Picture Credit: Pixabay
Picture Credit: Pixabay

When a boy was mean to you at school, your mum was guaranteed to respond with one answer: "he's mean to you because he likes you." Because that's the obvious conclusion, mum.

There are thousands of dating terms on Urban Dictionary right now. From ghosting to benching, we have a term for every dating scenario there is. Most of them revolve around dating apps like Tinder and the toxic behaviours they encourage. But the latest dating term has much deeper roots stretching all the way back to our time on the playground. Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce you to 'negging.'

Negging is when someone deliberately makes a flirtatious backhanded compliment to undermine your self-confidence. Common examples include, 'you're intelligent for a blonde', 'you're not my type, but I like you' or my personal favourite, 'he's mean to you because he likes you.'

From an early age, girls are taught to associate mean comments with romantic attraction – and boys learn that insulting a girl often gets her attention. Playground teasing is usually harmless and a part of how children learn to socialise and interact. However, when we grow up and leave the playground – these behaviours stay with us in adulthood. Chasing a girl on the playground turns into flirtatiously mocking a woman's outfit on a date.

Negging first came to my attention in the latest season of Love Island. After all, Love Island has a particular talent for exposing the most toxic individuals on Tinder every year. And my god, this year was t.o.x.i.c.

It all started with Danny. Danny Bibby and Lucinda Strafford started a romance in the early weeks of Love Island 2021. He immediately began to use emotionally manipulative techniques that sent Twitter into a frenzy. Love Island fans claimed he was scaring the other islanders and acting possessive over Lucinda.

Thankfully, Lucinda decided to end things with Danny, and he explained why their relationship was failing.

He said: "I'm not this type of kid to chase you, like a little dog. I knock you down a couple of pegs, have a little banter with you."

Some fans said Danny openly admitted to negging Lucinda and knocking her down by a few pegs. In other words, using backhanded compliments to knock a few holes in her self-confidence.

He added: "You're like a matte black Lamborghini that I want to drive, but I put the key in, and it just doesn't work. I've changed a couple of parts, and it still doesn't work. It's still in the garage."

Danny's manipulative comments quickly led him out of the villa and into the public's wrath. Adios, Daniel.

Liberty and Jake ended their relationship before leaving Love Island / Picture Credit: ITV
Liberty and Jake ended their relationship before leaving Love Island / Picture Credit: ITV

Next up, Jake. Liberty and Jake stayed together throughout their entire Love Island journey and parted ways just before the final. The girls in the villa began to voice concerns over Jake's behaviour in the last weeks. Faye and Chloe claimed he was 'fake' and love-bombing Liberty to wriggle out of a difficult conversation.

However, Jake was majorly criticised by the public for 'negging' Liberty. He used subtle insults disguised as light-hearted jokes to slowly chip away at Liberty's self-confidence. He joked that Liberty was giving him the ick and called her an 'idiot.' Liberty tried to confront him about it on several occasions, and as expected, Jake claimed he was just joking.

Jake was particularly guilty of using the same excuse over and over again: 'but you're my girlfriend.' He argued that, of course, he was attracted to her and loved her because she was his girlfriend. In some instances, this could also be called gaslighting.

Liberty ended her relationship with Jake and refused to fit into his idea of the perfect girlfriend. She insisted that she would wear her red lipstick, high heels and leave her room messy. Liberty left the villa with Jake a few days before the final and is set to make millions after the show. It's safe to say, Liberty came out on top of that relationship.

Negging can be highly damaging to a person's self-worth, body image and confidence. It can lead to social withdrawal, anxiety, depression and much more.

When you accuse someone of negging, they are likely to pass it off as a joke and claim you're 'too sensitive' or 'have no sense of humour.' Of course, these statements are only further proof they are negging and degrading you.

Negging is one of the most misogynist approaches to flirting. It's outdated, emotionally abusive and outright, toxic.

Words by George Arkley for Female First, who you can follow @George_Arkley on Twitter.

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