Grass is Greener Syndrome Relationship Effects

Grass is Greener Syndrome Relationship Effects

In general, being in a romantic relationship serves as a source of comfort during times of stress. Couples who communicate effectively become each other’s primary supporter and closest ally. With such relationship skills, they stand a greater chance of avoiding a possible Grass is Greener Syndrome breakup.

However, for some individuals, this might be far from the norm. This is especially true for individuals suffering from the Grass is Greener Syndrome. For them, their closest relationships can often be a source of constant worry.

Even when in a stable and loving relationship, it is very common for them to be having fears of rejection. Thus, they are often in the habit of repeatedly seeking reassurances from their partners or seeking greener pastures.

The Grass is Greener Syndrome also puts an individual in a position where he or she strongly reacts to minor occurrences of rejection.

Though they greatly desire the closeness and security provided by the relationship, they generally find it difficult attaining a satisfying level of comfort in it.

Also, with little or no evidence for it, they have pervasive and enduring fears that their relationship is in danger of coming to an end. This fear also makes them believe their partner may be losing interest in them.

It is important to carefully look at what can trigger a Grass is Greener Syndrome breakup. This is because of how perplexing its effect can be even an intimate relationship.

The Role of Attachment Theory

Couples enjoying sunset on mountain

Psychologically, the theory of attachment plays a significant role in how we relate with others as adults.

The attachment theory states that a child needs at least one caregiver that it can totally trust to be there for it from birth to the age of seven. The child expects the caregiver to provide the love and safety it needs despite what it says or does.

If a child does not get this kind of unconditional support, it ends up with attachment issues as an adult.

Based on this, early childhood experiences concerning how responsive and caring a parent or caregiver was plays a determinative role in how an individual interacts with others throughout their life. 1

The Working Models of Attachment Styles

Research suggests that attachment styles (whether secure or insecure) are fundamentally based on two underlying “working models“. These are the working model of self and the working model of others.2

The working model of self relates to an individual’s sense of how worthy or unworthy they are of being loved by others.

If there’s an inner feeling of being unloved, the tendency of fearing being rejected increases significantly. Also, such an individual is predisposed to struggle with attachment-related anxiety. This model tends to create anxiety.

The working model of others is an individual’s expectation of whether or not others will be emotionally available to them. If they feel that others won’t be there for them, they become uncomfortable with getting close and try to avoid it. This working model results in avoidance.

However, developing a healthy relationship entails having a positive relationship both with yourself and with others.

People with insecure attachment styles tend to have issues in their adult love relationships. An insecure attachment style predisposes an individual to higher rate of relationship breakups.3

Also, several studies have demonstrated that when individuals have fears of abandonment and anxious insecure attachment, they’re likely to have higher rates of relationship distress.4 5

Grass is Greener Syndrome and Relationships

On a general note, the Grass is Greener Syndrome can contribute to the following problems:

  1. Low self-esteem
  2. Relationship issues
  3. Commitment problems
  4. Sleep difficulties
  5. Anxiety and anxiety disorders
  6. Acute stress
  7. Depression and low moods

From the list above, it’s quite obvious how the Grass is Greener Syndrome, in and of itself, can adversely affect a relationship.

One of the major relationship issues the GIG Syndrome can contribute to is “Relationship Anxiety“. In terms of marriage and relationship, relationship anxiety is the name for GIG Syndrome.

Anxiety is a state of mind in which an individual starts having irrational thoughts about the future until they feel fearful. The fear component is basically the reaction of the individual to current events. Thus, anxiety robs him or her of the privilege of being in the present moment.

Worry is the interest you pay on something you haven’t yet purchased.

Also, it’s important to note that the two major problems associated with the Grass is Greener Syndrome are the concepts of fantasy and fear.

Anxiety Reduction Attempts

Grass is Greener Syndrome - Greener pastures direction indicator

An individual with the GIG Syndrome is prone to engage in behaviors aimed at reducing their anxiety. In essence, they try to take actions that will rid them of the pain from the anxiety.

Also, the element of pain plays a significant role in the Grass is Greener process. This is because it has a strong hand in keeping people trapped, or making them bounce back and forth between two things.

Seeking Reassurance

An individual with GIG Syndrome can have a heightened state of vigilance and check-ins to ensure their safety in the relationship. This leads to the constant habit of seeking reassurances about the relationship through asking of questions like “Do you still love/care about me?“.

The seeking of reassurance is mostly done through direct questioning but can also be done indirectly. The indirect method involves the careful monitoring of their partner’s moods and body languages for the signs they seek.

Repeatedly seeking reassurance can make their partner feel displeased with them even if it’s only at the time of questioning. The GIGS partner is conscious of how frustrating their behavior is to their partner. However, their emotions tend to overrule their minds compelling them to engage in it.6

Avoiding Source of Anxiety

Another way they try to reduce the pain from the anxiety is to avoid whatever makes them anxious. While this might reduce their anxiety for now, it tends to create more problems in the long-term. For a romantic relationship, this can present a host of problems.

To prevent confrontations or any potential of “rocking the boat” in the relationship, they adopt a “self-silencing” behavior.7 As a result, they keep their opinions to themselves and readily agree with those of their partner.

They make such agreements despite them being in conflict with their actual views. Their overall intention is simple and that is to avoid rejection. Thus they resort to behaving in ways that their partner would find acceptable.

Partner’s Accommodating Behaviors

These behaviors put a lot of strain on the relationship. This forces the other partner to engage in series of behaviors to help reduce the anxiety. Their partner might start giving reassurances and avoiding to bring up hard conversations.

They may also become highly vigilant in order not to upset their partner and cause a Grass is Greener Syndrome breakup situation. Equally, they may conceal their negative emotions while exaggerating their positive emotions. 8

These behaviors are generally well-intentioned to help their partner. However, the GIG Syndrome partner often detects that their partner is accommodating them. Such discovery only serves to create more distress for both partners.9 10

Overall, the behaviors of the Grass is Greener Syndrome partner gradually tends to erode the foundations of the very relationship they’re so much concerned about.

Anxiety affects a relationship in such a way that the more you like someone and they like you back, the more the tendency to feel stressed and unable to be yourself. This can make you have sleepless nights worrying over something you did or said.

The more intimate the relationship grows, the more you are caught up in irrational doubts and fears. You essentially become less of yourself the more you like someone and find it hard to relax and be yourself.

Is the Grass is Greener Syndrome Breakup Signs in Your Relationship?

Anxious young couples

Condensing some of the above facts, there are some obvious behaviors that indicate the presence of Grass is Greener Syndrome breakup tendencies in a relationship.

Doubts and Worries

Though you really like your partner, when they like you back you begin doubting if you actually do. You also worry that they may not like you as much as you like them. As a result, you start having fears that they might cheat on you, quit the relationship, and so on.

Clingy and Pestering

You always want to be around them while also asking them about what they want from you and the relationship. You go through their things, checking their phone and who they follow on social media.


Though you aren’t really angry, even normal things your partner does frequently makes you annoyed and angry. As a result, you often end up saying or doing things you later regret.

Drifting and Bad Habits

You always find yourself thinking about other things and possible ways out. Feeling frustrated, you begin indulging in old habits such as porn use, drugs, bingeing and so on. You’ve stopped trying to connect to your partner and now have increased tendency to cheat on them.

Retreating and Running Away

You get so anxious with such terrible feelings that you just want to give it all up and be on your own again. However, you feel sad about it because you know you like your partner but you still retreat.

People’s sense of knowing is beyond their control and cannot be easily argued away. It’s a powerful pull for them to remain as they’ve always been, even when they are engaging in self-defeating behaviors.

Robert Burton Author, On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not

These feelings of vulnerability can creep even into an intimate relationship. But they are more likely to occur in cases where something went wrong in the childhood of a partner. This can also happen if any of the partners has had a bad experience in past relationships.

When you have the GIG Syndrome, you can needlessly question your partner’s feeling for you. Also, you start doubting your self-worth and the overall integrity of your relationship.

Why Grass is Greener Syndrome Breakup Can Be Confusing

Grass is Greener Syndrome - Anxious man sitting by window

A lot of people have experienced a Grass is Greener Syndrome breakup at least once in their lives without realizing it. A Grass is Greener Syndrome Breakup can be very hard to process because the causes are very hard to rationalize.

To most individuals who have suffered such relationship breakups, the reasons given generally sound vague or incoherent. It’s like they came out of nowhere.

GIGS partners who breakup a relationship generally do not mean any harm to the other partner. They do not have the courage and strength to end the relationship in order to “figure things out”. Their heightened emotions generally outweigh their sense of reason at such times.

In general, the GIGS partner doesn’t have any sort of understandable answer to give for the breakup. They are as confused as their partner soon becomes after hearing of the planned breakup. Considering their current emotional state, they are unable to provide any coherent answers because they don’t have them.

They have no desire to hurt their partner and so don’t fully tell them about their GIGS condition. This is not because they are being dishonest, but because the state they are in make them mostly confused.

Knowing they still like their partner, the thought of walking up to them to say “I don’t think I want to marry you any more” or “I don’t think I’m in love with you anymore” can be painful.

The Forces at Work in Grass is Greener Syndrome Breakup

At this point, it’s important to remember that the concepts of fear and fantasy are the major drive forces behind the Grass is Greener Syndrome.

This can be the fear of being trapped in a relationship, living in monotony, losing one’s self-identify, or of being dominated. The fear itself can act as the driving force behind the fantasies.

When the pain from relationship anxiety intensifies, the urge to go back to an old relationship or to find a greener grass takes precedence.

It’s a human instinct to want to avoid pain and gain pleasure. This is essentially the main incentive behind the Grass is Greener Syndrome.

At this point, the GIGS partner will opt for the choice that will satisfy the longings for secure attachment and stop the pain. The internal struggle between the stronger emotions and the rational mind finally triggers the Grass is Greener Syndrome breakup.

Worry is the interest you pay on something you haven’t yet purchased.

In most cases, they are gratified by the environment changes after jumping the fence. However, the internally unresolved relationship anxiety issues remain the same. After a brief internal high from the “honeymoon”, the dissatisfaction becomes the same.

Most often than not, the Grass is Greener Syndrome breakup decision is regretted by the dumper. It’s not uncommon to hear rueful statements like “I let a good one get away” or “I lost the best thing that ever happened to me“.

Closing Thoughts

However, the GIG Syndrome is not impossible to overcome. It all starts by first identifying the root causes of the Grass is Greener Syndrome. Checkout of our previous post on how to overcome Grass is Greener Syndrome for more details.

Remember that no matter how much you improve your life, there will always be a greener grass out there. Realize that your grass is already green, all you need is to nurture and water it for a greener grass.

The last post in this Grass is Greener Syndrome series will focus on how you can make your grass always greener.