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Making Him Wait, The "Hold My Purse" Edition

The average man spends a year of his life waiting on women — outside bathrooms, in cars, beyond changing-room curtains. It may be the truest modern measure of gender politics.

A miserable man
A miserable man
Violetta Simon

MUNICH — Anybody who has ever stepped foot in a big-city shopping mall is familiar with the sight: men waiting, with that glassy-eyed stare off into the distance of pure boredom.

Researchers commissioned by a British fashion label have apparently found that men spend one full year of their lives waiting for women — outside bathrooms, in cars with the motor running, or making the shopping rounds. They spend a total of 22 weeks alone hanging around outside changing rooms.

Hamburg-based writer Moritz Petz even devoted a whole book to the subject of waiting for women — Warten auf Frauen — in which he works through his waiting experiences and calls excesses of this form of time-wasting an “unbearable condition.”

Instagram also deals with the subject of waiting men. On a page titled “Miserable Men,” there’s an entire gallery of guys from all over the world ... waiting. They sit slumped in their chairs, brooding, dozing. One man gives himself a foot massage. Others lie flat and sleep. Many of the men are surrounded by shopping bags.

The waiting men are reminiscient of the two drifter characters in Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot. Just like Estragon and Vladimir, they are presumably pondering the meaning of their situations. But as everybody knows, Godot is never going to show up — unlike the woman behind the changing booth curtain.

Misrable Men via Instagram

The question with regard to her is not if or what but when? It could be any minute now — or a little bit longer still. Few men manage to use their time usefully in these situations. Some pick their fingernails. Others vengefully ogle other women. Others still sit in quiet desperation.

A waiting person isn’t receiving a gift of time. On the contrary: Time is being stolen from their lives. And anybody who thinks they can make up for lost time is severely mistaken. “You can’t do anything with time except live it,” says renowned time researcher Karlheinz Geißler.

This applies to waiting for women too, of course. The best recourse is to learn how to live with it. The question is how.

At another's mercy

“It’s the forced passivity that makes waiting situations weigh so heavily,” says Magdeburg-based sociologist Rainer Paris, who has studied the phenomenon of waiting extensively.

How waiting is perceived depends on the end goal. “The woman is doing something she enjoys, but there’s nothing more in it for him than waiting. If all you can do is wait, then you feel as if you’re at somebody else’s mercy.”

Therefore, waiting is only fun when it leads to something pleasurable. Which is why it’s more frustrating to wait for a woman in a changing booth than it is, say, to wait for Christmas. “The waiting person has just one thing in their head: When is this going to end?” theologian Regina Speck wrote in an article in December.

Miserable Men via Instagram

Speck also points out that we have faith based on experience that there will be an end to the waiting, which is presumably why so many men let themselves get into this situation, time and time again. In that sense, it is indeed like Waiting for Godot: Hope dies last. The waiting person wants all too much to believe “two more minutes and we’re done.” He even believes it after 10 minutes. After another 10, all he wants is for the whole thing to be over.

Sociologist Rainer Paris explains that men and women perceive shopping differently. “Most men buy what they need,” he says. “She buys what she likes. So she’s totally absorbed with selecting what she wants, while he’s thinking, when will shefinallyfinish? From her perspective, she’s not making him wait. She just forgets him and the fact that he’s waiting.”

Experts recommend avoiding this dynamic and making exact arrangements to meet up again within a specific period of time and in a specific place. “Many outlet malls have installed stuff for men to do while they wait,” Paris says. “Or they can sit in the café and read the paper.”

At least this approach respects the time and interests of both people. What most people don’t appear to realize is that waiting is more than just a bothersome waste of time. It’s a major indicator of the balance of power in a relationship, says Paris.

“The one who can impose their schedule on the other is the one who’s calling the shots.”

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Don't Underestimate How Much More Putin Needs Xi Than Xi Needs Putin

Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow was a much-needed favor Vladimir Putin. But make no mistake, Beijing is there to serve Beijing — and holds virtually all the cards.

Photo of Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin toasting with glasses of white wine

China's President Xi Jinping and Russia's President Vladimir Putin a state dinner hosted by the Russian president at the Faceted Chamber in the Moscow Kremlin.

Anna Zafesova


Chinese president Xi Jinping’s much-anticipated visit to Moscow begins with a diplomatic mystery. In the first minutes of formal greetings at the Kremlin, Xi congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Russia has achieved significant successes under your leadership. Next year you have elections coming up, and I am convinced that the Russian people will give you their support.”

The Russian president’s candidacy in 2024, officially, is one of the biggest mysteries in Russian politics, as Putin has not yet declared his intentions, even though it is extremely unlikely that he would voluntarily move out of the Kremlin, and even less so after amending the constitution in 2020 to allow himself to enjoy two more six-year terms.

Still, the fact that Russians learned that their president will run again from Xi is extraordinary enough that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters they had "misunderstood."

According to Moscow, the Chinese president said more generally that his Russian “friend” would continue to be supported by Russians next year.

It was hardly a gaffe — not at this level of politics, where every blink is weighed and measured. Maybe it was a translation error, or a courtesy Xi wanted to show Putin, in response to his host's compliments. Putin's welcome speech included the phrase "We envy you a little bit” (for China’s rapid pace of progress), which must have truly pained the Russian leader to say.

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