7 toxic signs someone is addicted to drama (and how to deal with them)

How do you deal with someone addicted to drama?

In theory, avoidance is the obvious answer, but we all know it’s not always that simple in reality. Especially when the drama queen (or king) is a friend, colleague, or family member.

Being around dramatic people can be extremely draining, so if you don’t know how to handle it, you risk getting sucked into their toxicity.

Like a nasty infection, the quicker you notice the symptoms, the more effectively you can deal with them and minimize their impact on your life. 

So let’s cut to the chase and get on to the 7 toxic signs someone is addicted to drama and how you can best deal with them:

1) They use excessive language

A person who craves drama has a penchant for exaggerated words or phrases. 

No, they’re not crying wolf. What they’re telling you most likely happened, but I bet it’s not just as over-the-top as they make it sound.

Imagine a colleague storming into the office in tears, saying her friend canceled their dinner plans and that she thinks it’s because her friend hates her.

Instead of fanning the flames, respond with, “I get it, a cancellation is always disappointing. But have you checked on her and asked why she canceled? She may have had a very good reason, and it may not have anything to do with you.”

See what you did there? 

You empathized, but you also kept it real. By doing this, you pulled them away from a potential meltdown and gently nudged them into rationality. 

2) They editorialize

To editorialize is to add personal biases, judgments, or feelings in what’s supposed to be an objective statement – and this is something that dramatic people really excel at.

Here’s what I mean:

They’re the type of people who turn a simple traffic incident into a discussion of how every driver is inconsiderate and selfish. 

They could also be the type who are stuck in a short line at the cashier and start talking about how consumer culture is affecting everyone. 

Just to clarify:

We’re all entitled to our opinions and we are free to share it any time. But when every trivial event is used as an opportunity to rant or take a hit at someone, that just screams “I need drama in my life” vibes.

So how do you deal with editorializers?

Move the attention away from the person’s opinion and keep it on the issue. 

Let’s look at our traffic example again:

You respond to their editorial spiel by asking, “What actually happened? Was anyone hurt?” 

This way, you’re keeping it focused on the real issue, without dragging unnecessary drama.

3) Their social medias are hyperactive

If you want to know if a person loves drama, stalk their social media posts. 

What do these posts look like?

  • Strong and polarizing opinions on controversial topics. They love the debate that ensues from this. So don’t be surprised if they’re also keyboard warriors on controversial posts created by others.
  • Passive-aggressive statuses. They love it when people wonder who their post refers to, and they especially love it even more when people try to squeeze the information out of them.
  • Relationship conflicts. Whether it’s a minor argument or a big breakup, they can’t help but post this on social media. Not only are they fueled by the drama that this creates, but they also get pleasure out of gaining others’ sympathy.
  • Cryptic posts. It could be as simple as a crying emoji, a cheating quote, a carefully curated song lyric – anything without context. Their goal is to get their followers curious, speculate, and hence, create drama.

If you see this on your feed, do not engage in any way. Do not comment, do not like, do not share. Because doing any of these just feeds their thirst for drama.

And if you want to completely escape the social media spectacle, the quickest way is to block them. 

But if you don’t want to be that extreme, unfollowing them will do. That way, you remain connected without having to witness the theatrics.

4) Their love for controversy spills over in real life, too

Someone addicted to drama also has a habit of stirring the pot in real life.

They have creative ways of doing this, so you must be vigilant. 

Here are just some of them:

They use misleading information, like half-truths or half-lies just to incite reactions from the people involved in or affected by the controversy.

They can also do this through selective sharing – again, weeding out only the bits that will trigger their desired reaction. 

It is also quite common for them to show only the extremes of the situation: the black and whites. They won’t reveal the grey areas or the possibilities for compromise because there’s no drama when people meet halfway.

If you ever find yourself stuck in the middle of such controversies, make sure to stay calm and hold off any reactions until you do these two:

Fact-check and ask for context.

Verify any and all information first. Ask for context, too. Remember that things said on their own mean completely different when said with context.

5) They like to drive wedges between people

If they’re unsuccessful at using issues to create drama, they resort to pitting individuals against each other. 

They do this by preying on existing tensions and escalating them by taking sides or adding more negative input.

If there is no existing conflict, they create one by using people’s emotions and, sadly, misinformation to turn individuals against each other. 

Have you ever encountered someone who seems to enjoy watching their friends bicker at each other instead of helping them find a resolution? That’s how someone addicted to drama behaves.

So if you ever interact with them again, take whatever they say against someone with a grain of salt, especially when it’s something negative

If you’re the subject of their attack, you can talk to them directly and let them know you’re aware of the tricks they’re trying to pull and how you feel about it. 

But just be aware this could go both ways: 

They might stop once they realize you’ve caught on to their game. 

Or, because they feed off drama, they might play the victim card and attempt to paint you as the bad guy even more.

6) They default to the worst-case scenario

No matter how good their life gets, a dramatic person will always think that tragedy’s just around the corner.

They could be at the airport about to go on an around-the-world trip, but all they can think about is how the plane might crash.

They just bought a new home, but they’re imagining the house catching fire and the many reasons their insurance might not cover this.

They also love to catastrophize minor situations: the ones who think they might lose their leg after getting a small cut on their toe.

If you find yourself around someone similar, it’s important to acknowledge that catastrophizing can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying mental health condition. So don’t immediately invalidate their feelings or fears.

Instead, show empathy without necessarily agreeing with their tragic thoughts. 

Try and encourage them to focus their thinking on the current reality. Help them weigh the actual probability of their tragic scenarios happening. 

And if you think their thinking pattern is starting to affect their daily functioning, you might need to encourage or help them seek professional help.

7) They have a long history of chaotic relationships

While most of us long for peaceful and loving relationships, people addicted to drama are allergic to them. 

Because of this, someone with a strong tendency towards drama also tends to have a series of strained relationships

Of course, disagreements and misunderstandings are part of healthy relationships, but if you have a partner with a habit of creating something out of nothing, do not reward their behavior.

If you give them the reaction they want, you are setting yourself up for an unending cycle of dramatic behavior.

They like to argue about anything and everything. If you keep silent to maintain the peace, it will be futile because they will also use that as another reason to pick a fight.

Try communicating with them and telling them how their craving for drama is affecting you and your relationship. Ask them what’s triggering this behavior and whether there’s anything you can do to help them avoid this.

Disengage if you must

It may not be easy, and it can be extremely painful, but sometimes we are left with no choice but to disengage with the dramatic people in our lives.

Stepping back for a moment and giving yourself breathing space can sometimes be enough.

But when you’ve tried your best, and all else fails, and you find yourself at a dead end, remember that walking away is not only an option but sometimes a necessity.

It’s not selfish – it’s an affirmation of self-respect and a strong declaration of self-love.

Sarah Piluden-Natu-El

Sarah is a full-time mum, wife, and nurse on hiatus turned freelance writer. She is on a journey of diving deeper into life through life itself and uses her writing to share the lessons learned along the way. When not on her computer, she enjoys time with her family strolling along the Gold Coast's stunning beaches and captivating hinterland.

If you want to stop being a slave to your emotions, say goodbye to these 7 habits

If you do adopt these 9 habits today, your future self will thank you