You are currently viewing Episode 384: The Heart of the Solution

Episode 384: The Heart of the Solution

After the negative cycle is de-escalated, couples have the opportunity to create a new positive cycle. When there is safety to take the risk of expressing your longing that lives underneath the protection to your partner, lies the solution to creating a more secure relationship. In this episode Laurie and George, illustrate for listeners the sexual pursuer’s longings and how they can share them to their love. You’ll want to listen to this episode for these tips: how to get the timing right, the signals that your body gives to expose your fear, what you need from your partner and how to ask for it!

Show Notes

Understanding Rejection and Fear
– Discussing how pursuers in relationships often fear rejection and disengagement.
– Rejection can lead to anger, criticism, and feeling like a monster.
– Addressing how pursuers may feel gaslit and told they are too negative.
– Exploring the emotional vulnerability underlying these feelings.
– Touching on the fear of being alone and unwanted, which can trigger thoughts of being unlovable and unworthy.
– Noting that these thoughts are often tender and vulnerable spots that go unnoticed.

Honoring Feelings and Exploring Beliefs
– Encouraging listeners to listen to their feelings and explore the belief that they are unworthy of love.
– Sharing a story from a woman who felt her appearance was unappreciated during her childhood.
– Describing her father’s lack of compliments even when she tried to get his attention.
– Discussing how this lack of validation impacted her self-esteem and perception of herself.
– Exploring how this lack of validation extended into her adult relationships.
– Highlighting her complex feelings of not feeling attractive and not receiving attention.

Corrective Emotional Experiences
– Sharing the speaker’s experience of asking if someone can delight in them.
– Describing the typical response of excuses or people leaving when asked to be delighted in.
– Unexpectedly, the speaker’s partner responds with empathy and a desire to help.
– Discussing this experience as a change event and a corrective emotional experience.
– Emphasizing the significance of being the first person to meet someone’s deep longings.
– Sharing the idea that everyone has insecurities and vulnerabilities, and that it’s a natural part of being human.

Facing Insecurities and Vulnerabilities
– Encouraging listeners to face their fears and insecurities with bravery and courage.
– Acknowledging the painful and hurtful feelings associated with insecurities and self-doubt.
– Expressing the desire to look beneath conflicts and explore deeper fears and worries.
– Urging listeners to reveal these fears and worries to their partners.
– Acknowledging that facing fears and hurts is difficult but necessary for growth.

Seeking Support and Finding Solutions
– Discussing the importance of trust and listening to fears and hurts, even if it feels counterintuitive.
– Noting that every fear and hurt carries a longing for something, such as comfort or reassurance.
– Highlighting the importance of sharing longings and having them accepted and comforted by a partner.
– Exploring how taking risks in a relationship becomes easier when there is already engagement and support.
– Emphasizing the role of engagement from a partner in assuring love and understanding.

 Overcoming Fear and Insecurities in Sexuality
– Discussing the two layers of the sexual cycle.
– Addressing how fear and insecurities can hinder sexual exploration.
– Encouraging listeners to address these fears and insecurities for more positive sexual experiences.


Joe Davis – Announcer [00:00:00]:

The following content is not suitable for children.

Laurie Watson [00:00:02]:

Okay. George when we finally get to the point where we’re not in a negative cycle with our partner about sex and we’re talking to each other about what we really want and need, and we have a longing that we start to express, I want to explore that with you, kind of from both the pursuer and withdrawer side.

George Faller [00:00:23]:

Let’s do it.

Laurie Watson [00:00:26]:

Welcome to foreplay sex therapy. I’m Dr. Laurie Watson, your sex therapist.

George Faller [00:00:31]:

And I’m George Faller, a couple’s therapist.

Laurie Watson [00:00:33]:

We are here to talk about sex.

George Faller [00:00:35]:

Our mission is to help couples talk about sex in ways that incorporate their body, their mind, and their hearts.

Laurie Watson [00:00:43]:

And we have a little bit of fun doing it.

George Faller [00:00:45]:

Right, g listen and let’s change some relationships, right, Laurie? This is the heart of the solution.

Laurie Watson [00:00:53]:

Here the heart of the solution. I always love it when you say hot.

George Faller [00:00:58]:

When we are as a therapist, every session I ever do, I’m reminded of this as the target. This is ultimately what great couples can do. This is how couples repair. This is the solution to the negative cycle. I mean, if you’re listening, pay attention to this one. This is going to be super important. This is how we create a positive cycle. Too many therapies, they tell you what the problem is, but they don’t tell you what the solution is. This is the solution to the negative cycle.

Laurie Watson [00:01:28]:

Yes. And for those EFT listeners, those therapists who are listening, we’re going to talk about step seven. But if you’re just an ordinary listener, we’re going to talk about longing, what you really long for as a sexual withdrawal and what you long for as a sexual pursuer. So this applies both places to the layperson listening and to the therapist listening.

George Faller [00:01:51]:

Exactly. And this episode is brought to you.

Laurie Watson [00:01:55]:

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George Faller [00:02:21]:

I think too often, people go to what they need way too early. Right? If you’re in a negative cycle, what you need is less fighting. What you need is your partner to do something differently. When you ask for what you need, it’s interpreted by that yellow brain right. As mistrust, defensiveness, and it doesn’t lead to you getting what you need, which feeds more of the negative cycle, right?

Laurie Watson [00:02:44]:


George Faller [00:02:45]:

So, again, the timing has to be right for asking for what you need. We really want a couple to be de escalated and get their negative cycle before we start to kind of go into this deeper end of the water.

Laurie Watson [00:02:58]:

So it makes so much sense if I just tell my partner what I need, then they love me. They want to meet that need. Why are we going through this therapy? Why are we going through all this process? Why can’t they just come to me? But we know because we’ve worked with lots of people and we’ve worked it ourselves, that you have to kind of get past that point where you’re in the you trigger me, my defense triggers you, which triggers your defense, which triggers me. All of that stuff keeps going on. And then when you are actually more connected and more vulnerable with each other, this is when asking for what you really long for and want starts to work.

George Faller [00:03:38]:

Exactly. So if we’re in a negative cycle with each other and you want me to engage, I want you to be less critical. We’re both right what we want, but what we’re not seeing is what the other person is doing. That’s feeding this protection and the need for me to go away or for you to become critical. You really need to make some progress on the negative cycle to reduce the reactivity, to open up more space, to make it actually safer to go deeper. Mostly what we need, we focus on what our partner is doing. We don’t go within ourselves and that’s really what we’re going to talk about here now. How do we go deeper within ourselves and listen to the wisdom of our own emotions that are going to guide us to what we need.

Laurie Watson [00:04:21]:


George Faller [00:04:23]:

And I always like to start off really honoring this is the ultimate of risks. You’re going to go to your most tender, vulnerable places and sit in the fear and the pain long enough to actually put words to what you would want in that place. You don’t want to ask for it in this way if your partner is not going to be engaged and responsive. So that’s why we want a lot of safety. Because if I share my worst fear, I think I am a failure. I’m a loser. And I really need you to tell me it’s going to be okay. And I turn to you and I share and you say, well, you are a loser at times. I mean, that is like death. That’s like existential obliteration. Which is why we want a lot of safety before we set this up.

Laurie Watson [00:05:07]:

Exactly. Yeah.

George Faller [00:05:08]:

So the process flow as our listeners are thinking about this. I think what’s so counterintuitive is if you really want to go to what you need, the longing, you have to go to the fear. You have to be willing to face your worst fears and sit in it. Like, if I feel like a failure as a withdrawal, I need to go to that place. I need to make it come alive. What happens if I do fail? What happens to my relationship? How do people around me see me? How do I feel about myself? You need to make that come into the room. You need to get yourself a body marker. Where do you feel like a failure? I usually feel that in my stomach. Or if you’re the pursuer, where do you feel like you’re too much or you’re being rejected?

Laurie Watson [00:05:51]:

Laurie right. I feel it in my stomach too, ironically.

George Faller [00:05:55]:

All right. There you go. That’s probably a dorsal vagal nerve response.

Laurie Watson [00:05:59]:

Yeah, exactly.

George Faller [00:06:01]:

And so we want to make sure I think this is the hardest thing for most people to do. It’s to want to face their fears and hurts and trust. Because normally when we do that, we don’t have success. Our partner is the one causing it. Our partner is leaving. It feels so counterintuitive to sit and listen to that place. But if you don’t listen to the fear, you’re not going to get the longing in the fear. I think maybe we should say that again. If you don’t get the fear alive, you will never really get the longing to come alive. You’re just going to go for a concept, something your partner needs to do differently. But every fear, if I feel sad, it’s calling for something. I want comfort. If I’m afraid, I need reassurance. If I’m hurt, I need some. There’s always a longing with fear and hurt. That’s the good news here. If you’re willing to face it, it will tell you the solution to this problem.

Laurie Watson [00:07:00]:

And isn’t it that you’re saying we want the fear alive because we want people to know that they are risking new information to give to their partner, that they’re risking their vulnerability. That’s the fearfulness that comes up in us when we start to talk like this with each other. So if it’s not there, then there’s no real risk that you’re taking. So you got to go deeper.

George Faller [00:07:25]:

Right. Not only is it there’s a fear of showing this or exposing in this, but if you don’t go deeper, you’re not going to get the real longing in it. If I just touch way, I guess I feel like I’m getting it wrong and I can’t go deeper in that. When you ask me what do I need when I’m getting it wrong, I’m like for you to stop telling me I’m getting it wrong. I don’t get that really important want. There’s always a want and a need in a hurt and a fear, but you have to be willing to give it the space for it to emerge. And I think it’s that not knowing that makes a lot of people exit this process too prematurely.

Laurie Watson [00:08:04]:

So I’m going into myself wondering, curious, not knowing what I’m going to find when I look for my longing. That’s what you’re saying, is that right?

George Faller [00:08:16]:

Yeah. I really want you to go to the depth of how do you make sense of you in this place of fear, of failure, of rejection, abandonment? How do you make sense of you? This is usually where you find a lot of shame. I’m too much, I’m unlovable, I’m broken. I don’t deserve. This is the real nasty stuff that so many of us don’t want to I mean, that’s what makes shame so powerful. It’s the secrecy, it’s the hiding. We don’t want to let people in. We don’t want to let ourselves in. We do everything we can to get away from these places, but like a shadow lurking, it always comes back.

Laurie Watson [00:08:52]:

I like that you need to say that a lot. Like a shadow lurking, it always comes back. Exactly.

George Faller [00:08:57]:

And it’s counterintuitive. But if you can go and listen to the shadow, if you can go deeper into the darkness, if you listen to what it’s saying, in the shadow is going to be the longing of what you need. It’s the solution to the problem right.

Laurie Watson [00:09:13]:

Below what my partner does to me. I have a feeling about myself in this that is painful, shameful, hurtful. But when I think about me, there’s something in there that we’re asking people to look at. Like, what do I say about me? Am I broken? Am I unattractive? Am I too much? Am I not enough? All of those things that when we look at ourselves, we think, this all makes sense because it’s kind of my fault, I’m not enough or I’m too much. All of that. And we’re asking people to look at that. That below the conflict. There’s something that happens inside you that is usually kind of a confirmation about what you fear about yourself, what you are worried about deep inside. And in that place, we’re going to ask people to reveal that to their partner.

George Faller [00:10:08]:

Exactly. And it’s just an insecure part that we all have. I always help couples put it into perspective, right. That doesn’t mean they’re not confident and amazing and all that great stuff. That’s all true too. But whenever there’s a threat, there’s a reason people protect themselves. There’s a threat because it hits a raw spot. It hits something deep within us. A vulnerability or insecurity, that’s just part of the human condition. There’s nothing wrong that you have a vulnerability. Right. It’s just part of what it is to be us. So it’s listening to the wisdom of those places and trusting if we face it. I mean, this is a very intentional mindfulness approach. It’s saying, Why is your body giving you a signal? Let’s listen to the signal. Because in that signal of feeling like a failure, there’s something that could help with that. If we don’t get the failure, we’re not going to get the help that we need. So that’s where it takes the bravery and courage to kind of go into the darkness and face our shadows.

Laurie Watson [00:11:05]:

Right? We’re complex people. We’re not saying that all the time. You go around, like, feeling like you’re a worm. It’s just that these places that get triggered deep inside are important, and if you share them with your partner, you can get the comfort that you need for them.

George Faller [00:11:21]:

Precisely. And when we often talk about two layers to this when we’re talking about the sexual cycle, right. You really need to calm people’s fears and give them reassurance that resources them, that frees up that energy to then tap into the more positive part of like, what does my sexual being really want? It’s hard to be Tarzan and swing in the bedroom when you’re afraid you’re a loser. So that loser part needs a little bit of reassurance to kind of resource, right? Make it kind of there’s so much energy we waste diverting towards covering these places up, preparing ourselves for what’s happening. Once you’re able to reassure that it frees up this energy to actually then put it towards the more creative part of our sexual being.

Laurie Watson [00:12:10]:

So what do pursuers actually talk about this, the fear that they have and what they’re longing for?

George Faller [00:12:18]:

Well, so often pursuers fear is because they keep getting rejected when they want to try and initiate their partner disengages. It leaves them mad and angry and critical. They start to feel like a monster. They feel gaslit because they’re told they’re too negative. They don’t want to be negative. So there’s a lot of emotional kind of vulnerability underneath. Right. And when you start to slow down the space, how do they make sense of being alone, of not being wanted? What is it about them? This is where you usually get too much. I’m unlovable. People just always wind up leaving me. What is it about me? Am I just too much for people? Am I unworthy? These are some really tender, vulnerable spots. And usually nobody shows up here. And because nobody shows up here, we really don’t know what we need in these places. But when you start to have some safety, we can really open up that space to say lori, right now, just listen to your stomach as you say, there’s something about me that feels unworthy of love. Not only are you alone, but there’s part of you that says you deserve to be alone. You always wind up back here anyway. What is it about you?

Laurie Watson [00:13:30]:

Right. There are also family of origin things that get triggered in this longing. Just old messages, old things that start to feel like this is who I am forever. Not just in this relationship, but who I’ve been.

George Faller [00:13:46]:


Laurie Watson [00:13:47]:

Had a woman tell me the other day sexual pursuer say my parents believed that telling us as kids that we were pretty or beautiful or attractive or handsome would give us was a shallow value. So they really consciously worked at never telling us that we were attractive. And my father particularly would never say that kind of thing as a girl. And I always tried to get him to I’d dance for him or whatever and he never could kind of pay that attention. So then she said with my partner, when he rejects me. I just feel that same sense of it’s because I’m unattractive that he doesn’t say that. He doesn’t come toward me. He doesn’t want me. Her parents actually were intentional about it. It wasn’t that she was unattractive, but all of that lack of messaging about that her physical appearance was okay, then was replicated with her husband not coming toward her. So she just felt like, I’m ugly, I’m unattractive. I’ve never been told that I’m attractive. And here it is again. This is why he doesn’t come toward me. So it was that terrible sense of complicated sense of not being attractive and also not being paid attention to.

George Faller [00:15:10]:

Right. Terrible. All right, well, let’s come back and talk about what possibly might help this lady.

Laurie Watson [00:15:17]:

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George Faller [00:16:27]:

So, again, Lori’s describing and I always put it in parts work. Right. There’s part of this lady that’s always gotten this message. There’s something about her that’s just not attractive that don’t mean that other areas she is very attractive. Right. But as we try to hone in on that shadow side, we want that to come alive. Where does she feel that you want to role play her, Lori?

Laurie Watson [00:16:52]:


George Faller [00:16:53]:

Even as you say that Jane, right now that this is an old message. You’ve had this message your whole life. There’s something about you that’s just not attractive. So how do you make sense of that?

Laurie Watson [00:17:08]:

Yeah, I kind of have never delighted anybody, what it feels like. And my husband doesn’t delight in my body or me as a being. It feels in the same way that I used to spin and kind of dance for my father when he came from work.

George Faller [00:17:31]:

It’s just the same thing, and you’re spinning. And we all want that delight to be special in the eyes of the people we love. And when we never get it, how do you make sense? What is it about you that you just don’t delight people?

Laurie Watson [00:17:47]:

It feels like I’m just an annoyance that all that buzzing around them that I do just annoys them. I want to be like a fly that they SWAT away.

George Faller [00:17:59]:


Laurie Watson [00:18:01]:

I’m just an insect. I’m not really a little girl or a grown woman who has value. It’s like, I’m just a bug. Just get away, is what they’re saying. So I guess I’m a bug. I’m bugging them. I’m just a fly.

George Faller [00:18:21]:

Yeah, again, I appreciate you taking the time as you just kind of listen into this place. Not only do you not get the good stuff that we all need to be seen and appreciated and desired, delighted in. I love that word, as you’re saying that. So not only do you not get the good stuff, but on top of that, you get the bad stuff that I’m just a bug. I’m just annoying. People not only don’t delight in me, they get frustrated by me because I’m a bug, as you even say that now. Where do you feel that in your body? I’m a bug.

Laurie Watson [00:18:53]:

Oh, I feel it in my stomach, absolutely.

George Faller [00:18:57]:

What is it you feel in your stomach?

Laurie Watson [00:19:00]:

Just this kind of achiness.

George Faller [00:19:05]:

The achy part of yeah, it’s trying to clench.

Laurie Watson [00:19:12]:

It’s very hollow, and it does kind of clench up, almost like hunger. I guess.

George Faller [00:19:21]:

We’Re trying to listen to that to your stomach. I’m not expecting you have the answer to this, but what do you think might help in that place when your stomach is clenching and I can see you turning away even as you talk about this, I’m a bug, I’m annoying. I don’t want people to see this. I want to hide. I want to pull away. It’s never been an option for you to talk about this place. That’s why it’s so brave what you’re doing. But if we just close your eyes right now and listen to your stomach, what do you think might help that place? Maybe some reassurance, maybe touch? What do you think could help in this place where you’re a bug?

Laurie Watson [00:20:00]:

I think it’s in the eyes of my husband. I long to see delight, just like the happiness at seeing me eyes lighting up something. It’s in the eyes that I need.

George Faller [00:20:17]:

Okay, again, how wise is that, that what’s been always absent is delight. You can see in someone’s eyes if they want you, if they see you. Even seeing these bad places where I’m a bug, you’re just wanting to see delight there. You’re wanting to see that your partner is not grossed out by this, that your partner is not repulsed by this, that you’re not annoying.

Laurie Watson [00:20:42]:

Yeah. It’s not enough, I think, to be neutral that I’m not annoying or a bug. It’s like I need to see that I’m a treasure, that he’s delighting in me. I think especially in the sexual moment when I initiate or come in the room with lingerie or something, I want his eyes to light up.

George Faller [00:21:06]:

Wow. So I’m going to ask you to turn to your partner, and again, if this feels too big, that’s fine, but I think this is an opportunity to kind of give you something that you never get to fight for you in a different way. And I see your partner is looking and engaged and tracking you in this place and is being moved by what you’re sharing. But what do you think it’d be like to tell your partner that no one has ever really delighted in you? You kind of can’t blame them because part of you believes you’re kind of a bug and you’re annoying. So it’s hard to imagine that somebody would want to would you want a delight in me?

Laurie Watson [00:21:51]:

That feels so hard.

George Faller [00:21:53]:

Yeah. Again, this is why you do all these moves to protect yourself in this place from this pain of feeling that you’re never going to be a delight. This place is waiting for you, that you’re just going to be a bug to people. And it feels so unfair. It turns into anger. And then you believe it and you hide. It’s never an option to have somebody just come and say, no, you are a delight. You’re my delight. And I want to work better at showing you that.

Laurie Watson [00:22:27]:

I guess I could try.

George Faller [00:22:30]:

All right, let’s see you do it.

Laurie Watson [00:22:34]:

So, Joe, would you delight in me? I’d love to come to you sometimes, and I just want to see it in your eyes. Would you be able to show me with your eyes your delight in me?

George Faller [00:22:49]:

That’s beautiful. Yes, I’m Joe. I want to delight in you. I’m sorry. I often get so caught up in protecting myself that I do what everyone else does to you. But I hope you can see in my eyes now the delight. I appreciate seeing this side of you. I feel good being the one person that can do that for you.

Laurie Watson [00:23:12]:

Thank you. Good. That’s a lot better. Feels good.

George Faller [00:23:17]:

How’s your stomach?

Laurie Watson [00:23:19]:

It feels a little warm.

George Faller [00:23:23]:

So let’s pause and stop this for a second.

Laurie Watson [00:23:25]:


George Faller [00:23:27]:

Lori’s getting off the hot seat.

Laurie Watson [00:23:30]:

I mean, when you role play, right, your body enters the moment and you start to feel those you know, I kind of feel the tearfulness role play. And we do a lot of this as therapists, but even as you enact something, your body just responds. I feel what this woman is feeling. And I looked down at the screen when you were saying to her, can I delight in you? Or I want to delight in you. And it was like it was just all of that happens.

George Faller [00:24:02]:

And you can see how important it is to go to the pain of what it feels like to be a bug. Because if you’re willing to go and listen to that place, that’s where the longing starts to emerge. I don’t want to be a bug. I wish somebody could delight in me. We need to kind of find our words for our longing. And then here comes the risk. I need to ask for it. You could feel like everything slowed down. Right.

Laurie Watson [00:24:26]:

As Laurie says, that ask is hard.

George Faller [00:24:30]:

No one ever delights in me. I don’t blame them because I’m annoying. That’s been my life experiences. Can you delight in me? You see how risky it is to ask that? Because we don’t know. She don’t know the answer to that question. Right. She’s hoping for a resounding yes, but she’s waiting for the predictable excuse or going away. That usually always happens in this place. So when she gets her husband to say, whoa, I did not know this. Yes. Even though you show me these dark, warts, and ugly part of you where you feel insecure, like, it makes me feel powerful because I get to come, I get to help. I never usually get this. I usually feel like I’m failing and letting you down because it turns into anger. I feel empowered. This is a change event. When longings are met, that is the positive cycle. Not only is Lori loved in a place she’s usually always left alone, but I get to be the person who gets it right and brings that the first person on the planet who’s really done that. This is a corrective emotional experience. It’s got the energy to power the New York City skyline.

Laurie Watson [00:25:42]:

That’s the New Yorker.

George Faller [00:25:44]:

There you go.

Laurie Watson [00:25:46]:

Yeah, it does. And when my body started to respond with warmth, instead of that kind of crampy, empty place, that’s kind of proof of the pudding, it’s like I do feel comforted by what he said.

George Faller [00:26:03]:

Right. And we’re always going when we’re training therapists, lori and I always say, body in, body out. You got to go to the body where the negative stuff is held in the stomach. It’s clenching. It feels nauseous. The body’s turning away. Then you take this risk and you ask for help, and you delight in me, and you give me what my heart has always wanted. All the thousands of times I get rejected, it has always wanted this and never gotten it. Well, now I’m asking for it. You see how this is the solution to the problem? Now we go back to Lori’s body, and all of a sudden that stomach feels a little bit warmer. It might not trust it. That’s fine. Maybe it needs more practice. But that shift from nauseous to warmth, that’s really good evidence that you are moving in the right direction towards that secure attachment.

Laurie Watson [00:26:53]:

Yeah. And I think that these risks that we’re asking people to take comes at a time in the relationship that there’s already engagement in the couple. So you’re not telling the pursuer to say these kinds of things only to be rejected further. It’s like my sense is the withdrawal is thinking about this in a new way. It’s like, oh, I’m now in our encounters, realizing that my partner is having all these feelings and maybe able to hold my worry about being a failure or not good enough or whatever in tandem with her sense of she’s always seen as a bug. I want to make sure this time it doesn’t happen. So that engagement, I think, often allows people to start meeting these needs after they do this with each other, when they share their longings and it’s accepted and it’s comforted, then the next time they’re out there away from us or the next time, as in your own relationship, when you’re trying it again, the engagement from your partner sort of assures that this keeps going, that your love gets met, that they remember kind of what you’re going through and feeling when you take those risks.

George Faller [00:28:10]:

Yes. So in leaving here, two main things. One, you got to give the space, bring in the pain for the longings to be alive and real, to actually put words to what your heart has always wanted. And two, when you ask for it, so often partners are asking, but they ask in ways that sound like an accusation. I need you to be nicer. I need you to engage more. I need you and it doesn’t pull a partner forward. We want the ask to be an invitation. Can you give me what no one else has ever given me before? It’s a bid to come closer it’s a call for help. A call for help is very different than a criticism or an accusation. So how you ask for this longing is crucial.

Laurie Watson [00:29:01]:

I know this is heavy and this is the moment of healing, really, for the sexual pursuer. Maybe we can talk about the sexual withdrawal next time because they have different longings, different sexual longings. But thank you all for listening.

George Faller [00:29:17]:

Ask for your longings.

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