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Can transactional sex ever foster genuine emotional intimacy?

Tan-colored painting of Cambodian dancers. from: PWCD - Transactional Sex.

Sexual Relations…

Are these examples the only types of transactional sex/ relationships to be found? Perhaps it’s possible that all relationships are formed on a transactional basis and therefore create a spectrum of relationships, ranging from the extremes of prostitution and professional sex work, to a well-known phrase in the western world – “How about you buy me dinner first?” (VanLear et all, 2006). There are multiple – expected transactions in modern – basic relationships, such as buying flowers, jewelry, and Valentine’s Day gifts. Sexual relations and gifts in every day relationships are not always due to genuine emotional intimacy, rather a way of buying affections.

Other transactions in a relationship also play a crucial role in marking the stages within relationships, such as diamond engagement rings and the lawful exchange of golden wedding bands. However, this theory is problematic as it may cause offense and suggests materialistic ulterior motives for engaging in an otherwise genuine relationship; including the working husband/ housewife model, and unfairly portrays the housewife as akin to a sex-worker – incorrectly implying that either party is being exploited, either financially or sexually.

Research and everyday examples suggest that love, intimacy, and material transactions are thoroughly intertwined and form incredibly complex relationships, which are difficult to distinguish. BACK

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