Monday, February 19, 2007

High Drama

I usually try to keep my relationship dirt off of the virtual pages of this blog, because, seriously, who really cares other than the Boyf and me?

But today I think I had a little breakthrough, a la this previous post about drunkenness and relationships:

Late last night the Boyf and I had a rattle-the-rafters fight about...something. I can't really put my finger on what started it, but it had something to do with bedtime, too much "relationship cuteness," and television. There was cursing (the Boyf), there was screaming (mostly me), and there was even a little bit of crying (me again).

Ladies, I'm only speaking for myself, but feel free to chime in here if you desire: It is the LAST STRAW if a man tells me, after listening to a rant of mine, that I am "being dramatic." When I hear those words, it's akin to Marty McFly being called "chicken" in all three BTTFs. My blood boils. My face turns red. And my voice goes into this supersonic high-pitched fightin' tone that only women can truly master. I always suspect that when I go into that mode, dogs start howling in some alley somewhere and the neighbors put glass cups up to the wall to better hear my diction.

So, yeah, the Boyf called me "dramatic" last night, and I was none too pleased. So I did what any reasonable twentysomething New York woman with leftover Valentine's Day baking ingredients would do: I took it out on the kitchen.

Behold, the delicious brownies I made today:

But that's not my central point. My central point is that while I was wreaking cocoa-powdered havoc on my tiny kitchen, I had Dr. Phil's TV show on in the background. I think we can all agree that Dr. Phil is a charlatan, but I was thoroughly amused by Dr. Phil's "Man Camp," which is supposed to rein in chauvinistic husbands and prevent couples from divorcing, but, as far as I can tell, only succeeds in making the men madder and madder until they say wildly hurtful and inappropriate things to their wives. One guy called his wife not only "dramatic" and said she was seeking "attention" with her litany of complaints against him, but that she was also "a Hollywood actress from hell."

If I were his wife hearing that, I would have started packing my bags already. But the problem was that I was actually on his side for most of the story (which involved an overbearing mother-in-law and some issues about "sincerity" [WTF?]), so I couldn't place all my ire on him.

After seeing that, though, I had a thought: No matter how right you think you are during an argument, I think calling someone "dramatic" is incredibly dismissive. I think it's true that sometimes women and even men (I definitely dated some male drama queens) use tears to get a reaction out of their partners. If the fight isn't going well, if he's being cold, if she's being an ice queen, or if you're on the verge of being broken up with, turning on the waterworks is going to garner some sort of a shift in power, whether it's "Oh, honey, I didn't mean it. Please stop crying," or "I'm...I'm sorry. Please...uh, here... Kleenex."

But if an issue is going to be resolved, there needs to be some crying, some anger, some hurt -- all of those things that get labeled "drama" -- that shows you care. Because if you can have a knock-down, drag-out fight with your significant other stoically: without yelling, without crying, and without feeling, I think there's something wrong with that relationship.

In relationships and life, I would rather feel some ups and downs and highs and lows rather than a lulling, even keel of vanilla contentment. And if that makes me a drama queen, I'll take a one-way ticket to L.A.

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