A Narcissist Always Returns (the Hoovering)

narcissist-returnsA narcissist will always return to a ex-lover to ensure that his narcissistic supply still pines for him and that she never moves on from the pain he has caused. This return – or hoovering – will happen whenever the narcissist chooses and typically not until he’s been gone just slightly longer than the time before. This way, the narcissist conditions his victim to not only expect him to come back but also to expect him to come back at a much later date (or at a time just a tad longer than time before), thus giving him more play time in the interim. Again, this is all part of the narcissist’s control/validate tactic which, in turn, is all a part of the process of managing down your expectations.

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The hoover usually follows a silent treatment (which is really a break-up in disguise) and comes long after the victim has been completely devastated by the silence. The narcissist may hoover in several different ways and for various reasons, with each hoovering event staged according to that pathological relationship agenda he lives by.

The narcissist may 1) come back full-on by just showing up, picking up right where he left off  and thus laying the groundwork for the next discard which will be more crippling to the victim than all the ones before, or 2) not being quite finished where he’s at but still wanting to prepare ahead for a possible return to you, he’ll hoover with a sporadic text or an email or he’ll ring your phone (hanging up before you answer) from either his number or one he knows you’ll recognize and associate with him. And if you try to call him back, its more than likely that he still may not pick up because this particular style of hoover is intended to be more of a warning or warm-up to get you feeling anxious, confused, and maybe even quietly excited about his possible return.

For my ex, changing phone numbers became the preferred method of choice for erasing his tracks after a discard and he always had a ridiculous excuse for doing it when he returned. Over the years, I eventually determined that, depending upon whether he would change his number right after creating some staged chaos and immediately before he vanished (discard) or right before he came back, the number changes were based solely upon how the situation fared with the woman/person on the other end or with me depending on which direction he was running.Anywhere from two weeks to six weeks to three months down the road – and after complete silence – my ex would start hoovering. If he was planning for a full-on comeback, he’d simply text me out-of-the-blue to meet him for a drink (and, sadly, those were the only times he’d ever take me out for a drink). Now, if he was in no particular rush (perhaps still tying up loose ends on the other side and not quite ready for me to have his new number), he’d call and hang up from odd phone numbers around town (businesses, payphones, etc.) that no one except for me would recognize on the Caller ID . He’d be counting on me – in his sick, narcissistic way – to recall those numbers as the random numbers he used to call me from when we were together and he had no phone at all! And he was right… I always recognized them and would get an instant knot in my stomach.


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If you remember nothing from this article, at least remember this: a narcissist only hoovers and/or returns to ensure that you never move on from the pain he has caused you. And that is the only reason, my friends. His intention, above all else, is to always make sure that you’re in the queue, ready and waiting alongside all the others (and there are always others). It’s a sick game of cat and mouse that will steal years from your life if you allow it. For this reason alone, no contact must be enforced in order to succeed in your recovery. No Contact is the key to escaping the narcissist’s plan for you and the only opportunity you’ll ever have for breaking the codependency to hope that he counts on you to cling to while he is gone. Remember, the narcissist is never worried about what you’re doing while he’s gone or that you’ve found a better love because he’s conditioned you to act a certain way. He’s counting on it based on how he’s seen you react either to his leaving or to his returning.

It’s time to ignore the signs of hoovering. Even if you notice subtle signs of the narcissist’s return, ignore them and go on with your life. No one has a right to come and go in your life and manipulate your emotions. In addition, we know for a fact that the narcissist’s plan is always to make the next discard even more painful than the one before. Say “no more” and mean it!