Guarding Against Emotional Manipulation: Unmasking the Sinister Technique of Negging

Guarding Against Emotional Manipulation: Unmasking the Sinister Technique of Negging guarding against emotional manipulation: unmasking the sinister technique of negging
Photo by Sivani Bandaru on Unsplash

Manipulation takes various insidious forms and one common technique which manipulators use is negging. Negging — derived from the verb neg, meaning “negative feedback- is a manipulation strategy aimed at undermining your self-esteem to make you more vulnerable to advances. The term was popularized by the pickup community as a way to gain an upper hand in attracting potential partners.

Negging involves giving a backhanded compliment or making a disparaging remark towards a person with the intention of evoking a reaction and undermining their confidence which makes them easily susceptible to the manipulator’s suggestions or advances. The manipulator aims to provoke in the individual a need for their approval.

The Tactics of Negging

1. Backhanded Compliments

A negging comment might initially appear to be a compliment, but it subtly undermines the recipient’s confidence. For example, “You’re pretty for someone your age” or “You’re smart, but not as much as I thought.”

2. Comparison

The manipulator may compare the individual to others, insidiously implying that they fall short in some way. For instance, “You’re interesting, but not as adventurous as my other friends.”*et9czc*_ga*MTkxNjcxMDU2NC4xNjg1MDA1MjYw*_ga_6LJN6D94N6*MTY5ODczNDU3OC4yMjQuMC4xNjk4NzM0NTc4LjAuMC4w

3. Withholding Approval

By withholding praise or approval, the manipulator creates a sense of inadequacy in the person, leading them to crave validation and acceptance from the manipulator. For example, the manipulator might say, “You’re not as talented as others I know, but I suppose you’re trying your best.” This backhanded comment fosters a desire in the person to prove themselves to gain the manipulator’s approval.

4. Push-Pull Technique

The manipulator utilizes the push-pull technique by alternating between expressing interest and then withdrawing it, causing emotional confusion in the targeted individual. This emotional rollercoaster fosters a sense of dependence on the manipulator’s attention and affection. For instance, the manipulator may shower the person with affection one day and then become distant and aloof the next, leaving the individual uncertain and seeking validation from the manipulator.

How Negging Makes You Susceptible to Abusers

1. Lowering Defenses — Through the erosion of self-esteem, the manipulator aims to break down the target’s emotional defenses, making them more susceptible to the manipulator’s advances and suggestions.

2. Need for Validation: we have been wired for validation and approval, and negging exploits this by creating an imbalance in power dynamics. The recipient seeks validation from the manipulator, becoming more willing to do whatever it takes to earn their approval.

3. Emotional Manipulation: Negging leverages emotions to create dependency and control. The manipulator aims to foster a sense of insecurity and reliance on their opinion.

4. Mixed Signals: By employing mixed signals, the manipulator creates emotional confusion within the target, weakening their resolve and amplifying their vulnerability. The recipient is left uncertain, seeking validation and acceptance from the manipulator due to the conflicting messages received.*et9czc*_ga*MTkxNjcxMDU2NC4xNjg1MDA1MjYw*_ga_6LJN6D94N6*MTY5ODczNDU3OC4yMjQuMC4xNjk4NzM0NTc4LjAuMC4w

How to Protect Yourself from Negging

1. Work on Your Self-Esteem: When you know your value and have a healthy sense of self, it becomes easier to identify and dismiss manipulative behavior because you’re not seeking constant approval and validation from others.

2. Set Boundaries: Keeping yourself safe from manipulators is never complete without setting and upholding healthy boundaries. When you know your boundaries, you know the level of acceptable behaviors from others and how others are supposed to treat you.


In conclusion, manipulation techniques like negging can have profoundly harmful effects on your emotional well-being and self-esteem. The subtle nature of these tactics makes them particularly insidious, as you may not immediately recognize you are being manipulated. The emotional confusion created by mixed signals, disguised compliments, and withheld approval gradually erodes your self-confidence, leaving you seeking validation from the manipulator.

Unlike overt forms of manipulation, these tactics often fly under the radar, making it difficult to detect. Recognizing these subtle manipulation methods is the first step in protecting oneself from falling prey to their influence. By staying vigilant and trusting one’s instincts, you can guard against emotional manipulation and maintain healthy boundaries in their relationships.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these subconscious patterns for good (in less than 2 months) using Mind Shifting, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.




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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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