What is Narcissistic Hoovering?

by Ryan Hart | Updated on October 4, 2023 | Post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Have you ever had an ex-partner who just can’t seem to let go? Maybe they send you messages out of the blue, or they show up uninvited at your workplace or home.

If so, you may have experienced “narcissist hoovering,” a manipulation tactic individuals with narcissistic personality traits use to “suck” someone back into a relationship.

Hoovering can begin anytime after you leave the relationship with the narcissist. Suddenly, and without warning, the narcissist starts reaching out to you. This may be through a phone call, email, or social media message.

They may try to manipulate you with apologies, declarations of love, or promises to change. It’s important to remember that these are just tactics to reel you back in.

If you resume contact with a narcissist, your relationship may be just as dysfunctional, if not more so, than it was before.

It’s essential to recognize the signs of hoovering and take steps to protect yourself from further emotional abuse.

In this article, we’ll explore the signs of narcissist hoovering and provide tips on how to respond.

What is Hoovering?

Hoovering is a manipulative behavior that narcissists use to regain control over their victims. It can be confusing and emotionally draining, so it’s important to understand what it is and how to recognize it.

Hoovering can take many forms, but it usually involves the narcissist trying to contact you after you’ve ended a relationship with them. They may call, text, email, or show up unannounced.

They may apologize for their behavior, promise to change, or try to make you feel guilty for leaving them. They may also try to make you feel like you need them or that you can’t live without them.

One of the main goals of hoovering is to make you doubt your decision to leave the relationship.

Narcissists want to maintain control over their victims, and they know that by making you doubt yourself, they can regain that control. They may also be trying to get something from you, such as attention, sex, or money.

It’s important to remember that hoovering is a form of manipulation. Narcissists are skilled at manipulating others to get what they want, and hoovering is just one of their tactics.

If you’ve been hoovered, it’s not because the narcissist loves or cares about you. It’s because they want something from you.

Recognizing hoovering can be difficult, especially if you still have feelings for the narcissist. However, staying strong and resisting their attempts to contact you is important.

If you do need to communicate with them, keep it brief and to the point. Don’t engage in arguments or try to reason with them. Remember that narcissists cannot empathize or understand, so trying to reason with them is usually futile.

The Cycle of Hoovering

Hoovering is a manipulative technique used by narcissists to draw their victims back into a relationship or to keep them in a state of confusion and uncertainty. It is a cycle that includes three stages: Love Bombing, Devaluation, and Discard and Hoovering.

Love Bombing Stage

In this stage, the narcissist showers you with attention, gifts, and romantic gestures. They make you feel like the center of their world and promise you undying love and affection.

They may also fake the future, making promises about the future they do not intend to keep. This stage is designed to reel you in and make you feel special and wanted.

Devaluation Stage

Once the narcissist has you hooked, they move on to the devaluation stage. In this stage, they start to criticize and belittle you.

hey may lie, blame you for their problems, and make you feel guilty for things that are not your fault. They may also use manipulation tactics such as gaslighting to make you doubt your own perceptions and reality.

Discard and Hoovering Stage

In the final stage, the narcissist discards you and moves on to someone else. However, they may return to you later, using hoovering techniques to draw you back.

This may include calling or texting you, sending you gifts, apologizing for their behavior, making false promises, and begging and pleading with you to take them back. They may also create drama and chaos in your life to get your attention.

Identifying the Tactics

If you have been in a relationship with a narcissist, you may have experienced hoovering. Hoovering is a manipulation tactic used by narcissists to draw you back into a relationship. In this section, we will discuss some of the tactics used by narcissists to hoover you back in.


Gaslighting is a tactic used by narcissists to make you question your own reality. They may deny things they have said or done or twist your words to make it seem like you are the one who is crazy.

Gaslighting can be very damaging to your mental health, and it is important to recognize it when it is happening.

Threats and Self-Harm

Narcissists may use threats of self-harm to get you to come back to them. They may threaten to hurt themselves or even commit suicide if you do not return to the relationship.

It is important to remember that these threats are a form of manipulation and should not be taken lightly. If you are concerned for the narcissist’s safety, consulting a professional or emergency services is best.

Flying Monkeys

Flying monkeys are people whom the narcissist enlists to do their bidding. They may be friends or family members who are manipulated into contacting you on behalf of the narcissist.

They may try to guilt or pressure you into returning to the relationship. It is important to remember that the narcissist is manipulating these people and may not have your best interests at heart.

Effects of Narcissistic Hoovering

Narcissistic hoovering can have a significant impact on your mental and emotional well-being. Here are some of the effects of narcissistic hoovering:


Narcissistic hoovering can be a traumatic experience. It can bring back painful memories and emotions associated with your toxic relationship with the narcissist. You may feel overwhelmed and anxious, and it may trigger symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Narcissistic hoovering can also trigger feelings of shame. You may feel ashamed that you’re still vulnerable to the narcissist’s manipulation tactics. You may also feel sorry that you’re not strong enough to resist their attempts to reel you back in. It’s important to remember that shame is a familiar feeling associated with narcissistic abuse, and it’s not your fault.


Narcissistic hoovering can also impact your self-esteem. You may feel like you’re not good enough or that you’re unworthy of love and respect.

The narcissist may use your insecurities against you, making you feel like you need them to feel good about yourself. It’s important to work on rebuilding your self-esteem and self-worth after a toxic relationship.

Narcissistic abuse

Narcissistic hoovering is a form of narcissistic abuse. It’s a manipulation tactic used by the narcissist to maintain control and power over you. It’s essential to recognize that narcissistic abuse is a pattern of behavior, and it’s not your fault.

Toxic relationship

Narcissistic hoovering is a sign that you’re in a toxic relationship. The narcissist cannot provide you with the love and support you need. They’re only interested in fulfilling their own needs and desires.

Setting Healthy Boundaries

Having to deal with a narcissist can be challenging, and setting healthy boundaries is essential. Limits are established to protect your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. The following are some tips for setting healthy boundaries with a narcissist:

Identify Your Boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries begins with identifying what those boundaries are. Take some time to think about what behaviors you are willing to tolerate and what behaviors are unacceptable. Write them down if it helps you remember.

Communicate Your Boundaries

The next step is to communicate your boundaries to the narcissist. Be clear and concise when communicating your boundaries. Use “I” statements to express your feelings and avoid blaming or accusing language.

Enforce Your Boundaries

Setting boundaries is useless if you don’t enforce them. When the narcissist crosses your boundaries, it’s essential to let them know that their behavior is unacceptable. If they continue to violate your limits, you may need to take more drastic measures.

Block and Go No Contact

If the narcissist continues to violate your boundaries despite your efforts to communicate and enforce them, it may be time to block and go no contact. Going no contact means cutting off all communication with the narcissist. It may be challenging, but it’s necessary to protect your well-being.

Seeking Professional Help

Dealing with a narcissistic person can be emotionally draining and challenging. If you are struggling with the effects of narcissistic hoovering, seeking professional help can be a beneficial step towards healing and recovery.

Licensed therapists can assist you in navigating the complex emotions and behaviors associated with narcissistic abuse. They will help you develop coping strategies to deal with the effects of hoovering and work with you to establish healthy boundaries.

Finding a therapist specializing in treating individuals who have experienced narcissistic abuse can be particularly helpful. A licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) can help you identify patterns of behavior that may contribute to your hoovering experiences and provide you with tools to break free from the cycle of abuse.

When looking for a therapist, it’s important to find someone who you feel comfortable talking to and who understands the unique challenges associated with narcissistic hoovering. You may want to consider asking for referrals from friends or family members or searching online for therapists who specialize in treating narcissistic abuse.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when a narcissist tries to hoover you, and you don’t respond?

If you don’t respond to a narcissist’s attempt to hoover you, they may become angry, resentful, or even vengeful. They may try other tactics to get your attention, such as stalking, harassment, or spreading rumors about you. It’s important to set clear boundaries and protect yourself from any potential harm.

How do you respond to narcissist hoovering?

The best way to respond to narcissistic hoovering is to not engage with the narcissist. If you do choose to respond, keep your communication brief and to the point. Don’t engage in arguments or allow the narcissist to draw you back into their web of manipulation. It’s important to prioritize your own well-being and safety.

How do you resist narcissist hoovering?

Resisting narcissistic hoovering can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that you have the power to say no. Maintain your boundaries, no matter how much the narcissist tries to guilt or manipulate you. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family, and seek professional help if necessary.

What triggers a narcissist to hoover you?

Narcissists may hoover someone for a variety of reasons, including a desire for attention, a need to regain control, or a fear of abandonment. They may also hoover someone if they feel that person is a threat to their self-esteem or reputation.

What are some examples of narcissist hoovering?

Examples of narcissistic hoovering include:

  • Sending messages or gifts.
  • Making promises to change.
  • Apologizing for past behavior.
  • Threatening or harassing the victim.
  • Using mutual friends or family members to contact the victim.

Recognizing these tactics and protecting yourself from any potential harm is important.

Bottom Line

Dealing with a narcissist who is hoovering you can be a difficult and emotionally draining experience. Remember that if you decide to resume contact with a narcissist, your relationship may be just as dysfunctional, if not more so, than it was before. It’s important to set healthy boundaries for yourself and stick to them.

Working with a therapist can be helpful in understanding the dynamics of the relationship and developing strategies for dealing with the narcissist’s hoovering. The therapist can also help you identify any underlying issues that may be contributing to your vulnerability to the narcissist’s manipulation.

Remember that you have the power to say no to the narcissist’s attempts to draw you back into the relationship. It’s important to prioritize your own well-being and mental health over the narcissist’s desires. Don’t be afraid to seek support from friends and loved ones as you navigate this difficult situation.

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About the Author:
Ryan Hart

Ryan Hart is a certified relationship coach and writer. His mission is to help make connections between people better, stronger, more meaningful, and longer lasting using technology.

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