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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



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

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  1. Pmjmommy says:

    My divorce won’t be done till Feb / march. Till then I live down the street from him. But I’m hoping he gets tired of ” playing Mennonite” or to move myself, soon after that.



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  2. Synergy says:

    Typo correction to my post about my relative’s sons: Regarding his master’s degree final video, it should read “before he graduated.” not “before her graduated.”



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  3. Synergy says:

    Annette PK there was no Reply button to your post on 061716, so here are my comments on that one: You wrote, “I was very trusting before I encountered my ex psychopath. I really didn’t think people like that really existed. Now I am very suspicious of anyone I know and some I have known for a long time – to the point of being a bit paranoid. I hope to find a balance of caution and vigilance that still allows me to have meaningful interactions with people. I have shut myself down from being close to anyone I don’t already know who is outside my little circle.” I can sure relate to that. Here’s a solution to protecting myself, right up front. Any man I got out with, after a very few interested/interesting date, I look right at him, and tell him in a somewhat cold, slow, and absolutely meaningful voice, “NEVER yell at me. Anyone who yells at me, I walk away, and never look back.” Those are the exact words, and the ONLY words I say about this. If he wants me to say more, I just say, “I’ve spent too many years of my life being yelled at, and yelling back. I don’t do that anymore.” If he wants a big discussion on that subject, or tries to engage me in one, maybe this not the right man for me. Fortunately, I have a 5-year relationship with a guy who understands me on this point. He has told me his previous 15-year relationship had a lot of strife and yelling. I’ve given him my spiel about yelling, twice, once early in our relationship, once more recently, because I wanted to be sure he remembers. Both times, he said, “I can’t imagine yelling at you. You don’t push my buttons.”

    I’ve also said this to some new women friends, and once put my promise into practice when one yelled at me. End of story! We’d been friends for 3 years, and no matter how long I know someone, one yelling spree, and I’m outa there.



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    • AnnettePK says:

      Thanks for sharing. I can’t imagine anyone arguing about being told yelling is unacceptable, and expecting to continue to date. I also hope that the guy you’re seeing wouldn’t yell at you (or anyone else) even if his buttons were being pushed by someone. You are not responsible for causing someone else to yell or not to yell at you.

      I would say it’s totally unacceptable for someone to yell at a friend, unless maybe a once in a lifetime extreme duress about another matter, like their house is on fire or something.

      Being yelled at wasn’t even on my radar – I never encountered that behavior until the psychopath. For me it was lying. When a relationship was getting serious I would tell a guy that honesty was very important to me and that lying was unacceptable. The honesty warning worked well with my late husband who was a very good man in every way. He got it.

      The pathological lying psychopath heard me when we were dating (when he was targeting and manipulating me), but it meant nothing to him.

      I didn’t recognize the red flags with the spath. I doubted my own perception and gave him the benefit of the doubt. I’ve since learned to look for patterns of behavior. For example one lie might be a mistake, a second may be a misunderstanding, but a third lie is a pattern of behavior – the person is a liar.

      Good to hear that you’re in a stable and happy relationship with an understanding guy. That is a blessing.



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      • Synergy says:

        Hi again, AnnetePK. Thank you for your nice comment. You wrote: “You are not responsible for causing someone else to yell or not to yell at you. ” Heh, that’s how I was brought up — “you made me mad,” “That makes me SO MAD!!!” That was my dad, who was not a spath at all but did likely have clinical depression and maybe bipolar disorder. His dx was anxiety disorder, and the pdoc re/x librium (not lithium, librium) which did not do anything at all to help me with the same pdoc rx/d it for me. This was in the 1950s. There was one thing that really helped my dad — it was outpatient group therapy. Mother said he got much easier to live with when he was in a group, but he never stayed in the group for long.

        So being yelled at, and yelling back was what I thought everyone did! I just though other people hid it better than I did. I was the only member of the family who dared to disagree with my dad on anything at all. He was ALWAYS RIGHT, at least that was his belief. Well, it was pretty easy for him to believe that at home, since at work that was true. He was, for 25 years, a corporation lawyer; then he was an administrative law judge — what he said on his judge job WAS THE LAST WORD. And he had a lot of power as a corporate lawyer, I suspect. So not only did I grow up angry and combative, most of my several marriages were that way, too. Even after I went to an abused female partner/wife group, I still got into one more relationship like that. It was about 6 years ago. Not that long ago, really.



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  4. Pmjmommy says:

    ANNETTEPK and a Synergy,

    Yes, there are great men here who would take hr. Under their wings. I would never let a stranger with my son alone. Actually, where we are now, jrs best friend is our lead minister and lives next door. He had 10 sons, all remained in the church, one is a minister too.

    If you met this guy, you would know why God gave him 10 sons.

    He is the he glue keeping me here, if I take Jr. To another state, he would miss his dad and this minister greatly. He often says this guy is a better dad then his own and wish he can call him “dad”..

    One of my fears is not getting such a great adult male figure, like the one he has.



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  5. one/joy_step_at_a_time says:

    Man, this is an old post! I fondly remember practicing grey rock on lovefraud when the spath trolls came strolling in.

    I want to say Merry Christmas and send best wishes to all who all are here, or have been here in the past.

    May we all find safety from spaths, security in our own hearts, perceptions and values, and love in our lives.

    all the best for 2017!

    OneJoy



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  6. Sunnygal says:

    This is helpful in some situations.



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  7. Sunny says:

    This type of situation can happen in an apt building . sociopath lives next door and wants to talk or attention you ignore him. He gets agressive . it happens , happened to me more than once.
    the end results , was devastating to me.



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  8. Sunnygal says:

    Sunny- Did you complain to the manager? A friend had this and the manager and other tenants were helpful.



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    • Sunny says:

      yes, the person who was the mgr would not talk “unless the immediate housing coordinator was right there ” so i was not allowed to have confidentiality.
      the housing coordinator was mad cause her boss heard about her lack of concern , and many other things.
      she got the tenants against me , many of them lying (they believed one sided story ) I ended up leaving. I sued him won, the facility heard about it put in complaint on my nursing license, SIX months after i left, to avoid being sued, and smeared me , telling the BON I was mentally incompetant, (the mgt at facility and BON are all mormons ) and railraoded me, ordered psych evals, who did not agree with them but they have power and I lost my license due to this my career of 25 years, my income, my house, car, and reputation. (the housing coordinator was fired as I brought in her criminal record,didnt matter , the mission creeps , stick together, and money is top priority.



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