What Does Being Hoovered Mean?

Medically Reviewed on 2/4/2021

To be hoovered

Hoovering is a type of emotional abuse or emotional blackmail.
Hoovering is a type of emotional abuse or emotional blackmail.

Hoovering is a type of emotional abuse or emotional blackmail. Hoovering is done by a “narcissistic person” when they think the victim or the person who they abuse or control is seeking to move away.

This is an attempt to see if a prior target of abuse can be conned into another cycle of abuse, so that the abusive person (narcist) may reclaim the sense of power and control by causing distress (emotional and sometimes physical) to a target.

“Hoover maneuver” was coined after a popular vacuum cleaner, often referring to the fact that the abusers attempt to “suck up” the happiness from others to fuel their narcissistic impulses.

A narcissist abuser is manipulative. He knows how to push your buttons to make you feel validated or guilty. For the shortest time, it feels like your wildest dreams are coming true, your opinions matter, and you are the most important person in the world to that certain person. It often feels like vindication. When you are starving for any emotional food, just about any kind of personal validation tastes wonderful. However, just because it tastes good, doesn’t mean it’s actually healthy or nourishing.

  • Individuals suffering from personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder generally hoover on their victims.
  • Being manipulated back into a relationship against your will with threats of suicide or self-harm, threats of harm to others or property, or threats of false criminal accusations are few examples of being hoovered.

Below are few signs of being hoovered:

Re-establishing communication:

  • Contacting you out of the blue, and pretending that nothing has happened, is a classic sign of hoovering. If your ex wants you back, they ought to straightaway say so.
  • Twisting the conversation and asking, for instance, if you still have something that once belonged to them, or saying they dreamt about you, is a manipulation tactic.

Declaration of love:

  • If they begin to proclaim their love for you after the breakup, consider it to be a twisted strategy of trying to reel you in and remind you of good old times.
  • This should be especially bizarre if, in the past, they have struggled to admit their feelings.

The repentance:

  • They are suddenly repentant and are being overly apologetic for their past mistakes. 
  • As such, they are trying to convince you they have changed and there will be no repetition of past mistakes. These apologies may have manipulative undertones. 
  • Try giving them a piece of your mind; if they get defensive, know their apologies aren’t sincere.

Threatening to harm themselves:

  • They want you to give them attention. They may then threaten to hurt themselves to force you to respond to them. 
  • If you do not answer their calls and texts, they may suggest something dramatically extreme. If you think they are at risk and are risking the lives of others around them, contact emergency services.

Using others to get to you:

  • If they are directly not in touch with you, they may ask other people to reach out to you on their behalf. 
  • This way, they may get to play the victim and arouse sympathy from your friends and family.
  • For instance, they may tell your parents how much they miss you, and your friends, how much they regret letting you go.

Hoovering may occur when:

  • There has just been an emotional outburst, episode of violence, or other extreme period of abuse, at the point where the perpetrator realizes the victim is likely to leave, retaliate, or seek help from others.
  • The victim starts to pull away from the relationship, leave the relationship, or establish firmer boundaries within the relationship.
  • The abuser internally feels unworthy and fears the loss of the relationship.

Coping up:

If somebody who has been treating you abusively starts to treat you well, there’s no harm in letting them knock themselves out and give yourself a break; just be careful not to take the bait to erode your boundaries, settle for less than you deserve, stop doing things that are healthy for you, or stop exercising your independence.

  • Don’t change any of your boundaries or allow them to be broken during a hoover.
  • Don’t relax or give up on any consequences of previous poor decisions for the abuser.
  • Don’t stop any healthy activities or relationships you may be engaged in elsewhere.
  • Don’t assume the hoover will last forever.
  • Don’t use a hoover to bargain for a better life. You are setting up the abuser to break a promise and setting yourself up for a disappointment.

Remember that mood swings are a normal part of several personality disorders and that what goes up must come down.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/4/2021
References
How to Know if Someone is Hoovering You: https://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/01/how-to-know-if-someone-is-hoovering-you/)

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/hoover-maneuver-the-dirty-secret-of-emotional-abuse-0219154