Hello, I’m Bertie. This column is basically a place for me to call bullshit on girl related stuff that I think is dumb. While I appreciate the importance of girl talk, I’m not about to braid your pubic hair or send you the results of my latest smear test. Instead, I will pass on any remotely useful knowledge I happen to discover re: being a FEMALE. Trust me: I’m not a doctor, but I do have a Ph.D in pretty girl bullshit. PRETTY GIRL BULLSHIT #14: MY BOYFRIEND WAS A HYPNO-FREAK Until yesterday, if I had to guess, I'd have said that a "negg" was either a weird animal you hunted for on Neopets, or something that gets shot out of a novary and is also known as a novum. But I guess I must be behind the times, because negging is in fact a cunning tactic employed by men who can’t get laid, but have gone to extreme and desperate measures in their attempts to get laid.
It's a strategy most famously laid out in Neil Strauss's man manual The Game, which I haven't read, but loads of people have, including everyone in New York (two weeks on the bestseller list? Sheesh, NY) and a friend of a friend who apparently made out with two lesbians in Prague after pummelling them with lines he found in the hostel's well-thumbed copy. Magical, right? Maybe the Gideons got bored of leaving the word of God in hotel room drawers. Anyway, the concept of negging is contained within the divine pages of this sleaze-bible for 21st century perverts and it essentially involves knocking a woman’s self-confidence so she hangs around you seeking approval. Hopefully from your penis. Negging = negative-ing. Obviously this is not a revolutionary idea, so congratulations Neil Strauss for managing to market something seven-year-old kids do to each other in the playground every day to an audience of millions. And, as per usual, a group of creepy men on a forum somewhere have picked up on it and and turned it into something unforgivably calculated and gross. Negging is now being marketed as a part of "pick up hynoptism", which is either a massive con or a way to subconsciously penetrate women’s minds, a sort of legal, untraceable Rohypnol.
Website Sexualkey.com explains:
OK, sure, their website may be impeccably designed, but obviously it’s a scam, right? You read a bit, you buy the e-book, you try it out and voila, you’re a sex pest. But when we got an email from Josie, who reckons she was legitimately hypnotised by one of these guys to the point of him moving into her mum’s house, I was enthralled. Josie's story:
"I dated a 'negger' about five years ago, when I was about 20 years old, which was an unsettling, retrospectively quite repellent experience. Not only did my 'pick up artist' bombard me with a careful balance of insults and compliments, but he also took all this a step further and practiced covert hypnosis to supposedly unlock women's minds and reel them in (unknown to me at the time, obviously)…
"After about three weeks of weird dates following our meeting on a night bus, he even managed to move into my mum's flat where I was staying in the uni summer break, despite my mum not being that cool with guys even staying over. This all leads us to conclude he hypnotised her, too.
"One day, after a week in residence, he was out and my mum suddenly began to question what in God's name was going on. We began looking at his stuff and noticed an open bag which we found to be stuffed with flyers emblazoned 'Secret Seduction', 'Make a chick tick without her knowing' – basically all his squalid intentions on photocopied A5."
Yowzers. This is like a VICE edition of Real Life Stories. I had to find out more, so I caught up with Josie.
VICE: Hey Josie. I’m so sorry to hear about your creepy guy experience. Can you explain in a bit more detail what negging entails?
I suppose negging is like cheating – or trying to cheat – at the game of dating. It’s a pick-up technique that involves unhinging a girl’s confidence in order to make her more vulnerable to your advances. Neil Strauss hung out undercover with a bunch of pick up artists and stole their knacks…
Their tactics. One example is telling a girl: "I used to really fancy you" – the idea being that, however feisty you are, a part of you will think "Gee, why don’t you fancy me now?" OK, gotcha. Can you tell us about your experiences with negging? Like, how did you meet this guy?
I met him on a night bus. I had just come back from Iceland where I’d been at a protest camp all summer and, to be honest, I can’t remember too much. I just remember these two weirdos standing at the bus stop, one dressed head to toe in black and wearing sunglasses – even though it was like, midnight – and this big, black cap [FYI pretty girls, stay hella away from these guys at all costs]. They started talking to me and my friend Gem and we were rolling our eyes at each other like, "Great, here we go!" I said goodbye to Gem, got on the bus, and then somehow became entrenched in convo with one of these guys. He just suddenly came across as really abstract and intriguing; in hindsight I think it was hypnosis. Hmmm. Hmmm indeed. Negging claims to work by grinding away at a woman's self-confidence and preying on her insecurities. Can you remember if he picked up on anything profoundly personal to you on the bus that we can attribute to pick up hypnosis?
Yes, he was a cunning little fucker. Negging works with a careful mixture of compliments and insults – but more of the latter. It’s like the mentality of giving a kitten a toy on a string and then pulling it away. Anyway, I’ve always had this thing about blushing, if I’m shy I can go a little pink. I obviously didn’t tell him this but I guess he noticed it. A pattern I can pinpoint in retrospect was that he would get me passionate and heated about a political topic and then say something like, "Are you OK, you look a little hot?" I would go redder, be more flustered, thus maybe more, vulnerable, etc… It was totally tailored to me. Tailored negging. That’s almost cute. I guess sometimes guys being mean to you is hot. Was he mean in a hot way? Maybe you just crushed on him.
I would say it started hot and became progressively more psycho. At the beginning it was little things that you could brush off or turn a blind eye to. The stuff with the flattery and insults I have to admit, it kept you hooked, almost needy. But when he got caught out he went into freefall with the insults. Trying to prey on insecurities that he imagined I might have had through snooping through all the stuff in my house, like my letters and things. Negging in overdrive.
I reckon my ex-boyfriends have done that to me before, though. Did he do anything weirder?
Only my mum seems to remember this eye thing he did. She recalls sitting in the garden with him and feeling really odd suddenly. She said he took his sunglasses off, for like the first time ever, and did something weird and starey with his eyes. For me, I’ve worked out it was more about "key phrases". I didn’t understand at the time why he kept saying things all slow and weird, but apparently with stealth hypnosis you ingrain key hypnotic "commands" in people. So when you want people to trance out and do shit with them, you say your command words. I remember, he would say "gooooood" or "niiiiiiice" and perhaps these were my commands. Another thing he’d do was these bursts of weird healing muttering. I swear to God, I’d have a headache and he’d mutter at me for a bit and it would go away. I started to wonder if he was a witch or something, as I didn‘t know much about hypnosis then. Anything else?
My dad’s friend said that one day he saw me sitting in the street, around Charing Cross, with this guy with long black hair playing the guitar (he was a busker) and he tried to say hello, but I was just staring straight ahead.
I think the warning signs would have flagged up for me at "busker", let alone the muttering. Maybe you were blinded by his Christian Slater-esque good looks and charm. What did he look like?
Kind of Matrix-y, like all in black. That’s all I remember. Long black hair, black velvet blazer type thing, black jeans… Oh, and horrible little trainers with netting on them, and I think maybe a big point at the front where his big toe was pushing out. Black, of course. But, obviously, my sense of judgment was bypassed by the hypnosis and the negging. He sounds repulsive. What else was in his bags when you searched them?
There were LOADS of keys – key ring linked to key ring with about five keys on each. It was really surreal, because he was claiming he didn’t have anywhere to live. I started to think he had secret dungeons over town. Some photos of girls, some kind of old-fashioned photos too, but other than that just a load of flyers about pick up techniques. He kept a padlock on this bag most of the time, but not this time. EW, CREEPY. Finally, can you advise all the pretty girls on how to avoid getting caught in a mind trap by a muttering psychopath with terrible shoes?
Pretty girls, I think the moral of the story is quite clear: Don’t talk to strangers. But also be aware that there are some dark people out there who can genuinely grasp these crafts. Psychology and the unconscious are very powerful things, not to be molested. I personally think we should all be given the negg equivalent of rape alarms. Sounds good, thanks, Josie!
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