When Is it A Fair Amount of Time for a Guy to “Know” That He Wants You?


Hi Evan,
I just found your website and wish I’d read it YEARS ago… Really appreciate your insight and honesty. And everything you say makes sense! My question is this: I take on board all of your “he’s just not that into you”reasoning, and also your comments on how to tell if a man is truly interested (calling, making plans, etc.) My problem, historically, is that if I really genuinely like a guy (which sadly does not happen that often,) I expect these things to happen right away. I get frustrated if I feel he’s not doing those things, and rather than make what is usually the classic girl mistake of calling/texting him all the time, I decide I’m about to get hurt and “freeze” him out.

I did this recently with a guy I was really smitten with. We’d only known each other 3 weeks, kissed once, had 2 “dates” alone… But, because I didn’t hear from him for 5 days, I went super cool on him, defriended him from Facebook, etc…

A few weeks on now, the red mist has cleared. I think I wanted too much too soon and just wish I’d sat back, played it cool, and followed your advice on mirroring! He still sends me occasional friendly texts – which so far I answered but then cut short before they get into “conversation.” Can I turn this around and “start again” if the opportunity (or another text) materializes? At what point do the rules of “He’s Just Not That Into You” kick in?

With thanks, from girl with a bruised heart,


Thanks for the kind words, Terri. Sorry to see you have regrets, but, as I just read on a friend’s Facebook page the other day, “If you don’t have regrets, you haven’t lived your life to the fullest.” I’m not sure I agree (frankly, I think if you HAVE regrets, you haven’t lived life to the fullest,) but that’s not really the point.

What did you actually GAIN by cutting him off entirely?

The point is that making mistakes is part of living and no one lives an error-free existence.

And, make no mistake about it: you botched this one by pulling the overly emotional girl act.

What for? Think about it for a second: what did you actually GAIN by cutting him off entirely?

That’s right. Nothing. Your “defriending” was pure ego.

I get it; I just “defriended” someone who was rude to me at my high school reunion last month. It was my way of saying, “fuck you” to her. The difference is that she’ll never notice, whereas the man you were seeing will definitely pay attention.

Yet somehow, Terri, your undaunted guy continues to send you friendly texts. And somehow, despite your previous experience of being cold to an interested guy, you continue to be cold to him — cutting short the texts before they turn into conversation.


This guy likes you and you’re doing everything in your power to stop him. I suppose you can mount an argument that playing aloof is keeping him interested, but you’re missing the most important part of mirroring, as outlined in Why He Disappeared.

You’re supposed to do what he does!

So if he takes 5 days to call you back, you can get back to him in 5 days.

And if he says I love you first, you say I love you back.

And if he writes you a long, warm text message, you respond to him in kind.

That way, you’re never pushing him away with neediness, and always keeping the door open for possibility.

(My original piece on mirroring is here — and links to a half dozen blog posts about non-committal guys, so have yourself a field day.)

Have the confidence and patience to let things evolve at an organic pace.

Really, Terri, this drama is entirely of your own making. Because if you simply sat back and waited for him to reveal himself in his actions, guess what? He would have called you after 5 days, you would have had an amazing 3rd date, and, chances are, at this point, you’d already be boyfriend/girlfriend.

More importantly, if he did NOT step up to the plate to make the effort necessary to be your boyfriend — if he did NOT call more than once a week for 2 months — if he did NOT talk about exclusivity or a future — if he did not make you feel that your relationship was escalating, voila, you have your answer. No need to throw a fit, or bitch him out, or “unfriend” him on Facebook.

When a guy isn’t doing what you want after a reasonable amount of time — 2-3 months at the longest — the best thing to do — the ONLY thing to do —  is wish him well and find another guy. It’s really quite simple.

Your big takeaway from this post should be to have the confidence and patience to let things evolve at an organic pace. You may be used to diving into relationships and having instant passion, chemistry and commitment. I also can make the safe prediction than none of those relationships have lasted. So please, give a guy a break for not knowing if you’re his girlfriend (much less wife) after a few weeks.

I have one client now who has met a guy twice and she’s very frustrated that he’s not yet her “boyfriend”. I’ve got another who has had 4 dates in 3 weeks and feels the same way. “He should be more excited about me! He should be telling me he loves me!”

No, he shouldn’t. Every time a guy has ever told you he loves you in 3 weeks, the relationship’s burned out. Maybe this time has a better chance of being for real, because you’ve both taken the time to evaluate each other instead of committing first and figuring out your compatibility later.

This is the central message of Why He Disappeared and if this blog post hit home for you, I encourage you to check it out here.

Join our conversation (64 Comments).
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  1. 1

    Jake and I had sex on the first date and our exclusivity convo on the second date – though to be fair that was only because he was moving to another city 5 days after I met him!   We squeezed 3 dates into those 5 days and our 4th date was me spending the weekend at his house.   So on the one hand that seems fast.

    I will say that  though we count the day we had our first date as our anniversary (since it’s the first day we met), we did not have the “boyfriend/girlfriend” talk for at least 3 months (the exclusivity conversation was just so we could feel confident having sex without condoms).   I accidentally told him I was falling in love with him after 5 months, but I never said it again until he told me he loved me (after 7 months or so, I think).

    He told me after ten months that he almost proposed to me right around the time that he told me he loved me – we were in Vegas and could have done it that night!   As it is I’m glad he waited because now we have been together over 4 years and are sure, though we set the date for our 6-year anniversary.

  2. 2

    I had the reverse scenario happen to me. I went on ONE date with a guy. I guess he thought that made a relationship and when I balked and said I wanted to take it slow and really get to know each other before committing – which was the absolute truth – he did a complete 180. He basically went from “I can’t wait to see you again.” to turning totally cold overnight. Pulling back, limited conversation, and completely unwilling to make any sort of compromise to try and move things forward. I just saw him as a complete jerk who had no idea of how the dating process worked and told him so. He was probably a decent enough guy, but I never got the chance to find out cause of the way he behaved.

  3. 3
    Christie Hartman, PhD

    I’m with Selena on this one. I agree with most everything you said, Evan – many women do want and expect too much too soon (I call this “planning your wedding on the first date!”). Slow down and consider his needs too! But this dude waited 5 days to call, which is beyond the zone of genuine interest. My money says he’s not that interested or serious – not worthy of her anger, but not worthy of her effort either! It couldn’t hurt for her to see what happens with him, but I wouldn’t put too much stock in a guy who waits that long to call and then texts her “occasionally.” Why doesn’t he just pick up the freakin’ phone and ask her out on a date?

  4. 4

    I’m so glad you posted this question because the same thing is happening to me right now.   I still don’t know if I messed up or if he really was “just not that into me”.   I met this guy at work.   At first we were only good friends, talking every now and then.   About 2 months ago we started talking more (everyday at work), flirting, he asked about my hobbies, what I did on the weekend, he waited for me when it was time to leave, asked for my phone number, hinted that we should go out after I came from vacation, etc.   Well, one thing led to another and we kissed (although not on an official date).   After than happened, some days he seemed to avoid me, other days he talked, but not like before.   The flirting stopped completely.   Now he never waits for me when I leave work, never calls or texts me during the weekends (although he rarely did it before; he never called me on the weekend, just texted once in a while), has never asked me to go out with thim, never says good-bye when he leaves, etc.   I got so confused and hurt that in one small conversation I told him that perhaps we have gotten confused and maybe we should be friends. We’ve started talking a little bit more now at work, but not like before.  
    Evan, if you’re reading this, I want to thank you for all of your advice.   I’ve been reading your blog and realized a lot of mistakes I’ve made in my previous relationships.   I’m going to buy the book. 🙂   I usually follow the mirroring technique, but I guess I need some more information.

  5. 5

    In my experience, only wanting contact after 5 days or more is the hallmark of someone who  wants a casual relationship and is also  quite possibly dating another/others. Which is fine if you want to take a “wait and see” approach and don’t mind being in competition. Men who are really interested tend to  keep in contact every day or  two because they don’t want you to lose interest in THEM.

    I don’t think  Terri’s situation was  snit-worthy, but I’m not so sure she was wrong about this guy either. All he’s done since is send some occasional friendly texts, not call her and ask  to spend time with him. Three-four weeks is long enough to decide whether you want  to date someone who  calls every 5 days or so, or if you’d rather date someone a bit more attentive. Since Terri was/is smitten with this fellow, I predict she’d find  “waiting” for him to call and 5 day mirroring frustrating.


    1. 5.1

      Exactly! She wasn’t really wrong about him. Men who contact you every week or so are not interested in building any intimacy with you. And friendly texts mean nothing if they aren’t invitations to hang out in person. This guy liked her a little but didn’t like her enough to really pursue her. He’s probably pursuing someone else that he’s unsure about so he texts her to see if she’s still available just in case it doesn’t work out with the other girl. In my opinion, she was absolutely right for cutting him off. Why waste your time? He’s showing signs of a guy who will be in and out of your life.

  6. 6

    I think mirroring is a golden plan and it has worked well for me on two fronts. First, it keeps my behavior in check. It’s an easy guideline to follow when your heart is screaming at you to call him or email him or whatever. If he hasn’t called you, you don’t call him. When he calls, you talk to him. Pretty simple in theory. Secondly, it keeps my emotions in check. In the time between dates and phone calls, I have time to think about whether or not this person is the right person for me. That space apart and distance from the other person gives me clarity and perspective.
    Mirroring is not an easy behavior to master. It’s easy in theory but hard in practice. I was bummed out when the guy I was seeing didn’t call, and then my sadness would turn to anger, and then ambivalence (“If he calls, that’s cool. If not, no big deal.”)   By the time he called, I was casual and friendly and not needy or desperate. I think that mirroring has a lot of potential.
    A word of caution though. If a man sets a pattern of not calling, not scheduling dates, and not progressing towards a relationship with you after several months, you may want to re-assess if this is the right person for you. I’ve learned that I can only mirror for so long before I get really resentful, disinterested, and annoyed with the person. That’s the point where I use the advice Evan had in a previous post and approach the guy that I’ve been “seeing:”
    “I really, really care about you and have very much enjoyed our time together. But as amazing as I think you are, I’m not really getting my needs met here. I don’t want a weekend fuck-buddy. I want a boyfriend. And it’s become increasingly clear to me that it’s not going to be you. That’s okay. I’m not hurt or offended, but I need to find someone who wants a relationship. Good luck in your search.”
    And then WALK.
    If he follows, he’s your boyfriend.”
    Let me tell you, I just did this and walked, and the guy didn’t follow. But you know, it was better than wasting any more time guessing where I stood with the guy!

  7. 7

    @Selena, #4 – I get the impression that if Terri were more receptive to the casual friendly communications the guy is currently initiating, he’d definitely step it up, and for some reason (due to her own feelings, that don’t have anything to do with this particular guy) she keeps sqashing the moment before it can get that far.   She needs to stop getting her own way!

    Though I do agree with you that guys who are into you initiate communication way more than every 5 days.   I think Jake called me every night for the first 3 months when we were in different cities (let’s say there were 5 nights total that we didn’t talk on the phone) and that doesn’t count emails or text messages, which were also daily events.

    I think in retrospect the fact that we were so far apart and spent so much time talking in the beginning kept us from getting too clouded by the physical stuff.   By the time he moved back to my town, we knew that we were compatible on all the important stuff.   But there’s no real way to replicate that situation (since he was leaving for 3 months for an internship and then returning, there was an expiration date on the long-distance thing, though we later did it again for another 9 months when he graduated and left town for real).   Timing is everything, I guess…

    1. 7.1
      Aerosmith Jaded

           I hope someone is still actively reading these and responding.    I’m 27 and dating an older guy for the first time that’s been in a failed marriage,   no kids, and has a great career.   We’ve been on 2 dates over the course of 3 days.   I’m so used to dating younger guys than myself and rushing into a relationship.    I’m trying to do things differently especially since he wants to take it slow.    I’m just not at all sure what that entails.  

  8. 8

    Excellent letter, excellent advice. Terri, as a woman, I can tell you that I can fully relate to what you describe…and so can almost every woman I know.   What I’d like to know is why is that  feeling of discomfort so powerful?    Especially if you like the guy?  I  think  relationships evolve “organically” in a different way today, 2010, from how they used to — no doubt because of cell phones, the internet, texting, webcam, Skype, IM…all of it.   It’s easy to imagine now that everything should happen instantly, or at least quickly; if not, something must be  up, something must be wrong.      And then, the urgency to flee.    Dump or be dumped.   I gotta say, I’m finding great relief in  Evan’s advice of “having the confidence and patience to let things evolve,” because it feels empowering to me, instead of wimpy — which is how I feel  when I’m mirroring, because it feels so passive, so not pro-active, which I mistakenly interpret as weakness and extreme vulnerability.    But it takes practice to break that habit, so don’t punish yourself when you slip, just  get more determined to change your thinking about it.  For me, it’s been a  suprisingly great feeling  to realize I can  choose to not react & sit with the discomfort when I  get that terrible (so terrible) feeling of  fear — fear I’m  about to be dumped, fear I’m  being used, fear I’m  being a doormat, fear of being taken for granted, etc etc.  But it’s not real,  it’s just my  monkey-mind messing with me.   You’ll get there.     Best of luck.

    1. 8.1

      A woman’s intuition is one of the most powerful capabilities that we possess. It feels uncomfortable because something is in fact wrong about a man who contacts you every week or two.

      Contrary to what these crappy relationship articles want us to believe, women are not wrong about feeling uncomfortable about a man who contacts us infrequently. We all know that deep down inside, a man who is REALLY interested will contact us regularly. Maybe not everyday, but he wouldn’t let more than 2 or 3 days go by without saying something. Men are no where near as in touch with their feelings as we are so it makes sense that we can sense changes in them before they can even sense it in themselves. It’s not a weakness or vulnerability, it is a strength. You are magical and powerful. Women are gifted beings who can pick up on subtle changes in emotions and can tell when something is off or wrong.

      One thing I’ve learned is that you can never make a mistake with a man who wants you. I did so many things that society would label as “wrong” when I first started dating my now boyfriend. I didn’t pretend to play it cool, I set boundaries. I told him that I only wanted to date him exclusively, however,   if he ever were to slow things down too much that I would immediately start dating other men. But he didn’t ghost me at all! In fact, he was always available and in contact regularly.   And guess what? I didn’t scare him away when I didn’t follow his lead.   He stayed around and followed mine because he was genuinely and fully interested in me. Men who disappear would have done so regardless if you did everything right or not. Trust me, I’ve mirrored guys before just for them to remain barely interested for months and months.

      Women aren’t idiots, we know when something is not right. Believe in yourself!

      1. 8.1.1

        Fully absolutely agreed. I met a man on Tinder and we agreed to meet as fuck buddies, but there was little sex (and geared for my pleasure, which it worked) and over 7 hours of talking and hugging and cuddling.
        I was blown away, as I am used to sex dates that are just that, and the connection I felt to him was/is simply impressive. So the next day, at night, I texted him. We agreed to meet 3 days later. This time I specified no sex, because I wanted to get to know him more. He agreed. 2 days later was our 3rd date. Again no sex, and we brought up (I brought up) the exclusivity talk. We agreed not to fuck/date others and take time to see if we would fit in a relationship. We will make the call within 1 or 2 months from meeting. I am CONSTANTLY ignoring this particular advice from Evan (mirroring), but when a guy is into you, he is INTO you, and you’d have to be purely irrational/out there to say something that will “scare him away”. I must admit, circumstances like these are RARE, and of course this has advanced far quickly. But it shouldn’t be more than 2 or 3 days before a guy contacts you. Otherwise, clearly you are not in his mind enough!

  9. 9

    Excellent comments.   In my case, I got the vibe that he wasn’t interested when after the first kiss he never mentioned to see me on the weekends.   I know we work at the same place, but I have a feeling that if he had been interested he would have made plans to see each other outside work.   I’m not one to rush things, but we’ve known each other for a few months, so I thought that we were going at the right pace.
    I admit that I still feel a little sad.   I really like him and think he’s a great guy.   My greatest fear was that I had driven him away, but perhaps that’s not the case.   Any thoughts or comments?

  10. 10

    Re: #7


    You could be right the guy would step-it-up if she wasn’t squashing the communication, but honestly it sounds to me more like  he is just trying to keep her in his “stable” by texting her occasionally. They’ve already dated, kissed – why wouldn’t he make more of an effort to see her if he was really interested?

    I believe relationships set their own pace for the most part. Some do seem to move more quickly than others and really, it’s only the outcome that determines whether the pace was “too fast” or not.   I’ve had relationships where we started spending every spare minute together from the start that became partnerships that lasted for years. But every relationship I’ve had where the guy only wanted to see me once a week or so, proved to be casual and ended within 3 months. Without Exception.

    So my views are based on my own experience, not necessarily transferable to anyone else’s situation.

  11. 11

    @ Selena, you might be right.   The reason we don’t know, however, is because Terri doesn’t mirror *consistently*.   At this point she’s doing the opposite of mirroring, which is shutting down every time he expresses more than casual interest.   Her own reactions are getting in the way of her ability to really read this guy.

  12. 12

    Evan, I love you to death, but shame on you!   Our OP may not be egotistical; I have done exactly what she does, and while I’m not saying it’s right, it is more than likely a defense mechanism.   Of course I know that we have to accept we’ll get hurt, let our guard down, and not condemn all guys.   In my head I know that and accept it to be true.   But sometimes that impulse to go into self-protection mode is not easily overcome.   Obviously I have no knowledge of our poster’s history, but as someone who was abandoned in childhood by a parent, that instinct is incredibly strong.   For some people, the pain of loneliness is not even as painful as rejection.   But I digress.   The main point is, give the OP the benefit of a doubt.   Just like those of us who “freeze out” guys should be giving them the benefit of a doubt.  

    1. 12.1

      starthrower68 THANK YOU!!! Thank you for your post. I, too, am so tired of the belittlement of women when they go into “protection mode.” Like you, I was abandon by my parents and to trust is difficult. I am working on it and am getting better, but the minute I start to smell trouble and see the red flags, I bolt. I hope to get better and mirror more than react; however, I so appreciate you telling Evan “shame on you!” I simply cannot continue to listen to his complete and utter disregard for someone’s deep rooted fears.

      1. 12.1.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        K-MAC – My allegiance is only to what works. Being fearful and protective is an ineffective way to connect with men. I don’t care if you were abandoned by your parents; if I’m a good guy and you’re freaking out on me, I’m not going to stick around to find out what happens next. Keep being fearful and you’ll keep seeing men flee – and you’ll think it’s because men are “abandoners”. Not true. We just want to be with confident women.

        1. Jessika

          You are wrong about this! When I first started dating my now boyfriend, after the 3rd date, I expressed to him my fears and insecurities. And yes, I freaked out on him. But he understood why I was afraid, since he himself knows what it’s like to be hurt and vulnerable. So he was very patient with me and we continued to see each other and we are together now. Not all men freak out at the sight of a woman who is brave enough to show him her vulnerabilities. This is an important part of bonding. Even the most confident woman on the planet has a few insecurities or two. This idea that people need to be perfect, confident, and in control at all times is a total fallacy and we need to start understanding that. Maybe we’d all be more successful in love if we can accept that.

  13. 13

    @ Honey

    Next time he texts she could get flirty and type “Call Me” and see what happens.

    The thing about mirroring is one has a choice about it. If a guy calls, talk to him. If he he takes 5 days to call one can still talk to him. The choice is does one  want to wait another 5 days for him to call, or to call him? (Which would be consistent.)

    Men set the pace for dating, but it’s up to the woman to decide if that pace is comfortable for her. I like the phrase: ” Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.”

  14. 14

    Re-reading the letter I noticed she wrote they had two “dates”. Why the quotes? Maybe this guy didn’t know they were dating, and hence didn’t realize he made a faux pax by waiting 5 days to call. Hmm.

  15. 15

    Patience is a virtue.   Not TOO 😉 much patience, but it’s a virtue.   I wonder if the woman who wrote to Evan HAS had a really great ‘flow’ with a man before?   When you have had it, and you feel the energy on your side, you can become quickly impatient when someone takes the slow approach.

    This is why I suggest having a Full Cup and  a Full Plate when not in a relationship.     It’s prime time to get busy doing, seeing, experiencing life.   This way – you aren’t entirely focused on the length of time in between calls.   When the relationship does grow, then you can keep those interests .   . . but in the interest of the relationship’s growth – we have less time to spend on those passions we develop during our singlehood.  

    Another though, and it’s in agreement with a previous poster:   The woman who wrote in is ‘hurt’.   And she’s probably frustrated because now she IS doing the right thing to ‘enchant’ and it’s not taking.   When we are hurt and not emotionally READY to withstand a lot of little hurts (which at times dating can be) it’s better to take a break.   I’m serious.   Maybe she should take a month or two in order to just be with herself,and focus on doing something she feels passionate about or learning something new. It’s a confidence booster.

    Then when back in the dating pool – it’s a lot easier to say . .   . “Oh – never called.   Oh well – going to take a golf lesson. ”   BTW – The Golf Driving Range mid-week after work is a great place to meet single men.   The husbands/dads are at home or running the kids to soccer – so in my area (Central NJ) it’s a great singles place.    Triplejoy/fun – you get to be active doing something fun/learning something new, you keep your mind off your ‘air’, and you get a chance to meet a ‘spare’.   Give it a try!

    1. 15.1

      OK, who is going to give Adrienne’s suggestion a try and report back on meeting men at the Golf Driving Range? Great idea!

  16. 16

    It never is too late, that’s what I say.   He is still pursuing a relationship of some kind with you.   Open the door and invite him in!   Sheesh.   When you feel safe, you can light heartedly explain your, “problem.”
    I’ve found men to be more in the mode of, “serial daters,” where they want to merge at the hip right away, actually.   It confuses me as I *know* I don’t know them at all.   Not enough to text, phone, facebook and merge digital lives from the first date.   It is like instamarriage.   Actually, the man who is divorced is more likely to be checking in often, it seems.   Unfortunately, when I don’t mirror the obsessive behavior, they wander off…
    Good luck!

  17. 17

    I can’t believe how timely this letter is- I too ‘freeze’ people out with regrets later…stupid thing I’ll admit to. There was this guy I e-mailed- he e-mailed back, very friendly…this was going back and forth with him asking me a billion questions about myself and never asking for a phone number, meetup, etc. I just stopped replying to his e-mails because I thought that meant he wasn’t interested. Who knows? Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. I won’t know now…

  18. 18

    Oh sorry…for the double post EMK, just saw star’s post now-


    Why do you say ‘shame on you’ to EMK? I’ve done the same thing- and I admit completely it was related to ego. Anytime we react out of fear/anger, that’s an ‘ego-based’ reaction. It doesn’t make it wrong/bad, it just it. You’ve just got to find out if that reaction is tripping you up.

    For me, I know it def is…I just don’t know how to stop! LOL

    1. 18.1

      I think what she (Star) is trying to say is that Evan (and many people) are WAY TOO HARD on women when they “freeze” people out. I have done it and regret it, but whenever I have come to terms with my action my gut was often spot on. I think Evan could help women more by encouraging in some areas. I understand his hard nosed tactics but since we are wired differently, he could soften his edges, explain why “EMO” reactions lead to regret and sadness later. Most people are logical and will understand this POV. And to be fair, I don’t think it is ego as must as fear of having the rug pulled out from under you. Once again, I am working on getting better at this but we (men and women) are dealing with years of hurt and betrayal in childhood and therapy doesn’t truly help all of the time. It takes dating and meeting new friends and people to show you where you still need to focus your attentions and grow in a more positive way.

  19. 19


    I’m going to get all Karl here on you (friendly debate, no hostility intended):

    You said “It doesn’t make it wrong/bad, it just is”; I didn’t say that it was wrong or bad, merely that it wasn’t right, meaning it is self-defeating behavior, which I readily admit.

    It also appears we may be defining “ego” two different ways within the context of this discussion.   I’m taking your meaning as in “id, ego, and superego”.   I was taking Evan’s meaning as in the OP was being prideful because she wasn’t getting what she wanted.   Evan is a compassionate, understanding person, and this came across to me as more of a scolding.   Obviously our OP knows something isn’t quite right because she wrote in.

  20. 20

    I agree, there’s no reason to get angry if he’s not in love after the first date! BUT,   in my experience, if a guys acts very casual and sporatic in the first couple months, he probably only wants something casual…which isn’t so bad, could be fun! If the casual thing last too long and you want more, then its time to move on.
    Being patient can pay off though. In fact, the one relationship that I did have to be really really patient for (a year before he called me his girlfriend) lasted a few years, but I always sort of resented him for taking so long in the beginning.   and maybe deep down he was never really that into me, as after we broke up he married a girl after only knowing her a short time! Timing is everything I guess :/

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