I'm Thankful For The Term 'Negging' To Describe My Past Abusive Relationship
Negging is a misogynist tactic that aims to lower a woman's self-esteem in order to break her down to get what is wanted from her, i.e. a relationship, date, etc.
So there's finally an Urban Dictionary term for the fucking awful treatment I received in my very first “grown up” relationship in college? I was both sad and happy to learn that this was an actual thing.
I was happy because it meant that I wasn't alone, but I was more sad than anything because it meant that other people (girls and boys) have also experienced this in their relationships.
At the young age of 19, I got very serious, very quickly, with a charismatic and popular guy. He seemed like the standard cool guy -- he was fun to party with, got along with my friends and was easy and awesome to be around. Sounds like a great guy to date, right? Well, I certainly thought so.
Two months into our relationship things started to change. He slowly and just subtly enough started to put me down about little things. It was a friend he'd prefer I didn't hang out with, it was a shirt he thought made me look heavy and it was the dinner I cooked for him that didn't seem to have enough spice to it. All of the disapprovals started so small, but quickly snowballed out of control.
He began to say awful things to me like, "You're lucky I started dating you when I did. You were starting to gain weight and everyone was talking about it." Basically, giving me the strong internal message of “You were fat, you're lucky he liked you anyway and don't ever get fat again."
I'll never forget one of the worst things he ever said to me, "If you weren't such a slut before I met you, I would be able to trust you more now." For the record, I wasn't a slut. This was just an easy dig and a crafty tool for an insecure man to use on his quest for complete control over me.
I had eventually gotten a job as a waitress months into the relationship. I was happy for myself, and excited at the idea that I would be making my own money, but my boyfriend couldn't have been less thrilled. He was constantly putting my job down and now I know why.
He didn't care about my job because that equated to independence and a self-esteem boost from being financially stable and self-sufficient -- two things that he couldn't control.
He begged me to quit daily because he figured my restaurant hired attractive waitresses in the hopes of bringing in a larger male clientele. Every single smart restaurant and bar in America does this, not just Hooters. He couldn't cope with the idea of other men looking at me. Like clockwork, whenever I went into work he would yell at me over the phone saying whatever he could to upset me.
Over a period of about six months, this guy had broken me down so much, that I felt guilty All. The. Time. I felt guilty for getting drinks with my male cousin after work and then being an hour late to check-in with him. I felt guilty if I skipped the gym because he called me fat, and I felt guilty receiving large tips from male customers because he called me a slut.
I lost any sense of self, every single emotion and ounce of self-worth I had was being tied to his consistent disapproval.
For a period of time, I lost all of my friends -- the guy friends obviously being the first to go. My relationship with my sister was at its worst.
It took me reaching rock bottom and having nothing left to realize this person robbed me of any form of self-esteem or happiness, and had somehow gained control of my entire life. All while I did nothing to stop him.
This behavior is abuse.
Emotional abuse this bad digs wounds that stick around far longer than anyone wants them to, or even thinks they will. Ten years later, I still vividly feel the insecurity, the fear of being caught doing something he didn't approve of for no logical reason and the feeling of never being enough.
This form of abuse, or any abuse for that matter, is something I would never wish on anyone. So everyone, please be careful, negging starts out small and quickly spirals out of control.
Don't let it happen to you.