You might want to consider these points before going Gray Rock on someone
The Gradual Gray Rock Method: a step by step guide
What I’m about to describe is strategic, methodical and a little different to how many apply the Gray Rock Technique. To give thanks to all of you here who support me financially that will eventually enable me to commit all my time to disseminating practical approaches to managing toxic and narcissistic relationships, and to liberate from the root causes of suffering, I’d like to support your implementation of the Step by Step guide of the Gradual Gray Rock Method. Details about this offer are at the end of this piece. Thank you all again for your generosity and support of my work.
Many relationships don’t last forever and shouldn’t, especially when they’re toxic. There are many possible strategies for transitioning out of and ending a toxic relationship.
One well-known strategy for dealing with a narcissistic person in your life is to apply the Gray Rock Technique which means that you must BECOME a gray rock. The brilliant concept and strategy was developed by an American mental health blogger named Skylar in 2012 and is “primarily a way of encouraging a narcissist, psychopath, stalker or other emotionally unbalanced person, to lose interest in you.” Simply put, you must make yourself boring to the person who thrives on drama so you’re as uninteresting as a gray rock on the ground. This person will eventually lose interest in you and move onto another supplier who will fuel their relational theatrics.
This technique can be used effectively when you haven’t developed a close relationship with the person and you’ve spotted some red flags. It can also be effectively used during short interactions with people at social events when you feel uncomfortable with the intensity of a conversation and you want them to lose interest in you as quickly as possible.
But, if you suddenly implement Gray Rock Technique in a relationship held by a strong emotional connection, this abrupt change in your relational dynamic can raise suspicion, or worse, concern about you so that they give you MORE attention than before.
Or, they can lash out at you because the sudden change can feel threatening so they turn up the intensity of their obsessive and possessive behaviour to keep a closer eye on you.
Any sudden changes will disrupt the relationship status quo and make it harder to exit the relationship without a number of protective and emotionally preserving resources at your disposal.
Great. But what if the difficult person in your life doesn’t fit into these scenarios and you have to interact with this person; a parent, colleague, boss or friend on a regular basis?
If you’re in a toxic or exploitative relationship, the goal is to gradually reduce their dependence on you as their emotional resource/supply until you can safely exit. A safe exit means that you will have enough support and resources that will prevent and protect you from injury to your wellbeing by the ex.
The challenge is that they’re not going to let go of you that easily.
This is why the way you execute gray rock technique has to be progressive, gradual and incremental so that your actions are minimally disruptive to both of you. This process is referred to here as Gradual Gray Rock.
Here’s a scenario that might seem familiar to you:
You’ve been working closely with a colleague on a number of projects for a while. When you began working together your conversations were focused on work. As you developed a trusting work relationship, your colleague started to share a little more about their personal life and you did the same, though not to the same degree. Personal content eventually filtered into conversations at work and the two of you would be in touch outside work hours and socially. The line separating professional life and friendship became blurred as conversations became mostly focused on their personal issues, which as you’ve discovered, are complex. You have noticed that since you have grown closer to them, you feel exhausted at the end of the day and drained after some conversations. You also feel dread when you’re getting ready for work and this person is on your mind more often that you’d like to admit. You realise that the relationship is suffocating and no longer inspiring as it was in the beginning.
When you suggested that their concerns are way beyond what you can manage and that professional support could be a good option for them, they dismiss your concerns and let you know that your support is exactly what they need or they’ve been thinking about that option/looking for a therapist. You also mentioned that it would be best to focus on work tasks at work and personal stuff at other times. And that you have a lot going on for you and only enough mental bandwidth for work. They claim to totally understand. You have room to breathe but you get roped back into the same dynamic after a short time.
You realise you can’t just brush them off and ignore their texts because it will impact your working relationship. You’ve tried a number of ways to inform them of your need for space, distance, time, independence but any change is short-lived and reverts to the same dynamic. And to add to your stress, your line manager and other colleagues think highly of them.
What do you do to get out of this situation?
They’re addicted to the attention they receive from you and whatever you’re supplying them that’s meeting their emotional needs. You would need to progressively taper them off their emotional supply (YOU!) using the Gradual Gray Rock process.
In this scenario, you would want to transition the relationship from the gray area mess that it is back to a strictly professional relationship in a way that is minimally disruptive to your personal and professional life.
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