Does a Man Always Ask Out a Woman If He’s Interested In Her?

Does a Man Always Ask Out a Woman If He’s Interested In Her?Evan, I have a common problem that you’ve responded to lots of times: I fooled myself into thinking that my friend of 10 years had feelings for me, and when I mustered up the nerve to tell him, I was shot down. I thought I had read the signs right. We talked almost every day, he told me I was hot, he told me that he fantasized about me, and we went traveling together. He never actually made a move on me though. Now that I know my feelings are not returned, I’ve cut him out of my life so that I can move on and find someone who truly does love me. I have to admit though, that this whole experience has left me scarred. I was wondering if you could explain how to avoid a situation like this in the future. Do men always ask out a woman they’re immediately interested in? Does love never grow over time? Does the romantic story of “When Harry Met Sally” really just exist in the movies? –Angelina

Angelina, sweetheart. I’ve never answered this question before, and I’m glad you shared your story with me. It definitely hurts to have a long-time unrequited love and I’d be lying to you if I said that I never experienced the exact same thing.

So believe me when I tell you, everything you’re going through is very common – and, not only that, but this will NEVER ever happen to you again. Okay?

First of all, you have to stop beating yourself up over the outcome of your friendship. Any woman in a similar position would have read all of those signs in the same way. I can’t think of many guys who will tell you you’re attractive and claim to fantasize about you, who aren’t at least somewhat interested in something more than friendship.

Usually, when there’s smoke, there’s fire. In this case, there was not.

C’est la vie.

It definitely hurts to have a long-time unrequited love and I’d be lying to you if I said that I never experienced the exact same thing.

But there are some things that you could have been ignoring the entire time you were with him that led to this crisis. The first thing that I can think of is that he’s not some shy beta male who had a crush on you for ten years and was too embarrassed to make a move.

I’m guessing that maybe 25% of guys are that way. Maybe more, but I don’t know too many men like that. Guys who are the way I was in high school – befriending all the pretty girls in hopes of getting close to them, only to discover that you’re in the friend zone.

But for all the other men out there who got the memo in third grade that if you find someone attractive, you ask her out, the easiest thing to do is simply observe them.

If he asks you out, he’s interested. If he doesn’t, he’s not.

I’m guessing, Angelina, that your guy was in the top 75%. Which meant that if he liked you, at some point over 10 years, he would have let you know it.

So, looking back on your history, was your friend somewhat confident, charismatic, and funny? Did he have any other girlfriends? Any random hookups? Did he tell you about other women and ask you for advice on them?

If so, I could have told you from the beginning that he saw you as just a friend.

Men see women as just friends in four fundamental ways:

1. He’s not attracted to you at all – which makes friendship really easy to maintain, without all the sexual tension of the “When Harry Met Sally” friendship.

2. He’s taken and content in his relationship – which makes you off-limits, and even if he is attracted to you, he wouldn’t do anything about it.

3. He’s hooked up with you before – so the mystery and excitement is gone and you can just enjoy each other’s company as friends.

4. He’s a mature adult who’s had enough sex to understand that just because he’s attracted to someone doesn’t mean she’d be a viable girlfriend/life partner, so it’s best not to act on that attraction.

I can only make such a list because there I am friends with women under all four of those pretenses – I’m not attracted to her, I’ve hooked up with her before, I’ve slept around and don’t need to do it again, and I’m married and not ruining a good thing.

So when you’re assessing future friendships with men, first ask yourself whether he’s the shy, awkward guy who may be repressing his true feelings for you.

If he’s not, he’s probably not interested in you and is one of the four men above.

Any questions?

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Comments:

  1. 1
    jbv

    I agree with what Evan wrote.  A friend admitted to her feelings for me a while back and while I was physically attracted to her (and, originally considering dating her when I first met her but didn’t because I was dating someone else and she had recently gotten out of a long term relationship) I decided to try to keep our friendship instead because I couldn’t see myself “married” to her or in a long term relationship.  I didn’t see the point of ruining our friendship for the matter of a dating situation that might last a year or 2.  

  2. 2
    Raymond Bork

    Angelina,
    I have a female friend. We once worked together and now we occasionally meet up for lunch and exchange birthday/Christmas messages.
    What I have never said to my female friend is that I think she is ‘hot’ or that I fantasize about her.  That would have definately given the wrong message just like your friend did to you.
    You didn’t read the signs wrong, you read your friend wrong, as I’m sure most women would have done.
     Did he get scared I just don’t know, I can’t figure him out. so I think you did the right thing in cutting him out of your life, and moving on.
    You may be shaken by his reaction, but I hope that any interesting men you meet in the future will, (as long as they are emotionally mature) let you know what their real feelings are for you.

  3. 3
    amy

    I think the 25% estimate of shy guys is way too high. That’s why women are always saying, “well, he does really like me but he’s too intimidated by me/too afraid to ask me out.” Besides, if he doesn’t ask a woman out – whether for shyness, lack of interest — it’s irrelevant; he’s not for you.
     

  4. 4
    Brenda

    Thank you for this! I am learning that a man can’t build attraction if I act like a buddy. I am learning to let him initiate contact, and let him lead if there are to be any moves.
    I have known my friend, R, for 4 years. We dated for 10 months, almost every day, in 2009. We had a major falling out, and little by little, he has come back in my life. The night before my birthday, January 6th, after a few very positive dates, he started talking about sex and romance via text message. We texted for 5 hours while he asked me stuff like, “What makes you feel beautiful?” “What makes you feel like a goddess?” “I asked him what makes him feel beautiful, and he said, “When I am chivalrous like a knight and treat women like princesses.” Next he asked me if a woman can orgasm while riding a horse. Much more was shared on that level.

    Because of past confusion in the lines of friendship vs romance, I asked, “Am I being flirted with?” That’s when everything fell apart. He responded, “I am not making romantic insinuation.” Among other things, I told him I felt like I was watching a romance movie, enjoying all the beauty of intimacy and romance. But when the movie ends, I am always left just sitting alone in a dark theater.
    He asked, “Do you want to stop being my friend if it’s going to be nothing more?”
    I felt weak, like a twisted, wrung out dishrag. He has led me on and let me down many, many times in 2009. He said later he just enjoys talking about romance, and he didn’t realize it would lead me on. I said, “Come on, you’re not stupid! Given our history, it should be obvious by now!” He said I was calling him stupid, because he claims he honestly didn’t know better. I believe he knows what he’s doing. It ruined my birthday, because I had thought he was leading up to a passionate night or at least some sort of birthday surprise.

  5. 5
    Helen

    The common thread I see in Angelina and Brenda 4’s experiences, as well as the experiences of many of my single friends who got burned in similar ways, is an erosion of basic dignity – of the ability to keep one’s mouth shut, and not feel the need to tell others exactly what’s on their minds.

    Since when did “emoting” become a virtue? People who blather on and on about their feelings and reveal everything in their minds and hearts, with no regard for the other person’s interest or feelings, are insufferable.  If you don’t have intentions toward another person, don’t tell them they’re hot and that you fantasize about them.  Don’t ask them questions of a sexual nature.  Period.  Show some consideration for how the other person might take your words.  For God’s sake, this seems so basic; yet this impulse to overshare that characterizes today’s society repeatedly takes over fundamental dignity and thoughtfulness toward others.

    Angelina and Brenda, if you can, associate more with people who are thoughtful about your feelings – not fools who spill all their guts and are only thinking of themselves. 

  6. 6
    FashionMaven

    Boy can I relate.  I had a similar experience – not 10 years, but long enough… and it went in circles too.  In the end, even though he was interested, he never made a move.  After endless conversations where we went up, down and around about it, I just came to the conclusion that he just didn’t want to (and that’s if I’m to believe he was actually interested in me that way and not just some sick game he was playing).  When we discussed it, he placed himself in the 25% camp – but since in the end, he STILL wasn’t going to pursue, all of the conversations and whatnot were just a huge waste of my time.
     
    I think that regardless of WHY a man doesn’t pursue (whether he’s in the 75% or the 25%) – it just doesn’t matter.  The upshot is that he didn’t and never will.
     
    So if you find yourself in a “friendlationship” with a man – GET OUT.  You deserve to be with a man who has the inner confidence and self-assuredness to actually ask you out no matter what his “fears” or “insecurities” may be.
     
    I consider my “emotional” time to be just as valuable as my “physical relationship” time and if a man comes along and wants all of my emotional time and energy and he’s not giving me a real relationship back in return – I’m done with him.  Period.  All it does is keep you from a man who wants to give EVERYTHING to you – not just crumbs.

    1. 6.1
      Jo

      Fantastic response!

  7. 7
    Angie

    I sort of agree with Amy’s point that if a man can’t ask you out, you probably don’t want to date him.  I do agree with some of Evan’s earlier posts, where you can flirt at a bar, etc and insinuate it would be fun to see him again.

    Angelina, if this guy couldn’t ask you out in 10 years, do you really want him?  Maybe he was 15 when you met (you didn’t say), but “shy” guys are really just insecure guys who usually act hostilely if they become your boyfriend.  I myself and female friends get the reverse of this situation, where the “friend” really does like you:

    My friend was college-friends with a guy for 8 years or so. He never expressed interest or made a move, but one day his guy friend met my friend… and they started dating.  He threw a hissy fit, told both of them they were terrible people, etc, and both of them were confused as they had no idea the “friend” had interest.

    I dated a guy once who had a crush on me while being my “friend” for a year.  He made a move, once, and we tried dating but I wasn’t that serious about it, while he was declaring his “love” after a couple weeks.  I was never able to get on the same page b/c I was never that attracted to him.

    Evan’s list is a good list of reasons a guy wouldn’t ask you out, but I also think you should tell yourself that you want a partner that is on the same page as you from the get-go.  It’s also possible your friend just liked having someone around who he knew had a crush on him, for purely the purpose of pumping up his own ego and wasn’t really a friend at all, hence the telling you he thought you were hot, etc, so you wouldn’t go off and find someone else.

  8. 8
    amy

    Brenda #4 – why would you be with a man with whom you had a “major falling out with?” He sounds like such a tool with his “what makes you feel beautiful” questions. And by tool, I mean “jerk.” A guy who wants to ask you out, will. Period. I was NEVER EVER friends with a man that I was interested in dating, except high school.

  9. 9
    Ruby

    Some men out there are incredible flirts (I’m sure some women do this too). For them, flirting is exciting and an ego boost, but they have no serious relationship intentions. In other words, they won’t be seriously calling, asking you out, and having physical contact. 

    I recently cut an ex out of my life who would periodically call me, act flirtatious and interested, even tell me he still loved me, but never followed through. Too frustrating – who needs it?

    @Brenda
    5 hours of texting? That’s a waste of time, if you are really interested in someone, and want them to ask you out. “Can a woman orgasm while riding a horse?” I think you must have better things to do than answer such idiotic questions!

  10. 10
    Joe

    5. He’s gay.

  11. 11
    Evan Marc Katz

    This post has already elicited multiple questions about your personal lives. I apologize but this isn’t the right forum for that:

    http://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/rules-of-the-blog

    What’s not allowed:

    1)    Comments that hijack the forum to ask for your own personal dating and relationship advice. The only questions that get answered on here are the ones I post once a week. The comments section is for you to give your perspective on the original question; it is not for you to ask what you should do about the guy you’re seeing.

    If you have a question you want answered, please ask it here:

    http://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/contact/

    The reason we have this rule is so the comments section doesn’t get taken over by YOUR issues and we can stay focused on the original poster. Thank you.

     

  12. 12
    DMC

    I agree with what Evan wrote, and will add that dude sounds like kind of a dick for leading you on like that.  As a guy, you expect women to do that sort of thing, but from a guy? It just seems more messed up to me….I don’t agree with the others who said any guy who doesn’t ask you out is unworthy to date.  I’m a firm believer that if you want to willingly embrace gender roles like let the man do all the work, it’s hypocritical to claim you are his equal. If anything, you are treating him as an inferior.

    I give you credit for taking the risk.  In my experience, most women just sit around and let things happen.

  13. 13
    Liz

    Evan, can there be a reason #5 why a guy sees you as a friend – Bad Timing?  I know a man who seems to be showing a lot of the indicators of interest…much eye contact, some phone calls and texts.  He always notices and mentions when I’m not at the weekly event where we usually see each other.  But, he’s never asked me out.  He got divorced 2 months ago after about 15years of marriage.  

    I’m not holding my breath or anything, but it seems odd that he seems interested but doesn’t take the next step.  The guy is not shy, so I won’t be asking him out. I just feel like I’m getting a lot of mixed signals.  

  14. 14
    david

    Yeah, 25% of incredibly shy / beta male guys is waaaaaay too high….and TEN YEARS? I can’t tell if she’s been waiting around for him to bust a move for a decade or if they’ve known each other a decade and she’s had romantic feelings recently….

    This is the gender flip of the guy who’s pining away for the girl who’s put him in the friend zone….and gee whiz — hopes and prays she will someday will see him as something more (that was me from age 13 to about 30 and a brief regression at 35)….

    There is a friend who has been my friend — and often, best friend — on and off for a DECADE too who is majorily curvy, really pretty, full lips, incredibly young looking for her 42 years (she looks 25), but has a lot of emotional issues / scars that run deep and her meltdowns can pull you under like a riptide (hence the on and off periods) — she’s pretty, I’m in theory attracted to her, but just a really, really bad road to go down romantic relationship / long term wise….

  15. 15
    Flower White

    All over the web with women of all races and colors I see the same question hear the same stories…he texts me…he stands me up…he calls me and we talk about sex..he didn’t text me for three weeks but I don’t want to give up on him because I care about him.

    As a female I do believe many of us are simply delusional and refuse to see the signs and take him for what he is – a man who doesn’t want us as a romantic partner.

    Men come into my life and expect me to do the romantic heavy lifting…chase them, text them, call them…have sex with them?? NOPE.

    I’ve learned from Evan and other wise men and women -Men are not shy, they’re just not interested in you!! 

  16. 16
    K

    @Liz, if he just got divorced 2 months ago, why not just continue to get to know  him and see if it pans out?  Him asking about your absence is a nice indicator that he enjoys your company, but wouldn’t be a definitive indicator of his intentions.  The more you see of him, the more he heals from a divorce, he’ll either ask you out or not.
     

  17. 17
    Ileana

    I have never been in such a situation before, nor do I EVER wish to live something like this. 
     
    I agree with Helen at #5. ‘Communication is the answer’ – This gets thrown around so often, that many people don’t even know what that means and take it tooo seriously. People don’t need a diary nowadays. They can just blurt out what they think, without even thinking.

    I feel so sorry for Angelina, but there is something not clear to me in this whole story. She knew this guy for 10 years and, at some point he started showing interest as mentioned above, or was this ‘i think you’re hot’ attitude there from the beginning?
    However, wouldn’t it have been wiser for her to try and actually see where this whole thing was going, by using some small ‘tests’?
    Sure, they were talking daily, but what would have happened if Angelina decided to get a bit cold with him? I’m not saying she should have been MIA for weeks, but maybe she could have reduced the time they talked/spent together. Instead of talking daily, wait 2 3 days and see what happens. Or maybe talk about someone else who might have been interested in her, in order to observe his reaction. I’m not saying that these things work all the time, but i guess that depending on the person/relationship, you can adapt and get some hints. If he didn’t mind any of these, then it would have been obvious that he was ok with just being friends. I don’t know if a man who nurtures ‘special’ feelings for a woman would just stay there and wait for her to get cold or for some other dude to commit, just because he isnt’t brave enough.

    I am aware that all these require some tact and all, but I just don’t think it is right that she ‘allowed’ him so much power over their ‘relationship’… I’m not judging her at all, I only feel sorry :(

  18. 18
    K

    I would have felt like Angelina if I had made that bold move.  I know it has the potential to ruin my friendships so I tend to leave things as is and search for love elsewhere.  But I have a friend who has done exactly what Angelina did on numerous occasions with a lot less reason.  She comes from the school of leave no stone unturned.  She’s still great friends with the last guy (even though I would have been mortified) and is now married to someone else.  I think you have to know yourself though and know if you are the kind of person who can take a chance and be okay with either answer.

  19. 19
    lawyerette

    Liz – he just got divorced. He’s not ready. Don’t get emotionally invested. He likes you, sure (the positive signals), but that doesn’t mean he won’t use you to get over the pain of his divorce. You deserve a guy who is ready and willing to give you the relationship you want. Be friendly to him, but write him off. 

  20. 20
    Diana

    I agree with Evan. I actually kissed a guy friend many, many years ago, but thankfully, he just laughed it off. That is how we were able to preserve our friendship. I am, however, in a great relationship because I read and applied the principles outlined in “Why He Disappeared”.

  21. 21
    SnowdropExplodes

    I’m curious about that 25%-75% split, because it coincides with the “out of thin air” figure for the split of introverts-extroverts.   A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that an introvert is just shy, or afraid, or whatever “beta male” stuff and I find that rather annoying.
     
    However, it turns out that when you run the statistics on people taking the MBTI test, you actually get marginally more introverts than extroverts, it’s a roughly 50-50 split; the low guess for their prevalence comes about because introverts, by the very nature of introversion, are less visible in society.   It may be that “guys who don’t always ask first” have a similar statistical balance that is masked because of their tendency to be less visible (especially if women are taught to believe that men will always ask first – that way you never discover how many are the opposite).
     
    What I will say is that 10 years is too long to wait: either by that stage you’re totally in his friend zone as well or he will have rvealed his hand in a negative way.   I agree with EMK in terms of the signals to look out for in the OP’s situation.   If you’re interested, there’s nothing wrong with letting a guy know but it definitely helps to be clear early on, because that way you both know where you stand and if it’s not reciprocated then friendship can develop normally (see reason #4 in the OP).

  22. 22
    Alexa

    Do men always ask out a woman they’re immediately interested in?”

    If a man is interested in a woman, he will will ask her out for sure given he knows that he has a good chance with her.
    Men don’t like to be turned down – and as a matter of fact, nobody does :) – so the more he is certain he’s got a good chance with a woman, the more likely that he will ask her out if he is interested.

      

  23. 23
    Jen

    Amen to Helen! Being thoughtful about another’s feelings is key, and highly underrated.

    Good thing Angelina released the guy. He sounds like a real basketcase and remaining friends with someone like that will only waste her time and emotions.

  24. 24
    The InBetweener

    +1 – Those words in red are KEY!! Other than that, why risk it? 

    Alexa22

    Do men always ask out a woman they’re immediately interested in?”

    If a man is interested in a woman, he will will ask her out for sure given he knows that he has a good chance with her.
    Men don’t like to be turned down – and as a matter of fact, nobody does  – so the more he is certain he’s got a good chance with a woman, the more likely that he will ask her out if he is interested.

  25. 25
    The InBetweener

    Interestingly enough, the words never manifested as red. Well, the words in BOLD. 

  26. 26
    zann

    Very good (and kind!) advice, Evan. 

    Angelina, this guy sounds like an immature manipulator. I totally agree with Helen, in that there are people out there (both male and female) who assume that all others will find their every thought fascinating. Blah blah blah blah blah. Meanwhile, you sit waiting patiently, politely, thinking your turn for “sharing” is just around the corner. Only it never comes, because in the end — it’s all about them.  

    That is not a friend. In real friendships, it’s a 2-way street. You share, you inquire about the other person’s well-being, and then you shut up and listen. In other words, not only is this guy not boyfriend material, he also sucks as a friend. And not only does he not deserve you as a girlfriend, he doesn’t deserve your generous friendship, either.

    I think there is a #5 Guy Friend Scenario, and that’s where the guy wants your friendship because he knows you’re at least somewhat attracted to him. So he throws out a hook once in a while to see if you’ll bite, to make sure he’s still “got it.” He doesn’t want it to be platonic, but he doesn’t want to be your boyfriend either. Do not give this guy your open ear or your friendship. He’s already misused it. 

    And as Evan said, no point beating yourself up about your query. After 10 years, good god, something had to give. You’re certainly not the first woman to ask for clarity and then regret she ever asked. Let it go. It’s time you devote that energy elsewhere, to yourself and to finding someone who can be a grown-up, equitable partner. Best of luck.  

    Oh, P.S.  I also don’t believe the 25% statistic about shy guys, pining away for you but just can’t bring themselves to utter the words, “So, want to go out on a real date?”  If they’re out there, I sure have never met one.

    1. 26.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Obviously, I made up the 25% shy guys statistic. But it’s based on my years of experience. There are MILLIONS of guys whose existence you don’t even acknowledge. They’re not great looking. They’re not charismatic. They’re not extroverted. They rarely, if ever, talk to women, much less go on a date, much less get laid. I’m not saying you should WANT these guys; I’m saying that they exist. If they didn’t, there wouldn’t be a multimillion dollar market for pick-up artists – one designed to teach men to have confidence with women. Just because you don’t notice these men in your day to day existence doesn’t mean they don’t exist. They’re probably home right now playing video games.

  27. 27
    Heather

    I can understand how Angelina feels, was in the same position about 2 1/2 years ago.  A guy I had known for years, who’d attended my wedding, fought with me like cats and dogs about stuff, but overall was a good friend, started asking to hang out with me more often, talked to me more online and by phone.  By the end of 2009, he’d made his feelings very clear: he’d always wanted to date me but for the majority of that time, I’d been engaged and married, and then met someone else not too long after my ex and I split.  I had some misgivings about the situation (and I really should have listened to those misgivings) but I started dating him anyways.  What a disaster.  He became verbally abusive, rude to my friends and family, controlling.
     
    I ended up breaking up with him after one tantrum too many in which he sounded just threatening enough to make me wake up and smell the coffee burning.  But because so much damage was done, it ruined the friendship.  I cut him completely out of my life, he blocked me on Facebook, we have nothing to say to each other.  I totally misread this guy and fell for his lies, and boy did he tell me a whole lot of whoppers! 
    Thank you for posting this, Evan, it makes me feel like there are people out there who’ve been there and done that and can relate!

  28. 28
    Rhiann

    Bravo Angelina!! I had too cut of my ex (an ex-colleague, turn friend) out. I been through similar situation like yours. To make things worst, we flirted, hugged & kissed like couples do, only to realise that he just want to treat me as friend. After the “initial break-up”, I do intend to get him back but he was rather cold towards me. After I had “disappeared” for some time, he started texting and his text starts getting flirtatious. Since I had made up my mind to cut him off, I had not replyied to any of his text. The last text I receive from him is him wanting to invite me to his wedding. I can’t believed that he is that naive (knowing him, he’s not) to believe that we can still be friends. I don’t wish to be invited. Till now, I’m proud to say that I had not respond to his invitation.

  29. 29
    BC

    Well, I certainly don’t think that a man *always* asks a woman out if he’s interested in her.  That much we’ve pretty much establislished, for various valid reasons.  What I do think in this particular case though is that the man in question sounds like an insecure, game playing jackass!  He’s been friends with this woman for ten years or so, with what appears to be some undercurrent of attraction from both sides, he tells her how hot she is and how he’s fantasized about her?!  Good grief, how much more blatant does it need to be that he’s either interested, or a total game playing waste of her time? 

    Frankly, this doesn’t even sound within the realm of normal behavior to me.  I would be turned off mighty quickly if a man behaved this way towards me, and then never went so far as to ask me out or display some honesty and integrity in his intentions.  They’ve known each other for years, for Pete’s sake, and are not just aquaintences.  This is weird, IMO, just plain weird and dysfunctional.  To the woman, I’d advise, please, pretty please, for your own sanity, move on and let yourself be open to a real relationship when the right guy does come along. 

  30. 30
    Androgynous

    Why do posters here keep saying that the friend “led her on”? He probably said all those things (she was hot etc) to make her feel better about herself after one relationship disappointment after another, and after she started questioning her attractiveness to men. This is exactly why it is tricky for men and women to be and stay “friends” if they are both hetero. Any kind of overtures might be interpreted the wrong way. Negotiating this minefield is why many men don’t even bother being “friends” with women unless they already share a history (or some sort of bond) and it is abundantly clear to both of them that romance is never on the cards (eg. exes, cousins or other close relations, friend of parents or children, teachers or students, parent or child figures etc). I don’t think a lot of men, if they are honest with themselves, will become and stay “friends” with women they are attracted to (sorry Evan). I don’t think these honest men will want to put themselves and their female “friends” (whom they are attracted to) in a position where things could get awkward and embarrassing – say she moves over for a hug and she feels that you feel something – you know what I mean.
    The thing with Harry and Sally and Jamie and Dylan all those other man-woman buddy stories you see in the movies is this : These “friends” were already in romantic relationships but they just didn’t know it yet, hence the comedic element.
    This is not to say absolutely that men and women can’t be friends if they are attracted to each other, except that it is very very very very very rare.

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