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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Friday, October 31, 2014


Dear Bro Jo,

For many years I have really struggled with depression.

I made it through high school with the help of a very good friend and thought things would be so much better when I went to college.

And at first they were.

It was a whole new experience and I loved it.

I had made a really good friend and I knew he liked me but I thought he was a little weird so I wasn’t interested but he started liking me more and more and I got depressed so at the advice of my friends I stopped talking to him.

From there my depression got so much worse.

I felt so lost and I had thought getting rid of this guy would fix things but it didn’t.

So I talked to him again.

I realized I had feelings for him and we started dating and everything felt right and okay again.

Last semester was my off track I moved away to work and felt very alone and sad a lot of the time because I was stuck in a small town with no friends and no singles group.

My boyfriend got his mission call and I realized I would be going back to school completely alone because all of my friends would be off track at this point. (Or on missions.)

I contemplated going to see my boyfriend before he left but didn’t at the advice of my family.

Eventually we came to the conclusion that I shouldn’t wait for him and we would see where things are at in 2 years.

I came back to school and he left on his mission 2 days later.

Since then I have been an emotional wreck.

I have tried to be social but I feel very alone.

None of my old friends are here and my roommates are never around.

I did college level work in high school so I am now in higher level classes and so everyone around me is older and married and the material is difficult.

Sometimes the teachers tease and make me feel incompetent. (Today one of them said that nothing I ever said made sense) I just hate feeling dumb.

None of my friends from high school talk to me anymore.

No one I went to school with talks to me anymore.

I feel awful because I invest a lot of time and energy into relationships with people and they haven’t been there for me at all.

The other day I got called all sorts of mean awful names by kids I was friends with in high school and it hurt.

A lot.

I also just feel like my life has been off lately. Something just isn’t right despite reading my scriptures and regular Temple attendance.

On top of all of this my older brother is here this semester and he has a lot of emotional problems too (it runs in the family) and he is always calling me depressed and freaking out and I can’t help him and it makes me even more stressed on top of my course work and emotions.

I break down all the time and I can’t predict when it will happen next.

I am afraid of what I will do when I break down and I feel like I have no one to turn to.

My best friend is now on his mission (and I can’t talk to anyone about how much I miss him because my parents didn’t want me to date a pre missionary) so I can’t talk to him.

All my other friends are gone.

I don’t have a great relationship with my roommates.

I don’t want to bother my parents and I feel awkward talking to them and I don’t want anyone to see how weak I am.

I have always been so strong willed and determined and I don’t want to show that I can’t do this.

What do I do?

How do I deal with this?

Who do I go to?


- S.O.S.

Dear S.O.S.,

Depression is very real, and like many troubles it's not something we can easily overcome on our own.

Christ will, of course, always be here for you; the Savior's love and Atonement can help us overcome many things.

When we realize what he did for us was done out of love and consideration for how much he cares for us, it can make our trials easier to endure.

Remember when Joseph Smith was imprisoned and was complaining about how awful his life was going and the Lord rebuked him, saying that surely he didn't even have it as bad as Job did?

In that moment, despite the tremendous trials and difficulties that he was enduring, Joseph found things for which to be grateful.

1.  A starting point for you might be to list all of the things for which you have to be grateful and posting that list somewhere you can see it at the start and end of every day (perhaps on your bathroom mirror).

2.  A second thing is that you're going to have to admit that you're just like the rest of us; we occasionally need help from others, and allowing ourselves to be helped not only blesses our lives but theirs as well.

Set your pride aside and allow others to be of assistance.

3. Third, you're obviously a good friend, so get out there and make some new ones.

Please realize that you're not the only one out there who has bad days, gets bummed out, or feels down. Other Good People, just like you, around you need to be uplifted, too.

It will make you feel better as you lift and sustain others.

Cheer your day by brightening someone else's. Rather than focus on your woes, help them to overcome theirs.

I promise it will make you feel better! (Sister Jo says that nothing makes us feel better about ourselves than serving others.)

4. Fourth, consider getting professional help.

There are help lines and crisis centers everywhere that help with depression, often for free. Your Bishop, school, and community can be resources for helping put you in touch with experts who can help you.

You may need to reconsider telling your parents; I promise that those that love you will want to help you.

You deserve Joy, and I pray that you'll feel the Love of God in your life.

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Thank you so much for your advice and thoughts. I am trying to do what you have suggested. It’s a work in progress. I will talk to my bishop this Sunday.

I will keep you posted.


Dear Sos,

God bless.

- Bro Jo

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

When the Relationship Downgrades from "Boyfriend-Girlfriend" to "Friends"

Dear Bro Jo,

I have been dating this guy up at school for the past few weeks.

Everything was going great, then today he decides "we need to talk".

He has decided we need to become friends before we can continue dating.

The idea of this is confusing to me.

We are friends, we enjoy each-others company, we have great conversations.

We do kiss and hold hands but that is not the center of the relationship.

So once I finally got him to say what is behind all of this, this is what he said... "I just don't want to keep going then maybe get married and not know you, as well as I should. From where we are now, I see it going in one of two ways in a short period of time. Those two directions being, getting married or breaking up."

So from what I understand is he just wants to slow down a bit, the thing I am having a hard time with is going backwards to friends.

I feel like this falls under hanging out, and I am dead set against that.

I mentioned why don't we just continue dating and continue to get to know each other, my friend suggested we have like a timeline.

So say we will continue dating, but won't bring up engagement until,  say . . . December (just a time we are both comfortable with).

Bro Jo, how would you recommend handling this?

I am so out of practice with this.

I haven't been in a relationship since high school about 4 years ago.

I am trying to follow the guidance of the general authorities. How do they define Hanging out?

Is being "friends" looked at as the same thing?


- To Be or Not to Be

Dear Not to Be, 

What does his version of "friends" mean? 

No more kissing? 

No more dates? 

Does he want to date (and kiss) other people and he wants to sow some oats before he marries you? 

See, to me, it sounds like you just got dumped. 

That's harsh, I know. But it's not my fault this guy is stupid. 

Now, is he hoping to keep you dangling out there in case he changes his mind someday? 

Gets bored kissing all of those other girls? 

Can't find anyone "better" than you? 

Is he maybe just not mature enough to be considering marriage? 

All of those things may be true. 

The bottom line is, you're too valuable to pal around with a guy who doesn't get it, waiting and hoping that someday he'll figure it out. 

I say cut him off. 

If he comes to his senses, perhaps begging you to take him back, 

IF you feel so inclined, and IF the begging is really good, and IF you want to, then I say give him one, and only one, more chance. 

Until then, painful as I know it is, you're better off without him. 

Be Kind. 

Be Polite. 

But you're right: certainly don't become his Waiting In The Wings Friend. 

- Bro Jo

*** A coupe weeks later ***

Dear Bro Jo,

I did give him a second chance he blew it two days later. 

So I did cut him off. I have moved on since. 

I am so much happier now!

- Not to Be

Dear Not to Be,

Good for you. 

Curious: how did he "blow it"?

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Well we had talked everything out, he had just gotten really scared, so we just decided to take things slower. 

Two days later he just stopped talking to me completely. 

Never told me what was really going on. 

He even came to a party at my complex, ran into him and he wouldn't say a thing.

- Not to Be

Dear Not to Be,

We may never know what his deal was. 

I've had that happen. 

It's tough. 

But you move on. 

It gets better! 

And if you're not already, I promise you'll be glad you moved on. 

- Bro Jo

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Love of Her Life Just Left on a Mission

Dear Brother Jo,

I am sixteen years old and the guy I like is 19 and he left on his mission yesterday.

I met him my Freshmen year, I was 14 and he was 17.

After he graduated we continued our friendship and I grew to care about him more.

I found he has qualities that I like and want in a man.

You know how in Young Women's leader's tell us to have a list of things we want?

I've never done that.

Every Young Man, has something to offer and every guy is different . . .  but this missionary has everything I want.

I told him on Sunday that I like him as more than a friend.

He thanked me for being honest, but I know he likes me that way too.

Even though he didn't say how he feels.

I know he has to focus on his mission.

Bro Jo, I don’t know how to talk about this or deal with this.

One of my friend's says I should move on, that he's too old for me. 

Three years isn't that much older!

Bro Jo, please help.

He's my best friend. I could see myself as his wife and being with him forever, and when I'm with him I see a side of myself, I've seen of myself before. It's a good side. 

Please help, Bro Jo


- Hoping

Dear Too Young,

At your age three years IS a big deal.

Your friend is right; move on.

Right now is the time for Casual Group Dating; do lots of that.

When he comes home he'll be 21 and getting ready for marriage; you'll only be 18 and still a bit too young.

19 and 22 is okay, and there's nothing wrong with 20 and 23.

But, and this is the thing that you can't let go: you may WISH and HOPE and THINK he feels the same, but he DIDN'T say anything.

(Which is perfect, by the way; as a guy who's headed out the MTC door he should be keeping those feelings to himself, whether he likes you the way you like him or not.)

Perhaps when he comes back things will strike up for you romantically; perhaps not.

One thing you need to realize is that TONS of guys have those same qualities you see in this young man.

Oh, and one more thing that speaks to you being too (forgive me, but the word is correct) immature to be making long term plans about a guy who can't even take you on a date for the next two years: marriage isn't about what the other person can do for you, but about how your love for them makes you want to do things for them.


Lecture over.

Now go have fun with kids your own age.

- Bro Jo