Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

No - it's not my blog's anniversary.

Quote: The Single Woman
This weekend marks the one year anniversary of my breakup with Big. One year ago, he told me that he didn't want our relationship to move any further. One year ago, my heart was so broken, I honestly didn't think I would ever be the same.

Wanna know a secret? I was right - I'm not the same, and I expect I never will be. But not in the way I thought.

Lots of lousy first dates, a crush, a couple of near-relationships, a love cleanse and - most importantly - a year of reinventing myself and my friendships has taught me who I really am. I've grown, changed and learned an awful lot about life. I'm truly happy, with myself and my life. I know how to recognize a good, happy relationship - something I learned from being in a fabulous relationship with myself.

When I remember how I felt that night in my car - and realize how happy I am one year later - one word comes to mind: Hope.

Quote: Unknown
The thing about hope is that it is so much easier to lose than it is to build. With anything new, we take so long to trust - to allow ourselves to feel hopeful and happy. But crushing hope? That can happen in an instant. With the *snap* of a finger - we can go from happy to completely broken. What's even worse, each time we lose hope, it takes longer and longer before we'll allow ourselves to feel it again.

That's the thing about life - you never know what's coming next. The best moments are often born from the worst. It is so hard to believe it when you're in that moment. But I think that's the greatest gift of any heartbreak; once you've survived, you know you can. The next time (and there will be a next time, in one way or another) you'll be ready to jump back into hope that much quicker.

It doesn't matter if your heart was broken by love, by friendship, by the loss of a loved one or the loss of your perfect job - the most important thing you can learn is to never, ever give up hope.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I'm confused. Hence - I'm having a little trouble writing a lot this week. Don't worry, it'll all be sorted out soon enough, and I'll have more dating horror stories for you soon enough.

In the meantime - enjoy this from

He was hoping, and you have to love his reasoning.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Good in bed

Here's a little something new....

A little while back, I was approached by Eric Leech, a Featured Writer at, a site that offers information, advice and reviews of online dating sites. He asked about doing a guest post for Girl's Got Shine. 

Thinking it sounded like fun, and something a little different, I accepted his generous offer. After all - GGS is pretty skewed towards a woman's perspective. So, Eric is here today to tell us how a guy can tell if a woman will be good in bed. 

Ladies....get out your notebooks. 


Girls, you know you've thought about it before. You've stared at the size of a man's hands during a first date. You've watched a guy throw down his groove on the dance floor, and wondered about his groove between the sheets. You've stared at cute guys on dating websites, imagining how cute they'd be in their birthday suit, and you may have even ogled a guy in aisle seven at the grocery store, wondering if he'd be as good at handling the canned peas, as handling your own... well, you get my point. It should come as no surprise that guys size women up in much the same way. Let's look at the top five things a guy looks for, to know if a woman will be a worthy adversary while engaging in the horizontal mambo.

1. Her Kiss- Good kissing is just as important to men as it is for you ladies. The biggest difference here is that we are looking forward to seeing exactly how adventurous the girl will get. If she uses only a tiny bit of her tongue and wraps the session up quickly, he'll assume the worst. However, if she is slobbery, sensual, ever-lasting, and vacuum intense, he'll remember to bring the rubber sheets, salad tongs, and value-sized canister of Crisco oil to the next date (well, not really, but he'll be pretty excited).

2. The Hips- Men love to watch a woman's hips sway back and forth as she walks. Studies on attraction suggest that men prefer women who overly accentuates their hips as they walk. In fact, even without seeing her figure, face, or style of clothing, a man will become interested, just by noticing her motion out of the corner of his eye. The way a woman uses her hips, says how much control she has over her lower extremities. If she can shake it in the vertical, he knows she can shake it in the horizontal, too.

3. Physical Touch-  A guy can tell a lot from a first date, just by how she touches him. A woman who is comfortable with touching him in public, will probably be even more comfortable once they get behind closed doors. A gentle caressing kitten in the restaurant, could be a ferocious man eating tiger in the bedroom. However, a clammy oyster on the dance floor, will probably be just as dank and cold on the sofa afterward (that's his theory, anyway).

4. Vocal Expression-  Remember the scene in When Harry Met Sally, when Meg Ryan faked an orgasm in the middle of the restaurant with Billy Crystal? I'm not here to discuss the fact of whether or not a guy can tell the difference between a real orgasm or not. What matters most, is Ryan would have been the sexiest woman in the restaurant to any man. Studies suggest men are drawn to sensual sounds of a woman's voice when she laughs, hums, or sighs. Brief vocal encounters give a man a hint of what a woman might sound like in bed. A woman can increase the likelihood of a man's enjoyment in sex, simply by her vocal enthusiasm. Lots of intense screams, means he'll finish like a minute-man. Quietly counting sprinkles on the ceiling, means he'll be shopping for Viagra by the next morning. There is nothing like a woman who knows how to ‘get into’ whatever it is she’s doing.

5. Sexy Talk- Contrary to popular belief, men do not want sex to be the only conversation at hand, but we do like a little prelude on the subject. Talking about it, lets him know she might be up for it if the occasion calls. Men like women who might be a little too shy and coy to bring up the topic. However, when push comes to shove, she can dish out the details with the same enthusiasm and color of a drunk, virgin sailor.

So - that's a guy's perspective. Comments? Ladies - how can you tell if a guy will be good in bed? 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Responsible dating

We all know how to protect ourselves (and others) when dating. We know how to prevent diseases, unwanted pregnancy, and cyber-stalking. Ladies, we even know how to keep ourselves out of dangerous situations until we get to know someone.

But what about our feelings - and the feelings of others? Do we protect those? Can we? Dating is all about putting yourself out there, risking that you'll get hurt. Heartbreak and disappointment are always a possibility - and if there's no risk, there's no potential for something good, either. 

I told Gardner that I think my experience with Big has made me a more responsible dater. I'm sensitive (maybe too sensitive) to others feelings, and hyper-aware if I'm doing something that might hurt someone else. 

I'm talking a little bit about that over on Singles Warehouse. Read today's post over here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I'm too picky

I know it's true; I want too much. I've spent enough time on my own to have developed impossible standards for what I require before giving up my single status.

Sorry, cupid.

When I told my Gardner story to one friend, her advice was to talk to him; tell him exactly what I wanted him to do, exactly what I needed and expected - and then let him decide if it's something he can handle. It's logical - as she pointed out, he can't read my mind.

Call me difficult, call me complicated, call me high maintenance - call me a bitch. Say I'm making excuses. Say or think whatever you like - the truth is, I don't want to have to tell someone what I want and then wait to see if it's something he can "handle." I want us to just naturally click.

I know - it's probably unfair, and maybe unreasonable, and a little too much. So was the Barbie Dreamhouse - but that didn't stop me from asking Santa.

I've done the whole "here's what I want" thing with a guy before. Know what? He went along with it. For about fourteen years. Then, one day, seemingly out of nowhere - he stopped. Suddenly, he wasn't willing to "handle" me anymore - and he left. So I know that no matter how much compromising you both do, it can still fall apart.

I know that relationships are about compromise. Of course I realize that I'll have to give some. I won't always get my own way, and it won't always be about me. But shouldn't the other person give a little, too? Shouldn't he want to give a little, to make room for "us" in his life?

If I find a guy with whom I just fit; a guy who says and does all the right things, and for whom I say and do the same - then there won't be any of this wondering, compromising or "training." Neither of us will have to "handle" the other - because it just works.

That's what I want. Maybe I'm too picky - but that's never stopped me before.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mixed signals - Part II

Continued from here....

I asked for a "break" (which always makes me think of Ross and Rachel). I just wanted to sort through the confusion, and see how I felt. Was I just hanging onto this because there were some things I really liked? Was I just happy to have found a relationship, someone with whom I could share some time and a few smiles?

Honestly - was I more interested in the boost he offered my ego than I was him?

I'm not sure. Those things are all true - and they're all good things. Gardner makes me feel special; he makes me feel beautiful. As a wise friend said to me, "Every woman needs a man to make her feel like a goddess now and then, right?" Abso-freaking-lutely.

I do really like him, too. He makes me smile, and he's fun. He's goofy, and I laugh when I'm with him. He doesn't just do the normal dinner-and-movie date -  he's unique, and has a lot to offer. I'm attracted to him, and the chemistry was pretty good.

But I wasn't sure. Doubts are normal when something is new, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that if this was truly right, I'd have fewer doubts. I'd be more positive, and less negative.

I just think right would have felt different.

So I told him - everything. How I felt, and why. Of course, he told me some things that explained away some of my doubts - and honestly, I'm not 100% sure I made the right decision. I expect he'll stay in my life - and I wouldn't be surprised if we gave this another shot, but as of right now, we are no longer dating.

In the end, the only thing I'm really sure of is that I wasn't sure enough to let it go any further.

Mixed signals

I really hate mixed signals. I prefer if everything can just be out in the open. I'd rather hear the most awful, hurtful truth than have to weed through lies.

Most people don't believe that. They believe that I say I want the truth, but what I really want is for the truth to be what I want to hear

Isn't that always the case, though? I mean, we all want what we want, and most of us have a pretty clear picture of how, when, where we want it to happen. Some people seriously can't handle the truth - and some have had to deal with enough hard truth to know it's better than any lie. 

I felt like I was getting mixed signals from Gardner. First he had no expectations and it felt like he was rejecting me. Two weeks later, he's dropping the L Word. In between, he's hanging with friends and making it clear that I'll never be number one in his life, but saying he really likes me - all while embracing bachelorhood. All kinds of mixed signals and doubts.

The doubts are what got to me the most. I started to feel like I already knew that this couldn't go any further than where it was right now. Then I thought, if that's how I felt, I should end it now, rather than risk leading him on.

The advice I got was that it was too soon to know for sure, and that I should talk to him. That it can just be a fun, casual thing, especially when it's so new. That it's okay to not know this soon in; usually, no one would.

I agree - this soon into a relationship, it's totally acceptable to not know, and to have fun while you see where it might go. But I know. I know it isn't going any further than where it is right now - but he doesn't feel that way. I could stick around, and hope that my feelings caught up to his - but what if they didn't? I was gambling with feelings; with my own, fine - but not with someone else's.

Sounded all too familiar to me. Now the question was - what should I do?

To be continued....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The L word

The "L word" got dropped. But let me start at the beginning....

After this exchange, Gardner and I had a conversation. Try to imagine a conversation between a man and a woman about what they wanted and expected from a relationship; a conversation where they were both honest and upfront; one where the guy asked the woman how she was feeling, and said he was happy they were talking.

And you thought this wasn't a science fiction blog...

Anywho - the conversation went really well, and it seemed like we were both on the same page. So, we kept seeing each other, and over the course of several more dates, started to get really comfortable with one another.

Then it happened. Late one night, he said he hoped it would be OK if he said he loved me.

No. Nope. It's not OK. It just isn't at all.

Why? Because love puts so much pressure on what I thought would just be a nice, casual, fun relationship. It rushes things, instead of letting them develop naturally. It places expectations where they don't belong.

I was telling a friend of mine what Gardner said, and he told me that he hates being the first to say the word. So much so that now, he says, "I think I'm falling for you."

I like that. "I love you" sounds like minivans and balancing the checkbook and arguing over where to eat Thanksgiving dinner. "I'm falling for you" sounds like a walk in the park, romantic meals and flowers for no reason.

In case you're wondering, I didn't respond to Gardner. I let it slide, hoping that maybe he was just caught up in the moment, and he'd forget about it.

How sophisticated and mature of me, no?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Single piece of advice

You can find dating advice just about anywhere. Google it - you'll find thousands of results. There are dating blogs (*ahem*), dating sites, and books that offer free advice. You can also seek counseling, pay for a dating service - or turn to a counselor. 

More often, when we need dating advice, we turn to the same place we turn for other advice - our friends, and family. We ask those closest to us for help with such a personal, intimate question.

But just because someone knows you well, doesn't mean he can always give you good advice. No matter how well you know a person - if you've never been in the situation, you may not be the best qualified to give advice on how to handle. 

That's what I'm talking about at Singles Warehouse today. Check the post out here.

What about you? Where do you turn when you need dating advice?

Monday, September 19, 2011

The truth is....

I learned a lot from Big. Probably the most important lesson was - how not to treat people.

I don't mean to sound like Big's not a great guy - he is. We still talk sometimes, and get along fine. He's a good guy, and was good to me in a lot of ways. But after the way we broke up, I knew I'd never want to lead anyone on - even by mistake - and risk hurting someone else the way I was hurt.

When I first met Gardner, I had some doubts. But, I liked him; he was sweet and a wonderful date, so I decided to give it another chance. We had a fabulous second date, so, things kept going.

But I still have these doubts in the back of my mind. He seems to be stuck in the early-thirties bachelor stage. While I don't expect things to be serious now, I do want something that can grow. I get the feeling that what I'm getting from Gardner now is the most I'll ever be able to expect from him. It's enough now - but it wouldn't be enough long-term.

He's also at a stage in life where he moves from job to job - like a kid in college, looking for something fun, that doesn't interfere with his party schedule. That's not me, and it's not something I want in my life. There's no security or stability. I know it works for some, and that's great - but it's not me.

One of the biggest worries I had when we first got to chatting was that Gardner's life is so full of his friends that he wouldn't make room for me. The longer we know each other - the more true that seems. He has time for me during the week, when his friends are all with their wives/girlfriends. But he puts me on notice that he is not available on the weekends, when his friends need something or have time for him. Fine, if we're casual - but I don't see it changing, and I wouldn't be okay with that long term.

The thing is, I neither want, nor expect, anyone to change for me. That never works. So, if this is the relationship he's looking for - I think we'd both be better off if he got the chance to find that relationship with someone of a like mind. That someone isn't me.

The truth is, I want more.

The truth is....if he was really the right guy, I wouldn't be having all these doubts.

Friday, September 16, 2011

When do I tell?

I didn't communicate well with Big. I won't even bother blaming that on him, either. The truth is - I just wasn't good at verbalizing what I was thinking and feeling where he was concerned. I was always worried I would make him angry, or give him an excuse to end things. 

I've obviously grown a bit since then, and with Gardner, I am enjoying what is (so far) a much more open, honest and upfront relationship. It's different, it's exciting, and it feels right. 

I don't have a lot of secrets. I don't have any baggage or drama from past relationships; no health concerns; no kids or criminal charges that I "forgot" to mention. No bankruptcies, no bench warrants, no divorces that aren't finalized. This time, I don't even have any other guys that I'm seeing that I need to keep secret.

Nothing. Zero. Zilch.


The blog? I don't announce to the world that I am the author over here. If I did, it would make my semi-anonymity a little silly. It hasn't been an issue, since I haven't dated anyone long enough, or seriously enough, to have to tell. 

Gardner is something a little more...serious. I don't necessarily feel like it's so serious that I owe him an explanation right now - but I feel like it could get to a point where I'd have to fess up. Thing is, if I don't do that now, at what point will it feel like a betrayal that I didn't tell him sooner?

I shoulda stuck with cats. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Timing is everything

I promised to tell you more about a "talk" Gardner and I had about our relationship. I always keep my promises. Please note: You may chuckle at this story. Or gasp. Or do both at the same time, and start coughing uncontrollably. You've been warned.

Several dates in (okay, three - don't judge) Gardner asked me to his house where he promised me a home-cooked meal. I have to say - he's, like, the sweetest guy. Ever. Dinner was waiting for me, the dining table was set, and he'd made sure to get my favorite drink.

One thing led to another....and since this blog isn't specifically about my sex life, I'll let you fill in that blank. But it's important to remember that what happened next happened right after the blank.

Laying there talking, Gardner said to me, "As much as I like you, I don't have any expectations...." He went on to say a few other things that may, or may have not, clarified what he was talking about, but I didn't hear them. Because my brain was fixated on what sounded like a rejection.

Immediately after the first blank. In fact, it was barely over. It was more like a blan. 

I did my best to remain calm. I thought, actually, I was doing pretty well. I patted his arm and told him I was going to get going - not in a mean or angry way, it was just time for me to head home. But he realized I was upset and started apologizing - profusely. I told him I wasn't angry, grabbed my things and went to open the door.

The doorknob came off in my hand, trapping me in the room with him.

The doorknob came off in my hand.

I know, you're laughing. It's fine. I can wait.

....So I'm standing there, belongings in one hand, doorknob in the other. He's behind me apologizing, and I'm fighting every urge in my body to hurl the hardware at his head. I nearly did - but I realized that I needed the doorknob to get out of the room.

I asked him nicely to fix the door so I could get out. He started to - then stopped, to keep apologizing. I asked a second time - less nicely. He fixed the door, and I made my exit.

Like I said the other day, it's not only important to know what to say when you want to talk about your relationship - it's also important when you say it.

The lesson here? Timing is everything. And always make sure doors are in proper working order.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Let's talk

I told you yesterday that I've already had a "talk" with a new guy. Too soon? Technically, it feels that way - though I'm so comfortable talking to him, it sorta didn't feel that way. Confused? Yeah, me too.

Anyway, it got me thinking - is there a timeframe for talking about the relationship? Open, honest, productive communication is uncharted territory for me, so I really have no idea. So, we're talking about it today over at Singles Warehouse.

Check it out here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

When you least expect it

Remember Gardner? Well, after our second date, things started to fall into place. We even had a little "talk" (more on that later), and pretty put everything out there. What we want, expect, what we're looking for, etc.

He even - brace yourself- asked me how I felt and said he was glad we were talking. I know. I nearly fell out of my chair.

The thing is - I wasn't looking for this. I had honestly made peace with - even found myself enjoying - my singleness. I had no intentions of meeting someone I would find myself liking; someone who I can talk to and who makes me smile. Someone who makes me feel special and amazing - and who annoys me just enough.

I wasn't looking for him. He showed up when I least expected him.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Online dating profile help - Part Two

Continued from here....

My advice, for what it was worth, was that maybe this particular site (a paid site) was not for him. Even though the free sites have far more people not seriously looking - they still have far more people. No matter how much science is behind the matches, a paid site is still limited to the pool of people who use their service. If the site is too expensive - it can be prohibitive.

The dating pool on a free site is much larger - and therefore your chances of meeting someone are increased. It's simple math.

He admitted that made some sense, and he did end up creating a profile on a free site, just to see what might happen. That presented another question - should he "dumb down" his profile? Was he just scaring women away?

That's not the first time someone has asked me that question. And I gave him the same answer I gave the first person.

If you're a smart, successful, passionate, funny, attractive, bright and interesting person - why on earth would you let your profile show any less? Of course, you don't want to give all the details away. Don't tell your life story - you need something to talk about. But if you have a truly dynamic personality - show it! If you have really cool pictures of yourself in unique places - post them! If nothing else, it's a conversation starter.

Besides, I said - if a woman is intimidated by his profile, is she really the woman for him? Maybe don't look at is as scaring away, but rather weeding out.

He agreed, and though he may have made a couple of slight changes, I'm told his profile remained pretty much the same as the first one I reviewed.

He's found a lot of colorful people on the new site - and one with some potential.

I guess sometimes, the best things in life really are free.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Online dating profile help

I've had a lot of cool things happen to me since I started writing this blog. But this takes the cake.

A few weeks back, I got an email from a guy who I'd never met. He'd been on a dating site for some time, without success. After finding, and reading, my blog, he was wondering if maybe I could help him. He asked if I'd be willing to critique his dating profile.

First, I have to say - I give this guy major credit. Most of the men I find online don't even want to take the time to proofread their own profile, let alone seek out and approach a perfect stranger for help. As far as I was concerned, this guy was already light-years ahead of his competition, and I told him as much.

Intrigued, I agreed to look at his profile, and offer any help I could.

At first glance - and second, and third - I felt bad. In a word, his profile is fabulous. It's articulate, well-written, and gives just enough detail. He's a smart, successful man in his late twenties, with a solid education, career and background. (As far as I could tell, his only real flaw was that he lives nowhere near upstate NY. :shrugs:)

I wrote him back and apologized, saying I wished I could be more help. Then I asked him a couple of questions:
Do you have more dates when you do the approaching, or when approached?
Which do you do more often - contact others, or wait for them to make the first move?
He's that guy - the one for whom most every girl is searching. Smart, successful, nice, charming and handsome.

It would take an incredibly confident woman to approach him - or even to respond to his emails. I suspected that he was not confident enough in himself to always approach the women he liked - and I suspected a lot of women would not have the courage to approach him.

While my new friend said he thought he'd pretty much balanced the number of times he contacted first, versus when a woman contacted him, he did say he had more luck on dates with the woman who emailed him first. Which made sense to me - they'd be the more confident, and therefore probably had more in common with him.

But that didn't change the fact that he'd had limited success on this dating site, and what he really, truly wants is to find love.

So what's a guy to do?

To be continued....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The scariest word

A while back, when I was doing a love cleanse, a friend warned me to be careful, and not to become too independent, and shut people out. At the time, I thought that would never happen. I thought I was too much in love with the idea of being in love to ever shut anyone out.

Turns out - not so much.

It didn't take long. I did the love cleanse (no dating, flirting, sex, etc.) for a thirty days. Then I continued it for another thirty - unofficially. I started dating a little while later, but nothing serious, so my independence was never challenged.

Until the other day.

I went on a second date - my first in a while - with a guy I really like. We took a lake cruise in a resort town about an hour away from my home. I drove, and on the way back, he was responding to a few text messages he'd gotten while we were on the boat. One was from a friend inviting him to a cookout. He turned to me and said,
We were invited to my friend's house, but I declined.
We. We?!

It's been over a year since anyone referred to me as part of a we. I thought I longed to hear it again. I thought my heart would skip a beat, and I wouldn't be able to stop smiling. But the truth is, when he said we - I didn't feel any of that.

What I felt was more like - terror.

Not because I don't like him - I do. I think the terror is because I've grown attached to being alone. I like not having to think of anyone else when I make plans. I like knowing that I can handle any situation, or go do anything I want, without needing someone else. I'm not afraid to ask for help - but I don't need a guy. I can turn to friends and family when I need something.

I used to be so afraid to let anything interfere with my relationship with a guy, that I'd spend any time with him that I could. Now, it seems, I'm pushing guys away because I'm afraid they'll interfere with my relationship with me.

I'm not sure which is scarier.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Facebook official

A few years back, I had some horrible trouble, all because I showed (and changed) my relationship status on facebook. So I deleted it - and haven't shown my status since.

Today, I'm happy with that choice, and I wouldn't change it, regardless of my current (or future) circumstances.

I am officially my own person - even facebook says so.

Read my story over at Singles Warehouse today.

Friday, September 2, 2011

It's not you, it's me

So, I emailed this guy. He came up in my quiver matches, so I figured I'd take a chance.

A few hours later, I get a response:
Thanks for writing, but I don't really think you're my type.
I've said before, I'm not really a fan of the "polite response." I know some people think it's the right thing to do when someone takes the time to write you on a dating site. But I view that initial email as the equivalent of a slight nod, or smile or wink at a bar. If I'm not interested after that, I just look away, right? I don't have to walk up to you and explain why I don't think we're a good match. So why do that here?

I also don't view it as polite. Actually - it's sort of rude, if you think about it. I've signed off the site, so if you respond, I will get an email telling me I have a message. So, I get the notification, then I take the time to sign back in and read your response. So you make me chase down your rejection? Not cool.

Still, some like the polite response, so I accept it as one of the realities of dating sites. But that response? Wasn't polite. It was mean. This guy not only forced me to work so he could ease his own conscience - he was mean while he did it.

"You're not my type" loosely translated means, "There's something wrong with you." That is not how you politely reject someone.

I know it's cliche, but the truth is, "It's not you, it's me," really is the nicest way to reject someone. I know many say that it's condescending, since everyone knows it's not really what the person means. And in a case where you're ending a relationship - yeah, that's not fair. Be honest. Do the tough thing, and say what's really going on.

But in a polite response? Be polite, for crying out loud! Take the blame yourself; you aren't helping that other person at all by laying the blame with her.

When I bump into someone in the store, I say I'm sorry - it's my fault, even if maybe it wasn't. When I know a customer didn't send an email, but they're sure they did - I say, it didn't come through, can you re send it? I take the blame, I don't place it.

That's polite.

So if you're going to reject me - and you insist on doing so in an email - the least you could do is take the blame. "I'm not interested," or "I don't think we're a good match," both work. They are honest and direct, but still take the blame, rather than place it.

And honestly, I think at some point when you're dating, you have to at least consider the possibility that you just might be the problem.