Why Guys Say "If You Want To" And What It Means

The “You can come if you want to” vs. “I want you to come” debate was recently brought to my attention and is apparently prompting IRL outrage in women all across our great nation. According to the internet, if a girl asks “Do you want me to come over tonight?” and a guy responds “If you want to,” it’s the most disrespectful text next to “New phone, who dis?” Based on my research (aka scrolling through memes on Insta in between baseball innings), it seems like the general consensus among women is that “if you want to” essentially translates to “I guess we can hang out… I don’t really want to and will put in zero effort but if that’s what you want, I guess I’ll suck it up and smash.” So why do guys continue to say “if you want to”? Let’s me unpack this.

1. He Doesn’t Know It Bothers You

Guys often take a lot less time thinking about semantics. Lots of dudes apply the same strategy to choosing words as we all do to parallel parking: we’re close enough. When a man says, “If you want to,” he often genuinely means it. We’re not saying it to make you feel unimportant, we’re saying it to give you options and not make you feel obligated to do something you don’t want to do. It’s guy speak for “if you want to come through, awesome, but no pressure. I understand if you don’t want to watch me scream at the Cavs game.”

2. He Doesn’t Want To Look Clingy

But, admittedly, it’s not always that simple. Dating is like playing emotional hot potato — no one wants to be the one who gets stuck holding the scorching ball of feelings. When he says, “If you want to,” he might be afraid that he likes you more than you like him and is trying to play it cool. Yes, it’s a game, and it’s about as fun as Go Fish or Russian Roulette. When we feel threatened or insecure, we will go to Secret Service level extremes to protect our egos. It’s a flaw, like removing the audio jack from the iPhone, but I swear we’re working on it (after we turn 30).

3. He Feels Like It’s A Trap

If the conversation went anything like the one above, it’s possible he feels like you’re playing games. If it’s early on in the relationship, he might think you’re trying to mind-fuck him into saying that he likes you first. One of our least favorite things in the world, besides accidentally drinking a warm beer, is feeling like we’re being forced to say something we don’t want to say. No one wants to be held at emotional gunpoint, and men are no exception.

4. He’s Trying *Not* To Move The Relationship Forward

And now it’s time for the worst-case scenario. If a guy is doing the “if you want to” dance, it’s possible he either doesn’t care or is deliberately trying to be a jackass to keep you from getting too close. If this is the case, the guy likes exactly whatever y’all are doing now and is making sure you never complete your journey from the Booty Call Kingdom to the Relationship Realm. If you don’t want anything more serious either, keep on truckin’. If you do, grab your gear and bail out faster than WWII paratrooper.

So how do you know which one it is?

You gotta talk to him. Sorry. I know, words are gross, but it’s that or die alone. Up to you.