The Narcissist’s Hoover & Our Conditioned Response

narcissism-boundariesIn relationships, the hoover maneuver is a narcissist’s claim to fame and there’s a simple reason for this: it rarely fails. This is fairly amazing given the fact that a hoover, by its narcissistic definition, is never a good thing and anybody who knows anything about narcissism knows this – including the recipient. Why knowing the consequences of hoovers doesn’t immediately deter a recipient from being a recipient can be credited to the narcissist’s excellent conditioning skills and his/her ability to manage down the recipient’s relationship expectations long before the first break-up and inevitable first hoover ever happens. Not only do recipients expect the hoover, they typically know it’s coming, often wish and even pray for it, and, in some cases, can actually will it to happen by using some backwards voodoo trick of their own creation.

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I, for one, knew exactly how to induce a hoover and could often make it happen within 2 – 24 hours of whatever little trick I used to do it. I referred to my process as “smoking him out” and it rarely failed as well. I dare say that I was as good at inducing a hoover as he was at hoovering non-induced. My “smoking-out” tactics would vary depending upon the emotion that was crippling me at the time. If I was pandering to my broken heart, missing him desperately and willing to forget the fact that he vanished without a word if he would just come back, my tactic might be nothing more than delivering a weepy letter (if I knew where he was living) either by friend or by mailman or by me, “cabbing” to his apartment in stealth mode, slipping it under his front door, and then ordering the driver to high-tail it out of there as if we had just robbed a bank. In stealth mode, I’d always take a cab and I expected all cab drivers – whoever they happened to be – to fully participate in the adventure!

The problem with inducing a hoover from a place of sadness, however, is that it didn’t always work. After all, what fun is it for a narcissist to return if there’s no drama involved in the homecoming?? In these instances, I could smoke him out by changing not only the tone of the letter (from weepy to pissed off) but the delivery location as well. As we all know, narcissists hate it when our behaviors threaten to “out” them to the world and therefore I knew that sending a letter to his work (but not addressed to him, know what I mean?) or directly to his mother’s house where I knew she’d get to it first would make his head explode. This tactic prompted instantaneous hoovers if for no other reason than to eliminate the chance of a second letter coming!

Yes, there were times where I was an absolute participant in the narcissist’s hoovering game. Guilty as charged. I was the narcissist’s puppet even when he wasn’t right beside me pulling the strings.  He conditioned me to react to his hoover before it even happened! Crazy, I know, but then why did I do it and why do hundreds of other women and men just like me do it too? Why do/did we willfully participate when we know/knew that the feel-good rush never lasts…when we know that the relief from the separation anxiety is merely fleeting (at best) when compared to the painful aftermath of the next sucker punch? Considering that we know exactly what is going to happen next, our behavior makes no sense at all!

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My point in all of this is that a narcissist is only as successful as our willingness to participate in his game. When we induce a hoover or wait for a hoover or cry into our pillow wishing it would happen, we enable the narcissist to be a successful narcissist (meaning that we enable him to be as evil as he can be). If we don’t do any of the above…if we ignore the hoover or, better yet, eliminate the possibility of hoovers by blocking him from every angle…if we get on with life and allow his hoover to fall on deaf ears, the narcissist can do nothing other than fall away of his own weight. He literally disappears into the nothingness that he is. It has always been within our power to make him/her powerless! To ignore a hoover or to make it impossible for the narcissist to hoover at all gives US exactly what we’ve always wanted – the last and final word. In other words, we finally get to have closure.

To recover from the pain of this type of relationship, we must avoid lingering connections to the culprit. A hoover, even before it happens, is a connection that we are very reluctant to let go of. Our participation is in the waiting, the hoping, and the wondering of when and if the hoover is going to come. It is our own anticipation of a hoover that allows the narcissist to continue to waste our precious time even while he’s gone. How fucking crazy is that, my friends???

Block the narcissist. Make it IMPOSSIBLE for him or her to contact you via social media, email, text, landline, or cell phone. Change you number if you have to. Once you’ve done this, then whip yourself up a cocktail or two, sit back, and enjoy the fact that you have NOTHING TO WAIT FOR, NOTHING TO WONDER ABOUT, NOTHING TO ANTICIPATE. Appreciate the silence and find your peace. If you are really serious about letting the narcissist go, it’s time to begin taking charge of your recovery. It’s time to relinquish your participation in the hoovering phenomenon.  A narcissist can’t hurt you if he can’t hoover!

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  • Sky

    November 26, 2017 at 4:30 pm Reply

    Love reading these articles they are helping me so much in my current situation. I have been one week no contact, this feels real this time I have no urge to contact him and have managed to ignore every message he sends (of which there have been a few, ranging from cold to hot to nasty).

    The thing I am struggling with is blocking his number, even though I have no intention of responding I am 100% addicted to the anticipation of the texts and the high I get from not responding. Also looking at his profile on Facebook is very hard to resist.

    This person abused me in every way possible and hurt me worse than anyone has ever done, the only explanation of why I even still care at all is that I have a physical addiction! To top it all off this makes me realise my mum is the worst narcissist I have ever come across, and every adult relationship has been progressively more and more abusive and remind me of my childhood in disturbing ways. I get why I do this but I am struggling with the healing part to prevent it happening again.

    I feel like I will be alone with my animals forever if I can’t get myself under control and stop giving myself to these types! Thankyou for this site it’s helping in times of desperation.

    • Zari Ballard

      December 3, 2017 at 5:07 pm Reply

      Hi Sky,

      No, you will NOT be alone with your animals forever (although I often like animals a whole lot better than I like people!). There are reasons why you feel like you do and there are ways to get around it. It’s all about shifting your perspective and that’s what I am here for. Reading is absolutely helpful but when you are at the beginning of no-contact as you are, talking about it with someone who gets it can work miracles. Consider booking some time with me so I can help help you out of the darkness.

      Zari xo

  • Bella

    June 17, 2017 at 11:34 am Reply

    Thank you for the blog
    I want to ask if the married narc man hoover on his ex affair if he is the one who discarded her

    • Zari Ballard

      June 18, 2017 at 3:14 am Reply

      Sure, he might when he gets tired again of whatever else (wife, another mistress…) is going on. Don’t wait, though! Act as if he died, grieve briefly, and then happily move on with things:)….xo

  • Carole

    April 9, 2017 at 12:42 am Reply

    I’ve been no contact now for one week after a four year on off relationship with a narcissist. I relate to almost everthing that you say. I’ve broken off the relationship so many times, and except for the first time t woulsi sit back waiting for him to come back. I really thought i was loosing my mind at times.. When he would go silent the pain would be unbearable.
    I realise that the only way i can have clsure is to just go no contact. A week ago i just blocked him everywhere phone, social media etc. I’m lucky we don’t live near and as he is busy working six days a week and had gone silent as he is so tired and in his words “doesn’t feel sexy thats why i haven’t been in contact with you” i think this is a perfect time to slip away without him even noticing.
    I think this will not be easy but just going no contact took the pressure of, no wore feeling upset as he was not contacting me, and no more sending messages and then wishing i could cut my fingers of after for doing it! I’m gonna follow your advice and i’m sure this time next year i’ll be so much happier. To give myself a kick start i’m going on holiday with my daughter.

    • Zari Ballard

      April 16, 2017 at 2:49 am Reply

      Carole wrote…I think this will not be easy but just going no contact took the pressure of, no wore feeling upset as he was not contacting me, and no more sending messages and then wishing i could cut my fingers of after for doing it! EXACTLY…THIS IS WHAT NO CONTACT IS ALL OUT:)

      Hi Carole,

      You have the right mindset about no contact and I hope and pray that you can stick to it. If you ever fall back, just pick right up and start again with no guilt. You are so right that it, indeed, takes the pressure off. This is the whole point. It’s not for THEM, it’s for US…so we don’t have to have one ear on the phone all the time waiting for that “ding” of the text that never comes. Isn’t that crazy? When we go no contact, the silence (a silence that WE are in control of) gives us time to clear our heads without the narcissist’s chaos swirling all around us. It is the only way!

      Best of luck to you and write anytime! I am here to support you…

      Zari xo

  • Damon

    February 27, 2017 at 6:17 am Reply

    I know that you can’t really diagnose her firstly,but i wanna understand what’s really going on so i don’t really make the same mistakes in other relatioships i described the signs she shows,please any answer would be gladly appreciated i really need help.

    So long story short I meet this girl at the road,I’m 22 she’s 22 basically,she was bothered by a guy almost raped I went to help her there was a party near my apartment,we quickly escalated,got her number facebook etc.

    We started talking on facebook she would pm me around 11 hours a day,she was really interested in me,she was amazed by my caring personality,I consider myself an Empath,I watched my father pass away in front of me we head a car accident and we hit a tree so sometimes I care way to much and I’m kinda sensitive from nature from the past events.

    She shared my music,my interests everything was just clicking so fine,it feelt like I’m living on a fairy tale world or something,It feelt like god gifted me finally someone that I can be in a serious relationship with.

    So the background story of the girl is that:Her parents got really early married they probably made a mistake or something,she lives with her little brother and sister,she used to tell me she hates kids in general,it was really weird,her parents basically don’t respect her privacy,home prisoned her so she does not get pregnant,and probably was neglected emotionally by her parents all her life,they never talked with her about her problems or anything.

    She studies psychology 2nd year on the University,she was amazed by my empathic traits I listened to her adviced her etc.

    She was really open with me shared most of the things,in the first few convos she tended to be really sexual then tomorrow she would test the waters telling me I’m not a ***** we should not talk maybe,I told her I accept you the way you are.

    She was a really deep thinker, telling me I was going to use her and ditch her,shes way to scared of starting sth serious,good things don’t last long stuff like that,i told her they will last long enough as soon as you allow them.

    She would telephone me at night cry a lot about her own insecurities,telling me she feels internal pain and has no idea why she is crying about etc etc.

    I saved her life around 3 times,once her cat jumped out of the window she is really close with her cat loves her and basically I was asleep and she telephoned me telling me I wanna suicide I went to her home at 5 am saved her life,the next time she gets drunk almost got raped from someone,she would do anything that gets attention from people,if offered drugs she would do it without thinking twice it was like she was living for the moment,very sexual but very caring,she would also kiss girls act like a bisexual etc.

    So we went out head sex everything was great,we were almost unseperable from each other everyday,she came at our home knows my mom etc,my moms a doctor we really liked her a lot,she would cause everynight drama about a little word telling me I cant love her I will use her etc,and sometimes I even cried for that I think she was trying to gain my trust then she would tell me I’m so sorry I again overthinked she did this around 10 times in total.

    At the beginning of the 5th month things started going out of hand,she started pulling off,giving me the silent treatment so called,never initiating contact first,I would pm her she would speak around an hour or two then would leave the convo in the middle run and then again the same pattern followed tomorrow.

    So one day I decided to remove all the emotional validation where she told me kisess when I left the convo like she did,she freaked out started threatening me stuff like that.

    After that she removed all the emotional validation,everyday the convo durations went shorter and shorter,I decided to ask her a few times what was wrong,she tells me it’s not you it’s just I don’t feel excited about anything lately,I wanna sleep but I can’t and don’t feel like talking to people,every single time I asked she would really get pissed and blame it on me,like it’s my fault,telling me you never understood me etc.

    She keept doing this patern for a month no emotions around 1-2 texts daily leaving me hanging,I keept asking her again and again and all I got from her was’’It’s not true that I don’t wanna talk to you,if I ever feelt that way I would have told you,I’m just bored idk been talking to a lot of people lately don’t feel much talkative,so basically she lied again the last time she told me she does not feel like talking to anyone.

    So after this one day I got really pissed and asked her’’In a long convo what was wrong expressing every emotion I head and her answer was…It’s not true that I don’t wanna talk to you,she answers the part she likes and the ones that she does not never answers them.

    I told her I see you lack interest and that you don’t wanna talk the question is really simple your answering the parts you like and the ones that you don’t you don’t answer them,I’m simply asking you’’Do you feel the things you feelt before for me??
    And she goes like I don’t know,can’t we just change the topic talk something normal without questions.

    So she basically is alternately Stone walling me by giving me 0 answers,leaves me hanging in there,enjoys every pain that she inflicted on me,then gas lightens me with it’s not true that I don’t wanna talk to you and keeps the convos 1-2 convos daily,leaves in the middle of the convo so she can get a reaction from me and everytime I suffer she enjoys it,I think I was feeding her narcissistic supply or sth.

    So I really got pissed and went on NC for about a month told her if you want to have sth with me the door is open.

    She told me whatever,imagine after all thos memories she didn’t even care,I was in shock.
    In the middle of the 1st month,she pms my mom tells her I love him so much,and I did not react so I don’t shift the power after around 2 weeks,she blocks my mom from facebook and does not block me,but never pms me.

    So after a month and 12 days I gave up on NC I was really in pain and pmed her,she answered again half answers keeping 1-2 texts daily.

    I invited her out,she told me I would Love to go out but I can’t busy with school,I then told her I really feel bad that you don’t have time for me and why do you even bother writing me anyways tried to provoke her by telling her like she initiated the first chat,and she goes like I never pmed you you did.

    Then I again asked if I did sth wrong she goes like’’No you just made a false statement right there’’
    Then I ask her how was your day,she leaves the message on seen and starts with the Silent Treatment again,it’s almost the 2nd month I feel really strong I don’t have that much of feelings for her anymore,I think she waited for me to react so I can feed again supplies or sth wanted me to beg and plead like I did in the old times so she can enjoy inflicting pain and feel powerful about herself.

    Also note on the last few convo’s i set up boundaries called her on her Lies even doe i head no idea what was wrong with her,told her your trying to convince me or manipulate me”Your saying all the right words and acting the opposite way”Which she denied them totally telling me it’s not true everything that you said,and also told me to not overthink it’s not good for you imagine the gurl that used to cry on the phone overthinking every little stuff,And she tried to play the victim when i called her on her lies telling me”If you don’t wanna talk with me just say it”.

    I’m so sorry I keept this so long it’s my first time I just want your ideas guys,what is going on in here,is she Narcissistic,did she ever loved me?,will she ever come back it’s like she does not care,I just want to take my revenge at least once from her telling her how sick she is.
    Please if someone could answer this it would mean the world to me I’m sorry again for keeping it this long.

    • Zari Ballard

      March 5, 2017 at 1:59 pm Reply

      Hi Damon,

      Well, you sure had your hands full but you are absolutely doing the right thing, brother. This girl is conniving, deceitful, callous, and very cold. She likes it when you’re tied up in knots. It excites her. She has no interest in anything normal. She is nothing nice. Yes, she is narcissist and if she is this way at 22, she will a sociopath by the time she’s thirty. By the time she’s forty, she will have left a wake of destruction and heartbreak behind her and she won’t give a flying shit about it.

      Look, narcissists KNOW right from wrong, they just don’t give a shit. Walk away and never look back. You are so young and this a very wicked world. DO NOT WASTE A SECOND MORE OF YOUR LIFE ON THIS HEARTLESS BITCH. Life is just too short and there is too much fun to be had for you. Enjoy your life and learn a lesson from this in case you ever happen run into another one of the creatures again. This was just a minor glitch in your matrix. BLOCK HER EVERYWHERE, GO NO CONTACT FOR GOOD, AND GET YOURSELF BACK OUT THERE.

      You are on the right path…just stick to it and never waiver from your values. You deserve to be happy!

      Zari xo

  • Shay

    November 13, 2016 at 1:18 am Reply

    Well my narc has been gone for 8 months and is with someone new he lies about it all the time he messaged me the other day I guess it was his way of hoovering hoping I was doing good and was ok he hasnt talked in about a month I told him to just enjoy what he has now and that he doesn’t need to concern himself with me anymore he hasnt talked to me in a week should I be expecting anymore from him can anyone tell me from other people’s experiences what should I expect

    Someone who needs advice


    • Zari Ballard

      November 15, 2016 at 12:33 pm Reply

      Hi Shay,

      There are thousands of comments on this site under each article that describe relationships just like your own. A narcissist will continue to hoover as long as you allow it whether they are in a relationship or not. We never know exactly when they are going to do it but chances are that they will just to see if you’re still in the queue. Unfortunately, we do, in our minds, wait for this hoover and never really truly move on. Removing these avenues of communication is the only thing that gives us a long enough break so that we clear our heads. Narcissists will waste out time until the end of time if we allow it, sister!

      Stay strong!

      Zari xo

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