What Is Hoovering? The Gamings Narcissists Play to Draw You Back In

A narcissist is not someone you want to be around. They’ll use a range of different tactics to manipulate and control you. You’ve probably heard about gaslighting as one of their go-to options, but what is hoovering? Well, it’s another strategy they use to keep you right where they want you.

What is hoovering?

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 experiences 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.

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.

In addition, narcissists often display the following traits:

  • An inflated sense of self
  • A desire to be better than everyone else, to the point where they will befriend those who they identify as helping them to look better
  • A constant need for validation and recognition
  • Exaggerating their achievements, talents, and anything they have done
  • Using and abusing those around them to get what they want
  • Dominating conversations
  • Expect everyone to bend to their will and to give special treatment
  • Have to have the best of everything, e.g. the latest car, phone, etc.
  • Arrogance and become jealous easily
  • No care for the feelings of others

Hoovering tricks – 8 of the most obviously 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.

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.

Here are a few signs that hoovering is happening to you.

1. They act like the 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 try to flatter you with 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.

3. They apologize, but it’s hollow and meaningless

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.

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.

5. They find 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.

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. They turn on the charm and try and get you to see their good side, although it’s not in existence in reality.

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. If none of the above works, they’ll try and create some 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.

8. They pretend they 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.

How to avoid falling foul of hoovering

So, what can you do to help protect yourself against hoovering?

1. Remember why you left

The whole point of hoovering is to suck you back in by showing you their so-called good side. Narcissists in particular will use the charm to attract you and then drop it when they think they’ve got you where they want you. When they sense that you’re slipping out of their clutches a little, they’ll turn the charm on once more. Remember why you left. It’s hard to do, but pull those painful memories of how they treated you to the forefront of your mind and use them to stop you from going back.

2. Surround yourself with support

It’s possible that you became isolated from your friends and family during your relationship with this person, because that’s what narcissistic people try to do. However, they’ll always be there for you, waiting for you to ask for their help. Now is that time. Surround yourself with people who love and care for you and lean upon them during this difficult time.

3. Block all contact

Delete and block their phone number. Block them from all forms of social media. Do not read any messages from people you do not know, as it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to create fake profiles to try and get to you. Do not respond to any type of contact at all – they will lie and do whatever they need to do in order to start the hoovering process but you must be immune to it. Block, block, block!

4. Start planning your future

The best way to start building your confidence is to focus upon yourself. Start planning your future. What do you want to do? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but not got around to yet? Do you want to change your hair? Whatever you want to do, go for it now! You’re free. Your life is your own. You can create any new reality you want now you’re free from the clutches of this abusive relationship.


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