Yes, recently mental health has become something we talk about more in countries like the U.K. But there is still a strong culture of seeming ‘strong’ and ‘together’.
We aren’t, however, exactly encouraged to walk around asking for positive attention, or admitting we need to feel a bit loved today. Instead, for many of us, it feels shameful to admit we want attention.
But what is somehow culturally acceptable is to snap at a partner, or pick on them, or even, yes, get angry about something.
Which is all a way to get attention, albeit not of the positive variety.
Imagine that you come home and you want to tell your partner all about your work win, but they are playing a video game. You ask them how they are, hoping they ask back. They don’t. Next thing you are snapping at them for being lazy and not cleaning the house but gaming, they snap at you for nagging, and soon it’s a full blown argument about all sorts. You got attention after all!
Why would I be using attention-seeking behaviours?
Sometimes it’s that we learned that this was an effective way to run our relationships from the adults around us growing up, and have continued the pattern.
But more often, it’s connected to psychological issues. The classic one we all state here islow self-esteem.
Yet it’s often more convoluted than just low self-worth. It can also be that we:
Or it might be that you had a parent who was simply unable to offer you the unconditional love and attention a child deserves. Perhaps they were mentally or emotionally unavailable, or had a tendency to only show you love if you behaved a certain way. This can see you have attachment issues as an adult, where you try to win attention or push and pull.
First of all, forgive yourself if you recognise that you are using attention-seeking behaviours. It’s a normal human desire to be loved, to know we exist, and to feel seen.
If your life has been lacking in these things or you were never taught how to recognise your own needs and get them met? It’s not your fault that you have long resorted to attention-seeking. It is simply your responsibility to now do something about it.
Time to seek support to end negative behaviours that leave you lonely? Harley Therapy connects you with top talk therapists in central London locations. Not in London? Use our booking site to findUK-wide therapistsor online counselling you can access from anywhere.
Still have a question about attention-seeking behaviours? Ask in the comment box below.
Andrea Blundell is the writer and lead editor of this site, and has studied person-centred counselling and coaching. Guilty of attention-seeking communication when younger, she found that CBT therapy and mindfulness really helped!