May 8, 2008 – 10:33 am
c2008, Vicki Hinze
Most normal, well adjusted women want peace and serenity in their lives. They want to focus on the constructive, the positive and apply considerable effort to avoiding conflict and challenges. They certainly don’t go out and instigate or deliberately provoke. They’re too busy–and too wise–to waste precious time in their lives on these pursuits. They’re too busy reaching for goals, working to make their dreams realitities. Too busy caring for their families, doing what they do best.
And yet it seems every woman has had a run-in at some point in their lives with a drama queen.
What is a drama queen? A woman who thrives on drama. So much so, it’s like a drug in her system. And if no drama exists, she’ll create it. Typically bright and resourceful, she can be very convincing, too.
In preparation for this article, I canvassed a group of women. All had encountered a drama queen. The lucky ones extricated themselves from her. The unlucky ones were stuck but did what they could do to create distance and not feed the beast, so to speak. (It’s worth mentioning that some of the drama queens were actually drama kings, but for the sake of simplicity and because we focus on women and their interests here, we’ll stick with the queens.)
In research, I discovered no magic cures, no keys to locked doors to stop the drama. The simple truth is the drama queen is a drama queen by her own choice, and only she can choose not to be one. But for those who must live with or in the circle of one, there are a few helpful tips that others had to offer:
1. Understand the queen. The drama queen typically suffers a low self-esteem. She wants to be honored, appreciated and adored. If she is, she doesn’t feel as much a need to create drama. It’s when she feels vulnerable (whether or not that vulnerability actually exists) that she goes for the dramatic.
Too often, she’s bored. And when bored, she thinks too much and those thoughts easily fall prey to the negative. This too spurs drama, to shift the focus from her thoughts to the dramatic event which typically shows her in a superior light.
Often she portrays herself as a victim. Others are taking advantage, judging unfairly, treating her harshly. More often than not, it isn’t one person but all persons who are victimizing her: her boss, her friends, her family, even her minister. Disagree on something with the queen, and you’re apt to hear her shout abuse.
The queen sups on attention and in the absence of adoration, she’ll take anger or hatred or whatever she can get. Bottom line: she’s an attention junkie and only when getting it does she thrive.
She easily feels threatened. One story related involved three women, all friends. The queen imagined a sleight by the other two and turned vicious. There was no sleight. But the queen perceived one–as if they were ganging up on her–and got ugly. Unfortunately, this is a story frequently repeated–whether the drama queen was a queen or a king. And of the stories related, the queens were quicker to get cruel and malicious than the kings. That surprised me.
Most people take the drama that comes with the queen for a time, then exorcise her, forming other friendships and bonds with people who aren’t so high-maintenance or draining. The queen then moves on to her next friend or group and repeats her patterns, and then often is left wondering why people treat her as they do. This brings me to my last point unearthed on the drama queen:
She never sees herself as others see her. To her, what she is doing, the way she’s doing it, the justification for doing it–even if it’s dead wrong–is totally logical, morally and ethically acceptable and even, in cases, noble.
Understanding the queen doesn’t insulate you from the fallout, but it does help you to develop coping skills and to keep your frustration levels (and blood pressure and stress levels) down.
2. Dealing with the queen. As I mentioned above, once a drama queen has been identified and an attempt to reason with her utterly fails, most who can elect to stay away from her. Sometimes this works, sometimes it generates other activities. One woman relayed her story of life with a drama queen and then said that until she had gotten away from her, she hadn’t realized all the challenges the queen had created. Finally, she had her life back.
It’s interesting to note that during the time of the challenges, she didn’t equate them to stealing her life. Her time, yes, but not her life. But they did, as she saw afterward. Dealing with the fallout another creates does steal our lives. Our focus and time. And so it was only afterward that this became apparent to the woman. I find that interesting.
Some of the stories related required that the drama queen remain in that individual’s circle. How the women dealt with their queens varied. Some ignored, some called the queen down on every infraction hoping she’d stop if she knew she’d be called down. Some kept a buffer between them them and the queen–a third person who helped keep the queen from creating too much havoc.
The most troublesome were those who stopped interacting with their circle because that was their only means of avoiding the queen. Some quit great jobs. Some left their churches. Some left their organizations. Some stopping attending family gatherings.
All had logical reasons for their reactions whatever they happened to be. For some, their own decisions were easy to live with. For others, the burden of living with them was heavy.
Regardless of where they fell on the living with a drama queen scale or how they chose to deal with the queen, on one thing they all agreed:
Living with a drama queen might be tough, but it’s still far easier than living as a drama queen.
Sometimes in life, we’re grateful for good where we find it…*