We recently experienced a disappointment from a close friend who we thought was better. This disappointment, and an episode of Suits, got us thinking about loyalty. Has it disappeared? Does it really matter? To whom do we entrust our loyalty? These are fundamental questions that we want to answer in this post. This post will not rehash things we discussed in our post on trust, but we will allude to some of those thoughts. Now without further ado, let’s get started.
Loyalty: What Does It Really Entail?
Over the last several years, we have heard of sleazy people who do not get what they deserve because lackeys will not surrender their loyalty to them. Turn on any mainstream political news channel or station, and you will hear at least one instance of these occurrences. But this post does not touch on those instances; it touches on the personal relationships people generally have. This post involves the “ride-or-die” friendship or relationship.
Loyalty has many faces. To Harvey Specter in the USA original TV show, Suits, it involves constant communication. In Season 3, Harvey’s associate, Mike Ross, does not something that diminishes Harvey’s role in the firm, constituting a grave betrayal. In a confrontation, Harvey tells Mike that if anyone or anything threatened him at all, he should have come to Harvey, tell Harvey everything. He openly says “that’s what loyalty is.” And for anyone who has watched Suits knows that Harvey Specter values loyalty above all else, calling it a two-way street.
Harvey Specter’s definition of loyalty is spot on for this post’s message. If we give someone our loyalty, we are expecting it from them. Loyalty, like a healthy relationship, is a two-way street and requires open communication. Loyalty might involve pledging an allegiance to someone or something bigger than one’s self, but we believe that loyalty goes further. It entails an unwavering willingness to cooperate, unconditional trust, and undeniable ability to protect the other person.
Loyalty is more than a buzz word. It is a foundation of lasting “ride-or-die” relationships. And Suits is not the only form of media that touches on this topic. Just watch How I Met Your Mother Season 9, the Fast & Furious franchise, or Harry Potter to see loyalty in action. While each entails some allegiance to something bigger than the individual, it highlights the importance of long-term relationships. But why does it matter?
Why Loyalty Matters
Loyalty matters for two reasons. The first reason involves a person’s true colors. We have friends who will go to bat for us and protect us from injustice in any way possible. In fact, we have a friend who just learned that one of their supposedly good friends backed out of a commitment that existed for more than two years. While this instance involves reliability, the response from the aggrieved friend’s partner epitomizes loyalty. Our friend’s partner did two things: they asked her our friend was and then asked how they can get back at the person who backed out of a two-year commitment. Our friend’s partner’s initial reaction was to protect them from injustice. This reaction shows who they really are.
The second reason why loyalty matters is shows what some people expect from others. Let’s go back to Suits for a moment. Harvey expected Mike to protect against any blindsides that others might try to inflict on him. The threat alone should never have eliminated the protective nature of the relationship. For those who have not seen Suits, that single moment becomes highly relevant in later seasons.
Loyalty matters because it shows who is willing to sacrifice for us and who just talks an empty game. But real loyalty does not involve forced commitment. It involves an unwavering selflessness. That selflessness matters despite it looking like empty favor-building. True loyalty comes without strings attached. We will take the blame or the brunt of a punishment from someone else because we believe that the protected person who do the same thing if we were in their position. That reciprocity shows who will be by our side in the tensest moments.
But we learned that the real loyalty is in limited supply. Why? Why are there so many empty promises of “going down with the ship”?
Why Real Loyalty is Not Widely Prominent
Although there are instances of people taking falls for others while the real people at fault go scot-free, these sacrifices arise from empty promises. The quid pro quo underscores those instances, not real loyalty. The reason why real loyalty is not widely prominent is because most people are selfish. As harsh as it sounds, that comment is true. While others will defend the self-preservation as honoring another, stronger relationship, those defenses are just justifications to assuage personal guilt.
Another reason why real loyalty is not widely prominent is that most people don’t deserve it. This reason differs from self-preservation in that some people are not worth taking a fall for. Whether it is a lack of close relationship or an intrinsic shortcoming, most people do not have the trust required built up enough. That trust is hard to build because most people make excuses for why they act in their own problematic way, highlighting their toxicity.
The final reason for the lack of real loyalty is an uncertainty surrounding any particular relationship. We recently heard that some relationships simply dissolve because people do not constantly bump into others they used to see every day. Whether it is leaving a childhood home or going to a different school or workplace, people prioritize the novel over the old. This prioritization makes it hard to cultivate a relationship that will turn into real loyalty. But this is just another excuse because some people are inherently good and committed people who will go to the ends of the earth for others. That loyalty exists, but it is in limited supply. Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner touch us that.
When real loyalty exists, it makes all the difference. Injustices are more easily manageable. Hard decisions are easier to make. Some relationships are easier to maintain. Why? Because one recognizes the difficulties that the world throws at us, which brings us to some final thoughts.
Real loyalty is quite valuable. Probably more valuable than trust. Real loyalty matters because it decreases the hardships people face, shows people’s true colors, and relies on real candid communication. Disappointments do not seem so hard to handle because they are people willing to punish injustice whenever it emerges. Lies do not hurt as much because the true friends will always tell you the truth, no matter how disheartening as it might sound. Finally, commitments are taken at face value because real loyalty emerges from showing up and showing out daily. While it is rare, real loyalty assuages uncertainty in life since the real “ride-or-die” relationships solidifies expectations and builds networks for lasting success.
Does real loyalty exist? Let us know in the comments.
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