Loyalty is a rarity. Why? Because integrity is a rarity. And loyalty depends on integrity.
The deeper issue: Most people are not true to their values; they’re not true to themselves. Most people, in my experience, don’t know what their values even are. Because they don’t know, they tend to look to others for guidance. They look to dominant family members, to dominant people in the culture, to church, to other organizations, or even to the government.
They want others to tell them what to do, even though they rarely listen to those directives. They are rudderless.
They don’t know what they think. So they let others do their thinking for them. This all gets in the way of loyalty. You can’t be loyal to a friend or a loved one — not consistently — if you don’t know what YOU believe in, what YOU think, what YOU know, and why.
That’s why so many friends and other loved ones betray each other, disappoint each other or even turn on each other. They’re too busy trying to look the way they think they’re supposed to look, in the eyes of others. Thirty-three years of being a therapist has taught me just how deeply and how often people betray each other.
The most trustworthy person you can find is a person of unbreached integrity, or unbreached self-esteem. I know your response: We’re told this is impossible, unrealistic and perfectionistic. Notice that it’s the disloyal, untrustworthy types usually saying that integrity isn’t possible. But trustworthy people are out there. You’re the only person with yourself 24/7. You know how true you are to what you believe, or whether you even believe or think anything at all.
The most important thing is to distance yourself from and reject people who don’t display loyalty and integrity. You are better off alone, or with a good book, or with a loyal pet than in personal relations with people who don’t have strong selves. When you engage in personal relationships with people who are disloyal and toxic, you bring yourself down. They don’t add to your life; they take away from it. You become like them. Don’t spend time on anyone who doesn’t add to your life, in some important way.
It’s not accurate to say, “Disloyal people are selfish. If they were more selfless, you could trust them.” The exact opposite is true. The least trustworthy people are the people with no sense of self. They have no principles, they have no standards, and they betray themselves every moment of the day. If they routinely betray themselves, how can you expect them never to betray you?
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