What is Negging?

What is Negging?
Written By: Counselling Psychologist
M.Sc. Psychology - Swansea University, UK.
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 15-03-2023

Explore your right therapist by answering the questions below.

For Individual
Get Started
For Dating Couples
Get Started
Get Started
For Married Couples
Get Started


Have you ever felt that your parent or partner or a friend has been making negative comments on you indirectly?

This behavior has a term, and it is called Negging. It is this strange behavior, which oddly is sometimes used under the name of flirting.

Since it s done under the pretense of being humorous or flirtatious, it can be extremely difficult to identify. But be clear about the actual intentions because that is one of its manipulation aspects. It s a pitiful attempt to undermine you in order to boost someone else s self-esteem.

It is now being seen as a major red flag in relationships on social media and dating apps along with ghosting and gaslighting.

Negging is a type of emotional manipulation in which someone belittles you while giving you a backhanded compliment in an attempt to harm your self-esteem and making you more open to their control while making you seek their acceptance. In other words, negging is emotional verbal abuse. It s a form of manipulation when the target is made to feel less confident.

In the world of "pickup artists," males who prey on women and try to break them down so they may have sexual relations with them, the term "negging" initially appeared. Negging has evolved over time to be more broadly associated with any form of relationship when one side intentionally undermines the other for their personal benefit.

Couples Therapy
Relationship-centered therapy that connects you and your partner
Online Counselling Image

Some examples of Negging:

Backhanded Compliments

“I normally don t go for women like you, but I ll make an exception for you.”

"Wow, I find you to be rather fascinating. I wasn t expecting that."

“You look gorgeous with make up on.”

"You look good. I guess you finally tried today."

Constructive criticism

“Do you know, if you just lost 10-15 kgs you’d definitely look fabulous.”

“Short hair would suit your long face.”

“With your skin color, you shouldn’t go for dark colors”

Insults hidden in questions

“Really? Are you wearing that?!”

“What were you thinking when you bought this?”

“It’s brave of you to show up in this dress”

How to respond to Negging?

Being negged can make you feel very insecure about yourself. Because of this, it s helpful to be aware of some possible responses before you notice you re being ignored.

Ignoring them and discontinuing communication with them is the simplest way to proceed.

Choose not to give someone an emotional response if they are attempting to provoke one from you. Additionally, explaining to someone who cannot respect you is a waste of time. You are not obligated to stop their abusive actions.

However, if you feel confident confronting them, let them know that their behavior toward you does not sit well with you. However, take care since if you challenge them, they might retaliate by engaging in additional abusive tactics like gaslighting.

Whatever the case, always keep in mind that negging is a reflection of others and not of you, your value, or your deserving of love and care.


What type of Online Therapy are you looking for?

Layer 1


Seeking a one on one counselling service with a trained psychologist?

Get Started
Layer 1

Dating Couples

Seeking a couples therapist specialized in dealing with romantic relationships?

Get Started
Layer 1


Seeking counselling services for an individual or a parent of a child in the age range of 13-19.

Get Started
Layer 1

Married Couple

Seeking marriage counselling from a trained psychotherapist?

Get Started

Connect with an expert

  • Video Call
  • Messaging
  • Phone