Signs of Attention Seeking in Adults - 23 Causes, Signs and Ways to Stop It.
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One or two signs of attention seeking in adults will be found in virtually every human being because it is simply human nature to want attention so as not to be lonely because this goes against our nature as social creatures.
If we do not get attention, there are a range of emotional and mental effects that could heavily impact our wellbeing and this has been confirmed by an international survey on the effects of loneliness on attention starved adults by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
While most of us are able to find the right balance to ensure that we receive just enough attention that we do not experience these negative effects, others have been unable to and so have increasingly sought more attention by engaging in certain behavior that elicit the interest that they so crave from others.
The problem with this is that others will get tired of these behaviors which would then lead the attention seeker to engage in even more, potentially destructive behavior so as to keep receiving attention thereby creating a destructive cycle that can be hard to break out of.
It is therefore important to spot the signs of attention seeking in adults so that help can be given in due course. Also of equal importance is the answer to the question, “what makes someone an attention seeker?” because solutions to a problem cannot be proffered without knowing the cause.
5 Cause of attention seeking behavior in adults
Table of Contents
Loneliness can be very dangerous to us as humans because it is in our nature to be social and to survive by associating with other people. If a person feels lonely, therefore, it is normal to find them craving attention in order to overcome that loneliness.
If the person looking for attention does not get enough or gets so much that they cannot help but get addicted to the interest shown in them, they might turn towards excessive attention seeking as they look for more attention to satisfy their urges fully.
2. Low self-esteem
When people don’t feel too good about themselves, they might turn to their environment and those around them to feel better.
In feeling as though they need attention from those around them, they will engage in attention seeking behavior so that other people will give them the validation that they are unable to give themselves.
More information on what it means to have low self-esteem
Sometimes we find people trying to get attention because they feel jealous about other people who they feel are doing better than them.
For instance, a lot of attention seeking women are only that way because they might be jealous of another woman who is more successful than them. In drawing attention to themselves therefore, they are seeking external validation to make them feel better.
Basically, someone who is attention deprived might become jealous of people who are getting attention and so will engage in attention seeking behavior so as to get some interest shown in them as well.
4. Attention – Seeking Disorder
There are some personality disorders that come with the pathological need to be the center of attention. Some of these attention seeking personality disorders include Histrionic, Narcissistic, and Borderline Personality Disorders.
Histrionic Personality Disorder
A person with this has a constant need for attention and gets uncomfortable when they aren’t at the center of attention. They also tend to try to use their appearance to gain attention from people and tend to exaggerate their emotions for effect.
Experts also say that they are quite suggestive and also use seductive and provocative actions to get attention.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
A person with this craves attention because they have a compulsive need to be admired by others because they feel overly important. They tend to take advantage of others to further their goals and have fantasies of being infinitely successful and powerful.
This attention addiction disorder does not allow the person suffering it to feel much empathy for others because they are too self-involved.
Borderline Personality Disorder
A person with BPB is unstable in their sense of self, their emotions and how they relate with others.
They are constantly worried about being abandoned by others and usually feel empty and so turn to self-damaging actions in order to fill the void. Some of these actions include self-harm with suicidal behavior occasionally thrown in.
This leads to them needing attention even if they aren’t actively seeking it.
Sometimes anxiety can be termed a seeking approval disorder when the person is anxious about being lonely or unwanted.
They will therefore engage in behavior that will keep people interested in them so that their fears of abandonment are never realized.
You might be interested in how to comfort someone who has anxiety.
14 Attention seeking symptoms
6. Feel the need to constantly update people on their life
This is one of the more common attention seeking behaviors in adults as social media has made it quite prevalent.
An attention seeker will feel the need to always tell people what new thing is going on in their lives in order to get people talking about it. They will update their statuses and stories so much that anyone with access to their social media would know exactly what they were up to at a given time.
In order to keep people interested, there is also a tendency for such people to exaggerate their lives to make it seem more interesting than it actually is.
7. The constant need to be complimented
Another one of the attention seeking symptoms you might notice in attention seekers is the need for people to notice them and their efforts and compliment them.
They will even go out of their way to do some things that they are not interested in just so that people can compliment them.
For instance, attention seeking men can be found behaving overly gentlemanly to females even if they don’t care much for chivalry just so the ladies could compliment them.
8. Talk about themselves a lot
People seeking attention will regularly talk about themselves a lot so that people will be interested in them.
They will talk about their jobs, history, accomplishments, and just about anything so long as it means that people will listen to them and give them more attention.
9. Experts at gravitating the conversation to themselves
A person who craves attention is an expert at ensuring that other people talk about them such that when they are talking with people who are conversing about another topic, they will find a way to bring it back to them.
A common tactic by which they do this is to relate the matter at hand to something similar that they might have done which would then allow them to talk more about themselves.
One of their favorite phrases is, “this reminds me of the time when I…” and before you know it, they’ve hijacked the conversation.
10. Constantly playing the victim card
What do you call someone who always wants sympathy? An attention seeker because this is one of the ways that people seek attention from others.
By constantly making people feel like they are a victim of one thing or another, they engage in negative attention seeking because people will continually feel sorry and worried about them.
They might not even realize this but it brings bad attention to them because they will be seen as helpless people who are always in need of some sort of assistance.
11. Always has to be the life of the party
An attention seeker’s psychology is one of a person who constantly wants to be the center of attention. As a result, they will try to take center stage in any social event they go to, be it a wedding or a funeral.
I was once at a wedding where the maid of honor completely overshadowed the bride by wearing a very revealing dress and dancing so much that one would be forgiven for thinking that she was the one getting married. The person next to me could not help but ask and I quote, “why do women need so much attention?” but because I knew it wasn’t just a thing with women I corrected him by asking, “why do people seek attention in general”?
12. Everyone has to like them
Another one of the signs of attention seeking in adults is the compulsive need to be liked by everyone.
This will manifest in the form of an attention seeker trying to befriend everyone they meet with the end goal being that they will have more people in their lives who will give them attention.
13. Their current mood must be shared by all
Because attention seekers always want to be the center of attention, they will try to influence the mood such that it reflects their own.
This means that if they are happy, other people should be happy as well and if they are sad, they expect an atmosphere of grief.
This is common with people who have the attention seeking mental illness of Narcissistic Personality Disorder as it usually involves caring solely about themselves and not about what others are going through.
14. Complain about attention but still encourage it
Sometimes you will find that a person will complain about how they are being given attention by so many people but they never take active steps to stop it.
This is because she/he craves attention so much that even if they don’t like the attention being given, they still want it because to them any attention is good attention.
It is also their way of getting even more attention because they would be stoking the interest of others to find out why they are being given such attention.
15. Intentionally vague to elicit attention
Have you ever noticed how some people would post something vague on social media which would get people commenting to find out what they mean, this is standard attention seeking behavior.
They are the same as those people who say something but don’t complete it and instead say, “nevermind”.
What sets of people are doing is getting their listeners interested in them and what they have to say such that their listeners would give them attention.
16. Flair for drama
Attention seekers will often be very dramatic in whatever they do so that the people around them will give them attention.
They will often create a scene in public places so that people can notice them. For example, standard male attention seeking behavior involves challenging another male to a fight at the slightest provocation in order to establish their dominance with those around(SOME males).
Another way they show dramatism is by being controversial. They can, for instance, make controversial statements on social media to get people talking about them.
One does not need to look hard for the answer to the question, “what is attention seeking behavior?” when dramatic people are around because they are the very definition of it.
17. Prefer to be in public places
In order to get attention, you need people to give it to you. This is why attention seekers love being in public.
They will go out to public events and hang out in public locations where they stand a better chance of being noticed by others.
18. Change appearance frequently
Attention seekers love it when people talk about them and one of the easiest ways to do this is by their outward appearance.
You will therefore find them constantly changing their appearance from fashion sense to haircuts and makeup styles just so that people can talk about what “new” thing they are doing.
It is, therefore, safe to say that attention seekers have a serious case of “look at me syndrome” because they go out of their way to make sure that people do just that.
19. Complain about everything
Another trait that you will notice in a lot of attention seekers is their ability to complain about everything.
Experts say that this is another way to get more attention because in criticizing something, people give them attention to find out what they have against whatever it is that they are complaining about.
4 Ways to stop attention seeking behavior in adults
20. Talk to them with genuine concern and care
The first and foremost method on how to stop attention seeking behavior in adults is to approach them without anger or malice as this might only serve to put them on the defensive.
It might be difficult to come up with things to say to attention seekers but you need to try. Approach them and tell them how their behavior could drive other people away from them and alternative ways they can feel fulfilled apart from getting the attention of others.
Encourage them to do things that they are good at doing so as to raise their self-esteem and recommend ways they can get help if the problem relates to a mental disorder.
If the person is a coworker, you might be interested in how to deal with an annoying coworker.
21. Don’t reward their behavior with attention
Another piece of advice on how to deal with attention seekers is to deny them the very thing that they are craving which is attention. You should only do this when they engage in increasingly over-the-top and destructive actions.
In denying them this, there is a chance that they will stop those actions because it is no longer achieving the desired effect.
This is however not recommended when the attention seeking is related to a mental disorder such as anxiety or Borderline Personality Disorder as this might make the person feel abandoned which can have very negative effects on their mental health.
22. Focus on you
If you are the attention seeker and you want to know how to stop wanting attention, an important step in the right direction would be to focus on yourself.
Find out your strengths and weaknesses and work on those strengths so that your self-esteem will rise from being able to do something very well.
As you focus on yourself, you will find yourself needing less external validation thereby reducing the need to seek attention in the first place.
23. Seek or help them seek help
If you find that the attention seeking is getting really bad and there is a need for more professional help, don’t hesitate to reach out to trained therapists as they are well equipped in how to stop attention seeking behavior in adults as well as how to stop negative attention seeking behavior which can be particularly damaging as it devalues a person in other people’s eyes.
This is especially necessary for people with attention seeking mental disorders as their needs require people with expertise in the issue and they will be able to get more help from these professionals.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is attention seeking a mental illness?
Attention seeking on its own is not a mental illness but it can result from mental illness. For instance, those who suffer from Histrionic Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder are more likely to be attention seekers due to the nature of their mental illness.
2. How do you treat attention seeking behavior?
- Talk to the person about it in a calm manner. Advise them on the dangers of attention seeking and encourage them to focus on their strengths so that they will see their self-esteem rise.
- Do not reward overly dramatic behavior that is aimed at getting more attention by giving it attention.
- Recommend professional help especially in the case of attention seeking disorders.
3. Which personality disorder is associated with attention seeking?
There are three main personality disorders that are associated with attention seeking and they are:
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Attention seeking is a normal human reaction to feeling lonely but we should be careful not to overdo it as it can have the negative consequence of pushing people away from us.
We should recognize however that some people cannot help it because they suffer from certain personality disorders that push them to seek attention. In such cases, professional help should be sought as they have the best chance of helping the person.
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