How to explain such a relationship/association (preferably not in the human context) :

Approach A could be regarded as an innovative idea to leverage full potential of system B. In the reverse direction, it's possible to leverage concept A to attack to the system B.

Based on the answers of a similar question, such feature may be referred as double-edged sword or mixed blessing. Now, how can we refer to the relationship/association shaped around this feature?

I think "A and B have a double-edged sword like relationship" makes no sense. So, there is need to another word/phrase or even an idiom to describe that.

  • It's tempting to say 'relationship'. Commented Aug 9, 2015 at 15:17
  • 1
    More simply: "A and B have an ambivalent relationship/association/collaboration"
    – Graffito
    Commented Aug 9, 2015 at 15:43

2 Answers 2


The relationship between A and B cuts both ways

cut both ways - Having a mixed effect, to have advantages and disadvantages; to have two different effects at the same time, usually one good and one bad; To have both favorable and unfavorable results or implications; to affect both sides of an issue equally; to work both ways

e.g. The Internet cuts both ways – it not only opens borders, it draws boundaries between the people who have it and those who do not.

You could also say (as @Graffito did), "A and B are ambivalent toward one another"

Ambivalent - Having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone

Citations from the Oxford Dictionary and The Free Dictionary Idioms


In this case A is the double edged sword. B is the context in which A is double edged. I don't see humans as entering into it.

As far as B is concerned, A is a double edged sword.

would be one way to put it.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.