Don’t Fall For A Narcissist’s Sneakiest Tactic: 11 Warning Signs Of Hoovering

There’s a phenomenon we’ve all experienced at least once, called Synchronicity. It’s when you think of someone you haven’t thought about in years and then run into them a few hours later. Synchronicity always reminds me of another phenomenon that seems to happen to survivors of narcissistic abuse. This phenomenon called Hoovering, happens when you finally start feeling some relief and peace in your life and make a giant move like finally deleting your ex’s telephone number, or an even bigger move, and change your number, and then out of the blue, you receive some communication or an unexpected visit from your ex-narcissist.

The narcissist may really miss you, but not for the reasons you would want them to. They may miss what you gave them –free room and board, adulation, companionship, or whatever their needs are. They may hoover you because they need a third party (you) to triangulate and manipulate their new victim with. They may just be filling their reserve tanks in preparation for periods of famine, or infidelity, and are surveying the availability of potential resources. Or, they may be in need of a quick ego boost and are looking to siphon some supply wherever they can get it the fastest, and with the least amount of effort.

It’s so easy to look for the positive in people, and wonder if maybe he/she isn’t a narcissist after all? Maybe you were wrong about them? Maybe the time apart has made him/her realize just how much they truly appreciate you?

When in doubt, consider this –even though the apologies and sweet talk can be so convincing, and appear as if they’ve sincerely changed, and truly mean what they’re saying– change for a non-narcissistic person doesn’t come easy. It is a very long, and slow process for anyone to truly change core parts of their personality. If it’s even possible for a narcissist to change, it would take years. And after years, the change may not even be very significant, or lasting. For you to realistically assess if there has been any intrinsic, and lasting change, you would need to spend at least five years, maybe ten years, and expect many periods of relapse, where the narcissists would revert to their abusive behaviors.

But, failing to see the red flags, and the potential for serious harm is how we got here in the first place. If we neglect to read between the lines of these hoovering techniques or fail to remind ourselves of all the reasons we decided to implement no contact in the first place, we are setting ourselves up for even worse treatment the second time around.

The 11 Most Common Hoovering Tactics

1. The Cowardly Hoover

If you can count how many times your ex-narcissist said he/she was sorry on one hand, then you might want to prepare yourself for this tactic. This tactic is used by cowardly narcissists. The narcissist recruits a third party (usually one of their relatives) to send you a message, to get a temperature on you. The message will appear like it’s coming from the sender who is reaching out because they miss you, and just want to know how you’re doing, but it’s actually a fact-finding, temperature gauging mission the narcissist has sent them on to determine whether the coast is clear and if you’re open to contact abuse.

2. The Backhanded Hoover

The backhanded Hoover is a seemingly short, and sweet text that feigns caring, or yearning. Although, it’s a disguised insult because it’s really just a lazy text that takes all of two seconds of effort. Usually, these texts are three words or less –“I miss you.” “How are you?” “Thinking of you…”– And they’re sent with the intent to lure you back, but this time into the role of side supply.

3. The Proclamation

The proclamation is an excessively long text, or email, where the narcissist recites a litany of I’m sorry’s, and declares to have had an epiphany, and changed. The narcissist readily admits to his/her wrongdoings and misdeeds and apologizes profusely for hurting you. What’s missing from this proclamation is any real evidence of change. It’s just a lot of pretty hyperbole.

4. The Flip

The flip is a tactic where the narcissist flips the hoover back on you. Again, much like the cowardly hoover tactic, this tactic is usually executed by the more cowardly, prideful variety of narcissists. Remember too much pride is just a cover for the need to always be right. This hoover is all about securing an ego boost and surveying the amount of control they still have over you. “Did you call me?” “Was that you I saw parked in front of my house?”

5. The False Concern

The false concern is a tactic where the narcissist fakes concern for your well-being while appearing like the nice guy/gal. This tactic is used by narcissists, who are trying to disguise their real motives for contacting you beneath an aura of concern and caring. “Hey, are you okay?” “I heard you weren’t doing well, do you need anything?” “I know you don’t want to talk to me, so I won’t bother you anymore.”

6. The Purposely-Accidental Text

The purposely-accidental Hoover is intended to create a sense of urgency to sucker you into responding. It is a tactic many narcissists use to manipulate you, by appealing to your innate quality of compassion, by creating a sense of urgency. This type of text is sent to you on purpose but is camouflaged to appear to be sent to you by mistake, so you’ll feel a sense of obligation, and urgency to respond, and let the narcissist know to re-send the message to the intended recipient. “Mom’s flight has been changed; she wanted me to tell you to pick her up at 7:00 pm instead of 9:00 pm tonight.” “Hey, I’m hung up at work, and I won’t be able to go over to your house and feed your dog. Sorry!”

7. The Sentimental Tug

This hoover tactic is meant to trick you into reminiscing about the past and becoming nostalgic, by reminding you of the sentimental moments the two of you shared. It may be littered with kissy face emojis, and xoxo’s, or it could be an inside joke only you would understand. “Hi, I just finished watching our favorite movie, and couldn’t help thinking of you.” “I was cleaning out my desk drawer, and found that card you gave me for my birthday.”

8. The Crisis

This tactic of needing to inform you about some real, or fabricated crisis, is a desperate tactic used to elicit and exploit your sympathy, and concern. Narcissists love to play the role of victim and get people to feel sorry for them. “My best friend was just diagnosed with cancer.” “I just got out of the hospital.” “Something horrible (fill in the blank_____) just happened, and I’m having a really difficult time right now.”

9. The Excuse To Contact Object

Many narcissists will purposely leave something of theirs at your house, and conveniently forget to pick it up, as arranged, so they will have an excuse to contact you at some future date. Or, they will fail to return something of yours, and hold onto it as an excuse to contact you months later, with the offer to return the recently discovered item. “Hi, I found your hair tie, would you like me to drop it by?” “I still have your gym water bottle, would you like to come get it?” “I think I left my saucepan at your house. Can you look for it and let me know?”

1o. The Abuse Amnesia Text

The narcissist sends you a text conveniently pretending to forget that they abused you, cheated on you, smeared you, and replaced you before you even had time to change your Facebook relationship status. The narcissist acts as if none of that ever happened. There is no apology, no acknowledgment, no discussion, no accountability. If he/she can forget it happened, so should you.

11. The Bait and Ghost

This cruel tactic is used to assess how much control, and influence the narcissist still has over you. Or, it could be used to find out if you’re still a potential source of supply that he/she may draw from at some future point. The narcissist will send you a text to bait you into a conversation, and as soon as you respond, the narcissist will go silent and ghost you.

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