The 11 Most Common Narcissistic Hoovering Tactics

There’s a phenomenon we’ve all experienced at least one time 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 I call Coincidental Hoovering. This phenomenon, more often than not, happens to the former partners, and relatives of narcissists. It’s when you finally start feeling some relief and peace in your life and make a giant Stover move like finally deleting your ex’s telephone number or an even bigger Stover move and change your number, and then out of the blue, you receive some kind of communication or an unexpected visit from your narcissist.

This never fails! I see it time and time again. In fact, whenever a client tells me that they’re finally feeling better and decided to get rid of that old box of mementos in their garage or they’ve mustered the strength to block their ex from their mobile phone and email, I always get a little concerned.

I worry because due to the phenomenon of Coincidental Hoovering, they’re now almost certainly destined to receive some form of correspondence from their narcissist. And even though they’ve made great progress, they’re still so susceptible to being sucked back (hoovered) into the relationship that they’ve worked so hard to forget.

Hoovers are hard to resist especially when you finally get to hear all the things you’ve wanted to hear. But hoovers aren’t a compliment by any stretch of the imagination. You may feel a momentary sense of vindication and confirmation to learn that your replacement target wasn’t better than you, like the narcissist had made it seem on social media, but the true motivations behind the hoover aren’t what they appear to be on the surface.

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, sex 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 really appreciate you?

When in doubt, consider this- even though the apologies and sweet talk can be so convincing and appear as if they’ve really 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 real and lasting change, you would need to spend at least 5 years, maybe 10 years, with many periods of relapse.

When we receive hoover messages, we instantly begin engaging in loophole-type thinking. We avoid the negative and override the little voices in our heads and get lost in the hope and potential of things. After all, who wants to focus on the negative and worry about all the doomsday what if questions when it’s so much more enjoyable to stay in the moment and bask in the happy, positive thoughts?

But, failing to see the red flags and potential for serious harm is how we got here in the first place. If we neglect to read between the lines of these hoover messages or fail to remind ourselves of all the reasons we made the decision to implement no contact in the first place, we are setting ourselves up for even worse treatment the second time around. Post hoover relationships always begin with a brief honeymoon period where everything is Amaaaazing and then they are followed by an even worse and more rapid devalue period than the first go round.

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 object 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 sauce pan 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.

If someone treated you like crap, discarded you, replaced you as if you never existed, or all of the above, and all it takes for them to wiggle their way back into your life is a cowardly hoover, apologetic email or a purposely-accidental text, the real question you have to ask yourself before you tap send is, “by replying, what message am I sending them?”

And for those of you who have written me messages expressing how you feel worthless and doubly rejected because your ex-narcissists hasn’t hoovered you and you’ve read that ALL narcissists hoover. This is simply not true. All narcissists don’t hoover. But don’t think you’re in the clear just yet, because you haven’t received a hoover. Many people don’t receive hoovers until five, ten, or more years have passed. There are many reasons why your ex hasn’t hoovered you, and none of them have anything to do with your worth. The most important thing to keep in mind is if they aren’t contacting you, you’re much better off.


img_9351-1Bree Bonchay is a Los Angeles based licensed psychotherapist who specializes in helping people heal from break-ups, recover from toxic relationships with narcissists and sociopaths and to never settle for a life less than the one they dreamed of. She is a Blogger, Advocate, Facebook Toxic Relationship Recovery Forum Administrator, Radio Guest Expert, and is the Author of the book, I Am Free.
I Am Free                                                                                  

                        Click To Order

Suffering from narcissistic abuse? Join Narcissistic Abuse & Toxic Relationship Forum on Facebook.

Copyright © 2016 Bree Bonchay.  All Rights Reserved.

9 thoughts on “The 11 Most Common Narcissistic Hoovering Tactics

  1. I have been contact free from ex wife sociopath!!! I am not a dr,or a therapist but I since the separation have been weekly seeing a therapist. I do not know if my ex is narc/sociopath!! But,I have been told that I was targeted and abused severely…for 29 months. The ex has done nothing but smear me,and tell her family I abused her,I do believe they know this is not true at all.She took other actions against me to try and prove her claim [restraining order )!! I do not know if my ex was either,but,everything I have read and heard ,she has done!!! And she acted the very same way that all the information said she would act. Am I kidding myself ,as to me,not wanting to label her? For what reason after all she did to her amd my son ?? She thru my son and I into the street, without a home…One day !! No.warning, no talk no nothing… Does her family beleive her,that I abused her? Or do they see her actions are not of a loving kind hearted step mom,wife….?? Why do they reconnect,……im.acually scared of myself being vulnerable to her again….


    • Looking at my situation… Be careful if she shows up with tears, telling tales of the wonderful life u had together and that you are meant to spend a life time with each other… I bought it for a second time even though my gut feeling was one of questioning her words.. A month ago she got so angry with my questions that she physically attacked me.. That’s when I stopped contact… The Holidays make it hard.. Amnesia sets in..hang in there..


    • if the in-laws ever side with her. Ask them this. What type of person would knowingly kick out their own child and abandon them with an abusive spouse? Abuser’s like control and if they don’t have a replacement lined up it’s almost impossible to get an abuser to leave. You can’t just up and kick them out one day. Sometimes family will blindly support a narcissist, often because one of the parents or possibly siblings are narcs themselves. You really don’t need to be around that type of toxic behaviour, distance yourself from it. Trust me you’ll be much happier. If you fear being sucked in again remind yourself that she is a monster, that she will never change. Go low or no contact.


  2. The information you provided has helped me understand how others can use you in a relationship.. I’ve never experienced this in the past. It’s been the most confusing form of hurting that I’ve ever felt. I’m not going to change the person I am. I care to deeply. Which some say attracts the needy… This narcissist type is a different animal. They crawl inside of you like a tick until your infected . with great family and friends who warned me of what I didn’t see, I will be OK.


  3. It’s almost been 2months going Stover with my x. We have been off and on for 36 years. He’s blocked from my phone but he knows he can*69 and it rings through. I keep my mailbox full so he can’t leave anymore messages. But every couple of weeks he calls to see if it’s still full. When this happens it makes me think about him and have days of obsessing about him and I have anxiety. That is how much control he still has over me and I need help so these calls don’t affect me like they do…Any advice


  4. About two months before thanksgiving I called my brother but he wasn’t their. I talked to his wife. I wanted to tell my brother that I think his past drug problems had to do with our parents narcissistic abuse.

    I talked to his wife about it. Then before thanksgiving his wife calls me and ask me to come over on thanksgiving. I said no because I had to work that day. She sent me a lot of text and left a voice mail.

    I noticed when she called my brother was saying he wants me to come over but he was in the background. I thought it was disrespectful that he didn’t have the guts to call me himself.

    Instead of listening to why I couldn’t come over his wife tried to guilt trip me by saying Im her family and they’re tired of not having family. I’m not going to respond to her text anymore.

    I checked her Facebook page and my narcotics mother and sister were on it. I should have checked before talking to her about narcissism.

    My sister started hovering me around the same time. She called me to go to birthday parties of relatives I don’t talk to. I said no about two different times. I just tell them I have to work.

    It was a coincidence since both of them started hovering me the same time. I think my narc mother is triangulation me through them.

    Sadly I think it’s come to where I can’t even allow limited contact.


  5. Today is 100 days NC…..he had hoovered me for months before I even knew what that was, with ever item you listed, and I feel for the all, over and over and over. I have not heard anything from him. Yes, I have blocked him and kept him blocked this time, but there always was a text or even just showing up at my house. It was bothering me that he wasn’t contacting me, but like your ending says “The most important thing to keep in mind is if they aren’t contacting you, you’re much better off.”

    And yes I am….the nightmare is over.


  6. I was married to a narcissist with borderline personality disorder for over 10 years. We have three children together. In 2007 he solicited and conspired with someone to kill me. Due to Ongoing obstruction of justice he was never charged although he was caught on audio (by the police) during commission of the crime. The courts knowingly and willfully gave him custody of the children and ordered that I have a psychological evaluation to prove that the kids would be safe with me…. Seriously! The evaluation was deemed “inadmissible” because there was nothing wrong with my psyche and/or parenting abilities. I was subsequently ordered to redo the evaluation by someone they chose which I will not subject myself to. He has alienated the children from me to the best of his ability although I do have supervised visitation (which I have to pay for) that he cannot control. I do not communicate with him yet on rare occasions will receive texts like “Did you call me.” The latest one was the day after Thanksgiving which states “How was your visit. I hope all is well. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.” I did not respond and refuse to waste another second of my time on this psychopath. About an hour and a half later he sends another text stating “That was my attempt an an olive branch. Life is too short.” For almost 4 years I had no visitation with my children because I could not afford an attorney. Over the past year I was ALLOWED contact via phone on my children’s birthdays only. LIFE IS TOO SHORT? My children are afraid to tell me they love me or show any kind of affection because they are afraid of what he may think or do. The fear and control that narcissists instill is paralyzing and seems impossible to overcome. The only hope for those of us dealing with narcissists is to cut off ALL communication and chop the so called olive branch which feeds into their psychobabble. It is only through the grace of God that I still breathe but I would sure not call this the life which I had hoped to live with my children. Thank you Bree for posting this blog


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s