Most guys share the same shopping philosophy: Get in and out of the store as fast as possible, and minimize the damage to your wallet and psyche. So it’s no surprise that British researchers recently found the average man gets bored after only 26 minutes at the mall, while women tire after 2 hours.
“Men tend to hone in on what they need and have a clear idea about it beforehand, rather than wasting time browsing around,” says study author Steve Taylor, Ph.D. “They tend to go for ‘short and sharp’ shopping.”
It all comes back to your ancient ancestors. “These behaviors are linked to our past as hunter-gatherers,” says Taylor. “Women’s browsing shopping style is a form of gathering, while men’s more ‘mono-focused’ style fits the pattern to hunting.”
But just as cavemen dutifully tagged along with their wives to Bed Rocks & Beyond, you must also be a good sport and keep her company at the mall. Fortunately, you can make shopping suck a little less with these stealth strategies.
1. Have a time plan, suggests Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., author of Decoding the Consumer Mind. Before heading out, agree that you’ll only spend 2 hours at the mall that day. If she has a big list, volunteer to take another trip next weekend to split up the shopping.
2. Make yourself a “to-buy” list. Go through your closet, your toolbox, and your sock drawer, and see what you’re missing. Use this trip to finally stock up on the stuff you’ve been meaning to get for months.
3. Divide and conquer. After a certain amount of time, venture off separately and plan to meet up later, Yarrow says. This gives your wife time to “browse and gather” at her own pace after you’ve already found what you came for. Plus, she won’t feel pressured to entertain you.
4. Pack for downtime. Charge your phone, bring a book—if you end up having to hang somewhere, you’ll be ready and happy to do so, says Yarrow.
5. Build in a reward. Pick a shopping center next to one of your favorite restaurants and make a reservation for dinner, Yarrow advises. That way, you’ll have something to look forward to while you’re marching up and down the mall.