We all know the friend who fights tooth and nail to be the center of attention (COA) at every gathering, night out, event, and even trips to the grocery store. No venue or occasion is too small to hold the spotlight these COAs live to own. Let’s face it, it can be annoying AF. Before you put your COA in the toxic friends list to discard, read these tips. You can keep your friend while simultaneously keeping those center of attention impulses in check.
Have Some Compassion
Although the center of attention in your squad can really push your patience at times, try to lighten up. There is obviously something driving such a strong need for control and attention. That doesn’t mean you need to go full on psychiatrist with your friend, but showing some empathy can go a long way. If you notice your COA’s level of attention-seeking behavior fluctuates, there might be something going on that they are not ready to deal with just yet.
If you decide to approach the situation and give your friend a wellness check, don’t do it when they are in the middle of showing off. And please do not do it in front of other people. Although it may seem they crave all eyes on them, this is a situation they want to avoid at all costs. The center of attention mainly wants to only be viewed in a certain light, and this is not one.
But…Don’t Let The COA Railroad You Either
While it’s always important to be compassionate in times of need, do not continuously take a backseat to the center of attention in your group. Chances are you have taken the role of spectator while your friend is living it up as the life of the party. It probably feels like this in a one-on-one situation also, which is especially frustrating. It feels as if your friend is just using you for an ego stroke or maybe no one else was available to participate in their audience. So what do you do?
Remember the old saying ,”You teach people how to treat you”? Well, this is a great example where the words are not only true but 100 percent applicable. Friendships go both ways. One hand washes the other. You should play an equal role in the relationship and not settle for the gig of being anyone’s personal laugh track. Simply state that you have something important you want to share or even that you just want to pick a song to hear. In this case, you may have a strong need to play songs by The Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s. Don’t climb on too high of a horse, but stand your ground even if they ignore you. They will pay attention as soon as they lose your attention.
Look, this is not an overnight cure. This takes time and patience. It’s likely you are the first person to challenge the validity of the center of attention. Your friend may feel hurt or angry at first, but remain consistent. It’s hard to do, especially through your friend’s tears but stay strong. Be polite, but do not let them manipulate you into COA justification status. While it’s natural for them to feel defensive, you need to remain on track if you want to see favorable results within the friendship. How do you keep from caving?
No one likes to hurt a good friend’s feelings, center of attention or not. However, just understand that being a little butt-hurt is part of the process. It’s a long process. You will probably not be able to fully change your COA, but you can define your boundaries and protect your dignity. Although it may initially lead to a spat and maybe even a brief period of the silent treatment, standing up for yourself will remind the center of attention in your life how much they respect you. There is a good chance they were unaware of not only their own behavior, but how their behavior makes you feel. Give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s a good possibility your friend will eventually feel grateful for your open honesty and willingness to work out an issue. A lot of people jump ship altogether or at least distance themselves from the COA, but you are a dedicated friend that wants to help. You will be appreciated.
Find The Silver Lining
Acknowledge you wouldn’t be wasting your time trying to mend a friendship flaw if that person didn’t offer you anything. Admit there are benefits to having the center of attention as a friend. They are the most fun, they cheer you up when you need it, and are pros at deflecting attention when you really do not want any. Something brought you guys together, so try not to lose sight of it. It’s not a bad idea to do a self-check either. How have you contributed to this issue? Can you think of any flaws your friend might have reason to resent? Staying positive and maintaining an open dialogue is necessary in all friendships, but it is dire when you are friends with the COA.
Of course this doesn’t mean let them run rampant. Recognizing your friend’s positive traits just means you are actively keeping a balanced mind when considering this person’s actions. Don’t dismiss good qualities in order to assert your needs into the friendship. Accepting that both can be true at the same time will help you approach this with a clear and level head. There may be times when you have to pull out the tough love card and ignore their persistent interruptions. Keep talking even if they are talking over you. If you have any manners at all, this tactic will feel very uncomfortable but it is very effective. The center of attention will notice quickly and eventually refrain.
Most importantly, make sure you are not jealous because the center of attention took your spotlight.
Share how you have handled the COA in your squad in the comments below.
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essica Hope Murphy is a student at Ashford University studying English and Journalism & Mass Communications. If she isn't writing, she is fishing, cooking, or entertaining friends. In addition to Society19, her work can be found on Points In Case, Cracked Mirrors Online, LinkedIn, Murphy Review, and in The National Library of Poetry.