I’m sure you’ve come down with a case of Grass Is Greener Syndrome before. I know I have.
At one point or another, we’ve all found ourselves mentally “what if-ing” our way out of our current status, situation, or circumstance – whether it be with work, school, friends, our looks, personality, health… whatever it may be.
Up to the point of it affecting your emotional well-being, a lot of it is just basic human nature. It’s fleeting and totally normal.
But what about when it shows up in the one area of your life that you’ll never be able to emotionally afford its presence?
One of the most devastating relationships to be in is with a partner who has Grass Is Greener Syndrome.
Every source I found on the internet defines Grass Is Greener Syndrome as (I’m summing it up in my own words here from what I found):
Grass is Greener Syndrome is when someone believes what they currently have is no longer adequate, satisfying, ample, or enough. Because of this, doubt creeps in and the belief that “better is out there” is adopted and acted upon. This is generally followed by a complete lack of regard for the emotional casualties upon exit – whether that exit is physical or emotional.
Here’s my definition:
“The inability to emotionally and/or physically commit due to underlying and un-dealt with insecurities.” Period. Plain and simple.
Grass Is Greener Syndrome is more about an absence of commitment than it will ever be about a lack of relational fulfillment.
Having Grass Is Greener Syndrome is also…
- An indicator that you’re playing in the emotional little leagues. You need assistance in the form of finding “a perfect 10/better than what you currently have,” to be your training wheels and induct you into the majors. Why? You can’t do so on your own. If you could, you’d commit – to being single, being in a relationship, being honest, not deflecting, working on yourself, putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, etc.
- Emotional S&M that is exclusively self-inflicted.
- A symptom of emotional unavailability and narcissism that does not discriminate against age, gender or orientation.
- On a subconscious level, for Grass Is Greener Syndrome to take place in a romantic relationship, one must be a walking contradiction who values control over everything and is painfully insecure. They believe that if they fully commit to one person, they could be missing out on attracting someone who would be a better emotional, financial, and/or superficial beard. Although they’d never admit it, the “greener grass,” would legitimize them in some way, while invalidating their inadequacies. It would shut the haters down and surely, extinguish any further curiosity of greener grass.
- Because they are so insecure, people who suffer from Grass Is Greener Syndrome are also professional lily padders. They have to be on one lily pad (relationship) to jump to the next. They use their relationships as insurance policies. This is why Grass Is Greener Syndrome is not just associated with breakups.
Is there a way to hack Grass Is Greener Syndrome?
If you are in a relationship with someone who has Grass Is Greener Syndrome, the best outcome is that you break up with them or they break up with you. A lot of the time, these people will still get their needs met from you while they cheat, lie, and keep a watchful eye out for greener grass.
That could mean anything from not deleting dating apps while they’re in a relationship with you to full-blown cheating and in some cases, having relationships on the side (emotional and/or sexual), with other people while still being in a relationship with you.
For most people, my definition of Grass Is Greener Syndrome is not believable or easily assessable.
As long as there is a struggle when it comes to self-esteem and confidence, we will always be convinced that our “not enough-ness,” is the reason why our partner has an emotional and relational handicap.
Like attracts like.
In other words, to give anyone the time of day or to be attracted to someone who has Grass Is Greener Syndrome, you have to be as insecure and as narcissistic as they are. I learned this the hard way. Narcissism basically boils down to making everything about you.
Your partner will make everything about them – their needs and their agenda – while you make all of their disrespectful, insecurity-inducing, and selfish behavior associated with that agenda, about how YOU are somehow, not enough. And whatever angel you view it from, that’s making it all about you. This is what I call “reverse narcissism.”
Reverse narcissists are some of the kindest people you will ever meet. They are also professional doormats. How do I know? I used to be one.
I used to be very attracted to men who had Grass Is Greener Syndrome. If I could get a guy to fully commit, who unbeknownst to me, was always keeping his options/eyes/ears/arms and in some cases, legs open, but gave off that addicting vibe of never quite “having” him…
That must mean that I was truly something special.
I wanted to be the reason why he changed his ways. Doing this would also invalidate the heartbreak and insecurity that others had caused me in the past.
Today, nothing could turn me off more in romantic relationships or friendships. One thing I’ll never partake in is competing with anyone or anything. I don’t want to be chosen – I’d rather be seen, pursued, connected with, and committed to – without having to put on a “notice-and-please-choose-me,” dog and pony show. No thanks. Someone else can get picked and “win.”
Contrary to what many of us are lead to believe, life is all about joy – the joy of being, the joy of intimacy, sex, laughter, and love. It’s not about being in some amateur hour triangle of ambiguity.
Sometimes, the person suffering from Grass Is Greener Syndrome will try to make excuses that they’re new to committed relationships or that they don’t want to hurt you.
This is not about malicious intention or relational ignorance – it’s about empathy. If you’re able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes (empathize), you’d be able to see how much certain things would hurt the other person and because of that, adjust your behavior/decisions or communicate that you can’t commit at this time. Instead, most will try to have their cake and eat it too.
With that being said, going through a breakup with someone who has Grass is Greener Syndrome is excruciating. There’s never any closure; nothing makes sense and you’re left feeling more inadequate than ever.
The only way to hack Grass Is Greener Syndrome…
Commitment & Consistency
If you were/are in a relationship with someone who has a history of lily padding from one relationship to another, trying to find the greener grass and is always convinced that he/she can do better…
Understand that this will prevent him/her from ever being able to sustain a mutual, mature, and connected relationship with anyone.
And if they ever happen to find someone standing under the greenest grass they’ve ever seen…
More often than not, they’ll f*ck it up.
The only way to hack Grass Is Greener Syndrome is by setting the relational bar so high that no one else can reach that height. This is done through consistency and commitment.
Here on this blog, I am consistently vulnerable, consistently honest, genuine, receptive, real, invested and compassionate… I’m consistently myself; consistently consistent.
So, when I write something that’s politically incorrect or could be taken in a way that I did not intend, I never get anyone coming after me for it with guns blazing because people know who I CONSISTENTLY am – Someone who would never intend to hurt or offend anyone. I’m also someone who won’t dignify false assumptions with a reaction.
I’m committed to getting people answers and getting them out of loneliness, suffering, and pain that I know all too well. I try to set the bar as high as I possibly can.
This is why so many readers keep coming back here to the blog despite visiting other amazing sites, reading other insightful books, going to life-changing seminars, etc. It’s also why I don’t stress over “losing” an audience. I know how high the bar that I set is because I reach that height with connection, consistency, commitment, and authenticity… with all the love in my heart.
The same goes with relationships. Don’t worry about the little details of when you weren’t your best, most mature or perfectly on point. As long as you were consistent in how you treated your partner, how you committed to them, and your standards… you’ve set your bar all the way up.
This doesn’t mean that your ex won’t meet someone new and have what appears on social media and feels to him/her better than it was with you. This is called a honeymoon period and it ALWAYS fades out. Once it does, the true height of where the bar resides is revealed (yours will still be higher).
If you spoke with your actions and gracefully bowed out on your white horse when your partner’s un-matching words and actions were in question, you’ve proven to them that not only do you know their relational handicap has NOTHING to do with you, but you refuse to create more unnecessary drama, bs, and pain. You fold. You reject having to compete and aren’t interested in residing in a triangle. You go on your way in peace.
You don’t put up with crumbs because you know how high you set the relational bar. You’re now the type of person that exes lose their mind over because they have no way of replicating or exceeding the bar that you set through their endless conquests.
Others have said this before me, but we truly do “teach people how to treat us.”
Also, your ex now knows that when the day comes that you do move on, it’s going to be with someone who meets you at the same height that you set your bar. That’s a tough pill to swallow because they know how high that bar is.
There can be room for reconciliation if your ex discovers that the grass is anything but greener. However, it won’t happen until they can make changes independent of a loss-of-control, narcissistic freakout. They need to prove their commitment to you through consistent words that match consistent actions and patterns.
Ultimately, you deserve someone who meets you at the bar you set. If they can’t help but wonder about the possibility of greener grass, that’s on THEM, not you.
+ If you need further and more personalized help with your relationship, please look into working with me here.
Awww…so inspiring. I swear I need to read these posts a dozen times just to make it sink in to what I refer to as my divorce/dating at 39 hangover. It really is amazing to have any self-esteem at all. Thanks for keeping me in my lane.
Happy it helped! 🙂 Thanks Kathleen!! XO
Natasha, you sure know how to write a life impacting blog. I tell ya what! I woke up feeling well but after reading this I feel f*cking great now. You’re CONSISTENTLY inspiring and motivating me to do better and be better and I’m consistently grateful for you. Xox
Awww DITTO! Love you Becca! 🙂 xoxo
OH HELL YEEEESSSSSSS!!!!! Every article you write honestly feels like its been aimed towards my situation. Like you’ve read my mind! You have helped me so so much over the past 3 months, so thank you so so so much! You give me so much confidence and inspire me. Keep doing what you’re doing girl ;D xxx
I’m honored to have helped. It was, is and will always be my pleasure. Thanks Dani!! 🙂 xox
This is exactly what I needed to hear at the moment. It’s reinforcing what I already knew… to see it laid out so succinctly has topped up my faith in my actions in dealing with a difficult (and ongoing) break up after 10 years together.
So happy that it served you <3 Thanks Rene! You are loved and supported. XO
Natasha, I can never thank you enough for this blog….after a 10 yr relationship with an emotionally unavailable man and now it seem like a grass is greener one too, I am at my 14 day standing on my white horse. I read your posts over and over to help me stay where I am and every new post its even more enlightening of who he was and still is. The last paragraph here is right on…”You do your thing and be the light that you are. If you sit back and let people make their own bed, you’ll get to see just how unglamorous, unfulfilling, pathetic and painful the darkness of them chasing a potentially brighter light really is.”…as I receive emails from him with songs…Baby light my way…while he still is in someone else’s house and arms…
I can only laugh at it now while reading your posts…Forever grateful for finding you, Natasha…Love you for what you do.
I’m honored to have helped <3 Thank you for being the light that you are and for affirming that no one is alone in these situations and feelings. Sending you BIG love. Thank you for being a part of this tribe 🙂 xx
Thank you, Natasha, for being so unapologetically you and helping us do the same! I want to believe that every word of this is true for me and my ex and ride off into the sunset on my white horse. But 9 months later, it still HURTS. It’s still confusing and frustrating and I have no interest in other men. After 10 years of friendship and 5 years of (what I thought was) a happy relationship, he broke up with me. We had been living together, we were a part of each other’s families, we were talking about ‘our next city’, etc. Two months later (I found out 4 months in) he started seeing his now fiancee (they got engaged 6 months after meeting)… and his stuff is still in my house. They’re happily playing house back in my area (we were long distance for the last year of our relationship) while I’m here feeling like every time I got a handle on my emotions he does something or says something that sends me tumbling backwards.
I keep asking myself: Is he emotionally unavailable? Narcissistic? Or was I just that ‘wrong’? What if the grass IS greener on the other side – it clearly is for him, if he’s marrying her.
I wish that I could elaborate further but I have too much to say to type it all out, not enough hands to type or hours in the day. I would also need more details. Just remember… marriage, kids, engagements are not precursors to happiness, a reformed individual OR greener grass.
Thanks for your love, for reading and for your understanding.
I do offer one-on-one coaching if you’re interested and would be happy to help further ? The link to it is on the homepage.
All my love to you sister.
You’re not alone xo
Hi Natasha. I have read this at least five times. I have learned something new each time. I feel like it is a movie about my emotionally unavailable relationship of late. Very painful but reading this tells me why. Basically so many men (boys) are out there avoiding and not knowing what they want, they don’t really know what they want. Very sad.
Thank you for being consistent and honest and brave. You have helped me in such a short amount of time and I have no doubt I will continue to benefit from your wisdom. I am still grieving but your words help. You are an angel. Thank you for talking with me and for helping to heal my spirit. ??
Hi Linda! I agree – it happens in both men and women and is very sad. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the light that you are, for being a part of this tribe and for being my soul sister/angel too 🙂
Love you. XOXO
I feel like this hit home with me & my situation in so many ways wow thank you for writing this.
🙂 So happy it helped! XO
My word I’m sat here blubbing! My boyfriend of over a year broke up with me out of the blue for seemingly no reason a month ago. Grasped at straws for reasons and said he was afraid of commitment. I know I was mostly a great girlfriend and we had a happy relationship. He started seeing a new girl a week later and still is, it’s plastered over her social media. It’s hard not to feel worthless and replaced but your posts make it easier to see sense.
Thank you xxx
Hi Rebecca! I’m so happy that the posts have helped 🙂 I know how hard it is. You are loved, understood empathized with, backed, believed in, supported and never, ever alone in this. Sending you love soul sister. XO
I also see that I suffered from this syndrome and that I wanted more from my relationship which ended in him breaking up with me and me feeling horrible even 2 years after. It’s a vicious circle and I thank you with all my heart that you try to break it with every article and I hope one day I can be consistently be happy and me.
Hi Joy! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂 I’m glad that the post helped!
You will be able to get there, I know it. You are loved, believed in, understood and supported always. Thank you for being a part of this tribe. XO
Gretest !! i have ever read //
you are genious
so helpful article . love you
“grass is really green , on your website”!!
You just saved my life. I have a husband who decided to reveal he’d been seeing prostitutes for years — his disclosure was literally, no more than 48 hours after our 26 year old son died. With that said, we as parents, have had a lot of stress as our son was diagnosed with a neurological illness at 14. My husband is working on himself, but says he “can’t commit” to a relationship — but at the same time doesn’t want me to file for a divorce. This is a man who wants his cake.
After reading this —- it completely makes sense. I feel a sense of relief because I don’t need to sacrifice my sanity or happiness. I determine my destiny. Thank you so much for such an insightful and spot on review of “Grass is Greener Syndrome”.
I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. My heart is with you. I am honored to have helped in any little way. You are loved, valued, appreciated, understood, empathized with, and never, ever alone.
Thank you for being a part of this tribe. All my love to you sister. xx
Brenda, I am so sorry! You’ve been through enough! I hope you’re getting along okay. You’re in my thoughts.
I am currently going through this tough situation. Ex gf of 4 years took off out of the blue. She’s 22 I’m 24. Grass is greener syndrome is exactly what she did . But this is the love of my life and a girl I would make my wife . She moved away to live with her aunts and start new. It’s a 3 hour flight. Should I book a flight to her and show her I truly love her? Wouldn’t she see that if I were to go?
I wish that I could answer but I have too much to say to type it all out and not enough hands to type or hours in the day. I would also need more details surrounding this. This is why I cannot give direct advice in the comments section.
Thank you for your support, for reading, and for your understanding. Other readers are here to support you and I do offer one-on-one coaching if you are interested. Link to it is on the home page.
All my love to you.
You are not alone xx
So sorry for the length of this!
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.
Natasha, this post has just simply saved me and my sanity. Every time I am going back in the black hole of hopelessness, self loathing and despair, I return to this article, read it again and somehow the calm sneaks up on me again making me able to breathe more freely and remind myself that I was f*cked over by one of the worst GIGs I have ever met.
Thank you, thank you thank you for adding so much depth to this phenomena which other sites I have read, could not.
After reading this the first time I was suddenly able to release a lot of the bad feelings from being dumped by a GIG (that’s what I call him) and really SEE how bad the relationship was and felt for me and how things ended was NEVER ever my fault. He said so many hurtful and mean things I, as an empathic human being, was reeling from. Being dumped on text after 8 months relationsh*t is really bad, but agonizing and blaming yourself is even worse.
Thanks for this article, you made me release and let go of him. Thank you <3
This is what I live for <3 Truly. I am so happy and honored to help.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your love, connection, support, and for being a part of this tribe 🙂
You are never alone, always understood, loved, valued, supported, appreciated and believed in. All my love to you soul sister. XOX
My girl left me for someone else (she was unsure about her feelings and didnt know what she want) I waited 4 weeks and had to make a decision.. I told her I will leave and she can take the new one… Tried to fight ovrr and over again.. About 2 weeks now, I am in no contact, told her I dont want to speak to her or she to me… That I don’t want to hear anything from her.. It’s getting better day by day… But there is still hope she contact me… I hope its GIGS and she find’s her way back to me (not sure if I can her back…)
Long story short, thank you for this blog, it helped me
And sorry for my bad english und grettings from germany
Your English is great Toby 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to share and for being a part of this tribe.
I am so happy that the post helped!
You are not alone.