Women and Drama
Wednesday, 2 March 2011
A couple times over the past week, my girlfriend came to my apartment and brought some drama along with her. If you know me, you know I'm a pretty Zen kind of guy, and part of the reason I'm able to keep my calm is because I do my best not to be directly involved in others' drama. Help them out, give them a hand and some insight, by all means, but do not get involved in the swirling maelstrom that is the drama of other people. I have my own life to tend to.
Well, Saturday afternoon and Tuesday evening each ended up being among those rare occasions these days where the drama was pointed squarely at me. Where it came from, and how I handled it, and how you can do the same, is what I aim to address in this post.
Why Women Cause Drama
Let's talk first about where drama comes from. Anyone who's ever had a girlfriend before, unless she was one of those very few women who did not indulge, knows that drama surrounds women like a looming cloud on a sunny day: ever present and ready at a moment's notice to suddenly cover everything that was formerly bright in shadow. The more passionate the woman, the greater the drama, and since I personally am drawn to extremely vivacious, passionate women, that also means I tend to get to wade through a lot of drama. Fortunately, I've gotten rather adept at handling it and discouraging future outbursts, but more on that later.
But do women like drama? Do women love drama? A lot of guys think so. Here's the thing, though: as inexplicable as the reason why women want it in the first place may seem to men, women don't actually cause drama for drama's sake.It's not a big plot or conspiracy because they secretly love drama, believe it or not.
Yes, women pay rapt attention to books and shows and movies where the protagonists are other women embroiled in highly dramatic affairs. But the same can be said for men – our drama just changes a bit. We like books and shows and movies about highly dramatic action sequences. Women like highly dramatic romantic and personal life sequences.
It's not that women seek drama in their own lives, though. Women want happiness as much as men do. But women also are in a more tenuous position than men are, so they have a few concerns that men lack.
If you were to suddenly have to spend the next twenty years of your life as a woman, you'd notice quite quickly that your concerns would have changed. While you'd still want all the things you wanted before – freedom, adventure, excitement, pleasure, fun – you'd immediately also have a number of other concerns – security, dependability of your mate, and a bunch more. That's because of one undeniable fact: women are the ones in the more vulnerable position in relationships.
Women are almost always the ones who are:
- Hoping for a relationship.
- In need of emotional reassurance.
- Chasing after commitment.
- Chasing after marriage.
- Trying to convince their partners to settle down.
- Chasing after a family.
- Constantly checking and rechecking their partners' loyalty and devotion.
The reason why, of course, is that, in the vast majority of relationships, men are the ones who are in control and calling the shots.
There are two balance-of-power style shifts that occur in the relationship progression of most couples. They are:
- Commencement of Sexual Intimacy: the point at which the man stops chasing after the woman (and intimacy), and the woman starts chasing after the man (and commitment), and
- Passing of the Commitment Point: the point at which the man commits to the woman and she stops chasing after him (and commitment), and the man starts chasing after sexual intimacy again.
Depending on where in your relationship you are, you'll get different kinds of drama, as follows:
- Annoyance. This is the kind of drama you'll get pre-intimacy from women, typically if they don't want you or aren't ready for you, or if you've missed theescalation window and having you around makes them bitter at the rejection.
- Fear. You get fear post-intimacy but pre-commitment. Women feel fear when they are pursuing you and desperately want to keep you, but are unsure of your intentions and fear that you don't care for them enough, don't value them enough, or won't stay together with them.
- Frustration. The frustration in the post-commitment phase is quite different from the annoyance in the pre-intimacy phase, because the woman now feels secure in the relationship and has bound herself to the man, relying upon him and looking to him to provide direction, guidance, and all manner of support, from emotional to financial to physical and beyond. He is now responsible for her life. When he fails to lead properly and take all of her requirements into consideration, she feels frustrated and angry at the man she looks to as a leader and champion for letting her down and not tending to her needs.
If you ask me, then, this is just another reason why it's ideal to bed a woman as quickly and expeditiously as possible, then never pass the commitment point. Much better for your girl to be nervous about losing you than frustrated you aren't doing everything she wants. Especially if you plan to have a dynamic, adventurous life where you realistically can't provide a woman everything she wants.
Note that there are situations where these roles are reversed: a woman may be chasing after intimacy with a man, for instance, or a man may be chasing after commitment from a woman. In most scenarios, though, these roles hold true: men chase sex, women chase relationships. You should be very afraid if you find yourself in the position of chasing after a relationship and commitment from a woman, or if you become dependent on her and look to her for guidance and support past the commitment point. Normally though, those are women's domains.
What happens when women feel fear or annoyance or frustration is that they express it. Unlike men, who may quite often sit there and sullenly grouse to themselves, women express their emotions – and the more passionate the woman, the more ostentatious the expression. Men call these expressions of fear, annoyance, or frustration "drama," and they complain about how much women like drama.
What men never seem to take into account, though, is that when women cause drama, it's almost invariably in reaction to something the man has done or not done.
My girlfriend stirred up some drama twice recently, after never having done it before. The first time was on Saturday, when she found some clothes she'd left at my apartment stuffed into a drawer in my desk unfolded. The second was Tuesday night, when she'd asked me a lot of questions about a past girlfriend of mine, and my answers were probably a bit too detailed for her tastes.
Both times were because I messed up and did something insensitive. The first time, I'd stuffed her clothes in my drawer without folding them, while all of my own clothes were neatly folded and placed in my dresser. The second time, I'd gone into a rather nuanced description of my ex-girlfriend's body and the sexual positions we used (after my current girlfriend had specifically asked about this). Both of those I look back on and go, "Whoops. Probably shouldn't have done that, that was kind of cold and insensitive," and "cold and insensitive" is exactly what women are looking out for, with pricked antennas, during the post-intimacy pre-commitment "fear" phase that I'm in with my current girl.
She's on high alert for any sign that I may not care about her all that much, and when she picked up on something she thought might hint that in fact I don't, she got upset and caused drama.
It's the same for all phases; the only things that are different are the signs women look for and the specific emotion they feel that causes the drama. In the "annoyance" phase, a woman may be annoyed at a guy beating around the bush instead of just going for what he wants, or at a guy moving too slow. In the "fear" phase, it's signs the guy doesn't care about her much or won't stay with her. In the "frustration" phase, it's signs the guy isn't doing or isn't going to do what she wants or needs done.
Give a woman one of those signs in its corresponding phase, and you've got drama.
Reacting to Drama
So what do you do when a woman starts crying, or sulking, or yelling at you?
Relax. Take a breath. Maybe sigh a little in mild exasperation.
Absolutely do not (under any circumstance):
- Start doing something to fix the situation.
- Get defensive.
- Take your girl to bed.
- Do anything other than be completely calm and unreactive.
Why don't you want to do any of those things? This is why: anything you do to react to drama only feeds it and either confirms your girl's suspicions that she was right, or makes you look weak and makes her lose respect for you, or reinforces her bad (dramatic) behavior.
She gets upset, you apologize? She now views you as weak and respects you less and knows that all she needs to do is cause a stink and you'll buckle. Now you've got a lot more drama on your hands.
She gets upset, you start trying to fix the situation? Ditto. Lots more drama on your hands.
She gets upset, you get defensive? She starts believing she was right all along, and you aren't the kind of guy she wants or needs. Her sense of self-righteousness kicks in, and she "knows" now that she is right and you are wrong. She's going to cause even more drama now that she knows she's right and you're wrong; you've got a lot more drama on your hands.
She gets upset, you take her to bed? She's now learned that any time she starts feeling horny, she should cause drama and you'll give her intimacy. Suddenly, you've got a lot more drama on your hands.
Basically, anything you do other than maintain your Zen when a woman is espousing drama will cause more drama for you, either immediately (in the case of you getting defensive) or further on down the road (in the case of you apologizing, or trying to make amends, or taking her to bed).
But what do most men do? Most men do one of those things I listed above as "not-to-do"s. Why? Because most men are afraid of drama and want to end it as soon as it begins. And apologizing, or trying to make amends, or taking a woman to bed will end drama almost immediately… at least in the short term. Even though those things will cause huge amounts of drama to manifest later on in the relationship that never would've appeared without them, men aren't thinking long term when they panic in the face of drama. They just want it to be over.
From that standpoint, there's a certain element of just getting enough exposure to drama without panicking that benefits your ability to remain unreactive. If you've never dated a woman who was high drama, it'd be a good experience from a learning perspective; you'll get quite accustomed to dealing with drama and not letting it get to you as much. When they're not causing drama, high drama women tend to be a lot of fun, too! They're also quick tempered women; which means they get upset fast, but they cool down fast as well and it's all forgotten soon after.
But, basically, when a woman starts giving you drama, the best possible reaction you can have is to stay completely calm and do nothing rash.
Responding to Drama
Let's say your girl has gotten upset about something and caused some drama, and you reacted appropriately and stayed calm and did nothing reactive or that might be interpreted as you buckling to or reinforcing dramatic behavior. The next step you need to take is to structure your response.
There are five main ways I recommend responding to drama, depending on the extent of the drama. Those are:
- Seeking understanding and to "talk it out" with your girl,
- Righteous anger and "setting the record straight,"
- Kicking her out, or leaving yourself, and/or
- Breaking up with her.
Let's discuss each.
Leading you'll use primarily with women in the "annoyance" phase. When a woman is annoyed with you pre-intimacy, it's usually because you haven't been leading her appropriately and have been missing windows. She needs you to lead boldly and confidently to restore her faith in you.
So, for instance, I have a friend recently who took a girl home but got a bit hesitant and didn't make a move and didn't sleep with her. After that, she became quite annoyed with him and did resentful things like making out with another guy in a nightclub in front of him a few nights later. If he were to step up and lead decisively with her, though, he might stand a chance of turning things around. Women will often resist you leading them when you've managed to annoy them for one reason or another, but the other tactics you have at your disposal probably aren't going to work (she's not going to take the time to talk things out with you most of the time – she isn't invested enough – she isn't going to listen to you get mad at her, and you probably aren't going to be in a situation where you can kick her out or leave, and you certainly can't break up with her).
Note: it is always going to be immensely more difficult, and far less of a sure thing, trying to turn something around with a woman you haven't slept with yet. She has far less obligation to you than a woman you're together with already.
Our second approach, seeking understanding or to "talk it out," is something you'll want to use as your first resort responding to drama whenever possible. Unless a woman is extremely angry and upset, you'll want to do this. Especially if you aren't sure why she's causing the ruckus she is, this approach will serve you well. The way it works is that you stay completely, utterly calm, and ask her, "Okay, help me understand. Why are you saying this and acting this way? Two minutes ago you were perfectly happy, and now you're really upset. What changed?" By pointing out the shift in her emotions, you also make her more aware of it and more willing to cooperate with helping you to understand why she's feeling the way she is. This is rather important, so don't forget to do it.
When you get women to explain why they're upset, it does a few really good things for you. First, it calms them down by getting them to be more rationale and less emotional. And second, it gets them communicating the problem to you – and most of the time, the problem is that they think you don't get them or don't understand the problem. So by having women explain the problem to you, quite often you go a long way toward solving the problem then and there. You show your woman you care enough to listen to what it is that's upsetting her and understand it, and that act itself quite often communicates to her that you care enough about her to put her back at ease again – because drama is usually fear about whether you care enough about her, or frustration that you don't understand what she needs. By listening you show care, and by her explaining you now understand what she needs. Seeking understanding is one of the most powerful tools in your drama-combating arsenal, and you should use it first whenever possible.
Righteous anger and "setting the record straight" is what you'll use with a woman who's getting very upset and with whom you've first talked it out and gotten to the root problem with. You never want to get angry and set the record straight if she hasn't told you what record needs to be straightened; quite often, men think it's one thing when it's actually something else. So if you just assume you know what it is, be careful, because you might end up alienating her further by getting pissed off about something that's totally unrelated to what she's upset about. Then she'll really think you don't get her!
I'll give you an example of how this is properly done. On Saturday, when my girlfriend got upset over finding her clothes stuffed haphazardly into a drawer of mine, she exclaimed to me, "You treat me like a whore!"
First, I had her explain why she was saying and exactly what she meant. Then, I got pretty pissed off at her. "Honestly," I told her, "I'm pretty insulted you would even say that. I treat you well – I talk to you, I listen to you, I spend a lot of time with you, I cook food for you. I do a lot of things with you that I would not do with a whore. So I'm quite insulted that you would tell me I treat you like a whore. Actually, I'm disgusted. I think you should go."
Which leads us to kicking her out, or leaving yourself. Use your judgment on this, but these days I don't have a very high tolerance for drama, and if a girl's giving me any degree of it I have no problem asking her to leave. I have a million things I can be doing with my time and don't really need to spend it with a woman who's going to cause problems for me. By either leaving (if you're at her place, or out with her somewhere), or telling her to leave (if she's at your place), you state very clearly that this behavior is unacceptable. These days I tell women, "Look, if you're upset about something and you want to discuss it, that's fine. But if you're going to cause a lot of problems and drama and upset, I don't need that in my life and I don't want to be around it and you can just go."
This very clearly communicates to women that they've overstepped their bounds. It's imperative that you tell them why they're being kicked out and make sure they understand that it's because they caused drama instead of calmly discussing the matter with you. This way they have a specific action to pin their expulsion on, know exactly what they should do instead if they want to get their message across and not be kicked out (calmly discuss it with you), and they understand that their drama will not be tolerated.
In the case of my girlfriend, when I told her she should go on Saturday and got self-righteously angry at her, she calmed down. I then asked her, "Do I treat you like a whore?"
She said, "No. I don't know why I said you treat me like a whore. I was just upset that you take such care to fold your own clothes, all of them, and you just threw mine into that drawer in a big mess. Maybe if I knew you a little better and knew that you liked me it wouldn't be a big deal, but I just saw all that and thought maybe you don't really care about me."
And just like that, the drama had passed and we reconciled.
Finally, there's breaking up. Don't overuse this one, but for extreme situations sometimes it's called for. Tuesday night's drama with my girlfriend was worse, because she got quite bitter and resentful after I'd said too much about my ex and she began feeling insignificant because I'm quite a bit more experienced with women than she is with men. She started saying, "Maybe I should go out and have some one-night stands. Maybe I will go out and have sex with two men! Maybe I will just go to a bar and get drunk and go have sex with a man and never talk to him again afterward. Maybe I will have sex with my boss. Maybe I will have sex with ten men!"
This annoyed me, because I could tell it was some kind of passive-aggressive attempt to get me to chase after her. So instead, I told her, "I don't know why you're doing this attacking and trying to hurt me. It seems very bitter and resentful. Five minutes ago you were really happy. Then you asked me some questions, I gave you some answers, and now you're trying to hurt me. If you want to go have sex with ten guys, I think that's great. It's probably better if we're just friends so you can go out and pursue your dreams," effectively breaking up with her. She started crying, so I gave her some tissues. I told her maybe she should go home. Then she got up from bed and turned on the light and started getting dressed. I went and got her clothes out of the drawer and handed them to her, and she got everything together and left.
Maybe twenty minutes later she called and wanted to come back and not break up, so I told her that was fine. When she returned, I was very neutral and calm, and she apologized for getting so upset.
Quite honestly, you need absolute abundance to properly deal with drama. If you're afraid of losing a girl, you're going to have a very hard time keeping your cool in the face of drama, and you're going to find it next to impossible to kick a girl out or break up with her. When I broke up with my girlfriend Tuesday night, I really was quite okay with never seeing her again. She's a beautiful girl, very smart, educated, great career, really good body, great fun in bed, and full of life and energy and tons of fun, and probably one of the most amazing women I've been with, but these days I feel like there are tons of amazing women out there and they all really like me. Actually, I feel like it'd probably be a little better if we broke up, because I was on a good role bedding a lot of girls in a hurry before her and I've been a bit sidetracked since.
Plainly and simply, you need to really, honestly be able to walk away from a woman to appropriately handle drama. If you can't stomach the notion of never seeing her again, worst case scenario, then you're probably not going to be able to pull off staying calm in the face of drama and doing what needs to be done to properly address it.
Ultimately, it might help to have the right mentality when it comes to drama. My mentality is:
- I want to remain calm and not reinforce this behavior under any circumstance.
- I want her to help me understand what she's upset about so that she knows I understand.
- I want to show her I care about her, both by listening to what she's upset about, and by explaining to her that I do care about her.
- I don't want to have to deal with drama, so if it keeps up, she can go. I won't waste my time on this.
Reconciling with Women After Drama
Once the drama has passed, and your girl is conciliatory, you want to welcome her back with a little more warmth but still be relatively reserved. Reason being, you don't want to give her a big shot of warmth and make her feel like what she gets following drama feels really good. Rather, you want your girl to understand that it feels cold and neutral during drama and after it, and the warmth she gets is only for when things are good between the two of you.
I've heard different schools of thought on this, but I think it's okay to admit mistakes in a very casual, neutral way after the drama has passed if you actually did make a mistake. The reason for this is, something like with my girl's clothes, I should've folded those, and if I put them there again in the future I'll fold them, and if I didn't tell her I would, she'd instead feel that I was chastened and doing it out of fear. So instead, by telling her I should've folded them in a very calm and neutral voice, she gets to see that it isn't that I'm chastened, but rather that I simply made an oversight and likely won't make it again. She also knows now that if I do make that oversight again, that it's simply an oversight and not a lack of affection on my part.
My two reconciliations Saturday and Tuesday went like this:
Me: "Do I treat you like a whore?"
Girl: "No. I don't know why I said you treat me like a whore. I was just upset that you take such care to fold your own clothes, all of them, and you just threw mine into that drawer in a big mess. Maybe if I knew you a little better and knew that you liked me it wouldn't be a big deal, but I just saw all that and thought maybe you don't really care about me."
Me: "Well, I do like you. My mistake on not folding your clothes; I thought I did, or maybe I thought you'd folded them already when I grabbed them."
Then, I did nothing. I didn't get up to fold the clothes. I didn't put them back in the drawer. I just said I should've folded them, and kept sitting there on the couch with my computer. She bounded over happily and was all smiles.
"Oh," I said, "now you're smiling again?" She laughed. She was happy because she now felt that I understood her and cared about her and the clothes were only unfolded because of an oversight, not because she is unimportant to me.
It's important during the reconciliation to point out that the girl is happy again. This is to cement the emotion in her mind that the drama is past and she's once again content with the way things are.
[girl arrives back at my apartment 30 or so minutes after she left]
Me: "Oh… you're back."
Girl: "Hi. I'm sorry."
Me: "So now you don't want to go home?"
Girl: "I don't want to break up with you. I made a mistake earlier."
Throughout the whole thing, I maintained the position of someone who's rather bemusedly watching the entire debacle unfold. Just very calm, slightly inquisitive and curious, and waiting to see what she does. I told her when she brought up the details about my ex: "Well, you asked me questions, and I gave you answers. I'm not sure why you were so upset."
She said I was right and she did ask me those questions, and maybe she shouldn't ask me anything. "No, it's okay," I said. I didn't want her feeling like there was this wall between us and she couldn't get to know me. "I probably just shouldn't go into so much detail. I guess I gave you a little more information than you'd asked for."
Then we went back to bed; I kept my pants on this time, and just laid on my back, giving her no affection. I didn't want to be giving her anything and risk reinforcing her bad behavior. She turned to me and wrapped her arm around me and nuzzled her face into mine, which was fine since she was doing it and I was just lying there.
Because, in the end, the Law of Least Effort applies even in dealing with drama: you never want to be the one putting out much effort. Put out the minimum amount of effort you have to to address the situation, then let it be. She's the one causing the drama; you should only need to ask her to help you understand, then show her you understand, then show her you care.
And then, make sure she knows that you don't tolerate drama, and if she has something she isn't happy about, talking to you about it calmly is the only way to address it. If you mind your Ps and Qs, you can come out of drama with a stronger relationship than before it began – it's merely another objection to overcome.
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