Ways Narcissists Gain Attention

Narcissists love attention, & many must be the focal point of everyone’s attention at all times.  Overt narcissists are naturally more brazen in how they command attention than their covert counterparts, but covert narcissists love attention too.  There are countless things they can do to draw all attention to themselves, but this post addresses some of the more commonly used tactics.

Narcissists have no manners whatsoever.  Add that in with their insatiable desire to have everyone’s attention, & you have a person who WILL interrupt whoever is talking.  When a person interrupts, they naturally become the center of attention, so it’s a useful & very commonly used tactic for narcissists.

Overt narcissists can be loud in how they interrupt people.  They usually will talk over people.  Covert narcissists, as usual, are more subtle.  They will try to have the final word in any conversation.  There is also a trick my covertly narcissistic father used.  As I would start to speak, he’d act like he was going to speak.  Naturally, I’d apologize & let him talk.  Eventually I realized that was his goal.  He didn’t want to hear what I had to say.  He wanted to shut me up so he could talk, & knowing I hate bad manners, I’d be polite & let him talk.

And, if a narcissist is hard of hearing, interrupting becomes easier yet.  Many have what I call selective hearing.  While they may indeed have diminished hearing, they also use the excuse of not hearing a person when it fits them.  If they want someone else to stop talking so they can talk, they can just start talking & claim they didn’t hear the other person talking.

Another way narcissists gain attention is by turning a conversation back to themselves.  After all, if people are talking about something that isn’t the narcissist, that means the narcissist isn’t the center of attention.  They will spin the conversation around to themselves in such a way that no one will have a clue how that happened.

Narcissists also gain attention by telling stories about you to other people, preferably in a group of which you also are a part.  Not good stories like how you got that big promotion at work or were your high school valedictorian, only stories that embarrass you.  This tactic is especially popular with narcissistic parents, but spouses also may use it, especially if the narcissist is older than the victim.  Telling embarrassing stories makes a person feel shamed & foolish, which makes a person easier to control, so that is an added bonus to the attention the stories gain.  And, the narcissist may spin the story so it looks like he or she rescued you somehow.

If the narcissist has some sort of pain like back pain, arthritis, or even a short term problem such as a broken leg, the problem will be used to his or her advantage.  You can expect this person to claim unbearable pain when not receiving all attention.  A similar scenario can happen if the narcissist has an illness or disease.  If this narcissist isn’t the center of attention, suddenly he or she will claim symptoms are flaring up, or maybe that he or she must lay down or go home immediately.  In either scenario, most people will focus on the narcissist & try to help, returning him or her to the center of attention.

Shock value is another favorite way narcissists gain attention.  My mother literally crashed my late father in-law’s funeral in 2018 to get her precious attention.  She drove to the graveside as the funeral was just starting & wouldn’t get out of her car.  People were shocked, & staring.  It worked as she wanted.  Other shock value tactics may include things like burping or passing gas loudly, or saying something totally outrageous such as gory details of how someone was murdered.  Shock value naturally stuns people, & they focus all attention on the narcissist, as was the goal.

When the narcissist in your life behaves this way, deprive them of that attention.  If they interrupt you, talk over them or talk to someone else.  If they change the topic back to themselves, change it back to the original topic.  If they use embarrassing stories, pain or shock value, ignore them.  Depriving a narcissist of attention means that action won’t be used again because it doesn’t work.


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

28 responses to “Ways Narcissists Gain Attention

  1. Excellent post as always. My mother constantly interrupts. At the end of the day, Narcissists are just spoiled children who have to have all the candy, toys and attention. Ignoring them is always best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!

      You got that right!! No wonder they’re so exhausting to deal with. It really is like dealing with a spoiled child!

      Liked by 2 people

      • A year ago, I was trying to be really helpful to my mother because her husband had died. I’m curious if these tactics ring true to you in those times when you were trying to appease your parents. When I would go over to help her around her house, sometimes there would be food, and sometimes not. I never wanted to complain, so I would bring crackers and secretly feed myself. When it came time to go to the store, she would never be able to find her keys. I realize now she enjoyed watching me look for her keys. Once at the store, she would always have forgotten her list of things to buy. She would want me to help her remember. I realize now that this was all grooming. With her husband gone, she was trying to turn me back into her perfect assistant/slave.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s exactly what it sounds like, trying to train you into her perfect assistant/slave. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’d be curious to know, if in times when you were trying to get along with your adult parents, if they did similar tedious things with you. If in the “good times”, they did things like lose their keys, pretend to not know how computers worked, etc., etc. – just to extract the maximum amount of attention and supply out of you that they could. You don’t have to respond here. Perhaps that’s a subject for another post or video.

            Liked by 1 person

            • As an example – I think my mother messed with her sink just to compel me to come over and fix it for her. Once I made the hour long drive, the sink would be her lowest priority.


              • When I was a kid, if my mother had something that needed to be done that she didn’t want to do, she’d tell me she couldn’t figure it out but knew I could because I was so “mechanically inclined.” As an example, one thing was assembling a bird cage. You had to unfold the cage, put the bottom on & screw it in place, then the top. It took me maybe 5 minutes. I was like 10 years old. It wasn’t hard, & she was smart. Apparently she didn’t want to do that though. I did because it was one of the few times she complemented me & I was about dying for praise of any sort. My mother in-law however, pulled the worst one I know of though.

                One year for Christmas, her adult children planned on spending Christmas day with their children & grandchildren, & my husband was spending the day with me for a change. Apparently this was a problem for her. She stopped taking her insulin. Ended up in the hospital. I can’t remember when for sure.. I think it was the day after Christmas but it may have been on Christmas day. Next Christmas, everyone flocked to her house for her get together again. That little trick got her exactly what she wanted!

                Wow.. your mother deliberately messed up her sink just to get your attention?! There is nothing these people won’t do for a little attention!

                Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m sorry if I ramble too much in your comments section…

    Of course I can’t prove my mother messed with her sink intentionally, but it is one of the things that she would use to get me to drive over to her to be a servant in her dark world.

    The bird cage is the perfect metaphor.
    A bird is meant to fly in the open air.
    No bird should be kept in a cage.

    Your mother wanted to keep a bird in a cage for her amusement.

    This is the perfect metaphor for how narcissitic mothers view their children.

    They absolutely want and demand that their children live in a cage

    They absolutely do NOT want their children to fly free

    They think they are owed something from their children,
    because they gave birth to them

    They feel entitled to keep their children in cages
    They feel entitled to never let their children fly

    If they have a bird like a parrot,
    that only repeats back things the narcissist has said,
    then they are even more happy
    This all the narcissist wants

    Liked by 1 person

    • You don’t ramble at all! You’re quite interesting!

      The bird metaphor is so true! I never thought of that but you’re so right. Excellent metaphor!

      The bird in this situation though was mine.. I always wanted a cat or some pet at least, & my mother refused to let me. She had a cat that died when she was 15 & swore that it hurt her too much, so I wasn’t allowed to have any pet. My paternal grandmother, God love her, apparently was fed up. One day in front of my mother, she gave me money to get a cage, supplies & a parakeet because I loved her parakeet. I remember her looking at my mother like, “Go ahead… I dare you to refuse her this!” I got a parakeet & loved him so much. He spent his time out of the cage when I was in the house & awake, so he wasn’t caged like most birds were. Funny thing was my mother began to care about him & after he passed away, I was allowed to have other parakeets. Once I moved out, I got my first cat though about 5 months later. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow. This breaks my heart in about 15 different ways. I am sure the birds in your care had good lives, even if they couldn’t fly like they were meant to.
        Perhaps as we were meant to fly, but didn’t get to.


        • I think so.. even as a kid I was very responsible so I took good care of my parakeets & they seemed happy. I was afraid to leave them out if I wasn’t there though, because it’d be so easy to accidentally step on one if he was on the floor or sit on him if he happened to be in a chair. My parents being narcissists, they were so self centered, even then I didn’t trust them to think to look before stepping or sitting, yanno? So it was best to keep them caged sometimes for their safety, which is why I got them a large cage. They had room to fly in it when they weren’t having the run of the house. Funny though.. I had a tiny lock on the door since some had learned how to open the door. My last parakeet figured out how to pick the lock! He let himself in & out! Thankfully that taught my parents to be aware that there may be a parakeet gone rogue somewhere so watch what you do. lol

          Liked by 1 person

    • ibikenyc

      Wow. This is stunning. It IS the perfect metaphor, as are all your extrapolations.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. it sounds like maybe you had a paternal grandmother on your side? no?


  4. I think unless we are willing to give up our entire beings to the narcissists, then they will never leave us alone.


    • And even then, it isn’t enough to please them for long.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Crazy isn’t it?? It still astounds me some things I did for the narcissists in my life that wasn’t enough for them. My life growing up was primarily centered on my parents- their needs & wants over my own- & it still wasn’t enough. My ex husband always complained about my weight (even though I was far from fat). When I lost weight & got into a size 4, that still wasn’t good enough for him. It just astounds me how incredibly selfish & demanding these people are in spite of studying NPD for years. I doubt that will ever change.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Wow! A size 4. I mean.. wow. I am a gay man, but I am sure you were lovely even by today’s standards where all the models are supposed to look like boys.

            What is helping me right now is to realize that I am the Dad. They always wanted to put me in the role of Dad, so now i will just take it. And these are children.
            Selfish, spoiled, 2 year old children.

            My mother called me the other day and it took her less that 2 minutes to tell me that I didn’t “miss her” enough.

            I hung up. I put her in “time out”.

            3 days later she called back, and I played along as though it hadn’t happened.
            And, she was okay with playing along

            They are children.


            • Thank you. Actually looking back now, I think I was too thin for my frame at that time. But, according to my ex, I still wasn’t thin enough. He wouldn’t use the word “fat” but it was implied. Thanks to that & my mother’s constant jumping on me about my weight my whole life, I was convinced I was fat at that size. And when I got into a size 4? His only response was “Well your butt finally looks better.” Gee, thanks…. lol

              That’s it exactly! Narcissists are kids in grown up bodies! These people are as you said, selfish, spoiled 2 year olds. I really think that’s why a lot of adult children of narcissists don’t want children of their own. It’s like we raised ours already, we’re tired of raising kids & quite frankly, we didn’t do that great a job raising “our” kids!

              Isn’t interesting how they can be so nasty then call after some time has passed, acting like nothing happened? It leaves you feeling like, “Were you there?! Don’t you know what you said/did?!” But they do know. They are well aware & since it made them look less than perfect, they want you to forget about it. If they act like it never happened, you should too & then you’ll forget all about what they did. Mind boggling. My mother once did this after not speaking to me for 18 months! Kid you not. Blew my little mind!

              Liked by 2 people

  5. They know what put them in ‘time out’. They would just rather die than admit it. I think our whole problem in trying to deal with these assholes is that we have tried to deal with them as adults. They are not adults. They are selfish, monstrous, asshole children.


  6. ibikenyc

    Selective Deafness!

    I have to repeat at least once almost everything I say to or ask of him: “The fan is on high / The water’s running / I have the radio in one ear and the air conditioner in the other / You’re in another room / You’re mumbling / Ad Nauseum.”

    BUT he hears just fine a single syllable muttered under my breath about him while I’m standing washing dishes.

    AND I regularly get taken severely to task because I don’t talk to him!

    Yah, okay; next!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ahh. So you’ve had the pleasure of this too! Isn’t it a joy?! UGH! My mother truly had hearing problems & from what I understand was almost entirely deaf when she died. In the prior years though, I quickly learned that when she’d say, “I can’t hear you, Honey” there was an ulterior motive. To make me yell at her, to frustrate me, etc. So maddening!

      Liked by 2 people

      • ibikenyc

        More and more I find it actually sad that they’re so. . . desperate for attention that even annoying the crap out of someone feels “good” to them.

        Understanding the depths of that abyss within has also made it a lot easier for me to accept that I. CAN’T. Fill. It.

        Liked by 2 people

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