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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

When Your Boyfriend Wants to Serve a Mission

Dear Bro Jo,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I can't let him go.

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

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

Should I let him go?

Many thanks,

- Mystified in Minnesota




Dear MM,

Yes.

- Bro Jo



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

Let him go.

Date when asked.

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

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

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

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

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

And that's okay.

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

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

For his sake.  And for yours.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

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

- MM




Dear MM,

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

Cheers,

- Bro Jo

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