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Hoovering- Don't Get Sucked Back In

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ThoughtIKnewYa posted 12/17/2012 18:01 PM

I think this might be a timely post for a few people here:



Hoovers & Hoovering - A Hoover is a metaphor, taken from the popular brand of vacuum cleaners, to describe how an abuse victim, trying to assert their own rights by leaving or limiting contact in a dysfunctional relationship gets "sucked back in" when the perpetrator temporarily exhibits improved or desirable behavior.


The Hoovering metaphor comes from the popular Hoover brand of vacuum cleaners. Hoovering describes how a non-personality-disordered person, while attempting to escape an abusive situation, gets sucked back into the status quo.

Hoovering commonly occurs:

After an emotional outburst, violence or other extreme period of abuse when the victim is most likely to leave, retaliate or seek help from others.
When the victim starts to pull away from the relationship, leave the relationship or establish firmer boundaries within the relationship.
When the abuser internally feels unworthy and fears the loss of the relationship.
A hoovering abuser may shower their victim with gifts, compliments, promises, demonstrations of love and affection in order to persuade the victim to maintain the status quo.

Hoovering is one of the key components of an Abusive Cycle. Without Hoovering, most abusers would be living alone. Hoovering is the "plus side" to many abusers that makes an abusive relationship seem worthwhile to many victims and sustains abusive relationships over the long term.

Hoovering requires two willing parties to be effective: the person doing the hoovering and the person being hoovered, who allows themselves to be abused and then sucked back in.

What it feels like:

Hoovering feels good! And that's the point! When you are being hoovered, your buttons are all getting pushed, your feelings are getting validated, your needs are being met, your wildest dreams are coming true, your opinions matter, you are the most important person in the world to that certain person.

Hoovering often feels like vindication. You might find yourself thinking ďFinally! The message is getting through! Iím not crazy after all! Now THAT is what Iím talking about!Ē But watch out...

When you are starving for any emotional food, just about any kind of personal validation tastes wonderful, but you must remember that not everything that tastes delicious is nutritious.

Manipulative abusers are often adept at giving their victims enough of what they want to keep them where they want them. Even slave owners know that they have to feed them enough to keep them healthy and productive.

But how do I know if a hoover is 'real"?

Many Non-personality disordered people struggle with trying to tell whether a hoover really is a hoover, or if it is a sincere attempt at change by the personality-disordered person whom they care about.

The mistake in that logic is that it assumes that it can't be both. Many abusers and personality-disordered people really are sincere and really are trying when they also are hoovering. People who are hoovering you may not be consciously trying to manipulate you or deceive you. They may sincerely be trying, even hoping, to make it "better this time". They may not be consciously lying when they make promises of change and put them into practice. They may be so convincing because they are so convinced.

You are going to have to be like the adult in a parent-child relationship, who listens to their child's black-and-white promises of great expectations or of "I'll never talk to him/her again" and says "Hmm, we'll wait and see".

If you're not sure if you're being hoovered you should wait and see. Take the long-term view. A person's character is like an average of their behaviors over their lifetime. People can and do make positive changes in their lives sometimes, deciding to change their behavior for the better. Wait a year and see.

Coping with Hoovering:

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, but you must 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 own independence.

What NOT to do:

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.
What TO do:

Remember that mood swings are a normal part of a number of personality disorders and that what goes up must come down.
Accept that highs and lows are a part of everyone's emotional life and that, for a personality-disordered person, those may be more intense and lead swings in behavior.
Maintain all your healthy lifestyle habits and relationships with others.
Take the long-term view. Wait a year.
Get yourself off the roller coaster. Position yourself so that your safety and happiness isn't dependent on a personality-disordered person's mood.


ThoughtIKnewYa posted 12/17/2012 18:08 PM

Another one:

What is Hoovering?

Think of a big old vacumn cleaner gliding along the carpet making a LOT of noise coming your way with promises that it will clean up the mess and make everything "right".

Hoovering is when the abuser wants to "suck" you back in to the abuser's "game". This means that the abuser needs some more of what we call "narcissistic source" or attention. This can be negative or positive attention.

An abuser will use many different kinds of hoovering attempts.

Some examples of hoovering include:

1. Health issues. The abuser will need you to help them out because they are having health issues.

2. Promises of change. They say they will go to therapy. They will do "anything" to make you happy. False, empty promises they are, but the abuser can seem to be convincing and serious about it.

3. Fianacial issues. The abuser contacts you and says that he will lose everything if you don't give him money. It is always a crisis.

4. The abuser will show up at club meetings, school activities, events, etc where you attend and will begin to give you meaningful looks or try to speak with you.

5. Calls, Texts, E mails. You will boot up your computere one day to find you are once again being "love bombed" by e mail. Or by texts on your phone. This is why you have to block them from being able to contact you in any way.

6. By triangulation. Sometimes the abusers will use family members or friends who will call you or just run into you and who will give you a message from the abuser.


A few nice words don't really mean anything except they were spoken.

crazyblindsided posted 12/17/2012 18:26 PM

Yes I needed this today because I am getting sucked back in. Ugh my WH says he has proof that nothing happened in our home on son's bed. I asked him why OW would say that. Of course I got the she is insane answer so who really knows. He wasn't engaging with her after all the sexual innuendos she was making. So not sure what to make of it.

Today he told me that he is sorry that he let someone come between us and that he doesn't feel like he was of the right mind. He wants to make things right. I had gotten him the "How to Help Your Spouse Heal from your Affair" and he told me he was going to take it with him today.

The thing is we never had this abusive cycle until his A this year. And before kids entered the picture we had a wonderful friendship and relationship.

But I feel as though this is Hoovering.

Guess I'm not strong enough yet to do what I need to do. I just don't know what I am doing.

Kelany posted 12/17/2012 18:37 PM


Yay me.

PhatDaddy posted 12/17/2012 19:53 PM

Wow, did I ever need to read that right now! Thanks!

I'm proud of myself for already making up my mind to take the Wait and See seeing backup for good decisions! :-)

NoTriangles posted 12/17/2012 20:06 PM

Thankmyou, TIKY.

I needed this. Pure gold.

notinsane posted 12/18/2012 02:16 AM

This is perfect! Thank you. :)

solus sto posted 12/18/2012 07:20 AM is one of the sources that saved my sanity post d-day; it's a lifesaver for anyone who loves someone with a personality disorder.

honesttoafault posted 12/19/2012 00:16 AM

Thank you for this post!! WOW. It really helped. The funny thing, it's not only my
NPD WH, but I saw my MOTHER in the post.

Geez. What my IC has been saying. I've been used this behavior and probably why I accepted it from WH when we were dating in the first place.

hardtimesinlife posted 12/23/2012 07:08 AM

Bumping because I live with a vacuum cleaner and I'm stupidly waiting for him to put the plug into the socket.

juki posted 12/23/2012 08:05 AM

Wow. So true.

Reminds me of the swiffer commercials with the dirt LEAPING to get sucked up.

nowiknow23 posted 12/27/2012 13:14 PM

bumping for a member.

TrustGone posted 12/27/2012 13:29 PM

Yes. I really needed this at this time. Thanks

TattoodChinaDoll posted 12/27/2012 14:47 PM

So glad I read this. I kept on skimming the title as hovering so I didn't read it. This is so us. I need to stop trying to sugar coat it. He is being abusive to me. I hate to say it because there are people who are getting called horrible horrible names or being physically hurt. But what he is doing to me is abusing my emotions and soul. And it's about time I get out of this pattern.

Issaquah posted 12/27/2012 15:52 PM

Thanks for reposting that. I totally needed to read it again.

Issaquah posted 12/27/2012 15:52 PM

Thanks for reposting that. I totally needed to read it again.

ThoughtIKnewYa posted 12/27/2012 17:47 PM

Thanks for bumping, nik!

*I* posted it, originally, and even *I* needed to read it again!

nowiknow23 posted 12/27/2012 18:03 PM

It's a great post, TIKY.

Issaquah posted 12/27/2012 18:13 PM

It's an awesome post ThoughtIKnewYa. I'll be reading it a couple, thousand times!

I'm sorry I got confused on who originally posted it. It's been one of those days...

ThoughtIKnewYa posted 12/27/2012 18:35 PM

I'm sorry I got confused on who originally posted it. It's been one of those days...

Oh, I wasn't commenting on that aspect of it, just that I went and found it for someone else, then ended-up needing to re-read it for myself. I'm sure similar stuff has been posted before and will be posted again. Having the message available is what's important, not who posted it.

It's a great post, TIKY.
Well, I didn't write it. Not the good stuff, anyway.

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