Throwing The Baby Out With The Bath Water

Name: Cindy | | Location: Birmingham , AL |Question: I would greatly appreciate your thoughts about this.

Months ago, I friended a man on Facebook. It was a about a month after I’d been in a serious relationship which had lasted almost a year.

The man I friended works in the same school system as me. We’d talked briefly at a meeting, I found him on FB and responded to one of his status updates. Again, this was months ago and I’d heard nothing from him. I found him to be attractive when we met at the meeting, discovered he has a young child as I do at this late age, and I felt he was a warm person.

I’m assuming he’s around the same age as me-this concept will reveal itself in a moment. Weeks ago, he popped up on the FB chat. He initiated, we chatted back and forth and he asked for my number. I gladly gave it to him, but I didn’t hear from him until 2 weeks later. He called; we talked about everything, mistakes we’d made in relationships, etc., and he asked if I wanted to meet him and his son with my daughter at the movies. I agreed, but I found it to be odd because I wanted one-on-one time and I figured the movies isn’t a good setting especially when we’re watching my 4-yr-old and his 8-yr-old.

As I predicted, we didn’t talk much and the kids found themselves between us. He called to see if my daughter and I made it home, we expressed interest in doing it again soon (I didn’t mean it though I wanted an actual date).

It was about 4 days after our firt meeting. He called , but that was after I was on FB. I saw he was online, I initiated by asking how he was, then he called my cell, and we talked extensively again. I told him I was about to meet girlfriends and would invite him but he would be outnumbered with 4 women. He said that he was tired anyway. We ended the convo with no mention of a date.

I didn’t hear from him again until today, which makes a week. He called to ask did I know of a good place to fish…I said my oldest son goes to a certain spot. We’d never talked about fishing before. He said that maybe my daughter and I could meet with him and his son on Sunday.

What the hell should I do? I’m becoming put off by the situation because there are gaps in time with him, he doesn’t want to do anything without the kids it seems, and lastly, he won’t tell me his age. I’ve asked him twice how old he is and he gives a cute response like, “Old enough to know better.”

I’m too old enough for this. Should I just be blunt and say if you’re interested lets go out on a real date or is he immature (in reference to the denial of age) and wants to be friends? A couple of more things about him: he has his son-every other weekend and he is an administrator at a school. Thoughts?
|Age: 47

Sure. You could be blunt and ask this man you’ve been out with once and with whom you’ve had a couple Facebook chat sessions with what his intentions are. I mean, you’ll end up coming off like you’ve been sitting there thinking about him and spending time trying to figure him out because you have no other options but…whatevs.

I don’t know why this man is as inept as you have said he is. Maybe he’s rusty when it comes to dating? Maybe he hasn’t a clue what he’s doing and is just trying to find his way? Maybe he’s using your kids as buffers or an excuse to get together?  Maybe he just wants to be friends or find a play date for his child on the weekends that he has him because he hasn’t a clue how to relate to the child? I don’t know.

What I do know is that this situation isn’t working for you.  So how do you get this situation to work out in your favor?

You ask him out. You don’t ask him what his deal is or if he just wants to be friends. That will put him on the defensive. If he was interested in getting to know you in a romantic sense, a pointed question like that is going to do do a couple things.

1. It’s going to imply that he has been doing something with the intent of confusing or misleading you. Nobody likes to be accused of doing something they didn’t do, or at least weren’t conscious of doing.

2. It’s going to make you seem confrontational and anxious. Those are two traits that are unattractive in both women and men.

What you need to do is take control of the situation and ask him if he’d like to go out just the two of you. That’s it. Don’t ask him to qualify the connection or relationship.

“How about we go out for coffee/a walk/a movie/a drink just the two of us?” He’s either going to say yes or no. Then you’ll have the answer.

Dating is hard at any age and at any stage. It has to be that much more confusing for people who have been out of it for several years. I’ve told this story before, but when my Dad started dating again after my Mom passed away, he met a woman (now my step-mother) who worked for the meat department of a supermarket. My father did not believe in buying more of something until we finished what we had. Yet our freezers were stocked and overflowing with meat at any given time. He’d go in to that market every week, sometimes twice, just to work up the nerve to ask my step-mother out. Sometimes he’d take me along as a cover. (Or a prop. Who the hell knows :)  Whatever the reason, it worked.)

This guy has taken some initiative. Not a lot, but some. Who knows why. Maybe he’s just dipping his toe back in the water. You don’t know any more than I do. So now you can meet him half way. It will probably be refreshing for him to have someone step in and try to help things along.

What does it matter how old he is? I mean, of course it matters to some degree. But why are you getting stuck on something that, at this point in your life, is kind of inconsequential? You’re attracted to him, right? You like him? Will that change if he tells you he’s older than you think he is? If so, then you’re no more available than he is. That would be a silly excuse. You formed a possible connection with someone, you have a couple things in common. That should be enough. Don’t look for reasons to assume this guy is a creep, or you’ll find them. Maybe he’s insecure about his age? Maybe he’s making an awkward attempt at flirting? Cut him some slack and don’t automatically assume the guy is up to no good. You can’t let all the paranoia and memories from past experiences get in the way like that.

As for the time gaps….what those tell you is that he has other things going on. You don’t know what. At this juncture, he really doesn’t owe you an itinerary of his schedule. Should he disappear for a couple months at a time and resurface than you can safely assume he’s not interested. But a week or two before you’ve even really had a date? I wouldn’t hang your hat on that.

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating. There are some men who know they want a girlfriend and a long term relationship. Those men go in to each date acutely aware of what they are looking for. When they find it, they lock it down as soon as they can.

Then there are the men who are open to the idea of being in a long-term relationship, but more in the abstract. These are the men that fall or ease in to a committed situation. They aren’t clearing their schedules of bending over backwards right away. These men need a little bit more time to get to know a woman. They still have some stuff going on that keeps them from being 100% focused. But they get there for the right woman. It just takes them a bit longer.

Then there are the men who know they don’t want anything remotely serious or long-term. The tricky thing about these men as that they can and often do show the same signs of interest as the other two men I mentioned above. They go along for as long as they can until the woman speaks up and asks where things are going. Then they bail.

So, sometimes we actually throw the baby out with the bathwater when we expect a certain level of treatment up front or use what we think are great tactics to weed out the men in category number 3.  Sure, we might weed out lots of men in category number 3. But we also might discard the men in category number 2. Expecting that all men will fall in category number 1 is where we really goof.

Instead of being worried that some guy is going to make a fool of you, enjoy yourself. Explore your options. Don’t get stuck on one guy after one or two dates. Do not give any man that kind of power over you until he’s earned it. Stop sitting back and letting these guys dictate how your life is going to proceed. If letting the man pursue you has worked, then have at it. But if that approach hasn’t worked for you, then you need to step it up.

With all the messages out there now about who pays and who asks who out and sexual empowerment and “I lurve being single/I don’t need a mans!” you have to understand that a lot of men are now taking a very passive role in courtship and dating.  Some do it out of spite. Others do it out of confusion. More do it because they’ve stopped trying to figure us out and are taking us at “face value.”

Stop letting your fear of how you’ll be perceived or what it all means or how it will affect the balance of the relationship rule you. Take the opportunities that present themselves to you to be assertive. Don’t use them to exploit a phony sense of control or dominance, as those attempts always fall flat and your true fear and weakness is then revealed. Stop being afraid to fail or get hurt. Even in the most committed and strong of relationships, you fail and get hurt. It’s inevitable.

Basically, stop letting men rule your thoughts and emotions and take control. If you’re going to throw anything out, let it be your fear and anyone and anything that drags you down and keeps you in the fear-based place where all your moves are predicated on how you think the man will react and what you’ll do if you can’t find a man. Because with him or without him, you still have to face you at the end of every day. Having someone else to silence all those voices isn’t ever going to silence them completely.

Many men are now following our lead. So lead.

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24 Responses to “Throwing The Baby Out With The Bath Water”

  1. allanonmage Says:

    Why would you go on a 0th date (a meeting for the first time) and bring your kid with you?

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  2. Vox Says:

    He’s not interested. He probably likes the OP as a person, but isn’t sexually attracted to her. A guy who is probably pushing 50 (at the least) knows how to speak up if he’s interested in someone. The OP was actually the one to pursue him a bit in the beginning, but he never responded in any such way that would indicate any romantic interest whatsoever. Time to move on.

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  3. M (the original one) Says:

    Generally, I agree with Moxie on this. If you want to go out with him on a regular date (just you and him), then ask him out. There is nothing wrong with you asking him, and its unreasonable to expect him to read your mind and ask you for what you want. As for the rest of it, maybe he brought his kid along because he wanted to see if both your kids got along, and also how you treat your kid. While I think that’s odd on date 1, I see the reasoning, especially at your age. As for how old he is, dont women lie about their age and resist telling a guy their actual age all the time? How is this any different? Whatever. While his frequency of communication may be a bit irregular, I dont necessarily think it says anything about him. If you want to talk to him more often, then call him. It seems pretty clear you know what you want out of this, but you refuse to do anything to make it happen. Showing up is not enough. You want something? Actively pursue it. Ask him out. Call him. Plan the date. Make the first move on a date. If you want it to happen, and he’s not doing it, you have to do it. It doesnt mean that he’s not up for it; it could just mean you move faster than he is used to.

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  4. Joe Says:

    Sounds to me like he’s being very cautious. Perhaps he got burned badly by his ex. Perhaps he has full custody and is sensitive to his child’s needs.

    I don’t understand the suggestion of “time to move on.” Why the big rush? Is there any harm at just letting the relationship develop? I think the suggestion of having a casual fishing date with kids sounds wonderful (and I don’t like fishing.) The point here being that if you were to get together, you’d have a full family with children, not just the two of you.

    My youngest is fifteen. But were she eight and I’d ended up single, how a new woman got along with her and her siblings would have been extremely important to me. To be honest, if I ended up single now and dated someone who thought little of my children and grandchildren, I’d tell her to fuck off (I’m not saying she’d have to adore them, but she’d have to respect them. If she didn’t expect the same from me in return toward her children and grandchildren, I’d have no respect for her!)

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  5. Dimplz Says:

    I say let it unfold. My bf took 2 weeks to ask me out. When he did, we were on the phone for 40 mins because he’d asked me fir some tax papers (he’s my accountant) and we got carried away with small talk. I didn’t think he was interested and it was a very busy time of year. I thought I was just being a chatterbox so I was about to close off the call when he blurted it out.

    No one here is psychic. We just read cues. Everytime you chat him up, he asks you out. He’s not going to act like my guy because he’s a parent and his kid comes first, and that changes everything. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you, or that maybe you can be friends first. What’s the harm in seeing where it goes? It’s not like you’re sleeping with him or even in love.

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  6. wishing u well Says:

    Maybe it’s just me – but I don’t think he took it as a real date at all. I think it was more of a friendly play date in a comfortable scenario. I also think that it’s a better idea just to let the cards fall as they may without pushing the issue. Men who want to ask you out will do so in their own timing. Go with a relaxed flow, but in my mind – I think that he isn’t going to ask you out on a date and that if you push it in that direction, things may get a little awkward.

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  7. trouble Says:

    My boyfriend was pretty inept at dating when I met him. He’s great at relationships, but he’s so painfully shy that making a connection with someone is excruciating for him. The initial stages of our dating relationship sounded a lot like what you describe (sans dragging small children along). The guy is looking for reasons to contact you and spend time with you. Maybe he wants a friendship, maybe he wants more, but you won’t know unless you ask him to spend some time alone with you and figure out if there is mutual chemistry.

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  8. trouble Says:

    Wanted to add one thing. Some of the best guys who are single at our age (40+) are single because they aren’t smooth and aren’t good at hitting on women and asking them out. Many of them are shy and maybe even a little introverted. If they were good at initiating relationships, they’d probably be happily married right now. I think it is important for those of us who are slightly older to look at situations like this as a blessing in disguise. If these guys were the smoothtalkers that many of us dated in our younger years, they might be totally unavailable to us.

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  9. SB Says:

    This man just wants a friend.

    He was never interested in you, not from the beginning and not now. You initiated by friending him on FB (really??) and commenting on his status update. If he were interested in you, he would have responded way before months went by. He probably decided that a woman with a child would make a plausible playdate for his son, especially since you were interested in contacting him.

    He’s not interested, take him for the blessing of the new friend that he is. What’s wrong with a close guy friend anyway? I cherish mine. Have fun fishing! :)

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    • dimplz Says:

      I don’t see anything wrong with her “friending” him (I don’t have FB). She didn’t propose. He could have denied the friend request. As for him getting back to her later, so what? I saw my bf the year before at tax time and he didn’t ask me out. The next year he did. If he’d asked me out the year before, I might not have been in the right place to date him. I was in a space where I had pretty much given up on meeting a good guy, and everything he would have done would have seemed suspect. The following year, I was over that period and very open and understanding.

      Like Trouble said, some guys aren’t smooth. My bf was nervous our first few dates. I wasn’t. Does that mean I wasn’t interested and he was? I don’t think so.

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      • dimplz Says:

        It’s Monday.

        i wrote I don’t have FB because from what I understand, people who have it tend to use it a lot. They do all the status updates, friending, events, chat, etc. They are an older couple and he seems to be friendly, even though he might be insecure about his age.

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      • SB Says:

        real life is very different from fb. Friending a guy you just met on facebook because you are interested and want to date him is immature, think middle school, annoying, and creepy. The OP is about to look foolish by confronting him for a date.

        If she wants to go online to search for men, she should try online dating (there are several sites free). Doing so on fb is a big no-no, at least in my generation. Maybe older people are okay with it, if so I’m wrong.

        I’d advise her to just take it for what it is: a new friend with a playdate for her kid.

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        • Dimplz Says:

          Facebook was created for people to connect with one another. It seems like you’re projecting your own insecurities onto the situation. She found him there and “friended” him because she seems like a friendly and confident person. She didn’t use it as a vehicle to ask him out or ask his friends to find out if he liked her. That’s middle school. When you get to 47, if you’re single, you’ll see how innovative you’ll have to be in order to meet people.

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        • Paula Says:

          I’m a bit younger than the OP, but in the same age range, and I have several Facebook friends who are guys I met at one point and had an interest in. It’s a way to stay in touch as passively or actively as you want; learn more about who they are; invite them to group events; see what friends or activities you may have in common. For those who post regularly, you can learn quite a bit. You can also get a better sense of what kind of social life someone has.

          One guy, I was able to figure out that he had recently started dating someone, and not long after, changed his relationship status. Another, was single, started dating, and then is now single again, and I will now make more of an effort to see him by doing something with our mutual friends. Yet another, a guy who I dated several times, is going to be my Facebook friend so we can keep up with each other until deciding whether it’s safe to be regular friends or not.

          I don’t see anything creepy or middle school about the OP friending him. He initiated contact after that, so it doesn’t sound like he did either.

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        • Angeline Says:

          [Friending a guy you just met on facebook because you are interested and want to date him is immature, think middle school, annoying, and creepy. The OP is about to look foolish by confronting him for a date.

          If she wants to go online to search for men, she should try online dating (there are several sites free). Doing so on fb is a big no-no, at least in my generation. Maybe older people are okay with it, if so I’m wrong.]

          I couldn’t disagree more with this post. Younger, older, I know a lot of people who add people they meet IRL on fb to continue to build the relationship. Or, they meet via fb, and it progresses from there. While it isn’t a dating site, they end up using it as such. Maybe he’s squeamish about being on a dating site, and Facebook is an acceptable cover. It isn’t creepy to have added him, or to ask him out. She wasn’t searching for men, she was searching for someone specific whom she had just met in person. If he’d been creeped out by it, he wouldn’t have allowed the add.

          Regarding the time delay, perhaps this guy isn’t on his page much. Perhaps he had other things going on, in which case the fact that he didn’t contact her in the interim is the opposite of keeping her in the wings. Perhaps it just took all that time for him to work up his nerve. I really like trouble’s comment above about the smooth guys – maybe he’s shy.

          Quite possibly, he’s just being very cautious. The OP said they work in the same school system – maybe he’s just very carefully testing the waters so that there’s no workplace disturbance by asking out one who is technically a coworker.

          She needs to just ask him out (alone) if she’s interested, and see what happens.

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  10. Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

    If he were interested in you, he would have responded way before months went by.

    He would? So he couldn’t have just been out of a relationship himself at the time she commented on his status update? It’s not at all possible that he just wasn’t ready or available or interested in dating someone? or maybe he’s newly divorced and wasn’t ready to date?

    This guy actually picks up the phone and calls this woman without her asking, doesn’t sit on text messaging or FB chat…and women still complain about the lack of effort and interest. Had he just continued to chat with her over FB, he’d have been accused of God knows what. Given how many men have said how much they hate the phone, this guy actually called this woman without being asked to. And that’s still not enough.

    The guy called her to ask her if she knew of any good places to go fishing. He works for a school. He couldn’t have asked any of his co-workers? Or maybe even students?

    My God. Not every guy is going to be suave.

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    • SB Says:

      I’m not saying it’s not enough. What I’m saying is, I’ve had lots of guys interested in me; they act a lot differently. Even if something weird was going on before he contacted her (red flag, btw. A guy who keeps women in the wings while in a relationship have major, major issues), after the first meeting or phone call, he would have been very eager to push things forward pretty quickly if he liked her. He didn’t, he still isn’t. He’s not looking for more, he’s happy to have a friend at maybe a lonely time in his life who also has a playdate for his son. Double win.
      I’ve also had a few guys try to play games, feign interest, looking for a friend to chill with, etc in between women. This is how those guys acted.

      Calling up and chatting on the phone? Since when did this become a huge milestone for men to do? It is meaningless, just like texting vs. calling is meaningless. Some men really enjoy long conversations on the phone (I would know. I *hate* them, and am often roped into them by men who are my friends, that I’m dating, who want to date me, etc. All over the spectrum: men love to talk). Their are exceptions, of course, but the men I’ve met always want to call me and waste hours just chatting away on the phone. It is meaningless. This man is probably lonely and likes to talk to someone. If he was interested in her from the time they met (months before), he would have at least started a friendship with her or a chatting relationship even if he was involved with someone else. That is how men work.

      I’m sorry, but only very young, very shy guys act this skittish with someone they like. This guy is showing very minimal interest, and I’m guessing it mostly for the benefit of his son. If he wanted her, he would do everything in his power to make sure she knew and wouldn’t get away or be picked up by some other guy. Speaking from experience.

      A guy who makes you wonder at his intentions? Causes you to analyze his behavior? It is because deep down, as women, we know when a man is just not interested in us; it just so hard to see it. Instead, we get anxious, wondering at their intentions and analyzing every interaction. there is no peace. I’ve been there; it is because we don’t want to believe what our subconscious already knows. A man who really wants you, lets you know in no uncertain terms (and no, there is no magic action or formula he has to follow. You just know, just like long before a man says “I love you,” you know he loves you. The words don’t matter at that point, his actions are all it takes. It is very obvious).

      Of course, I could be wrong; but if I am, I would warn very strongly against starting anything with this guy. He has issues, IMO.

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      • Joe Says:

        I’m sorry, but only very young, very shy guys act this skittish with someone they like

        You really don’t understand introverts do you? Or men.

        It is because deep down, as women, we know when a man is just not interested in us

        Oh, bullshit. This is where there are all these dramatic games; because you have no idea. All you can know is whether you are interested in him. More often than not, both men and women are simply projecting their own feelings, positive or negative, onto the other person.

        I again fail to see why taking your time with a relationship is such a horrible thing, especially if you both have children.

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        • SB Says:

          You really don’t understand introverts do you? Or men. – Joe

          Except that my boyfriend is exactly that. I knew right away that he liked me; it’s really no big mystery, even if he acted differently than the confident “player” types. there was no question in my mind, and now he wants to marry me.

          The rest of your post agrees with me. Deep down we *do* know, women just ignore that, projecting (thank you for giving me the term I was looking for) their own feelings of lust or love onto the guy and hoping he reciprocates. The anxiety and drama comes from being unable to either see the truth inside or are ignoring it in hopes they are wrong. As women, we’ve all been there. If we can just be honest, we would realize we already knew the truth and were just ignoring it because it wasn’t what we wanted to hear.
          I have a few girlfriends, too, who talk to me about their drama-filled dating lives. I advise them on what to do and, being intelligent engineers and scientists, reflect and realize the truth. Deep down, we know. Denial is powerful. Many of them are in successful relationships now, the others have learned to stop pursuing guys who jerk them around and have much better quality guys now pursuing them.

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  11. Paula Says:

    One thing I’ve noticed, especially with the advent of more online dating, is that our tolerance and patience for the initial stages of courtship, if you will, has really gone way way down.

    In the past, if something took months or years to develop, it wasn’t that big of a deal. You weren’t putting all your eggs in one basket, hopefully, and harboring a crush that never would come to fruition, but you probably had several people in your life who you’d be interested in dating if there seemed to be mutual interest.

    Now, it’s like, the guy better ask you out or forget it. If he doesn’t make clear that you’re on a date, he’s not interested. If he doesn’t phone/text/email frequently after you’re together, he’s not interested. If there’s any ambiguity, you might as well move on. Most of the guys here make clear reasonably often that if they’re truly interested in a woman, they’ll make it clear and find ways to spend time with them and take them off the market. However, we have several women here who are in relationships with the shy guys: the ones who took their time asking them out, and didn’t aggressively show their interest right away.

    I think with people you meet in real life (not online) it often takes longer for things to develop and for interest to be clearly communicated, since you’re not in an environment where an interest in dating can be presumed, and since there’s not 10 other people waiting in the wings if a particular person doesn’t come through quickly enough. And a lot of people are much more socially awkward in person than they are online — it’s easier to be articulate typing out thoughtful responses than it is looking someone in the eye that you like enough that they make you nervous.

    But if we apply the same standards that we would to someone we met online, then it seems more likely that we end up sabotaging ourselves. I think the OP shouldn’t think about this guy so much, make an effort to go out with others, and give him some time to figure out what he wants. He’s not the last guy left in the world who might be a potential mate for her, but he also hasn’t done enough for her to conclude either way whether he’s interested romantically.

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  12. Saj Says:

    If you don’t want to go fishing with the kids just suggest an alternate plan with just the two of you. See how he responds.

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  13. Devon Brown Says:

    Moxie is right on the money with this situation. We don’t know what this guy has going on, or anything really. We learned a lot more about the author of the letter than about the guy.

    Also, I really like the end of Moxie’s post. Men are more often following women’s leads these days. And I think it is the last reason Moxie mentions, that we are tired of trying to figure out all the hints and signals and games and tests and … and … and … and now are just taking the woman at face value. This is not a bad thing and it doesn’t take away the possibility of romance and flirtation. It is just the man saying that he is more open to open and honest communication… which is something I have heard many women wish they had.

    – Devon

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  14. Infinity Says:

    Are you sure none of you have seen this ploy? It’s been done to me… the passive ploy.

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