We’ve all heard the neat little piece of romantic advice: 'If he wanted to, he would.'
It refers to the idea that a guy's actions and efforts will reflect his feelings for the girl he's dating. When we hear the statement, we might think of grand romantic gestures.
To many people's dissatisfaction, life isn't a romantic movie. The expectation of chivalry will often leave women, well... disappointed.
Not that chivalry never happens. I'm sure there are a few lucky ladies out there with a taste of movie romance in their lives. But to paraphrase a line from my all-time favorite movie ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’:
You’re not the exception; you’re the rule.
I like this idea because it encourages us to think rationally about our dating experiences and to stop making excuses for disappointing men. No, there usually isn't some special circumstance that explains his behavior: this is probably how he behaves all the time.
So, 'if he wanted to, he would' stands true.
However, there is the probable risk that TV and movies have given us unrealistic expectations of romantic gestures. The reality is that these gestures don't have to be massive. So, it's important we keep our expectations realistic.
Things to know
- If your guy isn't showing basic gestures of care, interest, and respect, then there might be a bitter pill to swallow at some point soon.
- However, there are lots of valid reasons to explain his lack of effort, e.g., mental health or general long-term relationship laziness.
- Above all, your happiness is the most important thing, so you should always voice your dissatisfaction.
But let's not jump to conclusions. There are many reasons why guys stop making an effort, and it doesn't always mean that they're not interested in having a happy relationship with you. We'll go over these reasons now:
- If He Wanted To, He Would: Situationships
- If He Wanted To, He Would: Relationships
- If He Wanted To, He Would: Mental Health
- The Takeaway
Whatever situation you’re in, you’re here because you want to see actions, and you don’t understand why you’re not seeing them. So let’s break it down.
He may not be perfect; he doesn’t have to be. It’s the trying that counts.
If He Wanted To, He Would: Situationships
Situationships (or friends-with-benefits relationships) are the literal definition of complicated. You’re talking to a guy, hooking up, but you’re not officially ‘together.’
You might be wondering when things will move to the next stage or if you're even allowed to be wondering that. What should your expectations be?
Well, the philosophy of ‘If he wanted to, he would’ holds pretty tight here.
If you’ve found yourself in a situationship with a guy, the reality is that if he wanted to be in a full-on romantic relationship with you, he probably would have made the moves to make it happen already.
It’s not like he’s confused about how you feel. Let’s be honest. You’re hooking up regularly and talking every day! Unless... you want to move things along, so have you indicated that's how you feel? It's important that we don't leave that responsibility to the men in our lives... this is the twenty-first century, after all!
It might not be as simple as outright asking for commitment. Has either of you initiated a conversation about your feelings or asked where you see the situation-ship going?
I’m going to assume that you have tried to move things along in some form or another. In this case, it's really simple. If you’ve tried to open up to him about your feelings and show him you’re interested in more than secret 4 am McDonald’s dates and booty calls, but he still isn’t making an effort to wife you up, then he probably has no intention to.
People, in general, don’t stay in situationships for longer than a couple of months if they want a relationship out of it. They have the talk and either end things if they’re not on the same page or move things to the next level. That is action.
If your guy wanted to commit to you, he would have tried to make it happen.
If he wants an easy lay without the confines of a romantic relationship, he’ll make that happen too by avoiding all real talk of commitment and giving you just the right dose of attention for someone he wants to keep around but not too close.
Do you see how it works? If he wants to, he will. Whether it’s a relationship or a situationship, he’ll put in the appropriate amount of effort for whichever one he wants.
The truth of the matter is right there. Actions really are everything in the world of love and dating. It’s up to you whether you choose to see it!
If He Wanted To, He Would: Relationships
The same philosophy can be applied to established relationships too.
We all know the honeymoon phase. The time in all new relationships when things are just so perfect. He’s showing up with surprise gifts, sending you cute texts, complimenting your impeccable makeup, and being the perfect new boyfriend.
But the honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever. People get comfortable. Couples get settled into a routine, and the novelty of a new romance transforms into the comfort of two best friends that have sex and fall asleep covered in take-out crumbs. It’s beautiful, the natural progression of love.
Unfortunately, the act of putting effort into the relationship can get a little lost in the transition from passionate lovers to cuddly couch potatoes. Getting comfortable with another person usually means dropping the ‘perfect human’ act and just being yourself.
While it’s true that if he wanted to put effort into the relationship, he would, sometimes that guy of yours might just need to be told that you’re feeling a little neglected.
We can’t expect people to read our minds. Relationships are wonderful places where you can exist judgment-free with another person, and it’s unbelievably easy to get a little lazy with your efforts to woo a partner you already have.
Let him know that things feel stale, and if he cares about you, he’ll change that.
If he wants to, he will!
On the other hand, of course, if you’ve made it clear to your guy that he’s totally lost all the mojo that made him so wonderful in the beginning, and the thoughtless gifts and zero quality time have made no signs of disappearing, then it’s probably time to just see things for how they really are.
No matter the amount of time you’ve been together, a man that is in love and cares about your emotions will put in the effort if he thinks you’re feeling forgotten, upset, or questioning his feelings for you.
That is just love. You do what you can to make your partner feel loved and appreciated. If a genuine guy thinks there’s even a chance he’s going to lose you; he’s going to listen and make more of an effort in your relationship.
If he’s not listening, then it may be the case that he isn’t concerned about whether you stay or go.
This is a sad reality to face. But it’s exactly why communicating your feelings and watching for action is the best way to find out how a guy really feels and how good your relationship really is.
If they want to, they will! If they don’t, they won’t.
If He Wanted To, He Would: Mental Health
A person's state of mind is an important factor to consider when you’re questioning the concept of wanting to and doing. It’s so easy to gloss over how poor mental health can affect relationships and sour a person's view of their partner.
We know mental health affects the way we think and behave. Relationships require a lot of attentive thinking and thoughtful action.
If you suspect your guy could be struggling with his state of mind, and he’s not been quite up to scratch on the romantic-effort front, then it’d absolutely be in your best interests to make a connection between the two.
It's not to say that poor mental health absolves treating your partner badly or neglecting them altogether. Your guy communicating his struggles and actively seeking help to better himself could be considered a type of effort in its own way.
Caring about his own well-being and involving you in the process may well be all he is capable of, and it’s amazing if he’s able to do those things!
That being said, you also have to look after yourself. You don't have to stay in a relationship with someone that is struggling if it is causing you to suffer.
Everyone deserves to have love and support, especially those struggling. But if you’re not having any of your needs met in your relationship and it’s causing you issues of your own, then it’s okay to offer them support as a friend rather than as a romantic partner.
Communication is key in these delicate situations. Give your man the chance to open up to you about what’s going on in his head and talk through new expectations and goals of your relationship that make sense with the new information you’ve been given.
Mental health problems are not a relationship-death sentence. Love and effort can be explored and shown in other ways if you feel you have the emotional capacity to support your partner.
If he wanted to, he would in most cases, but a guy struggling with his mental health can definitely be the exception to that rule.
All in all, if he wanted to, he would.
If your guy is saying all the right things, but you’re not seeing any action, then it’s not a far cry to assume that his desires and words just aren’t matching up.
You should strive for balance in your relationships, and balance means an equal amount of loving words and loving gestures.
If you’re not being treated the way you think you should, or your guy just seems to be ignoring your pleas for attention and care, it might be time to make a change yourself.
I always advocate communication as the first port of call. Opening up about your thoughts and feelings can save so much hurt and misunderstanding. But exhausting all options is literal. It’s exhausting to beg someone for their time and affection.
A guy that truly cares will listen and hear you the first time. He may not be perfect; he doesn’t have to be. It’s the trying that counts.
But zero trying is nothing. No one should have to put up with that!