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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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.


- 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?


- 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.


- 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?


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!


- 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.


- Bro Jo

Friday, March 3, 2017

How Do You Go From "Secretly Smitten" to Dating?

Dear Bro Jo,

So my freshman year of high school I met this guy in my stake.

He was a senior at the time and I was smitten. Four years later and I’m a freshman at BYU and he's returned from serving a faithful mission.

He's been home for almost a year already and every day I find myself liking him even more. We talk quite often on campus and each time I leave just so happy.

Honestly, I REALLY like him.

The only problem is that I've never dated anyone and I've only been on a few dates so I have no idea what I'm supposed to do now!

My friends keep telling me that I should ask him on a date but I don't want to embarrass myself. I don't think he would say no, I just don't seem to have the courage to do it.

I'm pretty sure that he's as close to perfect as they come but I just don't know what to do!

Please help!

~Secretly Smitten

Dear Smitten,

Well . . . the first thing you need to do is breathe.  One cannot act rationally if one is not calm.

Secondly, take him off the pedestal.  He's not perfect, and I don't want you to be disappointed or discouraged with you get to know the real guy; infatuation and fantasy cloud our thinking (regardless of how fun they are).

Third, your friends are wrong.  If you ask him out you're going to insult his manhood and possibly scare him away.  Instead, what you need to do is get him to ask you out.  Subtle, perhaps, but much more effective.

Check out "Bro Jo's How a Girl Can Get a Guy to Ask Her on a Date"

You've got to jump from where you are now to letting him know you're romantically interested.

And, know this:  if you don't act, you may always regret it.  Especially when find out he's marrying a girl who made the move you were afraid to make.

Good luck, and keep us posted!

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Is It Weird to Date the Roommate of Someone You Dated Before?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm a 20-year-old young lass with very little dating experience. Despite being a beautiful, hilarious, incredibly intelligent (humble), gem of a person, I've only ever been on two first dates. Yes, two. I'm 20. Two first dates. It's fine.

The first time I got asked on a date, I was 19. I was uber excited to get to know this handsome young gentleman, we hit it off immediately, and were absolutely inseparable for about two months, before he received his mission call. We decided to cool our jets at that point.

Long story short, he ended up not going on said mission, and we were kind of back-and-forth between friendship/more-than-friendship (whiplash) throughout this past summer. Basically, my whole relationship with this fellow was a huge mess for many reasons.

Here's the predicament. For the first three months of knowing this boy, he had roommates that I spent a lot of time with and considered friends. There was one, in particular, who always impressed me with his humor, character, and smarts.


He's the former roommate of someone I dated, and, if we ever dated, he'd go into it being very much aware of the fact that I had kissed one of his friends. Many, much, multiple times. Bad news, bears.

I tell myself over and over again how complicated that could be, but I'm still drawn to this man that I haven't even seen in almost a year. I've been wanting to reach out to him in some way for months but have no idea how to do so.

What in the world is a girl to do?

Risk some potential super-mega-awkwardness or keep waiting (un)patiently for the third first date?

Thank you,

Roommate Lovin'

Dear RL,

Can you explain to me how someone who's as goofy and outgoing as you are in your email sits around for a year waiting for someone else to make something happen in her life???

Sure, this guy may have a hang up that you made-out (often) with his roommate . . . lots of Good Guys would have the same problem.  But it's not like you made out with EVERY guy in the apartment (right?), and a big chunk of time has passed.

Now, sure, I think it's WEIRD, and more than a bit stalker-y, that you're this hung up on a guy that you haven't even seen in a year, and YEAH, I think you should focus on the guys that are Actually In Your Life . . . AND I certainly hope that the reason you know he's still available is because you queried a mutual friend, not that you Facebook Stalked him . . .

If that's true, I think that's your "in".

I think you need a mutual friend to speak up for you.  If you call, text, email, drop by, show up where he works . . . all of that is creepy.  Even if you are (and by the sound of things you just may be) that desperate, you certainly don't want to come across as such.

So have a mutual friend go up and either re-introduce you or talk to him on your behalf.  Have said friend ask if he remembers you, tell him you think he's attractive, that you're single now, and you hope that if he remembers you he'll ask you out.  Said friend could offer to set up a "blind date" if he doesn't remember you.

If you have no mutual friends . . . well . . . then I think the best non-creepy thing you could do is to sent him a simple card.  I get a lot of "that sounds really old fashioned" eye-rolls when I mention sending cards or writing by hand but, believe me, if he has any interest in you it will work.  Just keep it simple.  And be sure to include your phone number.

Good luck!

- Bro Jo