Covert Narcissist Hoover Examples
Covert Narcissist Hoover Examples

Covert narcissism is a form of narcissistic personality disorder characterized by a subtle, manipulative, and often charming exterior that hides a deeply narcissistic and self-centered core. Victims of covert narcissists often find themselves trapped in a cycle of emotional and psychological abuse, struggling to break free.

Understanding the tactics of covert narcissists, especially their hoovering techniques, is crucial for victims seeking to escape their grasp. The term “hoovering” refers to the covert narcissist’s attempts to suck you back into their web of control and manipulation after you’ve tried to distance yourself. These hoovering tactics can be subtle and emotionally intense, making it challenging to recognize them for what they are.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into 25 covert narcissist hoover examples, shedding light on the manipulative strategies they use. Armed with this knowledge, you can better protect yourself, heal from the trauma, and ultimately break free from the toxic relationship.

25 Covert Narcissist Hoover Examples

Our goal in covering these covert narcissist hoover examples is to try and open a window into the mind of the covert narcissist, so that when we come across one of their manipulative tactics we are better prepared to handle them.

So here are the 25 covert narcissist hoover examples we will cover:

  1. Apology and remorse
  2. Feigned vulnerability
  3. The sudden “change”
  4. Love-bombing
  5. Future-faking
  6. Playing the victim
  7. Flattery and admiration
  8. Jealousy and competition
  9. Guilt-tripping
  10. Nostalgia
  11. Mirroring your interests
  12. Shared secrets
  13. Pity party
  14. Promising therapy or counseling
  15. Gaslighting
  16. Isolation
  17. Flipping the blame
  18. Gift-giving
  19. Silent treatment
  20. Triangulation
  21. Pleading and begging
  22. Smear campaigns
  23. Threats of self-harm or suicide
  24. Idealization
  25. Using children or shared responsibilities

Let’s dive deep into each of these covert narcissist hoover examples.

#1. Apology and Remorse

Covert narcissists are known for their ability to offer convincing apologies and express deep remorse for their past behavior. At this stage, they may seem genuinely contrite, acknowledging their mistakes and promising to change. It can be profoundly disarming and may lead you to believe that they’ve had a genuine transformation.

However, it’s crucial to recognize that this remorse is often short-lived and tactical. Their apologies are a means to an end, serving as a tool to lure you back into the relationship. Once they feel they’ve regained control or are no longer in danger of losing you, they may revert to their manipulative and abusive behaviors. This cycle of apology, brief change, and then regression is a hallmark of covert narcissism.

#2. Feigned Vulnerability

Covert narcissists are masters of presenting themselves as vulnerable and wounded souls. They skillfully share stories of past hardships, painting a vivid picture of their emotional suffering. By doing so, they aim to evoke sympathy, empathy, and a strong protective instinct in you.

Their feigned vulnerability can be emotionally powerful. It makes you feel that they are fragile and in need of your care and support. You may believe that by staying in the relationship, you are helping them heal and protecting them from further harm. This manipulation can make it extremely challenging to detach from the covert narcissist, as you genuinely care about their well-being.

#3. The Sudden “Change”

Out of the blue, a covert narcissist may declare that they’ve experienced a profound and life-altering transformation. They may appear to be a completely different person, showering you with affection, attention, and promises of a harmonious future together. This sudden change can be both bewildering and enticing, leaving you hopeful that the relationship can be salvaged.

However, it’s crucial to understand that this change is often nothing more than a facade. Covert narcissists are skilled actors, and their apparent transformation is a strategic move to reel you back into the relationship. Once they feel secure or believe they have regained your trust, they are likely to revert to their true, manipulative self. This cycle of apparent change and eventual regression is a classic tactic employed by covert narcissists.

#4. Love-Bombing

Love-bombing is a manipulation tactic that covert narcissists excel at. During this phase, they shower you with overwhelming affection, compliments, and lavish gifts. They want you to believe that you’ve found your ideal partner and that they are deeply in love with you.

The intensity of their affection can be captivating and make you feel cherished and valued. You may become emotionally attached to the idea of this perfect relationship. However, it’s crucial to recognize that love-bombing is not a genuine display of love but a calculated move to secure your loyalty and attention.

Once they believe they have you firmly in their grip, covert narcissists may gradually withdraw their affection, leaving you longing for the initial intensity. This tactic is designed to create a sense of dependence on their love and approval, making it harder for you to disengage from the relationship.

#5. Future-Faking

Covert narcissists are skilled at painting a picture of an idyllic future together. They make grand promises about your life as a couple, discussing marriage, children, shared dreams, and long-term plans. They want you to believe that a beautiful and fulfilling future awaits you both.

These promises can be profoundly enticing and create a strong emotional bond. You may invest emotionally and mentally in the vision they’ve presented, hoping for a better tomorrow. However, it’s essential to be cautious because covert narcissists often use future-faking as a manipulative tactic.

Once they sense that you are wavering or considering leaving the relationship, they may backtrack on these promises, leaving you feeling betrayed and confused. It’s crucial to recognize that these grand visions of the future are often empty and are employed to keep you attached to them and the relationship.

#6. Playing the Victim

Covert narcissists often manipulate the dynamics of the relationship by portraying themselves as the suffering party. This is often referred to as the Covert Narcissist Victim Mentality. They may claim that they are the ones enduring immense emotional pain or hardship within the relationship. By playing the victim, they aim to shift blame onto you and make you feel responsible for their unhappiness.

This manipulation can create a profound sense of guilt and obligation in you, making it increasingly difficult to leave the relationship. You may believe that ending the relationship would only cause more suffering for them, trapping you in a cycle of emotional abuse.

#7. Flattery and Admiration

Covert narcissists are skilled at showering their targets with flattery and admiration. They go to great lengths to make you feel special, unique, and irreplaceable. This excessive praise can boost your self-esteem and make you feel valued in ways you may never have experienced before.

However, it’s essential to recognize that this flattery is not genuine. It’s a manipulation tactic used to create emotional dependency. Once you’ve become addicted to their compliments and attention, they may withdraw their praise, leaving you craving their admiration and striving to regain their favor.

#8. Jealousy and Competition

To maintain control, covert narcissists may become excessively jealous and competitive. They may express jealousy when you spend time with friends, family, or colleagues. They might even try to undermine your other relationships, portraying themselves as the only person who truly cares about you.

This tactic is designed to isolate you from your support network and ensure that they remain the central figure in your life. The covert narcissist wants you to believe that they are the only one who truly understands and cares for you, making it difficult for you to consider leaving the relationship.

#9. Guilt-Tripping

Manipulating your sense of empathy is a central strategy for covert narcissists. They excel at guilt-tripping, making you feel selfish or heartless for even considering ending the relationship. They may bring up past sacrifices they’ve made for you or exaggerate their suffering to elicit feelings of guilt.

This emotional manipulation can create a sense of moral obligation that keeps you tethered to the covert narcissist. You may fear that leaving would make you a terrible person, further entangling you in the toxic relationship.

#10. Nostalgia

Covert narcissists often leverage shared memories and nostalgia to keep you emotionally attached. They may reminisce about the good times you’ve had together, highlighting moments of joy, connection, and intimacy. By doing so, they aim to trigger feelings of longing for those better days.

This manipulation can be particularly powerful because it taps into your emotional attachment to the relationship’s positive moments. You may find yourself hoping that those moments will return, despite the ongoing emotional abuse. Recognizing this tactic is essential for breaking free from the cycle of manipulation.

#11. Mirroring Your Interests

Covert narcissists are skilled at mirroring your interests and values. They pretend to share your passions, hobbies, and beliefs to create a false sense of compatibility. This mirroring is a way to make you believe that you’ve found your soulmate, someone who understands you profoundly.

This tactic can be emotionally powerful and make you reluctant to leave because you’ve developed a deep connection based on seemingly shared interests. However, it’s essential to realize that this mirroring is a manipulation, and their true self may have little in common with the person they’ve portrayed.

#12. Shared Secrets

Covert narcissists often use shared secrets as emotional leverage to keep you tethered to the relationship. They remind you of the intimate details and vulnerabilities you’ve disclosed to them, making you feel exposed and vulnerable.

The fear of having these secrets exposed can be paralyzing, as you may dread the consequences of your vulnerabilities being revealed. This fear can be a significant factor in preventing you from leaving the relationship.

#13. Pity Party

Another manipulation tactic employed by covert narcissists is staging a “pity party.” They claim to suffer from various physical or emotional ailments, often exaggerating their conditions. By portraying themselves as the ultimate victims, they elicit sympathy and caretaking from you.

This emotional manipulation can create a strong sense of responsibility for their well-being, making it challenging to detach from the relationship. You may feel that leaving would be abandoning someone in dire need.

#14. Promising Therapy or Counseling

Covert narcissists may suggest therapy or counseling as a way to address the issues in the relationship. While this may seem like a positive step towards resolution, it’s often a manipulation tactic.

In therapy, they may continue to control and manipulate the situation, making it difficult for you to express your concerns or feelings freely. They may use the therapist as a pawn to further their agenda, making it challenging for you to make progress or find resolution.

#15. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a pervasive tactic employed by covert narcissists. They systematically distort your reality, making you doubt your perceptions and memories. They’ll insist that you are the one who’s wrong or irrational, causing confusion and self-doubt.

This manipulation tactic can be highly disorienting and emotionally draining. Over time, you may begin to question your sanity and judgment, which can make it extremely difficult to break free from the toxic relationship.

#16. Isolation

Covert narcissists often attempt to isolate you from your friends and family, cutting off your support network. They may use various tactics to achieve this, such as belittling your loved ones or creating conflicts between you and those close to you.

Isolation strengthens their control over you and makes it more challenging for you to leave the relationship. When you have fewer sources of emotional support, you may feel increasingly dependent on the covert narcissist for companionship and validation.

#17. Flipping the Blame

A classic manipulation tactic of covert narcissists is deflecting blame for their actions onto you. They’re skilled at making you question your behavior and motives, leaving you in a perpetual state of self-doubt.

This tactic can be emotionally exhausting, as you may constantly feel like you’re in the wrong or responsible for the relationship’s problems. The covert narcissist uses this to maintain control by keeping you off balance.

#18. Gift-Giving

Covert narcissists may shower you with gifts and material possessions as a means to create a sense of indebtedness. These gifts can range from small tokens of affection to extravagant displays of generosity.

The covert narcissist wants you to believe that they are incredibly generous and that you owe them loyalty in return. This feeling of indebtedness can make you reluctant to leave the relationship, even when you know it’s toxic.

#19. Silent Treatment

The silent treatment is a manipulation tactic where the covert narcissist withdraws communication and emotional engagement. They may ignore you for days, weeks, or longer, creating feelings of anxiety, isolation, and confusion.

This tactic is designed to make you yearn for their attention and approval. It can be emotionally distressing, and you might find yourself going to great lengths to break their silence, further reinforcing their control over you.

#20. Triangulation

Triangulation is a manipulation strategy where the covert narcissist brings a third party into the relationship dynamic. They may mention an attractive or successful person who’s supposedly interested in them, creating jealousy and competition on your part.

This tactic is meant to make you feel insecure and doubt your worth in the relationship. You may become increasingly focused on winning back their attention and affection, making it challenging to break free.

#21. Pleading and Begging

When they sense you’re pulling away, covert narcissists may resort to pleading and begging for another chance. They may use emotional displays, such as tears and desperation, to make you feel guilty or obligated to stay in the relationship.

This emotional manipulation can be highly distressing, as you may genuinely care about their well-being. However, it’s essential to recognize that this pleading is often a tactic to regain control and maintain their dominance in the relationship.

#22. Smear Campaigns

If you threaten to leave, covert narcissists may launch a smear campaign against you. They’ll spread false information, rumors, or lies about you to tarnish your reputation. This campaign can be particularly damaging, as it can lead to social consequences and backlash.

The fear of facing these consequences can make you hesitant to leave the relationship, as you may dread the damage to your personal and professional life. Recognizing this manipulation is crucial for your emotional and social well-being.

#23. Threats of Self-Harm or Suicide

In extreme cases, covert narcissists may resort to threats of self-harm or suicide if you attempt to leave them. They may manipulate your emotions by making you feel responsible for their well-being and safety.

It’s crucial to remember that you are not responsible for their actions or emotional state. These threats are a form of emotional blackmail aimed at keeping you trapped in the relationship. If you encounter this tactic, it’s essential to seek professional help and support.

#24. Idealization

Covert narcissists often idealize you, putting you on a pedestal and making you feel like you’re the center of their world. During this phase, they may express adoration and admiration for you, creating a deep emotional bond.

However, this idealization is often followed by devaluation, where they criticize and devalue you. The covert narcissist wants you to crave the return of the idealization phase, making it difficult to break free from the rollercoaster of emotions.

#25. Using Children or Shared Responsibilities

If you have children together or share significant responsibilities, covert narcissists may use these as leverage to keep you in the relationship. They’ll argue that leaving would harm the children or disrupt your shared life, making you feel guilty for considering separation.

This tactic can be particularly challenging to navigate, as it involves complex legal and emotional considerations. It’s essential to seek legal and professional advice if you have shared responsibilities or children with a covert narcissist.

Closing Thoughts

Recognizing these 25 covert narcissist hoover examples is the first step to breaking free from the cycle of manipulation and abuse. If you find yourself in a relationship with a covert narcissist, seek support from friends, family, or a therapist who specializes in narcissistic abuse recovery. Healing and recovery are possible, and you can emerge from this experience stronger, more resilient, and free from the control of a covert narcissist. Remember, you deserve a healthy and loving relationship, and you have the strength to overcome the challenges posed by a covert narcissist.