59 Responses to “Hoovers: Don’t Let the Crazy Suck You Back In”

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  1. Micksbabe

    EXCELLENT article, Dr. T! However, “Brick House” is forever ruined for me. lol

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier

      Thanks, MB! Apologies re: “Brick House.” ;)

    • ssscrambled

      While on the subject of bricks, you might also like Ben Folds Five’s “Brick”

      “she’s a brick and I’m drowning slowly…”

      • bubbajoebob

        A tune I played passionately in the year before I married psycho wife.

        • Dr Tara J. Palmatier

          Good times . . .

          • bubbajoebob

            You know, I was just thinking about that song again. In the song, he doesn’t really like her, probably doesn’t want to be with her anymore, but she’s dying. He knows before she does. It’s the burden of being the one for her when she has no one else, a burden he didn’t want, that is the brick that makes him so alone. And the only way out, as he’s constructed it, is for her to die.

            It would be too easy to criticize him from any direction: he should have been strong enough to leave earlier, he should be strong enough to hold up for her now. But while his own inaction, or maybe lack of understanding, got him into this situation, how does he get out? It wasn’t her fault, she didn’t choose to be ill. For all the similarities, she’s not a PDI.

            At any time when I was singing that song, it was self-pity. I could have called it off at any time and left her. But I let her become the brick. The singer in the song had a choice, maybe, in the time before the song’s narrative occurs.

  2. xnook

    Heh… maybe some gilbert and sullivan..

    “She is the very model of the modern pampered princess,
    Who’ll suck you in and steal your pain and always tells you where it hurtses…”

    also – love the lead pic.

  3. blueshound

    Thanks Dr. T. My ex has recently turned on the psycho hoovering full blast with a not so veiled statement about “not having the will to go on.” We’re getting close to a settlement in the divorce and she’s quit her lawyer, saying she doesn’t have the money to pay the legal fees (my ex is a paralegal). She’s sent me an email that the she’s two months behind with the mortgage payments. And, oh yeah, did I mention if I don’t pay she’ll let the bank take over the house. This is our primary asset and she knows I’m counting on the settlement to reestablish myself.

    Before all this, when she had a lawyer advising her, we were talking her buying me out and I was asked to provide a figure on which we could negotiate. I guess she saw if she went through with that she couldn’t try to control me anymore and so here I am. I knew her game as soon as I saw the email and have steeled myself for another year or more of wrangling to get this done. In all likelihood, any monies that would come to me will be eaten up by lawyer’s fees.

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier

      Hi blueshound,

      Sorry to read the stbx is derailing the divorce process now that you’re so close to the finish line. As I’m sure you know, this is common behavior in high-conflict divorce.

      Finalizing the divorce means an end to the conflict and also means the marriage is OVER, which is probably triggering abandonment issues. Is there any leverage you can use to move this forward? Can she be held accountable in court for not making the mortgage payments and jeopardizing the joint asset?

  4. Funky Monk

    Excellent update of the original Hoovering article from the old Shrink4Men site. Which brings back memories from when I was living in my sister’s house after my ex-wife kept me out of my house and away from my son. How far I have come since then, tahnks in no small part to Dr. T’s online therapy!

    • LT Greenwald

      True that, Funky Monk. This web site has been crucial to my escape from my abuser. Dr. T is the Pied Piper of abused husbands! :)

      • Dr Tara J. Palmatier

        I don’t know if I like the Pied Piper analogy as that would make you guys rats, which you are most definitely not!

        I like to think of S4M as an online underground railroad. I do not see myself as Harriet Tubman, however.

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier

      Thanks for the kind words, Funky Monk. I’m glad the information here and on the old blog continues to be a source of support. I’ll have to go back and re-read the old Hoover post. I only vaguely remember it.

  5. Mellaril

    Oh, and by the way, what an abusive person means when they say, “You’ve changed” is, “You’re not letting me get away with my usual behavior.”

    The precise rendition was, “You seem different.”

    Another classic, “If I sleep with you now, you’ll own me again.” (delivered 10 minutes after learning I was seeing another woman)

    Is that the Deluxe Hoover or the Happy Ending Hoover? Inquiring minds want to know….

  6. Matthew

    Dr. T, you’ve nailed it yet again.. thank you.

    Every article feels as though it has been written about her specifically, it is quite uncanny.
    (I guess that just reinforces the text book nature of her pathology…)

    After I decided to go my own way and leave her to her self imposed world of pain. The hoovering commenced, privately.

    Outwardly, she was actively portraying me as the love sick puppy that had come crawling back on his knees.

    (Really just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the mistruths that were spread through the sleepy little town that we shared…)

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier

      Hi Matthew,

      I’m sorry to read you went through such a painful time. The Hoovering privately while pretending you’re the one begging to reconcile is pretty common in my experience. It’s about the fear of appearing inferior, less than, or undesirable.

      It can be very galling when you’re on the receiving end of it.

  7. john roads

    Love the lyrics to brick house …
    After years of torture and ridicule this group has reawakened my inner voice that says I don’t deserve to be treated this way usually when I say That to my wife she says you deserve worse ..

    Paul alluded to the clown in the mirror….I got my online name from a twilight zone episode ..”nervous man in a $5 room ” I encourage everyone to watch it and you will see why I chose that name ..very inspiring episode I draw on when I’m feeling bullied

    Hoovering can be subtle I am now in solitary confinement …wife sleeping in another room close to a month now …my wife knows I hate that …..this time I have resisted the Hoover suction …..where she catches my gaze and tries to smile ……it’s always the same ……she’s sleeping Alone because I. Abused her ..other times because I snore other times I get in to late from.work ….if I Would Only get to bed early we could have sex…get to bed early she’s too tired

    I resist the seductive smile because I see no point …..the relentless abuse …details of which are beyond the scope of this post which I deserve is becoming difficult to ratiionalize away

    I could use some advice

    We are visiting her family for Passover …she has not slept in the same bed With me in a month …we’ve been invited to her sister
    Of course my wife will put on a Hoover carnival …..showing affection to me even seduce me because she feels great there …and needs the social Illusioni of the Happy marriage

    I want to scream out does anybody get it? This Is Crazy your daughter / sister doesn’t even share a bed With me

    I.am only going there …..its a flight away ..to spend the Seder night with our kids
    How do I stay in a hotel without being seen as the bad guy which I Will surely be portrayed …….see John is Crazy youve invited him to your home and hes going to a hotel what an ingrate

    I would like to shout out it’s because you don’t sleep With me at home why sleep With me here to put on a show? ..but I don’t believe in airing out issues like that in public

    In the past 2 years I have ended a. Business partnership that is still going through hostile negotiations after I finally refused to verbally abused and bullied and dismissed employees after …believe it or not alllowing abusive insubordination and accepted lousy work first years

    These were tough decisions I suspect I will be working my way toward ending this abusive marriage which I tried to do in the past but got Hoover’s in with fear. Sex and the false promise of hope ..but the vacuum is becoming less powerful..that’s for later

    For now brothers and brave sisters…I could use advice on my forthcoming trip
    Dr T you’re support and understanding of what we go through Is amazing and uncanny in it’s accuracy and empathy a gift from the Creator!

    • jp

      it’s on YouTube. Awesome…stars the guy who played Angie in “Marty”.

      • john roads

        Hey JP thanks for posting it …..didn’t realize it was on YouTube …it really is awesome and an inspiring episode for all of us being bullied and manipulated …a lesson that we all have inner strength we can tap into once we allow it im.still trying

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier

      Hi john roads,

      I’m sorry I didn’t respond to your question earlier. Are you going to Passover? Will you stay with the family or get a hotel? I understand not wanting to go through with the charade, on the other hand, I wouldn’t want to expose the children to more needless conflict. Also, if you make a stand of that magnitude, you might set off her “he’s acting different – danger! danger!” which may tip her off that you’re thinking of leaving.

      If you have the courage and sense to end an abusive business partnership, you can do the same with an abusive marriage. Unfortunately, it will probably also be very unpleasant and drawn. High conflict people loves them some conflict. They never want it to end.

  8. Autumn

    LOL! Dr.T. great rendition :)
    My friend has a DELUXE HOOVER residing at his house, and he grabs the bait every time.
    Well, he’s tried to leave three times in the last 7 1/2 years, I guess he’s almost halfway there….
    If he lives that long.

  9. lifeonborder-line

    Very timely article. Several of these hoover tactics have been deployed since my wife filed. I must admit I’m at a spot where the risk of the hoover being successful is unfortunately high.

    • tenquilts

      lifeonborder-line, please seek the help of a therapist. I know that some of these articles are very in-your-face about your own damage, and others, like these, are more subtle in the ways they point out how your exact weaknesses are what the disordered personality seeks to exploit, but a good therapist can help you work on this and become stronger and more self-aware.

      • RTMan

        Finding a Therapist

        While I think tenquilts advice is good, finding a therapist who “gets it” may be tough. My success rate was less than 1/4. (Consider some sessions with Dr. T.)

        The first marriage therapist (female), my wife and I attended together, mostly allowed my wife to dominate sessions by ranting about my faults. Her reply to my complaints of my wife’s emotional and sometimes physical abuse was that this was a good sign–that there was still life in the relationship and a little conflict was good. (another therapist made this same comment)

        A second (male) therapist was the most promising in that he didn’t overlook or dismiss my complaints of abuse, and gave me practical handouts of “verbal self-defense strategies.” But he was a strange fellow that made me vaguely uncomfortable. He was kind of authoritarian, or something. I can’t quite put my finger on it… I only saw him once. Probably I should have given him a second chance.

        A third (female) refused to accept my request that I engage her for individual counseling to help me cope with the problems I was experiencing in my marriage. I don’t think she believed my stories of the abuse I had been experiencing. Her final reply was “I don’t do marriage counseling that way.” (I didn’t ask for marriage counseling.) “You’ll have to bring your wife in too.” That was the last thing I wanted because my wife is so verbally dominating. It would have been a waste of time and money.

        The fourth (male) was a so-called Buddhist therapist who has a reputation in town for giving workshops on aspects of Buddhist spirituality. My wife picked him out. I think he believed that he was enlightened because of his Buddhist orientation. The possibility that some pathology was a factor in our marriage was not on his radar. Also, his radar was easily snowed by my wife (we tried joint therapy with him.). He assumed that all problems could be resolved by listening better, receptive body language, more affection…. He gave my wife plenty of new levers for exploitation. (“The counselor sais you should hold my hand while you are talking to me”…this said while her gaslighting and emotional blackmail generators were going full-blast and I think she knew I was repelled by it. So creepy…it makes my skin crawl remembering. Another time: “The counseler told me you are depressed. All my friends think so. I think you should take some anti-depressants.”) I was fairly sure this last had to be an outright lie. The counselor never said anything to me about depression nor had we ever discussed it. I can’t imagine he would discuss with my wife his own private theories about my depression without discussing them with me.

        I don’t honestly know how I kept my own confidense through all this that I was not the crazy one. I suppose that I had really begun to understand the patterns of control employed by my wife and was alert to them. I knew how insidious they were and didn’t necessarily blame the therapists for not seeing them. After all it took me over 10 years to get it! Anyway, the short message of this long post is to trust your gut about any therapists you might engage. If you don’t feel like they are “getting it” they probably aren’t. I know that Dr. T can elaborate on the reasons why this might be. I can only share my personal experience.

        Good Luck lifeonborder-line.

        • Cousin Dave

          There’s an awful lot of PC in psychology education these days, and it’s my impression that most therapists are not taught about the kinds of issues we discuss here. I think a lot of therapists are either taught that the Cluster B personality disorders are exclusively a male problem, or they just aren’t taught about them at all. I took two psych classes in college, and while the material was fairly basic, there was a survey of personality disorders, and I don’t recall any of the Cluster B disorders being mentioned at all.

        • Mellaril

          Dr T does have a few things to say about therapists in the index:

          How to Find a Good Therapist If You Are Involved with an Emotionally Abusive Woman (October, 14, 2009)

          • lifeonborder-line

            I’m going to have to find a good therapist. My individual therapist is ok. She had no clue what I was going through until she saw my reaction to a phone rage in her office. We are probably going to engage a therapist to see if we can improve things between us. Ironically she is the one that wants to reconcile but I’m being made to be the one who wants to reconcile abandon. Just par for the course.

          • lifeonborder-line

            I read the one article about why therapy fails and indeed I identified several of those in her efforts at individual therapy and ours as a couple. In couples therapy I was exposed to rages for being laid back, exposed to rages for telling the therapist relevant information that my wife was embarrassed about. In her individual therapy she hoodwinks the psychologist into believing she is the poor little old victim of an abusive male.

          • Mellaril

            In one of her works, Marion Solomon says changing the dynamics of a relationship in which one of the partners has a PD was “…like trying to capture smoke.”

  10. tenquilts

    Great article. In fact, I intend to post a link to a site in which stepmoms are often dealing with their husband’s crazy “Golden Uterus” birthmoms in order to better understand why they can’t see it for what it is and react as we would hope they would (the explanation about the dissociation). My husband’s ex went through all of these in some form or another, my favorite technique being the intervention she staged with her friends during the Concern Hoover phase. For her, the Psycho Hoover never included threats of violence but threats that he would never see the children again and attempting to poison them with similar thoughts. She has permanently settled (more than three years after the request for the divorce, which has been final for almost a year) in the FOG mode. What saddens me is when he is still hurt by her accusations that he’s “changed … not the man I married” when I see exactly what you point out that it means, and that it’s nothing more than another play from the manipulation playbook.

    What I think is worth adding is that the “I’ve Never Been Happier Hoover” is what accounts for why these women will never accept their exes’ new relationships. My husband WANTS his ex to find someone and be happy, even if she is somehow able to have an emotionally healthy, reciprocal relationship with someone else. He has obviously moved on and wishes she would too. But her forays into this Hoover are short-lived because it DOES bring him happiness to think this. On the other hand, when she sees how successfully he has moved on and how happy he is with me, it reinforces the idea that the problem with the relationship was NOT him, which is absolutely unacceptable to her. If she is not happy, he is not allowed to be either, which is why she still seems intent on at least denying, if not destroying, our marriage. It doesn’t work, though. Being aligned against the crazy only brings us closer together.

  11. jefe

    It only took me two months and one exit attempt to leave an abuser. The night before I left, she pulled my clothes out of the dryer and locked them inside her truck! After she conked out, I was able to retrieve them. She also stole my driver’s license and ATM card, plus the few dollars I had in my pocket. I already had plans to attend a trade school on the other side of the state, where I could stay for the duration. I had just enough gas in the tank to get there.

  12. jefe

    I work with horses, too. It’s amazing how much poop is inside one. It all comes out when the animal is feeling stress.

  13. director17

    Thank you for this article Dr. T.

    Much (most) of what you’ve described fits my ex-fiance very closely. In fact like your described “I’ve never been happier” hoover, I recently received an email from my ex (after 5 months of no contact), part of which described that she was now dating an ex-boyfriend and is able to smile now. I also had heard the exact quote from her that, “You don’t know how to treat a woman.”

    Really? This was coming from a woman who I paid for her to fly (first class – twice) from her country to mine so we could be together. I flew to visit her 4 times within 1.5 years – for 2-3 weeks at a time. I paid for her fiance visa + the attorney to process it. I supported her financially, I took her on vacations (sometimes even at the risk of my job). I could go on, but you get my point. I’ve had female friends say I was like “Santa Claus” to her…so how exactly did I not know how to treat a woman?

    Anyway, sorry for venting, but I do have a question: Is it possible for a woman to not even consciously be aware of the behavior she’s engaging in? I’ve been through your site, Shari Schreiber’s, as well as many other resources and everything fits the description of my ex as either/or npd / hoover / bpd…etc…but often it seemed to me that she was totally unaware of the extremely damaging effect her behavior and actions were having on me and my mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. Despite this, I still find myself questioning if she actually was personality disordered…and worse feeling guilty and blaming myself for ending the relationship.

    thanks again for your valuable and life-saving work.

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier

      Hi director17,

      Many of these individuals are obliviously and pathologically unaware re: how their behavior impacts others — especially after you tell them how their behavior is affecting you.

    • Free at Last

      Peter, it’s good to hear from you again, and congratulations on five months of No Contact. It seems as if your ex was similar to mine – she just had to always win, to always come out on top, and one of the tactics she frequently used was to twist everything around to make me look like the bad guy.

      Example: When I moved out and returned to my home 600 km away, she pleaded with me to leave my cat with her until I picked up the remainder of my belongings in a few weeks. Well, after two months of holding my cat and belongings as ransom and trying to arrange a return trip to no avail (she always had some convenient excuse for why I couldn’t come), I finally decided to cut my losses and frustration and leave everything – including my beloved cat – behind. Of course, now I’m the cold and heartless bastard that abandoned the poor cat.

      You just can’t win, so don’t bother trying. I do, however, feel some (possibly sick?) admiration at the brilliant fashion in which she twisted the whole situation around.

      Based on your postings earlier this summer, your ex was DEFINITELY disordered, so please don’t second-guess yourself or feel guilty about ending the relationship. You’ve averted the biggest possible disaster of your life. And yes, you certainly did treat her well, and it’s sad that she didn’t reciprocate. – Julian.

    • Free at Last

      A suggestion: if you really want to enforce No Contact, do as I did and block your ex’s email address. This will give you peace of mind from her attempts to evoke guilt.

  14. Martin D Brie

    Great Article Dr. T. I’ve recently had the hoover move happen with my ex recently. It’s amazing and sad that she just totally doesn’t understand that I stopped talking and dealing with her because of her ridiculous behavior!! She tried to use the fog hoover and said that I shouldn’t throw away a long friendship with her over this issue( she also demanded that I meet with her). She’s done one or more of the hoover tactics through out our past relationship and like usual she never considers any of her actions as cause. It’s very sad and she needs help. I plan on dealing with the issue shortly and without contact. I don’t really care about if she’s happy or not,if her feelings are hurt, or anything more about or with our past relationship all I care about is that I’m happy, I’m free, and I’m walking in intergrity and living my life today.

  15. Lovekraft

    It seems that the theme a lot of the comments on articles like this demonstrate is men’s lack of validation for their feelings.

    This may be due to our natural conditioning or a sense that we are to remain strong, but, obviously, there is a definite need to recognize that we do feel.

    The banner of this site would read something along the lines of “A Site which Allows Men to Feel”.

  16. Cousin Dave

    The interesting bit is that certain of the hoovering techniques aren’t just for attempts to get back together… in my case, the Deluxe Hoover was how my BPD ex sucked me into the relationship in the first place! She was good at the Concern Hoover and (my addition to the list) the Damsel in Distress Hoover too.

  17. Darryl X

    “Oftentimes, when an abusive personality senses they are losing their target/victim or that their target/victim is pulling away, they will make efforts to re-secure their victim’s attachment to them.”

    This passage misrepresents the problem. An abusive personality doesn’t sense she is losing her target/victim or that he is pulling away. The abusive personality is addicted to power and control and the neurotransmitters associated with the euphoria of satisfying that addiction. Like an addiction to any drug, the abusive personality needs more and more to satisfy the addiction. The abusive personality does not sense she is losing the target/victim but instead her power and control over the target/victim is inadequate to satisfy her addiction and she is looking for ways to increase the dose – more power and control. With such a huge feminist legal and political machine behine the abusive personality, after alienating the children from the father within a marriage, all she has to do is start an adulterous relationship and use the children to wield the family courts against her husband to increase the dose. Of course, there is never enough power and control and these women eventually self destruct but not before so many years have passed and the lives of so many men and children have been destroyed. The impact on the economy and civilization of satisfying her addiction is irreversible and absolutely destructive. Presently, governments (as a surrugate for the husband) conspire with mothers to snatch children and hold them hostage for ransom. That ransom is extracted from fathers and other men (as child support) and exchanged with women for political power and control. It is CHILD TRAFFICKING and ABUSE and SLAVERY for fathers. Portraying the problem the way you have implies it is nothing but an emotional problem but really it is a very important practical one for the mother and everyone else. The governments understand it but they are just exploiting the addiction for their own gain the way a drug dealer exploits the addiction of a drug addict for his/her gain.

  18. erics1

    I have been giving my energy and time to a woman who wants what i call a “pseudo boyfriend”. It enables her to be on the receiving end of energy etc, while i get to have no expectation.She would never make it clear with words that she didn’t want a relationship, she wanted to keep me on a string……with the help of this site, i confronted, tried to get the situation more equitable, and finally sent this email. I am not getting sucked back in. Thank you shrink4men..

    “so… here’s the deal xxxx. I thought id go ahead and make our friendship symmetrical, and let you just “figure it out” but that’s not how i am. I reached out to you in a way that I haven’t reached out to anyone in years and years. I wonder when you’ve been reached out to like that before, if ever… Not only did you leave me hanging for two weeks, but when you finally gave me my answer (i already knew) you thought it would be a good call to bullshit me. “whats wrong with your energy” you knew. “you said you would be patient” I was. “we didn’t end up hanging out, just you and me” because you didn’t call. And then you blurted out, two blocks later, “i just don’t want to be in a relationship with you”….(finally) With all the “weeding” i have been doing in my personal life, I wonder what the hell you were thinking. I warned you about my bullshit detector, (it works), and i told you that i would know if you bullshitted me, i wouldn’t call you on it and it would probably just damage our friendship. Why on earth would you test it? WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS? All I wanted was my “NO”, a final “no”. I was prepared for anything but you undermining our friendship with bullshit at our most important moment. I spent the rest of the evening in a kind of shock and disbelief, and when you told me you invited Ramona, i wasn’t even surprised. It just wasn’t important enough to have time set aside. I knew i had the wrong idea, I just had no idea….. You told me you didn’t want to be responsible with other peoples feelings, I couldn’t relate, I didn’t believe you, I should have. I hope you were trying to make sure i wouldn’t reach out to you like that again, because now, how could i? This is all for you to own, and for me to no longer try to comprehend. I know my hands are clean, I know i have been a good friend to you, and i know that my personal relationships are (almost) bullshit free. I need compassion and honesty, even from my friends, and i guess that’s where we’re at. P.S you could have just said no immediateley, and right now i would feel like you don’t think I’m an idiot or a pushover, I would have felt like our friendship (at least) was worth a shit. I have been reaching out to you energetically, emotionally and spiritually for god knows how many months, and i think we both know it has to end now. I need to come back to center. I know your actions were probably motivated by fear, and for that i still have compassion for you. but for the moment I need some space to re evaluate how i have been spending my time….”

    Thank you shrink4men.

  19. whoanelly

    Dear Dr. T,

    Thank God for you and your site! I ran across this site when I was looking up “why is my husbands ex always harassing us?”
    Everything my DH and I have read on your site seemed like you were writing about his ex wife and our experiences with her. We almost certainly believe she is an NPD with shades of BPD. DH has been divorced from her for over 8 years, they share 2 kids and she has made our life a living hell. She hates me and tries very hard to destroy the life we have built by using their kids as pawns and her insatiable financial demands.

    She is always screwing around with his access weekends, tries to call/text/email/write when we ignore her or try to set boundaries. She is forever asking for more money, especially when she finds out we have bought a new car or whatever (we just built a house so she is especially irate). When the kids are at our place, she texts them endlessly, jacking them for info. She cant seem to keep a relationship of her own going with any man…although she is with someone whose marriage she broke up who is 10 years her junior. Everytime she enters a relationship, my Dh and I breathe a sigh of relief and hope she will now move on and leave us in peace. But it never happens. We have now come to the conclusion, she will always try to do whatever she can while she can still press his buttons.

    So, to this end, DH has decided to join your forum and reach out to you to help dismantle these buttons. He is such a wonderful man and father….I have 2 children from a previous marriage and we have a 2 yo baby together, and he has 2 children with Crazy….but you would think he was a sereal killer if you were to listen to her. She has had him arrested with false allegations, never follows a court order and alienates their kids from us. She has tried to alienate his friends, parents,and other family members. She constantly assasinates our character to everybody and even his children. They were only married for 4 years but togehter for 6 before that. You would think she’d get tired of this and act her age (43yo) for the sake of the kids mental health. But no. Her attacks just continue in a cyclical fashion every 4-6 months

    We sometimes dookay at dealing with her attacks/manipulations but there are always times when we just cant take anymore and feel helpless. I know we have to build stronger boundaries with her…but how does one do that when there are 2 kids involved( 12 yo and 10 yo)? I feel she uses their kids to try to pull us apart and it is very frustrated. The idea that a man can be emotionally abused by a woman is a novel concept for me and DH. That is why your website and articles have given DH the validation he has needed to feel like he wasnt the bad one or the crazy one. We can now see how a 90 pound scrawn bag can have a grown man on the ropes. I myself feel battered and abused by her and sometimes I don’t know if I have the strength to carry on in this marriage with his ex’s ongoing machinations. It’s just so exhausting and I sometimes feel my spirit breaking. I can only imagine the harm she has done to DH. But I love DH so much and am really now understanding the extent of the effect on men of this kind abuse to their soul and psyche. Reading other men’s stories on your site has really helped me understand what DH went through and is still going through.

    I am sorry for the rambling. I just want you to know you have profoundly helped a couple who have been walking around looking for answers that could explain all the craziness in the last 8 years. And now…we have found it. For all the stories I have read in the comments sections, every single one seems to echo DH’s life for the last 18 years with this woman. And I thank you for listening to these men and their new partners who want to support them. I feel like there may be a light at the other end. If I squint real hard, I think I see the flicker of it.

    • cuatezon

      Hi Whoanelly, I am doing some ‘old homework’ and reviewing archives in a get-back-to-basics phase for me. These articles too have been life saving. Dr. T and many others here get it. The finite details, the small but yet gigantic subtleties, the overt and covert invalidaton, and so on…truly a breath of fresh air. Thank God someone gets it, and validates and reaffirms our suspicions. Thats part of Crazy – the society is sick and in denial. Our own defense mechanisms want to often deny the insidiousness of this disease.

      Anyway, thank you too – for being a woman and calling a crazy woman ‘out’. Its often not politically correct for one women to confront another woman on her craziness especially when its directed towards a man. It helps us men who have suffered enormously, to have women support and understand our plight.

  20. gingerbred

    WOW! The Concerned Hoover and The Any Pain You Feel I Can Feel Worse I Can Feel Pain Far Worse Than You sounds a lot like a woman that I know! This happens to be a neighbor of mine who lashed out at me about some people that moved into my building and because I stood up to her messed up behavior towards me, she told me that I have anger issues and that I should find a therapist.

    One time I called her up because I needed someone to talk to regarding a problem I was having with a co-worker, and she immediately responded, ” You don’t know a thing about problems or pain! You keep forgetting I’m much older than you!”

    I’m so glad I haven’t been speaking with her anymore. Any emails, texts, or voice messages I get from her get deleted. No man deserves this kind of treatment. Period.

    By the way, Dr T, thank you for what you do. I also love your parody to “Brick House.”

    • cuatezon

      Hi Gingerbred,

      What you experienced was shaming language and a moderately covert invalidation. Its a form of ‘psychic attack’.

      Subtle bullying, covert invalidation, attempts to instill self-doubt and anxiety; psychic attacks take many forms, and they are just as devastating as the typical overt/obvious attacks. In fact, emotional/psychic attacks are extremely harmful to both body & mind.

      Anyway I’m rambling a bit here but wanted to comment on your post. Hope the situation is better for you. Cheers.

  21. SW-AL

    Thanks Dr. T so much for this. The timing couldn’t be better.

    I’m about to get myself out and I’m no longer putting up with my wife’s borderline antics. The same day I read this, I got treated to the FOG hoover along with the “I can feel any pain better than you” thrown in. She was able to stir up doubt and guilt, making me question myself “am I really the crazy one?” After it was over and she’d gone to bed, I thought back to this column I’d read earlier in the day. It was so reassuring and calming. I know I’m doing the right thing and I’m not going to let manufactured guilt, wishful thinking or any of this other nonsense keep me from getting to a healthier place.

    Thanks to your efforts with this blog, forum and the podcasts, I’ve found the strength I needed. Again, thank you for the service you are providing hurting men.

  22. JimG

    Unfortunately, I staggered briefly this week with my ex, who plugged in her “I’ve Never Been Happier” Hoover. I fell into the emotional trap of being charmed by her considerable physical beauty and feeling a little jealous when she hinted that she would be on a date. Our divorce isn’t final, I filed, she desperately didn’t want it, so all of the textbook characteristics are here. I was able to intellectually recognize what was happening, maintained my boundaries, but inside, I still found myself drifting emotionally back to the Love Bomb days. I guess it just goes to show you how important it is to maintain your intellectual reasoning with your emotions. I really believe that it isn’t unhealthy to FEEL that attraction, only to act on it, or allow yourself to be manipulated because of it. But maybe I’m wrong, maybe feeling it is bad for me, as well. I know what a terrible person she is, I know she can’t pull herself together, so I suppose I should allow myself to be an emotional being and maintain my strength. But please agree or not, as the case may be…

  23. defman

    This is mind-blowing stuff. At 41, single for now 8th year since my ex threw me out, (ex-girlfriend), for another bloke, who was much worse than she is; I learned one thing, I’ll never trust a woman ever again. Every time I see a woman, talk to a woman, I’m MINDFUL of what she’s capable of, and she can blame my ex.

    God, I still this basic NEED to be with a loving, faithful, trustworthy woman, a woman who’ll become my wife and the best one out of all the others to raise my kids, that we’ll make out of our love for each other. (Violins ensued)…. (grin)… Yeah, sappy as all that, yet I feel it so intensely for years. Yet thanks to my ex she broked my heart, broke my trust, even though I forgave her betrayals a few times thinking she’s wounded and still needs time to heal, but, seventh year, I got fed up, told her I’d stay and support her as long as she fixes herself up, stop drinking booze, and drugs, and be healthy, normal woman like the rest of other womens I sees. Nope, she threw me out within a week, got with her new beau, and just like that, I was forgotten.

    Eh, the last laugh is when she came back two years later, and begs me to help her get away from him, the bloke she left me for in the first place. I said, I can’t help ye, you can asks yours sister to help you with a house, then my idea, get your stuff when he’s not around, and then just disappear, never be in the places where you been before. She was happy with that advice, but she also said I was a better man and wanted me back, but I said, no, I can’t. My heart, broken, remember? She was sorry, and regretted all that. Yeah, sure. Three more times after that, she comes back, and asks me, begs me and the last time, she brings the kids, (not my flesh and blood, though), in an effort to blackmail me emotionally, so I would go back, but what for? That is the question, what for? I asks myself and I know what I want.

    I want to make a family, that’s what I want. I want to marry the right woman who do not playing fucking games simply because she gets off on games and playing crisises all the bloody times, it’s too boring, man!

    I want a dependable woman, not an unreliable woman who would play emotional games, do things contrary to norms and logic and so on.

    I want a woman who loves PEACE of MIND, and likes logical ways of life… Solving problems on their own, not needing me every two seconds, not too needy, yet likes me around, just as I likes her around, not too needy, best friends, great lovers, best husband-and-wife team, independent and yet interdependent together, a REAL partnership, based on God’s truth, biblical, and pure. A marriage that is REAL. A coupleship that is REAL.

    Not a handyman to be used as she sees fit. A walking bank account to shore up her financial problems when she wastes her (three) allowances, and her kids allowances as well, to pay for her booze and drugs, and not much else on the foods for the kids.

    I know, I paid heaps for them. I loved the kids, I hoped I taught them of some REAL values, but I doubt it. I know what to do for the next one, though, I’ll never stand for women playing games. I’m sick of women playing games. I’ll WALK. GOODBYE little miss moron!

    All I want is peace and quiet, and someone to share my life with, that’s it. No crazy emotional games and crazy stupid nutjobs.

    I wonder who taught all thees crazy women their crazy ways? Who panders to them? Their parents? Their schools? It’s like seeing Mean Girls all grown up and acting stupid everywhere, playing games with everyone, no consequences for themselves, but plenty for the kids, plenty for the men, and most probably, sooner or later, the relatives WILL catches them when they least expects it, acting all crazed and stupid and ugly.

    No matter what she looks like, I looks at the women VERY carefully… I asks myself, is she sane? Or Crazy? In public she looks sane, but what about in private, where no one can see? Does she exhibits some sort of psychotic behaviour? God, I hated that. If she does, then I go, boom! I walk away! I don’t give a crap if she’s hot and a walking goddess. What she looks like is just a vessel. What’s important is what’s inside her, what her mind is, her soul, what her spirit… what her perspective on live is. I do not trust easily, not ever again.

    If a women wants me to trust her, she’ll have to EARN my trust, and it won’t be EASY at all!

    I am now so CAREFUL, I’ll never walk into another trap ever again. One hint, one thing wrong, I’m gone in 6 seconds! No two ways about it. No ifs, ands, or buts!

    Men, you cannot afford to waste time with stupid women who plays games. Look for the rare gems, the ones who hates playing games, is a straight shooter, and likes being in STABLE relationships and holds marriage as sacred, as I do.

    I’m 41 years old and I’ve been single for 7, now 8, years, and I’ve tried to find the right woman, but it’s hard, and being deaf and trying to get through the hordes of crazy twisted women, including crazy fake ones that scammers hides behind, is very difficult.

    They say it’s easy to find one’s true love on the internet. Yeah, right! It’s hard, it’s difficult. It’s difficult when all I have is words to write and words are one-dimensional when face-to-face both can reads subtle expressions and the like, and be understood.

    But by now I’m resigned to my singlehood and I have not been with a woman in 7, now 8th, years. I can’t stand easy women, my ex was one, and it took me years to realise this. My ex was too easy with all she meets. Never again. I’ll go for the biblical way, meet women, be friends, and get to know them for as long as it takes to see if they’re truly BIBLICAL, that is, that she have the same ideas as I do, that sex is for marriage only, not for before marriage or any other ways. A clean life is what I want, not sex and picking up germs from who-knows-what, like it happened with my ex, never again!

    Yes, I’m still pissed off about my one long-term (7-years) relationship with my ex-girlfriend. She was five years older than me. That should have told me what she’s really like.

    Never again.

    I’m much STRONGER and HARDER and no women will ever break me ever again. I’m TOUGHER! I’m DIAMOND-HARD! No women will ever play fast and loose with me.

    I want a serious woman, not one who’ll play games years later down the track. I want a woman who’ll stay by my side, no matter who tries to break us up with lies told to her, luckily I’ll be deaf to their lies, whoever they’ll be. I want to be a TEAM, and to stay by her side, when she have proven her loyalty to me. That’s what I want. That’s the woman I can trust to raise my kids, which we’ll make together, because what we make is based on true love.

    This is what I believes in.

    But if more and more women are going crazy, then, the choice is limited and I will not be saddled with another nutcase, so I’ll stay alone, single and enjoy life, whatever it gives me, at least I am contented, and having fun doing my own thing. No worries!

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier

      Hello and welcome to S4M, defman.

      Looks like your ex put you through the ringer. I’m very sorry you were treated so badly. Sometimes finding another mature adult with whom to have a satisfying and fulfilling relationship can be a bit like finding a needle in the haystack.

  24. jtm

    Any advice to prevent hoover? Have not seen my ex in over a year, but will at upcoming wedding we are both going to. Not sure how to treat situation. Should i stay away and completely give her silent treatmen? This could provoke her to make a scene. How should i handle then the inevitable face to face meeting.

  25. cuatezon

    I’ve just had a lightbulb go on. I’ve been thinking, perhaps many of us were not mentally or emotionallu prepared to deal with these HCP/BPDs. The complexities, the savvyness, the devious manipulations, the violations of sacred values and morals, and so on.

    Part of the reason is our low self esteem. Part of the reason too is we are often brought up to be naive, to perhaps be overly trusting, and/or, out of our own unmet needs from growing up until now, we expose ourselves and tolerate abuse just so we can feel ‘loved’, no matter how dysfunctional and damaging it is.

    How have we coped with other trials and traumas? The Bible perhaps? Follow the 10 commandments and you’re good to go, right?

    Well, there is nowhere in the Bible, Torah, Koran or whatever religious text, where it says “thou shalt not hoover”, or, “thou shald not cause emotional pain and suffering”. “Thou shalt not invalidate another”. So, its not really the ‘laws’ or ‘rules’ that are broken, but rather, the Spirit of the Law. The spirti of the laws, rules, codes we live by is to be good to one another, respect one another, protect one another.

    These sociopaths fly under the radar as they often appear to be following the 10 commandments (or insert whatever other moral code/philosophy). “What, I’ve never hit you ever…Its not like I’m a serial killer or Hitler…”.

    Sure, they aren’t the overt homicidal sociopath. Many are the smaller, insidious, sneaky and deviant sociopaths. They mean to cause you great emotional suffering, financial harm, and self-doubt. Belittling others is a power trip; in fact, that’s how Hitler got his start – attacking Jews, the handicapped, and others. Remember too, Hitler was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year before WWII broke out.

    My point is (and its not a religous point) we ‘good people’ try to follow the 10 Commandments, or whatever other moral/civil code you adhere too. We are taken off guard when these HCPs violate the sacred, yet they do it so subtley we stop and ask ourselves if its really happening. Again – look at the Holocaust or other genocides that happen. Its really incredible it ever occurs – yet it does.

    And so continues the misery today, in different forms, here in our modern, enlightened Western Society.

  26. jvjr711

    I realize this article hasn’t been commented on in quite some time, but I have a very perplexing form of hoovering being utilized by my ex-HPD. To give you a breakdown, my ex-HPD and I broke up once in June 2013 due to her talking to exes, lying, cheating, and abusing substances. She hoovered back (she works with me) a couple months later by coming into my office crying and pleading with me. I had thought I had finally moved on in late November 2013 and started a new relationship with someone. That said, her hoovering got intense — insinuating suicide, calling, texting, coming into my office crying, etc. I fell for it while with the other person — she completely love bombed me. Ultimately, I took her back around February. It was fine for about three weeks. Then she started talking to her fan club again — exes, new guys, old guys, etc. She abused me emotionally through jealousy, rage, and gaslighting. Over and over. I gave her everything. Finally, I had enough of the lying and cheating. I called her out and dumped her. It’s been hard.

    That said, I’ve moved on, put myself on an online dating site (as I had done last July). Now here’s the weird part. When she started hoovering intensely last August, she indicated to me that she knew I was on a dating site and said “I know so much about you that you don’t even know — nice profile. Maybe I should go on there, too.” She did at that point, but without a picture or anything and without subscribing. Today, however, I recently saw her on the same site as me again. This time with eight pictures and a more complete profile. Mind you, I haven’t spoke with her in weeks. Also, she had “replaced” me essentially the night I broke up with her. I still have to see her two days a week at work, which sucks, but I can keep cool as a cucumber in a professional setting. This time I warned her supervisor about her past behaviors and how this time I want no part of them. He had a meeting with her and indicated she is not to talk to me as there is no reason for us to interact professionally. I had to protect myself.

    What does all of this mean? Why would she create an online profile on the same site as me? I should also state she is only 22 years old and is very attractive. She just very recently graduated college. I know she could go out and attract somebody instantly if she really wanted to. So, I’m perplexed as to why she’d jump on the same site as me. Mind games? Trying to exert control over me again in an extremely passive manner? Trying to get her ego validated with attention? I did say some pretty cutting things to her post-breakup that I knew would hit her core. She’s so superficial and I exploited that with some very cutting words. Again, I haven’t spoken with her in weeks. In that time period, she’s had both her graduation and her birthday — both of which we had things planned for. Do you think she is burning as a result of me going complete radio silence?

    Anyways, any insight into this is most appreciated.

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