You have been invited to a social event. Perhaps it is a birthday party, a wedding anniversary dinner, a BBQ or drinks at a friends. You are no longer in a Formal Relationship with the narcissist, but you know that he is likely going to be there. It might be that a mutual friend feels it is only fair to invite you both, it might be that you both said yes before the Formal Relationship ended. It may be the case that you have received confirmation that the narcissist is going to attend. What do you do?
For most, this situation creates anxiety, dread and an immediate desire to not attend. However, you may not want to (or even feel you can) let down the host. It may also be the case that you are determined not to let the narcissist ‘get one over you’ by you crying off, no matter how upset and perplexed you remain, how hurt or angry you are. You have drawn a line in the sand and decided you will now make the decisions as to what you do or do not do and you will not take the narcissist into account any longer.
Whether determined or dread-filled, there will be anxiety and apprehension as to what is going to happen when you are in close proximity again, perhaps for the first time since the Formal Relationship. What can you expect to happen and what can you do? There are numerous scenarios to consider.
The Hoover Trigger and the Hoover Execution Criteria
You should note that seeing you again post dis-engagement or post escape amounts to a hoover opportunity and therefore whether the hoover will be executed against you depends on the Hoover Trigger and the Hoover Execution Criteria. It is therefore worth a brief moment examining this as this will be applicable to the various scenarios which I will determine below.
Note whether you were the Intimate Partner Primary Source (“IPPS”), Shelf Intimate Partner Secondary Source (“IPSS”) or The Dirty Little Secret (“DLS”) the fact that you are attending the event amounts to a Hoover Trigger ( seeThe Spheres of Influence ) . Accordingly, the Hoover Trigger is activated. Consideration must then be given to the HEC and whether the hoover bar will be lowered or raised.
- The fact that we are in close proximity to you, either sat at the same table, in the same room or at the same event means that there is very easy access to you, this means that the Hoover Bar will be lowered considerably;
- What happened the last time we interacted? If you have no fuel or very little (and this has happened when we have sought to hoover you on previous occasion post cessation) then this will raise the hoover bar. If you gave fuel on previous occasions post cessation or we recall you gave a lot of fuel during the Formal Relationship then the hoover bar will be lowered;
- What type of narcissist are we? The Greater means the bar is lowered, Mid-Range or Lesser and the Hoover Bar is raised slightly;
- Are there any obstacles? Are you there with a new intimate partner? If so, this raises the bar (note this has no effect with a Greater);
- Did you wound us the last time we engaged with you, for instance have you been ignoring us when we have hovered previously, did you escape from us, did you say or do something to wound us such as exposure? If there has been wounding, this will raise the hoover bar and make us wary. The greater the wounding, the higher the bar will go.
- Will we have Lieutenants at this event? If so, this will lower the Hoover Bar as proxy hoovers are highly likely to test the ‘water’.
Thus these factors have to be taken all together to ascertain whether a hoover is likely or not. The more factors which lower the Hoover Bar the greater the likelihood of you being hovered and vice versa.
The Former Intimate Partner Primary Source
If you were the Former Intimate Partner Primary Source and the HEC are met then you will be hoovered. If we attend with a new IPPS (which is highly likely if you have been dis-engaged from) then you can expect us to parade this new person, make a great show of introducing them to other people whilst casting glances in your direction to check that you are seeing this show. We will talk loudly, laugh more than other people, be enthusiastic and ensure that you know we are there to heighten your discomfort.
Eventually we will approach you and introduce the new IPPS to you. You will be referred to as ‘someone that we used to know’ unless the IPPS knows you are a former IPPS. You can expect snide remarks, back-handed compliments and the like as we will not lash out (the façade is present of course) but we want to draw a reaction from you in order to gain fuel. We will appear pleasant but this is just to mask making you feel uncomfortable and anxious. Expect plenty of one-upmanship:-
“This is Former IPPS, she is in sales, this is New IPPS she manages a sales force of thirty people for Blue Chip Inc.”
“Oh hello, I am surprised to see you, I thought you were unwell, at least that is what I had been told. This is New IPPS, we have just come back from a weekend at the Hamptons.”
If we turn up without the IPPS (which could happen) then we will act in a similar way in showing off, showing you that we are contented, happy, living life to the full. Our new IPPS will be mentioned in glowing terms so you are within earshot. We will make our way around to you eventually and hoover you by speaking to you and appearing polite if other people are there, but largely dismissive of you. If there is nobody else listening and it is just us and you, then we will issue subtle malign hoovers in the hope of driving you to the toilets crying, reminding you of why we kicked you to one side. The higher the narcissist, the nastier these comments will be as your vulnerabilities and hurt are shoved in your face:-
“I see you are not with anyone. Hardly a surprise, you were lucky to have had me, but then you fucked that up with your hysterics.”
“I didn’t think Stacey would have invited you after the way you have been carrying on.”
“You look like you have gained ten pounds since I last saw you. All that comfort eating I guess.”
“Why haven’t you made an effort? This must be the tenth time I have seen you in this dress. Do you like my new shirt?”
“You are actually lucky new IPPS isn’t here, you’d have felt stupid next to her. Thank God I got rid of you.”
“I have had a bet with my Lieutenants that you will be drunk and blowing some waiter in the car park by midnight. I have fifty pounds riding on you, so don’t let me down. For once.”
The aim will be to draw fuel and of course any malign comments will be denied and you will be made to appear as a liar and/or hysterical.
The Shelf Intimate Partner Secondary Source
If you are currently on the shelf and we are there with the new IPPS, we will hoover you and it will be done in a benign way. We want to keep you available for taking off the shelf again at some future point and see no need to be malign. If you react unpleasantly to seeing us with someone else we will make great play of highlighting your jealousy and our entitlement
“We had a few dates but she became obsessed and wouldn’t let me alone. She seemed to think we were an item and I could not see someone else. I made it clear that was not the case but she is obviously crazy and has the wrong idea.”
You can expect you will be devalued in the exchange and then we will move away from you with the IPPS and you will then be dis-engaged with. You have just lost your shelf status.
If our IPPS is not with us, we will ensure that we keep you onside, we will downplay any suggestion from you (or more likely a third party) that we are with someone in order to ensure we can pick you up in the future if we so choose. However, as above, if you react badly to any suspicion we have an IPPS then we will devalue you and you will be dis-engaged from. You can expect that we will spend the evening occupied with giving you malign hoovers in order to draw fuel from you in the absence of the IPPS.
If the IPPS is not with us and you are pleasant throughout, we will hoover you in a benign way. We will not look to engage in any intimacy with you (since we have the new IPPS) but it makes sense for us to continue to keep you onside and draw positive fuel from you during the evening.
If you are not on the shelf and instead you were a Former Shelf IPSS who we dis-engaged from, then we are unlikely to engage direct with you because there will be a concern that you will cause trouble with our new IPPS. Accordingly, we will make great show of our new IPPS and ensure you notice (see above) so we gain some fuel but we will not introduce you to this new person (as part of continuing the Dis-Engagement Devaluation). We want to upset you and draw fuel from you, from a distance. If you decide to engage with us we will be polite and move away with the new IPPS. If you are awkward or unpleasant, expect a malign response from us, the utilisation of Lieutenants against you and smearing.
If you are not on the shelf and are a Former Shelf IPSS who we dis-engaged from and we have not attended with a new IPPS, then we will speak to you and be polite in order to gain positive fuel from you. Our hoovering will be benign for the purposes of gaining fuel but we will not attempt any intimacy (because we have the new IPPS). If you start to become troublesome, we will turn malign, smear and mobilise Lieutenants against you.
Dirty Little Secret
If you are a former dirty little secret that we have dis-engaged from then different considerations apply.
If we get wind before the event that you are attending it is extremely likely that we will hoover you BEFORE the event in order to warn you against attending. We may begin doing so on the basis of not wanting to hurt your feelings because we will be attending with the IPPS and therefore hope to dissuade you from attending. It has nothing to do with your feelings but instead we do not want you there because we are concerned you will cause a problem with the new IPPS as we will have been engaging with you when they were a Candidate IPSS and we do not want to risk them learning that this was the case. If the ‘pleasant’ approach does not dissuade you, we will issue you with threats and tell you that the host does not want you there and only invited you out of a sense of obligation (we may try to persuade the host not to invite you or tell you not to come).
If you still attend and we are there with the new IPPS we will stay out of your way. We will parade the IPPS around but not as blatantly as described above and we will be keeping an eye on your reactions ensuring that you do not cause us a problem with the new IPPS. You can expect baleful glares from afar and warning expressions. If possible, we may take you to one side and warn you to keep away or else.
If you try to engage with us and the new IPPS and do so politely without causing a problem, we will reciprocate. If you start to cause problems, we will either lash out in a malign manner (within the parameters of the façade of course) or we will withdraw telling the IPPS we are unwell or you are a stalker and it is better to leave. You will then receive malign hoovers thereafter for your audacity.
If we attend without the IPPS then we will not dissuade you beforehand. We will be unlikely to hoover because we see nothing to be gained from doing so (and we do not want anybody telling our IPPS that we were seen engaging with you). If you approach us, we will engage with you in a benign manner and it is likely that you will behave in such a way also because there is no IPPS. However, if you remain bristling because you were dis-engaged from and you start to question us or cause difficulties, we may well move you to one side to keep you under control and preserve the façade. If this is not working we will issue you with threats, smear you and use Lieutenants to draw negative fuel from you and nullify your attempts to smear and expose us.
Part Two will examine the above scenarios when you have escaped us.
Part Three will explain what you can do to protect yourself in these scenarios.