Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dealing with High-Drama People



There are some people who thrive on high drama. They like to create it. They feel most comfortable when they’re surrounded by it. Constant drama is not only a lot of work for the individual who is creating it but it is also very draining for those who are around them. It usually doesn’t take long to recognize when you’re dealing with a high drama person. Here are some of the signs:
• The person has the capacity to make the smallest issues into a major event.
• The person usually dominates every conversation.
• When the person does withdraw, they do it in a very attention grabbing way that manages to focus all energy toward them.
• They seem to always be on stage or putting on a performance.
• They find it easier to see the negative than the positive.
• They have a way of speaking to people that creates tension.

If you have a friend or family member who is a drama starter, it can be very difficult to manage. There are a number of possible reasons for their behavior. The person may:
• Create drama as a distraction from dealing with their real issues.
• Have grown up with constant put-downs and have never learned how to be positive or affirming.
• Feel insecure and need constant attention to convince them that they are valued.
• Confuse peaceful with boring and create drama to entertain themselves and others.

For those who are in relationship with high drama people, here are some pointers:
1. Be very clear about your relationship with the person. You can be the supportive friend, family member, or spouse but you cannot be their therapist.
2. You have to set up healthy boundaries to both take care of yourself and also to discourage unhealthy dynamics in the relationship.
3. Aim to be a stable, grounded person not someone who feeds off of the drama and escalates it. Do not give the person the message that their job is to entertain you. Be the kind of friend that doesn’t pressure them to perform.
4. Develop a healthy sense of yourself so you don’t let the drama cause you to doubt yourself or your worth.
5. Set limits. While it is good to be supportive, if the high drama person is being disrespectful or abusive, don’t feel you have to suffer in silence. Take the space and time you need to think honestly about the level of contact you want to maintain with the person. If you need to reduce the time you spend with the person, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. It means you are taking steps to protect and preserve your emotional well-being.

Most importantly, don’t get caught up in the drama. Take a step back so you can see things clearly.

13 comments:

Stephanie Gordon said...

Dr. Thema, I landed here as a result of your fb posting... I absolutely love this article. This is such sage advice. It's quite challenging to deal with people who specialize in manufacturing drama especially when they realize you are immune to becoming engaged in their addiction to chaos. I'm printing this out...:-).

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

Dr. Thema,

What do you do when the high drama person is your wife? I want to leave, but I never documented anything that would enable me to gain full custody of my daughter, becasue I never wanted to hurt my wife, and I always figured I could deal with it. I can't live with the idea of me leaving my daughter behind to be the sole recipient of my wife's behavior, but I don't know how much longer I can live in this situation either.

Thanks,
Panicing

Dr. Thema said...

Steve,
Having not met your or your wife, I would recommend prayer and counseling. If you do feel it is time to leave, I would look into the possibility of joint custody or if your wife is abusive to your child you would need to work to get her away from her mom until her mom is able to get help and make a change. It sounds like the situation is very difficult. You should try to do what is healthy and strive to bring peace to the situation.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Thema,

Your advice on dealing with high-drama is very logical. I wish it were that easy for me to do so. I have this friend I have
known for 9 years. By nature he a controlling individual he needs to be friends with everyone. He has real issues listening to other people when they tell him they are not interested or do not care to hear anymore of what he has to say. Perhaps, it is because of the trauma he faced as an infant when his maternal mother committed suicide while he was still in the crib. Whatever the reasons may be, in nature he is a good person, however he has left me with a very difficult decision I have had to make recently, which I am still trying to grapple with as I have yet to place my foot down on.

It started when he offered to help manage my mother's house after experiencing a failed real estate attempt to sell it in the market. This was 6 months after I had moved my mother and I into a home I had just purchased. I didn't' trust anyone at the time and was very deeply involved in being a care giver for my mom at the time. I agreed and for three years he has traveled back and fourth 400 miles back and fourth from his apartment to my mom's house, while occupying the living room there by renting out to students and professionals in this 1,200 square foot house. His intention was to promise my mom that he would take care of me and the house before my mom passed away, as he was there to support me during her last moments.

I am frustrated because for more than two years I have put up with getting the rent in late, not due to the tenants, but because he seems to place me in a low priority, yet he has a need to control everything while leaving me in the dark. It is only until recently this past month that I suggested replacing him that he responded with being defensive and while asked how he felt stated that he felt "betrayed" because he spent money and time taking care of the house without charge, and that he felt he was fulfilling a promise to my mom that he would take care of me and the house. He also added that his main goal is to create harmony and peace within the house and the tenants that are currently there he has hand - picked for compatibility, and that he was certain that one of them would move out if he were to move out. Furthermore, he added that he was planning on moving all of his belongings there in December and would be planning on being their full-time.

The fact of the matter is, I have been feeling quite uneasy the way he handles these affairs. I feel I can not trust him on his word. When I ask him to make an appointment for an estimate for repairs or ask him to send out an important email on my behalf, It makes me even more uneasy when he says he would take care of this "this weekend" when it never happens which prompts me to
often times takes me several reminders such as repeated emails and phone calls. There has even been an instance when I asked him about giving me the names of the tenants and contact numbers that he responded by telling me "I am not at your beck and call 24 hours a day," which when he said this placed me in a state of shock, that I could not believe what I am hearing.

I would like to ask him to leave so I can have someone I trust take over, but how do you break this type of news to someone who is constantly in a state of high drama?


Thank you.

JT

Anonymous said...

This aritcle is wonderful. I hate drama as it is a waste of my time and energy. For my peace I try to distance myself from the people.

Anonymous said...

To the lady with the "friend" who is "helping" her with her mom's house. Wow. This man has managed to put you in a position where you feel defensive about asking for information about YOUR mother's house, when he should be respectfully complying with your wishes and reporting to you as asked. Its interesting to note that in the beginning it was that he was helping YOU with your mother's house but at the end he cut you out of the scene in his description of the scenario and made it sound like an arrangment between him and your mom and made you sound like a child he agreed to take care of! He is not being respectful but aggressive I think.

Here's what I would do ( Dr. Thema, please edit my advice as necessary) I would have another male who is supportive of you accompany you and while this person is with you, or a policemen if you don't have any available support. It might not be a bad idea to make a trip to your local police detachment and let them know what you are dealing with in case you do need their help. This guy almost sounds like he's winding up to be a male version of "the hand that rocks the cradle" or something.

Tell your "friend" that you are thankful for his help in stepping in and managing things for awhile for you, but you can take it from here. Don't let him bully you or guilt you . It wasn't a permanent arrangement and you didn't make a life commitment to him or promise him permanent priveleges with the house. His plans of moving there permanently are really alarming; don't let him get dug in, you will have a heck of a time getting him out.

Give him notice of thirty days to clear out his belongings. YOu need to have this guy move on because he is not helping you, he is controlling and dominating you. When a man does stuff like this to a female freind it always sends up red flags for me. If he in any way becomes aggressive, and begins yelling or trying to intimidate you, involve the police immediately. There is no friendship when this happens. Best wishes in moving this interloper on.

Anony X said...

Good advice. It can be difficult. My situation(and I never knew it could be so bad I want to go home and get drunk after dealing with high drama) involves my tenants(the woman is my friend and her husband is the drama queen) and every little thing is a majot ordeal. It is so bad that contractors don't even want to go to the house and the ones that do leave saying, "I hope I never have to come back here again."
It's like a grown man throwing a tantrum amounting to 25 or 30 kids all thowing tantrums at the same time. It is through the roof drama. Being I'm the landlord I have to deal with some of it concerning the house but this more than even I can stand and I can stand alot.
http://haunted505.blogspot.com.

Anonymous said...

I am a high drama person. I need help. Plz

Susan Payne said...

Wonderful article! I have a grown son who fits your description exactly! I really enjoyed and learned a lot from your article. It is so easy to get sucked in by these people!

Anonymous said...

I am dealing with a high drama person in my office now. I can't believe how this office has changed. I can't even talk to her about a simple matter with out it excellerating in more. It's crazy I tried to avoid this person however now that has turned into I don't speak to her. I used to say good morning when I came in but she wouldn't acknowledge me so I stopped and now she has turned it around by saying she feels she is avoided. So what in the name of God do I do. It's usless I want to leave a job I used to enjoy for 15 years because this person is unrelenting I am her target. What the hell do I do. I have gone to my boss with no results.

Anonymous said...

What do you do if the drama queen is your husband? I don't want to break up my family but I can't live like this anymore either. I'm emotionally exhausted. I can't get away from him unless I'm at work I never get a break. He's self employed and a farmer. He's always home. If there's no drama then he has to create it I'm done I can't do this anymore. But I will lose my children. He is so overpowering all the time but he's not physically violent but he's always yelling. Where do I go for peace?

Mary hall said...

I have a inlaw that keeps causing drama what to do? This have been going on for awhile now! !?