I didn’t know what negging was until I told a female friend this story.
After telling her the short version, she said, “That is negging Sean. It isn’t nice.”
Then I had to ask her what negging meant. After she explained it, I had to press rewind and explain that my “negging” wasn’t intentional.
If you don’t know, negging is when a guy acts like a jerk to a girl just to get her to like him. It often involves putting a woman down or being crass. It’s a common tactic by younger men, with egos and something to prove, but a few of them do it well in adulthood.
My Trip To Bizarro Land
This incident began on a weekend night. I had a friend, who we’ll call Katie, for the sake of anonymity.
Katie invited me to meet her out with a group of friends.
I arrived at this bar/restaurant, which was large, high-end and ornately decorated.
The bar is somewhat known to be the type of place where younger women and older men with money tend to mingle. Honestly, I had no business being there as I was neither. But I was bored. And Katie was kind enough to include me.
I walked into this establishment, and it was fairly crowded, with lots of people holding brightly colored drinks in fancy glasses. Everyone was dressed in cocktail attire.
I walked over to meet up with the group, who were sitting in a dimly lit corner in the patio area. There were eight of them. Five women. Three men. One was a younger guy, who was dating Katie. The other two were older gentlemen, who were bankrolling the evening.
I sat down on a couch with them. Katie introduces me to her friend Rachel, who is the subject of this story, and sitting to my left. Immediately, I recognize Rachel. Why? Because I’d seen her Tinder profile only a day prior.
We exchange greetings and proceed to hang out for a bit, Everyone is talking. I was getting free drinks from the older gentleman who was quite generous. They were two business executives from Canada who were in town for meetings here in Tampa.
An hour or two goes by. We are a few drinks in. We have a nice buzz. There is good, chill music playing and we are having a good time. And then we stray to the topic of online dating, dating profiles, and people we’d met online. It is a rich topic for discussion.
I don’t know how we got to it. And I don’t know what possessed me to say this, but I said to Rachel, “Oh yeah! I think I saw your Tinder profile the other day!”
And that is when I stepped into a trap I set for myself.
Without missing a beat Rachel smiled and said, “Oh yeah? And did you swipe right!?” (right means yes on Tinder).
Before I could even speak, my face inadvertently grimaced, betraying my answer: I had not swiped yes on her profile. I’m a terrible liar. It’s a blessing and a curse. Tonight it was a curse.
Rachel was definitely pretty. But she just wasn’t my type.
And oh boy, if you could have seen her face in the instant that I grimaced. She did this open mouth smile that was filled with astonishment.
“You — didn’t swipe yes?!” as if she was incredulous that I had the audacity to do such a thing.
And from there, I was playing defense, full backpedal. Me, mister “I can’t lie”, was now lying to cover my tracks, “Well — I knew…you were…. close friends with Katie and all..”
I told you I am bad at lying.
But I was scrambling and felt bad. I could have just been honest but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Though it seemed more like I had hurt her ego more.
Here is the crazy thing.
She was indignant but it was the flirtiest indignation you could ever see. From that point forward, this woman was all up in my business. And I don’t say that with any sort of bravado. It wasn’t by design.
Through the remainder of the night, she jokingly brought my left swipe up, oh, I’ll say a dozen or so times.
“Oh but I’m not hot enough to swipe right on?”
“Oh well, would you swipe right on her?”
In some bizarro-land reality, telling her I swiped left her was the sexiest thing she’d ever heard. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the attention and even the hazing. But it was still crazy to watch that switch.
Even if I did neg her, it was the softest definition of such a thing. If anything, I was just answering a question.
Making Sense Of It All
To be clear, I don’t actually think negging is an effective trend. It isn’t even a new concept. It is just an extreme version of the dating adage, “don’t seem too interested”.
In practice, negging is mean spirited and preys on people’s insecurities. And even more, it’s a total playground tactic, like throwing sand on the girl you like. But hey, I suppose there is a market for everything these days.
I will say, my experience at that bar did provide an interesting contrast to the times where I was pulling out all the stops, being charming, making reservations, trying to be sweet and funny — but really, just chasing a woman who was only mildly interested, only to watch her slip through my fingers.
And then there I was seeing a woman shapeshift when she found out I swiped left on her.
If anything it is a testament to the importance of keeping it cool when you are in the initial stages of dating. Don’t be slapping your knee and laughing at everything the other person says.
Coming off as overly interested will make you seem like a low-value prospect like you don’t have many equitable options. Take the edge off your pursuit. Dangle a bit of ambiguity; it is like jet fuel to the attraction.
But I wouldn’t go so far as to go around telling women you swiped left on their Tinder profile. It would be mean. It only worked for me because I was being authentic.
And because I felt like a trapped animal.