All That You Need To Know About Transactional Relationships

Characteristics of transactional relationships can be identified by their focus on exchange rather than on the development of a deeper connection. These types of relationships are typically short-term and revolve around the completion of a specific task or the attainment of a particular goal. They are often characterized by a lack of emotional involvement or investment in the other person and may involve a degree of self-interest or even manipulation in order to achieve the desired outcome. While transactional relationships can be useful and necessary in certain situations, they are not typically conducive to the development of long-term, meaningful connections.

Have you heard about transactional relationships before? Maybe you’re already a part of one already. Being in a transactional relationship can be challenging. Aside from the terms and conditions that you will agree to, a transactional relationship may improve or deteriorate over time, depending on how you and the other person adjust to it. One of the reasons why people go into transactional partnerships is due to family pressure, and even social standing.  But, the question is, is it possible to turn a transactional partnership into a romantic one? A transactional relationship is an interesting term. The first thing that came to mind is something like an arranged marriage or selling off your daughter to gain favours for the family.

A transactional relationship is when couples treat marriage as a business deal. 

Kind of like someone brings home the bacon, and the other partner cooks it, sets the table, and wash the dishes, while the breadwinner watches football. Traditional gender roles are excellent examples of transactional relationships.

What is a transactional personality?

There’s a lot of mumbo-jumbo on the types of interpersonal relationships and the personality types based on those pairings. To keep things simple, a transactional personality is someone who never acts (positively or negatively) if there’s nothing to gain. It sounds like common sense unless you think about all the charity and bullying that goes all over the world. A lot of things in this world are done on a whim or do not follow the usual logic and common sense — things such as infanticide, genocide, and non-alcoholic beer.

A person with transactional behaviour will only give if they can take.

They apply this to all their relationships, including their romantic partner. A transactional romantic relationship is when someone keeps tabs on what they give and receive from their spouse. It is a behaviour, meaning it’s deeply rooted in a person’s subconscious and personality. It is not entirely negative, which is why it escapes the notice of holier-than-thou new-age psychiatrists. A person with a transactional personality, they views all relationships, including romantic ones, as transactional relationships.


Transactional relationship vs. relational relationship

How can you differentiate transactional vs. relational relationships?

A true partnership is one unit. Spouses are not against each other; they are considered as one entity by God and State. True couples don’t care what they give to their partners; in fact, true couples enjoy giving to their partners. There’s also the problem of people changing once they are in a relationship. It is what makes things so complicated. So how does one deal with giving to their partner without them taking advantage of their benevolence?

Transactional relationships are more or less symbiotic and fair. There are forms of relationships that are more like slavery than a partnership. Transactional relationships are at least on the side of a “healthy” form of relationship. It is not ideal, which is why it is receiving some flak from modern love theorists.  But a give-and-take relationship with sex sounds closer to prostitution than a marriage. That’s the main issue with transactional relationships.

True marriages are about going through everything together as one entity. There’s no giving and taking. You and your partner are the same; taking from your partner is the same as taking something from your pocket. Giving to your partner is no different than investing in yourself. It’s more like giving your partner sexy lingerie or viagra.

Ten characteristics of transactional relationships

Even though they are not the best sort of relationships, transactional partnerships are extremely common. Some people inadvertently already have a transactional relationship. Are you curious if you already belong to one? Here are some transactional relationship characteristics that you need to know.

  • This relationship is focused on the benefits

The relationship is exactly like a business transaction. In a business, before you agree to a contract, you want to know the benefits that you will get, right? You both concentrate on what you stand to gain from the partnership and not because you love each other. For example, since the man is the sole breadwinner, his partner would focus on how much he brings to the table. Now, if the other party is focused on managing the home, the other will expect good results in home-cooked meals, a clean home, and healthy kids.

  • You are both expecting something

What is a transactional relationship but a unique form of a business deal? Each one knows what the other can offer in their partnership. This could be money, fame, family standing, legal status, power, and even other legalities. For the couple concerned, they would see their union as a fair contract. You can have many expectations from one another, but don’t expect love and affection to be included in a transactional relationship.

  • You focus on what you get, not what you give

Romantic couples desire to give more to one another, and they don’t keep track because we wholeheartedly give when we are in love. However, the transactional relationship definition is based on business transactions. Each one strives to gain more out of the deal, rather than what they give. They desire strong returns, as they see their relationships as investments. Both spouses are adamant about getting what they want from the very beginning of the marriage and will not allow their conditions to be unfair. They make the partnership or marriage work as long as they are both content with the services they receive.

  • A prenuptial agreement is important

Prenuptial agreements help in securing your rights as a couple. It lists the debts that you both owe to one another in the relationship and the consequences of breaking any promises or in this case, any agreements that you have. Prenups are especially more crucial if you and your partner had a tumultuous relationship ending. If not, you can end up with the shorter end of the stick. A couple would sign prenuptial agreements before they decide to enter a transactional relationship or get married. After all, they need to protect what’s theirs.

  • You’re not in a healthy relationship

Many believe that transactional relationship is unhealthy because of the strict give-and-take rule. However, if both spouses remain loyal to one another, don’t you think, in a way, it’s beneficial? This connection can function even in the absence of love if the participants are sincere and morally upright, accept accountability for their vows, words, and deeds, and respond positively to challenging circumstances. It all depends on how committed you are to your spouse.

  • Limited emotional involvement

In conventional relationships, you desire one another’s company and strengthen your romantic bond. You laugh at each other and make memories, which makes you happy, and everything seems better. However, it hurts terribly when you argue or break your pledge of love. The only thing that matters in transactional relationships is that they are purely based on their contracts. As long as you see the results you want, it doesn’t matter if your spouse forgets your anniversary. Emotional expectations cause less heartbreak.

  • You’re not a team

One of the transactional relationship examples that we could share is how you and your partner are against each other, rather than working as a team. In a relationship that is transactional, you are never on the same team. You don’t have the same goals and dreams. Instead, both of you consider the benefits of the partnership that you’ve created. When you want something, it’s not for both of you, it’s only for you. If you’re not satisfied with the outcome, you can complain, especially if you feel you’ve given more than what you have received.

  • Reliance on contracts and results

You don’t care about one another’s efforts, you are focused on your expected results, and that’s it. You’re in a transactional relationship, meaning until you see the results, you have no feelings. It doesn’t matter if the other offers consolation, efforts to make you better, or gives you a sweet surprise. You’re not in your partnership for that. Transactional relationships begin with business in mind; therefore no one is concerned with the other’s pain or even unfortunate circumstances.

  • You give each other penalties and rewards

Like any business transaction, if one performs well or delivers what is expected of them, they will receive a reward. If they don’t, they won’t be punished, but they may receive some repercussions. Such interactions heavily rely on reinforcements, both positive and negative. This is why you do well and what’s expected to bring the best results, thus getting what you want.

  • Your definition of a successful relationship is different

Because of their different beliefs, couples in transactional relationships have distinct definitions of what makes up successful or healthy partnerships. When asked to describe happiness or a successful relationship, they will probably first evaluate interactions, including transactions, according to how much they received in return for what they invested. Basically, in transactional relationships, they view success and pleasure as entailing achieving all of their goals.


Five advantages of transactional relationships

Because of their allure and benefits, many people, especially those who belong to the social elites, consciously pursue transactional relationships. Sad as it may seem, these people aren’t afraid to express their goals in life and continue pursuing them, even in marriage. These are the five advantages of being in a transactional relationship:

  • Honesty

One of the foundations of a transactional relationship is honesty. Being honest about expectations, capabilities, and limitations is essential to ensure that they satisfy both parties. It also helps establish clear boundaries and ensure that both parties get a fair deal. If issues or problems arise during the transaction, being honest and transparent can help to resolve them quickly and prevent further complications. Failing to be honest in a transactional relationship can lead to misunderstandings, resentment, and potential legal issues.

  • Equality

A transactional relationship is focused on achieving a specific outcome or goal rather than building a long-term connection. As a result, achieving equality is often more about ensuring that both parties feel they have received a fair deal rather than establishing a deeper emotional connection or addressing systemic inequalities. In a transactional relationship, both parties should have equal bargaining power and equal opportunity to negotiate the terms of the transaction.

  • Give and Take

In a transactional relationship, both believe that investing in a relationship is important. Since this type of relationship is based on transactions, they ensure that both parties are satisfied. In business, you want to ensure that your business partner is satisfied in order to produce great and expected results, right? Partners are aware of what the other expects from them. So they make sure that aside from taking, they will also give.

  • Legally secure

Transactional marriages are much safer and more secure if it doesn’t work out. Why? It’s because both parties will opt for a prenuptial agreement. This means that if someone cannot maintain the relationship, there will be consequences. It also covers scenarios in which you could desire a divorce. When your relationships are transactional, divorce litigation is simple and easy. The terms and conditions are also very clear from the start.

  • A happier ending

What if your transactional partnership shifts to a transactional romantic relationship? If the couple is both committed to the marriage and fulfills one another’s needs, it’s possible to develop some romantic feelings. At first, it may not be as intense as love, but you may develop friendship, companionship, and then love for each other. That doesn’t mean the transactions are fraudulent, though. Instead, you can now consider each other’s emotions and points of view. This makes everything so much better.

Five disadvantages of transactional relationships

While transactional relationships have their advantages, there are also some potential disadvantages to consider:

  • A dull life

You have set duties and responsibilities when you are in a transactional relationship. In the long run, you’ll feel that life is too monotonous because of the lack of excitement and variety. You assume that your relationship is dull and never give them a chance to spice things up. Of course, you can’t complain to your partner or ask that you put extra effort into being sweet, adventurous, or fun. That’s already out of the transaction, right?

  • Too much competition

A romantic relationship is all about growing together, which is the opposite of transactional relationships. You might be too focused on your end goal and business that you don’t realize you’re in a relationship. Thus, you end up competing for who’s the best between the two of you. Soon, you might start feeling resentful and angry toward your partner. It’s tiring to compete with the person who should support and love you. Misunderstandings can become too common, making your partnership tiring and stressful.

  • You’re bound to clash

Couples in happy romantic relationships will work hard to overcome differences. For the sake of love, they learn to adapt, change, and work together. However, in a transactional relationship, you don’t need to make your partner feel loved. You only exchange what you need and reap the benefits of this contract. Because of this, you two might behave rudely and selfishly toward one another. You might not even have compassion or empathy towards each other, which could lead to fights, disagreements, and an unhealthy relationship.

  • Not a marriage

Soon, if you’re in a transactional relationship, you’ll realize that you’re stuck in a business deal, and not a marriage between two people. You need to work exceptionally to meet your contract’s expected results. There’s no love, and this makes your marriage or union a load. Sooner or later, one would realize that it’s hard to be in this situation. What if one falls in love and the other stays in the transactions?

  • Transactional family

A transactional relationship will become a transactional family when they have kids. Children need a secure and loving environment to grow up properly. How can a transactional relationship mould children as they grow up? This is one of the hardest realizations of the people involved in this setup.

Children born to this type of family will not comprehend the true meaning of sacrifice, loyalty, faith, or compromise. They will only develop in the future to create another loveless union.

Five reasons why you shouldn’t settle for a transactional relationship

Like any other relationship, we’ve seen that there are also advantages and disadvantages in transactional relationships. Relationship counselling experts don’t recommend being involved in this type of relationship for many obvious reasons. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t settle for a transactional relationship:

  • It’s a loveless union

Imagine the unconditional sharing of love, kindness, consolation, affection, and all other positive emotions, these are the foundation of all relationships. Unfortunately, everything becomes conditional with transactional relationships. Transactional relationships often lack emotional connections, which can make them feel shallow and unfulfilling. Remember, positive feelings are essential for human survival. We can’t survive in a relationship without love, care, and kindness. If you pursue this, you’ll be in an unfulfilling and loveless union.

  • It’s not the ideal setup for your kids

When you have kids, you will want the best for them. As they grow up in an environment of transactional relationships, they will feel confused and even envious of other families. They will eventually realize that something is wrong with their household. Unfortunately, they will learn to accept their reality, and as they grow up, they will harbour resentment toward their parents for not giving them a normal and loving family that every child deserves.

  • You’re risking your happiness

You won’t experience happiness in other ways if you agree to a transactional relationship. It’s because you’re in a bind that will only serve the purpose of fulfilling a certain goal, and this doesn’t include your happiness. Sure, you will feel fulfilled if you see results, but to what extent? Obviously, getting married and starting a family are unnecessary for happiness, but you need a companion as you age.

  • It’s a stressful partnership

It’s typical to feel stressed out and develop anxiety disorders when you’re constantly on guard to safeguard your needs. You soon feel genuinely disappointed by failures, can’t be content with what you own, and have kids who are progressively drifting away from you because of your odd set-up. This type of relationship won’t allow you to build a loving home, which you deserve.

  • You deserve better

Speaking of what we deserve, sure, you may think that the gains that you’ll have are worth the transactional union, but until when? Weigh in all the pros and cons and see if you will indeed benefit from this transactional relationship. Think of your future and your happiness. How to transform a transactional relationship Are relationships transactional and hopeless? The good news is that it’s not. If you are in a transactional relationship and you want to transform it into a romantic and lasting relationship, then you can do so. Having a genuine romantic relationship and intimacy is not impossible.


  • You can start with the following:
  • Don’t bring up previous errors. Instead, focus on your future and work on it together.
  • Don’t give the family credit for your contributions. Do something because you want to, not because you can keep track.
  • Do not view your spouse as a competitor. Instead, view this person as your ally. You will work together to achieve a common goal.
  • Never consider your relationship to be a burden. Change your mindset and view it as an opportunity to work together as a team.
  • Never allow a day to go by without providing for your spouse. Do it not because you’ll gain something in return. Do it because your heart wants you to.
  • Find solutions together. It’s not that hard to work together. Start with communication and from there, start opening up to each other.
  • Do everything—including the chores—together. This is a fun way to build intimacy. You might realize that you’ve been in love all along.
  • Sacrifice to ensure your lover is happy. The happiness that you will feel when you do something out of love is different and much more fulfilling than goal-based actions.
  • Consider your partner’s reservations. It will, of course, take time to get used to transformational relationships. There will be challenges along the way, but since you’re used to working on a common goal, this will be as such.
  • Give your life to your spouse. Having goals in life is good, but when you are in a relationship, you’ll submit to your spouse, too. You’ll respect, acknowledge, and treasure one another.
  • All obligations are shared between partners. There’s no contract, just pure love, respect, and friendship. Wouldn’t this be beautiful?
  • Start being intimate with each other. Talk, spend time together, show your vulnerability, and allow yourself to be happy.

Remember, practice and repetition help to create habits. Of course, changes won’t happen immediately. But if you and your partner deliberately practice it, it may eventually become a habit. The key is the willingness of both partners to change. It is the most difficult aspect of transitioning from transactional relationships to romantic partnerships. If everything else fails, you might experiment with different approaches to fostering love in your relationship.

Some important questions!

Since we have discussed everything about a transactional relationship, from its characteristics to consequences, it’s time to take a closer look at some of the questions that might prove worthy in this direction.

How do I stop being transactional?

Reduce your standards, give as much as you would like to get, and quit keeping track of the contributions that each of you makes to the relationship. Be considerate to your partner, and do not make everything about you. Focus on building deeper connections, practising active listening, being authentic, and by showing empathy and support to your partner.

What would happen if I stopped being transactional?

If you can quit being transactional, then that’s significant progress. It means you will improve in all facets of your life. By developing genuine connections, you’ll learn to be happy. It’s not always about the end goal or the contract. Life can offer so much more if you allow yourself to open up.

Love should be the base of any relationship!

In the end, it’s your and your partner’s decision if you feel you’re benefiting more in your current setup or if you’re ready to level up. Transactional relationships might not work with some, but they could work for you. Therefore, transactional relationships aren’t necessarily good or bad. It all depends on the situation. Just be mindful of what you will decide, and think of your future kids, before signing up for a transactional relationship. With better judgment, you can choose the relationship style that will work for you.


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