Transactional vs. Intuitive Dating

Have you ever been frustrated trying to explain to a person why you are not interested in them, or why they just don’t do it for you?  Have you been irritated by someone who cannot intuitively tell there is no mutual attraction, because they are overfocused on facts like: they are interested, they are qualified, they are eligible therefore they are owed a chance past the qualifying round? Have you ever been in a relationship with a person who is so goal oriented, that the relationship meets their agenda, and you feel like they are checking off relationship milestones off a progress report?


We met each others’ friends, we were photographed together, both of us posted pics of “us” online, so Yay! We are now a We! One person is beaming with the feeling of accomplishment, while the other is wondering “How did I become a we?” I was nice, invited them out, smiled for the camera, and somehow that earned me a we status.  Ugh. This feels so uncomfortable. How do I back out of this?


We’ve all seen the photos, one is beaming with pride, they actually have a person, while the other is looking a bit stiff, uncomfortable, wondering “who might misinterpret this photo, and get the wrong idea”?  One person is counting the days until they see the other change their relationship status to something that will make them feel validated, while the other is avoiding social media, acting too aloof to notice the expectation. Been there, done that some many times, that I’ve reached the point of never having my photo taken with anyone, other than a group of friends.


As I listen to friends complain about this emotional mismatch, and their frustration trying to explain to people that just because I check off all the items on your relationship list doesn’t mean I have to be interested, I see there is a huge gap in how people relate to others and how they perceive relationships. For some, a relationship is an exchange of words, agreement, commitment, building of a foundation, while for others, it is a feeling. Some people want to make a relationship, while others feel their way, and gravitate towards others.  I tend to gravitate towards people who feel awesome to me, so no matter how great a nice guy is, there is nothing he can do to demonstrate he is the one. As long as I am floating elsewhere, he is not the one.


A lot of my closest friends are intuitive, therefore will not be convinced when someone is trying to make their case for a relationship. Words don’t work, and no matter how much evidence you provide to make your case, I will still ignore it to follow my bliss. I happen to be a highly logical person, so evidence and facts turn me on in business, debate, math and science. But, in relationships, there is no logic. No one has ever managed to talk me into one. Either I am very attracted, or I am not. There is nothing anyone can do to change that.


I observed that there are two types of people with drastically different approaches to relating to others. I call them the transactional daters vs. intuitive relaters. For best results, the two should never mix. When they try, it is always an explosive argument where one is trying to beat a dead horse trying to convince the other why it should be a relationship, while the other is trying to explain “you don’t feel like my person”.

He:    How do you know?

Me:    I am not sparkling when I’m with you.

He:    But I can make you sparkle? Give me a chance!

Me:    I can’t. You don’t feel right.

He:    WTF, I got what it takes! I have a job, I have hair, I have a luxury car, and assets.

Me:    But, I don’t need those things. I just want a person who matches my shine.


It is a waste of time trying to explain to a cardboard cutout, that his eyes will never shine enough.  But the good news for him is that the world is full women who aren’t looking for sparkle nor shine. Armed with checklists, agendas, and solid credentials, they totally qualify for others who meet their requirements in terms of seriousness, willingness, and commitment to making something happen.


It’s quite amusing to watch two drastically different people try to relate to each other. It’s like an Excel spreadsheet is trying to work with Photoshop, and no matter how elaborate or impressive the equation, Photoshop will still insist it isn’t pretty enough.


Transactional daters tend to barter feelings for actions and vice versa. They are always looking to quantify a relationship. They are constantly asking “Where is this relationship leading to? What does this mean? What is our current status? What is the goal? They expect to put in effort, hard work, and to demonstrate their intentions in exchange for proof that they are on the right track. “We have been committed to each other for a year, so I have now earned a ring”. They put in the effort, so they are owed a reward. When their effort doesn’t pay off, when there is no return on investment, they have been cheated. They gave X, the other person gave X-Y, and now they are owed the difference. They also perceive dating more traditionally, they follow relationship scripts to a tee, to ensure they are qualifying on all counts, and constantly checking if they missed something. When their partner has the flu, they show up with chicken soup and the meds because that’s what a good partner is expected to do.


Intuitive relaters believe in chemistry, attraction, magnetism, and tend to feel people out. I am more likely to ponder How did I feel talking to him? Did I laugh when I was with him? Did it feel easy? Did he get my stupid joke? He smells like mine, I think he’s for me. He could be an acrobat or a lion tamer, a devil or a complete lunatic, I don’t care. If he is beaming as much as I am, he is for me. Intuitives aren’t looking for a love that can be quantified, they are looking to match on feelings, fun, excitement, nerdiness, dorkiness, laughter and mind-bogglingness.


Once, I failed to provide the expected flu meds to an ailing ex, and I got an earful. I went out while he was sniffly, came home with a pocketful of stolen party hors d’oeuvres, and the sicko was not pleased. I’m not sure what I was guilty of, but there were expectations and I did not meet them.  I tried to compensate with my homemade Ayrvedic herbal concoction guaranteed to unclog the stuffiest nose, but he would not have it. I failed to act like a proper girlfriend while he was suffering, and my attempt at showering him with a pocket full of buffet nibbles plus a hundred kisses fell short. Afterwards, during my post sickness evaluation period, I was given a list of expectations that I failed to meet which was proof to him that I did not love him.

So I said:  “Okay, since I don’t love you the way you expect to be loved, and am pretty sure I’ll never be able to fill you up with the quantity of love you require, let’s break up.” I really meant it.

“No” he said  “I don’t want to break up, I want you to try harder”.

Me:  “I can’t try harder. This is who I am. This is who I always be. If this isn’t enough for you, then you owe it to yourself to find someone who will coddle you more”.

He:   “No. You are perfect. I will lower my expectations”.


The following week, his expectations plummeted, and he was thrilled, because with low expectations, now I was exceeding them. To transactional people, exceeding expectations means: We are headed down that road toward co-habitating bliss.  They perceive everything like an If/Then equation, which is a geometric proof, or inductive reasoning based on examples and on data from previous or similar relationship events. An If/Then equation works like this: If she exceeds my expectations, she must really love me, then we will take the next step and move in together.


Imagine my surprise, when next week he showed up with three even stacks of shirts, pants and underwear to store in my closet. I didn’t say anything, I didn’t quite understand where he was going with this. The following week, there were cosmetics, accessories and leisurewear parked in my closet. Now, I was getting concerned. There was a giant motorcycle competing for space in my cramped parking spot, my walk-in closet was no longer walkable, and he was talking about weddings in the Caribbean, where they are much more casual and affordable. Hmmm?


Baby, what’s happening in your brain? Are you adding things up in your Excel spreadsheet, that I am not picking up? This doesn’t feel sparkly to me.


Two people with drastically different brains trying to make sense of a relationship. To him, it was all starting to add up to a marriage, to me that sparkly feeling was fading, my light was getting more dim, because I didn’t understand why I love him, but feel like the world is flat.  Here, most relationship experts would urge you to improve your  communication skills, go over expectations and deliverables, evaluate if you’re still on the same relationship page. I’m no good at talking, I’m better at smelling whether it’s a flower or a rat.


My flower was starting to wilt, and having picked dozens of them, I understood there is nothing I can do to revive a flower that was already losing its petals. I could water it, talk to it, give it more sunshine, but it no longer smelled intoxicating. In fact, I was starting to see the other side of this relationship, the equation. He had goals for me, goals I wasn’t aware of. I was just thrilled to be with him, but he had relationship milestones, check lists, and a clipboard full of To-do lists, and items to verify.


Where do I fit in? Item #1, Identify proper girlfriend. Item #2. Assess qualifications. Item #3. Perform Cost-Benefit Analysis. Pass. I was in love with a cardboard cutout. The beautiful person was there, the hugs were warm, there was a ton of affection, so much that I was wondering if this human was real or just an illusion. The heart was ticking, there was a pulse, he made beautiful smiles, but he did not produce authentic feelings. He did everything right, never messed up once. But he had no sparkle, and he carried a clipboard. On it were lists of relationship statuses accomplished, and things yet to do. And suddenly, I had no interest in doing any of them. He did everything right as a boyfriend, the flowers, the romantic dinners, the adventures, fixing my broken cabinets, the daily calls, all the right words, the good-nights. But the feeling was hollow. A beautiful human, making all the right gestures, laying a solid foundation with bricks, to build a fortress.


Where was the love?  He said he loved me a thousand times, but what he was loving was how well I fit his equation. I was a perfect match, therefore I was love to him. I met all his needs, checked off all his boxes, therefore no other woman scored higher than me. I was an A+ in his book, a solid Yes, therefore I was The One.


But when a person is adding line items in a spreadsheet, there will always be people who score higher. Someone will always be more agreeable, more compromising, more giving, more productive than me. When someone else scores higher to a transactional dater, will that person then be The One?


Transactional people are always measuring, calculating, projecting, moving toward a goal. Intuitive people like me, refuse to be anyone’s goal, and if you mark me as your target, I will move out of the way to make sure you miss. I don’t want to be gotten, I don’t want to be acquired, and how dare you think you have the right to score. When I sense that I am someone’s relationship target, and I use senses most humans aren’t even aware of, I dim my light so they cannot see me. I tune out, avert eye-contact, turn into a grey-rock, make myself uninteresting. They will go away sooner or later, or just plain give up.


Unfortunately, to most transactionists, this is a clear signal to try even harder. Something has gone wrong, their target has moved, and now they must reassess and reposition, and try even harder. No. No matter what you do, I will still not be your target. If you see me as your prize, the answer is already no.


Transactional people perceive relationships as a goal, something to strive for, achieved, worked hard for, negotiated, and finally bound by a contract. Intuitive people feel various shades of love. Some people’s love is dimmer than others’. Some loves feel heavy, burdensome, slow, while others are light, passionate, electric. Guess where I want to be?


Transactional people fantasize about unconditional love, yet will spell out for you all the conditions you must meet for them to give you love. You must be loyal, timely, committed, and demonstrate determination, compromise, and be willing to put up with their stuff , otherwise called “supporting”. If you walk away from a transactional dater, you are an asshole or a bitch, because they have pre-calculated how much they have put into a relationship, and if you fail to provide ROI, you have somehow cheated them out of their dream.


Intuitive people are can be more unconditional. No matter what you do, no matter where you are, no matter how much you change, and no matter how little you care, and unconditional person will love you anyway. Like a dog, they will give you endless love, regardless of whether you have gone on vacation for 2 weeks. They will give you just as much positive energy, and they tend to not be punishing. You are either with them or you are not.  Unconditional people don’t play games. They don’t have to test their partner to see if he or she will disappoint them.


Tell a transactional person, I cannot marry you, and they will kill you with words. What do you mean, you owe me. I did this, this, and that for you. I suffered for you for a year. Tell an unconditional person, I cannot marry you, they’ll say Okay, I will love you anyway. And if you fall in love with someone else, that unconditional lover will love you so much that they will want the best for you, even if you didn’t choose them.


There is nothing that a transactional person can do to win the heart of an intuitive person. Intuitives will feel you out, and want you only if you feel as good as they do. Two people who have genuine chemistry are like an electric spark, the relationship is ON. As hard as they might try, there is nothing that a transactional person can do to turn the other on. They can list all their positive qualities in one column, and match them up to the qualities of the other, but they can never explain why the other person refuses to add up, or give them a relationship.


I met a nice transactional guy back in October. I gave him a pleasant conversation, and he got all excited. I was being nice, and all I wanted was some good conversation, nothing more. When he contacted me I said I wasn’t interested. Let’s be friends. He agreed, but then kept amping up his effort, upgrading the wine, increasing the value of his offers, trying harder, getting more creative, and we are now in April, and he still doesn’t understand that we are always going to be just friends. He is ignoring my words, because some dating manual told him that women want you to try harder, and that if you slay enough dragons, eventually she will see that you are a real prince, a real man, and you will win her over.  All I know is that his light is dim, and he does not look or feel like my person. Recently when he found out that I went to a foreign movie screening with friends, he bought a book about Italian filmmakers, read it from cover to cover, and tried to impress me with the word Fellini.


Why do transactional people increase the effort when intuitive people fly away? I’ll never know, and am not trying to figure it out. But it is too much effort, best directed toward other transactional daters. Do I want effort? Sure, but only from that one man who is intoxicating and sparkly. I can’t explain it. No amount of effort will make me see you. I will notice the effort, but not the person.


Transactional people pain me, as I am sure I frustrate them. I simply do not want to be in their equation, and no matter how hard they try to win me over, I am always floating toward a shinier object. That is our nature. It is pointless to try to understand us, we are different programs.  One is an  .xls, the other a .psd format. We will never get each other.


























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1 Response to Transactional vs. Intuitive Dating

  1. Kijo says:

    Transactional vs. intuitive is an interesting and useful relationship model.

    I have also found the model in ‘The Five Love Languages’ to be helpful: “receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch.”

    In either model, if the lovestyle doesn’t match, the couple may disconnect.


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