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The problem is that we have overlooked one fundamental truth: People speak different love languages.
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A man is involved in an adulterous relationship, and he calls it love. The preacher, on the other hand, calls it sin. The wife of an alcoholic picks up the pieces after her husband’s latest episode. She calls it love, but the psychologist calls it codependency. The parent indulges all the child’s wishes, calling it love. The family therapist would call it irresponsible parenting.
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“Inside every child is an ‘emotional tank’ waiting to be filled with love. When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally but when the love tank is empty, the child will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty ‘love tank.’”
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At the heart of mankind’s existence is the desire to be intimate and to be loved by another. Marriage is designed to meet that need for intimacy and love.
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“He ignores me all day long and then wants to jump in bed with me. I hate it.” She is not a wife who hates sex; she is a wife desperately pleading for emotional love.
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Sometimes we lose the tingles on the first date. We find out that she dips snuff, and the tingles run right out our toes; we want no more hamburgers with her. Other times, however, the tingles are stronger after the hamburger than before. We arrange for a few more “together” experiences, and before long the level of intensity has increased to the point where we find ourselves saying, “I think I’m falling in love.” Eventually we are convinced that it is the “real thing,” and we tell the other person, hoping the feeling is reciprocal. If it isn’t, things cool off a bit or we redouble our efforts to impress, and eventually win the love of, our beloved.
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His friends also can see the flaws but are not likely to tell him unless he asks, and chances are he won’t because in his mind she is perfect and what others think doesn’t matter.
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the average life span of a romantic obsession is two years. If it is a secretive love affair, it may last a little longer. Eventually, however, we all descend from the clouds and plant our feet on earth again. Our eyes are opened, and we see the warts of the other person. We recognize that some of his/her personality traits are actually irritating. Her behavior patterns are annoying. He has the capacity for hurt and anger, perhaps even harsh words and critical judgments. Those little traits that we overlooked when we were in love now become huge mountains. We remember Mother’s words and ask ourselves, How could I have been so foolish?
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The bad information was the idea that the “in love” obsession would last forever.
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the falling-in-love experience is not real love
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The in-love experience does not focus on our own growth nor on the growth and development of the other person. Rather, it gives us the sense that we have arrived and that we do not need further growth. We are at the apex of life’s happiness, and our only desire is to stay there. Certainly our beloved does not need to grow because she is perfect. We simply hope she will remain perfect.
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In other words, the temporary collapse of ego boundaries that constitutes falling in love is a stereotypic response of human beings to a configuration of internal sexual drives and external sexual stimuli, which serves to increase the probability of sexual pairing and bonding so as to enhance the survival of the species.”
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In fact, true love cannot begin until the “in love” experience has run its course.
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That is good news to the married couple who have lost all of their “in love” feelings. If love is a choice, then they have the capacity to love after the “in love” obsession has died and they have returned to the real world. That kind of love begins with an attitude—a way of thinking. Love is the attitude that says, “I am married to you, and I choose to look out for your interests.” Then the one who chooses to love will find appropriate ways to express that decision.
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If we can learn that and choose to do it, then the love we share will be exciting beyond anything we ever felt when we were infatuated.
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“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”
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Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love.
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The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love. It is a fact, however, that when we receive affirming words we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate.
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I am not suggesting verbal flattery in order to get your spouse to do something you want. The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love. It is a fact, however, that when we receive affirming words we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate and do something our spouse desires.
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Perhaps your spouse has untapped potential in one or more areas of life. That potential may be awaiting your encouraging words. Perhaps she needs to enroll in a course to develop that potential. Maybe he needs to meet some people who have succeeded in that area, who can give him insight on the next step he needs to take. Your words may give your spouse the courage necessary to take that first step.
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Please note that I am not talking about pressuring your spouse to do something that you want. I am talking about encouraging him to develop an interest that he already has. For example, some husbands pressure their wives to lose weight. The husband says, “I am encouraging her,” but to the wife it sounds like condemnation. Only when a person wants to lose weight can you give her encouragement. Until she has the desire, your words will fall into the category of preaching. Such words seldom encourage. They are almost always heard as words of judgment, designed to stimulate guilt. They express not love but rejection.
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“If you decide to do that, I can tell you one thing. You will be a success. That’s one of the things I like about you. When you set your mind to something, you do it. If that’s what you want to do, I will certainly do everything I can to help you. And don’t worry about the cost of the program. If it’s what you want to do, we’ll find the money
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Sometimes our words are saying one thing, but our tone of voice is saying another. We are sending double messages. Our spouse will usually interpret our message based on our tone of voice, not the words we use.
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“I would be delighted to wash dishes tonight,” said in a snarling tone will not be received as an expression of love. On the other hand, we can share hurt, pain, and even anger in a kind manner, and that will be an expression of love. “I felt disappointed and hurt that you didn’t offer to help me this evening,” said in an honest, kind manner can be an expression of love. The person speaking wants to be known by her spouse. She is taking steps to build intimacy by sharing her feelings. She is asking for an opportunity to discuss a hurt in order to find healing. The same words expressed with a loud, harsh voice will be not an expression of love but an expression of condemnation and judgment.
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If I choose justice and seek to pay her back or make her pay for her wrongdoing, I am making myself the judge and her the felon. Intimacy becomes impossible. If, however, I choose to forgive, intimacy can be restored. Forgiveness is the way of love.
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Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a commitment. It is a choice to show mercy, not to hold the offense up against the offender. Forgiveness is an expression of love. “I love you. I care about you, and I choose to forgive you. Even though my feelings of hurt may linger, I will not allow what has happened to come between us. I hope that we can learn from this experience. You are not a failure because you have failed. You are my spouse, and together we will go on from here.” Those are the words of affirmation expressed in the dialect of kind words.
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The way we express those desires, however, is all-important. If they come across as demands, we have erased the possibility of intimacy and will drive our spouse away. If, however, we make known our needs and desires as requests, we are giving guidance, not ultimatums.
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A request introduces the element of choice. Your mate may choose to respond to your request or to deny it, because love is always a choice. That’s what makes it meaningful
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Tell your wife’s mother how great your wife is. When her mother tells her what you said, it will be amplified, and you will get even more credit.
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When you are given public honor for an accomplishment, be sure to share the credit with your spouse.
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“That key,” I said, “is to express verbal appreciation for the things you like about the other person and, for the moment, suspending your complaints about the things you do not like.”
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I told Betty Jo that if Bill happened to give her a compliment, she was not to give him a compliment at the same time but rather, she should simply receive it and say, “Thank you for saying that.
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What was her desire? Quality time with Bill. She wanted his attention. She wanted him to focus on her, to give her time, to do things with her.
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By “quality time,” I mean giving someone your undivided attention.
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When I sit on the couch with my wife and give her twenty minutes of my undivided attention and she does the same for me, we are giving each other twenty minutes of life. We will never have those twenty minutes again; we are giving our lives to each other. It is a powerful emotional communicator of love.
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what makes one person feel loved emotionally is not always the thing that makes another person feel loved emotionally.
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A central aspect of quality time is togetherness. I do not mean proximity. Two people sitting in the same room are in close proximity, but they are not necessarily together. Togetherness has to do with focused attention.
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Similarly, a husband and wife playing tennis together, if it is genuine quality time, will focus not on the game but on the fact that they are spending time together. What happens on the emotional level is what matters. Our spending time together in a common pursuit communicates that we care about each other, that we enjoy being with each other, that we like to do things together.
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Most individuals who complain that their spouse does not talk do not mean literally that he or she never says a word. They mean that he or she seldom takes part in sympathetic dialogue.
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Words of affirmation focus on what we are saying, whereas quality conversation focuses on what we are hearing.
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Many of us…are trained to analyze problems and create solutions. We forget that marriage is a relationship, not a project to be completed or a problem to solve.
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“what a fool! Now I realize that she didn’t want advice when she told me about her struggles at work. She wanted sympathy. She wanted me to listen, to give her attention, to let her know that I could understand the hurt, the stress, the pressure. She wanted to know that I loved her and that I was with her. She didn’t want advice; she just wanted to know that I understood. But I never tried to understand. I was too busy giving advice. What a fool.
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A relationship calls for sympathetic listening with a view to understanding the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and desires. We must be willing to give advice but only when it is requested and never in a condescending manner.
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Don’t listen to your spouse and do something else at the same time. Remember, quality time is giving someone your undivided attention.
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Listen for feelings. Ask yourself, “What emotion is my spouse experiencing?” When you think you have the answer, confirm it. For example, “It sounds to me like you are feeling disappointed because I forgot __________.” That gives him the chance to clarify his feelings. It also communicates that you are listening intently to what he is saying.
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She wants to feel close to her husband, but how can she feel close to someone whom she doesn’t know? In order for her to feel loved, he must learn to reveal himself.
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Perhaps he has reason to feel angry, hurt, or disappointed, but he has lived so long in the world of thought that he does not acknowledge his feelings. When he decides to learn the language of quality conversation, it will be like learning a foreign language. The place to begin is by getting in touch with his feelings, becoming aware that he is an emotional creature in spite of the fact that he has denied that part of his life.
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Remember, emotions themselves are neither good nor bad. They are simply our psychological responses to the events of life.
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If you are a Dead Sea and you date a Babbling Brook, you will have a wonderful evening. You don’t have to think, “How will I get the conversation started tonight? How will I keep the conversation flowing?” In fact, you don’t have to think at all.
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But five years after marriage, the Babbling Brook wakes up one morning and says, “We’ve been married five years, and I don’t know him.” The Dead Sea is saying, “I know her too well. I wish she would stop the flow and give me a break.” The good news is that Dead Seas can learn to talk and Babbling Brooks can learn to listen. We are influenced by our personality but not controlled by it.
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One way to learn new patterns is to establish a daily sharing time in which each of you will talk about three things that happened to you that day and how you feel about them. I call that the “Minimum Daily Requirement” for a healthy marriage.
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It was not to attend the symphony but to love Tracie and to speak her language loudly.
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The essential ingredients in a quality activity are: (1) at least one of you wants to do it, (2) the other is willing to do it, (3) both of you know why you are doing it—to express love by being together.
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A gift is something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or, “She remembered me.” You must be thinking of someone to give him a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It doesn’t matter whether it costs money. What is important is that you thought of him. And it is not the thought implanted only in the mind that counts, but the thought expressed in actually securing the gift and giving it as the expression of love.
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Gifts are visual symbols of love. Most wedding ceremonies include the giving and receiving of rings. The person performing the ceremony says, “These rings are outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual bond that unites your two hearts in love that has no end.” That is not meaningless rhetoric. It is verbalizing a significant truth—symbols have emotional value.
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Visual symbols of love are more important to some people than to others. That’s why individuals have different attitudes toward wedding rings. Some never take the ring off after the wedding. Others don’t even wear a wedding band. That is another sign that people have different primary love languages. If receiving gifts is my primary love language, I will place great value on the ring you have given me and I will wear it with great pride. I will also be greatly moved emotionally by other gifts that you give through the years. I will see them as expressions of love. Without gifts as visual symbols, I may question your love.
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(If she has been critical of your gifts in the past and almost nothing you have given has been acceptable, then receiving gifts is almost certainly not her primary love language.)
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You don’t purchase things for yourself. Why should you purchase things for your spouse? But that attitude fails to recognize that you are purchasing things for yourself. By saving and investing money you are purchasing self-worth and emotional security. You are caring for your own emotional needs in the way you handle money. What you are not doing is meeting the emotional needs of your spouse. If you discover that your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts, then perhaps you will understand that purchasing gifts for him or her is the best investment you can make. You are investing in your relationship and filling your spouse’s emotional love tank, and with a full love tank, he or she will likely reciprocate emotional love to you in a language you will understand. When both persons’ emotional needs are met, your marriage will take on a whole new dimension. Don’t worry about your savings. You will always be a saver, but to invest in loving your spouse is to invest in blue-chip stocks.
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Physical presence in the time of crisis is the most powerful gift you can give if your spouse’s primary love language is receiving gifts.
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If the physical presence of your spouse is important to you, I urge you to verbalize that to your spouse. Don’t expect him to read your mind. If, on the other hand, your spouse says to you, “I really want you to be there with me tonight, tomorrow, this afternoon,” take his request seriously. From your perspective, it may not be important; but if you are not responsive to that request, you may be communicating a message you do not intend.
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I had sex with him because I knew that was important to him, but I felt no love coming from him. I felt like he stopped dating me after we got married and simply took me for granted. I felt used and unappreciated.
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My guess is that the reason you are both so unhappy in your marriage is that neither of you is showing your love by doing things for each other.
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no one likes to be forced to do anything. In fact, love is always freely given. Love cannot be demanded. We can request things of each other, but we must never demand anything. Requests give direction to love, but demands stop the flow of love.”
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Love is a choice and cannot be coerced. Mark and Mary were criticizing each other’s behavior and getting nowhere. Once they decided to make requests of each other rather than demands, their marriage began to turn around. Criticism and demands tend to drive wedges. With enough criticism, you may get acquiescence from your spouse. He may do what you want, but probably it will not be an expression of love. You can give guidance to love by making requests: “I wish you would wash the car, change the baby’s diaper, mow the grass,” but you cannot create the will to love. Each of us must decide daily to love or not to love our spouses. If we choose to love, then expressing it in the way in which our spouse requests will make our love most effective emotionally.
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My spouse’s criticisms about my behavior provide me with the clearest clue to her primary love language. People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need. Their criticism is an ineffective way of pleading for love. If we understand that, it may help us process their criticism in a more productive manner.
标注 – 位置 #1566-1569
Love touches may be explicit and demand your full attention such as in a back rub or sexual foreplay, culminating in intercourse. On the other hand, love touches may be implicit and require only a moment, such as putting your hand on his shoulder as you pour a cup of coffee or rubbing your body against him as you pass in the kitchen. Explicit love touches obviously take more time, not only in actual touching but in developing your understanding of how to communicate love to your spouse this way.
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If your spouse’s primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than holding her as she cries.
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The most important thing you can do for your mate in a time of crisis is to love him or her.
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“I was so insecure in my own sense of self-worth that it took forever for me to be willing to identify and acknowledge that her lack of touch had caused me to withdraw. I never told her that I wanted to be touched, although I was crying inside for her to reach out and touch me. In our dating relationship, I had always taken the initiative in hugging, kissing, and holding hands, but she had always been responsive. I felt that she loved me, but after we got married, there were times that I reached out to her physically and she was not responsive. Maybe with her new job responsibilities she was too tired. I don’t know, but I took it personally. I felt that she didn’t find me attractive. Then I decided I would not take the initiative because I didn’t want to be rejected. So I waited to see how long it would be before she’d initiate a kiss or a touch or sexual intercourse. Once I waited for six weeks before she touched me at all. I found it unbearable. My withdrawal was to stay away from the pain I felt when I was with her. I felt rejected, unwanted, and unloved.”
标注 – 位置 #1792-1793
Most sexual problems in marriage have little to do with physical technique but everything to do with meeting emotional needs. For the female, sexual desire is rooted in her emotions, not her physiology. There is nothing physically that builds up and pushes her to have intercourse. Her desire is emotionally based. If she feels loved and admired and appreciated by her husband, then she has a desire to be physically intimate with him. But without the emotional closeness she may have little physical desire.
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If your primary love language is used negatively by your spouse—that is, he does the opposite—it will hurt you more deeply than it would hurt someone else because not only is he neglecting to speak your primary love language, he is actually using that language as a knife to your heart.
标注 – 位置 #1869-1870
“Listen to me carefully,” I said. “The love you feel when your wife expresses love by physical touch is the same love your wife feels when you do the laundry.”
标注 – 位置 #1988-1991
And there is only one reason I vacuum our house. Love. You couldn’t pay me enough to vacuum a house, but I do it for love. You see, when an action doesn’t come naturally to you, it is a greater expression of love. My wife knows that when I vacuum the house, it’s nothing but 100 percent pure, unadulterated love, and I get credit for the whole thing!
标注 – 位置 #2025-2027
My sense of self-worth is fed by the fact that my spouse loves me. After all, if he/she loves me, I must be worth loving. My parents may have given me negative or mixed messages about my worth, but my spouse knows me as an adult and loves me. Her love builds my self-esteem.
标注 – 位置 #2029-2030
Feeling loved by a spouse enhances our sense of significance. We reason, If someone loves me, I must have significance.
标注 – 位置 #2034-2038
I am significant. Life has meaning. There is a higher purpose. I want to believe it, but I may not feel significant until someone expresses love to me. When my spouse lovingly invests time, energy, and effort in me, I believe that I am significant. Without love, I may spend a lifetime in search of significance, self-worth, and security. When I experience love, it impacts all of those needs positively. I am now freed to develop my potential. I am more secure in my self-worth and can now turn my efforts outward instead of being obsessed with my own needs. True love always liberates.
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In the context of marriage, if we do not feel loved, our differences are magnified. We come to view each other as a threat to our happiness. We fight for self-worth and significance, and marriage becomes a battlefield rather than a haven.
标注 – 位置 #2207-2208
the emotional need for love is our deepest emotional need; and when that need is being met, we tend to respond positively to the person who is meeting it.
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“I have found it hard to be sexually responsive to him when he ignores me all the time. I have felt used rather than loved in our sexual encounters. He acts as though I am totally unimportant all the rest of the time and then wants to jump in bed and use my body. I have resented that, and I guess that’s why we have not had sex very often in the last few years.”
标注 – 位置 #2247-2249
For most wives, the desire to be sexually intimate with their husbands grows out of a sense of being loved by their husbands. If they feel loved, then they desire sexual intimacy. If they do not feel loved, they likely feel used in the sexual context
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Many adults, looking back on childhood, do not remember much of what their parents said, but they do remember what their parents did