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I have this friend who is in constant search for approval - and not only from his peers, but every single person he meets. He also needs to be the center of attention.

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  • Psychologically speaking: insecure.
    – Avon
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 11:24

3 Answers 3

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I think the most obvious choice would be needy itself:

needy adj
2. Wanting or needing affection, attention, or reassurance, especially to an excessive degree.

TFD

Note that in AmE you will frequently hear the term "high maintenance" ("My girlfriend/boyfriend is so high maintenance!") used as a synonym for needy. Whereas needy has an alternate meaning that refers to someone who is merely poor or disadvantaged, high maintenance has nothing associated with it that absolves its target from blame.

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  • 1
    Yep, "needy" is definitely used in the US, among younger and especially female folks. As is "high maintenance". Another related term is "drama queen", for someone who always has a crisis which is more important than anyone else's concerns.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 12:01
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If you want a more pejorative term, in the US, you would call him an

attention whore

a more polite version of this is

attention hog

If they tend to seek approval by trying to please everyone, then you could use

sycophant

noun

a person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage. (Google)

or its synonyms:

yes-man, bootlicker, brown-noser, toady, lickspittle, flatterer, flunky, lackey, spaniel, doormat, stooge, cringer, suck, suck-up (Google)

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Your friend wants to be a cynosure.

TFD defines cynosure as a person or thing that attracts notice, esp because of its brilliance or beauty.

Your friend may or may not attract every person, but he definitely strives to be one.

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