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She got angry—and he accused her of unfairly escalating the situation.

When she told me the story, I laughed so hard I cried.

“Even if a guy treats you poorly,” she says, “they often come back to you wanting you to reassure them that they’re still good people. So not only do you have to accept that your needs are not being met, you have to then go and make a man feel good about himself.” Now, because men can’t seem to hack interpersonal relationships, Paola identifies her friendships as her primary relationships—and she doesn’t see that changing.

My friend Shana, a 31-year-old graphic designer, had a similar wakeup call in the summer.

When she caught feelings in return and asked him for exclusivity after a few months, he said yes.

I ranted to my friends until they couldn’t take it anymore. He said okay, mewed an apology and insisted we keep seeing each other. The shock came from the fact that I had taken such pains to clearly articulate what it was I needed, had invited him to have an open conversation and then ended up being entirely disregarded. Alongside the wage gap and the emotional labour gap, the antics of softboys, f-ckboys, fading and ghosting constitute a pronounced communication gap. Regardless of whether the circumstances involve just hooking up or the potential for a relationship, men are ignoring what women are asking for.

Later the same week, when the brother of a man I’d slept with months before invited me to a games night attended mainly by people who were strangers to me, I went. People of all genders are guilty of bad behaviour, but women are taught from childhood that they need to monitor and be responsible for other people’s feelings. They don’t care if we get off, and they don’t care if our feelings get hurt.

The ever-growing proclivity for staying housebound and heart intact even led to the launch of an entire apparel company a few years ago: Montreal’s Stay Home Club peddles sweatshirts, tees and patches extolling the simple virtues of “having no life.” Grey hair, granny dressing, Netflix, sassy cats and janky grocery carts are in. When I embraced my own untimely spinsterhood last winter, I called my friend Kristan, whom I’ve known for half my life.

She and I had been through similar versions of hell with men.

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