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Negging: what parents need to know


Photo: Spyros Theodoritsis

Negging is on the rise online as well as off. But what is it – and how can you help your child cope if it happens to them? 

You may have heard of professional PUAs, (Pick up artists) over the last few years. These people, generally men, rely on a system to 'attract' a potential partner. Many of them sell their dating ‘expertise’ to others via books, seminars and websites. Julien Blanc, who claims to be a pick-up coach (he does stage shows) was refused a visa to enter the UK in 2014. 

They make their strategies sound like a game, and imply that if you follow certain methods, you'll get certain results. Negging is one of the 'tools' they use to hit on their victims – who are generally female – and it has now moved from the real world of bars and clubs to the online world of social media.

What are these methods?

The details of their methods vary, but the unifying factor appears to be that they don’t respect women and they don’t take what women say seriously. Some men calling themselves PUAs have posted articles on their websites arguing that a woman who says ‘no’ to sexual activity doesn’t really mean no, she means ‘try harder’. 

 Negging is casually insulting a woman you might want to pick up in order to lower her confidence. The idea is that this will make her feel vulnerable and make her more open to your advances. 

There is absolutely no proof that insulting people makes them think you're appealing. And yes, you would think it would be the opposite.

The practice is often used online to undermine women and young women who comment on social media. It's more subtle than outright trolling, which is often straight out abuse. Negging is designed to make the woman feel stupid and vulnerable, the reasoning being that she will then be more pliable when it comes to suggestion to regain the 'favour' she has 'lost.'.

Why should parents take notice?

PUA methods, including negging, are generally reckoned to exploit male frustration, either among men and boys who can’t attract partners in the more usual ways (ie: by being nice to them) or who resent women that don't respond postively to them. Online, they can be frustrating and hurtful. In real life, they could lead to controlling and manipulative relationships in which the victim's self-esteem is constantly attacked.

Young people do often, of course, feel frustrated. Most early experiences of dating feel disastrous. But you can help your child build a healthy perspective on relationships with the following thoughts about PUAs and negging:

People are not targets

PUAs work from the starting point that dating is a competition in which men are trying to attract as many women as possible and women are trying to reject them. A moment’s thought will show that dating is actually about people getting to know each other and discovering if they’re compatible. If you need to trick or manipulate people into liking you, it says something rather sad about you. It’s also very unlikely to work in the long run. 

Relationships aren’t meant to be horrible

If your child is interested in someone, finding out if they have anything in common is more likely to lead somewhere than insulting their appearance or refusing to take no for an answer. 

Rejection happens

Not being noticed by someone you fancy can be devastating, especially when you’re young and feeling intense emotions that you don’t always know what to do with. But it’s important to maintain perspective.

Unbelievable as it feels at the time, the world is not going to end. And even if you think it will, it’s unlikely to make anyone like you more if you play tricks or say negative things.  

Further reading

Spotting abuse in teenage relationships

Helping your child spot unhealthy relationships

by Rachel Rosen 

The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or NCA-CEOP.
Updated: ​May 2018

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