Look at me!
Come on, read what I’m writing!
Does that come across as a little too desperate?
I guess I was just trying to get your attention so that I’d feel validated. But you know what? I can probably just get by on my internal validation from now on.
I don’t think everyone can, though, and that’s why there’s so much attention-seeking behavior out there.
In fact, I’m sure we’re seeing more and more of it as technology gives people more opportunities to reach out and try to get to wider audiences.
Instead of validating themselves, people who crave validation often display these seven attention-seeking behaviors to get notice 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 posting on social media.
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 get attention.
On top of that, the way that social media works is that anything old gets quickly swept away and replaced by things that are new. If you wanted to simply express yourself, you’d post something and leave it at that.
But if you’re posting to get attention, you simply can’t stop. The only way to keep a steady flow of attention coming your way is to keep posting regularly so that you don’t disappear from people’s focus.
So if a person is posting daily on social media or even many times a day, it’s a good sign that they’re trying to get validation from others.
It’s perfectly possible that a person could be trying to keep others updated on a situation or even their own travel or safety, and in that case, the purpose isn’t attention-seeking. But in this case, you’d notice their content isn’t so personal.
If it’s all about them every time, all day, every day, this is classic attention-seeking behavior.
In case you thought that people only get validation 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 weren’t doing it for validation, trolling probably wouldn’t exist.
Sure, there would be the odd person here and there who would troll others just to get their negative emotions out, like anger and aggression. However, the majority of trolls are trying to get laughs and praise from a certain type of audience.
This is definitely a negative behavior since their entire scheme is built on insulting, tricking, and making fun of others. And yet, when a troll’s mean comment on a video gets likes, or when others respond either by praising them or joining in on the abuse, they feel validated.
If a person doesn’t like something, they can simply say it or just give a thumbs down. But going through the trouble of trolling someone is more than just self-expression.
It’s an attempt to get props for being clever, even when they’re being malicious and mean.
3) Being overly dramatic in public
Outside of the online universe, real people are still doing real things to get attention from others.
One of the most obvious behaviors that you’re going to see is when people are overly dramatic in public.
I don’t necessarily mean that they’re starting drama by doing things like gossiping and starting fights.
They could be, but it also goes further.
I mean people who might get overly angry in public and start shouting and throwing adult tantrums. This can include people like “Karens” who display entitled behavior and blow up in situations that don’t merit such forceful responses.
But it doesn’t have to just be angry or entitled behavior.
People can also get attention by expressing themselves in excessively sad or joyful ways, too. A lot of the time, people who are overly dramatic in public are not very sure of their own emotions and try to have them validated by others.
However, their excessive performances are usually easy to see through and don’t tend to attract real sympathy or understanding from others. Instead, they’re seen as unusual and, therefore, suspicious.
4) Playing the victim
Just like in the online world, attention-seeking behavior in the real world doesn’t have to be positive either.
When someone is only slightly 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 elicit sympathy.
Most of us have enough empathy that when we see another human in distress, our hearts go out to them. So when someone says they got fired by their racist boss or insulted by some sexist remarks, we tend to believe and feel sorry for them.
Most people instinctively know this and only show they’ve been hurt when they really have.
But there are some people out there who really want to get attention, whether it’s positive or negative. They want others to see them, and even if they’re perceived as powerless and victimized, they still feel seen and validated.
So there are people out there who will play the victim again and again just to get us to pay attention to them.
5) Pretending to be helpless
Pretending to be helpless or not to understand can be another way that people see attention from others.
Attention-seeking behavior is by no means always conscious, and many of the types we’ve seen are things that people may not even realize that they do. However, in this case, they’re being quite devious and must be aware that they’re pulling the wool over our eyes.
Or at least trying to.
Some people will pretend they can’t do a task just so others will come and help them. This is sometimes played up in a helpless female stereotype that makes people want to come to their aid as heroes.
Another trope that we’ve seen a thousand times is someone pretending they can’t play tennis, golf, pool, or some other sport that requires a sexy person to embrace them while showing them how to follow through.
6) Fishing for compliments
I have a friend who is always after compliments to the point of being automatic about it.
No matter what he does, he likes to ask, “What did you think?” or even more directly, “That was great, right?”
I know these phrases can be perfectly 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 buddy does truly is.
He’ll be sure to point out something and then ask about what he just did. We went out the other day, and he pulled out lyrics for a song he’s writing and 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 essentially trap people into giving you praise, isn’t it?
7) Causing trouble
Just the other day, I went out to a bar so I could watch a friend’s band play a gig.
I was there for only two hours, but there were two fights, and a third was almost provoked.
And while you might think that some people just get drunk and angry, and their aggression comes out, that’s now what happened in these situations.
In the first, one guy accused another of trying to hit on his lady-friend, and they actually got into fisticuffs.
In the second incident, I watched a woman walk up and slap another and later found out that the slapper said the slappee was talking trash about her.
In both cases, I was right around but didn’t pick up on any really good reasons why these people would be pushed into fighting. It seemed like one person was just provoking the other in order 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 toilets, and a guy told me my hairstyle was stupid. Just walked by and said my hair looked stupid, completely unprovoked.
When I responded, “Oh, ok. Well, I like it,” he seemed unsatisfied and tried to press the issue by showing me his shaved head and suggesting it was the only legitimate option.
I said OK and walked off, which seemed to disappoint him as though I didn’t get that he was being aggressive and trying to start trouble.
People who crave validation often display these seven attention-seeking behaviors.
They don’t seem to care if they’re getting positive or negative attention, just that they’re getting some.
They’re looking to others to tell them that they have value rather than looking inside to validate themselves.
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