Hoovering tactics are used by narcissists to try to suck you back into the relationship, after periods of silence that benefit them while the two of you aren’t talking. The benefits of hoovering were discussed in Part I.
They are easy to spot and categorize, once you know what to look for. Here are some I was subjected to over the years, and here is a pin for you. Right-click to save it to Pinterest.
- PROMISE OF CLOSURE:
- “I must explain something to you.” or “I need to explain everything.”
- “I’ll let you ask anything you want to.”
- ONE MORE NIGHT:
- “I wish I could see you just one more time.”
- “I want to spend one more night together.”
- APPEAL TO THE HEARTSTRINGS:
- “I found these pictures of us. Ah, memories.”
- [Sending me flowers]
- [Sending me a link to love songs on YouTube] (one of his favorite techniques-I had an entire playlist of songs)
- FALSE ACCUSATIONS:
- “Someone told me you were on a dating app. I can’t believe you. It’s only been three days!”
- “I can’t believe you’re hanging out with my friend!”
- REMEMBERING IMPORTANT DATES:
- “Good luck at your new job.”
- “How did your doctor’s appointment go today?”
- JUST REACHING OUT (doing things to put himself in my head without directly saying anything to see if I’ll be the one to say something first):
- [sending blank texts]
- [putting random likes on Facebook posts]
- CAN’T STAY AWAY:
- “I’m addicted to you.”
- “I can’t stop thinking about you.”
- “I can’t live without you.”
- I’VE CHANGED:
- “I know what I did wrong and I won’t do it again.”
- “Please give me another chance.”
- PHYSICAL OBJECTS:
- “I still have your Christmas presents.”
- “You left your charger at my apartment.”
- I HEARD NEWS:
- “Someone told me you posted something about us.”
- “Someone showed me a picture of you on Facebook with a guy.”
- THE APOLOGY:
- “I’m sorry, I was immature back then.”
- “I hurt you so much and now I just want to show you I can be good to you.”
- ELABORATE PROMISES:
- “Let me take you on a trip, anywhere you want to go.”
- “I want a chance to make this right and if everything works out, I want to marry you.”
- UPCOMING EVENTS:
- “I bought us tickets to the ______ show because I had hope you would go with me.”
- “Will you go see that movie with me when it comes out? I don’t have anyone to go with.”
- HERE IF YOU NEED ME:
- “Let me know if you need help moving.”
- “If you ever need me, I’ll be here even if it’s twenty years from now.”
- OUR BOND IS TOO STRONG TO BREAK:
- “We have a connection no one else can understand and we can’t let anything break it apart.”
- “We’ll never have this again with anyone else.”
- “No one will ever love you like I do.”
- ALONE IN THE WORLD:
- “You’re the only one I can talk to.”
- “No one cares how I feel.
- THE REVERSE HOOVER:
- There were times I reached out to him first for various reasons for a specific purpose, such as to apologize because I hadn’t liked the way our last conversation had gone. The conversation inevitably turned to his heartbrokenness and undying love and request to see me again.
Every single one of these are real hoovers that occurred during the course of our relationship, and yes, most of them worked.
I have seen a couple of others that I’ll include here based on reading comments and stories from online.
Using Kids: If you have children with the narcissist, he or she may use the children as an excuse to contact you. All divorced or separated parents need to communicate about their children, but from reading stories, it seems as if narcissists may do so in ways that make it appear as if you must respond imminently, with dramatic contact making you worry or saying it is dire they must talk to one of the children immediately.
Using an Emergency: A narcissist may reach out to you and say he or she is sick or has had a death in the family, or has otherwise fallen on hard times.
A Final Note on Hoovering and What Makes It a Hoover:
I hope it is clear from all of these examples that a “hoover” is exactly what it sounds like: an attempt to suck a person back into the relationship.
But what is it about it that makes it uniquely a narcissistic act? In other words, why is this discussed in the context of narcissistic abuse? Isn’t it true that in normal relationships, sometimes one of the partners tries to draw the other one back in after a breakup to try again?
I believe that the latter is not what we would call a “hoover,” and that there is another component to the definition of hoovering that I haven’t yet touched on.
Using the word “hoover” to describe these tactics implies a particular insincerity. There is nothing about the definition that says anything about why the narcissist wants the relationship back, how the narcissist will behave if the other person comes back, or what about the relationship will be different. It’s just an empty act for the narcissist to try to get what he or she wants.
In the third and final article in the hoovering series (Part III), I will discuss “insincerity” as a key to understanding the hoover. There are actually very specific things that narcissists say and do that demonstrate the insincerity of hoovering when we pay attention.