Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What Qualifies As 'Drama' In A Relationship

Drama on the stage is one thing, but drama in a romantic relationship is another. Drama never works in a relationship. In the end, it is one of the things that will consistently end a relationship.

What qualifies as drama? When your relationship carries extreme highs and lows with it. Relationships with a lot of drama bear extreme emotions - withholding love, excessive anger, outpourings of love and lust, and manipulation, among others. You know your relationship has drama in it when you can never expect how you will feel from day to day. Dramatic relationships make you feel one thing one moment, and feel something completely different the next.

One of the things that I consistently see in my clinical work is that some people gravitate toward drama in their relationships because they like the expression of extreme emotions. It's not that they love fighting or walking on eggshells, for example, but they have grown accustomed to it after years of cultivating unpredictable relationships. The problem is that these women and men begin to confuse drama with excitement, and a healthy, predictable relationship starts to seem boring and stagnant.

The truth is that healthy relationships couldn't be less boring. It is only when you have a strong, predictable relationship that you can free your mind to focus on other areas of your life, and set and achieve goals. When people are stuck in dramatic relationships, all of their mental energy gets sucked up by their relationship. They spend all their time and energy trying to figure out their partner, make up after the last fight, and rationalize their doubts that their relationship isn't working.

The goal of a relationship is for it to bring out the best in you, not the worst in you. A relationship should act like a pillar that holds you up. When you have this foundation, you can go out in the world and activate the other parts of your life that having nothing to do with your relationship. When people get stuck in dramatic relationships, keeping their relationship alive and afloat becomes the main priority.

Maintaining a relationship really shouldn't be that difficult. Yes, a relationship takes work, but it shouldn't be a distraction from moving forward in other areas of your life. An old friend of mine found that ending a dramatic relationship later allowed him to focus more on the career he had put on hold during the relationship. It makes perfect sense. After all, we only have so much energy to divide among all the areas of our lives.

If you have grown to accept drama and see it as normal in your relationships, understand that it does not work over the long haul. Channel that part of your personality into seeking out drama on the stage rather than the drama in your personal life. You will be wiser and richer for it in the end.


Gage said...

Nice Seth. So true. You are so wise! love it!

sophte said...

truedat dr. seth. sometimes consistent relationship drama functions as a scapegoat for individual issues that need to be worked out in another context. i love how your blog is making me more self-aware!

Amanda said...

This is truly an excellent distillation of what qualifies as "drama." I especially like your point about the energy that is wasted on these types of relationships. I believe that people who seek relationships filled with drama are usually just gravitating to what is familiar based on the interpersonal dynamics learned in childhood. Luckily we have therapy to help us understand these forces and allow us to make better choices.

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