Hoovering can be extremely damaging, especially when you are trying to heal from the narcissistic abuse and move on with your life.
Narcissistic behavior is all about creating confusion with lies and distortions in order to maintain control. Because you went through an entire relationship of this, it’s easy to be again persuaded by false promises, gestures, and threats.
When it comes to narcissists hoovering their victims, they know how to play on your low self-esteem and sense of self-worth. They will make you feel unworthy but, at the same time, try to convince you how lucky you would be to have them back in their life.
How do you know if you are being hoovered by a narcissist? Here are some signs you should look out for as well as some tips on dealing with a narcissist’s hoovering:
What is Narcissistic Hoovering?
Hoovering is a type of emotional abuse or blackmail used by a narcissist when they feel like they are losing control of you. It’s their attempt to see if you can be conned into another cycle of abuse so they can reclaim their “power”.
Yes, the term is coined after the popular vacuum cleaner and refers to the fact that narcissists will try to “suck” you back into a relationship by whatever means necessary.
Oftentimes they will begin by being sweet and charming but this narcissistic behavior will eventually degrade into hurtful treatment.
When it comes to narcissists hoovering their victims back into the abuse cycle, this is a manipulative move. They know how to push your buttons to either make you feel validated and good about yourself or guilty – it’s what they did to draw you into the relationship in the first place.
One moment you feel like the luckiest person in the world because they are showering you with praise and attention.
The next moment you feel like trash because you’re not good enough for them and you need to try harder.
Because this tactic worked when it came to trapping you in a relationship with the narcissist, they believe that it may work again to “hoover” you back.
When you look at these signs of narcissistic hoovering, keep in mind that they don’t necessarily occur in this order. However, you will notice that their treatment of you goes from being positive to negative the more you ignore their manipulative tactics.
10 Signs You Are Being Hoovered By a Narcissist:
1. They Act Like Nothing Happened
Because narcissists will never admit when they have done something wrong or take responsibility for their actions, they may simply act like nothing negative happened in the relationship.
They’ll just continue to contact you and expect your routines to remain the same as a way of sweeping the situation under the rug.
This could include texting you to ask about your day or sharing funny memes with you – anything that was normal in your relationship.
They could randomly show up at your work or offer to drive you home, bring you coffee on your break, contact you when they are watching your favorite movie, etc.
This is all superficial and just another way for the narcissist to both keep the lines of communication open and try to gaslight you into believing that the relationship isn’t really over.
2. They Apologize Profusely
Even though narcissists never take responsibility for their actions doesn’t mean that they won’t try to apologize for them as a way to convince you that they’ve “changed”.
Can narcissists change? Not really.
Narcissists do what works for them at the expense of other people. These behaviors they are “sorry” for will only continue because they worked in the past.
So watch out for overly apologetic behaviors that come off as performative – as in, they make a big show of it. This is another way they are trying to manipulate you.
Change the topic of conversation and see how they react. If they get upset with you, it’s like that their “sorry” is not sincere.
3. They Proclaim Their Love For You
The narcissist will try to win you back by bringing up the “good times” you had together and using their undying love to make these memories feel more significant. They may claim that you are the perfect partner for them or that no one makes them feel the way you do.
If the narcissist rarely said “I love you” during the course of your relationship, it is likely they will use this hoovering tactic because it is going to be more impactful.
They hope that you will melt at the thought that, after all this time, they really do love you.
Or they may use their love for your child as a way to keep the relationship intact, guilting you into staying so that your child can be raised by both parents that “love them so much”.
Or pity you for leaving because they “love their child so much” and can’t stand to be away from them.
However it goes, narcissists will toss around the L-word in the hopes of tugging on your heartstrings and convincing you to stay.
4. They Make Extravagant Promises
In order to hoover you back into a relationship, the narcissists might make extravagant promises such as taking you on vacation, buying you a house, or even marrying you.
Don’t be surprised if they make promises for your child as well.
It’s heartbreaking, yet common, for children to have their narcissistic parent constantly make promises they never keep like taking them on trips, buying them expensive toys, or paying for extracurricular activities.
The chances of them following through on these promises are slim to none.
5. They “Love Bomb” You
“Love bombing” is a common narcissistic behavior used throughout the relationship to maintain their sense of control. They will also do this as they try to hoover you back in.
Love bombing involves smothering you with positive attention, gifts, praise – all that good stuff. They overload you to try to get you hooked to those good feelings.
They also lavish you with gifts as a way to make you feel indebted to them as if you’d be willing to let them back into your life because they did something so kind and thoughtful.
6. They Try to Use Other People Against You
Your narcissistic ex may play the victim card and convince other people to reach out to you on their behalf. Don’t be surprised if you find out they are chatting with your parents, mutual friends, or even using your children to relay messages back to you.
They may go on about how much they miss you, how they regret letting you go, etc.
Sending messages through other people may be a tactic they use to either continue to bombard you with their message of “love” or because you’ve cut communication with them as much as you possibly can.
7. They Try to Reel You In With Pity
Narcissists love to throw a pity party and they may start to make up imaginary crises or emergencies just to get your attention and open the lines of communication.
They may even claim there is a death in the family or blow their own illnesses way out of proportion.
My ex texted me a few months back to tell me he had Diabetes and some sort of liver issue? Seemed like a big deal then…hasn’t mentioned it since. It was a ploy to get a response from me.
Overall, they want to engage your attention by dramatically making you worry.
8. They Spread False Rumors About You
Here’s where you’ll start to see all of these positive hoovering techniques turn to the dark side.
Narcissists will weaponize drama by spreading false rumors about you to mutual friends and acquaintances. Where these allies were once a method of winning you back, now they are being turned against you.
They do this to jeopardize your social life and cut you off from your support circle. They figure that, without anyone to support you, you will go crawling back to them.
9. They Accuse You of Ridiculous Things
Narcissists will make ridiculous claims about things you “did” in order to provoke you into defending yourself. They are doing this not only to open those lines of communication but to feel some sort of control over you.
In this case, control over your reactions.
These accusations are purposely ridiculous – and they know it. They don’t want you to sit around and contemplate the truth of what they are saying or calm down and disregard their words.
They want a knee-jerk reaction you can’t resist so you come at them with your guns blazing!
10. They Threaten to Hurt Themselves
As a last resort, the narcissist may threaten to harm themselves when trying to hoover you back into a relationship.
This is a manipulative move in which they are trying to force you to respond by threatening to hurt themselves if you don’t. They may even threaten to kill themselves.
It’s important to remember that your inaction is not responsible for someone else’s self-harm or suicide. I’d hate to say that it’s likely they won’t do it, but you never know.
If you do think they are in immediate danger, you can always call your local emergency services number and have them handle it.
What Do You Do If You Are Being Hoovered By a Narcissist?
If you have left a narcissist, or are in the process of leaving the relationship, here are some tips for handling the narcissist’s hoovering tactics:
- Ignore: Limit contact by blocking them on social media and only communicate through text if you have a child together. Their behaviors may escalate when you do this but eventually they will give up and move on.
- Gray Rock: Along with limiting communication, make your life as interesting to the narcissistic as a gray rock. Don’t share personal details, stay on point when communicating, and do not react positively (laughing, smiling, etc.) to their attempts to charm you.
- Be Realistic: Don’t allow yourself to idealize the relationship with the narcissist and believe that there were “good times”. There weren’t. Remember the abuse and unhappiness you suffered.
- Tease Out the Truth: Separating the truth from the lies will help you gain the self-confidence you need to trust your instincts again. Don’t allow the narcissist to distort the past.
In the end, suffering from Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome and then dealing with the narcissist’s hoovering can really pack a punch on your mental health. During this time, there’s no shame in seeking the help of a professional.
But the number one important thing to remember is: THE NARCISSIST WILL NOT CHANGE. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a real mental health condition and those who suffer from it will not change for you and not without years of focused therapy.
Literally, it sucks like a hoover.
But if you’ve already made your way out of a relationship with a narcissist, believe that you do have the strength and resiliency to make it through the hoovering stage.
I know it feels like “Dealing With Narcissist Shit 2.0” but eventually they will lose interest – even if you have a child together. They won’t completely disappear but their shenanigans will decrease and you’ll find yourself living with less stress and anxiety.
How about you? Are you dealing with hoovering? Share your tips for handling it in the comments below!
And don’t forget to pin!