9 Signs of Narcissist Hoovering & How to Respond
A relationship with a narcissist usually feels like a never-ending walk on eggshells. This is because narcissists have exaggerated feelings of self-worth, always putting their needs first. As a result, they commonly display self-centered, controlling, and manipulative behavior, demanding excessive attention and admiration.
Narcissists need someone to blame for their problems and failures to admire them and feed their ego. In return, they will do anything to diminish your sense of self-worth and make you doubt yourself in every situation.
They will hoover up all the positivity and optimism you may experience, leaving you drained, confused, and helpless.
What is Hoovering?
Hoovering is a manipulation strategy narcissists use to keep their victims in or suck them back into a toxic relationship. Narcissists use this type of emotional abuse when they sense that their victim is seeking to pull out of the narcissistic abuse cycle.
In an attempt to test whether their victim can be pulled back into another cycle of abuse, a narcissist may reach for hoovering. They may use manipulation and lies to convince the target to return to the dysfunctional relationship.
Narcissist hoovering can cause emotional and physical distress to a victim, sucking up the positivity and happiness from the victim to feed own narcissistic impulses.
Why Do Narcissists Hoover?
A relationship with the narcissist is based on emotional dependency, where the narcissist requires you to feed their ego constantly. Once they decide they don’t need you as a narcissistic supply anymore, the narcissist will cast you aside and abandon you with no remorse or compassion.
If you decide to stand for yourself and ask for empathy, integrity, and reciprocity, the same will happen.
However, narcissists typically come back for more. So, your narcissistic ex will most likely want to come back to your relationship and start their cycle of abuse all over again as long as they need you as a supply.
They will use hoovering to manipulate you back into a relationship. For example, they may promise to change, threaten you with self-harm or suicide, or proclaim their love for you (even though they have struggled to show their feelings before). They may even appear apologetic for their past behavior, promising not to repeat such mistakes ever again.
Recognizing the signs of narcissist hoovering techniques can help you protect yourself and break free from a toxic relationship.
So, here are nine signs of narcissist hoovering and how to respond to it.
9 Signs of Hoovering
1) Love Bombing
A narcissist will do anything to manipulate you back into a relationship. They will love bomb you with acts of adoration, attraction, and love. For example, your narcissistic ex may send you romantic messages, shower you with flattering comments or acts of affection (leave love notes on your car windscreen, have a bouquet delivered at your doorstep, etc.).
2) Dramatic Declarations
A narcissist may dramatically appear at your door, declaring their sincere love for you.
3) Making Accusations
Your narcissistic partner might also make accusations to provoke you into feeling guilty and defending yourself. For example, if you refuse to see them after a breakup, they will accuse you of already dating someone else. This hoovering strategy gives them a sense of control and power.
4) Threatening to Harm Themselves
A narcissist always seeks attention. Also, they thrive on drama, so they may threaten you to hurt themselves, commit suicide, or do something else extreme if you don’t answer their reconciliation pleads.
5) Random Calls or Texts out of the Blue
They might contact you out of the blue, pretending nothing has happened. For example, a narcissist will call to tell you they dreamt about you or ask you whether you still have their book to manipulate you into a conversation.
6) Spreading Fake Gossip
Narcissists often use triangulation to pull other people into your relationship dynamic. For example, they might spread rumors and gossip about you to mutual friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, jeopardizing your reputation, relationships, and confidence.
7) Making Big Promises
They might pledge never to repeat the past mistakes in the future, promising you an idyllic relationship or the things you have always dreamed about.
8) Apologizing and Telling You They’ve Changed
In an attempt to pull you back into a toxic relationship, a narcissist will show remorse, trying to convince you that they have changed.
9) Creating Fake Emergencies
They may call you in the middle of the night over a fake health emergency or crisis, asking for your help.
How to Respond to Narcissist Hoovering?
Narcissist hoovering can cause you to feel guilty, insecure, and vulnerable. Yom may give in and decide to give your relationship another shot.
However, your acceptance to play along with their pattern of abusive behavior only gives a narcissist the validation of their superiority and power.
Rejecting a Narcissist Hoover
It is essential to understand that hoovering is another form of narcissistic manipulation. So, it is vital not to engage when a narcissist uses the hoovering method. Set firm boundaries and avoid answering their calls and messages.
- If they try using other people to get to you (e.g., telling mutual friends or your family members how much they miss you), ignore these messages and don’t reply using friends and family.
- If you are concerned about the narcissist’s mental wellbeing and safety, contact the police or emergency services, so do not contact the narcissist.
- Remember that narcissists are charismatic and persuasive. Although their big promises, regret, and love acclamations may be tempting, keep in mind that these are just manipulation strategies.
- Seek support. A therapist or coach can help you understand narcissistic manipulation and set healthy boundaries. Coaching can also help you reject a narcissist hoover and avoid returning to an abusive and toxic relationship.
Hoovering is another manipulation tool narcissists use to hang on to their narcissistic supply. They will deploy this strategy when they sense that their victim has gained a sense of personal empowerment or decided to move on.
Understanding what is hoovering and how it can affect you can help you respond to a narcissist’s abuse and disentangle yourself from a dysfunctional and abusive relationship.