Don't Let Yourself Get Trapped In A Transactional Relationship

There’s a widespread problem in today’s dating landscape where many women are finding themselves neck-deep in transactional relationships.

By Jenny White3 min read

A transactional relationship is inherently self-serving and self-motivated, where one party deems themselves to be superior and entitled to another person’s efforts and investment for little to nothing in return in terms of growth, trust, and loyalty. 

Can any relationship survive on a transactional basis where the “unspoken contract” implies that the other person is “convenient for now” and is, therefore, expendable?

Transactional vs Transformative

There are two types of relationships: transactional and transformative. A transactional relationship is focused on self-serving interests where a person asks, “What are you going to do for me and what will I get out of it?”

A transformative relationship is centered around both people asking, “How can we help each other and achieve our goals and dreams together for the betterment of us both?”

A transactional relationship provides no safety, comfort, or reassurance where the injured party is balancing a tight rope of insecurity and precariousness. Failures and mistakes are some of the fastest ways to determine if a relationship is transactional or transformational. If transactional, then there isn’t much room for conflict, messiness, mistakes, etc., because the relationship doesn’t have a foundation of loyalty, trust, and protection.

Failures are one of the fastest ways to determine if a relationship is transactional or transformational.

These are also known as “asymmetrical relationships,” in which one party overshadows the other, where they‘re devalued and very often exploited:

“We’ve been together for a while. I have a lot of affection for her, I guess, but I wouldn’t say I’m in love. We have good sex. But it’s not the kind of sex I could see myself having for the rest of my life. Not that I don’t enjoy it – I do, we do – but I don’t think that I wouldn’t wonder if there were something better out there if we carried on down the path I think she thinks we’re heading down. I don’t think I could marry her, is what I’m saying, I guess. But I don’t think I want to break-up with her just now, because, if I‘m honest, I’d prefer to be with her than without her ‘in the meantime’.”

Again, ladies, this is a widespread problem. If a man doesn’t want to commit to you, he’s not serious about you and he doesn’t love you. You must think long and hard about spending any extended period of time with any man cohabitating, in prolonged engagements, in “situationships,” or any instance where he balks at commitment. This is a transactional relationship, and it will fail.

The Blueprint of a Transactional Relationship

A transactional relationship can often be rooted in disparities concerning social value, especially if the other person is deemed much more attractive. It’s commonly seen in relationships where one person’s sexual and social capital is said to be ranked higher than the other person’s. 

Like the above example, the man remains on the lookout for someone “better” and has no intention of committing. And he displays total disregard for how this will affect this woman’s life, her well-being, and her future marriage prospects.

You’re providing him with what’s convenient for him for the time being, with no sincere willingness on his part to commit. 

"Golden penis syndrome” is also a prime example of how this dynamic plays out where a reasonably attractive man who has social skills and popularity can command attention from dozens of women at a time. Men with options can have their pick and choose, and they may deem a majority of their relationships to be transactional. Yet some men who don’t have many options are still content to use up a woman’s youthful years while insisting in the back of his mind (but NEVER saying it out loud to her) that “he can do better,” and he’s just waiting for the “perfect” woman to come along. 

If you’re not the “perfect” woman for him, always keep in mind he’s quietly exercising his options while being intent on wasting your better years. This is transactional — you’re providing him with what’s convenient for him for the time being, e.g., sex, companionship, and emotional intimacy (a.ka. wife on a girlfriend’s salary), with no sincere willingness on his part to commit. 

How To Vet and Screen Someone Who May Be Looking To Exploit You in a Transactional Relationship

One of the most obvious tells that you’re in the crosshairs of a transactional relationship is that the person doesn’t respect you — and they have no real desire to commit to you. They demonstrate no genuine appreciation, concern, or compassion for you as a person. They have no regard for your life’s vision, dreams, goals or any other important aspects about you that a person who loves you would want and expect to cultivate and nourish. 

A person respects you when they‘re interested in far more than what they can get out of you, especially beyond what’s “convenient.” And they will be fully present and accountable to you in a myriad of ways.

A person respects you when they‘re interested in far more than what they can get out of you.

They will consistently value your time and efforts, and they will emphasize they value you as a person. They listen to you, empathize with you, and have your best interests at heart. They care about your feelings and assume a shared obligation and responsibility in safeguarding your feelings in the relationship.

Above all, ladies, he’ll commit to you and won’t drag his feet for years at a stretch and continue to devalue you. He’ll want to grow with you and ensure that you feel safe, secure, and respected in the relationship.

What Can You Do To Avoid Your Relationship from Becoming Transactional?

You may have to assess the person’s social and sexual value in relation to your own value. If a person can commodify you and categorize you as the “lesser” person in a relationship, they may very well deem you replaceable and disposable — while they remain in stealth mode keeping their eyes peeled for “the better deal.” Most of all, when “the next best thing” does come along, they will have no reservations in dumping you. 

I get it. People want people who are attractive and desirable. We want the biggest bang for our buck as far as what we want to achieve in terms of seeking a mate we’re happy and proud to be with. 

But using people as a convenient stepping stone to the next best thing is disingenuous, unscrupulous, and frankly, outrageous. It should be outrageous and unacceptable to you to settle for someone when they don’t fundamentally care about you.

Beware of users. As a woman, you have a lot to lose, and your future marriage prospects and your ability to have children is at stake. Your best bet is to unapologetically ditch the transactional user and find someone better suited for you and your long-term relationship goals.