Thoughts on Manly Loyalty

In the world of survival, loyalty is needed to maintain relationships with your allies and increase their effectiveness in battle. However, keeping a close bond among those who stay loyal can be difficult when you have little contact or resources to offer them.

Two vintage shirtless friends posing together in boat on a lake.


Dante conducts an allegorical trip through Hell’s nine levels in Dante’s Inferno. He travels around nine concentric rings with Virgil as his guide, each level inhabited by ever worse sinners. Dante journeys through limbo, gluttony, avarice, anger and sloth, heresy, violence, and fraud before reaching the earth’s heart and the lowest circle of Hell. The worst offenders in history, those who have committed treachery and betrayal, are incarcerated here. These traitors are sentenced to spend forever imprisoned in ice, with Satan constantly chewing on the worst among them-Brutus, Cassius, and Judas.

Why, in a world full of sinners, would Dante choose traitors as the worst of the evil? Why, for example, do people who have no recollection of the Revolutionary War know who Benedict Arnold was? And why is being referred to as a “fairweather fan” such a derogatory term? In other words, why is breaking one’s devotion such a terrible offense?

While the fabric that has kept society together has weakened in our contemporary day, loyalty continues to provide the fabric’s strength. Loyalty is what keeps the world running. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to do business or maintain personal relationships. Loyalty is defined as the belief that we are who we say we are and that we will follow through on our promises. It is hoped that the trustworthiness with which we first meet someone will last permanently.

It’s also what binds us together. We spend our lives according to established rules that enable us to function day to day. We must know who we can rely on. We all know that in a perfect world, friends would stick by you, lovers will be faithful to you, and corporations will not defraud you of your money. When someone is disloyal, they violate these standards, eroding the trust that binds us.

Yet, it’s understandable that contemporary society has grown tired of the virtue of loyalty. Every virtue has two manifestations: one genuine and one false. Frugality may turn into stinginess, resolve can turn into stubbornness, and humility can turn into passivity. And devotion may easily devolve into unthinking obedience. “Weren’t the awful crimes perpetrated by regular people done out of a feeling of allegiance?” critics of loyalty argue, pointing to Germany under Hitler or China under Mao.

However, the allegiance that such governments, conquerors and oppressors seek is not real loyalty. Loyalty can never be forced; it must be chosen, as we will see. While loyalty may be used for both good and evil, its immense and noble power when employed for the latter is undeniable.

What is the definition of loyalty?

One of the key male traits, along with bravery, honesty, and personal responsibility, is loyalty. However, like with other high qualities, it is often simpler to convey through instances than than words. We see it in the soldier who will not abandon a wounded colleague and will risk his life to carry him to safety. It is shown by the famous guy who attracts ladies while he is away from home but never abandons his wife, and by the religious martyr who chooses death over disavowal of religion. It’s this link that perplexes women, who wonder why their lover is still friends with a boyhood pal with whom he seems to have nothing in common.


The Philosophy of Loyalty, written by Josiah Royce in 1920, defined loyalty as “the voluntary, practical, and thoroughgoing dedication of a person to a cause.” Let’s take a closer look at this definition:

Willing. Loyalty must come from your own free will and decision. It can’t be pushed upon you by someone or anything else. Loyalty is something that must be decided.

Devotion that is both practical and ongoing. Loyalty isn’t some abstract concept. It must be accompanied by action. Loyalty might include feelings and emotions, but action must always be at the center.

To a good cause. We frequently think of loyalty as a relationship between ourselves and other people or organizations—a buddy, a wife, a church. As a result, when that unique entity changes and ceases to fascinate us, we feel justified in severing our ties with it.

True loyalty must serve a greater purpose than the individual; it must be based on ideals rather than persons. Be devoted to the notion of brotherhood and friendship rather than to your buddy Eddie. Be faithful to the notion of love and loyalty, not to your wife. Be faithful to the holy essence of family connections, not to your sister. Be devoted to the gospel rather than a church.

Such immutable ideals must be the bedrock of your commitment. As a result, even if individuals and organizations change, your commitment to immutable ideals will stay unwavering.

To whom should we pledge our allegiance?

“Whenever, I repeat, such a cause arouses your attention to the point that it looks worthy of being served with all your might, soul, and power, then this cause develops the spirit of loyalty in you.” If you operate in this way, you will become loyal.” -Josiah Royce (Josiah Royce (Josiah

While we frequently conceive of loyalty as a solemn obligation, the reasons that awaken your allegiance must enthrall and possess you, reverberating in your being and energizing your soul.

The reasons to which you choose to be loyal do not have to be prescribed to you by your position or tradition; they might be fully self-made. Choose causes that reflect your beliefs and goals, causes that engross and captivate both your heart and intellect to the point that you are prepared to make whatever sacrifices are required to stay loyal and faithful.

Loyalty is on the decline.

Individuality and personal independence are the virtues of the day, thus loyalty isn’t cherished as strongly as it formerly was. Our excessively consumerist culture has turned us into a country of consumers, not just for commercial items, but for everything. We are taught that pleasure is the consequence of keeping one’s options open to the maximum extent feasible, given the vast array of possibilities available—from shampoos to occupations. We’re constantly looking for a better price, a better improvement. As a result, contemporary fidelity is a pale imitation of its historical counterpart. Sure, we’ll stick with you……until something better comes along. We’re loyal…until we’re given a reason to go. Of course, this isn’t genuine loyalty. A faithful guy commits to something with the intention of being committed to it indefinitely.


Our era of skepticism has also damaged loyalty. As previously said, loyalty requires a purpose that energizes and enlivens both the heart and intellect. As a result, idealizing your cause to some level is required for loyalty. When we choose to be loyal, we choose to be loyal to the best of something, to its potential. We’re well aware of the cause’s flaws, but they’re not what motivates us to stick with it.

But our jaded era prefers to focus only on the flaws, obscuring everything good and noble about the mission. Cynicism suffocates devotion before it has a chance to grow. When it comes to marriage, divorcees are quick to point out how antiquated the institution is and how futile the quest is. When you mention the nation, skeptics quickly bring up the current government scandals. It’s impossible to discuss a great individual without someone pointing out their flaws. There seems to be no place these days for someone who views things the way he wishes they were without being labeled naïve or dumb. For loyalty to flourish, a cause must have some depth and dignity, and such space is today hard to come by. But, even in our “smart” contemporary day, loyalty needs a place since it helps both the person and society as a whole.

The Advantages of Loyalty

“Loyalty is not only a good for the faithful man, but it is also the most important of all the moral goods in his life, since it provides him with a personal answer to the most difficult of all practical issues, the dilemma of “For what do I live?” What brings me here? What am I good for? “Why do I have to be here?” -Josiah Royce (Josiah Royce (Josiah

We appreciate devoted guys because they have self-assurance, a sense of direction, and a sense of purpose. We understand who they are and what we can anticipate from them. We are aware of their position.

However, loyalty may seem to be an antiquated way of life that is damaging to your own pleasure and satisfaction. Isn’t it great to be able to move on to someplace better at any time and not be stuck in one place?

On the surface, this sounds logical, however I’ve found that genuine pleasure comes from dedicating oneself to a purpose greater than yourself. And making a long-term commitment to that cause. While society may see such unwavering dedication as suffocating, it is the never-ending purchasing attitude that leaves us unfulfilled. This is why:

Loyalty creates pleasure and contentment. According to studies, having the option to reverse our judgments makes us less satisfied than making “irreversible” decisions. In one research, students were given the option of choosing one fine art print to take home with them. The decision was given to one group as definitive. The second party was informed that if they wanted, they could come back and swap the print later. Almost no one in the second group stated they were delighted to have the opportunity to return their print. The second group, on the other hand, was considerably less happy with their decision than the group that was not permitted to make deals. Why? Since they couldn’t go on and put in the necessary psychological effort to accept and appreciate their choice because the opportunity to reverse it was always lurking in the back of their thoughts.


As a result, although committing our commitment to anything for the long run may seem hazardous, it may be psychologically gratifying. You will come to know the deep satisfactions accessible only to those who are ready to go in-depth with anything, staying with it through thick and thin, when you trade quantity for quality.

Loyalty reduces your life’s level of uncertainty. We discussed how having too many options might paralyze us into misery and inactivity in a previous piece. Purposely limiting our options is one method to counteract this impact. In life, there are certain decisions we can make just once and never have to make again. You won’t have to spin the wheel every time you’re presented with a decision once you know where you are in life.

Loyalty fosters loyalty, and loyalty grows loyalty. Of course, living a life of commitment brings more than just personal rewards. It has the potential to favorably impact society as a whole. Loyalty spreads like a virus. As we live faithful lives, we inspire other men to do the same. We should behave “as to enhance the general faith of man in man,” as Royce says.

Loyal guys have the power to transform the world. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy when excellent guys leave companies that they believe have gone off course. There are several issues ranging from family to politics, but these institutions will never improve unless devoted men stay and strive from inside to be a catalyst for good change. From the inside out, loyal guys alter causes.

Loyalty, Individualism, and Free Will

The fear of losing part of our free will in the quest of loyalty is maybe the biggest deterrent to our acceptance of it. After all, if you’re devoted to a cause, you’re also committed to behaving in a certain manner. However, devotion and individualism do not have to be mutually exclusive. Rather of burying one’s identity, loyalty may raise and magnify it.

The discovery and understanding of our own volition is the most important and challenging philosophical endeavour. We start by looking inside ourselves, but it’s difficult to discover solutions there. As a result, we want to fit in with the rest of society. However, doing so simply emphasizes our differences from others and our urge to defy societal conventions. We then go back to searching for solutions inside ourselves, and the cycle repeats.

This contradiction between individualism and societal conformity, between our inner and outward worlds, may be resolved through loyalty. Loyalty provides man with an external reason, a goal, and a path of action. However, the choice to serve that cause is based on internal motivations that exalt and motivate the self. We vividly sense the self, which is now filled with power, importance, and dignity, as we externalize our inner values. Royce made the following argument:

“Thus loyalty… overcomes the conundrum of our everyday life by presenting us outside of ourselves the cause to be served, and within of ourselves the desire to serve, which is not blocked but enhanced and articulated in such service.”


When Is It Appropriate to Be Disloyal?

Answering the issue of whether a man is justified in betraying his commitment is perhaps the most difficult topic to contend with when it comes to loyalty. Is loyalty if it has flaws even loyalty?

Many guys mistakenly believe that loyalty is based on a tit for tat relationship. They perceive their relationships as a balancing scale, and they will stay faithful as long as both sides remain balanced. They feel justified in breaking their devotion when the scales tilt unfairly and they are sacrificing more than they are receiving in return. True loyalty, on the other hand, is not based on reciprocity.

You should attempt to remain faithful until you have completed all of the work you can for your cause, which may not be until the end of your life. Of course, your cause may alter between now and then, and you may be tempted to bail and declare, “I’m not going to allow this cause tell me what to do!” But keep in mind that you choose the cause. You proposed, were christened, and enlisted in the army. You also elected to accept whatever nonsense came down the line as a result of your decision. You were aware of the dangers of swearing your devotion and willingly accepted them. What good is loyalty if it grows in the middle of pomp and ceremony before contracting in the trenches?

A cause, on the other hand, should never be your conscience. And what does a guy do when his cause goes against his conscience, his essential values? Are you justified in being disloyal the first time it happens? 70 times after 7 times? Never? Is there any dignity in absorbing a lot of criticism from your misguided cause, or is it a disavowal of your manliness to stay in an unpleasant situation?

This is where I’d want readers to continue the conversation. What is the significance of loyalty in a man’s life and in contemporary society? When is it acceptable for a guy to be disloyal?

Josiah Royce’s The Philosophy of Loyalty, published in 1920.



Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a loyal man?

A: Loyal men are those who put in the work to keep their relationships strong. They rarely cheat on their partners and they dont tolerate disrespect or mistreatment from anyone else, including other members of their family.

What is real manliness?

A: Real manliness is the ability to be brave, strong, and take charge. Its about not taking no for an answer and always giving 100%.

What makes a man art of manliness?

A: The word manliness is defined as the qualities and behavior considered typical of a man. Some commonly referenced attributes are core values, courage, strength, and physical ability.