't change my mind and doesn't care, because she still wants attention from me. She keeps begging me to cuddle with her and even make out with her, and I'm having a really hard time saying no. I feel like that should be reserved for a committed relationship, but she says she doesn't care and just feels starved for physical touch. It's hard because that was really fun, and when I have a pretty girl begging me to kiss her all the time...It's so, so hard to resist.

What makes it easier is the fact I mentioned earlier that sometimes I don't fully enjoy touching because I'm so insecure about my body, so maybe that's a good thing?

Anyway, the world is upside down because I'm the guy and normally I would be the one asking for physical things and here I am trying to say no. And, I'm not all that good at it. A couple times when she was crying, and I wanted to make her feel better, I kissed her.

Moments of weakness, I guess, but to her they just reinforce that what I'm doing by choosing not to be official with her is fighting my true feelings. Of course, my true feelings are conflicted, so in the end I guess she's partially right and we both feel worse. Should I just give in and give her what she needs?

I'm stuck between trying to do what's right and trying to be her friend and make her happy, but I think she's going to keep fighting me until I "give in to my real feelings" and let us be a couple. I'm not willing to do that yet, but I also don't want to lose her as a friend...I care about her. I've talked to my family some, and they think I'm being dumb by not just letting her go. But, I can't hurt her that way. The problem is, I'm hurting her by not committing to her, too.

What on earth am I supposed to do?

If you have any clarifying questions, just email me. Sorry for the long, reflective letter. I just feel lost. This drama and anger and arguing is too much for me...I just want to be happy. To enjoy college and dating and making friends while I can, when I don't have to worry about pressure to get married.

Maybe that does make me afraid of commitment. I'm just not ready for her. But I also don't want to lose her completely - I still consider her one of my best friends.

Thanks so much again for all that you do. You're awesome.

Sincerely,

- Confused Preemie





Dear CP,

When I do post letters, and many don't get posted, it's typically a year or more after I get them.  I can't promise that yours never gets posted, but I can promise that if it ever does it will be so long from now and I'll edit it so much that no one will ever know that it's about you and (NW).

This is kind of a tough one.  I can see that you really like her, and I can understand why.  Not just because she's pretty and kissing is great and all, but it's nice to be needed and despite all of the crying and begging and manipulation, you seem to really like spending time with her.

But I can't get past what you keep saying about the timing being bad . . . and I totally agree.  (By the way, even Sister Jo doesn't agree with everything I write, so we're good, you and me.)

I believe that Satan can use Good Things for Bad.  You two being together may be a good thing, but putting the mission in jeopardy is bad.

And then there's the manipulation.

That bothers me a lot.

Are you using her because you like kissing?  Maybe.  But that seems to be mutual.

Is having a pretty girl say she likes you and can't live without you very flattering?

Sure!

But (NW) is so emotionally needy that she . . . well, bro . . . she scares me.

And I think it's to the point where she's putting her needs ahead of yours.

Now, sure, in any good relationship we should be concerned with the needs of the other person.  But what seems to be happening here is that Both of you are putting her first.

Some of the things she says . . . some of the things she's doing . . . the crying, the guilt, the yelling . . . it's just not healthy.

Not to say that you're guilt free, but I'm not talking to her right now.  I'm talking to you.

And so I agree.

I think it needs to end.

And not Charley-Brown-wishy-washy-sort-of end like you've tried so far.

But END end.

As in "I really like you, but the timing is totally wrong.  This is very difficult for me, but I know it's the right thing, the grownup thing, to do.  We can't see each other anymore.  I need some space to figure out who I am.  You need to realize that you're a wonderful daughter of Heavenly Father and are awesome and valuable regardless of whether or not you're in a relationship.  I need to be preparing to go on a mission, and I can't do that if I'm in a relationship this serious.  And let's face it:  we can't be alone together without 'being together', and that's not good.  I still like you.  I'll always like you.  But we can't go on any more dates or be alone together until I come home from the mission.  If you care about me at all you'll understand."

And, as painful as this may be, brother, if she starts to turn on the Manipulation Machine, as I suspect she will (be it trying to kiss you, yelling at you, crying, or perhaps and very likely all of the above), you'll need to be strong and see that as a sign that you're absolutely right to be getting out of this thing right now.

Good Luck.

Be Strong.

Don't wait.

And let me know how it goes, would ya?

- Bro Jo

Friday, March 10, 2017

Do Opposites Attract

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro. Jo,

I've been dating a lot since I've last emailed you, and it's been great! I've been dating a lot of very different guys and it's helping me learn more about myself and how I need to improve in order to progress towards marriage. It's also helping me become more aware of the type of man that I am most compatible with.

This brings me to my current situation. . . There are two men that I am currently involved with. By involved I just mean dating, but neither is exclusive. I like them both for different reasons. The first guy is so fun and outgoing, super funny, hardworking, committed to living the gospel and following Christ, and I feel very comfortable around him. We talk about anything and everything. We have SO much fun! We're both the youngest children of huge families, and as a result, are incredibly similar (in good ways, and not so good ways).

The second guy is also very hardworking, committed to the gospel, and so kind. He is a little less outgoing and funny, but has such a kind, tender heart. I feel at ease around him because he is so calm and easygoing. I feel like he mellows me out a bit, which is good for me. We aren't as similar, but I feel our personalities and lifelong goals complement each other well.

So, I ask you: when looking for an eternal partner (as I could easily see myself marrying either down the road), are opposites really best? Or should I look for someone more similar to myself, personality wise? Neither is perfect, they both have their flaws (as do I. . .times a million). I've been reading about "Birth order marriages" and it says two last born children do not a stable marriage make, and I could definitely see that happening if I chose the first guy (we're both very free-spirited). I could also see us having the funnest life ever together. But, with the second guy, I could see us having a very stable, tender relationship.

What do you think? I have never been married and don't quite have your expertise. ;)

Thanks in advance for your help!

- The Opposite




Dear O,

Finding a Good Eternal Companion is less about attraction and more about finding someone you can love and serve and whom you can trust will love and serve you.

Sister Jo and I are opposite about somethings, but not very many.

I am very grateful that I married someone I like to hang out with, with whom I have a lot in common; someone I can trust; someone I can talk to.

That doesn't mean we don't fight and argue!

But it does mean that when the dust settles I know she's there for me.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Why Are People on Her Back About Dating?

Dear Bro Jo,
   
I recently just graduated from BYU-Idaho at 21 and just turned 22.

I feel like almost everyone lately has an opinion on my non existing dating life. I attended BYU-Idaho for a little over 3 years in which I completed my bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology.

While I was at BYU-Idaho I went on a total of five dates.

I attended my singles ward and was very social but I simply wasn't asked on very many dates.  I did have a crush on one boy while I attended school but that ended up with me getting led on for almost a year.  I had a love/hate relationship with one of my best guy friends from high school that lasted on and off  for five years and that just ended recently in us  no longer being friends.

One of my first problems is everyone doesn't understand how I graduated with going on around five dates when you are at  one of the "dating capitals of the Church".   I never really dated in high school I didn't go to homecoming or prom the only dances I went to were girl choice dances. I think I went on a total of three dates that were not dances.

Now that I've graduated I've currently moved in with my parents, for the next year until I attend graduate school where I will earn a master’s in occupational therapy.  I'm attending a family ward with my parents and teach in the primary. I attend the single ward activities whenever I can which mainly includes FHE and occasionally institute.

I feel like my family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, parents) and friends are constantly asking me if I'm dating.  When I respond that I haven't gone out recently they explain how dating is something that I need to be doing, and tell me how important it is.

Obviously I know that dating is important.

The brethren of the Church emphasize dating, and there was a big push on it at BYU-Idaho. But I don't know what to do when I don't get asked on dates.

I'm being social I go out to the single ward activities.  I have many friends that I hang out with whenever I can. I currently have a job though which is at an Elementary School which keeps me busy as well. I've been set up once but there wasn't any more interest there than the first date.

I'm sick of being told that I need to go to the singles ward. I do what I can but I also have a calling and I love being with the youth of the Church.  I don't know how to respond to these questions anymore either.

These questions bring up sadness and frustration.  I admit that it makes me sad I can't get a date but I don't want to dwell on it either. I try to move forward and be happy with my life and not worry about dating.

I would rather have a happy attitude than dwell on the fact that I can't get a date to save my life. I always say  joke and say I'm done with dating but if you never really started then how can you be done with it?

I know that I'm only 22 and I still have plenty of time in the world. But why doesn't anyone else see it that way? I know that I obviously can't please everyone. But how do I get everyone off my back about dating?

I figure that eventually I will start dating it just hasn't happened yet.

Don't we always say there is a time and reason for everything. I would really like to stop being asked every time I see someone how my dating life is going and why I'm not dating.   Please any help and advice that you have I could seriously use!


Thanks,

- The Dateless 22 Year Old





Dear Friend,

Yours is not an uncommon story . . . but please allow me to explain what's happening.

Your friends and family look at you and see the beautiful, fun, smart, talented young woman that you are.  They see all that you have to offer and they know, much better than you do, that you would be a great Eternal Companion for many young men; perhaps some they know.

They don't understand how you're not married yet, not because they think anything is wrong with you or that you're a failure in some way . . . but the truth is that they have NO CLUE when it comes to what the Real Dating Culture is . . . even at a Church school.

Yeah, you could be more open to going on dates than you are . . . Sure, you would have more prospects if you were attending the Singles Ward . . . Yes, they are seeing something you don't when they express concern because they know that the longer you wait the more difficult it may be to find someone.

BUT . . .

They also can't accept that any of this is their fault.  As parents and youth leaders, Bishoprics and Stake Representatives, they failed to teach Young Men to date.  They may have complained, but they taught no skills.

You could get more dates.

You could widen your circle . . . hangout less . . . be less afraid of getting married (let's not pretend that's not at least a small issue here, my friend) . . . learn to flirt better . . . learn techniques that get guys to ask girls out . . .

And that stuff might indeed help . . .

Typically does.

Sure, at 22 you still have time . . .

But I'd like you to consider just how fast the last 5 years have gone . . .

The next five aren't going to be any slower . . .

And if you think finding a Good LDS Man to date is tough at 22 and just out of college . . . just talk to the many great sisters that are still single at 27 . . . or 32 . . .

You can choose to be sad and frustrated . . . but I will not sit here and agree that you CAN'T get a date.

I'm sorry, but that's just not true.


I have a problem with my weight.  I don't get to work out much (which might be more excuses than reality), and I love food.  Add to that I get depressed whenever I feel like I'm having "a fat day" . . . and . . . well, let's just say it's a constant challenge.

But the truth is, if I really wanted . . . I mean REALLY WANTED . . . to drop 10 pounds I could change my lifestyle.  More walking.  Fewer cookies.  It honestly wouldn't take much.


You could date more if you wanted to.


If you need some advice with that, I can help.


Whether you're okay your dating life with the way things are (nothing wrong with that, it's your life after all) or not, don't let the concern that others have for you affect you in a negative way.

They mean well.

They think you're awesome!


Let that help you stay more positive.


A positive attitude, by the way, is one of the most attractive features in the world.


Cheers,

- Bro Jo