The Painful Truth About Loyalty

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Ask a hundred random people what they consider to be the top three qualities of their ideal BFF or mate and I guarantee you the “L” word will be mentioned by 99 of them. And by “L” word, I don’t mean “love.” That’s probably asking for too much anyway. No, loyalty is the word we’re looking for here, and it’s definitely high on the list.

The basic definition of loyalty, for those who don’t know, is the act of showing constant support or allegiance to pretty much any type of noun: person, place, or thing. Here, we’ll discuss personal loyalty between people. Consider this statement: My best friend is so loyal that even when everyone else abandoned me, she never left my side. Sounds good, right? Hell, it is good. We all need and desire support, that unconditional, unbreakable support that demonstrates the strength of a relationship.

This includes friendships and families, too; romantic couplings are just the tip of the iceberg with this whole loyalty business.

You’d be hard pressed to find a healthy couple who doesn’t have a strong sense of loyalty in each other. It’s that sense of “whatever happens, I know he’ll always come home” or “no matter how bad things get, I know she’ll hold me down.” True loyalty provides the security in knowing he or she will always be there. The sheer comfort of that is enough to wrap up in and cuddle on the couch with. I’m talking about some serious warm and fuzzies.

So if loyalty is such a necessary part of a healthy relationship craved by the masses like the first bite of a fresh Chipotle burrito, what’s with the whole “painful” title? Well, just because loyalty is a  part of a healthy relationship, it doesn’t mean it’s a part of every relationship, hence the pain.

Now I’m going to make some of y’all question the folks on your team, so prepare yourselves because I’m about to kick it up a notch.

Some of the loudest people screaming about loyalty in a friendship/relationship are either giving it to the wrong people or flat-out don’t deserve it.

Boom. There it is.

Think of it this way: Just because a hefty person who’s one cheeseburger away from triple bypass surgery is loyal to McDonald’s, it doesn’t mean that loyalty is well placed. Clearly, that loyalty for the clown prince of mystery-meat burgers is doing more harm than good. And what about McDonald’s itself? What does it owe anyone who can’t put the fries down? Will it reciprocate the loyalty? The short answers are nothing and no. I don’t care how much support is given to it, nothing will stop McDonald’s from raising their prices and further damaging your health and wallet.

Unfortunately, we tend to treat people the same way. We give our allegiance and support to people who are merely leeches who take and never give. We constantly show support for their dreams, aspirations, their children, their employment issues. We stick up for the people they like and we hate those who come against them. We financially support them while we go without. Our shoulders are always available for them to lean on, even when the problems they bitch about are the problems they created.

But let the tables turn. Let it be you who’s dreams are on the line. Let it be you who’s going through a tough time and needs some comfort. All that support you gave to your spouse or friend is now absent in your time of need. That’s when you realize you’re the one doing most of the work, and as we all know that’s not loyalty. That’s masturbation.

I had this one friend – and I’ll use the term loosely – who only called when something was wrong. Because I considered her a friend, I would always drop what I was doing and ride to her aid. I counseled her, encouraged her. Soon she started calling in the wee hours of the morning to discuss all types of frivolous issues she thought everyone else had except her. She borrowed money from me and never paid it back. Eventually, I started getting annoyed whenever her name would appear on my phone. Our so-called friendship was extremely one-sided. When it all ended, my shoulders may have felt lighter with her no longer weighing them down, but my damn, did my heart hurt. The messed up part about all this is the fact that she wasn’t the only person who treated me this way.

If there’s one thing I have experienced over the years it’s betrayal. Being loyal to someone who won’t return the favor is a painful feeling that never numbs with time. Each time it happened was like someone squeezed an obscenely juicy lemon onto a fresh cut on the palm of my hand. To say it doesn’t feel good is an understatement.

That’s what I get for constantly casting my pearls before swine.

Some people don’t deserve loyalty. They’re just like the fattening McDonald’s that survives on the loyalty of others, but essentially poisons them in the long-run with temporary feel goods.

That includes some of you who are reading this right now (if you feel yourself getting irritated at this point, it’s probably you. Sorry, but it needed to be said).

Selfish people aren’t loyal. Self-absorbed people aren’t loyal. Arrogant people aren’t loyal. So why should they get the best of you when you can’t even get a piece of them? It isn’t fair, and those on the losing end of the loyalty battle are suffering in spades.

Everyone wants the “L” word, but so few are willing to give it.

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