Hoovering: The Narcissist’s 4th Phase

In the past, I have written about three primary phases of a relationship with a Narcissist. To review:

  1. Love-Bombing: The Narcissist tells you how wonderful and fantastic you are.
  2. Devalue: The Narcissist declare that you cannot do anything right.
  3. Discard: When they believe they are done getting their Narcissistic supply from you, they throw you in the trash.

But there is a fourth phase that I don’t think I have ever talked about. The reason why I don’t think I talked about it is because it’s a phase that does not always happen.

Today, I will be writing about Hoovering, what it means, and I’ll give two examples.

In America, Hoover is a popular brand of vacuum cleaner that is used to suck up dirt. The reason why this is named as such is because after the Narcissist throws their victims in the garbage, they might want to get more supply, so they work to suck that person back into their lives.

If the victim goes along with it, then they are once again victimized and discarded.

Narcissists are like drug addicts, except their drug comes in the form of whatever it is that they get from their victims. They feed off your anger, fear, frustration, confusion, and other negative emotions. In a way, they are a lot like psychic vampires.

A Narcissist can drain you in the same way as a Psychic Vampire or Emotional Vampire.

I do think that I’ve written about this particular story before, but I didn’t really acknowledge the Hoovering.

I had been asked to drum for a singer/songwriter who had moved to LA from Texas. I liked his songs and was interested in being part of his band.

He was/is a major control freak, and would do strange things to assert control. For example, he would tell me that we were rehearsing on Tuesday at 2:00pm. I would show up and he would not be there. I’d call and he’d not answer.

Finally, at around 4:00pm, he would show up. This was accompanied with the complaint that I woke him up and he never gets up before 5:00pm. Not knowing what he was doing, I told him that he should pick a time that works for him, and that I was flexible.

After he did this a few times, I decided that I was going to quit, so I called him.

This was when the Hoovering took place.

I told him that I didn’t think the situation was right for me, and that he should find someone else. He suddenly became this really nice person on the phone.

“Dude, don’t quit. You know, being in a band is like being in a relationship. You have to spend time together and see where things go. You have to give it a chance before you just run. I really want you to be my drummer, so I hope that you’ll stick around.”

After hearing his sales pitch, I decided to go along with it, and I told him that I would give the band some more time.

He sounded very happy about that, thanked me for listening, and we hung up.

It was just one hour later that he called me back.

“Dude, it’s not working out. You’re fired.”


I have struggled with naming the Narcissists in this story. Instead of naming them, I’ll just name the drum forum and let the reader know that the Narcissists in question are the forum owner and their head moderator.

It’s a forum where members PAY to gain access to the forums. I paid to join, and this included a t-shirt from the website.

Circa 2003: Wearing my Drummer Cafe t-shirt.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that the owner, the head moderator, and the majority of their members were Christian drummers. Most of the topics were “P&W,” which means “Praise & Worship.”

Many of the threads were more about religious belief, and just coincidentally contained drumming.

I felt completely out of place. I tried posting a few times about only drumming, before figuring out that I wasn’t really wanted on the forum.

After the head moderator chewed me out, for reasons I will never understand, I decided that the website wasn’t for me, and I quit. Had they let me go without Hoovering me back in, this would be the end of the story, and I probably would never have written about it, since it is so far in the past.

The forum owner and head moderator found me on AIM chat. They told me that they noticed I had quit, and that they were disheartened to know that I was not happy with the website.

They asked what was wrong, and I told them. I tried to be as sensitive as possible, to the point that I blamed not fitting in on myself.

They BEGGED me to return and promised that they’d work to do better. After five minutes of begging, I decided that maybe I should give them another chance.

[Humans are SO predictable!]

So I logged back in a few minutes later and was looking through threads. I don’t recall the precise topic of the thread, but the owner posted something about doing “X” if you wanted to have greater success with the music business in general.

I decided to interact, so I posted a question along the lines of, “I haven’t heard this before, and it sounds great. How does one go about doing this?”

With that, I opened up the door for the owner to go full Narcissist on me, in the forum thread, in front of EVERYONE.

“How DARE you question me, and on MY forum in front of everyone! I have tolerated you on this forum for a long time, and I think that now is the time to tell you that you are being kicked out of the forum and permanently banned. Don’t ever come back!”

The head moderator threw in a few cents’ worth, to get his Narcissistic supply, and then I was gone.

I had no idea what this situation was all about, until one of the forum members contacted me. His name was RJ, and he told me that he was there and present for the entire thing, from them planning what they were going to do to me, to the online chat.

They did this ON PURPOSE! This helped me to understand why they have to keep telling everyone that they’re “good Christians.” Because NOBODY would ever guess it based on what they say and do.

Their religious status is irrelevant because they are Narcissists.

I’m certain that you can see both MY predictable patterns, as well as THEIRS. More about that later.

A Narcissist cannot stand someone else to leave them. They view it as being abandoned, because their egos are big and very fragile. They can’t handle abandonment.

It is very much like a baby in the crib with their mother nearby, and then suddenly mom has to leave the room for a minute. They don’t understand what is going on, and so they cry and cry, pitching a fit that inspires mom to return.

They panic. NOBODY leaves the Narcissist! Abandonment is a sensation that comes easily to the Narcissist.

So they call you back [Hoovering] so that THEY can do the honors.

Suppose that you have an experience with a Narcissist, like the ones I wrote about above. YOU decide that you are leaving, the Narcissist feels like an abandoned baby, and they attempt to Hoover you back.

One option is to cut them off completely. Just disappear. If they write, don’t respond. If they call, don’t answer.

This is not always an option, so there is another avenue that you can pursue. It’s a method known as “gray rock.” In this method, you’ve resumed contact with the Narcissist, but your answers are very, very boring.

With this approach, it is important to have a set of canned responses, and to STICK to them.

  1. Yes.
  2. No.
  3. I don’t know.

The above list is a really good gray rock script. How would YOU feel if someone responded to everything you said with these short, uninspired stock answers? A normal person would probably take a hint that you’re not interested in talking to them, and move on.

With a Narcissist, however, doing this deprives them of the Narcissistic supply that they so desperately need.

Don’t fight. Don’t challenge. Don’t change the tone of your voice beyond a boring, uninspired monotone.

Not only does it work, but it works VERY quickly. I did this when my ex-wife was harassing me over the phone and email. Anything I would say to her would typically get me some laughter in my face, or a verbal fight of some kind.

My answers for her were:

  1. Yes.
  2. No.
  3. Call my lawyer.

At the time that I started this, I was getting several emails and phone calls per day. The contact that I got from her went from several times per day, to one email.

The first year, I got five emails and one phone call.

The following year, I got two emails and no calls.

The year after that, I heard nothing. I’ve not heard anything for years now. She gave up on getting her Narcissistic supply from me because I wasn’t giving it to her. I was being boring and dull, instead of getting upset, asking that she tell me why she was doing the things she was doing, or otherwise squirming.

Narcissists survive on YOUR anger, frustration, and sadness.

[After reading this, I can say that this is also an example of Hoovering, but with a gray rock solution.]

As I noted earlier, this fourth phase doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the Narcissist has a great deal of supply that they can get elsewhere. They will try to Hoover you up if they see you as an easy and compliant source. They try to Hoover you if they think that you’re not smart.

Autistic people are at greater risk of being Hoovered, since we can be easily manipulated at times. When I had no awareness of my Autism, and knew NOTHING about Narcissism, I just wrote things off as that specific person being a jerk.

Now I know that it’s a personality type. I know what to watch for in behaviors. I know how to stand up and nip it in the bud. And I am also aware of my Autism and the weaknesses that can be present with this.

I know their game, and knowing their game gives me the power of NOT playing the game with them.

Hoovering is a behavior that I should have written about when I was writing about the first three behaviors [Love-Bombing, Devalue, Discard]. However, I am glad that I gave Hoovering its own entry because it doesn’t always happen.

The other three phases are 100% guaranteed.

Stay safe out there, and remember to protect yourself. If you are not certain as to what you can do to protect yourself, then please consider subscribing to my blog, as I will do some writing about that in the very near future.

The world is all about surviving, and being a survivor instead of a victim.

If you like what I write, then please consider sending a one-time donation to me via PayPal. Please use the following link and click SEND to donate, and thank you for reading! https://paypal.me/drumwild

Published by DrumWild

Writing about drums, music, and philosophy.

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