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The transactional nature of intimacy

Updated: Feb 15, 2023


As I continue my research on relationships and sexuality, I would love to hear your anonymous thoughts on a thought-provoking question:

Is all s.-e.-x. transactional, regardless of the settings?


Your input could greatly contribute to our understanding of the complex nature of human intimacy.

What intrigues me about this question is that the word ‘transaction’ refers to the transition from one state to another, usually after an exchange of some ‘currency’ has been completed.


When attached to physical intimacy, the adjective ‘transactional’ is typically seen with a negative connotation, but are such transactions negative? Isn’t any transaction, regardless of currency and exchange designed for mutual benefit?


Imagine these four scenarios:


1. You are in an intimate, committed, healthy and exclusive relationship.

2. You meet someone at a party and have immediate chemistry.

3. You pay someone for an intimate encounter and have immediate chemistry.

4. You pay someone for an intimate encounter and have no connection at all.



SCENARIO ONE

You are in an intimate, committed, healthy and exclusive relationship.


Physical intimacy in this scenario can span across a broad spectrum of permutations.


At one end of the spectrum is the situation in which both partners simultaneously crave each other, have a clear and deep understanding of each other’s pleasure, and are physically, emotionally and mentally in tune. At the other end of the spectrum is the situation in which the encounter is one sided.


Let’s explore a specific scenario. Partner A feels an irresistible desire for their partner, partner B feels none. They love each other, their relationship is balanced, but today their energy just doesn’t match.


Partner A makes advances, partner B accepts the invite, knowing full well they are responding from a place of love, not one of arousal and desire. Partner B is genuinely happy to engage for the pleasure of partner A, and knows fully well they will enjoy the warmth, touch and desire of their partner, but know equally well they will however around the 30-40 mark, without ever going higher or reaching their peak. To make it clear, they are not sacrificing themselves, they will be present to the encounter, but their energy will be totally different from that of their partner.


Is partner A right to engage with B knowing they can’t meet them in the same energy? Is partner B right to allow such encounter despite knowing they won’t match the energy of the moment?



SCENARIO TWO

You meet someone at a party and have immediate chemistry.


Even though these two people only just met, the fact that there is mutual chemistry would psychologically lower many barriers.


Assume that after this encounter, these two people will never meet again.


Regardless of whether either of them is single or not, what are they responding to? Is it energy, hormones, emotions? Would you consider this encounter a transactional encounter?



SCENARIO THREE

You pay someone for an intimate encounter and have immediate chemistry.


Regardless of your gender, you coincidentally found someone with whom there is immediate chemistry. It is the first time you meet; the encounter flows smoothly.


Is this a transactional encounter because there is money involved? Or is it different because there actually is chemistry?



SCENARIO FOUR

You pay someone for an intimate encounter and have no connection at all.


The person you paid is not at all engaged, but everyone involved fulfils their side of the bargain. They get the money; you get the release.


Is this transaction any more transactional than the previous examples? Why?


Despite the obvious differences in the settings, each scenario lends itself to the possibility of being a transaction.


In some occasions we exchange pleasure for love, in others money for a release, in others fun for adventure, aren’t these all transactions?


Is it ok to want to be intimate with someone who is not matching our energy?


Imagine you invite someone to a dance. They unenthusiastically say yes, knowing they will find the activity pleasant, but not pleasurable. Once and the dance venue, they join you in the dancing, but you can feel their enthusiasm is nowhere to be seen. Should you be selfish and “use” them for your dancing pleasure? Should you expect them to want to be there? Or should you accept that you’ll enjoy the dance together, but just in different ways?


When is an intimate encounter a transaction? And is it ever ok for it to be so?


The button below will take you to my website, where I prepared an anonymous form to submit your thoughts.


I would love to know what you think!



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