Savage Love

Lesbian Drama

Comments

1

firkt

2

I don't know why, but I laughed harder at "think of them of a three-member circuit court of lesbian appeals" than anything Dan's said in months! A little off topic, but that court is also far more sensible than our current Supreme Court. RIP RBG.

3

"DRAMA’s friend’s relationship sounds unhealthy"

Exactly. Relationships that /are/ drama mean the parties are unhealthy (even if one is "only" unhealthy for choosing the other).

In other words, DRAMA's friends--like the majority of people--need work. A lot.

4

@1 curious2: WA-HOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Congratulations on scoring this week's Savage Love FIRDT (clever use of "firkt"!) honors! Bask in the glory of leading the comment thread, and savor the riches. :)

@2 DrVanNostrand: WA-HOOOOOOOO!!! Congrats on scoring the last SECNOD honors of 2020! :)

5

Back in the day I used to travel for work, and I occasionally found myself in a city where the gay bar that was available was for both men and women. Every time I went to one of these bars, there was lesbian drama. Screaming fights, crying, some dyke having to be held back so she wouldn't physically attack some other dyke. EVERY TIME. Yeah I guess I just always happened to be in these bars on the one night when that was happening. Always.

6

As a mere daisy, I shall not challenge the substance of the Guest Experts. It is interesting to see that Ms Herzog has taken over the position of Mr Savage's centrist lesbian (open to interpretation).

The weird thing is that I had an acquaintance doing a podcast called Blocked and Reported before hers; his seems to have disappeared.

7

The repetitive situations LW1’s friend finds herself in are likely to be an abusive pattern she may have learned from her assumed-straight parents, as opposed to an integral part of lesbian relationships. I’m very much in support of Cameron Esposito’s approach of helping the friend find a suitable support group that will enable her to work on her issues.

A similar approach could also help LW2’s sister despite the initial hardship. Sister needs to face reality and acquire tools to be able to stand on her own feet, as opposed to relying on a too convenient housing situation while emotionally blackmailing both her house-owning sister and her girlfriend.

8

BigSteve @ 5
While admittedly not that familiar with the co-ed gay bar scene, my other observations and friendships over the years suggest that lesbian drama often contains less negative fireworks than one can find in some other relationships.

9

I'm wondering if DRAMA and / or WAP can make use of Call Block in dealing with LW1's friend, and LW2's sister (with the likely exception of WAP; doing so might be harder for her to do. WAP's nephew would still need to be able to reach his loving, supportive aunt).

I am estranged from both of my older, exhaustingly controlling, manipulative sisters. They are both in their mid-60s but still behave like bratty grade-schoolers when together, forever squabbling over who has the upper hand and who is right.

After five and a half decades of needless suffering from getting caught up in their endless bullshit I have finally accepted them for whom and how they are, that they're not going to change, and that I cannot change them. I can, however, set healthy boundaries (which I already have). Call Block along with Caller ID, and with living a safe distance away (separate counties help) has enabled me to live a healthier and more peaceful lifestyle. My sisters cannot harass me if they can't reach me. When our parents were still alive, my oldest sister would call our mother at all hours of the day or night with some lame sob story. If I had a crisp $100 bill for every time I witnessed or heard about my mother having gotten out of bed in the wee hours or the morning, dress and drive to my oldest sister's house to hold her hand, settling for a lumpy, stained, dog-hair covered couch instead of sleeping in her comfortable shared bed with my father, I'd be rich. My oldest sister was still drama-calling our mother when she (Mom) was terminally ill, living her final days at home. Often our father told my oldest sister to stop bothering our mother, to let her rest. My oldest sister frequently rebelled, doing whatever she could to get under our father's skin, gearing for a fight. It was a sad power struggle over which one of them--our father or my oldest sister---who had control over our mother, while my older sister connived for control of the money.
It is exactly as Dan's guest speaker had said about cutting them off from their high drama. They'll cool it once they no longer have an audience.
Good luck, DRAMA and WAP. I hope all gets better soon.

10

It is sad that someone, presumably a young person, but still someone who has made a big, adult commitment, feels they they have to endure a possibly abusive or toxic relationship because they 'need to be loved' and that it 'wouldn't be better with anyone else'.

It could be; and they could still be loved.

This isn't about homosexuality or lesbianism. It's about good emotional hygiene and self-respect, first of all, in not getting drawn into a persistently high-drama situation that superficially resembles passion. A person who repeatedly takes out restraining orders on you is not a good partner, not a stable person to be with--and nor are you if you do this with them. What are the behaviors that prompt this? If they involve alcohol or substance abuse, quit the abuse or try to get your spouse into a program; if they arise out of intractable features of your spouse's and your characters and personalities, you are not right together. The friend in the letter needs to work a lot on herself first (which she can do both within or outside of her marriage) to believe that she is lovable. Her life can be calm. Her problems, such as they are, can be overcome. It will not be the work of a day for her to understand this, to be able to live in from inside. But trying to do this has to be better than taking refuge in some fake 'lesbian relationships are drama' rationalisation for an unsustainably wearing and corrosive set-up.

In the other case, the lw needs to come up with a plan for her sister. Four years and counting is long enough for her sister to have gotten back on her feet, even with ongoing disputes with the child's father. Help her sister draw up a plan the sister can follow. The lw's instincts as regards the threat posed by her sister's continuing presence in her house to her own happy, successful relationship seem to me on the money. She has a tough job, is robust and is caring for everyone--for her sister, her nephew, her partner (though her partner, who may not be so tough, could well be getting afters); who is caring for her? This woman is estimable--but she risks burnout. She's eminently justified in getting real and calling time on her houseguest.

11

The plan for the sister doesn't need to be something they've considered before. Maybe nursing came up because it was something the family knew, and because, at whatever level of explicitness, the troubled sister wanted to emulate the sister who was looking after her. But it seems not to have worked out. The inference shouldn't be that the lodging sister is bad at sticking at things; but that nursing is not what she wants to do. She should find something else. I'm sure she wants to stand on her own two feet, to be a good model to her son. I can't think she wants to get in the way of her sister's relationship and possible future marriage and family of her own. At some level, she will be incentivised too to leave and make things work out, especially if the case to do so is made clear to her.

12

l-dub 1... this one's pretty simple. regardless of whether her drama level is too high for her, it's too high for you. so, you need to get her drama out of your life. if that means no friend anymore, that means no friend anymore.

l-dub 2... oh man, this is gonna be a tough one to land cleanly. i think you blew it when you had your girlfriend move in this summer while your difficult, drama-ful, deadbeat sister and her unfortunate son were still living with you. and i'm not sure how you can recover.

it is gonna be high drama when you go to get your sister out... which you clearly have to do considering how she's responded to your girlfriend moving in. and during the month(s) it takes, your sister is going to continue to take her shit out on your girlfriend. oof.

best option is if your girlfriend can move out until you get your sister out of the house. otherwise, that's looking like a ton of shit for a young relationship to survive.

13

Someone should tell DRAMA's friend I've known a hell of a lot of hetero relationships that have played out exactly the way hers is. A support group might be a good idea -- how about SLAA? It's not just for sex addicts, the L stands for love, and DRAMA's friend sounds addicted to this cycle of being needed and being abused (and abusing). Other people who've been there saying this isn't OK and trying to change might get her thinking this isn't OK and needs to change. Ultimately though it's up to your friend and there's not a lot you can do to open eyes that are stubbornly shut. The only positive I can see is that they can't accidentally make the kid mistake, and any adoption agency or sperm bank would take a dim view of their marriage's rap sheet.

Poor WAP is in a tough spot. It sounds like she could benefit from mediation, either formal or informal (a relative they both respect). Good luck to her.

14

I had to click on the link because I had no idea what a dog ball journalist could be. Someone who reviews dog toys? Someone who reports on the circuit of black-tie canine parties? To save you clicking, her subject matter is spaying and neutering.

BigSteve @5, I guess you did, because this was certainly not a feature in any of the lesbian or mixed bars I've been to. Perhaps you have a way of setting lesbians off?

CMD @7, absolutely. There's an approximately 100% chance her parents' relationship(s) was (were) abusive. Therapy is the way forward.

Harriet @10, if she has untreated wounds from an abusive childhood, she ironically may be right that she wouldn't have a better relationship with someone else. Indeed, first she needs to love herself, and get herself into good working order.

Re WAP, I'm wondering what her relationship with the baby-daddy is like. It's a long shot, I know, but he might be an unlikely ally if WAP can approach him and discuss what's best for his child. I just think it's going to be a team effort to get her out of the house and she'll need as much support as she can get.

15

Drama = finding the many people responsible for my unhappiness, as a distraction from finding myself as the person responsible for my happiness.

16

BDF @ 14 - I wouldn't presume BigSteve was responsible for that. It's also frequently been my experience of mixed bars (that was 30-35 years ago, mind you). We had a clear rule in those days: steer well clear of the butch girl whose femme GF has a black eye (or a broken arm, for that matter - and I'm not joking).

17

Ricardo @16, I was teasing BigSteve. And, yikes :(

18

BDF @ 17 - Sorry. I don't sleep nearly enough lately (too much work, too little weed), I totally missed the humour.

19

BDF @ 17 - And yes, yikes, a thousand yikes.

20

I have no experience with lesbian culture, women losing it with each other, yes. I grew up with three sisters. And sometimes it was not pretty.
What can anyone do who sees friends or family in dysfunctional relationships, except point it out, and suggest ending it and the person (s), doing work on themselves to get beyond these destructive patterns.
The sister ques, first up the LW needs to sit her down and tell her what she’s thinking, what she’s wanting. Chucking the sister out, and her child, now there’s a gf around, seems mean, unless the sisters had some prior deal set up. Hard one, dislodging clingy, needy relatives. It’s the child who will feel it the most.

21

If the Department of Children and Family Services is involved, the issues with sister's baby daddy go beyond drama. WAP made a mistake in not laying out the terms of her sister's residency when she moved in. There may be lawyers here who can speak in more detail, but Sis may have a legal claim to residency at the house due to her ongoing presence there. Lawyering up may be a good idea for WAP. As may be putting any engagement plans on hold until after this issue is resolved, and just in general. You two haven't even been together a year yet, what's the rush? Wait until after NRE wears off to make a lifelong commitment. You don't HAVE to be a lesbian stereotype. :)

22

Yes, Fan. There’s all that. People who have stayed at one’s home, rent free, over time, can claim on an estate. Doing my mother’s estate I learned some hard Law lessons. Lucky none of the extended family free loaders did put a claim in. Though I think I heard the Lawyer saying they still could up to certain time frames.
And it’s her sister, her nephew. And as dropout said, her new love might be blown. And what’s with proposing after a few months?
This is your sister, LW. Her damage and your damage would have similar resonance.

23

Not entirely true, re no experience with Lesbian culture.
I did go to all girls Catholic schools, with nuns. Boarding for a year, as a senior student. Subterranean mostly, though rumours abounded about why some nuns suddenly left. And the girls, picking up on the permission, wrote love letters to each other. Sort of princess lesbianism. The butch variety has never appealed.

24

Ricardo @16

"We had a clear rule in those days: steer well clear of the butch girl whose femme GF has a black eye (or a broken arm, for that matter - and I'm not joking)"

I won't question your experience, but you just repeated a pretty awful heterosexist stereotype about butch women and abuse patterns in f/f relationships: the one who "looks like a man" is the wife beater. Studies repeatedly show that butch women are just as likely to be victims of intimate partner violence in lesbian relationships as they are to be perpetrators (I can probably find some links for you - or you can do your own googling). There is no correlation between being butch and being an abuser. In fact, in some cases, the butch partner's gender identity/ presentation can serve as a vector for emotional abuse by the more "gender-comforming" femme partner. These stereotypes are not harmless. You won't need to look far to find stories of butch lesbian women who felt trapped in abusive relationships for years because the outside world - including law enforcement, judicial system, and women's shelters - decided that they could not be victims.

I get that your experiences happened 30-35 years ago, but I hope that you won't set the same "clear rule" now, as being butch has bugger all to do with it.

25

RE: LW2

NOTE: The writer's living arrangement is likely stuck tween a rock and hard place as this is happening during a pandemic, which can add a new layer of difficulty to finding an affordable place to live and keeping it.

Several years ago, my sister who has medical and mental health challenges moved east and stayed with us. She didn’t “help” around the house, clean up after herself, or make any attempts to find a place of her own. It all came to a head one night when I threw my pizza against the wall (I was being a bit of a drama Queen but the pizza was in a zip lock!). My bad. We should have asked her to write an exit plan and timetable for getting back on her feet and finding her own place.

It's never too late for the LW to sit down and firmly request (really, tell) her freeloading sister to write a move-out plan with a time table. LW should explain that the current living arrangement is not healthy for anyone in the house and that she fears that irreparable harm is being done to the sisters' relationship with one another. Not healthy for the sisters. Not healthy for the LW and her girlfriend. Not healthy for the LW's nephew. How flexible that timetable would be is up to the LW. If need be, the LW could offer to assist her sister's search for a place to live. I gather that the sister is a grownup and not incapable of self sufficiency. Therefore, the LW should stick to her guns.

26

Lost @ 24 - "I won't question your experience, but you just repeated a pretty awful heterosexist stereotype about butch women and abuse patterns in f/f relationships"

By implying that I am merely repeating an "awful heterosexist stereotype" (and giving me a sermon about it), you did just that: question my experience.

The content of my post is clearly anecdotal. It is what I witnessed on more than a few occasions when I used to go to mixed bars. I am not stupid enough to think that my perceptions reflect the totally of the lesbian domestic violence experience, but that's not what I stated either. Why would you even think that?

As a general reminder: not everything we say has to take into consideration every aspect of every situation all the time. I tend to trust that people on this forum are generally intelligent enough to distinguish anecdotes from absolute statements.

27

DRAMA~ ANY relationship, lesbian or not, that features “constantly calling the cops on each other, getting restraining orders” is what most people would define as seriously fucked up. I had a friend in a similar situation, and due to his family’s and her family’s history of the same type of behavior they viewed it all as “normal”. It’s not. About all you can do as a friend is to NOT be an enabler and “rescue” them from the life they are choosing... THEY need to arrive at the conclusion that something needs to change. Just say, “No matter what you think this isn’t the way most relationships work. You don’t have to be in a constant state of upheaval, and if you are ever ready to try to break the cycle let me know and I’ll do what I can to get you whatever help you need. In the meantime, I’m not going to watch the carnage” and leave when it starts, or say, “NOT IN MY HOUSE” and show them the door. Don’t try to mediate, they don’t want it and it’s not your job.

28

I meant "totality", not "totally" @ 26 above.

Also, when a LW says that she plans to propose to her GF after less than a year, I don't think lesbians need me to propagate stereotypes about them. They're doing a fine job of it all on their own.

29

WAP~ Both your letter and DRAMA’s feature people “enabling” bad behavior, not sure if this is a good suggestion or not, but perhaps a visit to your local AL-ANON chapter might help? Commentariat? Neither letter is about substance abuse but they do offer help in dealing with problematic behavior by those close to you.

30

Ricardo @26, anecdotal evidence often reflects confirmation bias. For example, people who believe that "Jewish people are thrifty" or that "Black men are thugs" tend to find a lot of evidence to confirm their bias. Consciously or subconsciously, they overlook evidence to the contrary, and continue to repeat harmful stereotypes. Prefacing these statements with "in my experience" doesn't make them any less harmful to the people at the receiving end of this prejudice.

Do you think you might have overlooked butch victims of abuse in those mixed bars, because you weren't looking at them? Just a thought.

31

No offense intended by saying princess lesbianism, all lyrical and fluttery. Then one of the nuns called me and my friends guttersnipes, a word I didn’t know, and soon after I crossed the harbour to a more worldly school, one in the same street as sex workers. When I bordered there, we’d turn the light off and watch the man across the rd show his naked body to us, from his window. Maybe that nun was right, I was a guttersnipe.

32

SNJ @25, good point that nobody may be moving anywhere during a pandemic and the exit plan must reflect that reality. That said, both sisters are nurses and are working outside the home, so they are not as homebound as some may be. Because of this, now may be a good time to move. Anecdotally, in my city landlords are struggling to fill vacancies since nobody wants to live in an urban apartment these days. Sis may be able to bag herself a bargain.

33

As a lesbian who came out almost 40 years ago and who went to a variety of mixed and lesbian bars (during my heyday (i.e. my 20s) up to 4 days a week), I think my experience is germane to LW1. In all those years, I saw two actual episodes of violence. In the first, it was perpetrated by the "femme" in that relationship. In the second, there was no "butch/femme" dynamic. In my experience, the butch/femme trope is a harmful stereotype used by society to impose heteronormativity onto lesbian relationships. "Which one of you is the man?" is incredibly insulting, and given the subtle yet ubiquitous homophobia that is ingrained in our culture (Venn is right about that), the expectation that one person in the relationship is the man and the other the woman can lead to that heteronormativity being internalized by many lesbians.

My guess is that this couple is simply young. I don't know anyone, gay or straight, who survived their 20s without at least some drama.

34

@27 Donny - I wholeheartedly agree.

@28 Ricardo - My wife and I tied the knot 2 years ago tomorrow, after 24 drama-free years - although we did move in together after only 6 months!

Lost Margarita - Thank you for your excellent posts! As an androgynous (does that make me a soft butch?) lesbian, I appreciate the support.

35

JibeHo@34, congrats on the upcoming wedding anniversary! My GF and I just got engaged (on Christmas eve), after 7 years together (3 of those living together). I feel like we've done a pretty good job busting both the "U-haul lesbians" and the "fickle bisexual" stereotypes. But we'll be getting a cat soon, so I guess someone somewhere will have their stereotypes reaffirmed... No escape! :)

36

I just re-read the letter from DRAMA, who doesn't say that her friend is being physically abused in her marriage. Of course, there can be physical abuse that she doesn't know about, but what she describes does sound like drama between two--not one--melodramatic, immature, emotionally-impulsive women. Here's the description of the dynamic: "My friend and her wife are constantly calling the cops on each other, getting restraining orders, and then always breaking them and getting back together." It sounds like a lot of screaming, with maybe some wall-punching or things-breakage. I get the sense that someone or both of them may have thrown something at the other one, but if there was physical abuse, I think DRAMA would have been told that, or would have seen evidence of it, and it would have been in the letter. I knew a straight couple like that (and it was the wife who drove 100% of the drama and logged the calls to the police) and I am no longer friends with them because it was exhausting being even its outermost orbit. They are still together after something like 30 years, and maybe they've mellowed over time, but I'm not advising the lw's friend stick around over the next two decades to see if the drama will calm down by the time they hit their 50s.

There is a lot we don't get from this letter that would help guide the advice. We don't know how old they are, how long they dated before marrying, etc. All we do know that they've been married for "a couple of years," and it seems the drama predates the marriage: "It’s been nothing but drama since the day they met."

But like Harriet, I think the most disturbing about this letter is the description of the friend, who was raised in what sounds like a very dysfunctional family ("My friend had a terrible home life growing up and doesn’t understand stability"). The friend is described as having "zero self-confidence," presumably as a result of her upbringing, and is willing to accept this kind of relationship because she dreads being alone and she thinks that either this is all she deserves or this is all that actually exists in lesbian relationships. Where did she get that latter idea? Is it something her wife says to her to get her to stay? Is it based on her previous relationships and experiences?

If this is DRAMA's friend's first significant relationship, then it's easier to understand how she can be manipulated and gaslit by her wife, since she has no frame of reference of a healthier--or calmer--relationship. Additionally, if the friend hasn't herself witnessed a lot of other lesbian relationships, it's possible that her wife is gaslighting her by telling her that this is normal and what every lesbian couple's marriage looks like. But if the friend has had other relationships that were equally drama-filled, then she is most likely helping to perpetuate it. Indeed, the lw says, "I told her that if she likes this drama, that’s one thing. It’s another if my friend got dragged into it and doesn’t want to live this way! But she cannot seem to quit their relationship."

My theory is the the friend DOES want to live that way--not that it's healthy. DRAMA says her friend "says she wants" out, but she stays in the marriage. Perhaps the friend equates drama with "passion" or perhaps she's getting something out of this marriage that makes her decide that it's worth putting up with the drama. Perhaps she likes getting to play the victim and enjoys the sympathetic attention she receives from others; maybe having to call the police and issue a restraining order makes her feel loved in some way, like her wife can't quit HER, either. "She says she wants out, but she stays" is a common behavior and I am a believer in actions speaking if not louder than words, at least equally loudly. At some level, in some way, for reasons unknown, the friend doesn't want to leave this marriage.

Well, my straight aunt was married for over 62 years (the marriage ended upon her death), to a man she bitterly complained about DAILY to my mother (her sister) for virtually every year of that marriage. Her husband never physically abused her, and I don't think the police were ever involved, but my aunt's description was of a miserable marriage (blamed exclusively on her husband) and what I witnessed was a relationship between two people who screamed at each other constantly, who bickered and argued about pretty much everything, and who mutually held each other in contempt for decades.

Why did they stay married, especially once their kids were grown? Who knows. Like the lw's friend, my aunt grew up in an extremely dysfunctional home and had very low self-esteem, plus a lot of insecurities, abandonment issues, and a gigantic chip on her shoulder. Perhaps that marriage was all she thought she deserved; perhaps she thought that it wouldn't "be any better with someone else," (to use DRAMA's wording). She also wanted to be loved, and I guess she thought she was; enough to stay in the marriage, in any case.

But at a certain point after hearing nothing but constant complaints about how awful the marriage and how terrible the husband was, after years of my mother's advising her sister to leave the brute, my mom came to the conclusion that her sister didn't want that marriage to end, that in some way, she enjoyed complaining about her husband. After that, my mom stopped suggesting that my aunt leave (especially as the kids no longer needed the "stability" that their two-parent family provided), and just mmm-hmmed and made sympathetic noises as she tuned out the never-ending complaints.

I have a very close friend who is bi and married to a woman after having been married before to a man. The woman my friend is married to is a drama queen and my friend claims to hate it, but she, too, doesn't leave. Yet at least she doesn't simply swallow the falsehood that this is just the way all lesbian relationships are.

In any case, the friend needs therapy. She needs to know that not all relationships, lesbian or otherwise, are like this, that calling the police and issuing restraining orders are not commonplace marital behaviors, lesbian or not. She would benefit by learning to love herself and being unwilling to put up with mistreatment, as well as learning more appropriate ways to manage her own anger: the lw says the couple call the cops "on each other," which I take to mean that the gaslighting wife is also calling the cops on DRAMA's friend, which suggests that the friend does her share of contributing to the drama.

37

@Lost Margarita: Congratulations on your engagement!
@JibeHo: that's awesome: good for the two of you!

38

In my experience, lesbian relationships between young women do have a lot of drama. Not so much between mature women. In my own early lesbian relationships, I had fewer boundaries than I did in my straight relationships, which meant I had to do a lot of work to identify abusive relationships and my role in perpetuating them. In my straight relationships it was easy. Dude is a dick? Not making me happy? Walk away.

My friends today know that I have an ex-from-hell but not her full name or what went down. There's probably still a lot of shame, even though I was generally accepted to have been the "victim" among people who knew us both.

In Forbidden Love* an interviewee talks about how when she broke up with her husband she felt like she'd lost her best friend. The first time she broke up with a woman she felt like she'd lost part of herself. Pretty much sums up my experience. (Most lesbians I know think I'm crazy when I say that. This is clearly not universal.)

And about universality: of course, abuse goes both ways and most lesbian relationships are not butch/femme. That said, the advice Ricardo received still makes sense. (Remember, I'm discussing people who feel most comfortable within gendered roles and have chosen them over other options.) For various reasons including social acceptance, butch women may hang with a rougher crowd, possibly drinking more (Ricardo's experience was in actual bars; back in the day lesbians had a higher rate of alcoholism than straight women; it might even still be the case) and taking more risks. She might be more physically adventurous. She is more likely to be targeted by gay-bashers. As Lost Margarita @24 suggests, a femme partner might reach for tools of emotional and psychic abuse before she physically assaults anyone. We imagine many different ways a butch lesbian could have broken her arm or had it broken; her femme partner is one, but not necessarily the primary one.

Also. (The following is based on "back in the day." I've been out of the scene for a while.) Butch/femme lesbian couples don't necessarily follow the classic man/woman dynamics of familiar stereotype. The femme is more likely to be the primary breadwinner because she is allowed easier access to conventional work. The femme is more likely to be sexually satisfied because her butch partner may not be fully comfortable with her own body. The femme partner may be more accepted by straight men and women than her butch partner is. The butch partner may be socially, emotionally and financially dependent on her femme partner and really, really need her. The femme partner might see good options for herself if she leaves. This can lead to the butch partner needing desperately to control her femme partner.

Note that I'm not making universal statements. I'm talking about balances of probabilities and dynamics that might be slightly different from what we expect.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbidden_Love:TheUnashamed_Stories_of_Lesbian_Lives

39

Re LW1 - I don't think that anyone who says a relationship is drama understands what a relationship is. It's about being sincere, not wanting to act a part. It means listening, not directing. It means not wanting to be the center of attention. Cultivating drama is a big red flag.

40

RE DRAMA:

Lundy Bancroft's "Why Does He Do That?" is a classic and excellent reference for both DRAMA and the friend. You can even download a free *.pdf.

41

Auntie grizelda~ Don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but the University of Montana, Missoula’s mascot is the grizzlies, and they have lots of “Griz”- branded merchandise for sale...
https://montanabookstore.bncollege.com/shop/montana-bookstore/products/gifts-accessories/drinkware/mugs?parentSubCatIdFlag=true

42

Lost @ 30 - "Do you think you might have overlooked butch victims of abuse in those mixed bars, because you weren't looking at them?"

If I overlooked them, it's because they weren't the ones sporting a black eye or a cast on their arm.

Look, I'm not privy to lesbian relationships' inner workings. I won't argue with you on the research, I'm quite convinced all that you said is true (or at the very least highly probable). All I can say, and it's what I've already said, is that all my (albeit limited) experience of physical violence amongst lesbians has had to do with butch women punching each other (because one of them had dared to look at the other one's GF - the gall!), having visibly done physical harm to their femme GF, or, in one instance, learning years after the fact that a friend I had lost touch with - because her then butchy GF was rather controlling and made her cut off ties with most of her friends - had been the victim of repeated physical violence at the hands of said GF.

Does that reinforce stereotypes? Undoubtedly. Is it my fault? I didn't do the hitting. Besides, like I always say (as I wallow in the glory of my own stereotypes as a 55-year old totally-not-butch, promiscuous and somewhat hedonistic Levi's-and-t-shirt bald and bearded gay man), most stereotypes, if not all, have a basis in reality.

On the question of heteronormativity: I have never believed in the who's-the-woman-who's-the-man trope, but come on! The whole U-Haul thing is based on an heteronormative model, and the only people who have ever criticized me for not adhering to it were lesbians (straights, when they're being honest, generally admit to envying me a bit).

JibeHo @ 34 - Congratulations! I would say, though, that there's a possibility the lack of a piece of paper forcing you to stay together might have contributed to a healthier relationship, one that you had to work for and work at because you couldn't take it for granted, as it tends to do for couples of every orientation and gender (once again, in my personal experience, but in this case, the evidence is rather overwhelming).

43

I disagree with Dan Savage's advice to DRAMA.

One of the prime strategies of an abusive partner is isolation. There are ways to maintain connections with someone in a bad relationship in ways that make it easier for them to eventually leave. (None of them involve badmouthing the partner.) If you collaborate with an abuser in their attempts to isolate someone, you aren't doing anyone any favours.

Yes, you need to protect yourself and maintain your own boundaries when a friend is in a "dramatic" relationship. You might need to distance yourself. But it's probably not a useful strategy for helping someone else end drama in their own life.

44

By the way, I didn't mean my message to be interpreted as "your friend must be enjoying the drama, so there's no problem." I think this sounds like a toxic relationship. The friend really should be in therapy.

45

So now I'm wondering:

Is the propensity for drama a young-person thing?

Is it a gendered thing?

Is it a sexual-orientation thing?

46

In the past I've said that Dan often misses the mark when it comes to advising women, that it's obvious his heart is in the right place, but that he doesn't quite get it. I'd like to withdraw that statement now. In his answer to WAP, in his understanding of the "I'm helpless, and it's your job to help me-I'm a victim, and you're a big meaning" dynamic described in the letter, Dan has redeemed himself.

Now advice to WAP-- You know you've got to get your sister to move out. You know it's hard under the best of circumstances and that there's a pandemic out there. You know (or maybe you don't) that your sister has gotten you to sign a contract that says that any plan you make for her to get out will be met with her finding a flaw in it which means that "oh well, I guess she has to stay with you with you supporting her forever."

The first thing you have to do is to start seeing her as an ABUSER. See her as someone who manipulates and bullies to get her own way. This is tough, but once I recognized it, it was like a hundred light bulbs going on over my head. It was wild: OMG, people who love me wouldn't treat me like this! Next step. Find out your legal options for evicting her. It might be as easy as dropping her off at the local homeless shelter and having the locks changed by the time she gets a ride back to your place. It might be as difficult as getting the courts invovled.

47

RE WAP:

The LW doesn't seem to hold her sister in high esteem as a sister and housemate.

If the Department of Children and Family Services were involved with my housemate in such a way as to upset me, I would be wondering whether my housemate were a good parent. Maybe the kid should be with his father after all? Would that make things easier?

I don't fully understand why the LW is having such trouble setting boundaries, or saying "Yes of course I'm spending less time with you, and maybe it's time for you to make some friends of your own." It's possible she (and her sister) come from a troubled home.

I don't fully understand why the LW's girlfriend has elected to move into this crowded and troubled home. Is she unemployed? Is there a problem there too?

One way out would be for the LW and her girlfriend to move somewhere smaller, without room for the sister and nephew. At least where we live, people still move. People who were paying to live close to town are working from home now and moving further out. People with roommates are moving to their own places.

48

Alison @ 38 - Great analysis of the "back in the day" potential B/F dynamics. It truly was a different era. I'm almost getting nostalgic. Ah, to be treated like a leper again!

(Now, if you don't get that the last bit is sarcasm...)

49

@38 wow. thank you for sharing. that was a tour de force of understanding, compassion and memory.

50

i think young people are prone to drama.

i think different communities trend towards particular flavors of drama, and that those flavors then become part of what 'normal' is to them.

i think flavors of drama that seem 'normal' within one community will often seem strange and/or unacceptable to another community.

i think this weed chocolate is really starting to kick in.

51

My thanks and congratulations to our various Resident Experts.

Ms Cute - One possible comparison point you don't raise would be what I've called complementarians and mirrorists. Of the FF couples of which I've known both halves, only one might have been complementarian; the ones I saw most often were both remarkably drama-free and looked definitely alike. I can't recall knowing any SS couples with abusive relationships when I was socially active, though I could have had the bar set a bit high.

Ms Jibe - Agreed about the stereotypes; there may have been some value to them as a signal once upon a time (a la the green carnation or the coloured handkerchief), but they have long since become presentation matters that are used for lazy labeling as mechanical geniuses, princesses, irredeemably toxic and fashionista flibbertigibbets, to mention but a few.

52

47- Alison-- When I read "My problem is that my sister and her nine-year-old son have been living in my home for the last four years," I interpreted that as meaning that the letter writer owns the house. She and her girlfriend can't just move out to somewhere new when everything is in her name.

53

@50: I think you're right, philosophy school dropout.

54

Yes, LW2 (WAP) wrote "When I purchased my home." So it's not simple to just move out.

And BiDanFan put her finger on the problem @21: "Sis may have a legal claim to residency at the house due to her ongoing presence there. Lawyering up may be a good idea for WAP."

I think the suggestion of mediation (BDF@13) is the best place to start. The city may have professional mediators, or a family therapist might work. I'd start with someone with training; anyone in their family or friends circle is likely to have their own dysfunctional relationship with one or both of these women.

55

"...Sis may have a legal claim to residency at the house due to her ongoing presence there...”

I’ve never heard of a case where “I’ve been freeloading off my sister” gives anyone any kind of “eminent mooch” legal right to continue doing so. MAYBE if she had been paying rent and utilities she MIGHT be considered a tenant...but without a signed lease?

56

Following up on DonnyK @ 29 “perhaps a visit to your local AL-ANON chapter might help? Commentariat? Neither letter is about substance abuse but they do offer help in dealing with problematic behavior by those close to you”
and BDF (Happy Bar-Mitzvah!) @ 13 “how about SLAA”

Many Alcoholic Anonymous chapters offer a wide variety of meetings, dealing with substance abuse or abusive behavioral patterns.
As some of the old-time regulars may recall I’m a “graduate” of both SAA, Sex Addicts Anonymous, and SLAA, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.
I think SLAA may be of great benefit for LW1’s friend, but not sure if the friend would be willing to attend those meetings.
I was more or less forced to, “either you work on your issues or we’re getting a divorce,” and it also took me six months or so of weekly meetings to finally “get in the program”. This is not uncommon, and many start the program only after they get in trouble of some sort, "hitting bottom" in 12-step jargon.
Overcoming the “addiction” stigma is huge, and the friend’s claim that “this is normal and you don’t understand it” sounds like it may be tough to convince her to even try and attend some meetings.

Not to start another gender-stereotype discussion, but back when I went to meetings, last one was about 10 years ago, it seemed like SAA was attended mostly by men regardless of orientation, and SLAA by women. Some bigger, diverse municipalities like Savageville may offer SAA and SLAA meetings exclusively for women, allowing participants a more comfortable environment to discuss sex and relationships if they so choose.

I should also mention that in both groups I’ve met people who already managed to arrest their substance abuse, yet realized this was the easy part as their substance of choice was often masking/medicating troubled relationships and behavioral patterns.

57

Oh Ricardo, I love my Levi’s too. My black jeans, blue shirt and jacket. I remember I had a pair of much loved and worn, light pink Levi thin cords, in the early 70’s.
NYE down these parts. Toast to you all, may 2021 bring us great strength and healing.

58

Nocute @45, definitely a young person thing. I've known some people who were still drama queens in their 30s and 40s but diagnosable mental health issues, in particular bipolar and BPD, were the cause of that. Normally people get to their late 20s and realise life is too short to make mountains out of molehills, that their drama is only hurting themselves, and learn better ways to handle conflict. And I hate to say it but drama does seem more often caused by young women than young men. It makes sense -- it's born of insecurity, and women get more pressure than men regarding their looks, which young women internalise as being the most important thing, and are socialised to see other women as competitors. And men are socialised to repress their feelings, leaving women as the ones more likely to bombard a partner with irrational texts or spread drama by gossiping with everyone they know. That said, though, there are plenty of male drama queens (see below), and jealous and controlling types. I guess the question is how are we defining drama? Is it starting fights over things which are inconsequential, or is it another word for "conflict"? In my mind, drama is conflict which is brought on by oneself, creating issues that don't exist, such as asking a partner a trick question like "will you still desire me no matter my size."

Donny @55, okay so now you have. Many years ago I foolishly agreed to let a friend of a friend who was down on his luck stay with me. He made a mess, ate my food, made no effort to find work, and badmouthed me to all our friends. After a couple of weeks I told him he needed to leave. After that, he broke in and turned the gas on in my kitchen. If I'd come home smoking a cigarette (I was a smoker in those days), I'd have been dead, so I saw this as attempted murder. I called the police and was told there was nothing they could do because I had allowed him to stay at my place and leave his things there. Sister may indeed have legal rights. "Tenant at will" seems to be the correct search term, if you'd like to check on how your state handles this.
https://www.masslegalhelp.org/housing/lt1-chapter-4-tenants-at-will

59

45- Nocute-- Good question and one I've given some thought to.

I think part of the answer comes down to what we interpret as "drama." In a cis-straight marriage where he's in a cycle of punching, apologizing, being forgiven, then knocking her teeth in again, we call that domestic abuse. I've never heard that called drama. Maybe if she complains to her friends, cries, equivocates, then decides to forgive him again, she's said to be engaging in drama, but never him.

In a lesbian relationship, if one is punching the other, or if they're punching each other, then they're both said to be engaging in the drama.

It's almost like "drama" is a woman thing, something not attributed to men (unless they're gay men acting like women.)

I realize I'm talking about word use here, and word use is a notoriously mercurial thing. "Drama" may be used differently in other circles than the ones I run in.

60

Fichu @59, "drama" does seem word that is used more often for women and gay men. People get called "drama queens" not "drama kings." A straight man who provokes conflict within a relationship (short of physical abuse) is called an "asshole."

61

The word "drama" also feels dismissive. Drama after all means acting. Someone may have a legitimate issue but if they bring it up in a way that leads to an argument, it's just "drama"; the issue is no longer what the other person has done, it's how the drama queen has reacted. So no wonder the issue itself goes unresolved and the arguments recur.

62

Neither of these letters describe uniquely lesbian situations. I know straight people that could have written both letters.

DRAMA: What are you getting out of your involvement in your friend's drama? Assuming they're doing online or outdoor, socially-distanced meetings, take her to an Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) meeting, and then step back.

WAP: The sister fighting with the girlfriend struck me as a line crossed. You have the right to live your life.

63

BiDanFan @13: SLAA: Savage Love Addicts Anonymous? Sounds like a good idea.

64

DRAMA - I don't trust people who describe social problems as "drama". At best, it's dismissive of another person's priorities. At worst, it's diminishing extremely important health or financial concerns by dismissing them as "drama". The marital problems appear to be a lack of respect or calmness, resulting in yelling fights, calling the cops on a partner for yelling, and getting a restraining order against your partner for yelling. But maybe there is physical abuse, throwing things or hitting each other, that LW is glossing over by calling it "drama". If LW were healthy, perhaps a reminder of how to calmly talk through problems, rather than yelling or asking police or courts to judge, may help her friend. But if she dismissed her friends problems as drama, she's not helping but just contributing to the habits of judging and dismissing, rather than calmly listening and suggesting better ways to behave and actually helping. Solution: learn to keep her opinions out of their marriage, listen to the conflicts and offer an example of talking through problems respectfully and calmly.. or let her friend go if she can't help except to suggest divorce, and can't respectfully avoid the subject.

The word "disrespect" doesn't have as much judgement as the word "abuse", although they both refer to general bad behavior.

WAP-"now is my time to prioritize myself and my happiness. How do I make her see that without making her feel like I’m abandoning her and her son?"
Tell her, "I need to know when you plan to move out, because I want the chance to live alone with my girlfriend, could you help me?" And stop calling her problems or her bad behavior "drama". Bad behavior can be described as yelling or neglectful actions, it's more helpful to respectfully identify the problem behavior that you're having trouble dealing with, than dismissing it as "drama".

Happy holidays Savage Love land!

65

🍾Happy New Year to All! 🥂 (And may 2021 be an improvement on 2020)

67

I thought “drama” is what men call their partners’ complaining so they don’t have to deal with it. You know, gaslighting.

It’s a legitimate word for a way manipulative people sow discord and seek allies.

Parents use it kindly about their teens and preteens who are learning how to negotiate more complex social maneuverings and who (partly because of the influx of new and unfamiliar hormones) take them very seriously and personally.

It’s a way outsiders can downplay abuse to justify not getting involved.

It can be a marker for another kind of gaslighting, where an abuser says “well you hit me too” and the story becomes one where they are both complicit. Disregarding the fact that the victim hit back when threatened or strangled, and that (George Zimmerman’s claims to the contrary) there’s a difference between self-defense and assault. If the victim buys this story she will explain away the assaults as drama.

I wouldn’t assume that drama just means yelling. If someone is actually able to obtain a restraining order, I’d assume it goes well beyond yelling. If the friend only refers to drama — she’s ashamed of tolerating physical assault by a partner; she’s protecting her partner; she doesn’t want to make lesbians look bad to a straight person; she wants to focus on the fact that she is unhappy and not get sidetracked by the details of a particular fight; if drama was the word used to describe knife fights in her family of origin and she assumes the LW understands what she’s referring to — and the LW doesn’t interrogate it, there can be a serious problem of communication.

Note that boys are commonly brought up with a strict injunction that You Don’t Hit Girls. EVER.

Girls aren’t usually explicitly taught this. This can result in women who feel free to use physical violence in relationships. They don’t think their violence is significant, or they think it’s fair if they’re both women.

68

More thinking out loud in an effort to zero in on a definition of drama and where drama is more prevalent-- young, gay, lesbian, bi-polar, etc.

I believe situations are more likely to be described as dramatic when third parties are involved, or third parties are observing. In a situation where a couple argues, breaks up, drinks too much, gets a restraining order, gets back together, lies to the other, makes the other jealous, makes up, sues for custody, etc., and they do it all with each other involving no one else, that's usually not considered dramatic. If one of them confides in a friend describing the ongoing ups and downs as they unfold, THEN it's drama. Since women are stereotypically considered the ones who talk things out while men keep it all bottled inside, women are the dramatic ones. Since lesbian relationships involve 2 women, if they're both talking to others, the net effect is drama times 2.

69

Happy New Year, SLOG peeps!

70

What is drama ?

My last BF (who was neither young nor female) swore to me, when we first started seeing each other, that there had been so much drama in his previous relationship that he really wanted an adult relationship where we'd talk things through, reach compromises and not needlessly blame each other.

Our first anniversary fell on a Monday. One of my best friends, who lives far away, was going to be in town that day. I asked my BF if he minded that we celebrate on the weekend so I could see my friend (who he knew had never been a lover or anything of the sort). He said it was no problem. So on the Saturday, we went to a restaurant and later a bar, and we spent the Sunday in bed having sex. I called him the next day before I went out to see my friend, and everthing was cool.

On the Tuesday, he gave me a lecture about my insensitivity and how I failed to prioritize him. I was told that he had never felt so abandoned and that no one had ever treated him so badly in his entire life. Literally.

When I reminded him of all the things he'd told me about his last relationship, including the periods of physical violence, he answered "But it never made me feel as bad as you did yesterday!" When I reminded him that we had discussed the situation and that he had agreed, he told me "I didn't know then that it would make me feel that bad!" And when I reminded him that I couldn't know that either if he didn't tell me - which is why I had discussed the whole thing with him beforehand - he replied "You should have known!"

That is drama.

I should have taken that as a sign, not that I had a particularly sensitive BF, but a particularly manipulative one. No matter what I did, said or tried, he would always twist it so as to make me feel like I had wronged him, the poor, innocent victim of my abuse.

That's the purpose of drama.

71

"U-Haul": that reference went completely over my head.

Urban Dictionary gave me the definition: two lesbians go out on the first date, then move in together on the second date.

Would someone do me a favor, and contextualize it for me?

72

Biker @ 71 - A stereotype of lesbians is that they are really quick to decide that the girl they're interested in is now their official GF, and official GFs should live together, so they move in together.

There's an old joke about this stereotype :

Q: What does a lesbian bring on the second date?
A: A U-Haul.

And the gay corollary :

Q: What does a gay man bring on the second date?
A: What second date?

73

we live in a patriarchal society. so the patriarchy reflects on everything, including drama, and therefore, women will be judged more harshly. that doesn't mean that nothing is real but patriarchy. drama is not just men ignoring women's complaints about men's bad behavior. drama is real. i can't really believe that this has to be said.

allow me to share a tale of 100%-PURE-uncut-stupid-straight-cis-white-male-middle-aged-mostly-married drama... a couple nights a week throughout the pandemic, some friends of mine (see prior sentence for relevant Savage Love gender & social classifications) and i have been playing a game online together. it's a collaborative role playing game, so you know... you might not have to work together to solve a problem, but you cannot actively work against each other. and it is also super geeky and ridiculous and fun, and the characters we play become part of ourselves over months & even years. it's been a great way to get fucked up with friends and laugh this year. highly recommend!

anyway, eventually one dude decided to take have his character steal bunch of shit from another character and totally ruin that guy's experience. it is literally a DO NOT DO UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES type scenario if you play the game. in the moment the rest of us were all like... wtf? did he just break up the band? shit... he did... wtf? and from there it took weeks of letting people blow off steam safely with this subset or that subset of people, and 'well... why don't you just wait a bit before you two talk...' etc. etc. to keep the whole group from disintegrating and all of us losing the one fun thing we had going during the pandemic.

that's some drama! it was totally unnecessary, but we kept it from crossing over from 'stupid but happens' into 'fuck you we're done.' but it was hard & it took a lot of effort and the whole thing was inconceivably stupid... and it still almost broke up a bunch of friendships.

74

Thanks for asking Musicbiker @71, I too didn’t know that one. Seems rude, to gay men and women, and not how I see my lesbian friends. Homosexual men have clamoured to be able to marry, so it’s a pretty lame stereotype.

75

philosophy school dropout @73 - would you give us some explanation of why any of you wanted to stay friends with the one who thought it was entertaining to be an asshole? I can imagine some explanations (like he's going through a traumatizing divorce or just lost a parent), but I'd love to hear your take on it.

SNJ-RN @65 - indeed!

fubar @69 - congrats on scoring the lucky number!

@All -- Happy New Year! And thanks, gang, for an interesting analysis of "drama"! A good way to round out the year in SL discussions!

76

That’s sad, dropout, @73, sounds like that man needs to be asked to leave. The game sounds fun.
Drama is about ego and attention, dysfunction and manipulation. It’s what happens when emotions take over, like with Ricardo’s story @70, even after the adult self made clear decisions. My four and a half yr old grandson knows drama, lives it. ‘I feel’ are the words he lives by.

77

Lava @ 74 - As a homosexual man who clamoured for the RIGHT to marry (I had no intention of doing it, but I consider equality of rights to be of the utmost importance), I find it not only extremely funny, but also reflective of my experience of both lesbians and gays.

It's an exageration, mind you, like all stereotypes, but that doesn't mean it doesn't accurately reflect a general attitude. Besides, s/he who isn't worth a laugh isn't worth much (as a high school teacher of mine used to say), and I'd rather laugh at my stereotypes than get all worked up about them.

And now: happy new year to you all!

78

Straight men are in it for the sex, too, Ricardo, and women for the romance. Those stereotypes of how each sex behaves, crosses orientations. Happy New Year to you.

79

Thanks to Dan and all you, commenters, including those I may have had some disagreements and beyond, for all the different takes and insights.
SL always offered a place to learn new things, exchange opinions and experiences, as well as offering a sense of community which became even more apparent in this outgoing year.
Happiness and good health to all.

Ricardo- good to have you back. Tell me you’re here to stay or I’ll throw a tantrum.

80

@41 DonnyKlicious: Thank you for foor for thought and the helpful link to the Montana Grizzlies.
Big hugs, positrons, VW beeps and an 'Ack=oop!" to you and Mr. Bill,:

@69 fubar: WA-HOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Major congratulations on scoring this week's luscious Lucky @69 Award! Bask in the glory and savor the riches. :)

@Ricardo: Agreed and seconded with CMDwannabe @79. Welcome back! Please don't ever leave us or I, too, will throw a tantrum. :)

Happy, safe & healthy 2021 to all!
XO, big hugs, positrons, and VW beeps,
Griz

81

@80: Aiiiiighhhh! Not AGAIN! Make that re my response to @41 DonnyKlicioius: food for thought. Griz has funky typing fingers these days--and I haven't even hit the booze yet. Oy vey.

Only twenty more days to a real president and vice president! Only twenty more days to a real president and vice president! Only twenty more days to a real president and vice president! Only twenty more days to a real president and vice president!......

Who's hungry for the first official Big Hunsky of 2021? Tick..tick...tick....

10....9....8...7....6....5....4....3.....2...1........

82

Phi @64, thanks for your more detailed comments on my thought that the term drama feels dismissive. "Acting out" may be a more respectful term that recognises that there's actually something that needs attention. It only seems to be third parties who use the term drama, at least in these letters that's the case. To the people involved, they are issues or problems. Perhaps the term drama just refers to dealing with problems in a public, self-centred and ineffective way. I agree that when third parties such as our LWs call it "drama" the people in question are unlikely to benefit from such, er, wisdom.

Alison @67, another good post about some of the things that are called drama when people don't want to take the time to analyse them further. "It’s a way outsiders can downplay abuse to justify not getting involved" -- this seems to be the two letters. Or perhaps, it's issues that people don't want to resolve despite outsiders doing their best to help. Once the good advice about how to solve the problem is repeatedly ignored, the adviser has little choice but to shrug and call it drama. Because the adviser knows it's unnecessary, but the parties to the drama can't see the obvious solutions.

Happy new year to you too, Fubar @69, and the rest of the SLOG peeps. May we all have a better year this year than last -- this time the bar is pretty low!

Ricardo @70, another good take on drama. It is irrational, intentional or both.

Lava @74, those stereotypes come right out of the communities themselves, so they are not rude to repeat. (Quoting WAP: "In typical lesbian fashion, she moved in over the summer and we’ve been inseparable ever since.") Of course there are exceptions, just as there are with every stereotype. But the patterns are common enough that lesbians joke about it. Ask your lesbian friends, I bet they'll laugh about it. @78, exactly. You have stereotypical men who want casual sex only, and stereotypical women who want to settle down, and when you have one of each there is a stereotypical game of manipulation, and when you have two of the same you get the U-Haul and "what second date" stereotypes. If you can laugh at the stereotype of women trying to get a man to propose, lesbians and gay men can laugh at theirs too.

83

CMD, Griz - Unfortunately, It's not something I can promise. It depends on a variety of factors. This year, not only was I profoundly disappointed with the human species as a whole (put on a fucking mask, you morons!), rather tense because of it (I have comorbidities, so must be very careful), and therefore afraid I'd blow up too easily if anyone got on my nerves, but I also went several months without work (and enjoyed the opportunity to spend a minimum of time at the computer), then several more with way, way too much (so no time to comment). Right now and for the coming months, I have just the right quantity of work to be at my computer on a steady basis, but still have time to look for some distractions (and therefore get involved in debates). That said, if I do disappear again, please know that it's not because I don't love you. I'm still there, just silent (something a lot of my friends IRL would tell you that you should learn to appreciate).

Lava @ 74 - Exactly. The point is that lesbians are women, and gays are men, and when two of one gender get together (as BDF's post @ 82 explains), their particularities are exacerbated.

BDF @ 82 - "It is irrational, intentional or both"

Yes. Some people have this incredible talent to quickly reprocess their irrational outbursts and weaponize them against their partner instead of feeling guilty. These people are best avoided at all costs - a lesson I wished I had learned sooner.

84

Not stopping anyone having a laugh at themselves, and like Ricardo I believe stereotypes do have a basis in reality. They are still stereotypes and the U-Haul one seems patronising, and people here so quick to call it up.

85

Some stereotypes are seeped in racism, bigotry, sexism and homosexual/ trans phobias. These ones are not based in reality. Lots of gay stereotypes appear to me to reduce human complexity, to mannerisms etc.
Straight couples move in quickly with each other too. The issue for this LW is it’s her sister and the dysfunction going on in this scenario. Why has she let this chaos go on and where can her sister and son go to now?

86

Gay male stereotypes were blown out of the water, Ricardo, during the AIDS epidemic. In my mind. Not your superficial sex cruiser then. Men showing immense compassion, commitment and love to each other.
/ Took me yrs of therapy, life and escape planning to realize its only small children throwing scenes, that I have to put up. Coupla my sons still try on some power plays, their father a very skilled teacher. I slap em down real fast and they adjust.

87

People could do themselves - and the people from who they are requesting advice or help - a lot of good by avoiding the euphemism "drama" and instead being clear and specific about interpersonal problems. For people themselves, they might be able to more clearly see abusive behaviors as "abuse" (fundamental incompatibilities as incompatibilities, mutual disdain as disdain, etc.) if they don't mentally frame it as "drama," which is apparently normal for a lot of people (I personally don't see the appeal of high-conflict relationships of any sort, but clearly some people do). For others, it helps clarify what advice/help might be effective and whether intervention is necessary.

It would be extremely helpful in the case of each letter to know the specifics of what is happening - WHY do the police or CPS keep showing up? In the first, is the friend more of a victim, perpetrator, or both, stuck in a pattern of mutual abuse? Given the custody if a child in the second letter, my first assumption was that the sister was more of a victim who might need help holding boundaries with an ex, but by the end, it sounds like she's a (or even THE) primary driver of conflict. Knowing who is doing what, specifically, helps determine what is and is not in any person's power to change, which is necessary information for advice on how to proceed.

88

As for third parties using "drama" more often, that hasn't been my experience. My anecdata are heavily biased toward women and gay men using "drama" to euphemistically describe conflicts in which they are a primary party. It seems like a defense mechanism, to avoid identifying (and perhaps recognizing) the specific nature of a problem (an avoidant coping mechanism, like people avoiding medical diagnosis because the idea of a definitive diagnosis makes the problem feel real, something they have to confront and can't continue to ignore).

89

@87 JohnH
"being clear and specific about interpersonal problems. For people themselves, they might be able to more clearly see abusive behaviors as "abuse"...if they don't mentally frame it as "drama""

I can't imagine anyone healthy using the euphemism 'drama' when talking to someone about their abuse of others. But as you say that would be extremely counterproductive. And a kind a dysfunction which enabled the abuse.

I think it's understandable enough in the context of the advice conversations you mainly focus upon, but it is also as you say not good communication. I think people in our culture are trained to communicate weakly, whereas clear communication involves selecting the words which accurately and most strongly convey the truth.

90

Oh, and a happy new year to the commentariat! 2020 has actually been much better for me personally than 2019, so I'm not one of the people gleefully writing off the year and feeling relief that it's over, but I'm glad that the calendar number changing can help people who have had a rough year feel some sense of relief and hope for improvement in circumstances. (And remember, collective action at the site of production is historically our best chance for improving material circumstances of most people. Unionize and vote socialist!)

91

@89 p.s.
"I think people in our culture are trained to communicate weakly"

Unless that is they are well educated. It was from paying attention to teachers that I learned that the best

"communication involves selecting the words which accurately and most strongly convey the truth.

92

Never has just saying the name of the new year brought me so much relief!

Which is odd, since absolutely nothing has changed, and Super-COVID-19 is heading our way.

Pandemics need better PR departments. It's pathetic that this historic pandemic has such a shitty name as COVID-19. And Super(contagious) Covid is even worse! I just read that it's called B1.1.7.

93

Sweet BDF, thanks for riffing with me. I think there are 2 ways people can use the word "drama" to dismiss another's problems. When they consider someone else's concerns to be unimportant, but no one is actually behaving badly. And when they are minimizing some sorts of bad behavior by calling it "drama". It's hard to tell which one is happening sometimes.. Ricardo's ex likely blamed Ricardo for his unexpected loneliness, which is unrealistic, inconsiderate behavior, to hold other people responsible for our feelings, or to expect them to read our mind. But Ricardo may have refused to acknowledge and sympathize with the ex's loneliness because the ex predicted wrongly that he would feel OK, and inconsiderately dismissed his partner's pain, which is also unrealistic, because people don't always know how we will feel in new circumstances.

Odd sort of thing to bother to argue about, imo. But they both seemed to care about it so I guess it was worth it.

I'm sure that no one is required to participate in conflict, it is always a choice, so the phrase "I got sucked into the drama" seems passive-aggressive and unrealistically blaming.

Hopefully stating a disagreement is not considered bad behavior. But sometimes people simply cannot tolerate other's opinions, will call them disagreeable, or dramatic, as if they expect people to primarily do what they want, which is unrealistic and inconsiderate.

Re 3rd party classification: People don't usually dismiss our own problems by calling them "drama". But I think it only takes two people, rather than 3, to invoke the word.. When two people are disagreeing about something important to them, one of the participants can escalate the conflict by calling their opponent's behavior or concerns "drama", with no third party involved.

Happy 2021!

94

I prefer to encourage people to treat me with respect, by trying to treat other people with respect.

"drama" minimizes bad behavior, but referring to it as "abuse" is the harshest way of describing disrespectful behavior. I get the best results by discussing why disrespectful behavior is harmful, and reminding others that we all like to be treated with respect.. without labeling any behavior of idea as "drama" or "abuse", or calling anyone "dramatic" or "abusive".

95

I hadn't even encountered "drama" much as a term for interaction until the so-called YouTube "drama community" took form, I think as a logical extension of the Culture Wars and drawing in people of all genders and persuasions. Every little thing is exaggerated in order to be seen easily from the cheap seats and the house sells out on a regular basis. Before then, the example that would have come to mind would have been Louise Leidner from Murder in Mesopotamia, the sort of person who was always stirring the pot to get at people and about whom it seemed plausible that the threatening letters she'd received she might have written herself.

As for stereotypes, while often unpleasant, they can be useful cues to what certain people want us to be.

96

JH @ 87 - "I personally don't see the appeal of high-conflict relationships of any sort, but clearly some people do"

A lot of people consider drama to be a sign of passion, and passion a sign of true love.

Philo @ 93 - "Ricardo may have refused to acknowledge and sympathize with the ex's loneliness because the ex predicted wrongly that he would feel OK, and inconsiderately dismissed his partner's pain"

I did not dismiss it at the time, I seriously tried to get to the heart of the matter, but the fact is that I was being manipulated. It's only now, many years later, that I write in retrospect as if it deserved to be dismissed (because it did), and the following two years proved again and again that he was a master manipulator.

Also: if you read my story as it's written, you would not have come to the conclusion that I had "inconsiderately" dismissed his feelings. I'll be magnanimous and blame your biased and distorted view on New Years Eve partying. I preemptively did all I could to make sure he was comfortable with the situation, according to the agreement we had. You know, as adults do. Because he was an adult who supposedly wanted an adult relationship. Afterwards, I merely explained to him that I couldn't read his mind (though I did tell him I was sorry!). But none of it mattered, because it was not pain, it was all manipulation. D-R-A-M-A. Do you get it now?

And if you don't, don't bother answering.

97

Lava @84, it's lesbian/bi women themselves who've been so quick to call up the U-Haul stereotype. That should assure you that it's harmless and perhaps you can think of better things to do than get offended on behalf of the queer women who've mentioned it.

98

@83 Ricardo: Bless you. I'm just glad when you're among us commenting. I'm sorry to learn that your comorbidities that in thiese uncertain times are an addiitional challenge to your health and well being. I fully agree---stupid people who stubbornly refuse to wear a mask---what the fuck are they thinking?
Here is hoping that with a real president and vice president of the U.S. as of January 20, 2021 we can finally return to a democracy and the important issues---flattening the curve of COVID-19 devastation, proper vaccine distribution, addressing climate change, inequality, and the economy. I would be in big financial trouble if not blessed with my VA Disability benefits I would be broke and homeless.. Because of the pandemic, I have been unable to rehearse and perform publicly with my flute choir and play in the pit orchestra in local community theatre. And I miss it. At least I am blessed by still composing and playing music at home. My surrounding neighbrs were in for a treat----I met my new next door neighbor, who commented that she loved what she heard and to play more.
Sending you and everyone big cyber hugs, positrons, and VW beeps.

99

And this week's Big Hunsky winner for the first day, week, and month of 2021 IS............

100

Griz @ 98 - Thankfully, Trump didn't have time to take away all of your benefits (although if I remember correctly his decisions did affect veterans' healthcare). With all the respect he's shown to veterans... But let's be positive and just remind ourselves that he'll soon be out of the WH.

I can imagine how you feel, not being able to perform. It must be highly frustrating. But hey, you've got an audience now! And I kind of envy her. I'm sure it would be a zillion times more pleasant to hear your music than my neighbour blasting heavy metal whenever his GF and baby aren't around.

101

Ricardo, I didn't mean to offend you. I like that you post, and I appreciate that you share your experiences, so I try to will refrain from commenting about them in the future.