You are currently viewing Episode 350: He Thinks I’m Too Fat For Sex

Episode 350: He Thinks I’m Too Fat For Sex

Listen to a caller who leaves us a message about her husband telling her he thinks she’s too heavy to be attractive. Laurie and George work through their own reaction and anger at this painful message to our listener. We question the narrowness of her partner’s focus on a minimal change (she’s young and fit) as opposed to having a broader view of eroticism that includes her body, her spirit, her heart, and her mind. If you ever wanted to hear George get hot under the collar with pursuer energy and righteous anger.. here’s a good episode.

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Announcer 00:00
The following content is not suitable for children.

Laurie Watson 00:02
What do you do when your partner loses their attraction to you?

George Faller 00:07

Laurie Watson 00:08
Yeah, we’ve got a listener who has called in. And we’re going to talk about that.

Laurie Watson 00:17
Welcome to foreplay radio couples in sex therapy. I’m Laurie Watson, your sex therapist.

George Faller 00:22
And I’m George Faller, your couples therapist,

Laurie Watson 00:25
and we are passionate about talking about sex and helping you develop a way to talk to each other.

George Faller 00:30
Our mission is to help our audience develop a healthier relationship to sex that integrates the mind, the heart and the body.

Laurie Watson 00:41
George, before we begin, I just want to remind everybody that in October it’s the Friday the 28th We’re doing our Couples Retreat, and you can sign up at foreplay sex We’re excited about that. And we already have like three or four people signed up, so please come and join us. So be on Zoom.

George Faller 01:04
We’re gonna blink it’s gonna be here before you know it. Laurie to some is dwindling. It’s just

Laurie Watson 01:09
Don’t tell me that. I’ve got a wedding to plan.

George Faller 01:14
That’s a pretty awesome thing though. Yes, I know, what a good planner you also that’s gonna be some show

Laurie Watson 01:21
some show! Well, you’re gonna come to Raleigh to I’m excited to host you.

George Faller 01:26
Yes, it’s gonna. Little in person time together.

Laurie Watson 01:30
Yeah. And we’ll be in this little closet that we’re in the awakening studio for podcasting. It’s only about two by two. So let’s very close.

George Faller 01:42
Well, we’ll get intimate. Once we do our podcast. That’s right.

Laurie Watson 01:48
Okay, so let’s play this so that we can hear what she says,

Listener 01:53
Basically, my husband, once I asked him why we weren’t having sex, we haven’t really been for a few years now. He told me he’s less attracted to my body. I took that really hard, because I have a history with chronic dieting and some mild, disordered eating. And I had just made the decision that that wasn’t healthy for me mentally or physically. So when he told me that it kind of rocked my world, and I tried to validate what he was saying, but I sort of spiraled into a depression. So pretty obvious that I didn’t take it well. And now I’m a little bit better, but I don’t know how to go back to having the confidence to be intimate with him, when my body hasn’t really changed that much. And just for some background, we don’t have kids we’re young. Overall, we’re physically active and healthy. So that’s not a concern. I mean, we work out four plus times a week. So I don’t know, I don’t necessarily agree, I guess with his feedback, but I want to validate that he feels that way. And I know it was hard for him to tell me in the first place. Yeah, I guess how do you validate people’s feedback, and move past it productively?

Laurie Watson 03:13
Ah, so hard to hear this. This just feels so painful to me when I think about what she’s going through?

George Faller 03:21
Yeah, that’s it’s a big Ouch. It sticks with you.

Laurie Watson 03:27
So first, she’s saying, you know, how do I reengage when I feel so rejected? And secondly, she said, you know, the first time he told her, she didn’t receive it really well? How could she receive it better? And maybe help him work this through a little bit more between them?

George Faller 03:45
Yeah, that’s, that’s a tough one. I’m finding it hard to even come up with words to, you know, I trust people have good reasons for why they do what they do. And I mean, in a way, he’s being honest, even though he’s saying it in a really hurtful way. So, you know, I think it sounds like she has some good kind of self esteem about herself. That’s just being challenged here by him. And, you know, I think that’s healthy for her to put the ball back in his court, to be able to say, Hey, listen, you know, I kind of like who I am and how I look. And this is how you’re so focused, how have you limited our sex life to just this little kind of thing that you’re seeing and not access that we talked about best sex, all these other areas that they could connect on emotionally, spiritually, erotically their mind like, is he incorporating kind of so many of those things that could expand the levels of engagement sexually. So again, that’s always been my encouragement to her like how does she put the ball back on his court and ask like, what’s his plan for becoming more unless she’s perfectly fit? Is that the only way he’s going to be a sexual being with her.

George Faller 05:01
or pursuer part

Laurie Watson 05:03
I like your pursuer part here George it’s a little angry. But I’m glad I mean, because I think we both feel the injustice. And, you know, this is super painful to hear from a partner. So, okay, what would you say, G, if somebody said, if your partner said this to you how how would you go about gently putting that back in their court? Where’s your, your lead in, your warm up, all that,

George Faller 05:37
You know, it’s hard to keep your brain green when you’re kind of in a pain response. But I think she’s looking, she’s settled back down, she’s invested, she wants to be able to reach out to him, you know, so to be able to be honest and say, hey, that’s, you know, really hurtful. I mean, I think they need to do some repair work around the hurt, I think he needs to get how his honesty kind of creates a, it’s not just a hurt, it’s a hurt she carries with her all the time.

Laurie Watson 06:05
Right now, she doesn’t want to be sexual. I mean, it would be really hard to be naked in front of somebody who said they’re not sexually attracted to you.

George Faller 06:13
Right? Yeah. But now that he’s opened up the door, I think it sounds like she has the courage to walk through that door to lean into, like, what is it that you don’t find attractive? You know, if I was this way, what would be attractive about it to you? Like? Is it all physical? For him? Is it all visual for him? What is the turn on? What’s the gas pedal for him, you know, what is if you can find words to the, to the brake, what’s the turn off, it disgusts him, and we can start having conversations and understand his world. And I think it’s so hard for her to lean in, because it’s hurtful to her, but there’s something blocking his kind of natural expression of love for her.

Laurie Watson 06:56
I also think, and this is kind of deeper than the surface that when somebody loses attraction, and relatively nothing has changed. I think being intimate sexually is tough, you know, we have to open ourselves, we have to be vulnerable, we have to be naked body and soul. And, and that’s tough to do. So I think sometimes it’s an inner block in the withdrawer, or, you know, I don’t want to be that intimate. And so they find kind of a, a surface reason of all, you know, this is what will what I’ll say or what I’ll feel because to keep giving myself in this way, is just too hard for me, I want her to hear that I don’t think it’s about her body. You know, if she’s working out four and five times a week, and it’s better for her mentally to not be so obsessed with dieting, and okay, maybe there’s a few pounds here or there. But it’s like, I mean, she seems to be pretty honest, She’s not the type that would gain 50 pounds and not talk about it. She’s saying, you know, I disagree kind of with his assessment. So I, I think there’s something inside him, you know, and I don’t know that you can press somebody to do their own work. But as a therapist, I can sure think that.

George Faller 08:21
it’s trying to walk in his shoes, if you’re working out all the time, then you’re really into your body, and you’re into other bodies, as you’re kind of watching it. You know, our brain gets more focused on that aspect, and it loses kind of other. I think for a lot of men. It’s a big transition, just being with one person and being married. And, you know, we can call it I’m not attracted to you. But I agree. I think it’s much deeper than that. I think the intimacy in general making that shift from Hey, we’re dating, and we have this physical act, to deepening your lovemaking, you know, trying to be more engaged emotionally in the rest of your body and your mind. Like, I think that’s an adjustment men need help making. And it’s an easy excuse some of the time to just say, Hey, listen, I’m not attracted to you and dump it all on your partner, without needing to do your own work.

Laurie Watson 09:15
And I do think, you know, there’s certainly maybe an adjustment if you’ve become monogamous, and you’ve committed to that, and you’re used to having more partners, and then there’s porn, you know, where the bodies, you know, you can look at perfect bodies all the time all day long. You know, and that’s, I would imagine, very exciting to the male brain to see that. And then you’re looking at one partner, who you can notice, oh, there’s a little bit of change here. There’s a little bit of change there and that’s not perfect and Okay, how are we going to help men with this George?

George Faller 09:51
The questions you’re asking are really helpful. I mean, is he shutdown in sexuality or is he now turning towards porn? He’s masturbating a couple times a day, if that’s happening, how is he supposed to ever get attracted to his wife? Right, so we need to understand what’s happening on his side.

Laurie Watson 10:09
I know before we started, we talked about male and female withdrawers. And it does seem like a strategy that I find in the male withdrawal is dilution. Wait, the male sexual withdrawal, right? They dilute it. You know, they look at porn, they look at other women, they fantasize about other women, women sexual withdrawal or seem to shut it down. You know, they shut down all of their libido because of the difficulties in staying vulnerable and open in this important area of life.

George Faller 10:44
Right. So what do you do? How do we get this guy to want to see, you said you can’t force people to do the work, she can hold up the mirror and try to get him to see things? But how do we create an environment where he wants to do the work for himself? Not out of guilt, not want to kind of make her feel happy. But he wants to explore himself? That’s my sense of the billion dollar question. When you can get the sexual withdrawer, to get curious about themselves sexually, you’re good? I know, once a withdrawer does that we’re gonna be fine. As long as you’re exploring and you’re trying to understand, you’re gonna get it. That’s the frustrating part. As a therapist, it’s like, all it takes is a little bit of work a little bit on the stand and a little bit of risk, and you’re going to be have a great sex life. But there’s so many people they don’t want to we’ll talk about this is really common with females don’t want to explore themselves sexually. And if that you can’t work through that block, it’s really hard to move these things.

Laurie Watson 11:47
Well, I think that yes, it is hard to get women to explore their bodies and their sexual experience. But I think it’s really hard to get men who are shut down to explore, like, why would I be turning to the idea of other women and porn, instead of my partner like, this is blocking me and just to examine that it’s like, you know, you’re telling me I’m, I should be guilty about this. I mean, there’s all this kind of stuff that comes up, you’re not sex positive, if you say that to me, and it’s like, hey, this kind of do you want to be sexually attracted to your partner, I did work with a couple, a male who felt this. And I mean, his partner, I saw her she lifted weights regularly, she was very fit. But she had gone from like, a size four to a size six. And Georgie may not know what that is. But that’s like from teeny teeny to teeny, you know, it’s like, super, super tiny to still very small, and, and he just, he was actually kind of had a small frame as a man. So part of his sense of masculinity was in being bigger than she was. And now she was about the same size as he was. So some of it was, he was losing his attraction. Really, it was an internal thing. And fortunately, he was able to see that get a hold of that. And, and realize that the other thing, he really liked it when they were dating, because she, she came onto him more, she was more aggressive. And then once they were married, she had kind of got this sense from him that he wasn’t as attracted to her. So she shut down. And so it was a double whammy, you know, she was getting the message. She’s not attractive. She’s too big at a size six. And, and he was, you know, not getting the energy from her that he needed. It was such a toxic loop. But they he really did put in the work because he wanted to stay married. He wanted to be attracted to her and, and they changed.

George Faller 13:55

Laurie Watson 13:57
Yeah. What does that mean?

George Faller 13:59
It’s feeling stuck on how to inspire this man to want to do the work for himself. You know, it’d be great for him to be around other men that really could could invite him to know himself sexually, and so many other parts of who he is. I think he’s just got a bit of tunnel vision here. And if you got tunnel vision, and you don’t want to do the work, I mean, this is the tricky part. If you’re a sexual withdrawer to explore blocks, you actually have to go into the emotional world. And if you’re also an emotional withdrawer, I don’t want to do that either. So it’s not that there’s a block. It’s just I don’t want to explore the block. Right? Which means how are things going to change? It’s such an easy thing that you just put it on another person and not have to see your part in it. Yeah, and I guess that’s what I’m just trying to figure out how to get him invested to see he needs to understand himself better. Can his wife do things differently? Sure. And that would be helpful to have those conversations, but it’s too easy to focus on her and for him not to look at himself. And I guess that’s what I would encourage her to do, like, be able to hold up the mirror and say, Wait a second. You know, I’m I’m open to what you have to say and doing things differently. What what are you open to doing? What’s your part in this?

Laurie Watson 15:15
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George Faller 15:40
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George Faller 16:22
Sounds good.

Laurie Watson 16:23
We would love to invite you to our great sex, great love Couples Retreat on Friday, October 28 2022, to 10 to 5pm. Eastern Time, George and I are really going to help you apply what you learned in the podcast to your relationships. So if your marriage or partnership is functional, but it’s not that exciting, or you want to deepen that connection, and really improve your intimacy or you know, make sex something that isn’t just a check off your list and try to bring the sizzle back. Please join us. We are going to spend a whole day enhancing your relationship and intimacy dealing with the cycle, making it safe for you to talk about desire, talk about the actual sex acts that you’re doing. Also express what’s going on in your mind, body and heart and your spirit to find deeper sexual connection with each other. That’s October 28. You can find it on under our resources to sign up now.

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Laurie Watson 17:50
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George Faller 18:06
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Laurie Watson 18:14
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Laurie Watson 18:39
I think the only leverage she has is her pain. Like, you know, I get that. Yeah, there’s been some changes in my body and maybe you liked it better when I was a few pounds lighter. But for me, my health depends on giving up this toxic dieting kind of mindset. You know, I’ve been I’m so much happier these days, and I’m strong and I’m fit. And it’s just so painful to hear your rejection and I’m finding myself shut down. I can’t come to the sexual relationship with freedom and you know, losing my inhibition because I just feel the judgment every time. I’m just curious to how you feel about me saying this. I think that’s her only leverage George as as a pursuer. I mean, wouldn’t you agree if if she says if she says what you said and I love I love that you have a little pursuer in you or a lot of pursuer in you. You know, it’s like there’s a push and it’s like well, I’m willing to do this. What are you willing to do? I mean, he’s gonna he’s gonna slam shut.

George Faller 19:53
I agree. You want to start off with the vulnerability. Right you want to start off if he gets her pain and feels her pain, and he loves her, it should motivate his body to do something differently. Right? So, and I assume she probably has already tried to do that. But yes, I totally agree. That’s the starting point. And if he feels, wow, I don’t want my wife to hurt like that. I gotta understand myself better than we’re there. But if he’s not willing to do that, and I’ve worked with some men who aren’t, it’s a lot safer for them to just keep putting it on the other person. And I think if that’s the situation, she finds herself, and she has to be able to stand up for herself, even if you can’t hear it, right to be able to kind of that’s the assertive part that’s not reactive with a pursuer. That’s saying, hey, this isn’t okay. Right? You’re putting it all on me, even when I’m willing to do my part. And you’re not willing to kind of flex you’re not willing to see you’re part of it. Like, I do think it’s important for pursuers to name that.

Laurie Watson 21:02
Okay, how would you say that? I? How would you say that without

George Faller 21:08
Well I think when you’re standing up for yourself, it’s less about if your partner can hear it and more about, you need to do this to save yourself from going into shame and believe it is all you? I mean, that’s going to do some horrible things to her. So that ability to say, if you can’t hear this, like, I need to say this. I think that’s important.

Laurie Watson 21:29
What about this, okay, I’m gonna try it. You know, I know for my mental health, hon, I can’t do the dieting thing anymore. I’m obsessed with it. You know, I feel bad, I feel shame all the time. And the reality is, when I don’t diet, I stay within about 10 pounds. And, and I’m more in touch with my hunger. And overall, this is just a healthier way for me to live. And I realized for you, you know that weight difference makes a difference. But I gotta say, this is who I am, this is what I have to do for my health. And I want our relationship to be sexual. And it’s just, you know, it’s so painful to me to not be physically sexually connected to you, you know, I find I can’t come towards you because of, you know, my fear of rejection. And you’re not coming toward me, and I really want our relationship to be sexual. Is that what you want? And how does it land on you that this is who I got to be.

George Faller 22:29
I like it. And you’re sending a direct signal, you’re being vulnerable with it, you’re trying to say it in a way I might be able to hear it. And I think that gives the best chance to have a conversation once this couple can start having a conversation. And he could engage. There’s hope they can do it differently. Again, my fear, maybe why I’m being a little reactive. And I have worked with a lot of men who just refuse to have that conversation.

Laurie Watson 22:58
Okay, let’s say there’s no conversation. And there’s no sex.

George Faller 23:05
They’re in trouble.

Laurie Watson 23:06
They’re in real trouble. Yeah. I mean, I hear this all the time, and people let it go on for years. I mean, she said, essentially, it’s already been a few years that he’s not coming toward her sexually very much. How long do you say this is fine, we’re functioning. We’re raising kids. Oh, they’re not even raising kids. Oh, man, they’re not even raising kids that? You know,

George Faller 23:30
Right? Well, again it’s we’re not getting his side of the story, we don’t know what’s going on. So it’s we’re just kind of generalizing for all couples here. But if your partner is not attracted to you, and is not willing to look at that, it’s a pretty discouraging spot to be stuck in. And I think for your own health, you have to stand up and expect more, but in the relationship and how you said it was a beautiful way of saying it.

Laurie Watson 23:58
Okay let’s let’s wait three months, and nothing’s changed. Now, what do we do? This is what I tell people. And you, you tell me if I’m right or wrong, George is I say to them, when change absolutely needs to happen, you know, something is too toxic, you’ve been sexless, you’ve, you know, something is too toxic. I say pick a date, pick a date at a reasonable interval out, you know, maybe it’s six months, and you say, at six months, if nothing has changed, then I’m gonna like put a stake in the ground right now and say, this tells me the State of the Union is not good. And I can’t keep going this way. Because if you if you just get to six months, and then it’s like, oh, let’s let’s have that conversation again. It’ll be another six months and pretty soon I mean, people have wasted their youth and and they’re In relationships that are or worse, right now, this couple has a child. And, you know, maybe they have sex once and they hit it and and now they’re bound in a new way. And he’s still not coming toward her sexually. That’s just, that’s not a life. That’s not a marriage to me.

George Faller 25:20
I think it’s healthy to put up a marker that says things have to change. And what I’m measuring is to have things change, if they haven’t changed, can you at least talk about things not changing, as long as you can talk there’s chance of repair, if there’s no change, and there’s no talk, that that’s just like a death sentence that nothing’s going to change. But again, people take vows, they have their own values with this stuff, they got to make a decision on what they want to do, if they’re in a relationship where things are not changing. And some people will stick that out and continue to hope for change. And if that’s, I think, to make it an informed decision yourself to say, hey, look, I gave it six months, there’s been no coonversation, nothing’s changing, it’s likely things are not going to change. This is a pretty discouraging spot. What do I want to do at that spot? I didn’t, that’s everyone’s choice to make? Sure. And I wouldn’t look down on somebody who said, You know what, I made a vow, and I’m going to try to stick in this just like I wouldn’t for somebody who said, this isn’t a marriage, and I would rather be free of this. And, you know, these these tough spots that I think everyone has to figure out on their own.

Laurie Watson 26:32
I agree. But I mean, maybe there could be steps. You know, six months, you know, maybe it’s like, you initiate a separation. It’s like, it’s no longer cozy. It’s no longer convenient to function together. And it’s like, you know, it’s another six months we’re living apart so that your partner can say, you know, do I really want this or not, I’m not saying divorce. Although I think for some people, to me, the vow is also about fidelity, and fidelity cuts both ways. It’s not just keeping away from all others. It’s a promise. I, it’s a promise onto a sexual relationship, isn’t it? I mean, we we say I, well, in my vows that was with my body, I thee worship, you know, as Episcopal Anglican vows. And it’s like, it wasn’t just, I’m going to be faithful. It’s like, I’m going to be with you.

George Faller 27:29
Right. Well, I think there’s another complexity we haven’t talked about. That’s also important for a male sexual withdraw.

Laurie Watson 27:38
Okay, help me.

George Faller 27:40
If you’re not attracted, it don’t work. And now that’s, that’s a whole nother level of fear that brings up you can’t maintain an erection. You’re not being a man. I think for females, they’re they’re not aroused, they can still be receptive, they can still have sex. Right? It’s, it’s not, you know, a guy if you’re not, it’s not working. It’s, it’s the game’s over there. And you have to feel the humiliation of that. So I that’s why I think we need a lot more information. And like when he says he’s not attracted, so does that mean he won’t be able to get aroused? And how does he get aroused? You know, what is going on? There’s just so many unanswered questions with what’s blocking him from what he’s calling. It’s he’s oversimplifying it and put it on her. And I guess that would be my main takeaway, as we’re discussing this case is, how does he share responsibility to look at this together? This is a relationship problem. Right? And the more they can talk about it that way to say, what is it in their negative cycle that’s causing him to feel this way about her and her to not want to engage and be sexual and like, in all our heart, there’s so much happening between the two of them, that both of them want to sit back and say, you know, fix him fix her? How do we get them to do the therapy, couples therapy work, all of us need to do?

Laurie Watson 29:02
And maybe it don’t work? Like on site. You know, like, he doesn’t get an instant reaction. But I wonder if he can switch his mode from visual stimulation to sensual stimulation. You know, maybe he can learn like, okay, yeah, I don’t have that same pop when I look at her, but you know, when she starts touching me when she goes down on me, when we’re in talking and feeling that love, I do get aroused.

George Faller 29:34
I remind myself not to get discouraged, because that’s getting pulled into the negative cycle. If you love somebody, it’s the most natural thing to be turned on and want to make love with them. Like what is actually there is much more powerful than what’s blocking it. Sometimes these blocks seem so overwhelming. We’re like, this is never going to work. Right? If this man loves her, he can figure it out. He can figure out how to kind of make love to her in a way that seeing her being not just getting so caught up in whatever the physicality is that he’s noticing.

Laurie Watson 30:10
I would also say on the flip side, that if he doesn’t figure it out, it’s just not a big enough love to last a lifetime. But I mean, I’m not saying that, that she asked her divorce, I don’t want to make that decision. But I mean, the reality is, if your partner can’t see your need sexually, and that marriage is about a sexual relationship, and they’re not willing to do it, I mean,

George Faller 30:40
you’re signing up for a lifetime of rejection and pain,

Laurie Watson 30:43
they’re signing up for a lifetime. Right? With that, say it again, please, louder.

George Faller 30:48
You are signing up for a lifetime of pain and rejection, never getting any comfort or healing in that place.

Laurie Watson 30:55
Like, ah, yeah, thank you.

George Faller 31:00
So you have good reasons to be struggling here. And thank you for sharing your story. I think your story is pretty universal, we all know what it’s like to be rejected. We all know what it’s like to have insecurities. We all sometimes have our own problems with our partner and kind of how to express that. I mean, this is a universal story. But if you can talk about it with your partner, you can get through the other side, you can tap into kind of why you’re married to each other, I fully believe that if both people are open to doing and seeing their relationship, you know, if your partner is not, that’s going to be much more challenging.

Laurie Watson 31:39
And maybe a micro step between moving out setting that six month mark and moving out, maybe it’s a demand, like, you know, I’m going to move out or where we gotta go to therapy, you know, at least therapy has a chance to help you, you know, therapist to help your partner articulate and think about all these other things. So yeah, I, I think definitely, it’s fair to demand. Look it we need to go to therapy, this this is not working, or sexlessness is not going to work for either one of us, because we know if they’re sexless, they are at risk. You know, if he’s not attracted to her, and he’s not having sex with her, he’s absolutely at risk for other partners, you know, to come in and enter interrupt, and then I mean, that’s another like salt in the wound, he’s rejected her, he’s with somebody else. I mean, why wait for that? You know, and she too, I mean, she’s vulnerable as well. It’s like, what about when somebody pays attention to her and says, Hey, you’re smoking hot baby, after four years of your husband not looking at you, that that’s a that’s a huge temptation. And why end that way versus consciously and intentionally.

George Faller 32:51
For anyone listening, if your partner is pointing a finger at you, as the problem in the relationship, that’s not fair. It’s always both of you. There’s always something between the two of you that is needed to change if you want to overcome these things. So that’s why going to a therapist, you know, you’re not each other’s therapist to get somebody else that can help you lean into these places to understand yourself better you need new information, have new conversations and right now we just don’t have that information.

Laurie Watson 33:24
Bless you. Hang in there. Get the help you need. Thanks for listening y’all.

George Faller 33:29
Keep it hot.

Announcer 33:30
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