"Oh, he wants me,
But only part of the time.
He wants me,
If he can keep me in line..."
~~ Til Tuesday, "Voices Carry"
Ever feel like the narc is doing his damnedest to suck you back into the relationship? Yeah, there's a term for that. It's called Hoovering. And, yes, its namesake is taken from the vacuum cleaner.
You have been idealized, devalued and discarded -- or you have made the brave choice to leave. Then, you are suddenly Lovebombed and overwhelmed with attention from the narc. It is a way for him/her to test the waters and see if you are still potential supply.
He/she knows how to push your buttons, and even better they know how to suck you back in. They know what you want to hear. They know what won you over in the past and, odds are, it will work again... and again... and again.
My abuser ALWAYS prefaced his returns with the infamous Promise to Change routine. Sometimes the "change" would last for months, but towards the end I was lucky if the change lasted a matter of HOURS or even MINUTES.
Narcs, and other socio-/psychopathic personalities, are masters at manipulating situations and people to achieve their goal/agenda.
Keep in mind, Hoovering can quickly turn from "lovey-dovey" to downright threatening. In this digital age, most Hoovering is done via text messaging and social media -- narcs find it a viable means of communication b/c it is done from a "distance" and as soon as the supply is "hooked" the narc reels him/her in.
That being said, here are a few techniques commonly employed by narcs to Hoover their victims:
** Hey Stranger: The narc uses this guise to reach out to you as if everything is hunky dory -- nothing happened. He/she may say, "How's it going?", "I've been thinking about you."
** Concern: He/she may play on your need for them to be "concerned" about you. Messages may include, "You mean the world to me, I just want to make sure you're doing alright," "I hope you aren't still mad at me, I'm sorry," "I'm worried about you."
** Guilt/Pity: Playing on your longing for things to be 'normal' again, the narc may say things like, "I know how I messed up, please give us another chance," "I won't make the same mistake(s) again, I've learned my lesson," "Please take me back, I've changed. I promise you."
** Affection/Sexual Undertones: Knowing there was really no genuine affection to start with, he/she may play on that by saying, "I miss waking up with you," "I wish we could snuggle like we used to," "You know we are soul mates, please come back. I'd be so affectionate, you will see I've changed," "No one else makes me feel like you do, I miss that. Please come back."
** Flip-Flop: The narc may reverse his/her Hoovering by saying, "Hey... Did you just text me?," "I think I missed a call from you, what'd you need?" And you know damn well you never text or called him/her. They may go so far as to suggest they just saw you out somewhere by saying something along the lines of, "Were you just at ____?" or "Did you just come by the house?"
** Health Issues: This is a rare one my abuser played a couple of times. He/she may text saying there's been an accident or someone is ill -- even him/her. "OMG, I think I need to go to the hospital and I can't get ahold of anyone, will you please come?," "I think I'm sick, can you please take me to the hospital?," "___ just had a stroke. I need you. Please."
** Interests: The abuser knows you VERY WELL. They've taken note of all your interests and may reach out to invite you to something they know you would like, such as "Hey, (so-and-so) is playing this weekend and I got tickets, you want to go?," "There's a play opening tomorrow night, wanna go?," "I know you start your garden around this time. I noticed (such and such store) has their spring plants out, wanna go pick some up?"
** Holidays: Despite not being in contact you may receive a message that says, "Happy birthday!," "Merry Christmas!," or "Happy New Year!."
And when the above tactics don't pan out to his/her liking, his/her tone will shift and become more aggressive and/or threatening.
** Accusatory: Even though you may not have reached out to others, the narc may say, "I talked to (so-and-so), why are you talking to him/her?," "What are you doing talking to my kids?," "Why did you call my dad?" "You never told me you cheated on me, but I just found out," "I can't believe you lied to me about ____."
** Threatening: When the accusatory messages don't get a rise out of you he/she may take a more confrontational projecting tone, such as "I've moved on, leave me alone," "Why are you stalking me?," "I don't understand why you keep texting and calling me?" And you KNOW for a fact you've done no such thing, but for a minute the narc has you doubting yourself -- which is exactly what he/she wants. He/she is Projecting their actions onto you. Be aware and take note -- they're offering a Tell!
When these tactics don't work to get your attention, don't be surprised if your abuser uses the same methods to reach out to others. Remember, Triangulation is the narc's Go-To method of pitting people against one another and to spark action. He/she may employ others to "check" on you and report back.
The narc may also get too arrogant and use such methods to inadvertently tell on him-/herself. For instance, a message may be sent to a mutual friend saying, "I just saw her, she doesn't act like she misses me," "Who was that guy/girl I saw her/him with?," "Whose car is that in his/her driveway, she said she was alone."
The best thing others can do is shut the narc down the moment contact is made. But those who are unaware of the situation may offer information the narc uses to fuel his/her obsession and Hoover that much harder. Only you know the narc and his/her patterns of behavior. If you feel comfortable doing so, you may want to give potential "sources" a heads-up about your situation so they're aware and don't fall prey to the narc's fishing expedition.
I can't tell you how long it took me to finally work up the courage to go No Contact. In the beginning, when things would go bad it would take all I had not to call or text to apologize just so I could feel that things were OK again. And when I would get an unexpected message from him offering "concern" or playing on my emotions to feel bad for him I would immediately jump back into the fire. I still believed somewhere deep down he DID love me and was genuinely sorry for how things were. He just needed time to see the error of his ways. I fell for the "I miss you," "I've changed, I promise," "I know I messed up, please forgive me. It won't happen again," time and time and time again.
That being said, when the mask would drop just enough that I'd see he really HAD NOT changed and would call him on it that's when things would go to hell. Then I'd get text messages, social media messages and calls CONSTANTLY. All accusing me of things I would never do and had NOT done. When those didn't work, uglier, threatening messages would come through.
Believe me when I say, narcs will employ WHATEVER MEANS NECESSARY to keep their hooks in you. They will Hoover you til you take them back, can't take it anymore and fold OR you finally garner the strength to go NO CONTACT.
"Conquer anger with non-anger.
Conquer badness with goodness.
Conquer meanness with generosity.
Conquer dishonesty with truth."
~~ Gautama Buddha
In Peace and Love,