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For Jeff and Anna

It was a romance that began in AOL Journal-land. Many of us followed each new development with great eagerness as things seemed to go so well. There were bumps along the way, but many of us encouraged them to work their way through them and to keep the faith. It now seems that the relationship has come to an end.

I have suggested before that there are those here in J-land who are quick to side with whoever their friends are, and when one of them is hurting, they are ready to condemn the person who hurt them to hell whether they know the “whole story” or not. I suppose it is human nature to take sides.

I found myself in the middle of the situation to an extent, attempting to be the “sympathetic ear” for both of them. I was hoping that I could give them advice to keep them going, not because I wanted anything in return or hoped for any credit for having done so, but simply because I, like so many others, was living vicariously through them.

One of the things I told them recently was to sit down face to face and talk their problems out. If there were issues that either of them were concerned about, the other needed to hear them. They needed to get their likes, dislikes and fears out in the open, decide on a strategy to deal with them and then decide if the strategy was one they — both of them — could live with. (I suppose that what I’ve learned from Dr. Phil can come in handy every now and then.)

I had a few concerns in the back of my mind, but I didn’t make them known at the time, because I felt that as long as they were willing to work through their differences, it didn’t matter what anyone else thought.

I also told them that they might realize that their relationship wasn’t meant to be, but at least they’d know for sure. Now, it seems, that’s exactly what happened. If you’ve read this far in the hopes that I will reveal some of their dirty laundry, you’re going to be disappointed. What I know about the relationship that isn’t necessarily “common knowledge” will remain between me and them.

The reason I mention this breakup at all is to address one important point:

There have been those who have suggested that they never should have made their relationship so public. I told them that by doing so, they did put additional pressure on themselves. But I cannot agree with others who feel that they shouldn’t have written about their relationship. Their journals are, after all, theirs. A reader should expect one’s journal to reflect something of the writer’s life. There are plenty of journals that deal with personal relationships; those who want to address such personal topics have every right to do so. And since relationships are so important to people who want them, it’s hardly a surprise that such a subject might appear in a journal entry from time to time.

Unfortunately, the consequence of doing so is that pressure I spoke of. Those who have befriended either one or both naturally want happiness to be the end result of the journey. Some of us will follow it more closely than others; some will take sides at the slightest sign of trouble. But in the end, what does or doesn’t end up happening is their business, not ours, even if we have been “let in” along the way.

While the relationship didn’t end the way many of us who had been following the situation wanted, if it is meant to be that they aren’t meant to be, we should at least be relieved (as I hope they eventually will be) that this decision arrived sooner than later. If a relationship cannot survive, the sooner this realization comes to light, the easier it will be for the two people involved to deal with this fact, no matter how difficult it may seem at the time. And let’s face it: their feelings are far more important than ours in this situation.

I am disappointed about how things worked out. But I won’t attempt to debate who was hurt worse: they both were hurt in their own way. Since I value both of them, I will instead say that I hope both of them are quickly able to put the pain behind them, and I will hope that they will eventually be able to salvage a lifelong friendship. They have been through a lot together, and I hope neither is willing to completely throw all of that away.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.