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

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

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  1. Aiko says:

    So today I texted my ex to ask how our dog was doing. It ofcourse ended up being an argument where he brought on false accusations about me. Which I tried to retort.

    Finally I just mirrored him and told him I was so sad and it is too hard to talk to him and not to contact me unless he has something nice to say.

    Like a miracle he stopped texting me!

    I am trying to get custody of the dog he is about to be evicted “my fault” ofcourse so I am worried about the dog.

    I will try the gray rock method every time we interact. I have began to look at him like a puzzle I know there is a proper way to engage with him, just trying to find how.

    I wish the dog and I weren’t so strongly bonded so I could just be done completely. I feel like I have to atleast attempt to have him.

    I plan on using the it’s too hard to talk next time a convo starts going downhill.

    Ugh stupid sociopaths

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    • stronginthecity says:

      Hi Aiko,
      I am sorry to hear about your dog.
      It’s unfortunate that you have to contact him regarding that.
      Ok, here’s the thing.
      Any contact with him will just make him feel more in control of you.
      It does not matter what the subject is.
      His thinking is how important he is that he can make you upset.
      They feed off of that.
      Don’t expect him to care about how you feel.
      They are not wired like that.
      Unfortunately there is not a proper way to engage.
      Any contact at all is going to allow him to push your buttons and have more power.
      If he is getting evicted(NOT YOUR FAULT) hopefully he will just give you the dog.

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    • Christy85234 says:

      Hi Aiko – I hope your doing well & hanging in there. I just found this website today, as I too am just getting through this horrific nightmare.
      One of the biggest things I found that helped was NOT SHOWING EMOTION. If the psychopath see’s emotion, it adds fuel to the fire.
      I was able to manipulator & ESCAPE my predator/ significant other, by being nice and sweet.
      I let him know how much I cared about him and that I had so many chores and financial struggles I needed to deal with. (psycho’s don’t want any involvement with burdens).
      He insisted we continue to be CLOSE FRIENDS, and I said “O – Ok”. If he tries to message me, I wait a day or two to respond & just KEEP IT CORDIAL & AVOID ANSWERING ANY of his Questions . . . I’ve essentially learned to be CHARMING!
      RE; THE DOG . . . . PLEASE PLEASE don’t let him know how much the dog means to you, he will only torture you more.
      You can however, state that what a “financial struggle” it would be for you. YOu know him best – TAKE THE UPPER HAND & GOod LUCK!

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    • Christy85234 says:

      GOOD LUCK with everything . . . I will be praying for you & your dog to get though this safely <3

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  2. notcrazyyet says:

    This is excellent!! I’ve been reading for days because I know that the socio would retaliate no matter how I tried to end it even resorting to the use of his Faustians. I will employ this immediately.

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  3. Lisa says:

    I’ve had success with this method and absolutely adore the idea of the grey rock. For me it came about when my x spath decided to “punish” me with an absolute “silent treatment”. To him, he was trying to elicit anger (as we unfortunately share 3 children-and owes 6 figures in support). Also, he had started seeing someone (YAY!) and thought it would exponentially compound my jealousy. I had already been attempting the “don’t engage” mindset to the best of my ability, but with children it became cumbersome.
    He had commanded that all communication be via email-not text. I complied with minimal communication that showed no emotion. I wrote to him as if i were writing a legal document. But I added a continual phrase that I have kept for the past 8 months. I let him know that I was praying for his contentment and peace. Drama suggests anything but contentment or peace of mind.
    Ultimately, he ended up looking terribly irresponsible to his own legal counsel, to whom I conveyed his communication issues in passing. I know his attorney had heard all about me and how i caused his life to fail. She looked rather confused in the pretrial settlement conference. I had mentioned to my attorney that I’d prefer to be in separate rooms, but once he caught wind of it, he did the rest-becoming insistent the separation occur. I remained calm, knowing it would take very little “excitement” for her to jump on his bandwagon, insisting I was hysterical. He lost credibility with his own counsel-but the outcome is still in the works. So grey rock is a necessity, as written above, in your everyday life, because we’ve already been slandered- and- by a charismatic, convincing source-our x spath.
    Finally, the issue of him putting the children in the “hot seat’ by asking them to convey messages continued to be a sticking point. In my case, my ex had disappeared after our separation because he ended up in mandatory drug rehab to protect his medical license. It was a good facility. I know this because they didn’t buy his “woe is me-blame everyone else” tactic and required 13 months before being released. (spaths don’t get better; they likely gave up or he learned the correct lingo). My children witnessed his abuse of me, but when he had been gone for over a year, they hoped it was going to make a difference. Remember, it is only natural for the children of spaths to love their parent. It’s a part of our dna to love our parents, so for me it had become difficult. I couldn’t remind them overtly, or I was ‘failing to move on’. (He placed his manipulative spin on virtually anything I said to the children and was adept at squeezing info from them.) I realized that I couldn’t say anything malicious sounding to them. I would explain his “type of controlling love” but took the blame from him and placed it on his parents, their parents before them, etc. It was kind of like avoiding coming right out and saying someone’s spouse or family member had issues, despite having heard them complain. He was theirs and it was ok for them to complain about him, but I no longer had that right-he was my ex, not theirs.
    During the recent “silent spell” I tried to tell them it was just hard for him because he had a new “friend” and the transition was unsettling. Ultimately, and with alot of attentive, hands on love, I’ve been able to empower them (an on going process) by being a grey rock where he was concerned. If he was going to make the kids think I was hysterical and “at fault”, i had to be the grey rock in order to show them-thru my actions and his ongoing slander-just what was what.

    That, and I pray and meditate alot, even for him to be content and at peace. 😉

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  4. boatergirlx15 says:

    I was married to a psychopath for about 8 years and it was the scariest, lonliest and saddest time of my life. It’s been almost 5 years since I’ve been out of it and looking back, I can’t believe I stayed for so long. He was charming, sweet and knew exactly what to tell me to when we dated. The minute(and I mean minute!) we got married, he changed. Our wedding was a disaster. He started a fight and we didn’t even sleep in the same house. We didn’t have sex on our honeymoon and it went on from there. It’s like he kept sex from me to discipline me. But he would watch porn all day. He said the porn was easy and had no emotions. I felt like I was going crazy throughout our whole marriage. He would always turn things around on me and he was so smart that it made me wonder if it really was me. Very manipulative. It took me dating again and getting remarried to realize that he was just one of a kind. Not all men are like that. When our son was around 12 years old, he began insisting our son should be taking steroids to become a better athlete. My ex took steroids, so he wanted our son to be just like him. He was even meaner on steroids and ended up breaking my nose at one point. After he would physically abuse me, he would tell me that he wouldn’t have to do that if I would just listen to him. After we got divorced, he started pushing steroids on my son again, which at this point he was about 14 years old. My son told me about it and said he didn’t want to do it, but my ex had already bought them and had a calandar with the dates he was going to inject him with them. I called the cops and CPS was also notified. My ex was a Lieutenant at a prison and should’ve lost his job for this. He manipulated his way through it though and his Administration never did anything about it. As you all know, I could go on and on for probably years about the things I dealt with that no one will ever understand unless they’ve been with a person like this. I read this article a couple years ago in search for help in dealing with him with our son. It helped me tremendously. I stopped reacting to his harsh commments and evilness and would reply back with “ok” to almost anything and everything. Once I started doing this, my life got much easier. Thank you so much for your help. Out of all the things I read and counseling I went through, this article helped me the very most. Thank you again!

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  5. becomingstrong says:

    After finally putting a name to my husband’s affliction two weeks ago, sociopathy, I’ve really been in shock. The shock stems from my own personal “insanity” at putting up with him all these years, thinking irrationally that things would change, or if he stopped drinking the violent rages would end (I now realize he drank so he would go into violent rages. He was mean and manipulative with or without the alcohol), or I would learn how to cope with his behavior, or that he loved his family but just couldn’t help himself. Boy was I off the mark. Last year I filed for divorce. I have filed for divorce before a few years ago but the divorce became so awful, and his lies and false allegations he eluded to wanting to make against me if I continued with the divorce all became too much and I backed down (sounds like a reason to stay married, marriage by coercion, all the while he would say publicly he wanted to be divorced. So when I went back he could tell people falsely that I begged him back, didn’t he tell everyone he wanted a divorce and isn’t true that he never told me he wanted to stay married). So last year I had enough (each year of our marriage he would up the ante-it was absolutely untenable). So I left town for a week while I assessed what I needed to do. When I returned I secured several accounts to tie me over while I waited for temporary orders,knowing he used money as a weapon, I maneuvered and performed nothing short of a miracle and sent my two older children to live with him-oh the drama (these children wanted to live with him and show signs of his affliction as well and didn’t mind that he abused me since, “he didn’t treat me [them] that way”, put my house up for sale, and filed. Well things really got worse and I felt myself backing down [being worn down is a better way to put it]. So I decided that I would take the emotion out of my dealings with him (I guess I just knew at this point to start playing the dead mouse). I thought let’s just get this divorce over with it. Playing the dead mouse worked for a while until our settlement conference. He sat there complaining that he had to take responsibility for two children (even though I had all the children all summer and full time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 months a year, year after year, for 16 years). When it became clear to him that this was it we were going to be divorced, he backed away from the table. The whole thing lasted 30 minutes. He tells people he made me an offer I just didn’t accept it because I’m too greedy and that he can’t wait to be divorced. Now things are just getting worse, he has started in with his false allegations. Now the problem with his false allegations is that I have a license to protect. I will have to not only defend myself but turn the tables around and set the record straight. Which is what I’ve done. I’ve started to expose him with his own voice and words (of course nothing I say will amount to a hill of beans since he has maligned me and used his powers of manipulation and charm with his work for years. Only his own words can expose him). Now he is raging foaming at the mouth mad. The problem for him is that the judge might order a psychological evaluation of him. He has decided to miss two hearings, blow off discovery and not turn it in and is slowly eroding his image in front of the court. Now in his demented mind court won’t affect his medical license-wrong, because “that’s there and work is here mentality”. I have tried everything and nothing seems to work to get him off me and get my divorce. I am placed in a position where in order to protect my license and myself I will have to expose him there’s no two ways about it.

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  6. becomingstrong says:

    Thank you Donna,

    Yes he does engage bad behavior but not having understanding of the monster that he was, just made him worse. He fed off me for years and now he thinks he is invincible which of course he is not and it will be his downfall. What he is doing now is likened to beating in public and he doesn’t the sense to see it.

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  7. becomingstrong says:

    Thank you Donna,

    Yes he does engage in bad behavior but not having an understanding of the monster that he was, just made him worse. He fed off me for years and now he thinks he is invincible which of course he is not and it will be his downfall. What he is doing now is likened to beating me in public and he doesn’t have the sense to see it.

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  8. ms_smith_j says:

    I have stopped all contact as of X-mas eve. Our last go round, I left him this time. Cut it off. Yet I am not feeling the empowerment I did.
    I am new to the gray rock method. I am a month into no contact. It hasn’t stopped him from calling me at least every other night, plus contacting me through any channel of social media.. Which I do NOT open or reply. He recently just got arrested, last thursday actually. His ‘neighbor friend’ wrote me for my phone number on FB, he wanted to contact me but didn’t have it memorized. I find him incapable of having ‘non-sexual relationships with females, all are a rouse to get something he wants from them. I refused to give it out, said we’re broken up for good reason & he needed to work on himself & me on myself. I was sorry he was in that position, there’s nothing I could do for him. He knew I’d move mountains for him. I know he has many other ‘supplies’ to rely on, of which, I am seriously worried they will come do something crazy to me, my car or my house, because of course, this is ‘my fault’ he violated his probation because I was to hard to deal with so he moved into a spot of his own. I’m not sure if NO contact now in this situation is the right move. I am worried that he is going to think this is ‘all my fault’, therefore tell these crazies that I am the reason he is there & have them after me & mine. Maybe I should have some minimal contact while he is in, before sentencing, so that he isn’t mad, seeking some sort of revenge? I do not want to, but I do not want him to make up some story to convince himself & others that I am the reason he is there. HE IS! Idk how long it will take for sentencing to occur. They have to move him to another county, as of right now, he doesn’t know that I have investigated to find out why he is there. I do NOT think he’ll be getting out, unless his supplies can get tax money, but if that does happen they’ll still revoke his probation, violate him on a felony charge & hell be sent for a few years, that I know. So do I do the gray method? Do I just keep the No contact & watch my back? I am not finding relief. I am so full of anxiety & panic. I am still having a hard time believing how incapable they are of love or emotions. I just do not know what to do. Thank you all!

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    • AnnettePK says:

      You might complete this threat assessment to get some idea of how dangerous he might be to you. https://www.mosaicmethod.com/
      Your intuition is probably right.

      You might consider maintaining no contact, and reserve the grey rock technique in case he shows up unexpectedly somewhere where you are so that you are forced into some kind of interaction with him. If he does manage to interact with you, a grey rock reaction would be better than an emotional dramatic reaction.

      Keep in mind that whatever you say to his acquaintances about him will probably get back to him, so you might consider not saying anything – just briefly say you are moving on and prefer not to talk about him.

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  9. Frustratedmom says:

    How do you grey rock when you have a child and they continuously defy the court order.

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