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Do you hate drama? Better yet, are you tired of your close friend crossing the line with the amount of drama they dump on you?
Friendships are definitely a place to toss around thoughts and support each other through the daily grind, but there is a fine line of what is normal and what is too much.
Everyone has a different comfort level with the amount of information they give and take in a friendship. If you are at your maximum capacity when it comes to the drama of your friend, you need to set boundaries with them.
Here are a few ways you can be polite, yet also draw a line:
Admit it’s not working: The way things are going, you will drive yourself nuts and possibly do something in a reactive stance (such as ending the relationship, yelling, or being hurtful). Admit the relationship dynamic that you have with your friend isn’t working. If you are unhappy, then you are the only one that can turn things around. The clearer you are on your stance, the easier it will be to communicate how you feel.
Speak up – without apologizing: Drama queens are known for thinking their personal crises are more important than whatever else other people are going through. Speak up. Let her/him know how it feels. You will be protecting the friendship if you focus on resolving this issue. Your friend can't read your mind. Express how you care about the friendship but that the information can be overloading and upsetting. If you don't speak up, your friend won't ever know to change the behavior nor would they even know it needs to change.
Start Conversations: When getting together, try to start conversations and take a lead in the direction of the chats. If your friend is constantly initiating, then maybe it is your turn to initiate to let
them know that you have ideas of what you'd like to say. Once again, your friend won't be able to read your mind. So let them know in the beginning that you have something you'd like to talk about.
Say NO: Drama queens may not be able to recognize when the appropriate time is to show up at your door and may call at inappropriate hours. If the timing isn’t right, don’t answer the phone or tell them it isn’t a good time and that you hope they feel better. Saying “no” can be a challenge, but will save you much heartache and suffocation.
Open up: If your friend is known for monopolizing conversations, open up to your friend and tell them directly that you want a chance to speak. Share what you'd like to talk about, and let your friend know how serious it is for you. The more they understand how important it is to have them hear you, the more they will slow down and listen to you. If you tend to lean towards being more quiet, just take a leap of faith and share how you feel.
Assertiveness: Being assertive is no simple task for those who are quiet, when dealing with an overly talkative friend. Remind yourself that it is okay to speak up for yourself and be assertive. Assertiveness doesn't mean being rude ... it simply means being open, honest, forthcoming, and setting a boundary. If the topic is becoming toxic, tell them that you don’t feel comfortable and ask to change subjects.
Repeat your Position: If your friend has always been bit of a drama queen, they may not have had many people draw a healthy line for them. Repeat your position (this needs to be an on going behavior). They won’t remember right away, because you are asking them to do something new. Give your friend a chance by reminding them a variety of times.
Reality Check: Drama queens often use the gossip and drama as a way to keep people interested in them, and have no idea their behavior is exhausting. Give them a reality check and call out the drama queen. Express to them how you are still interested in them as a person, while pointing out the dramatic behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable.
The fact is, drama queens can be drama queens. If all else fails, take this friendship with a grain of salt, limit the time together, or end the friendship. There is no reason you have to be smothered with a toxic relationship.
Jennine Estes is a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego with a private practice in Mission Valley. She has appeared as a Relationship Expert in Redbook Magazine, Martha Stewart Publications – Whole Living Magazine, Social Work Today Magazine, San Diego local news stations, and more. To learn more relationship advice from the author Jennine Estes MFC#47653, visit her relationship column Relationships in the Raw or her new San Diego Couples Therapy website.