I’m In Constant Fear Of Losing Him – How Do I Calm Down?

Sad middle-aged woman

I am a 56-year-old teacher, and met a nice man in March. He ended it after a short time. I felt he was making a mistake, but left him alone. I started dating and saw that he was on Match.com again also. I sent him an e-card for his birthday in May. He responded nicely, but gave me no indication he wanted to start dating again. Then he contacted me and said he found an old cell phone message from me and he wasn’t going to erase it because I am so nice. We started dating again in the beginning of June, and saw each other every day of his week-long vacation (he initiated it).

Now he is back to work and I am insecure. I always worry (because he ended it with me once before and also ended a six year relationship before me easily) that it might happen again. It’s terrible to live in fear. I have more invested in this now, and would probably be devastated if he did end it. He doesn’t know what I’m going through when we’re not together. Technically this relationship didn’t start in March, but June when we resumed. It just started, but I feel so connected physically and mentally, and it’s driving me crazy! How can I get to a place where this doesn’t immobilize me? I’m so afraid of losing the happiness and peace I feel when we are together. I would appreciate any advice. Thank you. Nancy

Hey Nancy.

You’re not at peace.

Your man’s job is to take down his profile, call you every day, integrate himself into your daily life and bill himself as your boyfriend.

You’re not happy.

You’re going crazy.

And you’re asking ME how to enable you to continue this pattern?

Sorry, you’ve got the wrong guy.

You must have mistaken me for someone who wants women to have unhealthy relationships with emotionally unavailable men.

You must have confused me with a man who thinks that men should be in control and that women should just put up with all nonsense.

You must have misremembered some blog post where you thought I said that the ideal relationship is one where you’re walking on eggshells, anxious about the present, insecure with the future, and consistently questioning your man’s integrity.

Any readers ever feel what Nancy’s feeling?

Any readers have a POSITIVE tale about how their panic-inducing relationship has lasted for thirty years?

If so, let me know in the comments section that you’re the exception.

But the rule, Nancy, is this:

Your man’s job is to make you feel safe.

Your man’s job is not simply to be smart and sexy and appealing, but to be consistent and kind.

Your man’s job is to take down his profile, call you every day, integrate himself into your daily life and bill himself as your boyfriend.

And if you’ve been with a guy for over 6-8 weeks and you still have questions about whether he’s your boyfriend, guess what?

You’re in a toxic, one-sided relationship that benefits him and is going to crush you in the long run.

Here’s a brief video clip from a speech I gave to a group of singles with the 8 Things that Your Boyfriend Must Do To Be Your Boyfriend:

Therefore, your question, Nancy, shouldn’t be “What do I do to calm down?”

Rather, it should be, “Why would I feel nervous or insecure around this man?”

Chances are, it’s because he’s not doing most of what’s in the above video.

And if he’s not giving you those 8 things, the only course of action is to walk away because you’re not getting your emotional needs met.

If, of course, you choose to stick with him – as most women would – you’re pretty much just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    AQ

    Happy Labor Day!

    I am so glad you told us these things, Evan. This is my new goal and I am not going to put up with anything else.

    BTW – books are great (Why he disappeared and Finding the One Online) – the profile is jamming baby – lots of dates, emails, calls, so now I can be picky!! LOL!! 

    I dumped the last guy after reading your site because he chose to be overwhelmed with work and not that into me. I want a boyfriend who is into me and I am never going to settle until I have it.

    It sounds dumb but we really needed someone to tell us these things and what a man is looking for.

    THANK YOU! 

  2. 2
    Lily

    I agree Evan, BUT isnt it a bit too soon for that kind of commitment? What you are saying makes perfect sense AFTER they agree to be in a relationship. Could this be considered the gray zone before that? Most women dont enjoy that stage, and find it nerve racking. I say dont continue to have sex with him, and just “date”  he will come around or not, soon enough.

  3. 3
    Fawn

    I really hate to say this, Nancy – but it sounds like he’s just using you until something better (in his eyes) comes along.  You have good cause to be nervous. This is not a man you can count on to be there in the long run.

  4. 4
    Amy

    Good advice Evan, but what if all your needs ARE getting met and still you are insecure? My current boyfriend of almost 8 months is great to me, kind, reassuring, present and I still can’t dismiss the thought he’s going to leave me. I know this is MY issue, not his, because of past boyfriends who have dumped me. How do I move on from my past so I don’t mess up my future??

    1. 4.1
      Kayleigh

      I feel the exact same & been with my boyfriend 8 months too and I just know he’s the one :D. But I was dumped in past by a guy I was with for a year & half on and off and a guy I was with for 2 years. I was cheated on by the guy I was with for 2 years too. Luckily my partner is amazing and I actually trust again :) and he never a goes clubbing so nothing to worry about there, but I always worry I’m going to lose him. He has literally become my everything! I have nightmares about losing him too. 

  5. 5
    Bree Talon

    I have definitely been guilty of putting too much focus on my relationship with my partner in the past, at the expense of myself. What is so easy to lose sight of once our emotions get entangled is that autonomous being we were before we fell in love. I am all for love! But self-love first, during and always. I love taking care of my man. But the biggest reason he loves me taking care of him (and takes care of me) is because of how I take care of myelf.  If we made ourselves more of a priority, it would be easier to see when our partner wasn’t doing the same. 
    I love the 8 Things video. Thanks Evan! 

  6. 6
    Ruby

    If a man broke up with me, and then wanted to get back together, I would be taking things very slowly. One of the problems I see is that Nancy spent every day of this man’s week-long vacation with him. It’s too soon to spend that much time together, even if he initiated it. It also implies that she stopped dating anyone else. If there is no commitment to be exclusive, then it is too soon to be giving one man all your time. If he really wanted to be Nancy’s boyfriend, she wouldn’t be feeling so insecure.

  7. 7
    Cheryl Miller

    “You must have confused me….” dude, this question wasn’t about you.  Why all the references to/about you?

  8. 8
    Valley Forge Lady

    Nancy……….

    I have dated this guy!   He is hell in bed.  He talks about his past relationships frequently but never about a future with you.   He is happiest when you are doing something for him.  If he does something for you it is because he is expecting more in return.  You seldom meet his family or friends.   He does not have many friends.   His family is not important to him. He always has to have the last word.  Your ideas are either wrong or not important.  You look up the word narcisist and his picture appears.

    Darliing, save your mind, your self esteem and your dignity.   Disappear from this man’s life.   Do not explain just disappear!   He will not like it but if you stay he will try to take you down.  He has done this with all of his women.   Sticking around will not change him.   You are very special but you are not so unique that you will change the stripes on this Tiger!

    It took me three years to get over a man like this.   But the monkey is off my back.  Reading Evan’s work has helped me see the light!   Truth be told I have  a long history of finding emotionally unavailable men irresistable.   Those days are behind me.  I am 62 Years old and still attractive.   I am on line and discovering that men of all ages are attracted to me……it is my responisibilty to pick the man who deserves me.   YOU CAN DO THIS TOO!!!!  

  9. 9
    Allison

    I’ve been there– the total happiness when you’re together, the total panic when you’re apart.  It felt like I was always waiting for something– for him to call, to make plans, to move the relationship forward.  And it did not end well.  Crushing, as Evan said, when he broke up with me, and of course he broke up with me.  I will never put up with that kind of anxiety again.  Good luck, Nancy– it’s not easy to cut a guy loose when he has that kind of pull on you, but it sounds like he’s not a good bet for the long run.

  10. 10
    Marioned

    Is it him or HER??????  Sometimes a guy can be doing things right and the woman has issues.  It’s hard to tell from this letter what the case is. 

  11. 11
    Katarina Phang

    I’m always baffled by why women who invest in a guy so quickly after a few weeks/months without knowing where he stands.  If he doesn’t say you are exclusive, date around, for God’s sake!  Enjoy his company and a bunch of other great men.  What’s wrong with that??

    Of course she feels anxy.  She puts all her eggs in one basket unnecessarily.  And sooner or later her insecurities and needy vibe will drive him away again.

    Be a powerful goddess by absorbing all the attentions you can get from any man and feel great about yourself.  A woman can even do this without dating guys when she’s in an exclusive relationship.  Example: dress up when you go out and turn heads and have guys tell you how pretty you are, smile and thank them.  Just doing that boosts your self-esteem in the way you didn’t think even possible.  You will realize you don’t need to pine for any one guy, let them pine for you!!.  How’s that for a change in attitude and mind set?

     

  12. 12
    Annie

    Great Post Evan.

    If anyone feels like they are walking around on eggshells, then they are not being themselves. Why would anyone want to be with some-one we have to fake it with all the time?

    Don’t invest so much into a man straight away, invest in yourself imo, and wait until a man wants to invest in you before giving him so much of your time and energy.

  13. 13
    Zann

    Thank you, Nancy, because I needed to read this post right at this very moment. It’s like a brutally cold bucket of water over my head. I am in your age-range, and I gotta say, it absolutely floors me that at my age I am still susceptible to the allure of the emotionally unavailable charismatic male. You do not walk alone on this one.  

    For me it’s in the form of a guy I’ve known for 6 years. 6! He is warm, open, extremely affectionate, easy-to-talk-to… handsome. He compliments me endlessly — likes my body, my style, my weird sense of humor, my outlook, the affection and caring I show toward him. But the fact remains that the man cannot — or more importantly, will not — commit to me. It’s not a mystery. I know the trap I’m walking into every time he comes sniffing around for some no-strings-attached fun.  

    And even though I’ve had other relationships during that 6 years, he still manages to reappear in my life, stirring things up, until once again I’m convincing myself that he really IS the man for me, we’re such a good fit, I should just live for the moment, be here now, enjoy it for what it is. Except there is little enjoyment, and what enjoyment there is, is tainted with doubt. Clearly, it doesn’t work for me. It works for him, and I’m sure this is painfully obvious to anyone who’s watched me — an otherwise sane, competent, independent woman — go through this ridiculous dance with this guy. Over and over.    

    When I’m reconnecting with someone familiar, it can feel so natural that I convince myself that all is well.  But really, if all was well, I wouldn’t be feeling all the anxiety and turmoil — oh, and let’s not forget the self-loathing.

    So, that’s why it’s so refreshing to watch our pal Evan’s video about the 8 Things a Boyfriend Does.  When your man comes up so glaringly short of those 8 Things, it’s very hard to continue the denial. Even 6 out of 8 is not good enough — not for you, not for me or any other self-respecting woman. Dump this dude and be nice to yourself.  The calm will eventually follow.  

  14. 14
    Margo

    Great post! Marioned, it’s him. He’s a selfish asshole.

  15. 15
    Marie

    Thank you, Evan!! I just broke up with my “sort-of” boyfriend because he couldn’t make me a priority in his life after 4 months of being with him (he would make the effort for a while but he was inconsistent and I was unhappy most of the time). I ended it. I told him that I want it all, or nothing. He wants me in his life still, but I told him not to call unless he’s ready to give me everything I deserve. I was never exclusive with him, because he wasn’t doing the things listed above to try and BE my boyfriend, but of course I wanted those things so I stuck around for a bit (he’d give a little and improve his communication, etc, only to fall back into his old habits after a couple weeks).
    I just told him I couldn’t have him in my life yesterday so reading this post today is perfect timing and SUCH a blessing. Thank you.
    Walking on eggshells and feeling crazy and insecure is NEVER a recipe for happiness!!
     

  16. 16
    Marie

    Valley Forge Lady… OMG, thank you!!!!!! Haha.

  17. 17
    Valley Forge Lady

    Nancy….Zann….Ladies who love Bad Boys…………(I am reforming!)

    I have a homework assignment for you!  Go to the Urban Dictionary and look up the word….Player.    This says it all!   Even men recognize the kind of evil that lurks in the character of men who play on the feelings of caring women.

    We all have the responsibility to make wise choices.  Dr. Phil says it best……”There are not victims….only volunteers.”

    Pu on your Big Girl Pants….and make wise choices.  This should be very enmpowering.

    Hey Evan…………….How is your Mom Doing?           

  18. 18
    morgan

    Cheryl Miller @7

    Geebus love, how long have you been reading this site?  I feel like I need to explain this sloooooowly for you…

    Evan is a writer.  Writers usually consciously adopt a style often referred to as their ‘voice’ which manifests in the various literary techniques they use. 

    What you’re objecting to is the voice Evan uses to write for this site. I happen to find it very effective. I can hear him talking to me when I read.  From what I can see lots of other people like it too.

    If you don’t like it then no problem, buh bye. 

  19. 19
    Goldie

    I’m with Katarina’s #7… just had a conversation on this subject with a good friend of mine and we both agreed that, unless both sides have explicitly agreed to be exclusive, no one owes anyone anything.
     
    I did not see any references in Nancy’s letter to any conversations where she and this man had agreed to be exclusive. So they’re not. He’s having fun, and she should do the same. If she is so emotionally attached to him that she can’t have any fun unless he’s around, then maybe it’s time to walk away, because staying with(?) him under the circumstances would be too toxic and one-sided. Imagine the shock on his face when you leave before he does :)
     
    Of course, it’s easier said than done. Been there, done that… got the proverbial T-shirt.
     
    On another note, can Evan and some of the commenters go easier on people like Nancy (or me?) who are just getting back on the market in their 40s and 50s, and are still learning the ropes? Dating at this age is brutal, and definitely not the same as it was when we were last on the market in our late teens and early 20s. I’m just starting to learn to enjoy the process, take it one day at a time, and not put any unnecessary pressure on myself and others, but it is a skill and will take time and hard work. It’s a jungle out there!

  20. 20
    Margo

    @Goldie #19, what do you mean can “EVan and the commentators” go easy on you and Nancy? Evan tells it like it is, and that’s the only reason I keep reading his blog. Some women need a wake-up call, and unfortunately unless they get it, they will keep wasting their lives on unhealthy dating situations. If you want to be coddled, maybe you should go somewhere else.

    1. 20.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Even though Margo and I generally disagree (she’s far angrier at men than I am), she and I are in accordance on this one. She asked for my opinion. I gave it. I’m not sure how it’s harsh when I didn’t insult the OP at all.

  21. 21
    Goldie

    @ Margo, thanks for the invitation to go somewhere else, but I think I’ll stick around.
     
    Good question to why the post came across to me as harsh. After giving it some thought, maybe it’s because of this:
     
    “Your man’s job is to take down his profile, call you every day, integrate himself into your daily life and bill himself as your boyfriend.
    And if you’ve been with a guy for over 6-8 weeks and you still have questions about whether he’s your boyfriend, guess what?
    You’re in a toxic, one-sided relationship that benefits him and is going to crush you in the long run.”
     
    Is this six weeks from their first date to the point where he needs to take down his profile and call himself her boyfriend?
     
    And, if that doesn’t happen in six weeks, she should turn around and leave?
     
    Is this supposed to work both ways? If I start seeing a guy, do I have a six-week deadline, too? Because I’ve had that happen. This year, I had a guy who, after three dates and maybe four weeks after he’d first emailed me, told me he was going on vacation for ten days and, if I didn’t find anyone else by the time he came back (that would’ve been a total of six weeks), then we’d be getting off the site together. (I hadn’t managed to find anyone in the ten days I was given, but still told him we wouldn’t work as a couple. He went right out and found someone else immediately.) I had another one who started calling me GF after ONE coffee date and kept mentioning how he couldn’t wait to get off the site… I hardly even knew the man at that point. (Told him I wasn’t ready for anything that serious, never heard from him again.) Both men reminded me of a timeshare trade show I’d once been to, where they put you in a room, close the door and tell you that they’re offering you a once-in-a-lifetime deal, but you have to sign right now. The deal expires today at midnight and won’t be there tomorrow.
     
    Too much pressure, in my opinion, on all sides. I could be wrong, but, for people in their 40s and 50s with families, kids, elderly parents, responsibilities, etc. on both ends, that hardly allow for one-two evenings of face time per week, six weeks sounds pretty unrealistic for a person to commit, or expect commitment.
     
    My opinion on this one (and I’m still fairly new to the dating scene…) is that they just haven’t talked about what one another’s expectations are, and probably expect different things. He’s living in the moment, while she’s worried sick that what they have may not last for the rest of their lives. I see a big disconnect here.
     
    I agree that, if she isn’t happy with the way things are, and he is happy and content and won’t change a thing, then she shouldn’t stick around. But, IMO, that has nothing to do with the six-week timeframe or whatever. (Though, in their case, it’s been three months!! – enough to decide whether you’re a couple or not.) It has everything to do with her living in constant fear, and him not having a clue that she does. Doesn’t sound like being “so connected physically and mentally” to me.
     

  22. 22
    Joe

    There’s nothing in the letter that tells me this guy is an asshole and/or a player.  To be honest, it just sounds to me like Nancy is really insecure, and insecure people do not make for good relationship partners.

  23. 23
    Anne

    I personally would like to hear from Evan on what are the signs of emotionally unavailable men & why they join online dating sites to begin with?! From reading the responses it seems that many women deal with men like this. Out curiousity I’d like to hear what the male thought process is on persuing a relationship they obviously dont want. Are they clueless or are they aware of what they are doing? Personally I would not let the fear of him leaving consume me; unavailable IS NOT something we as women can change and waiting around for round # 2 of heartbreak is careless on the womens end. However an explanation of why emotionally unavailable men troll online dating sites would bring some comic relief perhaps to all of us women who just wonder what the heck these men are thinking! Thanks Evan :o)

    1. 23.1
      Catherine

      Anne- this is a very good question! I’m in my 40s and recently started dating again after a long marriage. I can’t tell you how many guys contact me through match.com, yet “aren’t looking for a relationship”. I don’t get it – why are you pursuing one then? Is this the old “men look for sex, women look for love?” Isn’t that what hookers are for?

      I did date one guy who wanted to take things slowly and I thought that was a reasonable request. However, as things (slowly) progressed and started looking like a relationship, he backed off more and more before finally disappearing into the Bermuda Triangle. After 7 months of dating! I knew right off the bat he was emotionally unavailable (he pretty much had it stamped on his forehead) but still – why pursue something you know you don’t want? Anyway, things played out pretty much as I expected they would with this type of emotionally unavailable man – I’m just happy he didn’t wait too long to show his true colors! We are friendly and still talk on occasion. Maybe I’ll ask him why men behave this way and post his answer here :)

      1. 23.1.1
        Selena

        @ Catherine # 23.1

        You wrote:”I can’t tell you how many guys contact me through match.com, yet “aren’t looking for a relationship”.

        And then you relate an experience with a man you dated for 7 months with this “I knew right off the bat he was emotionally unavailable (he pretty much had it stamped on his forehead) but still – why pursue something you know you don’t want? ”

        I have to ask Catherine…Why would YOU pursue something you don’t want if you determined right off the bat this person was emotionally unavailable? Do you see the irony hon? :)

        1. Selena

          Adding: Catherine, I didn’t write that comment to be mean-spirited. Your post just struck me as amusing. I’ve had many of those “smack myself in the forehead” realizations myself. Lots of them. :)

  24. 24
    Kim

    Wow, I think I know this guy … in the form of three men I have dated in the last six months.  Two of them had the sense and self-awareness to be honest with me that they weren’t looking for a commitment, and I reacted accordingly.  I continued to date and enjoy myself when and if they called, not waiting around to see if they would. The third totally confused me with his push and pull dating technique to the point that, after the third push, I said buh-bye!  And he was charming, witty, handsome, successful … a real alpha type … and complimented me constantly, said oh-so-wonderful things to me the whole time we would be together, and then disappear for a week or more without so much as a one word text.  Yes, it hurt, but I realized that this guy was not worth having, at any cost to my self-esteem.  I care about myself too much to endure this kind of treatment, and Nancy, I agree with Evan and the other posters here, you should definitely cut this one loose, because you will end up in a miserable state, and still not have a boyfriend.  I remember something Evan said once on his blog … that a man is not real UNTIL he is your boyfriend, and that means he needs to be doing all 8 of the things in that great video. It’s the yardstick I use to measure them all by now.  Now, I have been dating a great guy for the last two months who is cute, funny and a blast to be around, has asked me to be exclusive, he calls at least once every day, has told me he loves me, has introduced me to friends and family, has met my kids and is great with them, talks of things we will do in the future, and treats me like a queen.  I have no insecurities that I will lose him, or that he will leave me.  I adore him, and feel that he is real, and IS my boyfriend now.  The thing is, once you have a for-real relationship, none of those insecurities will be there, because he will be doing everything he can to convince you that he is genuine.  And that is worth waiting for, Nancy.  If you are feeling frightened and alone with this guy … you are.  Listen to how you feel … your emotions are trying to tell you something!

  25. 25
    nathan

    I’m not terribly enthused about this guy either. Maybe he’s realized he made a mistake the first time, but the whole “nice” comment as the reason for keeping her phone number and getting a hold of her again doesn’t sit well with me. “Nice” usually doesn’t equal “I’m really into you.”
     
    That said, I agree with Lily @2 that it could be too early to have all those “boyfriend factors” in place and functioning. Two months should be enough time to have a decent sense of where you stand with a person, something Nancy doesn’t have. Which is troubling. But the level of trust needed for deeper commitment isn’t always there after two months, especially if significant time hasn’t been spent together. Beyond the vacation together, how often have they seen each other? Is there increasing communication outside of the time they spend together?
     
    I feel like the letter doesn’t give us enough detail to really know what to think about her situation. Perhaps if she’s reading, Nancy could tell us a bit more.

  26. 26
    U

    I don’t think Nancy’s predicament has anything at all to do with how her boyfriend is treating her, but has everything to do with how she’s treating herself. The insecurity, fear and anxiety are symptoms of a bigger issue that she needs to address through meditation, yoga, therapy, or anything else that may help her. If she doesn’t take care of her mental well being, the boyfriend issue will be moot because he’ll dump her again and she’ll have no one to blame but herself for not taking responsibility for her own life.

  27. 27
    Goldie

    @ Anne #24:
     
    ” Out curiousity I’d like to hear what the male thought process is on persuing a relationship they obviously dont want. Are they clueless or are they aware of what they are doing?”
     
    Not an emotionally unavailable guy, but I’ll take a stab at it…
     
    Some are fresh out of a divorce/LTR and want to take it easy for a while.
     
    Some are fresh out of a looong marriage and need time to figure out what they want (other than “not anyone like my ex”).
     
    Some are just out of a loooong marriage prior to which, they didn’t date or almost didn’t date, and want to play the field to make up for lost time.
     
    Some have other personal stuff going on, and don’t have the energy to invest in a serious relationship, but get lonely like the rest of us.
     
    Some are all of the above.
     
    Bottom line, IMO very few of these guys do the things they do on purpose, because they want to deliberately hurt a woman, to prove a point, or feed their ego, or use women for their own short-term purposes. Most are nice guys that don’t want to hurt anyone, but are at a stage in their lives where they, well, just can’t help it. Some outgrow this stage eventually, some don’t.
     
    Just my guess… How close was I?

  28. 28
    Ruby

    Goldie #24

    I’d say you are pretty accurate. I’d like to add as a type a man I dated that had gotten very burned in his marriage, hadn’t dated in a few years, and was just beginning to date again. Despite the passage of time, he still wasn’t ready. It takes some people quite awhile to get over being dumped, longer than you might think. I would also to the list one of the worst offenders: The Separated Man.

  29. 29
    lawyerette

    Anne – I think the answer to that question is “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Unlike women, men are perfectly happy to enjoy the benefits of a low-commitment, low-effort arrangement with a woman they have no interest in marrying. Guys are fine to go out sometimes, enjoy your feminine company, and sleep with you if you’re willing. Especially if you do all the heavy lifting of contacting him, making plans, and generally making it easy for him. That’s why Evan advises women to mirror men’s effort and to avoid trying to take the lead on dating. That way his intentions will reveal themselves through his efforts.

  30. 30
    Sherell

     


     
    “Too much pressure, in my opinion, on all sides. I could be wrong, but, for people in their 40s and 50s with families, kids, elderly parents, responsibilities, etc. on both ends, that hardly allow for one-two evenings of face time per week, six weeks sounds pretty unrealistic for a person to commit, or expect commitment.
     
    My opinion on this one (and I’m still fairly new to the dating scene…) is that they just haven’t talked about what one another’s expectations are, and probably expect different things. He’s living in the moment, while she’s worried sick that what they have may not last for the rest of their lives. I see a big disconnect here.
     
    I agree that, if she isn’t happy with the way things are, and he is happy and content and won’t change a thing, then she shouldn’t stick around. But, IMO, that has nothing to do with the six-week timeframe or whatever. (Though, in their case, it’s been three months!!”

    I soooo agree.  It may be an age /maturity perspective.  These arbitrariy dealines are not a once size fit all. 

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