Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): Excalibur212
Comment: Hi, this may sound like a silly questions, but could someone please explain why so many women in their online dating profiles write that they are either “loyal” or “fiercely loyal”?
While I understand the literal definition of the word, the frequency with which it appears–and the often-added emphasis prefix of “fiercely”–seems to imply more negative than positive connotations. I mean, shouldn’t it go without saying that you won’t cheat on someone? Do you think most women write this to simply mean that, and if so, why not use more relationship-appropriate words like “faithful” or “committed” instead? Or what additional values/deeper meaning are they ascribing to this word “loyal”, and why is it so “fierce”!?
This word is also bothersome to me because it seems to place an unusually high degree of importance on remaining faithful to one’s partner, even perhaps when it’s not necessarily justified. I also wonder if women who write this are used to ascribing “loyalty” to female-female friendships (and have been backstabbed by another woman in their life before), and that’s why it pops up so often.
I would really like to understand better what women are thinking about when they write this, and why they write it so often.
City: New York
The best way I can explain what “fiercely loyal” means is to detail a scene from a movie you probably haven’t seen, but one most of my female readers have committed to memory.
Carrie Bradshaw, after years of her on again/off again often angst-filled relationship with Mr. Big, is on her way to their wedding. What she doesn’t know, because one of her girlfriend’s daughter’s stole her phone, is that her soon to be husband Mr. Big is having cold feet. There Carrie is – in her gorgeous designer wedding gown and after the New York Times has announced her impending marriage to finance tycoon Mr. Big and a whole big thing has been made in the press about their nuptials – standing in the magnificent hall where they decide to marry, wondering where the hell her fiancee is. Eventually, she realizes she’s been left at the alter and she takes off with her four best friends in tow. They pile into her limo and take off, Carrie an absolute wreck. Mr. Big’s limo catches up to their car and gets them to stop in the middle of 5th Avenue. Carrie exits the town car and bashes Mr. Big over the head with her expensive bouquet, telling him how mortified she is and screaming she knew he would do this to her. She is shattered and humiliated. Her friends leap out of the car to get Carrie from breaking down in the street. Mr. Big begs Carrie to forgive him and reaches for her as she’s huddled under friend Charlotte’s arm, crying. Charlotte, with the rage of a protective Mama Bear in her eyes, screams, “Don’t!” while viciously stabbing the air with a bony finger to punctuate her threat.
I well up every time I see that scene. My reaction isn’t out of sympathy for Carrie, because let’s face it: she’s a drama queen who decided to marry a douchebag, but because I am overwhelmed by how protective Charlotte was for Carrie in that moment. That’s fierce loyalty, and it is what separates male from female friendships. For the most part men avoid squabbles and dramas concerning their friends. They don’t get involved. You will rarely see a man get deeply invested in their friend’s happiness or enraged on their behalf by their sadness. That’s what women mean when they say they are fiercely loyal. It means that once you matter to them, your burdens and your sorrows as well your successes are theirs, too. They feel them almost as deeply as you do.
Another example many women will understand is one from Grey’s Anatomy. “Do we like him?” Meredith asked Her Person, Christina, about a man Christina dated. Because, see, if our friend doesn’t like or was hurt by someone, by extension we dislike them, too. At the very least, we keep them at a distance.
I’ve been through a tremendous amount of betrayal and loss over the past few years. Most of that is connected to my family, but just before all of that turmoil began, a guy treated me poorly. Poorly enough that I was pretty fractured for a really long time. At one time he was involved in the movie business and garnered some vanity credits as an Executive Producer. My friend J., while scrolling through films available On Demand, refused to let her husband rent the movie that this guy Executive Produced. And I’m not talking “refused” facetiously, either. It involved an absofuckinglutely not don’t even think about it. When she would speak of him, her voice would drip with loathing. She hates him. She hates him because she saw how he treated me and what he did to me. She doesn’t ever have to meet him, nor does she feel compelled to give him the benefit of the doubt. Her dislike of him runs deep, possibly deeper than my own.
One of my best friends from college dated a man who repeatedly cheated on her. This friend was a very proud, very private woman, so she kept all the drama going on with them to herself. The last time he cheated she left, but she was never the same. She died in her late thirties as a result of a a failed liver that she developed because she’d become an alcoholic. There isn’t a shred of doubt in my mind that she began drinking because of how badly he hurt her. So, when this piece of shit dared to email me on Facebook a few years ago asking if I wanted to get together when he was in New York, I took a tremendous amount of pleasure telling him to fuck right off. That guy was never anything but nice to me, and even still I didn’t hesitate to tell him I hoped he lived with the shame of what he did to my friend for the rest of his life. I don’t give a shit if he was 25 years old and “a kid.” Fuck you.
That’s fierce loyalty, and you can not appreciate it unless you’ve experienced it. To brush it off as some result of a bitchy cat fight shows you’ve never had anybody in your life who would throw down for you without a second thought. So, no, we’re not just saying we want a partner who doesn’t cheat with our best friend. We’re saying we want a guy who will fight for us and who will be in our corner, because we will return that loyalty in spades. Even if we know you’re wrong. That’s the clincher.
If you’re lucky, you will find a woman like that.