A Narcissist’s Hoovering is a Timeless Control Tactic

narcissist-timeless-hooverTo a narcissist, hoovering is a timeless tactic for controlling a target, validating that control, and periodically checking an ex’s queue-status. And when I say “timeless”, I mean TIMELESS as in time is of NO consequencetime is NOT of the essence…time never runs out…and there’s no time like now to hoover “whomever I want because, well, I want to and because I have all the time in the world!” Now, while the average person reading this (who knows nothing about narcissism in relationships) might ask What the fuck is she talking about?, I’m willing to bet that all my experienced comrades here know where I’m going with this. If you don’t, bear with me and you will in a minute. I have a theory!

As we all know, after a break-up with a narcissist, the discarded partner will often anticipate – and even wait for – the inevitable hoover simply because she’s been conditioned to do so throughout the course of the relationship. The discarded partner knows that a hoover could technically come anywhere from five minutes to five years and longer after a discard or break-up. In addition, the hoover always occurs with the same casual fanfare no matter when it happens which is why we’re intrigued by it at the same time that it repulses us. That the narcissist can deliver a hoover at the post break-up five month mark as if he just left an hour ago and do so as if it’s the most natural thing in the world continues to be a mind-blower.

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As we know, hoovers can come in many forms including the following:

  1. a hang up call from a private number
  2. a call with a lingering silence or soft breathing on the other end
  3. a text from his number or any odd number with no words in it or a text from his number with just one word in it (i.e. Hey) or a text from his number sent to you as a message for someone else (a tactic I call the “phony accidental” hoover)
  4. a FB friend request, an out-of-the-blue de-friend, a sudden unblock from his FB or suddenly becoming blocked from his FB (not that you should be checking, mind you)
  5. ghostly yet familiar taps at the door every few months – a tactic used by my ex that I call the “tap-and-run”. Like a twisted adult version of that childhood stunt where we’d ring a neighbor’s doorbell and then hide in the bushes, my ex would give the obligatory three taps and then simply stroll back to his car sucking on a cigarette, never looking back. The truth is that he really didn’t care if I answered the door anyway, nor did he even expect that I would. The point of a “tap-and-run” is simply to get me wondering – and maybe even obsessing – about those mysterious little taps! Was it him? Was it HIM???

Now, at the same time that we fear the hoover, we kinda sorta hope we get one because then that could mean that the game is still on in some twisted, familiar fashion. We feel empowered when we don’t respond, calling it “No Contact”, but to a narcissist, our non-response doesn’t even matter. It’s a control/validate tactic that takes little or no effort on his part to get our minds reeling – and that’s good enough for him. After all, how hard is it to dial a number and then hang up?? We might claim to go no contact while “forgetting” to close off at least one avenue of communication. Ooops! We begin to see every day occurrences as possible hoovers and we over-analyze them. Some of you even come to my website to have me analyze them for you. I was on FB today and noticed that Ray’s brother’s girlfriend’s son’s father’s mother commented on one of my old posts. Do you think he’s hoovering? I’m only making fun because I did this myself so many times I can’t count. The crazy thing is that we’re usually right! If our gut tells us it’s a hoover, it most likely is.

zari-ballard-consultSo, how does the narcissist justify sending a hoover months down the road…maybe even years down the road…when the break-up itself was so awful and when he knows we’re trying almost everything in the world to avoid him? The answer, to the N, is in the timelessness of the hoovering tactic. You see, the narcissist lives a compartmentalized life where time basically stands still, allowing him to juggle his numerous compartments, break a variety of hearts, go completely silent, and return to the scene of the crime as if nary a second has passed. How does he do this so easily and effortlessly and with a straight face? To a narcissist, it’s easy because time basically stands still.

In my mind, a narcissist views the passage of time during a relationship like this: five years is like five months, five months is like five weeks, and five weeks is like five seconds. Go ahead and substitute any number you like for the “five” in my example. The narcissist never really “moves on” when the relationship ends because he’s actually been moving on (yet standing still) the entire time. He simply has no conception of time unless of course, it’s your time that he’s concerned about and, most likely, inconvenienced by during the relationship. Then and only then does time matter. Aside from that, time is of no consequence at all. It simply does not move along in a normal manner for these creatures and the never-ending or out-of-the-blue hoover is proof of that.

Part of me believes that the narcissist’s “problem” with time has much to do with the fact that he (or she) lacks genuine human emotion. I mean, think about it: the conception of time is actually connected to everything that is emotional. We feel better or worse with time, we use time to heal our wounds, we look forward to a certain time or we wish a certain time would never come, on some days time appears to move slow and on other days it flies by, people age with time and attitudes change…it goes on and on. For a normal person, the passage of time is typically riddled with all different types of emotion. A narcissist isn’t affected by emotion because he has little or no capability for it. Therefore, to a narcissist, time stands still!

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My theory would also explain how a narcissist can do the same bad things over and over day after day only to admonish you for “living in the past” when you bring this repetitive bad behavior to his attention. To him, yesterday is NOT the past. He doesn’t know what it is exactly but he’s just knows it isn’t that! It’s just yesterday. This also explains why he keeps all exes on a phantom tether to be yanked back with a hoover at any moment in time. What’s an “ex” anyway, to a narcissist? To a narcissist, an ex is basically is just someone he once had a “relationship” with and who is now being subjected to an indefinite silent treatment.

Does this all sound crazy? Of course it does! Would anyone other than a person who has been involved with a narcissist even begin to understand it? Of course not! The hoover, if we really think about it, is some crazy shit! The hoover keeps us mentally connected to the narcissist even before it comes and long after the relationship is over. If we didn’t have to worry about anticipating hoovers, no contact would be completely unnecessary. After a bit of sadness, we could simply move on with our lives like most people do after normal break-ups. It’s only when we realize that hoovers occur because narcissists basically can’t “feel” the significance of time that we can begin to move on. We have to see hoovers for what they are and accept that they lack real feeling or substance of any kind. Narcissists don’t hoover because they love and/or miss us. By it’s definition according to my theory, a hoover is far less important than, say, the infrequent called-to-say-hi phone call or text from an ex-boyfriend or husband with whom we parted amicably and from whom we didn’t have to block ourselves post-break-up to keep our sanity.

It’s time to forget about the hoovering, my friends. It’s time to stop worrying and wondering if he’ll ever hoover again…if the last hoover was really the last hoover or if every insignificant but related event could possibly be a hoover. There’s no way for you or for me to ever know for sure if our time in the queue will come up. The bottom line is that we have to live our lives as if he’s NEVER COMING BACK – EVER. While we might not always be able to completely destroy every avenue of communication, we have to do our very best to try. The truth is that our exes never went the extra mile to do ANYTHING while in the relationship and they’re not about to start now. Usually blocking social media and all cell phones numbers is good enough to keep them at bay. If you do at least that, you should be just fine.

For 2016, make a commitment to NOT allow the narcissist to move in and out of your life as if time doesn’t exist. If he had his druthers, he would keep you standing still (a.k.a. frozen in time) just like him so that you never move forward. That’s’ the whole point of everything he does. He will try until the end of time (which, of course, is ENDLESS) TO KEEP YOU IN THE QUEUE. And what we allow, will continue. Let’s promise to help each other to never allow this type of life intrusion ever again.




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  • Louise

    June 2, 2017 at 4:05 pm Reply

    time is wasted by narcissists, the hoovering is creepy as if you just saw them last week & nothing bad happened. My narc initially took me out to places I would enjoy as time passed we spent more and more time going to his local haunts.
    I grew so bored of the same routine, every weekend was a repeat of the one before.
    his new romance is identical, she is me being rolled out in his two local haunts. I’m guessing his previous romances were the same too.
    I was sooo bored repeating the same weekend every weekend, same five ‘friends’ doing the same things over & over.
    I assume he has been repeating this for seven long years, how come he isn’t bored I couldn’t get inspired by any of it at all, his company was not enough let alone this role

    • Zari Ballard

      June 11, 2017 at 6:49 pm Reply

      Narcs don’t get bored with their life. It just is what it is. The game, for them, just never gets old…

  • Nicole

    June 1, 2017 at 11:52 am Reply

    I would like to say that I’m very grateful to have come upon this site. I’ve been in a narcissistic relationship for 14 years. My husband has been arrested and convicted 3 times for domestic abuse thought our relationship. I prayed to god to give me the strength and courage to leave him and every time I did, I ended up taking him back. I had no idea what hovering was until I read it on this website. Reading through this site is like reading about my husband directly. I know with all that I am that I don’t want that monster in my life, yet I anticipate his return and wish for it and I have no clue why this is inherent inside my very core. I have lived a life of hell with this person and I’m determined to see this through and I am so happy that I found this site. I have spent years studying this person and educating myself on the whys and now I am determined and focused on studying myself and I’ve turned to whys to myself. Why do I anticipate him to come back, why would I even want him back when I truly don’t, why do I feel anxiety if he’s not trying and why am I so broken. These are now my questions and I am so looking for answers and help.

    • Zari Ballard

      June 21, 2017 at 12:54 am Reply

      Hi Nicole,

      So sorry it has taken me so long to respond, girl. You will find the answer to every one of your questions in my articles…I have covered every topic imaginable. Please go the category tab in the right sidebar and start reading. There is no easy answer but the information I provide PLUS the stories of all the people who come here to the comment section will give you amazing insight.

      Be careful about focusing on yourself too much…blaming yourself…and I have an article on that too. Blame is very non-productive because all it does is carry on the narc’s legacy through your recovery. YOU were not the problem, HE was. It’s all about changing your perspective of what he is and accepting how he’ll never change. When things are broken and can’t be fixed, even if we still feel attachment, it’s best to simply throw them out or else they will continue to consume precious space. It is what it is…

      Stays strong,


  • Dannielle

    May 12, 2017 at 1:52 am Reply

    Hi. Ive been no contact for two weeks and i blew it today. He has been hoovering sending flowers everyday , letters, i just want him to disapear. It is diing my head in. I know he has others, thats kept him away for two weeks. Im lonely im depressed i have no man. He has lots of women. Its unfair. How can he keep doing this to me. He has others why is he sending me flowers and lovely letters and poems and promises of marriage. Yes i know because he is a fucking narcissist. But this is driving me nuts. This is digging the sword in, yes i love him and miss him . How desperate am i ? No wonder i keep taking him back …. Help please 🙁

  • Whatsisface

    May 10, 2017 at 8:11 pm Reply

    I rather like my narcissist ex-girlfriend. She’s clever, resourceful, works like a demon, nice to look at, detail oriented, and smart enough to not look too self-centered in polite company. Once we got past the “you’re not THAT much smarter than I am” and I forgave her because – dude, her parents did it to her…it’s not her fault. Eh, she can come and go as she pleases, within certain rules. As a result, since they hate rules, she mostly goes, except for popping by for a quick bite on my neck here and there. She gets only weapons-grade positivism, or “grey stone” at efforts for negative fuel. Hoover, don’t hoover, what do I care? You have to get over that *longing* for the past. It’s over; focus on the future. For both of you. They can’t mature past needing constant praise and attention; you can, hopefully.

    Now that I know how she works, what she eats? ‘Little bit like keeping a pet cobra. They hesitate to bite you with the knowledge that you feed them, and that hesitation is just enough to snatch your hand back as long as you’re vigilant. One of the horrifying eye-openers in all this is like attracts like. We have the same sort of upbringing and often some of the same personality traits. It’s just a question of degrees and certain personal limits. I’m probably a little bit narco myself (don’t give me that recoil, I’m working on it…) I don’t trade in fear or guilt, but I am huge on obligation; if I do you a favor, I want it reciprocated some day. If you do me one, it will be, I’ll see to it. …We’ve all got some critical wound or secret our parents gave us that’s like a hole in your heart a narc will promise to fill and then widen while they try to fix their own. Start digging.

    I know this seems cavalier, but take heart that you can get to the point of resigned amusement about it all. If you can’t hack what they’re doing to you, you have to work on yourself, not focus on them.

    • Zari Ballard

      June 4, 2017 at 9:17 pm Reply

      Hi Whatsisface,

      I appreciate the post so I won’t “recoil”. LOL Thank you for sharing!


  • ASH

    May 9, 2017 at 2:12 am Reply

    He does drive bys at my work. Every couple of months. He gets bold enough to pause right at my window before driving off.
    Sometimes he runs by.
    He never contacts me. He’ll look for me like to see if he’s seen, but I stay gray rock. Zero response. No acknowledgment.
    It’s been 10 months. Will this ever end? Can I make it stop?

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