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Love Magazine

Does the Controversial Pick-Up Technique ‘Negging’ Really Work?

The art of seduction is highly complex, which is probably why the vast majority of men never come close to mastering it. But as society changes, so does the way men try to hook up with women.

Attractive man trying to approach sexy blond
Right negging should involve a back-handed compliment!

If you’re a man who tries and usually fails with pick-up lines, you’ve probably grown tired of continual knock-backs and rejections. If you’re a woman, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard every chat-up line in the book. So why do men keep trying to seduce complete strangers? Well, one reason may relate to the relatively new phenomenon of ‘negging’.

What Is Negging?

The term ‘negging’ is used to describe a pick-up technique that employs a little reverse psychology. It involves subtly insulting a woman an undermining her self-esteem in a bid to engage her in conversation. In most cases, the insult has to involve a back-handed compliment somewhere, and it will usually include an element of humour.

Here are a few examples:

  • “I love your hair… was that the look you were hoping for?”
  • “My ex has the same dress as you. She looks great in it!”
  • “I love your bright teeth. I noticed them from the other end of the bar!”

There is a hidden compliment in each statement, but there is also a veiled criticism shrouded in humour. Imagine you’re an attractive woman who is used to being hit on by strange men. You’re probably sick and tired of hearing the same old compliments and overused chat-up lines. Whether you’re tempted to throw an insult back or challenge the statement, you’re probably far more likely to get involved in a conversation.

Now, if you’re a man who is used to getting knocked back by women, you’ll know how irritated women can become when they are bombarded by generic one-liners by strange men. But because no real thought goes into these statements, women often ignore them and move away. But if they feel compelled to go on the defensive or throw an insult back, they’re more likely to engage with you.

The idea of insulting a complete stranger is a highly controversial and divisive issue, but an increasing number of men claim that the ‘negging’ technique works — with a few caveats. The insult used on a women has to be laced with humour and relatively inconsequential. A lot of men will fail at the first hurdle because the insult they use prompts outright anger.

Negging is just an icebreaker. In order to hold the attention of most women, the original veiled insult will need to provoke a wider conversation. Negging delivers the illusion of confidence, but if a man doesn’t have the confidence or communication skills to continue the conversation, the initial impact will be lost very quickly. According to psychologists, negging tends to work best on attractive women who are used to being regularly hit on. If a woman doesn’t have the self-esteem or confidence to tolerate a humorous insult, she’ll retreat very quickly.

Woman throwing the drink to a guy
Don't cross the fine line between humour and an insult.

So is there anything wrong with this approach? Well, that depends on the situation, the people involved and the language used. Some forms of negging are so subtle, they are taken for the light-hearted icebreaker they’re meant to be. However, too many men make the mistake of going overboard with the initial insult. A lot of attractive and intelligent women, on the other hand, view negging as a breath of fresh air. They are happy to engage in a challenging conversation because they’ve become bored with tedious one-liners and vacuous chat-up lines.

In answer to the question, “Does negging work?”, this very much depends on the circumstances. But before you decide whether or not it’s a good dating technique, it’s a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons.

The Cons of Negging

1. It’s hard to get the balance of humour and insult right

There is a very fine line between humour and an outright insult. The former will open up an opportunity for a conversation, while taking the joke just a little too far could end up in an abrupt end to the meeting. Too many men make the mistake of crossing the line and straying into outright insult territory — which can get them into trouble.

2. Not all women are receptive to the technique

A man who uses negging with the wrong woman will usually find out very quickly. Negging generally only works with confident women who have the self-esteem required to laugh off a personal insult. The majority of women will take any form of insult — no matter how subtle it might be — to heart. This is particularly the case if the insult refers to the woman’s appearance, which most examples of negging do.

3. Requires comedy timing and a relatively quiet environment

If a man’s comedy timing is out, negging can be lost in translation — and taken as an outright insult. This can also be the case if a noisy environment makes listening difficult. Negging is a subtle art, and it requires perfect execution in order to deliver the required response.

4. Men can come over as sleazy

Picking out a woman’s faults is, let’s face it, a pretty horrible thing to do on the face it. Regardless of how subtle it is, a veiled insult directed at a woman can always be construed as sexist. And if the message is taken at face value, the man can come over as a pervert.

Man sorrounded by beautiful girls
With the right negging technique you would get full attention.

The Pros of Negging

1. Demonstrates a sense of humour

The very essence of negging involves the use of humour. A sense of humour is very important to many women during the early stages of a relationship, so this can be a very good way to grab a woman’s attention.

2. Sets a man apart from the crowd

Negging isn’t just about humour, however. It involves a clever use of language, assessing the situation and gauging the woman’s initial response. This all requires a reasonable level of intelligence, and a degree of originality. If you’re a man who can demonstrate these traits, you will definitely stand out from the crowd in a bar or club.

3. Grabs the attention

Some women are approached by men so many times in a single night that chat-up lines eventually become white noise. But by delivering a mildly humorous insult that is completely different from anything being said to a beautiful woman, a man can grab her attention and pave the way for further discussion.

4. Provokes a real conversation

What does a woman say to a compliment such as “You look gorgeous, this evening”? There isn’t much she can say, other than “thank you”. But by negging her, a man can create a situation that calls for a rebuttal, a reciprocal insult or another question. Although the initial exchanges might be a little frosty, they can often develop into something much more meaningful.

Whether you are a man looking for new pick-up techniques or a woman who is sick and tired of the same old, cliched chat-up lines, negging has its advantages and disadvantages. But unless the time, place and person are right, it has the potential for dating disaster.

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