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In the Netherlands, where I live, we have a saying:

Het bezit van de zaak, is het einde van het vermaak.

This roughly translates to:

Possession of the matter is the end of the entertainment/fun.

It means that as soon as you have bought your brand new car, it very soon loses its attraction and you don't see the value anymore.

Is there a similar saying in English?

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  • 1
    There is "forbidden fruit is the sweetest" playing off the tale in Genesis. Jun 19, 2017 at 12:31
  • 3
    Another related saying is "the grass is always greener (on the other side of the fence)." Jun 19, 2017 at 17:18
  • One popular image is of dogs chasing things that they don't really want to catch, generally cars or cats. "He wouldn't know what to do if he caught one." and "he made the mistake of catching one" show up, for example. This is closely related since the chase is the thing that's the focus but success ends the fun. Alternately, "After the dance you must pay the piper." or "You have danced and now you must pay the piper." indicate dealing with the costs of fun afterwards. Not precisely the same idea, but close enough to mention.
    – The Nate
    Jun 19, 2017 at 20:39
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    Hey Harry, there's a similar specific one for boats, like sailboats, yachts, which sailors will say - the only good time is when you buy it, and when you sell it :/
    – Fattie
    Jun 20, 2017 at 10:31
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    Harry, a funny one, regarding food we have "your eye was bigger than your belly!" (I think it's particularly Scottish, but I'm not sure.) I'm sure you get the point. You desperately want to eat an enormous very sweet cake; in fact it just makes you sick and fat. Your expression is the equivalent converting calories to euros, I think :) What you describe is buyer's remorse, and we don't really have a catchy one for that other than buyer's remorse.
    – Fattie
    Jun 20, 2017 at 10:37

4 Answers 4

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The thrill is [in] the chase.

It isn't extremely popular, but I think it would be recognized by most English speakers, and it would certainly be understood because its meaning is pretty literal.

The implication, of course, is that the chase (process) itself holds all the thrill, not the quarry.

It draws heavily from popular references to the "thrill of the chase", which is what makes it so recognizable.

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    "It isn't extremely popular," - it isn't? Maybe it's just me but I consider it a complete cliché - in a good way
    – Au101
    Jun 19, 2017 at 19:34
  • @Au101 Your mileage obviously varies, but clichés are definitionally bad. The good versions are called expressions, adages, saws, sayings, proverbs, &c.
    – lly
    Jun 20, 2017 at 0:55
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    One thing to keep in mind, since this is the closest expression to the Dutch, is that the context is usually rather different. "The thrill is in the chase" usually appears literally or figuratively in reference to romantic situations, not possessions.
    – lly
    Jun 20, 2017 at 0:59
  • While admirable to point this one out, really it's not the same as the Netherlands expression. The Netherlands expression is about how sick you feel for actually paying for (example) a shiny new car, what a waste of money it is. The expression is literally about buyer's remorse, as bdsi says.
    – Fattie
    Jun 20, 2017 at 10:35
  • That wasn't how I interpreted the original expression from the translation, but it is entirely possible that my interpretation was wrong, since I'm not familiar with the expression in its native language/context. Jun 20, 2017 at 10:56
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I'm not aware of this idea having a canonical form in English, but the idea is certainly known. A search for "wanting is better than having" finds a great many references, as does "the idea is better than the reality," and might the be best known forms of the saying. The following references from literature and popular culture may be helpful:

Robert Louis Stephenson wrote that:

to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive

and Pascal's Pensées (translated from French) has:

we like the chase better than the quarry (#139)

And Mr Spock (of Star Trek fame) said

“After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but is often true.” - Star Trek, season 2, episode 1 (“Amok Time,” 1968)

Meanwhile, Motorhead sang that the chase is better than the catch

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  • In case any reader is interested not only in the saying but also the phenomenon, a good place to start would be a search for the "paradox of pleasure" or the "paradox of hedonism". I also like the "refutation" of R.L.Stephenson by C.S.Lewis: "If that were true and known to be true, no-one would be able to travel hopefully". (I've quoted from memory, it may be a little off.) Jun 19, 2017 at 17:06
  • While admirable to point these out, really it's not the same as the Netherlands expression. The Netherlands expression is about how sick you feel for actually paying for (example) a shiny new car, what a waste of money it is. The expression is literally about buyer's remorse, as bdsi says.
    – Fattie
    Jun 20, 2017 at 10:35
  • @Fattie, you may be right, but my impression is that the expression isn't specifically about buyer's remorse. Although the illustration given is naturally understood that way, I think it's merely an illustration. Also, I feel that buyers remorse is not necessarily disappointment with the thing obtained but with oneself for having spent money on something one fears may disappoint. It needn't have disappointed yet. Jun 20, 2017 at 11:55
  • And Billy Bragg sang that "the chase is always better than the kill".
    – Jeremy
    Jun 20, 2017 at 12:42
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It's not a saying, but we have the term Buyer's remorse, for 'the sense of regret after having made a purchase'.

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    Mr Gray and Lovell's answers are closer to the Dutch expression, but this is the form of OP's concept that is most familiar to Brits and Americans.
    – lly
    Jun 20, 2017 at 1:03
  • Nice spot - the Netherlands expression is precisely about buyer's remorse.
    – Fattie
    Jun 20, 2017 at 10:35
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    @Fattie is it? Buyer's remorse is more about anxiety, the fear of having made the wrong decision, while the saying is more about being bored with it quickly once you finally have what you wanted all along.
    – SQB
    Jun 20, 2017 at 11:30
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    Hi all, the Dutch saying is not about buyers remorse. It is the fact that everything loses its value after a while in the eyes of the beholder. So, you buy something, you are very happy with it at the buying moment, but the after this feeling of happiness diminishes and diminishes until it is gone. Jun 20, 2017 at 15:36
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    There is also the phrase the novelty soon wears off. Jun 20, 2017 at 19:20
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Owning the toy is the end of the joy.

...but I just made that up.

If it loses its attraction, don't sell it, because:

You don't know what you have until it's gone.

...which, according to internet, is a common saying in English.

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  • Thanks! These two sayings express exactly what the Dutch saying is about. Jun 20, 2017 at 15:37
  • You're welcome. I am Dutch too, as you might have guessed. I'm still curieus what (native) English speakers might come up with...
    – Draakhond
    Jun 20, 2017 at 17:51
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    As a native speaker, I'd say that phrase has a nice ring to it. It suggests that the reality of owning a thing is usually less glamorous than the dream of owning it. E.g., the dream of owning an swimming pool is daily recreation, while the reality consists of daily cleaning and maintenance chores. Jun 27, 2017 at 14:56

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