“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick."
~ Brené Brown
If you are experiencing drama in your relationship, you are most likely exhausted and probably dealing with a fair amount of anxiety. A healthy relationship will not keep you up at night wondering what your next move is or googling what his behavior means. It is important to check yourself and see where you are contributing to the problem. Remember it takes two to create drama.
1. Set the ground rules
You both must know what you can and should expect in all areas. You should know how you plan to communicate with each other and how often. It is common to have different expectations regarding how much contact is acceptable. You may also have different realities about what behavior is and isn’t ok. It is imperative that you leave nothing to chance. Do not assume, especially regarding exclusivity in the relationship. Many times, women fall in love and because they are sleeping together, assume there is a mutual understanding regarding exclusivity. Imagine the shock and heartbreak to learn the opposite is true!
2. Use boundaries
Have clear boundaries about what you are willing to do and willing to accept. Be clear about your deal breakers. The chemistry between you will not be enough to carry the relationship. You must lay a healthy foundation.
3. Communicate don’t manipulate
Open and honest communication is key. Clarify if you don’t understand. Don’t wait, wish and wonder. Don’t manipulate to get your way. Ways you may manipulate: game playing, delayed communication, withholding sex, dressing sexy, flirting with other men. If you are angry, embrace “fair fighting”. It is healthy to express anger in a neutral way with efficient and effective communication techniques.
4. Manage your emotions
How is your attitude? Practice mindfulness by noticing your moods and behaviors. Are you quick tempered and impulsive? Do you tend to shoot of the quick text, email or phone call before you have had some time to calm and think things through? Take a few minutes or longer until you regain composure. Engage in deep breathing and other relaxation and self-care practices. Impulsivity will get you nowhere.
5. Choose to let go
Ask for your wants and needs but let go of the outcome. You can’t control how another person will respond or react. You can only control your own reactions. Only you know what will and won’t work for you. Engage the help of a professional therapist or coach if you continue to struggle. If drama tends to be your pattern, you will need help to shift the behavior.
Lisa Angelini, MAPC, LPC - www.lisaangelini.com
Avoiding drama in a relationship can be easy as long as you are comfortable being yourself, meaning you are confident in addition to having healthy and effective communication skills.
If you are confident then you know what you want in a relationship and aren't afraid to speak your mind when your partner does or says something to offend you.
Effective communication- knowing how to communicate in an effective and healthy manner is important because it allows you to verbalize your thoughts, concerns, feelings, worries and fears in a constructive and mature way. It is crucial to know how to communicate properly.
Remember that message sent is not always message received.
It is a good idea to voice your opinions and concerns to your partner using “I” statements. Speaking about one self by using “I want, I feel, I need” and limiting the amount of times you use the word “you” helps to get your partner’s attention.
Here are some examples:
- I want to feel appreciated and when my efforts are ignored, I feel unappreciated.
You don’t appreciate anything I do for you, you ignore me and I feel so unappreciated.
- I need to feel loved, but when I am spoken to in a rude manner then I feel I’m not important (to you)/ I don’t matter (to you).
*Notice how I put the words “to you” in parenthesis. In this case, it is acceptable to use the word “you”, but also not necessary.
You don’t love me. You are rude, so therefore, I don’t matter to you.
- I feel hurt when I am not given enough attention.
You never give me any attention. You always hurt my feelings.
Notice how the same meaning is being conveyed in the above statements, yet in a very different tone, which makes all the difference when trying to avoid drama.
A lot of the time, it is not what we say but how we say it that really matters.
People tend to let down their guard and listen to others when others speak about themselves. When people hear the word “you” being spoken to them, they get defensive because they feel they are under attack with criticism.
Also, be cognizant of using extreme words such as “always” and “never”. These are called cognitive distortions and should be avoided because they lead to arguments, and therefore, drama.
Another important tip to remember when trying to avoid drama, is to remember to avoid being passive aggressive.
When you are self-aware and have the necessary insight to help you understand why you react the way you do to certain triggers, then you are able to communicate directly to your partner without being passive aggressive.
Passive aggressive communication can lead to lots of arguments, which means lots of DRAMA.
Jacklyn Bystritsky, LCSW – www.psychotherapistjackie.wordpress.com
Drama can wreak havoc on your life.
If you are constantly dealing with drama in your relationship, you might want to re-think the relationship. Staying grounded is difficult in a relationship when you are constantly responding to a crisis. It will suck the life right out of you to come home from a stressful day only to have to deal with drama in your relationship.
Drama puts us in survival mode and if you have a history of drama and trauma in your family of origin, this may seem normal to you.
It is easy to get used to someone who always has drama if your threshold for it is high. If you grew up in a chaotic household and are able to stay grounded, you might recognize drama for what it is. If you grew up in a chaotic household and find yourself getting sucked into drama time and time again, you might not recognize your role in perpetuating it. Let me explain.
Don’t take the hook.
If you don’t respond, then there is nothing for the other person to hook you into their drama with. If you keep responding and arguing, you keep the drama going. Drama keeps you on the defense and constantly reacting so that it is hard to get to the real issue. The point of drama is really about keeping you in chaos. The person sucking you into the drama may not be aware he is doing this. If your partner has no awareness of his own inability to ground himself or self-soothe, then he may not realize he is creating drama. For some people, drama is a way of life.
Maybe he tells you that he doubts you love him.
You respond by telling him you do. He then says that you do things that he interprets as uncaring. You get dragged into an argument trying to explain and prove to him that you love him. He is not satisfied and he keeps telling you that you don’t care about him. At what point will he believe you? What do you have to do to prove to him that you love him? You feel like you have to explain yourself and rationalize your behavior. You become rattled and emotional. You just got dragged into an argument you can’t win. It is not your job to validate him. It is not your job to regulate his emotions and insecurities.
Another example is gas lighting.
This is when someone creates a situation in which you start to second guess yourself. You are used to being independent and have traveled the world by yourself. You have a new man and maybe you are going on a trip alone to visit family in another state. You are going to drive and it will require an overnight stay at a hotel. You have done this before with no problem. You are confident and have not had any problems with this trip in the past.
Your boyfriend might start telling you that he is worried about your safety on this trip. That is fine until it becomes more dramatic. He might start bringing up things that have happened to you in the past that were scary and apply them to your future. He might ask if you are sure you want to go alone because he knows how scared you get at night when you are by yourself. He will wear your down with the idea that you are vulnerable and unable to keep yourself safe. He will tell you about how dangerous it is for a woman to travel alone. You might even argue about it. He will keep harping on it daily until you start to second guess your own ability to handle your business. His goal is to make you feel like you need him and cannot do this without him.
If he keeps you doubting yourself, then he has control in the situation.
If you have a hard time finding your confidence and remembering your own ability to do something, then he has done a good job of getting you to second guess yourself. He might even throw in something about how you don’t love him if you are willing to go on this trip without him. Often drama has no rhyme or reason. It is drama for the sake of drama.
Is it really a crisis?
Drama is used as a way to distract you from the real issue. If someone does not want to take responsibility for their behavior, creating drama is a good way of redirecting your focus and getting you to back off. Drama is pretty much making a big deal out of nothing. It is a way to escalate and ramp up the conflict with someone. People that are always having some sort of crisis or another don’t always see their role in the drama.
Is it really a crisis or does he want what he wants when he wants it?
Maybe he comes home and is expecting dinner because you mentioned that you would cook tonight. He is frustrated but can’t seem to express his feelings about being disappointed. He starts to sulk and mope around. He never tells you that he is disappointed but he starts nit picking. You start cooking and set the table. You start to eat and he begins to criticize your cooking. He starts complaining and being mean. He never tells you he is disappointed. He simply starts an argument because he cannot express what he really wants to say. His inability to say what he means is not your fault or your problem; but with his drama, he just made it your problem.
Is it a YP or an MP?
Distinguish between your problem (YP) and my problem (MP). My problem is something that I created or is my responsibility to solve. Your problem is something that you created and is your issue. Remember to think in these terms, “I don’t want to make YOUR problem MY problem.” Don’t get sucked into making his problem your problem. In other words learn your limits and avoid stepping into a situation that is not yours to resolve. People love to drag other people into their drama. See it for what it is and pick your battles carefully.
If he is constantly battling windmills, you need to ask what is going on. If he is conflict with almost everyone in his life and cannot seem to keep a job because it is everyone else’s fault, he might be the cause of the drama in his own life. He may not see it, but you do not have to be the one to tell him. It is not your job to fix or rescue him.
Pick your battles
Pick your battles and be mindful of what you are getting yourself into. Stay grounded and don’t just react. Think before you act and ask yourself what you are doing before you step into something unknown. Ask yourself what your intentions are and what you plan to accomplish before rushing into a situation. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Walk away if you need to and take some time to think about the drama in your relationship. Where is it coming from? Is it you or him? Is it exhausting you? What makes it hard for you to walk away from the drama?
If this is a pattern in your life, talk to a therapist.
Journal your thoughts and think about ways that you can distance yourself from the drama in your life. Drama is also a way of avoiding. If you are constantly responding to a crisis, then you have an excuse to avoid getting things done. Think about the energy you waste responding to drama and ask yourself if it is worth it. Be aware of your triggers and what keeps you coming back to someone that creates so much drama in your life. It may take time to figure it all out. Remember not to take responsibility for someone else’s problems and that will go a long way in avoiding drama. Keep in mind that we are all work in progress.
Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net
Here’s the best way I know to avoid drama in your relationship: Don’t BE dramatic.
Simple as that.
We get what we put out, energetically speaking. And so if YOU are the type of gal who is dramatic, who is jealous, who gossips, etc, you will absolutely attract drama into your relationship.
One of my favorite sayings is this: “We don’t get what we want. We get who we are.”
So who are you being?
I know this is not what you wanted to hear and many will think to themselves: I’m not dramatic! I’m not jealous. I have no issues. I’m just perfect. It’s him that needs to change.
Sorry, sister. This is simply not true. No one is perfect. We are all works in progress.
News flash: We are mirrors for one another.
And your relationship is the most intimate mirror you will ever have. So if you don't like something in your relationship, you’ve got to change yourself. YOU are the person who needs to take a good hard look into the mirror and realize that you need to step it up in the self-development department.
So how do you improve yourself and remove the pattern of being dramatic, or needy, or whatever other ‘issues’ that you may have?
1. Read self-help books.
Yes, you heard me correctly. Self-help books are no longer just for those under the care of a psychiatrist. I’ve read over 1,000 self-help books in the past decade and they have morphed me into a human being that truly cares about herself, that sees the good in every person she meets, and believes that love is at the core of it all. And as a result? I have a pretty damn good life filled with amazing close and loving relationships. We are mirrors for one another. Once you change your internal environment, your external environment will change. I do promise you this.
Our ego loves to run the show. He’ll run the show in the form of self-doubt, self-sabotaging, fears, talking yourself out of a good idea, pursuing the ‘bad boys’ instead of the strong, supportive man, etc. One of the best ways I know to shut the ego off - aka the monkey mind - is to meditate. It clears the mind and paves the wave for love/inspiration/source energy to step in.
A daily meditation of only 10 minutes has been shown to have a variety of benefits including: stress reduction, improving concentration, encouraging a healthy lifestyle, increasing self-awareness, increasing happiness, increasing acceptance, and reducing the desire to give a damn what other people think about you or what other people are doing with their lives. And that my dear, is fricken awesome, if you ask me.
3. Love yourself and treat yourself how you want to be treated.
So many of clients are their own worst enemy! The shit they say to themselves has even me feeling anxious and uncomfortable. But the more you can learn to love yourself and feel like a rockstar in your skin, the less drama you will feel you need to play out in your life.
Start being aware of the words you are saying in your mind and be kinder and more gentle in your speak. Take time out of each and every day to do something for you. Even if it’s just 10 minutes to sit down and read your favorite book. You must put yourself first in your life not last after every item on your to-do list.
Because it’s so important I’ll say it one last time to really sink this point home: we are consistently attracting into our lives the exact energy that we are putting out into the world.
If you think the world is filled with kind, loving individuals, in general you will experience a world filled with kind, loving, and generous individuals.
If on the other hand, you think people are not to be trusted and he’ll cheat on you and everyone is only out for themselves…well…you probably can guess exactly what you’ll encounter on a daily basis.
In summary, if you’re looking to remove the drama from your relationship, remove the drama from yourself first!
Emyrald Sinclaire, Love and Relationship Coach - www.EmyraldSinclaire.com
Drama in relationships is usually a byproduct of partner insecurity.
The more insecure a person feels, the more likely he or she is to experience jealousy, a need to control, and discomfort with differences. People who feel secure in themselves expect good behavior from their partners. They are more likely to choose a partner who is emotionally mature. Emotionally mature people generally feel more trusting of their partners. They know that they cannot control their partner. They recognize that differences are bound to occur and that differences can even be a good thing, lending richness to a relationship.
There is an adage in the couple’s therapy world that says, “Like levels of differentiation attract”.
This means that you will attract a partner and be attracted to someone who is at the same level of emotional maturity as you are. Sorry, but it really is true. So to not find yourself with someone who is likely to create drama, you need to be a person who is not likely to create drama. People always think the problem lies in the bad behavior of the other. Of course people can behave badly, but drama requires the participation of both partners. One gets insecure and begins to act out and the other becomes defensive or withdraws creating a cycle of destructive behavior. Thus the drama.
If you can keep your reactivity low enough you can avoid participating in negative cycles of behavior.
It’s hard to keep a reactive cycle going if one of the partners opts out. Opting out doesn’t mean withdrawing or stonewalling. Those are both reactive behaviors. Opting out means managing yourself and deciding what is needed for the relationship and for yourself. You have to be able to think.
The easiest way to avoid drama is to work on your own emotional maturity so that you are way less likely to be in a relationship with a reactive person.
As usual, most problems are avoided when you stay on the path of personal growth and integrity. You will be attracted to mature people and they will be attracted to you. It might take more time and effort to make the mature choice, but it is infinitely worth the effort, creating a relationship devoid of drama.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
Everyone wants a drama free relationship. Yet, what does it take to create that?
We all know great relationships take work. Not only does any given relationship take work, but each individual in the relationship must take responsibility for their own ongoing personal growth and happiness in order to avoid drama.
Many of us grew up with the notion that if we just find the right partner, then we will feel whole and complete. However, when we find that partner, fall in love and later notice we still have our unresolved issues, we often feel disappointed and disillusioned. It is easy to project these disappointments onto our partner and feel they somehow failed us. This is where the drama begins…
How do we avoid the pitfall of blaming our partner for our unhealed pain?
1. Take an honest inventory of yourself
While it may be easier to look at your partner’s faults, the real power is in taking your own inventory.
What unhealed pain or baggage are you bringing to the relationship? What might you be avoiding or not wanting to deal with in your own life that is preventing you from being a more loving partner? Are you harboring resentments? Are you being dishonest? Are you engaging in behaviors or addictions that betray trust and make you emotionally unavailable? Have you resolved past relationship disappointments and pain?
If you want to create a drama-free relationship, it will require you, (and your partner), to clear your unhealed past so you can be fully present with each other and consciously respond rather than unconsciously react when issues occur.
2. Find a way to deal with your stress
As a couple’s therapist and relationship coach, a common mistake I see couples make is to dump their individual stress and pain onto their partner. We all know life these days is over-the-top stressful for most people. What do you do with that stress? Do you come home to your partner in a bad mood and treat them as if they are the problem?
Once again, it is easy to slip into the attitude that your partner is responsible for your happiness and well-being. This is not true. You are responsible for your happiness and well-being whether you are single or in a relationship. Don’t make that your partner’s responsibility unless you want some drama.
Learn to manage you stress. Take a yoga class, go to the gym, get regular massages, learn to meditate, take long walks, get a pet, write in a journal, get a therapist…Learning to manage your own individual stress just may save your relationship.
3. Learn effective communication skills
Think about the last time you were anxious and tense. Did you communicate with clarity, love and compassion? Or did you blame, criticize, stonewall or become defensive? When I see stressed couples communicate in my office, they often barely hear what the other person says before they construct their response. Learn to calm down and listen.
There are effective communication tools and strategies that can prevent drama and chaos. Learning to use these tools can save you hours of therapy trying to undo the resentments that build up from arguing and fighting. Prevention is always the best medicine.
It takes personal growth and maturity, as well as the willingness to do your own inner work to bring your best self to a relationship. Yet, if you want to live drama free it will be well worth it!
Nancy Harris, LCSW, LICSW - www.nancyharriscoaching.com
There are several factors that contribute to the drama couples experience in their relationship. They can be put into one main area – Mind games.
Mind games are the games couples play to get their partner to notice them, to want them, to challenge them or to just get even. These are the games that are played because they are not sure of the state of their relationship or whether they can even call it a relationship. Mind games cause emotional drama and could ruin the foundation of a relationship starting out or unravel an already established one. Here are some examples:
The on-again/off-again relationship plays on your emotions and will create a lot of drama.
If after each break-up, your partner starts feeling lonely and asks you to take him back, you have some serious decisions to make. Your partner may be telling you that he gets scared when things get tough and may not be able/willing to work things through in the long run. It is also important for you to look at your own willingness to work out the conflicts.
If you and your partner are truly committed to the relationship in a healthy way, both of you will want to work through issues together instead of walking away. Consider, too, taking the time to go into couples therapy or relationship coaching to learn some skills and tools for more effective communication and to help with fighting fairly.
Do you expect your partner to be a mind reader?
Don't distort or idealize each other or put your partner on a pedestal. Eventually they have to fall down. Over time you inevitably become aware of each other's shortcomings and that creates disappointment and disillusionment. Nobody is perfect so exaggerating who you think they are, will only create drama.
Relationships take a lot of work, continuous effort and a great deal of compromise, insight and understanding.
Romantic love will inevitably change as you progress through your relationship. But what lasts should be the committed, emotional love that makes all healthy relationships worthwhile. Look at your relationship partner realistically, without playing games-- and then decide if he is someone who enhances your life for the better -- just as he is.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
All relationships have some level of stress.
Whether that stress turns into a drama or not depends on how you both respond to the situation. If you notice that you and your partner are no longer supporting each other when you’re under stress, but becoming hostile and combative, it’s a good time to notice what is triggering these dramas.
What is it that makes you each feel that you need to defend and battle for your point of view? What is making you feel like adversaries instead of a team?
As a therapist, I’ve noticed that often the issue being fought over is less important than the underlying reason the drama is happening.
Typically, dramas that happen over and over are really about control, dominance, or anxiety. Underlying issues include: Who gets to make the decision, who is right, who has the most power, who is needing reassurance, who is feeling unimportant, or abandoned, or disregarded?
You may want to jump to conclusions about the other person’s motivations in the drama, but it is much more useful to consider your own reasons that you’re joining in the battle.
Often, we don’t want to acknowledge our own anxieties and need for control, or our fears about not being loved, so we fight it out over things like who left the toilet seat up, or who didn’t clean up or put things away. It works much better to talk about your fears and needs directly, instead of through petty dramas.
So, if you want to stay out of these dramas, here’s some steps to take.
Speak up right away. When something isn’t working for you, mention it in the moment. Don’t discount your feelings, think about it for days, and then blow up. State your preferences clearly.
Listen carefully to your partner’s response. What feelings do you recognize? It’s probably more important to talk about what each of you is feeling ,rather than getting into too much discussion about the specific issue.
Observe and share. Let your partner know what you heard and what feelings you picked up. E.g., “I hear that you’re agreeing with me, but I notice that you look angry. Is there something more we should talk about?”
Yes, and….. Never dismiss or discount your partner’s feelings. Instead add your own feelings and views. “You’d like to watch the game all day Saturday, AND I’d like to spend some time just the two of us together.” Using AND instead of BUT indicates that you are valuing his preferences as well as your own. It encourages both of you to problem solve, instead of arguing.
Walk away if the drama is escalating. Whenever you notice voices being raised, or hurtful and angry comments, it’s a sign that you’ve moved into DRAMA. Instead of a discussion between partners, you’re now adversaries. It’s a sign to STOP the interaction. You may find that you want to keep pushing to get your point across, but you are both too activated to solve anything at this point. However, the important part of walking away, is being sure to come back together when you’re both calm, and finish discussing things later.
Stay respectful. Dramas often happen when you forget that you’re partners trying to create an enjoyable atmosphere of comfort for both of you. Giving both of your needs full importance and coming up with solutions where you can each feel heard and respected is the key to future happiness. Hostile words thrown out during dramas can haunt the relationship for years.
Dramas that can’t be solved by talking it out. There are dramas that you can’t change or solve. Dramas that happen when one or both of you has been drinking, using drugs, or is emotionally or physically exhausted, can’t be talked out. The underlying issue has to be dealt with before you can move forward. Mental illness is also a drama that you can’t solve.
If you’re with a borderline, narcissistic, severely depressed, bi-polar, or psychotic partner, those issues are NOT something that you can cure or fix. The person needs to get professional help before your relationship can move forward.
Certain feelings may develop over the life of a relationship that cannot be healed.
These include scorn, passive aggression, bitterness, resentment and lack of trust because of a sexual or monetary wrongdoing. When the scars are too deep, the relationship may need to be let go. Continually fighting and creating drama about these issues doesn’t solve the problems and only add anger and hurt. Let go instead of continuing to pour hostility onto each other.
Margalis Fjelstad, Ph.D., LMFT – www.margalistherapy.com
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