Mini-sketch: Is the grass always greener on the other side?
The truth is new or different relationships will almost always seem better and more appealing. They will in fact be different from the relationship(s) we are in, but does different mean better?
The saying "the grass is greener on the other side" comes from the belief that life would be better if we were somewhere else. Common areas that this belief tends to manifest itself in:
The rationale for this belief makes sense logically. If a relationship is not working, the only solution that makes sense is to leave that relationship for a new one (or at least try to find what we believe to be missing elsewhere). If we are unhappy, we will develop a negative sentiment toward our situation and will (almost) always view a new situation with a favorable outlook.
Regardless of the relationship, we have needs. A professional relationship may include adequate pay, diverse employees, and a friendly atmosphere. Our needs might look more like adventure, intimacy, and security in romantic relationships. Nevertheless, we have specific needs for different relationships. It is impossible for any one relationship to meet all of our needs. This is when we compromise. But what happens when one (or more) of our "must haves" goes unmet?
In search of greener pastures
When our needs go unmet, we tend to look for them elsewhere. For example, if we feel unloved by our partner(s), we may become curious about new love. When we feel undervalued at work, we may be drawn to seek employment elsewhere. This comes from the idea that things elsewhere can and will be better. These new relationships will be different, but will they be better?
Drs. John and Judy Gottman say the grass is not greener on the other side. The grass is greener where we water it.
New relationships (whether professional, platonic, or romantic) feel exciting, joyous, and even familiar (many new relationships are not actually "new"). The reality is that while we may believe we are getting something we are missing, we may not be getting things we have taken for granted.
When the Gottmans say, "the grass is greener where you water it," they mean life and relationships are healthier where we invest in them. Investing in relationships means:
Turning towards, instead of away
Creating shared meaning
Developing a positive perspective
Like anything else in life, relationships are not black and white. Part of having healthy relationships involves investing (or watering grass). However, having healthy relationships also includes acknowledging when it is time to terminate the relationship. This means being honest with ourselves when relationships become overly draining, toxic, or abusive.
Relationships are hard work. While it can be easy to assume that things would be better in another relationship, this is not always true. Relationships are better when we put in the work. This means investing in our current relationships and creating the ones we want. This does not mean excusing abuse or putting up with harmful behaviors. Healthy relationships also mean knowing when it is no longer worth our investment or energy.
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