Under what conditions is love transactional? Everything you need to know

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Do you have this feeling that love comes at a cost? 

Like you have to give something to get something in return?

Or someone expects something from you and you aren’t sure you want to give it? 

When someone offers you a cocktail or invites you for coffee is it ever given freely? Or does meeting up with someone have the implicit expectation for something more…like a request for sex? 

Under what conditions is love considered transactional? Let’s look at the top scenarios when this can happen. 

1) You have to give something to get something in the bedroom

Are you with someone who will only perform certain things in bed if they get it as well? This can be a sign that a relationship is transactional. 

Sex is a physical need. But it can be much deeper than that. 

It is also a way to express and get your needs met with someone you trust and who cares about you. 

It surely shouldn’t be a competition, but it can be. 

Does it feel like you have to perform a favor to have one in return? 

When was the last time you pleasured someone and did it for the act of making someone else feel good? 

Did you expect something in return? Perhaps an equally pleasurable result? 

If you go into a relationship or encounter like this, you are creating the conditions for a transaction of affection and love exchange. 

2) When you meet someone, you expect them to do something for you

You also don’t always get what you expect in relationships or interactions. This can be because you are thinking of them as transactional encounters. 

You might end up with a very different result than expected. 

Or maybe not. 

Maybe your expectations were wrong or they were met in a very different way than expected. 

Sometimes we think that if we meet someone, they’ll be someone who is going to make our life better. But we have no idea how. 

And then the reality is different and we may have to deal with it or change the situation.

People can be surprising and they. can give, or not give, in ways we would never expect. 

To avoid it feeling transactional, try to act without expecting anything from someone else in return. Give freely. Do what you like during the day, and keep your expectations low. 

3) You expect they will equally desire you

Are you starting to see the pattern for transactional exchanges in love? 

It feels like you’re giving something to get something back. Love and affection start to feel like a currency. 

This is especially true in our relationships. There is also a very clear expectation that if we do this, then we get to have what we want. If we like someone they will like us back. 

We will experience a high of excitement and pleasure and then move on with our lives with a disappointing outcome. 

We offer to go out on a date, share stories, and flirt, hoping to have the same desire and attraction poured back on us. 

But this isn’t always the case. Someone may be attracted to you and you might not feel the same about them. So why would you assume that someone you desire should give you the time of day? It’s a symptom of transactional love. 

4) Partners are seen as objects

When a love relationship is transactional, it creates the expectation that we are predictable people or possessions to attain. These relationships run the risk of seeing people as objects. 

For example, someone who can be bought off with a good experience in bed or a hot date.

Or, when we are rated and compared in the world. Men desire younger, prettier women. Women want men with money or status and so on. 

But in relationships, this often happens without us knowing it’s happening because we have that expectation of what will happen next.

Let’s be honest about wondering if your love is transactional. 

It’s not an easy feeling to endure. 

5) You use someone for sex with no emotional connection

Do you have expectations for a certain type of sexual relationship? This can make love or dating easily feel transactional. 

For example, if you meet someone attractive and available, they will give you what you need. But if they don’t, then you move on.

For many of us, this is how it feels when we enter a relationship or try to get someone to like us for anything other than who we are. We’re not giving them all of us.

And then they end up getting to know us and our true selves. And then we get rejected, or something else happens. 

This is a very common pattern that we may not even be aware of needs. We believe this is the way it works and if you don’t do this then you’re not being somebody’s love interest. 

But what if they’re not looking for a relationship? This can happen to anyone who has expectations of where the relationship may go.

6) You use someone to feel good

Sometimes we are so afraid of going into relationships where we might not get what we want. But most of the time we seek out interactions and affection because we want them to make us feel good. 

Ashamed people will often seek out a relationship or contact with people who they can feel safe and confident with. We often get what we need from others and then let go, but in some cases, there is no letting go.

Some people do things that are not good for us because they are not being honest about their true feelings. 

They may have very different intentions and motivations for engaging with us.

With someone who has this kind of relationship with you, it can be hard to distinguish if the feeling is real or the use of you as a toy, along the lines of transactional love.

7) You expect money or gifts for your time and affection

You may have seen these kinds of relationships: parents asking for money or gifts, friends expecting you to pay for time and affection, in return for entertainment. The expectation is that if you give something to someone else, they will meet your needs in return. This can result in a lot of guilt and resentment from the person on the receiving end because they will feel like they are being used.

This can happen in all types of relationships. We want to contact people who love us or don’t want us to go away, but we also feel a need to have them show us how they feel about material objects and gifts. This easily makes love feel transactional. 

8) You treat people like they belong to you

We often see others as things to own or use, and when we do, it can be a sign that love is transactional. 

We might treat their body or mind in a certain way. For example, we might know our partner will do what we want if given the chance. And that is when we kind of disrespect them because the person is being used in a transactional way.

Other examples include us expecting money from people to pay for our needs and our feelings. People can feel like things or objects that we can control. This is the outcome of transactional love when it comes to interactions. 

9) You expect people to work to make you happy

We enter relationships hoping that our partner will fulfill our emotional needs and desires, and this can quickly make a relationship feel transactional. 

It’s as if we are expecting them to work hard to make us happy with the expectation that it will all go back in a circle like a great circle of love. This is our way of being sure that the person will always do what we want or give us what we want. It takes away the need to develop a good relationship.

The person is put on a pedestal and expects us to get happy from them. 

If you’re in a relationship where you feel like this, ask yourself why and see if there is some sort of transaction involved. If so, it’s possible that it’s not love but instead something else.

10) You keep a positive image of yourself

Sometimes we expect that others will like us the way that we are, and this can reveal that a romantic relationship has an element of transactional love. 

Whether you think you’re fat or thin, ugly or beautiful, rich or poor, happy or sad. 

So if our partner doesn’t live up to our expectations, we feel disappointed. This can be hard to handle and can turn into resentment in relationships.

The way someone makes us feel also depends on what they expect of us and how they treat us. 

So if they give us their time and attention, we might feel motivated and stimulated but if they’re putting too much distance or don’t believe our person, then we might start to feel worthless and sad.

In a relationship, this can happen when one person is being used by the other. This can work in both ways so that you are using someone to make you happy as well.

Ultimately, if your relationships feel like they are transactional, are you comfortable with that? 

Some of us are ok with this. 

As long as things are clear and communicated honestly. 

In relationships where we expect things from our partners, we are missing out on the experience of being loved by someone who has good qualities and intentions but who may not be able to shower us with gifts and commodities. 

But they can give us something that is of value to us in other ways.

To put it differently, it is much better to love someone because you know what they’re all about and because of who they are than to be loved for what you can get out of them and how you can make them feel happy. 

That’s a true relationship where both people realize their own needs but care for each other nonetheless.

What are you going to do in the long run? 

What are you going to do when your looks or ability to move around starts to dwindle? 

Transactional love can be fine for most at a superficial level, but what happens when you want to operate at a deeper level? 

Have you stopped and asked yourself what is so validating and appealing with transactional love? 

You might find that it’s comfortable for you to exchange love like a transaction. 

If you start to feel uncomfortable with these interactions, you might want to start looking deeper at why this is the case. 

The mystery is whether people will do whatever we expect them to do. 

Honestly, they typically don’t. 

It’s hard to get any to do anything that they don’t want to do. 

We have desires and if we don’t get what we expect from an interaction, we can find ourselves feeling alone and helpless in our transactional affairs. 

You’re probably looking into this more because you want to feel a stronger connection in your relationships.

That’s normal. We’ve all been there. And it’s great to notice. 

So if it’s bothering you, now is the time to try something different, and to take your love and care for yourself to a new level. 

It’s all about letting your expectations fall to the floor and walking with the confidence that you don’t know what will happen next. That’s a key component of life. To deny that is to suffer. 

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If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

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