When a narcissist says or does exactly what the victim needs to hear or see to give them another chance after the relationship has ended, it is called hoovering. Narcissists use hoovering a lot because they feel entitled to having power and control over the victim. So, when they finally stop hoovering it can feel really strange and cause a lot of anxiety for the victim because they’re left wondering why the narcissist stopped and what’s coming next.

A narcissist will stop hoovering for three reasons. First, the victim set and maintained firm boundaries that took away all of the narcissistic supply. Second, the narcissist found a new source of supply. Third, the narcissists wants to manipulate the victim by making them feel inadequate, isolated, and alone.

In this article we’re going to unpack all of the different reasons that narcissists stop hoovering and hopefully provide you with the answers that you need to feel less anxious and more capable of living a happier and healthier life. We’ve also created a short video down below that summarizes our article Do Narcissists Use Flying Monkeys to Hoover because sometimes it may seem like the narcissist has stopped hoovering but they’ve really just begun hoovering through others.

A Short Video About How Narcissist Use Other People to Hoover

Narcissists Stop Hoovering When You’ve Set and Maintained Firm Boundaries With Them

The main objective that narcissists have for the relationships that they form is to accumulate as much narcissistic supply as possible. We spoke about this a lot in our article What Do Narcissists Want In a Relationship but narcissistic supply is the validation, admiration, and reassurance that narcissists get from their external environment. 

Narcissistic supply is a fundamental requirement for the emotional stability of a narcissist. We unpack all of this information in our article How Are Narcissists Made but the reason that narcissists are so dependent on narcissistic supply is because of their upbringing. 

It is believed that narcissism originates from an abusive upbringing with primary caregivers who are unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent. These primary caregivers don’t mirror their child’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs so the child doesn’t get the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they need to construct a sense of self. 

To construct a sense of self, the child will rely on the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they receive from their external environment. A simple example of this would be the child of unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent primary caregivers constructing their sense of self out of the admiration that they get for being a great artist. 

This approach to constructing a sense of self leaves the child with a deeply rooted hatred about themselves because they believe that their true identity makes them weak, unloveable, and unwanted. It also doesn’t allow them to have a healthy cognitive development so they don’t have the emotional skills required to handle the deeply rooted negative emotions that they have. 

Instead, they hide their negative emotions behind the sense of self that they constructed with the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they get from their external environment. This is a huge problem because their negative emotions are constantly eating away at their emotional stability so their sense of self is extremely fragile and requires a consistent flow of validation, admiration, and reassurance to stay intact. 

If you were to set a firm boundary with a narcissist like the no contact method or the grey rock method, it would contradict their sense of self, take away the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they need, and trigger all of their suppressed negative emotions. They are desperately going to try to regain control of the narcissistic supply that they lost with manipulative techniques like hoovering.

But if you were to maintain this firm boundary, it would likely cause them to stop hoovering because all of their efforts would need to go to finding a new source of narcissistic supply to protect their emotional stability from all of their negative emotions. Finding a new source of narcissistic supply would allow them to reconstruct a sense of self and suppress all of their negative emotions.

A narcissist looking for a new source of narcissistic supply

If you’re interested in learning more about the different types of boundaries you can set with a narcissist to make them stop hoovering, we highly recommend that you read our articles Does Going No Contact With a Narcissist Work, What Happens When You Set a Boundary With a Narcissist, and How to Use the Grey Rock Method on a Narcissist.

Narcissists Stop Hoovering Because They Found a New Source of Narcissistic Supply

It is very common for a narcissist to stop hoovering because they’ve found a new source of supply, but there’s a really important thing you need to know when it comes to a narcissist backing off because they have a new source of supply. When a narcissist stops hoovering because they’ve found a new source of supply, it doesn’t mean that they’re done abusing you.

You should expect them to publicly invalidate, devalue, degrade, and humiliate you every single chance that they get because as a survivor of narcissistic abuse, you are one of the only ones who know how abusive they really are. Which means that you are one of the only ones who could expose them to others. 

When a narcissist doesn’t have power and control over you, you are their biggest nightmare. We spoke much more about this in our article Why Do Narcissists Need Flying Monkeys but the most common way that they are going to try to publicly humiliate, devalue, invalidate, and degrade you is through flying monkeys. 

A flying monkey is someone that a narcissist manipulates into participating in the abuse of the victim. This can be done by spreading lies and gossip about the victim, like a narcissist telling his victim’s friends that the victim is bipolar and not to believe anything that she says. 

A flying monkey can be created because of the power and control that the narcissist has, like a narcissistic boss or parent. Or a flying monkey could be someone who is narcissistic and enjoys participating in abusive acts.

You can learn a lot more about how flying monkeys are recruited in our articles How Do Narcissists Get Flying Monkeys and Why Do Some People Become Flying Monkeys but all flying monkeys are equally as dangerous. The reason being that narcissistic abuse plagues your mind with self-doubt and self-blame. 

So much of it that it is very common for victims of narcissistic abuse to not be 100% certain that what they’ve experienced was abuse. Which means that when they confide in others, it is because they need help validating their reality. If they were to accidentally confide in a flying monkey, they could find themselves even more confused and gravitating towards the narcissistic relationship they escaped simply because it is familiar. 

A victim of narcissistic abuse being gaslighted into the narcissistic abuse cycle

It is really important to be aware of flying monkeys when the narcissist stops hoovering because they’ve found a new source os supply because it is very common for them to still have a strong urge to remain in power and control of the victim. Flying monkeys allows them to split their focus between getting validation, admiration, and reassurance from the new supply and fulfilling their insecure need for power and control over the victim to prevent themselves from being exposed.

Narcissists Stop Hoovering Because They’re Manipulating You

The hoovering phase often comes after a narcissistic discard. This is simply when a narcissist decides that they’re done with the victim for any number of reasons that we outline in our article Why Do Narcissists Discard You  and Why Do Narcissists Discard So Easily. But one reason that often flies under the radar is because they are manipulating you.

Narcissists have such a grandiose sense of self-importance, specialness, and uniqueness that they honestly believe that they are the best thing that could ever happen to anyone’s life. This belief is evident in the way that they behave on a daily basis and it becomes extremely dangerous when it is combined with their insecure need for power and control, and their interpersonally exploitative behaviors. 

When a narcissist stops hoovering because they are trying to manipulate you, what they are essentially saying is, “I don’t think you can handle life without me.” They are pretending to be done with you because their grandiose sense of self-importance, specialness, and uniqueness has led them to believe that if they leave you, your life will fall apart and you’ll come crawling back to them.

But the tricky thing here is that if their victim hasn’t acknowledged that what they are experiencing is abuse, learned about narcissism and narcissistic abuse, or begun to develop healthy trauma responses, this manipulative form of hoovering could work!

We spoke about this a lot in our article Why Is It So Hard to Get Over a Narcissist but there are three common reasons why victims of narcissistic abuse have a hard time acknowledging the abuse, learning about the abuse, and developing skills to protect them from further abuse.

First, manipulative hoovering could work because it is hard to let go of the emotions and feelings that you have for the narcissist. Second, it could work because the victim doesn’t realize that to escape the narcissistic abuse, they have to rebuild themselves, which takes a lot of time, effort, and bravery. Third, the narcissist is still controlling their surrounding environment even though the relationship has ended. A simple example of this would be the usage of flying monkeys.

It is important to note that being in this position is normal for victims of abuse. Being manipulated by the narcissist is nothing to be ashamed of. It should just serve as a constant reminder that while the abuse isn’t your fault, escaping, healing, and rebuilding is 100% your responsibility. 

You’ll find help along the way but you yourself are going to have to do a lot of the heavy lifting. If not, you’ll be very vulnerable to manipulative behaviors like hoovering that can keep you from escaping, healing, and rebuilding after narcissistic abuse.

A victim of narcissistic abuse learning about supporting herself

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

A narcissist has been known to stop hoovering because they can’t make it past the victim’s boundaries, because they’ve found a new source of narcissistic supply, and because they are trying to manipulate the victim into crawling back to them by making them feel inadequate, isolated, and alone. Under these circumstances it is important for the victim to remain indifferent to the narcissist’s abuse and continue down their healing journey so that they can live a happier and healthier life!


All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

References:

Barry, Christopher T., and Katrina H. McDougall. “Social media: Platform or catalyst for narcissism?.” Handbook of trait narcissism (2018): 435-441.