What Is Negging? 15 Men Reveal Why They Use This Awful Tactic To Get Women

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man with mustache and nose piercing

For women, relationship advice tends to all be pretty rote: don't let him know you're interested, reject his advances for as long as you can, once he has your heart make sure he doesn't know it.

We're taught from a pretty young age that in order to get a man and keep him (why you'd want to is beyond me), you would ultimately have to dedicate your life to pretending that you don't care about the man you care about at all. 

Men, on the other hand, get a different sort of advice. While we are taught to run and hide, they are taught to chase and hunt. It truly is a puzzle and one we aren't remotely close to solving. Why do I say this? Because negging is still a thing, and it's a form of emotional abuse.

What is negging?

For the uninitiated, negging is a term used by straight men studying the art of seduction. Why do men use negging? The whole idea with negging is to disarm a woman, knocking down her confidence, thus making her more susceptible to men's romantic advances, so by using negging, they believe that will be a successful flirting tactic to pick you up.

Is it as awful as it sounds? I would answer with a resounding yes. Unfortunately, because of how men and women are programmed when it comes to love and dating, negging is also totally effective. That doesn't make it any less repellent. But it does make it something you should be on the lookout for if you're single and actively on the bar scene.

According to dating coach Joe Amoia, says that negging is a form of emotional manipulation: "a person uses emotional manipulation to play off the weakness and insecurities of another in order to make themselves feel better or more powerful."

RELATED: I "Negged" Men At The Bar To See If This Awful Flirting Tactic Works

What's an example of negging?

New York Times best-selling author, Neil Strauss, wrote about negging in his famous book titled, "The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists." He explained in the book that, "the purpose of a neg is to lower a woman's self-esteem while actively displaying an interest in her-by telling her she has lipstick on her teeth, for example, or offering her a piece of gum after she speaks."

Life coach Michelle Thompson explained that men who use negging are simply unwilling to feel their own feelings. "They use it as a way to get you to handle those feelings for them. For instance, when they realize they have been hurtful, they respond by saying 'I was just joking' or 'you’re too sensitive,' instead of feeling their sadness and shame."

How do you respond to negging? The whole point of negging for a guy is to slightly lower your self-esteem to the point where you will be actively wanting his approval and you become vulnerable.

Amoia suggests that two ways in which you can respond to negging: "The first is to try to explain to the person how their words made you feel. The second is to tell them to 'piss off!' I'm not a big believer in trying to tell a grown adult how to behave, so I'm going to recommend option #2 every time!" 

Don't give these types of men that use negging the power and vulnerability they want you to give to them.

According to Thompson, men use negging as a strategy to shift responsibility away from themselves onto you. "The best way to respond is to take responsibility for your own wellbeing — for example, say, 'I will not be around you when you speak to me that way.' Then leave the room," she says.

What is a backhanded compliment? A backhanded compliment is simply an insult disguised as a compliment, which actually isn't a compliment at all. This is the idea behind negging, as negging isn't meant to compliment a woman but insult her and make her feel insecure.

According to Amoia, an example of negging looks like when a guy is dating a woman and says, "You'd have an incredible body if your breasts were a little bigger." They point out something they think you would be insecure about.

What are the signs of negging?

1. He chooses you as his target.

You can automatically tell if someone is negging because they try to get your attention the first three seconds they see you and they say a classic negging opener like "You’re so cute! (Pet her head) Can you do tricks?" or "Wow, you're actually pretty smart" or they push you away in a group and ask her friends "oh my gosh, is she always like that?"

2. He gives you only backhanded compliments.

Once he's caught your attention you might notice the way he words his compliments might seem a bit off and it's good to start questioning it and think about what they said again and decipher if it's a backhanded compliment or not. "Negging, just like bullying, can show up in different forms. It can show up as a backhanded compliment, straight-out criticism, comparison to an ex, or any other form that puts a person down and makes them feel weak or helpless," says Amoia. 

3. He only points out your flaws.

When he's talking to you he seems as if he's constantly insulting you or pointing out your flaws when he "compliments" you. He'll especially critique something about yourself that you can't change. 

4. He tries to convince you that only he would find you attractive.

He purposely makes you feel like only a guy like him would like a certain something about you like how many tattoos you have or how big your nose is. They often disguise themselves as the "nice" guy as well so it's hard to realize something that they said was terrible until you go back and play it over again in your head. 

5. He compares you with other women.

Men who neg always think there's competition with women and looks in life and these men will constantly point it out to try and make you feel insecure about yourself or make you feel like you're not like other girls but in a bad way. 

6. He wants you to crave his approval.

Men who neg love to undermind your self-esteem so that you will somehow subconsciously seek their approval all the time. If you notice that you might want to have his approval first for most things then that's a sign something is off. 

7. They like to joke around purposely. 

Men who like to neg always like to throw in-jokes that are actually insulting and most likely it's something that has to do with your appearance or personality. They might say something like, "I love your hair. It's not your natural color, is it?” or, “Your nails look cute. They're real right?” when they know you might dye your hair or get tips or fake nails done.

8. He throws in small indications of interest

If he's negging you he most likely will try and make himself appear more desirable to you by touching or teasing you only sometimes and whenever you try and reciprocate he doesn't let you. He really does the bare minimum to try and wrap you around his finger and then thinks he can be a jerk to you. 

I asked a group of anonymous men to tell me why they neg and how they feel about it when they are negging a woman. Some of their responses made me vaguely queasy, while others gave me hope. I hope you find the same! 

Here's what 15 men had to say about why they use negging to get women:

1. I didn't even know I was doing it.

"I thought it was stupid when I read about it. Being mean to women to get them to sleep with you can't work, right? Then I thought about it a little deeper and realized I'd neg all the time when younger. The difference was it was just teasing, always with a smile on my face and a sarcastic tone."

2. I felt vaguely guilty.

"I never meant to hurt feelings or make anyone uncomfortable. I can also say that in my experience, teasing worked extremely well at making women laugh and feel more comfortable with me. So, I guess I technically have used negging and it does work."

3. I don't think about it.

"I never think of it as negging because that has a hateful connotation. I just know that what I do works." 

4. People must do it for a reason.

"I've heard that it works wonders, that's the only reason I would even consider trying it. Think about it, though — it has to exist as a concept for a reason."

5. It's being playful.

"Well, it's really just making jokes at their expense. I've said it before, but it's like teasing your little sister. You're not trying just to make them laugh, you're kind of being an ass as well."

6. People don't get it.

"Last one-night stand I had was with a who used to work out at my gym. She came to a bar in yoga pants, and I recognized her from the gym. I made fun of her for going to the bar in yoga pants all night. I think when the original concept of negging came up, it was meant to be like teasing but pushing the boundaries a little bit. Like most things on Reddit/the internet though, it gets taken out of context and way too far."

7. It's not being mean.

"Negging isn't necessarily 'exploiting vulnerabilities,' it's about putting them off balance by not delivering the same compliments they hear all day."

8. I'm just being intriguing.

"A good neg is neither a compliment or an insult. It's confusing and makes them want to find out why you said it (ergo conversation)."

RELATED: Why A Stranger's Backhanded Compliment About My Body Bothered Me So Much — Even If He Was Being 'Nice'

9. It's too much work.

"Negging takes some pretty strong social skills. You need to know how far to take it without it being too much. I prefer just to tease the girls I am with. Negging is about making a girl feel insecure, teasing is about having fun. For me, it's not about getting her in bed. It's about enjoying myself, and if that leads to sex (and it often does) then great. If not it's no big deal. What they refer to as 'inner game' is really what it is all about, not speed seduction or running some play that will just end in the girl leaving you because your 'game' is only skin deep."

10. Don't think about it too hard.

"Negging is only something works when you don't take it too seriously. If you do that, you're focusing on the game and not on the women."

11. It makes me feel cocky and smart.

"As soon as you say something different, you demand attention. Confusion demands attention because the mind tries to rationalize it. You pair a comment that normally signals interest with one that disqualifies interest. I’ll just make up a random neg on the spot to explain this: 'I like that thing you do with your nose. It’s cute and dorky; makes you a lot less intimidating.' In her mind she’s confused. Was that a compliment? He said he liked something about me and it’s cute, which signifies interest, but he also said I’m dorky and intimidating, and what am I doing with my nose? Now you have her attention."

12. No. Just... no.

"Teasing is fun, but if you have to insult girls to get them to sleep with you then there's something wrong with you as a person."

13. Don't overthink it.

"If I'm thinking about 'negging' when I'm actually doing it, then I'm doing it wrong. I should just be thinking about the object of my proverbial affections."

14. It helps me a lot.

"I'm ridiculously shy. Like, medically diagnosed kind of shy. Having a guideline like what you call negging makes me feel more comfortable about approaching people for the first time." 

15. It's the art of seduction.

"The entire point of seduction is to build up your confidence while you break down another person's in order to get them to sleep with you, and then move on a do the same thing to somebody else."

RELATED: 11 Signs You're 'Flexting' To Impress Your Date (And You're Coming On A Little Strong)

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer and the Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, and true crime.

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