12 Manipulative Narcissist Hoovering Tactics to Be Wary Of

narcissist hoovering


Discover the manipulative narcissist hoovering tactics used to draw victims back into toxic relationships and protect yourself from manipulation.

What is Hoovering in a Relationship?

Hoovering in a relationship is a manipulative tactic used by individuals, often narcissists, to draw their victims back into a relationship or maintain control over them after a period of separation or distance.

The term “hoovering” is derived from the Hoover vacuum cleaner, symbolizing how narcissists attempt to “suck” their victim back into their orbit.

Narcissists use hoovering tactics to draw their victims back into their sphere of influence after a period of separation or distance. These tactics can be manipulative and often exploit the victim’s vulnerabilities.

12 Narcissist Hoovering Tactics

Here are some common narcissist hoovering tactics and techniques that they use to manipulate their victims:

#1. Fake Promises & Apologies

They may offer heartfelt apologies and make grand promises to change their behavior, often claiming they have seen the error of their ways and will never repeat their past mistakes.

Beware: This is a narcissistic hoovering tactic, which means these promises are rarely kept, and the cycle of manipulation and abuse continues, leaving the victim in a perpetual state of hope and disappointment.

#2. Love Bombing

Showering the victim with affection, compliments, and attention, similar to the initial stages of the relationship, to make the victim feel special and valued.

Beware: Love bombing is a temporary and manipulative narcissistic hoovering tactic to regain control, eventually giving way to the same harmful patterns of behavior that caused the initial rift.

#3. Playing the Victim

They might portray themselves as the victim, explaining how much they have suffered without the person and how their life has fallen apart in their absence.

Beware: This portrayal is a narcissistic hoovering tactic aiming to guilt-trip the victim into returning, while the narcissist fails to take responsibility for their actions or make genuine efforts to change.

#4. False Emergencies

Creating a sense of urgency by fabricating crises or emergencies, suggesting that they desperately need the victim’s help and support.

Beware: These narcissistic hoovering tactics masquerading as crises are often exaggerated or entirely fabricated, designed to manipulate the victim into feeling responsible and returning to the relationship out of a false sense of duty.

#5. Guilt-Tripping

Making the victim feel guilty for leaving or for the narcissist’s current suffering, suggesting that their absence has caused significant harm or distress.

Beware: This narcissistic hoovering tactic is designed to make the victim feel responsible for the narcissist’s emotions and actions, deflecting blame and avoiding accountability for their behavior.

hoovering narcissist

#6. Rekindling Memories

Bringing up happy memories from the past to remind the victim of the good times and to create a sense of nostalgia and longing for those moments.

Beware: This narcissistic hoovering tactic uses nostalgia as a tool to manipulate the victim’s emotions, distracting them from the negative aspects of the relationship and fostering a desire to return to what once seemed perfect.

#7. Promises of Future Happiness

Painting a rosy picture of the future together, filled with promises of happiness, stability, and mutual goals that they never intended to fulfill (also called future faking).

Beware: These narcissistic hoovering tactics are often empty promises and serve as a means to lure the victim back into the relationship, only to be met with the same patterns of manipulation and abuse.

#8. Using Mutual Connections

Enlisting mutual friends, family members, or acquaintances to act as intermediaries, persuading the victim to give the narcissist another chance.

Beware: This narcissistic hoovering tactic is a form of manipulation where the narcissist uses others to pressure the victim into re-engaging, often without considering the victim’s feelings or well-being.

#9. Sudden Acts of Kindness

Performing unexpected acts of kindness or giving thoughtful gifts to show they care, hoping to lure the victim back through generosity.

Beware: These narcissistic hoovering tactics are often used as a way to guilt-trip the victim into returning or to create a sense of obligation, rather than genuine expressions of care or remorse.

#10. Manipulating Children or Pets

Using children or pets as emotional leverage implies that the children or pets miss the victim or need the victim back in their lives.

Beware: This narcissistic hoovering tactic is manipulative, as the narcissist is exploiting the victim’s love for their children or pets to guilt-trip them into returning to the relationship, rather than addressing the underlying issues that led to the separation.

narcissistic hoovering

#11. Feigning Illness or Injury

Pretending to be seriously ill or injured evokes sympathy and concern from the victim, compelling them to return out of worry or care.

Beware: This narcissistic hoovering tactic is deceitful, as the narcissist is exploiting the victim’s empathy and compassion to meet their own needs, without genuine regard for the victim’s well-being.

#12. Subtle Contact

Sending casual messages, such as “I found your old book” or “I heard a song that reminded me of you,” to subtly re-establish contact and gauge the victim’s response.

Beware: This narcissistic hoovering tactic is a manipulative ploy to test the waters and see if the victim is receptive to rekindling the relationship, without taking full responsibility for their past actions or addressing the underlying issues that led to the breakup.

Understanding these narcissistic hoovering examples and recognizing these narcissist hoovering tactics can help you know what hoovering looks like to protect yourself from being drawn back into toxic and manipulative relationships.

It is essential to maintain firm boundaries, learn healthy ways to respond to hoovering by a narcissist, and seek support from trusted friends, family, or professionals when dealing with a narcissist’s hoovering tactics.

How to Respond to Hoovering in a Relationship

Most victims of narcissistic abuse have suffered childhood trauma and tend to recreate the conditions of that trauma in their adult relationships until they do the therapeutic work required to heal their trauma and unmet childhood needs.

The first step on the healing journey is learning about narcissistic abuse and understanding the reasons why you attract narcissists. The self-help books and courses below will help you learn all about narcissism and how to respond to hoovering in a relationship.

Esther Perel MasterClass

What is Hoovering in a Relationship
What is Narcissistic Hoovering

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