Hint: it isn't pretty.
Being dumped sucks, but there are times when it can actually be life-saving — especially when the person doing the dumping is a narcissist.
When someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) or similar personality disorders breaks up with you, they're doing you a favor. Hopefully, you'll recover and never have contact with them again.
For a while, it may look like you're safe from their manipulation, as you received nothing from them but the silent treatment. But that's just part of what a narcissist does at the end of a relationship.
It may go on that way for a week, a month or, even surprisingly, years, and then out of nowhere they reach out and lead you to believe there's hope the two of you may have a real future.
Luckily for you, this will never happen, because, unfortunately, you're being hoovered.
What is hoovering?
Hoovering is an emotional abuse technique used by narcissists and other manipulative personality types to suck their victims back into a relationship with them because they're running low on their narcissistic supply.
It's named after the Hoover vacuum cleaner, and it makes a lot of sense because the hooverer is basically treating you like dirt.
RELATED: Breaking Up With A Narcissist Is Hard, But These 8 Steps Will Help
Narcissists need the energy of being adored, and who better to suck that energy than someone they decide is still vulnerable to them?
Narcissists are emotional vampires and have no problem destroying you to get their needs met. The hooverer can be at a low point in their life and may need a quick-fix, so they look for the easiest and quickest source: you.
The bitter truth is that the narcissist has no intention of everything working out and giving you a happily-ever-after. For whatever reason, things aren't going the hooverer's way — maybe the person they dumped you for isn't working out or did something that annoyed them; he's getting ready to dump her or he might need something you have, like money, a car or sex.
You can think of yourself as the rebound; the hooverer will use you until they no longer need you, and then they'll dump you again with no thought to how it will affect you. The narcissist is the only winner in every situation.
The "hoover maneuver" usually begins after the narcissist has left you and after a period of silence.
Here are 12 signs of narcissistic abuse known as hoovering, plus how to deal with a narcissist's behavior so you can move on and get over your breakup.
1. They send you messages pretending nothing happened.
One day with no warning you get a message that says, "Hey stranger, long time no talk" or, "What's up?"
Do not engage.
2. They use the pretext of a special occasion to make contact.
Just translate "Happy birthday" or "Happy New Year" to mean, "I need some attention."
RELATED: If Your S.O. Is “Hoovering” It’s Time To Break Up
3. They ask you random questions.
"What was the name of the sushi restaurant we went to in Santa Barbara?"
Feel free to answer any way you want, but they don't really want to know the answer; they just want to get you to focus on them.
4. They make a fake gesture of caring.
"I was thinking about you" means "I was thinking about me" and "how I can use you to distract myself."
RELATED: How To Leave A Narcissist
5. They bring your kids into it (especially if they're not his).
"I know you hate me, but please tell Jake to score a goal for me."
6. They become your social director.
"Hey, want to catch up on some of the Oscar-nominated films with me?"
No, I absolutely don't.
RELATED: The 8 Stages Of Emotional Pain You Go Through When Breaking Up With A Narcissist
7. They praise you.
I read your piece on the philosophy of Miley Cyrus and I was riveted. Your writing speaks to me."
Yeah, well, listen closely because it's telling you to leave me the hell alone.
8. They call you to say something bogus.
Any hooverer knows that it's very difficult to resist when someone reaches out during a crisis.
But there's no need to be concerned — there's no aunt with cancer and the hooverer isn't concerned about a mole on his left shoulder. He's just using every trick in the handbook.
RELATED: The 5 Worst Types Of Emotional Vampires (That Will Ruin Your Life)
9. They "accidentally" call or text you.
Who says that narcissists can't be evil geniuses? A mistake call can deliver a whole lot of pain with a few strokes.
If you get, "See you in ten minutes. Love you" text, this is supposedly for his current girlfriend but is sent as a stab in the heart.
Then there's the, "Karen called and said Curtis is in the hospital. Call him right away" text, so that you'll feel compelled to call the hooverer.
10. They play the guilt card.
This includes the "I'll go to AA if you come back" or "I might do something harmful to myself if you don't respond" texts.
The narcissist manipulator knows that it's very difficult to say no to something when someone's life is in the balance.
RELATED: 6 Twisted, Confusing Things All Master Emotional Manipulators Do
11. They accuse you of something.
"Did you just call me?" or "Was that you driving past my house just now?"
No one likes to be accused of hoovering someone, but the hooverer is just trying to get you to respond.
12. They make false accusations.
"Stop stalking me," they text you as you shake your head in confusion. What? Who's stalking who?
It's tempting when you finally hear the things you've wanted to hear since you got dumped, and you think this will help heal the pain. But no, it will do just the opposite. The hooverer doesn't really care about you because you're only a part of their sick game. Choose not to play.
People with personality disorders like narcissism don't have lasting relationships, and they don't feel love for anybody but themselves.
The reason they're hoovering you is 100 percent for themselves — you aren't even in the equation.
RELATED: 20 Extremely Brutal Signs You're In Love With A Narcissist
Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and teacher whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Salon, Woman's Day, Purple Clover and Bustle, as well as a regular contributor to Ravishly and YourTango. Check out her website or her Facebook page for more.
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