As humans, we live and we breathe, we eat and we sleep, and it’s a monotonous cycle that’s on repeat until one day, you just stop doing any of that, and it seems like that should be all that there is to it. But, somehow, our brains have been engineered to look at romantic relationships as literally a means of survival for the human race and in 2017, that means leaving a “slide into my dm” comment on a pretty girl’s Instagram, or the conundrum that is “dating but not exclusive” that’s rampant among those of us who have a phobia of the word commitment. And perhaps for some it’s a familiar comfort after having been together for x number of years and maybe this is it, and it doesn’t feel too bad, at least.

Whichever one it is, it’s impossible to go through one’s teens and not be confronted with the choice of waiting, or dating, whether or not it’s even voluntary. And when you’re in your twenties and thirties, it ceases to be something exhilarating and something you try not to think about as you binge on ice-cream and Netflix. Or if you’re health-conscious, it’s a reality you might try to run away from as you push yourself in your jogging routine or down your feelings in a protein shake, if the former doesn’t work.

It’s a debate that never fails to be heated, whether you’re having it with your girlfriends over some drinks, or your parents have decided that you’ve either been single for far too long, or dating for far too long and they just want to see some sort of change, hence this awkward conversation at the dinner table right now. And if you’re extremely lucky, your current significant other is probably enduring this conversation along with you. Whichever side of the debate you’re on, you probably have very strong reasons for your choice.

For those who wait, perhaps you might have been influenced by events that had happened in the past; it might have been something tragic or traumatic, or it could have been an inspirational story that made you believe, “Ah, yes, why should I subject myself to heartbreak after heartbreak when I know the right one isn’t here yet?” Or you wait, because you really didn’t have a choice in the matter. (Which, may I say, is totally okay as well. Your self-worth should never be defined by someone’s level of physical attraction towards you.) Whichever it is, you’re currently waiting for that special someone, and perhaps you’re fine with where you are right now. In fact, you don’t have time to deal with a commitment right now when you already have five others; one of it being work, the other your family, and three of them your pet cats. Or you’re waiting, and you’e getting pretty tired of it. You’re sick of being the seventh wheel in your group of friends when you get together, and you’re sick of bringing your sibling as your plus one to everyone’s weddings.

Maybe you’re dating, or you’re longing to date someone that you’ve got an eye on, or just have that special connection with a person you’ve never met and instantly know you were meant for each other. The thought of every single Disney Happily-Ever-After is your happy place and you’ve had your dream wedding planned since you were ten, and all that’s missing is the other person to show up in your life. You might be in the early stages of dating, when it’s probably not even clear yet if you are dating and what even is dating nowadays, or perhaps you’ve been seeing someone exclusively for a significant amount of time, and maybe you’ll become one of those couples who talk about settling down together and it’s a thought that is borderline terrifying and exhilarating.

Unfortunately, there are stigmas attached to each category: people who wait are seen as overly conservative and stuck up, and people who date are seen as having loose morals and thirsty. Whether you like it or not, there seems to be a clear divide between those who prefer to not make the first move and the ones who lay their hearts on their sleeves for the world to see. And the funny thing is, you’re never going to be stuck in one category for the rest of your life (unless you actively choose to do so) because relationships are ironically fluid, even in their stagnancy. You’re single, and then you fall in love with someone who loves you back, and maybe things don’t work out and you go back to being single. Or, you’re single, and then you fall in love with someone who loves you back, and you stay together for a number of years until you or your spouse dies first, and if you’re the one left behind on this world, then you’re back to being single again.

Admittedly, that’s an incredibly flawed and simplistic way of looking at things, but it doesn’t negate the fact that there shouldn’t be any sort of resentment for people’s choices in this particular matter because inevitably, you’ll end up making the same decisions, sooner or later. Self-righteousness is not a great look; just because someone chose to wait until they were in their twenties to start dating doesn’t make you any more superior with your current relationship status. In the same way, having had a number of relationships doesn’t mean they were desperate for love and attention or that their feelings were fickle and shallow. The idea of waiting versus dating is one that inherently pits people’s beliefs against each other when we should be working to understand one another, and this is especially prevalent among women, sadly. It’s extremely upsetting to see a woman condemn another for their perfectly valid choice regarding her own feelings just because they happened to be on the other side of the debate.

I used to be a strong believer in waiting… Until I stopped waiting and dived into my first relationship. Many lessons were learnt since, but to this day, I still don’t know, and probably will never know, if I made the right choice. Or if there even was one. All I know is that I’m a little wiser than I was when I first entered the world of dating, but still not wise enough to provide a coherent answer to this question, if it was even a matter of asking. I am certainly incredibly far from qualified to give you an answer to this question, which is why I’m posing it to you for some healthy discussion. Maybe you do have the answer, or maybe you’ve just got opinions regarding this issue. Either way, don’t hesitate to let us know.