Do You Have A Problem With Loyalty

02 Oct 2018

Have you ever had a problem with loyalty? Or, more correctly, have you ever had a problem with other people who have a problem with loyalty?  I am guessing that you have.  Maybe that problem still shows up in your life.  It is just not possible to go through an emotionally abusive relationship without acquiring loyalty issues.

In reality both partners in an emotionally abusive relationship have a problem with loyalty.  But let’s start with you.  You, at least, are on the side of the angels.  You believe in loyalty.  In fact, you are loyal to a fault.  I have yet to meet a single survivor of an emotionally abusive relationship who was NOT loyal to a fault.

Loyal to a fault

A person really can be loyal “to a fault” – when they are loyal to someone undeserving of their loyalty.

And who could possibly be more undeserving of your loyalty than a narcissistic, abusive partner?  (Or a narcissistic, abusive friend? Or else a narcissistic abusive family member?)

But maybe we should start by defining loyalty.  Google obligingly suggests these two definitions, “support” and “allegiance”.  They could make you think…

In my own case, my parents took no chances.  Rather, they started with their end in mind and instilled the concept of loyalty –  loyalty from me to them – into me, from as soon as they could guilt-trip me.  (That, as I recall, was very early on.)

Interestingly enough, however – like the good narcissistic parents they were – they did not instil sibling loyalty into their offspring. That was surplus to requirement.  Nevertheless, they did a damned good job. I had this strong sense that loyalty (to both parents and siblings) had to be a good thing.

Selective loyalty

With the benefit of decades worth of experience, I can say with confidence, that my siblings have always practised selective loyalty.  I was not on their Select List. Instead, I spent quite a lot of my youth on the Invisible List. However, once I started to show signs of independence, I swiftly transitioned to the Scapegoat List. That was how it worked in my family.

Empaths seem to make a habit of selflessly giving the thing they most want to received. We give both because we cannot help ourselves and because we feel that we have to earn the loyalty of others – especially our loved ones, our –questionably – “nearest and dearest”.

That seems to me where the predicament that we empaths with abusive loved ones struggle with.

The abusive view of loyalty

Our abusive, narcissistic “nearest and dearest”, on the other hand, come to the problem of loyalty from a very different starting place.

Abusive loved ones see the point of loyalty.  In fact, they insist on loyalty – from you. Your loyalty serves them.  It suits them to have a nice, secure place where they can relax, don their lovely , comfy abuse slippers,  and be as vile as they feel like. The loyal partner (or family drama) offers them with that oasis of drama, unreasonable demands and disdain that makes them feel deliciously powerful.  (And toxically alive!)

Of course, their abusive behaviors feel like hell to you. But does that matter to them?

You know that it doesn’t.

They demand unconditional loyalty from you, without ever reciprocating.  Because, for abusers and Narcissists, loyalty is ever going to be a one way street.  Loyalty is what they demand, not what they give.

Abusers and Narcissists are, by definition, not loyal.

The consistency of abusers and Narcissists

Recently, someone suggested to me that they are loyal to themselves. In reality, I don’t believe that is true.  Most of the time, narcissistic abusers do not display a great deal of consistency.  However, they sure as hell are consistent in imposing their One-Rule-For-You-&-Another-For-Me regime on their loving ones. Still, what governs these toxic creatures insistence on loyalty is, I believe, a ravening hunger for gratification.

Narcissists and abusers have an insatiable need for gratification. Your loyalty is meant to ensure that they get their gratification – with no strings attached.  That is why they will stay with you as long as they do, despite clearly neither liking nor valuing you.  That is, also, why they leave and take up with someone else.  They assume that the new person will provide them with a higher level of gratification than you can.

What drives them is, I believe, their thoroughly base instinct.

Certainly, narcissistic abusers do not have a problem with loyalty.   They will do exactly what suits them, when it suits them.  Plus, they feel that they owe you nothing. Absolutely nothing.  That means nothing whatsoever in emotional, psychological, moral and financial terms.  When they are done with you, they would be delighted if you would just climb into the trash can and disappear with the rest of the refuse.

Now redefine loyalty

That leaves you to address your own problem with loyalty.  Loyalty is a great thing – where it is reciprocal. When it is not reciprocal, loyalty becomes a kind of internal, emotional bleeding.

You simply cannot afford to let that kind of internal bleeding continue. Especially when your psychological immune system has already been sorely depleted by your association with an abuser.

Besides, all this talk of loyalty to others misses the key point.  You need to be loyal to yourself. Chances are, you grew up in a home where nobody committed to protecting you and safeguarding you emotionally.  Somebody has got to step up to the plate and do that job.  You have to be the person best suited to the job.

As Hillel the Elder said, over two thousand years ago,

“If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?”

The problem with loyalty is this, when it is misplaced, it will bring you down. You cannot make another person be loyal to you, no matter how loyal they should be. Your job, now, is to redefine what you understand by loyalty.  You have a duty to be loyal to yourself, to treat yourself with the same care and consideration that you would someone you love. If you struggle to do that for yourself, then you need help getting over that block.  Unless you want someone else to come along and exploit your loyalty.






Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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