Narcissists thrive on drama and there is always a sense of impending doom surrounding them. For them everything is an emergency, a matter of life and death, or a painful and insoluble dilemma. They can make a drama out of nearly every situation and their lives therefore resemble bad soap operas. For most of these situations there would often be an easy solution available, but they are not interested in dissolving the drama and behaving rationally. They enjoy surrounding themselves with melodrama too much to be interested in finding solutions. For those involved with narcissists, their tendency to conjure up dramatic situations is very exhausting and confusing. We usually try to avoid drama and try to find rational solutions for any problem and conflict that comes our way. We therefore find it hard to deal with someone who turns every little triviality into a matter of life and death and rejects every single one of our solutions to their problems. In the end, we are drawn into their mess, and the never-ending sense of impending doom is slowly sucking the life out of us.
The frustrating and harmful thing about their fondness for drama is that they are not only giving themselves a hard time, but that they also turn others into protagonists in their mess. Because we are constantly drawn into their craziness, we nearly go insane and feel as if we are completely losing touch with ourselves. The narcissists don’t care that they are hurting us and turning us into emotional wrecks. They are too busy looking after themselves to take notice of our emotions. And even if they realize that we are falling apart, they often lack the empathy to care about it.
The narcissist I dated was particularly talented at making mountains out of molehills. For him nearly everything was a source of frustration and he never got tired of cursing his bad luck. I’m more than willing to admit that his living situation was not exactly comfortable, and that he found himself in a time of insecurity and uncertainty when he met me. However, almost none of his problems were insoluble and it was always within his power to make his situation more comfortable and less dramatic. Instead of spending all his energy on complaining how unsatisfying his job was and how much he hated his life in Germany, he could have spend it on finding a different job. He never even made a slight effort to do so, but kept complaining nevertheless.
As I have mentioned lots of times before, his exgirlfriend was also a constant source of drama – the worst and most exhausting kind of drama imaginable. Because she was unable to let him go, she turned my relationship with him into a mess. He constantly complained about her behavior, but never did anything to change the situation. He could have moved out of her apartment, he could have set up clear boundaries, he could have stopped treating both of us ambiguously – he never did any of these things. He seemed to enjoy the drama that this triangle produced, and the attention bestowed on him by both of us, too much to dissolve all the craziness.
There was one particular instance when his penchant for drama became particularly evident: We were having lunch together, when his exgirlfriend pestered him with tons of text messages and calls. She wanted to know where we were so that she could find us and join us. Of course, none of us was interested in meeting with her. Instead of accepting it, she wrote tons of messages in which she harrassed him and threatened that she would find us anyway. I was feeling more than uncomfortable. He could have just turned his phone off or at least told her to shut up and leave us alone. He enjoyed the drama too much to do anything about it. He pretended to be frustrated and saddened as hell by her behavior. However, if that had really been the case, he would have set up some boundaries.
Another constant source of drama was his insecurity about his future. During the time we were dating, he tried to figure out whether he would stay in Germany or go back to the U.S. He changed his mind on the issue on a daily basis and kept informing me about his changing plans. One day, he would tell me he wanted to make things work in Germany. A short time later, he suddenly was determined to go back to the U.S. – only to change his mind again a few days later. I was greatly affected by his fickleness and I felt as if I was riding an endless emotional rollercoaster. Instead of making up his mind once and for all, and saving everyone a lot of drama and heartbreak, he seemed to enjoy the drama that came with all the insecurity. When he finally booked his flight back to the U.S. I was devastated, but also strangely relieved – at least the uncertainty finally had an end and I could stop wasting energy on figuring out whether he intended to stay or not.
Every little aspect of his life was full of drama: When he got sick, he made a big deal out of it and described every little symptom in great detail. After he had met or talked to his sister, he complained about how mean she was and how strained their relationship had become. If he didn’t complain about his relationship to either his exgirlfriend or his sister, he would give me accounts of his dramatic, unhappy childhood, and how it had irreversibly affected him. Everything was always difficult, unbearable, unsatisfying, depressing and hopeless. However, he never attempted to make his life more comfortable and to find solutions for his dilemmas.
He even managed to be dramatic in every single one of his emails. He often sounded very vague, ambiguous or mysterious. Sometimes he sent emails consisting of a single sentence (or even a single word!), and those single sentences were so vague and ambiguous that I often had to ask what he had meant by it. He had a tendency to use grand words and to sound like some depressed poet, tying together strings of sentences that created a sense of melodrama. More often than not, I felt extremely confused and frustrated after reading one of his text messages or emails. He used every single channel of communication as a stage for his drama, and I got very tired of it after some time.
The most frustrating aspect of being with a narcissist with a penchant for drama is that more often than not, there are easy solutions available for most of the dilemmas they are facing and keep complaining about. However, they enjoy drama so much that they not only wallow in existing problems, but also make up dramatic situations whenever possible. They are incredibly talented at making mountains out of molehills and acting as if everything was a matter of life and death. After being with them over a longer period of time, you nearly go insane: You desperately want to present them with solutions to their problems. You are convinced that finding solutions is what they want, because they keep complaining about how dramatic their life is. However, as they constantly ignore our advice and don’t do anything at all to make their lives more comfortable, we get confused. We can’t make sense of their behavior, because we don’t get the appeal that drama has for them. In the end, we are completely frustrated because our rational desire to avoid drama doesn’t resonate with them.
We often don’t get that drama is exactly what they are seeking, and consequently are racking our brains trying to find the rationale behind their behavior. It would never occur to us that they are fond of drama, as we usually try to avoid it as good as we can. We are not only confused by their behavior, but also often end up becoming part of their dramas as well. Whether we like it or not, we are deeply affected by their behavior and are turned into protagonists of their melodramas. I often felt as if I was a character in a bad soap opera while dealing with the annoying triangle made up of the narcissist, his exgirlfriend and me. He could have spared me a lot of pain and agony, had he put an end to all the drama and ambiguity. He was, however, never really interested in my emotional well-being and never cared enough to be considerate. As long as he could stage his little dramas, nothing else really mattered. I’m glad I no longer have to deal with any of it. I’m sure I couldn’t have taken it much longer, as I was on the brink of breaking down as a result of his selfish games. I have finally learned my lesson: If you are in a healthy and loving relationship, you are not deliberately exposed to drama and pain, but shielded from it.