Sure, we all love a little attention, but some people take that need to a whole other level. There are three main types of attention seekers and each type ends up frustrating their romantic partners and causing regular arguments or a bona fide breakup. Check out the three types below so you are prepared when you encounter them in the dating world!
1. The life of the party
Think about your own social circle and you can probably come up with one or two people who always manage to be the life of the party. When they show up, they are “on” as if they’re working a stage. This type of attention seeker tends to be loud or boisterous. They constantly make jokes, act sassy, or say something cute or provocative. This type of man or woman can be fun for a night, but their romantic partners often get frustrated after a while for reasons I’ll discuss in a moment.
2. The oversexualized man or woman
You instantly know the type I’m talking about, right? The oversexualized man is often flirtatious and seductive. He often gives people a look by holding eye contact, or he touches others in a way that lingers a bit too long. He may direct attention to his nice physique by rubbing his arms or other muscles, or he folds his arms frequently to make himself seem big and powerful. The oversexualized woman uses the same techniques to get attention, with these additions: she dresses in a manner that reveals significant cleavage or hugs the curves of her body; she laughs or smiles about everything in an out-of-place way that doesn’t always feel genuine; or she excessively plays with her hair. Though this type is often perceived as sexy, their romantic partners usually end up feeling angry or jealous over time.
3. The argument starter
At first, you may not think of an argument starter as an attention seeker. Yet starting arguments or getting into debates is a major way attention seekers dominate the discussion and get everyone to focus on them. People are often drawn to this type of attention seeker because this type can also appear strong on the surface. After a few months of putting up with this type, however, the romantic partners usually feel drained and annoyed.
Why do attention seekers make bad partners?
They tend to dominate the conversation. Attention seekers are motivated by one thing — getting attention and getting more of it now. When they are in a social setting, they occupy more air time than everyone else. They love to hear themselves talk and they especially love when everyone is looking at them. The problem with dominating the conversation is that their partners always end up feeling like the attention seeker overshadows them, not leaving enough room for them to talk and engage with others in a mutually fulfilling way.
They are in denial about how much they seek attention. This is one of the most frustrating symptoms of all. You’re dating an attention seeker, but this person won’t even admit that they want attention from others so badly! You can talk ‘til you’re blue in the face, but attention seekers will always deny it. They tell themselves that they just “naturally” get so much attention because of who they are. The message: “It’s just something about me; I’ve always been special like that.” (Excuse me for a moment while I throw up.)
Getting attention matters more to attention seekers than how their behavior affects their partners. Jealousy is a major problem in relationships with an attention seeker. Attention seekers love seducing others into wanting them and they work hard to get people to like them. When you’re out with your attention-seeking partner, however, you inevitably notice the tricks and machinations they use with others and it starts arguments. “Can’t you see what you’re doing? You were totally flirting, and I was right there!” Sadly, attention seekers cares more about getting their fill of attention and less about how it makes you feel.
Getting attention from you, their partner, will never be enough to fill the void. This point is the most important when it comes to having a relationship with an attention seeker. No matter how great a partner you are – how smart, funny, hot, and so on – your partner will always need a ton of validation from others. You will never feel good enough in a relationship with an attention seeker. The only way to try to make a relationship like this work is to remind yourself that his need for attention is not a personal reflection on you. In other words, it’s not that you are undesirable or not appealing enough to keep him satisfied. You also have to ask yourself the following question: If her attention-seeking behaviors were still continued five years from now, could I handle it? Your answer will tell you whether it makes sense to keep dating someone like this today.
Attention is like a drug for attention seekers – they will do whatever they have to do to get it. After dating someone for a month or so, you’ll have a good idea about whether the person you’re dating is a true attention seeker. Unless you have rock-solid self esteem or you happen to love a little drama, your best bet is to avoid this type of person as soon as you’ve identified the attention-seeking pattern.
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.