NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, December 11, 2021

Are You in a Transactional Relationship?

Transactional relationships are based on the premise of "If you do this for me, I'll do that for you."  These relationships are conditional with one or both people keeping a mental scorecard of what they're getting from their partner and basing what they'll give on this tally (see my article: Stop Keeping Score in Your Relationship).

Are You in a Transactional Relationship?

In the past, most arranged marriages were primarily transactional relationships.  It was understood that a husband would provide financial support in exchange for the wife providing sex and children, and taking care of household chores.  The power dynamics were such that women, who had less financially, were dependent on men for their economic well-being.

Contemporary transactional relationships are similar to business relationships where the focus is on "making the sale" and getting as much as they can.  But personal relationships aren't business relationships, and anger and resentment tend to develop if people see their personal relationships in terms of what they can get.

An example of a transactional interaction in a dating relationship is a man who is willing to spend a certain amount of money on a date with the expectation that the woman will have sex with him at the end of the evening.  This might sound like a thing of the past, but it's still alive and well in the dating world among people who have this transactional mentality.

Looking at these interactions on the surface, some people might not see the problem at first, but individuals who think and behave transactionally are constantly keeping an eye out for "getting mine" and they often retaliate if they don't feel they're getting what they deserve.

Signs of Transactional Thinking and Behavior in a Relationship
The following statements, whether spoken or unspoken, are examples of transactional thinking and behavior:
  • What can I get for myself in exchange for what I might give you?
  • I want to see results from you and if I don't, I'll be unhappy.
  • When you lose, I win.
  • My perspective is the right one.
  • If I don't get what I want, I'll blame you.
  • If I don't get what I want (or as much as I think I deserve) from you, I'll punish you (this can take the form of breaking up, criticism and put downs, the silent treatment, cheating or taking revenge in some other way, etc).
  • If I don't get what I want from you, I know I can get more if I was in a relationship with ___________.

Getting Help in Therapy
Ingrained ways of thinking and interacting can be difficult to see and even more difficult to change on your own.

A skilled psychotherapist can help you to make changes in yourself and in your relationship.

Rather than struggling on your own, seek help from a licensed mental health professional so you can lead a more meaningful life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 or email me.