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What Is Hoovering? The Games Narcissists Play to Suck You Back In

Hoovering is what a narcissist will do to get you back under their spell. Suctioning you in like a vacuum does a piece of dirt. Don’t fall for it!

what is hoovering

Hoovering is a technique used by people who are either narcissists, borderline personality, sociopaths, or any other type of personality disorders where other people on earth are nothing more than an instrument or tool to get what they want or where they want to be.

It is called hoovering because it is a situation where a person literally sucks someone back into a dysfunctional relationship once the victim found their way out.

Someone who is the victim of narcissistic abuse often experience symptoms like post-traumatic stress syndrome. They exhibit anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, cognitive dissonance, and panic attacks.

When they finally do break away and find a new normal outside the abuser, the abuser tries to “suck” them back in, hence hoover. Once more, the abuser treats the person like dirt, so it makes sense on all fronts.

When a narcissist is hoovering someone, all bets are off. They use every emotional hot spot and vulnerability to get them back. Once they suck them back in, they no longer want them. A horrible form of abuse, if you get out of a narcissistic or emotionally abusive relationship, it is imperative that you block all communication and stop getting sucked back in. [Read: 16 subtle signs a narcissist is abusing you]

Why do narcissists hoover?

A narcissist lives and dies by the attention and adoration they receive from those around them. When they have someone, they no longer want them. But, if you pull away and they fear they can’t siphon all your emotions and leave you dry, they turn on the charm to get you back.

They have a pathological fear of not being respected, loved, or that they are worthless. They use someone to fill their emotional need to be important. They do it covertly, however, through emotional manipulation. [Read: Emotional manipulation – 14 ways people mess with your mind]

Hoovering tricks – 8 most obvious ways people try to suck you in

A narcissist needs people who give them attention. Not just one fan but many, who they use to make themselves feel important and worthwhile. Being empty on the inside, they find love and acceptance from others to survive.

Much like a predator, they choose their victims wisely, usually highly-empathetic, low on self-esteem, and co-dependent on the need to be loved. [Read: Selfish people – How to spot and stop them from hurting you]

How do you know if you are being hoovered?

If you finally let go of a relationship that felt abusive, you are probably confused and trying to heal from the emotional turmoil. If you had any questions about if you made the right decision, don’t second guess yourself and let them gaslight you. Or make you feel as if you made the entire thing up in your head. You know what they were doing wasn’t right. You finally made the break. Stick with it and cut them loose.

These are all tactics of hoovering you must resist. Remember, they aren’t in love with you. They are in love with the way you made them feel. The love they promise isn’t real. If it were, you wouldn’t have left to begin with. [Read: Gaslighting – 16 signs your lover is toying with your mind]

#1 They pretend that your relationship never ended. A hoovering technique is to pretend that you never ended the relationship. Negating you leaving, telling them goodbye, or that you told them it was over and wanted nothing to do with them, is a tactic to make you second guess what really went on. A narcissist often acts as if you are still a couple no matter how many times you say “it’s over.”

#2 They send unexpected gifts. Since you are a possession to them, to get you back, they think giving you a gift is the way to win you over. Whether it is flowers, tickets to an event with an invitation, or even lavish jewelry, a narcissist does what they can to win you back through buying your love.

Since their love is based on something other than emotion, they use whatever tactic they can to suck you back in.

#3 Hollow apologies. It isn’t that they aren’t willing to say sorry to win you back, it is that they aren’t truly sorry. Since they know that is what you probably look for; they have no problem saying, “I am sorry” for their behavior. Beware! That doesn’t mean they really own up to their mistakes or even feel remorse.

It is just an attempt to use your vulnerabilities as a good-natured soul to win you back. [Read: Relationship without trust: Can *or should* it last?]

#4 They indirectly manipulate you like a puppet master. If they can’t get to you directly because either you blocked them or just refuse to answer them at all, they have no shame about going behind your back to find the person to get to you. They know if they just get to you, they can hook you again.

The key to circumvent manipulation is typically finding someone in your heart which means the most to you. Children are always a good target, as are those you trust most. Going to the people who you confide in to plead their case, they manipulate you into taking them back.

Other forms of manipulation are coercion. If you share children or even dogs with them, they have no problem using them as pawns in their game of hoovering. [Read: Manipulative people – How to spot them and stop playing the victim]

#5 Finding reasons to message you. Even if you made it clear that the two of you are over, someone who hoovers you, continues to send you mundane messages. Things like “tell your mother happy birthday for me” or “did you take my photo album?” when you haven’t ever seen their album collection.

The randomness of the messages keeps you on your toes. They continually interject themselves into your life, waiting for the opening when you just give in and answer back. [Read: 12 reasons why the no contact rule is the only thing that works]

#6 Telling you how much they love you. The trickiness to this maneuver is that they are incapable of love, but know love is all you crave.

A narcissist goes to great lengths, even feigning love for you or telling you things like you are their “one and only soulmate.” Or they “loved you the first time they met you.” It is all a ploy to suck you back in.

#7 Use drama. When you no longer adore a narcissist and cut them out, and all their efforts fail, they might give it one last ditch effort by creating drama. Whether it is spreading lies or making up scenarios about what you did to them, revenge is going to be their last effort at getting you to give in and come back.

Like a two-year-old stamping their feet, they have no problem making your life hell to get you to give up and just come back to make it stop. [Read: 23 secret signs of narcissism people overlook until it’s too late]

#8 Pretend to really need you. Since you are a giving soul *which is why they targeted you to begin with*, a narcissist pretends that they need you back because they are in trouble.

Knowing you are the type of person who can’t not step in to aid someone who needs them, regardless of how you feel about them, they do whatever they can to get to you, including faking scenarios like a sudden or dramatic illness to lure you back.

To a narcissist, there isn’t anything too far reaching or out of bounds to get you back in their adoration net. Either covertly or overtly they do anything in their power to suck you back in, just like a vacuum. So they once again feed off of you to make themselves feel fulfilled.

[Read: Controlling people: 14 common traits and ways to deal with them]

No matter how hard it is, if you gave up and moved on, continue moving. Don’t get under the suction range of their hoovering.

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Julie Keating

A writer isn’t born, but created out of experiences. No lack of subject matter, my life reads more like fiction than anything that could have been imagined...

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