Drama The "Frustration --> Drama --> Resolution" Cycle


Staff member
Oct 9, 2012
There are low drama relationships, and there are high drama relationships.

And there are outliers on both ends: relationships so low-drama they're almost no drama... and relationships so high drama it seems like the couple's always at war.

If you're in any kind of relationship where there's a regular amount of drama, you will encounter something I think of as the "frustration --> drama --> resolution cycle."

This cycle is a product of that fact that relationships often have drama in the first place because the partners don't communicate as well, and/or don't take each other as seriously when they do try to communicate.

Note there is more than one cause of drama; I talk about it more (causes and solutions) in several Girls Chase articles:

Back to what we're talking about here -- drama as a consequence of communication breakdown.

So, calm discussion not existing or not working, the parties fall back on the frustration --> drama --> resolution cycle to repair their issues.

That works like so:

  1. Frustration. You show up at your girlfriend's place. She's an amazing girl -- truly a gem -- but she is also a bit of a slob and it drives you a little nuts how messy her place always is. You've asked her to tidy up before you come over numerous times in the past; she always says she will, but you've never seen any evidence she has. Each time you go over and wade into her mess, you feel more and more frustrated. It doesn't take that much effort to pick up after yourself, gosh darn it, you think! Why does she have to be such a slob!

  2. Drama. At some point, sick of the constant mess, and sick of your pleas falling on deaf ears, you lash out. "Man, this place is a pig sty," you tell her. "It really is disgusting. I'm getting sick of coming over here." What's her reaction? Well, she feels attacked -- suddenly, and unexpectedly. She responds with disdain: "Well don't come over here then!" If you retort back, and escalate the fight, it may well precipitate a full-on dramatic blow-up. You might leave her place early, but even if you stay, it's sure to be one of your less pleasant visits.

  3. Resolution. Later on, over the next few days, when she calms down, she is going to realize cleanliness is fairly important to you, more so than she had realized, and perhaps she's dismissed that too handily. The next time you go to her place, you find everything much tidier. You breathe easier, and plop onto the sofa without having to push off a mountain of (clean? dirty?) clothes, books, and miscellaneous items. She finally listened to you! And all it took was some drama.

The drama achieved something your weeks of calmer pleas and requests could not: you got her to take the issue seriously, and tidy her place up.

This is one of the main functions of drama, and something it's very good at: getting the other party to pay attention to an issue he didn't want to pay attention to.

Because of how people 'work', it's often impossible to avoid drama entirely.

Much of the time, you won't be able to convince another person that something's important to you unless you get emotional.

Another issue is the fact that much of the time, you won't have the level of insight into exactly what the issue is that you can voice it in a convincing, persuasive way.

If you go over to your girlfriend's messy apartment and tell her "Hey babe, this place is really dirty, think you could pick up a bit more before I come over?" she'll say yeah, of course -- and mean it! She cares about you, she wants you to feel comfortable, so of course -- she'd love to do that.

However... her place is messy for a reason. The reason is that she does not prioritize being tidiness. It isn't top-of-mind for her, and she doesn't notice as much when her place is a mess, and she also assumes it isn't that big a deal for other people.

She might remember you asked her to clean up before your next visit. If she does remember, she might then think "Ugh, but I'm so tired. I just want to relax now. He'll understand" and won't do it. She doesn't think tidiness is that important, so even if you've told her it is to you, it still doesn't feel that important to her.

That's if she remembers. But this is not an important issue to her, and you did not make a huge emotional deal about it.

So she may well just forget.

And so, you arrive at her apartment, and just like last time, it is a disaster area. Dirty dishes in the sink, spills on her coffee table that were there last week and are still there today, and her clean laundry from Tuesday's laundry day still in the laundry basket, unfolded and not put away.

This this time you snap. You've had it, this place is too disgusting, and you start making remarks about it to her, not being nice or casual anymore, just being disgusted and put-off by it.

You kick off drama.

You both get upset, thanks to the drama.

But next time, before it's time for you to come, she now has this association in her mind she did not have before, which says "He takes tidiness really serious. This is a big deal for him. Why don't I tidy up a little. It's not that much work."

And now suddenly, the next time you go over, you discover her behavior has changed.

It did not change when you spoke with her calmly.

It did change after you stirred up drama over the issue.

And this drama thing goes both. Women use it on you too, to get you to pay attention to and prioritize issues they've often tried and failed to bring your attention to in calmer ways.

I've realized over time that at least half the time when I deal with drama from a woman, I will often tell her "Why didn't you bring this up to me in a calmer way before you reached this point of coming to me and melting down?", only to recognize looking back she did actually raise the issue with me, but I didn't 'get' that it was really all that important to her, so I'd brushed it off.

Because of that, the issue went unresolved... her frustration built up to the point of lashing out... and at some point, lash out she did, and now you've got drama.

Now, at this point, you're probably going to take some steps to resolve that drama, I bet. It might not be exactly what she asked for, but you're going to do something to reassure her you think about her and value her and want her to be happy and problem-free.

The point is that drama works.

And that's one of the reasons it happens so much.

People cause drama because drama gets results calm discussion often can't.

How do you break free of the "frustration --> drama --> resolution" cycle, resolve problems before they become full-on dramatic tirades, and save yourself a lot of headaches, wasted time, and drained emotions?

I'll save that for another post.

For now, you can use this grasp of a common drama pattern to understand some of the drama you encounter in relationships.

And, you can use it to try to figure out what you can do to nip this sort of preventable drama in the bud.

More on that next time, though.



Modern Human
Modern Human
Jun 16, 2013
Brilliant! Never thought about drama as a tool that could be effective like this.

+1 Sticky this.


Tool-Bearing Hominid
Tool-Bearing Hominid
Oct 18, 2018
Lol, I have encountered this even in the professional realm. This is quite familiar. I look forward to the drama free continuation of this post. It might prove handy on multiple dimensions.


Cro-Magnon Man
Cro-Magnon Man
Nov 20, 2012
Drama works.

Works very well. People are idiots.

If you are valuable (inflated value) and if you are really valuable (solve problems).

Don't do this at work and/or with high valuable people. Unless you already gauge.

or you are currently gauging how their level of commitment is to you. I do this unconsciously with people to see how sincere they are, all the time.

Thanks Chase. I finally recognize this unconscious behavior i do to gauge where people are.