Dilemmas: When It’s Hard to Decide

We often use the image of a scale to talk about making a decision.

One side (the pros or the cons) is heavier and tips more, and that is the decision we make.

However, sometimes, when we weigh the pros and cons, the scales are perfectly balanced. That is when when we have a dilemma, a situation in which it is hard to decide what to do.

 

When we go back and forth on a decision (jumping from one side of the scale to the other), we can also use the idiom to waffle. We say that something is an idiom when the meaning differs from its dictionary definition. Literally, waffles are a sweet breakfast food (see the picture), but we are using it to mean go back and forth between two options.

For example:
A: What’s up?
B: Nothing much. I’m trying to decide where to go for vacation, Vancouver or Seattle, but I’m waffling. One day I think Vancouver, the next day, I think Seattle.
A: Which one’s cheaper?
B: Good point. I should check. That might help me to decide.

Sometimes, there still is no real difference between the two choices.

We might say, “It’s six of one, half-dozen of the other.” Six = a half-dozen. In other words, both choices are almost identical.

A: What kind of tennis shoes should I buy–Nike or Adidas?
B: Who cares? It’s six of one, half-dozen of the other.

Another way to express this idiomatically, or in informal English, is to use the expression “same difference.” (There is no difference between them.)

For example, two guys at a bar might be complaining about their wives:
A: Is she your wife or your mom?
B: Same difference.

Practice: Can you complete these sentences?
  1. Right now, I’m waffling about (what / where / how / when…)
  2. These days, I’ve been going back and forth between (…)
  3. I’ve been thinking about (…), but as far as I’m concerned, it’s six of one, half dozen of the other.
  4. My friends keep telling me I should (…), but as far as I can see, it’s the same difference.

 

Read about more English for discussing dilemmas and difficult choices:

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