Loyalty is one of the most important things in a relationship. Building trust and loyalty may take time, but it can help you form a meaningful and healthy relationship.

Having a loyal partner is something that we all wish for. But in practice, loyalty is about a lot more than simply not cheating on each other.

Let’s discuss what, exactly, loyalty looks like in a relationship, and how to foster more loyalty and commitment with your partner.

Loyalty is something that most of us value in our interpersonal relationships, but you may not know exactly what it looks like. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines loyalty as “faithfulness that is steadfast in the face of any temptation to renounce, desert, or betray.”

In other words, loyalty is about staying committed to your partner, even during the most challenging times. It’s about not betraying your partner’s confidence, and not abandoning them during the ups and downs of your relationship.

Philosophers argue that loyalty isn’t just a feeling – it’s about action. You could feel 100% committed and loyal to your partner.

But some say that true loyalty is shown when you remain committed to the person even when that commitment comes at a disadvantage to you.

In some situations, this can make loyalty a somewhat problematic virtue. Loyalty is important in a relationship, but it’s important to consider at what point loyalty should be broken.

For example, valuing loyalty above all else may cause people in abusive relationships to stay in the name of “loyalty,” which can ultimately lead them to grave danger.

How do you show loyalty in a relationship?

When most people think of being loyal to their partner, one of the first things they think of is staying faithful. Faithfulness is definitely one thing that can speak to loyalty in a relationship, but it’s not the only thing.

There are so many ways that loyalty can appear in a committed relationship.

Example 1: Sara hears her family talking about her partner Mikako behind her back. A family member makes a joke at Mikako’s expense and expects Sara to laugh along. Instead, Sara lets the person know that this joke was hurtful and walks away. She refuses to betray Mikako.

Example 2: Riley has shared something private with their partner Dave. Dave typically tells his sister everything, but he decides to be loyal to Riley and keep the secret.

Example 3: Cameron and Angel get into a serious argument. Previously, they both would have called it quits and ended the relationship over something like this. But this time, they decide to stay committed and work it out together.

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Research has found that loyalty is one of the most important aspects of long-term relationships. One 2019 review found that loyalty and commitment were among the most important factors that led to stable, long-term marriages.

The review found that loyalty was especially critical during difficult moments in the relationship. A study from 2013 found that a lack of commitment and infidelity, which are both signs of low loyalty, were two factors most commonly cited as reasons for divorce.

According to The Gottman Institute, building commitment and loyalty is the third and final phase of love — the phase in which you figure out if you’re really going to make the relationship work for a lifetime.

This phase cannot be skipped over if you want to build a long lasting relationship.

This is why loyalty is so important in a relationship. It’s an essential part of building strong, healthy, and positive relationships in our lives. And having positive relationships means having better physical and mental health.

So how can you show loyalty to your partner? How can you practice commitment within the relationship? Not betraying them is a start – but, according to experts, it’s not the only important thing.

According to Dr. John Gottman, founder of The Gottman Institute, loyalty is about nurturing gratitude for your partner.

He writes that the key to building loyalty is cherishing what you have, “which involves both people making a conscious decision to minimize their partner’s negative qualities and maximize the positive qualities.”

To show loyalty in your relationship, try to embrace the following qualities:

  • Appreciation: Intentionally nurture gratitude, appreciation, and admiration for your partner’s positive qualities. Make the choice to love and commit to them every day. See them as irreplaceable.
  • Perseverance: Loyalty means making the decision to stick things out with someone, even when the going gets rough. Instead of threatening to leave or walk away from the relationship, demonstrate that you’re in it for the long haul.
  • Open communication: Try to stay open and vulnerable. Express your feelings, and let your partner know when you’ve been hurt. Open and honest communication provides an avenue for conflicts to be resolved.
  • Trust and confidence: Do not betray your partner, whatever that means for you and your relationship. Keep their confidence. Don’t talk badly about them behind their back, and maintain private information between you.
  • Commitment: According to The Gottman Institute, “Trust is something you feel. Commitment is something you do.” Behave in ways that show your partner that you are committed to them no matter what you’re doing or where you are. Show them that your commitment is not an obligation, but a choice.

Remember to first consider whether someone is deserving of your loyalty. If your partner is hurting or threatening to hurt you, you’re under no obligation to be loyal to them.

If you or someone you know are experiencing controlling behavior or domestic violence, you can:

Loyalty is one of the most important characteristics of a healthy long-term relationship. Loyalty is something you do, not just feel.

You can take action to show loyalty in your relationship by nurturing commitment and admiration, expressing gratitude for your partner, and keeping their trust.