loyalty and commitment in romantic relationships, a kitten’s analysis

Someone once equivocated loyalty and commitment in a conversation.  It may not have been meant that way, but it came across as such.

Regardless, it’s not the first time I came across the idea that


Romance and Commitment.

“I want someone loyal to me, someone who knows how to commit.”  It was, after all, in that context which the other person had made the original comment to me. Which got me thinking. Is that how I see it? Do I believe those two concepts ought to be universally equivocated as so many others do?  I can, perhaps it is my empathetic nature, understand where they are coming from.  But something wasn’t sitting right with me.

I think part of the difficulty is that when we speak of “committed relationships,” we are almost entirely speaking about romantic relationships (I have literally never seen a counter example, but feel free to point one out).  But one can have loyalty without having a romantic inclination.

What are Commitments, anyway?

Commitments are, too often, something we associate exclusively with romantic relationships.  And the context is accurate as well, this is not merely a misconception.  We rarely, if ever, have commitments with friends- that is generally reserved for romantic partners. Even speaking with other polyamorous folk, they start talking about how they have to navigate multiple relationships with commitments now. They don’t mean they made a friend for the first time in their life. They mean they started dating another person in an ethical manner, while currently with someone, for the first time.

I have always craved commitments and loyalty with friends, but rarely succeeded in managing that.  Most who saw me in a platonic lens just did not understand what I wanted.  They would assume it meant I was secretly wishing for a romantic attachment to them– when truly I respected the friendship and only wanted some security with the friendship, just as anyone would desire with their romantic partner.

Commitments such as Being There For Each Other. Committing to spending lives together. Vacations. Friday nights. Marriage. Ceremonies. I mean, have you ever had a “friendship commitment ceremony”? (Now, I really feel I ought to do that! Friends, invite me to yours!). This is Romantic Things, but it could simply be Things You Have With A Person.

But what of loyalty?

Loyalty, funnily, isn’t exclusive to romantic entanglements. I’ve often heard people talk about a “loyal friend.” If anything, I’ve known of friendships with more loyalty than many romantic partnerships. And that isn’t particularly controversial or unspoken. Heard that plenty, too. “My best friend has been the most loyal person to me all my life. Not like my boyfriends.” Am I the only one?

But what does that loyalty mean without allowing for commitments?  For long term trust?  It is a good feeling, but I think bringing the two together (loyalty and commitments) in every form of relationship could only enhance said relationships.

I also think it’s possible dangerous to confuse the two as being One and the Same.

Thanks for listening to my little TED talk!

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