"Neg-ing": What It Is, How to Spot It, and How to Handle It

Apr 21, 2021


“You have a nice tan. But you could be more tan.”


There I was, minding my own business, laying out poolside enjoying a book, when some man said that to me.


Then he left and went back to his friends. Moments later he came back again and asked me for my phone number.


Do you recognize his tactic? If you don’t, pay close attention.


This is a tactic called “neg-ing” where some player-types will try to pick up a woman by floating out a line that includes a barbed compliment... in other words, a compliment paired with a whiff of an insult. The purpose is to make the woman feel insecure, to bring her down a notch to give him more of a chance with her. (One author of a book on neg-ing claims he, as an average guy, got Paris Hilton to give him her number by neg-ing her while he was waiting in line behind her at Pink Taco  in LA.)


Other neg-ing lines my clients have heard include asking a woman who obviously colors her hair “I like your haircolor, is it natural?” or asking a woman with obviously acrylic nails “I like your nails, are they natural?” See how part A of the line is nice, but then part B doesn’t feel so nice? It’s not your imagination, it’s intentional. They are trying to find some opening to introduce insecurity even in a very attractive woman. (Read my blog post from 1/26/21 for another real life example of the neg-ing technique in action.)


Recognize this for what it is. Rudeness.


Don’t reward rudeness with your time, attention, or phone number.


When a man says something that feels icky, it is icky.  NEXT.


The right man for you will make you feel comfortable and special, not off-balance with weird remarks.


So if this happens to you, how should you respond? Remove your attention from him. No need to tell him “Hey pal, I know what you’re doing and that neg-ing stuff won’t work on me!” (Remember that even negative attention such as getting upset at him “rewards” his bad behavior by keeping your attention on him.)   Instead, get bored with him, remove your attention from him and glide away like a swan on a lake, going off to see what other interesting things are happening elsewhere.


Homework for extra credit: I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but it’s worth mentioning again. Watch HBO’s Silicon Valley show, Season 2, Episode 1 entitled Sand Hill Shuffle for a playful look at what happens when the Pied Piper team attempts to use the dating concept of neg-ing in business negotiations. The neg-ing concept is widespread enough to be spoofed in a comedic series. Watching this episode will help you practice identifying it from the comfort of your own couch!


- Coach Cori at the Love Academy for Women



In any area of life, it helps to have a mentor. Dating is no different. 

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