Do you know anyone who has sex for money? Sure you do. Whoever stays in a dead relationship just to retain financial security is exchanging body parts for cash! This is what I call Transaction Love.

Love as a transaction dates back to when “I’ve got cattle” was followed by “What can you trade in exchange?” The more current script has been revised to “I’ll buy you dinner… if you’ll serve me breakfast.” Yet when relationships are nothing more than swap meets, they end up peppered with pain.

Transaction Love celebrates material assets over the heroes who earned them. To attract a group of women who were standing outside a nightclub, a wealthy owner of a sports team infamously told a friend, “Just say I’m a billionaire. They’ll come over.” But the opposite also prevails: When wealth evaporates, so might a union. The New York Times wrote “It’s Not So Easy Being Less Rich,” a story about men whose incomes had shrunk from double-digit millions and who suddenly feared their wives would leave, too. Ouch!

Average-earning single dudes feel especially vulnerable. One raged, “Dr. Gilda, that guy who asked for your advice said, ‘I’m not wealthy, and that’s a big turnoff for many women.’ You should have leveled with him with this: ‘Increase your income, buddy, and date ONLY after you do!’” Ouch, again!

Unfortunately, beyond the glitter and glamour, when someone is denied the closeness humans naturally crave, another sugar shack will beckon. Cheating has become commonplace. And rubberneckers watch the gore because it supports their own belief that love is a four-letter word. But cheating is not usually about sex! It’s about filling the vacant intimacy that comes from relationships that were founded on a shabby exchange. In these times, by economic necessity, we are beginning to glean what is really important in love—and it’s not transactions. Finally!

The Financial Panic has Value
When money is removed from the table, love becomes its own currency. This is great news for relationships. Amid the doom and gloom, sizzling passion can build. And the “us against the economy” interaction creates an unflappable bond.

In an informal survey of 100 male and female singles between the ages of 20 and 60, I asked: “How has your dating life changed as a result of the economic crisis?” Ninety percent admitted their former taste for material turn-ons had been upstaged by a thirst for more sensitive mates. “Sensitive is sexy,” said one respondent. I call this fresh attraction the New Aphrodisiac.

How the New Aphrodisiac Can Benefit You
Since life “out there” is rough, “home” will be the street address for comfort. Moreover, when you align with a partner with whom you’re in sync, there is no need to cheat. Here are 10 ways to bathe in this sexy New Aphrodisiac:

1. Redefine romance. Interpret romance differently. Elect significant conversation over expensive dating. Walk in the park and talk by the water because you like hearing what your partner has to say.

2. Laugh out loud. Replace a fancy vacation with a “staycation” at home, watching funny movies and laughing. Laughter’s contagion reduces stress hormones and increases health. This joyful internal workout blocks the negative news. Laughter is relationship glue.

3. Seek cheap thrills. Invent entertaining activities that require limited funds. Playing board games, cooking together and comparing books you’ve read can crumble the masks of yesterday’s superficiality. The need to impress each other is over. Become unguarded, vulnerable and approachable. Then smile, because you KNOW what’s coming next.

4. Let go. Purge your need to control and watch power struggles vanish. All that remains is two people expressing themselves honestly. What freedom that brings!

5. Dump the drama. Avoid drama of any kind. The economic mess is providing all the drama you need. If your partner pushes your buttons, take a breath and walk away. Return for discussion whenever you can share your views unruffled.

6. Incorporate more calm. Although you might once have deemed this state of mind “boring,” set your sights on a commitment to tranquility. Recall and recapture TV’s fumbling Huxtable family that was funny and fun to watch. Adapt such lighthearted composure.

7. Become a playmate. Engage in playful teamwork. Invite your partner to be your sounding board and assistant problem-solver. Even if you don’t agree with the advice you get, hear it playfully. For longevity, remember this Gilda-Gram: “Playmates become staymates.”

8. Accept the unchangeable. Acknowledge financial uncertainty as it is, because it’s something you cannot change. Courageously communicate your feelings and fears. An honest mutual struggle is fertile ground for love.

9. Honor your honey. Appreciate your partner’s wonderful traits and let him or her know. You can never replace that special person by your side.

10. Apply country music. Over the past 20 years, I’ve used country music with my clients as a therapeutic tool. Country singers expose their meltdowns, humor, anger and love. There is no subterfuge, only raw and authentic reality. For example, Trace Adkins teases that, despite their differing economic status, high-class “Ladies Love Country Boys.” After contemplating this song, a shy college dropout mustered the nerve to ask out his attorney—and they are now engaged. Disappointed with the guy she’s with, Deana Carter humors, “Did I Shave My Legs for This?” A client laughed when she heard this song; by incorporating a more casual attitude, she attracted a brainy, brawny hunk. I have facilitated so many additional epiphanies with this music. You, too, can use this technique to cope with life on the edge.

Okay, times ARE tough. In “Better Life,” Keith Urban vows, “Hey, we’re gonna leave this all behind us, baby, wait and see. We’re headed for a better life, you and me.” Now that the superficial transactions are out of the picture, YOU are free to be yourself! Embody the New Aphrodisiac in your own best life.

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Author's Bio: 

Dr. Gilda Carle is an internationally known relationship expert and management consultant. She is’s “Ask Dr. Gilda” advice columnist, published on She has a private practice, is a motivational speaker and associate professor at New York’s Mercy College. Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince! (a test question on “JEOPARDY!”) Her E-Books are “How to WIN When Your Mate Cheats,” and “99 Prescriptions for Fidelity.” Dr. Gilda was the therapist in HBO's Emmy Award winner, "Telling Nicholas," featured on Oprah, where she guided a family to tell their 7-year-old his mom died on 9/11. Find her at