24 transactional relationship characteristics to be aware of

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Do you feel like you are in a relationship where you see things differently than your partner? 

You freely give your trust and affection and attention, but it feels like a toll or a scoring system is being kept? 

We’ve all been there. Relationships can start to feel like a competition or a power struggle. It’s an easy trap to fall into. It can make the relationship feel competitive and short of love. 

Here are the top characteristics to look out for to tell if your relationship is turning transactional. Let’s jump right in. 

1) You want everything to happen your way

When you have the feeling of entitlement or your partner expressed it, it can be a sign that your relationship is transactional. 

If your partner keeps telling you how everything has to be done a specific way they want it, or that they are “just a pushover,” or that you have to do things your way it can signal that a mental toll is being kept. 

This could be a red flag that something is off in your relationship. 

Instead of being open and honest with each other, you may find that your partner’s actions are an attempt to judge behaviors and take control of what happens in the relationship.

2) You feel guilty when you don’t do what they want

If you don’t feel like doing something your partner wants, no matter how trivial, and you find yourself feeling guilty about it, then this could be a sign that your relationship is highly transactional. 

Do you have a constant feeling like you are doing something wrong, or not living up to their expectations?

Does your partner tell you when they are upset with your words and actions? This can grate on your feelings of freedom and happiness. 

If the feeling of guilt, shame, inadequacy, and other negative emotions fill your interactions, it can be a sign that this isn’t a healthy relationship and is worth another look.

3) You feel pressured to do things you don’t want to do

In relationships where you are constantly feeling pressure to do something your partner wants or doesn’t want, the relationship can quickly feel transactional. 

They may tell you they only want to do things that you want to and that they would never force you into anything. But you can feel the pressure of their intimidation. 

If they keep leaving decisions up in the air and not being clear, then it is easy to feel as though your partner might be coercing or forcing you into doing something. 

If there is a hint of a power struggle, the focus of your interaction may not be what you believe it to be. 

While this article will shed light on the reasons why a relationship can feel like a transactional exchange, it can be helpful to speak to an experienced relationship coach to get more ideas to consider. 

Relationship Hero is a great site where you can access highly trained coaches. They are available to help you work through power imbalances in your relationships. They can also see how some transactional behaviors communicate a lack of respect when you are intimately connected with someone. 

I get it. I recently experienced relationships that started to go sideways. I started to feel disrespected and devalued and I didn’t want to discuss the details in depth with my friends and family. 

So I reached out to Relationship Hero for help. Honestly, I was at the end of my sanity. I couldn’t understand why my partner was holding grudges and why everything I did felt wrong. 

From the moment I got in touch, my relationship coach helped to see the issues in my relationship with penetrating clarity.

I was blown away by how empathetic my coach was. 

Within minutes, you can also receive powerful advice on how to navigate the degrading interactions you have. 

Click here to get started.

4) You always need to be right, no matter what

If you have a strong need to prove a point or to be right, it can be a sign that your relationship is transactional. 

It is easy to feel pressured in a relationship like this because you always want to think that you are right and that what your partner thinks is wrong. 

If your partner feels the same way and is constantly trying to show you that you are in the wrong and they are right, it can be a sign that they are keeping score of a system of behaviors that they are deeming good or bad. 

The issue is when you have no idea that they are doing this and resentment can easily build between you. 

5) You constantly have to prove yourself

If your partner is constantly put down for what they do or don’t do, and constantly has to prove themselves it can be a sign that a tally is being kept. 

If every mistake is always brought up as though it was a big deal, then you may have a relationship where there is no authenticity in the relationships, and where everybody’s needs are not being met correctly. 

Typically, a relationship lets each person openly discuss what they are going through. We have moments of ups and downs. 

A transactional relationship can feel competitive and you might have the feeling that you can’t relax easily. 

6) They make all the decisions

If your partner is always the one in control, and making all the decisions, it can be a sign of a transactional relationship. 

Your partner might make big or small decisions impulsively. Or they might not ask for your input or what you want. It can be a sign that they are not respecting you as an equal partner in the relationship. 

If you constantly feel as though your partner is never wrong, even when there was an obvious mistake on their part, this can be an indication that your partner is wanting to exert control over you and the relationship

Take notice if they never apologize or accept wrong-doing in the relationship and they are always right, then it can be a sign that they only care about themselves. 

7) They blame their mistakes on others

A relationship can quickly feel transactional if your partner is always blaming somebody else for their mistakes or doing things wrong by saying “it wasn’t me. 

Not taking responsibility can indicate that they are playing games. Your interactions or their description of your relationships with others can start to have a juvenile quality to them. 

If you feel like you are taking on a mature or parental role with your partner, it can be a sign that they are not taking ownership of their words and actions. 

8) They only look out for themselves

If your partner only cares about themselves and is not interested in your needs, they are most likely invested in the transactional relationship

If they don’t seem to care about your opinion or views, you will feel constantly disrespected by your partner

Do you suddenly find yourself trying to forbid them from doing something and they refuse to listen to you? 

This can be a sign that your relationship is highly transactional and that they are not respecting you as an equal partner in the relationship. 

9) You can easily point out all of your partner’s flaws, but you can’t see yours

If you notice everything that your partner does that is wrong, but still feel like you are perfect, it can be a sign that your relationship is transactional. 

As you deny your flaws, it can make it hard to see that your partner is not respecting your needs. 

If everything always feels focused on their needs, and never about the relationship itself, it can be a sign that you are both trying to look for ways to get around each other and one-up each other. 

10) You have a sense of being violated by what they do or say

If there are actions that violate you as an equal partner in the relationship, this is a red flag for transactional behavior. 

Any sort of abuse or violence demeans the relationship and shows that something is off. 

It can leave you feeling like all the work that you put into the relationship is for naught because nobody respects your needs or wants. 

11) They give ultimatums to you, but not to themselves

If your partner gives ultimatums to both you and them, they are using you as a tool in the relationship. 

It can feel like they are trying to control you because they do this to blame you for their faults and mistakes. 

Your partner does this by saying “I want x y and z,” and it could indicate that there is a high sense of power struggle in the relationship. 

Ultimatums show a lack of understanding and empathy. They can be signs that your relationship is on the path of a power struggle. 

12) They only respect or value themselves in the relationship

Does your partner only see themselves as valuable when doing something for the relationship? 

Do they spend quality time with you or tend to avoid interacting with you? 

If they never respect themselves or show any interest in their own needs or desires in the relationship, it can be a sign that you are being used as a tool for them to prove what kind of person they are. 

13) You don’t want your ideas to be questioned or acted upon

In a transactional type of relationship, your partner will only want to do what is best for them. 

If your partner never questions or pays heed to your ideas, it can be a sign that you are being used in the relationship. 

They might be seeing you as a means to an end. And this can make the relationship feel inherently transactional. 

14) You feel like you are being kept as an object

Feeling like someone’s possession or trophy can be a sign that your relationship is transactional. 

If they use you just to show what kind of person they are, it can be difficult to feel like anything good about the relationship ever comes from it. 

There may be a lot of power struggle in the relationship which makes it feel transactional, and not much respect is being shown towards one another.

15) They show little interest in making things better

If your partner doesn’t feel like making any changes or improvements to how you interact, it can be a sign that there is not much affection or respect left in the relationship. 

Having the desire to want to make things better tends to happen because your partner is invested in the relationship. 

Otherwise, you will feel like there is nothing good that will come from the relationship because they don’t care about you when they choose to be with you. 

If your partner never tries to make things better or work out their issues by first dealing with their issues, this can be a sign that there is more transactional behavior within the relationship. 

16) You feel like they are only with you because you are someone to them

If your partner only sees you as a means to an end and nothing more, it can be a sign that they will never truly care about you or invest time in the relationship

You may find yourself feeling more ignored and not respected by your partner than cherished. 

If all of your partner’s actions seem like they are only to get something out of somebody else and have no real meaning, then it could be a sign that there is not much respect. 

17) They never ask or consider your needs 

If your partner fails to take any time or effort to see what you want, it can be a sign that they are not invested in you or the relationship and that it is transactional.

They will see your opinions as just opinions, and not something to be considered and addressed. 

If they ignore your needs and wishes, it can make it hard for them to listen to anything that you have to say. 

18) They don’t seem willing to compromise 

If your partner fails to compromise on anything and matters remain unresolved, it can be a sign that the relationship is transactional. 

If your partner is unwilling to compromise, and always wants things their way, there is a lack of respect for the relationship in general. 

There isn’t any regard for working toward a mutually beneficial outcome together.

19) They are quick to get angry or frustrated when you have nothing to do with the situation

If your partner quickly casts you aside because they are upset, it is a major sign that your interaction is transactional. 

It can be difficult for your partner if they don’t understand why you would do something that is not in your control. 

If they don’t see that there are things that aren’t done in their power to change or a situation that they can’t control, it can make it hard for them to handle feeling frustrated and angry.

20) They get mad at everything and anything that isn’t related to you

If your partner gets mad at everything and everything, it can be a sign that they don’t care about your perspective in the relationship

This can feel frustrating because your partner will not know the real reason you were doing something or how much you care about the situation. 

They will think that you care less about them, and it can make them feel like you don’t care about yourself either.

To get a clear picture of how much respect there is in the relationship, both partners need to be able to talk things out and resolve their problems. 

The only way to achieve this is if they are committed to doing so.

The main thing about having respect in a relationship is making sure that both people are investing themselves in it. 

If one person isn’t committed, it can make it hard for the other person to feel respected when they aren’t invested in what they have to say or do.

21) You never feel like you are respected or valued by them

You will only ever see how much your partner values you when they respect you and treat you with the same level of respect they treat themselves. 

If your partner is ignoring your requests, wishes, and needs, it can be a sign that there is not enough respect in the relationship for them to put forth any effort into helping fix it. 

This is a clear sign that your relationship is transactional. 

As I mentioned earlier, I went through a similar experience. Last year my relationship reached a dead-end. 

I’m talking do-not-resuscitate. Over and out. We’ve reached the point of non-return. 

I was ready to walk away because I felt like we were playing games with one another. But before I did that I took a step I’d never taken before. I reached out to a professional relationship coach. 

I was blown away. Even my highest hopes were exceeded. 

The coach I spoke to at Relationship Hero quickly broke down the walls I’d built up in my relationship and helped me understand how relationships can quickly turn transactional. 

This coach was genuine and very helpful.

They took apart every single lie I was telling myself and helped me understand how to truly resolve how I felt. 

My relationship isn’t perfect now, but it’s so much better than what it was. Most importantly, I’m hugely optimistic about the future again. 

Click here to check out Relationship Hero and see if they can help you, too.

22) You never feel like you are respected or valued by them

You will only ever see how much your partner values you when they respect you and treat you with the same level of respect they treat themselves. 

If your partner is ignoring your fundamental needs, it can be a sign that they don’t truly respect you or your relationship with them. They simply don’t want to put in any effort to fix it. This is a clear sign that your relationship is transactional. 

As I mentioned earlier, I went through a similar dead-end experience that I didn’t want to deal with. 

I wanted to end it. I was ready to walk away because I felt like we were playing games with one another and the relationship was feeling superficial and childish. 

But before I pulled the plug, I tried something I never thought of before. I reached out to a professional relationship coach. 

I was blown away and pleasantly surprised. 

The coach I spoke to at Relationship Hero quickly broke down the walls I’d built up in my relationship. They helped me see my detrimental patterns and understand how my relationships were quickly turning more transactional in nature instead of loving. 

This coach was genuine and clear and a little ruthless. And just what I needed. 

They took apart every single lie I was telling myself and helped me understand how to truly resolve how I felt. 

My relationship isn’t perfect now, but it’s so much better than what it was. 

Most importantly, I’m hugely optimistic about the future again and how I will move forward in my interactions. 

Click here to check out Relationship Hero and see if they can help you, too.

23) You don’t feel like they are listening to you or respecting your opinion

If you don’t feel like they want to hear what it is that you want, need or how you feel, it can be a sign that there isn’t any love and trust in your relationship. 

This can make the relationship feel quite transactional. 

These feelings of not being heard or respected by your partner can make it hard for both people to work through the problems that are present in the relationship.

24) You don’t feel like they are listening to you or respecting your opinion

If you don’t feel like they want to hear what it is that you want, need or how you feel, it can be a sign that there isn’t any love and trust in your relationship. 

This can make the relationship feel quite transactional. 

These feelings of not being heard or respected by your partner can make it hard for both people to work through the problems that are present in the relationship.

Get your confidence and dignity back

If transactional relationships are left unchecked, these types of behaviors can lead to an abusive relationship. 

Once your partner stops respecting you and begins to use you as a tool, this can lead to emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or even worse. 

Signs that your partner is using you as a tool can be very difficult to see because their actions come from a place of complete powerlessness. They are trying to regain control.

You might be seen as the source of your partner’s problems. They might feel like it is easier for them if they don’t have to take personal responsibility for their actions or feelings. They will start to check out of the relationship. 

Let’s be honest. How are feeling? 

When relationships turn transactional, they can make use feel neglected and objectified. 

It’s not easy to change or accept when our relationships are going badly. But they are also great moments to learn and try something new. 

Who ever thought we had it all figured out? 

There’s always more to learn. In relationships, we hold a mirror of understanding up to one another. We can see what lies we tell each other and what lies we tell ourselves. 

I learned about this from the shaman Rudá Iandê. He taught me how cut through the obstacles and the lies we tell ourselves about love. He helps us to see why we can feel like we are playing meaningless games with others. 

In this transformational free video, Rudá encourages us to face the facts about why we feel inadequate in our relationships and why we put up with things that hurt us and make us feel low. 

While watching, I felt like someone understood my struggles to find a deep and meaningful connection. 

If you’re done with feeling alone in a relationship, with wasting your time on a love that doesn’t work, then I invite you to watch this short video. 

Click here to watch the free video.

It can be hard to take a step back from our relationships and look at them with fresh eyes. But the more you can get to the core, the better your interaction and future relationships will be. 

It’s time to get your sense of confidence back. 

Are you ready? 

Can a relationship coach help you too?

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

I know this from personal experience…

A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.

If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

Click here to get started.

The above link will give you $50 off your first session - an exclusive offer for Love Connection readers.