How to Deal With Friends That Are Drama Queens

Help your friend understand that she needs to listen to you too.
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Even the tiniest, most insignificant-seeming action sends her into a tizzy, leaving her ranting and raving or theatrically sobbing. If this sounds like your friend, it's likely that you have a drama queen on your hands. While your friend's over-the-top antics may make you cringe, you can deal with her dramatic ways and still maintain a healthy relationship.

1 Understand Why

It's not likely that your friend woke up one morning and said, "I think I'm going to start making a really big deal out of everything for no reason." A drama queen's behaviors come from her needs and self-perception. Her over-demanding or outrageous nature may come from her need for attention. This constant craving for attention may have deeper roots, resulting from a past trauma or childhood neglect. Whether she's not getting the attention that she craves at home or has low self-esteem, understanding that your drama queen's ways aren't just annoying -- but possibly a cry for help -- can make it easier to deal with her.

2 Nod to the Positive

Just like a parent wouldn't indulge an attention-seeking tantrum-prone toddler, don't give in to your friend's bad behaviors. Your friend's drama is a tactic that she's using to draw you in and make herself the center of your world or control you, warns psychology coach Diane Dreher in her article "How Do You Deal With a Drama Queen?" on the "Psychology Today" website. Instead of indulging the negative parts of her drama, give her the attention that she needs in a more positive way. For example, if she is throwing a fit over the one, and only, C that she got in chemistry, remind her that the rest of her grades in the class are A's.

3 Ignore It

If focusing on your friend's positive behaviors isn't doing the trick, and she's still acting like a drama queen, start ignoring her theatrical actions. For example, if she's going on and on about how it's the end of the world because her crush didn't sit next to her at lunch, ignore her rant and switch the subject to something else and say something such as, "Speaking of lunch, I tried the new sandwiches the cafeteria is selling. Did you?"

4 Set Boundaries

Drama queens typically have no respect for other people's boundaries. Setting clear boundaries can help to cut some of the dramatic behavior and make it easier to handle hanging out with her. For example, your friend calls you late at night to "talk" about how mean her boss is or texts you dozens of times in a row -- while you're at work -- about how cruel her boyfriend is for not buying her a bigger Valentine's Day present. Instead of letting her continue on with these types of behaviors, tell her that she can't call after a certain time or that she shouldn't text you while you're at work. Use a caring tone, and let her know that it's not that you don't want to help her, but that you have personal boundaries that she needs to observe.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.