Grey Rock

Do You Sabotage Yourself With the Gray Rock Method?

If you’ve been reading about Narcissism, whether in regards to a romantic partner or business colleague, you’ve no doubt come across the term “Gray Rock Method”.

According to a contributor named Skylar on [1],

“The Gray Rock Method is primarily a way of encouraging a narcissist, psychopath, stalker or other emotionally unbalanced person, to lose interest in you.  It differs from No Contact in that you don’t blatantly try to avoid contact with the disordered individual.  Instead, you allow contact but only give boring, monotonous responses so that the mentally-unwell person must go elsewhere to get their need for drama gratified.

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.”

It’s important to emphasize again that you should never explain to a narcissist or psychopath that you are implementing the Gray Rock Method because they will only use that information to continue manipulating and dominating you— hence why Skylar mentions that you should “act it out”.

“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.  This method strikes at the heart of the psychopath’s motivation:  to avoid boredom.”

The Gray Rock Method has been used successfully in many cases of workplace narcissism and co-parenting with the disordered.  However, these are two of the rare occasions when Gray Rock should be used.  It should not be used in cases where shared custody is not an issue or the disordered partner doesn’t work with the victim, yet I see this happen periodically with clients and repeatedly on recovery forums. Below, I explain the basics of Gray Rock and how it is often used as a shoo-in for No Response.

Misapplications of Gray Rock and the Narcissistic Vortex

Implemented in its true form, Gray Rock enables you to communicate with the Narcissist without being sucked into the Narcissistic Vortex.  In cases of shared custody, it allows you to make rational decisions about whether or not the narcissist’s emails or voice mails truly need a response or if their communications are a trap.  A good rule of thumb is to only communicate using yes, no, and specific dates and times.

If necessary, insist on using a monitored email system, such as Our Family Wizard, which is a wonderful co-parenting platform that allows you to communicate about your children without being harassed by your disordered Ex.  Includes email, expense logs, and an electronic journal so you can keep detailed documentation of missed visitations and other things which may prove advantageous in the event you have to go to court.

You can further avoid falling into the Narcissistic Vortex by not responding to any jabs that are made regarding your parenting style or lifestyle choices.  A good example of the Vortex is their mentioning something about your dealings with the children or the fact that you’ve begun dating again, and you subsequently sending them email tsunamis explaining your actions or becoming ensued in a long texting crusade–and before you know it, hours of your day have been wasted.

The self-sabotaging version of Gray Rock

Frequently, abuse victims consider themselves as having employed the Gray Rock method when really they’ve gone No Response, neither of which should be utilized except for the two situations previously mentioned (which is when Modified or Low Contact is required).  Often, this is a self-sabotaging behavior that victims use in order to leave the door open for the narcissist, hoping there might be that one time the narcissist has The Divine Epiphany and makes lasting improvements as a partner.

Subconsciously or deliberately, Gray Rock is regularly used as a shoo-in for No Response and used interchangeably with No Contact.  If the Narcissist is able to get in touch with you by phone, cell, email, and/or social media, this is No Response, and it’s one of the primary reasons why victims of narcissistic abuse remain stuck in their abusive relationships far beyond practical limits.

If you are not married and trying to end a relationship with a Narcissist, then the best strategy is to have no contact with him or her. You end the relationship cold-turkey, as if giving up an addiction.  No Contact means the narcissist or psychopath can’t get in touch with you.  Those who implement No Contact in its true form have a much higher chance of detaching, healing, and realizing happiness.

On the other hand, No Response means you allow them to call, text, or email, and you decide whether or not to respond.  Those who implement No Response usually stay enmeshed in the hypnotic influence of the Narcissistic Vortex, remaining stuck in dysfunctional patterns with the Narcissist years after the so-called “end” of the relationship.  Typically, this leads to existing as a secondary source of supply and being the fall back when relationship dramas arise with the narcissist’s other partners.  (And yes, it’s possible he or she may try to call from a blocked or unknown number, but that isn’t a valid reason to leave lines of communication open).

 What to do:  No Contact is hard because it’s accepting that the relationship over.  It means admitting it wasn’t based on love, but on control and manipulation.  Accept that the Narcissist will not change.  Give up trying to find potential loopholes in the narcissist’s behaviors in hopes of finding ways the relationship could have worked or what you could have done differently to make them wake up and love you.

If you do share custody or work with the Narcissist, then Gray Rock is your best line of attack.  It allows you to stop being manipulated into taking responsibility for things that weren’t your fault to begin with.

Learning how to effectively deal with a narcissist, especially in cases of divorce and custody issues, can’t be accomplished by reading just this one article. It takes practice, research, and a good attorney.  Don’t try to do this alone and definitely don’t put things off until the last minute.   


[1] The Gray Rock method of dealing with psychopaths. Retrieved April 30, 2018, from

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  1. Pingback: Ignoring a Narcissist? You’re Probably Doing It Wrong - Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed

  2. Anonymous

    Trying to break free of the psychological cage is the hardest thing I am finally taking small.steps to somehow free myself. There is no easy way. I know it will be a road so difficult to make through. Married 30years 4 children. I worked my butt off giving them a voice a normal life. All while he worked. Our days were free. His presence changes everything. I will be happy again. I should have listened to my father. He knew. I did not. My father has long been gone from this world. As is my mother. But I know that was love. This monster is not

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Anon, wishing you all the best in your recovery. You and your sweet children deserve to be happy.

      Kim XoXo

  3. Anonymous

    Update. 2018 he was found to have broken the court order and fined. I also took out a non molestation order as well so he is only allowed to talk to me about contact arrangements, except for emergencies, one day a week via our family wizard. He still threatens to take me back to court but has failed to do so, falling back on trying to bully me via email and stretching the concept of contact arrangement discussions and emergencies to ridiculous.lengths. I don’t respond to messages that fall into bullying but they are all logged and will be used when I renew the non molestation order. in my new place with the non molestation order and court backing I can now treat his “threats” and “outrage” as an annoying buzzing noise.

  4. Claue Francois

    Not sure if anyone could give me some advice? I’m in an extreme situation, currently dealing with narc mother and under strict house arrest, living in a small apartment and have to see her and talk everyday, my only other option is jail.. how can I cope? I have no family or friends left since my arrest, everyones gone.. I’ve numbed myself out completely but she still wants supply.. anyone? Thnx

  5. Pingback: How to Help Your Children When Co-Parenting with a Narcissist - Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed

  6. Kay

    I have two boys with my ex who are both under 18 so they still have regular contact with the ex. I have insisted on Our Family Wizard and he still uses the system to send long wordy “opinions” on how I am maltreating the kids and abusing them by daring to disagree with something he said. I am currently having to take him back to court.. Again… To make him comply with the original court order as he keeps changing the rules as as he only gets “yes/no I do/do not agree” type answers he seems to think that if he can’t get the answer he wants or agreement from me he will change things anyway. He has forced me by holding the kids at his house so I have to collect rather than him bringing them home after his weekends – as per the court order. I do not deliberately try and annoy him but he always finds something I “do wrong”. The other day he complained that I knocked on the door rather than using the doorbell, this was when I was being forced to collect from his house. Whilst he still gets reports from the kids it is hard to be true grey rock as they are aware that I am upset by things daddy has said or done. I just want him to leave me alone. He has a new girlfriend who has two kids who live with them in a nice new house, why he wastes so much time and energy thinking of ways to get at me I cannot comprehend.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Kay,

      Thank you for stopping by and for commenting. I can relate to how frustrating it can be as I share a son with my Ex, as well. In my own experience, I documented everything in-depth and indeed went back to court to change the court order. If your Ex isn’t following the court order, applying for a modification to your custody arrangement may be the best way to get before a Judge so you can point out all of your Ex’s violations of the original order. Make sure you have documented dates, violations, his holding your children and forcing you to go to his home, and every single thing that will support your request for modification. (Just let him complain that you knocked instead of using the doorbell to the Judge. He will look like a complete idiot).

      Regarding his claims and lengthy diatribes that you’re “abusing the kids”, he will have to present hard evidence to this. If he has none, then it will be very difficult for him to make a case.

      Make sure you bring your attorney with you, and in the meantime, it may help to visit your local domestic abuse center and see if they can help you with the emotional abuse you’re enduring. It was one of the best things I did in my own case.

      Wishing you the best,


  7. R

    Grey Rocking never worked for me. The advice of ‘be boring’ doesn’t apply in my household (two Narc parents, elderly I am their carer and daughter)

    My parents will argue to the point of nasty insults and screaming in each other’s face for disagreeing about what colour shirt a gameshow host wore in 1964. They argue over the weather. They argue over adverts on television, over squirrels eating the bird feed in the garden, they argue over whether the fish have been fed that day (yes they have, no they haven’t, repeat ad nauseam).

    Grey Rocking works with certain types of abuse, but when the abuse changes depending on your response, like in my situation, all it does is give them new bait. If I flip out and respond, I feed the fire. If I choose to remain calm and talk I get called ‘half soaked’ and that I ‘don’t care about anything’. If I ignore entirely or just grunt I get ‘you are so ignorant’. Cannot win.

    1. Lynn Olmsted

      I agree- they will twist anything you say around.
      For instance, my ex would say things like (out of the blue, or out of context of the conversation),
      “So, LYNN…,tell me the TRUTH about how many guys you’ve slept with??!!!”

      I’m like, “WTF???!!! Where’d that come from???”

      And it turned into a horrible abusive aurgunent.
      I would calmly say, “Well, do you think it’s healthy to discuss something like this, that has no relevance to the nice dinner we’re having together?
      I don’t want to answer that- we’re married now; what does it matter…why are you asking me such a question??!!”
      He would end up forcing the subject, making me answer with a number, and any answer I gave he said was a lie, and then went in to saying that he knew I was a slut, and that I was a whore, and that I didn’t love him…
      Stunned and freaked out by his relentless interrogation, I just tried to manipulate or strategize to make him stop this sick game he was playing, and it never worked…
      I realized then, that he was actually sadistically toying with my mind to cause me to act out in my defense, with frustration, anger, bewilderment as an excuse to abuse me some more.
      It was mind boggling because I had never thought that my husband would WANT to cause conflict on purpose with no possible way for me to resolve it, just because he got a sick fix off of the torment he was causing me.
      I did not realize who he WAS until I looked up Narcissism….
      My whole world suddenly became painfully and yet delightfully clear to me!!
      I wasn’t crazy, pathetic, lazy, stupid and all the other insults he would throw at me, and I wasn’t at fault…but I knew this, but it still hurts!
      HE WAS Setting me up to FAIL for his own pure sadistic pleasure- The ultimate control when you break a person’s soul in the most covert and torturous way… it’s a slow, painful death, as you see yourself fading as you are being emotionally raped, starved, isolated, demeaned, belittled and insulted for no reason (by someone who’s supposed to love you), beaten down, chipping away, until eventually the person you thought you were SHATTERS with the last blow to your character…
      Until there’s nothing left, but a shell of who you were, existing in a broken, fear driven empty shell of a human being, doing things for a true monster, who doesn’t love you…but only uses you for his own selfish and sadistic fixes.
      When a person like this enters your life, they have an agenda, and it’s the grooming of a preditor to lure you in, in order to suck the life out of your good soul, so that he can feel. Because predictors with Narcissistic Personality Disorder of the Malignant kind- Have no empathy….
      which means they have no boundaries or limits to what they will do to destroy you so that they can thrive and survive, and look good to everyone else around them.
      And they WILL destroy YOU, if you don’t get out ASAP.
      They are deadly…it’s a slow, painful death of your soul.
      The longer you wait ,the harder it is to leave as they devoure you and weaken, and lose your strength and will to live…, in the most hiddious and insidious way there is….

  8. Gene Deener

    I’m dead to her. Even if anything involving Volleyball, she’s my sons HS coach, I don’t exist. I guess I should be thankful as it shows I didn’t mean a damn thing to her at all. I’m slowly grasping the fact that for 16 months I was used until her life got back on track and someone more befitting her lifestyle came along. He replaced me after she dumped me(within 1 week). Oh well.

  9. Leopard13

    I have just read another post from Kim. May 29 2015. “How Answering a Simple Text Message Can Ruin Your Life”. If I wasn’t already convinced that NC is the only way out of the cycle if abuse, this post and the reponses to it clinch the deal. Last text from the Narc = 15 November. Not answered and Narc blocked. That’s it.
    I realize that all of you in USA have been engaged in Thanksgiving / Holiday weekend. I’m hoping that your Thanksgiving celebrations were joyous and peaceful and without any major dramas.
    ♥♥ Leopard 13

    1. Tina

      Mine was a nightmare. My service dog and I sat in a cheap motel room and didn’t answer the door. I have actually been talking with a lady from Australia and would love to move there, but understand how difficult it is.
      My biggest challenge is I am on disability, my father’s wife is the narcissistic, jealous, abusive, threatening, alcoholic and has brainwashed my dad. They have millions and know how financially impossible it is for me to go anywhere or even eat. My psychiatric np / counselor wrote my father a letter stating what she needed him to do and help with. She did this because he said he would do what she said was best and needed. Well he agreed a week ago Saturday and the very next day he could not remember what he said. He is a functional alcoholic, abusive, threatening, gambler, etc. What my counselor said I needed currently to help with my complex ptsd, hence biological family, was help paying for the cheapest motel (family has made me homeless after begging me to live with them at least 5 times in the South Dakota winters. And I and my service dog for seizures from my complex ptsd, had to sleep and live in my vehicle. The policeknew, my social service case workers knew and didn’t care or help find me a safe place. I was mugged and robbed and now that guy is in prison for a long time, but I lost a lot of important documents, computer, phone, etc.
      Sorry anyway, my father came stumbling drunk out of bar on a week ago Sunday to give me less than 1/10 th of what he said. Again knowing he would be leaving me homeless again and no money for food or money for what I need to help heal medically because medicare does not cover it. The United States is not looking so positive or helpful.
      So I have no way of even escaping anywhere.

  10. Leopard13

    Dear Kim
    This article was so timely!!
    First, i want to thank you so much for saving my life; or, rather, giving ne back my life, nicely gift-wrapped!
    A few months ago (July) I began researching Google to find some clarification on my 8 year relationship.
    After a few false starts I found my way to websites and blogs dealing with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and realized my partner was far from unique. He fits the pattern 95% of a covert or somatic narcissist. It was all there: the lying, cheating, manipulation, secret agendas, gaslighting, pity stories to extract money and attention, “borrowing” credit cards, disappearing acts, hypochondria, meanness, etc. You name it..
    At least I had a logical franework for what was making me confused and miserable.
    Then I discovered your blog. Thank you Kim!! I read it every day. It has grounded me when I have had fits of despair. Without “Let Me Reach”.. i would still be wasting 75% of my time trying to figure him out. Still interpreting his returns as new starts. Still missing him every moment. Still ignoring the red flags.

    After reading the above article and the reiated post entitled “Why Won’t the Narcissistic Psychopath Leave Me Alone?” (March 31, 2014) I realized that I wasn’t implementing Full No Contact!
    From May last year I had invented my own version of NC. The N. (as usual) dropped me off at home, together with several pieces of musical equipnent which he stored at my house. Then.. Disappeared. No Show. No Explanation. Nothing.
    Instead of panicking as usual and sending him a “tsunami” of text messages I decided to ignore him. What I actually did was turn his Disappearing Act into a kind of NC. When he finally got in touch I ignored his messages. When he asked to call in and pick up his musical equipment ( 5 months later) I left his stuff at a local hotel. During the holiday season he visited but I didn’t answer the door. . And so on, off and on till July this year and discovering the truth and “Let Me Reach”. Which has been the maiin factor in helping me distance myself from him emotionally and focus on my own life (not his).
    Since a month ago, NC. Then 3 x weeks after seeing him at a mutual friends birthday party i get the usual “What are you doing?” text. I didnt reply. But that text really irritated me. So I marked it as unread. Then.. a few days ago I also blocked him from whatsapp.
    *Then I read your post today, Kim! What I had been doing all along was not NC. It was No Response or a version of The Grey Rock Method!!! How our heart betrays us sometimes. I feel that blocking him has been a big step forward. Thank you for validating me with the latest post and for other posts (which I am reading with great interest). You are changing so many lives, including mine.. ♥ ♥

  11. Tina

    How about the abusive narcissistic person is my dads wife and he has been married to her since I was 10 and am about to be 46. She is also psychologically abusive to my dad, but did it carefully and before anyone knew and dad is still clueless. She has been abusive to me from the day I met her and is very sneaky so my dad doesn’t know or get it. On top of that, my biological brother and his wife, father and his wife, biological mother are all severe alcoholics, abusive, gamblers, chaotic, , enmeshed my daughter into it and multiple other things. There threat to me was, “we have dirty legal connections that will do whatever they want them to do and they are taking me out”.
    I am a adult child of alcoholics, extreme abuse, neglect, chaos, etc. I got sick approximately 9 years ago and am currently on disability. They started abusing me as a adult once I was on disability in different and diverse ways. Including making me homeless multiple times in the South Dakota winters, as they have done again. My disability check covers car insurance and so far the motel I am currently staying at. However I am not sure how I am going to pay on Monday for another week. My disability check is automatically put into my bank account between the 3rd and 5th each month. I have lived in my vehicle with my 2 dogs at the time in the winter. I don’t go to the police about it because in the small town of 17,000, my biological family has many friends there and I am not sure what else to do. They also have other important contacts. The narcissistic wife of my father’s is responsible for so much of this, however he is more responsible and should not have let many things happen to me or do the things he has done. As close as last Sunday and the psychological abuse towards me from the drunk father putting me down in front of others in public.
    I was finally diagnosed correctly with complex ptsd, I am sure you are not surprised. The family doesn’t get it, understand or believe it. Obviously they may then have to remember the things each one of them have done. I am basically frozen with the plan of getting out of here, go where I can get the help I need for help healing my complex ptsd. SD doesn’t have anything or anyone that works in this specific area unless you are military. However, the big challenge is the financial problem of lack of funds and being able to save any. I get my food from the food pantry (only allowed up to 3 times a year), there is also a church that I get my food from when they have it. I stay at the cheapest place available which includes internet, so that is the only way I can do this.
    I am always open to suggestions, thoughts, etc. My email address is
    Thank you for reading, sorry it was so long.

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