As it’s Valentines Day today, I thought I would re-visit one of my favourite blog posts. This subject really got me thinking, and it certainly caused some interesting debate in our office at the time. This post was originally published on 28th March 2019 and updated on 14th February 2021.
Have you ever stopped to consider whether love or loyalty is more important to you?
However, it was a question raised by one of my colleagues recently, and it got me thinking.
When asked to choose between them, most people in our small London office opted for loyalty. In many cases, this was without any hesitation.
My initial thought was, how can you have one without the other?
But, if I had to choose, would I choose love or would I choose loyalty?
Can Love Exist Without Loyalty?
It raised some interesting questions.
Could I love someone even if they were unfaithful to me? Would someone be able to love me if I cheated on them?
Could I remain loyal to someone if love started to fade? Would someone stay with me if they fell out of love with me, but it was convenient to stay in the relationship?
Would I even want a partner to be loyal if his love for me had faded? Would a man’s loyalty be enough to keep us together?
I’ve been in plenty of relationships where my love for someone has faded over time. I’ve been in many situations where I’ve realised I still love someone, and care for them deeply, but I’m no longer in love with them. It’s easy to end up unhappy if you try to stay with someone who doesn’t love you. You end up existing with one another, or maybe you become friends, but the intimacy, and the spark, fades.
Would You Stay in a Relationship if You Were No Longer Happy?
I’ve also been in relationships, where loyalty has been chosen over love. I asked one particular boyfriend, whether anything would ever drive him to leave the relationship. It seems an odd question to ask now, but I guess I was trying to set some early boundaries. He told me that even if the relationship turned sour, he would stay. I couldn’t make sense of this. We were both young. There would be plenty of time to find someone else if our relationship didn’t work out.
Why would you do that to yourself?
Why would you stay with someone who didn’t make you happy?
Why would you want to stay with someone who was content with plodding through life?
No excitement, no laughter. Just existing.
The irony in this is that this particular ex is now happily married, and, well, I’m not even married. Perhaps that’s the ultimate difference between love and loyalty, or at least the difference between he and I. He’s loyal to the core, a genuine Mr Nice Guy. Don’t get me wrong, I can be ridiculously loyal. But when that spark goes, I do find it very difficult to stay in the relationship.
I’ve had my fair share of heartache as much as the next person. When you love someone, and they don’t love you back, or whether you’ve been with someone for months, years even, or if you’ve loved someone from afar; not having your love returned is enough to break the coldest heart.
But at least heartache makes you feel something. It reminds us we’re alive.
Funnily enough, the guy who caused me the most heartache is the relationship I remember most fondly. It’s not that funny come to think of it. We were good together. We just never quite got our timing right. Ironically, he’s also now married. Has anyone else spotted the pattern here??
I can’t imagine there is a worse feeling than knowing your partner has strayed. I suspect a couple of ex-boyfriends have cheated on me in the past. Not that any of them have confessed. But I get a gut feeling about these things, and my gut rarely lets me down. In a way, I am grateful that if they have cheated on me, that they have hidden this from me. Maybe if I had known for sure, I would be more cynical about love.
If you loved someone and found out they had cheated on you, would you forgive them?
Perhaps you would never forgive them completely, but would you at least be able to push it to the back of your mind, because your loyalty for that person was so strong?
Believe it or not, I want loyalty to come out on top here, just like I want to believe that you can’t have love or loyalty without the other. But is loyalty ever really enough?
Ultimately, as human beings, we want to believe in both. For me, there is no greater feeling than finding yourself in a loyal relationship with someone who loves you dearly, whom you love deeply in return.
Marriage Without Love
Yet, I am also aware that experiencing love and loyalty in the same relationship, isn’t always possible. In some cultures, love isn’t a necessity. Let’s take arranged marriages for example. Arranged marriages are still the norm in many cultures, especially within Southern Asia. These marriages tend to be organised by the families of the couple, the bride only having met her future husband perhaps a handful of times before their big day (many couples don’t ever meet until their wedding day!) The families often organise the match for convenience, for wealth, or even for popularity. If the couple is lucky, they may grow to love one another. But sadly, it is not always the case.
What Would You Choose?
For me, being in a relationship is about enhancing your life, not just making do. I love my own company. I don’t need a man to make me happy or to complete me. I want to be with someone who compliments my lifestyle, someone who brings laughter and lightness and someone to share things with, just because we can, not because we feel we have to, or because we feel this is the answer to finding everlasting happiness.
I would hate for someone to stay with me if they no longer loved me. I don’t want someone to stay with me out of convenience, or because they are scared of singledom. I don’t want someone to ‘make do’ with me, or to stay because that’s what’s expected of us. Sod that!
Ultimately I want someone to stay with me because they are in love with me. And if you fall out of love with me, that’s ok too. I’ll be ok. I always am.
What’s more important to you – Love or Loyalty?