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What Does Loyalty Mean In A Relationship?

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Loyalty will not permit envy, hate, and uncharitableness to creep into our public thinking. – Bainbridge Colby

Loyalty is a powerful thing. Even the word itself can stir people to fervent heights of emotion. When we see life as a story, we want the characters near and dear to us to be ones we can trust.

Thus, if we see ourselves as Frodo, we want Samwise. If we’re Batman, we want Robin.

Kirk had Spock. T’Challa had Okoye. Snoopy had Woodstock. Bond had Moneypenny. Not sidekicks, but loyal, trusted souls.

Loyalty, per the dictionary, is a strong feeling of support or allegiance.

Loyalty, per most souls, is knowing someone has your best interests at heart, even (one might say especially) when those interests run counter to what you think you desire but truly don’t.

In a romantic relationship, loyalty goes far beyond fidelity, or even compatibility (if one measures compatibility by longevity).

When one person knows, despite mistakes and missteps, that the other is truly loyal, they can remain friends (once healed) even after they’re no longer romantic.

Think of it as the other person holding a piece of you and you of them, and neither of you – no matter what happens – will permit harm to come to those pieces.

There’s a fair amount of self-sacrifice in loyalty that often goes unremarked, as it should. Loyalty doesn’t seek overt recognition. True loyalty is a tacit agreement of respect. It is knowing that there’s nothing someone close to you says or does toward you that is not out of love.

How is loyalty manifested in a relationship?


My whole thing is loyalty. Loyalty over royalty; word is bond. – Fetty Wap

A loyal partner is going to be honest with you, even when it hurts one or both of you to do so. This is not “brutal” honesty, it’s soul honesty.

When your partner knows that what comes out of your mouth is powerful enough to move mountains if it had to, the sense of security and loyalty in the relationship rests on very solid bedrock.

A dishonest person is loyal only to the lies they must maintain.

Give Of Yourself

I have a loyalty that runs in my bloodstream, when I lock into someone or something, you can’t get me away from it because I commit that thoroughly. That’s in friendship, that’s a deal, that’s a commitment. Don’t give me paper – I can get the same lawyer who drew it up to break it. But if you shake my hand, that’s for life. – Jerry Lewis

In a relationship, loyalty means “you’ll take time for me and I’ll take time for you.” It means giving freely of yourself to fulfill needs the other may never know they have or may never even voice.

It means “I give myself to you” in an act not merely of faith, but very much grounded in acts: the proof of loyalty is the quality of treatment received, because loyalty as a word falls quickly and easily from a lot of people who hope to use it as a distraction from their deficiencies.

Step Up

Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love. – Morihei Ueshiba

Samwise was no hero. In his mind, he was a simple Hobbit gardener who had a love of and belief in his friend Frodo that there was no question he wouldn’t accompany him on a perilous journey of any kind.

There are times when we must stand beside – or even in front of someone – to defend them when they are troubled or weakened. If this is done without hesitation or an overt demand for retribution, you have a relationship wherein loyalty is a core value.

You may never have to face your own version of accompanying someone to Mount Doom, but loyalty means stepping up for someone, standing in for them when need be, and allowing them on your shoulders to let them know love and support are what to expect from you.

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Whoever has once been truly unsettled by a work of the imagination will never give loyalty to a single idea, belief system, religious faith or party. – Howard Jacobson

Loyalty is not blindness. It isn’t about being on the most powerful or winning side.

It’s about giving.

It’s about being open to the possibilities of true connection, as opposed to the faddish ones most loyalties are attached to.

Receiving Grace

He felt the loyalty we feel to unhappiness – the sense that is where we really belong. – Graham Greene

To be loyal, you must know how to receive loyalty.

Loyalty actually makes many people uncomfortable. They feel that someone being loyal to them places a burden of certain behaviors on them. Rather than deal with this discomfort, they close themselves off from feeling worthy.

In essence, they become miserable and hope others might commiserate in that misery, but loyalty does not mean sticking around to see how misery plays out.

Loyalty evolves gracefully in a fully-realized relationship. Just as loyalties to the external world shift and change, intimate loyalties experience new states of being on a constant basis.

It is a grace to be able to flow with these states and dance with them, rather than being tripped up by them.

Sexual And Emotional Loyalty

For above all things Love means sweetness, and truth, and measure; yea, loyalty to the loved one and to your word. And because of this I dare not meddle with so high a matter. – Marie de France

There are many different flavors of interpersonal relationships, particularly in the sexual arena.

Monogamous, polygamous, polyamorous – all have their points of loyalty, and the best way to be loyal within each is to talk about loyalty.

Even emotional loyalty needs to be discussed within this realm, because one relationship might be quite open as far as physical encounters, but will draw the line at feelings of longing and attachment.

Another might consider it entirely acceptable to have as many close, loving outside relationships as possible, provided they’re all platonic.

The key to maintaining sexual and emotional loyalty is communication. Once boundaries are discussed, the requirements of loyalty come into play.

The Ability To Say No

Everybody wants loyalty, consistency, and somebody who won’t quit. But everybody forgets that to get that person, you have to be that person. – various

Loyalty in your relationship will demand this word on a frequent basis. No to temptations of the heart, flesh, self-interest, even at times of your loved one’s interests.

Since a truly loyal person isn’t merely a yes-bot to others or themselves, a fair amount of strength is exhibited by those who can rightfully claim the mantle of loyal friend/lover/confidante.

“No” isn’t easy, because sometimes an immediate reward is distractingly tempting. However, it’s also not easy to sway a truly loyal person toward quick, immediate rewards.

The loyal person knows that life is a story, perhaps epic, perhaps intimate, but one worthy of their accompanying Spock, Samwise, or a Dora Milaje or two.

In other words, they know that by saying no to distractions, they say yes to a loyal and good companion, and such friends are worth twice their weight in gold.