Sex is Not Transactional
We all deserve to have the ecstatic, mindblowing, toe-curling sex of our dreams. Encounters come from a place of respect, understanding, and mutuality.
Too many conversations about sex, seem to come from a less than empowered place. One where you have to buy or earn your partner’s affection. A tit for tat sort of exchange, instead of a constant flow of reciprocity.
Relationships of any nature take tender care, a lot of attention, and yes – some sacrifice, but it shouldn’t mean sacrificing your pleasure. Or that your pleasure should come at a price.
When our sexual relationships are out of balance, they often take on a transactional approach. It’s almost as if economic ideas come into the bedroom, causing us to say things like “My partner did *this* for me last week, so now I have to do *this* for them today. So not sexy!
This isn’t necessarily a discussion that’s happening out loud or an inner dialogue you’re even aware of – but there’s a subconscious tracking of who is doing what for who, and when. This sort of mentality takes the spontaneity out of sex, where neither of you are feeling satisfied.
Instead of keeping tabs on who went down on who last, you want to be in a state of giving for the sake of giving – as well as receiving for the sake of receiving.
While relationships require a balance of each individual’s needs and desires, this has to come from a place of understanding.
There are very subtle, but distinct differences between “transactional sex” and just being a good lover. A lot of it is only perceptible by tuning in to how satisfied you’re feeling, and how connected you feel to your partner.
Sex is an incredibly tender topic that brings up a lot of emotions, some that are hard to differentiate between. Which is why we’ve laid out what it may look like if your sex life has become transactional, and how to get out of it.
Here Are Some Warning Signs:
- You Feel Resentful: We all know the bitter taste of resentment. What a yucky feeling to have towards your partner! If you’re feeling irritated towards them, especially when it comes to sex, it’s probably because your sex life is lacking in reciprocity.
- You Don’t Feel Like Your Needs Are Being Met: If you’re not satisfied, resentment builds. Plain and simple. Maybe you’re not meeting your orgasm potential. Or you’re left just wanting something…more. When you are constantly concerned with keeping the score board even, neither of you are really scoring.
- You’re in a Rut: If your needs aren’t being met, chances are, you’re probably in a rut. Is sex looking and feeling the same each time? Maybe it feels good, but it’s not quite hitting the spot. Monotany is the antithesis of hot, passionate sex. Being in a state of transactional exchange is a recipe for a rut.
- You’re Doing Things Out of Obligation: Hello – No one wants to feel like they’re performing sexual acts out of obligation. Not only does that take the sexy out of consent. If this is you, it may be time to take a look at why you feel obligated to perform, and where that pressure is coming from.
- Communication is Lacking: All of these warning signs come from a lack of communication. When your needs and frustrations aren’t being communicated, it’s almost impossible for them to be met. As much as you may want them to be sometimes, your partner is not a mind reader.
- There’s Tension in The Relationship: Not fiery, sexual tension, but annoyance and irritability. When your sex life is not hitting the spot, sexual frustration builds. Yes, it can happen even if you’re having sex! While relationships are certainly not all about sex, and the frequency of your encounters are going to change with time and life circumstances – it’s a beautiful part to being in relationship with another person. If you and your partner aren’t connecting sexually, tension trickles out into other areas of the relationship
- You’re Not Enjoying Yourself: Plain and simple, if you’re not getting off – the dynamics in your sex life need to shift.
This is all great in theory, but how do you put it into practice?
Getting Out of Transactional Patterns:
- Communication is Key: We said it before, and we’ll say it again – talk to your partner! Tell them the ways you’re feeling unsatisfied, ask them the same, and truly listen.
- Bring in Playfulness: Playfulness is the key to breaking up tension. Laughter truly is one of the best medicines, and it’s incredibly helpful in breaking sexual ruts. Keep things playful in other areas of your life, and watch how your sex life transforms.
- Embrace Reciprocity: This word keeps coming up because it is key to breaking the cycle of transactional sex. Reciprocity is a constant flux of giving and receiving – and enjoying the process of it. Instead of overthinking the exchange, shift the relationship to a point where you truly enjoy giving to each other. Again, try this practice outside of the bedroom, and it will certainly carry over to your sex life.
- Express and Receive Gratitude: Gratitude practices are all the rage. Because they work! Expressing gratitude for your partner, verbal or otherwise, let’s them know you appreciate and enjoy their company and what they have to offer. On the other hand, you also have to allow yourself to receive the same gratitude – which is often harder than giving it!
- Experiment: As we said, ruts and transactional sex go hand in hand, to get out of this cycle, try experimenting and trying new things like Orgasmic Meditation, power tools for seduction, or giving anal sex a try.
Remember that we all fall into sexual ruts sometimes, it’s almost inevitable, especially in long term relationships. But if you’re rut is looking like a transaction instead of an interaction – it’s time to utilize these tips, and get that fire started once again!
Natasha (she/her) is a full-spectrum doula and health+wellness copywriter. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, health, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more education and empowerment. You can connect with Natasha on IG @natasha.s.weiss.