She’s been employing the gray rock method and he’s been really hating it. He is always trying to figure out ways to keep her feeling insecure and uncomfortable in their relationship.
For example, he knows it bothers her when he makes it clear he’s attracted to other women, so one night after he particularly fails to make her feel crazy all day, Tom takes his manipulation up a notch.
He tells a story about a hot girl he met at the gas station on his way home. He tells Ava how the girl practically got naked in front of him (all lies, of course) and goes into what he would’ve done had he been single.
Ava realizes what he’s trying to do, and she remains quiet to avoid his inevitable claims that she’s always finding something to complain about, and that she should just blindly trust that he’d never do anything to hurt her (despite the fact that he verbally abuses her daily).
This is where it gets scary.
When Tom notices that Ava isn’t giving him the narcissistic supply that he seeks, he takes it up a notch, claiming that he can sense that Ava is upset, even though she showed no signs of it.
Eventually, he manages to draw her into the argument and she is left reeling. She can’t believe that he’s done it again.
But this is how a narcissist works. He consistently and systematically tears down his victims, forcing them into these predefined roles (he defines them, of course) that place him in a position of power while she struggles to prove herself to him in some way.
To put it mildly, communicating with a narcissist can be incredibly frustrating, especially when it matters that they comprehend what you’re saying. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt exasperated when trying to have simple conversations with narcissists who have become agitated and who are actively gaslighting.
Using the Grey Rock Method Safely
So a while back, I wrote this post about the only way to effectively communicate with a narcissist, and in my experience, it’s the truth. In the post, I mentioned the Grey Rock Method, so I thought I’d offer a bit of background and explanation on where it came from. The Grey Rock Method is an ideal way to respond to a narcissist who is actively gaslighting you.
What is gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a pervasive and highly effective manipulation tactic used by most narcissists, a form of psychological abuse meant to manipulate you by psychological means into questioning your own sanity. It is pure brainwashing. In addition to toxic narcissists, many abusers and cult leaders use this tactic, not to mention dictators. They do it slowly and subtly – so it kind of sneaks up on you before you realize it’s happening.
This is where your abuser causes you to doubt your own memory, perception, and sanity. The term comes from the 1938 stage play Gaslight and its 1940 and 1944 film adaptations, in which a husband tries to convince his wife that she is insane by making small adjustments to their home and then convincing her that she is imagining the changes.
How do you recognize when a narcissist is gaslighting?
So, how do you know when to use the grey rock method? It’s going to be most effective when the narcissist is gaslighting you. They will be thicker than concrete walls, intentionally trying to misunderstand you and assume the worst of you, in every single word. You find yourself feeling hopeless like you’re unable to make your point – and if you’re like me, it’s especially frustrating because you probably have no problem communicating with literally everyone else in your life.
Gaslighting is abusive because it is used to subvert honest communication. The abuser doesn’t want to talk about whatever problem there is; they want to persuade you that you are mistaken about what’s happening. They want you to doubt your own perceptions, your own memory; they want you to feel confused and off-balance, so that the only reasonable response is to do whatever they say.
What is the “Grey Rock” Method?
The grey rock method is a form of emotional self-defense used to cope with people who attack your emotions. It is a powerful strategy to shut down any kind of narcissistic abuse, behavior, or attack by anyone, without violating your boundaries. It allows you to disengage from the narcissist and refrain from making him or her wrong. It’s all about appearing to be somewhat indifferent to narcissists’ behavior.
How do you use the “Grey Rock” Method?
When someone is acting out of emotion, trying to manipulate you, they are not being rational. So your goal is not to think of a clever response – it’s to avoid being pulled into responding emotionally yourself. To do that, it helps to remember that most of our communication happens non-verbally. So respond non-verbally.
In other words, do your best to avoid feeling sorry for them if they’re feeling sorry for themselves, don’t get mad at them if they’re mad at you, don’t take it personally if they’re taking it personally.
The best way to deal with an emotionally manipulative person is not to react emotionally yourself at all — which is what the grey rock method aims to make easy for you. Think of it as practice in learning not to care about things that don’t matter.
When you’re using the grey rock method, you’re supposed to act boring and don’t react to the narcissist’s attempts to engage you in drama. Essentially, you don’t give them any of your energy or emotion; you literally act like you’re as boring as a grey rock. This helps you to become less attractive to manipulative people such as narcissists.
While the grey rock method will not fix the situation in the long term, it can help you regain some control and keep things calm when you do need to deal with a narcissist. The grey rock method is highly effective but also infuriating for narcissists to experience.
In part, Skylar says the grey rock method is, “primarily a way of encouraging a narcissist, psychopath, stalker or another emotionally unbalanced person, to lose interest in you.”
How does the Grey Rock Method differ from the No-Contact rule?
Skylar says that the difference is “you don’t blatantly try to avoid contact with the disordered individual.”
Instead, she advises, “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.”
Skylar adds: “One might say that Grey 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.”
Why does the Grey Rock Method work?
According to Skylar: “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.”
What are the most important components of successfully using the Grey Rock Method?
Rule number one when it comes to practicing the Grey Rock Method is to never tell the narcissist you’re doing so. If you do, he’ll definitely figure out a way to use it against you.
Never ask questions of the narcissist and don’t offer any “committal” responses – just say things like “hmm” or “mhmm” – keep it casual.
If possible, discuss only “safe” topics, such as the news, social media – fashion, cooking, etc. Nothing that would be personal – even if the narcissist begs you for it. Drama-free is the way to be!
Try to be distracted during the conversation so that you don’t have to directly look the narcissist in the eye the whole time. Make it something simple like doodling in a notebook or checking your text messages, or something more complicated such as knitting a scarf or working on a document for work. If you focus a bit more on your activity, you won’t be as directly affected by the narcissist’s attempts to manipulate you during the conversation.
Most importantly during this practice, keep your head in the game and don’t allow the narcissist to get inside your head. Narcissists are expert “guilt-trippers” and have no qualms about making you “feel bad” so that you’ll try to justify or defend your intentions – don’t fall into the trap.
What else should I consider before I try the Grey Rock Method?
One important thing to know about the Grey Rock Method is that there is a level at which it can become unsafe for you psychologically – and that’s when you begin to experience symptoms of dissociation.
A lot of people don’t realize that these two are connected, but here’s what happens.
When you learn to use this method and you find out how effective it can be when it comes to dealing with your narcissist, you may find that it is a great way to deal with EVERYTHING that is an issue in your life.
The problem with this is that you begin to truly stop caring – and your ability to feel your own emotions diminishes. This is a major issue because you don’t just stop feeling pain and anxiety – you stop feeling the good stuff too.
Now it’s your turn – have you ever used the Grey Rock Method? How did it work for you, and what tips would you offer for someone who’s trying it for the first time? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today
You might have a few different reasons to expose the narcissist. Maybe you are tired of being the one who everyone “worries about” or “feels sorry for,” or worse – the one everyone thinks is pure evil, thanks to the lies and half-truths the narcissist spreads about you.
But, before we get into the thick of it, let me just put this out there: sometimes, the best solution is to just walk away – the narcissist will eventually expose himself to anyone he allows to be close to him. You’ll see the tell-tale eye rolls, feel the tension and hear the strained tones and fake cheer in the voices of anyone who has been exposed to his true self.
Even his flying monkeys might have their moments of weakness in which they reveal the level of manipulation to which he has subjected them.
2. Expose a Narcissist by Stopping Helping the Narcissist Hide: No More Excuses.
You probably don’t even realize that you’re doing it, but after you’ve been involved with a narcissist for a while, you fall into certain co-dependent habits. You find yourself coddling him, accepting certain conditions and behaviors out of habit. So one simple way to make a narcissist show his true colors is to literally just stop helping him hide them.
Don’t make excuses when he flakes out on your plans with others, and don’t cover for him in any way when the mask begins to break away. You may find this incredibly uncomfortable at first, but it’s a very effective way to open the eyes of the people around the narcissist.
3. Pull the Trigger on Exposing a Narcissist By Being Honest: Telling It Like It Is.
This one’s really pretty simple. In order to expose a narcissist, you simply tell it like it is. Just say something that triggers narcissistic behavior and don’t take it back. That’ll cause him to expose himself because he won’t be able to hold back if you don’t do your customary two-step around the issue to help him save face.
But if you’re going to do it, do it right. Think about what kinds of things typically trigger the narcissist’s rages and boldly use those to your advantage – but be fearless or it won’t work. Don’t feel bad about it – this is literally you turning his own behaviors back on him. How often has he said and done these kinds of manipulative statements to you?
A statement of fact that contradicts the narcissist’s inflated perception of his/her grandiose self. (i.e. “I thought you said you got a promotion – I’m shocked you’re still driving that old beater! You must really have a lot of expenses.”
Any open criticism, disagreement, or blatant exposure of fake achievements, made-up stories, or other lies and deceptions.
Belittling the “talents and skills” the narc believes or pretends that he has (i.e. “your rap skills need to go back to the 80s!”).
A statement that would indicate that he’s “less than,” somehow “not good enough,” in any way controlled, owned, or dependent upon someone else – even you (i.e. “I don’t know what you’d do without me!”).
Describe the narcissist as average and common, “just like all the others “(i.e. “You’re a typical woman. All women are crazy” or “Men are pigs – you’re just another oinker in the pigpen of life.”)
Any indication that the narcissist is weak. (i.e. “Oh, let me help you! You’re clearly in need. You’re (insert adjective here – weak, slow, lazy, in any way not perfect)! Poor thing!”)
Why This Works to Expose a Narcissist
See, the narcissist literally believes he is different and better than everyone else – that he is so special, in fact, that other people should recognize this and treat him accordingly. So, while he’s really good at making people believe he’s cool, fun, laid back, or whatever he’s trying to make them think, the truth is that the best possible way to expose him is to simply make him do it himself.
When you use the three steps I outlined above, you will almost definitely expose the narcissist and make everyone see who he really is – and fast. But be prepared for the very strong reaction that is sure to come from the narcissist – it will come and it will be unpleasant. But if you’re prepared, you’ll be able to handle it.
Honestly, while exposing the narcissist to the people in his life may help some of them to get a clue and stop allowing themselves to be his narcissistic supply, it’ll only temporarily slow the narcissist down.
In fact, it’ll give him the proper fuel he needs to get his next supply on the line – his very own savior. Because, of course, in his version of the story, you’ll be just the crazy bitch who was so mean and hateful to him and who tried to make his family and friends hate him.
With that being said, there are a number of ways that these behaviors and toxic patterns can manifest themselves in people.
So, while it might seem pretty logical to assume that narcissists are all alike since their behaviors seem so similar, they can sometimes slip by even the most trained eye – and that’s because there are various personality types within the so-called spectrum of toxic narcissism.
Today, I’m going to define seven primary types for you – but please note that just like the rest of humanity, no two narcissists are exactly alike – and yours may encompass one or more of these qualities. So let’s do this.
Seven Types of Toxic Narcissists (And How to Deal With Each)
1. The Know-It-All Narcissist
While the know-it-all narcissist might really know a lot, she’s also very pushy with her opinion, which she’s all-too-happy to shell out – no matter if she’s been asked for it (or not).
This narcissist will lecture you all day long – and as long as you don’t expect to actually have a two-way conversation, everything will be fine.
But don’t expect her to listen to you – because though she might be quiet while you talk, she’s just thinking about what she’s going to say next.
How to deal: Politely acknowledge her advice, thank her an then go ahead and do whatever you feel is best. Don’t take anything too seriously, and don’t let yourself feel offended by her uppity behavior – yes, she does think she’s better than you – but in reality, you should probably feel sorry for her.
2. The Daydream Believer
I like to call a narcissist who has the whole “grandiose” thing going on a daydream believer. That’s because he will almost always see himself as someone who MATTERS more than other people.
He figures he’s more important, somehow, and expects other people to recognize that and treat him accordingly. He will always exaggerate his own accomplishments and loves to think people are envying him or admiring him.
He believes that he is meant to be something BIG, and if these qualities are combined with a certain amount of charisma and a strong sense of ambition, he may actually succeed on some level – and you might find yourself very drawn to him.
How to deal: The daydream believer might bring out your sense of competition or sense of justice – don’t let yourself get caught up in it. If you do, he will just increase his desire to be better than you and his efforts to match. Don’t let yourself be too affected by his charms – they will quickly drop once he’s got you in his clutches. Remember that he won’t do anything to help you unless there’s something in it for him – and don’t allow yourself to become dependent on him if you can avoid it – he’s one who will discard you like last year’s pumps – and without a second thought.
3. The Seductor/Seductress
The seductor or seductress is a very different kind of toxic narcissist. (We’re going to use the feminine form here from this point forward, but please note this can manifest in males as well).
The seductress will make you feel like you’re someone important – someone special who matters. But the dark side of this one is that her intent is to seduce you into feeling that way about HER.
She knows that when you love her and depend on her a little bit, you will support her. You’ll grow to admire her. She will use blatant admiration, physical affection and flattery to get what she wants – but once you’re no longer useful to her, she will drop you like a hot rock.
How to deal: Enjoy the flattery if you must – but know what it really is. Don’t allow yourself to be swayed by the seductress – even if it feels really good at first. Keep your eye on how she treats people around her – such as those she might feel competitive with. You might find that watching how she treats them gives you a glimpse into your potential future, who knows? And listen to how she talks about her exes – if she swears they’re all crazy/stalkers/evil – there’s probably something to be concerned about. Narcissists are great at victim-playing to get what they want – especially the seductress.
4. The Bully
You know the bully, right? He’s probably the kid who beat you up after school back in third grade, all grown up. But he might also look a lot like the mean girl from high school, or the jock who gave everybody wedgies when he felt saucy.
Yeah, I said it. The bully will treat people around him with disdain and contempt when he doesn’t get what he wants – and he is NOT nice when he asserts his superiority (which, of course, is as often as possible). He needs you to feel bad about yourself because it’s the only thing that helps his ridiculously low self-esteem feel less painful – but he would never admit this, even to himself.
Where the seductress will use sex and her charms to get what she wants from you, the bully will push you, pressure you, and downright threaten you to get what he wants. In extreme cases, he may even threaten (or actually use) physical harm* if you refuse to comply.
He will relentlessly mock you and belittle you to the point that you might start thinking you’re not even worth the oxygen you’re allowed to breathe – he will do a number on your self-esteem.
*Important: If you’re being physically or sexually abused, you’re not in the right place right now – so stop reading immediately, visit this page and get some help – not kidding. Run, don’t walk!
How to deal: If you’re not in a position to go no-contact (an ideal solution), then your next best bet is to shine this guy on. So don’t do anything that would injure his ginormous ego – don’t directly challenge him. If you’re going to withstand this guy’s attacks, you need to be very strong in your sense of self-esteem – and you need to know that you don’t require validation from the outside of yourself. So, if you’ve got to deal with a bullying narcissist on the regular, work on your pokerface and practice your gray-rock technique. Just be careful to take care of yourself so you don’t end up dissociating.
5. The Evil One
Okay, so a bullying narcissist, up to this point, has been our most toxic in the list. But now we’ve reached the pinnacle of all narcissists – one I’m calling “the Evil narcissist,” and this one’s the kind that you should avoid at all costs.
The evil narcissist is a whole other kind of animal. While she may have qualities of all the other kinds of narcissists listed above, especially the bullying narcissist, the evil one will literally attempt to destroy you if you somehow pose a threat to her.
Maybe you made her feel like you were challenging her “superiority” somehow, or that you’re succeeding in some way she isn’t – or she’s just threatened by you for some reason or another.
She’ll spread lies about you to everyone you know, and she might even attempt to cause trouble for you at work. If you’ve been married to her and have kids together, she’ll do anything she can to turn them against you and keep them from you – or she’ll walk away without a second thought.
How to deal: If you can, get away as quickly as possible. The evil narcissist isn’t capable of any sort of healthy relationship and the longer you stick around, the higher your chances of having your life completely ruined will go. A scary thing about the evil narcissist is that she’s often a better actor than the rest – so many people in her life will have no idea who she “really is,” at least when it comes to who she is behind closed doors – and this can even include family members, who might also be used as flying monkeys – so beware.
Important to Know: In the case of the evil narcissist, you can’t be too careful when it comes to the legalities of it all – so keep copies of all toxic emails, texts and other kinds of communication. And keep in touch with anyone who might have seen the narcissistic behavior in action – you may need them to make a statement on your behalf if the evil one causes any legal problems in your life. Don’t be afraid to lawyer up, and early, if necessary.
6. The Addict
The addict narcissist is exactly what he sounds like – he uses drugs, alcohol, gambling, food, sex – or whatever else he finds pleasurable – to find fulfillment.
This kind of narcissist will often encompass other qualities listed above, but not always – sometimes, they’re just openly selfish, and other times, they’ll willingly steal from, trick or otherwise scam people who love them so they can get their drug of choice.
This is a dangerous narcissist because the addict often deals with dangerous people – and because he doesn’t care if you get your rent paid or feed your kid – he’ll steal your last dollar if it means getting a “fix” of whatever makes him feel good. A lot of co-dependent issues arise when an addict narcissist is involved.
How to deal: Watch your back, and don’t even give the addict the illusion of trust. If you can, go no-contact, and fast. There’s almost no fixing the addict unless he manages to actually work on recovery and get some serious therapy. If you’re co-parenting with an addict, keep records and document everything – and get some counseling and legal representation while you’re at it. Protect yourself and your kids.
7. The Victim
The “victim” narcissist is also called the “covert” narcissist. He’s a master manipulator, but he differs from other narcissists because he seems to be almost an introvert.
Sadly, for a “poor me” kinda narcissist, it all comes down to one thing: he actually hates himself. He thinks it’s going to be possible to hate himself BETTER, somehow.
Though he continues to demonstrate the behavior that he loathes, the covert narcissist is powerless to control his thoughts – and his deep inner conscience is NOT okay with the person he is or has become.
He judges HIMSELF more harshly than he judges anyone else, and usually, more harshly than he judges anyone else – but he certainly has what he considers a high standard for his life.
How to deal: As with any narcissist, watch your back and go no-contact if possible. If not, be prepared to ignore the quietly judgmental gaze and superiorist attitude directed your way – and then just keep doing what you do. If you don’t feed their narcissistic supply, like the rest, they may just get bored and move on.