If you’ve been reading about Narcissism, whether in regards to a romantic partner or business colleague, you’ve no doubt come across the term “Gray Rock Method”.
According to a contributor named Skylar on lovefraud.com,
“The Gray Rock Method is primarily a way of encouraging a narcissist, psychopath, stalker or other emotionally unbalanced person, to lose interest in you. It differs from No Contact in that you don’t blatantly try to avoid contact with the disordered individual. Instead, you allow contact but only give boring, monotonous responses so that the mentally-unwell person must go elsewhere to get their need for drama gratified.
One might say that Gray Rock is a way of breaking up with a psychopath by using the old, “It’s not you, it’s me.” excuse, except that you act it out instead of saying it and the psychopath comes to that conclusion on his own.”
It’s important to emphasize again that you should never explain to a narcissist or psychopath that you are implementing the Gray Rock Method because they will only use that information to continue manipulating and dominating you— hence why Skylar mentions that you should “act it out”.
“You don’t just practice Gray Rock, you BECOME a Gray Rock. There are gray rocks and pebbles everywhere you go, but you never notice them. None of them attract your attention. You don’t remember any specific rock you saw today because they blend with the scenery. That is the type of boring that you want to channel when you are dealing with a psychopath. Your boring persona will camouflage you and the psychopath won’t even notice you were there. This method strikes at the heart of the psychopath’s motivation: to avoid boredom.”
The Gray Rock Method has been used successfully in many cases of workplace narcissism and co-parenting with the disordered. However, these are two of the rare occasions when Gray Rock should be used. It should not be used in cases where shared custody is not an issue or the disordered partner doesn’t work with the victim, yet I see this happen periodically with clients and repeatedly on recovery forums. Below, I explain the basics of Gray Rock and how it is often used as a shoo-in for No Response.
Misapplications of Gray Rock and the Narcissistic Vortex
Implemented in its true form, Gray Rock enables you to communicate with the Narcissist without being sucked into the Narcissistic Vortex. In cases of shared custody, it allows you to make rational decisions about whether or not the narcissist’s emails or voice mails truly need a response or if their communications are a trap. A good rule of thumb is to only communicate using yes, no, and specific dates and times.
If necessary, insist on using a monitored email system, such as Our Family Wizard, which is a wonderful co-parenting platform that allows you to communicate about your children without being harassed by your disordered Ex. Includes email, expense logs, and an electronic journal so you can keep detailed documentation of missed visitations and other things which may prove advantageous in the event you have to go to court.
You can further avoid falling into the Narcissistic Vortex by not responding to any jabs that are made regarding your parenting style or lifestyle choices. A good example of the Vortex is their mentioning something about your dealings with the children or the fact that you’ve begun dating again, and your subsequently sending them email tsunamis explaining your actions or becoming ensued in a long texting crusade–and before you know it, hours of your day have been wasted.
The self-sabotaging version of Gray Rock
Frequently, abuse victims consider themselves as having employed the Gray Rock method when really they’ve gone No Response, neither of which should be utilized except for the two situations previously mentioned (which is when Modified or Low Contact is required). Often, this is a self-sabotaging behavior that victims use in order to leave the door open for the narcissist, hoping there might be that one time the narcissist has The Divine Epiphany and makes lasting improvements as a partner.
Subconsciously or deliberately, Gray Rock is regularly used as a shoo-in for No Response and used interchangeably with No Contact. If the Narcissist is able to get in touch with you by phone, cell, email, and/or social media, this is No Response, and it’s one of the primary reasons why victims of narcissistic abuse remain stuck in their abusive relationships far beyond practical limits.
(Don’t feel judged, I did it, too, but there does come a time when you’ll want to cease these self-sabotaging behaviors so you can move forward ).
If you are not married and trying to end a relationship with a Narcissist, then the best strategy is to have no contact with him or her. You end the relationship cold-turkey, as if giving up an addiction. No Contact means the narcissist or psychopath can’t get in touch with you. Those who implement No Contact in its true form have a much higher chance of detaching, healing, and realizing happiness.
On the other hand, No Response means you allow them to call, text, or email, and you decide whether or not to respond. Those who implement No Response usually stay enmeshed in the hypnotic influence of the Narcissistic Vortex, remaining stuck in dysfunctional patterns with the Narcissist years after the so-called “end” of the relationship. Typically, this leads to existing as a secondary source of supply and being the fall back when relationship dramas arise with the narcissist’s other partners. (And yes, it’s possible he or she may try to call from a blocked or unknown number, but that isn’t a valid reason to leave lines of communication open).
What to do: No Contact is hard because it’s accepting that the relationship over. It means admitting it wasn’t based on love, but on control and manipulation. Accept that the Narcissist will not change. Give up trying to find potential loopholes in the narcissist’s behaviors in hopes of finding ways the relationship could have worked or what you could have done differently to make them wake up and love you.
If you do share custody or work with the Narcissist, then Gray Rock is your best line of attack. It allows you to stop being manipulated into taking responsibility for things that weren’t your fault to begin with.
Learning how to effectively deal with a narcissist, especially in cases of divorce and custody issues, can’t be accomplished by reading just this one article. It takes practice, research, and a good attorney. Don’t try to do this alone and definitely don’t put things off until the last minute. Below is a great resource for navigating divorce when detaching from a Narcissist:
Divorce 101: A Woman’s Guide – Includes information for each state, relevant laws, child custody, support calculators, worksheets, as well as professionals that practice in each state. Protect yourself financially, create a workable custody arrangement and Parenting Plan.
 The Gray Rock method of dealing with psychopaths. (2012, February 10). Retrieved November 10, 2015, from http://www.lovefraud.com/2012/02/10/the-gray-rock-method-of-dealing-with-psychopaths/