Say you have a situation where you are trying to mitigate multiple factors from competing sides, but when you make decisions you have to consider both sides, you can't just consider one side as it may have a worse outcome on the other side.

So for example, say you were stuck on a deserted island and if you didn't leave you would starve to death - there was one small rickety looking boat available.

Simply you could say, let's get in the boat and leave, fixed? No, because you are not considering other factors on if the boat is safe, is it going to burst a leak and you're going to drown? What if the ocean gets rough and you get chucked out of the boat?

So I'm looking for a word that explains you have to consider both sides, you can't just consider one of them, as the situation isn't _______.

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    – tchrist
    Commented Aug 8, 2021 at 23:58

5 Answers 5


There is unilateral:

Unilateral means "one-sided." If parents make a unilateral decision to eliminate summer vacation, it means that the students’ opinions or opposing views weren’t considered. (Yourdictionary)

Rather than unilateral situation, the more common expression would be unilateral decision:

You have to consider both sides, you can't just consider one of them, as the situation isn't unilateral / this is not a unilateral decision to make.

  • 1
    I think that is most fitting - thanks. :)
    – Brett
    Commented Aug 8, 2021 at 18:52
  • 2
    Unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral, refer to who the actors are that are deciding, ie one country decides unilaterally to invade another country, without conferring with its allies. 'Laterality' is about the process of deciding, not about what the different issues are involved.
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 8, 2021 at 19:42

I suggest dropping the isn't and describing what it is. With the isn't, a reader will have to infer the opposite of the adjective you use. I propose


having many facets (see FACET sense 1) or aspects
a multifaceted approach to health care m-w

facet 1: any of the definable aspects that make up a subject (as of contemplation) or an object (as of consideration)
Each facet of the problem requires careful attention. m-w

  • Hmm, potentially. Though that kinda implies that each side is not necessarily of equal concern.
    – Brett
    Commented Aug 8, 2021 at 18:27
  • 1
    IMO it's neutral about the relative importance. You could go with one-sided to use your word and keep the isn't.
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Aug 8, 2021 at 18:32

The word decision itself implies that there are multiple factors to consider. It suggests that there are alternatives, or at least a choice to act or not act.

Efforts have been made to formalize or structure the decision-making process by carefully analyzing pros and cons, or costs and benefits, of alternatives, including both current and future consequences. Often the pros and cons are not reducible to a common measurement.

Definition of decision (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the act or process of deciding the moment of decision has come

b : a determination arrived at after consideration : CONCLUSION

made the decision to attend graduate school



If you decide to use the verb in the affirmative in your sentence (is, not isn't), then the adjective manifold can be used. It means:

having numerous different parts, elements, features, forms, etc.:

So your sentence would be

You have to consider both sides, you can't just consider one of them, as the situation is manifold.


Lopsided, perhaps?

leaning to one side

lacking in balance, symmetry, or proportion : disproportionately heavy on one side

a lopsided vote of 99–1


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