What's the Difference Between Loyalty and Fidelity?

Do you know the difference between loyalty and fidelity? Which one do you think you value most in others? These terms don't mean the same thing, so knowing the difference is important to build healthier relationships.
What's the Difference Between Loyalty and Fidelity?

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Do you know the difference between loyalty and fidelity? Which one do you think you value the most in others? These terms don’t mean the same thing, so knowing the difference is important to build healthier relationships.

What we want to make clear from now on is that neither loyalty nor faithfulness is inherently better. They’re simply different values that each person as an individual has and they shouldn’t be labeled good or bad.

Therefore, let’s take a look at each concept separately. Which one do you feel more identified with?

What is loyalty?

To more clearly define what loyalty is, we can explain it as follows: it’s the support that a person gives to another person in difficult situations by maintaining agreements that have been made. A loyal person never talks behind the back of another, doesn’t cheat, and doesn’t go back on their word. 

Dogs are considered to be the most loyal pets. The reason is that they’ll always be there. In fact, their loyalty is never broken. Even if someone else comes along to give them more affection, who do they go back to? Their real owner, of course!

You don’t have to go to these extremes to talk about loyalty, but it can be a good example for you to know what we’re referring to here. Among people, it’s more difficult to be loyal because the “I” is often more important than the “other”. Being selfish often prevents being loyal, and that’s why it is such an important value.

Concepto de infidelidad.
Although the concept of infidelity is almost always linked to romantic relationships, it also extends beyond them.

What is fidelity?

Fidelity differs from loyalty in that it’s a moral commitment. It’s a choice, because it’s a matter of accepting a commitment that’s acquired with a conscience and truth.

This is not the case with loyalty; there’s no moral commitment, but rather a willingness to be there even when the other person may not deserve it.

A person can be loyal but not faithful. The problem with fidelity is that it presupposes things that are important to talk about ahead of time.

Romantic relationships are a great example of this. Sexual exclusivity is often assumed, but not all people feel the same way about this. For this reason, there may be assumed fidelity that ends up not being fulfilled, since it’s necessary to accept the commitment and talk about it ahead of time.

What are the differences between loyalty and fidelity?

Although today we’ve dealt with loyalty and fidelity separately, several questions may still arise about these two concepts. For this reason, we’re going to clarify them by talking a little more about the differences between them.

1. Loyalty involves promises; fidelity involves agreements

Loyalty is based on promises that may or may not be kept. People change their minds and their outlook on life may be different after 10 years.

Therefore, it’s not as solid as loyalty, which is based on agreements. These must be with oneself and with others. For example, they may be not to cheat on each other or not to use a friend’s weaknesses for one’s own benefit. Promises are often forgotten, while more formal agreements are not.

Discover: Jealousy after Infidelity: How to Manage It

2. Loyalty involves assent; fidelity involves submission

This must be kept in mind when talking about loyalty and fidelity.

No one forces anyone to be loyal. In fact, many people are loyal to their own principles, which allow them to forgive painful acts or to be there even when someone has hurt them.

However, fidelity involves submitting to a promise, and it’s important to be clear whether one is really going to do it or simply making a promise to please the other.

3. Fidelity is based on trust; loyalty is based on respect

This is another key difference between loyalty and fidelity. While fidelity is based on trust, loyalty is more focused on support, respect, and communication.

This is the basis of every relationship that a loyal person maintains. It’s a way of building relationships by working on them and working on oneself.

Lealtad supera las peleas.
Loyalty allows us to overcome conflicts, which in turn allows our agreements to remain even through our difficulties.

4. Loyalty is based on a cause; loyalty is based on a person

When we talk about being loyal, a partner immediately comes to mind. But isn’t it also true that one can be loyal to a friend or a mother? In these cases, we are loyal, and it’s because this concept encompasses something much bigger.
Loyalty is based on a cause. For example, we may fight with a friend, but by being loyal, we don’t reveal the secrets he or she confided in us no matter how angry we are.

Self-knowledge in loyalty and fidelity

It’s clear that there are differences between loyalty and fidelity. Bearing them in mind, which concept have you felt more identified with? Are you more loyal or more faithful?

Knowing this will allow you to better reflect on your relationships. It can be a very interesting way to get to know yourself better.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Blandón-Hincapié, A. I., & López-Serna, L. M. (2016). Comprensiones sobre pareja en la actualidad: jóvenes en busca de estabilidad. Revista Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Niñez y Juventud14(1), 505-517.
  • Cid, F. M. (2011). Los cuatro componentes de la relación de pareja. Revista electrónica de psicología Iztacala14(1), 321-332.
  • Ruiz, C. S. (2011). Fidelidad y compromiso en la relación de pareja: El trinomio fidelidad, compromiso y monogamia. Norte de salud mental9(40), 57-71.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.