For a language/grammar dweeb such as I, that I’ve been all my life, I’m keen to the semantic difference. And in this case, I assuredly inform the reader: it’s empathy! An extreme form of empathy, to be sure. Like a combination of empathy and commiseration; I like to make up words. Maybe something like empathiserate.
That’s it, dang it.
I feel pure, unadulterated empathiseration for some of these fellas.
Why, they “willingly” went shopping with their wife/girlfriend/sigother, and as us dudes can attest, the exercise of shopping, to the female mind, is not one of results or effect. Women shop with the ostensible aim of emotional saturation and immersion. For men, shopping is reduced to a constructive, efficient activity only; shopping holds little joy for us.
Not so for women.
They receive an enigmatic brand of stimulation from browsing through racks upon racks upon shelves of merchandise with nary a productive expectation in mind that follows the male zero-sum model of entering and exiting a brick & mortar merchandise outlet.
The male mind expects an equal and counteracting result to exertion; something comes from something. So it follows with shopping.
If I walk into a store, I expect that, 1) I will search for something I need and have in mind to augment an aspect of my life that is wanting at the moment, and 2) I will analyze the store’s choices, considering price, features, aesthetics, and 3) thus informed and educated, will make a final decision and extract said item from its fastening, place it in my bag, wherein I, 4) will proceed to the register to pay for the items and exit the store ASAP. An efficient, minimalist visit to an establishment whose role it is to sell to me, the buyer.
But shopping, for the female, is an unfathomable magical draw, as mysterious to men as their sense of orgasm. For women, it goes something like:
1) She will look at a store item, analyze, consider, deliberate, consider the infinite possibilities that the purchase of said item might have on her, her acquaintances, strangers and the general fate of mankind, then 2) not convinced of the results of her boundless consideration, will hesitantly, even resentfully, hang the item over her arm in case something else evokes her visual field for an approach and its possible rise in her purchasing pecking order, and she 4) will proceed to the register where she will pay and tediously file away the receipt, for it is a given that, 5) she will decide the purchase is not quite what she envisioned or emotionally sustained and, 6) she will return the item to the store for an exchange.
That said, when we are lassoed into acting as Shopping Wingmen by that special woman in our life, it is possible to maintain some dignity, even masculinity; it is difficult when you are dragged into the most onerous, repulsive, boring activity in the world which you allow only because you want to maintain the peace (or because you actually possess some selfless flexibility), but men must not necessarily degenerate into effeminate saps or children when faced with such a predicament.
You, kind sir, can still maintain some self-respect and dignity in the face of such dehumanizing torture. Be a man!