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 the Gray Rock Method.

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 © 2012-2014 Skylar

  195 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 😛

  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) […]

  7. This is so hard for me. It is as if something takes over my entire being and I don’t have time or ability to direct my thoughts to a rational place, and instead, I am overcome with a driving compulsion to make it known to them, that they aren’t fooling me. Perhaps it is due to feeling stripped of all my power, as a result of being tricked by P-1 and P-2. It’s like self preservation, or something to that affect, when I let them know they aren’t fooling me. Cognitively, I know it is the wrong approach, and in turn, I want it to stop, but I dont know how to control it. It feels like an impulsive compulsion, if such a thing exists. I do know that I am verbally impulsive, in general, but I continue to hold out hope, that I can in fact, resolve the need to let tricksters know that they aren’t fooling me.

    • Hi Shane, I hear you! When we feel so “stripped” of power, we grab at straws to get the power back. The trick is taking the REAL power back, which involves self-control and doesn’t really feel powerful at the time. The trouble with letting them know they haven’t tricked us is that they don’t care a whit about that. If they can keep us responding — playing into their game — then they HAVE tricked us! Silence and lack of any emotional response is the only thing they have no weapons against. You wouldn’t want to give weapons to your enemies, right? I’m so glad I finally got it through my thick skull that I was giving weapons to my enemy, and so I shut up. Those spaths are very persistent, though. It’s been 10 years and he still tries to contact me from time to time. But ‘”This phone number is no longer in service”! Good luck!

      • Thank you for that, LDMAH ! I’ve saved your post to my desktop (I hope you don’t mind). I can use it as an affirmation of sorts. A most profound way to view it. Cheers!

    • Truthspeak

      Shane, I’m going to throw this out there for contemplation: that compulsion to tell “those people” all about themselves is (for me) a frantic effort to make them understand that I “see” what they are and that they should feel some sense of guilt and Do Something to make amends.

      Once I gained acceptance that these people simply **do not care,** gray rock became a breeze to practice. When I type that they don’t care, there can be NO other interpretation. It’s not that they just need help to understand, or anything that complex. They literally DO NOT CARE. We have a difficult time trying to process this fact because we cannot imagine “not caring” about another person, or persons.

      On, there is a gut-wrenching article about “Charity Lee” that thoroughly examines a psychopath’s level of wanton disregard and how deeply and completely cognitive dissonance can run.

      We just don’t exist in the same universe – thank Gawd!

      • Thank you, Truthspeak! I know this and accepted it long, ago, yet, for some reason, I still have this NEED to tell them that they are not fooling me. I have to devise an effective strategy to utilize when the situation presents itself. I will have a look at the link you’ve posted, and I truly appreciate it! x

        • Shane, I completely understand your NEED to “tell’ em” and I practiced that “need” until I almost went crazy, I kept trying to find WORDS to reach them…and of course, Truthy is absolutely RIGHT…they do NOT CARE…none, zip, nada, NO caring at all, in fact, when they hurt us and we let them know how badly they hurt us they go CHA-CHING!!!!! It is empowering to them to know that their bullets hit the mark and that we are bleeding profusely and in pain.

          In reading the drivel on line that they post…to sniff them out, I look for INCONSISTENCIES in their posting. It is the same with people who are not posting on line, but are in our lives. They may “confess” to having been hateful, etc in the past, but NOW they are reforming, and the previous victim of their attacks is now attacking them back (“unfairly” of course! LOL) and when confronted about their past behavior they will say “oh, it really wasn’t all that bad” I wasn’t a full fledged abuser, and besides I have repented and c hanged, and they will try for the PITY PLOY…you have it all wrong, you are abusing me now.

          Even when we do disengage, and tell them so…they come back and come back trying to suck us back into their conversations and manipulations…the MOST POWERFUL WEAPON WE HAVE AGAINST THEM IS NC (or failing that, Gray Rock) just do NOT feed them. No discussions about how they need to change or wise up, or what they ahve done or are doing JUST SILENCE.

          One time a friend of mine had a boy friend who was abusive and he hated me, and I treated him like a POTTED PLANT….if we were in the same room I did not acknowledge his presence any more than I would have a potted plant. I didn’t even let my body language acknowledge when he was talking to me. IT DROVE HIM CRAZY!!!! He was furious that I would not interact with him. She eventually got away from that jerk, but while she was interacting with him (he was also her land lord) I wasn’t going to let him drive me away from her, isolate her from her friends, and it made him furious, so he kept trying to get me to talk to him or even acknowledge he was talking to me. NOPE!!!!

          ANY attention, even negative attention, is still FOOD to them. It feeds them and makes them want MORE. NC or GRAY ROCK is very painful to them because they can’t manipulate us if we don’t respond.

          So yea, Shane we MUST MAKE OURSELVES go against our natural inclination to tell’em off….and with time and practice it will get easier. I promise.

          • Thank you, oxdrover! I do know you are right and I agree with everything you’ve stated, but I need to figure out how not act on the compulsion. It is incredibly powerful. I think it makes me feel like they haven’t taken anything from me, and perhaps that is why I do it. I know full well that they don’t care, but that never plays into it for me.

          • Jill aka Darwinsmom

            I like your example of being in the same room with someone toxic and simply ignoring them, to carry on with the conversation and interaction with the non-toxic people.

          • Truthspeak

            Jill, years ago, I was consulting with a holistic practitioner. I was full of anxiety, etc., and very sick. Well, this guy addressed this anxiety about other people in a very interesting manner.

            When confronted with toxic individuals, this guy suggested that I view them as a cardboard cutout, literally. He suggested that the cutouts had no features, or colors – just a gray bit of cardboard cut out in the shape of a person that had no personal connection to me, on any level.

            Now, this seemed as “far out” as “staying in the now,” and I had NO idea of how vital this practice would become. Gray rock is the only reasonable method of dealing with people that we have no option to avoid. In the workplace, or even in our own family structures, there will be toxic people around us for our entire lives. And, this doesn’t mean that we are obligated to be predated. We have the option of treating these people like they are simply rocks or cardboard cutouts – whatever works. But, giving them NOTHING of ourselves leaves them NOTHING to work with.

            Shunning, ignoring, gray rock, cardboard cutout…….whatever works, but they aren’t worthy or deserving of our attention or energy.

        • oh, crikey, I didnt intend to click submit. my curser slipped. Anyway, I am just thinking that, I do this in defense of other people, in addition to myself. For instance, I was at one time, utilizing a forum for Autism related things, and there were folks there, that were extremely manipulative and, although their manipulative tactics were directed towards someone else, I HAD TO let the perpetrator know that I saw through the BS.

          • Truthspeak

            Shane, OxD typed it spot-on.

            Even negative attention (I know what you are and what you’re doing) is still attention. If you get a chance to read the article about “Charity Lee,” on, you’ll be able to clearly observe the psychopath’s manipulations as a means to re-murder, over and over. Even negative attention creates a physical response in “these people” that actually compares to s-exual arousal in its intensity. Yeah……sounds crazy, but it’s a world in which I have no place.

  8. Ah, thank you, Truthspeak. I think if I condition myself to think of the action I take, as still being a means of satisfaction for them, I may find success. I think this is the reason why LDMAH’s post feels like a plausible way for me to go about thinking of it, as well, and in turn, could help me refrain from blowing up the perps intention. I will try to put everyone’s suggestions into action. Or, at least keep them at the forefront of my mind…

    • Shane, believe me when I say I KNOW the compulsion to want to tell’em off! Call’em out!!!! But our REAL POWER over them to actually injure their nacissistic mind set is to IGNORE THEM.

      I[‘m sure you have seen on blogs (or maybe in real life too) people who will come back adn say “You’ve got it all wrong about me, I’m a pitiful needy person and you can’t kick me when I’m down.” LOL They are using the pity ploy on us to try to make us feel sorry for them. And in the past, I have fallen for the Pity ploy or the “tell’em off” tactic but NC and Gray rock are MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE in showing them YOUR POWER.

      “Shunning” is used as a powerful tool in some religious orders when a member fails to behave in an acceptable manner. In prison “solitary” confinement is the same tactic…it deprives the offender of all their entertainment of interaction with other people…and people are herd animals, we want contact with other people as part of our physical and mental make up. It is bred into our bones.

      So that’s the thing we must work on is using the tools that WORK against them. “Solitary” and “shunning” and refusal to allow them to manipulate us into more contact with them. You can do it Shane.

      So you know I think this whole “episode” has been a good learning experience for us all.

      • Indeed! Thank you!


        going forward!

        • Truthspeak

          Shane, it’s also a good learning experience to “spot the tells.”

          Spotting the tells and refusing to engage is not being “mean” or a reflection of disrespect for ALL human beings. We are allowed to pick and choose those people that will be in our inner circle. If we understand that we don’t need another person’s approval and that we each have everything that we need, already in side us, we don’t have to allow ourselves to FEEL obligated to explain or defend ourselves – OR, to give any part of our own personal feelings or beliefs away.

          Now, it takes practice, but it does become easier and more effective. It’s not a act of vengeance, punishment, or malice. It’s simply a choice to protect ourselves from toxic people. 🙂

  9. You have to have a strong mind when doing that because they will try to get you to doubt yourself, with any information they may have gathered on you over the years.. They will package it in their most powerful delivery and send er a flying. Just let it fly on by without notice.

    • frontlinegirl, you are right, they will try to wiggle in on us but we just have to duck and keep on walking when they sling stuff at us. ANY action on our part with these people is going to give them ammunition.

  10. Ive been with my spath for a while, ( still not out) but have learned to cope with it by implementing a few of your techniques, and some of my own. Ive got my own little collection of Hodgepodge strategies that seem to work now. But Ive learned they are ever so inventive and are good at developing new ways to mess with you. One you know how they operate you can almost predict them.
    I have to thank Skyler and the people that have contributed to this site, as it has helped educate me on what I was dealing with. 🙂

  11. […] The Gray Rock Method of Dealing with Psychopaths Note from Barb Roberts, added 6 Aug 2013 — the author of the article above goes by the name of Skylar on her current blog; we have changed the link at her request so it now goes to her current blog, […]

  12. The Danger Of Longterm Use Of This Method

    I recently discovered your work and must say I am quite impressed. Thank you for the thoughtful insights. I have been using what you call “the gray rock” method for most of my life. I was not consciously applying this method in as much as using it as fluidly as anyone does when they back on a bike–you just ride. While I agree that it is more of a tactic than a strategy, I unfortunately used it more liberally than I should have. Here is a brief synopsis:

    There is a large amount of psychopathy present in my family (my dad, a great deal in my mother and especially in her mother). I left home as a teenager and with the exception of the occasional call to psycho-granny, I went no contact for over 10 years. I was not aware of this at the time, but looking back all of the pretty girls I dated and fell in love with all had something in common, they all fell unusually high on the narc/spath spectrum. I suppose I missed the regular abuse from the family. These unhealthy attraction to empty narcs was in retrospect the first and perhaps most severe of the unintended consequence of using this method as a strategy rather than a temporary tactic. 

    Continuing on, I used this method effectively for a few decades with much success (or so I thought) –I used to regularly speak with my grandmother by phone and she being a narc squared would always enjoy the slandering of her children and others mixed in with a passive aggressive put down or comment towards me to feed off of my reactions (her supply). I instinctively knew to avoid issues that really mattered, and so I used decoys to pretend that certain things really bothered me while minimizing my reactions to everything else. This method may have worked if at the time I was fully aware of her malignant psychopathy, and I properly it, but I did not. 

    Eventually, my lack of appropriate emotional response (from her perspective) may have alerted her to the protection mechanism I was applying (it really is true, spaths lack insight and really don’t understand any values other than suppositions they make from others reactions –they are empty vessels). So, she turns up the volume, repeats the insults more often and more overtly. These benign issues became cancerous through the act of repetition itself as well as the extended duration I used Gray Rock. Eventually, I suffered a break and this had profound effects in my life. 

    Key Takeaway,
    Use the gray rock method sparingly and only if absolutely necessary.  Don’t use as a lifelong strategy –you might make the same mistake I made a rationalize that you can tame these unnameable spath beasts –you can’t. Certain animals should remain in the wild. 

  13. as a small point of interest, and perhaps in line with what thearrival has recently posted, i was here over a year ago posting about my intention to use gray rock with my spath, which in my case was elective not required.

    as a result, i ended up getting sucked back in to a highly abusive relationship, from which i only escaped earlier this year. i lost a lot materially and aged about ten years physically, but i did gain a lot of perspective. i am now in full NC and have accepted that there is no negotiating with terrorists.

    i appreciate sites like this, because it took me a while to accept the reality of who–what–i was dealing with, but education has been absolutely key to both leaving and staying away. i learned a LOT about myself and my own inner demons through him, and i am now much better equipped to spot these freaks in the wild. and i’ve finally learned to have somewhat better boundaries. i don’t give out so much personal information so quickly, and when someone starts “lovebombing” me (usually starts with showering me with undue compliments), i walk away without looking back. NEVER AGAIN.

  14. oh – sorry for the double posting – to be clear i’m not blaming gray rock for my getting sucked back in. i was in unrequired contact with my ex-spath, and it led me to great vulnerability to manipulation. i still didn’t understand at that point what i was dealing with. the article on communication ( here is spot on with why.

    for people who have no choice, e.g. shared custody or other legal obligations, gray rock is the only viable method i know, but i agree with thearrival; if you have any choice in the matter whatever, your safest route is full No Contact.

    In my case, I moved after being forced to a DV shelter, changed my phone number, and any email he may send me gets deleted (not sent to trash-deleted before i ever see it). He is highly untechnical, rarely uses email, and is usually homeless (the pity ploy that hooked me initially to try to “rescue” him) so I’m not particularly concerned he will forge a new email address to try to contact me. If he does, i’ll have to change it, but that becomes much more complicated for me than changing my phone number as it involved such an enormous number of updates i may not even catch them all, so i’m avoiding it for now.

    the only good thing that came out of going back to him, is, it helped resolve my cognitive dissonance, and the final vicious discard gave me the impetus to completely cut him out of my life.

  15. Guys I think the Gray Rock should be used SPARINGLY and ONLY in instances where you are FORCED to have contact with these people, like when you have children with an Spath and the court orders visitation so you have to have a face to face with SPATH from time to time….NC I think is the ONLY permanent and safe method to use with the psychopaths and Narcissists, but if you are forced into contact with these people then Gray Rock is the only alternative way to deal with them.

    They will TRY to provoke you and if you use Gray Rock they don’t get the response they want, and they may well up the ante when you don’t respond like they want and expect.

    As a behavioral observer, and student of behavior, in animals as well as in humans. When a person or an animal has done X behavior and received a “reward” of any kind…and then they don’t get the reward, they will INCREASE THE BEHAVIOR for a while, all the while thinking they can EVENTUALLY get a response.

    This is exhibited in “break up violence” when an abuser is dumped by his/her love interest and ups the violence, maybe even killing the victim.

    NC, no response, no contact, is the best way to go IF AT ALL POSSIBLE because they get “no reward” by not being able to speak to you, to say anything to you, or get ANY response. Even a “fark you!” is a response and therefore a reward to them.

    Patrick Carnes book and Gavin DeBecker’s books point this out in great detail and the whys and wherefores so we need to keep on reading, studying, and realize that THESE PEOPLE NEVER CHANGE…AND THE ONLY WAY WE CAN PROTECT OURSELVES IS GET AWAY FROM THEM.

    Recently a friend of our family who has 7 kids with the P and the 3 youngest are forced by the court to visit him (though the older of the 3 at 14 yrs old despises her sperm donor, the court still forces her to go) The older 4 kids recognize him for what he is.

    Recently he applied to the court for custody of the youngest 3, and his older kids testified against him, and the JUDGE called him a “jerk” which made his ex wife and her attorney almost choke! LOL His mother is apparently just like him as well.

    The two youngest are still “bought” by him with gifts and so on, and may eventually recognize him for what he is, or may not, who knows, they are still very young.

    • Truthfully going full NC, while being very hard emotionally (especially while reeling from the discard), felt wonderful when it was done. I finally felt like I had control over my own life again. He had been stalking me after the discard the first time I refused to take his call, but not picking up wasn’t enough for my own mental health. I had to absolutely block him on every level. He’s even blocked on facebook, which I rarely use anyway.

      I bumped into my exspath outside a store a couple of months later. I refused eye contact, turned and walked away across the street while he followed me, screaming about why wouldn’t I talk to him. It took everything I had to ignore him and the ridiculous accusations (lies) he was leveling at me, but I managed to do it. I’m pretty sure he was with his boss, too. No matter how he tries to smear me, he’s the one who looks like the nutcase now, as it should be.

      I thought I’d be really upset, but after talking to some people, I realized it was a huge triumph. And it showed me very directly how much it was driving him crazy. It was and is the most empowering, healing thing I could do for my post-spath recovery.

      I know two other people who have not gone full NC. Both are hurting. One has the option and can’t bring herself to do it, just like I was last year. She is in hell on earth, literally, in pain and depression. She knows who and what he is, but can’t let go. The other is in a situation where she simply can’t go NC due to legitimate legal and business circumstances. She is struggling, but not as much. I sent her the link to this article and she liked it. Hopefully it will help, but I don’t envy either of them.

      I guess we have to go through what we have to go through. I knew very well I needed to stay away from him, but the nature of the trauma bond is very difficult to resist. And there’s an article on this site somewhere that they like to play on our strengths as well as our weaknesses. My ego combined with denial to convince me I could “handle” his manipulations and remain intact. And in the face of all evidence to the contrary, I wanted to believe he could love me or did on some level.

      I’m not advising this, because he literally almost killed me, but going back this last time was a curative experience. My denial was shattered by it. I had to accept the truth, or die. Now I know he cannot love. He only wants to destroy, especially anyone who seems to have something he does not (any kind of success, self-respect, integrity). I have never met anyone who just rolled over boundaries like he did, or turn the truth on its tail, accusing me of everything he was doing, telling me I was selfish because I wouldn’t give in to his every demand. At times I thought he was completely insane. Noone could possibly lack so much insight or perspective. Now I know he was simply attempting to manipulate me through the 180 tactic, among other things, and that I fed him so much ammunition using “I” statements. What an eye-opener!

  16. Opi, congratulation on finally escaping from the spath. Be aware though, that cog-diss can come back after a certain amount of time. I’m recently going through some of it myself as a remember my life with my ex-spath. It seems impossible that someone who is so sick, would not want to change, yet that’s the ultimate truth.

    It really helps that I spent some time with his friend, (a slightly less dangerous spath) and studied him. Though that study I was able to reinforce the fact that spaths don’t change, though they do pretend to. It doesn’t even matter if you tell them that you know they are spaths. They don’t care. Nothing less than a brain transplant will do the trick.

    • thanks for the warning skylar. i’ve wondered if i might get some CD down the road. some news of him or running into someone he cheated with or whatever triggering it, or just a bad day. i found out recently he left the state, which was my fondest wish, and was surprised it actually brought up some pain. but when that happened i figured it was necessary removal of traces of the TB, so i just let myself feel it. i try to stay conscious of this stuff by staying on sites like yours because as i start feeling better, it’s easy to forget the emotional truths i learned.

      i also make it a habit to “target practice” on new spaths. now that i’m armed with knowledge, i’m finding many of them easy to spot and i do get a feeling of empowerment when i get that light going off in my head. not all of them are full-blown spaths, and i’m not kidding myself that i can spot them all, but a lot of behaviors i didn’t realize were part of the pattern, i can easily see now. walk away, do not feed the path! you are right, there is no “getting through” to them. my ex taught me that. not only do they not care, they aren’t capable of caring.

      hence my credo: NEVER AGAIN

  17. thearrival, I’m sorry you experienced that abuse at the hands of your family. In my opinion, abuse from the FOO is even more painful and damaging than abuse from a significant other. Furthermore, the cog-diss from our continued association with the spathy family members can create irreparable harm. We have to reconcile our own behavior with the truth about why we keep going back for more abuse. The truth is, everyone wishes they had a loving family and it’s tempting to keep going back to figure out how to get it.

    Oxdrover is right, gray rock is not meant to be a way of life. It’s not meant to make life with a spath bearable. It’s meant to make the spath go away without ever suspecting that you were on to their need for drama. Where people fail is when they use gray rock in a defiant way, refusing to react when a reaction is warranted.
    If you suddenly start using a stony face, the spath is going to be able to tell what you’re doing. They will just ramp up the drama until you scream, “uncle”.

    The actual application of gray rock can take many forms. Sometimes it means that you laugh when the spath has tripped you up. Other times it means that you act dumb, as if you didn’t notice that the all points bulletin on the news was for a description of a car that matches your spath’s car exactly. It can mean that you talk incessantly — about the weather or the different styles of flip flops that are available at walmart right now.

    Gray rock doesn’t work if the spath doesn’t have any options for escaping the boredom that you create. Remember, boredom provokes anxiety in a spath and they will do whatever they can to escape it. So if they don’t have an outlet, they will attack the source of their anxiety. That’s why it’s so dangerous to try to stay with a spath while gray rocking them at the same time.

    The most important part of the article is the explanation about how and why it works. Understanding the spath mindset is key.

  18. Truthspeak

    Thearrival, I’m sorry that you had bad experiences and I agree that using “Gray Rock” serves targets best in a legally required contact – co-parenting, for instance. Even in situations where the psychopath is a coworker or employer, there are several options available, including “Gray Rock.”

    Skylar pointed out that FOO abuse causes the greatest damage and I absolutely agree that family dysfunction creates a morass of emotional and behavioral issues that typically go, unchecked, through a person’s lifetime until such time as they hit rock bottom, on every level, or they continue pretending a acting out the role(s) that was assigned to them, early on.

    For my purposes, going full NO Contact is has been the only way that I have successfully rescued myself from remaining in very toxic and unhealthy relationships, and also from entering into potentially new and abusive situations. To do this with any measure of success, I chose to engage in strong counseling therapy with a trauma specialist. I am still learning, still rewiring my thinking, and paying very close attention to MY behaviors in relationship to others’ behaviors. For instance, I began to be aware of my aggression tendencies when I was faced with a potentially threatening or fearful situation. The aggression was a cover for fear, and I’ve been paying VERY close attention to this for the past 2 years. My FOO taught me that, if I appeared tough and aggressive, people MIGHT not approach me to harm me. Of course, this was a false perception and only caused me mountains of issues as my lifetime progressed with me carrying all of the childhood and adult baggage that I had accumulated over the years.

    “Gray Rock” works very well for me because I use it as a management technique for myself, rather than to manage spaths or toxic individuals. By that, I mean that I have learned to keep my mouth shut, play my cards close to my proverbial vest, and give NOTHING of myself away (like, personal history) unless (and, until) a person has EARNED my trust. Even then, I still am very private, now, whereas I used to believe that presenting myself as an open book was the “right thing to do.” I had never understood or accepted that “bad people” actually exist outside of prison walls, walk amongst us, and typically NEVER experience legal consequences for their actions.

    We can never truly know what goes on inside the head of a spath – we can’t. We can only surmise and hypothesize. We ***know*** that they do not have a conscience, remorse, or empathy, but we cannot really know WHY. Genetic? Sure, that plays a factor. Learned? Most definitely. Both? You bet. But………I cannot change or “help” these people. Nobody can. They can’t even help themselves. They know that their actions are inappropriate, at the very least, but they do not have the capacity to care. So………I don’t worry so much about THEM as I do about my own behaviors, tells, and responses to their games and ploys. I’m learning as I go, and the more I learn, the more confidence I’m building. If that makes any sense…. 🙂

    • Truthspeak

      With regard to “Gray Rock” and going “No Contact,” without a doubt, NC is the best possible option – the further away from the manipulations and crazy-making behaviors I got, the better able I was to actually separate my emotions from the matters at hand, so to speak. This didn’t mean that I didn’t “feel” any emotions. I certainly did! But, the difference was that I did not apply MY emotions to a factual situation. I could process how I felt in a private and healthy manner instead of becoming unglued and melting down over someone else’s disorders.

      Separating the feelings from the facts takes practice, and this is how “Gray Rock” works without being something that the spath can actually USE. I’m not making myself boring or ignoring them as a result of my anger and frustration, anymore. I’m just accessing my empathy and compassion and turning them down to just about NIL so that the interaction is simply a matter of course without any emotional involvement from me. Some folks have attempted “Gray Rock” as a means to PUNISH the spath or as a passive means to display their anger, and this is where they ran into trouble. I’ve done the same thing, myself. THEN, I realized that “Gray Rock” is not about punishing or “getting back” at a spath. It’s simply a management tool for required interactions.

      NC is absolutely the best and healthiest way of coping with a spath. They do not care what harm they’ve caused, and the more they’re reminded about it, the more entertainment it is for them to watch people taking an emotional plunge down the rabbit hole. For them, the reaction to seeing a target reduced to tears or screaming fits is almost the same as experiencing a physical 0rgasm. Literally. They crave power, and seeing (hearing, or reading) results of their efforts to ruin is the closest thing that they will ever feel to being “okay.” To harm and know the results of that harm is an absolute rush.

  19. […] Contact” and “Gray Rock” are two of your greatest strengths in your arsenal, post abusive […]

  20. […] Last edited by JohnA; Today at 08:47 PM. JohnA is online now   Quote Quick Reply post #44 of 44 (permalink) Old Today, 09:57 PM Uptown Forum Supporter     Join Date: Mar 2010 Posts: 2,449 Re: Confused Quote: Originally Posted by JohnA View Post @Uptown read something about it on @sixty-eight thread. Sorry, John, I mistakenly thought you were intending to describe it. Yes, Sixty-Eight describes it in her 12/2/15 post. For folks having to co-parent with untreated BPDers, the usual advice for minimizing the inevitable conflicts is to behave very very boring. The idea is to avoid contributing to the drama that BPDers need to "validate" their false self image of being "The Victim." In an online article posted in 2012, a blogger called "Skylar" decided to coin a phrase (i.e., "The Gray Rock Method") for this well-known approach. She advocates it as one way of warding off the attacks of an abuser. It is particularly effective when a victim cannot avoid contact with the abuser because they both share custody of children. The idea is to be so boring that nothing you say will be memorable and thus won't feed the attention needs of a psychopath or the validation needs of a narcissist or BPDer. Toward that end, you become a "gray rock." You are so bland that you exhibit an emotionless response (e.g., "hmm, I guess that gives me something interesting to think about") when an abuser jabs. Additional examples of this approach are provided in Skylar's blog article. […]

  21. […] Today I revisited one of those forums where a friend of mine just posted a link to an article The Gray Rock method of dealing with psychopaths, here’s an […]

  22. […] (as the Grey Rock method suggests) need constant stimulation, and are crudely entertained by the emotional response they […]

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