This is a quality I've always picked up on in people. I don't know why, but it's something I tend to look for even if I don't necessarily realize I'm looking for it.
In a relationship between two people loyal to each other, which do you value more:
Because of the buzzword-esque nature of words like honesty, secrecy, etc. and all of the moral associations they trigger, people find it difficult to acknowledge that these things can sometimes be mutually exclusive.
- Loyalty to being honest
- Loyalty to keeping a secret
- Loyalty to a person above all
- Loyalty to whatever is “Right”
Example: You confide in a friend something that you expect them to never share with anyone. However, this friend has a significant other that expects complete honesty between them; i.e., withholding information is considered lying. So if your secret—meant only for your friend to know—involves their s/o, do they tell them? Which loyalty is most important, the unconditional honesty between the couple, or the sworn secrecy between friends?
I've noticed that people have general tendencies to value one loyalty over another:
- HONESTY Someone may have an “I'm not going to lie to you, this is what they said to me…” attitude—where you can trust that they're telling you the truth, and although you appreciate being able to know the truth from them, you can't help but wonder what truths of yours they're willing to tell others.
PRO: They don't withhold information from you.
CON: They don't always keep your secrets.
- SECRECY Someone else may be totally loyal and would never, ever expose something private between the two of you, but if they know something about you that someone else confided in them, you're not ever going to find out about it. So in this example, you can't help but wonder what they're withholding from you.
PRO: They'll always keep your secrets.
CON: They may withhold information from you.
- RELATION Someone can be both honest to you and conscious of your secrets, but only based on your relational status/ranking in their relational hierarchy. Using the example of the s/o and the friend, this type of person gives one but not both of those people the honesty and secrecy, depending on who is most valued; e.g., “blood is thicker than water”—where loyalty is based on the type of relationship between those involved, rather than any moral standard of honesty or trust.
PRO: If you're in, you're in—and you can trust them completely.
CON: If you're not, you're not—and you really can't trust them at all.
- CIRCUMSTANCE Someone can take a detached, context-based role or involvement in it. This is someone who makes a decision based on what is actually happening around them, the circumstances involved. This person decides who “needs” to know something and who doesn't; e.g., withholding information if it will affect things negatively or being “too honest” to provoke a reaction out of those involved—where they see themself as able to influence dynamics and feel responsible to regulate the spread of information between parties to achieve a “best fit” outcome.
PRO: They'll do what they feel is right regardless of any hierarchy/status of relations or moral protocol.
CON: You may not trust their conception of Right and Wrong, and so it feels like they're making decisions that they're not justified to make.
I realize this isn't black and white, but people do have tendencies. I'm asking which—it may be more than one—forms of loyalty you tend to value more.