Have you recently ended a relationship with a narcissist? Congratulations on getting out of that toxic situation. But don’t celebrate too soon — the narcissist isn’t done with you yet.
They need your supply and attention, so they’ll do anything to suck you back in. That’s right, the hoovering is coming. The narcissist will employ manipulation tactics to reel you back under their control.
Watch out for these 18 signs the narcissist is hoovering you. They’ll pull every trick in the book to get you to engage with them again.
Don’t fall for the crocodile tears, empty promises, and pity plays. You escaped once before, now stay strong and don’t get hoovered back in. The narcissist hasn’t changed, and they never will.
1. They Contact You Out Of The Blue After Periods Of No Contact.
One day, after months of silence, your phone lights up with a text from your narcissistic ex. They act like no time has passed and want to see you. Don’t fall for it. This is hoovering, a tactic used to suck you back into their grasp.
“Hate is the complement of fear and narcissists like being feared. It imbues them with an intoxicating sensation of omnipotence.”
― Sam Vaknin
Stay strong and ignore them. Any response will feed their ego and give them a supply. Their sweet words are meaningless. They just want power over you again, so they can drop you once more when they’ve had their fill.
More Empty Promises
They’ll promise change and shower you with affection and gifts. But a narcissist can’t change. They’re only acting to get what they want. As soon as they have you again, the mask will slip and the abuse will start anew.
Don’t get caught in the same vicious cycle. See their false promises for what they are, and find the strength within to break free of their control once and for all. You deserve so much more than an endless loop of pain at the hands of a narcissist. Stay true to yourself.
2. Flattery And Compliments About Your Appearance And Qualities.
When a narcissist starts laying on the charm, watch out — they probably want something from you. One of their favorite tactics is excessive flattery and compliments.
They’ll tell you how amazing you look, how talented and smart you are, how no one else compares. At first, it feels great. But it’s not because they genuinely think so highly of you.
They’re just buttering you up to get what they want. Maybe they need a favor, money, or just want to worm their way back into your life. Don’t fall for their sweet talk. Their kind words are empty and insincere. Once they have you where they want you, the criticism and toxicity will start again.
Stay strong and remember — you don’t need their validation. You know your own worth, and it has nothing to do with what they say about you. Their compliments are a trap to lure you in and gain control again.
When the narcissist starts with flattery, put up your guard immediately. Politely but firmly tell them their words mean nothing, and you won’t be manipulated. Walk away from the interaction knowing you saw through their scheme, and you’re too smart to be duped by their deceitful hoovering tactics.
3. Promises To Commit More To The Relationship And Meet Your Needs.
The narcissist will swear up and down that they have changed and are ready to really commit to the relationship this time. They miss you so much and realize now how much you mean to them. All those times they hurt you, they didn’t really mean it — they just couldn’t express their feelings properly before.
“For the most part people are not curious except about themselves.”
― John Steinbeck
This is one of the narcissist’s most effective tactics because they know how much you want the relationship to work out. You’ll want to believe them when they say they’re willing to meet your needs now and be fully present in the relationship. But sadly, their promises are empty. As soon as they’ve hooked you back in, their commitment will fade and they’ll go back to their old ways.
Don’t fall for fancy words and false promises. Judge them by their actions, not just their words. Have they sincerely apologized for past hurts? Are they actually making an effort to understand your feelings and meet your needs?
If not, their promises to change are likely just another manipulation to get you back under their control. You deserve so much more than empty promises — you deserve real, lasting change.
4. Ignoring Or Minimizing The Past Abuse And Harm Done.
The narcissist may ignore or minimize the harm they’ve caused you in the past. They act as if the abuse never happened or wasn’t “that bad.” Don’t fall for it. Stay focused on the truth of what really occurred.
They deny past abuse.
The narcissist will deny outright that any abuse took place. They claim you’re exaggerating or making things up to make them look bad. Trust your own recollections and don’t second-guess yourself.
They blame you.
Rather than taking responsibility, the narcissist will blame you for their abusive behavior. They say you “made them do it” or “provoked them.” You did nothing to deserve abuse.
They rewrite history.
The narcissist may try to alter the facts of events to make themselves look like the victim. They spin tales of what “really happened” to gain your sympathy. Stand firm in the truth — their fabrications won’t match your actual experiences.
They use flattery and charm.
The narcissist showers you with praise, affection, gifts, and loving words to make you doubt their capacity for cruelty. But honeyed words mean nothing without real change. Pretty compliments won’t undo the damage.
Stay strong and keep your guard up. The narcissist wants you to forget the past so they can more easily manipulate and hurt you again. But you remember — and you know better now. Don’t let their hoovering tactics fool you into giving them another chance to abuse you.
5. Blaming Others For Relationship Problems, Not Taking Responsibility.
The narcissist is never at fault in their mind. They will blame you, friends, family, or circumstances for the problems in your relationship.
“I think writers are the most narcissistic people. Well, I musn’t say this, I like many of them, a great many of my friends are writers.”
― Sylvia Plath
They blame you for their anger or bad mood.
According to the narcissist, you “made them” yell at you, criticize you or give you the silent treatment. They claim you provoked them into that behavior. The truth is, the narcissist alone is responsible for how they choose to react and treat you.
They blame others for their life not going as planned.
The narcissist feels entitled to achievement, success, and admiration. When things don’t go their way, they blame their boss, friends, or family members for holding them back or not supporting them enough. They fail to take responsibility for their own poor decision-making or lack of competence.
They blame you for their cheating or bad behavior.
If caught cheating, the narcissist will say you drove them to it by not being attentive enough or not meeting their needs. The truth is, that narcissist choose to cheat to satisfy their own selfish desires, not because of anything they did or didn’t do.
They are unwilling to take responsibility for the pain and hurt caused by their actions.
The narcissist avoids accountability at all costs. But you know the truth — they alone are responsible for their behavior and its consequences. You deserve so much better than to be blamed and made to feel at fault for someone else’s poor conduct and life issues.
6. Guilt Trips About Missing Them Or The Relationship.
Narcissists are experts at manipulation and will employ many tactics to suck you back into the relationship after you’ve left. One of their favorites is the guilt trip.
“Stay away from lazy parasites, who perch on you just to satisfy their needs, they do not come to alleviate your burdens, hence, their mission is to distract, detract and extract, and make you live in abject poverty.”
― Michael Bassey Johnson
- They will claim that you owe them another chance because of the time and effort they put into the relationship. Don’t fall for this — you don’t owe them anything, especially after how poorly they treated you.
- They will say that you are abandoning them and that they can’t live without you. This is just a ploy to make you feel responsible for their emotions so you’ll come back. You are not responsible for their happiness.
- They will claim that the relationship ending is entirely your fault. They will refuse to take any responsibility for their actions and behavior. Don’t engage in their blame game.
- They will pull the pity card and claim they are depressed or suicidal without you. Do not fall for this emotional blackmail. Alert the authorities if you feel they are a danger to themselves, but do not get back together with them out of guilt or obligation.
- They will claim that you will never find anyone who will treat you as well as they did. This is a lie to undermine your confidence and self-worth so you settle for less. You deserve so much better.
Don’t let the narcissist’s guilt trips and manipulation draw you back in. Stay strong, keep moving forward, and don’t look back. You deserve healthy, reciprocal relationships where you are respected and cared for. The narcissist will never change, but you have the power to change your own life for the better.
7. Propositioning Sex As A Way To Rekindle Intimacy And Draw You Back In.
When narcissists feel like they’re losing control over you, their favorite tactic is hoovering — sucking you back into their orbit. One of the ways they do this is by propositioning sex.
“Half of the people lie with their lips; the other half with their tears”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- They may send unsolicited sexts, racy photos or videos to rekindle intimacy and make you desire them again. Don’t fall for this trick. This is not a genuine show of affection but a way to manipulate you.
- They may suggest meeting up for a “booty call” or “friends with benefits” situation. But there’s nothing friendly about it. They just want to use your body to fulfill their needs and boost their ego.
- They portray themselves as irresistibly charming and seductive to get what they want. But true intimacy and meaningful sex are impossible with someone incapable of empathy.
- They prey on your vulnerabilities and unmet needs to make you dependent on them again. But the intimacy and affection they offer is always fleeting and conditional.
- Don’t let their propositioning make you doubt yourself or feel like the “crazy” one. Trust your instincts — if something feels off, that’s because this person does not have your best interests at heart.
The narcissist’s goal here is to break down your boundaries and pull you back into the cycle of abuse and manipulation. Stay strong, maintain no contact, and don’t fall for their hoovering tactics. You deserve so much better than what they have to offer.
8. Love Bombing With Attention, Affection And Quality Time.
The narcissist will shower you with affection, compliments, gifts, and quality time together. They make you feel like the center of their world, and you’re left wondering how you ever lived without them.
“The sadistic narcissist perceives himself as Godlike, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable, emotion-less and non-sexual, omniscient, omnipotent and omni-present, a plague, a devastation, an inescapable verdict.”
― Sam Vaknin
This tactic is designed to get you to let your guard down so they can slither back into your life. Don’t be fooled by the charm and empty flattery. The narcissist hasn’t changed — they’re still the same self-centered and manipulative person you left behind.
- They’ll send endless texts, emails, and calls professing their undying love and devotion.
- Lavish you with pet names and talk of the future together.
- Plan extravagant dates and getaways to “reconnect”.
- Smother you with physical intimacy and affection to manipulate your emotions.
Stay strong and remember why you left. The narcissist’s love bombing is temporary and solely for their benefit. As soon as they have you hooked again, the criticism, gaslighting, and other abuse will return.
You deserve real, lasting love from someone who treats you well 365 days a year — not just when it suits them. Walk away from the narcissist’s tricks and manipulations once and for all. Your mental health and happiness depend on it.
9. Referring To Recent Positive Changes And Personal Growth.
The narcissist may refer to changes they’ve supposedly made recently to prove they’re a better person now. Things like:
“I’ve been in therapy.”
They’ll claim they’ve gained insight into their behavior and made positive changes, but it’s likely just a ploy to reel you back in. Real change takes awareness and time.
“I’ve quit drinking/doing drugs.”
While overcoming addiction is commendable, don’t believe they’ve become a different person overnight. Relapse is common, and narcissists are prone to lying and manipulation. Their sobriety alone does not equate to a transformed character.
“I’ve found God/religion.”
A newfound faith or spiritual practice may signify positive growth for some, but for narcissists, it’s often a way to absolve themselves of past sins and present a righteous facade. Look for real humility, compassion, and changed behavior — not just talk.
“I miss you. I’ve changed.”
Pretty words mean nothing without action. Narcissists are charming and persuasive, but the cycle of abuse will repeat. Ignore empty promises and trust your intuition. Leopards don’t change their spots so easily.
The only real change comes from within, through hard work and self-reflection. Don’t be fooled by a narcissist’s claims of personal growth and reform without seeing concrete evidence of it first. Words are cheap but transformed character and behavior will speak for themselves. Protect your heart — you deserve so much more.
10. Questioning Why You Broke Up Or Left In The First Place.
The narcissist will question why you ended the relationship to try and make you doubt yourself. They want you to feel like you made a mistake leaving them.
- “We had something really special, why did you have to ruin it?”
- “I don’t understand what went wrong. We were so good together.”
- “Are you sure breaking up was the right choice? We could have worked through our issues if you gave us another chance.”
Don’t fall for their manipulative tactics. You left the relationship for valid reasons, like their emotional abuse, lack of empathy, and constant need for control and admiration.
Stay confident in your decision by reminding yourself of how unhappy and stressed you felt.
The narcissist is only questioning the break up to worm their way back into your life so they can continue exploiting you, not because they actually care about you or the relationship.
Stand firm in your resolve to move on from this toxic person. You deserve so much better than a narcissist’s superficial love and abuse. Stay strong and keep looking ahead to the happy, healthy future waiting for you once you break free of their grasp.
11. Comparing The Relationship Favorably To Others In Their Life.
The narcissist may compare your relationship favorably to their other relationships in an attempt to hoover you back in. They’ll say things like:
- “We had something really special, unlike anything I’ve had before.”
- “No one understands me like you do.”
- “My new partner could never measure up to you.”
Don’t fall for this tactic. The narcissist is idealizing your past relationship to manipulate you, not because they genuinely value you or the relationship. They’re grasping at straws trying to reel you back into their grasp.
“I don’t care what you think unless it is about me.”
― Kurt Cobain
Stay strong in your resolve to move on from this unhealthy dynamic. You deserve so much better than to be hoovered back into a relationship where you’ll only face more criticism, control, and abuse.
The narcissist may make big promises of change to convince you to give them another chance, but narcissists rarely change their ways.
Keep reminding yourself of the reasons why you left in the first place. Stay focused on surrounding yourself with people who treat you with genuine love, respect, and compassion.
The narcissist’s hoovering attempts will continue to weaken over time once they realize you can no longer be manipulated by their selfish ploys. You’ve broken free from their control, now stay free!
12. Claiming Deep Regret And Willingness To Work Things Out.
The narcissist claims to deeply regret how things ended between you two and express a willingness to work through the issues. They say they want to make things right and get the relationship back on track. Don’t fall for it.
This is a manipulative tactic to suck you back into the abusive cycle. The narcissist isn’t truly remorseful for their actions or the harm they’ve caused. They just want to regain control over you and the benefits you provide to them.
Once they’ve hoovered you back in, the narcissist will continue the same hurtful behavior as before. They may promise to change, but narcissists lack the ability for real change or empathy. Don’t let flowery words and empty promises fool you into sticking around for more mistreatment.
You deserve so much better. Stay strong by maintaining no contact and continuing to move forward with your life without them. The narcissist had their chance, and they blew it. This is not someone you want in your life for the long run.
13. Testing Boundaries With Subtle Probing For Emotional Reactions.
The narcissist may test your boundaries in subtle ways to see if you’ll react emotionally. They want to know if they still have control over you and can influence your feelings.
13. Testing Boundaries With Subtle Probing For Emotional Reactions.
The narcissist may casually bring up emotional topics or drop hints about the relationship to gauge your reaction. They’re probing to find weak spots they can exploit. Stay calm and detached; do not show anger, sadness, or longing.
“Nice people don’t necessarily fall in love with nice people.”
― Jonathan Franzen, Freedom
Give short, unemotional responses without elaboration. Be polite but firm, and consistent with your boundaries. Do not feel obligated to explain yourself or make excuses. Your indifference and refusal to engage will frustrate the narcissist, signaling that their tactics are no longer effective.
Remain steadfast in your resolve. Do not let occasional acts of thoughtfulness or charm weaken your defenses. The narcissist is simply testing the waters to determine if you can be hoovered back into their control and abuse. Stand strong in your conviction that you deserve so much better.
Stay focused on your own healing and growth rather than wasting energy on someone who will never change. The narcissist will eventually realize their hoovering attempts are futile and move on to easier targets.
You will have won your freedom and the chance to build healthy relationships based on mutual care, trust, and respect.
14. Gaslighting About Past Events And Your Experiences Or Perceptions.
The narcissist may gaslight you about events from your shared past to make you question your own memories and perceptions.
14. Gaslighting About Past Events And Your Experiences Or Perceptions.
The narcissist will insist that events happen differently than how you remember them. They may claim that conversations went another way or that promises were never made. This makes you doubt your own recollections and perceptions of the relationship.
Stay confident in your own mind and trust your instincts. Don’t let the narcissist distort your memories or make you question what you know to be true.
They are trying to gain power over you and weaken your confidence in yourself. Stand firm in the facts and experiences as you remember them. No amount of their persuading or bullying will change the past or your lived truth.
Recognize gaslighting for what it is — a tactic to make you feel unstable and dependent on the narcissist’s version of events. Don’t engage or argue about the details. Simply state that you disagree and will not debate the facts with them. Remove yourself from the interaction as much as possible. The more you engage, the more they will persist in attempting to overwrite your memories and truth.
15. Asserting That People Deserve Second Chances To Prove Themselves.
The narcissist may claim that people deserve second chances to prove themselves. They insist you should forgive them for their past mistakes and manipulations. After all, everyone is flawed and makes errors in judgment sometimes, right?
- Don’t fall for this tactic. Narcissists rarely change their behaviors or thinking. They see nothing wrong with how they treat people and have no motivation to change.
- Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. Any concession or forgiveness you offer will be seen as a weakness and permission to continue their abuse.
- Their claims of “giving people second chances” only apply to themselves. They do not extend the same courtesy to others.
- The narcissist’s history shows a pattern of manipulation and disregard for your well-being. Trust their actions, not their empty words.
Stay strong in your conviction that you deserve to be in healthy, mutually respectful relationships. The narcissist has not earned a second chance and is not entitled to your time or energy.
Breaking free of their control and manipulation is the only way to build a better life. Though it may be difficult, choose to surround yourself with people who treat you well and support your growth.
16. Triangulating By Sharing Private Details To Make You Jealous.
Once the narcissist has lost control over you, they may try to suck you back into their grasp. One of their favorite tactics is triangulating by sharing private details about your relationship to make you jealous.
The narcissist may casually mention that they’re dating someone new or spending time with an attractive friend or ex. Don’t take the bait. This is a manipulation tactic meant to make you feel jealous, and insecure and prompt you to reach out to them.
Stay calm and remember why you left the relationship in the first place. The narcissist is not truly happy or fulfilled — they are just trying to get a reaction from you.
Focus on surrounding yourself with people who treat you with kindness and respect. Don’t give the narcissist the satisfaction of knowing they got under your skin.
Your happiness and peace of mind are the best revenge. Keep living your best life without them, and their trivial attempts to make you jealous will seem more and more pathetic over time. You deserve so much better than these manipulative games.
The narcissist’s tactics may be cruel, but you have the power to rise above by not giving them what they want — your attention, emotions and control over your self-worth.
17. Threatening Self-harm Or Suicide If Rejected.
The narcissist will threaten to harm themselves as a way to manipulate you into contacting them or taking them back. Don’t fall for it. This is just another tactic to pull you back into the cycle of abuse.
The narcissist may call or message you saying they can’t live without you and will hurt themselves if you don’t come back. They know you are empathetic and will feel guilty, so they use this to prey on your emotions.
Don’t engage or show concern. Reply with a simple “Please seek professional help. I cannot assist you.” and block them immediately.
You are not responsible for their actions or mental health. Threatening self-harm is abusive behavior meant solely to control and manipulate you. Do not react or reach out, as this will only reinforce that their tactics work and the threatening behavior will continue.
Alert local authorities instead and provide any evidence you have of the threat. They are trained to properly handle these situations.
Stay strong in your resolve to remain in no contact. The narcissist’s threats are empty and only meant to pull you back into their grasp.
Your safety and sanity come before their manipulation and crocodile tears. Don’t look back — keep walking forward and don’t break any contact.
18. Becoming Angry, Blaming, Or Punishing If Hoover Attempts Are Resisted.
When a narcissist’s hoovering attempts don’t work, their anger and blame can surface. They may lash out or punish you for resisting their manipulation.
Blaming and Shaming
The narcissist will blame you for your anger and actions. They will make you feel guilty for not giving in to their hoovering. Statements like “This is your fault — you made me do this!” or “Look what you made me become!” are common. They want you to feel responsible for their poor behavior.
Don’t fall for their blame game. You are not responsible for a narcissist’s actions or emotions. Stay calm and remember that their anger comes from a place of selfishness, not because of anything you did.
To try and regain control, the narcissist may resort to punishing you. This could be through emotional outbursts, silent treatment, threats, or even physical violence. They want to intimidate you into complying with their wishes.
Don’t engage or react to their punishing behavior. Remain detached from their manipulation and set clear boundaries. You do not deserve to be treated this way. The healthiest option is to avoid contact with the narcissist whenever possible and seek help from loved ones or local authorities if you feel unsafe.
The narcissist’s anger is a reflection of their own unhealthy mental state, not because of you. Stay strong in yourself and remain committed to surrounding yourself with people who treat you with genuine love and respect.
So there you have it, the narcissist’s 18 favorite hoovering tactics to reel you back in. Now that you know what to watch out for, don’t fall for their manipulation and empty promises again.
You deserve so much better. Stay strong and remember why you left in the first place. While it may be tempting to give them another chance, know that they will likely never change.
Focus on surrounding yourself with people who treat you with kindness, compassion, and respect. Keep moving forward and don’t look back. The narcissist had their chance, now it’s time for you to reclaim your life and find your own happiness once more.
You’ve got this! Stay empowered and trust that you will heal and find healthier relationships. Their hoovering won’t work anymore because you see right through their games. You’re free now.