She told me about the time she tore buttons off of her boyfriend’s shirt.
I told her about the time I poured a glass of water over a guy’s head.
She mentioned the time she wrote “liar” in lipstick on his windshield after finding out her ex was cheating.
I mentioned the time I got so angry at my boyfriend at the time that I pulled an empty glass bottle out of the recycling bin and shattered it on the floor.
Yes, women create drama (and in other news, water is wet).
Men also create drama. Some men do it overtly like in the stories above (ever known a guy who punched a wall out of anger?). Some men create drama in more subtle ways.
If you have too much drama in your dating life, whether you’re in a relationship or not, that drama will persist unless you take time to understand and address the underlying cause.
And by the way, even if you’re not one to throw glass bottles or write on windshields, you probably still have a hand in the creation of drama that you might not even be aware of.
Drama is not the problem. If you have drama in your life, or know someone who creates drama in your life, trying to just eliminate the drama will probably make it worse.
Drama is a symptom of a problem. Drama is a cry for attention, but it’s so much more than that. Drama keeps things interesting, passionate, and makes us feel important. When a relationship lacks interest, passion, and feeling important, drama is a quick and easy, if unhealthy, way to have those needs met.
Have you ever tried to get rid of the drama and instead talk things out calmly and rationally? Yeah, I have too, and it didn’t work out so well for me either.
That’s because drama is a lot more than just an ineffective way to communicate about a conflict. Drama has its own purpose; it provides an emotional rush. Trying to ask a drama queen (or king) to “just talk things out calmly” is like asking an adrenaline junkie to stop skydiving because staying on the ground is a safer, more rational thing to do.
Drama is one form of a cry for attention. It is often the loudest way, but it is by no means the only way. The silent treatment, being overly nice, and even telling the other person to cut out the drama are all cries for attention.
Have you ever seen a child throw a fit for his mother’s attention? Often times we adults are quick to dismiss this, “Oh, he’s fine, he just wants attention.” If a child is going to extremes out of a craving for his mother’s (or father’s) love, he is not fine–he’s emotionally starving.
Same is true in adult relationships. Do not dismiss a cry for attention as trivial or childish. The temper tantrum might be childish behavior, but the need for attention is not. Part of being with someone (even in the more casual stages) is recognizing that they deserve your attention.
Those who crave drama will often pair up with those who avoid drama (opposites attract!); even though it looks like there is only one person who’s responsible, it’s actually this combination that creates the drama.
Drama is the flip side of passion, joy, and positive attention. When you have these things–when the fire is hot–there is no need for drama.
However, it’s been my experience that those who avoid drama also have a difficult time expressing passionately positive emotions. They might say “I love you,” but they aren’t inclined to shout it from the rooftops. They might give a kiss goodnight, but they probably won’t throw their partner against the wall to do it.
Thus, the one who craves drama gets slowly starved…
But why don’t they just express passion and joy if they want it so badly?
Well, some drama queens don’t know how. They have been taught as kids that the only way to get attention is to throw a tantrum, and so that’s their default response.
Others do, but their partners don’t respond to it. Or at least, they don’t respond to it as frequently and intensely as they do to the negative drama.
The events leading up to me throwing a glass bottle is a perfect example (and, quick disclaimer: I’m using this example to illustrate a point, NOT to justify this behavior. Drama is an unhealthy relationship behavior, hence why I’m writing this blog).
Throughout that day, I had attempted several times to flirt with him. I also did nice things for him, and I wanted him to notice and appreciate me for them. But he was non-responsive and focused on other things.
Finally, I got frustrated with the day’s failed attempts and slammed a door when he was in the next room. He dropped what he was doing and gave me his full attention.
“Are you upset? What’s wrong?”
I said yes and explained that I was feeling ignored and under-appreciated.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. He walked out of the room and responded with, “Well, if you want attention, you need to find another way to get it besides slamming doors.”
I followed, and again expressed the desire for attention and appreciation (I mean, I literally said those words). He said, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that right now, I’m swamped with work stuff.” He then went back to ignoring me…
Until I threw the glass bottle on the floor. Then he got angry (remember, anger is a form of passion and, for those who crave passion, it’s the next best thing).
But after we had a good shouting match, he pulled me in and held me close. We apologized to each other. And for the first time that day, I finally had his full, present, undivided attention.
And yes, I realize that a more mature, supportive response would have been to just let him get his work done, uninterrupted (hence the disclaimer).
And yes, there’s a reason why relationships like that don’t last…
However, if you have someone in your life who is resorting to dramatic displays just to get your attention, there’s a good chance it’s because you don’t respond to that person’s more subtle, calm, and kind ones.
Let me put it this way:
There’s a story about a man in the army named Joe, and Joe would never hear the bugle when it was time to wake up. So the other men would have to wake him up. First, they would gently shake him and whisper, “Hey, Joe, time to wake up.” He stayed asleep. So they shook him more violently and yelled at him. Still asleep. Finally, they had to throw a bucket of water on his head to wake him up.
If you’re the one who is constantly wondering why the other person creates drama, maybe it’s because you’ve been asleep for the other stuff.
The more emotional person (meaning, the one who instigates the drama) wants to coax their partner out of his or her emotional shell. Underneath all the seemingly crazy behavior is a desire to help their partner feel–preferably feel positive emotions. However, the more emotional person will take the negative over nothing because at least you’re feeling something.
Sure, you can search for a partner who is more like you (whether you crave drama or avoid it) but chances are you will continue to attract your opposite. This is because your unconscious is attracted to what you are missing in yourself.
So, if you are the drama queen, you are attracted to those who can remain calm in situations where you would lose your cool.
If you are the calm, rational one, you are attracted to the drama-creator’s ability to express emotions so freely, and without reserve.
And here’s the secret: neither of you enjoy the negative drama. I don’t know anyone who enjoys shouting, screaming, or breaking things. So to break this cycle, start to give the other person what they really want.
Drama instigators: learn to be calm and resist the urge to demand attention (even though you know how to get it) when your partner needs to put his or her attention elsewhere.
Drama avoiders: learn to express passion for your partner, so that he or she doesn’t feel the need to drag it out of you with drama.
Regardless of which way you need to grow, it will feel uncomfortable at first. However, that’s the key to eliminating the drama and replacing it with a passionate, fun relationship.