As Valentine’s Day approaches and love fills the air, couples and singletons alike often share their dating experiences on social media, which can lead to advice that is both thought-provoking and misguided.
The rise of women using the phrase “If he wanted to, he would,” on TikTok, and encouraging others to adopt this same mindset, can be especially harmful.
The popular expression is used to signify that if a man is not doing what he should in a relationship, he simply does not want to. In a Nov. 13 TikTok video, user Ki Leröux [@kileroux] says, “You’ll never have to ask a guy that loves or likes you for anything,” and reinforces this message with the caption: “If he wanted to, he would bookie.”
This phrase seeks to remind women to not settle for less or put effort into one-sided relationships. Overall, a lack of romantic reciprocity is not exclusive to heterosexual relationships and applies to all types of romances. It means no one should beg their partner or potential lover for time, affection or attention.
It can certainly be applicable in the early stages of a relationship when two people are first getting to know each other. No one wants to beg for a text back or a date night, and if the person you’re interested in isn’t doing those things, then yes, it’s possible that they just don’t want to.
However, in a long-term relationship, it is unrealistic to believe that you never have to voice your needs to your partner. People get into relationships to learn how to love each other, so don’t expect your significant other to know exactly how to meet your needs if you never tell them.
If you assume your partner is going to know that you like spontaneous dates, love letters or homemade gifts without ever telling them, you’ll just set yourself up for constant disappointment.
Once again, there are exceptions. If you have repeatedly expressed your needs to your partner and there is no change over time, then that could be an indication that they simply do not want to put forth any effort. It is ultimately up to you to analyze the situation and decide to either promote communication or leave a relationship that no longer serves you.
As well, “If he wanted to, he would” doesn’t address the fact that sometimes, someone can want to do something for their partner but they don’t know how or can’t afford to. For college students especially, there are bound to be financial limitations on the types of dates you can go on. Don’t assume your partner doesn’t want to show you a good time because they can’t afford a fine dining restaurant or an expensive hotel rendezvous.
While every relationship is different, each one calls for open and honest communication about each partner’s needs and expectations. As Valentine’s Day rolls around, take a break from TikTok and decide what your relationship, or budding romance, really needs.