Things to know

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

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, "Dear Bro Jo" is not an LDS Church website. (And Sister Jo thinks you should know that he's sometimes wrong, and often way too opinionated for his own good.)

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Monday, October 2, 2017

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

Dear Bro Jo,

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

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

Your advice would be so appreciated!

Sincerely,

Chaste Forever!




Dear Forever,

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

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

Be honest, but not graphic.


Perhaps something like:

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

And then wait to see how he responds.

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

Be patient.

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

And perhaps add what you've told me above.

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

And then . . .

"When I was younger I had sex."

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

And then wait.

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

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


The knowledge will be worth the risk.


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


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


- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much for the advice!

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

Thanks again,

- Forever




Dear Forever,

Sounds like you found a keeper!

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 29, 2017

Should She Let Him Kiss Her?

Dear Bro Jo,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should I let Johny kiss me?

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

Thank you very much for your time and your advice,

- Sally (Not my real name)




Dear Sally,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Bro Jo



Dear Bro Jo,

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

- Sally




Dear Sally,

Thank you for the kind words!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

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

Dear Bro Jo,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your thoughts would be much appreciated.

Thanks!

- Kicking Herself




Dear KH,

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

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

For example:

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

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

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

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

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 25, 2017

Why Does She Feel this Way?

Hey Bro Jo,

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Confused




Dear Confused,

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

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

Otherwise I say keep dating him until you either

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

or

B) find someone you're MORE interested in.

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

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

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

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 22, 2017

He's Hunting for an Eternal Companion

Dear Bro Jo,

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

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

Thanks,

Jet




Dear Jet,

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

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




In general I'll tell you two things :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


That said, I hope two things:

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

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

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

She's Looking for an Eternal Companion

Dear Bro Jo,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks-

K.




Dear K,

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

It's about Trust.

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

Think about that.

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

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

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

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

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

And it will hurt.

That's all part of the process.

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

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

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

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

Relax.

Have fun.

Find yourself constantly in service to others and the Lord.

And it will all work out.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Long Distance Relationships with Those in the Military - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

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

But then I thought for a while.

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

Trust me, I want to kiss him!

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

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

Should I be asking him about this other girl?

Am I the backup plan?

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

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

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

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

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


Appreciative,

- Still Pseudonymless




Dear Pseudonymless

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

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

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

So go talk to him.  Soon.

Make sure you have gum.

Just in case.

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

You're worth more than that.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 11, 2017

Long Distance Relationships with Those in the Military - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

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

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

I like him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Sincerity,

- Lacking a good Pseudonym




Dear Pseudonym,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does that mean that I think you should back off?

Heck no!

Why?

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

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

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

Summer Fling or the Beginnings of Something Eternal?

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

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

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 4, 2017

Transitioning to YSA

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro Jo!

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

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

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

Thanks a lot for your time and help!

- In Transition




Dear In Transition,

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

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

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

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

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

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


Here's a Quick List:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



There's more, but you get the idea.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you!

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

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

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

- Excited for the future




Dear Excited!

Good for you!

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

- Bro Jo

Monday, August 28, 2017

Worried About College

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi Bro Jo!

This is more of a casual letter than anything. I thought it'd be an interesting topic to hear from you about. See, I'm a senior girl in high school, and I'll  be graduating in 3-ish months, and going on to college. I'm kind of in that stage where I'm excited about college, and really hopeful it'll be better than high school, but I'm also nervous about it.

So I was wondering what advice you had on the college experience?

And just for guidelines, here's my list of what I'm excited about and what I'm nervous about.


Excited!!!

Institute is NOT IN THE MORNING!!!!!!!!! I can SLEEP IN!!!!! =O
I'll get to focus on my interests even more intently!
I get to meet new people, and hopefully make new friends.
I really really really really hope the Mormon guys there are a LOT COOLER than the ones here. Because the ones here all have girlfriends and won't go on dates with me and I'm kinda ticked at them. A lot.
Maybe I can actually be NORMAL to some kind of group. (because I swear, I NEVER fit in)
I can try out being an adult? I guess that's good.


NERVOUS

K, well, top nervous thing is, I'm physically disabled. Not, like, in a wheelchair, but I have a chronic pain/fatigue thing, and disturbances in weather, stress, health, and time management can really mess me up. Like, I have to go to bed early, or I get sick. I can't walk too far (small campus, luckily) or I get sick. I can't do sportsy things or do a whole lot more activity than school and orchestra, or I get sick. Etc. ANNNND this means I haven't gotten to do a lot of YW activities. ANNNND this might be a problem for Institute/Single Adult stuff.
          This is why I'm not normal.
The idea of a roommate terrifies me. I requested either no roommate for health reasons, or LDS roommate on my housing form, but I'm still scared about it.
I'm going into creative writing, and the thought of "PROFESSORS" also scares me. I just imagine this big tall scary guy telling me I will be a failure all my life and never get published. That does not sound fun.
Also, I can't stay up late doing homework. See bullet point one.
Um, what if I can't make friends? Bullet point one. Also, I have serious self-confidence issues, which I'm working on, but it makes it hard to make friends...
And what if the dudes are creepers? How can I tell? How do I stay safe?
   

I think that's it. I think.
   

Anyway, whatever you'd like to throw in on this would be great! Thanks!

- College-Bound and Uncertain!




Dear College-bound,

It's good that you're Excited, and it’s okay that you're nervous.

My advice?

Relax.  It's all going to be okay.

In fact, it’s going to be a blast!

- Bro Jo

Friday, August 18, 2017

Dating Like an Adult - Part 3

Dear Bro Jo,

I apologize if I came off as bitter and with a chip on my shoulder, that was not my intention. I do not feel any bitterness at all, I was merely trying to point out some flaws in your advice.

Your response back only serves to further prove my point.

The men I've dated have been good men, they are men who uphold their priesthood and are worthy to go to the Temple. The fact is, there is more to a relationship than that. Because you can go to the Temple if you choose to yell, and for you, yelling is a fact of life. You are ok with it.

But I am not. Yelling is a non-negotiable point in my relationships.

I don't yell, and I will not stand to be yelled at. My point is not to say that yelling is bad, or makes someone a bad person, but that for me, it's unacceptable. As were all the other things on the previous list I sent you. But they aren't going to be unacceptable for everyone, and they won't keep someone out of the Temple. There are other things that I will compromise on, and there are things on that
list that others will compromise on, just like you and yelling. That doesn't make me picky or irrational, that makes me someone who knows what they want in a relationship. In fact, Kimball's talk counsels us to not date everyone who is a worthy member of the church. He tells us to find someone of similar racial, social, economic and educational backgrounds. He tells us to find someone with whom we have common backgrounds, common ideals and standards, common beliefs, hopes, and
objectives. So to say that all of us never-marrieds are a combination of too picky, scared and whinny is simplifying the problem. There is so much more to look for in someone than just being a worthy member who is single and hard working.

I did not feel that I was twisting your words, you told me to look for three things, the same three things I should have been looking for at 19, and that all single adults are some combination of whinny, picky and scared. I submit to you, that neither of those things are true.

There are some of us that are whinny, picky and/or scared, but there are also 18 year olds that feel the same way. I'm sure there are married people that feel the same way. Because we are human, and those
are human things to feel. But to place a blanket statement that we are all some combination of those things, and that because of that we are not getting married, is a little insulting.

Saying that is throwing the stereotypes that we hear all the time in my face. I almost did not respond to this email, as it seems that the communication between us is damaged. But I read the email thread to a friend of mine and it literally left her in tears.

Her feeling after reading your thoughts were not ones of inspiration or motivation, but despair. The general sentiment of 'there is something wrong with you' was what she took from your email.

Perhaps there are no good answers.

Maybe when dealing with the gap of understanding between the never-marrieds and the marrieds there is no middle ground. I don't know.

But I do know that there are many souls lost along the journey of single adult-ness, and that is due, in part to the feelings that my friend gets when she reads your email. Because we often feel judged and misunderstood.

I say that with no bitterness, just sadness.

- NW




Dear NW,

Well, I'm glad you wrote back.

I'm sorry your friend is sad.

I've been pondering your emails and my responses for several days . . .

Let's start again.

Believe it or not, I and many others in the Church that I know, are well aware of, concerned about, and want to help members who find themselves on the older end of single.

Not because I think marriage will cure all of your troubles, but because I've talked to many in your
circumstance who've expressed the same feelings and thoughts that you have.

That said, let me share three things:

1.  If you're looking for someone to tell you what you want to hear, I'm not your guy.  I give my straight  honest opinions to the best of my ability; I care for people too much to be fake.  My biggest fans don't agree with everything I write (heck, Sister Jo doesn't always agree, either), and that's okay.  I'm not always right, but if you find yourself angry or disagreeing I invite you to consider that those feelings may be because the truth is sometimes painful.

2. I'm married now, and have been for over 25 years, but before then I was a not-yet-married, just like you.

3. Email doesn't convey tone very well.  I often try to inject a little humor, for various reasons.  My quip about yelling was a joke.


That said, if we go back to your original email . . . what is your question for me?

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Dating Like an Adult - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

I have often heard the President Kimball quote that you shared. I think there was a point in my life where I believed that to be true, that two worthy members of the church who loved God could have a happy marriage, but it seems to be much more complicated than that now. You see, as I sit and think about it, I reflect on my past relationships with good men, men who were worthy priesthood holders and I realize that you can still be a worthy member and be all of the following things:

You can resort to yelling in an argument; you can tell racist jokes; you can talk down to people who don't share your beliefs; you cannot like children; you cannot care about education; you cannot be good at managing money and planning for the future; you can be unhappy and rude, you can feel entitled, you can be disrespectful and hurtful; you can mock things that are important to me. You can be any of these things and more, and still be Temple worthy.

Everyone has faults, believe me, I understand that. But I just don't believe that just because someone is a worthy member of the church I could marry them and be happy. I don't think we can discount
personalities and the importance they play in finding a compatible companion. To say that all I need to do is look for a single, worthy member, who works hard, seems to cheapen the idea of eternal marriage.

This is someone I'm going to spend eternity with! Eternity! Shouldn't there be more of a connection than just "Hey! You're a hard working, single, member? So am I! High Fives! Let's get married!"?

I am okay with my single status, in the sense that I am happy with my life. I walked out on the meeting because I am not okay sitting an listening to a 45 minute talk that makes me feel like less of a person because I am not married.

Every covenant I've made in the church has been about me and my relationship with the Lord. Marriage includes another person, and their agency. The doctrine that if you aren't married you can't make it to the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom becomes harder and harder to swallow as you get older and are still single.

You responded in the same way many have to this question. Quit being whinny, picky and scared, find anyone who is worthy and get on board, and dating is the same at 30 as it is at 18. If this is how the single adults are viewed, it's no wonder that we feel alienated and misunderstood.

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

I'm sorry, I thought you said that you had been in relationships with GOOD men; the kind of guys you just described don't, in my opinion, qualify.

Except for yelling.  I have no problem with yelling.  Not all the time, but sometimes it's just a fact of life.

As for everything else you wrote . . . gosh, where do I start?

First of all, I very clearly pointed out that dating at 39 and 18 are different.

Secondly, I think you need to go READ THE TALK.  You're missing stuff.

Third, I think our dialog is going to go much better when you can take that chip off your shoulder and open up a little.  I can help you, but you're going to have to stop twisting what I say.  I know it's tough in an email, but I think we can do it.  It seems to me like you're extremi-fying everything.  And, frankly, I think a lot of your bitterness is self-inflicted.

If you really want to find the kind of love you're talking about, it's going to take some work, some risk, some trust, some patience, some opening up, and some understanding.

- Bro Jo

Monday, August 14, 2017

Dating Like an Adult - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

First let me introduce myself, I feel that I am different than the normal demographic that reads your blog. I am a 29 year old, single, educated, working professional who teaches in the inner-city. I am a returned missionary who is active in the church and in my calling. I consider myself to be well put together, mentally and physically healthy, and overall a very happy person. I do not mind my single status, and feel no pressure to give up or settle. I have spiritual and secular goals and a job that give my life great meaning. I wake up every day with a smile on my face ready to face the challenges of life.

But I struggle with dating. I'm going to be very honest; being "older" and single in the church is confusing at best. I feel that this is an area where the guidance of the church has failed to give direction. The rules of dating change dramatically between the ages of 16 and 18, but very little (if at all) between 18 and up. I understand that some things just don't change, the standards of the church don't magically bend after a certain age, but there must be some difference in the way we date as we age, right? I am certainty not the same person I was 11 years ago. To be clear, I'm not looking for new rules or a new set of commandments, just guidance or perhaps just your thoughts and advice on dating as a single adult. More than anything, I feel as though I'm in a state of perpetual adolescence. Most of the time I feel like I still date like a 16 year old girl.

Months ago I was at Stake Conference, and a talk was being given about the sanctity of marriage. The speaker was discussing the special bond between husband and wife, and the sexual relationship between them. I understood what he was saying, but I was filled with sadness and bitterness to the point where I left the room. I looked around the room and saw these young couples, girls who looked not a day over 19, married with their husbands’ arms around them. They take for granted the basic human interaction of sex, something that I am deprived of simply because I did not find a man to marry at a young age. They talk about sex and relationships like it's entirely sacred, used for procreation and to create bonds with your spouse, and I do believe that, but I also believe that they use it to satisfy base urges. I will keep my covenants, I have no desire to sin, but I am so tired of hearing people talk about this. I understand why I am waiting until marriage to have sex, but sometimes I feel like people ignore the single adults, and the struggle that we feel and the things that we are deprived of because we have not found someone who we want to be with for eternity. I often feel that I am set aside as a single woman in the church. I attend a family ward, primarily because I felt the singles ward was becoming a "practice ward" for young members of the church who were figuring it out, and I wanted something more. My family ward has been great, aside from a few exceptions. For example, my visiting teacher partner regularly sets appointments and visits women without me, when asked, she tells me that she assumes that I am too busy to go with her because of my single life. It's the little things.

I fear that paragraph will paint me as a bitter, ranting, crazy lady, which is not my intent. I simply want to voice my concerns and feelings about playing the part of the adult adolescent.

I have been in several significant relationships, with good men, but not men that I would choose to spend eternity with. So here I sit, a righteous church member with a desire to date like an adult, find a spouse, and have the life experiences that seem so basic to so many people. Unfortunately I have no idea what any of those should or do look like.

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

It's true that "Dear Bro Jo" has a large teen and YSA following, for which I'm certainly grateful, but you're not the only Single Over 27 that I’ve heard from.

I think the reasons for that are right along with what you've stated:  many Latter-day Saints get married fairly young, at least by worldly standards, and for those that are still single as they cross into their mid-late 20's, Celestial Marriage options seem to dwindle dramatically.  It's one of the Ironic Axioms of the Church, and I hear it all the time:  "if you're not married by 25 it's tough to find anyone good because all the Good Ones are gone".  Sure, it rings true on some level, but the irony is that the Church is full of Great People who will make Wonderful Spouses that just happen to be over 25 but aren't yet married.

I hear complaints about the YSA "meat market" that is prevalent in many University Wards, and that "all the guys over 25 in my Singles Ward are creeps and losers", which is of course matched by the number of "all the single women over 25 at Church are bitter and unpleasant" claims.  I've met so many great people in your demographic that I refuse to believe either rant, but do you know what does ring true?

All of you are single because you're some combination of whinny, scared, and too picky.  Old people like me often walk into a conference full of you guys and proclaim that we have no idea what your problem is; in the same room that you all see dozens of losers you'd never marry we see a bunch of great people that, were we younger and single, we'd feel lucky to get to date.  Do you know why there's that difference?  It's because we've been married long enough to realize that the things you are filtering out aren't really that important.

If you want to date like an adult, then the first thing you need to commit to is dating everyone that asks (of course meeting a limited criteria that I'll mention in a moment) and keeping an open mind.  Look around your family ward; there's no such thing as a "hot 70-year old", and yet I'll bet that most all of the retirees in your ward have been married.  Were they all knock-outs at 20?  Nope.  Are they all perfect?  Heck no.  Is it possible that they were all flawless spiritually, mentally and physically at 24?  Not a chance!

Marriage is work.  The key is not finding someone worth working for, but becoming someone who's willing to do the work that's required.

I ain't gonna lie:  sex is great.  But you're absolutely right that it should be saved for marriage.  It's not enough of a reason to get married (though I agree that it should be at least a little motivational).

So what are the criteria that a young woman needs to keep in mind?

The same things at 30 that she should have been looking for at 19:

1.  He's single.
2.  He's a worthy and active priesthood holder.
3.  He works hard at whatever he does.

That's it.

How about guys?

1.  She's single.
2.  She's worthy to take to the temple.
3.  She'll be appreciative and supportive.

Nothing more is necessary.

It's like President Kimball said:

"If two people love the Lord more than their own lives and then love each other more than their own lives, working together in total harmony with the gospel program as their basic structure they are sure to have this great happiness."


(You can read the whole talk here -> http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=6136 - and you should.  Note that it was given 46 years ago, but still rings true as if spoken today)


You mentioned that you have been in "significant relationships with good men" but that you wouldn't chose to spend eternity with them.  Unless they weren't as good as you say, I fail to see what the problem was.  You chose them for a relationship, so clearly there was something there, and you said they were "good", so what was the problem?

You seem like a wonderful and thoughtful person, but with love I submit to you that if the above was true, the problem, dear sister, was you.

It's time for a self assessment; do a little grading fellow teacher.  Instead of eliminating potential spouses from your life because of eternally unimportant reasons, look inward and ask "what would I need to do to be a Good Companion for that Good Person".  The thing is you're NOT 16 anymore; this is not about whether or not the hunky popular guy is going to ask you to the Prom  And you're not 19 anymore; the 37 year old divorced with three kids guy is no longer a creepy stalker.


Hey, if you were really "okay with your single status" you wouldn't have walked out of the room and you wouldn't have written me.  I understand that finding a Good Person to marry over 30 is going to be a challenge, but it's not impossible.

Let me give you one more point to back up my argument:  couples in the Church who have been married for some time and then suddenly find themselves single, because of divorce or death, when motivated to remarry seem to have much less trouble than you never-been-married people, and they come back into the dating world with way more baggage (kids, mortgages, hang-ups) than you do.

Figure out why that is, and you'll be much further along your path towards Dating Like an Adult.

- Bro Jo

Friday, August 11, 2017

Is This Love? - Part 3

Dear Bro Jo,

     Hey I just wanted to let you know, that the girl that I was dating, is now my fiance!

Yup. We got engaged a couple of days ago. I love her so much and I'm super excited for our future together.

     I was wondering if you had any advice for a newly engaged couple?

     Is there anything that we should do that's really important before we get married?

     We already have begun to understand how hard it is to keep ourselves under control with each other until we're married, so we've set up boundaries to help keep us temple worthy.

     If there's anything that you can think of that would help, in any regard, then let me know.

Thanks!

- Love Seeker




Dear Seeker,

Good for you!

Like so much of what's true in the Gospel being those things that seem obvious, the same can be said for the things we should do before we get married:

1.  Stay worthy (which you clearly know)

2.  Meet each other's families (marriage, after all, is about joining families together)

3.  Talk and plan (you can't know everything there is to know about each other, but you should be discussing the important things and making plans and comparing hopes and dreams and worries and stuff)

Congratulations!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Is This Love? - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

    Thank you so much for answering this. I'm realizing more and more that I really do love her.

    What you said about infatuation has really struck out to me because all I really have to compare this relationship to is an experience that I had before this relationship started.

     I went on 3 dates with another girl and whenever I was around her, I had that butterfly feeling in my stomach. It was so strong that it was difficult to eat around her or even trying to fall asleep was hard because I was always thinking about her. I wanted us to have a relationship, but she didn't, so it ended.

     What you've said, and a lot of thinking, has made it clear in my mind that I was infatuated with her. But because of my lack of experience, I've been expecting that feeling in my current relationship.

    However, I'm beginning to discern that what I had previously for this other girl and what I have now for the amazing girl that I'm dating, are two different things. I did not love the girl that I dated 3 times. It was powerful, but short lived.

    I do love the girl that I am dating now. I feel that I would do anything for her if she needed me to. I know that what I have now is much longer lasting and I can't wait to see where our relationship goes :D

Sincerely,

- Love Seeker




Dear Seeker,

Brilliant.

Good luck, God bless, and keep us posted!

- Bro Jo

Monday, August 7, 2017

Is This Love? - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

    I've recently returned from my mission about 3 months ago and have begun dating since I've gotten back.

About a month ago, I recently entered into my first ever relationship with an amazing girl.

I've grown to like her a lot over time, and I'd say that I even have grown to love her. I can see myself getting married to her quite easily. We've talked a lot about marriage and getting married and what it might be like if we got married.

The idea of being there to help her through anything she might be going through comes easily to me as well. Like, if she ever got sick, I'd be more than happy to help nurse her back to health. If she got fired from her job or something happened to her family, I wouldn't hesitate to be there for her. She's very kind, sweet, really funny, attractive, and I especially think that she'd make a good mother and wife. I actually feel like I trust her more than I've ever trusted anybody. We've shared a lot about ourselves with each other and every time I'm around her I feel very calm and peaceful.

    However, I feel like something is missing still...

    Maybe that's because it's only been a month, but even though I love her to this extent, I still feel like something just isn't there yet. I don't feel like I'm head over heels for her. In my mind, being head over heels for her would mean that whenever I'm around her, I'd get like butterflies in my stomach and I'd be nervous around her, but super excited and I would have really strong feelings towards her.

    True, I do get excited when I think of being with her, but not every time and it doesn't feel like it's to a huge degree. As I mentioned, I just feel calm and peaceful around her, like super comfortable, not the butterfly feeling I'm expecting. I don't have much dating experience, so I don't really know how I'm supposed to feel around her, but I guess in my mind I'm supposed to feel stronger feelings towards her.

    It's possible that it may be that I just don't love her enough yet. I suppose in my mind, I imagined that love kinda just happens right away. Like, I feel like I should have fallen in love with her head over heels by now.

     Is it possible that I'll fall deeper in love with her until I am crazy in love with her?

     Does it take time to establish that special connection that I'm searching for and to fall in love?

     Or is that something that happens right away and I've missed it?

     I really like her and I don't want our relationship to end. I want to keep trying to find that special connection that I feel like I'm missing. I'm just scared that I won't find it and that our relationship will end. But I like her so much!

     How can I find this true love (or that special connection I'm looking to feel)?

Sincerely,

- Love Seeker




Dear Seeker,

We'll cut you some slack because you're fresh off the boat and have been raised in our modern culture where love has been twisted and confused.

The feelings you are describing that you have for her ARE love.

The things you "think" you're supposed to have and don't at this point in time ARE NOT love.

Infatuation, maybe, but not love.

You've fallen into the trap that is all too common, especially among today's Latter-day Saint Young Single Adults.  The "exciting / sexy / butterflies" feelings are what Hollywood has sold as romance.  Nice, yes, but unrealistic and unreasonable.

(Think for a moment:  how is the track record of the rich and famous when it comes to marrying one person and being with them for Time and All Eternity?  I'm telling you, my brother, they just don't get it at all.)  And even when it does happen in a relationship not only is it not enough to build upon, it doesn't last.  (Again, this is why Hollywood types divorce so quickly.  Once the "excitement" is gone there's no relationship there.  Their relationships lack substance and commitment, so after they've done the things couples are supposed to save for marriage they become bored and begin looking for the next infatuation, never realizing it isn't love that they're seeking.  Sad.  Really.)

First of all, your're right:  your relationship is very new.  However, perhaps because of the Spirit (which you may be so in-tune with because you're recently back), perhaps because you've matured into a clear-thinking adult (that's a good thing, btw), and perhaps because she is such an amazing woman . . . it seems to me that you've "skipped over" (also a very good thing) the immaturity that is so prevalent in young relationships.

There's no such thing as "love at first sight" . . . horny-ness, yes . . . a confirmation of the Spirit, sure . . . sometimes . . .

But love starts as a seed that grows stronger and more deeply over time.

And no amount of "so pretty and exciting that I can't breathe" is ever worth giving up the Trust and Selflessness and Sacrifice and Security and Eternal Together Forever Joy that grows out of the Love you feel now.

(Many a man - and woman, I suppose - has been lured away from something True by the Illusion of Something Exciting - read those words carefully, please - don't make that mistake.)

For now I think you should give yourself more time in the relationship.  See how you feel after three months.  And then, if necessary, after six.  If you're still unsure then, let's talk again.

(We can of course talk anytime you like.  Just making a point.)

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

What If This Relationship Turns Into Something?

Dear Bro Jo,

I figured I may as well give this a try and save myself worrying all week (or longer)!

I am 21 years old and in YSA. Although I live in a university town there is not a strong base of YSA in my area. Mainly due to lots of inactivity and the Church is still growing here.

Basically I want to date, and I have.

I've been on several dates in the past few months, most with members, but a few not. I've found it really fun and enjoyable and great way to get out of my shell and grow.

I think all of the guys have felt the same way.

But I have met this one guy, who just came home from his mission, and I have to admit I am rather smitten (more like just a puppy crush). But we went out last weekend with a group.

It was super confusing because I didn't know if I was really on a date with him or the other guy who came. But I just didn't stress it and had fun with the group. Then we didn't talk for days until he asked me out for dinner and to a dance this Friday.

Then on Saturday we went to another city together to hang out with other YSA in our Stake. Conversation seems to flow, and I really enjoy getting to know him. But.. (yes there is always a but) I'm not worried if he likes me or not, I figure that will happen and be figured out when it does. But I am concerned about how I feel. I've never been in a serious relationship (ever) or anything like that.

And that is because every time I start getting close I just kind of freak out.

It is scary.

I mean, what if it actually turns in to something? And the what - if's continue. Plus I've always felt so strongly about schooling and the importance of that in my life, and I feel awful that spending all this time with this guy has taken a toll on my grades and my focus. But I know that shouldn't be my main concern. I mean the temple should be my goal, and it is. But why do I feel the need to avoid it as long as possible. Like it actually just grips me with fear and all this anxiety. I guess I'm rambling, but I'm just not sure how to shift my priorities. OR make sure that I can handle both.

I have had many friends recently married and that just adds to pressure and then I look at their lives and realize they are so happy and feel guilty that that isn't what I want for years... It just doesn't seem like the right attitude, but I'm not sure what to do..

Help?

- Torn




Dear Torn,

I don't think you need to "do" anything.

Enjoy the moments.  Write about them in your journal.  Pray often that the Spirit will guide you and that you'll be able to understand what the Lord's will is.

And live life.

In other words:  get over it.

Look, life is about change and adaptation.  Regardless of what anyone's plans are, things change.

Very few people, at any age, would have been able to guess five years ago what their life would be like today, and no one can predict all of the things that will happen in the next five years.  Think about it.  Where were you five years ago?  Could you have known all that you know now?

Well, guess what?  The next five years are going to be just as eventful.

You'll be fine.

Trust in God.

Obey the commandments.

Repent.

Go to Church.

Read your scriptures.

And breathe.

Like Ferris says:  "life moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while . . . you could miss it".

- Bro Jo

Monday, July 31, 2017

When It's Tough to Get Along with Family

Dear Bro Jo -

You're probably thinking "how can this girl have ANYTHING more to ask me about"... but yet I am back again. I guess I am just comfortable spilling my guts to you :) Lucky you!

Any who. SO things have been going great :) literally everything is falling into place and I know it's because I did the right thing and I am back on track. however... it seems that lately all the little things are bothering me more and more... which I know is just Satan’s way of picking at me with the small stuff to get me fail on the big stuff... but it also seems like serious small stuff.... mostly to do with my family.

All growing up we have always been a sarcastic teasing family. That’s just how we show our love for each other, wrong or right, it’s just what we do. We are highly sarcastic and have insult battles. It’s ridiculous. And adds a lot of contention in our home (as you can imagine). I have a very hard time feeling the spirit within the walls of my own home and that just depresses me. I always looked at my family as a strong and spiritual family, people who valued their relationship with heavenly father and worked hard in their callings. And I'm sure they do... just not to the extent I would expect them too, especially for how harshly they judge others.

My step sister, whom I will be moving in with in the fall, is very.... quick to correct. She always has to point out when someone is wrong or not doing something right, and is just very judgmental (I know I am sounding like a total hypocrite... I am sure there is a huge beam in my eye, but I am so flustered by the mote in my family's eyes) She is also not so strong spiritually, and is very judgmental of "Utah Mormons" or "molly Mormons and peter priesthoods". People who actually dedicate every aspect of their lives to the lord, as they are supposed to, instead of just sliding by. How in the world am I supposed to prepare for a mission if I am just going to be judged and ridiculed for it by my own family? (I also know that there are much worse situations and much stronger missionaries who have families that disown them for going on a mission so I know it won't be as big a deal but this is just one small contributing factor to the dysfunction of my family)

Everyone has something nasty to say about everyone else. And it is driving me INSANE!!!!!

Tonight at family dinner everyone spent a good ten minutes just bashing on my biological sister (whom I love dearly and I give credit to for raising me with two absentee mothers) because she is choosing to raise her children differently than she was raised. CAN YOU BLAME HER??????? DO THEY NOT REALIZE THE CHILDHOOD WE HAD???? GAH! Sorry...... I am a little worked up right now. Which I think is why I am writing. I just need to vent. And as much as I try to talk to my friends, they either don't listen, because I am always the listener, or they really don't understand, because none of them have a divorced or majorly dysfunctional family.

I just.... I don't understand how my own parents can expect me to choose to be sealed to that for eternity.... They can't even get over the fact that my sister only wants her baby eating certain things (my family is not very healthy, hence the reason my sister wants to do this right) how in the world are we supposed to last forever?

I don't mean that, I do completely understand the importance and magnitude of temple sealings, and I value them and cherish them. I just don't see how anyone can think that the behavior of our family is ok....

Sorry. I know there is much advice to give. but. I just needed an ear... or technically and eye. Thanks :)


- The Middle Child




Dear Bro Jo,

I woke up this morning with the thought that I was being totally over dramatic and really shouldn't have emailed you about my family drama.... and then I re-read my email and realized that I really do want some advice on how to make my home happier and more peaceful. I need to be in an uplifting and spiritual environment in order to keep myself strong, and that has never been my home.

How can I change that?

Can I?

I want to talk to my parents about it but I feel like they would be offended, like I am judging their parenting.... which...

I guess I am, but I don't mean to. I just want a happy home, ya know?

What kid doesn't!?

Anyways.... Hope to hear from you soon. thanks!

- The Middle Child




Dear Middle,

You’re always welcome to vent.  I think putting our frustrations on "paper " can be very therapeutic, especially if we're smart enough to not send them to those that frustrate us.

I have Piles of emails I've written and never sent.  And more than a few that I wish I never sent.  . .
I think this falls under the category of "true doctrine, taught lovingly, is more likely to change behavior than teaching about behavior".

Change starts from within.

If we want to change the way people talk to us, we need to change the way we talk to them.  And we need to develop a thick skin.  It may take a very long time of you not being sarcastic and enduring the sarcasm of others before they chose to follow your example.  But I assure you it will be worth the effort.

Sister Jo would have me add that loving and being of sincere service to others . . . CONSISTENTLY . . . not only makes us feel better but it helps them see and treat us differently.

Finally, in all of this, the most important thing for you to do is to choose to be the better person.  Not to gloat, or toot your own horn, but to realize "this is not how I want my family life to be when I'm the parent".  As we strive to be more Christ like, it's essential that we don't fall into an "I'm better than them" way of thinking.

Perhaps start with something simple, such as "this week I'm not going to say anything negative to or about the people I live with".  Then make it a month.

Keep a journal, writing notes about how all of this is going, and any changes or progress you see.

And then, when it's working and you've developed a new good pattern for yourself, add something.

- Bro Jo




Dear Middle,

I think this email may have crossed paths with one I just sent you . . .

No matter.

Instead of focusing on how to change the behavior of others, focus inward.  Let them see the Light of Christ through you instead of shining it in their eyes.

Daily personal prayer and scripture study (which can be brief, you know) will help you.  If you're not starting and ending each day praying together as a family, as your father or mother (privately) if you could please add one of those to your daily family routine.  Be prepared to lead out.  Don't suggest it as a "you people need to be doing this" kind of thing, but in a sweet way (perhaps after having cleaned the kitchen for your mom and garage for your dad) ask if they'd be willing.

If they're not ready for that, be understanding, don't argue your point, and try again in a month or so.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo

Haha guess they must have crossed over each other, sorry about that! :)

Thank you so much for the advice. I will definitely start with the journal, I love journaling and I know it really does help.

I also know that I am definitely a contributing factor to the sarcasm... it's second nature... and that is a bad nature to have within the family.

I do feel it necessary to defend my father a bit, (I guess I am defending him to myself haha) as he is an amazing example of scripture study and prayer and hard work and love. So hopefully we can team up together and lead our family to a better life style.

Wish me luck against my current goliath!!!!

As always, thank you so much for your advice. It is much needed and very much appreciated.

-The Middle Child




Dear Middle,

Anytime!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Is It Wrong for a 20-year Old Man to Like a 17-year Old Girl in High School?

Dear Bro Jo,

I have a bit of a dilemma. I have come to you for advice before and it worked out very well for me. So I will thank you for that!

Okay, so here is the story. I met this LDS girl when at an athletic competition when I was 17. She was from another school that was just a few miles down the road and she was a member of my stake. I think she recognized me from a stake dance because she knew my name (although I had no idea who she was) and she came up to me after the competition had finished and introduced herself and congratulated me on my performance. We talked for a minute or two and she asked for my cell number and of course I gave it to her.

So I came to find out that she was only 14. And I was 17 (turning 18 in a few months), but she was turning 15 soon I tried to talk to her on a minimal and friendly basis because of the age difference. By the way, I was a Junior in high school at the time because I went to school a year later than I was supposed to.

Sorry my story seems to ramble so much, I am not good at focusing my thoughts.

So anyway, she would text me occasionally or chat with me on Facebook and I was always just kind of nice and just asked her about school and everyday stuff. I didn't want her to get the wrong idea and at this time, especially since I was going to be, by the law's view, an adult and she was only 15. And I didn't really have any feelings for her or anything like that.

Now I know you will protest this and say I did, but I honestly didn't.

About a year later, I saw her at a dance and she looked beautiful and something just kind of kicked in me. So I asked her to dance. And I kind of developed a crush on her. I was a Senior in high school and an 18 year old (about to be 19) and she was now 16. I know a three year difference isn't great, but I thought since we were both still in High School, that is might still be okay to have an attraction to her.

So here is my first question: Is that okay?

I know if I was out of high school it would be totally unacceptable. But still being in high school, does that change things?

Here is the second part. Since I developed my attraction to her, I started texting more and flirting a little, and after while we were texting pretty regularly. Then, I graduated and moved away from home to work and I thought that it might not be a good idea to keep flirting and having a pseudo-relationship with a girl who was still in high school, especially since I was planning on a mission.

Although, I did ask her if she wanted to write me.

I started working on my mission papers while I was working. Since I turned 19 during high school, I was little behind the schedule on going. But I was excited to finally get started with my papers. While doing the physical exam, some health issues came up and it was determined it wouldn't be a good idea for me to serve a mission. I don't feel the need to share the details because it is personal and I don't think everyone needs to know.

Anyway, I was devastated.

And needless to say I am not going on a mission, but I am a worthy Melchizedek priesthood holder and I am a very active in my Elders Quorum and in my inability to go on a real mission, my Bishop called me to be a Ward Missionary.

So here is the last the last part. I am almost 20. She will be 17.

At this point, I have backed off the texting. She suggested that we email in each other twice a month and we just talk about daily happenings and casual stuff. I try not to flirt, although it happens occasional. I am still attracted to her, but I know that a 20 year old and a 17 year old is creepy. And I don't want to be that. I am a good guy.

But next year, she will be 18 and graduating. If we just keep it friendly in our emails until then, do you think it is okay for us to keep talking until I can take her on a date.

Do you think it is okay for me to continue talking to her?

What do you think about the whole situation in general?

I know you will be straight with me and I really appreciate because the other people I have tried to talk to haven't been.

Sincerely,

 - Age Dilemma




Dear Age Dilemma,

Yes, you're too old to be dating a 17-year old girl in High School.  Yes, it's creepy.

And, yes, you can keep talking to her.

Keep being a Good Guy, and that means dating girls your own age and encouraging her to go on Casual Group Dates.

Don't offer to take her to Prom or any other date-like situation.  Too weird.

When she's 18 AND graduated, if you're not seeing anyone, then by all means ask her out.

Nothing wrong with 18 and 21.

- Bro Jo

Monday, July 24, 2017

Should They Put Off the Wedding Until Summer?

Dear Bro Jo,

I have been dating my RM boyfriend for over a year.

We both were in previous relationships that were  long and not very healthy so we were on the same page when it came to taking things slow. It took us 9 months to say the L word. It took us a year to talk about marriage -- that was in the summer.

We aren't engaged but we're trying to figure out a wedding date.

My boyfriend wants to wait until the end of the school year (end of April) because it's less stress with exams and homework and more time to save money.

I'm having a hard time waiting and the end of April seems so far away.

I know this something that we both need to pray about and is our decision in the end, but I really could use some expert advice. In your opinion do you think it's a good idea to wait until the summer or should we just get married on a random weekend?

- Marriage Hungry




Dear Hungry,

IN GENERAL ... I think a year is long enough to know whether or not a relationship is going somewhere. .. and IN GENERAL. .. I believe in short engagements, meaning 3 months or less ...

But two things about your relationship are clear:

1.  It IS going somewhere very positive.

2.  You are NOT YET engaged.


Six months is not too long to wait for an Eternal Marriage.

IF you both agree, and feel strongly, and neither is forcing the other to move a little too fast because one of you is being impatient. .. then getting married "on a random weekend" between now and the end of the semester is fine ...

BUT, (and that's a BIG BUT ), it sounds to me like you're being both irrational and impatient.
Yes, as the semester ticks on you may both need to work at fighting the temptations that keep us out of the Temple (no late nights, no alone time on the sofa or in the car, and stuff like that can help) but you'll be glad you waited and stayed worthy.

Lastly, in modern times one must be considerate of those they intend to invite to their wedding, especially their immediate family.

As you two settle on wedding locations (it's a personal pet peeve of mine when couples pass by several perfectly good Temples because they mistakenly treat the sealing like a Destination Wedding, totally missing the point) and sealing dates, remember that those that should attend have jobs and lives and responsibilities.

For example, we've told the Jo Kids that it would be wrong for their families to drive past a dozen great Temples simply because someone "has always dreamed of getting sealed at Manti" and that scheduling a sealing for the same weekend a younger sibling has their high school graduation, mission farewell, or state championship competition is a great way to drive a wall between them and that sibling.

Some things are set on dates that we have little or no control over, and I think that should be considered when scheduling something that one has LOTS of control over.

So Be Patient.

And Be Considerate.

And, above all, enjoy!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

25-year Old Future Sister Missionary is Expecting Her Boyfriend to Wait

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a 25 year old woman who recently has decided to serve a mission. I have always had a burning desire too and I know I am ready. I spoke with my stake president and he said it will one of the best decisions I have ever made, he said everything will fall into place when I'm done with my mission, etc.

Yet I have an issue.. After two years of waiting and dating, yes I was a missionary gf. It didn't work out. I recently met this wonderful man, he's 25, we started dating about two months ago. He wants to marry me ASAP and plan a wonderful future together

Yet two weeks ago,  I recently informed him of my decision to serve and figurative speaking it's been 'Hell' ever since. we have practically argued everyday of my decision and he claims I'm being selfish and not thinking of him. which is deeply hurting me, ever so much. I have a strong testimony and I wish to share it and I know I'm ready to serve.

I have told him to I'm blue in the face that I love him, etc and when I'm finished with my mission we can marry.

Why can't he see that serving a mission is for the greater good?

Am I being selfish?

What should I do?

I need your advice

Regards,

- Future Sis Mis




Dear Future,

It's hard for me to say that a Mission is selfish ... but I think you serving one at this time may be a huge mistake.

If this guy is the Good Guy you say he is, it's unrealistic, unreasonable and unfair for you to expect that he will be available when you come home.

And, frankly, I hope he's not.

A mission is a break up, regardless of your age.  Should you choose to go you need to understand that.  While you're gone he will likely date,  and kiss, other girls.

And he should.

He will likely pick one of those girls to marry for Time and All Eternity.

And he should.

Because as you well know, Waiting doesn't work most of the time.

Your focus right now should be marriage and family.  That's been made very clear over and over and over again.

Your boyfriend can't agree to your "greater good" argument because ... well ... it's not true.

General Counsel is that even if you had a mission call the right decision would be to cancel that call and get sealed.


Do you understand why?


The Hell you're going through is one you stepped in, so getting out of it will be up to you.

The questions you need to answer are:

1.  Are you okay choosing a Mission now if it not only means not marrying this guy, but not marrying ever?  (Ask some 27-28 year old single sisters how difficult it is to find a good and worthy man to marry.)

2.  If you stay, can you love and marry this man without holding it against him that you didn't serve a mission right now?

3.  Would serving a Mission later in life, as a married couple, with this wonderful man as your companion, be a compromise that would satisfy you?

4.  If it's such a burning desire, why didn't you leave four years ago?  (We often think we REALLY want to do things, but if that were true ... we'd have done them.  Perhaps there's an additional reason, one you haven't shared with me here . . . maybe one you haven't even confessed to yourself . . . that is part of why you feel "mission ready" at 25?)

5.  Can you be happy for the next few years being a Member Missionary?  Sharing the Gospel at home?  Raising your children to be good members of the Church?


Please understand:  I am not saying that there's necessarily something wrong with you wanting to serve a mission.  My goal here is for you to know why you want to serve, to make sure it's for the right reasons, and to help you be at peace with your choice, whatever that might be.

As you consider all of these options, the path that brings you the most peace is the one you should take.


Remember Little Sister, in all things, it's about the Lord's timing, not ours.

Pray.  Fast.

And talk to your boyfriend one more time.


- Bro Jo