What Is Hoovering? How Does a Narcissist Reel You Back In?



Hoovering. I love that word!

I’m not talking about vacuuming the floors.

I’m talking about hoovering in abusive relationships. Narcissist hoovering.

It’s such a brilliant word because it absolutely sums up what it means. It does what it says on the tin.

Want to know more about hoovering? Check this video out below!

1) Narcissist hoovering

This usually happens after an episode of abuse. Or, when you are threatening to leave, or have recently left an abusive relationship.

The narcissist fears they’re losing control over you – it’s their greatest fear.

A narcissist has to have control over you to make themselves feel better about themselves.

The way they do this is to hoover you back in.

They tell you:

I love you.
I’m sorry that’s not the real me.
I’m going to change.
It’ll never happen again.

Related: 8 Signs You Are The Victim of an Abusive “Hoovering” Narcissist

2) Love hoovering

They’re so loving and attentive. Envelope you with this positive emotion and they love-bomb you with all their might.

You get their nice side back again. The one you first fell in love with.

You believe that maybe this time they will change. That’s the lie that makes us go back to them and stay for way too long.

It’s what we want to believe as we have this fantasy man (or woman) in our heads.  The one we hope they’ll become with our help.

Don’t listen to a narcissist when they hoover you. It’s just a manipulative tactic.

They’ll say whatever they need to say to suck you back in. They’ll be loving and nice only as long as it takes for them to regain control over you.

Then the cycle of abuse will return.

3) Covert narcissist hoovering

Hoovering can also happen when you leave an abusive relationship and try to go cold turkey and have no contact with them.

Even if you’ve cut them off, changed phone numbers, they’ll somehow find you and send you a random text.

Why are you doing this to me when I love you, have promised I’ll change and need you now more than ever? 

They guilt trip you. They want you to feel sorry for them and bad about leaving them.

It might even be after you’ve been discarded by them. Dumped in a cruel and cold way.

Narcissists do this when they no longer feel they are getting what they need from you. Then move on to their next supply.

Someone who will let them manipulate them and won’t question or call them out on their behavior.

Quite often before they do their final discard of you, they’ve already lined up their next supply. They dump you, then go on to a new parasitic relationship.

They’ll be with this new person parading around on social media and you’ll think:

Did they ever love me?
Maybe I was to blame for the abuse?

Because they seem so happy together.  It really hurts when they discard you and more so because they’re rubbing salt in the wound.

4) Narcissist hoovering techniques

Then out of the blue one day, you get a text.

How are you? I miss you!

That’s the vacuum cleaner coming out.


They’re hoovering you.

They want to keep you dangling just enough to be plan B if this new supply/relationship doesn’t work out.

Related: 15 Things Narcissists Don’t Do

Or, it just gives them a sense of power to have control over you again. To still have you dangling there, even though they’re with someone new.

Don’t fall for the vacuum cleaner and their hoovering techniques! Don’t let them reel you back in.

No matter what they’re saying to you when they’re hoovering you – and I know they can be the most loving, beautiful, wonderful person when they are. DO NOT listen to what they say.

Narcissists are arch-manipulators. Don’t listen to their words, especially when their actions aren’t aligned with them. They’ll say whatever they think you want to hear and then do the opposite.

Don’t believe them when they say:

I will change this time.

I promise it will never happen again.

Where’s the proof?

Have they gone and done a couple of years of therapy with a trained counselor to really change their behavior?

My guess is No.

Chances are they’ll come back to you and then go:

Well I did say I was going to change and now you’re not being supportive enough.

That is, blame you. Then in this smoke screen, it gets forgotten that they were going to change.

Don’t listen to them.

Write down a list of all the reasons you left. All the things they did to hurt you.

Put it on the fridge if you need to.

When they’re telling you these loving wonderful things, hoovering you and trying to make you feel guilty. Trying to make you come back to them.

Go back to that list. Read that list to remind yourself why you left, because those reasons haven’t changed. They still stand.

They’re hoovering you with their nice side, not their nasty side. That nasty side of them who has just hurt you and abused you.

Their nice persona is the most dangerous side of them. Because if you listen to them and believe what they’re saying and get sucked back in. Then you go back into the abusive cycle and the abuse will only get worse.

The longer you stay exposed to that sort of manipulation, psychological manipulation and coercive control, the harder it will be to leave.

I know it’s hard to resist. When you leave or try to leave a narcissist it becomes Olympic medal levels of hoovering.

It’s tough not to listen to them. You want to believe them because you do still love them.

You didn’t ask for this abusive side to come into your relationship.

But please understand, there are no two sides to a narcissist.  The nasty abusive side and the nice one is the same person.

If anything they really are the nasty abusive person. That nice, loving person is just a mask to fool you into thinking that this time it’s going to be different.

Try not to get sucked back in. The easiest way not to is to go cold turkey and have zero contact with them.

Some of you might have children with them, so if you can I would try to deal with a third party to do with any access arrangements.

Related: 15 Lies A Narcissist Says To Keep You Around

Cut off all contact if you can.

I know how hard this is and how much that’s going to hurt, but it’s better to feel that pain and walk away from them.

That pain won’t last forever and you will be walking towards your freedom.

Get help if you need it to stand firm and not get sucked back in by their hoovering. And to fill that void you have inside with as much self-love as you can so that you’ll be strong enough to say:

No, that behavior is not good enough. I deserve better.

You do deserve better.

When you hear that hoover startup, block your ears.

Have you ever, or are you experiencing narcissist hoovering? Let me know in the comments below.

Originally appeared on VivianMcGrath.com
Written by Vivian McGrath
Printed with permission from author
Hoovering Ways A Narcissist Reels You Back In
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  1. Brice Avatar

    I m afraid to read those words.. “the hoovering” is how my husband succeed to bring me back twice to him after I left with my kids …and I m still with him although i fell(abuse/manipulate /and totally destroyed). I m so afraid … i came to USA with my daughter for him because I thought I met the man of my life.(he gave me a ring in Africa and I came here to get married with him.i was pregnant .his baby. ) Almost 4 years ago… He first ruin me , insult me , battered sometimes, lies to me beatred me and my daughter, totally isolated me to keep control ,oh yes always keep control in many ways…manipulated our immigration proccess ( no working permit until now ,and my daughter has the green card being deny because he did not provide all the documents they asked). Is it on purpose??? He always wanted to separate me from her…I feel those headache every morning because i cannot sleep during the night .I used to be a brilliant and professional woman in my country but now I m like I m lost..every thing is confuse in my head …i keep thinking of all those bad stuff he did to me and I m afraid that he can do that again at any time .I m afraid to loose my 3 years old boy if I leave , and meantime I don t have any money to take care iof myself and my children if I leave…I hope that this group will help me to have the strength take the good decision and leave him definitely what ever can happen

    1. Kmcclain Avatar

      Just keep reading, it has helped me and it will help you..be strong you have been through enough!!

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