“He’s not very good looking but he’s got lots of money and treats me kind”. An old friend said this about her boyfriend after showing me a photo. He wasn’t the best looking (she was right) and he looked years older. During a coffee break, she told me all about her “transactional dating”. Whatever love or like they felt, nothing outweighed his wealth and her beauty. They transacted money and looks. Without either, they wouldn’t be in a relationship.
Though gold-diggers aren’t respected in society, I find her openness refreshing. So many people stay in unfulfilling situations and endure sex with little in return. Here is a woman who knows her worth. She knows she’s attractive, intelligent, young. Above all, she understands what she values most in a partner.
Transactional dating doesn’t sound romantic, but on some level, we each treat relationships as a business. We sell our time, commitment and resources, in exchange for buying love, trust and partnership. Some of us are more transactional – honing a list of expectations and needs. While others act more on intuition and feeling.
Money and love together make people uncomfortable. Money and sex flame dark imagery of corruption and exploitation. When I did an Instagram story poll on whether it’s okay to use sex as a power tool to get what you want, an overwhelming majority said no. I agree that with couples, sex shouldn’t be bargained. “If you don’t do this… we’re not having sex”. I used this line on an ex-boyfriend. It made no sense because we both loved our intimacy and shared the same sexual needs. Once in a partnership, sex ought to be negotiated between a couple based on wants. Not withheld as a weapon.
The lines blur in the transactional dating stages
Since blogging about female sex, I’ve assumed a woman’s sexual liberation lies in her freedom to sleep with whoever. To enjoy casual sex, masturbation and pleasure without shame. But recently I read an online Playboy interview with blogger, Chidera Eggerue. Creator of the hashtag movement #saggyboobsmatter, in one section of the editorial, Chidera said, “sex is such an important and powerful tool I can use to get what I want.” Noting “you can harness it if you want to.”
We’re living in one of the most narcissistic: me, me, me periods, yet we’re giving away our power with such ease. We throw our energy to social media, our time to pointless dates, our bodies to people who will add us to their bed count. I’m not going to now advocate we don’t freely enjoy sex and wait forever until intimacy. Instead, I’m proposing better negotiation.
With the sexual partners I’ve had, each unravelled my clothes after charming me with intellect, chemistry and wit. When I made some form of love to them, I initially wanted admiration and intense desire. Overtime, love-making with boyfriends focused on connection and hoping to please. Sex centred on timing – guessing when it felt right. I didn’t view my body as a source of power to harness.
For those who don’t believe in dabbling sex and power – don’t the two already mix on a continual basis? I don’t understand why it’s acceptable for someone (if I’m not being politically correct – men), to seek out a woman purely on her appearance, offer money (drinks, dinner) in the hopes of having sex. But for a woman to expect monetary gain beforehand – suddenly it’s a problem. Both men and women use their bodies on places like Instagram for attention, admiration, potential fame and income. Why is there a line drawn for using your body as a power to negotiate with in the bedroom?
Deciding our biggest wants
We often assume a woman who wants a rich man doesn’t value much else. As though, if she starts dating a guy for his wealth, she can’t then fall for his personality and looks, in the same way a man can begin dating for attraction and then fall for everything else.
It is an unfortunate reality that no perfect ideal exists. I believe it’s fine for someone to not compromise on money if they’d rather forego other traits. And despite many of us wanting the romance and feels, transactional dating has its benefits. When you know what you value most, you can use that value as a bar that people must meet.
During 2020 lockdowns, I analysed past dates and tried to find similarities. Do I have a specific type? At first, I thought… absolutely not. Different backgrounds, age gaps, job types, beliefs. There is one major link between a lot of my dates however. Each showered me with compliments on my physique before we met. Funnily, I’ve complained about guys who just want my body when I’ve specifically agreed to date men who make this clear from the get-go.
If I treated my body (not as the cliché ‘temple’) but as something highly prized and worth more than the odd date or two, surly sex would become more powerful. I wouldn’t face sexual regret and bad intimacy with guys who make minimal effort. I can’t say I won’t ever again have casual sex or sleep with a man quickly after meeting. But I will stop throwing my sexual power away so lightly.
What are your thoughts on transactional dating? Suggested next read: How to Be More Active in Bed as a Woman