Emotional manipulation can also be seen as negging. There are many examples of negging which can damage your self-esteem.

It seems there’s never a shortage of manipulative behavior. Although people are basically good, they are also selfish because not all people who use manipulative tactics have a personality or mental disorder. Some just want to get the upper hand.

There are many examples of manipulative behavior including the act of negging. If you’re like me, this is a new word for toxic behavior.

What is negging?

Yes, negging is a form of emotional manipulation. The thing that differentiates this type of mental manipulation from other forms is that it starts off slow and subtle.

This makes negging especially damaging because you don’t realize its negative impact until you’ve been subjected to it for a long time. It’s as if you become desensitized to its effects.

Some examples of negging include:

1. The “just joking” insult

I really hate this. Now that I know this is called negging, It makes me feel better. I’ve had this done to me for years, and I never thought this sort of insulting had a name. So, let me explain it to you.

Have you ever had someone say something insulting to you, and then when they notice you’re offended, they quickly say things like, “lighten up” or “I was just kidding”? If this has happened to you, then you’ve been negged.

What’s happening is they mean these things, but when they see you get mad, they quickly back-step in order to make you think you’re over-reacting. How devious, huh. Negging like this always made me furious and made me want to stay away from people like this.

2. They blame you for their negative behavior

Negging also comes in the form of what I call “flipping the script”. It’s an old statement, but it properly defines the manipulative tactics implemented to excuse their bad behavior by blame.

For instance, if they throw a tantrum, they say you drove them to do it. This can be said about violence as well. “If you hadn’t pushed their buttons, then they wouldn’t have pushed you down.”

This is how they see things, or how they want you to see them. Nothing they do, as long as it’s bad, will be their fault. In fact, it will be yours. This example of negging was designed to make you look bad, and make you feel like you’re the crazy one. Trust me, you’re not.

3. The back-handed compliment

You might think a compliment is a compliment, just like a lie is a lie, but no, that’s not true this time. A back-handed compliment is actually an insult with a nice portion tacked on somewhere in the statement. One example would be this, “You’re beautiful, but if you lost weight, you would look even better.”

Do you see the insult glaring out of that “so-called” compliment? Back-handed forms of compliments are simply insults. They were never spoken to make you feel good about yourself. They are straight criticism, usually from someone who thinks they’re better than you. Always keep this in mind.

4. Comparison to ex-partners

When someone negs their partner, they will often compare them to their ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend. For example, if you get angry and confront them with something, they may say things like, “This is exactly what my ex did to me.” When they say this, they are projecting as a form of distraction.

They are also using this comparison to get off the hook for something they did wrong and rightfully should hold responsibility. If you are being compared with the ex-wife, then you’ve probably found out the truth about something they were hiding. There are other reasons why you might be compared, either way, it’s a form of negging.

5. You are always left out of the joke

Partners should always feel free to joke around with each other, but neither one of them should be the butt of the joke. If you’re always being left out of humor between your partner and friends, you are being negged.

They are letting you know that you don’t have the mental capacity to understand the humor. You may also be the subject of some inside joke, which is cruel.

6. They try to “one-up”

Let’s say you have good news about an accomplishment, well a person who negs will not appreciate the good you’ve done. In fact, they will be jealous. Then they will do whatever they can to “one-up” the good deed you’ve done or the award you’ve won.

Here’s an example: You buy a new computer and get a great deal on the price of the computer. You tell your boyfriend about the computer and even show it to them. Instead of him being proud of your purchase, he will probably go out and buy one that’s even more advanced. This is one way negging works by using the “one-up” tactic.

How to deal with negging?

There are many other examples of negging used in relationships. There are only a few ways. And it’s true that all of us can be guilty of saying or doing things wrong every now and then. However, abusive behavior happens frequently and can damage your relationship and your life.

If you realize you’re being negged, then you have to take steps to protect yourself. First of all, don’t let them drag you down to their level of behavior, or make you lose your temper all the time. Don’t argue with them, but make sure they understand that you will not put up with their behavior, and mean it when you say it.

Do not be afraid to express how you feel, but accept sincere apologies if they are given. If things don’t change you may have to leave the relationship. This will be up to you.

Please take the time to read through these signs and examples so you will know for sure if you’re dealing with negging. This is the only way you can take the next step toward improving your life.


  1. https://plato.stanford.edu/
  2. https://www.healthline.com/

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Sandra

    What about a partner who always has to be right? No matter what proof I provide that I am not mistaken, I’m still not correct. I think this could fit into the definition of “negging”

    1. Sherrie Hurd, AA

      If they think they are always right, prove them wrong even more, as long as this is safe and doesn’t cause confrontation. They can never change for the better if they’re always stuck. Thinking that you’re always right is a form of being stuck someplace in your life. They have to figure out where they got stuck and become free. It can be negging or they could simply need to explore some roots in their life.

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