A Narcissist Always Returns (The Hoovering)

why-narcissists-returnA narcissist will always return to an ex-lover to ensure that his narcissistic supply still pines for him and that she never moves on from the pain he has caused her. Referred to as a hoover (or, as I call it, The Hoovering, because it smacks of a scary movie), this return is deliberate and typically won’t occur until the narcissist has been gone just slightly longer than the time before. By timing these reappearances perfectly, 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, thus giving him more play time in the interim. All of this is part of the narcissist’s control/validate tactic which, in turn, is all a part of the process of managing down our expectations of the relationship so that we expect less and less and he gets away with more. It’s such a subtle conditioning that victims often don’t even know it’s happening…like a horror show coming soon whether you like it or not.

Change Your Life!
Download When Love Is a Lie
from Amazon Today – $3.99


As you know, a hoover usually follows a silent treatment (which is really a break-up in disguise, by the way) 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 that all narcissists live by.

Click to Book!For example, a narcissist may 1) come back full-on by simply showing up and expecting to pick up right where he left off without a single repercussion, OR 2) not quite ready to return but still wanting to prepare for the possibility, he’ll begin hoovering 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. With the second type of hoover, any attempts on your part to return the text, call, or email will likely go unanswered because the intention here is not to actually communicate with you but rather to warm you up to the situation…to get you feeling anxious, confused, and maybe even quietly excited about his possible return.

Whatever tactic he uses, the narcissist’s intention is to keep your mind spinning with “what-if’s” so that you never even get a chance to move on. Again, as part of his agenda, this manipulative behavior lays the groundwork for the next discard which, of course, will come faster and with far more crippling intensity than all the ones before. This agenda – which all victims of narcissist abuse are familiar with – is described in great detail in my book When Love Is a Lie. Nothing a narcissist ever does is random and that’s a fact.


Get Zari’s Book Today!

For my narcissist ex, changing cell numbers before a return (and arming himself with a ridiculous excuse as to why he did it) became his preferred tactic for erasing his tracks. I even created a name for this tactic – The Cell Phone Game – and it caused me a good deal of anxiety. It took many years but I finally concluded that the timing of each number change/hoover was directly related to the condition of his relationships and the direction that he felt he had to run.  Of course he never admitted to this,  but I am confident to this day that my theory was spot-on. For 13-years, if he wanted to return, new numbers were not only a hoover but a way to disappear from someone else. Like any good narcissist, he knew exactly how to do it and I’m sure you will find it familiar.

READ  Breaking Our Narc Addiction: The Truth About Suffering

Anywhere from 2-weeks to 3-months after a deafening silence, the hoovering would begin. If my ex intended to return full-on, he’d simply text out-of-the-blue from his new cell number, asking to meet me for a drink (and, sadly, those were the only times he’d ever take me out). If he was just testing the waters and not quite ready for me to have his new number, he’d hoover by giving my phone just a single ring from odd numbers around town belonging to businesses and payphones – numbers that no one in the world except me would ever recognize on a Caller ID. In essence, he’d be counting on me 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. Again, nothing a narcissist does is ever random. Everything is a strategy. With my ex, even the locations from where he’d call me when he had no phone (while we were together) became a way to set the the stage for future hoovering when he didn’t want me to know his new number. And I’m sure that his nonchalant disinterest in taking me out during the good times had much to do with his planning for future hoovers where just a single text (out-of-the-blue) requesting a “date” was all that was needed to grab my attention. Sound far-fetched...or does it sound familiar?

Download from Amazon Today

Download from Amazon Today

If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this: a narcissist only hoovers and/or returns to ensure that you never move on from the pain he has caused you. No matter what he tells you, this is the only reason. A narcissist’s intention, after all, is to always keep you in the queue, ready and waiting alongside all the others (and there are always others). Hoovers are stuffed with lies and future-fakery and downright bullshit. It’s a sick game of cat and mouse that will steal years from your life if you allow it. At some point we have to simply say “That’s enough” and refuse to be there when the narcissist returns.

No Contact is the key to escaping The Hoovering and the narcissist’s life-long plan for you. It’s also the only opportunity you’ll ever have for breaking the codependency to hope that the narcissist counts on you to cling to while he’s 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 wait for him…to wait for the hoover.

It’s time to ignore the subtle signs of hoovering  and get on with your life. No one has a right to manipulate our emotions and it should never be acceptable to any of us. By enabling the narcissist’s behaviors, we set ourselves up to fail each and every time and we deserve better. Say “no more” and mean it! Remain committed to No Contact and to creating your happiness.  I, for one, know you can do it!

Stay strong and I’m here to support you….

(Visited 178,577 time, 264 visit today)

Leave a Reply

 Use the form below to comment on articles & share with others. Only first post is moderated.  Zari does her best to respond to everyone!

Speak w/Zari  Click Here!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. This is plain and simple mental murder!!! My narc who I’ve been for 9 yrs. is at the moment giving me the silent treatment after being gone for a week now. I know this is only because I have called him out on what he truly is and the fact that 3 mths ago I found out of the many relationships his had behind my back for all of these years. Of course after the usual N behavior I took him back but couldn’t stop nagging about it all. This past weekend (Saturday) was his bday which he said he’d spend with me…NOT! I started calling him Friday after work several times only to get ignored over and over. Saturday no signs of him. I did send him a message wishing him a Happy Birthday saying: For what is worth Happy Birthday. To which I didn’t get a answer until Sunday. His text said: It means the world to me. I’m not doing or done the bad things I’m sure you are assuming. I’ll show you when I come back. I do love you. It’s been a week now and I have not seen or heard from. I have not contacted him at all. I know he is punishing me for nagging at him for the cheating I found out about and telling him to his face he is a N. Just lowering my expectations. I’m taking this silent treatment to get strong and finally realize that this is not acceptable and it has to come to an end once and for all. I thank Zari for finally seeing things for what they are and that this is a no win situation. I know there is a warm place in hell for these monsters. All that is done here is paid for here! They will have their share of suffering sooner or later. No to take it lightly it will be eternal suffering.
    Best wishes to all the victims out there!

      • Is there such a thing as a reverse hoover? In the past, i always was the hooverer because i didn’t know what kind of person i was dealing with. Now I do. I thought everything was my fault. I’d get the silent treatment or i dump him for being a jerk but inevitably i would be the one contacting him trying to reconnect. Recently, with this last silent treatment, I was desperately calling and texting until he blocked me. I assume that at some point he thinks i will contact him again but i won’t!

        • Hi tired and just realizing what I’ve been dealing with,

          Oh God yes. I talk about the reverse hoover all the time. That’s all I did! After a couple of months of silence, I knew exactly what to do to get him to contact me. I used to also call it “smoking him out”. It’s awful, isn’t it? Let him think that you’ll be trying to reach him – so what! Block his number TODAY if you haven’t already and on any other medium where he could reach you if he wanted to. Don’t waste another second of your time:)

          Zari xo

  2. just dated a guy who was a sociopath. In my gut I knew something was wrong but I could not put my finger on it. He told me he saw a future with us, said he adored me and wanted to spend as much time with me as he could. When I started questioning him, that is when he turned angry and turned it all around on me. Tried to control me, did not work. I found out that he had a girlfriend in a another state for 2 1/2 years. Instead of walking away, which I was told to do. I sent him anonymous texts saying I know about your girlfriend and called him a sociopath. I also told her. I repeated this again. He knew it was me, and I owned my craziness. He called me a PYCHO, told me he was going to get a lawyer that I better save my money. He told me to never contact him again. Which I did. Then he blamed me for the whole thing. It was all on him. He did this. I know my actions were wrong in how I handled it, but I feel like I have been taken for a ride on a crappy old roller coaster. I am so angry that I did those things, and that I did not listen to my gut and leave. He knows where I live, I am scared. I exposed him.

    My question is will he come back? He was verbally abusive to me.

  3. Your article is so very informing and I am going through the breakup and this time I am enforcing No Contact as I having given up too much of my life initially and through the years of figuring out what this kind of behavior was and why a person that says they love you treats you badly. I am and was abused by my narcissistic boyfriend of 6 years. It hurts deep down when you are in a relationship with a Narc and cannot figure out why you cannot seem to pull away, especially after the “silent treatment”. It is so sick and you feel so trapped. I became fully aware of what this behavior was not too long ago and was so happy to finally understand what was being done to me. Thank you for your article as it was most informative and empowering. Moving on to regain myself back and begin a happier life.

  4. Do they always come back? i was involved with one of these monsters for several years professionally and personally – he drained the living daylights out of me, used my skills and knowledge (as well as my love and devotion) to gain a new job and promotion – and then discarded and hoovered me back a number of times over the course of a year. I finally began to realise there was something very wrong with him and ended it in a phone call – only to be stupidly hoovered back in again a few weeks later for another round of mind games. We agreed to meet for dinner, where I caught him staring at me in a very sinister way across the dinner table. I’d never seen this before but it was almost as if he was possessed. His eyes were almost black and it was if he was not in his own body. The mask had slipped and it was chilling. Anyway, he discarded me a couple of days later by text ‘promising’ not to contact again and immediately blocked me – signed with a kiss!! Horrendous man. I blocked him right back and took down all social media accounts. That was a few months ago now. I can’t imagine that he will try and come back – although he kept talking about stalking on our last evening together. I’m not sure whether he was planting the seed that he would stalk me or whether he would try and accuse me of stalking him. He knows I was stalked years ago. I believe he smeared my reputation before he left the company we both worked for. He was also my boss you see so he was in the position of power. I would NEVER EVER have any contact with him again but I do feel like he will turn up or do something creepy to hurt me again. Maybe I’m just imagining it and I can continue to heal in my own way and celebrate his absence….

    • Dee wrote…Maybe I’m just imagining it and I can continue to heal in my own way and celebrate his absence…. I don’t know if you’re imagining it but I hereby give you permission to heal in your own way and celebrate his absence anyway!

      Hi Dee,

      I don’t get the vibe from your story that he’s the stalker type…just a taunter because you had already been stalked before and he knew it. You did the right think and I believe you are in the clear. No matter what, we have to move along as if they are never ever returning. As long as we block them with the best of our ability (as you did), we’re usually fairly safe because, for the most part, a narcissist isn’t that motivated to come after us if it’s not convenient for them. Eventually, the time between hoovers gets longer and longer. Convenience is key.

      So go ahead and heal! Your life awaits you….


  5. I am so happy I found this! You have helped me beyond belief. I could not understand why I was being treated so badly and why he showed no remorse, yet I could not have been a better girlfriend.
    I need your help though, I work with this N and that is how we met, he did all the classic moves, mirrored me, said I was amazing, he had never loved someone more than me, I was amazing. Made me fall for him and then systematically crushed my confidence and broke my heart over and over again. I could not understand why I kept forgiving the terrible, horrible things he did me. I found ways to justify them time and time again. He left again 2 weeks ago, citing another fake reason to leave me but showed on Thursday telling me how much he loved me, and the usual barrage of lies. He was due to go on holiday with his family the next day for 10 days. I foolishly let him in and we ended up sleeping together, he showed all the signs of being the guy I fell in love with. So here it is, he said of course, he would say in touch and would miss me everyday. I never heard a thing for days, then he text saying that he had no wi-fi where he was. I know this is a lie and I know then he is cheating, because he uses the same silent treatment as he does it. I read this site, grew some strength and text him saying to leave me alone now and I am done with him. The first text he sent was cold and simply said “if that’s how you feel – then fine” Then later tonight sent “Thanks for making me feel shit on my holiday” He has done the worst things to me! Lied, cheated, been so mean yet I want to text back and say “sorry” I know that I shouldn’t but I hate that things will be crappy at work when I get back. Why does him being mad at me upset me so much? I know what he is, I know we shouldn’t be together but I hate the idea that he hates me. I am an intelligent woman, who knows what she should do, but it is so hard. What do I do about an N who works with me?? He is in my team and I have to see him every day. How do I cut him out?

    • If you happen to reside in Lubbock, TX then I am probably one of the girls he had in queue. My N dumped me on July 18 and he always talked about some girl he worked with who’s heart he’d broken but would boast about never getting caught (since he’s a supervisor over her)…anyways, I’ve blocked and deleted him from everything and I know he will NEVER come back because he knows I will reject him 100% and the N cannot handle rejection so we won’t even bother.

  6. I broke up with my ex 2 years ago and he has called me randomly for the past 2 years. I have him blocked on every single device you can think of. He still calls just to get a kick out of it. For some odd reason being past the whole relationship he called today for a random number and I picked up. I knew it was him but I don’t know why I had the urge to answer. I really was just sick of it and wanted to tell him again STOP CALLING ME! He made up some reason why he was calling but obviously an excuse. I told him I was in a committed relationship. He didn’t care and I decided to say take care and hung up! I was very strong in my position but to a narcissist it doesn’t matter. That’s what made me upset after. I don’t want him, I don’t care about it but the trauma I went through haunts me. That’s the hard part was getting over the relationship. Because he was my biggest lesson to end my toxic relationships. I’m a little upset because I do feel like I gave him power. I don’t want him to think I want him. I was trying to be a bit*h so he would stop. I have grown a lot and send him light and prayers because I forgave myself but it is bitter that I should have known better. I have ignored these calls for over a year but i just don’t know why I answered this time.

    • Hi Dahlia,

      Well, there’s one way to end this nonsense – change your phone number. What excuse did he give for calling? Is he trying to get back together? How often does he call? Once a week? Every three months? Once a year? It’s clear that the only reason he’s calling is because he can. Change your number. Why you answered the phone this time isn’t as important as why you are putting yourself through the “ignoring” process instead of taking care of the problem? You answered because it was inevitable because that’s what happens when we leave avenues open. That’s actually very normal. If you have his normal number blocked and you’ve blocked all random numbers he calls from, then there’s only one thing left to do. It’s an inconvenient solution but one that will be well worth it.

      And I’m not understanding….why are you sending him light and prayers and why do you have to forgive yourself? What did you do that needs to be forgiven? Was it your fault that he lied to you? Was it wrong of you to assume that this person that you loved was telling you the truth? Should you have been able to read his mind when he was planning all that evil? And even if you did find it absolutely necessary to forgive yourself for something, how does sending HIM light and prayers factor in? I have an article going up by Monday on the The Truth About Forgiveness that you will find interesting so please look for it. My take on this subject is different but it is far more productive than feeling that you did anything wrong. Throughout the relationship, we get blamed for everything that happens…why carry on this self-blame after the fact? If you are going to send light and prayers, send it to yourself because you deserved it all along and also to all the others who suffer. The narcissist doesn’t deserve shit, girl.

      Change your number and make it stick. It will make you stronger than ever before.