Narcissists Are Using The ‘Hoovering’ Dating Trend To Suck Their Exes Back In

You finally find the strength to leave your toxic relationship with your narcissist ex behind. It hasn’t been easy, but you’re really making progress toward moving on. However, it’s not long before they start hanging around again trying to get back into your life. Looks like you might be the victim of the hoovering dating trend. But what is it and how can you protect yourself?

What is hoovering?

The hoovering dating trend refers to a manipulative behavior pattern where someone who has ended a relationship suddenly reappears in their ex-partner’s life in an attempt to “suck them back in” and regain control over the relationship.

Hoovering can take many forms, such as sending flirty messages, making promises to change, or even apologizing for past behavior. The goal is to make the other person believe that the relationship can work and that things will be different this time around. Of course, that’s a bunch of BS because they never are.

Hoovering is often used by people with narcissistic or controlling tendencies as a way to maintain power and control over their partners. It can be emotionally damaging for the person on the receiving end, as it can cause confusion, doubt, and self-doubt. Just when you think you’re finally turning a corner, they come back and undo all the progress you’ve made. Argh!

Why do narcissists try to hoover you back in?

  1. It gives them a sense of control. Narcissists thrive on control and power. By hoovering you back in, they can regain a sense of control over you and the relationship. If there’s one thing toxic people like this hate, it’s feeling powerless.
  2. It gives them an ego boost. Narcissists have an inflated sense of self-importance and need constant validation from others. By hoovering you back in, they can feel a sense of validation and boost their ego. They get off on feeling like you’ll always bend to their will. It’s seriously messed up.
  3. They have a fear of abandonment. Narcissists have a deep-seated fear of abandonment and rejection. By hoovering you back in, they can ease their fear of being alone. Even if they’re the one who left you, they’ll always come back if they can’t find someone else to victimize.
  4. They’re trying to relieve their guilt. Narcissists may feel guilty about their behavior in the relationship and try to hoover you back in as a way to make amends. Of course, the guilt is never about how they made you feel. Instead, it’s always more about them being able to play the victim.
  5. They’re desperate for attention. Narcissists crave attention and will do whatever it takes to get it. By hoovering you back in, they can get the attention they crave. It doesn’t matter if the attention isn’t entire positive, either. By ensuring all of your time and energy is taken up by them, they get to feel like the center of your universe.

Signs someone is trying to pull this move on you

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  1. They keep in constant contact with you even after dumping you. If your ex is suddenly texting, calling, or emailing you more frequently than usual, it could be a sign that they are trying to hoover you. After all, they wanted out of the relationship. So, why won’t they leave you alone?
  2. They go overboard with the compliments. Narcissists often use flattery to gain control over their partners. If your ex is suddenly complimenting you and telling you how much they miss you, it could be a hoovering tactic. By love bombing you or going overboard with telling you how great they are, they’re trying to reel you back in.
  3. They make promises they know they can’t keep. Narcissists are known for making grandiose promises that they have no intention of keeping. If your ex is suddenly promising to change or to do things differently this time around, it could be a hoovering tactic. They think if they can trick you into thinking they’ve changed, you’ll be putty in their hands.
  4. They constantly play the victim. Narcissists often play the victim in order to manipulate others. If your ex is suddenly painting themselves as the victim in the relationship, it could be a hoovering tactic. They want you to feel bad for them. Even if you come back out of guilt, you’re still back.
  5. They ignore and overstep your boundaries. If you’ve told your ex that you don’t want to communicate with them anymore, but they continue to contact you anyway, it could be a sign that they are trying to hoover you.

How to respond to a narcissist’s hoovering attempts

  1. Set clear boundaries. Let them know that you don’t want to communicate with them and that you need space to move on from the relationship. Be firm and assertive in your communication, but also respectful and calm. You don’t want them to think they’re getting to you in any way.
  2. Don’t engage. Narcissists thrive on drama and attention, so it’s important not to engage in their attempts to hoover you. Don’t respond to their messages or calls, and avoid interacting with them as much as possible. This might be difficult, but try to be strong.
  3. Seek support. It can be helpful to talk to friends, family, or a therapist about what you’re going through. They can provide you with emotional support and help you stay strong in the face of the narcissist’s attempts to hoover you.
  4. Remember why you ended the relationship. It’s important to remember why you ended the relationship in the first place. Keep a clear and realistic perspective on the relationship and the narcissist’s behavior. It can be tempting sometimes to let nostalgia get the better of you. However, whenever you start thinking of the good times, remind yourself of the bad ones.
  5. Consider blocking them. If the narcissist continues to contact you despite your boundaries, it may be necessary to block them on your phone, email, and social media accounts. This can help you to fully disengage from the relationship and move on with your life.
Jennifer has been the managing editor of Bolde since its launch in 2014. Before that, she was the founding editor of HelloGiggles and also worked as an entertainment writer for Bustle and Digital Spy. Her work has been published in Bon Appetit, Decider, Vanity Fair, The New York TImes, and many more.