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The secret meaning of “I don’t do drama”, and what the schnaffle to do about it

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On their first date, a friend recently had a guy turn to her and say “I don’t do drama.”

As soon as she told me, my red-flag meter zinged up to 100 and Neville sounded the fog horn.

Apparently it’s also quite common to read guys writing “No drama” on their dating profiles.

Like anyone actually wants drama in a relationship?

To me, when a man says “I don’t do drama”, what they’re really saying is “I don’t do emotions.”

Which also translates to “I have very low emotional intelligence. Run for your life.”

And in bad cases, as turned out to be the case with this guy my friend was dating, it roughly translates to “I’ll do whatever I want, and if it hurts you, and you call me out on it, I will belittle your feelings and make you doubt your boundaries by saying you’re being dramatic. I will assume that if you bring up a problem, YOU’RE the problem.”

It appears to be a HUGE problem in the dating world at the moment.

It seems to me that we now have something of an epidemic of people who don’t know how to regulate their own emotions.

Which means that so long as everything is fine and dandy while we’re dating, it’s all good. But the minute someone gets triggered, which happens very quickly with any form of deep human connection, we all freak out and revert to the unhelpful coping mechanisms we learned in childhood.

The below is my take on John Bowlby’s attachment styles, from my somewhat limited, but growing understanding of them. They are one of the most important things I’ve ever learnt for maintaining healthy relationships (romantic, family, and friendships).

I highly recommend that you go and research attachment styles if you want to improve any of your relationships, starting with Dan Siegel’s “Parenting from the Inside Out” (whether you’re a parent or not). Take my butchered explanation below with a grain of salt!

When we get triggered or hurt, we tend to react reflexively based on our attachment style learnt in early childhood.

Some of us go the way of the avoidant-dismissive attachment style – we tend to assume the other person is in the wrong, we withdraw into our huge concrete fort, we go cold, put up walls to push people away, and shut off (often severing the relationship completely).

This is what I do when I get hurt, and those walls I accidentally put up are bloody huge!

I suspect that folk who say they “don’t do drama” are of this avoidant-dismissive variety of humans.

Others go the way of the ambivalent-preoccupied/anxious attachment style – we tend to assume we are in the wrong, we can become needy and clinging, we aren’t clear with our own boundaries and needs, we try to fix things and make amends even when we’ve done nothing wrong, and we often end up pushing the other person away even further.

Some of us can go the way of the disorganised attachment style – we swing between pushing away and clinging, anxious and cold, and then back again – mixed signals and confusion galore for all involved.

The lucky ones among us, the securely attached folk (have never met one before, but they must be out there, lucky badgers) can maintain perspective, clearly and non-reactively communicate our needs and boundaries, and not become too clingy nor too cold in times of conflict.

Resilient bastards.

You can also become what’s called an “earned secure”, which means you’ve worked through your shit so much that you have moved away from your insecure attachment style, and developed a secure attachment style. You legend.

When I do the attachment-style tests (which you can do here if you’re keen to find out yours!), I now classify as an “earned secure”, but when I’m around someone who really triggers me, I default to my old ice queen/ dismissive behaviours, so there’s plenty more work to be done!

What I’ve found is so helpful about knowing my attachment style, and the styles of the people close to me, is that I can start to recognise my unhelpful default responses and choose differently.

And I can recognise the child-like patterns of my friends and loved ones when they’re triggered, and instead of becoming angry or taking their reaction personally, I can zoom out and see what might be going on for them internally.

Because in the end we are all craving deep, non-judgemental human connection.

None of us want “drama.” But connection does involve emotions.

And any good relationship will trigger our deepest fears… and then help us to heal them too.

The only way to get the depth of connection we’re all craving is to start to let go of all the barriers and coping-strategies we’ve built up over a lifetime, one brick at a time, through safe, non-judgemental relationships where we can truly be ourselves.

It requires emotions. It requires vulnerability. And it requires non-judgemental presence from both sides.

My mission is to model and spread more kindness, less judgement, more presence, and therefore more understanding – both of ourselves and others.

This is how I reckon we’ll make the world way more bloody good.

Join me?

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I have an online workshop coming up (details TBC) called How to be Less of a Dick to Yourself (AKA Self Compassion for Sceptics)! I would love you to join us — It’s going to be bloody splendid! Click here to register your interest.

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