Negging is an act of emotional manipulation whereby a person makes a deliberate backhanded compliment or otherwise flirtatious remark to another person to undermine their confidence and increase their need of the manipulator's approval. The term was coined and prescribed by the pickup artist community, several of whose members have proposed it as an effective method to build attraction.
Negging is often misunderstood as straightforward insult rather than as a pick-up line, in spite of the fact that proponents of the technique such as Erik von Markovik traditionally stress it is not an insult. Erik von Markovik, who is usually credited with inventing negs. Neg Theory - Pick Up Artist and PUA Lingo explains the difference thus: "A neg is not an insult but a negative social value judgment that is telegraphed. It's the same as if you pulled out a tissue and blew your nose. There's nothing insulting about blowing your nose. You haven't explicitly rejected her. But at the same time, she will feel that you aren't even trying to impress her. This makes her curious as to why and makes you a challenge."
Neil Strauss, in his book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, also stresses that the primary point of the technique is not to put women down but for a man to disqualify himself as a potential suitor. On this account he refers to negs as "disqualifiers", although the technique described in the book is recognisably the same as von Markovik's. Strauss is equally clear that negs should not be used as insults: "a disqualifier should never be hostile, critical, judgmental, or condescending. There's a line between flirting and hurting. And disqualification is never intended to be mean and insulting." (from Rules of the Game).
- Erik von Markovik, "The Mystery Method: How to get beautiful women into bed", St Martin's Press, 2007