the quality of being loyal to someone or something.“her loyalty to her husband of 34 years”
a strong feeling of support or allegiance.plural noun: loyalties“fights with in-laws are distressing because they cause divided loyalties“
“I pledge to Nigeria my country. To be faithful, loyal…”
I am loyal to Nigeria but I am not in Her; allow me to personify the country. I have not, and will never, renounce Her as my home country, or do anything to hurt Her, but again, I am not in Her. I’m going to use this as an analogy for what I’m about to discuss- the concept of loyalty in relationships.
The term “loyal” or “loyalty” doesn’t really do justice to what people expect in relationships, in the sense that, they expect their partner or significant other to show them firm and constant support- which is as far as the dictionary meaning of “loyalty” goes, but they do not expect that partner to show firm and constant support to anyone else that is marriageable (especially), whether or not the support their partner is offering involves activities that are sexual.
So, even if you feel your* lady is talking too much with a man, or your* man is spending too much time with a woman, whether or not it conflicts with the love that she has for you, how much he cares for you, and how fast his/her heart beats for you, the term that comes to your mind is “disloyalty”, although it really isn’t, because nothing has changed about how much he or she is dedicated to the relationship that you share.
You can be loyal to a country you don’t live in. You can be loyal to a friend and still have other friends. You wouldn’t chat your friend’s private business to the other friend(s) or leave the first friendship, or withdraw your support, and that would be loyalty.
I don’t know if you’re following me here, but what I’m saying is, there has to be a firmer word, something stricter than “loyalty” or “faithfulness”, because they do not insist that the qualities that they contain have to be restricted to one person, and one person only.
Even “cheating” is meh, because a love relationship is not a game or an examination. It is, ideally, a voluntary union of two people. They don’t get marks for it or win medals for it, so even the term “cheating” does not make any sense.
Now, before you think of me as the advocate of everything you detest, I am only stating that the words are not powerful enough to encompass the strict binding, which would be more accurate, that most people expect in relationships. Even asides religious and cultural expectations, does love come with sole possession? Does “I love you” automatically equal “I love only you” to you? What exactly is it that leads to hurt feelings when a third party is involved? My best guess is that when we get vulnerable, since true love (requited or not) makes us somewhat vulnerable, we want a kind of “ownership”, possession of sorts, to whoever it is we’ve gotten vulnerable with.