Dear men, quit negging me

Rebecca Lloyd-Wright
5 min readNov 29, 2020


A couple of weeks ago, my sister shared a screen shot she’d taken of her Hinge profile, where a guy had commented on one of her photos with: “I hope you have more to you than a pretty smile”. In an appropriately Millennial fashion, she immediately shared this with her IG followers and asked for their views. Was he complimenting her and trying to banter… or was he being a bit of a dick?

It prompted a surge of responses from many of her followers, with her gleefully filling me in on the best ones. They showed a real divide between those who thought he didn’t mean any harm and was trying to flirt, and those who called him out for negging.

This is where I have to admit I’d never heard the term before. But when my sister explained it to me, I came to the disturbing realisation that I’ve been negged before, by many men, oh many, many, many men.

So, dear men, QUIT IT.


What is negging?

Negging is where someone — usually a romantic partner or someone attempting to make you romantically interested in them — makes a deliberate backhanded compliment or flirtatious remark. To ‘neg’ someone, is to give ‘negative feedback’. This act of emotional manipulation is designed to undermine your confidence and self-esteem, thereby increasing your need for their approval.

It’s essentially a sneaky way for one person to gain more power and control in a relationship. Obviously, they have to do it subtly, because if they were to flat-out insult you, you’d just leave. Instead, they deploy clever put-downs, making it tougher to realise that they’re actively being mean to you, and harder for you to call out. Whilst negging is not the sole domain of men’s crappy behaviour — no matter your gender identity, negging is wrong — I can only speak of my own experiences, which unfortunately have been at the hands of men with this particular behaviour.

As I got deeper into my research, I realised it had happened so many times to me over the years, it had become completely normalised. Even though these experiences had left me feeling a bit bad about myself or coming away thinking things weren’t quite right, I just couldn’t put my finger on exactly why. Here are just some one-liners I’ve had to contend with in the past from various men:

“You’re quite smart for a pretty girl.” — barf.

“I’d say you’re a 7 compared to your friend who’s a 9. That’s pretty good going.”hurl.

“You’re hot for someone with short legs.” — spew.

Reading those lines, you’re probably thinking how could I possibly not have seen them for what they were at the time and just walk off? But when they’re in the context of a flirtatious exchange, or even in an already romantic relationship, it’s harder to see what’s wrong. Let’s not forget the gaslighting that goes hand in hand with these types of comments — if I were to complain that something said was hurtful or wrong, it was usually downplayed as teasing or banter. I obviously just couldn’t take a joke. 🙄

<a href=’'>Hand photo created by wayhomestudio —</a>

Negging can leave you wondering if you’re being over-sensitive or have you internalising these negative comments. Make no mistake — that is part of the manipulation.

My research into the topic has led me down some dark internet holes of ‘pick up artist’ mentalities, woman-hating narratives and misogynistic articles that claim to perfect negging techniques designed purely for chipping away at women’s self-esteem and making the men seem more attractive.

One website I discovered had a ‘Negging 101’ article which claimed to teach guys how to ‘pull VERY HOT WOMEN who ARE FULL OF THEMSELVES’ and ‘need TAKING DOWN A PEG’. The language used throughout the article was combative, pitting men against women and viewing the latter gender as something that needed to be conquered. What was even more worrisome was the comments section that was alight with creepy and aggressive users who clearly had an inherent hatred of women. They seemed to all confirm their own biases, spiralling into a pit of misogyny.

One thing a lot of these websites had in common was hailing Neil Strauss’s book The Game as some kind of bible for picking up women, and from where negging seems to have originated. In its original published hardcover format, the book was covered in black leather and bookmarked with red satin, similar to some printings of the actual Bible. Strauss’s autobiographical book taught readers various ‘pick up’ manoeuvres that openly used manipulation techniques with disregard for the recipient’s own feelings.

Thankfully, despite all the downright gross websites I came across, I don’t think all men are women-haters. But this still begs the question, why do they neg then?

Is there an unconscious bias at play here where many men (no, not all men, don’t @ me), are threatened by confident, self-assured women, and so ‘taking them down a peg’ to the man’s own level feels like a necessary step? Is there a deeper sense of needing to keep a woman in her place? Should women not feel too good about themselves lest it be deemed unattractive?

Whatever it is, we all need to take a deeper look at why this type of behaviour is so acceptable to many. It astounds me that I need to remind men that it isn’t up to them if a woman likes them or not. Yes, if you straight up compliment a woman, that doesn’t mean she will automatically find you attractive or give you attention. That’s because she is a complex, multi-faceted human being who has her own thoughts, feelings and life experiences.

But that doesn’t then mean it is for you, dear men, to make her fancy you. Negging a woman to manipulate her into liking you will never be a healthy or kind way of treating a fellow human being, and is certainly not conducive to trusting, loving relationships.

Do you know what is really odd? The conclusion Strauss reaches in The Game is that picking up women is an empty, robotic life. He ends the book in a healthy relationship and makes clear to readers that he entered that relationship in spite of — not because of — the manoeuvres he outlined in his teachings. The pick-up artist subculture that still worships him wilfully ignores this fact, but to who’s detriment in the long run?

Strauss’s final line was: “It was time… to leave the community behind. Real life beckoned.”



Rebecca Lloyd-Wright

My musings on race, feminism and sexuality