Monday, June 29, 2009

She Wants to Pay for Dates

Dear Terry,

I've a question about the initial "dating jitters." I meet guys locally, but I also date online.

I met a guy online, talked for 3-4 days over email and phone, and agreed to go out on a date. We live in different places, and we even had an informal talk about one of us moving to his/my city if things really got so far, based on the kind of jobs we might get. So far, so good.

He came over on a weekend, he had the flight ticket and hotel booked for him. I insisted on at least paying for the dinner locally and for tickets to concerts, tourist attractions here, and surprisingly even the waitress/waiter would say 'let the gentleman pay ma'am' (when I told him I'd pay, he still took his credit card out, and the waitress would take his all the time).

He said he's getting embarrassed before the waiters 'coz I wanted to share the expenses, and strongly insisted on me to not take out my credit card the next time.

Turned out, we both didn't feel we're right for each other after the date (we had different interests, he's type A, and I'm not and other such things and we had no chemistry intellectually or emotionally (we didn't get physical, though he made an gentle advance, I didnt give any encouragement). Anyway, we both called it off. After our date, I thanked him for taking me out, and offered to pay my share of the expenses, and he gently said it's okay. After few times, I couldn't drag it further.

Whatever it is, his income is irrelevant to me, and we're still two new people on a date. I still don't get it, he paid for a very major portion, flight and the hotel. Am I supposed to leave everything to the guy ?

(Even if it's a local guy- I'd genuinely offer to pay but the guys feel a little embarrassed that I insist sometimes, if he pays on 1st date, I insist to pay on 2nd ) which is sometimes refused and mostly not.

Contrary to this, few years ago, I went out on a date with a man who would always make me pay on dates, he got on to my nerves 'coz I wanted him to pay sometimes too, though not all the time ] - If I do that to a guy, won't he feel the same way I felt with the guy who let me spend all the time.

Interestingly, I read dating advice everywhere that, if a man doesn't pay on a date, or agrees to share expenses with you, he's not worth it blah blah. How true is that ?

This boils down to the question: Who's supposed to pay on dates in general? Is it okay ( 'coz I feel a little guilty - out of feeling, in case this doesn't work out, it's like the guy spent a lot of money on our dates which isnt that fair, you wouldn't always know it'd work and it's easy not to feel guilty to say NO to dating a guy just 'coz u feel obligated.)

Is it okay when the guys pay it all, all the time?

Your advice is greatly appreciated.

-Money to Spend

Dear Money-

I understand why you want to pay for dates. You're a considerate person. You're fair-minded. You don't want to hit anyone up for a free meal.

And a lot of guys claim they want a woman to pay, at least some of the time. But when you actually try to pay for one of them, lines blur, and they get confused: Maybe she's trying to tell me she's not interested.

So you let them pay for the first and second date. If you feel uncomfortable, you can casually say (after dinner, for instance), "I'm having such a great time. Would it be okay if I bought you a drink?" This way he knows you enjoy his company, but you're not on the prowl for a meal ticket.

If he says yes, great. Buy that drink. But if he insists on getting it, let him.

It comes as no mystery to me why you felt compelled to offer to split expenses after your date spent so much time and money coming to visit you (I would have felt the same way), but when a guy insists on paying, do yourself a favor and let him.

Console yourself with the probability that if the relationship shows promise, you will have plenty of opportunity to pay for him after, say, a third or fourth date, when you're both standing on surer ground.

If the idea letting him pay still sticks in your craw, remember this: Most women only earn about 72% of a man's salary for doing the same job. We get charged more for haircuts and drycleaning. So, let a man right the scales once in a while.

You're clearly not the type of woman who takes men for cash and prizes, so cut yourself some slack. Also, remember, letting a man for a date in no way obligates you to "get physical" with him, and any man who suggests otherwise would be better off hiring a hooker. He's kidding himself if he thinks he's going to find the love of his life.

And, as for men who refuse to pay on first dates, I'm afraid I have to agree with most of the dating advice you've already read: It suggests a rigid, paranoid personality, and it would turn me right off.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

He Said He Loved Her, and Then He Said He Didn't Know

Dear Terry,

I need your suggestion and help. I love a guy I met through Internet.
In the beginning, I was not serious about him. He said he loved me. We are talking from around two months, and now sometimes he says he has never felt love, and then sometimes he says he loves me.

I'm having my exams after this week, and I am disturbed. I don't know what to do because I am serious about him. I haven't told anyone about this matter, so if you can help me, I will be very thankful.

- He Loves Me, Loves Me Not

Dear Loves Me-

First off, good luck with your exams. Concentrate on those exams!

Whenever a person tells you he loves you and soon after tells you he's never "felt love," it's time to reconsider his potential as a boyfriend. He's a sad character. He also could be a number of other things, including manipulative, wishy-washy, inconsiderate of others' feelings, or just plain lost.

You deserve better than this.

Furthermore, you mentioned that you weren't serious about him at first, but (if I'm reading this right) that you fell for him after he told you he loved you. A lot of us do this; a man tells us he loves us, and we look for reasons to return his affection because -- who knows? -- he might be our last chance.

But, until this guy gets his act together, I'd walk away, focus on my exams and my future, read a few good books, and decide to enjoy life. Remember the Golden Rule: "Treat others as you would have them treat you." Ask yourself, "Would I tell a man I loved him, and then turn around and tell him I'd never 'felt' love before?"

If the answer is no, ask yourself why you are allowing an individual who won't afford you the same consideration to hold such power over you. Life is too short for this nonsense.

I'll say it again: You deserve better.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ditch the Padded Bra

Dear Terry,

Thanks for the great blog, I admire it. I'm single woman, way far past the 'puberty' stage, and I've very small breasts, and I'm blessed with a beautiful face with great lips, and a slender figure (I eat a well balanced, healthy diet with meat--except red meat -- and vegetables).

I never minded having small breasts, (I'm size AA) until I faced many harsh comments from few guys saying - you don't have a trace of flesh anywhere on your body or that I'm the most handsome man they've seen!

Needless to say, these men made my heart bleed! And there was nothing I could say in return to them, as they were my so called 'friends' (not my dates).

Hearing these comments, started my struggle (and not really from having small breasts.) I didn't dare to date much or cut dates very quickly sometimes out of fear that I might get hurt from those men again too.

Even other girls used to call me 'flat' behind my back ! (I'd overhear them sometimes when they thought I was not around). They ripped my heart to pieces.

My real friends, hearing other girls, advised me to get some padded bras, so I don't need to listen to such nasty comments from anyone. I've been using them for years, they make me feel 'normal' by society's standards, and on a date, a man complimented me on my 'perfect figure,' so I felt bad that I was not perfect, and he perceives me to be so. And it was too awkward to tell him. Anyways before I could tell him, I knew he had a girlfriend (through another source) and was just wasting my time.

It took me lot of years to see how low these people are, (and the problem is them, not me ) to make a woman feel 'alien' for not having a perfect figure, and I had to read a lot to soar my confidence in all ways possible and realized, not all men like a woman just for her breasts! And I'm loved by my friends, guys and girls both for my persona!

I've been a very confident woman despite this,after the 'realization' dawned on me, and I don't take sub-standard behaviour from a man regardless of whatever, but then at the end of the day - I feel all the attention on my breasts when I try not to wear a padded bra and it's kind of embarassing to be looked like you're strange-as if you come from a different planet!

I hate to be looked at my chest for having a small one. So when I wear a padded bra and meet a man, I feel as if I'm faking my appearance, (I've good features and a glowing skin, so I hardly wear any make-up even and now I had to make a part of my body look fake?) and how I could let him know about my real figure, which I personally am not ashamed of,(no sleeping with guys until marriage = my church + heart's stance on sex), but hate the attention from people for being of a certain size.

How can I not wear the padded bra and still not feel odd in public, when I go on a date, or meet that gentleman ? How can I deal with it if I happen a meet a man with the padded bra ?

I only got a bunch of jerks as my boyfriendss, when they abuse me emotionally, and I try to break from them and protest, they'd say things about my body then. This of course, made me feel terrible. If there are men who respect a woman with a great personality like me, how am I not meeting them? What can I do to meet such men? (I'm against surgeries as I care for my health. I wouldn't at any cost give it as the price to just look 'perfect').

Your advice is greatly appreciated.I feel terribly confused and feel shy to discuss it with anyone.

-Attracting Jerks

Dear Attracting-

You wrote, "I felt bad that I was not perfect, and he perceives me to be so."

Yikes. Nobody is perfect, certainly not some clown who's dating you when he's already got a girlfriend.

And then you write, " low these people are, (and the problem is them, not me ) to make a woman feel 'alien' for not having a perfect figure...")

Yes, the problem is them, but if you've bought into the idea that you're alien if you don't have a perfect figure, the problem is also you. Nobody does have a perfect figure, by the way, and guess what? Even if a man or woman is the picture of physical perfection today, he or she may not be 10 years or even two months from now.

Life happens. Illness happens. Babies happen. Laziness happens. So, it really is who you are on the inside (and who a man is on the inside) that matters. Not money. Not looks. Not breasts.

With regard to emotionally abusive men: Why do you even bother? Why protest? Just stop returning calls and disappear. The same goes for these so-called 'friends' of yours, male or female, who find it necessary to comment on your body parts. Don't waste your breath on them. Just fade away.

If I were you, I'd stop wearing the padded bra, let those small breasts be exactly what they were made to be, and make the very most of wearing clothes that your fuller-figured sisters cannot wear. From your description, you're built like a model, so hold your head high and walk like one.

You say you have glowing skin, a beautiful figure, and a lovely face, so why are you concentrating on the one thing you perceive as a flaw? Why do you allow men who have the audacity to discuss this so-called flaw to infiltrate your airspace? (If a man commented any of my body parts, I'd dismiss him immediately. There's a red flag if I ever saw one.)

These women who talk about your flatness behind your back? They're not your friends. Did it ever occur to them they're jealous of you? And the men who make fun of your breasts when you try to break it off? Well, you've only confirmed their suspicions that they're not in your league, and they're lashing out. It's the oldest trick in the book.

By the way, have any of these men been physically perfect? Not a knobby knee, a hunched shoulder, a hairy back among them? Come on. None of us is physically perfect. Not George Clooney, not Angelina Jolie, not me, not you, not any of your 'friends,' either.

So, what do you have going for you besides your looks? Write a list. Bring it to mind whenever you're afraid that you don't have what it takes to attract a human being who will love you just as you are.

Where do you meet such a person? Through friends, through clubs or classes, through volunteer work. If you volunteer somewhere (a good friend of mine is going to New Orleans to help Hurricane Katrina victims with a group from her church), do it alone. Just make sure you're joining a safe and reputable organization. You're more likely to make new friends this way, and a new friend (male or female) may introduce you to the love of your life.

As a shy person, it helps to put yourself in places where you have to talk to people. If you bring a friend along, it's just too easy to talk to her and hide out from everyone else.

Surely, you've seen stories about people with genuine disabilities or deformities (we're not talking about small breasts here) who have attracted love and lasting relationships. You certainly have what it takes to do this.

Furthermore, one thing you must remember about breasts: Most of them sag after a while. They prohibit one from wearing certain clothes (the wrong cut turns the wearer into a sack of potatoes). You have been spared these problems.

Wear your small breasts proudly. Think of them as a blessing: A means of separating the worthy from the unworthy.

And remember, one of the most famous models of all time, Twiggy, had small breasts. They sure didn't hold her back from love, fame, or fortune.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Has Marriage Gone the Way of the Dinosaur?

Sandra Tsing Loh thinks so and wrote an article for The Atlantic to explain why, providing an interesting counter to the piece the same magazine published last year, entitled, "Marry Him--The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough." (We discussed that one here.) Psychologist Gail Saltz weighs in during Meredith Vieira's interview with Loh (wished Today had opted to give us more of an interview and less of that lengthy lead-in, though).

What's your opinion? Is marriage dead?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Guys Who Go On and On and On About Themselves


I'm a single girl in late 20's. I'm fairly good looking, intelligent, kind and caring, and have lots of self-respect.

When I date guys (via online dating sites), we usually talk over the phone for about a week or so, before we plan to meet up (due to distance concerns, etc.).

Also, it makes sense for me to know if we share anything in common to meet the guy on a real date (for eg: some guys make awful jokes even over the phone, mostly it sounds more disrespectful towards me or someone else than a joke! Or they talk ill about women in general, as in, "I think a man should be the one who makes decisions in relationships" etc ...or they behave weird, i.e. leave me three voice messages within 5-10 mins when the phone gets a weak signal).

Anyway, most of the guys I've dated, seem to talk too much about themselves, they ask nothing much about me after first 5,10 mins and then keep talking about themselves!

I suspect this is because, I ask them questions that make them talk about themselves in detail. But when I pause after they're finished, they don't ask anything about me, and still keep talking 'bout themselves! Because, I'm interested (in the guy), I'll say something about the topic they're saying, and it becomes all about what the guy's saying. Even if I pause later, he gets so engrossed talking about himself, he forgets he should also know about me.

Now this has happened with at least 15-16 guys that I had phone dates with. Somehow it turned out, they were not right to even meet, as they didn't match in other departments like kindness, consistency, or at least one shared interest etc. I got to know so much about the guy, as the guy spent most of the time talking about himself, so at the end, he's no idea about me, but I know an awful lot about him. It worked for me in some ways, that I could call it off, knowing what a creep he is, when he told stories about himself.

But, I feel tired on phone dates, listening to the guy forever. My friends tell me, I should take charge and also tell them about myself, as guys are not good at asking any questions (asking questions which make a girl talk about herself ).

I feel, asking things is a sign of interest, and may be they're only interested in themselves and narcissists.

But I doubt it, as they seem very disappointed when I call it off, even before the meeting ... and genuinely seem to like me, and always make that call at the time promised, and email me during the day. Some even insist on meeting, before I make a decision to move on that early. ( I always stick to my NO though. )

So, do I have to share things about myself without asking, or am I just attracting a bunch of narcissists?

I'm a little scared of commitment seeing these guys, and I know I wouldn't feel that way, when I meet that kind, intelligent, loyal, caring man. Am I doing something wrong? I'd like to know your views about where I went wrong, if that's the case.

-Sore Ear

Dear Sore Ear-

You're doing quite a bit right, feeling these people out before you agree to meet them. And no wonder they all seem to like you; everybody likes to be listened to, and since so few people are willing to be the listener, you come off like the ideal mate.

It's possible some of these guys are narcissists. It's possible that others are too nervous or too clueless to let you do some of the talking. You ask a question, they answer. They wait for your next question. You ask it, they answer. Some of them probably aren't even aware they're bad conversationalists because you're such a good one: You ask questions. You're interested in other people. You're a good listener.

Your friends are right, though. You need to interject. So, if you ask a guy what he likes best about his job, for example, let him answer. During that pause where you hope he'll ask you about your job, you say, "The great thing about my job is...."

If he listens, good. If he cuts you off, not good (you may indeed have a narcissist, or worse, a total bore on your hands). Once you find yourself slipping into that receptacle for information mode again, you can say (in a light and friendly way), "Hey, I've riddled you with enough questions. What would you like to know about me?"

I suspect you're somewhat shy about volunteering information about yourself. It really does feel better to be asked, to know that the other person actually cares. But you probably need to get out of your comfort zone on this one.

Interject! Volunteer! Speak up!

Did you really speak to a guy who said, "I think a man should be the one who makes decisions in relationships?"

Eek. I can't imagine that poor boy will get far in life!

Monday, June 15, 2009

What's the Deal With This Guy?

Dear Terry,

I recently purchased and read your ebook and have been reading your emails for months - all good advice. I have a particular question to ask your advice on. I dated a guy (friend of a friend) a year ago - we only went out 4 or 5 times before he ended it saying he loved spending time with me but wasn't sure if there were "butterflies." I was sad b/c I really liked him and he is such a wonderful guy, but respected his decision and moved on.

A few weeks ago, we were at a friend's party and spent most of the night talking to each other... after the party the two of us went on for drinks at a bar until closing time. For the last three weeks he has been really keen to hang out - about twice a week he asks me out to a movie or dinner etc. which I think it is quite frequent for 'just friends' (and many male friends of mine agree, plus we both have fairly busy jobs and he has a lot of friends so twice a week seems a bit excessive, especially so 'all of a sudden'), plus he always sends an email the next day saying he 'had a great time with me' and makes plans to meet up soon.

I never ask him out or email him though I do agree to go out and respond warmly and positively to his emails etc. we always have a great time and stay up talking quite late... but so far no 'kiss' or movement towards something more than friends.

In general he is picky about who he dates (his friends say) and he has only dated me in the last three years (and even that was very brief, and he is a very eligible guy), so I think he is patient and doesn't like to rush into things or force things.

Two questions for you: 1. do you think (based on the limited knowledge you have) that he is interested and is just taking things slow given that he is a really nice guy and doesn't want to rush into something when we do have a history? 2. I try to follow all your advice in your book about visualizing etc - but now it is hard for me to do so without thinking of him... and I know you advice not to think of someone specific but really can't help it... he has all the qualities I am looking for and I am just generally really into him....what should I do?

Thank you for your advice - I can't believe I am emailing someone I don't know about this, but who knows - stranger things have happened and I really want this to work out so I am open to trying anything and everything.

-Baffled By His Behavior

Dear Baffled-

Thanks for the kind words.

Here's what sticks out from your message:

".... we always have a great time and stay up talking quite late... but so far no 'kiss' or movement towards something more than friends."

Now, this fellow is swallowing up two nights of your week, emailing you frequently, and generally helping himself to bigger than his fair share of your thoughts. You say his friends say he's picky, but I think you need to be picky, too, and not automatically hand over so much of your time to him.

I know you like him. I know you're crazy about him. I know it's difficult to say to someone you pine for, "Sorry, can't make it. I promised (insert name of fun, supportive friend here) I'd meet her after work for drinks."

But you have to do it.

You're right to be friendly and positive, but you're wrong to say yes to every invitation he issues when he hasn't kissed you or given you any indication of his feelings. You certainly don't want to fall head over heels for this guy and find out two weeks from now that he doesn't feel "butterflies," and have him tell you he's not to blame because he never led you on by getting physical.

It's possible he does like you. It's possible he wants to take things slow. It's also possible he's wasting your time. But it's not your problem to figure any of this out. It's not your responsibility to puzzle it out with his friends or yours.

In the future, take your time responding to his emails. When you do, be your usual pleasant, happy self. The next time he asks you out, be unavailable. (If he's interested in you, he will not be dissuaded from pursuing you because you made other plans.) Then be somewhat available but not always available. Let him understand that time with you is special.

I would agree to go out with him just once a week. If that doesn't increase his ardor, I'd think twice about seeing him at all.

You say it's difficult to visualize anybody else but him at this point (of course it is), so I suggest you suspend visualization for the time being. Concentrate on protecting your time and your heart.

If you haven't already, write a list of your very best qualities. Put down what you have to offer in black and white. Pull that list out of your pocket whenever you're tempted to see any guy only on his terms.

Also, I'll say it again: Get busy and keep busy. It's easier to say 'no' when you have other things to do. And when you're not with the guy, don't think about him. Don't talk about him. Keep your mind in the present, on the people who surround you.

I hope this helps.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Bad Blogger

Maybe I should retitle this blog, "Dating Advice Weekly," since I haven't posted nearly as often as I should over the past couple of weeks.

Right now, I'm bogged down in several different projects and hope to soon resume writing almost daily, as advertised.

Your comments and questions are important to me, so please keep them coming.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

She Needs Him Like a Hole in the Head

Dear Terry-

Would like your advice. Recently my dream man has broken it off after six months together. In the beginning, he treated me very well, but around a month or two later, he said he wasn't in love with me and started to treat me badly. He was very bad tempered with me.

I really love this man, but now he has no feelings at all for me, and he also has another object of his affection already. Is there any chance to make this man come back to me again? Do you have any techniques I could use?

Now he's avoiding me, doesn't call or message. But really miss him. The worst of it is we work together. So I have to see him. Is there any way to pull him back?

I really need your help.

-He Made Me Feel Things

Dear He Made You-

Let me get this straight: You want me to tell you how to get back with a man who treated you badly, who avoids you, and was "bad tempered" with you.

Sorry, but I won't do it.

You deserve better, and the only person who doesn't know that yet is you.

You think you miss this guy, but you don't. You said he treated you well in the beginning, and that's what you miss. You miss those feelings you got when you spent time with him at the start of your relationship, when he was kind and affectionate and good to you.

Think of this man as a faucet. At one point, the faucet delivered pure, sweet, wholesome, and nourishing water. Then something went wrong in the pipes, and the faucet started spewing rusty, poisonous, undrinkable water.

It's time to stop drinking from this faucet.

Of course it's difficult that you encounter this man at work every day, but here's what you do: You wave, smile, and keep walking. If you need to talk to him about business, keep the conversation strictly business. Get the information you need, smile, and walk away.

Do not let a disappointing relationship get in the way of your livelihood.

In the meantime, work on developing the self-regard that will help you attract a consistently loving man (not a guy who loves you one minute and not the next). I recommend the excellent book, You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. It can help you do it.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Should She Move On?


I love your column, and I need advice.

I'm 28, and widowed, with one child. It's been two years, and I've processed everything, and I think I'm in a good place emotionally.

I'm bright, and funny, and a good mom, but I'm not very attractive. Dating is incredibly scary for me.

I have been dating a boy for about three months. He's three years younger than me, and is very nice. He's cute, well educated, etc. We laugh a lot, and share quite a few values.

I think I might love him. He said he definitely has feelings for me, but that he can't call it love yet.

He is scared of falling in love with a single mom, he says, because it's much more commitment than he's planned on so soon. He says he's not ruling it out, he's just not there yet.

After three months, shouldn't he know? Should I chalk this up and move on?

One one hand, it's very likely that he's not ready for a commitment. On the other, he treats me well, and is nice to my kid, and has been extremely honest about where he is emotionally.

I can't tell if he's "into me" or not. He wants to meet my family, he spends time with my child and me, etc. But, at the same time, he's not introduced me to his family yet.

Is this a lost cause? If not, how long do I give it?

-Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Dear Should-

Thanks for writing and for the kind words. One thing sticks out above all else in your letter:

"...I'm not very attractive. Dating is incredibly scary for me."

I'm going to beg to differ here. You're a widow (please accept my very sincere condolences on the loss of your husband), so obviously you are attractive and lovable enough to have compelled a man to marry you. Furthermore, now you've attracted a man (or boy, as you describe him) who says he "definitely has feelings" for you.

You say you're smart and funny. Smart and funny trump looks in the attractiveness department. Have you ever noticed how a person can be magazine-cover perfect, but you don't feel any sort of pull? You're not intrigued. You're not attracted. And then another person comes along carrying a little extra weight around the middle, and maybe his hair goes haywire in damp weather, but he's funny and smart. And he just lights you up on so many different levels.

Same goes for men and you. I once had a beautiful friend who turned heads everywhere she went, but she didn't attract anyone for very long. She didn't have much of a personality.

Dating is scary for a lot of us (I can say this because I am a shy person who masquerades as a not-shy person). Please do not settle for less than you deserve because you fear you're not attractive enough to "do better" on the dating market.

Okay. Back to your boy...

Three months is not such a long time, and it's good that he's been honest with you about his reluctance to fall in love with a single mother. He's right; becoming a stepfather at 25, 26, or 27 years of age is daunting (hell, at age 47 it's daunting).

It's possible he'll get over this reluctance, but it's entirely possible he won't. I don't know that I would banish him, but I definitely would spend less time with him for my own protection as well as my child's (because every minute you spend with this guy, you and the child are becoming more attached to him). He doesn't know if he's going to stick around for the long haul, so you don't know if he's going to stick around for the long haul.

So please act accordingly: He doesn't get to meet your family. If you do decide to go out with him, leave the child with your family or with a good babysitter. At this point, he does not qualify for access to your entire life.

Also, if you aren't already doing it, this would be a good time to spend more time with friends or to make new friends with similar interests. Expand your social circle. If someone else comes along who's attracted to your intelligence and precious ability to make others laugh, by all means, date him. And introduce him to your child only after he's indicated he's not put off by the possibility of one day caring for that little person on a daily basis.

In other words, give your boy a chance to figure out what he wants to do. And, in the meantime, do exactly what you want to do.

And stop holding yourself back due to excuses about being unattractive and afraid of dating.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

PODCAST: How to Shop for a Husand

Check out my interview with Janice Lieberman, author of How to Shop for a Husband: A Consumer Guide to Getting a Great Buy on a Guy You can listen now or download it to your iPod.

It runs just under 15 minutes. Click here to listen.