What does Hoovering mean?

Drawing someone back into a relationship, also known as ‘Hoovering’

Hoovering is a manipulation tactic used primarily by individuals who don’t want to let their romantic partner leave the relationship. The term is derived from a popular vacuum brand, Hoover, signifying that the manipulator is trying to suck their partner back into the unhealthy relationship.

Typically, those practicing hoovering exhibit narcissistic tendencies. They often hold a high opinion about themselves, lack empathy, and desire to have control in the relationship. When their partner expresses a desire to end the relationship, the hooverer might resort to hoovering to retain their control.

When a partner clearly communicates their intention to end the relationship, a hooverer may resort to desperate pleas and love bombing tactics to keep the relationship intact. These tactics could even persist after the actual breakup.

Post-breakup, a hooverer might show up unexpectedly, apologize for past mistakes, or even reach out through mutual friends or relatives. Sometimes, they might go to the extent of threatening self-harm. This is all part of their strategy to pull you back into the relationship.

Example for using ‘Hoovering’ in a conversation

Hey, I finally broke up with my ex!

That’s great! How are you feeling?

Relieved, to be honest. It was a toxic relationship.

I’m glad you got out of it. Just be careful of hoovering.