There is only one thing I have found that is more rare than love in modern relationships, and that is loyalty. Reader demand has driven this post and as always, I love to answer the tough questions. This one is not even remotely all-encompassing however, and I can only answer with my personal views on the subject.
The loyalty I am referencing here is specific to that in a relationship with another human being. I am not going to define loyalty to one’s country, leader, religion, products or employer, which are very different and often temporary. The fact that I am an INTJ may or not be relevant to this topic as this is a highly personal account. It is fair to note the common opinion that those which fall into the INTJ conglomerate are arguably more loyal than other members of society, so think what you will.
It took me an excruciatingly long time, a lot of life lessons and experience to learn the rarity of loyalty. It is so rare in fact, I have personally yet to truly witness it in another human being in a mutual relationship sense. Loyalty is my default and my naive young ass just started meandering through life thinking this was the case with everyone else. Wrong. Way the fuck wrong.
As far as I ever knew, my parents were always loyal to each other. This is what I grew up with, what I witnessed and I never heard a word to the contrary in my household. Perhaps this was a contributor to my default, paired with the fact that I have zero of what society likes to call “daddy issues”. Perhaps I do have daddy issues, in the sense that my father set highly unrealistic expectations of how men were supposed to act by default, which then taught me not to settle. This was a very tough gift that he gave me and one that I have only grown to appreciate over time.
Let’s move on to my highly non-conformist personal definitions of commitment and loyalty, shall we?
To me, commitment and loyalty are synonymous; if there is one, there is the other and they have a nearly identical definition. As an adult, commitment is something I have never taken lightly, has rarely been given and has only ever been broken for one reason, which is a lack of loyalty (in my case, cheating).
People commit like it is nothing, and I just don’t share that line of thinking.
Some would argue that breaking a commitment due to this lack of loyalty means I was not committed or loyal myself. This would be accurate only if I were given the choice to endure this specific type of non-monogamous relationship prior to making my own commitment. As I mentioned in a previous post, a person should know themselves fully and understand their own level of monogamy prior to entering a committed relationship and make sure their ideals surrounding monogamy are compatible with their potential partner. If that isn’t the case, there shouldn’t be a commitment.
There also shouldn’t be a commitment if one is entering the relationship with notions of until something better comes along or for now. Neither of those is commitment and shouldn’t be called that. Any situation where the option is open, even down the road, is not commitment. Period. Again, these are my personal definitions.
Commitment is not temporary and commitment is not necessarily marriage. I don’t believe marriage is necessary or required for any long-term committed relationship, so when I describe commitment, don’t confuse it with marriage, as those are completely different ideals.
Loyalty is so damned simple for me because again, it is my default when commitment is offered.
Loyalty, by its simplest definition means, I am not leaving for shit. The thought of leaving doesn’t cross my mind and there isn’t anything that cannot be worked through. The caveat and the rarity is that the road needs to go both ways. If the loyalty is not mutual, it will never work.
This is why commitment should not be taken lightly. Can you be loyal to someone you don’t know? Can you be loyal to someone who is dishonest with you? Can you be loyal to someone who displays a false persona of themselves until you commit? Sure, but you won’t be loyal to the real person, only to the person you think they are. Then you find out the person they really are is not even remotely loyal to you. These are all things I have learned the hard way.
Loyalty does not mean you stay with someone who treats you like shit.
Loyalty encompasses many of those things people fear someone they love will leave them for; losing a job, getting an illness, losing a limb, losing their mind and many other things that are often out of one’s control.
Loyalty also encompasses complete honesty, transparency, partnership, taking care of one another, defending one another and supporting one another’s whimsical dreams, ideas and drive for success. Loyalty and commitment is not ownership; it is growth, space, unselfish and always encouraging.
There is no fear and there is nothing better, so there is no reason to look for it.
Along that same vein, if something is looking for you, it doesn’t even cross your mind to entertain it, even on a seemingly innocent “emotional” level. Loyalty equals fidelity (to me) and isn’t something that can just be switched to another person. If it can, then it is not loyalty. Of course in my view, if one has to actively force themselves to be loyal, then they are not. This may just be my skewed perception since it is natural for me, however I feel it should be natural all around. If not, perhaps it isn’t the right person.
Do I think people can be loyal and in a non-monogamous or any other kind of unconventional relationship? Absolutely. The difference would be if their views on monogamy and/or convention were compatible prior to their commitment. Loyalty is possible in nearly any relationship structure, assuming all parties know each other, are compatible and start out on a foundation of honesty prior to any commitment.
I would also define all of this as love. It is all the same shit really, but people continue to throw all these words around as if they are meaningless. They are not, which is why they are so rarely heard from me.
Also published on Medium.