Last modified on June 24th, 2020
People of various ages experience the Grass is Greener Syndrome. Every one of us has at one point or the other experienced it in our lives. However, signs of Grass is Greener Syndrome are generally more prevalent in people in their mid-20’s.
People who experience Grass is Greener Syndrome (GIGS) basically have a constant feeling that “there’s something better out there” that they are “missing out on”.
It is a paralyzing inability to feel content with your life as it is and thus relentlessly searching for something better.
When you have this syndrome, you are very convinced that “if only” you could change something about you, about your partner, or about something else in your life, it would make you perfectly happy.
Generally, we tend to want to avoid pain at any cost and gain pleasure in our lives. However, problems can arise when this human tendency is not properly harnessed. For instance, it can become one of the many reasons people suffer from GIGS.
It is important to understand that GIGS can exist even in relationships that appear healthy externally. Also, one or both partner could also suffer from it.
In this post, we shall be looking at several signs of Grass is Greener Syndrome and discuss some reasons why people have this syndrome. We shall also look at some ways in which it can impact a relationship.
Listed below are some of the signs of Grass is Greener Syndrome. However, the list is by no means conclusive. It provides a fairly good way of understanding and recognizing if you have the syndrome in your life or relationship.
1. Excessive Comparison
You are in the habit of looking at the things you don’t have that others have and comparing yourself to them. There’s always that feeling within you that you’re not good enough.
To you they’re better than you since they own stuffs that would make your life happier. As a result, you constantly feel that you cannot measure up.
This comparison tendency can often openly extend to your relationship as a whole. When in a relationship, your spouse can be seriously affected by it.
Not only can it make you to go to the extent of comparing your spouse to your ex but even to people close to both of you who have certain qualities you desire.
Unhealthy comparisons such as these are not only draining but also robs you of happiness.
2. Running Away From Things
Do you have a tendency of being unable to settle down in any job, relationship, residence, etc., once there’s a slight problem?
If you do this frequently without any definite reason, then it’s not just about being in the “right place” or being with the “right person”. While there might possibly be other underlying reasons, you’re more than likely dealing with GIG Syndrome.
The possible reason for this might be that you’re feeling suffocated by the constant attention needed by your job or spouse.
Are you always of the opinion that in order to become happy again, the best thing to do is to find something better than what you currently have?
In most of these cases, are you always reluctant to put in any serious effort in an attempt to solve the problems? Do you often see running away and looking for some greener grass the only option?
3. Always Complaining
This is one of the classic signs of Grass is Greener Syndrome. The tendency to complain can increase significantly since what you have never satisfies you.
While it is hard for a relationship to be free of complaints, they should however be done without blames. Constructive criticism advises and informs, it does not hurt.
In healthy relationships, couples do this by talking about what they feel and what they need, not what they don’t need.
Buddha once said that the way to happiness is actually quite simple: the secret is to learn to want what you have and not want what you don’t have.
However, are you constantly whining about everything around you? Do you go on and on complaining about what you don’t have and wishing you “had it more like so and so”?
Are you persistently feeling that your going through such difficulties warrants the complaints? Do you find yourself incessantly whining and groaning about why your colleagues are not being cooperative with you?
4. Acting Impulsively
GIGS can significantly affect your ability to think rationally. It makes you highly susceptible to acting on your impulses.
This personality trait associated with GIGS makes you to do things without first thinking them through. You frequently take actions without first considering their possible consequences.
For instance, acting impulsively can make you say things without thinking. As a result, you might be hurting and pushing away people that actually care about you.
Questions determine everything in your life, from your abilities to your relationships to your income. For example, many people fail to commit to a relationship simply because they keep asking questions that create doubt: “What if there’s somebody better out there? What if I commit myself now and miss out?” What terribly disempowering questions! This fuels the fear that the grass will always be greener on the other side of the fence, and it keeps you from being able to enjoy what you already have in your life…
This might also be responsible for why you make bad choices in your relationships. You impulsively choose lovers who “put up with you” and reject the ones who really feel connected to you.
It causes you to make rash decisions and indulge in risky behaviors. This impulsive tendency essentially makes you to become a victim of your own bad choices.
5. Fear of Commitment
We briefly mentioned this at the beginning of this post. Fear is one very strong underlying component of the GIGS.
There are several possible sources of this fear including the fear of being trapped in a commitment. It could also be the fear of becoming bored, losing your individuality, or of being oppressed.
When you’ve fallen in love and been with the person for a while, do you start having fears of taking the relationship to the “next level” when the time is due?
Do you have this fear because of the idea that you might get trapped with this individual forever? Or is it a fear that committing to the relationship will prevent you from getting to know new people?
The Grass is Greener Syndrome makes you to lose sight of the reality that is before you and thus unable to accept it. It makes you to continue believing that there might be someone or something far better out there.
In and of itself, the fear of commitment is not a psychological issue. However, it is generally linked to one, or several, deeply rooted psychological problems.
It is these underlying psychological issues that make you promise that you will commit but do otherwise later. This is why you continue choosing unhealthy partners against your best judgment.
Knowing well that a commitment from such lovers is almost impossible, you still go ahead. At the worst, it makes you to generally run away from relationships.
What are some of the probable reasons for this type of fear?
One of the underlying psychological reasons that may be responsible for this fear of commitment has to do with attachment issues.
According to the psychology theory of attachment, we need to have proper “attachment” as an infant or young child in order to evolve into an adult who can feel safe and happy in a relationship.
From birth until well into childhood, it is expected that we should have had at least one adult whom we could trust to take care of and love us. The child naturally expects this care and love irrespective of moods or behavior.
Unfortunately, most of our parents or caretakers failed a lot of us. They were mostly emotionally or mentally unsound. Thus, most of us could not experience this trusting bond. To most of us, they were not consistent in their love and affection.
The effect is the development of the “anxious” or “avoidant” attachment patterns. These patterns are probably making it hard for you to get committed in a relationship.
Other Psychological Issues
There are other psychological factors that might contribute to having fear of commitment. Some of these include having low self-esteem and negative core beliefs.
If in your mind you don’t fully believe you are capable or worthy of achieving real success, you will find yourself avoiding situations that need you to do well.
Similarly, harboring negative core beliefs can affect your ability to commit to almost anything.
You might for instance be feeling that “I am not worthy of love” or that “love is dangerous.” Both of these beliefs are very limiting. They can easily create fear about making a commitment when in a relationship.
Young Adults and Fear of Commitment
Grass is Greener Syndrome might go hand-in-hand with the “quarter life crisis” that so many of us go through in our 20’s. This is especially true in the years after graduating from college.
People in their mid-20’s tend to look at their lives and wonder if there might be something they should be doing differently in order to fulfill themselves.
During these years, most young adults have the fear of growing up fully into adulthood. They particularly dread “the acceptance of reality”.
They naturally question their living conditions, career choices, and opportunities for the future.
The Grass is Greener Syndrome tends to happen mostly to young ladies within the age range of 20-25. It usually happens when they’ve been in a long-term relationship of about two or more years.
The fear of commitment kicks in mostly when the couples are about to make a significant commitment to each other. This happens when they are contemplating engagement or marriage.
At such times, a young lady is prone to thoughts like “what if he is not the one for me” and “what if there is someone else out there that is better for me”. These lingering thoughts can easily keep her stuck in a kind of limbo.
The Grass is Greener Syndrome makes a lot of young ladies afraid to commit to relationships.
6. Fantasizing a Lot
There’s always a fantasy in your head that you will get what you don’t have. You also believe that the parts of your life that you’re currently happy with won’t be affected by the realization of your fantasy.
You spend tremendous time constantly dreaming of what could be. Waking up to your “perfect partner”, getting your perfect job, having a ton of money, and going on that dream vacation.
When you’re suffering from GIG Syndrome, it is hard to face reality. Your head is almost always in the clouds. Always fantasizing of having that life that would give you all the happiness you’ve dreamed of.
You are going to want what you don’t have or continue fantasizing about it. Fantasizing this way about what you don’t have is a recipe for disaster. You’re simply forgetting what is most important – the now!
7. Lack of Gratitude
Repeated display of dissatisfaction with the good things in your life is one of the strong signs of Grass is Greener Syndrome. You find it very hard to see anything worthy of showing gratitude for in your life.
We are never truly happy when we have “Grass is Greener” syndrome. It’s a fact.
Are you so focused on what you don’t have that you’ve completely forgotten to count your blessings? As a popular gospel hymn says, “count your blessings; name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done!”
Are you constantly dissatisfied because of what you currently have instead of intentionally showing gratitude?
Being blinded by the pursuit of Grass is Greener, are you obsessively wanting to become more secure, stable, and settled? Remember that even if you had the earth to yourself, the frontiers of outer space might just be your next greener grass.
8. Preoccupied With the Future
The constant inability to “live in the moment” is one of the clear signs of Grass is Greener Syndrome. Since you are never satisfied with what you currently have, you are often preoccupied with thinking about likely future events and outcomes.
Setting goals and having dreams of a better tomorrow are great in every respect. They are part of what gives us hope for tomorrow and keeps us active. However, the future is something we cannot control. Thus, for the sake of our mental health, we need to avoid being obsessed over the future.
Thinking too much of the future prevents you from seeing the reality of your true needs. This also affects your ability to see the real needs of the people close to you. It is not only stressful but can also make your relationships to suffer.
Yesterday is gone, learn from it and let it go. Stop worrying about the future and learn to take each day as it comes. Remember that all you have is now!
9. You Have Perfectionist Tendencies
Even when your spouse does their absolute best to please you, for you it’s never enough. Also, you’re always hard on yourself despite the fact that you know you’ve given it your best shot.
Are you constantly in the habit of measuring your life and that of your partner against unrealistic goals and expectations.
…many troubles of the mind involve turning away from reality by being preoccupied with the search for another life, a different life, perhaps a better life somewhere else.
To you, are your choices in life always an all-or-nothing proposition? Do you see your world in only black-and-white leaving little or no room for compromise?
Such perfectionist tendencies make it practically impossible to please you. The sad part is that this fuels your drive to find that happiness you feel has so far eluded you.
Also, for you the glass is always half empty regarding almost everything. It’s either you feel you’re not being given enough of the love, affection, or attention that you deserve or you feel totally incapable of giving same.
Types of Perfectionists
From the psychological viewpoint, there are two types of perfectionists. This is vital in order to understand the concept of perfectionism in the context of GIGS.
First, we have the “positive perfectionist” known also as the “normal” or “adaptive” perfectionist.
These are “high achievers” whose perfectionism doesn’t negatively affect their moods. They feel great when they achieve their goals and laugh when they don’t but keep aiming higher.
Conversely, we have the “negative perfectionist”. Also called the “neurotic” or “maladaptive” perfectionist. These are the individuals that suffer from their perfectionism.
They constantly entertain self-defeating thoughts while feeling as though the world has let them down. On the whole, these individuals are bound to suffer from low moods and poor self-esteem.
An individual suffering GIG Syndrome essentially exhibits neurotic perfectionism. This is why they frequently experience obsessive thoughts and/or a black-and-white thinking.
These thought patterns can be very powerful. This owes to the fact that they might have been deeply entrenched for years. As a result, replacing these negative thoughts with positive ones can be very hard. This inability often leads to a reinforcement of the GIG Syndrome.
As a closing remark, remember that though it sounds cliché, it’s true that the Grass is Greener where you water it. Rather than run away from problems in your relationship, learn to manage them instead.
The reality is that the GIG Syndrome can be a serious problem. However, it is more important to realize that you can overcome it. By understanding the signs of Grass is Greener Syndrome, you have won half the battle.
In a future article, we shall discuss about how to deal with the Grass is Greener Syndrome. We’ll look at how to effectively stop it from negatively affecting our relationships.