Drama and Happiness
In a world that is often hostile to gay men and women, having friends and relationships that support our sense of self-worth is very important. Friends not only help us meet our needs for intimacy, they help validate our point of view and our self-understanding; they help us keep our bearings.
It can be very energizing to spend time around people whose lives are full of excitement – new ideas, relationships, adventures, etc. But if someone’s life is so full of chaos that they leave you feeling as if you are on a lunatic amusement park ride with no way to exit, you may be spending too much time with that species of human being known as drama queens.
Many gay men are attracted to drama. Some of us become screenwriters or actors; many of us are aficionados of classic movies and Broadway plays. We’re attracted to divas with dramatic life stories – Judy Garland, Tina Turner.
Unfortunately, some men seem to find they need similar sorts of dramatics in their own lives for one reason or another. Maybe ordinary life seems boring; perhaps they are attracted to the energy that surrounds so many men with crisis in their lives. Perhaps they’ve just never learned how to lead an orderly life. The thrill of being in one predicament after another can become addictive. A well-ordered life seems humdrum by contrast.
The drama queen’s life is rarely boring. He’s out partying all weekend, only to have it all fall apart as the work week starts. He dates one man after another, most of them troubled souls, losers or abusers. He’s prone to dramatic mood swings – everything is fabulous, at least until it turns out to disappoint or to turn into disaster.
Friends who have a fondness for drama may try to prop up their own flagging sense of worthiness by undermining the self-confidence of others they know. Their criticism can leave you feeling off balance. Or they may try to enroll you in the insane, dysfunctional relationships that seem to populate their own lives. If you spend a good bit of your time socializing with folks who cause you to feel inadequate, it is time to evaluate the quality of your friendships and whether or not they are working for you.
Some of us do the mirror image of the critical-friends thing; we mostly hang around people with so many problems that ours seem minor by comparison! This is not a good long-term strategy for happiness or developing a positive sense of yourself. Sticking with a friend going through a difficult time is one thing. Socializing with people whose lives seem culled from daytime soaps is another.
Does your sense of self-worth require rescuing friends who seem to always be in one mess or another? Are all your friends even more dysfunctional than you are? Do you need the approval of friends, family, coworkers – even people you don’t know all that well – to make important decisions in life? Are you just exhausted from all the commotion sometimes? It may be time to make some changes.
These are patterns that won’t bring you happiness. In life, you can have drama or happiness – but not both. If you want drama, go see Sunset Boulevard.
I have been licensed by the State of Georgia as a professional counselor for more than 25 years. My areas of specialty are relationships, intimacy, sexuality, anxiety and depression. My passion is helping people build happier lives and stronger relationships.
I know it isn’t always easy to talk about problems. My approach to counseling is nonjudgmental and compassionate. If you have questions, I welcome the opportunity to talk with you about working together.
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