|Let's talk about games and rules and cheating.
||[Apr. 5th, 2014|09:25 pm]
When two players want to engage in a game together, they first have to agree on what kind of game it is going to be. They have to agree on what the rules of the game are, how the game works, what they are going to do independently and with each other during the game, etc. During the game, they both have to abide by those rules that they agreed on, do the things they negotiated, and not do the things that they did not negotiate. In many games there are things that one participant is allowed to do and the other player is not, overall or at specific times. In any game, when one player breaks one of the rules, they are cheating. The game will be paused while the nature of the cheating is discussed. The game might end, because one player does not want to continue to engage in a game with a cheater. The game might continue with a penalty applied to the cheating player. The rules of the game might be renegotiated to account for the result of the cheating, or to make the cheating activity less likely to recur.
Sometimes the rules of a game might be vague. Both players will think they know what a vague rule means, or how it should be interpreted in a specific situation, but not realize that they are not in agreement with the other player. Eventually this will come to light, and one player might think the other is cheating. This misunderstanding will be resolved in similar fashion to actual cheating. The game will be paused while the nature of the misunderstanding is discussed. The vague rule will need to be clarified, which may involve renegotiation. The game might end, because one player does not want to continue the game with that specific clarification. It may be the case that one player was acting in bad faith, intentionally interpreting a vague rule in a way that they knew would contradict the other player's interpretation, which would lead to results very similar to intentional cheating.
At this point I suspect most readers will have realized that this post is not about games. Hopefully every reader will agree with the outline above of how rules and cheating and games work, generally, at least. Now, for the big reveal... scroll back up and re-read this post, replacing "game" with "relationship" and "player" with "person". The purpose of this post is to illustrate that cheating is a consistent concept regardless of what kind of relationship two people have, just like cheating doesn't fundamentally change between different types of games. Cheating is breaking rules that both players agreed on and understand. That's always what cheating is, whether you're monogamous or polyamorous, married or single, straight or gay or bi or something more complicated, etc.