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The ‘Grass Is Greener’ Syndrome

How many times have we heard the cliche, “The grass is always greener on the other side?” While the overuse of this phrase has mostly dulled its impact, people who experience the “grass is greener syndrome” endure a significant struggle with commitment.

What causes this issue?

The hallmark of the “grass is greener syndrome” is the idea that there is always something better that we are missing. So rather than experiencing stability, security, and satisfaction in the present environment, the feeling is there is more and better elsewhere, and anything less than ideal won’t do. Whether it’s with relationships, careers, or where you live, there is always one foot out the door.

8 Comments to
The ‘Grass Is Greener’ Syndrome

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  1. I love this article! I think when I was younger i was prone to wonder or even believe the grass is greener on the other side. I’m a little bit older and, once in a committed relationship, i’m content and really don’t care what color the grass is on the other side.Even if it truly is greener,commitment is something i honor and i’m in it for the long run. Besides, looks CAN be deceiving, you may be looking at a brand new Cadillac, but under the hood, is a YUGO engine.

  2. Things I already have, the grass on my side, are goals I’ve completed. Things I don’t have, the grass on the other side, are goals I still want to accomplish. I have a very ADHD brain, and it loves loves loves to be stimulated! Preferably by something new and if it’s a bit dangerous and/or very challenging all the better! So though I agree with your article, unfortunately it also means settling for a less exciting life, at least for someone that craves the stimulation of new experiences and accomplishments. Perhaps someday I will have to settle, but in the meantime, my grass IS green, and I want some more! 🙂

    • Dwee,

      I appreciate you reading the article, and your comment as well. What you’re describing is the desire for stimulation and trying new things, which is good. You’re describing a person who nurtures the current grass. The “grass is greener” issue isn’t a boredom vs. excitement issue, nor denying stimulation and newness within your life, it’s about not continuously uprooting areas of your life in the search for never-ending fantasies.

      Thank you again for reading.


  3. To use Erma Bombeck’s Title: “The Grass is always Greener over the Septic Tank.” Which suggests that it takes a lot of fertilizer to make it grow, and that making it green isn’t always a pretty endeavor…. and that life isn’t always what it seems from the outside.

    • +1…Love the insight into the title of Irma’s book. Wise and timely comment for me perso….merci!!

  4. This article really hit home for me. I’ve spent most of my adult life with one foot out the door, always looking for something better. I’ve had multiple careers and multiple marriages. Thankfully in recent years I’ve settled down, but I still feel the urge to run at least four times a year. I plan to keep this article close by so that I can be reminded to tend the grass I have instead of running away to what looks like greener grass but really isn’t. Thank you.

  5. If we could give up “want” and the “give me’s” and not expect so much-we would be happier and not so disappointed.
    I have a lot of trouble with the greener grass. i don’t appreciate what i have because I am always comparing and wanting more. makes me a very unhappy person.

  6. This is the story of my life. No matter how good my life is, I can’t seem to find any peace or contentment. Is there a book you recommend that may help with this? Thanks!

  7. Good article. The flip side though to ‘The Grass is Always Greener’, is ‘Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained’. One may end up in their golden years thinking sadly, “What if I had done this, or that?” “Instead of living my whole life in the same town.” Explorers throughout the ages would never have discovered new continents if they had the ‘Grass Always Greener’ view of things. They could have said “Let’s stay here where it’s safe and work on being happy in our present environment.” It’s a difficult balancing act for many people – to give up a degree of familiarity, safety and security, for new things, for adventure and for experiencing life to its fullest. It is one of life’s biggest dilemmas.

  8. I got married three months ago to a man that suffers from this. It’s devistating to me that despite having a loving wife, a great home and all the stability most people look for he is not happy either. He is also one foot out the door and it’s tearing me apart. It’s embarrassing. I feel like a failure as a wife but I also know that it’s who he is. Despite having made a commitment to me he is ready to walk at any time. I walk around on egg shells waiting for the bomb to drop. Is there anything I can do help him realize that if he leaves he will regret it?

    • @Natthecat I feel your pain. I’ve read all kinds of articles about GIAG Syndrome that focus on having it and how to overcome it, but I have yet to read an article about living with a spouse who has it. GIAGS is extremely destructive in a marriage. My wife keeps wanting to move. No matter where we live it’s not good enough. There’s always someplace better. Her problem is she is unable to see it and unable to be honest with herself. To her there is a magic solution to all her problems and that is living in a city that is more ______. As the spouse who want to stay put and make a life for my family I’m accused of being too unadventurous and asking too many “what if” questions. In essence I am blamed for my wife feeling depressed, unhappy and stuck. Am I supposed to spend my life moving from city to city in search of the perfect place with the perfect people no matter what the financial and emotional cost? That seems like I’m just feeding the disease (codependency), but if I put my foot down then I’m being too stubborn and hard and cold. There is no way for me to win in my position until my wife is able to see this. She’s so invested in the fantasy of a magic bullet cure, however, that she resists thinking that any part of the problem lies with her own issues. I hope you are able to find some relief and your husband’s eyes can be opened to this issue of his.

  9. Hello Nathan,

    I must say, you have saved my day. Your Article is wonderfully and thoroughly written, answering all questions that arise dealing with that topic.
    I constantly make decisions that I doubt a short time later. This article has helped me to understand that for now, I should not doubt my decision and undo it but nurture this grass and see what is able to grow with it first.

    Many Thanks,

  10. I have this problem and it is destroying my life. I am in my second marriage but it is in extreme jeopardy at present. I become complacent as relationships age and become less and less attentive. I have neglected my wife’s needs in many areas for years now. I vacillate between indifference and short periods of effort after hitting crisis points. The distorted thinking that feeds this behavior is exactly as described in the article: I trivialize and do not maintain my current relationship while I fantasize that my life would be better with someone else who is more…whatever.

    Our current separation was precipitated by many factors but one of the reasons I readily agreed to it was that I was anxious to experience new relationships. I bought a gym pass, cleaned up my diet, put more effort into my appearance and sought dates. When the long sought after moment arrived I felt within minutes of the date that I had made a huge mistake. All I wanted was my wife back.

    Now I am stuck pursuing her and living with difficult feelings because she has not agreed to take me back. She is dating successfully. I am stuck with pining after her while she is out with other men. It is driving me crazy.

    If I ever get her back I will not repeat this mistake. I am going to address this personality flaw and come up with a healthier perspective. I just hope it’s not too late for us.

    • Thank you for your candor David…I feel as if I am in the ‘Before’ stage regarding looking ‘to other horizons’…but I am taking note, and trying to stir up the effort it will take to ‘cultivate’ our marriage ‘lawn’.

      • OOps…addendum…and by the way…I hope it is not ‘too late’ for you either (cue Carole King’s iconic song). With your obvious insight and self-reflection on the matter…I would not be surprised if she chooses to acknowledge your relationship growth!

  11. I was a “grass is greener elsewhere” type of guy..Relationships/Jobs etc. Always better elsewhere. After a while of searching. Here is what I found out..No nmatter how green that new grass looked like..Within a short while all I seemed to notice after looking more closely was. The new greener grass had just as much if not more BROWN SPOTS than the last grass I just left.

  12. Hi Nathan,
    I would love to know why I struggle with this. I am almost 40 and have dealt with this all of my adult life. Frequently moving, changing jobs & wanting to get out of my marriage. I want to know why I’m like this & if I’ll always be like this. Unfortunately I don’t have health insurance which means no talk therapy for me and being on an anti depressant for almost 10 years hasn’t made a difference. What can I do? Can you help?


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