Is Promiscuity Affecting Your Mental Health?

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What if the good ol’ boys mentality is leading us astray?  Could our hook up culture be the cause of future relational demise?

Researchers are discovering links between the centrality of relationships and our mental health–specifically as it pertains to marriage.

And multiple sexual partners before marriage have a direct correlation to unsatisfying marital relationships.

According to researchers at Marri (Marriage and Religion Institute), mental health and chastity go hand in hand.

We might want to think twice before sowing our wild oats–because it might be the very thing that destroys not enhances our marital future.

Please enjoy this article…

Mental Health and Chastity

In a recent professional seminar discussion on the relational dynamics of chastity and monogamy  with mental health professionals in Arlington VA a powerful concept came to the fore:  the centrality of relationships to the life of each person.  A person’s life is as good as the relationships he or she has formed.  

The most powerful human relationship is that of marriage. One therapist noted: “In lots of our work the marriage is the client. We often treat the marriage not the individuals.”  That this relationship is quite sensitive to the lifelong chastity of the couple was the focus of much of the discussion.

 As the charts on the demographics of sexual partnering were reviewed the conclusion drawn was that chastity is the virtue which gives sex its due. The sexual relationship, fundamental to the continuance of the human race, will go powerfully in one of two different directions: binding the couple forever in love and fidelity or instead leaving the permanent weakness of a bond that ended in rejection.  Chastity leads to the first; multiple partners lead to the second. The following chart shows the percent of stable marriages as relating to the number of sexual partners experienced.

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The Pitfalls of Shacking Up

I listened in on –ok eavesdropped to a woman at a café the other day as she bemoaned her daughter moving in with a dude before marriage.  The woman had apparently discouraged her daughter but the girl rashly went ahead (as most young people do) and packed up her bags to shack up with her new man.

The girl claimed she wanted to “test” their compatibility before they invested the time and energy in marriage.

(Reminds me of test-driving a car)

But the problem with this popular view in culture is that relationships are not like buying or trying on a consumer product.  You generally don’t return a dress after you’ve worn it and laundered it for a year or two, right?

But that’s what we do in the “trying before buying” model of dating.

Relationships are built on a foundation of trust and security, so when you destroy the main foundation before you begin to build the structure –you end up with a house of cards just waiting to fall down.

According to research, a trial run before marriage is not the answer for couples who are considering exclusivity.

Nancy Pina –relationship expert and life coach said this, “In my experience as a Christian relationship coach, those who chose to live together experienced a decline in emotional intimacy instead of a strengthened bond.

A new study by World magazine measured feelings of commitment and intimacy for unmarried couples who live together, and found they never achieved the level of closeness married couples enjoy.”

Ouch…NEVER?

Nancy suggests that living together sets most couples up for probable failure, because at that point, at least one person in the relationship is unsure if it should lead to marriage. Instead of addressing their reservation with openness and honesty, the uncertain person agrees to a trial arrangement. As seen in the study, 52 percent of men are not “almost certain” their relationship will last. More than half had reservations about the longevity of the relationship.

(Remember that saying about “why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?”)

Marriage brings security –a woman’s greatest need.  Marriage validates responsibilities and expectations within the relationship.

Shacking up is the opposite of commitment.  It is friends with benefits.  It’s an open door policy that allows for flight.  It’s “hey, I’m in as long as you meet all my needs…but if you don’t…there’s the door.”

In marriage, partners have more incentive to learn what pleases each other and they become good at it because they expect to stay together.

“Merely living together is an open question mark because the future is undecided. Cohabitation by its very nature does not promote the same deep connection of mutual trust and emotional vulnerability. Intimacy that is reserved for marriage is cheapened by this experience and cannot be replicated.” states Nancy.

What do you think?

Hookups Leaving Many Young People Unfufilled

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Walking into the gym, I glanced over at the Today Show and noticed the topic –Postmodern Dating.  Of course, I immediately dropped my workout gear and ran to the sofa to hear what they had to say.

The interview was with Donna Freitas, author of “The End of Sex –How a Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy.”

Donna delves into the life of college students and examines how in the current, feverish sexual climate where the hookup is all important, an entire generation has become completely adrift from the concepts of meaningful, emotional intimacy.

Freitas interviewed hundreds of young people to determine not only what defines a “hookup” but also what was taken from the experience –both in positive and negative terms.

What she discovered was a group of young people disillusioned by a social practice that leaves little room for more traditional dating.  She found many women and men who wanted to disengage from the casual hookup but lacked the essential tools to date and foster true intimacy. 

Dead End Hookups

And here is where I believe she hit pay dirt.  Our culture –both Christians and non-believers do not know how to establish healthy relationship and so hookups SEEM like the only entry way into a dating relationship.  But unfortunately, by introducing sex so quickly and making it meaningless, we have removed the ability to truly know each other and create lasting intimacy; as well as overlooked the necessary investment of time and trust to build a solid relationship.

Singles, young and old alike are floundering in the dating realm and they don’t understand why it’s so disheartening. 

Hooking up is not getting us what we want. 

Freitas found that many young people yearn to go out a real date and be honored with intentional pursuit but they believe they are the only ones out there who feel this way. 

But there is another way…

Try Dating With Purpose

Treat your “date” like your neighbor.  Few people would ever go next door and rip out their neighbor’s trees and drive their car on the lawn.  And yet, our hookups do exactly this with people’s hearts.

We use hookups as a conquest instead of an opportunity to care for others.  We avoid any responsibility the day after.  As soon as sex is exchanged, we flee instead of growing closer.  We rip apart our souls over and over and then can’t understand why it’s difficult to connect with people. 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Cor. 13:4-7

When was the last time your hookup encapsulated any one of these loving acts?

Isn’t it time we thought about dating differently?

–Samantha

Textamacy – How Social Media is Accelerating Relational Intimacy

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Our 14-year-old son wanted only one thing for Christmas this year.

And I am sure that we weren’t the only parents who acquiesced to our child’s desire for an iPhone.

Apple sold 125 million of them in 2012.

Until now, kids didn’t have access to instant communication with their friends. Yes, they could call people on the phone, but for this generation, it isn’t fast or wide-ranging enough. Kids today want to communicate through text messages or broadcast their thoughts to an ever-listening world.

We live in a social media age.

In fact, this generation might be coined the “Social Media Generation” not unlike the Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers of the past. Texting, Smart Phones, Facebook and Twitter have changed communication in our world forever.

When something big happens around us, we no longer wait to see it on the evening news; we reach for our iPhone/Pad or our Android device of choice to check in on what’s happening. This cultural shift hasn’t just altered the way we get our information; it has radically changed the way we communicate with one another.

This brings us to the world of dating and our desire for immediate gratification. We are now conditioned by smart phones and social media outlets to seek instant intimacy.  It’s no big deal to spill personal details on Facebook to an audience of thousands.

Now when I was a kid in the midst of puberty, I wanted to engage in intimate conversations with women too, I just didn’t have the opportunity.

I had to use the home telephone (remember the push-button dial-up attached to the wall?) and ask the girl’s parents if I could engage in conversation with their daughter.
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And none of those conversations were private, so getting intimate wasn’t an option. Not so today.

We-my wife and I, began to look into the texting patterns of our first-born, to see what was happening in this new social media paradigm. What we found was alarming, and very telling about how intimacy is building in our modern culture.

We inadvertently stumbled upon a conversation (ok we snooped…) that had happened for all of eleven days. The first text was innocent… the girl responded “who is this?”

Eleven days and over 1,000 texts later, they were talking about how they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.

Until day nine, the two had never spent a minute alone together. But on day nine, they attended a friend’s fifteenth birthday party at Laser Quest, a laser tag facility at the local mall. And it was on day nine that the two found themselves in a lip-lock inside the dimly lit maze illuminated by black lights and fluorescent bulbs.

Shocking, I know… from zero to intimate in nine days.

When we found out what was happening and unpacked the past eleven days, our son admitted the conversation just kind of went out of control. He said it was easy to say things he never would have said in person or with other people around. The conversation became provocative and arousing and he couldn’t help himself.

An interesting thing happened in the aftermath. When the conversation came to light and the texting stopped, the two found themselves in an awkward position.

They had a lot of enticing conversations, but they really didn’t know each other. They knew little things about each other, but they didn’t know each other. They fell for the image the other person expressed and their own imagination filled in any blanks.

This created a false reality that seemed flawless.

But when they actually began interacting with each other in person, they soon realized the image they portrayed in the texting relationship didn’t match reality. They found they didn’t have much in common and their personalities weren’t a good match.

They still see each other at school, but the enticement is gone and the relationship is over. And this intrigued me…

In a society where social media and texting are the primary ways of communication and a majority of singles have tried online dating, are we really getting to know the people we date, or are we just getting to see the online persona they want to portray?

And do we really want to know the person we date or are we content pursuing someone’s false image because it’s uncomplicated and desirable?
And we wonder why so many of our dating relationships end in disappointment?

Many of these disappointments are inevitable because we cross the threshold of sexual intimacy before we know the person we are with.

As social media and texting have propelled our access to intimacy, it seems as though we are becoming content with false intimacy.

We settle for crumbs instead of a real relationship.

I imagine Manti Te’o would admit he fell hook, line and sinker for this idea of false intimacy.

Have you?

Photo Source: Rodale.com

Should Women Ask Men Out?

The cards filled up the podium –stacks of yellow flash cards with questions for the two of us.  My husband and I were speaking at a conference on love, sex and dating and we were wrapping up our session with some Q &A. 

One of the piles was larger than the rest and I realized about ten people had asked the same question. Curious, I pointed at the cards for Tim to read next.

Tim picked up the cards, flipped through them, and then read aloud, “Can a woman ask a man out?”

His deep voice boomed out into the audience and all the women in the room looked up at us in anticipation.

Tim began to share his opinion while I perched up on my stool and articulated my thoughts.

My husband recommended that if a man has indicated some interest in a woman then she can confidently suggest “you should ask me out.” 

So the woman is making her interest clear to a man and making it known she is available.

But if the guy say’s no and shows zero interest in arranging another time or place to meet, it’s time for the woman to move on.

I AGREE.

But I think this holds true for both men and women.  If a guy asks a girl out and she says no, and then he asks again and again, and she still says no, then the guy needs to move on.

We tend to take “NO” so personally but if we tweaked our model just a bit, and looked  at asking someone out (or encouraging someone to ask us out) as more of an interview process and less of an emotional minefield, it would take a great deal of the pressure off.

When you go out on more dates than less…each individual date takes on less significance making it easier to act like yourself. 

It’s the whole idea of putting all your eggs in one basket.  When it comes to first dates, spread the eggs around and try MANY baskets. 

I want to be clear here, I’m talking about FIRST DATES and doing things like taking a walk and getting an ice cream cone, or meeting at a coffee shop.  I am not referring to hooking up and being the Easter Bunny hoochie or poochie (if you are a guy).

So ladies…BE BOLD and be ENCOURAGING.

And help guys ask you out.  Maybe this isn’t as easy as directly asking them out, but it is certainly more honoring and respectful to a man.

When I was single, if I was interested in a guy I usually invited him to a group event.  If he said yes and showed up, I gauged his interest.  Usually, with a little encouragement, a guy will then make the leap to asking a woman out.

Chivalry is not dead; we simply need to re-train our men to become the hero’s they were designed to be.

What do you think?  Is it ok for women to ask men out?

–Samantha

Further reference: A great book to read is Neil Clark Warren’s Date or Soul Mate for more on the interview process.

Photo Credit: From creativejuicephotography.blogspot.com

Counting the Cost

My friend Bob has an eye for beautiful women –beautiful and wounded women.

Not surprisingly, the woman he is currently dating is in the middle of a tough divorce.  Their relationship is intimate and this isn’t the first time he has found himself in this situation.

Once again, Bob finds himself racked with guilt, shame, and remorse.  Inevitably, it ends in a broken relationship with the woman feeling used and embittered.

Over and over, Bob ends up feeling distant from the God he loves and desires to serve, fully aware there is a better way to live.  I know he has seen the type of relationships he desires –one based on love and honesty where intimacy is appropriately saved until the day the wedding vows are exchanged.  And I know in the deepest part of his heart, godly intimacy and a loving marriage is what he desires.

So why does he continue to fall into the same rut every time?  Why does he put himself in this painful situation over and over?  Isn’t the reverberation of guilt and shame enough to cause him to move in a different direction?

It reminds me of the simple house fly.  Painfully, no matter how many times he smacks in to the window, he can’t get out.  And unless he finds another way, he will die on the windowsill.

I have some theories on this.

First, I don’t want to discount that patternistic disobedience can often be linked to addiction.  He may simply be a sex addict.  And he knows that he can get his sexual desires met by preying on hurting women looking for love in the aftermath of a broken relationship.  I won’t go into an in-depth analysis on addiction here, but there are some great resources for men and women dealing with sexual addiction and seeking sobriety at http://www.sa.org/.

Second, I also don’t want to overlook his broken past.  Having gone through a horrific divorce with his ex-wife, I know he has a hard time trusting women.  But clearly he can’t justify his behavior,  and he and I both know he needs to come to a place of forgiveness because the pain of resentment is destroying him.

So why doesn’t Bob get the help that he needs?  If he wants to honor God in his relationships and experience the trust and intimacy from a godly marriage, why doesn’t Bob pursue healing?  I think it’s possible it all stems from an innate, subconscious cost/benefit analysis that keeps many of us trapped in sin.

Let me lay it out for you.  My friend Bob knows he needs to kick his sexual addiction, and it will take some time.  Many Christian psychologists will tell you it takes a minimum of a year of hard work(often with multiple meetings each week).  And if he desires to gain the trust of a Godly woman, he needs to establish a track record of sexual purity.   He is going to need to put some time between his sexual promiscuity and his future dating life. Let’s say that all of this work takes about 1 ½ years.

Then, he is going to have to begin dating with the intent to find a suitable wife.  This is no easy search.  It is possible with his new mindset, the first person he dates might meet his criteria and he is off to the races.  But I have been around way too many relationships to know how unlikely this is.

Even with a plan to date with the intent to marry, it takes a lot of time to find someone suitable.  Let’s say that this search takes at least another year.  Then, if he is going to really get to know his new-found girlfriend, he will need time to build a relationship.  Because he has kids from his previous marriage, I imagine the woman he dates will probably also have kids.

I believe the best process to foster trust and prepare for all of life’s circumstances requires dating through the seasons.  And even if Bob asks her to marry him before the calendar year culminates, they are going to need to plan the wedding.  Even the most accelerated timetable requires a few months to execute.  So let’s say that from their first date to the wedding night will be between 12 and 18 months.

Now let’s do the math:

Breaking addiction, finding healing, establishing purity   1½ years
Search for a suitable partner                                           1 year
First date to marriage                                                      1 to 1½ year   
Total Time Elasped                                                         3½ to 4 years

It is my belief this simple time equation is what keeps people from pursuing God’s best for their life.

Discipline and life-change takes time, and it is hard work, and there are no shortcuts.

I am living proof that the benefit far outweighs the cost, but I can’t convince Bob of this.  He has struggled through his broken sexual relationships for eight years now.

I believe when he counts the cost of pursuing God’s will for his relational life, he believes it is just too high.

But is it?

If he would have started five years ago, his story could be so different.  He can’t imagine staying sexually pure for a month, let alone a couple of years.  So he throws in the towel and continues the pattern.  But what are his alternatives?

I wonder how long he will continue to fly into the window before he dies on the window sill.

–Tim

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Drive-through Dating

Even though we know certain things are bad for us, many of us are a glutton for punishment. 

I, for one, have a love/hate relationship with Diet Coke.  I know it’s rotten for me, probably causing cancer and corroding my teeth sip by sip, and yet once or twice a week in a moment of weakness I drink my sweet poison and thoroughly enjoy it.

Apparently, most people date in the same fashion. 

Best Dating Practices

Psychologists and sociologists agree that courtship’s based on infatuation and physical chemistry tend to fizzle out fast, because they fail to allow the relationship to evolve at a natural pace.

On the other hand, couples who build anticipation and focus on fostering a partnership rather than accelerating it are associated with more enduring satisfaction.

But even though we know rushing a relationship is bad for us, couples often jump in the sack and drink the sweet poison of a failed relationship before they allow it to begin and flourish.

Our desire for immediate gratification is killing our relationships.

So how quickly are we jumping into relationships?  Pretty quick if you look at the research…

Dating Reality

A recent study by SeekingArrangement.com polled 100,000 people to find the average length of their romantic milestones in dating relationships.

“Participants in the new study revealed the average number of dates per week with a new partner was two, meaning that couples tend to say ‘I love you’ seven weeks into a relationship. First kisses tend to take place two dates or one week into the dating process, and the first time a couple has sex is, on average, after four dates to two weeks.”

Introducing a girlfriend or boyfriend to friends and family took members an average of six weeks, and moving in with a partner averaged out at around 30 weeks into dating.

In a culture of drive-through sex, are we surprised at skyrocketing divorce rates when we can’t even wait until the third date to hook up?

A Different Approach?

But there is another way?

What if we postponed sex to BUILD a great relationship.

Most young people don’t think purity is possible.  I get it, because I used to be a skeptic too. 

Until, I gave it a shot and by God’s grace ended up in the relationship of my dreams.

Just because you’ve already had sex or lived a life of promiscuity, doesn’t mean the next relationship can’t be different. 

–Samantha

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Maybe it’s time to try something new? 

Photo credit: Love/couple Ginnie Joubert via Pinterest

Sources:

Psychology Today.”The Colors of Love.” March/April 1993: 36.

Research Study by: Seeking Arrangement.com

Buddymoon or Honeymoon?

My husband and I always have the same conversation at weddings.

“Sex or purity?” my husband whispers.

I carefully examine the bride.  If she scowls or looks grumpy, it’s a no brainer-“sex.”  If she cries walking down the aisle, I know immediately –“sex.” But if she floats down on cloud nine, gallops down with a goofy grin, or smiles like a Cheshire cat it’s just as obvious –“no sex” I exclaim.

It’s a gift I have, this radar for purity and wantonness (possibly because I’ve worn both pairs of shoes).

I can always tell at weddings if the couple has already consummated the relationship.  In marriages where sex is as common as brushing teeth, or better yet –flossing, the wedding is the denouement or the culmination of the relationship. 

These are the “bridezillas” who display a freakish sense of control over every tiny detail.  And it has to be perfect because the big day is about as good as it gets for her.

But for the bride who has a honeymoon to look forward to, a real honeymoon with a slow deliberate unveiling, a full vacation of exploring her beloved’s body, and a once in a lifetime retreat to connect physically with a man she has yearned and waited for, the wedding is just a step towards a new life together.

All things are fresh and new to the couple who has waited to have sex. But I remember all too well, waking up the day after I married my first husband. 

My exorbitantly overpriced bridal frock was crumpled on the chair, the carriage carted off and the ice sculptures melted along with my enthusiasm.  I thought I would feel differently once married, and I did, somewhat, but the disparity was more of an anticlimactic disappointment.  

And so to compensate for the lack of awesomeness a honeymoon used to symbolize, the new trend according to the New York Times, is to take a “buddymoon “and bring the family and friends along.

W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist and the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia notes…

“Today, when about 65 percent of couple’s cohabitate prior to marriage, the honeymoon is less likely to be a major turning point in their relationship,” said Professor Wilcox.  “For them, I think having friends come along is less of a big deal and in some ways makes it more of a special and exceptional occasion.”

By taking the “honey” out of honeymoon, couples enter marriage already bored enough with each other to need outside entertainment.  Thus they need “buddies” to get them through the hump of spending one week alone with the person they have just chosen to spend the rest of their lives with.

And this new trend makes me sad.

I think we –as a culture are losing a precious rite of passage by robbing OURSELVES of a once in a lifetime opportunity to revel in our spouse. 

Tim and I treasured our three-week honeymoon to the Mediterranean.  We loved, we laughed and we made new and amazing friends, who as fellow honeymooners shared our fledgling memories.

I believe in my heart that part of the reason my first relationship didn’t work out is because we didn’t hold our purity in high regard.  Because we had sex prior to marriage, it clearly made it easier for my ex-husband to have sex with someone else while we were married.  With God’s grace, I got a second chance to do it right and chose purity for my relationship with Tim…and it changed everything.

The second time around, I practically ran down the aisle (dragging my dad) to join my groom.  People commented they had never seen a smile as big and bright as my beam.  I didn’t notice the flower arch met an untimely crack, or the misplaced name cards or any of the other minor details that were far from perfect. 

All I saw was my honey.  And no offense to my buddies, but we did just fine without you.

–Samantha

Would you consider a buddymoon?

Old School Flirting

 

Dating Differently

Trying to date differently in a culture where sex reigns supreme is difficult to say the least, which is why we believe it’s time to consider bringing back a few of the more traditional modes of affection which seems to have disappeared with Happy Days as modern promiscuity rolled on in.

Christian dating can be immensely pleasurable if you make it less about what you are missing out on and instead focus on what you will gain. 

Here are a few goodies we think are worth revisiting!

Words of Affirmation

I’ll never forget the poetry my husband wrote me when we were dating.  The man was so smitten he burst out in smiles, song and sonnets.  But part of this verbal expression was due to the reality of holding back in the physical realm.  Because we weren’t physically intimate it forced Tim to express his love in more cerebral ways.

The Look

If the eyes are the window to our souls, then let’s pull out those peepers from behind the shades and use them to show “the one” you dig how much you like them. 

Ladies, how about batting those lovely lashes?  Gaze down demurely at your date and then look up him like a doe-eyed Bambi?  Give him the look that says, “Are you man enough to wait for this hotness?”

Guys, how about the direct look of intention, longing and desire that makes a woman weak in her knees?  Think Zoolander and then do exactly the opposite!

(When Tim and I were dating and he looked at me like this I panted…) 

Holding Hands

Why oh why has this one disappeared?  When Tim and I went on our first few dates, before the boyfriend/girlfriend stage, he would often pick up my hand and play with my fingers.  The touch of this man who I deeply desired felt like a million bolts of electricity surging through my body. 

Guys, take her hand and try caressing it.  Don’t turn into a mini hand-sex thing; just give her didgets some sweet finger cuddles.  It’s innocent and fun and with the right girl –almost as good as sex (ok, not so much but still worth trying in the interim).

Try taking a long walk, picking up her hand and communicating your affection with a love language that represents support, unity, respect and relationship.

The Nuzzle

Long before I got my first kiss, Tim would lean in and very close to my face, whisper in my ear or nuzzle my cheek.  Again, I went bananas (inside of course).  When you take away the big sex stuff, the little stuff takes on much deeper meaning. 

The First Kiss

Some Christians believe in not kissing while dating.  We don’t fall into that camp.  We believe once you are in a committed relationship moving towards marriage, kissing just might be the best way to spend an evening.  Watch some movie, kiss, more movie, kiss…

The only problem with kissing is how easily it morphs into making out and full body hugs and the next thing you know the two of you have to be pulled apart with a crow bar.  So, be cautious when kissing turns into renting a hotel room. 

Tim and I didn’t drink while we were dating because Tim knew his limits and understood he couldn’t control himself physically around me after a few glasses of wine.

We also had a self-imposed curfew and sometimes Tim just got up and ran home like Joseph.  I didn’t even know he was struggling until he called me from his car.

Remember the movie Pretty Woman?  Julia Roberts, who played a prostitute wouldn’t kiss her clients because it was too intimate of an act.  I get that.

It’s because kissing means something.  It communicates affection and tenderness or conversely greed or selfishness.  Kissing sends a million different messages.

Save your first kiss far beyond the obligatory walk to the front door at the end of the first date.  Wait a few weeks, or gasp, a month.  Make it mean something special. 

And then kiss your boyfriend and girlfriend every single day to discover if you have chemistry and connection. 

Do you have any old school methods to communicate affection without sex?

–Samantha

Photo Credit:  Source: kissssing.blogspot.com via Jesse on Pinterest

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