If he wanted to, he would. We’ve all heard this phrase by now. It has dominated our TikTok feeds and infiltrated our brains and changed the way we approach relationships and dating. No longer do we wait around for people we are interested in to do the things we want and expect them to do. Forget communicating that certain behavior (or lack thereof) is hurtful. Because if he actually wanted to see you, he would make plans. If he actually wanted to text you back, he would text you back. And if he actually wanted to be exclusive with you, he’d be exclusive with you. Simple as that!
And at face value, this all makes enough sense. Adults don’t often do what they don’t want to do. So, if someone isn’t making an effort or showing up in the way that you want them to, it’s assumed it is because they simply don’t want to do so. On to the next. Good riddance, Brad!
I have been someone to drink the Kool-Aid from the church of If He Wanted To, He Would because it made me feel empowered. Tough. It gave me permission to expect more from the men I date. However, after watching this YouTube video from Anna Akana, I’m starting to realize that maybe this sentiment isn’t as empowering as I once thought. And perhaps it’s actually doing more harm than good.
Akana shared a sketch of two friends (both played by Akana). Friend One is lamenting how someone she is seeing isn’t texting her back. Friend Two comforts her by saying, “If he wanted to, he would.”
The pals then list everything the guy is going through, dismissing each one as not being a good enough reason for him to not reply to her. Because ✨if he wanted to, he would.✨
Towards the end, however, Friend Two then had an epiphany about the phrase and explained how it’s an oversimplification of human relationships and completely removes nuance. She says:
“Do you maybe think that oversimplifying a complicated situation that a three-dimensional human being is undergoing that we don’t understand and never will into a platitude like, ‘If he wanted to, he would,’ is a huge disservice to the nuance that comes with any relational dynamic?”
The women then continue to discuss this major breakthrough, building on the idea that relationships are difficult and require nuance, patience, and compassion. From both parties.
The truth of the matter is that yes, someone who is into you should be making an effort to make you feel valued and appreciated. And they also are a human being who deserves the benefit of the doubt every now and then, too. And while it is absolutely important to engage in your relationship from a place of self-respect and to express your needs, it is also vital to remember that a relationship are a two-way street. Your partner will also have needs, needs that may sometimes go directly against your own. But this is where the compromise comes in. Bridging two lives isn’t easy and can get messy. But that’s okay. Because if you want to make it work…you both will.
Watch the full video here: