9 Examples Of Attention-Seeking Behavior In Adults

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Have you ever exaggerated a situation in order to gain someone’s sympathy, help, or even just their time?

That’s attention-seeking.

Have you ever said something that you don’t really mean just to provoke a reaction, even if that reaction is an angry one?

That’s attention-seeking.

If you’re prone to attention-seeking behavior, you probably know it deep down, but aren’t that keen to admit it.

After all, we view such behavior in others quite negatively.

Our loved ones will put up with this behavior for longer than most, but few people will tolerate it indefinitely.

If you’re not careful, this trait may push the ones you love away.

Sound familiar?

Before you beat yourself up about it, it’s important to remember that needing attention is only human.

Life is all about the connections that we forge with our fellow human beings, and we thrive off interaction with others.

We all want and need a certain degree of attention.

However, there is a line in the sand that separates a healthy desire for interaction from unhealthy attention-seeking.

There are all kinds of reasons why an adult might seek attention.

It might be rooted in something way back in their childhood, or it might be the result of a more recent event.

Some people go through short periods of craving attention when they’re experiencing a rough patch and are searching for validation.

Others of us will always tend toward attention-seeking behavior.

Developing a need for constant attention is something we ought to be wary of if we want to maintain healthy relationships with loved ones, friends, or work colleagues.

Luckily, once you’re aware of the types of behavior exhibited by someone who has a need for attention, you can start to identify when you’re behaving that way, and take steps to remedy it.

Here are some clear examples to watch out for…

Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you work through and overcome your need for attention. You may want to try speaking to one via BetterHelp.com for quality care at its most convenient.

1. Pretending You Can’t Do Something

You pretend that you’re incapable of doing something that you are, in fact, fully capable of, so that someone will do it for you, and focus their attention on you whilst they’re doing so.

2. Fishing For Compliments

You point out your achievements, however insignificant, in a way that means that those listening have to compliment you.

You do this to reassure yourself and for validation.

Whilst we all fish for compliments occasionally – if we’ve got a new haircut, outfit, or job, for example – doing it persistently is a warning sign.

3. Not Asking About Other People’s Lives And Problems

You dominate the conversation and gain the sympathy or advice of the person you’re talking to, but rarely reciprocate.

Your world revolves entirely around you.

Conversations should be two-sided. When you catch up with someone, you should ask them about their life just as much as they ask about yours.

You, on the other hand, can have a conversation that’s entirely centered on you, your problems, and your achievements, and not even realize it.

4. Being Controversial On Social Media

You stir up trouble on social media and are as controversial as possible just to provoke a reaction.

Maybe you share controversial articles on Facebook and wait for the reactions to roll in.

Or perhaps you post cryptic messages suggesting that something’s wrong with you and then wait for the questioning comments and concerned messages to arrive.

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5. Being Promiscuous

You seek sexual attention from those that you’re attracted to and change partners as often as you change your socks.

This is not to say that there’s anything wrong with partaking in and enjoying sex, with whoever you want, whenever you want.

Sometimes, however, people engage in lots of sexual activity with different partners for reasons that aren’t so empowering. 

You might have low self-esteem or you might hope that someone close to you will notice your behavior and voice their concern about it.

Or, you might enjoy being the focus of gossip, even if it’s negative or judgmental.

6. Constantly Exaggerating

You embellish stories and like to make every bad situation sound far worse than it really is/was in order to gain sympathy.

7. …And Complaining

Hand in hand with exaggeration goes complaining.

You always find something to complain about, failing to look on the bright side or see the positive in any situation.

8. Causing Arguments

When attention is the aim, it often doesn’t matter whether that attention is positive or negative, as long as it’s there.

You consistently cause arguments for no good reason, often just for the sake of receiving attention from the person or people you’re arguing with, however negative that attention might be.

9. Doing Things Just For The Praise

You find yourself doing things or going places just for the likes that the photographic evidence will get on Instagram.

But it’s not just social media.

Anything you do that’s motivated by the recognition or praise you’ll receive – rather than because you genuinely want to do it or because it will have a positive effect on your life or the lives of others – also falls under this category.

Conversely, if the expected praise doesn’t come and there’s criticism in its place, this can be crippling.

Whilst some people who need attention will take negative attention over none at all, if you are particularly attached to praise, criticism can be hard to cope with.

What’s The Root Cause?

If any of the above sounds like you, the good news is that the first step toward quashing attention-seeking behavior is being aware of it.

But before you can start to change your behavior, you need to reflect on where it’s all coming from.

Sit down and think about which of these behaviors you’re guilty of, and be honest with yourself about why you think you act the way you do.

After all, there’s not much point in trying to change the way you behave if you do nothing to address the root of the problem.

If you feel comfortable doing so, talk to your close friends or family about your concerns and see if they have any insights into why you do the things you do.

After a bit of soul-searching, and depending on what you’ve uncovered, you might even benefit from a bit of therapy to help you work through your issues and become the confident, self-sufficient person you’ve got the potential to be.

It is worth noting that consistent attention-seeking behavior may indicate that a person has Histrionic Personality Disorder. Click the link to learn more.

Not sure what to do about your tendency to seek attention all the time? Talking to someone can really help you to address and fix this issue. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.

A therapist is often the best person you can talk to. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can guide you and help you to examine the reasons why you seek attention before working with you to change your attitude and approach to people.

BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.

While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.

Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.

Online therapy is actually a good option for many people. It’s more convenient than in-person therapy and is more affordable in a lot of cases. And you get access to the same level of qualified and experienced professional.

Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.

About The Author

Katie is a writer and translator with a focus on travel, self-care and sustainability. She's based between a cave house in Granada, Spain, and the coast of beautiful Cornwall, England. She spends her free time hiking, exploring, eating vegan tapas and volunteering for a local dog shelter.