Things to know

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

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

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

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Depression - Part 1 of 2

Dear Bro Jo,

I stumbled upon your website this past weekend as I was looking for LDS resources on depression/self-harm/etc., and decided it couldn't hurt to reach out and get your advice on my situation.  It's not really about dating, but more about how to trust in the Lord and His love.

I'm a 27 year old single sister, return missionary, grad school student.  And I have depression.  Severe, crippling depression that keeps me in bed for days at a time, has led to cutting and suicidal thinking in the past, and complete social withdrawal.  Mental illness isn't something we really talk about in my family and so I've carried this burden alone for years.  I've come to terms with the fact that depression (at least to some extent) will be part of my experience throughout this mortal life. I've figured out how to manage the depression, especially on the outside and still function as a successful grad student.  I've also realized that my depression is what keeps me from feeling the Lord's love for me and that the feelings of being unlovable also fuel the depression.

I do have a testimony of the gospel, and can look at any other person and see their value, worth, and potential as a child of God.  I look at the experiences I had on my mission, and know without a doubt how much the Lord cares about every single one of those individuals.  And yet, I can't seem to understand that He also feels the same about me.  I feel so completely worthless and unlovable.  I feel like I will never be good enough, or obedient enough, or whatever to deserve His attention, let alone His love.  I don't even want to make friends in my new ward because I feel like they would be better off not wasting their time getting to know me.  *Now, background info here, I worked in the psych field before grad school and am now in a psych program.  I know all about these cognitive distortions I have going on, and know that these thoughts are untrue and irrational.*  Yet I can't seem to change how I feel... and I know until I feel differently, nothing is going to be different.

I met with my bishop this morning and discussed some of my concerns.  He asked me several questions about my worthiness, and honestly I'm doing pretty well.  I don't drink, smoke, etc.  I keep the law of chastity.  I pay my tithing.  I go to sacrament meeting every week.  But I don't pray.  I don't read my scriptures. But my bishop told me that I am worthy - and always will be worthy - of the Lord's love.  I just have to accept it. He told me I simply have to open myself up to that love.

So I guess my question is how?  How do I do that?  How do I go about believing that a) it's possible for the Lord to love and then b) that He actually does love me?  How do I motivate myself to read my scriptures and say my prayers, when I couldn't even get out of bed this week?  How do I do that in a way that's not like a checklist, like I did it because it had to be done so there?  I want to be active in the gospel.  I want to feel like I belong at church.  I know that understanding my relationship with Heavenly Father is a crucial part of that.  I know that part of my problem is the depression, but I feel like even more it's a spiritual problem.  I think of the scripture in 2 Nephi, about how men are that they might have joy.  I don't believe that I will have that joy until I consistently feel the Lord's love.  And then I get down on myself because I feel like I should feel the Lord's love, but I don't, so therefore I must be bad person and the cycle just continues and continues and I just want to stop trying to make it work sometimes.

I'm not sure if this is making sense, or if I'm really saying what I wanted to say. It kind of ended up being a bit of a word vomit; so sorry about the jumbled mess.  I guess I want to know how to feel the Savior's love (consistently) when I feel so unlovable?

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Also, I don't care if you put this on your blog or whatever, but I would like to remain anonymous.  But I'm sure there are lots of people who probably feel similar so maybe this would help them to.  Either way, just a response or any ideas you might have for me would be very much appreciated.

Feeling Unlovable




Dear Feeling,

How does one jump in a swimming pool?

How does one breathe?

How does one feel the warmth of the sun or a campfire?


Clinical Depression is very real; everyone gets depressed from time to time, but some of us just have a harder time with it because of the way things are functioning inside.  You're not alone.

The best advice I can give you is to be of service to others.  Especially when you're feeling most blue.

When we give of ourselves we see the Lord's love for His children both in our own actions and in how our service makes them feel.

When your day is gloomy, take your mind off of your troubles by brightening someone else's day.

You'll always be anonymous on the blog, but you're never anonymous to the Lord.

Best,

- Bro Jo

PS:  It caught my attention that you used the phrase "self-harm".  If you've read my posts about it, you'll know that it's a topic I'm both aware of and very sensitive to.  If you didn't mention this to your Bishop, and you're struggling with it at all, I beg you to get professional help.  People who struggle with self-harm, like any other addiction, aren't unworthy (though they often think they are, and therefore need to be "punished"), rather they're trying to control the hurt in their lives by being the source of the hurt in their lives.

I take all of this very seriously, and I want to hear back from you.  What's troubling you, little sister?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Is She Afraid of Compliments?

Dear Bro Jo,

I am 17 and I will be turning 18 in three months, but I have a few problems. One is that the area I live in is large in diameter but has very few young men. In my branch, for example, there are four young men but three of them are too young to be dating, and the one priest is both learning English and not ready to date girls that aren't in his school district.

Our neighboring ward has a few young men that can date, (I wouldn't mind dating younger boys), and I am friends with almost every one of them since I attend their ward when I feel like visiting not only the young men and young women but also the numerous other friends that are married and much older than me, (generally their parents).

Out of the ones there I have asked two of them out and they said yes, but they ended up too busy with school or work or sports, which I understand since this is my senior year.

One of the Young Men did actually ask me out, (I'll call him J). J and I went on several dates, and I became best friends with both him and his sister. J and I ended up getting way too attached and we decided to not go on dates with each other anymore because neither of us wanted anything to happen that would make either of us unworthy of a mission. J and I still communicate via cell phone by texting and calling, but sometimes he will say something like "hey beautiful," when I pick up the phone or "I really miss you" which could be innocent, but the tone in his voice suggests that he misses cuddling, and that bothers me.

Another Issue I have includes the family I live with.

R is a 20 year old female YSA in college, G is a 25 year old female YSA in college, and K is their mother.

Neither of these two ladies, R and G, wish to date for different reasons.

Well a few weeks ago a 20 year old male YSA moved into the area and his grandparents threw him at R, not literally but you probably get the picture.

Then in the middle of that they mentioned G as well, saying that any of K's daughters would be a catch. In the car on the way home they talked about this and I was a little confused, they then proceeded to tell me that it's just demographics.

Then I was told that the reason it hasn't started yet is because of the limited numbers of young men.

Now I am worried that when I turn 18 the older crowd at church, (85% of the branch), is going to start doing that to me every time there is a new YSA in the area. I wouldn't mind more YSA men, or more young men for that matter, but I don't like the idea of being set up by their parents and grandparents.

I guess my questions are

1) How can I get guys to ask me out without seeming desperate? (I’m not too worried about this one)

2) How can I get J to stop saying the things he does that bother me without being rude?

3) Is there any way I can get the older members of my branch to stop what they are doing without bringing attention to the subject and increasing the instances it happens? (this can be directed toward R, G, or I)

Thank you

Sincerely,

Name Withheld




Dear NW,

1.  Talk to them.  Showing sincere interest, ask them about themselves.  Learn to flirt.  Don't Hang Out. And, if necessary, tell them they should ask you out.

2.  Tell him that saying those things bothers you.  If he still won't stop you could always choose to not talk to him any longer.  (But between you and me, I think you're off base.)

3.  What?  Stop introducing the three of you to nice, eligible young men?  Why on earth should they stop?  You should be flattered, not offended.

Best,

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you for the advice Bro Jo,

I know you mean well for G, R, and I in the answer to number three, but I will keep looking for answers.

And since you don't know the back story of R or G, I understand where you are coming from.

At the moment I feel it would be ill advised for me to share their story since it is a deeply personal one and I don't want to betray their trust by in a way shouting their story to the winds.

If you do know of a way to prevent well minded people to stop that would be great, but if not that is okay too . . . and I have no idea what you mean when you say "I think you're off base" in the answer to question 2

- NW




Dear NW,

I not only mean well, I'm right.  I'm not sure that it matters what their story is.

By off-base I mean that I think it's wrong to be bothered when a nice person compliments you

And, as I said, the only things you can do when people are saying things that bother you are A) ask them to stop, and / or B) ignore them.

Look, I'm sure this isn't what you want to hear, but the truth often isn't:  I don't think the problem is the nice guy or the well-meaning older folks . . . clearly the problem, dear sister, is you.

It just seems to me like you're pushing away people who are nice to you . . . and it also seems like you've got a passive-aggressive thing going here.  I don't think those are good things.  And I think you'll be happier if you accept that people mean well, and it's okay for people to be nice to you.

If there's no more to go on than what you've told me here, then that all appears to be the truth.


- Bro Jo

Monday, January 23, 2017

What If You Have Questions?

Dear bro Jo,

It's me again!

Just thought I'd touch base with you. To let you know that things between my boyfriend and I are going great :) remember I'm the one that asked where the line was? Yeah. Well we are doing great! :) going on 3 months!!

Any who, the reason I'm writing you today is for my own spiritual reasons.

My boyfriend and I were talking and I proposed the question: "if I told you that I didn't believe in the Church and wanted to leave it what would you do?"

(Not that I am planning to.)

I asked if he would break up with me and he said eventually probably yes if you weren't able to find out that it were true for yourself.

Because his goal is a temple marriage. And so is mine.

But it got me thinking... Have I found out for myself that this gospel is true?

Do I know why I follow it?

When I think about it all I can say is no...there isn't really an instance or anything that makes me say yes I know the gospel is true because ______. All I can say is it's true because it is.

I want to be able to back my statement of yes it's true up.

How do I do that?

What can I do to feel like I know without a doubt in my heart and mind this is true because________.

Help!

Sincerely,

Little Lost Sister




Dear LLS,

First of all I think it helps to know that we all have questions and doubts.  While we strive for a "perfect knowledge" such a concept is unrealistic.

Secondly, I would argue that the problem is that you're looking for lightning when what you need to see is the light that's all around you all of the time and has been for much of your life.

Statistically speaking, Angelic Visitations, Earth-shattering Revelations, and Burning Bosoms are remarkably rare.  Most people never have any of those things ever happen to them, so it's wrong to base one's faith on them.  (Consider Nephi's response to his brothers when they asked for yet another sign to be shown unto them.)

What we go on is what we know.

I have no doubt that you've felt the Spirit in your life.

And I have no doubt that you've had moments that you can look to where you can testify of the blessings that have come into your life from living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  You've felt his love when you've repented.  You've been guided in times of trouble.  You've been comforted when you needed comfort.

We all have.

Sure life gets dark and dreary and difficult . . . often.

But even in those moments we have things to be thankful for.

Life is not about the Big Moments, but rather it's about the everyday blessings.

Instead of focusing on what we don't know, let's be grateful for what we do.

Yes, you could (and should) take Moroni's Challenge.

And yes, it's okay, even good, to have questions.

But don't ever let go of the things you already know are true.

I submit to you, LS, that you don't have Temple Marriage as a goal because of what your parents, teachers, or old guys who write advice blogs have said.  You have that goal because of how you feel when you consider how great it will be to live with your family, with your Heavenly Father, with your Eternal Companion and your Children . . . forever.

That feeling.  Right there.

That's why.

It's okay not to have all the answers, just remember to search them out in the correct sources.

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 16, 2017

Does He Want to Be More Than Friends? - Part 2

Dear Bro Jo,

I ended up having a DTR with Jay.

It turns out I was completely wrong about his advances. I talked to him. I asked him, "I noticed lately that you have been a little touchy towards me lately and I was wondering if you meant something by it." He thought about what he was going to tell me for a few minutes. He told me that he is just a physically affectionate person and that he feels super close to me that he treats me like his family. He said that he cares for me a lot and that he loves me but not in a romantic way.

I lied. I said that I didn't like him in a romantic way. I honestly did this because I didn't want there to be awkwardness between the two of us and I thought that this might be the best way to do it.

I have a neighbor that is friends with my roommate. I knew that she liked Jared. She and Jared went on a date last Friday and I overheard her say that she didn't even know if she liked him in that way.

It hurt so much hearing her conversation that I had to leave my apartment. I didn't think that it would hurt this much. Like I can't sleep because I keep thinking about it.

Did I read the signals wrong?

Do you have any tips to help me get over him?

Should I tell him that I do like him?

Sincerely,

- Sissy




Dear Sissy,

I don't think you read the signals wrong.  I think Jay has clearly made some mistakes here ... some he may later come to regret.

I understand your self-preservation move, but wonder if it wouldn't have been better to be a little more upfront ... (meaning, yes, you should have actually told him you like him)

There are four things that help us get over someone:

Bro Jo's List of How to Get Over Someone
1.  Be social with your friends
2.  Date other people.
3.  Be of Service to Others
4.  Be Patient


Hang in there!

- Bro Jo

Friday, January 13, 2017

Does He Want to Be More Than Friends? - Part 1

Dear Bro Jo,

I want to start off and say that I really like your blog. I have read quite a few of your postings and they are quite enjoyable.

This email may be very long, but please bear with me.

I am 19 years old. I am at my third semester at BYU-Idaho.

I love it here.

I am in sort of a dilemma. I like my best friend.

His name is Jay.

He is wonderful.

He makes me laugh, he is there to listen to me, and he'd do almost anything for me if I asked.

Jay and I have gone on a few group dates together either he asks me or I ask him.

Let me tell you how we met.

He was in my FHE group my first semester. I got to know him as a friend and we got pretty close.

Then I left for a semester because I am Fall/Spring.

I would text him or he would text me at least twice a week to four times.

It would get a little weird at some points because he would send me nerdy pickup lines

(He's a chemistry major) or other cheesy lines via text message.

This confused me a little bit.

I returned back to BYU-Idaho Spring semester.

When I came back it was as if I had never left.

Then things with Jay started to get a little weird.

He would put his head on my lap or rub my back.

I was a confused by this.

At this point I had begun to have feelings for Jay.

After Spring semester, I returned back to California. (Where I am originally from).

In between Spring and Fall semester there is a 7 week break.

Over that break I would either get a text from Jay or talk to him on the phone every day for an hour.

This went on over the whole 7 week break.

Now, we are in Fall semester/present day.

Jay will put his arm around me, cuddle me, rub my back, touch me when he is laying on the couch and I sit next to him.

Jay is one of my really good friends in life.

This might sound cheesy, but I can't picture life without him.

Now this is where things start to get complicated. I have talked to Bob, a good friend of his and this friend is a good friend of mine too.

Bob told me that touching people is Jay's way of communication to others to show that he loves them but Jay doesn't touch anyone else the way he does to me.

The reason I bring it up is because Jay tried to hold my hand last Saturday.

We were watching a movie and we were sitting on the couch and he tried to hold my hand.

He did this for about 15 seconds until I moved my hand away.

This is when things started to get complicated.

I talked to another mutual/good/close friend of ours, Randal, who lived with Jay for 2 years.

He told me that Jay is very timid when it comes to girls. He's never had a girlfriend before.

He also said that I need to be patient with Jay and that I should see if it works out.

The reason I bring this up is because I am not sure about whether or not that I should talk to Jay about it.

I don't know if I should have a DTR in essence.

I have been told not to bring it up to him because he might feel rejected or hurt.

I have also been told that I do need to have a DTR with him. I know that in relationships communication is an important factor in relationships. I also know that he is never going to truly know what I feel or think if I do not tell him.


So my question is:  do I or do I not bring talk to Jay about our relationship?

I honestly feel that we are very compatible and that we have the potential to get married.

Also, Fall semester is soon coming to a close and I will be gone for another 3-4 months.

He is also doing student teaching and will be leaving after Spring semester to go to either graduate school or go teach at a school somewhere.

I just want to figure this part of my life out before it is too late and I may never see him again. In advance, thank you for any advice that you have to give me.

Sincerely,

- Sissy




Dear Sissy,

I don't understand:  why did you move your hand away?

And if his friends, the ones who know him well, are recommending the DTR, why are you hesitant to do that?

Jay sounds like a great guy, he likes you, and you like him . . . dare I say that you're falling in love with each other???

And that seems like a very good thing.

Two things I'd add to the excellent advice you've been given:

1.  clearly this man needs some training, so give him some; extend your relationship communication to include inviting him to do things that need to be done (i.e.:  "I think you should ask me out for this weekend", "it would be great if we could go to this dance", "you know, Jay, girls love it when their boyfriends bring them flowers")

2.  I think the two of you need some more "just you" time.  Hang outs and you asking him on dates aren't really good ideas until you're officially a serious couple, and even then you need to continue going on dates - forever - (Sister Jo and I try to go out on dates once a week).  He needs to get more comfortable with you, and while calls and texts have helped him open up a bit, you both need to be having good long talks In Person and with no one else hanging out with you.  Go for walks.  Go ice skating.  Wander down for a hot cocoa.  Simple things that will give you opportunities to know each other better . . . to look into each other's eyes . . . and perhaps give a smooch or two.

Have fun!

- Bro Jo


[Dear Readers,

Part 2 of this post will be published Monday, January 16th.

- Bro Jo]

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Getting Away from the Unrepentant Porn Addict

Dear Bro Jo
,
First off I want to say how much your blog is a blessing. I felt like I couldn't talk to anyone and then when I saw your blog I felt like I should email you.

I am 24 years old. I have a strong testimony of Christ and His gospel. I want to get married in the Temple with a worthy priesthood holder someday.

Up until a week ago, I knew exactly who that man would be. "Tom" and I had been friends for a long time. We got to know each other better. I invited him to institute and church and it was all going well. He confessed to me that he liked me and asked me to on a date.

I told him that even though I thought he was great, I planned to get married in the temple and therefore we should stay friends.

He didn't give up.

Over time I begun to grow feeling for him too but always kept them to  myself.

He then took the missionary lessons and once I saw his interest for the gospel was legitimate I confessed my feelings for him and we started dating. Things were great. He got baptized and we were official. Literally it all felt like a fairy tale and I soon fell in love.

Well that when the problems started.

We got a little too comfortable being alone and I started staying at his apartment overnight several times. We did cross our previously set boundaries a couple times and even though nothing serious happened we felt like we should talk to our Bishop.

I felt so relieved of all the guilt and shame.

We repented and I felt as if I was once again okay with the Lord.

Everything was going well and we even talked about marriage but then I began to feel uneasy and doubtful.

We decided that we would pray and fast to see if marriage was the right thing for us.

I never got a "yes" and I asked "Tom" if he had gotten an answer and he said no.

I began to feel like maybe there was a reason I didn't get the feeling of "He's the One".

I continued to pray and I finally asked him if there was something he needed to tell me.

And that is when my heart broke to a million pieces.

"Tom" has been addicted to pornography since he was 13 years old.

It shocked me to the bone because there had been a couple instances when he would want to show me something on his phone and I'd see an inappropriate image.

When I confronted him about it, he would just say that it's just something on Facebook one of his friends posted and promised me that he doesn't intentionally look at it.

He had lied to my face. I immediately broke up with him and asked him to please seek help and talk to the bishop and to never speak to me again.

A whole month went by and we didn't speak. I even attended church elsewhere so I wouldn't have to see him. I was depressed and the little self-esteem I had was completely destroyed. I began to lose weight the unhealthy way and I was constantly comparing myself to other women around me.

I was even tempted to look at pornography just to see "why" he had chosen that over me.

Of course I could never compete with those women.

I am old fashioned and far from what they look like. It took me a while to let the Lord help me. I also went to talk to the Bishop and he told me that "Tom" had been going to Church without missing one meeting and that he though "Tom" would fight his addiction.

He told me that I was the reason he would fight it and that I could be of great support.

I just teared up and nodded but inside I wanted to shout I wanted to tell him about the hell I was going through and I didn't ever want to see him in my life.

I wanted to tell him about how I couldn't see myself in the mirror anymore that I would avoid it as much as possible. That my testimony of celestial marriage had faded and I was so angry for allowing myself to share my most dear goals and dreams.

But I though this is the Bishop and I should obey his counsel.

I prayed and fasted for guidance.

Then one night I went to his apartment to say sorry (I wasn't sure for what). I told him that the way I reacted to his confession wasn't at all Christ-like and that I wanted to help him. I told him that I still loved him and I wanted to be there for him.

Over time he later started blessing the sacrament again and had routine interviews. I felt like I was healing on the inside as he was repenting.

We even got to attend the Temple with the youth and did baptisms.

When I was there I got this amazing feeling that I was doing the right thing. That if we fought his struggle together, we had a chance at getting married in the Temple.

Everything was going well after that and I knew that people don't overcome addictions overnight so when he confessed his slip ups I would try to react in a loving and understanding way.

Over time I would ask "so, how's it going?"

He knew what I really wanted to know and he said, "It's going great".

I felt like we actually had a chance at this.

Then of course Satan doesn't give up.

Just this past weekend we had a little argument as all couples do over our scripture reading and praying.

We had slowly stopped doing things like this together and he seemed to always be distracted and distant so when I asked him what was bothering him he let me have it.

He said that he was mad at me for talking to one of my good friends, "Jerry" (who lived several states away and is 10 years older than me).

"Jerry" was there for me when I first found out about "Tom"'s addiction.

"Tom" told me that his jealousy triggered him to get back at me so he would watch videos.

He said that he didn't think it was fair that he was trying his best and I was going behind his back talking to other men. I asked if this was a one-time thing and he said no. His face told me I probably didn't want to know how often.

About "Jerry" - part of it was true.

The times we broke up I did talk to "Jerry".

He was the only friend that had dealt with a similar situation. I didn't want to talk to my friends or family about it because I didn't want anyone else knowing of "Tom"'s problem.

I didn't want people to judge "Tom".

He told me all of this right after church this past Sunday. I had been fasting for guidance once more and right then and there I told myself, "You are going to have to deal with for a very long time".

If I married "Tom" was it always going to be like this?

Every time he was upset at me he'd go and look at things he's not supposed to?

So I broke up with him. I really do think it's for good this time.

I can't say I didn't try. I gave it my all. I trusted in the Lord and "hung in there" as Bishop says.

It's a terrible thing when you feel as if the only person that can fix you is the one that hurt you.

This is where I need you Bro Jo ( and Sister Jo because I am dying to be able to talk to a woman about this).

I am scared that when I go in to talk to Bishop about why I will no longer be attending church at his ward he's going to try to talk to me into staying and "endure to the end".

I've gone through too much sadness and pain that at this point I think it would be best if I just stay away from "Tom" and everyone that will be asking tons of questions.

I guess I need to know if I did the right thing?

Will "Tom" be better of without me?

Will he still continue to fight his addiction if I'm not there to hold him accountable?

I'm not going to lie- I do love him and wanted to marry him in the temple but I think about what our future looks like with his addiction and it scared me that it will only lead to divorce.

I would love to hear what you think Bro Jo and Sister Jo.

Thank you and God bless you.

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

Using you as an excuse to succumb to pornography is definitely a sign that "Tom" is A) not quite free of the demon, and B) not quite ready for a mature relationship.

I hope and pray that both things will happen for him.

I personally think you're being a little too dramatic.  Christ is not an "all or nothing" guy, and we need to strive to be the same.

That said, I agree with you that you need to break things off with this man for a while.  And Sister Jo agrees.  She also feels very strongly that you're making a mistake by letting "Tom" become your excuse for not attending Church.  In that way, your actions would be no different than his.  When times are their most challenging we need to grow closer unto the Savior, not further away.

Face the pain and let Christ help you though.  Go to your meetings, partake of the Sacrament, and be of service to others.  That will help much more than running away.

We both are also wondering if you and "Jerry" should date . . . sounds like a nice man.

- Bro Jo




Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much for responding.

I will continue to attend church (as it's the only thing that keeps me going) just not at the same ward as "Tom" - at least for now.

I know it may be partly immature on my side but the last time this happened Church became rather uncomfortable for me.

The members kept being pushy as to why I broke up with him.

"Jerry" was a missionary in our area a while back and is a great guy but I don't think he has much interest in me other than being a good friend/advice giver and he lives far away.

I will take your advice and continue to grow closer to the Savior. I hadn't thought much about serving others.

Perhaps this will keep my mind off the negative aspect of my situation.

Thank you so much!

- NW




Dear Readers,

Through the Savior we can overcome all things, including addiction.

One of the things that concerned me most about this email was how the writer failed to see how manipulative "Tom" was.  From my perspective everything about their relationship looked like he was controlling her . . . including blaming her for his problems and faults.

That's never good.

Sisters, there are So Many Great Guys out there!  Please don't sell yourselves short.

Brothers, there are a lot of Great Girls out there just praying that you'll find them.  Don't give up!

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 9, 2017

Boys to Men

Dear Bro Jo,

I came across your blog a few days ago and love it! I wish I would have known about it about a year ago when I was going through a hard relationship but I am happy to see the support it gives to all kinds of wonderful young men and woman! Thank you!

So here’s my story/ question.

 I am a 23 year old woman just graduated from BYU-I with a bachelor’s degree.  I had a great time at college, I went on lots of dates, went to lots of social activities and had tons of fun. I did have a few serious relationships but none of them turned out to be the one for me.
I am living at home right now while I did my student teaching and am currently looking for a job. When I started my student teaching in January I also started attending the YSA ward. About a month in I ran into one of my good friends from high school who I haven’t seen since before his mission.

We talked briefly(I was leaving the church as he was coming in for his ward), he got my number and called me later that week inviting me to hang out with him and some other high school friends. It was great!

Now 6 months later I am finding that I really do like this guy. When I find out that he’s hanging out with us or he’s the one planning the get together I get extra excited. (Side note, I’m the only girl most of the times when we hang out, my high school friends and me, we hang out as a group sometimes once a week, sometimes every other weekend. Sometimes I feel like I’m crashing a guy’s night and have either chosen not to go or left the hangout early a few times because of that. During my time here at home 3 of the guys have asked me on a date and I have gone with each one of them.) This young man and I went on a date to the symphony back in February and I loved it. I tried to hint to him that I want to go again or do something just the two of us saying, “What was that song that they played? Oh yeah, you know we really should do that again” and he’d say, “Defiantly!”  or he’d talk about wanting to go to a band performance and I’d say, “I’ll go with you, just ask!” I would also bring up things like, “We should go hiking up the canyon together” and he took that and planned a group get together to go up the canyon.

I did that for quite a few weeks and then I thought maybe he’s not interested in me so I let it go and have just been friends with him but this last week he called me in the middle of the week just to tell me that he found out that the office building he works in is down the street from my dad’s office building, and then when he picked me up to go to a movie this weekend as a group he told me he was happy I was there and that I was a breath of fresh air.

I guess I’m just a little confused, should I be getting my hopes up that he’s going to ask me out again? Or should I just focus on getting to know other guys and getting them to ask me out like I’ve been trying to doing?

Also, I go to all my ward’s activities and try my best to get to know lots of people in the ward but as hard as I try no one from my ward has asked me out. So am I doing something wrong? Is there something more I should be doing? Up at school it wasn't hard for me to get a date and get to know different guys. Is it different now that i'm not in a college setting? Are there new things I should be doing?

Also being at home has caused my mother, and all the other wonderful ladies in my home ward, to feel this need to constantly ask me about my dating life and tell me that they want to set me up on dates with their nephew/friends son. As sweet as it is I am getting tired of it. Is there a way to tell them politely that I don't want them constantly asking me or trying to set me up?

- Happy but Confused




Dear Happy,

It sounds to me like you're dating as if you're still in High School.

It sounds to me like you're still "hanging out" and "going on group dates and activities" when you need to be Serious Single Dating.

Don't waste your time with wishy-washy guys, and stop letting them get away with being such.

If this guy, or any other guy, asks you to go to an event, even if other singles are there, then ask him, straight out, "is this a date?"

If he says no, or that he's just offering you a ride, or anything like that, tell him that you're glad the two of you are clear on that . . . AND THEN GO WITH A GIRLFRIEND OR BY YOURSELF OR WITH SOMEONE ELSE.

You sisters are doing yourselves a serious disservice by allowing the guys your age to continue to act like boys instead of expecting them to be Men; you need to raise the bar.

Yes, it's different now that you're not in college; it's going to be much more difficult to meet guys your age who are in dating mode.  You're surrounded by guys your age that want to "hang out" with women without dating or pressure or any kind of effort or commitment.  They make the excuse that they need to know a girl extremely well before they ask her out, totally forgetting That's What a First Date Is For!

So I think you should stop being bothered by all of these sweet sisters trying to set you up and instead be super grateful and start going out with every boy they suggest.  (Except the scary ones, of course.)

Yes, I think you should date other guys; but no, I'm not saying give up on this one totally.  I just think you need to hold his feet to the fire a little.

Instead of "getting your hopes up" or "being confused", if you're not certain if what he's asking you to do is a date, or if he's ever going to ask you out again, Ask Him!

Communication is very helpful, you know.

- Bro Jo

Friday, January 6, 2017

When Someone You Love is Overweight

Dear Bro Jo,

My Dad is overweight and I'm afraid that if he doesn't lose weight that he might die and live me so I need advice on how to tell my dad In a nice way that he needs to lose some weight?

He doesn't eat right and I don't want to hurt his feelings by telling him to get healthy and lose weight he is age 66.

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

People carry too much weight for lots of different reasons . . .

We can't force people to change, but we can love them, and we do have an obligation to share our concerns when their behavior is affecting their health and welfare.

I think you should start with "I love you".

Let him know that it's because you love him that you're so concerned.

And gently tell him what you're concerned about.

Be prepared to offer help if he asks.

And be prepared to love him even though he may blow you off.

Let him know you're serious.  But also reassure him that whatever he does or doesn't do you won't love him any less.

I guarantee you that if his size is bothering you, it's bothering him, too.

And, understand, that for him to change his life this will have to be something he decides from within.

Lastly, I can tell you from personal experience, that successful long-term weight loss is gradual.  It took me 2 years to lose 60 pounds.  That's an average of just over half a pound a week.  It took some serious self-reflection motivated by sincere unhappiness with myself, and is still a constant battle (I've put 17 of those pounds back on, but every day work on edging them back off).

Love him and be supportive.

And, as in all good things . . . pray.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

How Do You Learn to Talk to People When You're Shy?

Dear Bro Jo,

I really like this one guy.

We are both really shy and we keep having awkward moments where we make eye contact then we both look away. I don't really know much about him though. How could I get to know him better when we only see one another in school?

Please help Bro Jo,

- Awkwardly Shy




Dear Awkward,

Being able to go up to people you don't know well and start a conversation is a skill that gets better with practice, and talking to someone is the best way to get to know them better.

Smiling helps to break down barriers so that people feel more comfortable talking to us.  So next time, don't be so quick to look away; give a little smile.  And then, perhaps the time or two after
that, give a wave.

In the interim, work on your shyness by making new friends, guys and girls, too.

Simply pick out someone who seems like they could use someone to talk to and go up and introduce yourself.

- Bro Jo

Monday, January 2, 2017

Setting Good Goals While Struggling with Too High Expectations

Dear Bro Jo,

 I guess I have a few general questions:

-How do you live up to (or handle) expectations?

-How can I create lasting friendships?

My parents seemingly know everyone, (in fact if we looked, I'm sure my Dad would know you!) People always say how my family is the model family. This past year my Dad has become a mission president.

My brother closest to my age (he's 20) has had morality problems all through high school, and is still struggling. He said for a while that he wanted to go on a mission...but he kept delaying a few more months. Now he says he doesn't want to go. My parents and I are living out of country, and my brother is living with one of my older sisters. It's not working out very well, and my parents are constantly on the phone talking to her about it. My family of course loves him so much. But at the same time it seems to me that everyone always acts as if he is a burden. That because he isn't fitting the perfect mold that it's costing the whole family. Don't get me wrong, I first handily know how his bad choices have hurt me.

The problem is that I feel the same. I feel like I'm just a burden to my family. With my parents assignment, they often have to go out of town to do interviews, zone conferences, or specialized training. Every time before they go out of town for a few days my Mom always says, "This is my least favorite part. I just hate leaving you alone." I know she means well, but to me it just feels like she's just saying that their whole assignment would be easier if I were already grown-up and out of the house.

Before we left to come to our mission, everyone always told me how this was going to be such an incredible opportunity. And it is! But, I don't feel like I'm progressing. In fact I feel like I'm failing in everything. My Mom just told me to set goals... Which I agree with. It's just that I honestly don't know how or what kind or anything.

President Uchtdorf's talk in Priesthood of conference where he said not to work on your appearance, but rather your actually development. I want to be better. I just can't figure out where I'm faulting and how to.

I don't want to exaggerate anything... but last school year I was bullied. I was gossiped about and ignored, when I confronted it, the girls told me that even though I was doing good things, it was the way I did it that bothered them. They told me that if I wanted to be friends with them I couldn't talk to certain people if they were around.

This year I'm the only member in my grade, (1 of 4 in the high school) The other 4 don't really seem interested in living or standing up for standards of the church. They all act as if the "HAVE" to. It really bothers me. I'll admit that I'm not always the best at defending the church either. I feel like if we want anyone in High School to view the Church in a positive light it's up to me. It's been almost a year and I still have no friends at school. I feel like for the most part people respect me, but when people are partying, drinking, doing drugs, and talking about immorality all the time, with more swearing than I could've imagined, it's hard to even want to be around people. (With that, I'm thinking about doing online high school next year to get out of this seriously pornographic atmosphere. How do you determine between where you can be a good influence and be strengthened, and where it's just going to be corrupting you?)

I still don't speak Spanish very well. And I don't go to the same ward very often, so it's hard to actually gain friendships through church either.

For the most part I feel like the missionaries ignore me. Awkward. I just want to be their little sister.
Also, ever since the time I was four I've gotten along with guys so much better than girls. But, I always feel like that's a burden to them too. They're always very accepting, and for the most part like me, but I understand they need guy time too. Then I'm pushed out of the circle again. And if we hangout it's like they don't know how to fit me in.

Thanks!

(Sorry for being lengthy.)

- Name Withheld




Dear NW,

I think I'm the king of unrealistic expectations.

(And I think my kids would agree!)

For myself.  My family.  Lots of people really.

All children are a burden.  We have seven.  I know whereof I speak.  HOWEVER, it's a burden we accept as parents and while we honestly have no idea what we're getting into when we start down the parenthood path, all of the frustration, hurt, pain and sadness are offset by the earthly joy and potential for eternal blessings.

What kind of growth are you hoping to make?

Knowing that will help you set goals.

One assignment I give students is the "live your life backwards" assignment. Basically I have them right down what they want people to say about them when they have died, and then we figure out how to live our lives towards that goal.

Doing something similar might really help you.

Plus, please don't forget that improvement doesn't mean we have to try to fix our flaws.  That's a fallacy that I'm afraid we've taught too many young people.  Rather than trying to fix what people may say or you may think is wrong with you (fundamentally changing who you are) it's much more productive and satisfying to discover your strengths and talents and focus on making those things stronger.

For example, if one was a talented musician but lousy athlete, rather than deride them for their lack of physical skills, we should encourage them in music.

Stuff like that.

As for your parents and all of the things going on in their lives right now ... I have a lot of questions:

How old are you?

How much longer do you have at home?

Why can't you travel with them?

Who is in charge of you while they're gone?


By the way ... when I read "I first handily know how his bad choices have hurt me" I became filled with concern for you.

Should we talk about that?

Improve the Shining Moments,  little sister.  Don't let them pass you by.

- Bro Jo