Narcissist Hoover- Tactics your Toxic Ex May Use to Win You Back

Narcissist Hoover- Tactics your Toxic Ex May Use to Win You Back narcissist hoover- tactics your toxic ex may use to win you back
Photo by Ivan Lapyrin on Unsplash

You’ve probably left that toxic relationship, you’ve started your healing journey, and you’re really feeling like your old self again. Then your phone vibrates. Upon checking it, you find that it’s a message from your narcissistic ex (probably texting using another phone number, as you’d already blocked them on all channels).

The message reads something like, “Hey, I just want to wish you a Happy Anniversary. I miss you 💙, and I am sorry for what happened between us.” This message leaves you confused and takes you back to the honeymoon phase of that past relationship when you felt like royalty. You’re even filled with thoughts like, “Wow, they remembered our anniversary, and they even apologized. I think they’ve changed, and they still love me.” Ladies and gentlemen, that’s how a manipulative person has successfully lured you back into that toxic relationship.

A narcissistic relationship is never truly over, even long after you’ve left the relationship. They will still use all the tricks in the book to try to win you back. When I say “all the tricks,” it means even things that will target your humane side. This is because, to them, it’s all about satisfying their needs, so there’s no limit to what they can do. They will try to win you back, mostly if you’ve started to move on or when you’re thriving in life.

This is called “hoovering,” where a narcissist tries to pull you back into that traumatic relationship. According to Shahida Arabi, hoovering has no time limit or boundaries, and the narcissist may try to win you back even when you are newly married, have children, or years later, unexpectedly. To a narcissist, it is exciting knowing that they can reopen their past doors and still get their needs met.

Hoovering can happen through a phone call, email, text message, social media, or even them showing up at your door. They might also send a third party (they might use kids if you have kids together) to convey a message. I am going to share with you some of the signs to watch out for when a narcissist wants to regain their power and control over you. These examples of hoovering will also apply to an overbearing/pushy ex who wants to win you back.

What Do Narcissists Do When They Hoover?

1. Sending an Apology (Empty Apology)

To try to win you back, a narcissist may send a lengthy apology where they swear that they won’t hurt you again and that they’ve changed their behavior. They will show remorse and may also state that they’re currently working on themselves and that you should give them one last chance to prove themselves (I know you probably received several apologies like these during the relationship).

2. Threatening to Harm Themselves

Another thing an ex can do is threaten to harm themselves if you don’t go back to them. They will even tell you that they’re going to kill themselves if you don’t pick up their phone call or respond to their messages. This is the toughest of them all, as it will really tug at your compassionate center, and you may find yourself giving in to their demands. It is a tough situation to handle, but this is outright manipulation, as you’re being forced to do something against your will. The best thing to do here is to call your local emergency services number for suicide prevention if you think they’re in immediate danger.

3. Contacting You Unexpectedly

Your toxic ex may also pull this stunt where they send you a message when you least expect it. The nature of these messages is something that really takes you back to a memory you shared together or something nostalgic. It can be a message like, “Hey, I visited our favorite restaurant, and it really took me back.”

4. Using Third Parties to Get to You

A manipulative person may also try to pass a message using some of your close friends, loved ones, or even children. They will use other people to convey a message to you, either directly or indirectly. They might share with your friends how much they miss you or how deeply they regret their actions so that the friend will innocently pass the message along (the friend may also try to genuinely convince you on their behalf).

5. Remembering Important Dates

A narcissist may also surprise you with a message, phone call, or even a gift on your most important dates, like your anniversary, birthday, or even your new job promotion. This will lower your guard, and you may find yourself reopening channels of communication.

6. Love Bombing

Another tactic a narcissist will use to pull you back into the relationship is excessively showering you with words of affection, admiration, and validation. They will flatter you with words and actions you’ve only seen in movies like “The Princess and the Frog”. This could include sending flowers or expensive gifts to your office, sending lengthy poetic messages just to impress you.

7. False Accusations

The narcissist may also make false accusations to grab your attention. These accusations may make you feel guilty and tempt you to reach out to them and defend yourself. This is how they reopen the channel of communication with you.

8. Rumor Mongering & Gossiping

They may spread false information about you to people around you. This is another bait that may trigger you to defend yourself as you try to argue your truth. It may also isolate you from your support network, making you feel like you will only survive if you go back to them or call them to convince them to stop.

9. Big Promises

The final tactic a narcissist may use is hinting or telling you that they will finally provide you with the future they had promised you. It can be something like wanting to buy you that house you always dreamed of or having already booked a vacation for two on the sandy beaches of Watamu (Kenyan Beach). This, of course, continues the future faking they had been doing in the relationship.

How to Respond to Narcissist Hoovering?

A narcissist’s hoovering will make you feel vulnerable, guilty, confused, and insecure. This technique will trigger past memories you had with your toxic ex, and you may even find yourself giving them another chance. This is how you might find yourself entangled in another abusive cycle, amplifying the negative feelings you already had about yourself. The best way to deal with hoovering is to maintain firm boundaries and not take anything you see at face value. It’s important to understand that a narcissist will always try to manipulate you and win you back.

Here’s the thing: even if your ex has not been clinically diagnosed as a narcissist (higher spectrum) and you strongly believe they’ve changed (or will change if you’re still in the relationship), the best thing to do is to “PAUSE.” “Pause” here means giving yourself time — more than just a day or a month, perhaps even half a year or more — to scrutinize whether the change is truly permanent.

Whatever you do, do not jump back into that relationship the moment you receive that hoovering message from them. During this period, have an honest conversation with yourself about why you want to go back to your ex without being influenced by hormones, which often play a significant role in trying to pull you back. It’s even better to lose that ex of yours (even if they’ve changed) than to be in a situation where you might become entangled in another manipulative and traumatic relationship.

This is why seeking proper professional help or working on yourself every time you leave a toxic or any unhealthy relationship is crucial. This will help you understand yourself better, set and uphold healthy boundaries, and offer you a clear perspective on going back to your ex. In short, inner work will help you think more rationally instead of relying on your distorted emotional compass.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns (in less than 2 months) , then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.


1. Arabi, Shahida. Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself (p. 4). SCW Archer Publishing. Kindle Edition.


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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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