Look at me!
Come on, read what I write!
Does that seem a little too desperate?
I guess I was just trying to get your attention so I could feel validated. But you know what? I can probably just get by with my internal validation from now on.
However, I don’t think everyone can do that, which is why there is so much attention-seeking behavior.
In fact, I’m sure we’re seeing more and more of it as technology gives people more opportunities to connect and reach a wider audience.
Instead of validating themselves, people who crave validation often engage in these seven attention-seeking behaviors to gain attention and praise from others.
1) Excessive posting
I don’t know about you, but the very first thing I think of when I think of attention-seeking behavior these days is excessive social media posting.
First of all, this is exactly what most social media platforms are designed for. They give everyone a space where they can express themselves and try to attract attention.
Furthermore, the way social media works means that anything old is quickly swept away and replaced with things that are new. If you simply wanted to express yourself, you would post something and leave it at that.
But when you post to get attention, you just can’t stop. The only way to keep a steady stream of attention coming your way is to keep posting regularly so you don’t disappear from people’s attention.
So if someone posts on social media daily or even multiple times a day, it’s a good sign that they’re trying to get validation from others.
It is entirely possible that someone is trying to keep others informed about a situation or even about their own travels or safety, and in that case the intention is not to seek attention. But in this case you notice that the content is not that personal.
If it’s all about them every time, all day, every day, this is classic attention-seeking behavior.
If you think that people only get confirmation from positive attention-seeking behavior, think again!
Many internet trolls are just as guilty of trying to get validation from others as the people they tend to troll.
To be honest, if they didn’t do it for validation, trolling probably wouldn’t exist.
Sure, there would be the odd person here and there who would troll others just to bring out their negative emotions such as anger and aggression. However, the majority of trolls are trying to get laughs and praise from a certain type of audience.
This is definitely negative behavior, as their entire plan is based on insulting, deceiving and ridiculing others. And yet, when a troll’s mean comment on a video gets likes, or when others respond by praising them or joining in the abuse, they feel validated.
If someone doesn’t like something, he or she can simply say so or give it a thumbs down. But going to the trouble of trolling someone is more than just self-expression.
It’s an attempt to get props for being smart even when they’re evil and mean.
3) Being overly dramatic in public
Outside of the online universe, real people still do real things to get the attention of others.
One of the most obvious behaviors you’re going to see is when people act overly dramatic in public.
I don’t necessarily mean that they cause drama by doing things like gossiping and arguing.
That could be the case, but it also goes further.
I mean people who get overly angry in public and start yelling and throwing adult tantrums. These could be people like “Karens,” who exhibit appropriate behavior and explode in situations that don’t deserve such strong responses.
But it doesn’t have to be just angry or justified behavior.
People can also get attention by expressing themselves in overly sad or joyful ways. Often people who are overly dramatic in public are not very sure of their own emotions and try to get them validated by others.
However, their outrageous performances are usually easy to see through and do not tend to inspire real sympathy or understanding from others. Instead, they are seen as unusual and therefore suspicious.
4) Playing the victim
Just like in the online world, attention-seeking behavior does not have to be positive in the real world.
When someone is only mildly hurt but puts on a big show about it or even pretends to be a victim when nothing really happened to them, they can still generate sympathy.
Most of us have so much empathy that when we see another human being in need, our hearts go out to him or her. So when someone says he was fired by his racist boss or insulted by sexist comments, we tend to believe it and feel sorry for him.
Most people know this instinctively and only show that they are hurt when they actually are.
But there are people who really want to attract attention, whether it is positive or negative. They want others to see them, and even when they are seen as powerless and victims, they still feel seen and validated.
So there are people who play the victim over and over again just to get us to pay attention to them.
5) Pretending to be helpless
Pretending to be helpless or not understanding can be another way people perceive others’ attention.
Attention-seeking behavior is by no means a matter of attention always aware, and a lot of the types that we’ve seen are things that people might not even realize they’re doing. However, in this case they are quite cunning and should be aware that they confuse us.
Or at least try.
Some people pretend that they cannot complete a task so that others come and help them. This is sometimes played out into a helpless female stereotype that makes people want to come to their aid as heroes.
Another trope we’ve seen a thousand times is someone who acts like he can’t play tennis, golf, pool, or any other sport that requires a sexy person to hug him and show him how to do it.
6) Fishing for compliments
I have a friend who is always after compliments to the point that you automatically go over it.
Whatever he does, he likes to ask, “What did you think?” or even more directly: “That was great, wasn’t it?”
I know these phrases can be completely harmless in different contexts, like if you really want to know someone’s opinion or if they enjoyed something as much as you did.
That’s not attention seeking at all.
But what my friend really does is.
He will certainly point to something and then ask what he just did. We went out recently and he pulled out the lyrics to a song he was writing, sang them to everyone and then put us all on the spot by asking, ‘What do you think? Good right?”
Well, that’s one way to trick people into praising you, isn’t it?
7) Causing disorder
Recently I went to a bar so I could see a friend’s band play a gig.
I was only there for two hours, but there were two fights and a third that was almost provoked.
And while you might think that some people just get drunk and angry and their aggression comes out, that’s what happened in these situations.
In the first case, one man accused the other of trying to hit his girlfriend, and they even got into an argument.
In the second incident, I saw a woman come up and hit another woman, and I later found out that the slapper said the slapper was talking nonsense about her.
In both cases I was right, but I couldn’t think of any really good reasons why these people would be forced into battle. It seemed like one was provoking the other to get attention.
Once they fought, the provoker could feel like they were big and tough, I guess!
What about the third incident?
I was washing my hands after coming out of the restroom, and a man told me my haircut was stupid. I just walked by and said my hair looked stupid, totally unprovoked.
When I replied, “Oh, okay. Well, I like it,” he seemed displeased and tried to draw attention to the issue by showing me his shaved head and suggesting that this was the only legitimate option.
I said okay and walked away, which seemed to disappoint him, as if I didn’t understand that he was be aggressive and try to cause trouble.
People who crave validation often exhibit these seven attention-seeking behaviors.
They don’t seem to care whether they get positive or negative attention, just that they get some.
They look to others to tell them they have value, instead of looking inward to validate themselves.
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