by Susan Walsh
Women are perpetually aware that commitment in this era of delayed marriage is an amorphous thing, and it can be withdrawn at any moment by either party. As a result, we often feel the need to take the temperature of the relationship.
Women like to have their emotions activated. We’d rather be wracked with uncertainty over a guy than bored. We’re raised on romantic and life scripts that feature conflict before resolution, adversity before triumph. We want life, and certainly mating, to be interesting. We want to compete with other women and win the male prize. We employ a wide variety of strategies to capture male interest and increase male investment, and one of them is Making Drama.
Why do women Make Drama?
1. To quell uncertainty
For better or worse, women need to understand why. I don’t believe any woman in history has ever responded to “We’re done.” with “OK.” You dropped me without a word. Why? You were interested in me last week and now you’re hitting on someone new. Why? We want to know how you are feeling and why you are feeling that way. This is not necessarily fair, but we will often press very hard for answers to our questions. When we press too hard, we’re Making Drama.
Jared told Julia that he liked her. She’d been attracted to him for two years, so she was ecstatic. They made out and he texted throughout the week. The very next weekend, her roommate told her she’d seen Jared with a girl who was reportedly his girlfriend of two months. When Julia next saw him at a party, she downed a few beers, then marched up to Jared, demanding an apology and an explanation.
2. To seek reassurance
The nature of what women want – commitment – is variable while dating, and includes many stages. Even in a relationship, women wonder if they’ve got a “fake boyfriend,” i.e. glorified hookup, on their hands. There are constant questions about what kinds of expectations are appropriate. When do I meet his friends? Family? How many evenings per week will we spend together? How much “guy” time does he want? Why hasn’t he asked me to the formal, only a week away?
Women are perpetually aware that commitment in this era of delayed marriage is an amorphous thing, and it can be withdrawn at any moment by either party. As a result, we often feel the need to take the temperature of the relationship. Making Drama is not the best way of doing this, but it can be effective.
Katie and Rob had been dating for a couple of months. She knew he had a group of close friends, but he had never mentioned getting together with them, and she wondered whether he was purposely keeping her away from them. Katie stewed about this for several days, and decided she would bring it up if it continued. That weekend, Rob said he’d see her Friday because he was going to a party on Saturday with some other people. Katie burst into tears and accused Rob of not caring for her, and of being ashamed of her.
3. To enliven the relationship
Conflict and friction create drama, followed by denouement. It’s very common for one party to Make Drama when a relationship goes stale or stagnates. The denouement, of course, is makeup sex, which can often be so passionate that couples slip into the pattern of fighting just so they can have it. Unfortunately, the Law of Diminishing Returns applies here, and the relationship usually ends when the sex becomes a sordid, tawdry show between two people who can no longer stand one another.
After two years together, James and Margaret knew each other’s triggers. Whenever they went to parties or hung out in large groups, they usually wound up arguing. The night always ended with tearful shouting matches, followed by passionate sex, then cathartic cuddling.
4. To grab power
Women create drama in the form of sh*t tests to see if their partner is willing to lead, and to stand up to unreasonable requests. To acquiesce to her wishes is to fail the shit test. Women Make Drama looking for pushback from a male they perceive as weak.
The nicer Kevin was to Addie, the brattier she was in return. He tried even harder to be understanding. Addie told her friends that Kevin had no backbone and dumped him.
5. To exact payback
Women look for ways to get even with men who dump them or otherwise treat them poorly. It might be anything from rubbing a guy’s nose in a new relationship to making a drunken, sobbing fool of ourselves in front of his friends. Women are rarely hampered by pride when hurt – messy shows of emotion are common.
Courtney and Will used to date, and over winter break they’d hooked up again. Courtney thought it was back on, but when she saw Will the next night at the bar, he ignored her. She approached him and asked him why. When he told her he’d been so drunk he barely remembered the hookup, and that he regretted it, Courtney went and told their friends, who bought her several tequila shots. She wept and took comfort in the arms of Will’s buddy Gabe. Will responded with an outsized offense at the behavior of Courtney and Gabe, which was gratifying to Courtney.
6. To break up
When we don’t want to take responsibility for rejecting a man outright, we Make Drama to turn ourselves into Superb*tch so that he’ll make it easy for us by initiating the breakup himself.
Kathy had found Tom so attractive when they first got together. But she’d been realizing recently that he wasn’t very bright – she’d been embarrassed for him on several occasions in their writing seminar. Now every word out of his mouth sounded like a stupid grunt. He was so gentle and devoted to her, she couldn’t bear to tell him it was over. Kathy got a little bitchy, and when Tom felt hurt and confused, she told him to leave her the f*ck alone!
7. Because some of us really are psycho
Some women fight with other women, including physically. They throw drinks, get blackout all the time, make scenes with exes, yell and scream and generally Make Drama. Their friendships are volatile, as are their family relationships. The male who gets involved with one of these women will bear the brunt of her tendencies to Make Drama 24/7. (Note: It has been observed that these women are rarely without boyfriends.)
Kirsten parties hard every weekend. Last weekend she was tossed out of a bar for throwing a drink in a stranger’s face for “looking at me funny.” She’s got a loyal crew of girl followers, all of whom serve her. She’s always getting in and out of relationships, and when she fights with her boyfriends, she’s not above using physical violence. After dumping her last boyfriend, when he refused to drive over “her stuff,” she sent out pics of him naked to all their mutual friends.
Why do men provoke Drama?
Men are less likely to manufacture drama, and they hate dealing with female drama with its complicated and messy emotions. However, they frequently provoke it in women, sometimes knowingly. Male-initiated drama most often serves the following purposes:
1. Expressing strong negative emotion
In an attempt to assuage sexual jealousy, they go on the attack, either toward their girlfriend, or their perceived male competition.
Mike saw Sally give her high school ex a big hug at the bar. He seethed with resentment at this show, which he knew was designed to make him mad. When Sally returned to his side, he ignored her. When she put her arm around his waist, he shouted, “Take your hands off me, you slut!”
2. Instilling doubt
To shore up wavering female attraction or commitment, men may attempt to create anxiety or jealousy in their mate. This serves as a form of ego reassurance for the male.
Thomas regularly flirted with girls in front of Lauren, touching them and making suggestive remarks. Lauren couldn’t understand why Thomas kept doing this even though he said he loved her. The worry that she was not enough for him plagued her constantly, and crying scenes when they returned home were not unusual. Thomas enjoyed these scenes quite a bit, but Lauren soon left him for a guy who was less insecure.
3. Breaking up
Ending a relationship with no explanation or warning is a frequent male strategy, even though it most often leads to loud and unruly public scenes.
Mike was getting tired of Sarah, and he had an increasing desire to “get some strange.” He knew he should just tell her, but he dreaded that conversation, so he fizzled it and hoped to avoid her, ignoring her calls and their usual haunts.
In an era when relationships between young people are often guided by the Principle of Least Interest, and emotional entanglements are inconvenient, most people in their late teens and 20s have very limited experience communicating with a romantic partner. Relationship skills are lacking. Making drama is a shortcut to getting an answer or a desired result. It compromises the quality of relationships and increases turnover. It may be gratifying in the short-term but is almost always regrettable afterwards.
The Better Way
Whether you seek reassurance, information, something different from your partner, to express anger or any other strong emotion, or even to break up, having a civil conversation while sober is always the better way to go.
1. State your position with calm certainty and take responsibility for your feelings.
2. Convey your security and confidence (even if you feel a little shaky). You deserve honesty and respect.
3. Practice putting your feelings out there.
“It makes me feel crappy when you flirt with my friends.”
“I feel like we’ve gotten into a rut. Are you bored too?”
“I’ve enjoyed hanging out with you, but I don’t think we’re compatible. I don’t think we should see each other any more.”
“I do like you, but to be honest, a girl I’ve liked for a really long time just told me she feels the same way. I’m sorry I led you on, I didn’t see this coming. But I want to try and make it work with her. I’m sorry.”
I guarantee it will hurt less, and for a shorter period of time than it does when you’ve been rejected and disrespected.
One word of warning:
Some guys will call you psycho just for making them uncomfortable, even if you’ve asked reasonable and direct questions. That’s a guy with very low self-awareness and personal responsibility. You dodged a bullet, so move on.
Some girls will act irrational no matter how honest and forthright you are. Be thankful you got out, and move on.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.