Lately, you're quite sure you've acquired a superpower. While becoming the invisible man wasn't quite what you had in mind when you indulged your comic book fantasies as a child, every time you go out with a certain buddy, you find that you're completely overshadowed by his dramatic personality and tendency to seize every conversation by the reins until it has been choked to death by his need for attention. You can choose not to participate in this behavior, notes Psychology Today columnist Barton Goldsmith. First, however, you'll have to recognize it for what it is.
If you're at a restaurant and your friend is grilling the waiter about whether the filet mignon is grass fed -- and you saw her scarfing down a fast-food bacon double cheeseburger earlier in the day -- it's a safe bet that she's making a ploy for attention. Inconsistency in beliefs and attitudes can be a sure sign that a friend has fallen into the, "me, me, me" trap. An attention-seeking person will be in love with her husband one day, letting you know all about the huge bouquet of flowers he ordered to be sent to her workplace and ready for a divorce the next day. Either way, you spend countless hours listening to her tales of glee or woe. If you recognize this pattern, refuse to pay attention to these ploys and focus more on pro-social behaviors, such as her ability to make everyone at a gathering feel important and welcome.
All the World's a Stage
No matter what the setting -- at work, at a restaurant, or at a party -- an attention-seeking person will strive to keep herself as the center of attention. Although she may appear to listen to other people's contributions to the conversation, she is actually working to steer the conversation back to her. If your friend suddenly has in a "bad mood" and wants to leave, ask yourself if perhaps she was out of the spotlight too long, because such people loathe being on the peripheries. Avoid getting into conversations about what is the matter -- simply tell her that you hope she has a better time the next time you get together.
A person who seeks excessive amounts of attention tends to behave as though he enjoys a greater intimacy with others than is truly the case. After meeting someone once, he'll be sure to greet his new friend like a long-lost brother, asking after his wife, family pet and asking whether he's gotten a raise lately at work. The recipient of this attention often feels flattered, while also coping with a nagging feeling that the questioner has somehow violated his personal boundaries. If you find yourself unsettled because of a person's over-friendly demeanor, you may have stumbled onto an attention hog. Enjoy the flattery, but don't fall for it.
Flamboyant Dress and Behavior
People who dress and behave flamboyantly can be fun, and life certainly wouldn't be as interesting without them. If your friend's definition of " the little black dress" focuses on the adjective "little" or her hair color changes from pink to blue to green in the space of a week, she may have issues with attention-seeking. While flamboyancy itself is not a problem, if your friend insists that all eyes be on her all the time, the behavior can get old -- fast. Watch out, because this sort of conduct rarely goes away, but tends to become worse as time goes on, warns psychologist Joseph Carver, Ph.D. on his website.
Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.