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Cheater Word Salad

Chump Lady used to be a think tank editor in her younger days. Think tanks are those marble buildings on K St. in Washington, D.C. where “policymakers” work — usually people with impressive credentials and colossal egos.

Think tank publishing is mostly vanity publishing and not every book was stellar. But I learned an important lesson as a young editor. There was a direct correlation between good writing and clear messages — and bad messages and WTF-is-the-point-here?! word salad.

Word salad is when you string a bunch of five-dollar words together that appear to have meaning, but actually signify nothing. Writers who didn’t have anything of substance to say, but still wanted to appear Very Important were the worst word salad offenders. The kind of people who say “paradigm” a lot.

One of my favorite actual word salad sentences during my tenure was: “It aspires to a position of synthesis.”

“This makes no sense whatsoever,” I wrote to the author — so he recast the sentence to read: “It aspires to a position of synthesis with respect to other values.”

Oh gee thanks.

The point of word salad, near as I can tell, is to intimidate. It’s a crazy offensive play to dazzle you with bullshit, and if you resist, they will just gibber jabber at you more insistantly…. with respect to other values, you MORON! If you persist in failing to understand the word salad, they will look at you pityingly. Clearly this discourse is too sophisticated for one such as you.

Cheaters love word salad. It’s condescension, opacity, and aggression all tossed together in a light balsamic vinaigrette.

“I am not defined by my relationships” is cheater word salad. At first it sounds vaguely reasonable. Then you think about it. Huh… then what ARE you defined by? Wife, mother, neighbor — these things play no part in your identity? What is the point of such a statement? “I am not DEFINED…” (condescension) “By my relationships.” (If you have a problem with my cheating, well such fuckbuddy “relationships” do not define me.)

Flutter and vagueness are large ingredients of word salad. The cheater doesn’t want to be pinned down, or directly understood. “I didn’t say that. Did you say that?”

Betrayed spouses then apply their own Rorschach test to word salad. They look at it and interpret what they want to read into it. Oh, maybe that means remorse. Or maybe it means I am the person really at fault here. I think they’re saying they didn’t do anything wrong…. or maybe they’re saying they did… shit, I can’t tell.


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  • Cheaters HATE simple, declarative sentences, framed in an active voice, such as, “You fucked the babysitter!” or “Stop lying!”

    Cheaters speak a circular dialect of English that sounds like it means something, until you listen closely. Anyone remember Miss Teen South Carolina? ( ) If you diagrammed that sentence, it would look a lot like a cheater’s explanation of why her husband’s personal habits and hobbies caused her to have six affairs over the course of a decade.

    Other rhetorical devices favored by cheaters? Of course, the bare-assed lie, but also the passive voice, such as, “Mistakes were made” (Yes, but you *stuck your married pecker* into your secretary). Also the false equivalency, such as, “Neither of us are perfect spouses” (Yes, but your “imperfection” is boinking some skank you met on Craigslist while mine is leaving the cap off the toothpaste).

    And in the end, word salad is as unsatisfying and lacking in what’s essential as, well, real salad.

    • So true. Every time STBX tries to pull some shit and denies things I just lay out what he did in clear and simple language. His response, 99% of the time, is ‘stop it! Fucking stop it!’

      He just can’t stand to hear the bald truth.

    • Nomar…my EX (cheater still with the OW) says the same thing all the time. “In our marriage we both did things wrong”…right. I yelled at him for coming home late while he had been screwing his client who was ALSO cheating on her husband. PLEEEASE.
      The therapist wanted me to believe that the cheating was inevitable. REALLY????

      • I can do you one better: I apparently ignored him so he ‘had’ to cheat. Mind you, that would mean I’d been ignoring him, on and off, for more than a decade if his cheating is anything to go by.

        • I can top both of those.

          While raising a newborn, after a very difficulty pregnancy, and gearing up to lose an *organ* due to complications, my husband decided that I had emotionally abandoned him. So he was entitled to start checking the internet sites for dates, “just to see what was out there”.

          Keep in mind that two years prior, I skipped my only remaining grandfather’s funeral because they wanted to hospitalize my husband for influenza. Which I now realize I only ever heard from him, and he may very well have resented me staying home to take care of him, instead of taking care of me and my grief at losing my grandfather.

          Now I cannot believe I bought that shit, but at the time

          My therapist called it one of the worst non-fatal cases of brainwashing he’s ever seen.

  • The ability to talk when the words you’re using have no connection to the real world is just staggering.

    As Kelly Bundy used to say, “The mind wobbles.”

    If I had to live my failed reconciliation over again (Lord, ANYTHING but that), I would respond to my ex-wife’s stupid quasi-excuses in marriage counseling with, “Thank you, Miss South Carolina.”

  • Another favorite is the claim that something ” resonates” with a person.
    Maybe that is a proper use of the word, but why the hell can’t someone just say “I like that” or ” I understand that”.
    Anyway, you hit this right on the head. The weird, vague terms and phrases are designed to both confuse and to show the cheaters “superiority”.

    • I can top all of that. My ex said to me why he cheated on me from day one, ” I thought you were too good for me, I still do and thought we wouldn’t last and I didn’t want to be alone (how does he figure and afraid of being alone when he was fucking a married howorker? end of the day she went back to her husband and she is still with her husband today, the guy still doesn’t know) and the reason for all the lies that I told you, I didn’t want you to think I was just like the rest.” Good morning Einstein, the reason we didn’t last because you cheated on me from the beginning while claiming I was the “love of your life” and continued and you didn’t want me to think you were just like the rest? Geeez let me think, oh I get it, stupid fucktard you are just like the rest! What an idiot! Oh of course, later I found, the fucktard cheated on every woman he has ever been with!

  • Word Salad – wow. Describes how the ex would talk to me about his cheating to a “T”. No wonder I could never figure out what he was really trying to say b/c it was all gibberish!

    And yes, when I would call him out on things he absolutely hated it and would string more words together to confuse me even more. And then look at me with so much pity b/c I “wasn’t getting it”

  • my exwife usto say “i dont need anyone judging me” and on another occasion when she came to talk to me about something during the affair and it made me nauseous to see her she said “your mind is dirty” wtf..

  • This is STBX’s most favorite tool in his Narc tool box. In fact, he used word salad to brazenly announce his affair on FB with the OW which goes along the guise of him ‘being there for a friend with her problems’. There goes my gut screaming that he is cheating on me, but at that point I was still delutional to think that they ‘were just friends’. Looking back at it now, it is clear that I am nothing to him. Everyone is nothing to him. All that matters in his world is him and his feelings.

    I shudder at the thought of ever getting involved with this soul-less freak.

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