It’s always hard to deal with a narcissist, whether you’re still in the toxic relationship or you’ve recently left it. But due to the narcissist’s behaviors and patterns, there are times when we find ourselves feeling weak, almost powerless to resist their charms – even when we KNOW BETTER.
One of those times is during the narcissistic hoovering phase. So that’s why we’re talking about hoovering and how you can deal with it today.
So what is hoovering, anyway?
The “hoovering” technique was named after the famous vacuum cleaner company, and it’s one of many common manipulation tactics employed by abusive, toxic narcissists.
This is when a narcissist sort of “sucks” his victim back into the relationship, or some version of it. It often begins innocently enough, sort of subtly, but it always happens with one target – to regain control.
Hoovering usually begins after the devalue and discard phases, when the silent treatment has stopped giving the narcissist pleasure, and when he’s ready for more of the supply you’ve been feeding him all these months or years. Or, it’ll start when you’ve left the narcissist and he fears you won’t return.
The idea is that the narcissist needs to reestablish contact with you in order to get the narcissistic supply you’re so good at providing.
This is a dangerous tactic, because once a narcissist gets back into your good graces, you’ll often find yourself being love-bombed and hearing promises of brighter days ahead – but sadly, they won’t last.
10 Ways Deal with a Narcissist’s Hoovering
So, now that you know WHAT it is, how do you deal with being hoovered? Well, if you’re still stuck in the toxic relationship, you might as well just let hit happen – BUT, with a few safeguards in place.
First, don’t take the bait – because if you do, you may end up allowing the narc to cross your boundaries and you’ll end up settling for less than you really deserve.
Plus, you don’t want to allow yourself to start doing things that you wouldn’t normally do, and you don’t want to stop taking care of yourself in favor of the narc’s needs.
And most importantly, don’t give up your own independence.
But in general, the best way to cope with hoovering is to follow these guidelines.
1. Don’t let your boundaries be changed or broken during the hoovering phase. It’s too easy to “give in” during this phase – don’t!
2. If you’ve put safeguards (or consequences) in place due to the narcissist’s bad decisions, you need to keep those in place even and especially during hoovering .
3. KNOW that this phase WILL end and you’ll be back to “normal” status with the narcissist at some point. Look at previous patterns for an idea on how long it might last.
4. Make a special effort to maintain your healthy activities and relationships – and even increase the engagement with these healthy situations in order to strengthen your recovery efforts.
5. A lot of times, we use hoovering to bargain with our narcissists. We try to create positive change in our relationships during this time because the narcissists seem so receptive (moreso than usual) to our requests – but you’ve got to understand that most of the time, any change created will be quite short-lived – you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.
6. Keep in mind that, as big of a jerk as he or she can be, a narcissist is a person who has a personality disorder – and mood swings or rapidly changing ideals are a big part of that.
7. Remember that knowledge is power. Educate yourself on NPD and make an effort to understand what you’re really dealing with. Often, understanding can lead to overcoming.
8. Don’t allow yourself to depend on the narcissist emotionally. They will disappoint you every time, especially when it matters the most to you. The hoovering phase can cloud your judgment and you might even end up setting yourself up for some real emotional devastation if you allow your narc to lull you into a false sense of security and intimacy.
9. If you have been physically abused and the hoovering is an attempt to make you forget it – don’t. Get some help – check out the emergency domestic violence page on QueenBeeing.com and don’t waste a minute – your life could literally depend on it. Take care of yourself!
10. Understand this deal for what it is. The narcissist does not love you – the narcissist is not capable of actual love. In fact, you’re just a pawn in his or her little game – so get off the roller coaster as soon as you can – go no contact or low contact. If you aren’t able to completely cut all contact, try the gray rock method.
The bottom line is that the one thing you can count on with a narcissist is that they don’t change. They might get better at hiding their true selves, and they might pretend to change for a while to get you back – but they certainly don’t ever actually change.
Here are some ways narcissists try to hoover you back into the toxic relationship. Each of these was collected from a survivor of narcissistic abuse and is a true story.
Have you experienced hoovering before? How did you deal with it? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
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- Toxic Relationships: Recognizing Signs of Abuse
- The Ultimate Resource List for Help and Support for Victims of Narcissism
- Free Help for Victims of Narcissism and Gaslighting
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.