When the Narcissist Wants to Stay Friends After the Discard

Written by Angela Atkinson

Have you ever wondered why some narcissists always want to seem to stay friends with their exes? Have you personally dealt with a narcissistic ex who insisted on being friends? It makes any sane person wonder why someone who clearly did not care about you during your relationship would be interested in maintaining your friendship, right?

It seems a little ridiculous. Whether it’s a full-on hoover maneuver or it’s just a misguided attempt to secure you as a backup source of narcissistic supply, you’re probably feeling a little confused on whether it’s even safe to be friendly with someone like this – that is, if the idea doesn’t make you feel absolutely disgusted.

What is the hoover maneuver?

The hoover maneuver, also known as hoovering is what we call it when the narcissist tries to sort of gain your attention again, or to “suck you back in” after the discard. The hoover maneuver isn’t always just about getting back together, but it can be drama-related or it can be an attempt to reconcile the relationship. In many cases, the hoover is used when you go no contact as an attempt to reconnect with you. (Side note: Yes, the “hoover” is named after the famous vacuum cleaner company).

What is narcissistic supply?

Narcissistic supply is basically your energy and attention and the narcissist requires it to feel like a whole person.  You and anyone else in the narcissist’s life will be used as a source of narcissistic supply to get attention, validation, admiration. Sometimes, narcissistic supply includes sex, but not always. The narcissist uses this “supply” to feed their ever-fragile ego and to maintain their false self. The narcissist may also have a circle of supply or “narcissistic harem,” which can include intimate partners, children, parents, other family members, friends, employees and coworkers, and even acquaintances.

How can you tell a narcissist is hoovering you?

When the narcissist has discarded you (or even if you’ve discarded them), they will sometimes tell you they’d like to stay friends, or they’ll say they’d like to continue your intimate relationship.

Any situation like this is a narcissist who is hoovering. But here’s the thing. Hoovering is not wanting to sincerely rekindle a relationship that went bad. It is a manipulative tactic that the narcissist uses to get you back into their control, whether or not they want to continue the actual relationship. As always, narcissists seem to have a playbook, and there are some common behaviors that narcissists might demonstrate when they’re using this particular manipulation tactic.

1. The Sentimental Out-of-Nowhere Call

You may not have heard from your narcissistic ex for six months and then all of a sudden they call you to say they saw a movie or heard a song that reminded them of you. They do this on purpose. In their minds, they’ve given you time to get over their abuse, so they’re hoping you’ve forgotten who they really are (and that you’ll allow yourself to be reeled back in by your own sentimental feelings). Don’t fall for it.

2. The Fake Apology

Narcissists only apologize for anything if they believe it will benefit them to do so. They don’t feel remorse for things they’ve done unless they’re being punished for their behavior – and even then, they are only sorry they got caught. But when the fake apology comes, it’s all about getting what they want from you. So, they will pretend to believe that they were wrong in the relationship and will pretend to take responsibility for it. Just remember that they don’t believe they did anything wrong, and they’re only saying this because they know that is what you want to hear.

3. The Special Day Call

A lot of narcissists will call you on your birthday or your anniversary with them, or during the holidays. They do this because they want you to believe that they actually care – but the truth is that as always, this is all an act and they’re really just looking to get a little narcissistic supply from you. They may also be feeling lonely. You’d do best to block them and go no contact – or at the very least, to ignore the “special day call.”

4. The Soulmate Claim

Narcissists are well-known for their little soulmate scams. One of the most effective ways they can hoover you is through reintroducing idealization, or love bombing, into their arsenal. That means they might get a little sappy with you. They’ll claim you were their “one” and that you’ve ALWAYS been the one. The ONLY one, they swear!  They’ll claim to be sad that your relationship ended because you are their soulmate. They’ll say they can’t live without you and claim that no one else makes them feel the way you make them feel. They will shower you with sweet words, begging you to get back together. But whatever you do, don’t fall for this one, no matter how difficult it is to resist. They’re only playing this game so they can get you back into their control and continue their abuse. The narcissist will not change, no matter how hard they claim otherwise.

5. The Unsolicited Gift

If you find yourself holding a beautiful bouquet or a delicious box of chocolates sent to you by your narcissistic ex, with a love note attached, you’ve got yourself an unsolicited gift, and its only purpose is to get your attention so they can start the conversation with you again. This is yet another hoover, and your best bet is to get rid of it (or keep it, but do not respond to the gesture).

This video offers additional insight into the narcissist’s motivations for wanting to stay friends with their exes after the discard.

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