The Gray Rock method of dealing with psychopaths

Editor’s note: At the request of readers, the Lovefraud member “Skylar” has contributed the following article.

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 Skylar

507 Comments on "The Gray Rock method of dealing with psychopaths"

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  1. Jan7 says:

    Hi Elsa, read this Lovefraud post.

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    • elsa says:

      Thanks Jan 7
      I will try this! But in the first instance I am going to try and avoid him altogether, much easier than having to deal with at the moment.
      I do know enough about him to know when he is most likely to be out and about, liking the dog, popping to the shop for beer etc. The longer I can avoid him the better. I just know when we do meet it will be a chance meeting, which will make it all the harder.

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  2. Jan7 says:

    Your Welcome Elsa…lol about his dog like behavior. The more you read Elsa the more you will open your mind and will not even care if you see him. You will say ahh there is that evil sociopath and be able to walk away know that you smartly are educated on his evil ways.

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  3. Jan7 says:

    Elsa, being scared of a sociopath is exactly how you want to feel. These evil people are dangerous…your gut is now taking over and screaming “He is dangerous, steer clear”…always always listen to your gut!!

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  4. kaya48 says:

    You are right. Any interaction with my ex left me in a confused , dazed fog. And I started questioning myself again. I was not able to think straight. He put thoughts in my mind/head that were all wrong. Any interaction with him and I started blaming myself again. Only, and only when I removed myself out of this situation and after a long time of no contact, was I able to detach myself completely. Thats why it is so important in a divorce to let the attorneys work everything out. In one of our mediations I could tell how uncomfortable my ex was responding to my attorney. He seemed so fragile, little and powerless. The total opposite of what I knew him as. For the rest of the mediations we had different rooms , what was a lifesaver. I was so scared he could intimitate me again and accuse and blame. But he was not able to. My attorney put a stop to it and we were in control.
    The grey rock and no contact technique was excellent advice I got here on LF. If you don’t let them control you they are really powerless creatures.
    I promised my ex I would never talk to him for the rest of my life. It’s a promise I will keep.

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  5. kaya48 says:

    If you have a good attorney you can trust, I would definetely follow his/her advice. Attorney know the legal system from everyday court proceedings. I never thought I would fully trust a lawyer but I did. We had our little difficulties but at the end he came through for me. And this nightmare divirce changed my opinion about lawyers, judges and legal system. They can see and recognize a sociopath on my opinion. Even though my ex was playing the “cop cars” all the time, he was what it is. An abuser, liar and deceiver. And the court recognized it. The judge was “don’t waste my time with your stupid lies”. Maybe I was just fortunate but I was blessed, that’s for sure.
    Sueing , divorcing, taking a sociopath to court , you will need an experienced, aggressive, male attorney. That’s my experience . A therapist once told me “shop around until you find a lawyer who is a man and can recognize a sociopath , look for criminal defense attorneys “. She was right. I once talked to a femal lawyer and the first sentence out of her mouth was “honey , it happens all the time, when men get to midlife, they cheat, that’s just life, you can’t change that “. Did she really think I was going to hire her ??she was on his side starting at that consultation. No thanks. I kept looking and God gave me this lawyer who was not afraid to stand up to a cop.

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  6. sleepygirl_01 says:

    I have an ex who I instinctively did this with more than once. It was amusing to watch him become confused and upset when I refused to take part. I can imagine how it would work for the long term since they absolutely thrive on creating drama and become bored without it.

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  7. Elikelp says:

    This is an interesting over simplification. First of all, your assumption seems to be that every psychopath wants to kill people, most psychopaths are highly functional and never killed anyone. 10 percent of the people you meet or psycho- or sociopaths. More common than that are people with personality disorders or attachment disorders of various kinds that make them unable to easily love and trust in relationships.

    Some of these examples of grey rocking are so extreme as to be absurd. You not going to sell your car to keep someone from being interested in you. You’re giving way too much power to the psychopath in my personal opinion. My experience is that setting boundaries continuously and undramatically leads them to find somebody who has more permeable boundaries and they go off to greener pastures.

    It does get kind of annoying to hear you say slither over and over again; these people are human. Psychopaths make up a substantial percentage of the human population, and they are just as miserable about their psychology as we are, so it would be great to have you act as if they are human beings who are dangerous to us rather than some horrible monsters.

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  8. Simonsays says:

    Grey Rock seems so powerful, but I notice something since I’m ‘the dullest guy in the house’.
    With my new behaviour, I give reason for arguments to my narcistic partner (which they need to survive).
    “You used to be more kind, payed more attention to me in the past, etc …”
    How to deal with these (logic) remarks?

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    • slimone says:

      Grey Rock is not meant as an ongoing ‘daily’ strategy. It is a way of deflecting a disordered person when you meet them, or have unforeseen contact. Used on a daily basis it will only anger the person, and create more conflict. There is no real strategy for living with someone disordered. You will just continue to be abused and belittled.

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  9. elsa says:

    a few things hahappened since i was last here!
    1. i have began to recover!
    2. i have had some set backs
    3. I am more convinced he is a sociopath than ever!

    I found i was becoming consumed, thinking about him all the time, focussing on here instead of living my life! So, I opted out for bit!
    I am still sad – but he has still got to em a a few isolated occasions – the most awful being around three weeks ago when my dad took serioulsy ill. being asmall community he knew of course – so he contacted me, all sympathetic, said “hey, I am still your friend, kid” etc
    i was so upset about my dad thta i weakened and let him in
    i ahev just been aways for a week adn got back, had bneen home four days when i bumpedinto him in town. he looked angry. i said “hi” and he turned on me – said “I said I was your FRIEND – that doesnt include you hounding me!!
    i was pretty speechless – i am being honest here about my lack of contact – i was just egtting on with my daily life!! THIS is my problem – I feel like a prisoner in a small community
    BUT – he is irrelevant to me now! He is NOT my friend, he NEVER WAS (he hates me saying that to him!!)- but it is true! I dont wnat anything from him. he is an idiot! But still I am left feeling like I do while he swans aroudn with no feelings at all!
    i hope you are all doing well x

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    • claimmypower says:

      Elsa, good for you for beginning to recover. He sounds as baffling and inconsistent as my ex. One time, while he was living with me, he said “you just don’t know when people don’t want to be around you anymore.”. WTF! He and his kids were living at my house, not paying a dime, enjoying a big screen tv, pool, comfy beds. Did he think I was holding him prisoner??? Maybe he thought I should leave the house, not him. Probably did.

      Your ex is an idiot, but will never understand that. He’ll continue to go around town, oblivious to your feelings, saying whatever stupid thing comes across his mind. It is infuriating to see them get away with being mean, callous and insensitive. Wear your LF armor and let his stupid comments bounce right off you and back to him. If this experience has taught me one thing, it is not to absorb everything people say to me about me. There are mean, insensitive people and what they say is more about them than it is me.

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      • elsa says:

        I wish it didn’t make me sad. In some ways I feel strong but in other ways I just still fell so sad. I have had a number of relationships in my life. I can’t think of one where we haven’t stayed on good terms. But this on!e!!!! I just wanted things to be ok because we vr in such close proximity to each other. I have tried hard for a year to establish a normal , ok relationship so that when we meet thingsa re not awkward. But he appears hellbent on sabotaging that. I feel there is no way forward except to completely blank him. I don’t contact him anymore but it seems even meeting me in the street angers hm. I have become his punchbag!! I need to stop allowing it to happen!

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