An example of “hoovering” from my own life

hoovering and narcissists

The vast majority of Narcissists utilize a manipulation technique called “Hoovering.” Hoovering is where they try to “suck” their victim back into the relationship by reopening communication in (usually) some small and unassuming, or even flattering way. Read more about hoovering in this article.

An example of hoovering from my own life can be found below (scroll down until you see the italics), along with a rundown of what I think the red flags are in his email.

This is an email I recieved from a guy I went out with three times before I felt comfortable that the red flags I was seeing really were red flags, and not me being hypersensitive.

Incidentally, it was going on a few dates with this guy (Scott), who was such a “textbook” Narcissist, that inspired me to start this website. I’d had two relationships with cover Narcissists in the past, and I knew that I wanted to write about those relationships at some point, but never felt ready enough to really do it. After I went out with this guy, I felt myself really getting sucked in by all his love bombing. I started keeping a journal of the red flags I was seeing. I began having panic attacks, and nightmares about covert Narcissist #1, where I’d wake up screaming or crying. I knew something was off about Scott (the guy who wrote the following letter), but at that time I really doubted my own judgment, and was wondering if I was being paranoid, or if I was really seeing problematic behavior. I broke things off with him, and he began yelling at me (thank God it was over the phone). I knew then that I’d made the right decision. Dating him for the brief time that I did, really rattled me. I found myself wondering if I was attracting Narcissists, or if maybe he was a normal guy, and I was hypersensitive–until when I broke up with him and he raged at me–then I knew I made the right choice.

 

Here is his email to me:

Dana-
I’m not sure how to say any of the below without sounding exactly like what you think I am… a narcissist.  Or without sounding like I am apologizing… because I don’t think I did anything wrong.  But allow me to say it anyway…

Regardless of what negative stuff you may think about me, or what red flags you may see; I am truly a good person with a huge heart.

I must say though, you were right about this:  I do have a lot of love to give.

I haven’t been seeing anyone else… I don’t want to be with anyone else.  I just want you and I to be together, as I think we’d make a great team.  And I most certainly think we should at least find out by giving it more than two weeks. I think we should try to have something really authentic.

I don’t deny that I probably have some narcissistic facets; but I do deny NPD, or having more narcissism than any average man.  I am extremely empathetic and care deeply about others.  Further, I am willing to take an introspective look at myself, with your help, to try and be a better person. As you know, I’ve spent a good deal of my life in therapy trying to be a more well-rounded human being and I will always strive to improve.

Maybe most important, I will never purposely hurt you.  Also, I will never inadvertently hurt you while on some bizarre, self-esteem building mission or head trip.  And I will NEVER cheat on you.

I do think you are overly focused on the sociopathic/narcissistic thing, and if you are so focused on it, you’re naturally going to find it even when it isn’t there.  I know you’ve been hurt, but I feel that maybe you could understand more clearly that most of us have been hurt… I definitely have, but I don’t associate any unkind things other women have done to me with you.  I would kindly ask that you extend me the same courtesy and stability.

Can we have a Rapprochement?  Détente?  Something?

Now, let me give you another back rub

-Scott

 

Based on our past, this is how I interpret his email, and these are the red flags I see: 

 

Dana-
I’m not sure how to say any of the below without sounding exactly like what you think I am… a narcissist.  (Red flag: Admitting that he sounds like a Narcissist. His email goes on to state that he is a great guy; that I am the one with the issues–even though his behavior while we were dating was ridiculous, scary and unacceptable–which is exactly how a Narcissist would spin this whole situation.) Or without sounding like I am apologizing… because I don’t think I did anything wrong.  But allow me to say it anyway… (Red flag: Refusing to apologize for bad behavior.) 

Regardless of what negative stuff you may think about me, or what red flags you may see; I am truly a good person with a huge heart. (Red flag: Pity ploy. Red flag: Actions don’t match up with words. His actions to me and to others–such as waitresses while we were dating do not match with him have a “huge heart” or even respect for other people.) 

I must say though, you were right about this:  I do have a lot of love to give. (Red flag: Gas lighting. I never said this, as I do not think this about him.) 
I haven’t been seeing anyone else… I don’t want to be with anyone else.  I just want you and I to be together, as I think we’d make a great team.  And I most certainly think we should at least find out by giving it more than two weeks. I think we should try to have something really authentic. (Red flag: Rushing intimacy. We went out three times. I made it very clear that I didn’t want to date him. Also, the fact that he mentions he hasn’t been seeing anyone else seems like unnecessary detail, which makes me think that he probably has been seeing someone else.  If he is a Narcissist (which I’m positive that he is), then him reentering my life after a period of silence for 6 weeks most likely means that his latest source of supply/last person, didn’t pan out the way he’d hoped, and he is returning to me to get attention and his ego fed in some way shape or form. …The comments of us making a great time, and having something really authentic are examples of “future faking” and giving me hope that together we could have this ideal relationship that I would want.) 

I don’t deny that I probably have some narcissistic facets; but I do deny NPD, or having more narcissism than any average man.  (Red flag: He’s agreeing that he is a Narcissist, but not really.  He is downplaying his previous behavior, which no “average man” would exhibit.) I am extremely empathetic and care deeply about others.  (Never saw any behavior like this–in fact all I saw was a complete lack of regard for other people.) Further, I am willing to take an introspective look at myself, with your help, to try and be a better person. (Red Flag: Using guilt/overdependence on a partner. With “my help” he can try and be better. Now I am supposed to feel that he needs me.  …Which, I’m looking for a boyfriend, not a project.) As you know, I’ve spent a good deal of my life in therapy trying to be a more well-rounded human being and I will always strive to improve. (Appealing to my hope that he can and will change.) 

Maybe most important, I will never purposely hurt you.  Also, I will never inadvertently hurt you while on some bizarre, self-esteem building mission or head trip.  And I will NEVER cheat on you. (Red flag: mentioning concerns that I don’t have/projection. All of this is just scary and weird. I never mentioned being concerned that he would hurt me physically, or psychologically, and I never mentioned being concerned that he would cheat on me…after all, we only went on three dates. The fact that he even brings these two things up scares me as most Narcissists often tell their victims exactly what they won’t do as either a form of false reassurance, when in fact, that is exactly what they are planning. His added, unnecessary detail is very off-putting, and makes me wonder what he’s up to…and where he is.) 

I do think you are overly focused on the sociopathic/narcissistic thing, and if you are so focused on it, you’re naturally going to find it even when it isn’t there.  I know you’ve been hurt, but I feel that maybe you could understand more clearly that most of us have been hurt… I definitely have, but I don’t associate any unkind things other women have done to me with you.  I would kindly ask that you extend me the same courtesy and stability. (He is showing a lack of accountability on his part, and instead placing my concerns back on me–it’s my fault.  Also, he is appealing to my sense of fairness and at my heart strings–that I shouldn’t be hurting him, and that I should give him a chance.)

Can we have a Rapprochement?  Détente?  Something? (Red flag: He is wanting a truce. Keep in mind that we aren’t fighting, I broke it off with him.  According to this email, we each have our issues, although I have more, and I should quit projecting my issues onto him, as he is a really great guy.) 

Now, let me give you another back rub. (Red flag: Pushing boundaries. He’s demanding that I let him not only back into my life, but that we’d pick up right where we left off, although he never gave me a back rub the first time around.) 

– Scott

 

I will putting up other posts of hoovering here in the near future. Remember, the best way to deal with a Narcissist is to go “No Contact.” If you can’t go no contact, go “Gray Rock.” Do not fall for their attempts at sucking you in. Like everything else, it is nothing more than a lie and a manipulation.

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Dana

I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse.

My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.

Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.

It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
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About Dana 278 Articles
I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse. My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life. Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics. It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.

10 Comments

  1. Is hoovering sometimes more subtle? After I broke things off with the N, he reverted
    back to his sweet, charming persona and also would often drive by me or show up at places I was.
    He seemed to drop hints like he wanted me to reach out to him, he invited me to his party etc. but he never directly apologized or said he wanted me back. When I didn’t respond to anything, he started to ignore me again but
    still sometimes tries to charm me when we do have to see each other. He seems to cycle back and
    forth between the two personalities, but I continue to do my best to just show indifference.

  2. Yup! Any attempt at pretending to be nice, or to have changed, and then leaving the door open for you to walk back through is also an attempt at hoovering. You are smart to continue to show indifference–and to keep walking. Manipulative people will only serve to cause your hurt and heartache if you keep them in your life, and you deserve better. <3

  3. In your “About Me” blurb it states that you are a FORMER advocate for victims of domestic violence. I’m sorry, but this confuses me. Do you suddenly have disregard for victims of domestic violence? Did something cause you to feel that they no longer require advocacy? Particularly, your advocacy? What would cause you to feel so strongly about the subject to go to such lengths as to publically distance yourself from advocacy for domestic violence victims? What have they done to you? Do you suddenly feel they “deserved it?” —-Perhaps I’m somehow taking this all the wrong way… But then again what other way could it be taken?

  4. The timing of your comment is uncanny, as I was JUST thinking about the wording of this the other day.

    What I meant by being a “former advocate of victims of domestic violence”, was that I used to hold the professional designation of “Victim’s Advocate” when I worked at a domestic violence shelter. Since I no longer work there, I was using the word “former” to describe my “former” position there. Just like if I were to say that I formerly worked as a teacher, that would make me a “former teacher”. I need to figure out a way to word it better, as I am still a HUGE advocate of all victims, domestic violence or otherwise. …I need to rephrase this as I do consider what I’m doing to be advocacy–even if I don’t “formally” hold the title of advocate. If you have any ideas on how I can rephrase this, let me know! 🙂

  5. Hi, Dana
    I have continued to show indifference and not react to anything the N does. We live in the same town.
    It has been almost a year since I broke it off with him but he still does drive by’s, shows up places he knows I
    will be etc. It can’t all be coincidence.
    What is this about? If I am not reacting,
    why does he keep doing this crap?
    I dread having to go out sometimes because I just don’t want to see him, I want to just live my life in peace and
    not be worried if he’ll be there around every corner.

  6. He’s doing it to maintain a sense of power and control over you and over the situation. It’s designed to intimidate, and can be considered a form of “hoovering”: http://www.thriveafterabuse.com/you-tube-video-on-hoovering/

    What he is doing is stalking, and it is a crime.

    I would encourage you to take this very seriously, as since it’s been a year, he seems to be fixated on you. Perhaps call the non-emergency police in your area and talk to them about what to do, and let them know what you told me. At a minimum, it’d be a good idea to get some mace, and/or get your locks changed if he ever had a key. These people can be really difficult to get rid of, and sometimes getting a restraining order or moving (or both) is in order. (((hugs)))

  7. Hello Dana,
    Thanks for all your videos and articles – very empowering and buoys me up when feeling sorry for myself.

    I had a terrible experience with a guy that I thought was very genuine. It was a same sex relationship. He had a girlfriend for many years but was on the “down low” and watching gay porn, hooking up etc. She was portrayed as a cheat and everyone felt so sorry for him. He depicted himself as magnanimous and vulnerable and we were always subtly reminded that he was “so badly hurt” from her promiscuity. I’ve since gotten to know this woman and have learned the true account of affairs. She said he has no conscience and was with men throughout their sham relationship. I also caught him looking at gay porn and pictures of his naked body on his phone.

    He lovebombed me in the beginning but I wanted to take it very slow with him as I had noticed a few red flags (I now know that my instinct is very attuned and that I should honour it always). He pretended to be a conflicted heterosexual and when he knew that I had fallen for him he watched me suffer, delighting in telling me that he couldn’t partake despite seducing me a week prior. It was all very unnecessary and I couldn’t make sense of it. Now I do. He derived his pain in denying me the intimacy I craved. When I accepted he was straight and distanced myself he instantly pursued me – so pathetic. He loved the chase and my lovesickness more than the payoff.

    He was very charming and presented as a polished guy with conservative views. His soft voice (oftentimes nauseatingly gentle) was sometimes alternated with a sharp, acerbic tone when he made assertions about certain people – how they were “fake”, “elitist”, “everything is on their terms” – all classic projections. But, generally,he was a popular, positive guy who flirted with vulnerable women leading them on despite knowing he had no attraction to women. It’s so twisted for a 50 year old man to behave in such ways. If you cannot reciprocate why lead them on and cut him down when they profess interest. I never knew he was leading them on. I just heard their accounts after we all caught on to him.

    Anyway I caught him cheating (he always said he could never tolerate cheating as he gave so much in a relationship as it was his innate nature to make others happy). He went overnight from “caring deeply” about me to calling me a “sick individual” and devaluing me to the new supply. I was so bewildered when the new supply once pulled a face when he saw me but now I realize that the narcissist was telling me he loved me while concurrently telling the new supply how crazy and neglectful I was. Immediately I read up on NPD and realized I had been massively duped and this was an elaborate hoax by a severely toxic and twisted person. He conned all of us in the social circle.

    I always wondered why he flaunted new supply under my nose as I could have potentially exposed his duplicity. Now I know it was because he was hoping for an outburst from me which would have bolstered his ego – it’s all about galvanizing the victim into hysterics. I always walked on and never gave him the satisfaction (Thankfully I only experienced one month of D&D). Once I told him he had a personality disorder he immediately went underground and never came near me again – he said I was sick. He would still greet people and future fake dinner dates but never followed through. They all see him as a liar and sicko and want nothing to do with him.
    The new supply is really dark and when I bumped into him unexpectedly and warned him about NPD he spat out that I had a personality disorder and was sick – he contorted his face in disgust as if I was trash. I knew he had been conditioned and didn’t waste my energies further – he deserves whatever comes his way. He is not a nice person and good luck to them both.

    I have been no contact for 1.5 years with the sociopath and he has now turned up again in old haunts and is telling mutual friends (who he disengaged from once he met his new supply) that him and my replacement are now living together. He has come out of the closet and appears to be more effeminate according to friends. I am fully aware that he is disordered and would never entertain him again but I have started to wonder if, as a result of the breakup, he has started to accept he only has this new supply and has decided to give it his everything in order to make it work.

    I know that this is only cognitive dissonance and that the new supply will eventually experience the callous games. But part of me wonders if they are actually both dark characters (maybe both narcissists) and whether this combination could work albeit a very warped, dysfunctional pairing. I think the new supply is delighted with his trophy.

    I also am wondering how a narcissist can cope with constant presence of a partner. I always was on/off with him (initiated by me) so it was nearly a friends with benefits arrangement. With the new guy they are together 24×7 and I am expecting that over-familiarity will breed contempt and that the chronic boredom will present itself sooner rather than later. Would you agree? I think that the narcissist needs to act out sexually and may be feeling suffocated with this attentive, smug partner.

    I know that the psychopath had no feelings for me but I do know that he considered me a good person and an empath. Inside he is seething that a good person has seen through him and walked away with alacrity never looking back. Since I left him he has changed job, car, rental home, lost friends, aged very quickly, poorly presented sartorially, severed ties with family, death of a parent. He has lost a lot and it started in the immediate wake of my discovering who he really is. I don’t think this fact has been lost on him despite his inability to be accountable for his transgressions.

    So now he is pursuing his relationship with his new supply. He seems to have gone public with him and for some odd reason I feel a sting despite being completely aware of what a flawed, irreparably damaged person he is. I am wondering if you predict any outcome in this relationship. Could a narcissist be so upset after a relationship that they decide to reform and invest fully with the next person? (My head is screaming ‘no, of course not’) but I just want to get another opinion.

    Keep up your good work.

  8. You sound like you have a tremendous amount of insight to your situation, and to him. I think all of us victims harbor the same secret fear that this toxic person will somehow have this moment of clarity and will become healthy and happy in their next relationship. And I also think all of us victims also know that deep down change doesn’t happen this way–although highly manipulative people want us to think that it does! The reason they do this (and about 98% of them quickly find a new partner and then make sure to flaunt it all over social media and the world) because it’s yet another way of devaluing the former victim, as well as “proving” to the world that they aren’t the problem–after all, that the problem was with the former partner. But the new partner will experience many (if not more) of the old behaviors that the former partner experienced–because the Narcissist hasn’t changed–and he (like the rest of us) won’t change anything that he doesn’t see a problem with.

    Keep in mind that the new partner showed you so much disgust because he’s been manipulated by your ex. This is also very common, and there’s a great chance that your ex told him all kinds of stories about you and your relationship to make himself to seem like the victim of you. That’s why you got the glaring looks. There is a term for these people, called, “flying monkeys” : http://www.thriveafterabuse.com/flying-monkeys/ The video will help the term make more sense.

    You ask if two Narcissists can make it work. Yes they can, however, it will be a relationship based on manipulation, guilt, obligation, pity, abuse, and overall, very little in the way that is healthy or nourishing. I would encourage you to keep reminding yourself that the best revenge is an amazing life, and to focus as much as you can on creating that for yourself. There’s really nothing a Narcissist hates more than being insignificant to others–and if you can show him that you are so over him, and in fact, that that relationship was so great because it paved the way to all this personal growth for you, and that you are so happy, and over him–it’ll make him nuts. 🙂

    (((hugs)))

  9. Hi Dana.
    It’s been a long time since a comment has been left here, but i’m going to leave this anyway. I split with my Narc in March of 2014. For the first year I did everything I could to get our financial stuff straight with no assistance from him, not a surprise!!. In March of 2015 I started getting calls from job placement agencies, he was using my home address and cell number on his resume. I got 2 or 3 calls every few days from one or another. This lasted for about 4 months till I sent his girlfriend (old girlfriend from high school ready to take him in after I kicked him out) a facebook message to let her know what he was up to. For a few weeks it stopped. During that time I was also getting samples of products and coupons for female products in his name in the mail. Then I started to get more calls from placement agencies, I called his local police station, they called him an told him to stop, it did. His sister, who hated me the entire 16 years we where together sent me a friend request using a message I sent her asking her to talk to me a few weeks after her brother left our home, while pretending not to know me! Then in April of 2016 another call from an agency that received a new resume, again my address and cell number on it. They called to leave a reminder of his appointment. Over 2 years he’s been gone and just last week I got letters in the mail for him in regards to his drivers licence about to expire!! Have you ever heard anything like this before? I have researched narcissism for over 2 years now, I have never seen anything like this! What is this???

  10. My guess is that all of this is a subtle form of harassment designed to ruffle your feathers. You can contact the local post office and ask them how you can stop getting mail for him (they should be able to send it back to the sender before it gets to you). You can also change your facebook settings to private so that people can’t send you a friend request (or you can create a fake account with just your first and middle name that you give out to friends and family). You can also consider calling the police again and talking to them about filing charges for harassment and see what all that would involve.

    And while you can do all those things, really the only thing you have control over is how you perceive what’s going on. So every time something aggravating happens like a piece of mail addressed to him or a message from his sister shows up, try to reframe this into something empowering for you. (Easier said than done, I know.) So for example, if you get something in the mail, let it remind you of have immature he is, and how glad you are that he’s no longer in your life–and then celebrate that piece of mail for showing you just how far you’ve come–and how much healthier you are these days. It’ll take some practice, but I think you’ll find it really empowering and maybe even kinda entertaining.

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