Loyalty and George Clooney

I saw a very interesting movie over the weekend, "Up in the Air," starring George Clooney as a man who travels constantly for work, so much so that he has lost most, if not all, meaningful connection with family and friends. His primary relationships are with airline employees and hospitality workers at hotels. He feels more at home in the airport red carpet lounge and in hotel rooms than he does in his "technical" home in Nebraska. 

What caught my attention, however was the airline's promotional slogan that appears frequently throughout the film:

 "We Value Your Loyalty"

Loyalty: faithfulness, allegiance,  a feeling or attitude of devoted attachment and affection.

In the context of the film, loyalty refers to customers who travel with that particular airline. Consumers are often loyal to their preferred products– See's vs. Ghiradelli (chocolate), MAC vs. Lancome (lipstick), Coke vs. Pepsi (cola). 

Consumer loyalty also extends to the businesses and services we use: hairdresser, manicurist, coffee barista or bartender. These examples move us along into the arena of relationship loyalty. 

About eight or nine years ago one of my most cherished lifelong friendships ended precisely because we never discussed our expectations of friendship loyalty. We had known each other for several decades, cheering each other on through every romance, through graduate school, career changes, in every city in which we lived, through turning forty and other life transitions. We'd known and loved each other's family members, partners, pets and children. Unequivocally, it was one of the most painful losses of my life, worse than any romantic breakup. 

A loyal friend is a tender and trusted treasure. Who could possibly argue with qualities like devoted attachment and faithfulness? Too often we don't intentionally discuss mutual agreements about our definitions of loyalty and any related expectations or behaviors, but when our loyalty is betrayed, it is an unmistakeable feeling of heartbreak.

I learned so much about loyalty and friendship as a result of that loss. I believe I am a better, more skillful, perhaps even more devoted friend now than I was before; certainly I am better at communicating my loyalty and related needs, feelings and expectations. I think my close friends and family members would agree. 

Our pets are great role models for loyalty, endlessly devoted, clearly expressing their needs and affections. 


To what and whom are you loyal? 

What loyalty has been assumed, and which loyalty have you chosen? 

Are you loyal to people, places and things that honor and support all of who you are? 

Are there any loyalties you might want to let go of that are not serving you in a healthy, life-giving way?

Come be with me

Soothe my broken heart

Show me loyalty 

I'll be there for you

Right there for you 

Come be with me

Soothe my broken heart

Show me loyalty

– from "Loyalty" by Me'shell N'degeocello