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Pappeh

Playing devil's advocate

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Pappeh

Hi everyone! There are a number of questions that have come up in my mind as I try to comprehend asexuality from my perspective as someone very much sexual and I was hoping to have the community play devil's advocate to some statements. Feel free to respond to all, none, or some. I am in no means trying to suggest these statements are truths. They may be entirely false. I can even come up with my own counterarguments. But I want to hear from those of you who actually experience this. 

 

1. In a marriage between someone sexual who desires sex and someone asexual who is sex averse, there is a middle ground between them that is 'some sex under mutually agreeable circumstances'

 

2. One-sided sex in a relationship is worth the time and emotional investment for the asexual sex averse member to be able to perform out of love for the sexual member of that relationship, if they can compromise on boundaries that are acceptable.

 

3. Someone who identifies as asexual and sex-averse can be sexually intimate in a mixed sexuality marriage over time and derive fulfillment from maintaining the marriage through that intimacy, without developing resentment.

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Grimalkin

I personally tend to believe all of these things have truth to them. However, I would say they probably only apply to an asexual who is sex indifferent, not sex averse. Sex averse suggests much more dislike and discomfort. For instance, it's already hard enough for me and my partner because even though I am merely indifferent to it, I cannot properly become aroused and it takes a lot of discomfort to even, uh, fit it in. Someone who is sex averse may be much less inclined to go through with that on a regular basis, even if they love their partner.

 

And of course, even with an asexual person who is willing to try, there's lots of factors in play. How understanding each person is, how demanding each person is. How passive-aggressive they are or how poorly they communicate. The key is being able to talk it out when frustrations or resentments begin to build. Compromise in this situation would be the allosexual having less sex than they would otherwise like and the asexual having more than they would otherwise like, and if you can't talk about it, there will be stress.

 

Lastly, I think there's a verrryyy fine line for an asexual between engaging sexually with your partner in a fulfilling way... and duty sex. Having been raised as a Christian woman, I heard a lot about duty sex growing up. "Wives should just suck it up and do it." And man, that's no fun for anybody. But even as an asexual, there's still ways for me to enjoy sexual interactions and feel appreciated, provided my partner listens well.

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gaogao

I agree with @Grimalkin in saying that these statements are difficult to apply to someone who is wholly sex-averse - though I suppose it depends on what you mean by "sex-averse". 

 

If I use my understanding of a sex-averse individual as someone who is deeply uncomfortable by sex and who would choose not to have it under any circumstances, as opposed to someone who would rather not have sex but doesn't have negative or positive feelings about sex one way or the other (sex-indifferent), then I think these statements will all fall flat because there is no middle ground between someone who desires sex and someone for whom sex is a source of discomfort beyond mere indifference.

 

While it's probably not impossible for someone who is averse to consent to one-sided sex in specific circumstances and with good intentions from both parties, I would see that as a relationship where there is a very deep misunderstanding or lack of communication in place. It is difficult to see how it is an investment worth anyone's time to attempt sex with someone who is at their very best tolerating it, waiting for it to be over, or trying to get through it as fast as possible out of love.

 

In addition, from the sexual partner's point of view - I think it is already very difficult for a loving sexual partner to reconcile having sex with someone who is indifferent and who doesn't really care about sex one way or the other, let alone someone who is wholly averse. As Grimalkin says, in the case of indifferent individuals, there's already a compromise in place that requires detailed communication and understanding from both partners in order to prevent resentment from building.

 

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Philip027

There is very often more to being sex averse than simply feeling "I'd rather not".  For someone to identify that way, their discomfort is usually stronger than what the positions depicted in the OP seem to be suggesting.  And pushing sex on such a person is pretty much skirting the line of rape.

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anisotrophic
1 hour ago, gaogao said:

there is no middle ground between someone who desires sex and someone for whom sex is a source of discomfort beyond mere indifference

Yeah, this is how I felt about OP's post too.

 

I suppose someone could be determined to confront aversion but I think the motivation would have to be entirely intrinsic. 😕 I'd expect a caring, loving sexual partner to be pretty upset at the possibility of causing discomfort to their partner! As you say, it's difficult enough to accept indifference.

 

(I don't think my post adds much more than chiming in, as a sexual partner.)

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Nowhere Girl
4 hours ago, Pappeh said:

But I want to hear from those of you who actually experience this. 

 

1. In a marriage between someone sexual who desires sex and someone asexual who is sex averse, there is a middle ground between them that is 'some sex under mutually agreeable circumstances'

 

2. One-sided sex in a relationship is worth the time and emotional investment for the asexual sex averse member to be able to perform out of love for the sexual member of that relationship, if they can compromise on boundaries that are acceptable.

 

3. Someone who identifies as asexual and sex-averse can be sexually intimate in a mixed sexuality marriage over time and derive fulfillment from maintaining the marriage through that intimacy, without developing resentment.

I'm not in a relationship... but no, I couldn't do it. Just to make it clear: I wouldn't like to be forcing a sexually incompatible partner to stay with me if no sex was too hard to bear for her. But I just couldn't bring myself to have sex.

So I'm not speaking as "someone who actually experiences this" since I have never been in a relationship, but I feel that I can provide some insight as a person who identifies specifically as sex-averse.

One things to be remembered is that labels are only just approximations. One person's aversion is different from any other person's aversion. Perhaps it would be more accurate to speak of a sex aversion spectrum, which ranges from some kind of "I'd rather not" to full-scale sex repulsion. I identify as sex-averse and not sex-repulsed because my aversion is not generalised: I am indifferent to other people's sex, I only experience distress when it's about the possibility of personally having sex. For me this is the "conventional" division between aversion and repulsion (repulsion is generalised, aversion isn't) and not the intensity of these feelings. People shouldn't assume that if a person doesn't identify as outright sex-repulsed, their aversion is probably mild and could be overcome. People also shouldn't assume (I'm mentioning this because it's a common misunderstanding) that sex aversion is always traumatic in origin. Some people who identify as sex-averse have never had any kind of sexual contact with anyone, likely exactly because of their aversion.

My own variant of sex aversion is probably less than typical because my feelings about having sex involve much more fear and much less disgust. Also because they are grounded in one specific factor: intense fear of being naked in anyone's presence. In fact, this is probably the reason why sex seems much more frightening than disgusting to me: issues such as body fluids, weird sounds etc. are, in a way, "theoretical" to me - because I feel certain that if something ever made me decide to try sex, I would panic at a much earlier stage, wouldn't even get to the point of actually having sex.

Of course, everyone should decide for themself and if a sex-averse person would like to try "getting past their aversion", I'm not the one to judge. (Still, I'm perfectly willing to discourage unsure and apprehensive people from having sex. I think that they just deserve it: there are lots of messages, even in ace spaces. which encourage people to try sex - it's much harder to encounter the opposite ones. This is epistemological injustice: the condition of never finding confirmation that your thoughtfeelings are possible, that there are other people like you, just because your thoughtfeelings happen to be rare.) But I'm not one of them. I wouldn't even want to become capable of having sex. If I never manage to be in a relationship because of my sex aversion being a hard limit, than be it, but I don't want to torture myself with something which feels so frightening to me as sex and partnered nudity.

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Pappeh
4 hours ago, Grimalkin said:

I personally tend to believe all of these things have truth to them. However, I would say they probably only apply to an asexual who is sex indifferent, not sex averse. Sex averse suggests much more dislike and discomfort. For instance, it's already hard enough for me and my partner because even though I am merely indifferent to it, I cannot properly become aroused and it takes a lot of discomfort to even, uh, fit it in. Someone who is sex averse may be much less inclined to go through with that on a regular basis, even if they love their partner.

 

And of course, even with an asexual person who is willing to try, there's lots of factors in play. How understanding each person is, how demanding each person is. How passive-aggressive they are or how poorly they communicate. The key is being able to talk it out when frustrations or resentments begin to build. Compromise in this situation would be the allosexual having less sex than they would otherwise like and the asexual having more than they would otherwise like, and if you can't talk about it, there will be stress.

 

Lastly, I think there's a verrryyy fine line for an asexual between engaging sexually with your partner in a fulfilling way... and duty sex. Having been raised as a Christian woman, I heard a lot about duty sex growing up. "Wives should just suck it up and do it." And man, that's no fun for anybody. But even as an asexual, there's still ways for me to enjoy sexual interactions and feel appreciated, provided my partner listens well.

I really like all of these responses. Thanks everyone! It's incredibly helpful.

 

@Grimalkin brings up a point that concerns me a lot though. Duty sex. I'd like to add a question:

 

If someone who does not desire sex (even if they're indifferent to if as some have suggested) has sex because they truly want to fulfill a cultural or religious obligation, is that sex truly consensual? What if they do it "for their spouse" who is sexual for the sake of relationship maintenance? Would all of that technically fall under some form of coercion? 

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uhtred

I think that there is too much range to have simple rules.

 

If the "asexual" person is someone who doesn't particularly enjoy sex, but is OK with it and the sexual person enjoys occasional simple sex, AND if the relationship is overall balanced, then I think having sex to make your partner happy is fine.  Its no different than offering back rubs etc.

 

OTOH there are situations that may make that not work at all:

 

If the sexual person really wants active desire, the asexual would need to lie and that is not a good plan in general

 

If the asexual person is sex averse - eg, if sex is strongly negative to them, then the above would make them suffer.

 

If the sexual person is high drive and wants a lot of variety, the above will never be enough for them.

 

 

I think communication is key to finding out if there is a possible compromise.

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Telecaster68

It's almost like there's as many different situations as people, multiplied by the combinations of relationships they could have with each other, and a few simple rules won't fit every conceivable possibility.

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ryn2
1 hour ago, Pappeh said:

Would all of that technically fall under some form of coercion? 

To me it’s only coercive if the sexual partner holds significant power over the asexual’s wellbeing *and* the sexual partner threatens - and has the means - to withdraw necessary support if the ace partner does  not comply.

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SCPDX

Whenever a big difference in libido develops in a marriage, a big chunk of misery is inserted into that marriage. That misery has to be divided up somehow. 

 

While in principle, you should be able to compromise and share that misery equally, that’s not how it works. 

 

If the lower libido spouse is truly sex averse (like my wife has been for the past nine years), then there is no middle ground. You are stuck with leaving, outsourcing, or sucking it up and dealing. As stated elsewhere here, compromise in my situation looks a whole lot like coerced sex. And since I’m not a sociopath, I’m stuck with the three shit sandwiches listed above. 

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Serran

Sex to please a partner is consensual, if its freely given. Some people consider it a chore, or enjoy it but dont desire it, or various other things that make it OK. 

 

If its causing significant pain then its time to question it. 

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ryn2
1 hour ago, Serran said:

Sex to please a partner is consensual, if its freely given. Some people consider it a chore, or enjoy it but dont desire it, or various other things that make it OK. 

 

If its causing significant pain then its time to question it. 

This.

 

Even if it’s causing significant pain it can still be consensual... it’s just wise at that point to discuss/consider further as the worse the experience is the less likely the compromise will be sustainable.

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SCPDX
22 minutes ago, ryn2 said:

This.

 

Even if it’s causing significant pain it can still be consensual... it’s just wise at that point to discuss/consider further as the worse the experience is the less likely the compromise will be sustainable.

I don’t think anyone’s saying that it’s not consensual. I’m certainly not. I’m just saying that after a while it starts to feel that way. I mean, if your partner starts actively avoiding situations that could result in sex, what are you supposed to think? 

 

Beginning of the end for sex in my marriage: we had all our kids out of the house for at least  four hours (not planned, it just worked out that way). It had been at least 2 months since we last had sex and it was my f***ing BIRTHDAY.

 

We got into bed - no kissing, no foreplay, same position as always, her in her ratty t-shirt, and working very hard to get it over with as soon as possible so we could go back to cleaning the house. 

 

Consensual? You bet. Coerced? Not a chance. But a very clear message of I WOULD RATHER BE DOING ANYTHING BUT THIS. 

 

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Telecaster68

There's a term 'starfishing' - dating there inert with limbs spread. 

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ryn2
8 minutes ago, SCPDX said:

I don’t think anyone’s saying that it’s not consensual.

Pappeh asked upthread.

 

23 hours ago, Pappeh said:

If someone who does not desire sex (even if they're indifferent to if as some have suggested) has sex because they truly want to fulfill a cultural or religious obligation, is that sex truly consensual? What if they do it "for their spouse" who is sexual for the sake of relationship maintenance? Would all of that technically fall under some form of coercion? 

That’s what I (and some others) were responding to.

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Traveler40

I need to digress for a minute:

 

I believe my husband is asexual, but I had 3 long term relationships that included sex before him.  I’ve wondered how I got to my mid-40’s with so little experience?  Your description including that it always was the same way or same position triggered a visual of how it was with my husband (not due to me I think, but that’s how it was.) Frankly and graphically though, I’d never had sex in any other position with my other partners until my lover.  Night one, it was about 15 different ways.  Sometimes, I think it depends on the....lead? 🤷🏻‍♀️

 

Ok, back to sex with an asexual...

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Nowhere Girl
19 minutes ago, Telecaster68 said:

There's a term 'starfishing' - dating there inert with limbs spread. 

An interesting one. In Polish it's called, literally, "to be laying like a log".

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ryn2

The Polish term makes it sound like unenthusiastic Polish sexual partners don’t move their limbs away from the midline like US (and perhaps UL) ones do.  😆

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SCPDX
2 hours ago, Telecaster68 said:

There's a term 'starfishing' - dating there inert with limbs spread. 

Well aware of starfish sex - surprised I hadn’t seen a reference to it yet. Considering our particular position (and staying within echinodermata) I call ours ‘sea cucumber’ sex. 

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anisotrophic

Funny, my reaction to this is, "Can't you ask your partner to move to another position?" Which might be revealing? I'm usually taking the lead (isn't that a given??) ... he's very passive, but it's not like he's paralyzed. I'm fortunate though, clearly my emotional context is such that I feel okay/safe/confident about leading.

I feel like my memories are too faint of what sex was like with someone that has desire. I was so often taking the lead... honestly, now I wonder if any of them were ever attracted to me. These days it's easier to just assume that nobody was, is, or will be attracted to me? The moment I try to imagine someone wanting me, it hurts, and I block the thoughts. I don't get to be attractive, it's OK. Better to focus on the feeling of being loved.

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Traveler40
19 hours ago, anisotropic said:

"Can't you ask your partner to move to another position?" Which might be revealing? I'm usually taking the lead (isn't that a given??) ..

I was basically referring to this.  What is interesting to me with my husband is that I got very vocal in time, but it fell on deaf ears.  I recall asking outright for what I wanted, and he always said, “I don’t know what you mean” or “I’m not a sexual dynamo!”.  In his case, it is now understood that he is asexual and therefore lacks desire for any position.

 

However, the larger question in my mind is what about the other men?  Were we too young and inexperienced?  Too polite or shy?  Perhaps it’s that belief in gender roles and that the man conquers woman in bed? Maybe I just didn’t want to offend the fragile egos?  I’m not sure.  I do know I’ve always been open to exploring anything, but the men perhaps lacked the inspiration or simply took the lazy route. 🤷🏻‍♀️

 

I can say that I now believe deep exploration is something every sexual should be so lucky to experience before they die. 👉🏻No regrets👈🏻 

 

Edit: Perhaps, that’s how sex is between more mature and experienced sexuals?  I am not sure, but am very grateful to have found a man both talented in bed and willing to help me learn about the sensual side of sex.  Of course, he thinks he’s better than the average Joe, which I agree to, but maybe more men are like that and I just don’t know it. In any case, I do feel as if I somehow missed a large part of life in this way....

 

sorry to divert @anisotropic  - yes, focus on the feeling of being loved....Happy Valentine’s Day! 

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SCPDX
32 minutes ago, anisotropic said:

Funny, my reaction to this is, "Can't you ask your partner to move to another position?" Which might be revealing? I'm usually taking the lead (isn't that a given??) ... he's very passive, but it's not like he's paralyzed. I'm fortunate though, clearly my emotional context is such that I feel okay/safe/confident about leading.

I feel like my memories are too faint of what sex was like with someone that has desire. I was so often taking the lead... honestly, now I wonder if any of them were ever attracted to me. These days it's easier to just assume that nobody was, is, or will be attracted to me? The moment I try to imagine someone wanting me, it hurts, and I block the thoughts. I don't get to be attractive, it's OK. Better to focus on the feeling of being loved.

It went like this: 

 

Me: Can you be on top of me?

Her: No  

Me: Can I be on top of you?

Her: No. 

Me: Can you get up on your knees? 

Her: No. 

 

Intonation on ‘no’ would be similar if I had asked if she was okay with me rolling around in dog vomit. 

 

Tomorrow is the third anniversary of the last time I had fun sex (not with my wife). I have clung to that memory with everything I have. 

 

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anisotrophic
2 hours ago, Traveler40 said:

However, the larger question in my mind is what about the other men?  Were we too young and inexperienced?  Too polite or shy?  Perhaps it’s that belief in gender roles and that the man conquers woman in bed? Maybe I didn’t want to offend the fragile egos?

I think I didn't mind my partner's passivity because I was so used to taking the lead...

 

But yeah, it's clear that my partner has very little aversion. (I quizzed him once. I concluded I'd have to smear myself in feces to provoke aversion...) Not to be confused with being excited by being ordered about, but I think his opinion is "tell me what to do, and then I don't have to stress out about coming up with ideas?" Fair enough...


I'm sorry others have such crummy situations. I think the OP's idea that someone averse might be having sex -- well, I think your stories demonstrate the difficulty with this idea. :(
 

I think it would be nice to be with someone more interested in it, but clearly it's not so bad for me. Tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of having asked him if he's asexual -- which was devastating at first, but then everything got better (for both of us!) -- so I suppose Valentine's Day will be an odd anniversary for us.

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greynonomous

As @Nowhere Girl brought up, indifference-aversion-repulsion are a bit murky on the edges and it while as someone indifferent I could see all three happening, the way folks on the forum describe their feelings about sex when they label themselves as ‘averse’ usually would preclude these things happening without either emotional manipulation or resentment building and blowing up the relationship?

 

 

Aversion is usually has the connotation to mean a person actively doesn’t want sex. As I’m indifferent, I will do it, but sometimes I’m tired so I try to play dumb. That’s not me being averse, just lazy AT THAT MOMENT.

 

Aversion is more than that.

 

I think of it as fish for grownups. Some people love fish (allosexuals), and will buy them from the supermarket! some will eat them if they are served for dinner but never go out of their way to just have a fish (indifferent -me), some really don’t like the taste of fishand will make sure not to order fish when at a restaurant, and would rather not eat than eat food with fish in it (averse), and some will have a fish allergy (repulsed).

 

You aren’t getting someone averse to eat the fish, and if you did, you will have built major resentment as they aren’t going to change their minds about fish if it hasn’t happened already.

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☆゚°˖* ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ

Man, I am all about the guy taking the lead.  And, for whatever reason, it's really hard for me to do so.  Because when I'm with a girl I am 100% assertive and take the lead.

 

Now I've got a guy who will 100% not lead or initiate and I'm like oh god damn it.  I'm so bad at this. 😭  But I'm taking it as a means to build up my confidence?  

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ryn2
12 minutes ago, greynonomous said:

You aren’t getting someone averse to eat the fish, and if you did, you will have built major resentment as they aren’t going to change their minds about fish if it hasn’t happened already.

Someone averse might choke down the fish if you’d lovingly prepared it just for them, or if it was a special-for-you occasion... but agreed that continuing to eat fish regularly is probably not going to be sustainable and will likely lead to resentment and/or otherwise erode the relationship.

 

Part of this is because thing’s we’re averse to tend to get less tolerable over time... the more we do them, the more the mountain of unpleasant recollections grows.

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anisotrophic
47 minutes ago, xstatic said:

Man, I am all about the guy taking the lead.  And, for whatever reason, it's really hard for me to do so.  Because when I'm with a girl I am 100% assertive and take the lead.

 

Now I've got a guy who will 100% not lead or initiate and I'm like oh god damn it.  I'm so bad at this. 😭  But I'm taking it as a means to build up my confidence?  

If you tie him up, you will have no choice but to lead... 😈

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anisotrophic
47 minutes ago, ryn2 said:

Part of this is because thing’s we’re averse to tend to get less tolerable over time... the more we do them, the more the mountain of unpleasant recollections grows.

This seems pretty important. Even a slightly unpleasant thing can spiral badly.

 

Which I'll take as caution not to take a compromise for granted!

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Nowhere Girl
1 hour ago, ryn2 said:

Someone averse might choke down the fish if you’d lovingly prepared it just for them, or if it was a special-for-you occasion... but agreed that continuing to eat fish regularly is probably not going to be sustainable and will likely lead to resentment and/or otherwise erode the relationship.

Careful... at this point my sex aversion and my vegetarianism get slightly mixed up. And I have to say: no I wouldn't, because eating a dead animal goes against my beliefs. And, also, my feeling that eating such a thing really is disgusting... I have a friend for whom ethical concerns are completely in the background compared to the realisation: what, eating dead bodies? yuck!

 

4 hours ago, SCPDX said:

It went like this: 

 

Me: Can you be on top of me?

Her: No  

Me: Can I be on top of you?

Her: No. 

Me: Can you get up on your knees? 

Her: No. 

Remember one thing: that not for everyone are all positions easy or even possible to perform. Some sexual position drawings often leave me, on the one hand, astonished... and, on the other hand, just angry over the assumption that everyone is Healthy, Pretty and Fit.

Kneeling for a longer time (I mean, longer than about 1 minute...) wthout being able to partially rest my upper body on something could already lead to joint damage in my case (or rather further joint damage because my knee joints are already damaged after injuries). I'm no big specialist on sexual positions since I don't have sex, but to use another example - physical education at school - I was exempted from some exercises because, not mentioning for a while that I just wouldn't do it because I'd be too afraid and my body is not able to perform this kind of fast movements - for example a "tiger jump" would be life-threatening in my case, I could very easily break my neck if somehow I actually attempted to perform it.

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