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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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Is It a Date?

Dear Bro Jo,

I am a 14 year old girl this is my first year in high school and this boy I've known since elementary school has started to ask me out on single dates and of course I said no.

He has asked me about 4 times now.

Every time I have said no but he this time he has invited his friend (another boy I have known since elementary) and he told me to bring one of my friends.

At first I said no and then I thought about it more.

The date would be at the mall so its nothing romantic or anything.

Plus I have been at the mall with 2 guys and 2 girls before as friends and it was never a problem.

I talked to my mom about it and she said it would be fine as long as we just went as friends.

My mom has known this boy as long as I have and trusts him, as do I.

I am just scared because I don't want to do anything that was wrong so I decided to ask you for a second opinion on what I should tell him.

I care about this boy a lot and I don't want to hurt his feelings but I also don't want to compromise my values in the least.

I would never date before I was sixteen but if I don't look at this like a date would it still be wrong?


- Confused and Frustrated

Dear Confused,

Right or wrong, at any age, two boys and two girls going to do something is a date.

Sure, a Good Date means "Plan, Pick up and Pay ", but even if those things are missing simply the act of being paired off can make it a date.

And even at only 14, there's no such thing as "just friends" where this boy (or any boy, really) is concerned.

(And, believe me, this boy absolutely is thinking of this as a date, good guy or not.  And yes, even the Mall can be "romantic".)

I invite you to share with your mother that this boy has repeatedly asked you on dates, a fact I'll bet you left out when you asked her if you could go.

Then I think the two of you (you and your mother) should re-read For the Strength of Youth and other guidelines that prophets have given about dating.

Talk about why you think such guidelines have been set, and talk about the blessings we're promised when we follow the counsel of the Prophet.

Sixteen is just around the corner, little sister, and so is Casual Group Dating.

Good Things come to those who wait.

If it helps, I'm happy to explain to your mother, or any parent, why what makes something a date, and why it’s dangerous and not "cute" for children to go on dates and have boyfriends and girlfriends before the time is right.

- Bro Jo

Monday, September 15, 2014

What to Do When He's Too Old for You?

Hi Bro Jo,

So I'm 18 years old and I started going to my local YSA ward about two months ago now.

I'm loving it!

I've made some wonderful friends and have been able to serve both as one of the ward organists and on the Family Home Evening committee.

It's so fun to be involved and socialize with people my own age.

Having lessons geared more toward my age group is wonderful for my spirituality, too

(In my family ward, Relief Society lessons always ended up talking about people's grandkids...a little hard to relate to for me).

All in all, it's been a wonderful experience so far.

I've gotten to know some great guys, too.

There's this one in particular that seems pretty interested in me.

In our very first conversation, we were making small talk and I asked him what he's doing in life.

He talked about his job, his research for his master's degree, "and I'm just looking for a wife, someone to make an eternal family with, you know?"

We've talked before/after meetings since then, and he's invited me to an party one of his friends was having, which I had to turn down since I was working that night.

He seems to be a perfectly nice guy,

I'm just not attracted to him.

He's 28 and about to graduate from grad school.

I'm 18 and finishing up my freshman year of college.

We have completely different interests, not much in common at all.

And honestly, the mention of marriage so early kinda creeped me out.

Also, he is known in the ward as the guy that hits on all the new girls.

So what I want to know is if I have an obligation to give this guy a chance?

If he's a notorious flirt, how should I interpret his attentions?

And how can I (preferably nicely) get him to stop flirting with me?


- Young Single Lady

Dear Young,

No, you're not obligated to give this guy a chance.

If he were six years younger I might have a different answer, but at only 18 you're too young for him at 28.

Is it possible he's just being nice?  Is it fair to assume the reputation is true?

Yes.  And yes . . . and no.

In the Church we spread too many rumors and make too many assumptions.  I don't think those are things the Disciples of Christ should be doing.

Rather than stress out about this, I think you should "act as if".  Yes, I agree that he's probably hitting on you, but if you "act as if" that would be ridiculous because of the age gap - not being mean, of course - and simply treat him decently, you'll have nothing to fear.

As for any guilt you should feel regarding not being attracted to him, consider this: there are millions of great single guys in the Church there's no way you should be attracted to all of them.

I might not be the right person to ask about "nice". I think if he asks you out you should tell him that you're flattered but he's just way too old for you.  Sometimes "sugar coating" is a nice way to say "lie"; but to be honest and direct (if you can do it without being malicious or intentionally being mean) than to hide and dance; that's how wrong impressions are received.

If you want to be nice, suggest a few of the a few sisters much closer to his age (there are tons of them) that he can ask out.

I bet they'd be willing to go, too.

And that may be just what this guy needs.

- Bro Jo

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dealing with Stress

Dear Bro Jo,

Just a simple, random question today.

What are your tips for dealing with everyday stress?

Maybe I just stress way too much . . . but how do you deal with stress?



Dear Stressed,

Sister Jo might tell you that I'm one of the most stressed out people she knows. And, as always, she'd be right.

The four things that work best for me are:

1.  Going on dates with Sister Jo (actually, just talking to her helps a ton, too)

2.  Hanging out with my kids (nothing like a hug from a 5-year old to melt away the tension)

3.  Working out (or even just going for a walk)

4.  Being of service

Not that I'm the best example, but few things in life are worth the stress we put ourselves through over them.

In my profession I'm constantly amused by people who "need it yesterday" and then will delay picking up the order that they had to "have as soon as possible" because, well . . . they're not in the rush they said or think they are.

The Jo Kids can tell you how intensely idleness bothers me.  They say the trick to keep me from overloading them with things to do (mostly chores and projects) is to be sure they look busy.

And they're right.

So I certainly can't advocate sitting around doing nothing.

I'm one of those people who think many of life's problems can be solved by good hard work.

But even I can admit that there's a lot of value in decompressing, relaxing, and having fun once in a while.

That, and you know, having a good sense of the Eternal.

Because, I mean really, how much of what we stress out about day-to-day in this life has any significance in the grand eternal scheme of things?

Not very much it turns out.

Hope that helps,

- Bro Jo