How to Prevent Being Taken in by a Narcissist’s Hoover Tactics

If you’ve ever been involved in a toxic relationship, then you have probably experienced hoover tactics – the attempt to re-engage you into the abuser’s world by using tactics like guilt-tripping, manipulation, and emotional blackmail.

It is hard to recognize these tactics when you are going through a break up or trying to assert your independence, but there are steps you can take to recognize them and stay strong.

In this blog post, we’ll explore what hoover tactics are and how to protect yourself from them.

Narcissist Hoovering - hoover tactics

What are Hoover Tactics?

Toxic people use hoover tactics as a way to regain control over their victims after they have been discarded or abandoned.

The term “hoover” comes from the vacuum cleaner brand Hoover which is known for its powerful suction.

Similarly, narcissists use their manipulative hoover tactics to try and suck victims back into their lives.

Examples of Hoover Tactics

Feigning vulnerability

Toxic people pretend to be vulnerable to lure their victims back into an abusive, manipulative relationship.

They may express false remorse or guilt for past wrongdoings in order to make their victims feel obligated to forgive them.

Displaying pity-seeking behaviour

Narcissists demand attention and validation from their victims by sending frequent texts, making desperate pleas for help, or pretending to be in distress.


Abusers utilize this technique by manipulating situations and consistently lying, which causes their victims to question themselves and doubt reality.

gaslighting - hoover tactics

Guilt trips

Narcissists may accuse you of being ungrateful if you don’t comply with their requests and attempt to manipulate your emotions through guilt trips and false promises of change.


Beware of triangulation tactics used by narcissists.

The abuser will often involve a third party in their emotional manipulations, using them as an intermediary between themselves and the victim.

This can be disorienting for the victim, making it harder for them to voice their concerns without feeling like they are in the wrong.

It’s important to recognize this tactic early on and be able to stand your ground when confronted with such manipulation.

Threats & ultimatums

Toxic people will often issue threats or ultimatums in order to maintain control over a situation or coerce a person into doing something they don’t want to do.

If this happens, stay strong. Nobody has the right to force someone else to do something they do not want to do.

Isolating tactics

By isolating their victims from family, friends, and other support systems, abusers gain more power and control over them because they’re unable to get outside help or advice.

isolation - hoover tactics

Emotional manipulation

To manipulate someone emotionally, narcissists use tactics such as denial, blaming others for their own mistakes, shaming or belittling you in order to make you feel bad about yourself so that they can remain “superior” in the relationship.

False generosity & superficial charm

Narcissists will use superficial complimenting and overly generous offers of gifts n order to manipulate someone’s feelings towards them.

Manipulating identity & values

By attempting to reshape who someone is as a person and by deconstructing people’s beliefs/values/preferences, abusers hope to take away any sense of autonomy that the person may have previously had before being put under psychological pressure from the abuser

Recognize Narcissist Hoover Tactics

The best way to avoid being taken in by a narcissist’s hoover tactics is to recognize them for what they are and understand why they’re happening.

It’s important to stay aware of your own emotions during this time because it can be easy for a narcissist to manipulate your feelings into thinking that you need them in your life again.

Furthermore, it’s important to remember that no matter what happened in the past between you and the narcissist, ultimately it is up to you whether or not you choose to engage with them again.

Trust your gut

It’s important to trust your intuition when it comes to dealing with a narcissist. If something doesn’t seem right, take a step back and use your gut feeling as guidance.

Pay attention to any red flags that may appear, as they often can be indicators of an unhealthy relationship dynamic.

Make sure you stick to your initial reaction and don’t second guess yourself.

red flags of a narcissist entitlement - hoover tactics

Avoid engaging in arguments

When dealing with a narcissist, it’s best to avoid engaging in arguments.

Not only will you not get anywhere trying to prove your point, but it can often result in an escalating confrontation that can be damaging to you.

Steer clear of arguments. Instead, focus on finding peaceful solutions that satisfy both parties.

Don’t take things personally

When dealing with a narcissist, it’s important to remember not to take things too personally.

A narcissist is always looking for validation and attention from others, so any manipulative behavior is likely out of selfishness and not because of you as a person.

Maintaining an emotional distance between yourself and the narcissist allows you to stay in control and avoid becoming overly invested in the relationship.


Establish boundaries

Establishing boundaries is essential when dealing with a narcissist.

It’s important to be firm and consistent with your boundaries and expectations.

They will resist, but you must not allow them to sway you.

Don’t let their attempts at manipulation or guilt-tripping deter you from standing up for yourself and your values.

Setting clear boundaries will help you keep control of the relationship and prevent the situation from getting out of hand.


Speak up after feeling manipulated

When feeling manipulated by a narcissist, it’s important to speak up and let them know.

Explain exactly why their actions were manipulative and that you are aware of their tactics.

Reassert your boundaries and let them know that you won’t be taken advantage of again.

This can help to establish mutual respect in the relationship, as well as create healthier dynamics for the future.

consequences - hoover tactics

Set consequences for bad behavior

Establishing consequences for bad behavior is an important step when dealing with a narcissist.

This could mean anything from explaining why their behaviors are unacceptable, to implementing boundaries or even ending contact all together.

Make sure to communicate the consequences in a clear and respectful manner – that way they know exactly what they need to do in order to change their behavior and rebuild trust in the relationship.

Stay informed on narcissistic abuse tactics

Staying informed on narcissistic hoover tactics is an important part of protecting yourself from manipulation.

Knowing what strategies they might attempt to use against you can help you prepare yourself mentally and emotionally, better equipping you to stay strong if they start to use their tactics.

Educating yourself ahead of time gives you the power to recognize the signs of manipulation so that you can walk away with confidence if necessary.

Don’t overshare personal information/details

Be mindful of the information you share when dealing with a narcissist. Do not overshare personal details.

Such information gives them an upper hand in the relationship and could potentially be used against you later on.

Be conscious of what you’re saying and why, in order to protect yourself from manipulation or any other hoover tactics they may use.

Don’t give into emotional appeals/pleas of guilt trips

Do not allow them to sway you with emotional appeals or guilt trips.

Narcissists often use these techniques to try and manipulate you into giving them what they want, but it’s important to stand your ground and not give in.

It can be difficult to remain unfazed by their pleas, so take precautionary steps to make sure that you don’t become too emotionally attached or vulnerable to the manipulations of a narcissist.

going no contact with a narcissist

Finally, don’t be afraid to cut ties completely

Don’t be afraid to cut ties completely if communication with the narcissist has become unproductive and beyond repairable levels.

It may be hard, but sometimes the best option is to simply walk away without looking back.

Taking a step back and allowing yourself some much-needed distance can be beneficial for both parties in the long run if it avoids further disputes or arguments.

Healing in the Aftermath of Narcissistic abuse

If you have experienced narcissistic hoover tactics, you may feel overwhelmed, uncertain, and scared. It is important to recognize these feelings and take steps to begin the healing process.

  1. Reach out to friends, family, counsellors, or other professionals who can provide understanding and validation.
  2. Surround yourself with positive people who lift you up and help you to resist the narcissist’s efforts to lure you back into their clutches
  3. Develop a support system of people who will stand by your side when faced with the abuser’s manipulative tactics.
  4. Take time for yourself away from the narcissist. Create boundaries that protect your well-being and give you a break from their incessant hoover tactics.
  5. Stay focused on your goals and make sure you have tools to help you stay on track and keep focused on what is important to you.
  6. Keep track of your progress so that when setbacks occur, you can remind yourself that things will eventually get better if you keep working at it.


At the end of the day, understanding how hoover tactics work, and how they affect us emotionally, can help us protect ourselves against this manipulation.

Recognizing these behaviors for what they are will also give us insight into our own feelings about re-establishing contact with someone who has hurt us in the past, allowing us to make informed decisions about our relationships going forward.

With this knowledge under our belt, we can ensure that we remain safe from any further harm brought on by those engaging in hoover tactics and make sure our wellbeing remains a priority at all times.

Frequently Asked Questions about Narcissism

Frequently Asked Questions About a Narcissist’s Hoover Tactics

What is a narcissist’s hoovering tactic?

A narcissist’s hoovering tactic is a manipulative strategy used by individuals with narcissistic personality disorder to reel back in their victims after a period of abuse or neglect. It’s named after the Hoover vacuum cleaner, symbolizing how victims are sucked back into the abusive relationship.

Why do narcissists use hoover tactics?

Narcissists use hoovering tactics to regain control and power over their victims. This can occur after a breakup, during a period of separation, or even after a long absence. The narcissist may feel threatened by the loss of control and will use any means necessary to regain it.

How does a narcissist hoover?

A narcissist may use various methods to hoover their victims. They might send texts or emails professing love and regret, make grand gestures, or even resort to emotional blackmail. They often promise change and use your empathy and love against you to pull you back into the relationship.

How can I resist hoovering tactics?

To resist hoover tactics, it’s crucial to maintain no contact with the narcissist. This includes blocking them on all social media platforms and avoiding common places or people. Additionally, seeking professional help from therapists specializing in narcissistic abuse can be beneficial.

Does hoovering mean the narcissist has changed?

No, hoovering does not mean the narcissist has changed. It’s merely a manipulative tactic used to regain control. A true change would involve acknowledging their harmful behavior, seeking professional help, and demonstrating consistent change over time.

Can a narcissist hoover after years of no contact?

Yes, a narcissist can attempt to hoover even after years of no contact. This is because they view past relationships as possessions they can return to whenever they please.

What should I do if I’m being hoovered?

If you’re being hoovered, it’s important to remember why you left the relationship in the first place. Maintain no contact, seek support from loved ones or professionals, and remind yourself that you deserve a healthy and respectful relationship.

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