Dear Kate: How to deal with an attention seeking friend


By Katharine Luckinbill

Dear Kate,

One of my close friends is always writing attention seeking things on Facebook and it’s becoming extremely obnoxious. In so many ways she is a great friend; she’s always there for me when I need her, she’s extremely loyal, and she makes an effort to be a good friend and go above and beyond the call of duty. Yet I just cannot seem to get past this flaw. She has so many things going for her in her life and really no reason to be sad or unhappy and yet nearly every day there’s a status saying something like, “Just wishing tomorrow will be better.” How do I talk to my friend about this, or better yet — have the personal strength to ignore it and let it roll off my back so that I can enjoy the things about her that I actually like?

Annoyed in Anaheim


Dear Annoyed in Anaheim,

You and me both, sister! “VagueBooking,” as I harrumphingly refer to it, is one of the most annoying things trending on the Internet these days. (See: harumph, and also: Vaguebooking.) I think if people walked into work each day and said to their coworkers, “I just can’t bear it anymore,” they would most certainly be brought immediately to human resources for a psychological evaluation, and mandatory “vacation.” Yet, on Facebook, it calls out to all the other attention seekers to respond with as many “Oh no, what’s wrong? Call me!”’s as you can possibly imagine. I’m just as sick of it as you are.

Fortunately none of the people doing this on my network are very close friends, so I’m not really that invested in what they say or do. So I can only imagine how tough it must be to let those kind of things slide when you really care about the person.

Here’s what I would do: wait until the next time she writes something provocative and give her a call once you’ve seen it. Try your best not to have a mocking, judgmental, or condescending tone. Tell her that you just saw her Facebook post and you’re concerned. When she tells you about her newest bit of drama, ask her if everything is okay and if there’s something deeper or more serious she’d like to talk to you about.

If she asks why, lovingly explain that you’ve been noticing frequent posts on Facebook that would lead someone to believe that she is very, very unhappy. Perhaps this will get her to open up to you and explain what she’s really dealing with and then maybe the VagueBooking will even stop.

However, if the opposite happens and she doesn’t have anything more serious to worry about than her phone erasing her numbers or her favorite pants getting stained on the subway, explain to her that all of these comments online have caused you concern and maybe she could consider this more thoroughly before she posts such worrisome things for all the web to read.

Depending on the depth of your relationship, your communication history and, most importantly, your tone when speaking to her — this conversation could go in several directions.

Just remember the things about her that you love, and voice this as a concern for her happiness and well-being, rather than a judgment on her character.

Love is always easier to hear than criticism.

Here’s to a friendly news feed,


Dear Kate is a column that runs on every Thursday at noon. It is written by the wise Katharine Luckinbill, who you should follow on Twitter. Got a life, friendship, family, dating, or relationship question that you’d like Dear Kate to answer? Send it to and she will help you out.

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7 thoughts on “Dear Kate: How to deal with an attention seeking friend

  1. Or just UN-FRIEND her.

    (Just kidding)

  2. Danny Marr says:

    Very wise response, Kate. As an occasional vaguebooker, I understand both sides of this coin. Yes, it can be very annoying. Similarly, people who do this in real life are very annoying too. I’m sure we’ve all had those friends who perpetually look and act like someone just killed their puppy. Not fun.

    On the other hand, as a bartender and nightlife personality, it’s my job to plaster on a smile and be as entertaining as possible. And while forcing a smile when you’re not feeling great has been shown to improve your mood, sometimes we just sink into a dark place anyway. And if it’s perfectly acceptable to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, etc) to inform the world about how much you love Cherry Coke, hate Miley Cyrus, and have celebrity doppelgangers, why shouldn’t it be ok to make it known that you’re going through something difficult? After all, support from friends and being able to talk things through with someone are great ways to get past those tough times. The ease with which facebook connects us to each other makes it a great way to make it known that you need someone. While it’s arguably better to just call or text a close friend, sometimes it helps to just get it out that things are shitty.

    Also, I agree with your advice about contacting her and letting love and concern guide your conversation. Personally, I’ve been having a really crappy week and have been feeling very down myself. One of my friends noticed the tone of a few status updates and reacted just this way. He texted to say that he’d noticed that maybe I was having a bad week and was wondering if I was ok, and I was able to actually say, “No, I’m not,” and from there we had a great conversation that ultimately made me feel a lot better.

    You listed several great qualities that this friend possesses (loyalty, dependability, compassion, etc). I suggest returning that favor. After all, we’re only capable of controlling our own emotions. Examine why this behavior upsets you so much, try not to focus so much on that, and instead approach with compassion and concern. You never know how serious the situation is, and if, God forbid, your friend is so distraught to the point of hurting herself, you’d kick yourself for seeing the warning signs and being annoyed by them instead of reaching out to help.

    If, on the other hand, she’s just upset that the Starbucks barista gave her a grande instead of a venti, tell her to grow a pair and get over it lol

  3. katetorg says:

    I am now paranoid that I might do this without realizing it. But like, once every six months.

  4. DH says:

    Great article! I feel the same about “Vaguebookers.” I mean, I totally get that sometimes it’s nice to kind of vent on Facebook or other social media but when it’s a constant thing I think that person is just seeking attention. Maybe they need it, and in that case it’s great if someone can reach out to them and lend an ear, as in Danny’s case.

    I have done this before–a family member posted several quotes about “unfaithful friends” and the like so I sent her a text asking if she was ok. Unfortunately I never heard from her, so I won’t know if it was just not a big deal, she didn’t actually want to talk about it, or hell, if it was me she was referring to!! If that was the case I gave her an open door to talk about it and she didn’t take it, so I left it in her hands.

    While this is a very annoying habit to many people, there is nothing on FB or any other site saying you can’t say these things. I have resorted to blocking the serial “vaguebookers” from my newsfeed, although an occasional “this sucks” doesn’t really bother me. I try not to air much of my personal business on the web because I just get nervous about privacy issues but I’m sure I have been guilty of it myself in the past. I just ask that anyone doing it please keep it to a minimum or you may get blocked!

  5. Dear Kate says:

    Just saw this posted on my Facebook wall
    “I’m so incredibly broken hearted. I can’t even begin to describe how many ways it’s shattered…”

    Cannot begin to tell you how tough it is to not comment with a link to this article.

    Maybe if she asked for advice…


  6. [...] Number 3 (May 31 2012): Dear Kate – How to deal with an attention seeking friend [...]

  7. L says:

    I think it’s one of the hardest things- deciding on whether a friendship is worth keeping because on one hand your friend is loyal, supportive and always there for you but on the other hand you can’t avoid these negative feelings no matter how many times you try to justify it. I believe that one of the most important things in life is the choices we are able to make for ourselves and that includes the company we keep. Chances are, she goes above and beyond for you also due to her own insecurities and neediness, needing to feel wanted (notice that these are also the sort of people who tend to say how every friend is their ‘best’ friend). i think you need to think long and hard about what your life would be like remaining friends with someone you cannot support simply because you are from two different planets. Like a relationship that isn’t going anywhere, people sometimes do break up with people who are good to them, if they are just not good with them, or for them. It really depends how deep this characteristic of theirs runs. If she’s spent a majority of her life being a certain way, you’re going to need a lot of love and patience and belief that she has the capacity to understand and to change. Likewise, if you sense a dead end, don’t do it. There will be someone out there who ‘gets’ her better and perhaps your friendship isn’t meant to be. Because, like so many things- it shouldn’t have to be this difficult. We all deserve people we can confidently vouch for.

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