When the Narcissist Attempts to Suck You Back Into the Relationship

When a survivor has gone no-contact—in other words, the survivor has chosen to disengage completely from the abusive person—often the person with narcissism will attempt to see if the door is still open for more narcissistic supply. He or she may “hoover” prior survivors by emailing, texting, phoning, or showing up at a survivor’s workplace or residence under the pretext of apologizing for transgressions, delivering flowers, hitting the reset button, or feigning illness or a need for assistance (money, return of belongings, etc.).

This cycle is akin to the Power and Control Wheel often referred to in the domestic violence recovery community. The hoover maneuver is an attempt to see if a prior target of abuse can be conned into another cycle of abuse, resulting in the abusive person reclaiming a sense of power and control by causing pain (emotional and sometimes physical) to a target.

Some survivors of narcissistic abuse are easily fooled by the hoover maneuver. Such an action is not a sign that the abusive person loves the survivor or that he/she can change and suddenly develop reciprocity, authentically own responsibility for mistakes, and consistently show emotional maturity. The analogy of a vampire sinking fangs into the jugular vein works here. The abusive person may home in on the target’s vulnerabilities (wanting to be accepted, loved, attractive, etc.) and try to hook that person back into another abuse cycle, solely for the benefit of soothing the abusive person’s ego—no more, no less.

It’s advisable for a survivor to continue with no contact and block the abusive person from email, text, phone, and any other form of communication. In most circumstances, assuming the survivor does not reengage, eventually the “hoovering” will stop. However, if the abusive person harasses or stalks the target, the survivor may want to consider seeking legal action and/or getting the police involved, including but not limited to filing a restraining/protective order.

© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Andrea Schneider, LCSWtherapist in San Dimas, California