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Chapter 7: Further Characteristics of the Neurotic Need for Affection

Most of us wish to be liked, gratefully enjoy the feeling that we are liked, and feel resentment if we are not. For a child the feeling of being wanted is, as we have said, of vital importance for his harmonious development. But what are the particular characteristics of a need for affection that can be considered neurotic ?

It is my opinion that in arbitrarily calling this need infantile one not only wrongs children but forgets that the essential factors constituting the neurotic need for affection have nothing whatever to do with infantilism. The infantile and the neurotic needs have in common only one element - their helplessness - though this too has a different basis in the two cases. Apart from this, the neurotic needs grow under quite different preconditions. These are, to repeat: anxiety, feeling unlovable, inability to believe in any affection, and hostility against all others.

The first characteristic, then, that strikes us in the neurotic need for affection is its compulsiveness. Whenever a person is driven by strong anxiety the result is necessarily a loss of spontaneity and flexibility. In simple terms this means that to a neurotic the gaining of affection is not a luxury, nor primarily a source of additional strength or pleasure, but a vital necessity. The difference is one between "I wish to be, and enjoy being, loved," and "I must be loved at any cost"; or the difference between someone who eats because he has a good appetite, can enjoy his food and be discriminating about it, and another person who is near starvation, must take any food indiscriminately, and pay any price for it.

This attitude necessarily leads to an over-evaluation of the factual significance of being liked. It is, in reality, not so terribly important that people in general should like us. It may, in fact, be important only that certain persons like us - those whom we care for, those with whom we have to live or work, or those on whom it is expedient to make a good impression. Apart from such individuals it is fairly irrelevant whether we are liked.1 Neurotic persons, however, feel and behave as if their existence, happiness and security depended on being liked.

Their desires may be attached to everyone without discrimination, from the hairdresser or the stranger they meet at a party to their colleagues and friends, or to all women, or to all men. Thus a greeting, a telephone call or an invitation, if more friendly or less, may change their mood and their entire outlook upon life. I should mention one problem in this connection: the incapacity to be alone, varying from a slight uneasiness and restlessness to a definite terror of solitude. I speak not of persons who are dull anyway, and easily bored by their own company, but of persons who are intelligent and resourceful and who could otherwise enjoy a number of things by themselves. Frequently, for example, one sees individuals who can work only if someone is around, and are uneasy and unhappy if they have to work alone. There may be other factors in this need for company, but the general picture is one of a vague anxiety, a need for affection or, more accurately, a need for some human contact. These persons have the feeling of drifting forlornly in the universe, and any human contact is a relief to them. One can sometimes observe, as in an experiment, how the incapacity to be alone parallels the increase of anxiety. Some patients are capable of being alone as long as they feel sheltered behind the protective walls with which they have surrounded themselves. But as soon as their protective devices are effectively tackled by analysis, and some anxiety is stirred up, they suddenly find themselves unable to stand being alone any longer. This is one of the transitional impairments in a patient's condition, which are unavoidable during the process of analysis.

The neurotic need for affection may be focused on a single person - husband, wife, physician, friend. If this is the case the devotion, interest, friendliness and presence of that person will acquire inordinate importance. This importance has a paradoxical character, however. On the one hand, the neurotic seeks the other's interest and presence, fears to be disliked and feels neglected if the other is not around; and on the other hand, he is not at all happy when he is with his idol. If he ever becomes conscious of this contradiction he is usually perplexed about it. But on the basis of what I have said it is evident that the wish for the presence of the other person is the expression not of genuine fondness, but only of a need for the reassurance supplied by the fact that the other is available. (Of course a genuine fondness and a need for reassuring affection may go together, but they do not necessarily coincide.)

The craving for affection may be restricted to certain groups of persons, perhaps to one with which there are interests in common, such as a political or religious group; or it may be restricted to one of the sexes. If the need for reassurance is restricted to the opposite sex the condition may superficially appear to be "normal," and will usually be defended as "normal" by the person concerned. There are women, for example, who feel miserable and anxious if they have no man around them; they will start an affair, break it off after a short time, again feel miserable and anxious, start another affair, and so on. That this is no genuine longing for relationship with men is shown by the fact that the relationships are conflicting and unsatisfactory. Rather, these women choose indiscriminately any man; they want only to have one near them, and are not fond of any of them. And as a rule they do not even find physical satisfaction. In reality, of course, the entire picture is more complicated; I am highlighting only that part which is played in it by anxiety and the need for affection.*

One may find a similar pattern in men; they will have a compulsion to be liked by any woman and will feel uneasy in the company of other men.

If the need for affection is concentrated on the same sex, this may be one of the determining factors in latent or manifest homosexuality. The need for affection may be directed toward the same sex if the way to the other sex is barred by too much anxiety. Needless to say, this anxiety need not be manifest, but may be concealed by a feeling of disgust or disinterest concerning the opposite sex.

Since getting affection is of vital importance it follows that the neurotic will pay any price for it, mostly without realizing that he is doing so. The most common ways in which the price is paid are an attitude of compliance and an emotional dependence. The complying attitude may take the form of not daring to disagree with or to criticize the other person, of showing nothing but devotion, admiration and docility. If persons of this type do allow themselves to make critical or derogatory remarks they feel anxiety, even though their remarks may be harmless. The complying attitude can go so far that the neurotic will extinguish not only aggressive impulses but all tendencies toward self-assertion, will let himself be abused and will make any sacrifice, no matter how detrimental this may be. His self-abnegation may appear as, for example, a wish to have diabetes because the person whose affection he desires is interested in research in diabetes, implying that having this illness might perhaps win the other's interest.

Closely akin to the attitude of compliance, and interwoven with it, is the emotional dependence which results from the neurotic's need to cling to someone who holds out the promise of protection. This dependence not only may cause endless suffering but may even be wholly destructive. There are relationships, for example, in which a person becomes helplessly dependent on another, even though he is fully aware that the relationship is untenable. He feels as if the world would go to pieces if he does not get a kind word or a smile, he may have an attack of anxiety at the time he expects a telephone call, and feel utterly desolate if the other is prevented from seeing him. But he is unable to break away.

Usually the structure of an emotional dependence is more complicated. In relationships in which one person becomes dependent on the other there is invariably a great deal of resentment. The dependent person resents being enslaved; he resents having to comply, but continues to do so out of fear of losing the other. Not knowing that it is his own anxiety which creates the situation, he will easily assume that his subjugation has been brought about by the other's imposing on him. Resentment growing on such a basis has to be repressed, because the affection of the other is bitterly needed, and this repression in turn generates new anxiety, with a subsequent need for reassurance and hence a reinforced impulse to cling to the other. Thus in certain neurotic persons emotional dependence produces a very realistic and even justified fear that their life is being ruined. When the fear is very great they may seek to protect themselves against this dependence by not attaching themselves to anyone.

Sometimes the attitude toward dependence changes within the same person. After having gone through one or several painful experiences of this kind he may struggle blindly against everything that bears even a faint resemblance to dependence. For example, a girl who had gone through several love affairs, all of which ended with her being desperately dependent on the particular man concerned, developed a detached attitude toward all men, wanting only to have them under her power without having her feelings involved.

These processes are evident also in a patient's attitude during analysis. It is to his own interest to use the hour to gain understanding, but he will often ignore his own interest by trying to please the analyst and win his interest or approval. Even though there may be good reasons why he should want to get on quickly - because he suffers or makes sacrifices for the sake of the analysis, or because he has only a limited time for it - these factors at times seem to become totally irrelevant. The patient will spend hours in long-winded tales only to get an approving response from the analyst, or he will try to make each hour interesting for the analyst, be entertaining, show admiration for him. This may go so far that the patient's associations or even his dreams will be determined by his wish to interest the analyst. Or he may become infatuated with the analyst, believing that he cares for nothing but the analyst's love and trying to impress the latter with the genuineness of his feeling. The factor of indiscriminateness is evident here too, unless one assume every analyst to be a paragon of human values, or to be perfectly fitted for the personal expectations of every individual patient. Of course the analyst might possibly be a person whom the patient would love in any case, but even that would not account for the degree of emotional importance which the analyst acquires for the patient.

It is this phenomenon of which people usually think when they speak of "transference." Yet the term is not quite correct, because transference should refer to the sum total of all the patient's irrational reactions toward the analyst, not only the emotional dependence. The problem here is not so much why this dependence takes place in analysis, because persons in need of such protection will cling to any physician, social worker, friend, member of the family, but why it is particularly strong and why it occurs with such frequency. The answer is comparatively simple: analyzing means, among other things, tackling defenses built up against anxiety, and thereby stirring up the anxiety lurking behind the protecting walls. It is this increase of anxiety that causes the patient to cling to the analyst in one way or another.

Here we find again a difference from the child's need for affection: the child needs more affection or help than the adult, because it is more helpless, but there are no compulsive factors involved in its attitude. Only a child who is already apprehensive will cling to its mother's apron strings.

A second characteristic of the neurotic need for affection, also entirely different from the need of the child, is its insatiability. A child, it is true, may nag, demand excessive attention and endless proofs of being loved, but in that case it is a neurotic child. A healthy child, growing up in an atmosphere of warmth and reliability, feels sure that it is wanted, does not require constant proof of that fact, and is contented when it receives the help it needs for the time being.

The insatiability of the neurotic may appear in greediness as a general character trait, shown in eating, buying, window-shopping, impatience. The greediness may be repressed most of the time, and break out suddenly, as for instance when a person who is usually modest about buying clothes, in an anxiety state buys four new coats. It may appear in the more amiable form of sponging, or in the more aggressive form of an octopus like behavior.

The attitude of greediness, with all its variations and subsequent inhibitions, is called an "oral" attitude and as such has been well described in analytical literature. While the theoretical preconceptions underlying this terminology have been valuable, in so far as they have permitted the integration of hitherto isolated trends into syndromes, the preconception that all these trends originate in oral sensations and wishes is dubitable. It is based on the valid observation that greediness frequently finds its expression in demands for food and in manners of eating, as well as in dreams, which may express the same tendencies in a more primitive way, as for example in cannibalistic dreams. These phenomena do not prove, however, that we have here to do with originally and essentially oral desires. It seems therefore a more tenable assumption that as a rule eating is merely the most accessible means of satisfying the feeling of greediness, whatever its source, just as in dreams eating is the most concrete and primitive symbol for expressing insatiable desires.

The assumption that the "oral" desires or attitudes are libidinal in character also needs substantiation. There is no doubt that an attitude of greediness may appear in the sexual sphere, in actual sexual insatiability as well as in dreams that identify intercourse with swallowing or biting. But it appears just as well in acquisitiveness concerning money or clothes, or in the pursuit of ambition and prestige. All that can be said in favor of the libidinal assumption is that the passionate intensity of greediness is similar to that of sexual drives. Unless one assume, however, that every passionate drive is libidinal, it still remains necessary to prove that greediness as such is a sexual – pregenital - drive.

The problem of greediness is complex and still unsolved. Like compulsiveness it is definitely promoted by anxiety. The fact that greediness is conditioned by anxiety may be fairly evident, as is frequently the case, for example, in excessive masturbation or excessive eating. The connection between the two may also be shown by the fact that greediness may diminish or vanish as soon as the person feels reassured in some way: feeling loved, having a success, doing constructive work. A feeling of being loved, for instance, may suddenly reduce the strength of a compulsive wish to buy. A girl who had been looking forward to each meal with undisguised greediness forgot hunger and mealtime altogether as soon as she started designing dresses, an occupation which she greatly enjoyed. On the other hand, greediness may appear or become reinforced as soon as hostility or anxiety is heightened; a person may feel compelled to go shopping before a dreaded performance, or compelled to eat greedily after feeling rejected.

There are many persons, however, who have anxiety and yet do not develop greediness, a fact which indicates that there are still some special factors involved. Of these factors all that can be said with a fair degree of certainty is that greedy persons distrust their capacity to create anything of their own, and thus have to rely on the outside world for the fulfillment of their needs; but they believe that no one is willing to grant them anything. Those neurotic persons who are insatiable in their need for affection usually show the same greediness in reference to material things, such as sacrifices of time or money, factual advice in concrete situations, factual help in difficulties, presents, information, sexual gratification. In some cases these desires definitely reveal a wish for proofs of affection; in others, however, that explanation is not convincing. In the latter cases one has the impression that the neurotic person merely wants to get something, affection or no affection, and that a craving for affection, if present at all, is only a camouflage for the extortion of certain tangible favors or profits.

These observations suggest the question of whether it is not perhaps the greed for material things in general that is the basic phenomenon, and the need for affection only one way of obtaining this goal. There is no general answer to this question. Craving for possession, as we shall see later, is one of the fundamental defenses against anxiety. But experience shows also that in certain cases the need for affection, though it is the prevailing protective device, may be repressed so deeply that it does not appear on the surface. The greed for material things may then lastingly or temporarily take its place.

In reference to this question of the role of affection three types of neurotic persons can be roughly distinguished. In the first group there is no doubt whatever that the persons crave affection, in whatever form it may appear, and by whatever methods they may obtain it.

Those in the second group reach out for affection but if they fail to get it in some relationship - and as a rule they are bound to fail - they do not reach out immediately for another person, but withdraw from people altogether. Instead of trying to attach themselves to some person they compulsively attach themselves to things, having to eat or to buy or to read or, generally speaking, to get something. Such a change may sometimes take grotesque forms, as in persons who after failing in some love affair start to eat so compulsively that they gain twenty to thirty pounds in a short time; if they have a new love affair they lose this weight again; and if this love affair ends in failure they again put on weight. Sometimes one can observe the same behavior in patients; after an acute disappointment with the analyst they start to eat compulsively and gain weight to such a degree that they are scarcely recognizable, but they lose it again when the relations are straightened out. Such a greediness about food may also be repressed, and then it may become manifest in a loss of appetite or functional stomach upsets of some kind. In this group personal relationships are more deeply disturbed than in the first group. They still desire affection, and they still dare to reach out for it, but any disappointment can break the thread that binds them to others.

The third group of persons have been stricken so severely and so early that their conscious attitude has become a deep disbelief in any affection. Their anxiety is so deep that they are contented if no positive harm is done them. They may acquire a cynical, scoffing attitude toward affection and prefer the fulfillment of their tangible wishes concerning material help, advice, sexuality. Only after much of their anxiety has been released are they able to desire affection and appreciate it.

The different attitudes of these three groups can be summarized as: insatiability concerning affection; need for affection alternating with general greediness; no manifest need for affection, but general greediness. Each group shows an increase in both anxiety and hostility.

Coming back to the main trend of our discussion we have to consider now the question of the special ways in which insatiability concerning affection manifests itself. The main expressions are jealousy and demands for unconditional love.

Neurotic jealousy, unlike a normal person's jealousy, which may be an adequate reaction to the danger of losing someone's love, is altogether out of proportion to the danger. It is dictated by a constant fear of losing possession of the person or of his love; consequently any other interest that person may have is a potential danger. This kind of jealousy may appear in every human relation - on the part of parents toward their children who want to make friends or to marry; on the part of children toward their parents; between marriage partners; in any love relationship. The relationship with the analyst is no exception. It is shown there in an intense sensitivity about the analyst seeing another patient, or even about the mere mention of another patient. The motto is, "You must love me exclusively." The patient may say, "I recognize that you treat me kindly; nevertheless, as you probably treat others equally kindly, your kindness to me does not count at all." Any affection which must be shared with other persons or interests is immediately and entirely devaluated.

Disproportionate jealousy is often thought of as conditioned by jealousy experienced in childhood toward siblings or toward one of the parents. Sibling rivalry as it occurs among healthy children, jealousy toward a newborn baby for example, vanishes without leaving any scar as soon as the child feels sure that he does not lose any of the love and attention he has had hitherto. According to my experience, excessive jealousy occurring in childhood and never overcome is due to neurotic conditions in the child similar to those in an adult, as described above. There already existed in the child an insatiable need for affection, rising out of a basic anxiety. In psychoanalytic literature the relation between infantile and adult jealousy reactions is often expressed ambiguously inasmuch as the adult jealousy is called a "repetition" of the infantile one. If the term means to imply that an adult woman is jealous of her husband because she was equally jealous of her mother, it would not seem tenable. The intensified jealousy that we find in a child's relation to parents or siblings is not the ultimate cause of later jealousy, but both spring from the same sources.

Perhaps an expression of the insatiable need for affection still stronger than jealousy is the quest for unconditional love. The form in which this demand most often appears in the conscious mind is, "I want to be loved for what I am and not for what I am doing." So far we might consider this wish nothing out of the ordinary. Certainly, the wish to be loved for ourselves alone is not alien to any of us. The neurotic wish for unconditional love, however, is much more comprehensive than the normal one, and in its extreme form it is impossible of fulfillment. It is a demand for love, literally without any condition or any reserve.

This demand includes, first, a wish to be loved regardless of any provocative behavior. The wish is necessary as a security, because the neurotic person secretly registers the fact that he is full of hostility and excessive demands, and hence he has understandable and proportionate fears that the other may withdraw or become angry or vindictive if this hostility should become evident. A patient of this type will express the opinion that it is very easy and means nothing to love someone who is amiable, that love ought to prove its ability to stand any kind of untoward behavior. Any criticism is felt as a withdrawal of love. In the process of analysis resentment may be aroused by an intimation that he may have to change something in his personality, even though that is the purpose of the analysis, because he feels any such intimation as a frustration of his need for affection.

The neurotic demand for unconditional love includes, second, a wish to be loved without any return. This wish is necessary because the neurotic person feels that he is incapable of feeling any warmth or giving any affection and unwilling to do so.

His demand includes, third, a wish to be loved without any advantage for the other. This wish is necessary because any advantage or satisfaction derived from the situation by the other promptly arouses the neurotic's suspicion that the other likes him only for the sake of that advantage or satisfaction. In sexual relationships persons of this type will begrudge the satisfaction which the other person receives from the relation, because they will feel they are loved only for the satisfaction involved. In analysis these patients begrudge the satisfaction which the analyst receives from helping them. They will either disparage the help the analyst has given them or, while intellectually recognizing the help received, will not be able to feel any gratitude. Or they will be inclined to ascribe any improvement to some other source, to a medicine taken or a remark made by a friend. Of course they also begrudge the fees they must pay. While they may recognize intellectually that the fees are a recompense for time, energy and knowledge, emotionally they will consider the paying of a fee as a proof that the analyst is not interested in them. Persons of this kind are likely too to be awkward in making presents, because presents make them uncertain about being loved.

The demand for unconditional love includes, finally, a wish to be loved with sacrifices. Only if the other person sacrifices everything for the neurotic can he really feel sure of being loved. These sacrifices may concern money or time, but may also concern convictions and personal integrity. This demand includes, for example, the expectation that the other should side with him even to a disastrous degree. There are mothers who rather naively feel justified in expecting blind devotion and sacrifices of all sorts from their children because they have "borne them in pain." Other mothers have repressed their wish for unconditional love so that they are able to give their children a great deal of positive help and support; but such a mother derives no satisfaction from the relationship to her children because she feels, like the examples already mentioned, that the children love her only because they receive so much from her, and thus secretly begrudges them whatever she gives them.

The quest for unconditional love, in its implications of a ruthless and merciless disregard for all others, shows more clearly than anything else the hostility hidden in the neurotic demands for affection.

In contrast to the normal vampire type, who may be consciously determined to exploit others to the limit, the neurotic person is usually totally unaware of how exacting he is. He has to keep the knowledge of his demands from awareness because of stringent tactical reasons. No one could possibly say frankly, "I want you to sacrifice yourself for my sake without getting anything in return." He is forced to put his demands on some justified basis, such as that he is ill and therefore needs all the sacrifices. Another powerful reason for not recognizing his demands is that it is hard to give them up when they are once established, and realizing that they are irrational is the first step toward giving them up. They are rooted, aside from the bases already mentioned, in the neurotic's profound conviction that he cannot live on his own resources, that all he needs has to be given to him, that all the responsibility for his life rests on others and not on himself. Therefore giving up his demands for unconditional love presupposes a change in his entire attitude toward life.

All the characteristics of the neurotic need for affection have in common the fact that the neurotic's own conflicting tendencies bar the way to the affection he needs. What then are his reactions to a partial fulfillment of his demands, or to a complete rejection!

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This is English as a Second Language Podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California. Today's podcast is called, Shopping for a Cell Phone. Let's go.

Greg: I needed a new cell phone, and my friend recommended the company he used. I went into the store to take a look.

Saleslady: Hi, have you been helped?

Greg: No, I haven't. I'm looking for a new phone.

Saleslady: Are you with our company right now?

Greg: No, I'm thinking about switching.

Saleslady: Okay, let me show you our most popular phone. This one has a lot of good features. It's got a camera phone, a video recorder, instant messaging, and you can download music or ringtones.

Greg: I'm really looking for a flip phone.

Saleslady: Oh, in that case, this is the one you want. Let me tell you a little about our plans. With our $59.99 plan, you get 400 minutes, unlimited night and weekend minutes, and free mobile-to-mobile.

Greg: Do the minutes roll over if I don't use them all in one month, and do I need to sign an agreement?

Saleslady: We don't have rollover minutes, but if you think 400 isn't enough, we have higher plans for 700, 1000, and unlimited minutes. The $59.99 plan requires a one-year agreement.

Greg: Okay, let me think about it.

Saleslady: No problem. Just let me know if you have other questions.

We're looking today to buy a new cell phone or cellular phone. "Cell" is short for "cellular." These are often called mobile phones as well, but most people now call them a cell phone, or simply a cell. Someone says, "I don't have my cell with me," they mean their cell phone. Well, in the story, the person in the story, Greg, he needs a new cell phone, and his friend recommended the company he was using. In the United States, there are probably four or five big companies that you can get cell phone service from. And so, in this case, in this story, he goes to the store where that company has their phones. Many of the companies have their own stores. There are some stores that sell for different companies. So, you can look at two or three different companies in one store. It depends on the company that you are interested in.

Well, the salesman begins by saying, "Hi, have you been helped?" So, the salesperson walks up - it’s a salesperson here, not a salesman because it’s a woman; so it’s a saleswoman. The saleswoman walks up to Greg and says, "Have you been helped?" meaning, Is anyone helping you? Has someone come up to you already and asked to help you? The other expression you might hear when you walk into a store is "May I help you?" Do you need any help? You may also hear someone say, a salesperson say, "Can I help you find anything?" and you either say, "Yes, I'm looking for this…," or you say, "No thanks, I'm just looking." You can also say "No thank you, I'm just browsing." "To browse" means to be looking, but at a very relaxed rate…very…not in a hurry.

Greg says that he hasn't been helped, that he's looking for a new phone, which is a good thing because he's in a cell phone store. Greg's a smart person. The salesperson says, "Are you with our company right now?" What she means is do you have a phone, a cell phone right now that's connected with our company that you get telephone service with our company. So, she says, "Are you with our company?" meaning do you have a contract, do you have a plan right now for your phone with our company. Greg says, "No, I'm thinking about switching." "To switch," as a verb, means to change, to change one thing for another thing. So if you own a Windows PC, a Windows computer with Microsoft Windows operating system and you decide to switch to a Mac, like I did, that would be a use of that verb, "to switch." To take one thing and to put something else there instead.

So, Greg is thinking of moving, or switching, to this company. The saleswoman says, "Okay, let me show you our most popular phone. This one has a lot of good features." A "feature" is something about the thing that you want to buy, some good thing about the item or the thing that you are buying. Almost anything can have features. A computer can have different features. One of its features is it has a small screen or it has a good keyboard or it has lots of memory. Those would all be features of a computer. The features of a cell phone of course are different. The saleswoman says, "I've got a camera phone," or rather the phone she is showing him has a camera phone. She says, "It's got a camera phone." That's a somewhat informal use for it has a camera phone, but it's very common: "It's got a camera phone." A "camera phone," you probably know, is a little camera inside the cell phone. You can take a picture. A "video recorder," and here is again with a little camera you can record a small movie, a video recorder.

Instant messaging - so you can use your phone to talk to somebody else. Usually, instant messaging on a phone, it is with what we call "text" or "text messaging." Text messaging is when you send a message to someone else's phone by using the letters that are on what we would call the "pad" or the "keypad" of the phone. The pad or the keypad of the phone is the numbers that you press. And, of course, the numbers have letters connected to them that you can send a message. You can also download music or ring tones with this phone. Well, to "download," you know from the Internet means to take something from one computer and put it on another computer. So, you can download things onto this phone. In this case, you can download music. Some of the phones now you can download music directly from iTunes, for example. Or, you could download ring tones. "Ring tones," two words, is the sound that the phone makes when it rings, and many people have special ring tones that are songs or different kinds of music. I don't have any of this. I just have whatever the ring tone that was in the phone when I bought it. That's my ring tone.

Greg says, "I'm looking for a flip phone." A flip phone is a phone that opens up. Some phones you just have a little phone, and you don't have to open anything. A flip phone is one that you flip open or you open up. I have a flip phone, for example. The saleswoman says, "Oh, in that case, this is the one you want." "In that case," meaning in that situation. Oh, for your situation, for what you want, this is the phone for you. So, in that case, this is the one you want.

"Let me tell you a little about our plans " she says. Their "plans" for a cell phone mean the amount of minutes that you get, and the kinds of things you get with your cell phone. In the story, the plan has 400 minutes, unlimited weekend and night minutes, night and weekend minutes. "Unlimited" means, of course, that there is no limit, that you can use as many as you want. So, you get 400 minutes during the day, unlimited night and weekend minutes, and free mobile-to-mobile. "Mobile-to-mobile" or "cell-to-cell" means that you can call another cell phone that has the same company and they won't charge you any money. All of this is for $59.99, fifty-nine dollars and ninety-nine cents. Sounds like a great deal.

Many times the cell phones in the United States now will also come, the newer phones will come with a voice plan and a data plan. The voice plan is for using your phone as a regular phone to talk to people. The data plan is when you use your phone to connect your computer to the Internet, for example, and those phones are more expensive and the plans are more expensive. I think the typical phone with the Internet connection on it would probably be about $80 a month or so.

One thing you need to understand if you don't live in the United States is that the United States, in terms of its cell phones, is not as advanced as other countries, especially in Europe and Japan. We are, just this year really, getting good phones that you can connect to the Internet. Many of the best cell phones that are in Europe and Japan are not here in the United States.

Well, Greg asks the saleswoman if the 400 minutes that he gets will roll over. "To roll over," as a verb, means that…let's say you have 400 minutes in July, and you only use 200 minutes. If the minutes roll over, in August you would have 600 minutes: 400 for August and then 200 that rollover from July. So, Greg is asking if the minutes roll over from month to month. He also wants to know if he has to sign an agreement. An "agreement" here means the same as a contract, saying I will be a customer for one year or two years or 25 years. Probably not 25 years, but at least a couple of years. The salesman says—I’m sorry, the saleswoman– says, "We don't have rolllover minutes," but if 400 minutes a month isn't enough, they have plans that you can buy more minutes with.

Greg says, "Okay, let me think about it," and the saleswoman says, "No problem" - means It's okay, no problem. We use that expression "No problem" a lot. It's something that you would say to someone who, for example, thanks you for something. "Thank you for helping me." You might say "No problem." Here, no problem means don't worry, go ahead, and take your time to think about it. The saleswoman ends by saying, "Just let me know if you have any other questions."

Now let's listen to the dialogue, this time at a native rate of speech.

Greg: I needed a new cell phone, and my friend recommended the company he used. I went into the store to take a look.

Saleslady: Hi, have you been helped?

Greg: No, I haven't. I'm looking for a new phone.

Saleslady: Are you with our company right now?

Greg: No, I'm thinking about switching.

Saleslady: Okay, let me show you our most popular phone. This one has a lot of good features. It's got a camera phone, a video recorder, instant messaging, and you can download music or ringtones.

Greg: I'm really looking for a flip phone.

Saleslady: Oh, in that case, this is the one you want. Let me tell you a little about our plans. With our $59.99 plan, you get 400 minutes, unlimited night and weekend minutes, and free mobile-to-mobile.

Greg: Do the minutes roll over if I don't use them all in one month, and do I need to sign an agreement?

Saleslady: We don't have rollover minutes, but if you think 400 isn't enough, we have higher plans for 700, 1000, and unlimited minutes. The $59.99 plan requires a one-year agreement.

Greg: Okay, let me think about it.

Saleslady: No problem. Just let me know if you have other questions.

The script for today's podcast was written by Dr. Lucy Tse. Remember, if you have ideas or questions about our podcast, you can email us. From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time.

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