Everyone needs attention. You have your limelight people, the ones that demand everyone's attention and you have your background people, the ones that shy away from being noticed or standing out. Regardless, we all want to be made to feel that we matter in this world.
Not getting enough attention is a threat to our quality of life. It causes us to say and do things unbecoming and out of character. Children need to know they are loved and cared for in the early years. Feelings of insecurity can affect that child for the rest of his or her life.
There is a healthy side to wanting attention. It causes us to be open to the people around us. It allows us to fall in love, make friends, participate in social activities, etc. But what about the people that go above and beyond in their attention-seeking efforts? What do we do about them?
Love the ones that act out in an effort to be seen and heard. They are coming from a place of loneliness, neglect, maybe even trauma. Whatever the reason, their actions would not be such if their emotional and, perhaps, psychological needs were met. It is not a character flaw. It is not even just "who they are" but who they long to be.
What does attention-seeking look like?
The more obvious attention-seeking behavior would be a person walking into the room loudly announcing themselves. It may also be someone fishing for compliments or even
acting like they can't do something just to get another person's help. There is also more subtle behavior:
Privately messaging people on social media to get their advice
Saying, doing or posting things, seemingly, for the shock value
Bragging about doing things they know they shouldn't do
Asking a lot of questions
Posting concerning behavior on social media
Constantly chatting online, getting upset if no one is available to chat
Posting all their activities on social media
Can never be without a boyfriend/girlfriend
I'm sure you can think of other examples. Often, this kind of behavior is misunderstood and the person is harshly judged. Before you disconnect from the person exhibiting attention-seeking behavior, ask yourself:
What has happened in this person's life to cause them to be this way?
Have they been traumatized?
Have they been neglected by a parent or a spouse?
Are they just so lonely?
Whatever the cause, the need is very real. They need attention and don't know how to say, "I need attention." Whether or not you can meet some or all of the need in their life, pray for them. Love them. Speak kind words to them. Encourage them. No matter how they come across, just love them.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. -Romans 15:5-6 (NIV)
Gordon, B. (2014, November 4). Excessive Attention-Seeking and Drama Addiction. Retrieved May 19, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/obesely-speaking/201411/excessive-attention-seeking-and-drama-addiction
Stockley, P. and J. Bro-Jorgensen, Female competition and its evolutionary consequences in mammals.Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc, 2011. 86(2): p. 341-66