Mar 302012

When dealing with malignant narcissists, psychopaths, sociopaths, borderlines, drama queens, stalkers and other emotional vampires, it’s commonly advised that no response is the best response to unwanted attention. This is often true and No Contact (the avoidance of all communication) should be used whenever possible.

There are some situations however, when No Contact is not feasible, as in when you share child custody with a psychopath. As another example, if you are being stalked by an ex, a restraining order can infuriate the unwanted suitor, and refusing to respond to him or her is seen as an insult. They might become convinced that they can MAKE you respond and in that way satiate their need for power over you.

Furthermore, many of us have tried to end a relationship with a psychopath several times, only to take them back, each time. They turned on the pity ploy and the charm, and because we didn’t understand that this is what a psychopath does, we fell for their promises to change. They know all of our emotional hooks. For them, it’s easy and fun to lure us back by appealing to our emotions. But a psychopath can’t change. In fact, when you leave a psychopath, he becomes determined to punish you even more severely for thinking you could be autonomous.

Even if we don’t take them back, the most dangerous time for a person is when they first break up with a psychopath. The psychopath feels rage at being discarded. Losing control or power over a person is not just a narcissistic injury for them; they feel profoundly empty when their partner leaves them — even if they had intended to kill their partner. The reason is because they have lost control. Psychopaths need to feel in control at all times.

For all these situations, we have Gray Rock.

What it is:

So, how do we escape this parasitical leech without triggering his vindictive rage? Gray Rock is primarily a way of encouraging a psychopath, a stalker or other emotionally unbalanced person, to lose interest in you. It differs from No Contact in that you don’t overtly try to avoid contact with these emotional vampires. Instead, you allow contact but only give boring, monotonous responses so that the parasite must go elsewhere for his supply of drama. When contact with you is consistently unsatisfying for the psychopath, his mind is re-trained to expect boredom rather than drama. Psychopaths are addicted to drama and they can’t stand to be bored. With time, he will find a new person to provide drama and he will find himself drawn to you less and less often. Eventually, they just slither away to greener pastures. Gray Rock is a way of training the psychopath to view you as an unsatisfying pursuit — you bore him and he can’t stand boredom.

What it’s for:

Making a psychopath go away of his own volition is one application of Gray Rock. 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.

Another reason to use Gray Rock is to avoid becoming a target in the first place. If you find yourself in the company of one or more narcissistic personalities — perhaps you work with them or they are members of your family — it’s important to avoid triggering their ENVY. By using Gray Rock, you fade into the background. It’s possible they won’t even remember having met you. If you have already inadvertently attracted their attention and they have already begun to focus in on you, you can still use Gray Rock. Tell them you are boring. Describe a boring life. Talk about the most mundane household chores you accomplished that day — in detail. Some people are naturally lacking in dramatic flair. Find those people and try to hang around them when the psychopath is nearby.

If you must continue a relationship with a psychopath, Gray Rock can serve you as well. Parents sharing joint custody with a psychopathic ex-spouse can use Gray Rock when the ex-spouse tries to trigger their emotions. I acknowledge that any threat to the well-being of our children is overwhelmingly anxiety provoking. Here is where Gray Rock can be applied selectively to draw attention away from what really matters to you. In general, show no emotion to the offending behaviors or words. The psychopath will try different tactics to see which ones get a reaction. With Selective Gray Rock, you choose to respond to the tactic which matters least to you. This will focus the psychopath’s attention on that issue. Remember, the psychopath has no values, so he doesn’t understand what is valuable to us — unless we show him. Selective Gray Rock shows him a decoy. When protecting our children, we can take a lesson from nature: Bird parents who have fledglings are known to feign a broken wing when a predator is in the vicinity. They fake a vulnerability to detract the cat’s attention from their real vulnerability, their babies. In this example, Selective Gray Rock fades all emotions into the background except the ones you want the predator to see.

Why it works:

A psychopath is easily bored. He or she needs constant stimulation to ward off boredom. It isn’t the type of boredom that normal people experience; it’s more like the French word, ennui, which refers to an oppressive boredom or listlessness. Drama is a psychopath’s remedy for boredom. For drama, they need an audience and some players. Once the drama begins, they feel complete and alive again. They are empowered when pulling the strings that elicit our emotions. Any kind of emotions will do, as long as it is a response to their actions.

A psychopath is an addict. He is addicted to power. His power is acquired by gaining access to our emotions. He is keenly aware of this and needs to constantly test to make sure we are still under his control. He needs to know that we are still eager to do his bidding, make him happy and avoid his wrath. He needs to create drama so he can experience the power of manipulating our emotions. As with any addiction, it is exhilarating to the psychopath when he gets his supply of emotional responses. The more times he experiences a reward for his dramatic behavior, the more addicted he becomes. Conversely, when the reward stops coming, he becomes agitated. He experiences oppressive boredom and he will counter it by creating more drama. If we stay the course and show no emotions, the psychopath will eventually decide that his toy is broken. It doesn’t squirt emotions when he squeezes it anymore! Most likely, he will slither away to find a new toy.

The Gray Rock technique does come with a caveat: psychopaths are dangerous people, if you are in a relationship with one that has already decided to kill you, it will be difficult to change his mind. He may already be poisoning you or sabotaging your vehicle. Take all necessary precautions. In this case, Gray Rock can only hope to buy time until you can make your escape.

How it works:

Psychopaths are attracted to shiny, pretty things that move fast and to bright lights. These things, signal excitement and relieve the psychopath’s ever-present ennui. Your emotional responses are his food of choice, but they aren’t the only things he wants.

He envies everything pretty, shiny and sparkly that you have and he wants whatever you value. You must hide anything that he will notice and envy. If you happen to be very good looking, you need to change that during this time. Use makeup to add bags under your eyes. If you aren’t married to the psychopath, any money or assets he covets should disappear “in a bad investment decision” (consult with your attorney on this). Your shiny sports car has to go, get a beater. If you have a sparkling reputation, anticipate that he will or has already begun to slander you; therefore, don’t allow yourself to be put into any compromising position or pushed into erratic behavior. The reason he wants to take these things from you, is not necessarily because he wants them for himself, it’s because he wants to see the emotions on your face when you lose them. He wants the power trip associated with being the one who took them from you. By preemptively removing these things from his vision and not reacting with emotion at the losses, you continue to train him with the idea that you are the most boring person on earth, someone he would never want to be.

Origin of Gray Rock:

In 2009, I left my psychopathic partner after 25 years, but I didn’t understand what was wrong with him. I sat in a sushi bar, lost in confusion, when a tall, athletic man introduced himself. To my own surprise, I instinctively poured out my story to him. This complete stranger listened to my story and then he explained to me that I was dealing with a malignant narcissist. He advised me, “Be boring.” He told me that his girlfriend would come home each night, begin drinking and become abusive. They were both professionals who traveled in the same professional circles. He knew that she would stalk him if he broke up with her and he didn’t want to risk the slander and drama which could leak out and damage his professional reputation.

His solution was to be so boring that she would simply leave him. He declined to go out on evenings and weekends. He showed no emotional reaction about anything, no interest in anything and responded with no drama. When she asked if he wanted to go out for dinner, his reply was, “I don’t know.” After a few months of no drama, she simply moved out.

Why is it called Gray Rock?

I chose the words Gray Rock because I needed an object for us to channel when we are in an emotionally charged situation. 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. The stranger in the sushi bar showed great insight when he advised me to “be boring.” He struck at the heart of the psychopath’s motivation: to avoid boredom.

In nature, there are many plants and creatures that show us how to survive in a world of predators. Among others, birds feign injury to protect their babies and mice play dead until the cat loses interest. Both of these tactics can be useful and they can be channeled when applicable. Yet, it’s difficult to calculate each and every move that a psychopath will make and to determine the best course of action each time. Instead of trying to out-think him, channel the gray rock. This simple, humble object in nature has all the wisdom it needs to avoid being noticed, it’s boring.

Copyright © 2012-2013 Skylar

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  160 Responses to “The Gray Rock Method of Dealing With Psychopaths”

  1. Opi, welcome to 180, and I totally agree with Sky and Truthy, when we recognize that someone is ABUSIVE (whether they are a full-on psychopath or not) the ONLY SAFE way is NO CONTACT….unless we have to co-parent with them and are required by law to interact with them.

    You can’t quit smoking or drinking by “cutting down” on cigarettes or booze you have to QUIT. As long as you give him ANY conversation or contact, he is getting what he wants and that is ATTENTION. I know from personal experience that cutting contact, going full on NO contact is painful, because we are addicted to the DRAMA that goes along with even a bad relationship, but for your own sake you must consider NO contact….using Gray rock like this will ONLY PROLONG THE PAIN…sort of like cutting off a puppy’s tail an inch at a time is not kindness, it is the same way with getting OUT of a bad situation.

    It is up to YOU to make good and healthy decisions for yourself and do what is RIGHT even if it is painful…because piece-meal contact with an abuser is like cutting a piece off our minds and bodies every day instead of just amputating the cancer in one swell foop!

    • i don’t believe i said i planned to use Gray Rock to stay in contact. I believe what I said was, I am not yet strong enough to deal with the guilt trip / internalized, codependent guilt I will experience by NO CONTACT. Gray Rock strikes me as a very useful technique I can manage, that will discourage him from pursuing contact *with me* on his own, whereupon it will be up to me not to *initiate* contact, which I *can* manage.

      I have already left him and left the state; I am not in any physical danger whatsoever. I have already psychologically detached in the sense that I truly do not WANT to be engaging him and I feel sucked dry every time we talk. I’ve got my own issues clearly and I am 100% on board with dealing with them, but it’s not going to happen overnight. If that is not understandable to you guys, I’m not going to try to convince you.

      • Opi,
        I’m sorry I misunderstood you. I get it now. I’m glad you aren’t in any danger and can use the gray rock to bore him away from the last remnants of contact that he craves from you.

        Still, be very careful not to let him see any bit of emotion. Be prepared for him to create MORE drama as he becomes more desperate to push your buttons. Even though I wrote the article, I still find it surprising when I think about how much they crave drama and how desperately they will do anything to avoid boredom. In fact, I’ve noticed that just saying, “I’m boring” or “I live a boring life.” makes them run the other way. LOL!!

        As you said, we do have our own issues and that is what they are counting on. They’ve observed us and they know our facial expressions. My ex-spath was obsessed with facial expressions and mannerisms. Observe yourself carefully for any behavior that will encourage him with the idea that you have codependent guilt, or that you care at all.

        You are absolutely right that we will not change overnight. I don’t like the word co-dependent personally. We are loving, giving, caring human beings. Perhaps we need better boundaries on our emotions sometimes, but the spaths actively encourage us to blur our boundaries by creating drama. Normal people respect and encourage boundaries in each other. And gray rock is a good method for giving ourselves space while we practice setting those boundaries.

        Again, sorry I misunderstood you. I hope you get the time and space you need to mend your heart so that you can grow, learn and even find some benefit from the spath experience.

      • Truthspeak

        Opi, I’m glad that you’re out and safe.

        I don’t believe that anyone who responded was expecting you to convince them of anything.

        There is always a tremendous concern when people who are attempting to extricate themselves from toxic and/or disordered entanglements maintain an open line of communication with the person that has harmed them. A toxic and/or disordered person is never going to speak from a genuine position, and their intent is to continue to harm. Period.

        • well, i tell ya, i better understand and have new respect for the power of the irrational dynamic of an abusive relationship. if you’d asked me three years ago if i ever would have put up with what i put with, i would have said, “hella no!!!!” and yet there i was… it’s bigger than i am.

          i get what you said about the difference between feelings and belief, and facts and the evidence of reality. i completely understand this intellectually, i’m just not very good at using my intellect to govern my emotions, which over my entire life have made many unwise decisions for me while i watched and said to myself “WTF are you DOING???” i don’t know why i have so much difficulty with this. i just try to keep repeating the truth to myself. yeah, it is scary. i’m in a scary place, i admit it. my brain feels split in half. i *do* have a strong sense that under no circumstances will i go back to him – that part of my feeling/belief system seems to be settled. i have to negotiate with my limbic system, i think. it may sound wierd but that’s how i’m set up. i have other issues besides PTSD – Asperger’s and brain damage for one – i really am neurologically different from the mainstream. maybe that has something to do with it.

          anyway i get what you are saying about the open line of communication. at least here i have support from my therapist and am taking the time and trouble to educate myself and just not act on my impulses (aside from taking his calls). i had enough sense to take the opportunity to get physically away. i have enough knowledge to know what it would take for him to change, how difficult it would be, how much motivation he’d have to have, how long it might take at a minimum, and without seeing all of those in motion, i’ll never believe anything he says. the fact that he doesn’t think i should have left tells me all i need to know about his ability to love or respect me. he says he’s changed – i know he has not. at least i got that much going for me.

          a friend i had a long time ago said the longest road is from your head to your heart. so i’m somewhere on that journey. based on my track record, i’ll get there. eventually. meanwhile i sit on my hands :P

  2. no problem dear. glad i was able to clarify. i can understand your concerns.

  3. Opi, Along the autism spectrum from a “little aspy” on up to the person who is totally within their own world and not responsive at all to interaction with people there is a BIG difference from one in of the scale to the opposite end of the scale.

    I am a retired registered nurse practitioner, now called an “advance practice nurse” and I have worked with mental health quite a bit in my career as well as physical medicine, and aspergers DOEs make your brain function differently. BUT that doesn’t mean that you can’t make logical decisions.

    Are you in any kind of therapy? Or a support group? I have a friend who is aspy and she goes to a support group with others. They play games and interact and enjoy themselves, but it is helpful to her to be among other people with aspy.

    Many of us here that have formerly been victims have suffered or are suffering with PTSD and it literally changes your brain, kill cells, etc. I have pretty severe short term memory loss due to the PTSD from the accident that killed my husband and burned 3 other people severely. Plus I have had OTHER stresses that happened on top of the plane crash…and stress is cumulative.

    An abusive relationship (physical or emotional) is STRESS…and healing from that stress takes TIME…and other issues we have before the high stress events also can impact our healing, but we just have to work on it one day at a time. Seek support from other former victims, and set our sites on moving TOWARD healing, and if we fall off the road, we get back up and get back on the road toward healing. It is a j ourney, not a destination, and it is one that we should I think all continue to work on our healing and recovery and our growth as long as we live. No one ever reaches perfection, but we CAN always continue to improve.

  4. Opi,
    I like what you said about the longest road. It’s so true.
    Despite being completely aware of what my ex-spath is, what he’s done, and also being away from him for 5 years, I still had a dream just the other day, in which I “fixed” him. LOL!!

    Well, in the dream, I explained to him what was wrong with him and he wanted to understand and become normal. In reality… Ain’t going to happen!!

    Yep, once a fixer, always a fixer! But that is only how I feel, somewhere in my subconscious. I will always wish that these sick people could be fixed and so I might dream about it. That isn’t how I’m going to react though because I know logically that I can’t do anything to fix anyone but myself.

  5. Sky, I used to think that “healing” was a place to arrive at, but now I realize that it is a journey. Not getting that lesson allowed me to continue to be used and abused by the multiple psychopaths I have encountered, most in my own family. I kept trying to “fix” the situations.

    The University of Hard Knocks requires that we repeat a class until we get the LESSON…and though I may have a “PhD” in the UHK I’ve had to repeat many many MANY classes there because I didn’t get the lesson the first time. (or sometimes the third or fourth time!) My late husband used to say “life is a tough teacher, she gives the test first, and THEN the lesson” I am living proof of that. Though I now have many of the lessons, I still work every day to learn more about myself. I can’t fix them, but I can make myself less vulnerable to future attacks. We can all continue to learn and to work on our healing….and protect ourselves from future injuries from either the older psychopaths in our lives or any new ones that come along.

    One SELF declared “expert” on psychopathy and healing thinks that the “law of attraction” is why we “attract” psychopaths into our lives and if we “think positive” we will not attract psychopaths, but that is BUNKUM…we don’t attract them, we are just VULNERABLE to them because we have empathy and “issues” and THEY SEEK us out just as a lion seeks the smallest sign of weakness or lameness in a herd of antelope to pick for their prey. Our weaknesses don’t mean we “attract them” it simply thinking negatively, they SEEK out people they think they can control. They are SKILLED at seeing any “weakness” in us the way a lion can pick out one “weaker” antelope in a herd of 10,000. Then they, like the lion, get in closer and try to camophlage themselves until they finally make the attack.

    I realize now that my “weakness” was my thinking that I could “fix” other people, and that I was RESPONSIBLE for other people’s feelings. If soemone was unhappy I was responsible for making them happy, and if someone was upset with me, I automatically assumed it was MY FAULT….after all, they told me it was.

    Now I am learning to set boundaries for how I allow people to treat me. I expect others to treat me as well as I treat them. Wow! What a concept. Not only treating others the way you would like them to treat you, but demanding they treat you as well. That was a very important insight. I will NOT allow others to treat me poorly, steal from me, lie to me, mooch off me, or feel they are ENTITLED to whatever they want from me no matter how they treat me. Yup! A whole nuther way of looking at relationships.

    • Oxy,
      setting boundaries could easily be called “the law of repulsion” :) because it repels spaths.
      Before going for the kill, spaths always test our boundaries. They are not interested in people with boundaries. When you immediately respond to boundary violations with stricter boundaries, you repel the spath. About the only other thing that repels spaths more than boundaries, is boredom and boring responses.

      Actually, I suppose we could even say that boundaries = boring because emotional boundaries means walking away from the drama from the very beginning.

      • Truthspeak

        OxD & Sky………………oh, yeah!!!!!

        I think that the things that made me attractive to spaths were absolutely accessible to them. My “vulnerabilities” were interpreted to be weaknesses to be exploited, rather than precious personality traits that made me human. My personal strengths were also challenges to be dismantled and destroyed. And, I never kept ANY of these “cards” close to my vest.

        So, I am about as boring as any human being can be whenever I’m meeting new people, or coming into contact with people who exhibit specific traits that rub my fur the wrong way. I’m all about boundaries and getting to know who I “WAS” so that I can actively rewire my thinking.

      • Truthy,
        Your vulnerabilities were and are definitely precious personality traits that make you human. They might also be weaknesses to a spath but that doesn’t mean we should get rid of our humanity. That is exactly their intent because they envy our humanity.

        We can still stay human as long as we remember to protect our emotional boundaries and learn how to recognize their FAKE emotions. It’s very gratifying that so much is being written, both online and in print, about recognizing abusive personalities. They always push and test boundaries. That is how we can recognize them. And there are other ways too, but what’s really important is to watch our own reactions and respect our gut instincts. Our feelings will warn us, we just have to respect those feelings.

        • Truthspeak

          Sky, this is one of the things that I’m processing in counseling therapy – embracing and guarding my vulnerabilities as GOOD things rather than weaknesses.

          They not only envy that aspect of our humanity, but they HATE it, too. They cannot have such a level of humanity, they can’t buy it, they can’t steal it, and they can’t bargain for it. But, what they CAN do is attempt to destroy whatever it is that they cannot and will not ever have, themselves.

          I’m paying so much more attention to people’s behaviors in relation to the words that come out of their mouths, instead of telling them what I NEED or what I WANT from another person. I’m very guarded about speaking about my opinions, feelings, or personal issues, anymore.

          The lesson has been that words are very. very cheap. People can speak words in a meaningful way without having ANY emotional connection to the syllables. “I will NEVER hurt you…..” is a screaming, flapping, waving Red Flag to me, finally. There is no way that someone can promise that they will “never” hurt another person – it happens by accident, all of the time. We say or do things UNINTENTIONALLY that result in hurting someone else’s feelings, and that is just part of being human. But, to promise that I will “never” do this to another person would be an outright lie – it’s impossible. Even Ghandi hurt other people’s feelings, unintentionally! So………..yeah……….

          I am becoming very attuned to my gut instincts, and it’s a real challenge for me to change my own behaviors to allow my instincts to work. It was my own behaviors and false beliefs that gave “bad people” the clues and direct indications about what they needed to mirror to me in order to cause me to believe that their words were genuine.

          You are 100% spot-on that abusive people push and test boundaries. Additionally, a person who isn’t “abusive (per se),” but has a hidden and dangerous agenda is going to push boundaries. Their behaviors ride the razor’s edge of abuse, and they worm their ways into their source targets’ boundaries via trial and error – and, in my personal situation, it was always ME that gave them the information that they needed that either confirmed that their tactics were going to be successful, or whether they needed to use another ploy.

          Absolutely – respecting our feelings and instincts is vital, and embracing our “vulnerabilities” as beautiful and precious pieces of our own humanity and GUARDING them is just as vital.

  6. […] you must be in contact with an ex-partner, keep in low contact (minimum communication) and use the Grey Rock method if this person has narcissistic (NPD) or antisocial (ASPD) […]

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