People Tell You Who They Are
How to Stay Sane During the Holidays

Drama Queens May Leave Their Partners Cold

I once asked one of my mentors if there were certain clients he would not work with.  This very empathic and compassionated counselor answered, "borderlines" (people with borderline personality disorder).  I asked why not and he answered, "because I don't like who I have to become in order to work with them".  

At the time I didn't fully understand what he meant, but I do now.  And I see how this might play out in relationships.

People with either borderline or histrionic personality disorder tend to be what most people call "drama queens".  Drama queens typically overdramatize situations or events in order to engage someone emotionally.  For instance, a stumped toe may become a "broken foot" in order to illicit more sympathy or a greater reaction from the listener.  I have a theory that drama queens learn to become drama queens as a result of interacting with parents who do not respond adequately and therefore learn to escalate what is happening to higher levels in order to get a response from the unresponsive parent.  This unresponsiveness can be due to something like the parent's own narcissism or parental drug abuse, anything which makes the parent so wrapped up in themselves that they are unresponsive to their child.  So the child escalates to drama to get their needs met. 

Now that child is an adult and interacting with the world in general.  And they run into someone who has had more than their share of drama queens in their life.   This overexposure can leave one desensitized to dramatic representations and hypersensitive to the use of them.  If a person has lived with a lot of drama queens, and they suspect that their partner is overdramatizing an event or experience, they may discount or minimize the severity of it to compensate for the overdramatization.  This has the reverse effect the dramatic person is seeking.  Their partner underresponds.  So the rama queen escalates further - to which their partner underresponds even more.  A vicious circle ensues.  The drama queen feels rejected or abandoned and escalates the drama trying to engage their partner.  Their partner feels manipulated and retreats more.

So what's the solution?  I think awareness is 99% of any recovery program.  Knowing what you are doing and understanding why you are doing it is paramount.  Then you can begin to be more mindful and make decisions with more awareness.  If you tend to be a drama queen, evaluate the accuracy of your presentations.  Be aware of your tendency to exaggerate, understand the origins of this behavior and focus on being more accurate in the present.  

If, on the other hand, you're the partner of a drama queen and you're feeling cold and unresponsive you might look at your past relationships.  Are you currently involved with a drama queen who has burnt out your empathetic response system?  Or do you have a history of involvement with drama queens that is causing you to discount honest emotional pleas from your current partner?


See also:  Drama Queens:  Children of Narcissistic Parents?

See also:  The Origins of Drama Queens?





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Sounds just like my ex wife.

Although I don't see her parents as drama queens they are definately inadequate, and I can agree with your theory that they have obviously not responded to the needs of their children. The drama is constant and I have found the best way to deal with it is to have nothing to do with her.

I do wonder how grandparents can also contribute to this family drama?

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