Your decision and ability to ignore a narcissist’s hoover is the catalyst for breaking the narcissistic abuse cycle. Just like the Hoover vacuum cleaner, narcissists work hard to “suck” their victims back into their orbits.
Rejecting these hoovering efforts often magnifies their gaslighting, harms their ego, and triggers their narcissistic rage.
The more you can set those firm boundaries, the more likely you are to protect your integrity and heal from the abuse. Although they may try to hoover more, they will eventually stop if they keep failing.
This article will dive into what happens when you reject a narcissist and why a failed hoover is one of the best ways to move on from the narcissist’s control.
How Does a Narcissist Feel When You Ignore Their Hoover Attempts?
Every hoover attempt is intentionally designed to manipulate you. People with narcissistic personality disorder are believed to have a narcissistic void, which refers to a deep sense of loneliness and the absence of a true self.
They rely on narcissistic supply to “fill” this void and validate their egos. So, even if you’ve ended your relationship or set firm boundaries, hoovering acts as a way to continue exhibiting power and control.
Narcissists hoover in many ways, including:
- Reaching out to friends and family “just to see how you’re doing” in hopes that they’ll let you know about the interaction
- Texting or calling you to check-in ( See here some examples)
- Showing up at your house or workplace randomly
- Calling you “on accident” and blaming it on butt-dialing
- Feigning a crisis and contacting you for sympathy or support
- Threatening you with other forms of emotional blackmail
Unfortunately, the hoovering narcissist is often validated and reinforced for their manipulative behavior.
You probably don’t want to deal with the fallout of rejecting them. You don’t want to make things worse or risk suffering even more physical or emotional abuse.
But ignoring these obnoxious hoovering tactics is the best way to move on from an abusive relationship and take care of yourself.
12 Things That Happen When You Reject a Narcissist Hoover Attempts
Most narcissists engage in narcissistic hoovering when they feel threatened about losing something they value.
This speaks to their own ego- they think they’re entitled to whatever they want, despite their behavior or intentions.
Unfortunately, rejecting a narcissist’s hoover attempt won’t win you instant respect or kindness.
Narcissists never respond well to real or perceived rejection, even when it’s in everyone’s best interest. Here are some ways narcissists respond when their hoovering behaviors don’t work:
#1 They Will Continue Hoovering
If this is your first time rejecting a narcissist hoover, you can expect them to continue hoovering you.
They aren’t taking your decision seriously. They’re just waiting for you to back down and give them whatever they want.
However, they might change their hoovering tactics and escalate them if they still sense that you might ignore their behavior.
Unfortunately, this will only reinforce hoovering if you have a history of breaking up and getting back together.
The narcissist has learned, through experience, that you aren’t really going anywhere, so they’ll exploit your past behavior as a way to try to secure getting you back into a relationship with them.
#2 They Start Apologizing
Some narcissists become overly apologetic as another way to hoover people. These apologies may sound sincere like,
“I’m so sorry I hurt you. I will never, ever do that again. Please just talk to me.” Or they might attempt to hold some accountability like, “I know I keep losing my temper. I really need to work on my anger, and I really see that now. I’m so sorry. This won’t happen anymore.”
These apologies can be difficult to hear, especially if you’re in the thick of a toxic relationship.
Remember that actions speak louder than words. It’s so easy for a narcissist to say something that sounds good, but try to think about their history.
Do you really see them curbing their narcissistic impulses? Do you truly trust that they will be kind, calm, and empathic in the future?
#3 They Will Pretend As If You Haven’t Rejected Them
Some narcissists will act as if everything is fine, and your rejection wasn’t real, even if you ignore them.
This is a gaslighting technique- they want to act cool and unbothered to show that they aren’t even fazed by what you’re doing. They’re acting as if your behavior is so unimportant that they haven’t even noticed it.
This basically means they will continue contacting you as if you haven’t stopped talking to them. They might text you like everything is normal.
#4 Their Narcissistic Rage Will Emerge
The more you ignore a narcissist, the more their rage gets activated. Narcissists want to call all the shots, so even the slightest hint of someone setting healthy boundaries can be catastrophic to them.
Narcissistic rage comes in many forms, but it can look like:
- intense and severe bouts of rage
- explosive behavior (and an inability to control it)
- intentionally trying to hurt other people (i.e. domestic violence)
- giving the silent treatment
- neglecting to do important tasks
- passive-aggressive behavior
- acting extremely hostile or resentful
- cutting people off altogether
This rage is not just about their anger. The rage is a highly manipulative display of emotion intended to scare and frustrate other people.
The narcissist wants you to feel guilty for ignoring their hoovering, and they’ll do whatever they can to solicit some reaction from you.
#5 They Will Give You That Thing You’ve Always Wanted
Sometimes narcissists offer one last attempt to salvage a relationship. They might show up on your doorstep with an engagement ring (after telling you they never want to get married).
Or they text you with a picture of them in a therapy office (after refusing to go for many years or months).
These empty promises can be especially difficult for loved ones. You want to give the narcissist the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re holding themselves accountable for past mistakes.
But this is just another form of disguised love bombing. Once they have you back, they won’t follow through with their hollow words.
#6 They Will Try to Ruin Your Reputation
Some narcissists respond to being ignored by lashing out altogether. This can often look like trying to badmouth you to others to solicit empathy and attention. They want to look like they’re the “good guy,” and you’re the problem.
Smearing can include spreading lies, but it can also include exploiting your truth.
If you ever shared anything vulnerable with the narcissist, you can expect them to use that against you.
For example, if they knew that you felt anxious as a parent, they might say something like,
“She was just so overwhelmed with parenting. I don’t even think she really wanted kids. It’s so heartbreaking. But I’ll make sure I provide everything our children need. They deserve that.”
#7 They Will Blame You For Ruining Everything
Narcissists generally respond to rejection by projecting outward. They can’t imagine any legitimate reason why you’d ignore them, so they make it seem like you’ve done everything wrong.
You’re the person being cruel or insensitive. You’re the one who’s ignoring them and not giving the relationship another chance. You’re the main problem!
#8 They Will Quickly Move Into Another Relationship
Narcissists can’t go long without receiving a steady stream of supply. Instead of hoovering you, they might focus all their efforts on moving on as quickly as possible.
This explains why narcissists often have histories of intense, serious relationships. They can’t stand to be alone. They’re also hoping that you finding out they’re in a new relationship will make you jealous.
#9 They Will Still Send Lavish Gifts
Some narcissists turn to gift-giving when they have been rejected. These gifts act as a way to show remorse or signify changed behavior.
It’s also a type of love-bombing, and you can certainly expect the narcissist to give you the absolute nicest things during the worst moments of your relationship.
#10 They Will Hurt Themselves
Some narcissists respond to being ignored by becoming self-destructive. For example, covert or vulnerable narcissists might engage in self-harm or even become suicidal due to rejection.
Other narcissists might engage in substance abuse, disordered eating, compulsive gambling, or other vices as a way to cope with their emotional pain.
#11 They Will Make Dramatic Statements or Continue Having Crises
One of the clearest signs of hoovering is a narcissist constantly having crises. They’re facing a medical emergency.
Their mother is ill. Their depression has escalated, and they aren’t sure where to turn. Their dog is sick- do you want to say goodbye before she potentially dies?
Of all the hoovering behaviors, these crises can be some of the most challenging for people to deal with.
The narcissist is wagering that you still care about their emotional health, but they’re using that against you to stay in contact.
#12 They Will Continue to Play the Victim
Even if you no longer have contact with the narcissist, you can expect that they will play the victim to anyone asking about what happened to your relationship.
If they still communicate with any of your family or mutual friends, they will use every opportunity they can to tear you down while also proving their worth and goodness.
Why Do Narcissists Hoover?
Narcissists primarily hoover because they want their attention fix.
Hoovering can be a successful manipulation tactic that allows narcissists to regain control and power in their relationships. Narcissists might hoover romantic partners, family members, or friends.
What’s The Best Way to Respond to a Narcissistic Hoover?
If you want to establish healthy boundaries in your relationship, you need to do everything you can to maintain those boundaries.
People with personality disorders often disregard limits and make the relationship all about them.
If boundaries don’t work, you may need to reevaluate if you want to stay in the relationship and if it’s really serving you.
Should You Take a Narcissistic Partner Back?
Only you can make that decision. Narcissists often try to convince their partners that they have changed or that things will be better in the future.
But personality traits tend to be fixed over time, and a narcissist’s grandiose sense of moving through the world is unlikely to change (without serious effort and willingness).
Staying in an abusive relationship can be detrimental to your self-esteem and physical and mental health.
Why Do You Feel Guilty Ignoring a Narcissist?
You will probably feel guilty ignoring a narcissist. Even if you know you’re making the right decision, narcissistic abuse can cut into your self-esteem and make you second-guess your intentions.
The guilt means you have empathy and don’t want to hurt others. However, people with narcissism feed on other people’s guilt.
The only true way to break free from the cycle of abuse is to move through your healing regardless of how guilty you feel.
Over time, you will see that taking care of yourself is never the wrong choice.