Loyalty is not a personality trait.
Just because he's loyal, doesn't mean he's the one.
There was a time when, I too, would label ‘loyalty’ as one of the qualities a man would ideally tick off my list of ‘attractive personality traits’ before I considered him as a potential partner. Among loyalty were other things such as ‘he should love me’ and ‘he should respect me as an equal’.
But over time I realised how irrational it was for me to pen down loyalty, love and respect as additional qualities that a man needed to have in order for him to be more attractive than others, when really, those very things are the prerequisites for every relationship. It is a requirement that two people in a relationship should love and respect one another and be loyal to each other. Why would you be in a relationship with someone who you didn’t love or see as an equal? And if you really want to date multiple people at once then you will never consider getting into a committed relationship at all!
So why do we view these core requirements for any relationship as attractive personality traits which we believe some men possess but others don’t?
I’ll talk about love and respect another time but let’s think about loyalty for now.
Tell me, if you have two men who are equally interested in you and you have to make your mind up about which one you want to be in a relationship with, what qualities would you consider? Wouldn’t you think about picking the person who makes your heart skip a beat? The one who understands your dreams and stands with you in support of them? The one who knows when you’re sad or happy and knows how to cheer you up whenever you're low?
Would you actually look at those two men and skim down your list of ‘attractive personality traits’ and then stop at ‘loyalty’ to see which one of them ticks it off the list? Would you really pick the one who you think won’t sleep with someone else while he’s with you, because loyalty is somehow a quality that one lacks but the other has?
Of course not!
If both of these men are equally interested in pursuing a relationship with you then it is a given that they would both be loyal to you. I mean, why wouldn’t they? What reason do you have for believing that at least one of these men will be less loyal, because loyalty is a quality like humour, talkativeness or simplicity which some people possess and others don’t, or some people possess more of and others less of?
What reason do any of us have for believing that a man will not be loyal in a relationship unless it is an additional quality that he possesses – which we’ve observed from how friendly he is with his female friends, or whether his hides his messages from us, or if his effort has decreased since he went on holiday because that’s enough to tell us that he’s speaking to other women, right?
I have seen so many women around me settling for men they haven’t given their heart to just because those men ‘will come back home at night’. So many girls think ten times before getting into a relationship because they don’t know whether the guy they like is loyal or not. And it just doesn’t make sense to me.
Why have we resorted to getting into half-hearted relationships just because we think that they’re safe as we won’t get cheated on? Why have we resorted to picking a man who hasn’t got our heart over a man who does on the mere basis that that one who has our heart doesn’t look faithful enough?
Loyalty is a prerequisite for a relationship, it is not an additional quality that some possess and others don't. The whole point of being in a committed relationship is that both partners will be loyal to each other, because they’re mature enough to get into a relationship to begin with. But still, we continue to pen down loyalty among other qualities that we find attractive in men, such as the ability to make us laugh and a mutual understanding of life and having similar dreams.
We continue to label loyalty as a determinant of attractiveness where, if a guy has every single quality that we want but somehow he does not possess the quality of being loyal, we won’t get into a relationship with him even if he begs and pleads and says that he’s head over heels in love with us. We just won’t. Rather, we’d pick the man who doesn't ignite a spark in us because he texts on time and that's indicative of him coming home at night.
He will come home. He has to. After all, he’s got this additional quality of being loyal which the first one doesn’t.
And I guess I can’t really blame women – or men, for that matter – because our generation is such that trusting someone has become as dangerous as giving someone a full-loaded gun and hoping that they won’t pull the trigger. People cheat and get cheated on despite being in serious, committed and long-term relationships as though it were nothing. And I understand the lack of trust. I really do.
What reason does a woman, who’s been cheated on by someone who claimed to love her endearingly, have for trusting someone new – no matter how serious he looks? Of course she will list ‘loyalty’ down as her top priority when deciding whether or not to consider this person. She will treat loyalty as though it were a quality that some men lack because she will believe what she’s been taught through her experiences.
But this isn't right.
It is so unbelievably messy to pursue your dating life on the edge in such a way. Think about it, you’ll spend the rest of your life tip-toeing around men who could potentially make your heart skip a beat but don’t look faithful enough to you, just because the last man that you fell head over heels in love with wasn’t loyal to you. Yes, I accept that he lacked loyalty but I don’t think that he lacked just that, he lacked the ability to understand what love was, and what a committed relationship was. And most of the time mature and sensible people who get into relationships know what relationships are. They know that love, respect and loyalty are requirements of their relationship and not additional qualities that will make this relationship better than the one they previously had.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we need to stop pretending as though we are walking on thin ice whenever we come across someone who has the potential to make our heart flutter. We need to learn to trust and be trusted because life is too short and good men - unfortunately - are so hard to find.
And by good men I don’t mean men who are more loyal than others. I mean men who share the same worldview, dreams, perceptions, humour and love for life as you do and when you find someone like that, I would urge you not to put a wall around your heart. Because a good man will know what a healthy relationship is.
A good man knows that loyalty is a prerequisite for a relationship and not an attractive personality trait.
About the author
Ruby Dhal is a speaker, performer and author of 5 books of poetry, prose and bite-sized self-help. With a social media following of over half a million and millions of impressions on Instagram, Ruby has access to readers everywhere.