21 thoughts on “The ‘Grass Is Greener’ Syndrome

  • March 16, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    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.

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  • March 20, 2013 at 11:12 am

    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! 🙂

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    • March 20, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      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.

      -Nathan

      Reply
  • March 20, 2013 at 11:35 am

    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.

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    • August 29, 2016 at 12:03 pm

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

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  • March 20, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    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.

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  • March 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    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.

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  • May 21, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    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!

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  • October 25, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    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.

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  • December 25, 2014 at 9:57 am

    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?

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    • April 17, 2015 at 6:26 am

      @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.

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    • March 17, 2019 at 11:25 pm

      Read before one writes

      The truth is, as human beings, we are all in some ways less than perfect, and therefore, the shiny grass is an illusion. Our job is to keep the grass as green as possible, which may take some outside help. But no matter what, it won’t remain as green as the moment we first set foot on it.

      Reply
  • February 10, 2015 at 7:08 am

    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,
    Franziska

    Reply
  • November 1, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    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.

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    • August 29, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      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’.

      Reply
      • August 29, 2016 at 12:13 pm

        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!

        Reply
  • January 4, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    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.

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  • May 2, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    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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  • May 6, 2018 at 3:36 am

    My boyfriend (26) and I (25) were together for 5 years and living together for 4. We were best friends for a few years before this.

    When we were friends he had a girlfriend in another city who seemed great, but he was not happy. He would call me drunk telling me and I would encourage him to speak to her instead, explaining he probably was blowing things out of proportion in his head. However, he ended up telling me that I was the reason and he had feelings for me. I turned him down, explaining we were friends and he should talk to his girlfriend. They decided to make it work but it did not last long and he broke up with her. After a few months, he was still pursuing me and we ended up getting together. I believed that we just had fallen in love over the years and it felt as though it was meant to be. He told me how different things were with me, that I was his first love. He was my first everything.

    During the 5 years we were together I felt very secure in the relationship. He did not- he would worry about me going to certain places or talking to certain people and he would check my phone. He wasnt actually controlling, just I knew he was insecure. He was always afraid that I may duck out and find someone else. I never did and I never for a second wanted to.

    Towards the end of our relationship there was a lot of external stress due to jobs changing, illness and moving house. It put pressure on us and I would say we were in a lull. We spoke only really about practical things and would bicker more. He seemed less into me and I became either withdrawn or demanding in response. It is silly looking back, a lesson learnt to communicate better rather than acting out of fear. But I felt him gradually leaving the relationship over a period of a few months, comparing me to others and I was scared.

    I was very supportive of him in finding his new job. He has always suffered with anxiety and depression and so I sometimes did too much for him- I would sit up with him in the night to calm him (he had panic attacks in the night and insomnia), I would sort things like moving and holidays to lessen stress, though I would always encourage him to seek external help and support him in that too. He also supported me so I was happy to do this.

    In general I really did believe we were so happy- we would laugh all of the time and he would tell me I was the best thing in his life and I would never find anyone who could love me as much as he did. Everyone around us told us how in love and happy they could see we were. We were each others first person to go to after good or bad news. We spoke about the future, even picking baby names out and only a month or so before breaking up he was talking to me about what rings I like and telling me which friend he would go to for proposal advice. We shared political and religious beliefs, we were 100% ourselves around each other and he made me want to be a better person. I loved being around his family, we had the same education and a few shared interests but mainly separate ones.

    We werent perfect. Like I said we could have improved our communication, particularly towards the end. We never really fought but when we did I could become withdrawn sometimes instead of being able to communicate with him. Intimately, he said things were good for him but I tried to communicate with him about that and felt like I was not very confident in that area. We also had many different interests, his main one being sport which I hate. I regret now not making more of an effort to go to things like that with him or to ensure he had time to enjoy his interests without me. His job involved a lot of sport so I didnt think much about how he would still want to pursue this outside of work and hated watching them. I feel like towards the end we fell into a routine of not doing much to be honest- definitely a rut.

    Then he started his new job. He had been unwell in the lead up and drinking which makes his condition worse. I was losing patience for it. He was telling me he was in a weird place and feeling depressed for a few months before starting but he attributed it to his illness and not being able to go out with his friends. At work, he made a new group of friends who all loved him. Gave him a nickname and made him feel good about himself. He started going out with them and doing drugs. He would message me after taking something, telling me he was having the worst panic attack of his life. I would normally coach him through them but didnt want to enable him when it was self induced.

    Things just werent great but at the same time we signed a 2 year lease on a new flat 3 weeks before he told me he had doubts and I had blind faith we would get through it together. We hadnt been through a real rut before which I thought was pretty good going so considered this our first bump in the road. But on our first night in the flat he didnt come home after work. He lied to me about where he was and I found out he was at a girl from works house. He told me others were there and he was clearly on something and drunk when he finally did get home and at 7am. I had been panicked about him and calling loads.

    He cried when he got home, shouting he didnt care about anything and was a bad person. He said nothing could help him. He denied that anything had happened and said he had spent a lot of time on his own walking around the park. But there were suspicious calls to this girl and he had deleted texts. She is 5 years younger and likes to go out, fitting in with his new lifestyle. His friends are all single and go out all the time and I do think for a while he felt he was missing out so now he can do this with her.

    He went back and forth for a while. He went to a hotel that night but stayed 6 hours before coming home and telling me that he had a eureka moment and we were meant to be together and a team. He told me he had never been so sure that we are what he wanted and that nothing happened with this girl and nothing ever would. He said he had no feelings for her at all and just wanted to keep drinking that night so went to do that. But he then went away for a week with work and came back and things were awkward. He broke up with me saying that he just needed to be on his own because he had always been in relationships. He said he just wanted to go out more (which I had been vocal in telling him wasnt a good idea while still sick). He said we werent working anymore and nodded when I asked if he had fallen out of love. He said he wanted to stay best friends. He said he relied on me too much and couldnt do anything without me. He said I should move on. He said being together was the happiest years of his life. But he said he had doubts for months which started slow and wouldnt go away. He said he was thinking about how we were about to take the next step- getting engaged and having kids and he realised he didnt want those things with me anymore. He said he just thinks we arent meant to be together. And now its becoming more and more clear that he is seeing this girl. And it is so painful because she has the same interests as him, sport wise and the same job, and loves to go out partying. I cant shake the feeling that maybe they are more compatible, maybe he has found greener grass. She seems sweet and intelligent from what I can see and has lots of friends. I feel as though I am not good enough anymore.

    I didnt handle the break up well, bombarding him with messages and seeking answers. After a few days I stopped and he turned up drunk at my friends where I was staying. He wanted to just chat normally but I reminded him we had broken up. He cried but said he couldnt tell me why he was so sad. He repeated that he justs want to be on his own and everything is better when he is on his own. And repeated im okay, im okay, over and over to himself. He wouldnt leave and would just lay on my knee crying. He kept calling me pet names and kissing my cheek and holding my hand but still said he wanted to be broken up.

    We now havent been in contact for 3 weeks, except for one message I sent telling him I knew about this girl and how poorly I feel he has behaved by lying. I now will go back to no contact but I cannot explain the pain. We were so happy and after all of this I can barely remember it. I cant see why he would ever come back (not that I would necessarily take him back!) when he has found someone who fits much better with the lifestyle he wants. It feels like she is who I was to him when we first got together (I would go out with him, was very easy going and not bothered about things like marriage or saving for houses). Its like he replayed the exact same pattern and I feel replaced by a younger version of myself.

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    • July 17, 2019 at 6:28 am

      Wow, that’s a tragic story. Hope things worked out well for you in the end.

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  • June 18, 2018 at 6:14 am

    This is 100% me. But I don’t think it’s jealousy it’s smth else. I moved several times and had many short term relationships in past.I’m surprised I’m married after all. But feeling to run away from all comes back time to time. And I really want to move again and live in new area. Living with such feelings is very hard. Sometimes I feel unstable and not safe in life for no reason.

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