What is the “if he wanted to, he would” dating advice trend?

Have you come across the phrase “if he wanted to, he would” in the dating world? The statement has quickly gained traction on TikTok and is used as a shorthand to describe when a woman is perceived as being in a one-sided romantic relationship. The phrase is often used to describe the situation where a woman puts in lots of time and energy into the relationship, while the person she is seeing treats it as an option or don’t properly return their affections. “If he wanted to, he would” implies that if a man wanted to make things happen, he would, so their inaction demonstrates they lack interest. The relationship dynamic may rely on the woman initiating all the contact and making all the plans. It’s often used in the early days of dating when people get stuck in frustrating situationships where they are left wondering whether it’s worth waiting around to see if the other person commits. 

Over on TikTok many people shared videos of what their partner does to demonstrate their affection and make them feel valued, using examples of gifts they’ve received and the lengths a partner has gone to make them feel like they are making them a priority. From huge bouquets of flowers and rose petals sprinkled over the bed, it’s painting a picture of romantic gestures that demonstrate how much somebody cherishes their partner. Often the hashtag #ifhewantedtohewould is used to make the point this is the type of behaviour that suggests their partner is heavily invested in the relationship.  

The problem with the phrase

There’s plenty of support for the argument that it really isn’t possible to boil down dating romantic interactions into one simple phrase, so “if he wanted to, he would” is seen as a drastic oversimplification. As a Cosmopolitan article highlights, the phrase is problematic because single people may have experienced trauma and obstacles in their life that stop them being able to dedicate their full energy to dating. They may even be worried they are going to come across as too eager in the early days of dating and instead end up playing hard to get. The article concludes there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all dating advice as every situation is unique. 

A Glamour article points out you may miss out on amazing people if you go by the manta “if he wanted to, he would.”  There are many factors that affect somebody’s behaviour which means it might not be straightforward for them to simply provide what a love interest wants, says the article. You might come across people who may be socially awkward, or who overthink situations. They may fear rejection or have low self-esteem. Assuming somebody is not that into you and making assumptions based on their actions means you could end up throwing away what could have been a promising relationship

Another Cosmopolitan article points out that it’s important to remember a new love interest might not be aware what you want. You won’t be able to truly understand why somebody isn’t doing something you want if you don’t openly communicate about your needs, the piece points out. If you’re in a situationship, for example, the other person might want to take you for a nice dinner, but they may worry you will think it’s too much. Communication works both ways and it’s important to discuss your needs in the relationship, so the other person has a fair chance of understanding where you are coming from and what you want. Then, if made aware of what you are looking for, they will only give you less than you deserve, then you can make the call of whether to walk away. 

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