narcissist and hoovering

7 Types of Hoovers and How to Powerfully Respond

Why should you be concerned about the narcissist and hoovering?  

I mean, you’re an intelligent, reflective, and cautious person.  You can typically smell deceit from a mile away.  

But, perhaps there’s room for more vigilance.  Here’s why…

The breakup between you and your toxic ex happened a while ago. It’s been a tough road, but you’ve progressively been able to move forward from the abuse they put you through.

You feel like you are finally able to let go of some of their negative energy and live a happy, healthy, fulfilling life.

And then, you get a text. Or an email. Or a Facebook message.

It’s your ex, and all those old feelings come rushing back.

Depending on the message they sent you, your tattered self-confidence might be coupled with guilt, anger, or any number of overwhelming emotions.

You may even question whether your ex was really a narcissist or if you were just being “sensitive,” “dramatic,” or “emotional.”

What is happening? You’ve just experienced the narcissist’s hoovering, a tactic often used to suck you back into a relationship.

It’s easy to think there’s no way you’d ever consider getting back together with this person – that is, until they use one (or more) hoovering tricks.

In this article, we’ll examine some of the most common hoovering tricks narcissists use and what you can do to combat them.

The Narcissist and Hoovering – 7 Tricks Narcissists Play to Get You Back

To prevent being sucked in by these hoovering tricks, it’s important to understand narcissists themselves.

They don’t have any rules. What seems out-of-bounds to you isn’t too far-fetched to them at all. They will do anything they can to get you back, to suck you in just like a powerful vacuum sucks up the dirt in your carpet.

As soon as you fall for one of their tricks, they feel fulfilled. It’s not about you – it’s all about them. And this is why narcissists come back — to be in a relationship with someone – because of what they can get out of it…it’s also why the abuse kicks in again, often worse than before.  

They simply wanted to see if they still had an influence on you…and if they are successful, that’s all they want, and they’ll go back to abusing you very quickly.

You don’t need to fall for their tricks. Here are seven common hoovering traps that narcissists use to ensnare their exes.

1. Pretending the Breakup Never Happened

This is one of the tricks narcissists play that will totally throw you for a loop. You’ve broken up – of that you’re sure. You haven’t been together for a while. In fact, perhaps you’ve been on a few dates with other people and you’ve heard through the grapevine that they have, too.

Suddenly, though, you get a bouquet of roses with a “Happy Valentine’s Day” card attached.

What a sweet sentiment. It takes you by surprise, to be sure. But nonetheless, it’s sweet and you start to think about the good times you two used to have. Before you know it, you’ve called them to thank them for the flowers and you’re sucked back in.

2. Telling You How Much They Love and Adore You

There’s little more that people want to hear than the words “I love you.” It invokes feelings of happiness and of being valued. It makes you feel like someone understands you and wants to be with you.

Narcissists understand these basic human needs to be loved and will use the words “I love you” and “I adore you” as a weapon.  

They will tell you that you’re their soul mate, and that the two of you are meant to be together. How could they feel something so deeply if it wasn’t meant to be?

These proclamations feed upon a person’s need to feel loved and the fact that most people have a romantic ideal in the back of their mind. True love is supposed to be dramatic. It’s supposed to be like Romeo and Juliet. True love is pain, joy, and everything in between.

But this kind of “love” is really more of an unhealthy obsession than it is honest-to-goodness true, healthy love.

3. The Reminiscent, Sentimental Hoover

A narcissist knows that you two had some good times in the past. They’ll count on your recollection of those times and try to feed off of it.

They may send you an email full of nostalgia and sentimentality, reminding you of that time you two went on a romantic vacation. Or, they’ll tell you that they watched a movie and thought of you or found an old photo of the two of you.

4. The “Accidental” Contact

This can happen in one of two ways.

First, there’s the “Oops, I meant to send that text to someone else” response. Or, there’s the “Hey, did you try to contact me?” message.

Either way, this is one of the cowardly hoovering tricks a narcissist will use to engage you in a conversation.

If you respond to their text or social media message you’ve started the ball rolling. They’ll respond back with something like, “Wow – it’s been a while. How have you been?” And then you’ll feel rude if you don’t answer back. Or, they’ll make you feel humiliated, insisting they weren’t trying to reach you and want nothing to do with you.

Pretty soon, you’re stuck in a full-on conversation or email tsunamis with this person, which is a prime opportunity for them to try and reel you back in.

5. There’s a Crisis

This one will pull at your heartstrings. After all, this is a person that you cared for deeply. As toxic as they were to your life, seeing another human being go through a crisis breaks your heart.

The narcissist will use various crises to suck you in. It might be an issue they’re having on their own. Or, it could be an issue with one of their family members.

Getting a phone call or text that they or someone they love has been in a serious accident or has developed an illness moves your heart. It can motivate you to take action to comfort them or try to help them in some way.

Oftentimes, though, the crisis has been exaggerated or doesn’t even exist.

6. They Get Someone Else to Test the Waters

This is a common strategy of the cowardly narcissist. They want to hoover you back in, but they don’t want to get their ego bruised by a face-to-face rejection. So, they send a mutual friend or one of their family members, whom you felt a connection with, to contact you.

The narcissist thinks that by getting someone else to test the waters out for them, you’ll be more likely to cave.

7. They Apologize Over and Over

Of course they’ll never act like a jerk again. It’s easy to fall for that line the first few times, but when the behavior doesn’t change you know it’s all a big lie. Just because they’re apologizing now doesn’t mean they’ve made any miraculous, life-altering changes. That’s not likely to happen with people who are narcissists or sociopaths.

What You Can Do to Retain Control of Your Power

Narcissists are game players. They know how to talk to suck people in and how to keep their partner(s) stuck under their thumb.

It’s vital to your health to remember that narcissists are always out for what they can get from another person. The only person they care about is the person they see in the mirror every day.

Breaking up with a narcissist is a blow to their ego. They don’t like it. But their dislike of the situation goes beyond the hurt nearly everyone feels when they go through a breakup. How dare you break up with them? How dare you win! It’s a twisted ‘Game of Thrones’ that plays out in the narcissist’s mind.

And narcissist will play whatever tricks they have up their sleeves to try to suck you back in and to get you back under their control.

Don’t fall for it. You already left once. The most important thing to do at this point is to keep moving on. Don’t look back.

If you haven’t already, take steps to completely cut ties with your ex. Change your phone number. Block them from emailing you or contacting you on social media and Skype. Find a new place to hang out during your downtime. Make new friends.

Do whatever you need to do to get as far away from your ex as possible. It’s the only way to continue on your path of emotional health and wellbeing.

Stand Your Ground, Be Strong – You’ve Got This

Being in a relationship with a narcissist can do a number on your emotional wellbeing. You doubt yourself, your value, and your decision-making skills. Narcissists love to make their victims feel like they need the narcissist to survive.

Now that you’ve been out of that relationship for a while, you may feel stronger – like your old self, the one before your run-in with a narcissist.

Those feelings can quickly be quashed, though, with a narcissist and hoovering. Those dark, heavy, overwhelming feelings come rushing back.

But you have the power to resist a downward spiral.

Feeling those old, negative feelings doesn’t mean you’re weak. They’re simply familiar – a reaction to a toxic, energy-sucking person who is trying to get back into your life. It’s completely normal to experience this reaction.

It’s vital to remember, though, just how powerful you are. You were powerful enough to get out of the relationship. You were powerful enough to get help to work through your feelings of self-doubt and tattered self-confidence.

And you have the power now to stand behind your boundary lines and keep your ex as far away from you as possible. Don’t ever feel obligated to give your power to them again.

Stay strong against the hoovering narcissist!  Grab your Beginner’s Healing and Empowerment Pack below!  



  1. 3 months of no contact, he sent a text calling me a cheater and that I lied to him and that Karma will get me. I have not contacted him. My first reaction was to defend myself but then I said who cares what he thinks. He cheated on me and walked away but I’m the cheater….right. Anyway, this does not seem like hoovering to me because he is blaming me for his actions…so what is this????

    1. Kim Saeed

      This is just what they do. It’s the reason I advocate full No Contact so that they are not able to send any kind of communications, including text messages. Sometimes, changing your number is necessary. I’ve had to do that a couple of times, even though I use my number for work and it’s associated with important numbers regarding my children.

  2. James

    Kim, it’s been over 2 months since I was dumped, & each day is still a struggle. I must admit there are moments when I just wanted to see her just one more time. What’s wrong with me?

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi James. There’s nothing wrong with you. Two months is still very fresh. If you aren’t seeing a professional trauma therapist, that would be a good start. This kind of emotional damage doesn’t go away on its own.


    2. Brad

      James, Kim is so right that your wounds are still quite fresh. More than likely you really have no idea yet just how wounded you are. I do understand the desire to go back, but it would just dig you in deeper. While counseling with the right counselor could help, the wrong one can do further damage. I looked for counselors based on their ads and emails and then a phone call. I selected the one who most asserted she was well versed in narcissistic abuse and who was available. LOL. She showed up to our appointment dressed inappropriately. She kept asking me “Who broke up the relationship, you or her?” In that one 45 min session I had to tell her I broke up 5 times. She did that and other things just to mess with me. It was very unsettling. I paid her the $100, then a day later sent her an email and told her we were not a good match, but didn’t say why. Unfortunately, some counselors are Narcs too. I recommend that you educate/reassure yourself by joining Kindle and read as many of HG Tudor’s ebooks as you can. Start with “Sitting Target” and “Fuel.” That will help you understand why she selected you and the dynamics of a relationship with a Narc. Hopefully it will help you avoid another Narcissist. But they are everywhere and especially in the healthcare field, including counseling obviously. And despite what you are likely to read, some female counselors assert that most NPDs are female. Males are just less likely to report abuse because they don’t want to be perceived as weak. Also, female Narcs are especially skilled at playing the victim and bringing out the protective tendencies of men. As one female counselor has written, female Narcs masquerade as empaths. That is just another way they manipulate. I would recommend no dating for a long time. If you feel that you really need to date, then perhaps you should examine why. Seek to nourish your spirit and become a whole person who is happy and complete all by yourself. Read “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck, MD. I would also recommend digital brain healing and Mindify hypnosis to calm your brain and help correct the wrong brain chemistry that Narcissistic abuse causes. Peace.

      1. Lisa

        YOU ARE SO RIGHT. My Narc sister is a counselor. Every time I think about it, it freaks me out. I have 2 therapists. One is shite on abuse. The other one I got through Domestic violence resources. She is well-versed in abuse, and not a narc. You may feel like these people won’t help you because you’re a guy, but they tend not to discriminate except when it comes to the shelter. Incidentally, mine discarded me on the day James wrote that. So I am a little over 2 months now and can totally relate to every single thing he says. I really appreciate the post. It helps knowing I am not alone and other people have gone through the same pain!

  3. Anonymous

    I Iind Km Saeed words hitting me right in the places I’m experiencing. Thank u do very much

  4. Brenda

    My ex narc moved on with his new supply and moved away. But just the other day called me at work to see how I was and to say hi..!!?? I have healed after everything he put me through and glad he’s gone! Best thing he could have ever done for me!! I actually feel bad for her though..I warned her about him even screen shot some of his messages and sent them to her. She called me crazy… Hahaha…. Guess he still thinks about me and misses me.. Who’s crazy now? It really is so bizarre honestly cuz when I was his(body and soul) he didn’t want anything to do with me. He is/was and always will be a pathological liar a cheat.. Downright mean and will ALWAYS on the hunt for another.. “babe”! This is so he doesn’t confuse the team members!! He really needs help!

  5. Linda

    My narcissist sent me a “Happy Birthday to you. I hope you are doing well. I also hope you enjoy your special day.”

    This has been after 8 months of no communication. I was discarded, and knew it was coming so I had an e-mail prepared to send within hours of the discard. I called her out on being a Narcissist, had told her in e-mail that I have been seeing a counselor, and that I do not wish to hear from her again. I never heard from her again until this. I knew her for 6 years, and in year 3 the verbal, and emotional abuse was terrible. I always forgave her, as I am so nice. There were very seldom apologies on her end. I was left feeling so confused, and walked around like a zombie for 3 years. Ups turning into downs constantly, and just as I would recuperate from a tantrum from her, she would be nice for a week and start again. I can’t believe I allowed it. I am a very level headed, and classy person.

    I guess my question is…did she mean this nice Birthday Wish? I did respond, but it took me hours to even think of what to say. I responded with. “Thank you. It’s appreciated.” Was she baiting me for more conversation? Nothing else was said. Thank you, Kim, for all of your help!!!

    1. Raven

      No, she didn’t mean it. She’s trying to hoover you back in, unfortunately. Try to remain No Contact. It’s very hard, but getting sucked back in and abused again is worse. Don’t subject yourself to that!

      1. Linda

        Thank you, Raven! I will not let her back in, as much as I miss her at times.

    2. Anonymous

      Obviously im not Kim but please don’t fall for the hovering tactics. Narcs do not think like we do. Watch I am Fish Head on YouTube. Its about an hour long. It clearly describes even their brain scans are different. The Birthday wish is not what you think.

      1. Linda

        I was so hoping she meant it, but my heart knew better. Thank you for your advice!

    1. Kim Saeed

      Keeping my fingers crossed for you, Carolyn!

      Kim XoXo

  6. Pingback: Easter – The Narcissist’s Spring Wrecking Ball - Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed

  7. Brenda

    You’re so right Kim ! #5 suck me back in for only a few months after his father passed , nevertheless the abuse returned quickly ! I told him to never contact me again I don’t care who dies !! I will send flowers! …. I changed my # completely because he would call from 1000 other numbers when he was blocked . ….. yes I stay completely awsy from his side of town doing my shopping etc and it truly helps ! Yes he came over twice , once I wasn’t home , the other time I was already outside and he pulled up apologizing and acting as if we had no time apart lol …. I didn’t give him much reaction at all because he feeds off that , I told him I’m no longer wasting my love on him at all and to keep it moving .

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Brenda,

      Sounds like you’re onto his game and have put up some very powerful boundaries. Good for you! I’m so happy for you 🙂

      Kim XoXo

  8. Debbie

    After 9 months since my break up with my now ex, after 32 years of marriage, my son finally let his father know his feelings. My ex responded with a sorry and pity me e mail, however failed to respond to the numerous incidents of cheating and lying when confronted and ended up insulting his son. Interestingly today after a friend was reading the obituary I had written for my ex that I had saved as a draft e mail, it was sent instead of being closed down. As part of my therapy I had written this to avoid being sucked in ever again. Am now a little anxious because the no contact rule has been broken. Am awaiting repercussions. It was a pretty tough obituary and something I never wanted to send. As a warning to others save these as a word document and never as a draft e mail.

  9. Lynn

    The person I was with was a psychopath. Once he discarded me (2.5 years ago), it’s like he fell off the earth. He has never tried contacting me again. My friends ( and me) are really surprised. I thought he would hoover just to keep my brain attached to him.

    1. Lynn

      Just found out my psychopath died. He never reached out again.

  10. Ironic (?) that your artcle came in today.

    I had a vivid dream about me XN last night. In my dream he had died and all sorts of supply showed up at our house for a funeral. I was kind of floating through the house watching all of them and feeling absolutely NOTHING. Very strange dream but now that I think about it, it’s really how I feel about him now. I feel NOTHING. Not good, not bad just nothing and it’s a great place to be after a year and a half.

    For 13 years my XN used every single one of your 7 hoovering methods and they worked every single time, except the last time….ha. The difference? I went completely no contact. No contact saved my sanity and gave me back my life.

  11. Nanette

    About how many years out after bomb drop does this happen and what percentage of these fools will do this?

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Nanette,

      It’s really hard to predict. Not all narcissists hoover, but most of them do. It just kind of depends on where they fall on the narcissistic spectrum, if they have other underlying disorders alongside their narcissism, how many supply sources they have, etc. Best just to make sure they don’t pull you in again and don’t wait around for them to hoover because you will absolutely waste your life that way.

      Kim XoXo

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