Life Advice



Tips on how to handle a drama machine

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: How do I keep a relationship casual with a friend whose hobby is creating drama?

"Emma" and I are members of an informal social group which communicates a few times a week. We also attend different types of group events once or twice a month.

The group has an ongoing group chat on a messaging app, and Emma is the most vocal contributor. She often overshares about her own life, or just generally complains. She and I had a casual friendship for years until she started dating another member of the group -- in secret.

After soliciting the views of me and two other members of the group, she sent a follow-up email basically telling us multiple reasons why our advice was wrong and how we can't judge the nature of her relationship, even though that was basically the advice she sought.

She further told us that we were wrong because we wouldn't reinforce her decision to disregard advice from her therapist.

It seems she has had a crush on nearly every male member of the group at one time or another, whether or not the person has a partner.


I am worried that anything of substance I tell her about myself might become fodder for her drama machine. I have tried to avoid getting into more serious topics, but she keeps asking to get together to talk -- one-on-one.

She really wants to have this "deeper" friendship with me, but I don't feel safe doing that. How do I set a boundary to keep the relationship casual without causing a rift in the larger group?

-- Walking a Tightrope

Dear Walking: Your instincts regarding this drama machine are sound. Follow them. You should assume that anything you say can (and will) be used against you. Drama addicts need fuel to accelerate and sustain their narrative and -- when they lack story elements of their own creation -- they will instinctively turn to others to fortify their supply.


swipe to next page


Social Connections


Mike Luckovich The Pajama Diaries Mike Peters Arctic Circle One Big Happy Gary Markstein