Breakthrough Marriage Coach

Is your partner “Negging” you? (It’s not the same as nagging!)


Emotional trauma, even though one of the biggest deals in today’s day, has still not received its due attention. Why? Because do not consider emotional trauma or emotional abuse as a reason enough to give it as much attention. Especially, when it comes to relationships. We’ve all heard husbands or boyfriends complain about a “NAGGING” wife or girlfriend, but “NEGGING,” it’s a whole new deal that relates to emotional abuse.

When a partner says they don’t want to be in the relationship anymore because of the way their partner makes them feel, people don’t get it. They feel like it’s not a reason enough to let a relationship or marriage break. And that’s the problem- we think about people! Who are these people and why do they get to choose if emotional happiness is a concept? Take a moment, and think, are you being emotionally manipulated? How extreme is it?

What is Negging? 


Do you know how some people have a way with words that they’ll playfully say things that are so toxic? I mean, you won’t even realize how easily they slip such things in conversations, unaware that it is emotionally manipulating you? Negging is just that! It is the kind of emotional manipulation that is so subtle that you won’t even see it coming. But the consequences? LOW SELF-ESTEEM!

When we say “your partner is negging you,” it simply means that they’re saying things to you that are making you think less of yourself. And it’s not like they don’t mean it. They totally mean it. If there’s something they don’t know, then it’s this that their words are equivalent to emotional abuse since their words contribute to your low self-esteem.

It’ll be a normal flirty line. They’re probably saying something nice to you. A compliment, maybe. But then suddenly comes an add-on (the one you didn’t ask for, pay for, or expect), that takes everything they just said away. What it also does is hurt you. But since negging is subtle and you don’t see it coming, you aren’t usually quick to your reflexes of responding to the insult exactly at that moment. Over time, it all collects in your mind, and you start to second guess your choices. You’ll agree now that it’s the same as emotional manipulation.

Have trouble thinking about how negging really works and what are some observations? These are some signs you should look out for in your conversations.

6 Observe-worthy Signs of Negging 

Let’s break this down and put an end to emotional abuse, what say? If you observe these signs, then yes, your partner is negging you, and it is action time. You’re done taking this shit! Okay?

1. “It was just a joke” is an excuse!


Do you come across those moments when you feel bad, hurt, or offended about something your partner says? And then you do the normal thing of responding to it with your rightful feelings. What do you hear in return? “It was just a joke! Ghosh, you don’t even have a sense of humor.” What they don’t understand is there’s a thin line between a joke and offending someone. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with a sense of humor. They’ve said something means, but they won’t own up to it. So what’s their best excuse? Blame it on your sense of humor and say, “It was just a joke.”

A partner who isn’t emotionally abusive would immediately apologize for having said something that upset you. They’ll also understand what is funny for you and what isn’t.

2. You are competitors, and they always have to be the best!

A negging partner would always want to win whatever it is that you are doing. It could either be a celebration or an argument. For example, you could say, “Hey, guess what! I finally got that project I’ve been wanting for days!” Normally, what would you want your partner to say? “Wow! I’m so proud of you,” or, “Congratulations, babe,” or, “That’s amazing news, let’s celebrate!’ But not an emotionally manipulative partner.

They would say, “Whoa, that’s cool. It reminds me of the time when I also….” So, you see, no matter what you do, say, feel, or achieve, they will one-up you in it, so they feel like the better person.!

3. Is it an insult or a question?


So, negging partners are very smart when it comes to phrasing their sentences. They cannot hold their opinions back and so they find a way that they think is “not rude.” Of course, they faiil miserably, considering it’s adding to emotional manipulation. How, exactly?

They’ll say things like, “Hey, you sure you’re not eating too much?” or “You did a pretty good job at your event, who helped you?” or “I’m sure you don’t care about that, right?” Basically, they want to insult you by indirectly saying that you’re eating too much or that they didn’t trust you to pull off the event by yourself.

These questions disguised as insults are many, and you need to be observant.

4. Comparison Comparison!

It’s most irritating when partners compare us to other people. What’s the need? If you think that person is better off, be with them. And if they are with you, they need to love you for who you are. That makes sense, right? When I say comparison in a relationship, it doesn’t come across in a positive light. For example, “I think your sister was better dressed than you” or “your brother did pretty well for himself in business, why did you pick such a career?” Pretty ouch, right?

We’re all living our lives and we made choices that we don’t regret. You don’t need someone making you feel any far from proud of who you are, how you look, or where you are at in life. If they haven’t told you enough, hear it from me, “You’re doing the best you can. You did what your heart told you. If things haven’t been great, then you CAN fix it!”

5. The Backhanded compliments game

what is negging in a relationship

Compliments tend to make us feel great about ourselves. Even when we compliment others, we find joy in the joy we gave them. But backhanded compliments work just the opposite, and if you are with a negging partner, you might have experienced it. What do such compliments sound like? “Good job on your exhibition. Maybe, next time you do something a bit more serious” or “Hey, you finally lost the weight. Too bad you have some lines of stretch marks” or “You look lovely in what you’re wearing. I never thought you could pull something off like that!”

See, once again, ouch, right? If these are the kind of compliments you’re hearing, you are being emotionally manipulated. Probably, even your partner doesn’t know they have such traits because it’s just part of their personality. But that is not an excuse for you to take it.

6. Hurtful statements in the name of constructive criticism

Criticism isn’t a bad thing. When we are comfortable with someone, we do ask for suggestions and aren’t offended when they ask us to make changes. But that’s not the same when it comes to negging in a relationship. It’s basically all insult in the name of constructive criticism, and it will mostly leave the listener feeling very less of themself. Some such sentences include, “If I were you, I wouldn’t wear that” or “You have a nice voice, but your high pitch hurts my ears” or “I hope you know that this look will embarass me at the party.”

Would someone who truly loves you insult you in the name of criticism? What there is to construct out of such statements?

Suggested Read: How to practice patience in relationships? 

How to recognize Negging? 

negging examples

As I said before, that negging is part of the conversation. You might not even realize when your partner could say something hurtful. Whether you realize it at that moment or not, it will cause a shadow of self-doubt in your mind. Slowly, it’ll affect your self-esteem. You will begin thinking twice before doing the things you do before so freely. Like in the cast of the statement “You have a nice voice, but your high pitch hurts my ears.” When someone says something like to you, you will become conscious of your voice and probably think a lot before hitting high notes. Over time, you will lose touch with your skill. You don’t want that!

So, here’s how you realize these little hints of negging-

  1. You have the “ouch” moment, as in, you feel like you heard something hurtful out of the blue.
  2. They don’t apologize for the things they say. Even if you make them realize they hurt you, they will apologize with an attitude.
  3. You start to feel scared of doing things you enjoyed before because your partner has been negging you about it.
  4. You’re constantly battling with feelings of disrespect and humiliation.
  5. Whenever you start to do something, you stop to think about what your partner will say about it. So, basically, they’re controlling you without even being a typical controlling partner.
  6. Take a good look at the signs I have listed above. Do you constantly hear similar statements? If yes, then the realization will hit you.

Dealing with a Negging Partner


If your partner is negging you, then it probably means they’re partly unaware that they are hurting you. So, if your relationship is new and the list of insults is already too much, you might want to reconsider investing more effort into it. But if you’re already a lot in, then you might want to talk to them about it. They might become defensive, but that’s where you take a stand and clarify that these are not the kind of statements you appreciate as they are insulting.

No matter how much you like the person, if it is affecting your mental health, your career, your esteem, your passion, and about everything else, then you don’t need it. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.

There’s a possibility that this kind of emotional abuse or manipulation goes on for too long, and you might feel like it’s causing a breakdown. Don’t let it get that far.

If you wish to consult with me, an ICF-certified Relationship Coach, book your session here. We’ll surely sail through whatever life or relationship problem you’re facing.

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Hemali Adhiya

Hemali Adhiya is the co-founder and author of the e-magazine Love Smitten. Alongside writing and editing for several other websites, she hosts a YouTube Channel- Total Angrezi. Traveling is her way to unwind, and she loves recording these experiences!

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