Narcissistic hoovering is when a narcissist who had previously devalued or discarded his partner tries to bring him/her back in his life. Most often they do this by being temporarily overly nice in order to attract their ex 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 nothing big changed since the breakup. 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 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. When the conflict is strong enough, if can 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, after some time when the intensity of this emotion decreases, they usually start thinking logically and realize that they made a wrong decision and hoovering usually starts. Although, most often, the decision to bring their partner back is not take under the influence of guilt or remorse for having wronged their partner. They usually 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 when 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 his/her shortcomings. Even a narcissist who is not relationship-addicted 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’s ex is unable to forget them, it gives the narcissist a sense of self-importance and boosts his 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 attract him or her back.
- They need a quick self-esteem boost: similar to the previous point, if the narcissist depended 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 he does not exist. After they have succeeded or failed in hurting him or her, 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 his life may not be that easy but it’s very important to know their intentions in order to deal with them well.
For example, when you understand that your ex narcissist wants you back because he needs a quick self-esteem fix, it may be harder for you to fall for his sweet manipulation tactics. (See also: Why narcissists love bomb)