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Hoovering: How the Narcissist Keeps Sucking You Back In

cartoon drawing of hoovering woman being sucked in by vacuum cleaner


How the Narcissist Keeps Sucking You Back In

Written by Randi Fine, Narcissistic Abuse Expert

Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine

The actual definition of hoovering is “vacuuming.” In more recent years it has become a slang term used to describe the “sucking back in” maneuver narcissists use with their victims. Through hoovering, they are able to regain control of people, against their will, who have escaped or gone no contact.

How many times have you separated from your narcissistic abuser and then got pulled right back into his or her web of deceit before you even knew what happened to you?

Every victim of narcissistic abuse has had that repeatedly frustrating experience and felt more and more idiotic each time for once again falling prey to the manipulation. Once you understand what the narcissist is up to your abuser will lose all power over you. As the famous poet Maya Angelou said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” You will know better and do better.

Narcissistic hoovering tactics include:

  1. Acting kind and considerate to convince you they have changed

  2. Threatening self-harm or suicide

  3. Telling you they are sick, in pain, dying or in the hospital

  4. Sending unwanted cards and gifts

  5. Requesting information from you that they need and only you would know

  6. Telling others how sorry they are about what they did to you

  7. Telling you that someone needs your help

  8. “Accidentally” sending provocative texts to you that are meant for someone else

  9. “Apologizing” for what they did to you when they have never apologized before

  10. Expressing concern for you to others or asking them where you are

  11. Developing or maintaining relationships with people close to you

  12. Trying to return items you left behind

  13. Passing on a message they claim someone gave them for you

  14. Emailing, texting or calling as if nothing happened

  15. Informing you of something they think you “might like to know;” weddings, deaths, new baby, etc.

  16. Claiming that they are returning a text or message from you (that you never sent)

  17. Contacting you on birthdays, holidays or special occasions to let you know they are thinking of you

  18. Sending loving messages to your kids through you to tug at your heartstrings

  19. Contacting you because they “forgot to tell you something”

Narcissists will continue hoovering as long as it feeds their egos and fulfills their needs. Any response from you, whether neutral, negative or positive, will perpetuate the harassment. If you truly want nothing to do with your abuser, do not fall for the manipulation and tricks.

This is copyrighted material. May only be shared with permission and proper attribution.

Randi Fine is an internationally renowned narcissistic abuse expert and coach. She is the author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing and Recovery, the most comprehensive, most well researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.

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