A Comprehensive Guide to Loyalty in a Friendship

Want to learn all about loyalty in a friendship? Here’s what a loyal friendship looks like, why it’s so crucial, and some tips on how to be more loyal to your friends.


Trying to learn about loyalty in a friendship? I hope this post helps!

What word comes to mind when you hear the names Frodo and Sam?

How about Thelma and Louise? Or Sherlock and Watson?

We always hear these names paired together, not just because the characters were friends, but because they were loyal friends.

Alas, it can seem harder to come across loyalty in a friendship in real life.

Maybe you feel that you show loyalty to a friend but it’s not 100% reciprocated.

Or perhaps you struggle to assure your closest companions that the loyalty of friends is a priority for you.

Whatever the case, this post might help.

In it, we’re going to see what each of us can do to make (and keep) loyal friends in life!

Let’s dive in.


Here we go, then: a comprehensive guide to friend loyalty.

Trying to learn about loyal friendships? You might also like these…

What Is Friend Loyalty?

Loyalty’s a word we hear a lot, but it’s not always easy to define.

Your government expects you to be loyal to your country. Your boss expects you to be loyal to the company. Your spouse expects you to be loyal to your vows.

But what does it really mean to be loyal?

The dictionary defines loyalty as “faithfulness to commitments or obligations.”

This means you faithfully adhere to a cause, a sovereign, a leader, or a promise.

It also means being faithful to the personal relationships in your life — your family members, friends, and significant other.

Loyalty in a friendship involves a number of positive traits, such as:

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Patience
  • Generosity
  • Trustworthiness
  • Healthy boundaries

In essence, loyal friends aren’t just “fairweather” friends.

They support each other through thick and thin. They celebrate the good times in life, but they also stay close when things aren’t so good.

Is it any wonder that 81% of people rank loyalty as the most important quality in a close friend?


We all know intrinsically that loyal friends are important. But have you ever wondered why that’s the case?

Why Loyalty to a Friend Is So Important

Sadly, we live in a world where loyalty often gets pushed aside.

Many people seem to place more importance on things like money, power, possessions, and social status than on their personal relationships.

In one survey, 68% of respondents admitted they’ve been betrayed by a close friend at least once in their lifetime.

Thus, loyalty in a friendship is so important partly because it’s becoming increasingly rare in our society.

Too often, it takes a backseat to personal ambition — and people get hurt as a result.

Unfortunately, disloyalty always comes at the cost of trust.

You question whether you can rely on that person anymore. Will they be disloyal again? Will they let you down in the future once more?

Both the act of disloyalty and its impact tend to sting.

Why does it hurt so much when a friend is disloyal? And, by the same token, why does loyalty rank #1 on the list of qualities we want our friends to have?

Consider what happens when friends remain loyal to each other:

  • They feel a true sense of security
  • They form a stronger connection
  • They build a lasting relationship
  • They know they can always trust each other
  • They create healthy boundaries
  • They foster pride and respect for each other
  • They help others to see their friend’s good qualities

Admittedly, it’s not always easy to prioritise our friendships.

There are only so many hours in the day and we each have a daily “to-do” list that demands our time and attention.

We might find ourselves choosing associates out of convenience or proximity — not because of their loyalty.

This is what makes friend loyalty such a beautiful quality.

When someone’s willing to make time for us (and we’re willing to do the same for them), the result is a bond that can’t be broken.


Next up: what a loyal friendship entails in practice…

What Loyalty in a Friendship Looks Like

As an example, let’s briefly consider the relationship between Frodo and Sam, two of the main characters from The Lord of the Rings.

Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and the rest of the fellowship had their admirable qualities — bravery, intelligence, and integrity.

Frodo would have been happy to have an experienced warrior, a nimble elf, or a powerful dwarf on his side.

And yet, who chose to accompany Frodo on his dangerous quest?

It was the humble hobbit, Sam.

He had no special powers or abilities, but he did have the one thing that mattered most:


This is just one of the countless examples of loyalty in a friendship from literature and history. You can also see loyalty displayed between Harry, Ron, and Hermione in Harry Potter, or between Forrest and Bubba in Forrest Gump.

We can’t help but feel touched by these fictional portrayals of a loyal friendship.

But what does it look like in real life?

Well, as Jane Austen put it:

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends.”

Another writer described loyalty as “a pledge of truth to oneself and others.”

Thus, loyal friends prioritise each other’s well-being and happiness.

They don’t only call when they need something — in fact, they’ll call to see if you need something.

They won’t hesitate to be honest either, even if their opinion’s different from yours.

And, no matter what, a true loyal friend will never betray your trust.


Loyal friendships have a few essential elements. Here are 5 of them:

Key Attributes of Loyal Friends

With this overview of loyalty in a friendship, let’s now consider some key attributes you’ll find in a loyal friend.

1. They’re Always Honest with You

Loyalty’s closely intertwined with honesty and integrity. You can’t have one quality without possessing all three!

An honest friend won’t just tell you what you want to hear.

They’re also not afraid to tell you what you need to hear.

This includes times when they disagree with your decision or hold an opinion that’s different from yours.

Of course, this honesty isn’t delivered in a way that tears you down or creates distrust.

Rather, you should sense that your friend truly loves you and has your best interests at heart.

2. Your Friendship Is Unconditional

Do your friends really have your back, no matter what?

Or is it always a matter of, “I do this for you, you do this for me.”

A loyal friendship isn’t a contractual agreement.

No one should be keeping track of who did what for who and who “owes” the other anything. Payback should never be expected or viewed as necessary.

As a result, you should be on the lookout for anyone who makes constant demands of your time, energy, or resources.

What you may view as “loyalty” to a friend could just be them taking advantage of you.

3. Loyal Friends Are Impartial

Someone who is impartial accepts others as they are.

They don’t discriminate based on age, race, gender, or background.

A loyal friend understands that you’ve made some mistakes in your life, but they love and accept you anyway.

This is especially important as we move into an ever-more globalised society.

Increasingly – whether it’s at work or elsewhere – you’re unlikely to meet friends who come from exactly the same culture or family background that you did.

A loyal friend will appreciate and respect your values, even if they’re different from their own.


Loyalty in friendship involves healthy boundaries and reliable support as well.

4. You Create Healthy Boundaries

A loyal friendship means you love and support each other, but that’s not the same as being glued to each other’s side 24/7.

Loyal friends understand that you have other friends, obligations, and interests outside of your friendship with them.

They encourage you to be your own person, pursue the things you’re passionate about, and strive to reach your goals.

They also respect your right to make decisions for yourself.

A loyal friend may honestly tell you how they feel about something (i.e., taking a new job or choosing to date a particular individual).

But they’ll never try to pressure you to change your life based on a difference of opinion.

5. Support You Can Count On

Marriage vows often include lines like, “In sickness and health, in good times and bad.”

These same principles apply to building loyalty in a friendship.

Loyal friends don’t just show up when you’re having a party.

They’re not only there when things are going well in your life. Your truest friends are the ones who show up when everything is falling apart.

Or, as writer Walter Winchell once said:

“A real friend is the one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”

From breakups to illnesses to losing a job or loved one, loyal friends always stick by your side.

This should also include emotional support when you made a poor decision — even if it was one they didn’t agree with.


Wondering how to build the loyalty of friends into your life? Check out this next section.

How to Build (And Maintain) a Loyal Friendship

Now that you know what to look for in loyal friends, how can you create bonds like what we’ve described above?

It’s not enough just to look for these qualities in others!

Loyalty’s a two-way street, which means you have to demonstrate them as well.

Here are 3 actionable steps you can take to build loyal friendships.

1. Invest in Your Friendship

Relationships only last as long as both parties are willing to make it work.

This means setting aside time and energy to dedicate specifically to your friendship.

Loyal friends gladly make time for each other — even if it’s inconvenient.

You may not be able to pick up the phone when your friend calls, but you’re sure to return that call as soon as possible.

“Most of all, your friend needs to know that you love, value, and care for them and their welfare.”

This might involve setting aside your own needs or wants and yielding to their needs or preferences.

This also involves honouring your commitments to that individual.

If you say you’re going to be somewhere, you show up (and, hopefully, on time). If you say you’re going to do something, you do it without hesitation or excuse.

2. Show Genuine Interest

This involves so much more than liking each other’s Facebook posts or sending each other funny memes.

Real friendships form when each person supports the goals, dreams, and ambitions of the other.

Is your friend trying to learn a new language?

Offer to quiz them on new vocabulary words or, better yet, plan a trip to the country where that language is spoken.

Are they trying to make it as an artist or musician?

Attend their performances and spread the word about their work on your social media channels.

Even if their hopes and dreams are different from yours, loyal friends are always cheerleaders for each other.

The first step is finding out what your friend is truly passionate about and then doing whatever’s possible to support their interests.

Important note:

Remember that being loyal doesn’t mean blindly following everything your friend wants or expects.

Rather, you should feel like you genuinely want to be loyal to your friend based on who they are.


Loyalty to friends involves telling the truth, even when it’s hard.

3. Express Your True Feelings

A loyal friend doesn’t sugarcoat the truth.

Loyalty in a friendship means you’re not afraid to be straightforward and honest with the other person.

Let’s face it — we don’t always make the best decisions! And the same is true of your friend.

If you see them doing something risky or even dangerous, you’ll find a way to communicate how you feel. You could say something like:

“I’m not sure whether this is the best idea,” or “It’s your decision to make, but have you considered X, Y, or Z?”

Try to express your feelings without being harsh, critical, or judgmental.

Even if they disagree with what you say, your friend should walk away knowing you had their best interests at heart.

Loyalty to Friends: Make It a Priority

We live in an increasingly disloyal world, but that doesn’t have to affect your relationships.

As we’ve discussed, to find loyal friends, you first have to be a loyal friend.

Use the tips above to prioritise loyalty in a friendship and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results!

And if you realise that some of your friends aren’t being as loyal as they should, don’t hesitate to seek new friends who share your ideals!

Are you on a journey of personal growth and self-discovery?

Loyalty to friends is an important piece of the puzzle, but there’s more for each of us to learn.

These encouraging words for friends might be a good place to start!