Knowing the Narcissist : The Blast From the Past Hoover : Part One



Why does a narcissist seemingly appear out of nowhere to hoover you?

Why does a narcissist from the past re-appear, often years later?

What causes a narcissist to hoover you after a prolonged period of absence?


Many of you will be familiar with The Blast from the Past Hoover. Somebody from your past, often a former romantic partner but it may include a former school or college friend, a colleague and sometimes even a family member, reappears after years of absence and gets in touch with you. Not everybody who reconnects with somebody after a sustained period of absence is a narcissist, but it is an indicator and more often such a reappearance is effected by a narcissist.

I shall examine two main questions with regard to this subject. Part One will address understanding the nature of empathic relationships, how they are less likely to end and where they do, why they stay ended rather than be resurrected. It will also address why somebody who re-appears after a prolonged absence is likely to be a narcissist.  It is important to understand these aspects as a platform to understanding why The Blast from the Past Hoover occurs. Many of you will have been surrounded by narcissists for much of your lives and therefore you will not have had the experience of non-narcissistic dynamics to the extent that you have. The repeated presence of the narcissist conditions you to see such dynamics as normal. This obscuring effect, alongside the impact of Emotional Thinking results in you failing to know and recognise the Red Flags. It is fundamental for you to understand the dynamics of various empathic relationships, to know why someone who turns up out of the blue may well be a narcissist and thereafter where someone is indeed a narcissist, why is it that the narcissist returns after such a period of absence.

Is Somebody Who Reappears After A Long Period of Absence Always a Narcissist?

The short answer is; no. However, when somebody does come back into your life after many years away you ought to pay careful attention to their behaviours because there is a risk that the individual may be a narcissist. One of the key indicators of a narcissist is the absence of emotional empathy and empathic traits. Those empathic traits include such behaviours as honesty, compassion and decency, amongst others. Ordinarily, when you are friends with somebody, your emotional empathy (and theirs) means that you maintain, nourish and invest in the friendship. Some friendships manifest where you may see that person every day, even briefly. With others it is seeing one another once or twice a week with communication by phone, text message or social media message. With other friendships you may not see one another in person often at all (distance and other commitments being factors) however you keep in touch through phone, text message or social media. Sometimes you may not speak for several months or see one another for several months, but you pick up where you left off when you are in contact with one another.

These friendships have different intervals and styles of interaction however the style suits both individuals. One knows that if they send a text message, it will be answered within a few hours or a day at most – there is no sense of entitlement, no absence of emotional empathy, no need for control which means the text is ignored or read and not responded to, such behaviours are the preserve of our kind. Sometimes a friendship does dwindle and there has been no falling out but neither party resurrects it, realising it has run its course. Each party recognises that the other has moved on in some way and intrinsically recognises that the friendship has had its day and therefore there is no longer a need to remain in touch, so there is no sudden grand re-appearance years down the line.

Occasionally, a friendship might be revived after many years of hiatus and in such circumstances there are clear reasons why the hiatus occurred and an absence of other narcissistic indicators, although such occurrences are relatively rare and even rarer given the prevalence of utilising the internet and social media to stay in touch and find people. Even if someone moves away and you do not have their new address, you are likely to be able to find them through social media or their presence on the internet (profile on their work website for instance) so the likelihood of a hiatus occurring in the first place is much reduced. Accordingly with empathic friends it is far less likely that you experience the loss of them in the first place and if that happens, they are also far less likely to suddenly re-appear years later.

There are similar considerations with regard to family members. Dependent on the strength of the relevant family network, some family member including extended family remain in contact regularly, others less so, perhaps only connecting when there is a wedding, a christening or a funeral. Some family members, more usually extended family members drift apart with age because of the creation of your own immediate family. That cousin you played with regularly as a child is seen less often because you and her now have your own families around you, jobs to deal with, households to attend to and so forth. Again, similar to friendships, where the family member is empathic, you tend to keep in touch (in accordance with a particular level of regularity which varies from dynamic to dynamic) or you drift apart and only hear about that family member in passing from another one. There is no sudden re-appearance years down the line.

With regard to colleagues, you may keep in touch with some when you move jobs, but often what kept the friendship alive was the common interest of the workplace and other colleagues and as you move to another workplace, gaining new colleagues, time and motivation for preserving the colleague-friendship lessens and the friendship peters out. You might bump into a former colleague at a conference where you are civil and catch-up, but it does not cause a resumption of the friendship in the manner that existed when you work together. Both empathic individuals inherently recognise the boundaries imposed by having moved on. This means that there is warmth and civility when there is a chance meeting, but no other need to maintain contact outside of such encounters.

Finally, when it comes to former romantic partners, empathic individuals move on and have no need to maintain contact with one another outside of bumping into one another. Both recognise that the connection was a romantic one and once it has ended then there is no need to remain in contact with one another. Whilst it is the ideal of remaining friends, it is invariably easier not to. That is not to say that you must become enemies, but rather that chapter in both your lives has concluded and it is time for you to move on. You find other romantic partners and therefore there is no empathic reason to remain in contact with the former romantic partner.

Occasionally this happens, for instance where empathic parents have to have contact because of children after the parents have split up or your former romantic partner works where you work or lives nearby, so you will see them. In those circumstances, since both are empathic, you do not strive to maintain contact (after all your romantic relationship is over) however where you do bump into one another the interaction is civil and possibly friendly. Where there is no legitimate basis for repeated interaction, both realise the relationship is over and it is consigned to the past. The empathic individuals recognise that it has ended, they respect that both parties have moved on, they respect the new relationship they are in and the relationship the other person is in. They may happen to bump into one another years later by chance and doubtless would be friendly but beyond that chance encounter there would be no need to swap numbers, to pledge to meet up again, to reminisce about the past. Both individuals through their empathic traits recognise the relationship is done and dusted and they keep it where it belongs, in the past.

The individual who re-appears in your life after years of absence is not always going to be a narcissist, but there is a significant prospect that he or she is one and therefore you should proceed with caution. You should also be examining their behaviour for other Red Flags alongside this one of The Blast From the Past Hoover. The relationship either ought not to have foundered in the first place or where it has then the relationship has run its course and other than a chance brief encounter (as explained above) there is no basis for resurrecting the relationship. The reappearance in isolation is only an indicator, but it is a significant one, for the following reasons :-

  1. A person who just walks back into your life is exhibiting a sense of entitlement.
  2. A person who has failed to maintain the friendship or family connection by having no interaction or contact for a long time is demonstrating a lack of accountability to the maintenance and upkeep of that relationship.
  3. A person who suddenly gets in touch with a former romantic partner is similarly exhibiting a sense of entitlement, especially if the individual returns with proclamations about unrequited love.
  4. An individual who returns who makes remarks such as “I should never have let you go”, “you were always the one” , “I have never stopped loving you”, “it was always meant to be that we would end up together” and such similar comments is exhibiting magical thinking.
  5. An individual who was a former romantic partner who contacts you when they are in a new relationship is showing a sense of entitlement, a lack of accountability and a lack of emotional empathy.
  6. An individual who was a former romantic partner who contacts you when you are in a new relationship (and they are aware of this) is showing a sense of entitlement and a lack of boundary recognition.
  7. An individual who was a former romantic partner who contacts you and compares you to their existing romantic partner is showing a lack of emotional empathy and is triangulating.
  8. An individual who was a former romantic partner who contacts you and speaks unpleasantly about their existing romantic partner is showing a lack of emotional empathy, is triangulating and is smearing.
  9. An individual who offers no explanation for why a non-romantic relationship foundered is exhibiting a lack of accountability and is acting in an entitled and dismissive manner.
  10. Be observant for a differing explanation being offered for why the individual has failed to remain in touch (where non-romantic) compared to what you know has actually happened. This is likely to evidence the differing narcissistic perspective in action.
  11. A person who reappears and is seeking assistance or resources is demonstrating a sense of entitlement and the need for part of The Prime Aims.
  12. Be observant for vague explanations offered as to why the individual has not been in contact for so long and/or the basis for getting in contact now. Vagueness is a form of manipulation often used by our kind as it aids the preservation of a lack of accountability and thus the assertion of control, which is one of The Prime Aims.


Accordingly, recognise how empathic relationships (of differing kinds) ought to function and recognise that whilst sometimes a person can disappear from your life and return in circumstances which are nothing to do with narcissism, it is unusual. Instead, understand that the reappearance of an individual in your life (especially a former romantic partner) is a significant indicator that the individual is a narcissist and that you are experiencing The Blast from the Past Hoover.

Part Two will examine why the confirmed narcissist uses this type of hoover, what causes it and the various forms by which it manifests.


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