According to the Urban Dictionary, negs or negging are, “low-grade insults meant to undermine the self-confidence of a woman so she might be more vulnerable to advances”. Although women sometimes neg, men corner the efforts. During early flirting efforts, this is a tactic first described by pick-up artists (PUAs). There are several explanations for the tactic; however, they all employ some sort of backhanded compliment, which temporarily lowers the target’s self-esteem while leaving the speaker blameless. Theoretically, this lowered self-esteem in the target makes the speaker seem more attractive by comparison.
This crazy phenomenon might be new to you, but in diverse forms, it’s practiced as a seduction technique around the world. Negging, in a nutshell, is a trick tactic. Its total purpose is to undermine a woman’s confidence by making backhanded or snide remarks – give a compliment with one breath, and take away with the other. It is control, allowing the man to be in charge of the situation and interaction by driving the woman to work for his approval.
“Negging” and the pick-up artist were born on internet message boards in the early ’90s, and became a vast subculture, with varying strategies and tribes. It became a global phenomenon following the publication of a book by Neil Strauss, The Game.
I heard the term a few times, but never thought much about it until I experienced it on a date. Negging happens all the time and usually it is a man negging a woman. Men use this on women they think are pretty to reduce their self-esteem. It is a takedown tactic because the man doing it does not think he can get the woman without breaking her down. Negging can be subtle and most of the time you do not detect the mild insult. Make no mistake, it is an insult.
These covert insults are intentional and meant to undermine the self-confidence of a woman to make her feel vulnerable to advances. Given the research, temporary insults that lower self-esteem may indeed make an individual more receptive to romantic advances and more compliant with requests. I think this is something a decent man would not attempt, but idiots are armed and dangerous.
Ever hear the term “seduce and reduce,” well this is exactly what is happening when a man approaches you and says something really nice and then backs it up with a subtle insult. Everywhere there is an insecure pretty girl, there is some insecure guy negging. The point of negging is to score with someone you find extremely attractive, someone out of your league, who you otherwise wouldn’t have had a shot.
For example, a pretty woman is sitting at a bar alone, a man saunters up to her and says, “You have the most beautiful blue eyes, are those contact lenses?” Then we have through the backdoor Sam, “You are so beautiful, I love your hair; I even like your receding hairline.” She’s thinking, excuse me, did I just hear him correctly? Now she is confused. Let’s not forget Mr. Weight Watcher, “I love your slender body, are you anorexic? She looks around, confused. Perhaps she misunderstood what he said. And if she is anorexic, her self-esteem just dropped to the floor. These men are usually nervous and unsure of themselves with palms sweating. He is not a Romeo or a looker, usually, just a plain John or nerd trying to get to first base and make the woman work for him by playing on her insecurities, because verbal negativity equates to sexual success. The sad part of these scenarios is they are real approaches recommended by websites such as seductionscience.com, one of many websites for men giving advice on negging and pick-up techniques.
It appears these tactics work, especially if you are feeling vulnerable and lonely. Women think, I am smart, beautiful, and intelligent, so I should have thrown a drink in his face when he insulted me; but instead, I was charmed and chased him.
And yes, negging can work on men. If your end goal is to get the good-looking guy in the room interested in you, then yes, using a neg as an opener will make him eager to prove himself. But do you really want a guy you had to implement an entire confidence takedown in order for him to be interested?”
Flirtation is not a battle requiring logistics and tactics for a takedown, or a con. It should be a part of our human interaction and how we interact with each other on a natural level. When our way of communicating to the opposite sex becomes covert, manipulative, and deceptive, then we truly have a problem.
Remember ladies, a man who wants you is coming to “that theatre near you.” He does not need to break you down to feed his insecurities. This especially includes cheaters who lack self-esteem, and need many women around to feel good.
If you’ve experienced negging, we’d love to hear from you. Share your story in the reply below, and encourage others on how they can kick these manipulators to the curb for good.
PS – If you want to know more about negging check out The Stuff of Thought by Harvard Psychology Professor Steven Pinke. It’s an excellent read.