Narcissistic hoovering is when a narcissist who had previously devalued or discarded someone tries to bring them back by using manipulation tactics such as love bombing. Most often, they do this by being temporarily overly nice in order to attract that person back.
Most people who had been devalued or discarded by their narcissistic partner get really confused when the narcissist suddenly gets overly interested in them again, even though they did nothing to appeal to the narcissist. Narcissists’ style of thinking makes them hoover when the relationship is over, even if ending the relationship was their decision.
Why do Narcissists Hoover
While different narcissists hoover for many different reasons, the most common reasons why narcissists hoover are:
- They resolved the conflict: in a relationship with a narcissist, when a conflict happens, the narcissists usually devalue or discard their partner or just give them silent treatment. If the conflict was strong enough, it may result in a breakup. In this case, because the decision of discarding or breaking up with their partner is usually taken under the influence of a strong emotion like anger or rage, when the intensity of this emotion decreases, they usually start thinking logically and realize that they made a wrong decision and that’s when hoovering usually starts. Although, most often, the decision to bring their partner back is not taken under the influence of guilt or remorse for having wronged their partner. Instead, think in terms of how they have lost a valuable supply, how it might be harder to find an alternative and the benefits they may get if their ex comes back. Although, this does not mean that narcissists can’t feel guilty. (See my article about narcissists and guilt).
- No better or alternative options: some narcissists are kind of addicted to relationships because a love partner makes the best narcissistic supply than any other person (friend, co-worker or family member). After leaving their partner, they quickly start searching for a replacement because they can’t tolerate the bad emotions that follow the breakup. Now when they compare the options available with their ex and the ex wins, they usually start to think highly of their ex and rationalize their shortcomings. Even a narcissist who is not a relationship addict may assume that he is going to find a better alternative after the breakup but when this doesn’t happen he might decide to get back to the same relationship again even though nothing changed on his partner’s side.
- Their ex is moving on: In my post “do narcissists care if you move on” I said that when a narcissist realizes that their ex can’t move on, it gives them a sense of self-importance and boosts their self-worth. When they realize that their ex is recovering and forgetting them, it may come as a blow to their self-esteem, hence they may try to hoover and attract them back.
- They need a quick self-esteem boost: similar to the previous point, if the narcissist depends on his partner to elevate his self-esteem, he may miss them when his self-esteem is low. In this case the motives and intentions are not to bring their ex back so that they can settle down and have long-term relationship but to get a quick self-esteem fix.
- It’s an abuse tactic: One of the methods of abuse that abusive narcissists use is to push their target away and pretend they don’t exist. After they have succeeded or failed in hurting their partner, they usually try to suck them back because the intention was not to discard them permanently. This usually happens several times in a relationship with an abusive narcissist.
- Jealousy and hoovering: some narcissists especially malignant ones, when they are jealous of their ex’s achievements they try to infiltrate their life so that they can sabotage whatever their ex has achieved. This does not have to be a big achievement. For example, if the narcissist realizes that his ex is becoming happy their life after the breakup, they can be very jealous.
As you can see, narcissists can hoover for reasons that have or have nothing to do with the love they have for their partner.
Understanding why a narcissist wants you back in their life may not be that easy but it’s very important to know their intentions in order to deal with them correctly.
For example, when you understand that your ex narcissist wants you back because he needs a quick self-esteem fix, getting back to them would be a wrong decision. (See also: Why narcissists love bomb)