Today, I’m answering a question from a viewer named Mariposa, who asks why sometimes narcissists don’t hoover. She also wants to know how to stop thinking about the fact that the narcissist left you and is now living happily ever after with a new source of narcissistic supply. You can also see this video on why the narcissist doesn’t hoover, right here.
This is a great question. First, let’s define hoovering.
What is hoovering?
Named after the famous vacuum cleaner company, Hoovering is what we call it when the narcissist tries to “suck you back in” after the discard. This can be drama-related or it can be an attempt to reconcile the relationship or to get you to break no contact.
Hoovering usually begins after the devalue and discard phases, when the silent treatment has stopped giving the narcissist pleasure, and when they’re ready for more of the supply you’ve been feeding them all these months or years. Or, it’ll start when you’ve left the narcissist and they fear 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. But what about when they don’t hoover? Why does that happen?
Why the Narcissist Doesn’t Hoover
There are a number of reasons – starting with the one you mentioned – the narcissist is currently involved with love bombing a new source of narcissistic supply.
I know, it seems like everything is going to be better for the new supply. Suddenly, the narcissist is being the person you begged them to be the whole time you were together.
You probably think that they have miraculously learned all the things that you tried to teach them, and now they’re using all those amazing skills on someone else. But let me ask you something…if you think back to the person you originally met when you met the narcissist – who did they seem to be?
I’m betting they acted a lot more like the person you’re seeing with the new supply than the person you’ve been in a relationship with for the last however-many years. Right?
That’s because this whole thing is a cycle. NPD does not just disappear when the narcissist gets a new source of narcissistic supply. No new person or thing will suddenly make the narcissist suddenly normal, kinder, less abusive, more rational, or better behaved.
The disorder has become part of who they are, and it seeps into every relationship and interaction the narcissist has. This isn’t limited to romantic relationships. It extends to family members, including but definitely not limited to their children.
It includes their neighbors, coworkers, friends and even acquaintances. This is hard-wired in the brain and permanent.
NPD changes only in that it worsens with age. It’s a cycle and the only thing that changes about it is who it involves. This new person will eventually become “old news” and then they’ll know what you went through. And then, if I’m being honest, you might see the hoover.
Other reasons narcissists might not hoover include the following.
1. You have managed to damage their ego enough that they can’t stand to be rejected again. You said or did something that made the narcissist realize that you won’t take them back. And that might be because of number two.
2. You have managed to develop a true sense of self-esteem that has given you the ability to set and maintain healthy boundaries and the narcissist recognizes that you cannot be controlled anymore.
3. You have served your purpose in their lives, or they only “cast” you in a specific role, which has now ended. This is most likely the case if you were someone who might have been “the other man/woman” or a non-romantic partner used to help manipulate someone or to meet some other goal.
What You Need to Know When the Narcissist Doesn’t Come Back
This next part is really important. You said you were not proud of how you’d acted at certain points and you mentioned that you wondered if you were the reason you broke up. I’m guessing by now you’ve figured out that you weren’t really the problem. But just in case you haven’t, let me explain.
First, you have to remember that narcissists have this way of making you feel like you’re crazy by acting like your reaction to their abuse and manipulation is not warranted or rational.
When a narcissist is lying or manipulating a friend, coworker or loved one, and isn’t getting their way, they may turn up the intensity by questioning your sanity. You might be called paranoid, stressed out—too sensitive or even hormonal. They might even tell you that you need therapy or meds to get through it. Again, it’s all about being in control.
The intensity of a narcissist’s manipulation tactics can really get to a person. And when you are looking for a solution (AKA a way to just END the disagreement or argument), you might just convince yourself that the narcissist is right—that there are things you could be doing better.
And maybe you start to think that maybe the narcissist’s behavior WAS a logical reaction to your mistakes. Maybe you are the one who owes THEM an apology. And when you apologize, they might eventually accept your apology, maybe – but only to later throw your “bad behavior” back in your face when it serves them.
My point? You have only been reacting to their manipulation. This is not your fault.
Healing After Narcissistic Abuse in a Toxic Relationship
So, how do you heal and start to move forward? Well, first you need to properly grieve the relationship. Have you done that yet? Take the time to intentionally recognize the loss in your life, and allow the emotions to flow through you.
It’s not going to be easy, but it’s necessary if you’re going to get through this. I suggest you set aside a specific period of time to do this – maybe a weekend, a week, a month or even a few months – depending on your schedule and how intensely the relationship affected you.
Cry, throw things, do whatever you need to do to get the emotions out. I also suggest journaling and maybe writing a very specific letter, which is described in the video.
You also want to put an end date on your mourning period. Decide what day you’re going to begin living again. Even though you won’t be magically healed on the day you intend to start living again, the intention can be powerful in helping you move forward.
After this time, and anytime you can’t take the time to cry or be sad/angry or whatever – you’ll want to use pattern interrupt to get through the difficult moments.
Most of all, I want you to remember that you deserve to be loved and that you deserve to have peace in your life and in your home.
You have to love yourself unconditionally – like you’d love your child, your best friend, pet or anyone else in your life who you love without conditions.
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.