Narcissists rarely ever admit to it, but all of your worst fears regarding your relationship are playing out just underneath the radar of your awareness.
You know that ever-present, vague sense of dread you have in the pit of your stomach, wondering if they’re lying or telling the truth? That’s your intuition, which can cause physical sensations in the body.
However, empathic and intuitive people sometimes get themselves into trouble by not listening to their intuition, which is very common when they find themselves in relationships with narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths.
Admittedly, when it seems the narcissist will go to any length to get you back, it’s easy to mistake their trickery for genuine remorse and a desire to make things work when it’s really a calculated to appeal to your sentimentality and timed to catch you at a weak moment – often when you’re feeling vulnerable or reflective. It is a scheme meant to toy with your emotions in an effort to get you to soften up and reconcile.
It’s called Hoovering.
Hoovering is a technique that’s employed by manipulative and narcissistic con artists to suck their victims back into a relationship with them by exhibiting improved or desirable behavior. It’s named after the Hoover vacuum cleaner because the hoovering narcissist not only desires to suck you back into the relationship, but will ultimately treat you like dirt.
Verbal Trickery Used During Hoovering
We all know to avoid people who appear insane or abusive and not enter into or maintain intimate relationships with them. However, narcissists, psychopaths, and sociopaths are masters at hiding their personality and behavior abnormalities (and their pathological agendas). The Narcissist in your life – employing very specific techniques of psychological manipulation – executes ultimate trickery in trying to get you back, while keeping hidden secrets that would literally bring you to your knees.
Below, I map out the most common verbal cons of narcissistic spouses, fiancés, and partners of varying degrees of intimacy – and the maneuvers they’re pulling on you to scam you back into a relationship with them, thereby greatly reducing your true chance at freedom and a life without their traumatizing douchebaggery.
1. “I’ve decided to go to counseling”
After numerous silent treatments, disappearing acts, and bait-and-switch schemes carried out by your toxic partner, you tell them you can’t live this way any longer and give them the much-needed boot. They come back later, look at you with a straight face and all sincerity and announce, “I’ve been thinking about what you said. I know it’s important to you and I want to make this work, so I’ve decided to go to counseling.”
Reality – The illusion that they are willing to “make it work” and go to counseling is one of the narcissist’s favorite tricks. This may be in regards to their anger management issues, alcoholism, excessive jealousy, infidelity, or sex/porn addiction (often, a combination of all of the above).
It’s nothing more than a way to buy time. They have no intention of being honest in the therapist’s chair and, in fact, will use the opportunity to make you look unhinged, using their trip to the Dr.’s office as a way of learning the lingo to make you look like the unstable one, which causes you to further believe you’re the one with problems and feel lucky that the Narcissist “has agreed to stay with you”.
As a person who loves the narcissist, you may deeply want to believe that your toxic partner is being sincere because you hope they’ll finally go back to being the person they were in the beginning of your relationship. They may even secrete a few tears in an attempt to drive home the point, but the unfortunate truth is that a large population of narcissists employ this trick and in no time, it’s back to business as usual – and the abuse is much worse.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a single documented case where a victim of narcissistic abuse has seen a happy ending due to the narcissist’s humanitarian, soul-searching “decision to go to counseling”. In fact, it usually ends in the victim needing his or her own therapy because of the tricks and mind-games that ensue once they are deceived into giving the relationship another chance.
2. “I met them the last time we were broken up!”
“I swear I’m not in love with him/her. It just so happened that I met them last time you and I were broken up and now they won’t leave me alone. I’ve tried!” or “I was only with them because I felt you weren’t totally invested in me.”
Reality – This humdinger is an attempt at having you sweep their infidelity under the rug in hopes that you’ll forgive them for “just being a human who wants to find love like anyone else.”
It’s also the perfect opportunity for them to triangulate, gaslight, and make themselves appear sought after while further wrecking your own self-esteem. You may interpret the situation by thinking “They’re being unfaithful because I’m not desirable enough, the new person is probably much more confident than I am and the narcissist likes that, or I blew it by breaking up with them and now my chance at true love is slipping through my fingers.”
This scenario is fabricated by the narcissist for the sole purpose of putting you in a situation where you become fearful that you’re going to lose them – motivating you to do whatever is humanly possible to keep their affections. What you don’t realize during these episodes is that this pattern will be repeated in numerous ways because narcissists, especially those of the somatic and histrionic ilk, are always in various stages of relationships with other people – further, it’s entirely possible that your toxic partner met the “new” person long before your last break-up.
3. “Can we just be friends?”
They were unfaithful and you found out or they openly admitted to an affair and left, saying they were in love with someone else. You heard all the reasons why you could never be an ideal partner for them. Months, weeks, or even mere days later, they came back with a sob story of how they cannot choose, they made a mistake, and don’t want to live without you. In the middle of the discussion, he or she turns, gives you a pensive look and says, “I know we can’t be together, but I care about you a lot and don’t want to lose you completely. Can we just be friends?”
Reality – Let’s be friends for the narcissist means let’s be friends — with benefits.
Don’t fall for the “let’s be friends” ploy. Doing so will land you straight in La La land, where you will spend months, if not years, tolerating their multiple sex partners, disappearing acts, and your making monthly visits to the doctor’s office to ensure you haven’t contracted an STD. It’s easy to believe the Narcissist when they come around pretending to have second thoughts about the whole thing when, in fact, they’ve realized someone else would eventually try to win your heart and that sure as hell isn’t going to happen if the narcissist has anything to do with it!
It’s also a wonderful façade for their public image, considering how “admired” they must be to be able to maintain friendships with past partners. Just imagine their chorus line during the smear campaign, “Yeah, I just stayed friends with her because I felt sorry for her, even though she’s telling everyone how abusive I am”. Voila! The Good Samaritan in action!
4. “I knew you weren’t right for me”
After your heroic efforts at absorbing the narcissist’s explosive outbursts and smoothing spackle over the gaping holes in your relationship, the narcissist “ends things” by smugly announcing “I knew you weren’t the right person for me.”
Reality – This trick seems counterintuitive because on the surface, it seems the narcissist is discarding you, but in most cases this move is a ploy to keep you in the discouraging cycle of trying to prove your worth and “win back” their love. So, you strive to redeem yourself, resurrect the relationship, and hope for a positive outcome.
You toe the line. You become the poster-child for obedience. You hold out for the golden days to reappear.
But what are the narcissist’s thoughts regarding the resurrection of the relationship?
The narcissist isn’t feeling grateful that the two of you have reunited. As far as they’re concerned, your herculean mission to win them back is proof of their supremacy and magnetic desirability.
In the narcissist’s mind, your operation to win them back is because you are clearly dependent on them emotionally – and the narcissist will seize on your feelings of vulnerability and fragility to the fullest. Following a mechanical reconciliation phase, they will immediately seek to manipulate and exploit you.
5. “I’m sorry for hurting you and I vow to make it up to you”
This is a favorite ruse used globally by narcissists of all types (the general exception being the cerebral narcissist). That’s because the narcissist’s partners are typically of the cooperative, empathic, tolerant, altruistic, and forgiving type and the narcissist has no qualms about exploiting these traits to the nth degree. When the narcissist shows up with flowers, jewelry, and tears (on bended knee for effect), his or her compassionate partner turns into putty, forgetting all wrongdoings and imagining a better future, which usually includes growing old together and holding hands while walking through the park.
Reality – Unfortunately, the narcissist’s thinking is entirely different from yours in regards to reconciliation. Their thoughts are usually centered on how they are going to hook up with the side-supply now that you’ve thrown a monkey wrench into their routine by demanding to be treated with respect.
6. “I love only you”
Narcissists are notoriously unfaithful. Therefore, they often try to make it appear as if they have no control over the fact that they are a “sex addict” or “bad at being monogamous” – they are only with those other people for “fun”. The only person they really love is you. You’re the only one that accepts them, warts and all, and offers them a place to come home to at the end of the day; a place to fall and help all their worries go away. It’s you and them against the world. They confess they are messed up, maybe a little crazy, but it’s because you are so connected to them that they love only you. Don’t they always come back to you? Don’t they sleep in your bed?
Reality – Persuasiveness and charm are the primary traits of narcissists and psychopaths. There’s no doubt you are unique and special, but the Narcissist doesn’t appreciate those things in you. What they are working towards is keeping the number of his or her admirers high. The more people they have adoring them, the better…and they are telling their other partners the same thing.
7. “I’ve had an epiphany”
They were driving to work and it suddenly occurred to them, the two of you were meant to be together. It all became crystal clear in a matter of seconds. They don’t know how they didn’t see it before. In fact, the two of you should get married…and the sooner the better.
Reality – No amount of sharing your pain will cause a spontaneous character transplant on your partner’s part or induce The Divine Epiphany where the angels touch down and instill keen insight into the narcissist’s brain as to how much pain they’ve caused you, dropping them to their knees in the posture of a repentant sinner.
It just won’t happen.
The doomed nature of toxic relationships decrees that — as much as you might wish differently — you’ll need to get to a place of acceptance that your relationship with the narcissist will be no exception to the rule.
Moral values do not come into question when narcissists are desperately seeking to hook you back into a relationship. They will shamelessly try to pick up right where they left off with no regard as to the emotional or psychological harm they caused that triggered the original breakup.
You will never be in control of your self-esteem or your emotions as long as the Narcissist is in your life. Even a seemingly innocent act or comment on their behalf comes with a high price. There is a motive for every single thing they say and do. Breaking No Contact may give you temporary relief, but the long-term effects would be harmful, if not fatal, if you go back to them. You cannot gain genuine relief from the very person who hurt you. Breaking up with a Narcissist equals cutting them out of your life completely without giving them a chance to “explain themselves”, because whatever explanation they would give you would only be another manipulation.