15 Behaviors That Expose Someone As A Pathological Attention Seeker

15 Behaviors That Expose Someone As A Pathological Attention Seeker Shutterstock

We all enjoy a little attention from time to time, but some people crave it constantly. They need to be the center of attention, and they’ll go to great lengths to make sure all eyes are on them. But how can you spot these attention seekers? Here are some tell-tale signs:

1. They exaggerate or embellish stories to make themselves seem more interesting.

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Have you ever noticed someone who always has the most dramatic stories? Their tales are full of excitement, danger, and intrigue. They might make themselves the hero or the victim, but the common thread is that they’re always the main character. While some exaggeration is normal, attention seekers take it to the extreme, constantly trying to one-up everyone else, per Verywell Mind.

2. They fish for compliments and validation constantly.

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People who crave attention are often insecure and seek external validation to boost their self-esteem. They might constantly ask for compliments, brag about their achievements, or fish for reassurance about their appearance or abilities. They need constant affirmation from other people to feel good about themselves.

3. They create drama or conflict to stay in the spotlight.

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For some attention seekers, any attention is good attention, even if it’s negative. They might start arguments, spread rumors, or create drama just to keep people talking about them. They thrive on chaos and conflict because it keeps them at the center of everyone’s attention.

4. They interrupt conversations to make it about themselves.

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Attention seekers have a hard time letting other people have the spotlight. They might interrupt conversations to share their own experiences, opinions, or anecdotes. They’re not really interested in listening to anyone else; they just want to redirect the conversation back to themselves.

5. They dress provocatively or behave outrageously to attract attention.

Business colleagues having a conversation. They are both young business people casually dressed in a bright office. Could be an interview or consultant working with a client. She is listening and smiling One person has his back to us. He has a beard and both are casually dressed.

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Some attention seekers use their appearance and behavior to command attention. They might wear revealing clothing, act in an outrageous manner, or say shocking things just to get a reaction from people. Their goal is to stand out and be noticed, no matter the cost.

6. They post excessively on social media to showcase their lives.

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Social media provides the perfect platform for attention seekers to broadcast their lives to the world. They might post constant selfies, updates about their daily activities, or humblebrags about their achievements. They carefully curate their online image to portray a glamorous and exciting life, even if it’s far from the truth.

7. They name-drop or associate themselves with popular people to gain social status.

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Attention seekers often try to elevate their own status by associating themselves with popular or influential people. They might name-drop celebrities, brag about their connections, or try to insert themselves into social circles they don’t belong in. They believe that by being seen with the “right” people, they’ll automatically gain respect and admiration.

8. They become overly emotional or dramatic in response to minor events.

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Attention seekers tend to overreact to minor events, making a big deal out of small problems. They might have dramatic outbursts, cry uncontrollably, or threaten self-harm to get attention. They use emotional manipulation to make other people feel sorry for them or to take care of them.

9. They play the victim to garner sympathy and support.

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Attention seekers often paint themselves as victims of circumstance, even when they’re responsible for their own problems. They might exaggerate their struggles, blame other people for the bad stuff that happens to them, or complain incessantly about how unfair life is. Their goal is to elicit sympathy and support, making themselves the center of attention once again.

10. They constantly compare themselves to other people and feel envious of their achievements.

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Attention seekers often feel insecure and inadequate, leading them to compare themselves to other people constantly. They might feel envious of their friends’ successes, their colleagues’ promotions, or their siblings’ happiness. This envy fuels their need for attention, as they strive to prove that they’re just as good as, if not better than, everyone else.

11. They monopolize conversations and talk excessively about themselves.

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Attention seekers love to talk about themselves, their experiences, their opinions, and their achievements. They dominate conversations, leaving little room for anyone else to share their own thoughts or feelings. They’re not interested in genuine dialogue; they just want an audience to listen to them talk.

12. They have a tendency to make everything about themselves, even when it’s inappropriate.

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Even in situations where it’s clearly not about them, attention seekers will find a way to make it so. They might hijack conversations about other people’s problems, turn a discussion about current events into a personal anecdote, or make a tragedy all about their own feelings. They lack empathy and perspective, always seeing themselves as the center of the universe.

13. They constantly seek reassurance and approval from people.

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Attention seekers have a deep-seated need for approval and validation, Psych Central notes. They might constantly ask their friends and family for reassurance, fish for compliments on social media, or seek approval from authority figures. They have a fragile sense of self-worth and rely on external validation to feel good about themselves.

14. They struggle to maintain long-term relationships due to their self-centeredness.

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While attention seekers might initially charm and attract people with their outgoing personalities, their self-centeredness often makes it difficult to maintain long-term relationships. They prioritize their own needs and desires above those of their partners, friends, and family members. This lack of consideration and empathy eventually drives people away.

15. They often engage in risky or impulsive behaviors to get attention.

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Some attention seekers are willing to go to extreme lengths to get noticed. They might engage in risky behaviors, such as substance abuse, reckless driving, or self-harm, to attract attention and sympathy. They crave the thrill of being in the spotlight, even if it puts themselves or other people in danger.

Originally from Australia, Emma Mills graduated from the University of Queensland with a dual degree in Philosophy and Applied Linguistics before moving to Los Angeles to become a professional matchmaker (a bit of a shift, obviously). Since 2015, she has helped more than 150 people find lasting love and remains passionate about bringing amazing singletons together.

Emma is also the author of the upcoming Hachette publication, "Off the Beaten Track: Finding Lasting Love in the Least Likely of Places," due out in January 2025.