A Narcissist Hoovering Q & A

narcissist-returns-hooveringNarcissistic hoovering so often becomes our epic downfall after a break-up with an N simply because we allow it so easily to lure us back to the abyss. It is this hoovering – this  preferred narcissistic tactic of our toxic insignificant other – that invariably sucks us in for another no-win round of cat and mouse time after time after time.  It is the hoovering that gets the best of us – more often than not – and makes it nearly impossible for us to put an end to the narcissistic nonsense.

Why do narcissist’s hoover and why does it appear to have such a hypnotic effect on the broken-hearted? I mean, how can this be considering that he who hoovers is, without a doubt, the perpetrator of the original crime? Why do the victims of a narcissist not only expect to be hoovered but will even wait for it, hope for it, and even beg for it at some point in the relationship? Because there are always a slew of questions about the hoovering maneuver in the wonderful emails I receive from website visitors and from readers of my book,  I thought the time was right to create the following Hoovering Q & A:

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What exactly is hoovering?

Hoovering is an “action” that describes how a narcissist tries to weasel his way back into your life after a break-up or after he’s vanished for a period of time (i.e. a silent treatment). A “hoover” is the tactic he uses to do it.

What are hoovering tactics?

Hoovering tactics, which come in many forms (text message, email, letter or card, by proxy via someone else, phone call/voice mail, etc.), are always deliberately subtle at first in order to hide the deception behind it. How the hoovers continue is based upon your response to the first few. Also, because each relationship is unique and your narcissist has created a mental list of all the special things he can use to tug at your heart strings or pull on your conscience, he or she will combine/include what he knows about you with his hoovering methods.

So, for example, text message hoovering tactics out-of-the-blue after a silent treatment could involve:

  • text messages pretending to be oh-so-sweet: “Hi. How are u? Are u ok?” or “R u there?” or “Hey, it’s me:(“
  • text messages on special occasions: “Its my b’day. Really miss u being here” or “Happy b’day. Wish I was there”
  • text messages about the kids (especially if they’re not his): “Hi. I was thinking about Joey today. Is he ok?” or “I know u hate me but wanna wish Suzie a Happy 8th b’day”
  • text messages about a convenient upcoming event: “Foo Fighters r coming. Wanna go? Couldn’t go w/o u”” or “R u going to Maggie’s wedding?”
  • text messages about things you like to do that he’s never been interested in doing with you before (one of my ex’s favorites): “Hey, I was thinking, wanna go bowl a few strings?” or “Hey wud u like to go for a drink?”
  • text messages about bogus family illnesses (including his own) (another of my ex’s favorites): “My mom had a stroke. need to talk to u” or “I don’t no, think I might have cancer. Can I c u?”
  • text messages about sex: “Don’t u miss us being together?”
  • text messages that attempt to flip the hoover back on you: “Did u just text me?” or “Did you just call me?” or “Did u just drive by?”
  • text messages, when all else fails, making bogus accusations to get some type of emotional response (my ex’s all time favorite and it usually worked): “I know what u did” or “U better tell ur boyfriend to stop calling me” or “I know u hacked into my fone” or ” or “I’ve moved on. Why r u bugging me?”
READ  Narcissists and Sex: Why Anything Goes...

All of the above can be swapped for use in emails, letters, notes taped to cars, voice mails…you get the idea. The point is..it’s all a crock of shit to get a response from you so that communication is initiated and he can worm his way back into your life.

Why does a narcissist begin to hoover?

A narcissist hoovers for a few different reasons (none of them good, by the way) but the main one is to keep you from ever moving on from the pain that he caused you.  Successful hoovering (i.e. you responding) keeps you in the queue with all of the narcissist’s other victims (and there are always others) and this, in turn, ensures that he will never run out of narcissistic supply.

What has happened to the narcissist for him to start the hoovering?

A narcissist only hoovers because things aren’t going his way wherever he’s at – and that’s the only reason. So, if the narcissist in your life starts hoovering suddenly after a long (or brief) absence, it’s because 1) he’s had enough fun with whoever he left you for, 2) his current fling did something he didn’t like and he’s getting ready to blow her off, 3) his current fling is getting too close to finding out about you or others and he knows the end is near anyway, or 4) he’s in need of something you’ve got (i.e. money, transportation, sex, etc.)

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What will happen if I fall for his hoovering tactics?

He will expect the relationship to pick up where it left off with no repercussions from you and the next time he leaves (and he will leave again) he’ll make sure it’s more painful for you than the time before. Nothing good ever comes from falling for a hoover.

And it only takes one (1) response from you for the hoover to be successful. If you notice, a narcissist will often hoover with a text or email or phone call that gives you hope and then, as soon as you respond in kind, he disappears. That’s his way of just checking on your status in his queue of victims – and then he goes back to whatever or whoever he was doing.

Is it ever possible that the narcissist really misses me and feels bad about what he did?

No. A narcissist has no conscience and, although he knows the difference between right and wrong, he doesn’t care about that. He doesn’t miss you or love you or miss the kids or have nostalgic thoughts (not like we do anyway) or feel sorry for what he did or for hurting you. Nope, it’s none of that. He might be missing the sex but that will only be temporary because after you’ve let him back in, he will eventually leave again to go back to wherever he was because he now misses that sex.

Well, I hope the above clarifies the hoovering method of the narcissist a little. As always, no contact is the only way to rid yourself of the narcissist. The more we understand the reasoning behind each and every hoover and that it’s all a big crock of shit, the better our chances of recognizing and ignoring future hoovers.


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  1. Hi Zari
    I just want to thank you for this fantastic blog. I’ve just broken up with a Narc but didn’t really realise that’s what he was until reading this!
    I keep coming back to it whenever I start feeling that sense of loss and despair, and it makes me smile when I’m reminded that I’m actually losing NOTHING and instead I’m escaping a total a**hole.
    Unfortunately we are still living in the same house temporarily but the NC will begin in earnest as soon as I move out.
    You’re helping me through this in a big way.
    Sarah x

    • Hi Sarah,

      Thank you for reading at my blog and I’m grateful to help in any way that I can:) I hope you’re able to make an escape soon now that you know that this shit is UN-FIXABLE! LOL I’m rooting for ya!

      Zari xo

  2. I think my exN hoovered from the start. He put me in a social media profile spot of his that states “we ran out of time” , “we had good times and bad times, our closest friends know about this, no need for specifics” “she will always have part of my heart” Funny thing about this is that his current supply seems to be ok with this as I know she sees it regularly. I have been no contact for over a month now, but I know that his reason for having that blurb about me is to get me to contact him or to use as a way to contact me eventually. I see it for what it is, I feel sorry for her because she hasn’t seen the real him yet. It should be a huge red flag to her that he continues to have something so obvious about an ex. He’s blocked in every possible way and I only found out about it through a mutual friend. The more I read, the more alarmed I get as I put the pieces together…ugh

  3. Hi there I don’t even know where to start my N left me 3 months ago and it’s been pure hell. He has put me on block and when he does say something to me it’s to make me feel guilty. Example it’s not a good time to come and see u I’m losing everything I can’t pay any thing. And then when I message back it’s TTYL I have to go back to work at least I got a job. Then I am put on block again. Can someone tell me y they do that? I have been going through this I love u and then he up and leaves thing for 14 years or more is this a hoover technique or am I just wasting time I don’t eat I don’t sleep I’m going crazy I don’t even know if he is a true narc can someone please help me

    • Hi Betty,

      Look, the fact that you’re here at my blog tells me that you already know the answer to whether he’s a narc or not. And if you want to know why he does what he does, download my book When Love Is a Lie from Amazon because it will explain it all OR just read through all 75 articles on this blog AND all the comments underneath. Go to the Category drop down in the sidebar and dive in. All the information you need is right here.


  4. Been 6yrs.never going back this time. Every arguement is to bring up the past before we met and afterwards. So arguments contain same subjects for 6 years. Had enough! I’m 69, he’s 75. We both are young at our age.

    • OMG…good for you Brenda! You’re an inspiration for all of us here and I have no doubt you are young for your age. 60 IS the new 50, after all. I spoke with a woman who’s narc was in his 80’s and still giving her the silent treatment. Like I always say, for these creatures. time stands still and the game just never gets old.

      Thanks for writing and come back often to share…I always appreciate it!

      Zari xo

  5. Hi there,

    Just a little advice please, I think my ex is a narcissist, it has been two months since he finished the relationship and I have been reading up a bit on it. I am still not certain if he is, however before I realised he might be I went NC for my own sanity, there has been a few occasions where he text me about his mail about a month ago and I said I would redirect to him if he sent me his address, he didn’t send address but continued to text me the next week about the mail, I rose to the bait and fired off something not so nice as I was really trying to stay NC. This felt wrong and that this was what he was aiming for. He then posted a picture on FB of him and a new women that he met a week after we split… Again I rose to the bait and actually rang him, in a state of tears. Needless to say he was very cold, and had no qualms about telling me that he had made a connection with this other person, it all seemed he was doing it and saying to make me hurt. Which it blooming well did! but at the same time when talking to me putting words in there like darling….

    Anyway sorry this is long, I just find it confusing, the upshot was that I did send him a rant (not very nice I know) about what I thought about his behaviour.. And although that probably justified for him that I am a loony! But I thought hell with it all I did was try and support, understand and love him and never do or say anything nasty, and I felt like well that’s the last straw he’s definitely gone I have nothing to lose.

    1 month later…This past Saturday morning at 3am I had a missed call from him, I totally ignored it and didn’t contact him back. I then had emails yesterday morning him asking when he can collect his post (I had decided any post would be returned to sender which I have been doing as I don’t have his address) I emailed polite explaining this, he then sent another asking when I would be paying my part of the loan for a car we got together, he knows I cannot afford it at the moment because I am left paying the rent on the flat we shared. So I nicely explained this again, then a further email from him accusing me of throwing his post away. It was clearly an attempt to push my buttons and I just said no I haven’t done that and told him enough emails now. I then received another email saying can I see you later for a chat! This totally threw me I was not expecting that. i replied what do you want to talk about. Assured him that I will not throw his post away and that I will pay the loan and that I am trying to just get on. His reply was I just wanted to see you don’t worry….

    This sounds a lot like the hoovering thing, but now I can’t stop thinking about him and thinking have I done the right thing. 60% knows I have, but the other 40 is playing on my mind! And I am thinking perhaps it isn’t hoovering….

    Some much needed advice please
    Thank you


    • Hi Sarah,

      Oh dear…a week has passed since your post and anything could have happened. Of course, it was a hoover. A big one, as a matter of fact. Please tell me you didn’t fall for the bait. LOL Please write with an update so it can get bumped to the top and I can better respond. I hope you’re okay!

      Zari xo

  6. Hi Zari,

    First and foremost thank you for the info . I visit your site daily for reassurance and to gather information about my ex . It hurts . We dated for a year & throughout our relationship we would have lots of highs and lows . We would be great for one week and then after that week he would usually do something to push me away , I would get mad and we would both go into a silent treatment sort of ordeal until he text me or called me saying sorry and returned like nothing happened . .during those times I would be love sick waiting by the phone . I found out about two months ago that he had a baby on the way. That should have been enough to drive me but I forgave him because he got her pregnant before we got together . Still he lied .

    Recently he came over and spent a week at my house with me , told me he wanted to move on , and then poof disappeared for 4 days . During the four days I grew frustrated because he either would not text back , or would text back every 5 hours . . I asked him things like so what are we doing as far as our relationship goes & his response would be , “I just can’t think right now” . Then I found out that he stole money from me . I cannot 100% confirm that he did it , but he was the only person in my home & when confronted of course he lied about it . Feeling frustrated and hurt by the betrayal, mixed signals, and lack of communication I cut his clothing up that he left at my home and sent a picture of it to him. I know it was crazy and unstable . He then went on to tell me that I’m psycho and that he would never speak to me again. It’s been four days. I know that I was wrong for how I reacted, but does that mean that I may to be a narcissist for how I reacted . Will he come back and Hoover ? Why do I care so much if he does when he treats me like shit ? Help please , any insight would be great !

    • Hi Shard,

      I realize it’s been a while since you’ve written and I’m sorry for the delay. Anything could have happened so please do send me an update. Your new post will get bumped to the top and I’ll be able to give you a more relevant response. The bottom line is that this guy is a complete asshole. Don’t be so sure that he got this girl pregnant before you got together. I don’t believe that…I just don’t. Why do you believe it? Because he told you? Unless you go to the gyno w/ this girl, you will never know the truth so I’m telling you it…the lie is much worse than you thought. HE DESERVED TO HAVE HIS CLOTHES CHOPPED OFF. He actually deserves to have his DICK chopped off but we obviously can’t go there. So what if he thinks you’re a psycho? Who cares what some narcissistic lying bastard thinks at all about anything? You did it, it’s done, now let that be the end of it.

      Please download my book When Love Is a Lie from Amazon. I explain exactly why you are feeling as you do and I also explain WHY he is doing what he is doing and how he gets away with it. EVERYTHING he does is about what he can get away with and if he can string you along forever, he sees no problem with that. He will do that to this other girl as well and to any others that come along.

      Anyway, get the book if you can and please send an update….stay strong, sista! You deserve so much better than this piece of shit.

      Zari xo

  7. Thank you for this website and information.
    Since I know about “hovering”, I feel more confidence about the sms and emails of my ex.
    First I was really shocked and sad as well, to know that my ex is narcissist.
    In one point I am not sure, that all narcissist/Hoover actions are done with not good reason.
    My ex always check on my status every 1-2 months. And this person really wants to come back together with me and regret and is sorry for everything. But I keep telling that I am in a new relationship and that I am in love and so. Than after knowing this, my ex says sorry for disturbing and wishes me all the best. Than disappears.
    So only if I don’t fall for that Hoover tactic and maybe I am in new relationship, than this is the best case to still having contact with a narcissist ex?!?
    Because my ex is a really really good hearted person and I actually “want to help” my ex. I could imagine to be friends. I was really shocked to know my ex is narcissistic. Is there any help for narcissist? What if they don’t know and after all information realizing it and willing to change? Is there hope?

    • Hi Shahi,

      Girl, there is NEVER a good reason for someone to “disappear” if that’s what he did throughout the relationship. Since you don’t share what happened before you broke up…just that every once in a while you hear from him now and after you tell him you’re in a relationship, he disappears again, I can’t really tell what’s going on. What came first….If you get a chance, download my book When Love Is a Lie from Amazon because it will confirm your experience if indeed he is a narcissist.

      And to answer your question, NO…narcissists can NOT be fixed…not with all the love, therapy, or any magic pill under the sun. They are UNFIXABLE and there’s no exception to the rule. So, if he’s a narc, forget it. I can’t really give you my observations based on the information you shared in your post. If you’d like to elaborate, I’ll gladly give you my opinion.

      Zari xo

  8. HI Zari.
    I’m not sure why i want to talk about this some more?? It’s very strange how these people work. It’s been 2 years since we’ve split up..and also 2 years since he’s been anywhere near the house we shared. I am so much better now. I have a good job all new friends, and the house is almost all mine! The trip to the mail box on Friday afternoon had me laughing out loud (all you lovely people will get to that point one day..i promise!!!) His drivers licence still has my address on it. I have to admit i do not understand how this guys mind works, still!!!! I’d like to know if this is yet another tactic to get my attention or does the loss of his licence just not matter to him? He’s tried using resumes with my address and cell phone number, calls from several personnel agencies for over 5 months, coupons and samples to my address, in his name, directed at female problems. A few weeks ago his sister sent me a friend request in answer to a message i sent to her after her brother and i split up, she pretended not to know who i was? Does this sound like the usual stuff they do?

    • Hi Sarah,

      I never moderate a question out. I just have to “okay” the first one so that all the others show. If that post was your first, that’s why it is held. It sometimes take me awhile to get to them all. Barring SPAM, I post everything.


      • Ok, thanks Zari

        I just needed some advice on my current situation.

        My narc ex bf seems to be using hoovering techniques. It’s been exactly 12 days since I went NC. On Money I received a money transfer from his in my account. I wasn’t sure at first who sent it to me but I realise now its from him.

        According to him he sent it for my expenses because he knows I need the money and he has it.

        Is this a form of hoovering?

        • yeah, exactly 5 mins ago I received a text saying this

          “your welcome for the money I sent you on monday, I just wanted to make sure you could pay the rent. I always want what’s best for you”

          all this after constant abuse. Is this a form of hoovering? It seems he wants a response. Should I sent the money back?

        • Hi Sarah,

          Yes, of course sending money can be a type of hoovering. Anytime that you’ve gone NC and they try to communicate, it’s a hoover. Narcissists with money will usually use money to that effect…especially if they know you need it. Ask yourself…what else it could be? Whether you take it or not is up to you. No matter what, stay with NC. Even if you spend the money, if he’s got more, it’s no skin off his back anyway. If by taking it, you feel “obligated” to contact him, then I’d find another way to support myself.

          Stay Strong!