You probably can't force someone to take this test without causing drama
April 9, 2016 8:30 AM   Subscribe

 
Who the hell thinks the "It's complicated" relationship status on Facebook is anything other than a slightly humourous "it doesn't really fit in the other boxes and it's none of your business anyway"?
posted by MartinWisse at 8:37 AM on April 9, 2016 [24 favorites]


Psychologist Scott Frankowski.
posted by maryr at 8:40 AM on April 9, 2016 [9 favorites]


What if there ARE people in my life out to get me but I would rather there not be?

(And I TOOOOOTALLY have a couple of drama-monger FB friends who use "it's complicated" as a prelude to divorce or a breakup, and in one case when dating a married man in secret. And in one case when dating a child molester who was in prison, but I decided to unfriend her so I don't know how that all turned out.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:44 AM on April 9, 2016 [33 favorites]


I got the drama-need level of the dude with his glasses slightly askew. He looks like he's seen some shit.

I try to think twice before talking about someone causing "drama" or being "dramatic" these days, because I'm conscious that what's "dramatic" depends on the gender of the accused thespian and perhaps on their race or ethnicity as well. And yet I feel it in my bones sometimes, that judgment eager to be made, that twitching at my lips . . .
posted by Countess Elena at 8:46 AM on April 9, 2016 [8 favorites]


OK THIS IS NOT WHAT I NEED RIGHT NOW GUYS
posted by aydeejones at 8:53 AM on April 9, 2016 [59 favorites]


"it doesn't really fit in the other boxes and it's none of your business anyway"

As far as I can tell, the field isn't mandatory.
posted by supercres at 8:55 AM on April 9, 2016 [19 favorites]


I've only ever seen "it's complicated" used as "I'm now available for dating and cryptic conversations vaguely alluding to what's going on!" on FB, but others' mileage may vary. It's definitely a worn trope by now on nighttime TV etc
posted by aydeejones at 8:57 AM on April 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


In my experience 'It's Complicated' has most often meant "I want you to ask me about my relationship status so I can talk your ear off for an hour." It's not necessarily drama-seeking, it's more generalized attention-seeking, though there's some overlap of course.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:58 AM on April 9, 2016 [20 favorites]


I was not at all impressed with the quiz, but the article does have some stuff that matches my anecdotal experience with people like this:
Additionally, highly dramatic people tend to have an external, rather than an internal, “locus of control”; in other words, though their own behavior may be responsible for creating much of the dramatic happenings in their lives, they don’t see it this way.
That much rings true. (My personal 'is this person dramatic' test is simply if their profile on a service mentions that they hate drama - if a person feels they need to talk about it in the first place, they probably attract too much.)

I've only ever seen "it's complicated" used as "I'm now available for dating and cryptic conversations vaguely alluding to what's going on!"

Yeah, I was trying to think of a way to phrase a similar sentiment. People who genuinely don't want to talk about a thing don't hint about it, they avoid drawing attention to it in the first place. (Like, I only use Facebook for private messages because I loathe open discussions about even the most innocuous topics there.)
posted by mordax at 9:01 AM on April 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


I see that "for some reason you decided to literally pursue a career in drama, which is by no means an unrelated use of the word" is not on the test, which may skew my results somewhat.
posted by kyrademon at 9:07 AM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


mordax, I was just thinking about "my personal 'is this person dramatic' test" and how to put it into words -- this has come up recently. So far as I can phrase it, it's whether the person is always the hero and/or helpless victim in all of the stories s/he relates. I've seen this in several people I know. They're actually lovely people, too, entirely worth knowing and listening to. Nonetheless, there it is.

It should be okay to need attention, sometimes even a lot of attention. What's not okay is not offering that attention in your turn, or not offering any other reciprocal friendship services. Without doing that, you're either very ill or a vampire.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:07 AM on April 9, 2016 [14 favorites]


Additionally, highly dramatic people tend to have an external, rather than an internal, “locus of control”; in other words, though their own behavior may be responsible for creating much of the dramatic happenings in their lives, they don’t see it this way.

OH GOD THIS. I just had a horribly dramatic situation two days after recent surgery (while still in hospital!) and found out yesterday that it was entirely manufactured by someone, how do I put this, being elastic in their relationship to the truth when conveying communication between me and someone else. Created a whole ridiculous and highly stressful situation that I did. not. need. when in a LOT of pain and on a LOT of painkillers.

And yep, this person does this all. the. time. It's endlessly frustrating.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:09 AM on April 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


"Drama" is basically "will you be co-dependent with my unwillingness to stop doing this clearly stupid thing." When I am hiring people drama is by far the number one thing I screen against, as it manifests a basic cognitive disability that can just crush performance. It doesn't mean I want people to be perfect, just to know where they tend to fuck up and OWN that just like they own everything good about themselves, too.
posted by MattD at 9:09 AM on April 9, 2016 [23 favorites]


I often wonder if there's not just a gender component to casting someone as dramatic, but a privilege one as well.

Because for a lot of people who don't have very much money or are being crushed under student loan/medical debt or have a kid with a medical problem or whathave you that leads to a major strain on finances their situation causes an enormous amount of anxiety/strain, and thus what we call "drama" is really just they're at this horrible level of strain that anything happening is actually a Really Big Deal. So, to hear them talk about needing to get a somewhat minor thing done with their car and making a big deal out of it may seem really dramatic to someone who can afford it without much thought. The woman continually talking about the chaos and conflict about her mother being sick may get the other person thinking geez can you just shut up about all this drama about your mother already when the woman is just stressed out of her mind about possibly having to travel or help her mom pay for medical bills when she can't afford it. Because we're definitely (in the U.S. at least) very judgmental sometimes when it comes to other people's financial situation so what comes out as "dramatic" is really just the person trying to talk about their shitty situation without actually talking about it. So we get to hear day in and day out the seemingly minor, ongoing details about their mother when a person is really saying, "I'm sick out of my mind with worry that something is going to happen to cost money I don't have and I don't know what to do about it."

Yeah, there definitely are people out there who do genuinely seek attention - on preview, I like how Countess Elena just put it -and yeah, who are like in that in those situations (but would be like that regardless), but I just try to keep in mind sometimes when I'm about to pass the judgement "dramatic" that maybe there's something else going on there.
posted by barchan at 9:15 AM on April 9, 2016 [83 favorites]


I know people like this, and found these insights useful in my ongoing struggle to understand and deal with them:

“Need for drama” [is] defined here as a “compound personality trait in which individuals manipulate others from a position of perceived victimization.”

And:

Additionally, highly dramatic people tend to have an external, rather than an internal, “locus of control”; in other words, though their own behavior may be responsible for creating much of the dramatic happenings in their lives, they don’t see it this way. “High NFD individuals seem to see the world as happening to them,” Frankowski and his colleagues write, “which likely makes them reactive to perceived slights.” Put another way, those with a naturally dramatic flair tend to perceive themselves as the victim of their circumstances.

Our oldest kid came to us as a young adult after a very abusive upbringing, and they have this tendency. They often come home from visits with friends and announce, "Well, I can never hang out with so-and-so again!" Usually the issue is relatively minor and eventually gets worked out. They had a setback in something really important to them yesterday, and it was very hard to get them to fight the big panic attack/meltdown they desperately wanted to have. It was interesting to watch. They really, really wanted to escalate and wallow, to turn a missed phone call into "Everything is ruined!" with a whole litany of "what if this" and "what if that." I can remember having that tendency as a young person, to some extent, and Oldest Kid has improved quite a bit since coming to live with us, and I hope will continue to do so.

One of the things I've worked with them on is taking responsibility for their own actions. They tell stories about a friend who "made them" watch a horror movie, say, and it turns out at "made me watch a horror movie" is a synonym for "suggested we watch a horror movie, and even though I didn't want to, I didn't say anything." They're starting to get it: to speak up, or, if they don't, to recognize that they weren't actually "made" to do a thing.

I think I'd dispute the "naturally" part of the dramatic flair. The people I know who live like this are all victims of abusive upbringings. I know that mental health is a mix of inherent factors and environmental ones (it certainly has been for me). But I doubt my kid would have these habits to this degree if they hadn't been raised in a situation where they were powerless, yet blamed for things they had no control over, while simultaneously learning to live in fear of making anyone angry or upset.
posted by not that girl at 9:15 AM on April 9, 2016 [65 favorites]


Is this satire? I thought it was satire - I mean the test is basically:

This test will determine if you like drama:
1. "On a scale of 1-10 how much do you like drama?"

and 8 you say.. hmm yes you are quite prone to drama then.


total nonsense. 5 transparent questions that merely self-report your perceived propensity for drama.
posted by mary8nne at 9:36 AM on April 9, 2016 [24 favorites]


"Secret need for drama"? I think you mean desire for drama, because I was imagining a single-serving website with a button that says:

CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW MUCH DRAMA YOU NEED

And when clicked, it would state:

NONE


No one needs drama, but some people do gravitate towards or tend to generate such conflicts. Need ≠ Want.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:36 AM on April 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


The person in my life with the highest Need For Drama also seems to have some serious PTSD from his childhood. I'm sympathetic, but one day I had to take over his work for him because he had to leave and tend to a personal emergency. A few days later, it turned out he hadn't realized that one of my closest friends recently died - I guess I was too low-key about it. Yeah, that bugged me.
posted by maggiemaggie at 9:37 AM on April 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


I was also glad to see in the article that they found no gender differences in the need for drama. It's true that it seems on the face of it to be a stereotype, but if you think about it for a minute you'll come up with plenty of men who are drama queens and plenty of women who are low key.
posted by maggiemaggie at 9:44 AM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


okay I know this was posted about me but WHATEVERRRR, I'm not rising to the bait, HATERZ
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:52 AM on April 9, 2016 [17 favorites]


Yes, the test felt a lot like they're simply asking directly: are you a person that needs drama? The whole point of these tests should be that the respondent could not give a straightforward answer on who they think they are. Or is there something more there that I'm missing?
posted by sapagan at 9:52 AM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


From my own observation, Vaguebooking is a far better indicator of drama seeking behavior than choosing "It's complicated" as a relationship status.

Would people who regularly button and unbutton their accounts rather than just quietly take breaks now and then be the Metafilter equivalent of drama kings and queens?
posted by The Gooch at 9:52 AM on April 9, 2016 [9 favorites]



I often wonder if there's not just a gender component to casting someone as dramatic, but a privilege one as well.


I don't tend to think so. I categorize drama as a level of need to project one's woes to anyone who'll listen to the point of magnifying the severity of those woes. It doesn't seem to correlate to privilege. (Or gender for that matter, even if there is a tendency to use the term in a gendered way.) In fact, I think one of the hallmarks of "drama" is the ability to "afford" indulging in it. If someone's house burns down or child dies or business fails, for instance, people will generally make allowances for that person's understandable distress. A penchant for "drama" is when crises are continual, seemingly trivial, irrelevant, avoidable, and/or more or less without impact. It's is not a trait one necessarily casts upon another from a position of privilege, so much as a trait one indulges from a position of privilege. Drama seeking people are all along the spectrum of privilege, but probably most noticeable when there is no apparent reason for their life's woes to be so impacting.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:00 AM on April 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


If there is drama with all of your relationships, YOU are causing the drama.
posted by VTX at 10:01 AM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


A psych scale that will result in infinite recursion is fun. If you like perpetual drama.
posted by srboisvert at 10:07 AM on April 9, 2016


My second-most-favorited comment:
You know that friend who has an endless supply of very entertaining epic tales of DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA that was inflicted on the friend by evil, bad, wrong people when the friend was just minding their own business peacefully living a virtuous life? Eventually you're going to get to play the role of the evil, bad, wrong person.
[She posted, fishing for more favorites drama.]

Seriously, that test reads like it's a foreign language to me, though it lines up so well with some people I know. (And like, even.) Yes, there's a component of privilege in accusations of drama, but the people I know who are most drama-needers in the way enumerated by this test are privileged in most ways, yet despite that it seems like they're constantly tormented by horrible people and unconquerable circumstances—or they're sweeping in to white-knight and fight the good fight against All The Broken Systems.
posted by BrashTech at 10:09 AM on April 9, 2016 [9 favorites]


I wonder if part of the gender disconnect comes from the differences between what people, including the researchers in this article, talk about when we casually talk about drama ("always seems to be having a crisis with a sick kid or something", "overshares about their relationships on Facebook") and the stuff that the test actually measures (do you think people are out to get you?; do you sometimes say things just to see what reaction you will provoke?; do you have a hard time not giving your opinion in situations where you'll later regret it?). The former stuff is, I think, stereotypical female behavior, for lots of reasons, including that men don't have sick kid crises as often because mothers are more likely to be responsible for taking care of sick kids. But the actual stuff in the quiz isn't stereotypically female stuff, and in fact you could argue that women are socialized to do less of the real-life trolling behavior like saying offensive things just to get a reaction.

Anyway, they seem to suggest that drama-llamaing comes from a combination of sensation-craving and external locus of control. I wonder about people who have the impulsivity/ sensation-craving thing and an internal locus of control. My hypothesis would be that they're more likely to be co-dependent: they seek out other people's chaos and try to fix it, rather than creating chaos of their own.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:13 AM on April 9, 2016 [8 favorites]


I don't associate being a drama llama with having a legitimately stressful and difficult life. Quite the opposite. It's someone who has no actual reason to behave as if the sky is falling but who does it anyway, manufacturing any conflict that is not organically available. Whether or not this stems from childhood trauma, it's toxic behavior best addressed in therapy. I don't have the patience for it, which is why I'm not a therapist.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:15 AM on April 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


FWIW, most of the people that I know that are "drama seekers" are men by a wide margin.
posted by VTX at 10:16 AM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


The woman continually talking about the chaos and conflict about her mother being sick may get the other person thinking geez can you just shut up about all this drama about your mother already when the woman is just stressed out of her mind about possibly having to travel or help her mom pay for medical bills when she can't afford it.

You can be stressed out of your mind and not be dramatic about it. Compartmentalize. Not everybody cares about your feelings and your feelings are not always relevant anyway.

I work with a self-obsessed woman who apparently has only a very limited ability to regulate her emotions. She's going through a legitimately rough time right now, and I'm sorry about that. But it's also not my problem, and I wish she would stop making it my problem.

I wonder about people who have the impulsivity/ sensation-craving thing and an internal locus of control. My hypothesis would be that they're more likely to be co-dependent: they seek out other people's chaos and try to fix it, rather than creating chaos of their own.

That's me to a T. I tend to be pretty secretive about my own "drama" when I'm at work or hanging out with friends or whatever, because I want those times to be RESPITES from it. I feel no compulsion to overshare on facebook or call off from work or anything like that. But I can be pretty drawn to chaos and things like giving my opinion even if it's unwise or being constantly obsessed with figuring out/anticipating other people are definitely things I struggle with! So I think your theory about drama-llama v. codependent might be correct, ArbitraryAndCapricious.
posted by rue72 at 10:28 AM on April 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


I've spent much of my life with an inclination to like dramamatic personalities. I start out admiring what looks to me like directness, courage, openness, vitality, candour, spontaneity, scrappiness, and a uncompromising sense of justice.

Ultimately, when someone with all these great qualities decides that you're not cutting it and have become the enemy, you'll feel the Eye of Sauron fall upon you.

Sorry if my metaphor sounds a tad dramatic. It's just that it's a very bad thing to have made a huge emotional investment in anyone who sees themselves at the centre of a black and white world.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:32 AM on April 9, 2016 [20 favorites]


It should be okay to need attention, sometimes even a lot of attention. What's not okay is not offering that attention in your turn, or not offering any other reciprocal friendship services. Without doing that, you're either very ill or a vampire..

That's a good point. I have dear friends that I think of as dramatic, but as long as they're there for me when I need them, it's a value-neutral judgment. I just use it to try and retain perspective - like, when they are freaking out, I still want to help them, but I know not to *also* freak out.

I wonder about people who have the impulsivity/ sensation-craving thing and an internal locus of control. My hypothesis would be that they're more likely to be co-dependent: they seek out other people's chaos and try to fix it, rather than creating chaos of their own.

I can't speak for everyone, but my own misspent youth would certainly support your hypothesis.

I think I'd dispute the "naturally" part of the dramatic flair. The people I know who live like this are all victims of abusive upbringings

In my circles, a lot of this is tied to emotionally abusive parents, yeah. Kids that grow up without agency - regardless of their economic circumstances - seem to lean toward having that external locus. I think it's hard to learn that you are in control of your own life when it wasn't true for the early parts.
posted by mordax at 10:34 AM on April 9, 2016 [12 favorites]


Because for a lot of people who don't have very much money or are being crushed under student loan/medical debt or have a kid with a medical problem or whathave you that leads to a major strain on finances their situation causes an enormous amount of anxiety/strain, and thus what we call "drama" is really just they're at this horrible level of strain that anything happening is actually a Really Big Deal. So, to hear them talk about needing to get a somewhat minor thing done with their car and making a big deal out of it may seem really dramatic to someone who can afford it without much thought. The woman continually talking about the chaos and conflict about her mother being sick may get the other person thinking geez can you just shut up about all this drama about your mother already when the woman is just stressed out of her mind about possibly having to travel or help her mom pay for medical bills when she can't afford it. Because we're definitely (in the U.S. at least) very judgmental sometimes when it comes to other people's financial situation so what comes out as "dramatic" is really just the person trying to talk about their shitty situation without actually talking about it. So we get to hear day in and day out the seemingly minor, ongoing details about their mother when a person is really saying, "I'm sick out of my mind with worry that something is going to happen to cost money I don't have and I don't know what to do about it."

That's not drama. Drama is them sleeping with your boyfriend then explaining it away because they're stressed over their mom and crying and blaming you for picking on them at this horrible time when all they needed was some comfort and it just happened and why are you so mad, can't you see they are upset?
posted by fshgrl at 10:40 AM on April 9, 2016 [21 favorites]


I have a trivial nit-picking complaint about "it's complicated".

I think it's useful to distinguish something complex from something unfamiliar. Both complex and unfamiliar things require mental effort to understand, but one of them requires it intrinsically, while the other requires it only situationally (in fairness, sometimes it's both).

I can't speak for anyone else, but I find the standard rules for relationships much more complex, with far more nuance and subtlety than the unconventional ones I've tried. The difference is that there are tutorials on "normal" relationships every day on TV, in most novels and in the movies. Someone poly might spend an hour describing their relationship, but conventional relationships have been explained to you over and over for your entire life.
posted by idiopath at 10:45 AM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I used "It's complicated" on Facebook when it wouldn't let me say married without saying which other Facebook user I was married to... and my wife didn't have an account.
I need no drama, and scored very low, for what it's worth.
posted by MikeWarot at 11:09 AM on April 9, 2016


I apparently have an average need for drama. I just found out yesterday that a mentally unstable man I used to keep an eye on for an internet forum was released from a Syrian death camp. I don't give a shit about people's drama.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 11:14 AM on April 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


sapagan, I had that problem with it too. Self reporting is always sketchy, and I'm having a really hard time imagining many people being self-aware enough to report accurately.

It seems to me that it's just a confluence of black and white thinking. The world is full of bad guys and good guys, triumphs and tragedies, and solid, predictable narratives where any minor conflict or disagreement or setback is blown way out of proportion.

Also, there are confounding factors, I'm sure. Younger people are often going to react to things more dramatically, simply because they haven't had as much life experience, so situations are more likely to be new and unknown. So something that would be overly dramatic from someone in their 50s might be perfectly normal from someone in their 20s.

Also, my result looks like Ralf Hutter when I am obviously more of a Florian. So pfffht.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:14 AM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


"It's Complicated" isn't drama, per se. It's just narcissism. You're telling everybody how special you are, and how the typical rules don't apply to you.

If your "complicated" status allows for you to date new people, then "complicated" isn't relevant to a new suitor. But if your "complicated "status does not allow for this, or only allows for it in certain, special situations (the suitor is really hot/really rich), well, then you're just shining the spotlight on yourself.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:21 AM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, there are confounding factors, I'm sure. Younger people are often going to react to things more dramatically, simply because they haven't had as much life experience, so situations are more likely to be new and unknown. So something that would be overly dramatic from someone in their 50s might be perfectly normal from someone in their 20s.

It's not just life experience, it's also neurological development. Our prefrontal cortex, which helps control impulsivity, isn't fully developed until our mid-20s. It's also affected by trauma, especially ongoing trauma like abuse, which can cause brain changes and reduce one's ability to regulate one's emotions.

I get the idea of this measurement being potentially helpful as a snapshot of one's personality, but I don't like the presentation that it's an innate trait. "Need for drama" also seems a pointlessly judgmental name for the measurement.
posted by lazuli at 11:47 AM on April 9, 2016 [11 favorites]


"Would people who regularly button and unbutton their accounts rather than just quietly take breaks now and then be the Metafilter equivalent of drama kings and queens?"

Naw, that's just strong self-knowledge in most cases I think. Like, MetaFilter is often my escapism and I took a button-break after there was a tornado that destroyed a bunch of my friends' houses and there was a thread on the tornado and people were being diiiiiiicks and I'd come here to escape the then-stressful community trauma of my actual life (helping friends who'd just lost their homes) and I was so emotionally wrung out I just could not STOP myself from getting in fights with people who were being dicks. Given that I was aware my ability to emotionally self-regulate was low, and therefore I was unlikely to make good decisions about avoiding emotionally-charged threads on metafilter, and I was actively seeking distracting activities so I kept reflexively surfing to metafilter, it seemed better to me to push the button for a few days so that if I wanted to comment I'd have to take the extra step to e-mail the mods and unbutton, which gave me enough time to slow down and be like, "Know what? Bad idea, still upset, I should go watch a movie." Anyway when I was back on an even emotional keel after a couple of weeks and the initial trauma had faded a bit and I felt less frantic, I unbuttoned.

I think most people who take temporary button breaks are doing the same sort of emotional self-regulation and just are aware that they don't always make great decisions when emotionally off-kilter, which strikes me as the OPPOSITE of drama. I can only go so far in controlling what emotional responses I have to situations, but I can go farther by knowing which way those responses tend to be negative and limiting my ability to act on those negative responses.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:48 AM on April 9, 2016 [15 favorites]


I like diagrams, so without RTFA I'll just drop these here:
Manipulation & Relationship Triangles
WP article on Karpman model
Three Roles of Victimhood
posted by wonton endangerment at 12:01 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I would say one of the hallmarks for this is the inability to read non-explicit cues that someone wants you to stop talking to them.
posted by Ferreous at 12:22 PM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


the "It's complicated" relationship status on Facebook is for when you're just tired of seeing single.

Many ask.mefi-ers should consider the test. I used to feel more dramatic about the issues in my life, which are plentiful, but, that's true of lots of people. Part of becoming an Old is recognizing that's there are issues, and there are Issues. Not overplaying the former, or, to be fair, not underplaying the latter. It's complicated.
posted by theora55 at 12:31 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's not just life experience, it's also neurological development. Our prefrontal cortex, which helps control impulsivity, isn't fully developed until our mid-20s. It's also affected by trauma, especially ongoing trauma like abuse, which can cause brain changes and reduce one's ability to regulate one's emotions.

Oh, definitely. I guess the disconnect is that I don't see all dramatic tendencies as being serious personal failings or innate assholery. Everyone is kind of glitchy sometimes, with various character flaws and irrational behaviors. Lots of people have very good reasons for abnormal behaviors.

This is going to sound fabricated, but I swear it's true. Just now, like since my last post, I had to fill out an extra but still pretty standard government form, and I immediately catastrophized it. Like, let's just skip the intermediary steps. Tell them I'm dead. I'll go live in the woods or adopt a new identity or something. BYE!

I am in my 50s, and I am not generally dramatic, I don't think. But I have had some very bad experiences with bureaucratic clusterfucks in the past, so I totally overreact to any hint of Official Paperwork. I should and actually do know better because I've had to do that kind of thing a million times and know it's no big deal, so it's pretty maladaptive that my immediate response is to panic.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:36 PM on April 9, 2016 [25 favorites]


Man, ernielundquist...you are my people.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:40 PM on April 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


And in one case when dating a child molester who was in prison

Did she tell people on facebook that he'd molested children?
posted by Greg Nog at 12:58 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh god, ernielundquist, I feel your pain. I have so much paperwork to deal with right now so I can like, pay rent and shit while I'm off, and it is SO OVERWHELMING I just want to be like "fuck it don't care I'll be homeless rather than fill yet another thing NOPING OUT OF HERE."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:59 PM on April 9, 2016


So, not just a lack of endorphin, or adrenaline? Like what drives people to ride roller coasters?
posted by IndigoJones at 1:20 PM on April 9, 2016


That test is a joke right? One of the questions statements is: "People often talk about me behind my back." If it's behind my back, how the hell would I know if it happens often? Also, " I always speak my mind but pay for it later." Say I strongly disagree... is it because I don't speak my mind, or don't pay for it later?
posted by axiom at 1:20 PM on April 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm having a really hard time imagining many people being self-aware enough to report accurately.

I think that a test like this seems useless when standing alone in the middle of an article about dramatic personalities, but the way it would actually be presented would be different. These questions would be mixed in with a lot of other questions in a general personality assessment test. A person taking the test that honestly wanted a genuine result would be motivated to answer truthfully, and wouldn't have any idea of the particular trait that each individual question was pertaining to. These tests often have "trick" questions embedded in them as well, questions that are most likely to be answered a certain way if a person were attempting to manipulate the test, so those tend to weed out those who are answering dishonestly.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:25 PM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Did she tell people on facebook that he'd molested children?

If she's a true drama llama absolutely not. Instead she would have posted dozens of memes about second chances, how true love know no bounds and how we shouldn't judge others. Possibly some overtly born again stuff. Maybe some anti-incarceration stuff for good measure. Then after they broke up it would have been memes about narcissists, the seven signs you're dating a psychopath and how strong women don't need a man anymore than a fish needs a bicycle.

It's almost like half the people on this thread don't see enough drama on their facebook feeds to instantly recognize and predict it or something.
posted by fshgrl at 1:40 PM on April 9, 2016 [20 favorites]


"Did she tell people on facebook that he'd molested children?"

Well, the local news told the entire state that he'd molested children. She told people on facebook that "those girls" seduced him. That was the exact moment I was like, "Nope, I'm out, unfriend."

The slightly longer story is, they'd been dating a while and he lived out of town so none of us had met him. She was kinda dramatic especially about her dating life, so he sounded a little ... skeezy, I guess. But ALL of her boyfriends sounded skeezy when she talked about them so we didn't really think much of it. He was a high school teacher, coached girls sports (I think volleyball but it might have been soccer). She had four kids, the oldest girl in high school -- although not this guy's high school. So when he was arrested for raping several girls on his teams, it was BIG NEWS statewide. So initially we were all like OH MY GOD, I can't even imagine what she's going through, finding this out about her boyfriend and having a daughter in his "target" demographic, she must be so traumatized ...

Well, on facebook she first denied all the allegations and insisted he was being harassed by the cops and let her children keep seeing him, and posted a lot of this stuff: "Instead she would have posted dozens of memes about second chances, how true love know no bounds and how we shouldn't judge others. Possibly some overtly born again stuff. Maybe some anti-incarceration stuff for good measure." Lots of vaguebooking about people judging her and her parenting. Then when the evidence became overwhelming and super-gross, she insisted that these girls (as young as 14) had seduced him, and anyway some of them were over the age of consent. (Which, technically true of some of the victims, but it's still a felony in this state if you're a high school teacher where they go to school, even if they're 18.) That's when I was like, "Yep, nope, done with this person."

I know she kept dating him for a while after he went to prison, but eventually all of our mutual acquaintances noped out of her life, so I haven't heard anything in a few years.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:51 PM on April 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


The photo on the far right should be Alexander Hamilton.
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:51 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


That test is SO dumb. I have NO need for drama. Whatever.

Anyone seen my red shoes?
posted by Twang at 2:02 PM on April 9, 2016


Well, the local news told the entire state that he'd molested children. She told people on facebook that "those girls" seduced him

man, that is, damn I don't know what that is. I read that sentence, and at first went "hah ha" and then immediately went "huuuuuuuh (drawing in breath, don't really know how to spell that)" as the full meaning hit me.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:05 PM on April 9, 2016


I think that a test like this seems useless when standing alone in the middle of an article about dramatic personalities, but the way it would actually be presented would be different. These questions would be mixed in with a lot of other questions in a general personality assessment test.

Not necessarily. PDF of the study from the lead author's site. It looks like they used just a 12-item self-reported scale, with the wording somewhat different than the version in the NY Magazine article. The authors point out that self-report might not be reliable.
posted by lazuli at 2:13 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oddly, I scored average on the need for drama, which surprises me because I tend to get a Mr. Spock look on my face (complete with cocked eyebrow) when I perceive drama llamas.

Perhaps it's other people's drama I have issues with.
posted by Mooski at 2:17 PM on April 9, 2016


I cannot deal with drama. I don't have anyone who hates me enough to consider me an enemy, I don't play people against each other because I'm not one of Les Tricoteuses, and I don't bother saying anything merely to get a rise out of people. Who has time for that shit?

I drop people who behave as if every inconvenience is injustice of the highest order, whose colds are upgraded to pneumonias, whose slightly burnt coffee at Starbucks is evidence of the barista's personally directed contempt, I mean... I drop them like a hot brick. Again, who has time for that shit?

Growing up with someone who was like this was a nightmare. I'm almost too far on the other end, in that in some cases, I should actually be a bit more demonstrative than I am, but I daresay the calm is so nice over here.
posted by droplet at 2:31 PM on April 9, 2016 [10 favorites]


Say I strongly disagree... is it because I don't speak my mind, or don't pay for it later?

I think it's less about what actually happens and more about your perception of what happens. Somebody who perceives themselves as a person who speaks their mind and then pays for it later is more likely to be dramatic.

I have feelings about this article. A "cycle of crisis" is probably an accurate description of my life. Some of the descriptors do apply to me. I vehemently don't try to manipulate people or play them against each other. But I am impulsive, I do tend to blurt things, I have trouble slowing down and carefully thinking things through (ADHD, comes with the territory). There are times when I've cut corners to save money and it caused far more trouble in the long run. There are times, so many times, when I thought I had something really planned out but then there was an obvious contingency that I didn't incorporate and everything suffered for it.

In general I feel pretty shitty about the crises. I don't want to be the perennial fuckup, the person nobody can depend on. I don't beg for sympathy--actually, I generally turn those various crises into humorous anecdotes because I like to make my friends laugh and it's a hell of a lot better than wallowing in the fact my cat has cost me another $1000 in emergency vet fees the night before a major exam. A friend of mine once said that when I make a mistake it always seems to coincide with a volcano eruption and a meteor smashing into the Earth and a plague sweeping across the land. That is, I fuck up, and then outside forces conspire such that the absolute worst possible outcome occurs. And I make a lot of mistakes.

But as amusing as that theory is, I know it's not true. I know if I had started studying for my exam sooner it wouldn't be as much of an issue that my cat got sick. Given that meeting was important, I should've built "getting stuck in a massive traffic jam because of an accident" time into when I left for it. If I got more of that paper done sooner, then the burglary wouldn't be quite so disrupting to getting it in on time. The way to prevent these things from happening is to stop fucking up. Which feels overwhelming to think about because I fuck up even when I am trying really, really, really hard not to. Sometimes it feels like fucking up is an integral part of who I am.

I worry people think I'm not trying. I worry they think I'm trolling for sympathy or manufacturing drama to cover laziness. I worry they think I don't see my faults. Which is another reason to talk about my crises a funny, self-deprecating way when I do talk about them, because maybe no one will think I'm trying to pump them for tears.

Coming from all that--this article is fairly disheartening because it is basically a confirmation of my worst fears about what others think about me, and confirmation of my hypothesis that my fuck-ups are the result of failing to mature into a proper adult. Like, I don't want to be the dramatic person, but realistically that's probably what I am to everyone around me. Shit, maybe the act of writing this comment is an attempt in of itself to incite drama and sympathy? I don't know. I don't know!
posted by schroedinger at 2:33 PM on April 9, 2016 [24 favorites]


Because for a lot of people who don't have very much money or are being crushed under student loan/medical debt or have a kid with a medical problem or whathave you that leads to a major strain on finances their situation causes an enormous amount of anxiety/strain, and thus what we call "drama" is really just they're at this horrible level of strain that anything happening is actually a Really Big Deal.

That's pretty much the exact opposite of who gets called "dramatic" in my life. The word is definitely used disproportionately on women though - even though there are tons of men to which it should apply - and it's true that you can't always know exactly what a person has going on inside. Really I think it's more unfair to people with mental health issues than anything.
posted by atoxyl at 2:51 PM on April 9, 2016


My experience with drama-prone people is that are very proud of the fact that they ”tell it like it is." Or, if female, have a lot of their identity invested in being a "bitch." And then they wonder why their behavior causes drama.

I worked with a woman like this who always had multiple pots of drama on the crisis stove. Her phone went off constantly and she always acted like she just couldn't believe it and how dare these people text her constantly, but it was clear she just couldn't wait to read the text, which was probably related to all the drama. It made having an uninterrupted conversation with her really hard.
posted by Biblio at 2:55 PM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: multiple pots of drama on the crisis stove
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:58 PM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hey Schroedinger, I wouldn't lump you in with the type under discussion. You're taking ownership of your part in the dynamic that causes your problems. Dramatic people more often see others' cruelty, conspiracy and sabotage as the mechanisms undermining their deserved success.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:02 PM on April 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


Who the hell thinks the "It's complicated" relationship status on Facebook is anything other than a slightly humourous "it doesn't really fit in the other boxes and it's none of your business anyway"?

Anybody who’s really into subtext.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:16 PM on April 9, 2016


I think the researcher's example of "My kid is sick and I need to leave work" as "drama" is not really helping differentiate between patterns of "interpersonal manipulation, impulsive outspokenness, and persistent perceived victimhood," which is what the study claimed it was trying to measure, and daily bad shit that tends to happen more the less privileged you are, like needing to leave work early to deal with a sick child.
posted by lazuli at 3:26 PM on April 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


My boss at my last job was an incurable attention-seeker and it wore heavily on my nerves. However, it was weirdly successful in the short term in terms of getting people, including suckers like me, to jump into action. It was not only her personality, but her entire management style, and if you're a codependent type, it's a great way to manipulate people. (By great, I mean "horridly successful way to rope in codependents") But day in, day out it was hellish when it was not comic.

I got average; don't know if I should be relieved or disappointed. I shared this on Facebook, which is exactly where it belongs.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 4:27 PM on April 9, 2016


"It's complicated" is used by most of the out or outish poly folks I know, since Facebook won't allow us to set relationships statuses with more than one person. Not narcissism, not a desire for drama, no issues, just a lack of the right damn boxes.
posted by joycehealy at 4:40 PM on April 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


My dad is like this. We're not longer in contact, but when we were it was exhausting to be around. It was a revelation to me to realize that adulthood doesn't have to be a slog of self-perceived victimhood and manufactured crises. I tend to give people who act like him a wide berth. It's not worth the energy investment.
posted by zenzicube at 4:48 PM on April 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


I drop people who behave as if every inconvenience is injustice of the highest order, whose colds are upgraded to pneumonias, whose slightly burnt coffee at Starbucks is evidence of the barista's personally directed contempt

When I was a young sucker with no self-esteem, I had friends like this and I'd listen to them blabbering their traumas into my answering machine (this was the 80s) and they'd yell at me, knowing I was screening them: "ARE YOU THERE? PICK UP THE PHONE!" When you have no ability to cut people like this off, technology is critical. I'm so glad I did not grow up in the instantaneous contact era; I would never have gotten anything done.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 4:50 PM on April 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


I've mostly seen "it's complicated" as shorthand for "we're about to be going through a divorce."
posted by Cookiebastard at 4:51 PM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I’d like a Facebook status along the lines of “It’s crumpet-related”, meaning that you meet regularly for tea.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:59 PM on April 9, 2016 [11 favorites]


it's quite simple actually -- they are out to get to me and they are saying things behind me back.
posted by philip-random at 5:27 PM on April 9, 2016


Clicking around this "Science of Us" site a bit and it comes off like a Buzzfeed with worse curating.
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:12 PM on April 9, 2016


I think it's important not to dismiss people in real crisis situations simply being honest about institutional disadvantage, abuse, etc, as being dramatic or "playing victim" or whatever if they talk about what's happening to them. Especially people who are not privileged by society. That's a pretty common and easy way to ignore real bad things that happen to people that this article brought to mind. There's perceived victimhood, sure, but real victimhood is also a thing that the overarching label of "drama" can make it hard for people, particularly women, to talk about.
posted by ariadne's threadspinner at 6:36 PM on April 9, 2016 [10 favorites]


I hate social drama, but I think my status is set to complicated right now, because it actually is. One thing I think might be an even better indicator is using your Facebook status to officially announce a major relationship change to, say, your spouse. Those of us old enough to have lived through Friendster and Six Degrees and all the less successful social media efforts sometimes forget Facebook posts are actually a big deal to some people now.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:00 PM on April 9, 2016


I’m zero drama and so are most of the others in my life. But I do have one dear person who is a whirlwind of drama. If they were to take that test they would say, “Finally someone who understands me!” and choose all the high-drama answers. Because I’m the opposite I wonder what it is they get out of being that way. Here’s my guess:

- An exciting life. The protagonist in a 3D IMAX blockbuster.
- A bulwark against depression. I’ve never seen this person mope, reproach themselves, go hide under the covers. Drama is their sword and shield, their way of taking up arms against a sea of troubles. It may not be the best weapon in the world, but it’s what they have. We all use what we have, as best we can, just to get by.
posted by mono blanco at 9:14 PM on April 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


I think it's important not to dismiss people in real crisis situations simply being honest about institutional disadvantage, abuse, etc, as being dramatic or "playing victim" or whatever if they talk about what's happening to them.

I think most people, at least here, understand the difference between actual crises and manufactured ones, and that it's usually conservatives who call women who accuse of rape, harrasment or domestic violence as 'drama queens". I don't think anyone here is going in that direction.

On another tangent, the comments about PTSD and abuse being formative factors make a lot of sense. If you grew up in an environment where the sky really was falling a lot and you had no control over it, then your blueprint for reality is set, like mordax said. In relating to people like this, it was always very hard because I knew they had abusive or difficult upbringings (and I could relate) and therefore would reward their attention-seeking behavior out of misguided sympathy, but the self-perpetuating cycle of it was exhausting to deal with. The best advice I ever got was "if you try to be someone else's therapist, it will make the both of you sicker". Paving that road to hell with good intentions, indeed.

The comments about 'external locus of control' nails it because they absolutely have to seek out people to witness their problems and they feel that they have no ability to affect anything. You become their substitute parent. It was incredibly stressful to deal with people who always wanted to pull you into their shit and fix it for them; working for a boss like that drove me nuts. (thanks metafilter, for letting me vent!)
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 9:21 PM on April 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


Because I’m the opposite I wonder what it is they get out of being that way.

Likely they have an upbringing being taught that others are out to get them, likely because others were out to get them, and so their amygdala became oversensitive because humans are not particularly well evolved to function rationally in traumatic situations and we tend to default to "making sure we're safe" rather than "making sure we don't annoy other people."

Seriously, I really think a lot of this discussion is "Let's make fun of people who were traumatized as children."
posted by lazuli at 9:22 PM on April 9, 2016 [9 favorites]


^Well, I can say that I make fun of dramatics because damn, it's exhausting to deal with. I can't say about others, but that's how I cope. And it's hard to take it seriously when someone literally is going on about their burnt coffee (I have had that very experience with a friend who could go off about that stuff for an hour.) Because I'm screwed up myself, some of my closest friends were quite skewed and it can be a festival of nonstop bullshit, so personally, I have to mock the bullshit because you can only take so much. I think many people have had that experience. Dealing with personality disorders is not funtimes, so there's that.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 9:29 PM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


There's a difference between setting boundaries, or venting, and mocking. And as a number of people have pointed out, these discussions often throw people with less privilege under the bus.
posted by lazuli at 9:34 PM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Seriously, I really think a lot of this discussion is "Let's make fun of people who were traumatized as children."

Really? ...speaking for those of us who had the sort of childhood trauma that conditioned us to be caretakers and rescuers of over dramatic types, we're finding the light-hearted and gently mocking tone of this discussion to be wonderfully therapeutic.

I actually think your description of the roots of the trait are bang on the money but feel that your categorization of the discussion is too broad needlessly damning.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:47 PM on April 9, 2016 [9 favorites]


Because I’m the opposite I wonder what it is they get out of being that way.

Likely they have an upbringing being taught that others are out to get them, likely because others were out to get them,


Sometimes people actually do gang up on people and persecute them. People with certain traits that make them stand out actually do get harassed more, so there are people in the world for whom that sense that someone's out to get them can be true, especially at particular points in time even their are contingencies. For example, there's a long history of labor organizers and others advocating for labor rights being harassed and abused. It wouldn't necessarily be paranoid for someone directly or indirectly involved in a labor dispute to worry about people being out to get them. This test really is coming from a pretty privileged and narrow minded place.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:57 PM on April 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


There's a difference between setting boundaries, or venting, and mocking. And as a number of people have pointed out, these discussions often throw people with less privilege under the bus.

that's good to keep in mind before empathy goes out the window (as it is so easy to let it).
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 9:58 PM on April 9, 2016


Sometimes people actually do gang up on people and persecute them. People with certain traits that make them stand out actually do get harassed more

True that. How many kids that come from unstable homes probably get bullied at school becuase they are 'easy pickings'? Then you have a life-template for being a victim of one kind or another, real or imagined.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 10:01 PM on April 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


I will definitely judge people by how many of their stories in a row revolve around them being a hapless victim. One, fine. Two, I'm keeping my ears open. Three, I'm backing away because you're scaring me. How am I going to slot in as your latest villain? Or I'm perceiving that you're the kind of person who can only see the world from one angle and that's kind of boring to me. Lol maybe I'm the self-centered one.

On the other hand though sometimes I wonder how much of this stuff comes down to people not knowing what to talk about with each other. Like if I have no idea what else to hold up my end of the conversation with I will try to think of what happened to me recently. I wonder if that's what other people are doing too and it just looks bad from the outside, like I'm just existing on this shrieking bubble of chaos and secretly loving it? I don't know.
posted by bleep at 12:46 AM on April 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


You can be stressed out of your mind and not be dramatic about it. Compartmentalize. Not everybody cares about your feelings and your feelings are not always relevant anyway.

Eh. At work I would much rather a coworker let me know where they are emotionally than stuff it. Stuffing usually comes out in funny ways, and letting others with whom you interact closely know where you are is helpful for everyone.

It seems to me that many of us have a lot of what might be seen as drama in our lives. Too much of the definition of "drama queen" seems to boil down to the difference between the ability of one party to cope with intimate details and the willingness of the other to share same.
posted by frumiousb at 12:56 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have a significant number of poly friends on Facebook. I see "It's Complicated" used mostly to not have to choose one relationship over another.

Use of the status "it's complicated": it's complicated!
posted by XtinaS at 3:35 AM on April 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ugh, it's like a nightmare flashback to my middle school nemesis who used to turn every lunch period into a discussion of who was out to get her, or who she was literally adding to her actual list of People I Hate, which she carried around everywhere and badly needed everyone around her to be invested in.

I got added to the list in part because I just didn't give a fuck. The idea of adults who actually enjoy being perpetual preteen social monsters gives me hives.
posted by deludingmyself at 6:47 AM on April 10, 2016


Facebook clued in to the fact that gender isn't binary a few years ago. I wish they'd clue in to the fact that relationship status isn't binary either. If there were legit options for poly*, open*, etc, then the drama machines who overload "It's Complicated" to mean "Everyone knows I'm single but I'm screwing my boss" would at least need to declare something slightly more interesting before they bore everyone else in the office to death.

From a psych standpoint drama seems to be a manifestation of narcissism, so not sure this precisely describes a new disorder. There is a specificity to this test that isn't captured elsewhere though. Sharing your struggles and pain with care to all involved isn't drama. Taking advantage of the fact that your coworkers literally can't escape you and sealioning them to death about your personal life is drama.
posted by SakuraK at 12:56 AM on April 11, 2016


Coming from all that--this article is fairly disheartening because it is basically a confirmation of my worst fears about what others think about me, and confirmation of my hypothesis that my fuck-ups are the result of failing to mature into a proper adult. Like, I don't want to be the dramatic person, but realistically that's probably what I am to everyone around me. Shit, maybe the act of writing this comment is an attempt in of itself to incite drama and sympathy? I don't know. I don't know!

I have friends like you, and I never think of them as addicted to drama, for what that's worth. You don't seem to blame the rest of the world for things going wrong in your life. People who deal with a crisis (or several) without casting hapless bystanders as nefarious villains are people I think of as unlucky, not addicted to drama.

When I think of people who "love drama", I think of it in a fairly literal sense-- in old school theater, plays needed a villain, an antagonist (not always a villain), or an inescapable fate. People who "love drama" live their lives with that model. Someone who disagrees with you is "out to get you", instead of just not liking your favorite movie as much as you do. An ex is a MONSTERRRR, instead of someone whose personality ultimately didn't mesh with yours. Cheating on someone "just happened", or "we couldn't fight it, the attraction was too strong," or "you can't choose not to be with your soulmate!!!", or "maybe you've never experienced true passion, if you think it's something you can fight."

People who "love drama" also give impassioned monologues to an audience (who should remain silent, or clap/cry at appropriate and pre-planned intervals). It's one of the reason conversations with them can be difficult. They tend to want scene partners who follow a script, rather than actual humans who might have their own perspectives on things.

I think of it as a way of trying to make the world make sense. If life sucks, then it should suck for a reason, and the reason is THE HORRIFYING PERFIDY OF MINE ENEMY instead of "because life is hard and we are all trying our best but sometimes my best makes someone else's life worse, and also global capitalism, and also just kyriarchy of all kinds, and also we are all in endless cycles of self-justification and ego and simultaneous panic/fear that make us act in broken ways."
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:58 AM on April 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


drama seems to be a manifestation of narcissism

So is social media.
posted by Dark Messiah at 10:45 AM on April 11, 2016


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