The most common interpretations involve a no-win situation. You might be using any means available to you to win, including profiting from the misfortunes of others. If that is you, you are not playing the long game. You might be successful in the short run, but this strategy will not succeed over time.
If this sounds like a situation you are involved in, find a way out. The other person or people involved are in it to win. The longer you stay in this situation, the more fragmented you will become.
The Five of Swords creates a no win situation in combination with a few cards.
Magician (Cobbler): When the Five of Swords is combined with the Magician (Cobbler in some decks), someone is trying to trick or deceive.
Hierophant: When the Five of Swords is in combination with the Hierophant, it suggests some misuse of power, deception, or manipulation in the spiritual realm.
Lovers: If any cards from the suit of Swords come after the Lovers, it indicates the end of a relationship.
The Hanged Man: When the Five of Swords is combined with the Hanged Man, it represents a traitor.
The Suit — Swords
The sword cuts and dissects. Swords represents the element of air. They are intellect. They are double-sided, which allows them to both damage and heal. The images in the suit might be alarming to some, but they are not simply aggressive. Yes, we can use blades to inflict pain, but we also use them to carve, shave, and trim.
Number — 5
Five is a number of conflict, change, and opportunity.