When a first-grader has a crush on his classmate, he has a few tricks up his sleeve to get her attention: he’ll make fun of her, pull her hair, throw stuff at her, you name it.
That’s because when you’re a kid, you don’t know the difference between negative attention and positive attention; the only thing that matters is that you’re being noticed. At some point between elementary school and adulthood, most guys tend to learn that positive attention is far preferable to negative attention; you catch more flies with honey, and all that. So, we replace insults and hair-pulling with playful banter and teasing.
For some reason, though, a lot of men never learn that lesson. (#NotAllMen.) They’re stuck in the same patterns they were in as children, where the ultimate goal is for a woman to notice them, even if it’s just to tell them “Hey, fuck off.” And in their minds, it works; after all, she did eventually acknowledge you, so clearly, insulting her was a pretty good method, right? Wrong. Here’s why being a dick (also known as “negging”) is a bad way to flirt.
When you were in first grade, you probably pulled your pants all the way down to pee in a urinal. But you don’t do that now, right? (Riiiiiiiiight?) So why wouldn’t your interactions with women evolve in a similar manner? Being rude to get someone’s attention is a lot like throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of a grocery store so you can get the cereal you want: do it as a kid and it’s acceptable, but do it as an adult and you’re probably not going to like the results.
It’s a Sign of Insecurity
A lot of guys think being a dick is a good move because, in their minds, we put women on a pedestal, and they need to know that I’m not gonna kiss their ass! They think that being rude is a way to correct some perceived “power” imbalance between men and women, despite the fact that if such an imbalance does exist, it clearly and obviously favors men.
What guys think negging says is “I’m a man, and I don’t need you!” But what it actually says is, “I would desperately like to smooch you; however, I’m terrified that you won’t like me and I don’t have enough self-confidence or faith in my own personality to put myself out there and risk rejection!” And almost always, women see it coming a mile away.
It Makes Connecting With Someone More Difficult
Hypothetically, let’s pretend that you tried this approach: you spent the requisite 15 minutes delivering unwarranted attacks on her personality, looks, clothes, etc., and now you’ve gotten her attention. Great!
Are you going to take her on a date and spend the whole time insulting her outfit, the food she orders, the way she drinks her wine, and her choice of wine? No, because dating isn’t a goddamn Friars Club roast, and you’re not Don Rickles.
The whole “point” (to put it charitably) of negging is to indicate that you are superior to her and that she should feel honored to have you. Do you really want a relationship with someone who’s happy with that dynamic? And if you want an actual partnership, how’s that gonna work when you’ve spent all this time establishing yourself as the better person?
It Doesn’t Work
If none of the other reasons have convinced you, maybe this one will: being a dick doesn’t work.
The whole concept of negging is rooted in two ideas. The first is that dating is a game that can only be “won” when you establish the upper hand in the relationship. The second is that women are idiots. Both of these ideas, as you might be able to tell, are wildly dumb.
First, dating isn’t a game or a competition. A game has a winner and a loser; therefore, according to this theory, if you “win” dating, then the loser is…the woman who has to date you. (Which, if you actually subscribe to this theory, isn’t that far off the mark.)
Second, women aren’t stupid. You might think you’re being crafty by tossing backhanded compliments her way, but believe me, she’s picked up on it. She is acutely aware of what you’re doing, and if by some miracle she’s still talking to you, odds are it’s in spite of you trying to neg her into submission, not because of it.
It’s also worth noting that if you’re the kind of guy who earnestly believes that the best way to earn a woman’s affection is by belittling her, then you’re probably not all that bright. Which means that when you think you’re delivering sly, thinly-veiled insults couched in supposed compliments, what she’s actually hearing is the dating equivalent of a salesman shouting “I AM ATTEMPTING TO TRICK YOU INTO BUYING THINGS YOU DON’T NEED. GIVE ME YOUR MONEY NOW, PLEASE.”
Don’t be a dick. Just be nice.