What Is Negging? Signs, Examples and How to Respond
In This Article
Do you think your partner is constantly making statements about you that are indirectly negative? It feels disturbing not to know what’s happening wrong in your relationship. With all that going on, you feel insecure.
You try to fix it by changing how you live and losing your self-esteem in the process. You might be a victim of negging. Do you know what negging is? Here is what you want to know all about it.
What is negging?
Negging is a style of emotional manipulation where an individual gives deliberate compliments to another person to reduce their confidence level and subtly suggest that the former’s approval is indispensable.
To understand what is negging, it is important to know that it is derived from neg, which means negative feedback. Negging, also called backhanded compliment or emotional manipulation, is a straightforward derisive comment highlighting negative-social value judgment.
The essence of negging is to make the victim feel like you don’t need them, and they become curious about the reason.
In a journal article written by Kathleen Green, Zoe Kukan, et al., the public perception of negging was highlighted. The journal highlights how women’s self-esteem was lowered to increase male attractiveness.
Related Reading: How to Deal With Negative Relationships
5 examples of negging in a relationship
When one is truly in love, it can be hard to understand what is negging in a relationship. Your feelings might cloud your judgment.
But certain negging examples stated here can help you identify how these dynamics can play out in real-life situations. Here are some things that negging women or men might say:
- “You’re too sensitive and get hurt over the smallest things.”
- “You look so thin in that black dress.”
- “You are not like other partners I’ve been with who were so insecure and jealous.”
- “Why don’t you work out with your friend who is so fit.”
- “You are so smart for some of your gender.”
10 unmistakable signs that your partner is negging you
Are you unsure of the intentions of your partner’s compliments? With these signs below, you will see that some of your partner’s sweet words are insults disguised as compliments.
Here are some negging examples and signs to watch out for
1. You feel more embarrassed when he compliments you
Some compliments brighten your mood and make you feel less sad. However, if your partner compliments you and you feel uneasy, they could be negging you.
One way to know if your partner is negging you or not is how genuinely you smile at what they said while interpreting their compliments’ actual meaning.
When you feel embarrassed, your partner is negging you, and you have to be more watchful of his compliments.
2. They compare you to other individuals
Another way to know when you are being negged or when someone insults you is by comparison. When your partner negs you by comparing you to other people, it is usually to emphasize your shortcomings.
You will quickly tell that they are implying you cannot be better than those you are compared with even if you tried hard.
The reason why they compare you to other individuals is that they feel you cannot do better. And they probably don’t want you to do better, so they try to reduce your confidence level.
It is vital to guard your heart when your partner does this and always tell yourself you can do better than their standards.
3. They give destructive criticisms
A negging partner will give advice and feedback under the guise of constructive criticism that they want you to improve. They are not pleased with most things you do, and they are interested in your progress.
Also, they will not offer solutions for you to improve because they don’t want to help you.
Anyone constantly facing this would find it difficult to do something worthwhile that their partner would love.
Related Reading: Critical Spouse Signs and How to Deal With It
4. They ask questions under the guise of insults
If you are not observant, you will barely notice that your partner uses some questions to insult you. You might think it was an innocent question, but you will see they have intended insults if you interpret it carefully.
For instance, if you worked on a project that came out fine, they could comment how surprised they were and ask who helped with it. From their voice tone, you would be able to tell they were insulting you indirectly.
5. They claim to be joking when you find them out
If you study more on backhanded compliment psychology and you are beginning to see your partner for who they are, they will give an excuse.
One of the common excuses they will give is they were joking. This is the perfect excuse because it puts you in a position where you cannot blame them for negging you.
If you are quick to do, they will gaslight you, and you could be labeled the oppressor.
Related Reading: Common Signs of Gaslighting to Lookout For
6. They make you regret airing your opinions
A negging partner will not give you space to voice your concerns when you discover your partner offers an off-handed compliment. Often, they will make you regret by denying your accusations and making you look confused.
They would do other things to twist your opinions and make it look like you are the problem. Also, they will call your opinions unintelligent and ignorant.
Their goal is to ensure that when you keep regretting your decision to voice out, they will coerce you into keeping quiet and complaining less.
7. They turn your concerns to make themselves the victim
One of the signs of negging is when your partner turns themselves into the victim and you, the tormentor. Some of them could get physical, and they will blame you because you complained about their behavior.
They will paint the whole scenario to benefit them, claiming you refused to respect them and their opinions. Also, negging partners will query you for always reading the meaning of everything they say.
Some of them will make empty threats not to give pieces of advice because you don’t value them.
Related Reading: How to Recognize and Deal With Victim Mentality
8. They prefer to talk about themselves
If you use a word for putting someone down to make yourself feel better, it is a negging behavior.
A negging individual does not care about you but themselves; it is right to call them narcissists.
You might think they are open with you, but they are only interested in themselves.
Hence, you should always be careful if you want to open up to them or anybody because they will make the whole issue about themselves.
Some of them use the excuse that they want you to draw lessons from their case, but it’s a lie.
Related Reading: Signs Your Partner Has Narcissistic Personality Disorder
9. You always want their approval
One of the primary goals of a negging partner is to undermine someone in a relationship to reduce their partner’s self-esteem.
When this happens, the negging partner becomes the number one source of approval. If they don’t give their consent, then everything is wrong and imperfect.
With time, the negging partner controls the relationship, which makes it unhealthy.
If you notice you need your partner’s approval for everything, then you’ve got a negging partner.
10. They liken you to their ex-partners
It is normal to mention your ex-partner in a relationship. However, it gets wrong when you dwell too much on them.
If your partner keeps talking about their ex, they try to dampen your confidence and make you feel insecure. With this, you would be coerced into sticking around because you don’t want to lose them.
When they liken you to their exes, they power the atmosphere with negative energy to make you uncomfortable and feel less of yourself.
This is toxic behavior, and you can learn how to handle toxic people by checking Dr. Tim Cantopher’s book on Dealing with Dysfunctional Relationships.
Related Reading:How to Fix a Negative Relationship
5 ways to respond to negging
Sometimes, we say unpleasant things that hurt our loved ones. And the best way to correct these errors is to ensure we don’t repeat these mistakes.
When someone insults you under the guise of a compliment, question, or constructive criticism, be careful because they are trying to destroy your self-esteem.
Annie Chapman, in her book overcoming negative emotions and self-sabotaging thoughts, reveals tactics and ways to live a life full of contentment and happiness.
To know how to respond to negging, here are some ways to react:
1. Don’t return insults
To stop negging, you have to avoid trading insults with them. If you notice your partner masks insults with compliments, questions, etc., don’t come down to their level by reciprocating.
You need to apply restraint because that’s what makes you stronger.
2. Express your feelings
When you understand what is negging, you will see the importance of expressing your feelings.
You can tell if they care about you from how they respond when you share your feelings. If they make it about themselves, be sure they are not the right person for you because they don’t care about your feelings.
If you open up to the wrong person, they will gaslight and further criticize you, which leaves you regretting why you opened up in the first place.
3. Use humor to deflect
After understanding the negging meaning, you can handle it by using humor to deflect the situation when someone is trying to do this to you.
Humor is one of the ways you can divert the topic of the conversation rather than getting influenced by the negging or having a direct confrontation.
If you want to learn more about humor in a relationship, watch this video:
4. Demand a change
If your partner apologizes, ensure you don’t let it off lightly. Not everyone who apologizes is sincere about it.
Hence, you have to demand change from them and tell them how their behavior displeases you. If you don’t firmly request this, they will repeat their inactions.
Your emotional health is important, and to keep it stable, you should not be open to negging because it is disadvantageous.
Also, you can tell them that you will leave the relationship if they keep up that behavior. That will send the message that you are not under their influence and their approval does not matter.
5. Walk away
A negging partner might want you to get into an argument with them so that they can blame you.
It is important to spot this plot far off and ensure you don’t pander to their gallery. There is no point arguing pointlessly when it is not beneficial. If they criticize you for nothing and want to turn it into an argument, don’t follow suit.
You can politely ask them to leave the conversation so that they won’t end up blaming you.
Related Reading: Why Blaming Your Partner Won't Help
Some commonly asked questions
Once you understand what does negging mean, you may still have some doubts. Here are some answers to some pressing questions that can clear out your doubts about negging flirting examples and ones that exist in relationships:
Is negging a form of gaslighting?
Yes, negging can be considered a form of gaslighting that involves one partner manipulating the thoughts and feelings of the other partner. It can be extremely harmful and so couples counseling can be used as a tool to deal with it.
Do narcissists use negging?
Negging is one of the ways one person tries to control their partner and have power over them. Narcissists too use this as a way to have power over their partner and within the relationship.
In a nutshell
If you have ever asked what is negging, now you know its concept and how to spot the signs. To safeguard your mental health, learning the psychology behind insults is crucial.
Some people ask, does negging work? The answer is yes; if you are open to negging from your partner, you will depend on them for almost everything. This is not healthy for you and the relationship.
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