What is negging? We asked a relationship expert about the ‘misogynistic’ dating trend

It’s toxic and a form of emotional manipulation

For this entire series of Love Island Jake has been nothing but bad vibes. But last night things really came to a head – we saw him constantly pick Liberty apart, she sobbed her eyes out to Faye and they ended up parting ways. It was absolutely horrible to watch, but it’s something so many of us have experienced in dating and now we finally have a name for it: Negging.

We’ve already seen Jake tell the boys he didn’t want to rip Liberty’s clothes off, and his very weak effort of consoling her when she found out and was, rightfully, very upset. Last week we saw him stop Liberty from immediately going and celebrating with Kaz when she and Tyler went exclusive, causing Lib to start having doubts about their relationship. She said he was being staged and acting up for the cameras, and the girls had to tell Liberty that they too were questioning Jake’s intentions.

But last night we saw something new from Jake: Negging. He criticised Liberty for being messy, saying it was giving him the ick. Then they were taking photos and he said he didn’t like the way he looked. Liberty tried to reassure him and make him feel better, saying she thought he looked good, but he snapped at her and said she made everything about her. Throughout the episode he kept constantly criticising and picking her apart, Liberty got increasingly upset and spent much of the day crying to Faye, before she and Jake decided to end things.

Negging isn’t new, and watching Jake will have reflected what many of us have unfortunately experienced in relationships and dating. The Tab spoke to relationship expert Ruby Payne from UberKinky about the dating trend. Here’s everything you need to know about negging:

Okay so what actually is negging?

“Negging is possibly the worst and most misogynistic idea of ‘flirting’ I’ve ever seen,” Ruby says.


She says it’s a form of emotional manipulation, which essentially involves giving your partner backhanded compliments, insults disguised as a joke, or straight up insults to undermine your partner’s self-confidence.

Ruby explains examples of negging can include things like “you’re not my type, but I like you”, “you’re so sensitive”, “I can’t say anything without you taking it the wrong way”.

This is exactly what we’ve seen from Jake – subtle insults, patronising her, claiming she was giving him the “ick” and calling her names such as “idiot”. “Like Jake, people that are negging will always claim to be ‘just joking’ when confronted about it,” Ruby says.

“Emotionally manipulative relationships aren’t always overly threatening, or aggressive. A lot of the time, it’s subtle, and often comes from a lot of deep insecurities. The aim of negging is to make your partner feel insecure, unattractive and undesirable, so they feel like they have to go above and beyond to impress you, making you more vulnerable to their romantic advances.

“Who said chivalry was dead?”

How can being negged affect us?

Liberty told Jake that the way he was acting made her feel like he didn’t even like her. She said she likes Jake for who he is, but feels like that ins’t being reciprocated by him.

Ruby says in the short-term, negging can lead to social withdrawal and feelings of shame, hopelessness and not being good enough.


“But if you’ve been in the relationship a while, the long-term impact of negging can completely destroy your self esteem, and increase depression and anxiety,” Ruby says. “If the relationship has escalated into full blown emotional abuse, this can also lead to PTSD.

“Any negative effects that come from negging should absolutely not be ignored, and you should reach out to loved ones immediately if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.”

What should you do if you think a partner is negging you?

Often as children we were taught “boys are rude to you because they actually fancy you”, but Ruby says this is simply not true.

However, she says this can mean it’s hard to spot when a partner is toxic, and the situation could be a lot more dangerous than you realise. “If you find yourself regularly being put down by your partner, this can easily escalate into emotional abuse,” she says.

“Liberty is lucky that the signs of emotional manipulation have been spotted on TV, but if you find yourself in the early signs of toxicity, it’s probably time for a re-evaluation.

“There’s no one solution here, but it’s important to ask yourself, how major are the signs? How much mental distress is this causing you? Do you feel 100 per cent safe with this person? Do friends and family seem concerned for you?

“The first thing to do is communicate with your partner that this behaviour is completely unacceptable. Are they open to listening to your thoughts, and learning from it?

“If the answer is no, it’s definitely time to walk away.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in a relationship, you can call the Freephone 24/7 National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Women’s Aid in partnership with Refuge, on 0808 2000 247 or visit

Love Island 2021 continues on ITV2 at 9pm tonight. For all the latest Love Island news and gossip and for the best memes and quizzes, like The Holy Church of Love Island on Facebook.

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