“Hoovering” is a term describing a ploy that occurs when someone with a personality disorder tries to suck an ex partner back towards them after a period of separation.
It often happens when the realisation hits the hooverer that the person they nonchalantly walked away from has garnered some strength, is doing just fine and building up with their life after having broken free from a toxic entanglement.
This form of mind-game playing can happen after a week, a month or shockingly even years after a relationship has broken down. They will just try to walk straight back into their past life without a single care for the destruction they left behind.
The reason people, usually narcissists, hoover is so that they can top themselves up with a vital supply of energy. Their intention is to suck the energy from someone who they know is still vulnerable to their advances and who is very easy to cast a spell over.
This often happens when a hooverer is at a low point in their life and they need a quick-fix so they look for the easiest and quickest source.
It won’t matter whether the person who is doing the hoovering is in a serious relationship, has just broken out from one or whether the person they are now hunting down was someone they left devastated by the wayside when they ventured out to seek newer pastures.
Moral code does not come into question when hooverers are desperately seeking a top up. They will shamelessly try to gather up the fragmented pieces right where they left off with no regard as to the emotional or psychological damage that might have been caused to, or will cause, anyone who may be involved.
They determinedly want to lure their victim back in and weave them into their maliciously spun web so that their prey is cocooned within the illusion that a reconciliation will take place. Then, the devastating dynamic can begin once again.
One of the worst parts about hoovering is that the perpetrator is aware of exactly who they can and who they can’t subtly but forcibly manipulate. They know where their trails of carnage lead so they swiftly follow the route towards it while deliberately and meticulously mapping out a plan to hook their sitting duck back in.
The other harsh truth is that the person hoovering has no intention of eternal love or happy-ever-after. They simply want an instant pick-me-up as something in their life at that time is not quite right and they do not intend to take any responsibility for their actions or for any repercussions.
Unfortunately, someone who carries out hoovering has no conscience, so when they place their cards on their table, we really need to be aware of what dastardly weapon is being held in their other hand. Hooverers always have a back up plan.
The person who is targeted at this stage absolutely has to put firm boundaries in place to prevent an emotionally dangerous dance from starting up when the hypnotic music begins to play. It is vital to sift back through everything that has happened up until this point. Back to how they left, why they left, how they showed little remorse and no consideration for the disturbance they left behind.
If we don’t pay attention we will be foolishly tricked into believing that their intentions are genuine and we will trust that they now mean each of the deceptive words that are finally spilling out.
Here are a few signs that hoovering is taking place:
They often get in touch for seemingly pointless and meaningless reasons or during an occasion such as a birthday or anniversary when they know we will be temporarily weakened and more likely to reply to their “innocent” out-of-the-blue contact. They may also text to ask a simple question about something that is irrelevant, especially considering all that has passed under the bridge prior to this contact.
It is possible that they may even use a feigned emergency to capture attention purely to reignite an dying out fire.
It is also common for the person hoovering to contact friends, family members or our work colleagues to find out information as a way to sneakily find out personal information. This helps them to work out the most clandestine tactic to sweep us off our feet and make it look as though the serendipitous meeting was “chance” or “fated.”
They might also make contact to return belongings even though the items that are returned have little significance and haven’t been asked for, or if they were requested at the time of break-up the pleas were ignored. Strangely, the hooverer wants to return the items with urgency and could insist on hand delivering them to ensure they arrive safely.
Hooverers may send elaborate gifts or endeavor to charm us with a sentimental offering to make it look as though they have put a lot of thought, time and attention into it.
Suddenly, it appears as though the person hoovering has miraculously changed. They want to wipe everything from the past clean so they can begin afresh and with no need to apologize, show remorse or take accountability for their previous actions. If they do show these things they are most probably insincere and fabricated as the hooverer goes to all lengths to disguise their true intentions as they will not want their ego dented if their hoovering strategy fails.
The reason that hoovering works so well is quite often it happens when someone from the past returns to declare all the things we have been hoping to hear and mostly the words that make us feel validated. When they left we may have been left in pain and their turn-around fills our aching voids and makes us believe that we were not the ones at fault for their departure.
When we are being hoovered we can be spun into a dizzying whirlwind as all the initial feelings of what we hoped was “love” flushes through our veins. Hooverers are very aware of this and will use various romantic or even sexual words and actions to cloud and distort our thoughts.
They somehow manage to convince us that we are the most important person in their world and tell us how foolish they were for leaving us. All of a sudden their presence makes all of the loneliness and heartache disappear. They soothe and balm our wounds and we momentarily feel on top of the world once again.
As the “loved up” chemicals flush through our brains we become intoxicated, everything appears hazy and we are not able to process it all so we are unable to think straight and see through their dramatic displays.
At first it can be difficult to know whether their actions are genuine or whether we are being used as a substitute to boost their worn down ego.
It usually doesn’t take long to see through the façade.
If we pay attention to our intuition and trust our instinct, we will know instantly whether their cunning plot is to benefit and enhance their self-worth and esteem or if it genuinely is to make amends due to a spectacular transformation in character.
The easiest way to work out sincere from insincere behaviour is to focus on ourselves rather than the other person. How are we feeling inside? It is essential that we are truthful when we answer.
Have we been secretly hoping for a rendezvous that will prove we meant something to them or did their departure leave us feeling rejected when we were quickly replaced by someone new?
Do we feel resentful towards the partner they exchanged us for and by getting back in touch with them does it now make us feel as though we are evening out the score?
When we are willing to face up to the reasons that their random return spikes our delight, we are able to look at why we are allowing someone to pick us up, drop us and then return when they are feeling bored with their current life to trigger old feelings and repeat the pattern.
It is also likely that they have had an argument with someone in their current life and are angry, frustrated or feeling spiteful so they turn to us for a distraction to spite the person or to take their mind away from it and most of all to replenish their depleted energy reserves.
Whatever the reasons, they matter not.
What is important is what is going on with us that we feel we deserve to be treated this way.
If we allow ourselves to get hoovered and sucked back in once, then we can let that go.
However, if it is happening time and again and the same circumstances are repeating with nothing changing, we have to take a long hard look at ourselves. Why are we not taking care of ourselves first and foremost? We need to immediately stop someone from having a hold over us by exerting their charm, power and control.
Although we may feel at the time it is harmless or that we are handling it well and we know what we are doing, this behaviour is not acceptable and it can seriously harm our self-worth. Plus, all we are doing is enhancing someone else and allowing them to manipulate and pull us down again.
The only option is zero contact. Nil. Nothing. Not a return text message, phone call and definitely no arranging to meet up.
If it is an absolute genuine emergency, we will know.
Otherwise, before we know it we will be sucked straight back in. Back to the start, allowing them the optimum opportunity to tread all over us once more while they ensure their egocentric needs are met on their wretched selfish agenda.
Very soon we will once again be discarded when their energy levels are recharged, their confidence boosted and their life is back in order.
And if they have astonishingly changed, again, we will know about it. There will be no need for trickery as they will be genuine, remorseful, decent, considerate and they will have good morals and be true to their word.
Sadly, people with a personality disorder think of themselves.
When interacting with them, it is essential we do the same.
We can show compassion, forgiveness and love. But first, we must show these things to ourselves.
Writing: Alex Myles
Main Image unsplash Joanna Nix