I speak to Rebecca*, who admits that she fell for negging when it was used on her in a bar.
“You know,” he says, “you look just like my little sister.” You may never have come across this bizarre phenomenon before, but in various forms it is being practised as a seduction technique around the world. The idea is to undermine a woman's confidence by making backhanded or snide remarks – give a compliment with one hand, and take away with the other.
“I had been feeling quite low, as had recently ended a long-term relationship, and he came up to me and said something like 'you're a bit less hot than your friend, but it's OK, because I fancy you.' Obviously I am a smart, intelligent, confident and successful woman, so should have thrown something at him; but instead I was charmed.
“Anyway, at his house I found he had a spreadsheet of all the women he was seeing, colour coded with days and nights.
Do I think he was using those techniques sociopathically, instead of natural charm? I think he was terrified of having a typical relationship, and he had set lines so he didn't have to risk actual intimacy.” "Negging" and the pick-up artist was born on internet message-boards in the early '90s, and became a vast subculture, with varying strategies and tribes.
It became a global phenomenon following the publication of a book by a music journalist, Neil Strauss.