We all know people who seem always to attract dramatic partners, or you’re probably that person. It appears as though they keep the dating person just in different body forms. It’s no coincidence or bad luck; there’s a reason behind it. They are addicted to drama. Addiction to drama in relationships is a sign of other underlying issues.
Signs that someone is addicted to drama
1. They turn small fights into big fights
Drama addicts make mountains out of molehills. They’ll drag out an issue that they can quickly resolve in the name of standing their ground or claiming that their partners don’t understand them. A small understanding promptly resolved through a conversation goes on for an extended period.
2. They don’t let go of grudges.
People addicted to drama hold on to grudges because it gives them something to obsess over, especially when there’s no drama in the present. They’ll bring up issues from the past because they know they will trigger their partners. They preoccupy themselves with past fights to avoid dealing with real underlying problems in themselves.
3. They publicize their drama to others or on social media.
Drama addicts crave attention from others, so they will often post videos, photos or long texts venting about their latest incidents. Sometimes they will post cryptic posts without explaining because it will elicit attention. They’ll probably post a picture of a medical procedure and not give details.
4. They always play the victim.
Most narratives from drama addicts place the blame on everyone else but themselves. Whether it’s family, colleagues, friends or partners, they are always misunderstood or wronged. In reality, they’re the common denominator in all the issues.
Most drama addicts don’t know they are addicted to the chaos. They lack self-awareness thus have similar patterns in most of their interactions.
5. They are always in dysfunctional relationships.
Relationship problems are expected in every relationship. However, conflict is only healthy to a certain extent where partners resolve issues and grow from the experience. With drama addicts, however, they have to have chaos in their relationships.
The calm and silence in healthy relationships don’t work for them. The drama keeps it exciting for them. Like an addiction to drugs, they’re constantly searching for the next high, which is what creating more drama provides for them. Drama addicts will often be in on/off relationships or move on to the next relationship because of the extreme emotions of breakups and new relationships.
Why are people addicted to drama in relationships?
Human beings are a social species, so giving and receiving attention is essential. However, excessive attention-seeking is indicative of a trauma response. Newborn babies are incredibly dependent on their mother’s attention for survival. Since the child equates attention with safety and feels they need it for survival, they’ll go to extreme measures to get that attention. Continuous neglect reinforces the belief that they need to use any means necessary to get attention.
As such children grow into adults, this childhood experience affects them. In the brain, the amygdala regulates or affects how humans process strong emotions like fear, pleasure and aggression. The amygdala links emotional meaning to our memories and is part of the limbic system. The limbic system is the part of the brain responsible for emotional responses.
The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is the part of the brain that connects the limbic system to the prefrontal cortex, where cognitive functions occur. When a drama addict doesn’t receive the attention they desire, their amygdala treats this situation as a threat, and it’s triggered. The anterior cingulated cortex can intervene when the amygdala is activated, but it needs serotonin to perform this task.
Now, remember that drama addicts are constantly in states of stress and anxiety. Over time these high levels of stress affect the availability of serotonin. Additionally, the neglect or ‘perceived neglect’ they have suffered over the years leads to hypothalamic remodelling, so their hypothalamus becomes smaller. As a result, it has fewer serotonin receptors. Combined, all these issues prevent the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) from managing the situation; thus, drama addicts overreact.
When drama addicts feel like they’re not receiving attention, they experience anxiety and high-stress levels; the body produces feel-good hormones, endorphins to suppress the pain and make you happy. This works in the same way drugs like opioids cause addiction, and so people become addicted to the drama. Of course, over time, they build up a tolerance, creating more chaos as they chase that high.
How to manage drama addiction
Like other forms of addiction, you can’t fix drama addiction, but you can manage it. Here are a few ways to tackle the issue.
1. Understand the triggers
Addiction to drama could be caused by parental neglect, or one could be mimicking one of their childhood caregivers, among other reasons. Understand the cause of the drama and address the root cause.
2. Avoid external drama
Interacting with other dramatic people brings external drama into an addict’s life. Drama addicts should avoid getting sucked into other people’s conflicts. Additionally, they should avoid watching shows like reality shows whose primary focus is drama. Feeding their brains with this kind of energy only triggers the addiction.
3. Seek out healthy relationships
Like other forms of addiction, drama addicts need a support system to help them. They should avoid emotionally neglectful partners. Dating supportive partners make them feel safe, thus reducing the anxiety from neglect. However, the addicts should work on themselves to not become a burden to their partners, who would have to work overtime to make them feel seen. There should be a healthy balance.
If you have any kind of addict in your life check out 8 Ways To Help Someone Struggling With Addiction