loyal [loi-uh l] adjective
1. faithful to one's sovereign, government, or state
2. faithful to one's oath, commitments, or obligations
3. faithful to any leader, party, or cause, or to any person or thing conceived as deserving fidelity
Loyalty is an interesting value to talk about. It seems to be just a mix of values we’ve already discussed; trustworthy, honesty and dependable. So why do we give it separate attention? I think the answer lies with the ending of the third definition… “as deserving of fidelity”. It is impossible to give our loyalty to every brand, every person and every thing. However there are certain things, causes, businesses and people we can and should give our loyalties to. The reasons for giving your loyalty is entirely subjective and depends a great deal on what we expect in return. We also expect the other side to keep good on our expectations to be able to retain our loyalty.
So how does this work in friendship? Most people have their friends lumped into three categories, acquaintances, friends and good/close friends. Our acquaintances don’t usually need or want our loyalty. They usually have their own support group that they give and receive loyalty to. Friends are hit and miss with needed loyalty. No one wants to be betrayed naturally but you don’t usually go to your friends who you only connect with every few years to help you in time of need.
Where you should want and have loyalty is in your good/close friend group. These are the people who are your support. They create the firm foundation from which you can chase the adventures of self discovery, living your dream job, finding love, etc. Without them the fear of failure seems a much larger beast to overcome.
How can we identify if we have loyal friends? Emily Mitchell from verilymag.com shared her requirements for a loyal friend.
- A loyal friend is honest. (This seems like a no brainer. We’ve already discussed this trait.)
- Loyal friends are impartial. That might sound blasé, but it is not an apathetic attribute. Being impartial means you are accepting, non-discriminatory, and view others' lives objectively based on their life experiences. It's rare that you and your friend will come from the exact same background, family upbringing, or culture. So understanding baseline differences—and accepting them—is key for offering support and learning more about the people around you. It will help strengthen other friendships, too.
- Loyal friends do not do 'conditional' friendships. Conditional, the opposite of unconditional, is based on contractual interaction. You read that right. A contract states, 'I do this for you, if you do this for me.' This does not apply in loyal friendships. Payback is not necessary, nor expected. If you are willing to sacrifice, that should be your decision—one you have willfully chosen to give unconditionally, without expectation.
- Loyal friends have boundaries. Loyalty is not equivalent to becoming a wet blanket. Abuse and misuse of loyalty for one's gain over another is a clear red flag that your loyalty might be hurtful rather than helpful. A loyal friend might be a friend through any circumstance, but personal responsibility and self-care should always come first.
Loyalty is an amazing gift and really deepens and strengthens a friendship. However not everyone is naturally great at being loyal. Loyalty takes time and practice to develop. If you have a friend or friends who aren’t as loyal as you think they should be, don’t stress about it to much. Just make sure that you bump them back into another of your friend groups so that you are still protected emotionally while they work on becoming a more loyal friend.