In 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.
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!
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!