When a man or woman leaves their relationship due to Grass Is Greener syndrome, regret is typically around the corner.
In this guide, you’ll discover how Grass Is Greener Syndrome works and why the ‘dumper’ eventually grows to have second thoughts.
As a certified life coach who has helped plenty of people deal with the pain of this scenario, I’m excited to share my words of wisdom on this topic.
So, let’s jump in.
1. What Is Grass Is Greener Syndrome?
This term is given to a scenario when one person leaves a seemingly great relationship, because they believe something better is on the horizon, even if they haven’t found it yet.
It’s called Grass Is Greener Syndrome (GIGS), because it causes a problem for the dumper. In most cases, they eventually discover the grass isn’t always greener.
2. What Causes Grass Is Greener Syndrome?
GIGS typically occurs because of insecurities within the dumper.
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling lost
- Fear of commitment
- Fear of decision-making
- Fear of settling
- Loss of passion
- Emotional wreck
- not good enough feeling
Anyone with these symptoms is likely to feel discontent with their life as if something is missing.
But, rather than focusing on the internal, they look externally to fix it. Maybe that shiny new thing over there will help to stop these feelings of emptiness…
Although this article focuses on how GIGS affects romantic relationships, it can also inspire people to make sudden dramatic changes in areas outside of dating, such as their career, personal projects, or where they live.
3. What Are The Stages Of Grass Is Greener Syndrome?
It’s widely agreed there are four main stages that take place within the mind of the dumper.
- Conviction. The guy or girl becomes adamant that they’d be better off with someone else. In spite of all the positive things their partner brings to the relationship, they can now only focus on the negative.
- Exploration. They find great excitement in the emotional rollercoaster of exploring new things. That might be a new partner, casual relationships or the freedom of being single. Indeed, when anyone seeks happiness in the external, it works for a little while.
- Reality. As with any happiness gained from external sources, this new-found joy wears off. It becomes the new normal, and the person rediscovers the insecurities they were trying to mask.
- Regret. Upon realising that the new grass didn’t make them any happier in the long-term, they often begin to wish they didn’t ditch their previous living situation.
4. How Long Does Grass Is Greener Syndrome Last?
There is no set amount of time that it takes someone to go through these four stages.
For some, it might happen within a week. Others could spend an incredibly long time jumping from partner to partner before they realize the ‘perfect relationship’ doesn’t exist.
It’s also possible that they do land in the arms of a better boyfriend or girlfriend.
For this reason, it’s better for the dumpee to move on with their life, rather than waiting a set amount of time for their ex to come back.
5. The Root Is Natural – Aim For Perfection
It is natural that we all want the best for our lives.
The chances are high, that you found yourself in one of the following situations:
- unsure about a study or career path and thinking of a change “for the better”
- unsure about an order in a restaurant because of other appealing options
- sapping through tv channels to find “something better”
- shuffling through your playlist to find a more appealing song
As you can see, the root of the grass is greener syndrome is kind of natural and understandable. However, our brain plays some tricks with us, I will address this later.
6. Addiction To The Honeymoon Phase
An addiction to the honeymoon phase of a relationship is pretty common and leads to a very dangerous spiral.
The person literally gets addicted to the hormone cocktail our body sets free when we fall in love.
After the honeymoon phase, a normalization phase sets in, and after that, the focus of the person goes to the negative aspects of a relationship and what’s missing.
The only option seems to be to end the relationship, just to start all over again.
The more often a person goes through this spiral, the more likely is burnt out and feeling empty.
Dangerous “Grass Is Greener” Cycle
7. People Become Confused Between Love And Lust
Confusion between love and lust is another common cause of GIGS.
Lust could be defined by the uncontrollable excitement we feel around this person, or our ferocious appetite to have sex with them.
This stage of a relationship always fades, but hopefully it transforms into something more meaningful. The desire to do anything to please that person. The feeling of unity with their soul. The willingness to accept and even adore their flaws. These are all ingredients of the mysterious emotion we call love.
The problem is: a lot of people think a perfect relationship needs an abundant supply of love and lust from both ends.
So, when their relationship inevitably fails to meet this idea of perfection, they start to believe they don’t love this guy or girl anymore. They convince themselves that the perfect relationship must exist elsewhere with someone different.
Sadly, if they go on chasing perfection, they’ll continue to find the same pattern of lust fading as time goes on.
In the majority of cases, it won’t transform into love either, and that’s when the regret of ditching someone who cared can really kick in.
8. Fear Of Missing Out Often Contributes To Grass Is Greener Syndrome
A Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) could be a healthy thing. After all, we only get one shot at life, so why not make the most of it?
However, excessive FOMO might not be so intelligent, especially if it convinces us to give up a great partner.
Psychologists never really studied FOMO until the late nineties, but most of the key studies have mentioned social media as a key cause.
Indeed, social media is a platform where people post the highlights of their lives and their relationships. All positives, no neutral or negatives. A naive individual becoming too invested in their friends’ recent posts could easily start to believe that their normal life pales in comparison.
This can add to the feelings of emptiness and low self-esteem they were already suffering. It can add to the unrealistic belief that a good relationship must be romantic and exciting all the time!
For sure, it’s important to be aware of the effect that social media can have on our happiness – and not to get suckered into believing that it’s an accurate representation of reality. The image of a ‘perfect relationship’ that most couples post certainly isn’t.
However, if you’re satisfied with who you are and sure about the direction you’re taking in life, you’ll be less vulnerable to suffering from excessive FOMO anyway. In such cases, you probably don’t need to worry about the effects of social media too much.
9. Significant Need Isn’t Met
Another cause of the grass is greener phenomenon is, that a basic need of the person isn’t met.
If we feel that we don’t get something that we need, it can start a negative thought spiral.
And often, instead of talking with our partner about it, we end up with grass is greener fantasies.
10. The Madonna-Whore Complex Can Play A Role Too
The Madonna-Whore Complex describes the idea that men may struggle to enjoy their deepest dirtiest sexual fantasies with a loving and caring partner. The idea states that a guy can only view a woman as a completely honorable life partner (Madonna) or a filthy despicable sex goddess who goes all night long (whore). Not both.
A woman can most certainly experience similar dilemmas, although this is often called the Saint-Brute Complex.
Either way, rather than understanding and finding a way to deal with this complex with their loving partner, some may choose to address it by starting a relationship with someone else.
The problem is: if they do find another Madonna to sleep with, the same problem will inevitably exist.
11. What can you do, if you got dumped?
If you got dumped and you have the intuition it is because the grass is greener syndrome the best things you can do are:
- let the other person 100% alone
- work on yourself and improving your life
- tell yourself: “It’s going to suck and it will be painful but I will go through it anyway!”
- practice self-respect and just think about you
These are really the best and only things you can do to improve the chances that your ex comes back.
If it was overall a positive and healthy relationship, the chances are high, that your ex will come back.
In the meantime look forward and focus on yourself.
12. Do Exes Come Back After Grass Is Greener Syndrome?
Regret is very common after leaving a happy relationship with Grass Is Greener Syndrome.
A lot of people aren’t self-aware enough to realize why they’re still not happy after the excitement of the new relationship fades. Perhaps they jump to a new relationship again, because they still feel like their partner was the problem, rather than realizing their initial break-up a month ago was the mistake.
Some people are too proud to go back to an ex, at least without that ex getting in contact first.
And, as we’ve explored, sometimes they’ll be lucky enough to actually find a more suitable partner, who they can work on their insecurities with.
With that said, it is possible that an ex-partner learns the error of their ways and decides to get back together, even if it’s weeks or months later. And it’s not wrong for them to do so.
At this stage, they can only hope their partner is compassionate enough to forgive them.
13. How To Stop Grass Is Greener Syndrome?
The best antidote to prevent GIGS is a firm grip on reality. When you truly understand what a fulfilling life looks like and what a great relationship feels like, you’ll be less prone to let go of one.
And, by the way, it’s you that decides what it looks like. Not your friends. Not society at large. Not that new girl trying to steal you away. As Theodore Roosevelt once said: “Comparison is the thief of joy”.
If you are suffering from inner angst, stress, or anxiety, make the brave step to address it, rather than masking it with shiny new things.
The great thing about being in a loving relationship is that your partner will hopefully support you while you’re experiencing these feelings.
If your partner is the one suffering from the GIGS, there’s, unfortunately, a lot less you can do to save them, beyond keeping your own grass as green as possible and helping them remain emotionally healthy in the first place.
As I mentioned, the first stage of GIGS is feeling adamant that the grass is greener elsewhere. Once they’ve reached that stage, you may have to let them make their own mistakes.
14 Important 3 Realizations To Overcome Grass Is Greener Syndrome
Realization #1 – Fantasies Can’t Be Met By Reality
You have to realize:
The picture you see on Instagram, Facebook, and in Hollywood movies isn’t real. Because it just contains the happy moments and good sites of a relationship.
You never see the
- fights, and
- hardship of a relationship.
The greener grass on the other side just looks greener, because we are far away from it and can’t see the details.
Realization #2 – Emotional Perfection Is Impossible
We are all humans with mistakes. Therefore your partner will never meet 100% of all your needs, no matter what person you choose.
Embracing the reality that a little dissatisfaction will always be there. And often it is more than a little. 😉
Realization #3 – Trap Of Black / White Thinking
When our focus goes towards a negative trait of our partner, we usually zoom out all positive traits.
We just see the negative.
This leads to a thinking trap called black or white thinking. It is really important to realize this trap!
We then see just 2 options – stay or leave.
And whatever option we choose, there will come regret.
If you choose the option to leave, the other site will kick in and say: “You should have stayed, there were so many good things in the relationship”.
And if you decide to stay, the other site will always argue: “It would be soooo much better in another relationship with your DREAMpartner”
15 Practical Tips How To Overcome The Grass Is Greener Syndrome
- Set realistic expectations
- Step out of black & white thinking and search for alternative options
- Learn how to create internal satisfaction without external shifts!
- Let go of search for perfection
- Tolerate imperfection and compromise
- STOP comparing yourself with others
- DEAL with your unresolved pain and grief, these are often cause for our emotional feeling of need
16 Real Bliss
If you ask long-term happy couples, you will always get the same answer.
Real bliss brings if you work through challenges with your partner together.
This is the process that lets you grow.
Personal growth makes you happy and in the end, you feel even more connected to your partner.
Thanks for reading my advice on the Grass Is Greener syndrome. It really is a shame when relationships break up for this reason.
So, please remember that the grass is not always greener!
If you have questions related to dating, relationships, break-ups or getting back together, feel free to leave a comment below. Also, let me know if you want me to write about more things like this in the future.
It’s always great to hear from someone who reads my posts, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.