Addiction to Relationship Drama

angry couple black & white


Are you addicted to drama in your relationships? Are you often attracted to partners that you perceive as being exciting and intense? Is your relationship sign-posted with intense feelings?

Drama addiction is not a conscious choice, but a coping strategy that temporarily helps to relieve the loneliness or tension one feels inside. The coping strategy comes from a learned behavior before one’s language was fully developed. It’s a distraction from the empty feeling inside. The drama created is an attempt to get one’s needs, wants and desires met.

The adrenalin rush triggered by the intense emotions rising from the drama makes one feel alive and creates an opening for releasing trapped emotions. This is often followed with feelings of shame, guilt and self-loathing. The passion felt when making up after a fight compensates for the pain previously felt.

As human beings we are wired to bond with another person since it optimizes our survival needs. A baby will attach to the mother or other care-giving adult for survival. As we mature, the yearning to attach moves to attach to an another adult partner. We look for someone we feel will provide the caring qualities of support, love, nurture – someone who will meet our needs, wants and desires to fit with our inner template.

When the bond is broken through conflict we suffer, we feel threatened, rejected, alone, angry, disappointed and emotionally unsafe. The basic human survival instincts take over, bypassing the rational mind. In our insecurity we defend, attack and withdraw as a way of controlling our environment, only to reestablish the attachment bond again.

If your fights often consist of intense emotions and behaviours of yelling, screaming, blaming, criticizing, name calling, storming out, throwing or breaking things, chances are that you and your partner are caught in a destructive cycle of drama addiction. Both you and your partner feel powerless and out of control over the cycle that seems to have a life of its own. Conflict is a normal occurrence in every couple relationship, however, the intensity and frequency of conflict makes it addictive.

Your body and mind register signals of threat to your survival, via your partner’s face, eyes, voice, movement etc., and you will automatically switch into defense or attack mode. Your basic survival instincts are in full operation because there is a threat to your attachment bond – your partner. You have both entered the battlefield because this is the only map you have to get what you want. There doesn’t appear to be any other option so the drama continues.

You may believe your partner is to blame. “If s/he changed/listened/was different/didn’t get angry /wasn’t so demanding, we wouldn’t fight”. However, your partner may also be feeling the same way about you. Your partner is also caught in the drama addiction and doesn’t have a new map to navigate through the turbulent waters.

If you think you and your partner are addicted to drama and want to change your interactions, it is possible, even if your partner does not want to change. When one partner takes a different step to the dance of drama, the dynamic in the relationship changes. Here are three steps to disengage from conflict:

First: Disengage from the conflict as soon as possible. Pause and take seven full breaths to help regulate your emotions. Keep your heart open to compassion for yourself.

Second: Have the intent to learn from your past experiences, find a quiet space and with compassion, study your pattern of relating – your feelings, thoughts and behaviour – without blame or criticism. With compassion and detachment (as if you are recalling a movie you have watched) see yourself in the conflict. Notice what happens to you and what are the triggers that set the cycle in motion.

Third: Take action to repair the relationship as soon as possible after a conflict. If its safe, you may wish to discuss the effect of the conflict with your partner. It is important you don’t blame or criticize as this will only refuel the argument. Use ‘I statements’ to communicate with the intent to understand each other.

It takes time to change old entrenched habits and undo old patterns. Learning a new one takes determined dedication and effort. Just like a gardener tends to his garden to pull out weeds for flowers to grow, so too a relationship must be cultivated every day to grow. When your relationship is filled with acts of kindness, loving gestures and positive thoughts, emotional bonding not only fills the emptiness, loneliness and numbness inside you but also creates harmony, peace, love, joy in you and in your relationship. As you continue to practice your new strategy you will notice results, you will begin to realize you are have the key to your happiness. The power of change is in your hands.

Maintenance of healthy relationships is an art that needs daily practice. Learn a new map for your love relationship. Make your relationship a priority and create a bubble of love. A safe haven where both of you come back to from the rest of the world and snuggle into a safe haven of security and connection.

1. Choose sweet words that connect you to your partner whilst expressing yourself.

2. Fill your mind with kind thoughts for yourself and for your partner. Focus on the qualities of your partner and not faults. Remember what brought you together in the first place and what you admired about him or her.

3. Lovingly touch your partner’s hand or shoulder just because. Loving touch communicates more than words can ever express. It’s absorbed directly into the nervous system.

4. Communicate appreciation to your partner often rather than take him or her for granted. Eg cooking a meal, washing clothes, paying the bills, mowing the lawn.

5. Let go of resentment, blame and criticism. This is not only soul-destroying but it creates a barrier in your heart and between you and your partner.

6. Do things together that you both enjoy—the more pleasure you experience together the better you will be at navigating through difficult times.

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