When is the last time you heard the word loyalty outside of some sort of sales incentive program?  It seems like loyalty to others/people has fallen out of favor and I wonder...


Is it because people are tired of being let down?
In a world of social media, dating apps and 'the next big thing,' have we all become certain that the people around us are expendable?
Maybe it's some combination of both.
You may find yourself on the other end of the spectrum feeling like you have perhaps been loyal to people to your own detriment.  For example, having someone's back when other's didn't just to have that person turn on you later.  If you find yourself in this camp, I would propabaly tell you that your loyalty wasn't the problem but perhaps you were just loyal to the wrong person/people.
As important as it is to be loyal, it is important to think about how to be loyal to the 'right' people.
By the way, I don't believe that being loyal is the same thing as going along with everything someone says or does.  In fact, loyalty maybe pulling that person aside and telling them that what they are doing is wrong.
That said, let's talk about how to figure out when we should be loyal to someone.

If the shoe were on the other foot, would that person have your back?

This is probably one of the best ways to look at this.  If you are confident that the person in question would be loyal to you, then it is important to seriously consider being loyal to them.  There are not a lot people in life that we could condifendly say would be loyal to us to so we should take care to nurture those relationships when they are otherwise healthy.  If, however, you aren't sure or you know that the other person wouldn't have your back, think long and hard about being loyal to them.  Note: if you chose not to be loyal to them, you do not need to sabotage or antagonistic that's not good juju.  Just leave it alone.

What would your best self do?

Sometimes the loyalty issue comes up before we have enough time or data to consider if the other person wold be loyal to us.  So what would the best version of yourself do?  (He/she certainly wouldn't be unkind, antagonistic or sabotage the other person.) In some situations, it is better to take a leap and trust that the other person will do the right thing in return.  Can you get hurt?  Yes.  But remember Berne Brown's advise on the power of vulnerability.  And when we do the right thing, reguardless of the outcome, we get to walk away feeling good about ourselves.  Let the other person wrestle their pillow at night about how they treated you.
At the end of the day, we cannot expect others to be loyal and good to us if we aren't loyal and good to them.  It is important that we invest in those who invest in us and let everyone else do their own thing.
I want to hear from you!  Who are you loyal for?  Who is loyal to you?  Have you told them lately how grateful you are for them?

Recently I have been hearing the word loyalty a little differently and I realized that it had been a really long time since I had heard the word used outside of the context of retail and how to keep us shopping in the same stores. And I started thinking…

What is loyalty today? What does it mean in our culture now?

The Merriam-Webster definition of loyal:

  1. : unswerving in allegiance: such as
    1. faithful in allegiance to one’s lawful sovereign or government
    2. faithful to a private person to whom faithfulness is due (like a partner or spouse)
    3. faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution or product
  2. : showing loyalty (as in to a friend)
  3. : obsolete

When I heard something talking about being loyal to his or her friends recently, it almost made me sad when I realized it had been a really long time since I had heard anyone say anything like that. And it made me wonder in a world where we are told to have personal boundaries and look out for ourselves, have we lost sight of loyalty? So I started reading…

One of the first things I found what this article on PsychologyToday.com.  The title says it all, “Loyalty is Overrated.”  The article makes several, well thought out points about how loyalty can be a liability to us and can actually have a negative impact on us.

Is Loyalty Overrated?

While I couldn’t argue some of the points that author made, it made me really sad to read it.  Are we really in a place as a culture that loyalty has fallen out of favor?

A couple of years ago I read, “A History of the Wife,” by Yalom.  (It should actually be the A History of the Anglo-Saxon Wife as it really isn’t a full exploration.)  In it, Marilyn Yalom looks at the evolution of “love” and “marriage.”  At it’s inception, marriage was a transfer of property.  A woman (actually probably a girl) would be essentially purchased from her father to her husband.  In Greek and Roman times, a wife was considered to be the ultimate mate if she was “loyal” to her husband and believed that he would come home even after being gone for years at war with no word.

By today’s standards, I’m told, that if you don’t get a response to a text within four hours, the relationship is probably over.  I’m certainly not implying that things were better for women back then, but that part has shifted.  Something that has not shifted is that men in those days were allowed (perhaps even encouraged) to have sex outside of monogamy but women could be murdered for such behavior... There has been less of a shift for us there.

For me, loyalty is a ‘stick-to-it-ness’ that means that I (and others) can make mistakes but that the people around me will in time forgive me.  It means trust, even when that feels hard.  What does it mean to you?  Does it mean something different than it used to?  I would love to hear from you!

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