Everyone wants attention from time to time. It’s a natural human desire to want to receive validation and praise. However, needing constant attention suggests that you cannot function without receiving attention and validation from other people. Because of this need, you might exhibit attention-seeking behaviors to get the attention you crave.
While it’s perfectly normal to want attention from friends, loved ones, and people you admire, constantly needing attention is unhealthy. It can also be a sign of an underlying mental health condition.
Signs That You Need Attention From Others
Some people who are attention-seekers may not realize that they’re exhibiting attention-seeking behaviors. Attention-seeking people express their desire for attention in varying ways.
Some of the most common behaviors people who need attention exhibit include:
- Faking helplessness: One method people with attention-seeking behaviors behave is by feigning helplessness in situations they are perfectly adept at handling. Feigning helplessness gives them an avenue to seek attention from others.
- Causing conflict: Causing conflict in public or private to create a scene that will garner attention from the people around you. They’ll often also need to be at the center of the conflict.
- Constantly looking for sympathy from others: Examples of this kind of behavior include playing up a small injury so that family and friends can fuss over you. Or expressing extreme emotions over a small loss, like a favorite purse or pair of shoes.
- Needing to be complimented: It’s normal to want to be complimented. However, needing to be complimented can cause you to exhibit unhealthy behaviors in a bid to fish for compliments from people. Sometimes a need to be complimented is born out of insecurities. However, fishing for compliments is an unhealthy way to deal with insecurities.
- Lying and embellishing stories: Making up over-the-top stories that are guaranteed to get a reaction out of people is another way people who need attention may behave.
Causes of Attention-Seeking Behavior
Several factors can cause causes of attention-seeking behavior. Let’s take a look at what might be behind these behaviors:
Insecurity and Low Self-Esteem
Physical and emotional insecurities can cause a person to develop an attention-seeking personality. While it may seem harmless, it’s an unhealthy way to deal with insecurities. It can also cause strain on your relationships with family, friends, and even strangers.1
Certain personality disorders could also cause attention-seeking behavior. People with a narcissistic personality disorder, or borderline personality disorder, in particular, often display attention-seeking behaviors.
One of the primary symptoms of people with a histrionic personality disorder is displaying attention-seeking behaviors in addition to having extreme emotional reactions.2
Other mental health conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, and bipolar disorder could also cause a person to display attention-seeking behaviors.
How to Stop Needing Attention From Others
The first step to stop needing attention is recognizing that you display attention-seeking behaviors. Some people who need attention don’t realize what their behavior means or that the behaviors are unhealthy.
Working on building self-confidence and ridding yourself of insecurities is a significant first step to helping you stop craving attention.
Here are some ways you can build confidence:
- Go to therapy: Speaking to a professional is the best way to deal with insecurities and build confidence. They’ll help you discover the root of your insecurities and find ways to eliminate them. If the source of your attention-seeking behavior is also the result of a mental health condition, a psychotherapist can also help you with that.
- Keep a journal: Becoming more self-aware of your attention-seeking behavior goes a long way in helping you get over them. Keeping a daily journal can help you achieve more self-awareness when you track your behaviors. If you are unsure whether a particular incident is an attention-seeking behavior, you can run it by your therapist.
- Build your self-esteem: For many people, the need to always be the center of attention stems from low self-esteem. However, attention-seeking behaviors do nothing to help you build healthy self-esteem. Using daily positive affirmations and surrounding yourself with genuinely supportive people is a great place to start.
How to Deal With a Person Who Constantly Needs Attention
If you have a friend or loved one who constantly needs to be the center of attention, you can help them come to the realization.
Here are the best ways to help people who constantly need attention know they are exhibiting unhealthy behaviors:
- Set boundaries: Indulging the whims of a person who continually seeks attention only fuels their need for attention. Setting clear boundaries when they exhibit attention-seeking behaviors can help them realize they are behaving inappropriately.
- Communicate with them: Sometimes, a person seeking attention might not know they are acting in a way that draws attention. Take them aside and gently communicate any issues you’re noticing.
- Be understanding: Attention-seekers often act out for a deeper reason than simply needing attention. They may have an underlying mental health disorder or have self-esteem or image problems.