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How to Respond to Narcissist Hoovering?

How to Respond to Narcissist Hoovering

In this post, you’re going to learn how to respond to narcissist hoovering.

What Is Narcissist Hoovering?

Narcissist hoovering refers to a manipulative tactic used by individuals with narcissistic personality traits to regain control or reestablish a connection with their former partners or victims.

The term “hoovering” is named after the Hoover vacuum cleaner, as it represents the narcissist’s attempt to suck the victim back into a toxic relationship.

Hoovering typically occurs after a period of separation, such as after a breakup or when the victim has distanced themselves from the narcissist.

This manipulation technique aims to exploit the victim’s vulnerabilities and emotional attachments, leaving them feeling confused, guilty, and doubtful about their decision to detach from the narcissist.

How Do You Know If a Narcissist Is Hoovering?

Narcissist hoovering can manifest in various ways, including:

1. Love-bombing

The narcissist may shower the victim with excessive attention, affection, and promises of change.

They may act charming, romantic, and remorseful to lure the victim back into the relationship.

Related: Love Bombing Then Ghosting: Top 9 Ways to Deal with It

2. Apologies and remorse

Narcissists may make empty apologies, expressing remorse for their past behavior or making promises to change.

However, these apologies are often insincere, serving only to manipulate the victim’s emotions.

3. Playing the victim

The narcissist may adopt the role of a victim, blaming their actions on external factors or claiming they have changed.

This tactic aims to evoke sympathy and guilt in the victim, making them more susceptible to manipulation.

4. Gaslighting

Gaslighting involves distorting the victim’s perception of reality, making them question their sanity, memory, or interpretations of events.

The narcissist may deny or minimize their past abusive behavior, making the victim doubt their experiences and dismissing their concerns.

Related: What Happens When You Ignore A Gaslighter? Top 10 Reactions

5. Triangulation

Triangulation occurs when the narcissist introduces a third party into the situation, such as a new partner or a mutual acquaintance, to create jealousy, competition, or insecurity in the victim.

This strategy aims to undermine the victim’s self-esteem and make them feel replaceable.

What Triggers a Narcissist to Hoover You?

A narcissist uses hoovering as a manipulative tactic for a variety of reasons.

Understanding these motivations can help victims recognize the intent behind the narcissist’s behaviors.

Here are some possible reasons why a narcissist engages in hoovering:

1. Regain control

Narcissists crave power and control over others.

When a victim distances themselves or ends the relationship, it threatens the narcissist’s sense of control.

Hoovering is an attempt to regain that control by reestablishing contact and manipulating the victim back into the relationship.

2. Ego reinforcement

Narcissists have an inflated sense of self-importance and need constant validation.

Hoovering allows them to confirm their belief in their own desirability and power over others.

By successfully luring the victim back, the narcissist reinforces their ego and satisfies their need for admiration.

Related: Top 10 Narcissistic Relationship Patterns

3. Fear of abandonment

Despite their grandiose facade, narcissists often have deep-seated fears of abandonment and rejection.

Hoovering serves as a way to alleviate these fears by preventing the victim from fully moving on.

The narcissist’s goal is to keep the victim emotionally tied to them, even if the relationship is toxic.

4. Need for narcissistic supply

Narcissists require a constant supply of attention, admiration, and adoration from others to fuel their fragile self-esteem.

When a victim leaves or distances themselves, it threatens the narcissist’s source of supply.

Hoovering is an attempt to regain that supply by drawing the victim back into the relationship, where they can once again be a source of validation.

Related: Top 5 Reasons Why Narcissists Target Empaths – & How to Starve The Narcissist of Supply

5. Emotional manipulation

Narcissists are skilled manipulators who exploit others’ emotions for their own gain.

Hoovering serves as a way to play with the victim’s emotions, creating confusion, doubt, and guilt.

By oscillating between love-bombing and devaluation, the narcissist keeps the victim off balance and more susceptible to their manipulations.

It is crucial for victims to understand that hoovering is not an indication of genuine change or remorse on the part of the narcissist.

These tactics are driven by their own self-serving motives, and engaging with them typically leads to further emotional harm.

How to Respond to Narcissist Hoovering?

Dealing with a narcissist can be challenging, particularly when they engage in hoovering behavior.

1. Recognize the Manipulation

The first step is to acknowledge that hoovering is a deliberate tactic used by narcissists to exploit your vulnerabilities and regain control over you.

By recognizing their manipulation, you can build resilience and develop a healthier understanding of the dynamics at play.

Look out for excessive or sudden kindness, such as showering you with compliments, gifts, or gestures of affection that seem excessive or out of character.

Narcissists may also claim to have recognized their past behavior and promise to change for the better.

They might talk about seeking therapy, personal growth, or making efforts to address their problematic traits.

However, be cautious as these promises are often empty and rarely result in lasting change.

Hoovering can also involve emotional manipulation, such as playing on your feelings of guilt or obligation.

Narcissists may try to make you feel responsible for their well-being or imply that you are the cause of their unhappiness.

Related: Am I Being Gaslighted Quiz

2. Establish and Maintain Boundaries

Setting clear boundaries is crucial when dealing with a narcissist.

Establish and maintain a consistent no-contact boundary with the narcissist.

This means avoiding all forms of communication, blocking their phone number and social media accounts, and minimizing any interaction with mutual acquaintances who may convey messages from them.

If you choose to engage with the narcissist, clearly and calmly communicate your boundaries.

Use assertive language and avoid being defensive or emotional.

State what behavior is unacceptable to you and what consequences will follow if those boundaries are violated.

It’s crucial to enforce the boundaries you’ve set.

Be prepared for the narcissist to test these boundaries by attempting to manipulate or guilt-trip you.

Stay firm and consistent in upholding your limits, regardless of their attempts to push them.

Related: How To Set Boundaries With A Narcissist?

3. Practice Self-Care

Prioritize self-care to safeguard your emotional well-being.

Engage in activities that bring you joy, reduce stress, and boost your self-esteem.

Surround yourself with supportive friends and family who understand your situation.

4. Minimize Contact

Reducing contact with the narcissist can help break the toxic cycle.

Limit communication to essential matters only, preferably through written means such as email or text, which provide a record of interactions.

Avoid engaging in lengthy discussions or debates that can be exploited by the narcissist to manipulate or gaslight you.

Related: Top 45 Self Care Day Ideas at Home To Kickstart Your Self Care Ritual

5. Don’t Feed the Ego

Narcissists thrive on attention and validation.

Refrain from feeding their ego by responding to their attempts at hoovering.

Remember that any engagement, positive or negative, fuels their sense of power and control.

Instead, maintain your distance, indifference, and emotional detachment to minimize their influence.

6. Document Evidence

Keep records of any abusive or manipulative interactions with the narcissist.

This evidence can offer validation and help you maintain clarity during moments of doubt or gaslighting.

If legal action becomes necessary, having documented evidence can be invaluable.

7. Educate Yourself

Understanding the psychological dynamics of narcissistic behavior can help you detach emotionally and make informed decisions.

Read books or reputable online resources written by experts in the field to gain insights into narcissistic personalities and their impact on relationships.

Related: Best 10 Books On Narcissistic Abuse

toxic relationships worksheets

How Long Will a Narcissist Hoover You?

The duration of hoovering can vary depending on several factors, including the individual narcissist’s personality, their level of attachment to you, and your response to their attempts at hoovering.

There is no specific time frame for how long a narcissist will hoover someone as it can be unpredictable.

Typically, hoovering occurs when the narcissist feels a loss of control or seeks to regain a source of narcissistic supply.

They may attempt to reestablish contact and manipulate you into providing them with attention, validation, or other resources they desire.

What Happens When You Ignore a Narcissist Hoovering?

When you ignore a narcissist’s attempts at hoovering, it can have several potential outcomes.

It is important to note that the response of a narcissist can vary depending on the individual and the specific dynamics of the relationship. Here are some possible scenarios:

1. Intensified Hoovering

Some narcissists may increase their efforts to get your attention when they realize their attempts are being ignored.

They may use different tactics, such as love bombing, guilt-tripping, or even threats, to try to regain control over you.

2. Loss of Interest

In some cases, if the narcissist perceives that their efforts are futile, they may lose interest and move on to other sources of supply.

Narcissists often seek validation and attention from others, so if they believe they cannot obtain it from you, they may look elsewhere.

3. Anger or Retaliation

Ignoring a narcissist’s hoovering attempts may provoke feelings of anger, resentment, or a sense of being rejected.

They might resort to more aggressive tactics, such as smear campaigns, gaslighting, or even stalking, to undermine your self-esteem or regain control.

Related: How Does A Narcissist React When You Stop Chasing Them?

How Does a Narcissist Feel When You Reject Him?

When a narcissist is rejected, their response can vary depending on individual factors and the dynamics of the relationship.

Here are some potential reactions a narcissist might have when they face rejection:

1. Rage or Anger

Rejection can trigger intense anger in a narcissist.

They may feel a sense of entitlement and become furious that someone dared to reject or challenge their perceived superiority.

2. Hurt or Vulnerability

Beneath their grandiose exterior, narcissists often have fragile self-esteem.

Rejection can leave them feeling hurt, vulnerable, and exposed.

However, they may not easily show or acknowledge these emotions.

3. Indifference or Disinterest

Some narcissists may respond with indifference or dismissiveness when faced with rejection.

They might believe they are “above” such rejections and act as though it doesn’t affect them, at least outwardly.

Related: When A Narcissist Sees You Cry: Top 13 Reactions You May Be Familiar With

4. Retaliation or Seeking Revenge

Certain narcissists may view rejection as a threat to their ego and attempt to retaliate.

They might engage in smear campaigns, character assassination, or other forms of revenge to undermine the person who rejected them.

It’s important to note that narcissists often lack empathy and struggle to genuinely understand or consider the feelings of others.

Their reactions to rejection are typically driven by self-centered motivations and their desire to maintain control or manipulate the situation.

Assertiveness Worksheets (2)


Responding to narcissist hoovering requires a combination of self-awareness, boundary setting, and emotional detachment.

By recognizing the manipulation, establishing boundaries, practicing self-care, minimizing contact, and seeking support, you can protect yourself from the toxic effects of narcissistic behavior.

Remember, breaking free from a narcissist’s influence takes time, but with persistence and support, you can reclaim your life and emotional well-being.

By Hadiah

Hadiah is a counselor who is passionate about supporting individuals on their journey towards mental well-being. Hadiah not only writes insightful articles on various mental health topics but also creates engaging and practical mental health worksheets.

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