Ask Abby, Lifestyle

Ask Abby (or Analise): If he wanted to, would he?

Dear Abby: I have a dilemma. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for over a year, and he’s great and all, but I don’t feel like he’s putting as much effort into the relationship as he first did when we started going out. All of my friends keep telling me, “If he wanted to he would,” but I feel shallow thinking that. So tell me, if he wanted to, would he?

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

Platforms like TikTok have popularized the phrase, “If he wanted to, he would,” but don’t be mistaken. The bare bones of this thought have long existed in the public sphere before being brought up on social media.

I mean, has anyone seen “The Notebook”? Spoiler alert: Noah wrote Allie 365 letters, one for each day, despite not hearing back.  

What about in “Big Fish” when Edward Bloom fills a field with over 10,000 daffodils to woo the love of his life, Sandra Templeton?

Okay, maybe that’s just the stuff you see in movies –– but hey, Kim Kardashian walked into to a living room full of roses and live music from Kenny G for Valentine’s Day –– so never say never. 

Believe it or not, this is probably one of the most controversial pieces of dating advice floating in society. 

The adage “if he wanted to, he would” suggests that someone would find a way to do something if they were genuinely motivated to do so. It’s crucial to keep in mind, though, that a person’s capacity to act on their wishes may be impacted by a number of variables, including outside events, psychological obstacles or competing priorities.

So, the understanding of this phrase needs to be so rigid. I think there’s a way we can actually flip this thought on its head and interpret it in a way that helps us only seek out the best in our relationships. 

The desire to pursue

Call my standards high, but if someone actually has the intention to pursue you, they should make it known. This goes for those in relationships and those trying to get into one.

People generally put time, energy and even money into things that they consider to be very important to them. So, if you really matter, that same kind of work will be put into cultivating a relationship with you.

I think that there’s a tendency for partners to get “comfortable” once a label is put onto things. I feel like people assume that once they score that special someone who they were pining for, the chase is off and pursuing them isn’t necessary.

However, loving is not about chasing your whole life. You’re not some hamster on a wheel. Rather, it’s about continuing to work towards something you’re passionate about.

It’s not you, it’s them

I think that one of the best things a person can do before getting into a relationship is become secure with themselves. What I mean by this is that they should be in a headspace where they are happy enough with themselves to know that their value and independence doesn’t solely depend on their linkage to another person.

I think it’s important to know that someone can love and care about you, and still be incapable of putting in the necessary effort to make the relationship work. That’s not a reflection on you, it’s just a clear sign that they’re never going to show you the kind of adoration you deserve.

You jump, I jump, right?

Jack Dawson from “Titanic” has to be the epitome of “If he wanted to, he would,” because he did just that — well, sort of. He was fully prepared to jump off the ship’s stern if Rose did, despite only knowing her a few moments. Not to mention, he selflessly gave up his spot on the door so that Rose would be safe from hypothermia — I still think he could’ve fit, but I digress.

Again, this is just a movie reference, but it’s a pretty good example of the few instances where the phrase can fall short. A relationship should genuinely make your life better and more open, not worse and closed off. Therefore, don’t start giving up your goals, hopes, dreams, ambitions and life to prove your value to someone. In other words, don’t jump if they jump. 

You can still be a great partner who is committed to their relationship without sacrificing your core values and commitments. 

Not to be too harsh on Rose here, but all I’m saying is no one needs to be like Jack to prove they’re good boyfriend material. 

What a girl wants

Okay, here comes another movie reference. Daphne Reynolds from “What a Girl Wants” longs to meet her father, and a lot of us just want our partners to do things without us having to ask. But, there’s a fine line between wanting the bare minimum and wanting things that are sometimes out of reach.

Comparison is really the killer here. It’s easy to compare what your partner does for you versus what your friend’s partner does for them. 

Still, we must consider how our own wants may be wrapped up in a lot of other things within our partner’s personal life. There’s a myriad of factors: mental health, personal circumstances, finances and societal pressures among other things to take into account here. 

No one is perfect, and like I mentioned previously, we can’t always expect each other to forgo other commitments, obligations and priorities in favor of putting the relationship first. 

It’s a balancing act for sure, but isn’t that what life is all about?

There’s no traffic jams going the extra mile 

The limb I’m choosing to go out on is this: Love on its own is never enough. Before you jump down my throat, just hear me out. 

We’ve all gone through life “loving” hundreds of people, but not all of them have morphed into a continuous relationship. The part where the seams come unfurling is all in the effort. 

Friendships and relationships are like cars –– you need to check up on them every now and then to make sure no dashboard lights turn on. 

As they say, actions speak louder than words — unless they’re written in a love letter of course. There comes a point in time where it is no longer enough to say you love someone, you have to prove it.

The gesture doesn’t always have to be as grandiose as the movies and social media make it seem. Just let them know that you care.

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  1. Isabel Ximena Patino

    Perhaps the girlfriend is expecting too much.

    • I don’t think so. If he made a good effort at the start of the relationship, she wants to see a continuation of what he showed her in the beginning. She wants consistency.

  2. I think this was a wonderful thing to read, thank you

  3. This isn’t black and white. Asking this question means she has NO IDEA why it may be. She needs to communicate with her PARTNER. Not all of the commentary leavers. No one asked if he was doing okay. Just said he wasn’t at the same level as the start so he’s no longer in it. This is why relationships go sideways. Before people talk to their partners they listen to peeps NOT in the relationship. Grow up! If she leaves before asking him what’s up, she’s the toxic person in the relationship IMO. What bad advice you readers are giving. No wonder men no longer want to date. It’s become a drag with all the women deciding to assume and act rather than chill and communicate.