Narcissists lavish praise and attention on people to charm and win them over.
They also tend to “hoover” when they are rejected or threatened with rejection.
When a narcissist hoovers, it means they’re trying to entice you back into their company. Learn how to deal with narcissistic hoovering.
Recognizing Narcissist Hoovering
When a narcissist suspects that you are about to leave them, they will go to great lengths to make you feel special, and will begin to flatter and charm you.
They’ll also try to convince you that you are better off with them than with anyone else. These attempts to keep you in the relationship are called “hoovering.”
Here are three uncomfortable signs that you are being hoovered by a narcissist:
- They make you feel guilty for not wanting to spend more time with them.
- It becomes difficult to break up because you think you’re doing something wrong.
- You start to feel jealous of other people who seem to enjoy spending time with them.
How To Respond To Narcissist Hoovering
Recognizing the warning signs of narcissist hoovering can help you leave the toxic relationship.
Here are what else you can do to respond to narcissistic hoovering:
1. Do not reveal your breakup intentions.
The first thing you should do if you are thinking about breaking up with them is to never tell them until you are far away from them and completely safe.
Do not even allow them the opportunity to hoover you.
Remember, the most successful narcissistic abuse survivors actively protect themselves, physically, financially, and emotionally.
2. Plan meticulously. Take decisive actions fast.
If you are ready to leave the relationship, you must act fast.
These people are excellent strategists. If the narcissist has started hoovering, it is probably a little late to raise your shield.
They always have the next six steps planned when they are at the second step.
If they warn you to be cautious of a certain friend, they may have already poisoned them against you.
Make plans and preparations for how you will spend the next few months without them.
Even if you have meticulously planned, they may show up at your work, home, or a place you are visiting. Make a quick decision on how to get out of the situation without engaging with them.
The rejected narcissist will try every desperate and vindictive tactic to control, destroy, or ruin your life and career.
When you tell them you’re leaving, keep it brief.
And make it clear that you will not debate the whys.
3. Block them completely out of your life.
The next step would be to remove all traces of them from your life by blocking them on phones, emails, and social media.
4. Use these anti-hoovering strategies after no contact.
Once you go no-contact with them, they will begin hoovering either immediately or after some time. If they have already begun their dirty tricks, they will intensify the hoovering.
Use the following anti-hoovering strategies in response:
- If they manage to get through to you, warn them that they must not approach you again for any help, whether they are in a personal, professional, or financial crisis. Firmly reiterate your six boundaries.
- Insist that they do not interfere with your life in any way, whether in real life (IRL) or in the digital metaverse (Meta). Warn them that you will have them arrested for stalking.
- Do not contact them under any circumstances, no matter how horrible you feel about leaving them in such a poor state. Beware that they are capable of doing anything terrible to you out of revenge.
- Ignore everyone who carries messages to you that you have done something wrong to the narcissist. They may be the narcissist’s flying monkeys (people sent by the narcissist to shepherd you back).
- Do not respond to the news of their self-harming acts. If you receive some bad news about them, the most humane course of action is to get a psychological service to contact them directly, inform the police, or call 911.
- If they have succeeded to disturb your inner balance and mental sanity, please seek professional help yourself.
5 Tips To Deal With A Narcissist After They Hoover You Back
If a narcissist hoovers you back into the relationship, you will go through their narcissistic abuse cycle routine.
Here are 5 practical tips to protect yourself after being hoovered back into the narcissistic relationship:
1. Don’t fall for their honey-dew smooth hoovering behavior.
Do not put your trust in their promises.
Do not believe that they have permanently changed their ways.
Keep in mind that they still do not love you unconditionally, selflessly, or more than they love themselves.
2. Tell them exactly where they stand, which is that they are on probation.
You are back with them because you expect them to behave better.
You have not softened your stand as a result of their sweet and caring gestures, since you have already decided to leave them.
3. You can change your mind and your relationships whenever you want.
Make sure to repeat in your mind that you will not do anything wrong if you change your mind once again and break up with them.
You do not have to stick to your decision because people will otherwise label you as fickle-minded.
4. Be suspicious of anyone who even remotely knows the narcissist.
Be careful of who you trust. The narc can surround you with their flying monkeys once they hoover you back.
Tell them you don’t trust any of them as much as you used to, and are not compelled to stay in the relationship.
Notify people who know you both, as well as your family, friends, and other support groups.
5. Stay alert for the first signs of abuse and power struggles.
Keep an eye out for the first signs of narcissistic abuse and insult.
Get out of the relationship as soon as you see them trying to control you, gaslight you, or belittle you.
Spending your days safe and out of their reach rather than trying to wait for them to change for the better will save you a great deal of grief in the future.
- Living with pathological narcissism: A qualitative study. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation. Day, Townsend, & Grenyer, 2020. Link: https://doi.org/10.1186/s40479-020-00132-8
- Recognizing narcissistic abuse and the implications for mental health nursing practice. Issues in Mental Health Nursing. Howard, 2019. Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/01612840.2019.1590485
- Responding to domestic abuse: A resource for health professionals. Department of Health, 2017. Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/domestic-abuse-a-resource-for-health-professionals
- Virtual world, real fear: Women’s Aid report into online abuse, harassment and stalking. Women’s Aid, Laxton, 2014. Link: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/evidence-hub/research-and-publications/virtual-world-real-fear/
- ‘Women’s violence to men in intimate relationships: Working on a Puzzle’, British Journal of Criminology. Dobash & Dobash, 2004. Link: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azh026
If you find yourself being suddenly wooed by a narcissist, speed up your decision and action to take a permanent break from the narcissist.
They will always lack empathy, exploit others, feel entitled, and have a grandiose sense of self-importance.
No medicines can treat them. Some scholars argue against medicalizing narcissistic behaviors and traits since doing so effectively provides narcissistic people with yet another excuse to not accept responsibility for their harmful behavior (“Don’t You Know Who I Am?”: How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility, Ramani S. Durvasula, 2019).
Do not think they will change themselves for good and things will be different this time.
Do not think you can change them.
Just leave them.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).
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