Navigating Transactional Relationships: Characteristics, Implications, And Moving On
Relationships, to me, are the type of hike that leaves you breathless and overwhelmed; in a good way, but then at the same time, it’s like, you walk some more steps and stumble on a random rock that leaves you feeling dispirited and emotionally crushed. I can’t call myself an expert in relationships, but I can say that I have seen all kinds of relationships in my life. And the one that perplexes me the most is a transactional relationship.
Transactional relationships are exactly what it sounds like! A relationship is characterized by an exchange of services or emotions with an underlying expectation that it will be reciprocated. These kinds of relationships often lack love, depth, affection, and a genuine emotional connection between the parties engaged in one.
While there have been instances when a transactional relationship has been turned into a healthy and loving relationship, sometimes though it doesn’t work out in the end.
In this blog, we’re exploring the characteristics of a transactional relationship, how it might affect you, what are the advantages and disadvantages of a transactional relationship, and how you can move on to healthier relationships.
Characteristics of Transactional Relationships
A transactional relationship is a marriage or a commitment between two people who exchange services or emotions. More often than not people in this kind of relationship enter it to gain some kind of monetary benefit, support, status, education, goal, etc. The foundation of these relationships is not trust, love, and affection but rather superficial.
In the common world, you can find transactional relationships disguised as arranged marriages. Some couples may develop loving relationships in the long run, but more often than not the relationship remains transactional.
If you feel like you’re in a transactional relationship but are unsure, then here are some characteristics that can help you clear your dilemma;
- The central aspect of your relationship is “give and take”. You engage in this relationship with an expectation that the efforts you put in will be reciprocated.
- Transactional relationships often include achieving a specific goal or objective, such as meeting immediate needs or achieving short-term goals. Long-term commitment is typically missing from transactional relationships.
- Unlike healthy and loving relationships, transactional relationships lack emotional intimacy and meaningful connections between you and the partner you’re in the relationship with.
- The attachment in transactional relationships is usually conditional. Once you’re or your partner’s needs and expectations are met, the relationship might dissolve or fade with time, leaving no trace of any kind of affection or care.
- Another characteristic of a transactional relationship is that in this relationship, it’s you vs. the other person. Look at it this way; a transactional relationship is like a business deal. You’re focused on getting what you want from the relationship and so is the other person. You and your partner are never on the same page in the relationship.
- In a loving relationship, you and your partner focus on pushing each other to the best of your ability and savoring the journey, but in a transactional relationship, it’s all about the result. As long as the results are in favor of either party, the relationship is a success.
Examples of Transactional Relationships
Some common examples of transactional relationships can be;
- Marrying someone to strengthen family and clans. The relationship is not about sharing love or affection, but rather, collaborating to achieve a mutual goal.
- One person who cares about their career needs a partner who can take care of the other aspects of their life such as a house, family, social life, etc.
Advantages of Transactional Relationships
People with a strong social standing often seek transactional relationships for mutual gains. That is to say that even though, on the outside, transactional relationships might look apathetic, there are some advantages of such relationships as well;
- Transactional relationships are efficient. These relationships serve to accomplish goals and objectives efficiently, especially when the goals are in a professional setting where mutual benefits are sought.
- Transactional relationships allow you to set clear boundaries, prevent emotional drama, and ensure focus on the intended result. No one involved needs to worry about anything other than meeting the goals and objectives.
- In many situations, transactional relationships can help use the resources and skills that the people involved share. This can help the parties in the relationship learn from each other and grow individually as a person.
- In a transactional relationship, there’s equality. Because there is no emotional entanglement and involvement, there is no need to be selfless about one’s needs. You can be selfish and know there will not be “asking too much” or “getting too little” things to worry about.
- There have been instances where a couple entered a transactional relationship but ended up loving each other. In such a case, being in a transactional relationship can work in your favor. There might not be passionate love, but at least compassionate love. So, you know that even if there’s nothing to lose, there’s something like a friendship to gain.
Disadvantages of Transactional Relationships
Of course, not everything is without its disadvantages, even relationships. While transactional relationships might have their advantages, they have some disadvantages as well;
- Because transactional relationships lack emotional connection, it can leave you feeling unfulfilled and lonely. You might also miss out on finding meaningful connections because of your relationship.
- Transactional relationships are short-lived. Once you meet the requirements or expectations, the relationship might fade away. There’s always a sense of impermanence and instability within a transactional relationship.
- In such relationships, you don’t frequently interact with your partner and this can corrupt the trust between you, making it harder to find a genuine relationship in the future. Such relationships can often lead to trust issues and attachment issues in future relationships.
- In a transactional relationship, the roles and responsibilities are fixed. There is no connection and no intimacy, and this can cause you to feel bored. Because of this, the relationship can feel monotonous and uninteresting. Such feelings can often become a breeding ground for misunderstandings, unhappiness, and resentment.
- Another disadvantage of transactional relationships is that these relationships are bound to become a chore more than anything else. In transactional relationships, the focus is more on what you stand to gain. Instead of feeling adventurous, your relationship might feel like a job that needs to be finished.
- If there are children involved in the relationship, then a transactional relationship might impact their overall development and well-being. No love and more conflicts might teach the children that a relationship is meant to be rude and lonely. This can create trust issues as well as attachment issues in children.
How to Make Transactional Relationships Work?
While there are valid reasons why you shouldn’t enter a transactional relationship, it doesn’t mean that you can’t. If you wish to have a transactional relationship, then you can make it work too. Here are some ways to help you make your relationship work;
1. Establish clear communication: Make sure you openly communicate your expectations and boundaries with each other to ensure that you are on the same page when it comes to the relationship.
2. Maintain balance and be fair: Whether it’s a transactional relationship or other types of relationship, balance, and fairness are a must. Make sure you ensure that you and your partner both benefit from the relationship instead of being just one of you.
3. Acknowledge the limitations of the relationship: By now you know that transactional relationships come with various limitations, so make sure that you are aware of them and acknowledge them as they are meant to be.
4. Lower your expectations: Try to keep your expectations low so that you don’t feel disappointed later on. Try to prioritize the relationship over the transactions you are carrying on. Be rational with your expectations and acknowledge that the other person you’re in the relationship with is human too so they are bound to make mistakes. Remain cool and composed in such situations. This can be easily achieved by lowering your expectations.
4. Discuss finances: In a transactional relationship, you need to be serious and firm about the finances involved. Discuss the financial situation beforehand so that you both know what you’re getting into. This will also stop any future misunderstandings.
How to Move On to Healthy Relationships?
Now, if you are or have been in a transactional relationship but are thinking of moving on to healthier, emotional, and loving relationships, then here are some ways you can move on to transformative relationships from transactional relationships;
1. Do some self-reflection: Look back at your previous experiences and reflect on them. Figure out the pattern in your relationships to understand your motivations and needs better. Only when you know what you want or need can you move on to happier relationships.
2. Cultivate empathy: There might be a reason you are (or were) in a transactional relationship; lack of empathy. To move on to loving relationships, you need to cultivate empathy. Empathy can help you build more meaningful connections and can also allow you to understand and connect with others on a level that is not just superficial.
3. Seek common interests: When you have mutual interests, activities, and hobbies then that can also help you build more authentic and meaningful connections rather than just superficial ones. You can reach out to local communities and participate in activities that align with your interests to meet new and interesting people.
4. Nurture emotional connection: Another thing you can do to move on to transformative relationships is to nurture emotional connection and intimacy. Make sure that you place emotional intimacy over the transactional nature of the relationship.
You might not realize it, but transactional relationships play a huge role in different aspects of your life. While they can offer efficient ways to meet common goals and objectives, they can also become a source of unhappiness and emptiness that can prevent your relationship (and individual) growth.
Understanding the limitations of transactional relationships can help, While there are some advantages of transactional relationships, there are also disadvantages that you can’t completely ignore. Sometimes, a transactional relationship might work in your favor while in some cases, it can bring nothing but unhappiness and loneliness.
If you’re in a transactional relationship by choice, then there are ways you can assure the relationship works smoothly, however, if you’re looking to move on from transactional relationships to transformative relationships, then also there are ways to assure that you create genuine connections, emotional intimacy, and healthier commitment.
Just because you’re in a transactional relationship doesn’t mean you’re heartless or don’t deserve a loving relationship. Your relationship is yours and only you can decide what’s best for you. Who knows? Maybe your transactional relationship might end up turning into a loving and happy relationship!
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