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Just Say “No” To Drama

September 16, 2010

I was having a drink the other night with one of those dreamy, tall, dark and handsome men that could make a woman agree to anything. We were talking about past relationships, and I’m relatively certain that had he said, “I need a woman who will wear a suit of armor 24 hours a day and let me set a ferret lose in it now and then,” I would have said, “that’s my ultimate fantasy.” His voice dripped across me like the smooth sax of a Charlie Brown adult, and I nodded in giddy agreement to whatever it was he was saying. Then he said something like, “I just hate drama, there was always drama with my last girlfriend.”

Ya, drama sucks. I hate drama too. WAIT. Hang on, this matters, roll back the sax, what if we have very different ideas about what constitutes drama? I was afraid to ask. The last thing in the world that I wanted to know was that Tall Dark & Dreamy considers the simple act of expressing feelings to be “drama.”

He regaled me with tales of passive aggressive text messaging, name-calling, fit-throwing, threats, and jealous rages. PHEW. That is drama. I hate that shit. However, this concept of “drama” has been coming up a lot lately, in a lot of relationship conversations that I’m having with friends. And I have to say, a lot of it isn’t drama.

Just because something sucks, and is emotional, does not mean its drama. Sometimes it is the very predictable result of bad behavior. Getting caught doing something wrong, and having to deal with the consequences is not drama, sorry. And sometimes, what some people call drama is really just people having icky conversations about important matters like feelings and expectations and boundaries.

As far as I’m concerned, “real” drama can be boiled down to a few very simple things:

  • Someone (or more than one someone) yelling, screaming, calling names, making threats, and generally spewing vitriol that does nothing to actually deal with and solve the real issues.
  • Someone intentionally saying or doing things to an external group of people with the intent of hurting, humiliating or in some way negatively impacting the life of another person. (UNLESS that someone is simply telling the truth and all those negative outcomes are simply the result of people knowing the truth.)
  • Someone using manipulative language or actions to make someone else feel bad or do something.

What Tall Dark & Dreamy was talking about was drama, for sure. Crazy-chick shit that gives all of us chicks a bad name. (Some of us, really, don’t do that, just so you know.)

However, I’ve had some grueling and important conversations with people and had them deemed “drama” simply because the person I was having that conversation with didn’t enjoy it and didn’t like what was being said and how it made him feel.

My take? I think that people are so quick to label emotions and feelings as “good” and “bad” and “nice” and “mean” that we’ve forgotten how to look at the core issues and simply take them apart to figure out what we want to do about something. Ya, when we think we want a relationship to work, but the ingredients just aren’t going together right, so we either have to change or give up the relationship, that can suck. That conversation can suck. But talking about it isn’t drama, it’s communication. It’s how adults show respect for each other, and the only way you can behave with integrity.

I also think that people are so afraid to take responsibility for their actions that they try to pretend they are infallible and that any chaos created in the flotsam and jetsam of bad behavior is simply the “drama” of other people rather than the natural consequence of their own bad actions.

If you do something to hurt someone, and as a result you lose both people and places that you once thought were part of your life, that’s not drama, that’s the physics of relationships – every action has an equal reaction. Reaction, not drama.

The larger problem comes when these things ooze outside of the nucleus of a relationship and impact other people. Yup, that’s drama. That’s you making drama for other people that they then have to deal with. And that’s really uncool.

I’m not judging it, per se. But I’m sure as hell not interested in being involved in it.

So here are my suggestions:

  • Be honest and don’t screw people over. Then you don’t have to worry about people “finding” out what you’ve done.
  • Communicate your feelings as they come up, and approach things as if there is a way to find a positive outcome. That way things don’t bottle up. There’s nothing like the magnifying power of time to make a peccadillo into capital crime.
  • Take responsibility for your shit.
  • Don’t take other people’s shit personally.

So far, Tall Dark & Dreamy is an awesome communicator, though mostly he sounds like a saxophone and I’m not sure I’m always paying attention. I hope that I didn’t agree to that thing with the ferret, because that would definitely be drama. Or maybe a romantic comedy? I dunno, but I better be sure he knows that’s a boundary for me, before it gets ugly.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. NBeezzy permalink
    September 18, 2010 12:23 am

    So what do you call it when you “have a conversation that sucks” and the other party doesn’t really want to accept the outcome? That sometimes leads to what can be categorized as drama (maybe).

    I speak personally from a male perspective. If a girl is crying about a situation or an outcome, and I don’t have a good enough response to stop the water works, that’s drama. It’s drama because I can’t escape, I feel partially or fully responsible and there will most likely be more conversations on this very subject that caused the moment that I most desperately want to end. Being handcuffed in a burning building is drama.

    Yes, drama can be most clearly defined as the crazy bitch. As you hinted, there are other forms of drama that can irritate people just as much.

  2. Alyssa permalink*
    September 18, 2010 5:48 am

    I just call that a conversation that sucks. And I’ve been on both sides of it, but it isn’t drama, it’s a fairly predictable outcome….. But you can’t take responsibility for the other person’s feelings. You can – and should – take responsibility for the actions that caused them, but how they choose to deal with it is their choice, even if they don’t feel like they can choose another way.

    I think that part of the problem is that we “demonize” pain. Sure, who wants to feel pain, but by assuming it’s bad and trying to avoid it, we not only make it worse, we never take the time to learn from it and try to not repeat the same painful patterns.

    If you did something wrong – lying, cheating etc…. – then claim it, admit it, apologize for it. If you didn’t, then all you can do is say what you have to say and stick to it. That’s not drama, it just sucks.

    However, you can avoid the trap of not getting sucked into having the conversation over and over and over again by sticking to the outcome that you need. Whatever it is, if it sucks, doing more of it doesn’t create less suck.

    Beyond that, I don’t know. I sure as hell dont’ have it totally figured out, or I’d never find myself in the “the suck” again. And I’m willing to bit I’ll be there at least once more.

  3. September 22, 2010 8:58 am

    I kept thinking about this (because I don’t care much for “drama” either) and ultimately came up with my own definition.

    “Drama” is not the existence of or demonstration of emotions, but rather the exaggeration or sensationalism of emotions. Unfortunately that means it’s subjective — people who consistently exaggerate their emotions in any given situation (love/hate, happy/sad, angry/appreciative, etc.) don’t often realize it, don’t think they’re exaggerating, and/or feel it’s justified. After all, all emotions are justified if felt, right?

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