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Thread: "The Grass Is Greener" Syndrome

  1. #1
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    "The Grass Is Greener" Syndrome

    The Grass Is Greener Syndrome
    (AKA; itchy feet, quarter life crisis, early-twenty-itus)

    I thought I would put together a thread here to provide some information on and a place to discuss this particular type of break up. I've had relationships end because of it along with a few of my friends. In addition, I've had friends be the ones stricken with this 'syndrome', so I've seen how it plays out from both sides. Hopefully, I can provide a little insight to help those of you going through this type of breakup. The more we understand something, the more comfortable with it we become and the less scary it seems.

    In my opinion, outside of infidelity, this is one of the toughest types of breakups to go through. It seemingly comes out of nowhere, seems to have no rhyme or reason behind it, and it can strike even the best of couples. In your 'run of the mill' break up, there's usually an identifiable reason or set of reasons that led to the split, such as personality conflicts, fighting, different life goals, etc. These breakups are also difficult, but I've always found them a bit easier to cope with because you can identify a cause to the effect. Not so with the grass is greener syndrome. It's like going through a root canal even though your teeth are perfectly healthy.

    This syndrome usually tends to fall on women within the age range of 20-25 (it happens to men, too, but seems to be less often). It usually happens in a long term relationship (maybe two or more years) when the couple is about to make a much larger commitment to each other, such as an engagement or marriage. It's as if the mixture between the person's young age and the thought of making such a huge commitment almost makes them want to go on the relationship equivalent of the Amish's Rumspringa.

    Some of the classic symptoms of this are as follows:
    • Reasons for the break up are contradicting or sound like the dumper is grasping at straws for reasons. As if they are trying to convince themselves of it, too.
    • Not much warning that something is going on before the actual break.
    • An extreme change in lifestyle, such as suddenly starting to drink a lot, party a lot and hang around people they normally wouldn't.
    • Wishy-washiness on the part of the dumper. They love you, but aren't IN love with you. They say that this doesn't mean you two are over forever and maybe someday down the road you'll be together again. At the same time, they'll tell you to move on.
    • Quickly entering new relationships with people they aren't very compatible with.


    One of the biggest problems with these sorts of breakups is that the dumpee will be more likely to want to stick around in the dumpers life. Due to the dumper's extreme mixed signals and the fact that they'll try harder than usual to keep the dumpee around as a friend, the dumpee will make all sorts of excuses to stay around. They'll say things such as "She's just confused, so we're going to remain friends and see what happens". These sorts of breakups need to be treated like any other kind of breakup. Give the dumper as much space as possible and gracefully bow out of their life.

    The thing to keep in mind is that in these sorts of breakups, the dumpers themselves don't have any sort of answers to give. They're usually just as confused about the situation as the dumpee. This often adds more pain to the dumpee because they're just looking for some sort of reason as to why they're being hurt so badly and get completely frustrated when the dumper can't give them one. They think the dumper may be acting cruel or like the dumper is hiding something from them. This is usually not the case. The dumper isn't giving any answers because they don't have them.

    Now for the good news. If the dumpee does completely exit the dumpers life and resist the temptation to remain friends, the chance that the opportunity for reconciliation will arise is actually quite good. If the relationship was a good one, the dumper will find out eventually that the grass isn't greener, it's just different grass and may even be a little worse than the pastures they left. However, that doesn't mean that a reconciliation will happen. Due to the hurtfulness of this type of breakup, the dumpee will most often refuse the offer for reconciliation when it eventually comes up (which can be months or over a year down the line). Since the breakup happened out of nowhere and for no real good reason, it can be difficult for most people to get the trust back in the relationship. The fear that they'll suddenly be dumped out of nowhere will hinder the relationship from developing into anything. This is why I said the "opportunity" for reconciliation is a lot higher and not that actual reconciliations are common for these types of breakups.

    So, my heart goes out to all of you enduring this particular type of breakup. Just remember, it's not your fault and it's not the dumper's fault, either. It's just due to human nature and unfortunate sets of circumstances. No amount of picking your ex's brain will result in any sort of meaningful answers to the questions that plague you. Just remember that this is a phase and it doesn't last forever. So, as long as your ex is in this phase, all you can do is go about living your own life and making yourself a better person.

    If anyone has any questions, I'll be happy to give you my opinion on the matter.

    Good luck, everyone.

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    Wow, good insight. I can identify a few of these symptoms with my ex, actually all do apply. Even though I really don't believe that you can categorize people, I can really see some of these being applied to my ex. Crazy.

    I not sure really about the reconciliation portion of the post. My ex seems happier and living her life and I'm pretty much out of the picture. But I guess it remains to be seen what will happen.

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    Platinum Member thejigsup's Avatar
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    I didn't know younguns could have a life crisis. I never did. I waited until I was at least forty When you are younger, you are supposed to be discovering yourself and you will have many relationships, careers, and friends. It's not a crisis, it's normal. A crisis is a child born with birth defects, bankruptcy where you and your family are left homeless, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Those are a crisis. Changing partners is just part of life. It's not a crisis. Though it does hurt, I'll give you that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mayday11 View Post
    Some of the classic symptoms of this are as follows:
    • Reasons for the break up are contradicting or sound like the dumper is grasping at straws for reasons. As if they are trying to convince themselves of it, too.
    • Not much warning that something is going on before the actual break.
    • An extreme change in lifestyle, such as suddenly starting to drink a lot, party a lot and hang around people they normally wouldn't.
    • Wishy-washiness on the part of the dumper. They love you, but aren't IN love with you. They say that this doesn't mean you two are over forever and maybe someday down the road you'll be together again. At the same time, they'll tell you to move on.
    • Quickly entering new relationships with people they aren't very compatible with.
    Mayday, Mayday...man, I was feeling a little sad. I came to ENA, picked up this thread by the subject, and suddenly found out: it's from Mayday. It's gonna be a good read.

    When I read that above, I laughed. It was like "are you talking about me?". The second last point was the best one. My dear ex:
    1. had some contradictions when breaking up. Body language told me she didn't really want to break up, but she did anyway;
    2. we had our share of problems, but it was nothing that would cause a break up. At least, not without some fights before ;
    3. yes, she started partying a lot. Before, it usually was once a week, rarely more;
    4. yes, she WROTE that. "Don't know about the future, maybe we'll be together again". And told me to "live my life" (correct translation?), to move on.
    5. new guy in the picture exactly 2 weeks later. Some incompatibilities already known;
    6. She's 25 (until next Tuesday)!
    7. Long term relationship (5.5 years), never had a break up, lived together for the last 2.5 years.

    All checked.

    Mayday, I hope you're right. I've been working on myself for weeks now, both mind and body. My body is noticeably better now. I'd say almost as good as when we met. My mind is better, but not as much.

    Thanks again. Your posts are always between the best I've read here.
    Last edited by mr_zanon; 12-13-2008 at 02:35 PM. Reason: badly written sentence giving wrong ideas

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    You know, its really is crazy how Mayday's post can be applied to many break ups.

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    wow, its like word for word with my situation

    I read this post and I m speechless because of how much it applies to what im going through with my break up. All those classic symptoms mentioned applied to my situation almost word for word. Its scary. Mayday, what you wrote seems to correlate to my situation, please read my thread and tell me what you think, thanks.

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    This is almost what I am going through, I think... except that I was also leaning a little bit toward a break. I think on her end of it, though, most of this definitely applies.

    Well, maybe at least a little bit. She seems to be pretty freakin' compatible with her new boyfriend. But the early 20s bit, the love but not in love, all that stuff...
    Last edited by bfla; 09-13-2008 at 08:22 PM.

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    Bronze Member lapseinjudgement's Avatar
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    oh god... i dont think i have read anything that has fit better to my situation. SHE DID THIS TO ME! I mean almost word for word. Five year relationship getting ready to propose * * * * ty reason for the break confused and didnt seem like she wanted to do it. She even really wanted to be friends! BAH everything fits!
    thats so MESSED UP!!!
    I live in my own little world.... but its ok they know me here.

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    This topic hits the nail on the head.

    I recently transitioned from a 2-year relationship with my college girlfriend to a long-distance relationship as I was going overseas to work a one-year position after I graduated this June. During these two years we have never fought or argued. The relationship has been the smoothest one I've had to date.

    Everything goes smoothly for a month - we talk online everyday, Skype each other, tell each other I love you, etc. Then she drops the bomb on me -- she's been wondering "what else is out there" and wants to "date casually." I've always been a cool boyfriend willing to give her the space she needs - back in college I never got jealous when she went out partying without me - so I agreed that we should try an open relationship for a while. She agrees, tells me that she loves me, and that I'm still her boyfriend and she doesn't want to leave me.

    One month later, I start seeing some confusing signals from her and a drop in commitment. I bring this up over the phone, and she starts giving ambiguous answers. She's been doing "a lot of thinking," but "doesn't know" about our future. All I want is for us to give the relationship a shot again after I get back, and she can't promise me that. I tell her to think hard about these issues so we can clarify them another day.

    One month later (September), our communication is steadily getting worse. I feel like I'm the one doing all the work when it comes to instant messaging or phone calls. Nothing happens unless I take the initiative. I bring up our relationship chat from the previous month in our phone call, and after some amount of pressing she admits that she can't see herself dating me after I get back, because "things are just different." Meanwhile, her social networking profiles make it obvious that she enjoys the company of this guy she met over the summer.

    I'm due to visit her in November (this was planned months ago), so we have a chance to sort things out face to face. But everything the OP mentioned is true - this situation comes out of nowhere and is incredibly painful to deal with because it leaves the couple in ambiguous territory. It's not a loss of love or personal problems that end relationships like these, but rather some desire to go find that greener grass. During the course of my relationship with her I thought about the same thing too, but in the end I decided to stick through and work on our relationship. It was probably at its highest point when I last saw her, so part of me is always disappointed that that's when it started crashing down.

    As a first time poster who just found this website yesterday, I'm happy that there are veterans offering their advice and observations on the forums. Keep up the good work.

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    Bronze Member Busto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thejigsup View Post
    I didn't know younguns could have a life crisis. I never did. I waited until I was at least forty When you are younger, you are supposed to be discovering yourself and you will have many relationships, careers, and friends. It's not a crisis, it's normal. A crisis is a child born with birth defects, bankruptcy where you and your family are left homeless, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Those are a crisis. Changing partners is just part of life. It's not a crisis. Though it does hurt, I'll give you that.
    Honestly, that sounded really condescending. Of course it can be a crisis when someone leaves you.

    Some people commit suicide because of break-ups. Would you consider that a life crisis?

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