Are You A Relationship Drama Junkie?

I notice that for many of us it’s easy to fall into patterns of relationship that have been unhealthy, but familiar - that is, after all, why we fall and slip so easily into them because they are cosy & comfy like an old frayed & ragged sweater we’ve had for years, one we know is saggy & baggy & far from it’s best, but we’ve had it so long we don’t want to throw it out in case we never find another so comfy.

Relationship habits & patterns can be a bit like our relationship with that old sweater - we’ve had them so long that we’re not really sure how or who we’d be with something new; how would a new one fit? we’re scared it wouldn’t be comfortable & we’d end up wanting our old one back but it would be too late! 

Not having healthy relationship role models as a child & young person can often lead us to repeating the patterns in adulthood that we learned in childhood. Sometimes a physically absent father, for example, can lead us into attention seeking behaviour in relation to the men we want to impress as our unconscious mind plays out the childhood game of ‘’notice me, notice me, Daddy, notice me!!!’’. Often, a mother who is emotionally unavailable to us can lead us in adulthood to unconsciously choose emotionally unavailable female friends or lovers as we repeat this familiar, and probably deeply unsatisfying & frustrating pattern of lack of intimacy - we are, of course, seeking what we want in the very places we will never, ever, find it. 

We wonder why our needs are not being met in our friendships and relationships, we can sometimes blame others for that in what Jung referred to as projection, and of course this is happening unconsciously, we aren’t doing it knowingly, for the most part. It can be an endless source of discussion & puzzlement - ‘’why are all the men I go out with unable to commit?!?!?!’’, ‘’why don’t I have any close & intimate female friends? I feel lonely....’’. If we begin to examine, with curious compassion, where our relationship patterns come from & how we were imprinted in childhood, we can begin to take charge, as adults, and consciously change those patterns in order to experience more fulfilling & satisfying relationships. 


One of the particular patterns I’ve noticed playing out, both sometimes in myself & those around me, is that of confusing drama, volatility & intensity for presence, depth & intimacy. I witness this dynamic both between women & also between women & men. Most of us will know the Drama Queen or the Wild Woman, & I’m not talking here about some caricature of ‘Drama Queen’ that you might see in a soap opera, or a very effeminate, usually gay, man, or of a Wild Woman with furze in her hair & her clothes askew who does as she pleases!, but someone whose life seems dramatic, as if lifted off the pages of a film script, and their behaviour is usually a match. Everything is intense with them, from the dramas of running late & being in a tizzy about the simple things in life, to relationship dramas, or perhaps bitching & gossiping about others, to their tantrums when they don’t get what they want, their excusing of their bad behaviour by saying they’re just being ‘’wild’’ and ‘’free’’, when in reality they are behaving with disrespect towards others, not taking mature responsibility for themselves, and more. 

Relationships with the Drama Queen or Wild Woman, of this sort, are usually intense, and fast paced - we are quickly firm friends who simply must spend lots of time together. The connection between you is ‘’amazing’’, everything is AMAZING! They are usually the centre of attention at a gathering either for some very sad & upsetting reasons or because they simply must share with everyone their latest piece of joyous news, or just because they’re behaving in a very attention seeking way, and this is usual for them. If it’s a sexual connection then the sex is usually passionate, fiery & wild. It is a consuming, intoxicating, wild ride, and so is she! 

Let’s step back a bit though...... if the relationship moves fast, if it feels intense, if there are lots of dramatic moments, if it’s intoxicating & we’re swept away, if the other person’s life is so full of dramatic events that there’s no space for news of you and your life, and if this is something that’s happened a number of times with a number of people, it’s worth pausing to reflect on what parts of ourselves, if any, this dynamic is feeding. 

Is it a dynamic we’ve been in before, if so, how often? how did it work out previously? is it indeed a pattern? do we usually ‘’fall’’ for the same type of person, the same type of dynamic whether the relationship is sexual or not? If so, then what old wound is it triggering? what old place within us that was left feeling empty when we were younger is getting nourished and nurtured, or so it seems, now? who from our past does this behaviour remind us of? Chances are the answers to those questions may be difficult to admit, and if we immediately leap to disown them, saying ‘’there’s NO WAY that’s something I’m choosing’’, then it’s likely that some swimming around in the delicious soup of the unconscious mind will be illuminating; in what Jung called ‘’shadow’’! 

If we can identify the piece of our past self that is finding comfort in the familiarity of the pattern, we are more likely to be able to find resolution & integration for it, and to then consequently let it go and actually enter relationships with real depth, passion, presence & intimacy, rather than the immature illusion of them. I can relate to my own life my own unconscious confusion between intensity, drama, volatility and presence, depth & intimacy; I didn’t have an intimate relationship with either of my mothers, neither my birth mother nor my adoptive mother, at any point in my life, and so had no healthy reference points for shared female intimacy until in my late teens, and from then it was a game of ‘’catch up’’ to figure out what healthy & unhealthy relationships with other women look and feel like to me. 

I can clearly see that in the past I chose friendships with a number of women who were very volatile & dramatic, nothing was ever easy, graceful or peaceful for very long, always some form of intense emotion consistently came into play along with inevitably dramatic peaks and troughs, and before I knew it BOOM! the relationship had imploded! What happened was I mistook uncontrollable intensity for rich & lasting depth, I mistook immature volatility for pure passion, I mistook potentially dangerous volatility with true free wildness, and I mistook it all, when it was shared with me, for intimacy. I mistook it because in each of these women what was missing was a deep inner awareness of & rootedness to her deepest self & to life, and of course what was ultimately missing in me was the same and that’s the piece I didn’t want to see, to own, to admit, and it’s the very same piece that as soon as I did own it the draw to those types of women, those sorts of relationships ended. That old tatty, ragged but cosy & familiar sweater got thrown out into the rubbish where it belonged in favour of a new luxurious, soft & expensive sweater, one I’m no longer afraid to wear. 

| First published May 2016 |