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  Narcissism In a Nutshell - Connecting the Dots! (Book Excerpt)

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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Share your thoughts! Only first post is held for moderation. Zari does her best to reply to all:)

  1. I was in a 17yr. Relationship with a N, he ignored me and our child, ran up my credit and My money was our money his money was his money. He came and went as he pleased but I had to stay in the house. He did the cooking because he don’t trust women, he did the laundry and food shopping so I can stay in the house, If I did go out, he will pop up unannounced. He didn’t want me with my child just wanted me to rub him after he comes home and spend 2-3 hours in the bathroom. He always called me a whore, slut and Bitch in front of our child and I didn’t even go anywhere. He spied on me in the bathroom and sometimes made me go with the door open.Hes with someone else now, but won’t leave me alone. I recently blocked him from my phone, and erased my FB. I’m trying to ignore him but it’s hard when you have a child. But I’m doing it👍🏽

    • Hi Cassandra,

      I know exactly what you went through. The father of my son put me through the same thing. Please search this site for my articles on co-parenting because I believe they will help you. There are ways to interact with him that allow you to keep your sanity and even some semblance of control. YOU CAN DO THIS.

      Zari xo

  2. I figured out if you want to get rid of N just ignore them, they will go away. Basically what they want is attention and if you don’t give it to them they will go elsewhere. Especially when they are hoovering that is the time to be strong and ignore them, it forces them to find another source of attention. They will do it.

    • Hi Echo,

      I tend to agree although the reason, by my thinking, is that they go away because the truth is that they’re just not motivated to go that extra mile to get that attention. This is why if you do ignore them, chances are it will get longer and longer between hoovers – and THAT is the goal! LOL

      Zari:)

  3. Hi Sari, fantastic to see some people do care when it comes to narcissistic people & relationships.
    I was living off/on with a girl (Trans-sexual, definitely a girl though!) just over a year in her flat.
    Nearly six weeks ago now my girlfriend went down South (U.K.)with a new friend she met through another friend of hers, for a break from her Town, Hartlepool. This new friend of hers is a millionaire & has taken her under her wing as she is disabled, she’s partially sighted & going blind slowly. She is 28.
    I love this girl with ALL my heart & I did so much for her including saving her life a week before she ran off & left me.
    After her break, nine days later she turned up in her flat, no warning, nothing.
    I gave up my flat Nearly six months ago now. She asked me to move in to get my debts down to help me, later (after a previous boyfriend she had) they split up & she confessed she loved me & has bee wanting to live with me a while.
    Anyways, after nine days she turned up one morning with two friends saying she’s leaving Hartlepool, moving down South (no idea where)?
    I guessed what was happening as her friends quickly grabbed her Piano, clothes, belongings. I broke down in the bathroom with a towel in my mouth as I didn’t want them hearing me scream & city hysterically.
    All went quiet, my Ex. Rebecca minutes later on her own came in, said “I’ll found a new girl one day, move on…” I screamed ‘no no no no no!’ She asked for a hug then asked me to stand up as I collapsed on the floor in shock, traumatised!
    Asked me a big favour, “can I send her a friend request as she’s had over 20 people unfriend her?”
    She said a few personal things to me. She wasn’t nasty, she acted very caring at the time. She talked about herself saying, “do you how it feels to walk down the street in Stratford (London) & no one calling me, heckling me?! (Being Trans-sexual, she’s had a lot of abuse, bullying off people over the last few years).
    “Keith, I don’t know what you want me to do, what do you want from me?”
    I suffer with clinical depression bad. Rebecca knew my biggest fears. She did all she could to make this running off hurt me deeply. I was telling her how lonely, abandoned, isolated she was doing…” I looked up. She was gone. Front door closed, I looked out the window, no car, nothing. She had gone!
    I went crazy, cutting my arms, screaming, writhing on the floor making sounds that weren’t human sounds!!! It was horrific!
    I tried committing suicide few days later when I went for a drive out to Milton Keynes. I scared myself & then dizzy & numb as I was taking an overdose I ran into a road, flagged a car down.
    Two days in Hospital. 1st day there I had a warning from the Police saying I’m harassing her, sending friend request/s to her?! I was dizzy, doped up & the Police weren’t nice at all.
    Got home two days later by Train. I was arrested again for sexual assault & criminal damage. Sexual assault!???!
    I’ve been arrested twice now. They have recordings of the same stories twice over the Police.
    I told the Police she’s mentally damaged me, I don’t trust myself to a point, I aren’t look at women as I feel like I’m being rude or insinuating more (as Rebecca put it to me), not eating, sleeping properly, my anxiety & mental health are through the roof seriously & I’m drained. I’m finding it extremely hard to enjoy anything. Only thing I enjoy now is walking & playing my guitar.
    Days after she text me nasty saying, “stop stalking me. I need to forget about her. It won’t work between us. And why am I bothering talking to her with all the health issues she has?!” Accused me on her Facebook as an abusive, emotionally blackmailing her to keep her my girl-friend her.”
    Said I’m mentally mind messing with her & I need serious help.
    Everything she said, EVERY THING she’d done to me! I was in shock, I still can’t believe how cruel she’s been. I cleared her flat out in Hartlepool when she went with another Ex. friend of hers, she also was disgusted at what my Ex. did as she saw a lot of the texts on my mobile.
    Found items she’d lied about when I was with her?
    She’s now living with a millionaire in a block of flats with a few other new friends who live there also. Getting support, friendship, being treat like the Queen to places of attraction around London.
    I’m off work sick still, damaged & at the lowest point in my life still have thoughts of self harm, suicide. No money coming in as can’t return to work while on bsol with Police. I’m a Carer so I need a clean Police check. Rebecca knows this, she’s hit Mr hard & destroyed my life. I may have to sell my car as hardly any money on sick pay. I’m living with my parents on a bed in a room witb no door. I hate being under my parents roof as we stress each other out horribly, it’s so tense. I go out every day, obviously it’s costing money & I’m ruining out fast.
    The Police are simply believing everything Rebecca has made up & accused me of (set me up).
    I saw a Crisis Team for twelve sessions, discharged couple weeks ago. Told everybody I’ve dinfr realised she’s narcissistic, Sociopath.
    All I hear ofceverybody I’d let it go.
    How can I?! I’m paranoid she’s going to make other lies about me still. I have no protection. Police simplh said “what about Rebeccas’ distress after I told all shes done to me. I don’t have faith in the Police. Normy Doctor. Not the support health group. No one realises how narccisism, Sociopsths affect thr victim, Im hrlplesd & terrified. How can I move on with my life? On bail 25th October.
    If I end up in Jail, I won’t be able to handle it, I’ll kill myself. My Man knows & this doesn’t help my family as they’re having a stressful time too.
    My Ex. is evil. Everybody else thinksdhes an Angel.
    And no way she should be having a Trans-sexual operation soon as she’s fat from mentally stable, she’s dangerous.
    Her big Doctor who authorised her Op., after she tried committing suicide delayed her Op. a few months, said she’ll be OK & get better.
    Her Mam told me she’s bounced from people to people all her life, Her nasty silent treatments, belittling people, making out she’s more intelligent & right to everybody. She’s seriously dangerous, but ever so sensitive too. She csny handle ANY criticism or feed back & had no empathy at all.

    Any suggestions or support in any way would deeply be appreciated.
    I’m sorry it’s a long Email. I’m drowning in loneliness, isolation, abandonment, pain, feeling physically sick a lot & bored to the point I’m depressed seriously. 🙁
    Keith

    • Hi Keith,

      Wow…I am sending you enormous hugs and love across the continents. No more thinking of suicide!!! No more!!! Not over this awful person, not over anyone or anything. Yes, you are absolutely correct that this person is dangerous. Not only is she/he a sociopath, he/she is also confused about what he/she is at the most basic level. You have got to pull yourself up and get back on your feet if for nothing else than to face the October 25th charade in court. How could you be accused of sexual assault if it didn’t happen? I do not understand this. Here in the states, we would be given some type of legal support…some type of advocate to tell our story to.

      Not for anything and not to say anything against the trans-sexual community but there is so much BULLSHIT POLITICAL CORRECTNESS being forced on the world population right now that I can imagine that even the police would be hesitant to speak against her. You must go to court with your head held high and deny it calmly and with no tears. I can’t imagine they would let you out on bail and then put you in jail but you must forget about your “relationship” with her and fight for your rights and your life!

      There is nothing good about this person and it seems to me she only cares about attention and having people fall all over her. You don’t need to be around this at all. Something is very mentally wrong with her but you will never convince her or any of her minions of this. All you can do is hopefully convince the court. And, please, I know it hurts but try as hard as you can not to bring your family into it because it appears they are offering you support and this is what you need. No more thoughts of suicide!!! She is nasty and you need to distance yourself from her at all costs. Do not try to contact her. In fact, go completely silent. Give her no more fuel for her fire. She is evil to the core.

      I wish you nothing but the best and please feel free to write me here any time or even write me privately through the contact page. I am on your side as are so many who write here because we have felt your pain and anguish. Relax and take a breath. You deserve to be happy. Her leaving was actually the best thing that could have happened. Do not ever allow her to rear her/his ugly head again.

      Hugs & Love to You, My Friend….

      Zari xo

  4. Sarah, No Contact (NC)is there for YOUR sanity and protection. It is a time for healing and objective distance, and is useful in non-abusive relationships just to make yourself stronger until you run into your ex again.
    But for breakups with a narcissist, NC is your new way of life.
    This is because narcissists are emotional vampires who need Supply in order to exist. If you embargo their supply, not only do you get much needed time to heal, but it forces your narc to move on down his contact list to find the next potential victims.
    Your email shows so painfully what heartache awaits those who do not go No Contact and rise to the bait every time your narc needs a fix.

  5. Hi zari,
    Just reading this brings so much clarity to my life right now. I have been in a long distant relationship with my daughter’s dad for over 5 years. He has constantly promised to move to my place of residence for us to be a family and build life together however every time he is meant to move over we end up having a massive argument and his disappears. He doesn’t even contact my child during his disappearance. To each time he returns he always starts with “how are the kids, can I Speak with them” that’s how he worms his way back into my life again and again. The finally straw came when recently I have not been communicating with him at night, so I randomly called him and he refused to pick up. He then started to control when we speak and for how long. I felt as though he has another girl. He isn’t even sending any money for our child. So I decided to end it. This is the first time in five years I am the one who has walked away. He acted like he was angry and told me to remember I ended it and never forget that. He then called four days after and asked for our daughter. I let him speak with her but now 6 days has gone and he hasn’t made no communication with her. I am not sure what to do as I know if he communicates with her he will.only use it to try hoover me back and I know I am vulnerable to this. He has played so much mind games at one point I felt I was going crazy… which he had called me many a time. Please advise as I am even worried that he may just randomly turn up saying he is ready to be a family knowing I have walked away from him.

  6. I publicly exposed my soon to be ex narc husband of 7 years. Not just about the infidelity, but also the verbal, psychological, and physical abuse. He immediately announced he was in a relationship with his mistress. I know he did it to get back at me, because I have years of proof of his abuse. Since he believes I hate him, and I caused narcissistic injury by exposing him, can I count on him never trying to Hoover again? We have no kids, he owes me money that we have arranged how he can pay me without ever having to speak again. Did I manage to burn the bridges and salt the earth around them?

  7. I couldnt tell whether my ex was a narc or not but considering his behaviours full of lies im pretty sure he is. He left me a year ago after almost five years together. He started “seeing” someone two months after our split according to what he said but nothing serious. He started to hoover me after one month after the break up. His words were that he missed me, loved me and that i was the best person in his life. I thought he loved me but he didnt have any intention of working things out so he expressed it and i stopped contact. One month had passed and here we go again, same story, same rejection. He has been doing the same for a whole year and me stupidly thinking he was sincere. Last time he hoovered me he said he didnt want me to be with anybody. He didnt even want to think about that. I stopped contact with him because he told me he was still with that girl, that he liked her, but nothing serious because he wanted to be single. LIE!! Last sunday i saw a post he made on twitter in which he clearly said he was dating this girl and they were in love. They are a couple. He posted this on the same day he was telling me he didnt want to see me with anyone and that he was sure if i did it i would miss him as much as he misses me. Btw, i forgot to delete him from that account and im sure he thinks i dont use it either thats why he posted it. Last time we talked he said he would never call me again. I changed my number so i can be sure he wont. What should i expect?

    • Hi Yeny,

      Good for you for changing your number. Stick with no contact. This narc is a complete asshole and this is a game for them that never gets old. You can only do what you can do, girl. With the number changed, it will be harder for him to hoover and, honestly, narcs are just not that motivated to go out of their way (unless they are desperate). Stay away from all that social media shit and enjoy your FREEDOM. You did the right thing.

      Zari xo