Relationships by their very nature come with a set of dramatic situations built in, but as well all know thats not enough for some people. At some point in your dating career you'll come across someone that has to have drama to function. They live for it. They thrive in it. They like the adrenaline, the cortisol, the rage, and the energy that it brings. Even the indignity of the perceived slights must fill some type of need.
Why the need for drama? Secondary Gains.
Secondary gains are the upsides that people get from a behavior, even an unwanted behavior. For example, the upside to feeling victimized might be a self-imposed excuse to overeat or abuse alcohol. There are many secondary gains we get from any situation.
Unfortunately, some people grew up in dysfunctional enviornments where addiction or trauma was present. This will create chaos, unclear boundaries, and teach people that engaging in conflict dysfunctionally is the way to behave and live your life. We are drawn to what we know. It is not unusual for people to find themselves in these emotionally loaded scenarios again and again because they are drawn back into this old stuff. And they may not know how to disengage and detach healthfully.
Here's how to tell if you or someone you know is addicted to drama and what you can do to eliminate it from your life.
You Create Needless Drama in your Life
Your partner doesn’t answer your phone call so you send countless angry text messages or perhaps your date is running a few minutes late so the first thing you do when you see him is berate him with words. Sure, your partner might have stirred up the conflict but adding fuel to the fire doesn’t help. What will your angry text messages accomplish besides provoking a negative response? What will starting off your date as the antagonist solve?
It’s not wrong to be upset that your partner didn’t call you back or is late for a date but before jumping to dramatic conclusions, take a step back and ask why he didn’t pick up the phone or was late before assuming the worst.
You Crave Attention
You might be using the attention, albeit negative, to affirm that you’re loved or concerned for. Think about the reaction you’re looking for and find the motivation behind what you are craving. Does a turbulent relationship give you a feeling of rush and excitement? Take the energy and excitement you get from the drama and place those feelings into improving your career, working out or taking up a new hobby.
You Can’t walk Away
Many people equate getting in the last word with winning the argument. In fact, some arguments are better put to rest at the moment, giving time for both parties to walk away and de-intensify the situation. If you find yourself letting the argument heighten, take a step back and tell your partner you’d rather take time for both of you to cool off and revisit the discussion another time, when the situation’s intense emotions have waned.
If you feel you might be addicted to drama it’s time to examine your past before you can work on your future. Take a look at the good parts of your prior relationships and what worked and what didn’t. Notice how you promoted the drama and what you can do in your next or current relationship to avoid it. In a relationship both partners should be actively trying to have most of the time they spend together to be positive and satisfying. There will be differences but if you’re choosing to provoke those occurrences or hold onto them, perhaps what you really want is the chaos and attention and not the other person.