How susceptible are you to Negging?

Or, the perils of low self-esteem and dating.

To love thyself is the beginningFound some research the other day, courtesy of Psychology Today, about the effects insults have on attracting partners – as illustrated via a technique known as “negging”* in the Pick Up artist world. Apparently, lowering someone’s self-esteem does indeed make him or her more compliant and more inclined to accept romantic advances. Take a look at the study results:

Study #1: Researchers Larry Jacobs, Ellen Berscheid, and Elaine Walster (back in 1965, I might add) took a look at the influence of momentary self-esteem on receptivity to romantic advances. As part of the experiment, an attractive male research assistant approached individually the female students waiting to participate in the research; after talking to each one for a while, the research assistant then asked each one for a date. The researchers then manipulated the participants’ self-esteem by giving them positive or negative feedback from several tests they had taken; from there, the participants were then asked to rate several people, including the male research assistant. The results of the study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in January 1971, indicated that women who received negative feedback found the male research assistant significantly more attractive than the women who had been given positive feedback. The researchers theorized that this effect occurred for two reasons:

  • First, individuals who feel “imperfect” themselves may demand less in a partner.
  • Second, a person usually has an increased need for acceptance and affection when their self-esteem is low.

I would add that, when a person suffers from low self-esteem, he or she may look upon the person asking them out with gratitude, since most people look to others to “complete them.”

* Neg (or Negging) – According to the Urban Dictionary: “low-grade insults meant to undermine the self-confidence of a woman so she might be more vulnerable to advances”. Negging generally employs some sort of backhanded compliment, which temporarily lowers the target’s self-esteem while leaving the speaker blameless.

Study #2: Research by Gisli H. Gudjonsson and John Fridrik Sigurdsson, published in the European Journal of Psychological Assessment in 2003 (Vol 19-2) explored the relationship between self-esteem and compliance with requests. Both male and female participants were asked to complete various assessments designed to measure of self-esteem, compliance, and coping behaviors. After cross-analyzing the results of all three assessments, the researchers reported that people with lower self-esteem are more compliant and agreeable to the requests of others. Significant gender differences emerged as well, with women having lower self-esteem than men, and showing signs of being more compliant (which you can interpret as being more easily manipulated).

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Be who you areThe Moral to These Stories?  First and foremost, the use of negging, and being a victim of negging, points to being in a place of powerlessness and low self-esteem for both parties. It’s a strategy predicated on you having no belief in your own worth and dignity. Negging is a manipulative tactic – anyone resorting to it does not trust himself enough to attract a partner without the use of tricks (and may indicate sociopathic behavior); anyone who finds herself influenced through insults … well, what do you think that says?

Negging fires me up – it’s destructive and counterproductive for the long-term: researchers have found that negging ultimately does not lead to lasting, satisfying relationships – just to both people being miserable.

Not sure if you’re suffering from low self-esteem?
I believe that developing a healthy self-esteem is paramount to successful long term relationships. And because I’m committed to helping my clients improve in this area (in ways that stick), I have a quick assessment for you – plus some quick tips.

Answer these questions below with a Yes or No to find out how healthy your self-esteem is. Be honest with yourself – and if you’re still not sure, ask a close, supportive friend or family member for their observations. Are you:

  • Assertive in expressing your needs and opinions?
  • Confident in your ability to make decisions?
  • More likely to focus on your perceived strengths, talents and assets?
  • Able to accept compliments and positive feedback?
  • Able to push through fears of failure or rejection?
  • Able to form secure and honest relationships — and leave unhealthy ones?
  • Realistic in your expectations and less likely to be overcritical of yourself and others?
  • More resilient and better able to weather stress and setbacks?
  • Less likely to experience feelings such as hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt and shame?
  • Less likely to suffer from eating disorders, addictions, depression or anxiety?
Then of course, there's this.

Then of course, there’s this.

If the majority of your answers are no, chances are you suffer from low self-esteem.

Dismayed to find that you’re self-esteem isn’t so strong?
Here are some quick tips for you, to help you embody empowerment and avoid being “negged”:

  • Learn to become aware of insults. Learn to detect them – which really means, becoming aware of how you feel about yourself. If you are constantly bashing yourself, it’s going to be harder to recognize when someone else is insulting you.
  • Know thyself – and love thyself. Recognize and embrace your positive qualities. Recognize and accept your limitations with loving kindness. These are the keys to abolishing self-degradation.
  • Learn to trust yourself. Remind yourself of all the problems you have faced and tackled.
  • Identify valuable aspects of your character and personality—personal qualities within yourself that you already possess—and affirm them.

Granted, these solutions are just bullet-point goals and are devoid of the tools, techniques and practices to help you actually achieve them. Improving self-esteem in a way that lasts requires time and continual practice; fortunately there are ways to put them into play, which I will go more into in my Empowered Dating & Relationships Basic Training program (Module One: Learn to Love Yourself to Love Another). But also, a good therapist can help, just as good coaching can help (in fact, my own experiences with being coached really helped catapult me on my self-esteem healing journey). So if you find that you want to boost your self-esteem for the long-term, I invite you to get in touch by emailing me here for a complimentary session – or consider enrolling in my Basic Training program – Module One.

For more reading on this subject:

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Dating Dating Skills Relationships Self Esteem Solutions Uncategorized