Why Do We Look For The Greener Grass?

One of my friends recently posted on facebook:

“Why do people ‘fall in love’ with things they can never have?”

She then followed up with:

“… I just think it’s wierd how “people” are so obsessed with things/people they can never have in their life and miss out on other things/people that would make them just as happy if not more… I do it too… I just don’t understand it…”

After some reflection, I responded:

I’ve often pondered the exact thought you pose here, especially when looking back at what “could have been.”

We have all looked past the person right in front of us while pursuing the unattainable shiny new thing standing on the greener grass in the next pasture over.  Why do we do it?  Human nature, maybe?  Fear of “settling” or making the “wrong” choice?  Why do we do it?  It’s hard to say.  Maybe there isn’t one answer.

Regardless of why, when I think, “I really shouldn’t have chased after Lady A, I should have paid attention to Lady B,” it starts to get me down.  I start to think I really screwed up and missed out—I’m sure we all know how that goes.  However, when I REALLY think about it, I come to realize that one of the main reasons I didn’t pay attention to the otherwise perfectly (probably more) suitable Lady B at the time is simple:  I just wasn’t ready.  She may have been, but I wasn’t.  Do I still wish I could go back and do it differently sometimes?  Of course, but I have to remember that life’s all about timing, and if you’re both not fully ready, it’s not going to work.

So, that’s how I make peace with this question, anyway.  Your mileage may vary.

Does this make sense to you, dear reader?  Or am I blowing smoke here? Comments welcome.

3 thoughts on “Why Do We Look For The Greener Grass?”

  1. Allright, I’m going to sound like a globalist nut, but I do think it’s kind of American to go after the next step… I’ve chatted with a lot of friends from countries where arranged marriages are the norm, they wouldn’t trade their husband/wife for anything. Many of them only really met after their parents made the match, and most of them are happy, since their parents know what they are looking for anyway (that’s the story I got anyway). It also seems that, since they are less than concerned about what the next best thing is, they are more focused on other things we don’t spend quite as much time on (but could). Their career and earning power, their skills, and their family. I also see relatively few divorces int eh arranged marriages. I don’t know if that’s because of the threat of shame for the family with a divorce, or simply out of necessity (I tend to think that the women in these marriages feel very dependent upon the guy). Regardless, having watched marriages from differing generations of my own family, I see that the marriages from the older parts of my family that lasted weren’t necessarily less eventful or aggravating to those in them, but that those people looked at what they had and realized going off and chasing something “more” was a losign proposition. They made what they had work.
    Some would call that “settling”, call it what you want, there is a logic that is difficult to fight in the old “you dance with the one you brought”. No match is perfect, there will always be change and issues occurring, because you’re not a set of twins committing incest (yes, that’s gross, it makes a point). People are different, I can’t say that you’re going to “appreciate” your differences with the other person all of the time, that would be stupid and blind. But, you certainly should use them to understand what does the other person want, and why is it that they feel they aren’t getting it? IS it reasonable? And, if not, why? These are things you would face if you married Lindsay Lohan or Martha Stewart. It doesn’t matter, you’re going to disagree and there will be times where you’ll think “What if…?”
    But the adult, the real grown up, the one that wears pants that don’t have absorbency ratings, will realize quick and fast, you put an investment into this. In any investment there are payoffs and losses, both are part of that game. But typically, in any long term relationship, the payoff is always bigger than the loss. You have to find those payoffs and focus on them, focusing on the losses will only make you believe that all you have is problems. Ray Romano said it best, “Life is a series of Polaroids: some good, some bad. Keep the good ones, and throw out the bad ones.”
    Sure, there are exceptions: abusive relationships, drugs, whatever. Those are all things that you should either have possibly known about prior or be smart enough (as an adult) to say “no, I’m not having this”. But again, those are the less often causes for divorce than what I usually hear. “He didn’t respect me.” “I needed to understand myself first.” “He didn’t give me what I needed.” “She wasn’t there for me.”
    Honestly? Excuses are made up so that people don’t feel like they failed. All of those sound to me like someone that jsut didn’t try. If you come away saying that you gave everything of yourself, you listened, you said what you wanted and needed to the other person in plain terms, and you tried VERY hard to give them what they wanted (within reason), and after all that, you picked yourself up and tried again. And you can still walk away saying that you don’t hate the other person, but that you just could not possibly have made a life together, then MAYBE, maybe I’ll buy it. Most of the time when I hear about divorces, it’s because someone didn’t get what they wanted/expected from someone else (without having to tell them), or they felt they were constantly giving to the other person and never getting anything in return. Do those sound oddly reciprocal? Think about it. It really sounds like a selfish person expected life to hand them everything, and someone else was under the misled notion that life is fair in all cases.
    Some days, we win, some days we lose. Some days we get a free ride, others, we miss the bus entirely. I’ve been alive for a decent stretch of time, and I don’t think I can say I’ve ever had a “fair” day. I can tell you about days I was up, and days I was completely screwed, and some days that just kinda rode the midline. But I can’t tell you about days where everyone else had the same day I did. That’s it, life doesn’t come with helmets and referees.
    So, if in all of that prattle you can find some salient points as to why following the “next best thing” always sounds like it’s kind of uniquely American to me, that’s good, I made some sense. If not, that’s not a surprise, some days, I’m just completely wrong.

    Good luck,


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