Going “Gray Rock” with a Narcissist

gray rock Narcissists

If you can’t go “No Contact” with a Narcissist because you have children with them, or you are somehow unable to get them out of your life for whatever reason,  you can implement a technique called “Gray Rock”. Gray Rock is where you become as exciting and interesting as, well,  a gray rock. The goal is to blend into the background, and become the most boring, unreactive person they’ve ever met. The reason being is that if you can quit being a source of supply for their drama and attention, they will eventually leave you alone.

How to go gray rock?

Do not respond with any emotion when they try and provoke you. Keep in mind that because they have no values–they have no empathy and no remorse.  They only know what you value by the level of your reaction–so to beat them at their game and don’t react. Practice your non-reactions with a trusted friend or in the mirror, or go over different things you know they might say to incite you–and then practice being nonreactive.  Because Narcissists thrive on chaos and drama, they will eventually become disinterested and turn their attentions elsewhere if they can’t get a rise out of you.

In order to go Gray Rock, when you must engage with the Narcissist, only talk about boring things: your laundry, getting your oil changed, doing your taxes. Do not talk about anything that will make them jealous or in any way encourages them to cause drama. Do not talk about how great things are going for you, or any accomplishments you or your children are having, or how great your life is now that they aren’t in it. Do not talk about upcoming vacations, current boyfriends, sports tournaments the kids are in, weddings or anything that is remotely interesting. When they try and push your buttons (and they will), don’t react. Don’t try and get them to see how hurtful their behavior was (and is). Take all the blame for the relationship, and make them think it’s not them it’s you. Doing this takes away their ability to argue and create drama and chaos. As far as you are concerned there is nothing interesting about you or your children, and if they blame you for everything just agree. Smile and nod and get away from them.

It is so, so, so hard to do. I get it. I really do. However the only two ways to get them out of your life are to either go no contact or go Gray Rock. And the sooner you can get them out of your life, the sooner you can start to heal.

Stay strong. This isn’t your fault. You aren’t crazy. You aren’t over-reacting. And you aren’t alone.  Looking for some support, or need to vent about the Narcissist in your life?  Join us on Facebook at Narcissist Support!

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Dana

I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse.

My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.

Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.

It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
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About Dana 278 Articles
I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse. My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life. Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics. It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.

36 Comments

  1. N and I have 4 lovely children together. After 10 years I have realised I have been in denial about him for the past 5. I just kept believing it was me and I was selfish. However I should be grateful he has put a roof over my head and let me drive his car every day.

    I Am at the stages where he is hoovering at the moment and doing things he normally wouldn’t do such as “would you and the kids like to go to the park today”
    “Do you want to money for that course you have been asking me to pay for for 1 year”

    It’s just so hard because when I finally say no this is enough he seems to be the man of my dreams but I know it’s all fake and it is gut reaching now I can see the truth but he doesn’t care about the kids or me and I need to face that all I have ever been is a nice handbag when he wants it. If his friends are out and about even though it’s my birthday and we were meant to go out for dinner he will just not come home from work and stay out until 6am the next morning and doesn’t answer my calls and if I start an argument it’s “oh your going to ruin a whole weekend arguing about it are you” it’s always my fault.

    This Gray rock article has just confirmed what I have always deep down knew. Stay neutral and give him no energy to feed off and no reacting be civil to him anda ist keep my mood normal.

    I am just nervous because at some point shit is going to him the fan and he will start getting nasty and I just have to stay strong and not bite back don’t give him any attention or show I care when really inside I am a mess

  2. The first few months are going to be the hardest. Really, the best thing you can do right now is keep educating yourself about Narcissistic behavior and what to expect, and to see him for what he really is. The more you learn, the easier it is to detach emotionally and not stay caught up in their game.

    Sounds like he is hoovering for sure. Because you are feeling so vulnerable right now, and because you have to have some contact with him due to the kids, I highly recommend you make up some reason as to why you can’t talk to him–tell him you need your space or something, and have the kids talk to him without going thru you, and don’t text, or really limit texting him. He is trying to appeal to your pity and emotions.

    My 02 is to go along with his pity hoover as far as just agreeing that yes it is sad. Don’t argue. Don’t get defensive. Don’t bring up anything. Don’t engage if at all possible. If his pity hoover doesn’t work, odds are he’ll move to something that’s more provoking. He may blame you for things. He may find someone else. He may promise change. Prepare yourself emotionally for this. Narcissists play to win, and cause as much pain along the way as possible. Again, prepare yourself for this. You can’t listen to his words, you can only go based off of his actions. If he promises change, then wait 6 months and see where he’s at. (If he’s a Narc, odds are he won’t stay in therapy past 3 sessions–if he even goes.)

    I don’t know the dynamic of your marriage, but if you feel he’s been abusive, and that the situation is toxic for you and the kids, then I support you in wanting to divorce. I know it’s not easy coming to that conclusion.

    (((hugs))) to you.

    Start identifying who all is in your support system, and then start leaning on them. You can do this. You’ve lived with a Narc for 10 years–everything from here on out should be easier than that!

  3. Thanks for the information, Dana. I was unfortunately swept into a typical narcissistic pattern last year, and I wish I’d found your website sooner. Now, well past the painful stage, and no longer involved, I’ve found that Gray Rock for his text messages works better for me than “no contact.” He only attempts to communicate by text–earlier attempts by phone I never picked up/responded to. I have tried No Contact with texts, but it seemed to invoke the hoover’s opinion that I’m still hopelessly in love and tormented by him, whereas gray rock is, well, “Have a nice day!” Gray rock responses to his texts work for me because I don’t see him and am no longer affected by him at all (not even the slightest bit, hooray). It may not work for someone else. but thank you for offering this method to those who MUST stay in touch with the narcissist. because it is effective–no drama, no feeding.

  4. Bingo mega-detachment technique…and does this technique work with a divorced ex-husband at his son’s wedding, where I will be forced to be with his entire family without anyone but my son, the groom and his new bride as personal support for me? Fortunately I have not had to deal with this man since my son graduated, but now, 20 years later I have to see him again.

  5. Hi Carla,

    A couple of things:

    – Gray rock rocks! 🙂 It works wonders on anyone you are trying to limit contact with, even if they aren’t a Narcissist. You don’t have to come across as rude, you can do this technique in a way to where you just aren’t that responsive. Just give brief, consise, emotionly neutral answers.

    – Can you bring a friend to the wedding as your “plus one”? I vote that this whole thing would be much better off if you don’t go alone if you can avoid it. I think him seeing you sitting alone, and feeling awkward is going to make the whole situation intensly uncomfortable for you and probably your son. Bring someone you know, let them know the situation ahead of time as to what they are walking into, and then have a BLAST! Go into this whole thing looking to have a great time–dancing and laughing and loving life–the whole nine! I’m talking, taking your shoes off and showing some of your best dance moves kinda fun. Seriously.

    – If things get too heated or uncomfortable for you, you can always say you don’t feel good (which would be the truth) and go home early.

    – And one last random thought for you…I’m not sure if you drink alcohol or not, but I’d strongly recommend not drinking while you are there, just so you can keep your wits, emotions, and if you are like me, your mouth under control.

    …Keep us posted on how this goes. <3

  6. Hi,
    I just wanted to say that I have found all this information extremely useful. i recently left my abusive husband. I hesitate to call him a narcissist because he doesn’t fit the mold exactly but I suspect he is pretty close. But maybe you can help me figure that out.

    I cannot remember a time when it was all good all the time. Hes a recovering alcoholic and before he quit drinking I always thought that if he would just quit drinking things would be better and he wouldnt be so mean. I was wrong. He hasnt drank a drop in 4 years but he is the same abusive person he was before just not at the same level. He is cruel. I spent years being called vicious names in front of the kids. Hes hit me, thrown things at me, criticized everything I do. Hes been abusive to the kids as well. I finally got up the courage to leave but only because he basically forced me to leave. After a huge argument he told me he wanted a divorce and wanted me to pack my shit and leave. Then for days after harassed me about finding a place to go. I even came home a couple times to find my clothes outside. I finally found a place and moved out one day while he was at work. I took only my children and what I could fit in the car. It only took 3 days of me being gone for him to start texting me constantly telling me how sorry he is and how wrong he was and that he knows he mistreated me and that God has shown him his sins and he is going to change, and he hasn’t let up. Its been three weeks and I feel like im going crazy. I have told him I wasn’t coming home and he reverts back to berating me and blaming me. Saying that I broke up the kids home and I have the opportunity to come home and he doesn’t know why I am being so stubborn. And it goes on and on. I want to get along with him but when I am nice it seems to encourage him even more. I am so confused. Where do I even begin to get over this..

  7. Hi there,

    Forget the word Narcissist. The term doesn’t matter as much as the behaviors it points to. What you are experiencing is a lot of very problematic behaviors from a man who is manipulative, destructive, and potentially dangerous. I would encourage you to join the support group as I think you will find a lot of healing and insight from others who have “been there, done that”: http://www.NarcissistSupport.com/forum (((Hugs))) to you. You can heal from this. You really can. <3

  8. Hi again, Dana

    Wow ~ I just realized been using the “grey rock ” technique quite a lot these past six years.

    I have found that it is also a very effective treatment for “flying monkeys”.
    They do give up, (and walk away shaking their heads at your stupidity), when you don’t respond 😉

    Thank you for thd article!

  9. I am in a 6 year relationship with a covert narcissist. I’ve finally seen the light but now have an almost 3 year old son with him. We are not married but he is on my sons birth certificate so he has legal parental rights as far as I know. I have no documentation of any abuse as there has been only 2 incidents of anything physical. I am leaving in about a week and am trying to prepare myself for the aftermath. All I am concerned with is how I can protect my son from his dad. He is a bully and my boy is not even 3 yet so he doesn’t have any understanding of this. I’m looking for any advice in ways to protect my son because I know it’s most dangerous for us after we leave. Any help would be welcome. I’m not on Facebook so unfortunately I cannot join that support group

  10. Good for you for making the decision to leave. I’m sure that’s not an easy decision to make. You ask a big question with how to protect your son from his father. …I would encourage you to join the support group: http://www.NarcissistSupport.com/forum so that we can all give you the support and feedback you are needing at this point in your life. <3

  11. Really interesting term for not trying to show any emotion. But as you correctly indicate, it’s very difficult to do, and I have tried very hard. In my case, my ex-wife verbally abused me, threatened and harassed me, made several false allegations against me and my new family, alienated me from my oldest child, and manipulated several counselors to support her. The stress has been brutal. It seems that at every turn I’ve had to defend myself from her disgusting lies and stories. It does not help that my ex is a rabbi – a person that everyone assumes is trustworthy but has acted just the opposite behind the scenes. I will concentrate on the “grey rock” technique to deflect the abuse.

  12. Oh wow, yes, I can imagine it would be very hard to stay calm and collected when a person is causing so much destruction and no one sees it but you. …You are not alone in this. I think this is an added burden that many men have to carry, as society has a hard time understanding that men can be victims–especially when women come across as kind and compassionate. I would encourage you to consider joining the support group if you haven’t already: http://www.NarcissistSupport.com/forum

  13. Do you recommend this technique for those of who work with their narc ex? I’m now assuming that I was discarded by my BF just after my birthday, which was about 6 weeks ago. I haven’t tried to contact him, and so far have managed not to run into him at work (he’s on the floor above me). But we do sometimes attend the same meetings, and there is a program we’re both involved in (and only us) that he had insisted being involved with during the love-bombing phase, of course, so I know eventually I’ll have to work with and speak with him.

  14. hi there Dana -love your post,i have been with a narcissist all my life and just found out what he is about 2 years a go,Of course i keep thinking things will change but they have just gotten worse, i have 3 adult children and he trashes me to them and stayes days with them and than comes back like nothing is wrong and im the one that has to deal with them being mad at me,i want to end things but dont know if one can be to old to star over-any advice would help,thank you

  15. Anyone can start over at any age, but keep in mind that nothing is easy. If you were to stay it will difficult, but if you were to leave that will be difficult too. The question is more about what kind of difficulties do you want to deal with in this next chapter of your life?

    Only you can make this decision. I would encourage you to join the support group, and perhaps there we can be a sounding board for you to bounce ideas off of: http://www.NarcissistSupport.com/forum (((hugs))) to you.

  16. Nope. This is going to sound really ignorant, but when I first started this blog, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I found all of my images on Pinterest. I assumed if they were up there, then they were public use. I’ve been meaning to switch out a lot of my older images for awhile, as I didn’t realize this was a big no-no. …I have since taken down the image, and will be replacing the rest of the older (non bought from stock images sites) here this week.

  17. I encourage people use this technique when they are around anyone they consider to be toxic. The less emotionally engaged you are with these kinds of people, the better. Going “gray rock” is a great way to remain polite, if you need to keep communication open, but it’s a way to also keep your “emotional shields” up to any of their attempts at provoking you. (((hugs)))

  18. Ahem…how do you possibly do this on FB? That is one real reason I hated FB and refuse to ever be on it. The whole world, just about, knows your business. You are as public as anything on FB, even with protections that don’t really work.
    I would love to join your narcissist meetings on FB, but I don’t do FB…and many people wish they had never gotten involved with it.

  19. I hear ya. The problem is that LOTS of people will only use Facebook–so I have three support groups now because of the whole privacy concern. I have a support group here: http://www.NarcissistSupport.com/forum A “closed” group on Facebook, which means that others can see you are in the group, but they can’t see what you post–unless they join, and then I have a “secret” group which your Facebook friends can’t see that you are in. …If you join the support group here, you are the most privacy, as you can create a “screen name” that is a made up name so no one can tell it’s you. I hope that helps clarify everything. It was quite the challenge to get everything set up to meet as many safety needs as possible!

  20. I love the idea of being the gray rock with N parents. I have been doing that most of the time, but I still lose it if they lie or hound me to do something they want me to do.

    I do have a question though. What if N parents want you to do something that you are absolutely and totally against for your future child? So far I have avoided the situation by bypassing the question, but sooner or later I have to face it, and I cannot and will not do what they want me to do for my child.
    It’s a religious/cultural act, and they believe if I do not do this, I am being a very irresponsible parent. I know when the time comes, it is going to be a huge argument as they will take my denial very personally. They also can go behind my back and get it done secretly without my knowledge – So I am very afraid that if I don’t stand my ground forcefully they will do what they want to do.

  21. I just wanted to say what a good job your doing. I’m also a big researcher but have never come across the flying monkeys or going grey rock, but I am so pleased I have now after coming across your site. I’m going grey rock from this moment on! I’ll keep you posted. Thank you 🙂

  22. Thank you for the compliment! Yes, much of this terminology is from support groups and other victims–but it really is accurate in describing things. Going gray rock is a great technique for handing difficult people of any degree. I wish I’d known about it years ago! Good luck with everything, and yes–keep me posted! 🙂

  23. All you can do is to make your boundary known, and let them know that you do not share the same beliefs as them–that your decision to not have a certain religious rite or ritual performed is not you trying to punish them, it’s just you having different beliefs. I’d also bring it up to them that you expect them to respect your boundaries–but knowing that they probably won’t. If they won’t, then you’ll have to think about what you steps you need to take (possibly moving farther away, or limiting how often, or for how long you see them, etc.) so they don’t continue to undermine your parenting when that time comes. It’s not easy to set boundaries, but it’s much harder to live a life out of guilt and obligation.

  24. When speaking about narcissist pretty much they all say “him” I think I am in a narcissist relationship but “she” says it was my x wife that was one !!!! But the story I read before reading grey rock part is this relationship to a tea, it’s always my fault and even when it’s not I have never had a sorry or any kind of remorse……. pls help
    Yours hopefully
    ME

  25. I am so happy that I found this article. I am currently in a situation with my ex husband who has sole custody of my children and uses them to try and get at me as much as possible. He ended up with custody because after many many years of emotional abuse, I developed a mental illness and could not longer deal with the abuse. The only way that I believed the abuse would end is if I die and so I tried to commit suicide twice and was eventually diagnosed with bipolar. I soon divorced him after seeking treatment, going to therapy and learning about what actually was happening to me. This has proved to be difficult in dealing with him because he is now in charge and in control of everything involving my children and I can’t escape him because of his control in my dealings with my children. I have recently needed to go no contact with him once again , but this is now making it very difficult to be involved in my children’s life. I know what he trying to do all over again and I can’t let that happen to me. I know eventually I will need to interact with him again. I will know for the future how to handle having to deal with him. GRAY ROCK. He is very persistent and doesn’t let up. This is going to be an ongoing battle. SMH

  26. If you haven’t already checked out the support group, I encourage you to do so: http://www.NarcissistSupport.com/forum there are a lot of great people in there, and it’s really a great place to vent if (and when) you need to.

    …Emotionally abusive people can really be incredibly damaging, and difficult to deal with. You aren’t alone in this–and developing bipolar/bipolar symptoms (and/or PTSD) is very common.

    (((hugs))) to you

  27. I am one year separated from a narc( I think they are), however two kids and a custody battle it’s not nice.
    There’s been a smear campaign via social media agAinst me but I have never reacted, my car has been vandalised I didn’t react I got a new one, totally fabricated things that happened or that I did, plays with kids heads, the list goes on. When does this nonsense actually stop??? Im exhausted and pretty sure the kids will be too.

  28. These people are known for being “persistent.” All any of us can do is to anticipate their behavior and the behavior of their flying monkeys as much as possible. So in your situation, this might look something like installing hidden motion sensor cameras outside to watch your car and your front and back doors; keeping voice mails, texts, and emails so you have a paper trail in case you need to go back to court. In addition, talking to the kids (and leaving communication open for them to talk to you) is going to be huge in trying to counteract your ex’s manipulations on them.

    I’d also recommend you consider joining the support group: http://www.NarcissistSupport.com/forum (or any other support groups) as it’s nice to have a place to vent and get feedback. (((hugs)))

  29. Great advice, ive noticed my N has adapted to the grey rock by using what I call ‘cornering’, N pounces when your cornered (driving, in public,with kids, cooking, under stress/flat tire/death/financial ..).

  30. Great term! Yes, they do a lot of “cornering” —which makes sense since everything is a cat and mouse game to them.

  31. Hi Dana: I know u always tell us that a narcissist never changes. I want to still have hope, but need to know what u think. Everything u say is so about me. I didn’t even know what a narcissist was until I found ur site and I don’t even know how I got there! I think it just found me. I believe it to be God thing
    My question to u now is: if a person dies for 3 minutes and comes back to life not remembering and is in disbelief of all his bad doings, is there narcissism still in him? He had a terrible childhood and his mother was awful, awful to him. If narcissism is learned, who teaches him. How can u tell where bad narcissist behavior begins, overlaps and, or ends with chronic drug addict. There is always lying, cheating and stealing plus womanizing in both instances. I remember all the bad things and still want him back. Am I sick in the head? If my family and friends knew I have contact with him, they would disown me. I start intensive psychotherapy next week with a specialist. The nine years spent with him have damaged me and in all areas of my life. I can tell u this but why can’t I tell myself. I have a story to tell. My own version of a lifetime movie. Please let me know where I can share my story. A letter to myself.
    Thank u Flower🌺

  32. I’ve been doing the Gray Rock for 10 years now and just didn’t have a name for it. Thanks! A recent situation with our grown daughter has inspired my ex to try some of his old tricks with me. I stay absolutely blank and say, “I’ll discuss it with (our daughter), but I’m not going to discuss it with you.” Recently, he kept pushing, and I kept repeating that same phrase. He finally shouted, “You’re unbelievable!”,and stormed off into his house. Haha! I certainly am “unbelievable”, but in a good way,thank you very much.
    Thank you for this helpful technique, and for validating it for me.

  33. “In order to go Gray Rock, when you must engage with the Narcissist, only talk about boring things: your laundry, getting your oil changed, doing your taxes.”

    I have a Narc boarder and he is always asking about money and prying about my finances and my friends. YOU NEVER DISCUSS YOUR FINANCES WITH A PREDATOR.

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