What Does Relationship Drama, or Drama Queen, Mean?

Woman siting on bed, frustrated
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Maybe you first heard the term on a dating profile, "This is a drama-free zone!" or, "I have zero tolerance for relationship drama". Or, maybe a partner or friend told you you're a "Drama Queen". 

Ick. Yes, this doesn't feel good, even if you're not entirely aware what it means. 

When we talk about relationship drama, Drama Queens, Drama Kings, or otherwise "dramatic" people in a relationship, we're referring to the emotional upheaval or turbulence felt in a relationship on an episodic level that has no resolution.

In simpler terms, it refers to an emotional state where one or both people in a relationship create an uncomfortable feeling through manipulation and/or control. 

Even simpler? Drama means made-up conflict. A debate where there's zero actual conversation, you're just fighting for the sake of fighting.

Relationship drama also can also include a lack of authenticity in an interaction. For instance, when you yell at your partner (no matter what the reason) it's rarely actually about the other person. The lack of authenticity, then, stems from your not actually knowing what the issue is, and instead, blaming your partner using manipulation, control, or anger -based behaviors. 

What Relationship Drama Looks Like in Real Life

In a "dramatic" situation, it usually appears that a certain situation has repeated itself. As an example, you might leave your dirty socks on the floor every day, and your partner removes them to the laundry hamper.

Drama might ensue if your partner, instead of having a conversation with you about the socks, or, leaving the socks be, starts yelling at you in public about the socks. "Can't you ever clean up after yourself? What kind of person do you think I am? Am I just your maid? What's wrong with you!?" 

Of course, when we're not in the moment, this reaction seems ridiculous and completely unwarranted.

Yet, when in the throes of relationship drama, we rarely recognize that our own behaviors are, acutally, dramatic. 

How To Avoid Relationship Drama

So, how do we remove drama from our lives, if it's so difficult to realize we're creating it in the moment?

First off, we have to own our own "stuff". Which, of course, isn't the easiest thing to do. 

Using the example above with the dirty socks, the person yelling about the socks would have needed to check their own feelings, and why the socks actually matter so much to them that it warrants a public outburst. Is it *really* about the socks?

To avoi drama, then, the upset partner would need to stop and figure out in the moment why the socks really bother them. Do they feel ignored? Not appreciated? Taken advantage of? In every situation, it'll come down to a belief that person has. 

So for instance, that person might think, "They just can't pick up anything after themselves! They'll never change!" (I've discussed "they'll never change" at length in Healing Unhealthy Relationships). Or, perhaps the feeling lies more along the lines of, "They just don't respect me, they leave their dirty socks all over!" 

Whatever the reason, this is a belief.

"I believe that dirty socks on the floor means I'm not respected". Of course, if you look at it, this belief just isn't true - we've just made it so.

Figuring out what to do instead takes a bit of work. I suggest reading the unhealthy relationship article, or, How to Love Yourself, for practical tips you can try right now. In this situation, it might mean changing the belief to something else, ("Dirty socks are just dirty socks") and then, taking action on that. The action, in this case? Might just mean doing nothing, and leaving the socks where they are. 

Mentions of Relationship Drama in Popular Culture

  • [song] Drama, Love, Relationships, by Babyface
  • [quote] "When you run into someone that you used to be in love with, all that you have is drama, desperation and not knowing what to do." ~ Taylor Swift

Also Known As: dating drama, drama, dramatic, drama queen, drama king

Examples Of Conversational Relationship Drama

"Yeah, we've got some massive drama going on lately".

" I can't stand people who blow everything out of proportion. Get over it drama queen, and get a life". [Note that this kind of statement both attacks drama queens, and also, is quite dramatic].

"No more games. No more drama. When you want to be real, give me a holla". ~ PictureQuotes.com

"I guess you can tease me about being a drama queen, because it did heighten the drama". ~ Greg Louganis