Sex as a reproductive transaction
We can’t talk about sex as a transactional exchange without acknowledging that throughout history (and non-human communities) sex has existed primarily as a means of continuing species existence or family lineage. While reproduction is still incredibly linked to the act of sex, “these two fundamental human activities are today increasingly carried out independently, as reproduction is possible, not only without sex, but even through the intervention of more than two partners” (Benagiano et. al, 2009
Sex as an emotional transaction
The many nuanced reasons for engaging in sexual acts with another person(s) often directly correlate to the expected emotional exchange. For examples, as Douglas LaBier, Ph.D. writes: “sexual relationships occur on different planes, different levels of integration between your physical, animal being, and your relational and spiritual
beings,” (Psychology Today, 2010
). While it is perfectly healthy to engage in sex without the expectation to give or receive emotional energy from the other person(s), it’s important to make sure all participants are on the same page.
Sex as an educational transaction
Because sex education fails our young people more often than not–and a myriad of other reasons–many people learn as they go with sex and see their first few years as a period of learning and growth. Perhaps they seek out a more experienced partner to learn from them or a partner whom they can learn and grow with. In addition, each new sexual partner requires a learning period to explore how your bodies move and work together and to understand your new partner’s needs and desires.
Sex as a communicative transaction
Communication must be offered and received/interpreted throughout any consensual sexual encounter. These communication exchanges may be in the form of verbal communication and non-verbal communication (i.e. body language) and allow space for continual consent and exploration. It’s also possible for the exchange to be unequal or misinterpreted.
Sex as an expectational transaction
There are expectations that take place within
sex. Expected communication and respect for consent. Expectations for the reception of emotional connection, love, pleasure, acceptance, education, etc. However, there is also expectations of
sex that we see in settings like a first date, for example. A 2004 study
found that, “men have higher sexual expectations than do women and that participants’ sexual expectations [were] heightened when alcohol [was] available. Alcohol availability had complex effects on expectations for communication intimacy.”
Sex as an energy transaction
One of our favorite transactional roles sex plays is its exchange of ENERGY. According to
author and leadership coach Scott Jeffrey: “Sexual energy is part of your life force. This energy arises from the first or root chakra and the second or sacral chakra...Expressing sexual energy through sex and desire dissipates this energy.” And, as Sex and Relationship Coach Dominique Peters says, “SEX is all about energy, so you need to get it moving.”