Have you ever noticed that when you’re not getting the results you want in your life, there is often a serious amount of drama happening at the same time?
And it often seems to be the case that it’s “their” fault, as in “my partner is not behaving the they should be and if they were only doing _______ and ________ instead, then everything would be fine! Seriously!”
If they’d just…
- Put their dishes in the sink everything would be fine
- Listen to me
- Stop nagging
- Lighten up
- Be more serious
…Etc. Etc. Etc.
Now before you can effectively answer this question about drama, you need to have a clear understanding of what drama means in this context.
According to dictionary.com drama is defined as: “(4)Any situation or series of events having vivid, emotional, conflicting, or striking interest or results.”
That definition doesn’t really create a clear context for this conversation so let me explain a little further. Basically, consider that anything you (or the other person) are doing in an attempt to get something or to cause a response/reaction in someone else is considered drama.
This Might Look Like…
- Attempting to get sympathy or a sympathetic response
- Trying to get your way
- Making a point, being right
- Getting attention
- Avoiding conflict
- Saving a relationship
We often act in strange ways to fulfill on the list above.
Let’s Get To The Root Of It
Some people slip into a “poor me” state looking for sympathy and hoping to have people do things for them. Some people slip into a “let me help you” role taking the spotlight off themselves and their needs. Others will use power, blame, and ‘you’re wrong’ to get their way.
Somehow we learned that these types of behaviors make more sense than just being honest about what we need or want. This tendency usually comes from the deep-rooted fear that if we just asked for what we wanted, we’d get rejected and told no.
Opening yourself up to be vulnerable with your partner like that can feel really counterintuitive. From the outside, it seems like it wouldn’t be a big deal, but when the time comes to actually lay it on the line, everything in us usually screams “Nooooooo!”
You may be thinking to yourself, “I have clearly asked for what I want. I have asked them repeatedly to stop leaving their dishes in the sink and they keep doing it! How much clearer can I be?”
I’m sure that’s 100% true, that you have made your request very clear. But consider, putting the dishes in the dishwasher rather than leaving them in the sink may actually be a way for your partner to fulfill on what you actually want.
Consider that not leaving the dishes in the sink is actually representative of something deeper for you.
A Proactive Response Could Be Representative of Something Like Feeling:
- Respected by your partner
- Valued by your partner
- Partnered by your partner, that you’re not the only one responsible for dealing with the dishes
The dishes in the sink can represent a number of other things to you and it’s important that you’re having conversations about that and what you need in that realm rather than just arguing, nagging, or being passive aggressive about the dishes in the sink.
You Might Feel Vulnerable Talking About These Issues
Now digging into topics like this will feel vulnerable for a number of reasons (and that’s okay).
It’s quite possible that you’ve never really thought about why this is an issue for you and what it represents at a deeper level.
It’s also a reality that when we open ourselves up by making a request (that could get turned down), we can feel like we’re putting our heart on the table to potentially be crushed by our partner.
In an effort to avoid that potential crushing, instead we focus on the surface issue of the dishes in the sink and use a number of other tactics to try to get our needs met. And often, that’s where the unnecessary drama comes from.
Because The Truth Is, If You’re With A Person Who Genuinely Cares About You…
- They’ll want to know what’s really going on for you
- They’ll want to know where you don’t feel supported or cared for
- They’ll want to know how they can adjust or adapt their behaviour and thinking to support you
– Just like you’d do for them!
One of the key secrets to long-term happy and satisfying relationships is for partners to listen to each other, really get to know the inner-workings of each other. Listening will promote opportunities for real compromise and have everyone feel like they’ve come away (at least partially) winning.
A Word of Caution
Avoiding having these deeper conversations will likely result in the end of your relationship in the long run. When couples have unresolved problems that are representative of deeper issues, what’s likely is continued bickering, arguing, and fighting.
That pattern will lead you to the dangerous cycle of criticism and defensiveness, which is the death knell of relationships.
When criticism and defensiveness start to show up as a regular pattern in your relationship, inevitably the positive feelings you have toward one another will start to be overpowered and replaced by more negative feelings.
When that negative sentiment starts to overpower the positive, returning your relationship back to one of connection and appreciation is really challenging. Nipping this pattern in the bud is critical in creating long-term satisfaction and love together.
Changing your behaviour towards a deeper conversation that includes vulnerability, will be challenging. Especially if you’ve been entrenched in the drama and fighting that comes with regular arguing and complaining about the surface issue for any length of time.
Look for the Red Flags
If you’re one of the many couples out there that’s been focused on the surface issue for a while and there is disconnection, distance, and negative sentiment starting to crowd out the connection and positive sentiment for each other, that is a RED FLAG.
You need to take action and do something or the pattern will become ingrained and recovery will be nearly impossible.
Some of The Red Flag Habits May Look Like…
- Visual or verbal cues that indicate disdain, righteousness, contempt, or disgust like eye-rolling or exasperated sighing.
- Diminishing statements intended to shut the conversation down like “whatever” or “I’m fine”.
- Wanting to hide out and avoid conversation with your partner because it’ll turn into some kind of fight.
- Lack of interest in spending time together alone; if one or both of you is avoiding that by either being too busy for date night or always including the children, friends, or family, that’s a sign you need to do something.
- One partner constantly raising a complaint (that turns into criticism) that is never effectively addressed and put to bed (i.e. the behaviour continues to happen). It’s important to note that if one partner is raising a concern, there is some validity to it and it needs to be looked at. Ignoring these issues over time will lead you to the gridlocked conflict cycle faster than just about anything else.
- Comments from one partner to the other about a noticed change in behaviour. If you used to do something a particular way (make dinner reservations for date night) and it’s noticed by the other person that it’s not happening anymore, that’s a likely sign the relationship connection is sliding.
If you begin to notice any of these behaviours, it’s time you consider taking action.
In an effort to support you in managing conversations like this, I’ve created this handy guide with accompanying workbooks that will support you in working through a deeper level issue.
And of course, I’m only ever an email or call away if you want me to personally support you repairing any damage and creating long lasting, positive change in your relationship. Just click the button below and let’s chat!