All Relationships are Transactional but the Connection Ought to be More Important than the Transaction.
“All relationships are transactional and the primary commodity is value.” Cecil (CJ) John
I am passionate about philosophy, and I think the concept of individual responsibility is essential for the success of any relationship, whether personal or business, family, or friendship.
“The principle of trade is the only rational ethical principle for all human relationships, personal and social, private and public, spiritual and material. It is the principle of justice.” Ayn Rand
To me, the essence of morality is the transaction, and one or more parties voluntarily and enter into an agreement with concise terms of engagements, declaring the rights and duties of each party. The objective of the simple contract is to gain net value.
There’s a critical hierarchy I try to point out about the connection being more important than the transaction, but that doesn’t negate that the relationship is transactional. So many are caught up with the fallacy of unconditional love.
It’s important to distinguish between the currency and the commodity; I think that’s important.
The commodity represents the value being exchanged. With bartering it’s a direct exchange of value, but not necessarily an equitable one because there’s no standard unit for measuring value. Currency e.g. money is a MEDIUM for the exchange of commodities.
In my opinion, a primary problem with interpersonal relationships is that value is being bartered so it’s easier for the exchange to suffer inequity.
The success and health of any relationship is a function of the exchange of value between parties. I like the “5 love languages” because if every language boils down to a “good” or “act of service.” However, I had to augment with a theory I wrote about and refer to as the “law languages.” A lot of relationships collapse if the exchange of value isn’t equitable, and it’s essential to understand its necessary to be “equal.”
I do see a potentially fatal dichotomy between the partnership and the friendship (e.g., love), and a significant failure in marital relationships is a breakdown of the former. Do you have any idea how many influential spouses WISHED they’d signed a prenup?
I was talking to my cousin this morning, and he loved his ex-wife, but he says he did everything. He paid for everything and did all the housework, including cooking, grocery shopping, and cleaning. He felt he was better off without her, and now thanks God that he is.
“I think when you understand the transactional nature of conjugal relationships (in particular), you might appreciate why monogamy could be such an unhealthy monopoly.”
I think the same applies even within a family or with roommates.
I was counseling a young friend of mine who is 23 and always gets into an argument with his parents. Similarly they do and pay for everything and he doesn’t have a single duty in the home that he can be held accountable for. He doesn’t understand that’s why there’s so much conflict in the home.
The idea of Equity Theory elaborates in much more detail.
Some readers will have different views of a given concept (such as relationships), and their values inform their viewpoint. Some readers might be taken aback on the reference to links as transactional; this will affect what metaphor they view as the correct one to frame a concept.
Some believe that there is a construction of a concept that is an accurate reflection of how that phenomenon truly is, that matches its true nature or essence, which is independent of what any reader’s viewpoint might be.
I think that viewpoint takes us into essentialism, and I honestly don’t think that applies to abstract ideas. It’s hard enough, proving that they are real for concrete entities. Perhaps you’re familiar with deconstruction and post-structuralism?
My post is off course gender agnostic, and I personally approach my business and personal relationships with the motivation to give value, and not just take. Vagueness regarding the terms of engagement in a relationship is like a cancer that eats away at its health. It’s imperative to have the difficult conversations, so as to avoid the oh so easy inclination to conflate ones expectations with another’s obligations.
Cecil (CJ) John is an architect, technologist and innovator and has worked with some of the largest companies in the world including the IMF, US Federal Government and some of the top 5 consulting companies. If you like what you have read, you can follow me on Medium for more great content. You can also sign up for my newsletter or contact me by email, Linkedin or Twitter.