Roissy has discussed at some length women’s need for emotional drama, and why it is important for men in relationships to keep a push-pull dynamic of varying degrees of emotional instability going in order to maintain her interest and attraction. (I think he typically refers to it as “installing dread.”) In the context of Roissy’s blog, it would be easy for many men to dismiss this advice as applying to the kind of women that Roissy and his ilk typically go for. “I like nice girls,” they declare, “not slutty drama queens
WHO WILL CHEAT ON ME AND MAKE ME PAY FOR SOME ALPHA JERK’S OFFSPRING IF I SUCCUMB TO MARRIAGE 2.0 WITH HER!”
But EVERY woman wants some emotional drama. Why do women watch Grey’s Anatomy? (Well, aside from the fact that the men on that show are exceptionally good-looking. And are all surgeons. And the titular character is a just-pretty-enough plain jane who snagged the best-looking guy, who is ranked above her, and who was formerly married but separated but the hot, sexy, also-a-top-surgeon wife came back and tried to get him back, but his desire for Dr. Plain Jane won the day. And they are now “married” on the basis of a Post-It note! Every woman’s dream!) Why do women read romance novels? Why do women love to hear about the trials and travails of their friends (assuming their friends are not emotional vampires)? It’s because women are programmed with a need for emotional turbulence. Every woman is programmed with a need for emotional turbulence. It doesn’t have to be her own personal drama. That is what separates drama queens from the typical woman: a drama queen’s drama must revolve around herself.
I realized this was true of every woman, not just young women or stupid women or cheap women, when I was talking to my mom recently, and she mentioned that she had had an interaction with a friend and thought she had “made the friend mad.” I realized that at least half the time when my mom is talking about interacting with friends, she thinks she has “made the friend mad.”
Now, an objective observer would be able to point out right away that my mom has not “made her friends mad.” She hasn’t burned any bridges with these women, and is still being spoken to and invited to activities and isn’t being shunned in any measurable way. But I’ve realized over the years that my mom is very invested in keeping all of her friends happy with her, and so it is a thing of some concern when she suspects that the friend was made “mad.” It was only recently that I connected this with a woman’s need for emotional drama and realized that this is how my mom gets her own little emotional drama fix. Does she ever confront these women? No. Does she ever ask them if she has offended them in any way? No. The mere existence of some emotional uncertainty is what she’s really after. As she is a woman in a decades-long marriage of great stability and comfort, a woman who shuns tabloids and trash TV, and a woman who takes her faith very seriously, where else is she going to get her drama fix? (You can only read about David and Bathsheba so many times before familiarity breeds contempt.) So she finds it in the tiniest amounts of less-than-total-happiness with her friends.
I think the bottom line, at least for men, is that all women crave some drama, and they will find it somewhere. Yes, even the most upstanding, drama-free, moral pillar of civility wants drama. The question a man, particularly if he is a husband, should ask himself is, “Do I want her to get her fix from me, or from somewhere else?” Because she will find it somewhere.