How to deal with inescapable narcissists
When dealing with malignant narcissists, 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, like when you have children with the narcissist. For these situations, we have Gray Rock.
Many of us have tried to end a relationship with a narcissist 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 narcissist 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 narcissist can’t change. In fact, when you leave a narcissist, she becomes determined to punish you even more severely for thinking you could be autonomous.
The most dangerous time for a person is when they finally announce their intent to break up with a narcissist. The narcissist feels rage at being discarded. Losing control or power over a person is not just a injury for them. That's when they plot and scheme to find a way to continue to hurt you even after the breakup happens. Narcissists need to feel in control at all times.
What It Is
So, how do you stay broken up with a narcissist while letting their vindictive rage dissipate? Gray Rock is primarily a way of encouraging a emotionally unbalanced person 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 her supply of drama. When contact with you is consistently unsatisfying for the narcissist, her mind is re-trained to expect boredom rather than drama. Narcissists are addicted to drama and they can’t stand to be bored. With time, she will find a new person to provide drama and she will find herself drawn to you less and less often. Eventually, they just slither away to greener pastures. Gray Rock is a way of training the narcissist to view you as an unsatisfying pursuit – you bore her and she cant stand boredom.
What It's For
Making a narcissist leave you alone on her own volition is one application of Gray Rock. One might say that Gray Rock is a way of breaking up with a narcissist by using the old, “It’s not you, it’s me” excuse, except that you act it out instead of saying it and the narcissist comes to that conclusion on her own.
If you must continue a relationship with a narcissist, Gray Rock can serve you as well. Parents sharing joint custody with a narcissistic ex-spouse can use Gray Rock when the ex-spouse tries to trigger their emotions. Any threat to the well-being of our children is overwhelmingly anxiety provoking, but 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 narcissist 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 narcissist's attention on that issue. Remember, the narcissist has no values, so she doesn’t understand what is valuable to us unless we show her. Selective Gray Rock shows her 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 narcissist is easily bored. 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 narcissist'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 narcissist is an addict. She is addicted to power. Her power is acquired by gaining access to our emotions. She is keenly aware of this and needs to constantly test to make sure we are still under her control. She needs to know that we are still eager to do her bidding, make her happy and avoid her wrath. She needs to create drama so she can experience the power of manipulating our emotions. As with any addiction, it is exhilarating to the narcissist when she gets her supply of emotional responses. The more times she experiences a reward for her dramatic behavior, the more addicted she becomes. Conversely, when the reward stops coming, she becomes agitated. She experiences oppressive boredom and she will counter it by creating more drama. If we stay the course and show no emotions, the narcissist will eventually decide that her toy is broken. It doesn’t squirt emotions when she squeezes it anymore! Most likely, she will slither away to find a new toy.
How it works
Narcissists are attracted to shiny, pretty things that move fast and to bright lights. These things, signal excitement and relieve the narcissist's ever-present ennui. Your emotional responses are her food of choice, but they aren’t the only things she wants.
She envies everything pretty, shiny and sparkly that you have and she wants whatever you value. You must hide anything that she will notice and envy. If you have a sparkling reputation, anticipate that she 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 she wants to take these things from you is not necessarily because she wants them for himself, it’s because she wants to see the emotions on your face when you lose them. She wants the power trip associated with being the one who took them from you. Once you remove these things from her vision and not reacting with emotion at the losses, you continue to train her with the idea that you are the most boring person on earth, someone she would never want to be involved with.
Why is it called Gray Rock?
A Gray Rock is what you need to channel when you 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 narcissist. Your boring persona will camouflage you and the narcissist won’t even notice you were there.
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 narcissist will make and to determine the best course of action each time. Instead of trying to out-think her, channel the gray rock. This simple, humble object in nature has all the wisdom it needs to avoid being noticed, it’s boring.