I know what it’s like (and you might too) to FINALLY hear what you needed to give a narcissist another chance.
Yet … EVERY time we do, our stomach sinks, we start feeling uneasy and before long, we can’t believe what we signed up for.
Things haven’t changed!
He or she is not acting better and not only are we back at square one, we are also even more traumatised, shattered and hooked in than we were before.
You might have heard of the term ‘hoover’.
This is an expression used to describe a toxic person sucking you back into a relationship for their own self-serving gain.
It’s definitely NOT about loving and caring about you.
Narcissists have some very clever tricks in their tool bag, that can make you give them chance after chance, and even hook you back in against your will.
In this Thriver TV episode, I’ve included the 9 hoovering techniques I’ve seen used the most regularly by narcissists, over the last ten plus years.
Some of these you may already know about and others, because they are insidious and sneaky, you may not have even thought of!
I really want to share this episode with you today so that you are armed, prepared and are hoover-proof – meaning you will never sign up for more abuse and punishment ever again.
One of the most confusing and painfully difficult things about narcissistic people is that when you’ve had enough, it is common for them to try to hoover you back in.
The expression ‘hoover’, comes from vacuum cleaners, meaning to suck something in. This is what narcissists do, they act pathologically and in ways that get under your guard to suck you back into the relationship. Their reasons are not about reform, amends, ‘seeing the light’ or genuine love, rather this is about retaining narcissistic supply, the drug necessary for a narcissist to emotionally survive.
Hoovers can occur at any time after you try to leave the relationship, or at any time when you are trying to pull away and get away. A hoover may come immediately, in an hour, day, week or even years later.
By very clear that hoovering can be done by narcissists, even after they have discarded you.
The hoover may come quickly if a narcissist has not yet decided and/or acquired a new source of supply to jump ship onto yet. If the hoover comes after an amount of time, it’s because other replacement sources of supply have dried up, or not worked out.
Let’s get very clear there is no compliment in being the narcissist’s object of a hoover because if you go back into the relationship, things are going to become so much worse. The narcissist will start maliciously punishing you for trying to leave the relationship; he or she will try to incapacitate you worse than before, so that next time it will be the narcissist’s decision to end it, not yours.
Be very clear, if you are with a toxic person who acts narcissistically, you are in a cycle of violence. Meaning there will be a make-up period where things seem better again (honeymoon period), tension builds, an abusive event happens, damage and devalue and discard occurs, then the makeup happens again.
These cycles never change with narcissists, other than become more frequent and dramatic and violent in nature (and please know violence does not have to be physical).
What you will discover after reconnecting with a narcissist, is that within a short amount of time your Inner Being is screaming out “I made a mistake this feels terrible” (it knows!) and the real evidence is usually not far behind.
Isn’t this the same for anyone who reconnects back with a drug, cigarette, drink, or addictive habit that is destroying them? We may have all the excuses why we can handle it, and it’s not so bad, yet just like with a narcissist, that’s not the truth of things. And until we deeply heal ourselves, at our core, from the reasons why we are tempted to self-medicate our traumas with abusive objects and people, we may feel powerless to break these cycles.
The good news is, thank goodness, we can heal from and break these terrible self-defeating cycles, and I’m going to share with you how to get that started at the end of this video.
The most toxic and traumatic of relationships include hoovering, which happens often within daily conversations, especially text messages – where you are being gaslighted, confused, guilted, possibly dumped and then reeled back in. Narcissists, if you are traumatised and not self-partnered and focused on healing yourself in your body, can play with you mercilessly like a cat would a mouse on a string.
Many people think hoovering is just pleasantries; flowers, gifts and apologies and promises. It’s not. It’s whatever the narcissist deems necessary to fulfil their self-serving agenda which is to suck you back in and control you again.
Let’s go through the 9 most common methods of hoovering that I usually hear about and have experienced myself.
#1 Telling You the One Thing You Needed to Hear
Generally, the people who get with narcissists are nice people. We like to tell people the truth and speak up and give them a chance. Until we heal and learn to stop codependently trying to fix people so that they can be healthy enough for us to be with, we may have done this ad-nauseum with the narcissist: over and over and over, lecturing and prescribing to them what we need from them to ‘get it’, ‘stop it’ and treat us differently.
Of course, the narcissist has been resisting, twisting and turning and not granting us what we need from them, so eventually after days, weeks or months of having had enough and not getting any validation of our feelings or needs, we may walk away.
Then magically the narcissist ‘gets it’ and tells us what we need to hear right on death-knock.
Mind you, as all good co-dependent fixers we are, we may even have had to put the words into the narcissist’s mouth for them, but somehow we believe we have heard what we needed to and reconnect.
Experience tells us these cycles happen repeatedly, and the narcissist had no true desire or resources to change their behaviour.
The bottom line is this: relationships that don’t reflect integrity, decent values, respect boundaries or care for another’s emotions, are abuse.
#2 Promises for the Future
A hoover may come from a narcissist promising to get help, make an effort, look at their stuff, align with our values, do this, do that, agree to have children, get married … whatever it is.
These are carrots dangled to hold us in, thinking ‘I’ll give you a chance and some time to see if you follow through with these things you are promising.’
Of course, these things don’t happen, and the narcissist never had any intention of fully committing to what you wanted. Their life is not about that, it’s about brokering the deals that are firmly in their favour only.
#3 Appeal to Your Compassion and Sentimentality
Virtually every person who a narcissists mines for narcissistic supply is a good-hearted, giving, caring person.
If a narcissist suffers some tragedy in their life (real or fabricated) this is an opportunity for them to reach out in a hoover, to use your good heart as your weakness to break No Contact.
Sentimentality is another powerful tool, telling you things like their children, or even pet, who you were very close to misses you terribly, as they do too.
You could be very susceptible with this, if you are struggling with the separation or if they send you a message about a memory together, or a photo, or something that brings back the feelings of your connection.
A narcissist may start sobbing in front of you as a result of losing you. Your natural inclination might be to hold and soothe them, and this can be a very big danger. I myself have given in to this hoover with toxic people more times than I can count, where the thought for my own wellbeing and safety went out the window whilst trying to caretake theirs.
A narcissist may go as far as to send you flowers, expensive gifts, give you a marriage proposal, whisk you away on a romantic weekend, whatever it takes. The narcissist may hold your hands and look you in your eyes with undying love.
This type of hoover generally comes when you have meant it, it’s over, and the narcissist must bring out the big guns to try to win you back.
In my experience and with what I have viewed with so many others, if the narcissist had to go to these lengths to win you back then the punishment that is coming, if you reconnect, is obscene. The narcissist hates having to act and behave so vulnerably, and his or her False Self will demand total obedience from you, which of course can’t be appeased.
#4 Apologies and Feigning Taking Responsibility
It’s a powerful hoover when a narcissist admits they have issues, takes responsibility, apologises for their behaviour and says they will change.
At first, because you might believe narcissists don’t take responsibility for their action, and will never apologise, this could throw you into thinking ‘He or she can’t be a narcissist.’ You may be tempted to take it on face value, heave a sigh of relief and think they have come to their senses.
I strongly suggest not taking it at face value. Give it a push with a stick and tell the narcissist that you need evidence, and you won’t reconnect until you see progress and can believe it. Words are no longer enough for you. Hold your ground, don’t reconnect, and see how genuine their statement is.
Generally, the narcissist will unravel very quickly and start telling you how terrible you are to not believe them, complete with accusations about all your issues. And there you have it! The narcissistic three-ring circus starts up again very quickly, on a hair-line trigger.
The narcissist was never concerned about showing how he or she could durably change and earn your trust again, as a decent, real, accountable person would. This was only about telling you whatever it would take to hoover you back in.
Now let’s look at the next level of hoovering that isn’t about niceties. The narcissist can employ these tactics because the niceties didn’t work, or the narcissist refuses to stoop to such a vulnerable level.
Possibly these levels could swap around. The narcissist tried all the nasty, bullying stuff first and then when that didn’t work, pulled out the ‘nice hoovers’.
#5 Random Cryptic Messages
These could be a “Hi, how are you?” or a cryptic message containing some random statement that you may even think was accidentally sent to you, or something completely unrelated to what you think a ‘normal’ person would message you with.
Maybe you have been purposefully ‘pocket dialed’ by this person.
All, of course, designed to test the water, get your head ticking and hopefully get you to message back.
#6 Guilt and Blame
This is the: ‘I was going to leave you first before you left me’ message. Telling you all the reasons why the relationship was your fault, and you were to blame and what a bad person you are. It may be the typical ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’ ‘I don’t want anything to do with you anyway’ message.
Generally, this comes after the narcissist has tried to unsuccessfully hoover you in another way or knows that they have screwed up that badly that niceties are just not going to cut it for you.
If you are incensed about the narcissist taking zero responsibility and twisting it all back on you, you could be hoovered back in again.
Don’t fall for it.
Let the narcissist think or proclaim anything they want to. Nothing you say or do is going to make a scrap of difference. Your resolution lies directly with your self-parenting and healing between you and you.
#7 Threaten You
The nasty bullying, more criminal type narcissists, can use threats to keep you connected or force you to go back to them. Things like: “I will take the house and kids”, “I’ll ruin your business” and “I’ll use this information about you to blackmail you if you try to leave”.
We may give in to this fear, wanting to buy time, or save ourselves from the terrible destruction we just aren’t strong enough to face. I promise you, after having lived through this myself, that the fear doesn’t stop until we heal on the inside and take our power back.
If you are in a dangerous situation, it’s very important that you reach out for support through your community, people who you trust and the domestic violence resources that are available for you. Be as calm, clear and together as you possibly can at these times, so that you are heard and met by those who can help.
A narcissist, after a failed hoover attempt, may try this tactic, retract the desire and effort to reconnect with you, spin on a dime and tell you they are leaving and that he or she is ‘done’, and promptly hang up, stop texting or exit the scene.
If you are still suffering the inner terrors of being rejected and abandoned, this one could trigger you into a panic and make you want to reconnect.
This used to be very big for me. It was a sure-fire way to suck me back in until I healed with the NARP work those parts of me that were very susceptible to this. Maybe this one has detonated you into reconnecting to a toxic person too.
#9 Making You Doubt and Question Yourself
There are many gaslighting techniques narcissists can use in communication with you after a breakup.
He or she may convince you to stay in contact and that you can be friends. Maybe the narcissist will tell you they wish the best for you and care about you. They may even say you have their blessings and they want nothing more than for you to be happy moving forward in your life.
This person may even offer assistance with things, which keeps you hooked in so that they can pick you up and use you for supply again.
You might start to question yourself and think that the relationship issues weren’t that bad and that this person is a good person. Maybe you got it wrong about them.
Narcissists, especially altruistic narcissists, use these methods to reel you back in. It’s not genuine at all.
Be very very clear it is not normal after breakups to stay friends with someone, and it’s not healthy. Healthy people don’t want to do this. They want to take space to heal and will respect you and allow you the space to heal as well. Maybe in time, you can have some sort of healthy non-connected relationship (with people who are not narcissists), but initially, there is absolutely no value, health or growth in staying connected to anyone after a breakup – especially someone who is toxic.
So, all I all we can see that there are many ways a narcissist can get under your skin and hoover you back into a relationship. This is why absolutely No Contact and blocking every way a narcissist can contact you, or at the very least strict Modified Contact through third party communication (only if absolutely necessary such as in the case of parallel-parenting) is vital.
Naturally, initially, we do have all sorts of traumas, hooks and emotional enmeshments and dependencies with these people that make us highly susceptible to being hoovered back in, and these are exactly why we need to self-partner and heal these within our own inner being to get free of any hoover susceptibilities.
Then I promise you, you will be as tempted to pick up a contact attempt as you would to nail yourself to the back of a slamming door. Which in many ways might be less painful!
I know a lot of you have been through repeat hoovers or are terrified about giving in if it happens to you, and And is why I’d love to help you heal and become totally hoover-proof.
You can get that started today, and put an end to the insanity, by connecting to my 16-day free course which includes an invitation to a healing workshop with me, a set of eBooks and so much more. To access these, just click the link on the top right of this video.
And if you want to see more videos make sure you like and subscribe, so you get notified as soon as each new video is released.
So, until next time … keep healing, keep smiling and keep thriving because there’s nothing else to do.
P.S. I just want to say, to all our Thrivers in the United States I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving.
Words can’t express how much I love and appreciate every one of you in this incredible community!
If you are going through a difficult time this Thanksgiving I want you to know that you will get through this. Take care of yourself, dedicate time to healing you, and I and this community are here, standing by you to help you get out to the other side.
As always I look forward to your comments and questions about this very important topic!