Transactional love is NOT love.
Updated: Nov 8
The other day, I was watching a movie where the male character jumped into freezing cold water to bring back a drifting boat, saving his lady friend and her daughter from a perilous winter storm on an island. It was a beautiful, heroic scene. While we were taking in the moment, a friend of mine blurted out “He’s gonna get laid tonight!” After having a good laugh, I began to think about this assumed transaction, super common in male/female relationships.
“I’ll do something really nice and sacrificial for you and then you give me sex.”
I began thinking about how degrading this belief is to the beauty of sex and to intimate relationships in general.
Relationships are about connection. They are about intimacy. They are about feeling safe enough to share the most vulnerable parts of yourself, without fear. It’s about sharing yourself freely, safely, because you trust the other person entirely.
The second a partner in a relationship utters the words “you owe me intimate parts of yourself because I gave you _______”, the safety is gone. This is no longer about connection - it is about a transaction. There is a deep, unspoken betrayal of the most sacred and vulnerable gift - intimacy.
I’ve heard a LOT of BULLSHIT about men needing sex more than women and that women are obligated to give their man what they want, whether they feel like it or not. I have felt this pressure myself, in the past.
I have had MANY clients share sexual intimacy concerns, feeling there was something wrong with them because they couldn’t bring themselves to fulfill the “transaction”. What they “owed” their partner seemed like the primary concern; the loss of desire for connection merely an afterthought.
Today, this breaks my heart. Of course we lose connection, when we feel the pressure of a transaction! The sacredness of intimacy is betrayed, as soon as it is demanded, instead of requested, with a “no” truly a respected option.
Intimacy in all respects - emotional vulnerability, past trauma, present pain, personal conundrums, conflict, fears, insecurities, joy, silliness, sensuality, power, courage, displays of personal gifts, laughter, expression of boundaries, failures, battlescars, affection, illness, disappointment, love, and sex - is privileged territory. It’s not earned with money or acts of service, or kind words, or fluffy compliments. It is gained with one ingredient only. Trust.
When someone comes to me with the complaint they cannot bring themselves to be intimate with a person or partner, I dig deeper. So far, this has always lead me to a trust issue. Intimacy becomes guarded when emotional trust is wounded. It’s not something to judge ourselves for - it’s actually a natural protective measure we can thank our bodies for. It’s simply an indicator something is out of alignment.
It’s time we expand from our archaic version of transactional love. Because it’s not love at all. Intimacy is freely given, when safety and trust are present. If we find our relationships are lacking in intimacy, we get to get real about where we haven’t created a nourishing safe space for our partner and haven’t honored our own need of a safe place for any relationship to take place.
Is intimacy an area you have felt like a failure? Is it something you feel like you owe someone? Are you ready to experience open, free, beautiful lines of intimacy, in all of your relationships?