21

About Me
Before stating the problem I want to tell you about me. I am a bit of an introvert and very shy around girls. I also have a hard time communicating with people and I don't talk to people a lot. Only with whom my geekiness matches. My girlfriend is also a geek.

About Her
She's hot tempered. She usually gets angry about a lot of things. I am calm by nature. I don't really get angry on anything. And also I have a hard time accepting the fact that she is getting angry on "this" thing.

Problems
Now going to the problems :
What happens generally a lot of the time is that when we are discussing on any topic or subject, how I put up my point and tell her something might be anything general or may be something specific to her. A lot of the time she perceives what I said in a very wrong way, which is not what I implied or wanted to say, but she takes it like that.

Example
Scenario 1: Time is about 5 am. I am feeling very sleepy and she wants to talk so I kept talking. This goes on till about 6:00 or something. I asked her if we can go to sleep, since we've talked enough and I am very tired.

What I meant: I am very sleepy, we've talked for a bit so we should go to sleep now.

How she reacts: Why are you saying we have already talked, I didn't ask you for a favor, I didn't stop you from going to sleep, go to sleep. (Angry already)

Scenario 2: She is getting angry on someone, her room mate, the shop owner from outside, it could be anyone. She is furious.

Me: I ask her to calm down and that getting angry won't resolve anything and she should not even think about her/him. She tells me why she's getting angry, and when I listen to her I generally think from both of their perspectives. Why she is getting angry and what the other person has done. I try to tell her that he or she might be doing it because of this or that reason.

How she reacts: Why don't you go away. You never take my side.

Me: I just want to tell her these things because I think there is no reason for her to get angry and that the other person might have had their reasons. I don't want her to be pissed off and have a spoiled mood. But instead of calming down she thinks I am also opposing her and supporting the other person.

I love her a lot and I genuinely care for her, that's why a lot of the time I keep telling her that she should stop getting angry because that's a bad thing and in return she starts hating me.

I don't know how to tell her that I want what's best for her, that I do care about her and that I don't mean to say anything bad to her whenever she thinks I am doing so.

Sorry if the question is too general but I really need help.

  • 6
    She usually gets angry on a lot of things -> have you already searched / read / thought of anything about anger management? – OldPadawan Sep 29 '17 at 12:00
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    Scenario 2 sounds like you're on the opposite end of this question: interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/3573/… – Erik Sep 29 '17 at 12:02
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    These are two very specific situations that can't be subsumed und a meaningful common denominator. You'd be better off posting two separate questions. – user510 Sep 29 '17 at 14:20
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    A lot of the time she perceives what I said in a very wrong way, which is not what I implied or wanted to say, but she takes it like that. This is just normal communication. Every understanding is a misunderstanding without understanding the "mis-" (N. Luhmann.) – user510 Sep 29 '17 at 14:26
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    In scenario No.1 did this happen at the weekend, for instance, Friday night? I mean, if I had to go to work the next morning I would be pretty annoyed if my partner wanted to talk way past 2 a.m. let alone until 6 a.m. Why did she wait until 5 a.m before talking to you? Do you work shifts? Were you out all night? – user3114 Sep 29 '17 at 14:40

12 Answers 12

37

I believe @Cronax is right. She wants to feel loved and supported.

Some people when angry simply want you to listen to them vent. Others need more; the reason they're angry might be that it triggered something in them that hurts, and their hurt has turned to anger. This is harder to deal with, because you need to figure out the underlying hurt to support them. Another type really is asking if they were correct. This is not the majority, so telling someone their anger is wrong is an ill-considered move.

When people close to you ('you' meaning anyone in general) are angry, it's uncomfortable. Few people enjoy it, so many want to put a stop to it as soon as possible. So, some people offer or try to "fix" the problem.

...I ask her to calm down... getting angry won't resolve anything and she should not even think about her/him... I try to tell her that he or she might be doing it because of this or that reason.

That's trying to fix the problem, but since anger is rarely simple, this doesn't work.

I love her a lot and I genuinely care for her, that's why a lot of the time I keep telling her that she should stop getting angry because that's a bad thing and in return she starts hating me.

Imagine this scenario (totally fictional): Imagine your girlfriend was always told she was wrong as a child. Imagine that as a result, when she's told as an adult that she's wrong, it puts her right back in that place where she had no power to fight back when she was told she was wrong, always wrong, to do this, that or the other thing. It's not a pretty place to be, and she's reacting emotionally, not intellectually, whereas you're treating her like this is an intellectual discussion. It's not.

How to handle my girlfriend when she takes things wrong way?

If you want to stay in this relationship, you need to do a few things.

First, let her vent and listen. Support her where you can. Point out where she was right, point out when the other person was wrong (not the opposite!) Her anger will dissipate much more quickly if you do this. Then, after she has been calm for a (long) time, ask her why she felt so angry about x, because you want to understand her better. You might see a pattern emerge that will be very helpful.

Second, don't tell her when she's angry that she's wrong. Just don't, even if she is.

Third, read about boundaries, what they are, how to set them, how to enforce them. When two people love each other, one person's problems are also the other person's problems, until it crosses a line into co-dependency. That line is the boundary between healthy and unhealthy.

An example of an unhealthy expectation is that you should stay up all night talking with her about her issue. That's an unrealistic and ultimately unkind expectation.

Setting healthy boundaries are vital to healthy relationships. You will feel less trod upon, she will be less likely to include you in her anger.

What's an example of a healthy boundary? For starters, when you are both in a good place, talk about this:

I love you, and I will listen to you when you are upset. I also need sleep to function well the next day. Unless it's a serious emergency, we need to stop talking about your problem at a reasonable hour, and pick up the conversation the next day if needed. I need my sleep, and you need to let me sleep.

If she agrees (and she should), then great. Next time she tries to keep you awake, remind her of the agreement. If she gets upset, you do not. Remind her that you love her, and you were serious, you need your sleep, and you'll talk about this tomorrow. If she won't let it go, get up and sleep in another room. If she follows you into that room, you know there's a bigger problem here that you cannot fix by talking.

Healthy boundaries will help her. Understanding where her anger comes from will help both of you. If you can point out in a supportive way why she might be angry, in a way she'll hear and feel understood, she will be less likely to stay - and maybe even become - angry.


What Are Boundaries
Having a conversation to assert your boundaries

  • 1
    Nice! I had quite similar ideas/feelings and we (again) wrote our responses simultaneously. – user510 Sep 29 '17 at 15:38
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    Hey thanks for the reply it really helps to get the picture. I just wanted to go through the mind of someone else once. The third thing you describe co-dependence , i think i am the co-dependent one here. I just don't let her get angry alone and just keep on discussing with her about the topic about which she is angry. I feel that its my duty to calm her down and to make her feel loved again and thus i try to talk to her again and again. And in result she keeps getting more angry, in that situation i felt stuck, and i don't want to leave her alone because i empathise a lot with her. – dprophecyguy Sep 29 '17 at 16:45
  • @dprophecyguy - I understand. No one likes to be around someone who's angry (unless they want fuel for their own anger.) Try to avoid "calming her down". See if it helps. Good luck. :) – anongoodnurse Sep 29 '17 at 17:02
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    +1 It's remarkable how much faster people calm down when you just acknowledge their emotions rather than trying to point out why their emotions are irrational. For your suggested conversation, I might change out the Buts – But is a really powerful word, that basically means "ignore what I just said, because here comes what I really feel/think" so I would avoid anything like "I love you, but..." Just drop it altogether, or change it to "And" to re-frame the statement so it's less likely to be taken the wrong way: "I love you and I want to listen to you. [And] I need sleep to function so..." – 1006a Sep 29 '17 at 18:26
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    @1006a On a related note - when I'm angry, having you (anyone) tell me to "calm down" just adds gasoline to the fire and makes me ten times angrier. I already know I'm upset. I know I should calm down. But I'm angry and irrational and I don't want to calm down. By telling me anyways makes me feel like you're trivializing/not acknowledging my reason for being upset in the first place. – Mage Xy Sep 29 '17 at 20:43
13

So you had a misunderstanding with your girlfriend. That's just a normal relationship challenge. Take it as a chance to get to know her.

First word of advice: Imputing misunderstanding and irrationality only to one side is not helpful if you want to find a common understanding. Communication is a two-way street. You told us what you meant and why. Now let's examine her reactions to understand what she understood and why.

First reaction:

Why are you saying we have already talked, I didn't ask you for a favor, I didn't stop you from going to sleep, go to sleep. (Angry already)

Indeed, why did you talk to her for an hour before you finally admitted you are tired? She might have thought you actually enjoyed the nightly conversation, and now she's disappointed. "He didn't really like to chat with me. He just felt obliged and I was already getting on his nerves". So perhaps next time have some compassion with yourself (you're tired!) and assert your boundary before it's too late. Also, after one hour, could it be you lost some patience and used less-than-loving language?

Second reaction:

Why don't you go away. You never take my side.

So what she wanted is to know that you are on her side, no matter what. She didn't ask for a balanced assessment of the situation; and she didn't ask for a problem solution. All she wanted was some empathy and someone to align with. And now you empathize with her opponent of all persons! Second word of advice: Save the reason talk for when the anger has calmed down. Telling someone who is overcome with anger to calm down has just the opposite effect.

  • 1
    +1. The answers really are similar. But I'm long-winded. :-/ – anongoodnurse Sep 29 '17 at 15:40
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To address your second scenario first, often when someone complains to you about something, they just want you to listen. This is especially common in women talking to men, but not exclusively so. Usually in such a case, the other party doesn't want you to make a judgement or come up with a solution, they just want to feel better by getting something off their chest and feeling understood. To prevent this problem in the future, you could try asking something like "Before you get into detail, would you like me to just listen or do you want me to help you figure out a solution?" but ideally you should have a good talk about it with the other person and try to get them to tell you what they expect from you before starting to talk.

As for your first scenario, my interpretation is that you may need to learn how to be more tactful. The same thing said in different ways can have wildly different implications. If you had said for instance "You know what, I'm dead tired, shall we go to sleep?" rather than "We've been talking for a while now, can we go to sleep already?" then it would have come across a lot better.

Being more tactful is definitely a skill you can learn. It takes practice though, you won't suddenly get perfect at it overnight. A good start would be that in situations like you describe, if you get a bad reaction you try to evaluate what you said and rephrase it then, i.e. afterwards you say something like "Sorry honey, that came out wrong. I just meant to say that even though I enjoy talking to you, I would like to go to sleep now since I'm really tired." Over time you should notice an improvement.

  • But how can someone be tactful it seems like an impossible skills to master. What i mean is communicating is a natural act you don't think and try to rephrase the sentences you want to say and assess them how they can be implied. I am not trying to be rude or anything but just practical. Is it a skill to that can be learned ? – dprophecyguy Sep 29 '17 at 13:04
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    @dprophecyguy Being more tactful is definitely a skill you can learn. It takes practice though, you won't suddenly get perfect at it overnight. A good start would be that in situations like you describe, if you get a bad reaction you try to evaluate what you said and rephrase it then, i.e. afterwards you say something like "Sorry honey, that came out wrong. I just meant to say that even though I enjoy talking to you, I would like to go to sleep now since I'm really tired." Over time you should notice an improvement. – Cronax Sep 29 '17 at 13:16
4

Living this dynamic right now and improving on it everyday. Assuming your goal is to continue building a relationship...

  1. Affirm her subjective experience of the situation ("I understand you are upset", "I see that it doesn't make sense to you the x said y", "you are probably frustrated right now", etc) irregardless of whether it makes sense or not to you. This is the definition of empathy (understanding another's feeling) as opposed to sympathy (sharing another's feeling).

  2. Ask what she wants. Make sure it's a "how can I help?" vs "here is how to fix it". Sometimes she may want your help in changing the situation and that would be a time to apply your more logical and laid back advice. More often it may be that she wants acknowledgment of a struggle and just wants you to listen.

  3. Suggest outlets for emotional responses. During non-conflict times, work out clear expectations that both of you can agree upon. For example, when you are open to long conversations and when you need to focus on work, what topics are best shared with girlfriends vs you, outlets for ranting.

This video may be very relevant: "It's not about the nail."

Also, your rational approach may be violating how she interpret affection: https://personalityhacker.com/personality-type-ask-love/

Remember that most everybody has rational and quirky/irrational sides that come out in different ways and under different circumstances. Relationships are 2-way streets but it makes it easier when one is willing to take a step towards the other.

  • I wouldn't show the girlfriend the video unless I knew for certain she could laugh at herself. In less sensitive hands that video could be the cataclysm for a breakup. But it illustrates the "men are from Mars" and "women are from Venus" cliché quite well. Oh, and it is funny. – user3114 Sep 29 '17 at 18:44
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    @Mari-Lou A While the video is cute, but I'd like to stress that it's not a gender dynamic at play. Most people venting about work for example, want to vent and not usually for the other person to "fix" anything. I've been on both sides of it. It's convenient to attribute this dynamic to gender rather than understanding an individual. Growth-minded relationships use this sort of friction to build stronger instead of break down. This can be the very thing that helps OP + gf change trajectory to better understand and build each other up. – joynoele Oct 3 '17 at 14:56
3

Scenario 2: She is getting angry on someone

I'll have to quote the whole thing:

Me: I ask her to calm down and that getting angry won't resolve anything and she should not even think about her/him. She tells me why she's getting angry, and when I listen to her I generally think from both of their perspectives.

Why she is getting angry and what the other person has done. I try to tell her that he or she might be doing it because of this or that reason.

How she reacts: Why don't you go away. You never take my side.

Since we're talking about subjective matters, you're both right in your own subjective frame of mind (yes, she's right too, I insist), but since neither of you is listening to the other, you arent getting anywhere. Since she's pissed, she has an excuse for not listening. You're calm, so you have no excuse.

Logic doesn't work on furious people. Thus before using logic and talking things out, you must help cool down her anger first. So, bring her down to a soft landing:

Take her side, ask her to describe what the offense was, agree that it was rude, maybe suggest "want me to talk to him?"... anyway, don't become another problem for her. Do not question her reaction yet, like by implying she's easily angered, susceptible, or a drama queen. After she's released her tension via therapeutic screaming, she'll probably feel down, so apply some compliments, cuddling, cookies, etc.

The aim is to make her feel loved and supported. Then once she cools down and realizes you weathered her shitstorm like a boss, and didn't hold it against her, she'll come to the conclusion that you really like her...

It's very important to note that when you tell her, while she's furious, stuff like "come on, it was for nothing" or "calm down" the underlying message is that you don't understand why she's angry, so you invalidate her feelings, you sound like you don't give a shit, and that will make her a lot more furious.

I just want to tell her these things because I think there is no reason for her to get angry and that the other person might have had their reasons.

The constructive criticism comes after the cuddling, when she's ready to receive it. Not before.

Instead of calming down she thinks I am also opposing her and supporting the other person.

Well, yeah, from her point of view you are supporting the other person.

Scenario 1: Time is about 5 am. I am feeling very sleepy and she wants to talk so I kept talking. This goes on till about 6:00 or something. I asked her if we can go to sleep, since we've talked enough and I am very tired.

This is most likely the result of a string of mistakes. First, you should have ended the call when you wanted to sleep, probably before midnight if you have a life.

In this case my advice is the opposite of the previous one: be more assertive. I mean, you just wrote that you asked her for permission to go to sleep. When you erase from your mind the notion that you get her permission to have a good sleep and not waste the next day by being a zombie, things will go a lot easier.

2

For scenario two, have a conversation with her where you basically discuss how in those moments you aren't sure whether you should be "fixing" the problem or just empathetic.

I do this on a regular basis with my wife. I want to fix things, like you seem to, and I'm not always good at identifying when she wants that vs empathy. So I often bluntly ask, "do you want empathy or solutions?" and then I can react accordingly.

We have talked about this in advance, so she knows I'm asking it out of a good desire, so I highly recommend talking about it before you ask that in the moment.

There will be times for both. A lot of people forget their significant other can normally trivially let them know which situation it is.

1

I love her a lot and I genuinely care for her, that's why a lot of the time I keep telling her that she should stop getting angry because that's a bad thing and in return she starts hating me.

Since you wrote this, to answer your question How to handle my girlfriend when she takes things wrong way? the actual answer is that you can't. You've made a decision to commit to a person who differs in how she handles things compared to you. You don't seem to lose energy on situations like she does, but since this is a consistent pattern with her, this is a part of who she is. You can work on how you communicate with her and test ways of getting her to empathize with you ("do you know how you feel when people talk to you, but you're really sleepy ..."), but from the details in your question, she seems very self-focused.

I would highly suggest that you work on testing communication with her without expectation that she'll change. Unless you've described her wrong, she doesn't seem very reflective.

For other people reading the question for an answer and who may not be committed yet, ask yourself about your gf/bf's behavior here: do you want to be with someone who wastes a lot of energy and time on these type of situations? You never get your time back ... ever. Ask a cancer patient how many complaints they remember? I'll bet their answer is 0.

Is any situation worth losing hours of your life, that result in a 0% return? If I wasn't committed or in love, I would state - "This is a pattern I've noticed with you. I'm not like this and don't want to be with someone who thinks venting for hours is productive. Life has more to offer." Yes, that would be an ultimatum, but life is too short to vent for hours at a time.

  • 6
    You've never been in a long-term relationship, have you? – user510 Sep 29 '17 at 14:22
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    @henning Twice. Neither worked out though. I enjoy life too much to do the whole serious thing again, so yeah, consider your source. – FalseHooHa Sep 29 '17 at 14:48
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The worst thing about people is, that YOU can not change them. You can only change the way YOU behave. As Cronax answered, you should try to find ways to say things in a more acceptable way ( whatever it might be for her).

Another thing is a little of neurology. When you pinpoint some mistake in someones else behavior ("you got angry"), you are in fact, in their perspective, attacking the other person ( a short video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8NydsXl32s ). Many people are aware that they have done a mistake, but admitting that hurts. Literally. The brain perceives this similar to physical trauma. So a better solution would be to propose a different behavior FROM THAT POINT ON and return to the incident in a better mood.

(Mostly for the second situation: "That is terrible/(some gruesome word)! what will you do now?" - the focus has been shifted and the anger does not get so much attention. Also she gets to keep her face and is not contradicted. Chances are she will even try to be constructive.)

It is a tricky situation ( I am mostly in her shoes :D ) and I know how much does it cost me not to explode when I am agitated and after the, being corrected. So good luck and have a lot of patience.

1

For scenario 1 ... this is a tact problem. How you said it made it sound like "okay okay we have talked already" like you were annoyedly doing her a favor by talking to her. Instead, just highlight that you're tired. When you get tired, get to the next good conversation segue, smile and say, "Hey I'm beat. Let's hit the hay."

For scenario 2 ... could it be that it helps her to blow off steam? I have some hot-tempered folks in my life, and I handle it like this: "Tell me about it." ie, let your hot-tempered one vent. Try it. Does she seem to feel better afterward? After her exposition, bring up a new subject. If she wants actual advice she'll ask for it.

For scenario 3 (ie tomorrow) ... tell her that you love her and that she should know that sometimes what you say will come out sounding wrong. Make a pact for both of you to always assume the other is acting in good faith.

1

While you can prepare yourself to act in a certain way when the said problem occurs, for long term solutions, you'd need to work on the issues offline (meaning, when the things seem fine).

Before getting to the ways to deal with the situation, I'd like to point out the most common characteristics of issues in a relationship. And that is: rage is mostly blind — be it logically or empathetically.

Passive solutions (when the problem has already begun):

  • Try not to lose your cool.
  • Don't fall into the trap of starting a blame-game at this point.
  • If the conversation is about someone else, then before telling them your take on the motivation behind other's actions, tell them what or which part of their action was right (this shows that you're willing to stand by them). Hold off for a bit before voicing your opinion about others or about their own action(s) that you find contentious.
  • Also, once their rant is over, consider asking an open ended question such as: "Can I tell you what I think might be happening here?" to know if they even want to listen to your assessment or not. Unless the situation is absolutely out of control and you have no option but to step in, many a times, they probably only want to be heard without being offered a lot of advice or insight. Let them deal with it, they're grown ups too. As long as the external situation doesn't directly affect the relationship, and they haven't asked for help, it's all right to let them deal with it on their own and only ask once in a while: "Is everything ok with 《that problem》?".

Active solutions (when the things seem fine):

  • Politely tell your partner that you had something in your mind that was bothering you and wanted to talk about with them. This would possibly make them ask you a question on what it was (if they were in the right frame of mind to listen to you), rather than you walking up to them and starting a monologue out of nowhere.

  • Maybe start with:

    "Do you remember when we began arguing about.... 《very briefly mention the incident》? I've been noticing that, lately a lot of our arguments were on things that were never really issues. I don't quite feel good about that and wanted to see what we can do to avoid such problems in future. Before I try to explain myself, I want to hear you out. And, specifically, I would want to understand: what triggered you to such an extent? Where exactly do you think I was mistaken? And is there anything that I could have done differently to not let that issue turn up in the first place?"

  • Hear them out patiently.

  • Again, consider asking an open ended question: "Can I try to explain what I was trying to do?" ("I didn't mean this / that" is an overused cliche, with varying degrees of success depending on how genuine you are and how understanding your partner is).

  • If the tone of the conversation stays good all this while, you could eventually tell them how you felt for being misunderstood.

  • Finally, seek suggestions on trying to improve the dialogue in delicate situations, and through an open ended question again, offer some of your own suggestions too. Thank them for understanding you (or making attempts to do so) and apologise to them for any of your words or actions that (in)advertently upset them.


Final words: A relationship is not a one way street. The more two people try to understand how their companion behaves in a certain situation and why, the more peaceful it is to deal with, sidestep and overcome the issues. Not every attempt is guaranteed to be successful, nor is the issue-resolution a one time exercise. If, at the end of the day, relationship is your priority, both the partners have to be willing to put in continuous efforts in trying to understand each other better and work towards the betterment of the partnership.

0

Don't overthink this. If she is as you describe, wasting her life away throwing temper tantrums, I believe you have two options:

  1. Make her commit to anger management therapy and actively work to improve. Set clear goals here.
  2. Dump her and find somebody you are more Naturally compatible with.

As somebody who is very happily married now after several relationships that didn't work out I've realized two very important things:

  1. You cannot change people! They can change but they need to be motivated to change themselves.
  2. You deserve to be in a relationship where you can feel like yourself. Natural and calm. Do not settle for anything less!
  • Wow this is a judgmental and "blame the other" type of answer. – enderland Sep 29 '17 at 19:56
-1

She seems to be very impatient, immature and spoiled. Communication is always the best way to solve problems. You can call her for an honest dialogue about this situation, you could give all these examples you gave and tell her that you want the communication between you to be honest and clear.

If she gets angry and does not want to hear you in any way, this is a big red alert. A person you can not talk to, to reason with, is not a good person to build a relationship. To continue in such relationship will only cause suffering and sadness.

If that is the case, it would be best to end the relationship. Radical like that. If is not, then through sincere communication and good will from both of you, you should be able to improve the quality of your relationship.

  • It is totally inappropriate to jump to such bold conclusions based on so little information. – user510 Sep 29 '17 at 14:23
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    Yeah, sure. It is the description of someone impatient, immature and spoiled. Just saying the obvious. – dvc.junior Sep 29 '17 at 14:28
  • So, this guy has a misunderstanding with his girlfriend and you advise him to dump her, because she's spoiled. That's overdoing it, to say the least. – user510 Sep 29 '17 at 15:36
  • No, I didn't say that. What I said was for him to try the path of sincere and clear dialogue. If she does not listen, get angry and all, then it is possible that she is a person who does not like to listen or to reason. And that is a red alert enough to terminate a relationship. You are misinterpreting what I've said. – dvc.junior Sep 29 '17 at 16:42
  • ok then, thanks for the clarification. – user510 Sep 29 '17 at 16:54

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