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Word Games Cheaters Play

Updated on April 23, 2013

Breaking the rules is breaking the rules

Cheating by its very nature involves breaking and stretching the rules of a relationship. In some cases the breaking of the rules are obvious. There are times when the cheating is not so easy to see. Much like those who cheat at cards, there are many games and strategies that relationship cheaters use to hide what they are doing. Relationship cheaters are violating the rules, whether they are explicit or implicit (whether they were clearly defined or merely implied). When you are in an exclusive relationship, it is implied that there is commitment to the relationship as well. Major rule violations often involve blatant cheating in terms of doing things behind the back of a partner or spouse. When caught in the ‘act’ of cheating, there is no question about their actions. They broke the rules. They violated the trust of the relationship. Since trust is so foundational, such violations are a threat to the stability of the relationship.

Some cheaters play games regarding what the rules of your relationship are. These can show up in the form of word games, where their definitions are often very different than your definitions. The words they question are “commitment”, “what the limits of the relationship are”, and “what the relationship means”. Either by being vague regarding the relationship or avoiding talks about the relationship, they avoid being pinned down. When the definitions are vague or not talked about, the cheater has some deniability. Cheaters often maintain some ‘plausible deniability’ so that they do not feel guilty about what they did.

When the definitions are vague or have never been talked about, the cheater believes that they have done nothing wrong. When you try to confront them on such matters, they play more word games and twist things around to where you were at fault rather than assume responsibility for their choices. If you are in a relationship with a person who avoids talking about the relationship or avoids dealing with defining the limits of the relationship, you have several options. When they want to keep the definitions ‘open’, they are wanting the opposite of commitment. You can either let them define the relationship or you can. Waiting to allow things to evolve will leave you feeling like the relationship is mushy or fuzzy. You will not be clear on where you stand with them or what the boundaries of the relationship are. You may have a relationship, yet it will not be a secure one. The clearer the definitions and boundaries, the greater sense of security can develop.

When cheaters spend their time in word games about what kind of relationship you have with them and what the boundaries of the relationship are, you are in for a hard time. When cheaters resort to such tactics, they have often developed long standing patterns and games in such matters. Recall that the games they are playing with you are often a small taste of the games they play in their own heads in order to ‘justify’ what they did. When they play such word games, they know what they did was wrong, but they want to find some way to make it ‘acceptable’. There are also the word games that cheaters play regarding what ‘cheating’ is. By keeping the definition of cheating vague, they are never guilty of cheating. Some cheaters define cheating as repeated coitus, whereas, you may define cheating as being emotionally disloyal. When the definition of cheating is so vastly different, there is room for cheating. The greater the differences the two of you have in defining what ‘cheating is, the greater the risk of cheating occurring.


Besides the word games, there are also the manipulations of ‘intention’. The cheater often evaluates their actions in terms of their intentions. If they intend on being loyal or committed, they then believe they are loyal. In this way, when cheating happens, they often excuse it, since they did not ‘intend’ for it to happen or ‘it didn’t mean anything’. Somehow coitus happening when it was not intended is excusable in their minds.


The ploy of intentions is often used when the cheater is attempting to find ways of weaseling out of trouble regarding their behavior. If they are caught in the act, they often shift to either the definitions of terms or intentions. If you have caught onto how they redefine words, then the only option left to them is ‘intentions’. The question arises, “is it still cheating if you tell your partner?” By telling you that they cheated, the cheater is often doing damage control. By telling you, they avoid being caught by you either in the act or through their lies. Some cheaters do have consciences and truly feel guilty about what they have done. Trying to clean up their mess by telling you about it in order to avoid consequences often works for many cheaters. You may have told them “tell me rather than have me find out”. In this situation, the cheater told you what they did. In such cases, they have not piled up mounds of lies and secrets to hide what they did. You will have to decide if it is better to be in relationship with an honest cheater or a dishonest cheater. They are still a cheater. They have shown a disregard for loyalty and limited commitment to a relationship with you. You will have to decide whether it is more important to have honesty or commitment. They still cheated, which will have to be dealt with and resolved. Telling you does not erase what they did or make it ‘acceptable’. It does mean that they did not lie about their cheating. They may call it straying or slipping or some other accident type phrase since cheating sounds so intentional and planned.

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