Today, I’m going to take you way out on a limb by challenging one of the beliefs that current society holds most dear. I ask you to proceed with a very open mind. Because changing the perspective you hold about this, has the capacity to positively overhaul your life.
Today, transaction in business is seen as not only good and right, but also as an obvious element of business. But being transactional in other relationships is seen as bad and wrong. When we hear about a transactional relationship, we make the automatic assumption that there is no love, no actual mutual caring and no actual valuing of the other taking place in that relationship. We assume it is a purely self-centered relationship, where one person is simply using the other; or they are both using each other.
The truth that I’m going to put before you today is the truth that every relationship is transactional, whether it is a business relationship, a relationship with the government, a romantic relationship, a friendship, or a familial relationship etc.
Because transaction is a word that we have such a negative association with, you are going to have to re-examine the idea of transaction. A transaction is at its essence, nothing more than an energy exchange. It means each person receives something and each person provides something. What makes a transaction a good one, is if each person gets something that is valued. And value, especially with regards to what we value most, is based on what that person needs and wants. A person has to need and want something to truly value it.
You may be able to see the value in something, without valuing it yourself. For example, in war time, you may still be able to see the value of art. But because you don’t currently need art, you need food, you personally can’t value art enough for it to serve as part of a good transaction. To truly value something, you have to perceive yourself to need and want it.
Every relationship you enter into, you enter into because you perceive that the relationship would meet a need or fulfill a desire, or many. For example, in this friendship, you give the person the feeling of being free and unrestricted and they give you that sense of security that you’ve always lacked. With this partner, they give you a sense of being needed and wanted and valued. And you give them the support they need to accomplish their goals. With this person you are helping, they get the help they need and you get a sense of your own goodness and the feeling of doing something that is right to do. With this family member, you give them the experience of availability and understanding. And they give you the same. This is one reason that relationships are so dynamic and change over time. After all, needs can change over time.
When one or both of you start to perceive that you don’t get the needs or wants you value from the relationship; or worse, that one or both is acting as an antagonist to those needs and wants, the satisfaction you feel in that relationship goes away. You will gravitate towards other relationships. This even includes parents deciding to have children. And this accounts for why parents who didn’t want a child in the first place (or who end up feeling like their child did not end up meeting their need) end up so resentful towards their child or towards parenting in and of itself. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: The Lie That Parents Tell. Keep in mind that many transactions could be taking place within any relationship; not just one.
There is nothing inherently wrong with there being transaction in any relationship. It’s not like you should try to eliminate transaction from relationships. And guess what, you couldn’t, even if you wanted to! Instead, you should be embracing the idea of conscious transaction.
Every relationship is transactional. For most people, these transactions are simply happening at a subconscious, even instinctual level. Or they are being flat out hidden and denied due to the attempt to avoid negative consequences, guilt and shame. This is scary because there is so much room for pain in relationships due to this fact. It is easier to see how dangerous unconscious, hidden or denied transaction could be when you think about business. We would call this a shady business deal. But guess what? It’s the same for any other relationship. When a transaction is not conscious, so much can go terribly, terribly wrong.
Just to name a few things that can go wrong if a relationship transaction is not conscious:
- If you are unaware of what you can truly provide and what you truly need and want, you do not have a chance at consciously entering into the right relationships for you. It can be compared to a business man not knowing what he has to offer another company and not knowing what he wants to get from another company. How can he ever hope to find the right company to do business with; a company that is in need of what he has to offer and who has what he needs? It’s a recipe for dissatisfaction in relationships and also for an endless process of entering into a relationship feeling like it is the right one, only to find out it is wrong over and over again. It is a recipe for incompatibility… And finding out that you are incompatible the hard way.
- We end up doing what we do to meet our needs any time we can’t be conscious and direct about them, we enter into relationships in manipulative ways. We go about getting what we need in those relationships manipulatively. We employ back door and round about strategies. Our relationships are manipulative in nature.
- It is a recipe for both parties to feel hurt and duped. If you are not conscious of the transactions taking place, the best you can do is to assume (without ever really talking about it) that other person is agreeing to meet the want or need you entered into the relationship with. But that doesn’t mean that they can or would actually agree to providing that for you. It also means the best you can do is to assume why the other person is in a relationship with you. We can be way, way off base about this assumption. We can’t find the right energy exchange.
- We end up shocked and hurt when no matter how much we loved and cared about the other person and thought they loved and cared about us, they still either ended the relationship or wanted to change/reconfigure it. We don’t actually know what needs and wants the other person actually has and was expecting to get in the relationship. So, we don’t understand what went wrong or what we lack that made them be able to leave us or hurt us in that way. We have no shot at having the choice to meet their actual needs, and secure the relationship by doing so. Also, we start to take it very personally and make it mean something painful about our own value and worth.
- We end up extremely conflicted and in pain when no matter how much we love someone and care about them, we are at the same time so unsatisfied in the relationship and starved for our needs and wants that we feel the need to end the relationship or to change/reconfigure it. And we are unable to explain to ourselves or to them why loving them and caring about them, just wasn’t enough. We end up secretly wondering if we are a horrible, narcissistic person because of this truth.
- We shortcut our chance of happiness in life. Life is relationships. Our happiness in life is down to our level of satisfaction with the relationship we have with all the other things in our life. And there is no way to have a good relationship without the transactional element of the relationship being a positive one.
To understand this whole concept of needing to be consciously transactional and to swallow it, you are going to have to do one very important thing. You are going to have to separate the concept of loving a person, caring for them, seeing the positive in them and seeing their value in general from the transactional element of a relationship. In other words, you have to separate love from needs in a relationship. I want you to consider pausing this video and sitting with that idea for a moment.
To love something is to take it as a part of you. It is to include it in your self-hood. It is oneness. Love naturally gives rise to experiences like compassion, closeness, understanding, empathy, caring and appreciation. When we love something, we cannot hurt it or act against its best interests without hurting ourselves. But we still live in a world of separation. We have a separate identity. So, even when we love, our own needs and wants and therefore best interests can be different than those belonging to the person we love. Therefore, loving someone does not make our own needs suddenly not exist; so that all we care about is their needs and wants. Love is not selfless. It is profoundly selfish in nature. But it causes you to include the other as part of yourself, meaning that it ends your ability to play a zero-sum game. This means, if you truly do love someone, you care both about your own wants and needs as well as the other person’s. You are looking for a win-win. A way to act in their best interests, as well as yours. Loving something implies wanting it to have what it needs and wants. It is not loving to expect a person to forfeit what they need and want to prove that they care about you and like you and love you. This means, love recognizes the beauty in conscious transaction.
So many people hold a subconscious belief. The belief we hold is that love should count for more than personal needs and wants. We believe that anything less is selfish and narcissistic. We expect others to love and care about us enough to trump their own personal needs, wants and best interests. Or to want and need us, no matter if we do not represent or offer what they need and want. And we expect ourselves to love and care about other people enough to deny our own personal needs, wants and best interests. So often when we do this, we don’t realize that what we get out of doing this, is the feeling of being a good person and doing what is right. We have been taught that doing so makes us good and right. This is a slippery slope to codependency. There is no such thing as altruism in this universe. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Why We Do Nice Things For People, The Truth Behind Acts of Kindness.
This belief that love should count for more than personal needs is part of our deep desire for unconditional love. When we are trying to get unconditional love, we are trying to use love to negate, disqualify or deny the transactional element of relationship. We feel greater security in relationships and a greater sense of self-esteem when we feel like a person will love us enough to stay with us no matter what. Including no matter whether their personal needs and desires are met or not. But we don’t understand what unconditional love is and what unconditional love isn’t. For this reason, you would benefit by watching my video titled: The Truth and Myth of Unconditional Love.
In a relationship, love is actually and must be separate from personal needs… The transaction that makes the relationship satisfactory or not. In fact, they can seem like they compete in certain relationships. In any relationship, you could only have transaction with no love. Or you could have a relationship where there is both transaction and love. But they are two different elements of a relationship.
People mistake love and transaction for the same thing because they mistake loving something for valuing that thing. When most people say: I want to be loved, what they really mean is they want someone to value them to the degree that they ware wanted and because of that, can experience both self-esteem and the security of closeness and connection… The opposite of shame and loneliness. Not only does this mean that love is not actually what they want. What they want is to be valued. It means that they don’t understand that value is about personal need. A person who does not perceive themselves to need something that they offer, cannot value them, even if they see value in them. And they can guarantee that they will be valued specifically by entering into relationships where there is a conscious transaction based off of needs that they can (and truly do want to) meet for the other person. If you struggle with this concept, or want to learn more about it, watch my video titled: The Value Realization (A Realization That Can Completely Change Your Life).
You can probably see more now why it is so dangerous to enter into relationships inauthentically, like so much dating advice would encourage you to do. You know… acting in a way that is different to who you really are, promising to offer something that is not actually something you can offer. Saying what the other person wants to hear or doing what the other person wants, just to secure a relationship with them. That’s false advertising relative to the transactional side of a relationship.
Setting the idea of loving you and caring about you and seeing positive in you aside (because it is separate), there is always a transaction taking place in a relationship. A person is always in a relationship because they get some payoff or some need or desire met by being in that relationship. And if you can understand this, you can experience much greater relationship success by entering directly into conscious transaction in your relationships. You know exactly what the other person needs and wants by being in a specific relationship with you and they know exactly what you need and want by being in a specific relationship with them. You have much greater control over the satisfaction level of the relationship. And when the satisfaction level dips, you won’t be confused about why. You are no longer powerless because you will be able to look clearly at whether (based off of knowing what the other person’s need is) you will choose to or won’t choose to meet one or several needs that a person has. And if not, you can expect a person to want to end or to change the relationship or to be able to do so, even if they don’t necessarily want to. You will be able to identify if a relationship is one that contains both the element of love and transaction. Or just transaction. And best of all, you will stop taking it so personally when a person decides to end or change the relationship.
So much of the time when a person decides to end a relationship or change it, it doesn’t mean anything about your inherent value or about whether you are lovable or about whether the person loves you, cares about you or sees the positive in you. It is simply about their own personal needs and desires not being met.
As strange as it may sound at first, be consciously transactional in all of your relationships. Find the right energy exchange. You are already doing this subconsciously every day. Become aware of what you need and want in general and in a specific relationship arrangement. Clearly communicate that to the other person. Find agreement with them about it. Become aware of what the other person needs and wants in general and specifically in the relationship arrangement with you. Decide whether or not you can choose to meet those needs/desires. Clearly communicate the answer to that question with them. Find the relationship configuration that is right and find the right role for them in your life based off of this. You may not know or be able to predict what life may hold, but do your best to become aware of what situations might occur that could make either person unable to fulfill their side of the transaction. And discuss what to do in the event that any of those situations occurs. Love someone better and be loved better by consciously agreeing upon the right energy exchange and watch your relationships and therefore your life improve.