What is 'Negging'? The toxic dating trend you want to avoid at all costs in 2022

It gets a hard pass from us

Woman using her phone in bed - stock photo
(Image credit: Getty Images / Isabella Dias)

Imagine a dating world where game-playing was not a thing and you didn’t have to be on your guard, ready to spot toxic dating trends like haunting and cookie jarring, lurking behind every swipe right. Alas, that is not the world we live in and the toxic trends only seem to be growing, like ‘Negging’—the dating trend you should cull from all your dating apps.

Much like ghosting, Negging is a particularly nasty dating tactic that targets people’s self-worth and confidence. It’s all about putting someone else down, to build yourself up.

As TikTok dating coach Ali (@findingmrheight) explains, it’s a very subtle way of insulting someone to increase your own social standing in their head.


♬ original sound - Ali - Dating Coach

What is negging?

We’ve all seen that gross dating cliché in movies and TV shows where a guy, for example, will approach a beautiful woman and deliberately insult her, to lower her self-esteem and make her feel vulnerable—to give them a ‘better chance’ with her. Negging is very similar to this.

Ali says: “Negging is a term coined by pickup artists where somebody kind of insults you to increase their social value in your head.

“Although we know that anyone can insult us, there’s a part of our brain that thinks: ‘Well they just insulted me, they must be better than me, I need to prove myself to them.’”

Ali adds that we see it subtly with online dating all the time. Giving some examples on users' profiles, Ali showed one in particular that said: "If I ask you what books you’ve read and you say ‘I’m more into movies’ I’ll probably ghost you."

Another read: “You have a sense of humor. I know, that’s setting the bar pretty high.”

Ali says that these generalized comments about whole groups of people make you want to be like ‘no not me’ and prove that you’re different.

It’s also something you may come face to face with, sadly quite often, with someone undermining your likes or opinions and implying that theirs are more superior.

Lonely woman sitting in room - stock photo

(Image credit: Getty Images / Jasmin Merdan)

What makes this trend so toxic is that it can really affect your confidence and your self-worth and make you question whether the other person is better than you, more intelligent, etc. 

Life coach Michelle Elman, writer of The Joy of Being Selfish: Why you need boundaries and how to set them, says it's important to validate your own feelings and to 'hone' your skills to recognize when negging is happening.

Elman explains that the most important thing is, "not letting it create insecurity and recognizing the behavior for what it is, as opposed to internalizing it."

If you find that your partner or someone you're dating is negging you, Elman says you need to call them out. 

She explains: "It can be as simple as saying 'I don't like the way you speak to me and some of the things you say make me feel like s*** and I deserve someone who treats me well.' If you call out the behavior and they don't change it and it persists, then it's important to set your boundaries and a consequence for breaking those boundaries that you can follow through on."

A prospective romantic partner should never make you insecure or inferior and if they do, don't be afraid to say goodbye and hit that block button. 

Naomi Jamieson
Lifestyle News Writer

Naomi is a Lifestyle News Writer with the Women's Lifestyle team, where she covers everything from entertainment to fashion and beauty, as well as TikTok trends for Woman&Home, after previously writing for My Imperfect Life and GoodTo. Interestingly though, Naomi actually has a background in design, having studied illustration at Plymouth University but lept into the media world in 2020, after always having a passion for writing and earned her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ.

Before working for Future Publishing’s Lifestyle News team, she worked in the Ad production team. Here she wrote and designed adverts on all sorts of things, which then went into print magazines across all genres. Now, when she isn’t writing articles on celebs, fashion trends, or the newest shows on Netflix, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping.