In the beginning stages of a narcissistic relationship, a narcissist will use mirroring to absorb an extraordinary amount of information about your identity so that they can effectively manipulate you throughout the relationship. This often makes dealing with a narcissist who is hoovering extremely difficult because they know exactly what they need to do or say to manipulate you into allowing them to weasel their way back into your life. 

To deal with a narcissist who is hoovering you should use journaling to help you pay attention to how the narcissist makes you feel and to help you hold onto your reality. You should also practice healthy trauma responses and find a support group for guidance during the hoovering phase.

This article is going to guide you through the ordeal of dealing with a narcissist who is hoovering. You can expect to learn effective journaling strategies, healthy trauma responses, and signs of a good support group that can help you stay strong throughout the hoovering phase.

With that being said, it’s important to keep in mind that narcissists often have very abusive responses towards those who reject their hoover. We’ve created a short two minute video below outlining our article What Happens When You Reject a Narcissist’s Hoover so that you can be aware of these abusive responses and use that knowledge to be as safe as possible when dealing with a narcissist who is hoovering. 

A Short Video About What Happens When You Reject a Narcissist’s Hoover

Journaling Can Help You Stay Safe During the Hoovering Phase

Journaling has always been a fantastic approach victims of abuse have had to gaining confidence, strengthening their memory, reducing stress and anxiety, finding inspiration, rebuilding themselves, achieving their goals in life, and tracking their progress and growth during their healing journey. 

When dealing with a narcissist who is hoovering, journaling is arguably the best strategy a victim of abuse could have to prevent themselves from being manipulated by the hoovering narcissist into a state of cognitive dissonance. 

Cognitive dissonance is a theory that suggests that when we experience an inconsistency among belief, behavior, and information, it causes a lot of psychological tension. To regulate this psychological tension we will change one or more of the elements that are causing the inconsistency to make everything consistent. 

In narcissistic relationships cognitive dissonance manifests in the form of the justification, rationalization, and normalization of abuse and victims of abuse who are dealing with a hoovering narcissist are at a high risk of falling into a state of cognitive dissonance because the narcissist is saying or doing exactly what the victim needs to hear or see to give the relationship another chance. 

Journaling, specifically keeping a detailed account of every single abusive behavior that the victim can remember happening during their relationship with the narcissist, is a fantastic strategy that victims of abuse can use to prevent themselves from allowing the narcissist’s manipulation manipulate them into justifying, rationalizing, and normalizing the abuse that they’ve experienced.

a victim of narcissistic abuse protecting herself from hoovering by journaling

Healthy Trauma Responses Will Stop a Hoovering Narcissist

The importance of victims of abuse developing healthy trauma responses is immeasurable, especially for those dealing with a narcissist who is hoovering. Four of the most common unhealthy trauma responses are fight, flight, freeze, and fawn. 

A fight response is actually quite narcissistic. It originates from one’s belief that having power and control over others is the best way to accumulate love, acceptance, and safety. A simple example of this would be a high school teenager flying into narcissistic rage because they were rejected by someone that they had a crush on when they asked them to be their prom date.

A flight trauma response is when someone simply runs away from the trauma in their life. This could be in a literal sense like a victim of abuse seeing their ex-abuser in a grocery store and running out of the store as quickly as possible or it could be figurative sense like a victim of abuse diving into their work or hobbies to avoid addressing their trauma.

The freeze response is when someone responds to trauma by freezing. They are aware of their surroundings but freeze because they are trying to gather enough data to make a decision about what they should do next. A simple example of this would be a victim of abuse remaining stopped at a traffic light even though it had turned green because he saw his abusive ex-partner drive past him with her new source of supply.

The fawn response is when people escape trauma with a variety of people pleasing behaviors. A simple example of this would be an abuser devaluing, invalidating, and dehumanizing their victim and the victim responding by being incredibly apologetic, agreeing with their abusive comments, and excusing themselves trying to make up for whatever “mistake” that they made. 

What Are Some Healthy Trauma Responses A Victim of Abuse Can Have During the Hoovering Phase

For victims of narcissistic abuse who are still plagued with an overwhelming amount of self-doubt and self-blame, it is common to see them being manipulated back into the narcissistic abuse cycle because they had a fawn response to the hoovering phase. 

a victim of narcissistic abuse using the fawn trauma response

Victims of abuse should practice slowing down their mind when they feel triggered and evaluate the situation carefully to determine a logical course of action along with being comfortable with putting their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs before others because after months, years, or even decades of abuse they’ve likely been manipulated into feeling guilty, ashamed, and selfish for putting their own well-being ahead of their abuser’s.

A qualified professional is going to be able to help guide victims of narcissistic abuse step-by-step through the process of developing healthy trauma responses but activities like journaling, exercising, using breathing techniques, yoga, meditation, or doing any other healthy activity that they enjoy is a really good place to start when trying to deal with a narcissist who is hoovering. 

Support Groups Will Give You Strength During the Hoovering Phase

One thing that makes escaping and healing from narcissistic abuse so hard is how isolating it can be. The truth is that narcissistic abuse is unbelievable. It can be very hard for victims of narcissistic abuse to find people who will immediately believe their side of the story without prior knowledge of narcissism, narcissistic personalities, and narcissistic abuse.

Finding a good support group is one of the most important things that a victim of narcissistic abuse can do to ensure that they have a successful healing and reject the narcissist’s hoover. 

The truth is that it doesn’t matter how hard one works in therapy, how much information they learn about narcissism, narcissistic personalities, and narcissistic abuse, or how long it has been since they left the narcissistic relationship, everyone is going to have days where they need a support group to lean on. 

The importance of a victim of abuse surrounding themselves with people who are responsive, available, and can consistently validate their experiences is immeasurable. Developing a solid support group does not happen overnight. To be supported by others one must be able to support themselves first which is why taking steps, no matter the size, on a daily basis down the healing path is so important.

a victim of narcissistic abuse walking towards happiness

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

Dealing with a hoovering narcissist is always going to be really hard. They are willing to say and do whatever it takes to weasel their way back into your life which is why it is so important that you set and maintain firm boundaries with them. If you journal, develop healthy trauma responses, and find a good support group, you’re going to have a much easier time rejecting the narcissists hoover!


This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

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References

Humphreys, Cathy, and Ravi K. Thiara. “Neither justice nor protection: women’s experiences of post‐separation violence.” Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 25.3 (2003): 195-214.

DISCLAIMER

THIS INFORMATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR CLINICAL CARE. 

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