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Relationships

Does the Tik-tok trending quote ‘If he wanted to, he would’ Holds sincerity?

Does the Tik-tok trending quote ‘If he wanted to, he would’ Holds sincerity?

There’s certainly a roar uprising all over the social media platforms concerning the statement ‘If he wanted to, he would, darling!’ It raises quite a few controversies, biased stigmas, and heavy generalization. 

Anyone on Tiktok probably has the idea behind this grave statement— ‘women are calling out to men and their lack of effort in the relationship.’ More than that, ‘If he wanted to, he would!’ is now becoming famous relationship advice all over the internet. Women are advising other women to ditch men who aren’t putting enough effort in the relationship/situationship.

What are relationship psychologists saying about it? Well, they conclude, “Of course, ‘If he wanted to, he would’ holds a tremendous amount of truth, but it’s not always the case.” Similarly, this pseudo-relationship advice is not valid for every relationship, but, unfortunately, it’s heavily generalized. 

Ask us why? Well, not everything is a case of black and white— not everything is either right or wrong. Romantic relationships are woven with complexities and cannot be ruled by rigid and clear-cut regulations made by men and women alike. 

Why is it not reasonable to generalize the statement ‘If he wanted to, he would.’

Our mindset is trained to call circumstances either ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ This perception leaves minimum to no space for anything to breathe in between. For instance, we immediately consider a man to be bad or a cheater if he doesn’t reply to his partner’s text instantly or within a day. 

“He didn’t reply to me back, what might be the reason?” 

To this, you may have heard your besties saying, “Well, there’s no reason behind it, honey. If he wanted to, he would! You should dump his sorry ass and find a man who actually puts in the effort!” 

This statement sounds rigid, and it leaves no space for a healthy discussion or conclusion. Why cannot there be a reason? We are humans; we all have a reason every time. 

Now, this man mentioned above may really be ignoring you for all we know. But, it would be completely ignorant to consider that ‘his lack of interest’ might be the only reason he didn’t text back. 

Maybe, 

  • Someone close to him died. 
  • He’s grieving a close death anniversary.
  • He is celebrating his parent’s or friends’ anniversary. 
  • He’s out and away from the network.
  • He’s traveling or hiking away on an adventure where the network is scarce. 

Honestly, I can come up with multiple reasons ‘why he didn’t text back,’ and neither will make me consider that he’s cheating on me or has lost interest in me. 

On a different spectrum, this ‘doubt’ and ‘lack of communication’ indeed lead to your own personal mental issues. 

  • Do you have trust issues? 
  • Are you reflecting on your previous relationship pattern with your new boyfriend? 
  • Are you carrying any previous relationship baggage? 
  • Did your ex-partner cheat you? 
  • Are you jealous of your partner’s new friendship
  • Do you not communicate enough in the relationship?

However, this is barely a conclusion to the ongoing debate over social media. Because the truth is, we cannot wholly reject the honesty behind ‘If he wanted to, he would.’

Some men really don’t put enough effort into the relationship because they have lost interest or aren’t willing to continue a faithful relationship.

Through this article, we’ll talk about,

  • What does “Lack of effort” mean in a relationship?
  • The history behind the statement. 
  • When is the statement ‘If he wanted to, he would’ valid in a relationship?
  • ‘When ‘if he wanted to, he would’ statement is invalid in a relationship?
  • How to cope with your partner’s lack of effort? 

What’ lack of effort’ women are talking about? 

‘Lack of effort’ can significantly arise in the majority of relationships— whether it’s as old as ‘being married with two kids’ or as new as an ‘ongoing situationship.’ It’s a challenging space for individuals who pour their heart and soul into the relationship without receiving an ounce of intimacy in return. 

  • You are left on-read for hours. 
  • He gives away multiple texting red flags and social media red flags. 
  • No contact or sweet exchange for days. 
  • There’s no planning of dates— they never seem excited to plan something special. 
  • No time for romantic stuff— this significant half of yours isn’t invested in knowing you and taking care of you. 
  • They prioritize other relationships over you.
  • They don’t start conversations. 
  • They are not interested in knowing you. 
  • They seem bored or out of interest. 
  • Romantic date nights have been switched to casual dinners. 
  • Your sex life has lost its libido.

The history behind ‘If he wanted to, he would!’

This concern is not new. Women have been calling out men for their lack of effort since a long time back when Twitter was a mere notion. 

It was often termed as weaponized incompetence, where women were expected to deal with men’s lack of effort and fill in the space without ever receiving anything back. What hurt more is that this behavior by men was considered normal or even cool!

girls hugging each other

It took women a long time to understand their importance in the relationship and why enough is enough. Over time, it gave birth to what we summarize today: ‘ If he wanted to, he would.’

This statement helps women remind other women that they shouldn’t waste their time over a relationship that’s not valuing them enough. It reminds women— that they are worthy of exciting romance, effort, and a romantic relationship, and anything otherwise should be cut off immediately. 

Relationships are not perfect, and that’s positive. 

This verdict ‘if he wanted to, he would’ demands us to approach an ungodly expectation from relationships. It glorifies ‘unreal’ perfectionism in relationships that tends to weigh more on the toxic side. 

It’s necessary to understand that relationships and individuals (you date) are ordinary people and far away from unreal perfectionism. 

We are flawed, and so are our relationships— flaws make us real, and flaws make us human. 

‘If he wanted to, he would’ stretch us away from what might be the actual cause/issue behind our partner’s behavior. The statement demands absolutism, but no relationship is the same, and no relationship can abide by the same rules. 

Relationships are flawed, and it’s natural to have those flaws! You can always sort them out with communication. So, before you opt to listen to what Tiktok ladies have to say about your relationship (for which they lack heavy insight)— talk things out with your boyfriend first. You may discover something completely different than what you perceived.  

When is the statement ‘If he wanted, he would’ invalid in a relationship? 

Every relationship is different with distinct issues. Similar to how you won’t recommend the same medical treatment for different diseases— you shouldn’t suggest the same set of advice for different relationships. 

african American couple

‘If he wanted to, he would’ can easily be replaced by 

  • “It’s not that he doesn’t want to, maybe he simply cannot do it at the moment.”
  • “He’s probably dealing with personal issues that don’t allow him to approach you as he desires.”
  • “He’s not over his past relationship. So, he’s taking his time.”
  • “He likes you but wants to be sure before he starts something with you.”
  • “He’s investing time in self-improvement.”
  • “He’s busy building his own empire and cannot spend as much time with you as he wants to.”
  • “He likes you but it’s not the right time to initiate a new relationship.”
  • “He cares about you but is dealing with his own personal traumas.”

Please note: These statements can also be easily reversed for the opposite gender because it’s not just women dealing with one-sided situations but also men. This concern is also valid for men and their desire for equal effort in a relationship. 

It’s not valid if he’s genuinely busy.

Every individual strives to become better and do better in life— your partner is no different. Maybe he isn’t putting in as much effort as he used to because he’s invested in making a fortunate future. 

  • Perhaps, your partner is building an empire that demands his dedication and multiple hours of work. 
  • Or maybe, he’s busy with family and friends for the time being. 
  • He has a busy job and life schedule. 
  • He has an individual life away from you and most likely wants to pursue it along with the relationship. 

It’s hard for busy partners to take out as much time as others. Perhaps, he tries to put effort whenever he gets the time to because he genuinely likes you. 

Individuals have come to an awful conclusion regarding the definition of love and relationships— If you are in love, you should spend most of your time with your partner. 

What about the rest of his life?

Please don’t forget that individuals also genuinely like to spend time with their passion, job/business, individuality, family, friends, and solitude.  

At the same time, a relationship cannot work with infrequent interactions. So, what to do in a situation as complex as this? 

First, instead of opting for ‘If he wanted to, he would’— try to talk things out with your partner. Let them know that you are proud of their life choices but that you also miss them. 

Arrange a feasible schedule that will help you and your partner spend more quality time with each other. Please note that there will be many failed dates in this schedule, given your partner’s busy schedule. Have patience!

However, if nothing changes and you are left alone in the relationship— you are better off.

When the relationship suddenly turns upside down.

Have you recently witnessed a sudden change in your relationship— a change that has brought distance between you and your partner? A change where your conversations are getting shorter and dates being scantier? 

There could be many reasons why your boyfriend has taken a road down the hill— they might be going through some changes or significant issues that you might not be aware of. Before you go ahead and conclude the fact that your boyfriend has stopped loving you— regard them with genuine concern. Again, communication can change everything upside down! 

When he’s dealing with mental health

Mental issues can go unnoticed easily, and in fact, individuals unintentionally try to hide their mental damage to seem normal. Happy even! However, if you have noticed a pattern where your boyfriend may be concerned with mental dilemmas, support & comfort him instead of questioning him and his effort. 

couple having second thoughts in bed, arguments

In a new relationship, we are mostly unaware of our partner’s emotions and what they might be going through. Reach out to them and ask if they are trying to heal or overcome difficult times. Try to learn the extent of their mental health. 

Individuals are often dulled with depression, anxiety, overthinking, and self-sabotaging behavior when dealing with mental traumas. It’s difficult for them to tend to others’ needs when they cannot carry their own baggage. They probably won’t be able to give you the attention, care, and love you deserve. It’s not because they don’t want to; it’s because they simply cannot. 

It’s your choice to stay with them for support or break things apart if you are not ready to handle their emotional baggage. Please note that it’s completely fine to step away from someone/relationship if you are not ready for that kind of responsibility. Your mental health matters, and if it’s something you cannot/don’t want to repair— that’s alright, too! 

When he needs personal space

Many couples don’t understand the importance of personal space and how it can heal relationships. A relationship void of personal space will inevitably damage more than you can imagine. 

A partner may seek personal space to undo their life, mend relationships, and develop/nurture individuality. A relationship shouldn’t stop individuals from being their own people with their own individuality. If your partner wants some space from the dates, he probably wants to breathe and recollect his life and its major component. 

Asking for space doesn’t indicate that your partner has lost interest in you! Of course, he can text you back and arrange dates, but he wants to stay with himself in solitude for the time being. It’s okay to want and desire solitude!

However, it’s crucial to know why your partner may need space. So, instead of jumping to the ultimate conclusion, ask him why he needs this space. Confronting is always better than speculating.

When he says, ‘he likes you but is not ready just yet.

To this, many proclaimed pseudo-experts would immediately pop to throw their opinions. 

  • “He just wants to use you and won’t commit to you.”
  • “He’s looking for a fling and making up excuses.”
  • “He doesn’t like you; he’s only here for sex.” 

Aaand the list continues. While these statements may be factual, they can also be very much false. If your new interest seems genuinely honest, he probably isn’t pulling tricks on you to get you into bed. 

Perhaps, he’s dealing with issues and wants to be sure before initiating anything impulsive. I have seen multiple people who liked ‘someone’ but couldn’t be with them because they were plagued by insecurities and past relationship traumas. 

Again, would you like to wait for him or move onto the next potential partner is your rightful choice. What’s not right is to believe whatever speculations social media experts have to throw at you!

When he’s financially unstable

Many men won’t approach women for a date because they cannot afford one! Given the current times, everybody lives for extravagant lifestyles and expensive restaurant dates— something not everybody can afford. 

Now, I know we may be completely clueless about our partner’s financial status, but we can always take the reins in cases such as these. Why wait for the man to arrange a date? Why can’t you do it? It’s 2022, and women can ask men out too. If you think he likes you and shows genuine interest, ask him out! If he says no, you know! 

couple being surrounded by the fire

If he says yes, organize the best date ever one has witnessed. Best doesn’t equate to being expensive. You can plan a date according to your partner’s interest. For instance, if he likes beaches, a cozy bonfire by the ocean with street food would do just fine! Trust me!

When is the statement ‘If he wanted to, he would’ valid? 

Have you gone through every single step in the book and still end up with a broken heart? There’s a possibility that you might be your boyfriend’s back-up plan and not genuine love. If you think this may be the case, hold onto the advice ‘if he wanted to, he would’ and move on from the relationship/almost relationship! 

He doesn’t want a relationship and will waste your precious time. 

When he’s free but never free for you

Relationships work on communication, effort, and understanding. Do you think your newfound interest lacks all the three qualities mentioned above? If that’s the case, you shouldn’t be in such a relationship. 

  • Do you find your boyfriend posting Instagram stories about his everyday parties and fun ventures? 
  • Do you find him online (interacting), but he’s never available to text back? 
  • Is he always on the phone when with you? 
  • Is he always making plans with his friends but never with you? 

When the pattern remains the same

If you have communicated with your boyfriend about it and the pattern remains the same— you should let go of that relationship. 

When he wants to seem cool and unbothered

Many individuals think it’s cool to remain unbothered in a relationship— to not show whatsoever interest. If your boyfriend is a fan of such high school tactics, let him go! He’s not available for a mature relationship, and it’s not your job to teach him so. 

You deserve a partner who shows love and admiration for you— who communicates and grows with you. 

On a completely different spectrum, some individuals may try to seem unbothered and uncaring to not seem desperate. This can be resolved by communication— let your boyfriend/to-be boyfriend know,

  • What do relationship and effort mean to you?
  • What do you expect from a relationship?
  • Why is it important to be genuine? 
  • How you care for genuine and raw emotion! 

That’s not all, it’s necessary to ask questions from your boyfriend to learn their perception and personality. 

How to cope with ‘lack of effort’ in a relationship before concluding ‘if he wanted to, he would.’

There’s a reason why psychologists suggest ‘not to jump to conclusions with insufficient information.’ It can cause havoc to your flourishing relationship and may as well ruin a perfectly healthy situationship. 

It also highly depends on whether you are willing to invest that much time, patience, and understanding in the relationship for it to age like wine. If you are relatively new to the situationship and would rather date someone more stable and present— it’s best to let go of that individual.

Reflect on your thoughts

Before you go ahead and accuse your partner, reflect on your emotions. Are they valid or stem from insecurities and social perception? Individuals may feel unwanted due to loneliness, lack of individuality, jealousy, or past relationship traumas. 

Meditate and try to understand what’s actually the reason behind your state of mind.

Communicate

You would never know the truth behind your partner’s action if you don’t communicate with them openly! Please note, communicate but don’t accuse— accusing them will only lead to arguments, disappointment, and no proper conversation. 

couple having a conversation

It will be difficult for your partner to open up instantly, especially if they are dealing with depression, mental traumas, body image issues, or other personal concerns. Provide them a safe space and time where they can open up entirely to you! In the meantime, develop a strategy with your partner that can help spark your relationship. 

Have patience

It’s not going to happen overnight because healing takes time— your relationship may take days or even a couple of months to replenish. So, have patience!

Don’t doubt and have trust

If you are willing to understand the situation, your partner, and the whole relationship dynamic, you shouldn’t be prejudiced or doubtful of your partner. 

Draw out a pattern with your partner

If your partner also understands the current state of the relationship and wants to repair it just as willingly, map out a pattern that can help you both. 

  • If he is busy, come up with a flexible schedule for both of you.
  • If he’s dealing with some personal mental issues that he doesn’t want to discuss— approach the relationship with tenderness and let him know that you understand. 
  • If he’s facing body image concerns, let him know how profound you are of his essence, flaws, beauty, and personality. 

These patterns can depend a lot on what your partner is going through! 

Put effort and let go of the inequality 

Before expecting anything from your partner, ask yourself if you are putting enough effort into the relationship, too?

  • Have you ever planned a date to surprise your boyfriend? If not, girl, you got to show it to your man. 
  • Are you constantly expecting him to text first? No, you need to initiate conversations, too! 
  • Are you giving vague signals and expecting him to catch on to it and ask you out? No, you need to tell them openly and clearly about your interest. 
  • Are you playing hard to get? Well, it can go around both ways! Don’t be a hypocrite if your new interest does the same to you.

Whether your relationship is as old as ‘Titanic’ or as new as ‘sex city’— it deserves effort from both partners; you cannot depend on and demand your partner to make the ship sail alone. 

Take relationship therapy. 

couple seeking help with their relationships

Sometimes, there’s love but a lack of communication. If you both struggle to communicate correctly, opt for relationship therapy. 

It can be the anchor to your drowning relationship. 

When to end things

Sometimes, things simply don’t work— the reason may or may not be ‘his lack of effort.’ We break things up when the relationship demands too much than what we can offer. 

  • Partners can break apart if they are unwilling to invest so much time into the betterment of the relationship. 
  • Some might not be patient enough to hold onto the relationship.
  • Some may be tired of trying and trying with not much progress. 

In the end, it’s your decision whether you wish to stay and work together or wish to break things up and find a more stable relationship. Both the options are valid and earnest. Your decision should be yours, and not someone’s who’s screaming ‘if he wanted, he would’ on the internet without knowing anything about you and your partner!

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by Genesis Gutierrez

Genesis is the founder of Harness Magazine, a digital media company that celebrates and elevates the voices of women around the world. A first-generation college graduate, Genesis holds a degree in from UCLA with hopes of going back for a Masters in Social Work.

Through her work as an editor-in-chief of Harness, Genesis has dedicated herself to amplifying the stories of women specifically marginalized communities. She is committed to creating space for those who are often left out of mainstream conversations, and believes that storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have for building community and sparking social change.


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