"All’s fair in love and war" is a popular English saying that notes that while there are many rules necessary in most settings, just about anything goes when it comes to war or the pursuit of love. The idea is that in those two situations, the normal rules for behavior are suspended and the participants may find themselves engaging in activities or strategies that would be considered inappropriate in other scenarios. Depending on the context of the usage, "all’s fair in love and war" may be used to justify actions that are questionable or as a means of freeing an individual to make creative use of resources at hand to achieve the desired goal.
When presented as a positive attribute, "all’s fair in love and war" usually focuses on the love aspect of the equation. Here, the concept may serve to motivate individuals to take chances that they normally would consider unacceptable in exchange for the possibility of winning the heart of the object of their affection. For example, an individual may use somewhat devious means to outmaneuver someone else who is also interested in the one who is adored, possibly by arranging for the competition to get sidetracked at a restaurant across town while the individual meets the adored one at a local park. While the competitor waits in frustration for the desired person to arrive, he or she is across town enjoying the company of the perpetrator.
At the same time, "all’s fair in love and war" can sometimes be used to excuse the utilization of methods and strategies that are somewhat questionable in any type of setting. This includes creating situations in which the lives or general well-being of another human being are put into peril, with no qualms of doing so if the action will produce the desired result. While employing a little trickery that produces no long-term ill effects is usually forgiven, situations in which malicious activities take place are often remembered for a long time, causing permanent damage to the perpetrator’s reputation.
Under the best of circumstances, employing the concept of all’s fair in love and war results in a happy union between two people that lasts for a number of years. At worst, this approach leads to taking actions that create negative feelings and harm to other people that is not soon forgotten. Within this context, it may be said that while all’s fair in love and war, not all strategies arising from the mindset have to be carried out.