Thanks to the rise of dating apps and swiping right, there’s now a whole glossary of toxic dating terms that single people need to know and avoid.
As if 'ghosting', ‘love-bombing’ and ‘breadcrumbing’ weren’t enough, you’ve also got to be wise to ‘negging’, – a manipulative technique that is seemingly at play on Love Island.
Very happy Danny was dumped from Love Island last night. ITV producers take note: possessiveness, negging ("I'll knock you down a peg or two"), gaslighting, manipulation and comparing a woman to a broken down CAR is #misogyny and #abuse - not entertainment.— Emma Ferguson (she/her) (@EmmaJFerguson) July 22, 2021
Telling fellow contestant Lucinda Strafford why their blossoming relationship had fallen upon difficult times, recently dumped Love Islander Danny Bibby gave some viewers – and charity Women’s Aid – cause for concern when he made a string of controversial comments.
"I’m not this type of kid to chase you, like a little dog. I knock you down a couple of pegs, have a little banter with you," he told Strafford during a private chat. "You’re like a matte black Lamborghini that I want to drive, but I put the key in, and it just doesn’t work. I’ve changed a couple of parts, and it still doesn’t work. It’s still in the garage."
Knock you down a couple pegs?! Danny just freely admitting to negging? ??????????#LoveIsland— Richie (@RichieBrave) July 19, 2021
Love Island received 1,500 complaints about the exchange, while Twitter users rushed to the social media platform to raise their concern about Bibby’s use of language, accusing him of subtly insulting his love interest in what they believe was a bid to undermine her confidence.
"Knock you down a couple pegs?! Danny just freely admitting to negging?," wrote one user. "Danny should not be in there. He is giving red flag vibes every episode," wrote another.
what did danny think was going to happen when he pied lucinda?? that she was going to love him for it?? what in the negging nightmare #LoveIsland— Imogen ? (@Imxgen) July 19, 2021
Commenting on the episode, Women's Aid said: "Last night, we saw the development of Danny and Lucinda's relationship and became increasingly concerned with his behaviour towards her on screen, including what looked like gaslighting, possessiveness, and manipulation. This is not what a healthy relationship looks like. These are all tactics used by perpetrators of abuse."
"Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse which makes someone question their perception of reality. It is a form of coercive control, which has been a criminal offence since 2015."
"We urge the producers of Love Island to recognise coercive control when it is happening on the show, as this is not the first time it has happened. Producers should step in when any form of behaviour is abusive, as abuse should not be used for entertainment."
Last night, we became increasingly concerned with gaslighting and manipulative behaviour shown on #LoveIsland .— Women's Aid (@womensaid) July 20, 2021
??We urge the producers to recognise #coercivecontrol when it is happening on the show.
Read our full response?? https://t.co/2bABJOrmiu
What is negging?
Put simply, negging is when someone insults you and undermines your confidence in an effort to make you more open to their romantic advances. Experts say it’s not always easy to spot, as negging advocates will often disguise the insults amidst flirtatious banter, making it difficult to know if a boundary has been crossed.
Needless to say, it’s pretty unhealthy behaviour and can have serious effects if you’re on the receiving end.
"Negging is paying an apparent compliment that contains a hidden insult designed to undermine someone’s confidence," explains dating expert Alex Mellor-Brook, co-founder of matchmaking site Select Services.
"Examples could include, ‘You’re really bright for a blonde’, ‘You’re elegant for your small size’, or, ‘I don’t usually like redheads but you’re pretty attractive’. The common thread is that they all contain a secret poison that instills a moment of doubt about ourselves."
While it might not sound serious at the time, Mellor-Brook notes the emotionally manipulative technique can cause all kinds of real and harmful issues in the long-run, from reduced self-esteem through to mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
As Mellor-Brook says: "Negging may be unconscious, but it’s more likely to be conscious. Plus, if you’re dating someone who does this, you can expect to continue to receive put-downs as the months go on.
"Spending time with somebody who has to tear you down so they can feel good is never fun, and it doesn’t bode well for a long-term relationship."
If you have been affected by issues raised in this story, please visit: www.rte.ie/helplines.