What the Term “Hoovering” Means and How to Spot the Signs

Rejoice Denhere

Hoovering, in the realm of narcissistic abuse, is a technique used by abusers to prevent their victims from actually leaving them once they have decided to end the relationship.

Divorcing or ending a toxic relationship with a narcissist is not easy, and they will try to hoover you back in. If you've recently broken up with a narcissist, know that you're not alone.

It is totally normal to feel like you should reconcile with your ex (or even want to do so). The guilt trips come from all angles: they might ask for one last chance and promise they'll change, or they might tell you how hard it's been for them since the breakup and make you feel bad about leaving.

To further understand why abusers hoover, it's important to recognize that their motivations are not what they seem. They’re not really worried about how you are doing or if you are happy.

They aren't concerned with the fact that they put you through hell. Instead, they’re focused on one thing: getting you back under their control so they can continue being abusive toward you.

If you give them the opportunity, they will apologise for their behaviour and show remorse. In reality, they have no intention of actually changing the way they treat you even if they convince you that things will be different when you get back together.

The hoovering period usually happens anywhere from a few hours after breaking up, or stopping contact, to weeks later.

You will know you are being hoovered when your ex:

  • Reaches out to you by phone, text, social media, in person or through common acquaintances - friends, family, work colleagues.
  • Talks about how much fun “you two” had together.
  • Tries to convince you they have changed, that they have gotten better and that they can't live without you.
  • Makes you feel like the two of you have a special connection even though there is no real evidence of this.
  • Is very complimentary and loving toward you.
  • They want another chance with/in your life.

If you suspect that you are being manipulated by a hoovering partner, you must stop all contact with them. If your phone number is visible on their caller ID, this is the time to change it. Not doing anything else might be considered flirtatious behaviour, which can compromise your decision to end the relationship.

Final Thoughts

To all the folks who've been dealing with hoovering, walk away and hold your head up high. You are worth so much more.

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