Is Your Ex Hoovering You?

Don’t allow yourself to get hoovered in your next relationship! Hoovering is the reddest of flags when dealing with partners with narcissistic tendencies. It’s a form of emotional abuse that insecure and manipulative partners use to try to stop you from leaving. In this post, I’ll lay down the basics on hoovering. I’ll also tell you about one of the biggest reasons why we fall victim to hoovering techniques.

What Is Hoovering in a Relationship?

When a controlling partner feels threatened, they will do whatever it takes to soak up all of the attention of their partner. Hoovering is fueled by a mindset that negative attention is still attention. While being “clingy” is the most obvious sign of narcissistic hoovering, these specific signs may help you to realize that your ex is hoovering:

  • Offering “sweet talk” about promising to change their behavior whenever you walk away.
  • Going to your friends or family to get information about what you’re doing.
  • Showing up at your workplace because they know you’ll talk to them to avoid making a scene.
  • “Accidentally” calling or texting you.
  • Sending you fancy gifts after you’ve split up.
  • Finding reasons to see you again. They may claim that they left something at your home, deserve visitation with a shared pet after a breakup, or need you to repay them money that they spent on you during the relationship.
  • Spreading rumors about you to other people.
  • Contacting you on special occasions even though you’ve cut them off.
  • Faking a crisis to claim they need your help.

What about if you’re still in a relationship that you suspect has some toxic hoovering going on? Not all hoovering is textbook narcissistic hoovering. Partners with histrionic personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder might do drastic things to try to lure you back when they feel you slipping away. This can include self-harm, threats of self-harm or suicide, physically attacking you, doing impulsive or dangerous things to gain attention, aggressively flirting with others in public, being provocative on social media, making dramatic proclamations of love, or profusely apologizing.

Identifying, Avoiding, and Moving Past Hoovering

Hoovering behavior can actually feel “good” when a relationship is fresh because the other person is giving lots of attention. However, some of my single clients will actually continue with relationships after realizing that hoovering behavior is turning toxic simply out of a belief that “all of the good ones are taken.” Many will settle for “situationships” with people with narcissistic streaks.

This is not the best you can do! I often tell my clients that adopting an abundance mindset focused on the idea that you can attract quality partners is the first step. If you’ve been a victim of hoovering, it’s also important to resist “firing back.” Avoiding engagement, lowering your visibility to the person, and resisting the urge to “correct the record” about the relationship are all important. If you feel that hoovering behavior has gone to a dangerous place, don’t hesitate to contact law enforcement or talk with a lawyer.

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