Things to know

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

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

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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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How to Date a Return Missionary (and Anyone Else, Really . . . )

Dear Bro Jo,

     So this is probably going to sound like a really stupid question...but I've looked on your blog and I haven't seen anything about how to date a return missionary.

     I'm almost 20 and my best friend (21) came home from his mission a little over two months ago. We dated a little before his mission, not too seriously because I was still in high school. I wrote him, emailed, and sent him packages his whole mission but wasn't exactly "waiting for him." I went on dates with other people and had fun. Oh, and I also moved about 45 minutes away from the town we are both from.

     Now that he's home though we are kind of back to dating. And I make the little drive back home a lot more than I did when he was gone. We aren't officially boyfriend/girlfriend but We go on dates and hang out a lot. For a while it was weird because it was almost as though nothing had changed, but then again it was also like we were totally starting over. But it's getting a lot more comfortable. We hold hands and he puts his arm around me and he's kissed me once. (Since he's been home. He had kissed me a few times before his mission)

     Rumors are flying around our home ward about the two of us. I get asked almost daily by different people "How are things with so-and-so" "Is he your boyfriend yet?" "Why don't you two just make it official already?"

     And sometimes I ask myself the same question... and because I don't know how to respond, these questions drive me crazy.

     I've done a lot of praying about this, asking my Father in Heaven if pursuing this relationship is a good idea, and to me it just feels right. He is also the only guy I’ve ever dated that I can see a future with. Is it ridiculous to be impatient because he's taking things so slow? I would love to just be his girlfriend already, but at the same time I also understand that he's only been home just over two months. Am I going to scare him off if the next time we hang out I ask him where he stands? And if not, how exactly should I go about doing this? Is it bad for mw to want to know this early on? Maybe I just need confirmation that I'm not wasting my time. I don't know. And if the answer you're going to give me is to just be patient and let things play out, how to I respond to these questions I get all the time from our mutual friends and church leaders?

     I know, I'm probably totally over thinking this. And I'm still young, I know. But I just need some advice on how to date an RM. If you have any questions feel free to ask. I don't know what info you'll need. Thanks in advance for any advice.

- Potential RM Girlfriend




Dear Girlfriend,

Yes, as I've said often, "Communication is the Key", but sometimes I don't understand why we feel the need to talk about everything instead of just observing what's going on around us.

Is he dating anyone else?

Do you go out at least once a week?  (Remember those dates can be simple and money need not be spent.  What qualifies it as a date is that you a) go out, b) have scheduled the going out, and c) it's just the two of you paired off.  In other words:  Plan, Pickup, and Pay.

Depending on how long this has been going on it may indeed be ridiculous to be impatient.

For your convenience and consideration:

Bro Jo's Guide to Where Your Relationship Probably Is
Phase 1 -  Under 3 months?  You should just relax and enjoy.
Phase 2 - 3 - 6 months and you still have no clue and have not talked about your relationship at all?  You should step back and see if he's being exclusive.
Phase 3 - Over 6 months?  Okay, now you probably should have the "where do we stand and where is this going" talk . . . assuming you don’t already know . . . and you probably should.
(You may also want to check out Bro Jo's Levels of a Relationship.)

As for the questions from your well-meaning friends, family and ward members (parents are the exception, btw - they have a right to know! - in my admittedly very biased opinion), I often repeat what Sister Jo says:  tell them, politely, "our relationship is private, and right now so many people are asking that I just feel like we're being unfairly pressured; I promise that, should anything become official, you'll know shortly after"; smile and leave it at that.

Understand that when we old people ask about your plans and relationships we're usually (the occasional ward busybody being the exception) just trying to show genuine interest and concern in your life.  We have a testimony of the joy that comes from Eternal Companionship and Eternal Families and we're hoping that you'll have that in your life, too.  We ask because we love you, not because we want you to feel bad.

- Bro Jo

Monday, July 10, 2017

Should She Date the Boy Who Self-harms?

Dear Bro Jo,

I recently discovered your blog, and I'm very appreciative of all the advice you give. I know you're busy, but I feel like at least putting my thoughts in words will help me understand them.
I'm a freshman at BYU. Last semester, I met a boy in one of my classes, with whom I got along decently. After a few weeks, he came to class wearing short sleeves, and I noticed that both of his arms were covered in self harm scars, many of which seemed fresh.

As time went on his arms seemed to heal, and we became better friends. I saw him after class at the end of October though, and he was MUCH worse. So I confronted him about it. We talked a lot after that, and I became another therapist to him. His depression was many, many years in the making, as was his harm, but I managed to help him curb it a little.

After a week or so of this, our relationship had become very emotionally attached. As such, we began flirting a little. I was terrified, because I didn't want to date. But I couldn't tell him no, and by mid-November I believed I was very OK with dating too. The weekend after our first date, he called to tell me that he needed to be hospitalized for his safety. His bishop and I took him to the ER. He stayed in a hospital for over a week. It was not his first time. After his release, he did much better, mostly because he knew any more hospitalization would only delay a mission. And he stopped harming for over a month.

During that time period, our relationship escalated. We kissed—I asked my bishop about it, and remained within his guidelines of what was safe, but I admit that kissing made me very uncomfortable, to the point that I would have panic attacks. He helped me deal with it and respected me when I asked that we not do it again. When Christmas break started, he talked to me often of how he missed me. He began to harm again during break, to an extent that he hid from me. I didn't find out until we got back to school, and even then he didn't want me to know. I became very worried. I had been from the beginning, I guess, but it began to culminate. As such, I broke it off.

He began to harm himself more and more, in multiple sessions daily. And after a week, he even admitted that he was closer to a suicidal plan than he had been since the last hospitalization. He didn't mean to, but he alluded to the fact that dying had made him better. I felt (and still do feel) terribly guilty—I think I pushed him to hurt himself. But I also had felt peace and support at the idea of ending our relationship, and so I couldn't bring myself start it again. I tried to help as a friend, but wasn't nearly as effective.

Before you worry too much, he's on a new medication now and is doing much better. He has also continued to express feelings for me, and while I feel less guilty, I know that my actions in turning him away have been less than Christ-like. I recognize that when I sing a Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief these days, I am being dishonest.

I guess after all of that, I just wish to ask: when is it ok to give up? Within marriage, I assume one ought to be supportive forever (that's kind of a big part of marriage), but in dating, and friendship, is it selfish and wrong to want to back out? I don't really know. I want to help, and I ought to help, but I also want to be happy too.

Sincerely,

- Long-Winded




Dear Winded,

Not only is it NOT selfish to stay out of a relationship with this man, I insist on it.

Self-harm is many things, not the least of which is addictive.  Until he conquers that addiction it would be foolish of you to have any kind of romantic relationship with him.

Love him as a friend.  Pray for his recovery.

But don't allow yourself to get sucked into his depression.

His symptoms are real and very serious.  He needs (and it sounds like he's getting) qualified regular therapy.  That's good.

Love and support does not require that you give more than you're able, that you put yourself or your future in jeopardy, or that you must carry his anchor with you all the time.  Jesus IS the Christ; let Him do His job, you do yours.

Yes, care, help, offer concern, but your first spiritual concern is and must always be you.

One of the first rules in lifesaving is that you never put yourself in a situation where there are two victims.

Please understand this:  however he chooses to exercise his demons, it is not your fault nor your responsibility.


And, if I may, even in marriage there's a line where it's better to cut bait than to hang on.


If you haven't yet, take a good look at this post:  The A's of Why NOT to Marry.


It may help.


God bless,

- Bro Jo

Friday, July 7, 2017

Can He Overcome His Addiction? - Part 3

Dear Bro Jo,

Life continues to be a learning and growing experience. A lot has changed for me with respect to dating. The girl that I've been writing comes home from her mission on Tuesday... I don't know what will happen, or even what I want to happen there... I think I want to do some more dating... But that's a topic for another letter, tonight I'm writing about a different issue, something that stands more on its own...

As a preface, one of the things that I found I had to do to get away from my addiction to pornography was to completely give up video games...

It was hard to do, because I enjoy playing them, but I feel like I am easily addicted to them and after I walked away from them I found I had more time to do things that were important to me, and it became easier to resist other temptations as well.

As a result, It had up until recently been about 2 years since I had logged into my account where I keep my video games.

Well... This was all great, but now I have started going to school at Utah State University. I love it here, and I am living here with roommates. Two of them managed to talk me into playing a game with them and we had fun, but afterwards I looked at it and said, "Look at all that time I wasted!" I had this I wanted to do, and this, and this... Instead I didn't get anything done, AND I got to bed way too late!

So this has happened a few more times, and every time I walk away feeling the same way... Asking myself why I wasted my time. Then I decide that I played Friday night, and that's enough for the weekend so Saturday I will do something else...

Then next thing I know, Saturday night comes and, along comes the question... "Civ?", to which I respond something along the lines of "I don't know about tonight..." to which the response comes back as. "In other words... yes" then he starts up the game and I end up in the game playing...

And if I stated a time that we are stopping at, along comes that time and passes right by with me ignoring it. All because I am having "fun". Then I get done and I'm disgusted that I didn't have the willpower to say no in the first place and ended up wasting another entire evening.

I try to say things, and drop hints to help my roommates recognize that I really don't want to, and am uncomfortable with the situation but unless I have enough confidence and willpower to straight out say, "No, I can't" They ignore it and I get pressured in to it. I want to walk away from it but I don't have the willpower.

Well... It happened again tonight, and I stayed up later than I wanted to, and I didn't get anything done that I wanted to do... It's a vicious cycle...

So I've been thinking about it, and thinking about what I can do to escape. It reminds me wayyyyy too much of an addiction. And honestly I think it is an addiction, I think it feeds my addictive side. It really is just like an addiction to pornography. I get a short term high, and then when it is over it leaves me at a low searching for the next quick high...

The interested mix of this situation is that I feel like I would have the willpower to say NO! if it were just my own desires play, but as soon as that peer pressure element is added to the mix, I feel like my willpower is gone. It amazed me to realize how easily influenced I am by my peers, even at age 27. We hear about it so much as youth, but I don't think I've heard much about it with regards to later years.

It has given me realization of the importance I need to place on having peers that will look out for what is important to me at my core. Peers that will look out for those signs that I am uncomfortable in a situation and help me stand stronger. Peers that will stand with me in my beliefs so that it doesn't have to be a decision.

That said, I can't blame my roommates. I was the one that made the decision to play with them. While they did make the decision harder, they are only responsible for their own actions, and not my actions/choices. Which brings me to the question... How can I stand stronger? How can I resist that pressure? How can I stay true to my beliefs in the face of pressure?

One thing I've heard is "Make the decision before" And I feel like I do that at least to some extent. Earlier today I made the decision that I was going to do something else, but when the time came to put the decision to action that prior decision lost to the moment and peer pressure.

As a note, tonight I did make the decision to completely uninstall it from my computer. And I did follow through on that while I was writing this email. I figure that will give me an extra buffer to say, Sorry, can't play. Since I can't moderate it to appropriate levels of play, I can't play at all... It is what I did before, and I've found that it was the only line that I could actually uphold with video games, which is why I hadn't played them in almost two years up to now. That said, the line was held mostly against pressure from my own desires, not so much external peer pressure(Ok, my little brother wanted to play them with me, but that was much easier to say no to for some reason.).

Tonight, I felt like I was prompted to not play, to say NO!. Instead I ignored that voice and listened to the voice of man... It's easy to see in hindsight, but I don't want to live this way, I want to have the strength to obey every prompting I receive completely! I think of Nephi when he talks about how easily beset he is... That's how I feel right now.

Which leaves me asking, How can I develop an internal strength? A surety of self that allows me to stand and hold true to my beliefs, desires and the promptings I receive in the face of external pressures? How can I remove this weakness from myself? Uninstalling the game feels like the right step for this specific situation, but I know there will be other situations when the same option will not be available to me, and I want to be able to handle those too... How can I change?

Thank you Brother Jo! I appreciate all of the time you spend responding to each and every email you receive. It has been a huge blessing for me!

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

Our job is to do the best we can honestly do and then to trust in the Savior to make up the difference.

If you can't stop playing the game, you're right to uninstall it.

As I've been pondering your questions I've been comparing your situation to athletics.  How does an athlete become stronger?  Faster?  Better at their sport?

They continue to master the fundamentals.  They workout.  They practice.

Spiritual stuff is like that, too.

If we want to improve spiritually we need to continue with the fundamentals (read, ponder, pray, attend meetings, go to the Temple), we workout (live our religion, push ourselves to learn and love more deeply), and we practice (listen to conference, be of service to others, be active and seek missionary opportunities).

Don't let yourself get overwhelmed with all that you need to do (we ALL have lots of stuff we could do better) - pick one.  One thing, and work on that.  Then, as you begin to live that principle better, pick another.  Start with small simple achievable goals and be sure to note the blessings that come into your life as you live that principle.

And, in all things be grateful.

- Bro Jo

PS:  How have things gone with the Return Sister Missionary?


Dear Readers,

It's been several years since this last correspondence.  I thought you might like to know that the original letter writer of the emails from the last few days is now married for time and all eternity to a wonderful woman.

- Bro Jo

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Can He Overcome His Addiction - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

Disclaimer: This came out way longer and way more rambling than I ever intended... But it is what it is! :)

I reached out to you towards the end of last year. I was struggling with a pornography addiction...

Well... Good news there!

The 1st of the month marked 100 days in the clear! :)

There is still a lot of work ahead, but it is a good step!

I've been seeing a counselor about it and that has been a huge help!

Anyways... I have a few other things on my mind... I'll start out setting the background...

Last year in February or March I started dating a girl. She really is a great girl and I get along really well with her family. I've been friends with them for years, and her older brother is one of my best friends.

Well... She left on a mission last year in April and she will be back this coming October or November (She'll probably be going back to BYU-I after that, and I'll be transferring to USU in August.).

She was one of the 19 year old missionaries. I admit we didn't date all that long, but it went really well and It was a really positive experience. We had gone on a number of dates within a few weeks (They were some of the best dates I have ever gone on too!)

Well... I was driving out to Utah to visit family for a few days and last minute(Literally minutes before I was going to leave, lol) she asked if she could ride with me so she could see some of her family before she left on her mission.

During the drive out, we got talking and made the determination we were boyfriend and girlfriend. I admit, it was a bit silly with her leaving in a few weeks. But we did it...

I was planning on staying at my relatives, but because she came with me, she stayed with her sister and I stayed with her brother (The one that is one of my best friends). It was a great trip, and it worked out well. I introduced her to some of my relatives and I met some of hers. We spent a lot of the time together, and I altogether really had a wonderful time.

So fast forward a few weeks... We spent a lot of time together leading up to her mission, and I had decided that I could see myself marrying her... Well I ended up being the over-emotional one.

Thankfully I didn't do anything too rash and she was a lot more emotionally stable than me!

I did ask her questions like, "Could you see yourself dating me when you come back?" to which she intelligently replied, "If you are still single."

At some other point I also mentioned that I could see starting a family with her, and she responded with something along the lines of, "If it is right, it will work out" Honestly, at the time I would have quite happily said I would wait, I think I said I would date, more because I felt that was what she wanted than what I wanted. But I do look back and I am very grateful that she was wiser than I and left me that freedom to date. After she left I kept spending time with her family. I would go over almost every Friday night and spend time with them. I get along really well with them. Even before we were dating, I was practically considered an adopted member of the family. :)

Well, she left on her mission, to serve in (Location Withheld), I started out writing letters to her via pouch. I was trying to follow the rules of email being only for family. I did find out that pouch is a VERY SLOW process...

It would take about 4 weeks for letters to get there, then it would take a bunch of time for her to have time to respond. Then there was a mail strike in (Location Withheld), which delayed about 3 months’ worth of mail!

And by this time they had expanded the rules correspondence via allow email. So I switched over to writing emails. It was a lot easier and I didn't feel like I was leaving her hanging... But I still tried to avoid writing too much.

I mentioned that to her in one of my letters and she was like, "Don't worry about writing too much!" And I next thing I know I've been writing almost every week. I find it easier since I already write my sister every week, then I can sit down and write them both at the same time, and in some cases copy parts of the letters. Just to be clear, I work to keep it clean and uplifting, no sappy stuff, and I try to focus on what is happening in my life, especially spiritual experiences, or gospel principles I learned that week. I'm pretty sure everything I've ever sent her I would have zero problem sending to my own sister.

Well... when she left, I went on a few dates with other girls. I really wasn't interested in dating, but it was what I was "supposed" to do, so I did it...

I admit my heart wasn't in it from a relationship standpoint, but I tried to keep it simple, have fun, and get to know other girls. Since then I moved out of my parents, and the whole pornography struggle came back into my life. And that was around when I wrote you last. It has been a long battle getting back to a stable point, but I've been making progress, and I am working towards my endowments (As it is I have been doing baptisms every week in preparation.)

Well, I've been meeting other girls, and I've gone on a few dates since I moved out here (I'll admit not enough). I think I have come to a point where my heart is open enough that I can much more easily consider dating other girls, In fact there are a few sisters I know that I could see pursuing a relationship with, and I'm working on improving my dating consistency to see what happens...

My question I guess is... How do you decide?

I've gone on a lot of dates with a lot of different girls in the past... This relationship was the first time that I had been "officially" in a relationship, and the first time that I felt really comfortable with the idea of marriage.

But now I've started getting to know some other girls and I find myself saying. "Wow! She is an awfully swell girl! I could get to know her better" And I see that they have a lot of great traits! And in some ways are "better"(Mostly things that are better in my eyes, but are relatively superficial and don't necessarily matter in the eternities. Things like she plays piano, etc.)

With these thoughts there are a couple of things that start happening for me...
1. I start feeling a little bit guilty, I feel almost as though I'm being disloyal in some way to the girl I have been writing.
2. I also wonder whether it's just a matter of the here and now vs the distant and in the future? In other words is this just a physical craving for the connection that comes with a relationship? Am I trying to fulfill that desire whatever way I can?
3. I also start asking myself... If they are all great girls with the essential traits that are important to me, How do I ever decide who to pursue a relationship with? I can sit here and go back and forth comparing other traits all day long(I do recognize that in all of these cases it is not solely my decision as the girl has just as much say in the matter.)
4. I then start asking, Why give up a great relationship with a great girl that has gone really well before?

I guess really I feel torn...

Part of me would feel guilty if I ended up falling in love with another girl and had to pull a Dear Jane. I would feel like a bit of a jerk even though she has tried to give me space. I feel like as is, I've kind of hidden the dating side of things, I kind of figure she really wouldn't want to hear about the dates I've been on, though she did ask me if I'd been dating in one of my letters... I didn't give much detail.

Should I have been more open about my dating life in my letters?

I guess part of me is afraid of losing the relationship we have had... She really is an amazing girl, with an amazing spirit and testimony, and I really have no question that whatever happens, she left me better than she found me. I only hope that I've been able to do the same for her.

At the same time, It is not like I'm about to ask anyone to marry me right now, but there are a few other girls that I could see a relationship happening with...

And then I start asking myself, If I were to pursue a relationship with one of them, which one would I? How would I decide that?

One thought I had, Usually when there is fear it gives me a hint of what I need to do... Face that fear... I think of 2 Timothy. God hath not given the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind... Faith dispels fear... I need to have more faith!!! Why do I always feel so lacking in the faith department! I feel like every time I turn around I'm at another leap of faith! It is hard! I guess this might be one of those times... I'll have to think about this one...

And I would invite any thoughts you have on the matter as well!

As a note, now being 27 years old I've gone on a fair number of dates, but I haven't really done any serious dating other than this one relationship. I haven't kissed yet(I did try the night before she left... I was pretty stupid... Though to be fair I did ask before I tried... :p )

Thank you for everything Brother Jo,

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

First and foremost I am so proud of you brother for getting help!

Fighting addiction is a not-always-easy never-ending battle, but it's worth every effort and struggle.
I have no doubt you've noticed a difference in the level of Spirituality in your life.

Keep it up!

As for your questions . . .

You know whom to pursue a relationship with because you'd rather spend time with her than anyone else, and you are perfectly happy giving up dating "other possibilities" rather than lose her because she's free to do the same.

You are no longer in the relationship you were in before.  She left and there was no commitment.  (Wisely on her part, I might add.)

So there's no reason to feel guilty.

IF you are still single when she comes back (and I don't think you should wait around) and IF she is still interested in dating you, and if you still like her, I think it would be foolish to not pursue that.

But if you're married before she comes back . . . well . . . that's fine, too.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Can He Overcome His Addiction? - Part 1

Dear Brother Jo,

I started out writing this huge rambling letter about everything and anything happening in my life when I realized that I could drop out most of what I wrote and get to the point across. There are still a lot of other things going on in my life that I would love to talk about, and lots of side stories I can tell you, but for now I think this gets to the core of one of my questions…

I am 26 and I am addicted to pornography. This addiction has plagued my life for as long as I can remember. It feels like it has taken control of my life. Right now I feel so trapped. I have been a member of the church all my life and active for most of it. I try to live the gospel, I work to fulfill my callings and I want to serve a full-time mission but this addiction has held me back. Now I am too old to serve a traditional mission. I have managed to abstain for periods of time here and there, sometimes enough to have been able send in my mission papers and get a temple recommend to go do baptisms for the dead (I love it there and have started going every week even if it means I have to sit outside) but it seems that no matter what I do, I eventually fall back into the same trap. I have been attending the church's addiction recovery program (I highly recommend it BTW) for quite some time and am trying to be better at working through the steps.  I am in desperate need of help and am in the process of trying to find a sponsor to help me through the steps. One minute I declare how much I want to be rid of it, but then hours later I find myself doubling back and acting upon my carnal desires. I hate it! This addiction has been a central part of my life for far too long!

Between addiction recovery books and addiction recovery meetings I have heard many stories of spouses who have been had immense emotional pains inflicted upon them by their husband's through acting out in their addictions. I hear these stories and I think about my future. I want to be a good husband and father, I don’t want to inflict that kind of pain upon another whether they are my family or not. And I also want to be worthy to take whomever I marry to be sealed in the temple.

Now I have dated, and I want to continue dating, but the thought of causing harm to one of Heavenly Father’s daughters terrifies me. I know that you consider Addiction to be a reason not to marry, and I have made the decision that if/when I am in a relationship that is definitely heading towards marriage I will be up front about my addiction. I believe that if I’m not comfortable enough with her to be completely honest about it before marriage then I’m not ready to marry her.

I’m scared… I want to progress, I want to date, I want to start a family, but how can I even consider it when I currently face this addiction so regularly? Yet at the same time, what alternative do I have? Remain in a state of no dating until I am free of this? I feel like I have tried that before. I put a lot of things on hold, waiting until I could serve a mission. Instead I ended up as a 26 year old non-RM, who just barely moved out of his parent’s house and is just now starting to gain a lot of valuable life experiences. I guess what I’m really afraid of is becoming a 40 year old still struggling with an addiction that has not gone on a date since he was 26…

Any advice?

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

I guess the question is:  are you scared enough to get clean?

Look, I'm going to be really candid with you.  Everything you've said is true, but unless you're willing to act it’s just talk.

Now I don't know you, and I agree that you need to keep getting counseling from priesthood leadership and the Recovery Program (thank you for your endorsement of that by the way), but it sounds to me like you're hiding behind your addiction; like you don't want to get clean because then you'll lose the excuse you've been using all this time.

It's like you've lived with it so long that you're scared to be free.

No doubt you've been taught at this point to recognize your triggers.  Loneliness.  Depression.  Up too late.  Using your computer in private places late at night and in the dark...

Now you need to remove those from your life.

That may mean no more computer for you.  Ever.  Hard as that may be, isn't it better than the alternative?

Perhaps that's extreme.  Perhaps you haven't moved your computer into the kitchen or had someone install passwords and limits on it that block websites and shut off the internet access from 8pm to 6am...

Perhaps you're not turning to the alternate activities that have been suggested you do when tempted (like reading scriptures, getting out among others, or my personal favorite: going for a run).

But the bottom line is, NW, it's worth making the change.

Don't give up.

And don't punish yourself by not dating at all, either.

Yes, addictions never go all the way away, but an addict can bring their cravings under control and live a very good life.

Including you.

Don't give up.

You deserve the blessings and happiness that Heavenly Father has in-store for you!

You are a good and valuable guy.

Now make the commitments you need to get clean.

No more talk.

Go and do.

Always here if you need.

- Bro Jo