On shitty-relationship rotation? Sometimes the problem is just you

Listen up drama queens. Does love have to be a production of pain and heartache? Dorothy Black doesn’t think so.

I've got a blank space baby, and I'll write your name

I’ve got a blank space baby, and I’ll write your name

Sometimes the problem is really just you.

You know that scenario where you’re bitching about your love life (again) and your friends (who love you madly) start doing that thing with their faces that makes them look like they’re bracing for impact? Or kinda holding a whole lot of words in their mouth, until you stop mid-rant and say: ‘What.’ Which is more challenge than question, and then there’s an uncomfortable pause followed by the something along the lines of:

Her: It’s just that…
You: What?
Her: Like, you’re always …
You: WHAT?!
Her: MAYBE THE PROBLEM IS YOU, BECAUSE YOU’RE ALWAYS BITCHING ABOUT THE SAME STUFF IT DOESN’T MATTER WHO YOU’RE DATING!

And then there’s a stunned sort of silence between you, while Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’ tinkles away in the background.

Drama queens just need a blank space to write and rewrite whatever pattern it is they’re trying work out

Or maybe that’s just me. Look, I’ll truly and fully confess it: I was a drama queen. Give me a crown, hand me the scepter, throw me the robe. I lorded over love troubles, raised the slightest trivialities to war status, lost all perspective at the drop of my crown and meted out anxieties to those that deserved them – usually the object of my affection. Whoever that was. Because, frankly, drama doesn’t need a fully formed character to work a complicated story.

Any soapy will show you that.

Drama queens just need a blank space to write and rewrite whatever pattern it is they’re trying work out. That blank space could be anyone or anywhere – work, family circles, friendships … but most often it’s a series of toxic, enmeshed tragidrama romances, passed off as passionate love affairs.

The problem with being a drama queen is that you don’t realise the problem is you

Not sure if you’re a love drama queen? Does any of this sound familiar: If only you could find the right guy, all guys are just arseholes, why does this always happen to you, it just isn’t fair, you’re doing the best you can, you love him so much you just don’t know why they keep treating you so badly, it’s just impossible to be loved right, you fight all the time, but it’s so bad it’s good, if only he did this or that one little thing differently then it would all be better…

Blah blah blah blah.

Sit down, honey, and take it from me. The problem with being a drama queen is that you don’t realise the problem is you until you’ve made enough molehills into mountains that you’ve got the Himalayas in your brain space.

I’m not saying that part of the problem isn’t that the person you’re dating is a big doucheball, I’m just saying that the choice to be attracted to big doucheballs is your actual problem; the choice to stay in – and make – high-drama relationships is your actual problem. Your problem. Not theirs.

Like every good, entitled victim mentality, drama queens need to believe that the problem is out there, not an actual personal issue they might have to take responsibility for.

It reminds me of the last high-intensity, drama-filled relationship I got into. Do you remember Jesse? Two years of on-again, off-again was stitched together by very addictive melodrama, fun punishing behaviour (who doesn’t love a screaming match or fifty?), trying to control his life, and anxiety obsessed with how things could be ‘if only’.

The hocus focus is usually on what is wrong with everything else, rather than the common denominator in the one-man show that is your shitty love life: you

For better or worse, my friends were lovely and always there to listen to me bemoan each ‘new’ issue that came up each week. But, maybe, kind friends are sometimes the reason it takes us so long to wake up to the reality that the whirlwind mind mania is our creation.

I think a lot of the messaging aimed at women through media, TV and self-help books adds to the hypnosis that relationships are fraught and it’s all his problem. Just think of every teen drama you’ve watched – from Desperate Housewives to Gossip Girl – to every ‘woman’s interest’ magazine or self-help book. The hocus focus is usually on what is wrong with everything else, rather than the common denominator in the one-man show that is your shitty love life: you.

Because being a drama queen means never having to say “I feel vulnerable, scared, unsure, lonely or empty inside – and I don’t know how to deal with it”.

See here: The problem isn’t that he isn’t tending to your every need or reading your mind or that he goes drinking with the boys. The problem is your inability to snap out of childhood patterns you didn’t consciously put there. Patterns that keep you attached to men who don’t care for you, respect you or love you. Patterns that keep you locked into thinking that what you have is all you’re good for.

The quiet truth all drama queens are looking for is the one they can’t hear above their own roar: You can’t change anyone but yourself.

I finally snapped out of my trance after a girlfriend gave me the ‘WTF is wrong with you’ chat. We’re not friends anymore, but I got my shit together.

So as one drama queen to another, if you’re reading this, let me save you a friendship: get help.

This column was first published on Women24.com…