The term ‘grey rock’ is a popular term used to described a method of contact, and a way of being when dealing with a psychopath or malignant narcissist. Psychopaths, sociopaths and malignant narcissists thrive off narcissistic supply. As soon as they wake up in the morning they are off to get their narcissistic supply (attention, good or bad) just like a junkie goes out to find their drug of choice. Without fuel, the narcissist feels weighed down and energy-less; which is why these crazy-makers feel a desire to conjure up so much drama, and use other people’s reactions to play the victim. They need the drama and emotional reactions from other people to survive. Any attention, good or bad lifts the narcissist out of their chronic feelings of emptiness, and gives them the energy to get on with their day. Without constant supply a narcissist becomes what is considered a dilapidated narcissist.
”Narcissist’s need narcissistic supply like a junkie needs their drug of choice.”
What is the grey rock method of contact?
The theory behind ‘grey rock’ is that grey rocks are boring. They fail to attract attention, which means they are more unlikely to be bothered, and sourced out by those attracted to sparkly objects . Their unappealing, boring look, and ability to blend in makes the grey rock unique, and really quite beautiful from the point of view a man or woman wanting to escape a dangerous narcissist who keeps baiting them for a reaction.
What’s so great about the grey rock? Grey rocks remain untouchable.
The shiny, colourful rock on the other hand, stands out, and is far more appealing to the eye. The grey rock in all of its beauty gets left alone on the banks of the river to sit in solace, while the colourful rocks attract visual attention, which leaves them ripe for the picking.
Malignant narcissists love shiny, sparkly people. They love charismatic individuals, sensitive souls, exuberant people, hilarious people, highly reactive people, and those who pull the narcissist up on their terrible behaviour. Its a double edged sword, they also hate these people for their giftedness, and usually end up becoming very jealous of them. However, they love the A grade narcissistic supply they can get from these people.
What is the attraction to these personality traits? People with these personality traits stand out, and attract a lot of people (supply to a narcissist). This could be very beneficial to a narcissist.
Reactive people, emotionally charged people, and those who pull the narcissist up on their vile behaviour particularly stand out to the narcissist as potential sources of supply. Why? Because they engage. They challenge the narcissist, won’t stand for the narcissist’s rubbish, and will often lecture and prescribe advice; advice which goes in one ear and out the other over and over again.
An empath with too much patience will try to teach the narcissist (whom they often love dearly and wish the best for ) how to become a decent person. Patient co-dependent types are fantastic sources of supply, often do not know that they are being played for narcissistic supply, and fall hook line and sinker to the narcissist’s crazy-making behaviour over and over again until they finally have enough. Anybody who has fallen victim to the narcissist has engaged at one time or another, only to be told by the narcissist that their reaction is the problem, not the abuse itself.
After many years of practice, trial and error, I have learned to disengage from narcissists and have become quite skilled at using grey rock as a tactic to get them out of my life. It takes an incredible amount of practice and self-control to hone in on this skill. It truly is a skill, and takes a lot of refining to get it down pat.
The desired result
The idea behind the grey rock method is that once the victim has proved to the narcissist how boring and non-reactive they are, the narcissist will most likely move on and leave their victim alone. The victim is no longer useful and has officially become a broken toy. This is a great method to use when dealing with a narcissistic ex with whom you don’t have children. It does have successful results in co-parenting situations with a narcissist as well. However, it doesn’t fully rid the victim with children to a narcissist, of the narcissist forever.
The grey rock method can drastically reduce the impactful behaviour. Although, it can be a constant battle to keep the grey rock method of minimal contact in place in a co-parenting situation; especially if the narcissist is relentless, or is low on fuel supplies, and knows their target is capable of giving them A grade fuel supply in the form of a reaction.
So many empaths don’t even know that the person they are dealing with is a narcissist
Buying into the crazy-making is what we do when we don’t know we are dealing with a narcissistic sociopath. Victims often think they’re going insane and that they may in fact be the crazy one. It is how one thinks when they are constantly being poked and prodded to the point of feeling as though they’re about to become hysterical.
A victim rarely figures out their ex partner is a narcissist until they go in search of answers. It is in this moment that they may realise that this was all one big game, that they have been losing at the game because they didn’t know how to play the game to their advantage, and that they must now stop giving the narcissist ammunition to scapegoat them with.
I was once given the advice below from a good friend mine.
‘Its like this, the narcissist puts a hole in your boat. Then you have to go and plug it up again. Once you’ve plugged up all of the holes, the narcissist can no longer take control of your boat.’
Anybody co-parenting with a malignant narcissistic ex is going to feel as though their boat is being destroyed, which is why the grey rock method is often one of the only ways a non-narcissistic parent can plug up the holes in the boat.
Malignant narcissists in a co-parenting situation use their exes reactions against them to scapegoat them
If a malignant narcissistic ex knows they can get a reaction out of their target because they have many times before, then they will keep trying until they give them what they want. They are relentless in their pursuit of narcissistic supply. The narcissist doesn’t see their target as a person. They see them as an opportunity for fuel, which is why they may never entirely stop goading, baiting, and provoking their target into giving away a reaction, even with grey rock in place.
How does a narcissistic parent use their ability to goad you against you?
The narcissistic ex will constantly accuse their non-narcissistic ex of being unfair, mistreating them, and doing everything they can to make the narcissist’s life hard. It is just what they do. They need the narcissistic supply that playing the victim role gives them. The narcissist will turn everything around, accuse their target of doing to them what they are actually doing to their target, and will smear their ex-partner (who is probably quite a lovely person) to everybody they can.
I have heard so many stories where the malignant narcissist has used the co-parenting situation to pay the other parent back in any which way they can at every given opportunity. They usually try to turn everybody they possibly can against the non-narcissistic parent, including the children. Very often, everything the parent does with the children, for the children, or in regard to discipline with the children is put down in front of the children. This sets the parent up for negative treatment from the children, who unknowingly act out the narcissistic parent’s angst against the alienated parent.
It is all too common for a sociopathic parent to set the parent up over and over again for big reactions right in front of the children. One narcissistic parent I knew of, would call the non-narcissistic parent while in the car with the children, and leave speaker phone on for the children to hear the conversation. If the other parent became rightfully distressed over being baited and goaded on the phone, then the narcissist would use the incident to scapegoat the parent to the children. This narcissist would use manipulative body language (rolling their eyes, looking sad. and distressed) in the hope that the children would go into bat for them while the narcissist was on the phone. The alienated parent couldn’t understand (until they realised they were dealing with a narcissist) why a parent would deliberately involve the children in adult issues.
The same narcissist would show the children private emails from the other parent. They would manipulate the children into believing that the very assertive, non-abusive email was, in fact, abusive; which would again, ignite the children’s protective instinct over their dangerous parent. The children would unknowingly go against the innocent parent to protect the person in the wrong, the narcissistic perpetrator. Every opportunity possible was used by this dangerous narcissist to scapegoat the other parent to the children.
Other opportunities for narcissistic supply at the non-narcissistic parent’s expense
For example It is not uncommon for the non-narcissistic parent to be smeared to people in positions of authority by a narcissist wanting to infiltrate the children’s circle with a smear campaign against the other parent. Narcissists this malignant almost always pull out the mental health card and suggest that this parent is seriously mentally ill and has major problems.
It is not uncommon for a smeared parent to get the cold shoulder from people they don’t even know, including but not limited to, a child’s music teacher, a child’s counsellor (if they go to one), or even the child’s doctor. A narcissist wanting narcissistic supply will feign victimhood to anybody they can with a smear campaign aimed at turning everybody against an innocent victim for sympathy and allies.
What can one do? One thing a parent dealing with a sociopathic narcissist can do is to become a grey rock and take grey rock to a whole new level.
The problem with grey rock?
I’m writing this article for a friend who has been going through similar scenarios to the ones above with an ex-partner who is claiming my friend is unstable and is infiltrating their children’s circles with lies. We were discussing some of the confusion around grey rock earlier this week.
Grey rock is designed to completely starve a narcissist of their fuel supply so they can no longer affect you, or scapegoat you to such an extent that it affects your mental health and overall quality of life. When the witch was starved of narcissistic supply in the Wizard Of Oz, she melted. When a narcissist can’t get fuel from their victim, they will have no choice but to find someone else to feed off.
When implementing grey rock most people co-parenting with a malignant narcissist drop all phone contact, get a family member (if they can) to do changeovers, only engage in email contact, and only respond to the messages that they absolutely have to. These parents have as little to do with the narcissistic parent as possible. They give simple dull responses and refrain from reacting at all costs. However, a lot of people think this should be enough, and that by remaining dull and boring the narcissist will eventually stop the smear campaign and leave them alone. This is not true. Unless a victim never has to see a narcissist again, grey rock is merely a way to limit contact, and therefore reduce abuse.
When co-parenting, grey rock can be used to gain back some control over the smearing if used correctly. A victim of narcissistic abuse has to think quickly with a narcissist. Especially when it comes to utilising grey rock; because wherever they look the narcissist is trying to turn everyone against them, including the children.
How to cut the narcissist’s fuel supply
When co-parenting with a narcissist, a non-narcissistic parent must never forget that the narcissist wants to destroy their reputation at any given opportunity; which is why it is better to try to get in first before the narcissist in a grey rock kind of way when needing to organise and attend appointments such as the doctors, councillors, or an instructor. This way individuals in positions of power can make their mind up about the non-narcissistic parent without the malignant narcissist’s immediate influence. This is dependent on the situation and is easier when the children are living with the non-narcissistic parent.
A non-narcissistic parent will save themselves a lot of heartache if they plug up the holes straight away, and accept that they have to take back control of their own lives, before the narcissist has complete control over how others see them. Grey rock is all about keeping the boat leak free.
Depending on the strain of narcissist, be they sociopathic, psychopathic, or just extremely malignant in their narcissism, a narcissistic ex can be extremely difficult to get away from – and even more difficult to co-parent with if they decide that their ex-partner is still an excellent fuel source.
Some narcissist’s sail off into the sunset, and want little to do with their ex and the children, whilst other narcissists’ behave as though they will melt into the earth itself, if they can no longer manipulate their ex into re-instating themselves as their narcissist’s primary source of supply.
Some weeks ago I stumbled upon the blog of a self-proclaimed narcissist, and sociopath – HG Tudor. After reading Tudor’s assessment of the narcissist’s relationship with their children, I now know that my assumptions made previously about the psychopath, sociopath, or narcissist’s relationship with the children, were right on the money.
The psychopath’s co-parenting relationship with their ex is not latched onto by the psychopath because the psychopath loves the children. Instead, the psychopath latches onto the co-parenting relationship with their ex for the sake of the fuel which can be extracted from the non-narcissistic parent because of the co-parenting relationship.
”Think of all of the possibilities a co-parenting relationship can provide for a born trouble maker. Hmmm, such a feeding ground.”
Malignant narcissists’ are parasitical in nature, and literally extract fuel from the people around them to feel uplifted, superior, grandiose, and free from emptiness.
Children are only extensions of the narcissist, and are often used in the co-parenting situation to antagonise the other parent, and to gain fuel from the parentally alienated parent through sadistic means.
The extremely malignant narcissist has very little interest in the children, if any. This breed of narcissist will agree to take the children overnight for three reasons.
For the more psychopathically inclined narcissist with weekend visitation, visiting the children is not actually about seeing the children at all. In fact, weekend visitation is actually about re-visiting the person whom was once the narcissist’s most conscientious and capable fuel supply. This person is the mouse that got away from the cat.
The narcissist will use the co-parenting situation as an opportunity to:
The psychopathic narcissist has no shame
It doesn’t matter how many times the psychopath is rejected by their ex, they will still use every opportunity possible relative to the co-parenting situation, to manipulate the non-narcissistic parent into spending time with them.
The best option for the non-narcissistic parent in regard to changeover?
It is extremely time consuming dealing with a psychopathic ex. The best option for the non-narcissistic parent in regard to changeover is to get a family member or friend to change the children over. Changeover with a psychopath hell bent on spending time with a non-narcissistic parent, provoking the other parent, or extracting fuel will never work. In the mind of the psychopath, a previous fuel source in a room with them for any amount of time is simply a sparkly object to be hoovered, and to extract fuel from.
Harassment from a narcissist
The psychopath whom is determined to spend time with their ex non- narcissist believes they own them. This is the ex that begs the non-narcissistic parent to get back together with them again and again, over and over again (hundreds of times), no matter how many times the non-narcissist has informed the narcissistic individual that this is just never going to happen.
What happens during changeover?
The narcissist will hit the non-narcissist up for support, begging them to hang out with them while they take the children out, claiming they need their support for any number of reasons. The narcissist will invite the parent to endless events, changeover after changeover, and may even turn up to the other parent’s favourite hang out or coffee shop with the children, sit down opposite the non-narcissistic parent, and order themselves a coffee during visitation with their children. At every opportunity the psychopathic narcissist will also quiz the non-narcissistic parent about their private sexual affairs.
The psychopathic narcissist will most definitely invite themselves into their ex partner’s home during changeover, and will use any excuse to come into the household, including the excuse that they need to use the toilet. Next thing the ex-partner knows is that their narcissist is switching the kettle on, pulling out two cups from the cupboard, and is asking their ex if they still take their tea or coffee the same way they used to.
This stream of narcissist will not take no for an answer, and will beg and beg and beg to spend time with the other parent, until of course, the non-narcissistic parent puts a stop to it. If the information coming from the object of interests mouth doesn’t align with what the psychopath wants and needs, than the information does not become processed by the psychopath’s brain.
What happens when the narcissist is asked to leave the ex partner’s home?
If the narcissist is asked to leave the non-narcissistic parent’s home, than the narcissist will inevitably make a big scene, try to turn the children against the other parent as they walk out the door, blame the non-narcissistic parent for the altercation that has taken place, and will bag them out to the kids all day long, convincing the children that they are not a bully, and that mummy or daddy should be nicer to them.
Question: How long can this behaviour from the psychopath go on for?
Answer: This behaviour can go on for years. The psychopathic narcissist does not take no for answer.
The obsessed narcissistic parent will stalk their ex, harass them, call them endlessly for no particular reason, and in time, things may get so bad, or so emotionally overwhelming, that changeovers may need to be done at the police station. And, yes, the non-narcissistic parent will be punished for cutting off contact, and for not allowing the narcissist to pick the children up from their home anymore.
What does the narcissistic parent do to pay the non-narcissistic back for cutting contact?
Why are they doing this to you? They own you! In the malignant narcissist’s mind you are an extension of them, and you must never try to get away. If you do, there will be hell to pay. If you get a partner early on in the piece there will be even more hell to pay.
Will they always taunt me?
Yes, the narcissistic parent will always taunt the non-narcissistic parent to some degree. As the years go by the incidents may become few and far between; yet, every now and again, the narcissist will drop a nasty emotional bomb on their non-narcissistic ex, just so as they can visualise from a distance the emotional effect their revenge is having on them. Behaving abusively from a distance is still fuel to be extracted in the narcissistic parent’s mind.
The end result? If the non-narcissistic parent (whom may well be suffering from PTSD by the time the narcissist backs off) weathers the storm throughout this particularly frightening time in their lives, and refuses to be the narcissistic parent’s fuel supply, the narcissist will eventually tire of trying to manipulate, and guilt the non-narcissistic parent into reinstating themselves as the narcissist’s primary fuel source.
It is a long emotional ride for the non-narcissistic parent. However, if the non-narcissistic parent stands their ground, and refuses to engage with the narcissist as much as they possibly can, the narcissist will eventually begin to lose interest in the co-parenting relationship, and the children themselves, which may be the best outcome for everybody involved.
If the non-narcissistic parent batons down the hatches, the narcissist will have no other choice but to find fuel elsewhere.
Parental alienation is an extreme form of emotional abuse, forcing children to listen to, watch, and engage in, the full-blown mental abuse of the alienated parent. Alienating parents’ deliberately slander, and maliciously put down the alienated parent in an effort to destroy their relationship with the children.
If a child asks the alienating parent to stop denigrating the alienated parent, or outwardly disagrees with what is being said about the other parent, they may be raged at, disagreed with, ignored, or may even have love with-held.
Alienating another parent is a serious form of child abuse; which takes years for the adult children’ of parental alienators’ to work through. These children are lied to daily about the alienated parent, and brainwashed into believing that the alienated parent (usually the nicer parent) is actually abusing the alienating parent.
Why alienate another parent?
In the eyes of the parental alienator there are many benefits to alienating another person. Blaming somebody else for all of the problems within the family, means that the alienator doesn’t need to take responsibility for their own behaviour. By blaming their own behaviour on somebody else, this parent can perpetuate their own victim state as the bullied martyr who has to persist with such a difficult, dysfunctional co-parent.
Severe parental alienators’ want their children to feel sorry for them, because they need the children’s continued support in the fight against the alienated parent.
Alienating another parent means that narcissistic supply is endless, the alienator is guaranteed a life time supply of attention, will always be the person in the room with the most attention, and will forever have a scapegoat.
Over time the children slowly but surely begin to side with the alienating parent. Through the children, ( the alienating parent’s little puppets) this parent will make chaos where once there was none.
Parental alienators’ of the more severe kind are very sensitive individuals. They can’t handle any criticism. Any slight to their ego, and they will pull out of their little bag of tricks, survival skills that small children use to tackle similar situations.
Where and when can parental alienation occur?
Parental alienation can happen in the family home, right in front of the alienated parent, in the family home while the alienated parent is out of sight, in the alienating parent’s home if they are the primary caregiver, or at the alienating parent’s house during weekend visitation.
Parental alienators’ can be of either gender.
Three different types of parental alienators:
Dr Douglous Arnell, in his book, divorce casualties: ‘Protecting your children from parental alienation,’ describes three types of alienators’.
Mild: Naive alienators’ are unaware of what they are doing, and are prepared to change.
Moderate: When triggered, the active alienator loses control of appropriate boundaries, and loses their temper. When they calm down, they don’t want to admit that they were out of control.
Severe: Severe parental alienators’ are committed to destroying the other parent’s relationship with the child.
In the case of the severe parental alienator, no treatment exists, other than removing the child from the alienator’s care.
What is the parental alienator’s motivation?
A typical scenario:
Action: The alienating parent leaves the children unattended in their home for hours at a time. When the alienated parent becomes upset about this reoccuring problem, the parental alienator discusses the alienated parent’s reaction with the children, and uses this reaction to play ‘poor me.’ The parental alienator tells the children that the alienated parent has unfairly attacked them.
During reoccuring conversations with the children about the alienated parent’s behaviour, the alienating parent will always leave out what they have done to illicit such as reaction.
Continued scenarios similar to the above will continue to transpire, which will leave the children upset, confused, and feeling as though they need to resolve the problem for the alienating parent, and to protect this parent from the alienated parent.
What is wrong with the parental alienator?
The narcissistic parental alienator: Narcissists’ are very sensitive people. So sensitive in fact, that the smallest slight against their false self makes them crash, and endure what is known as a narcissistic injury. Narcissists’ split frequently, and see people as either all good or all bad. When a narcissist experiences a breakup with their children’s parent, this parent will immediately fall off their pedestal, and will be perceived as all bad.
The psychopathic parental alienator: The psychopath engages in parental alienation to win. Every situation in the psychopath’s life is about winning. This drive to win means that they consistently put their foot in it. Psychopaths often lose custody of the children for many reasons; not just parental alienation.
Parents’ with personality disorders are extremely sensitive people, and cannot handle any criticism. Criticism to sensitive people feels like a major rejection. Rejection to people with personality disorders, is a fate worse than death. To fight against the rejection, these people usually act with an air of superiority. With this air of superiority they will reject everybody around them with continued put – downs, and arrogant behaviour.
It is not uncommon for an alienator to:
For example: The alienating parent may engage the children in their disagreements with the alienated parent:
‘Look at what your mother does kids. Are you watching her. This is what she always does.’
Parental alienators’ will show the children private emails, and text messages that the alienated parent has written to the alienating parent.
For example: The alienated parent may email the alienating parent (instead of engaging directly due to the drama it causes) to ask if they can return the children’s soccer-boots next time they pick up the children, because without their soccer boots, the children will be unable to play in the next match. The alienating parent may take advantage of this situation, show their children the email, and claim that the alienated parent is bullying them, putting them down, and directly insulting them, again.
Severely disordered alienating parents’ will allow their children to listen to voice messages left for the alienating parent, especially messages which are stern, or show emotion. The alienating parent will pick the alienated parent’s emotions to pieces, and feign victim hood.
For example: If one of the teenage children is bi-sexual, the alienating parent may tell the child that the alienated parent doesn’t agree with their child’s sexual preferences.
The alienating parent will want the children to see them as the fun parent, the joker, and the parent who allows the child to do whatever they like while in the alienating parent’s home.
When with the alienating parent, the children may:
An example of good cop/ bad cop: A teenage child may be disciplined by the alienated parent and given consequences. The teenager goes to their ‘good cop’ parent for support, and confides in them about the incident. Instead of backing the alienated parent, the alienating parent may say something like:
‘You know your mother has anger management issues. You need to learn to ignore her.’
Alienating parents are well known for setting up the alienated parent. They plan these incidents out very carefully, and make sure that their children are there to become a part of the conflict they are about to create.
For example: The alienated parent sends the alienating parent an email highlighting a problem they both need to discuss when appropriate. The alienating parent contacts the alienated parent to discuss the problem. While discussing the topic, and in the middle of what is becoming a small disagreement, one of the children pipes up in the background and accuses the alienated parent of being in the wrong.
The alienating parent deliberately had the children with them when they made the phone call, and kept the phone on speaker so as the children could be witnesses to the discussion, and see for themselves how difficult the alienating parent is.
The severe parental alienator either lies outright to the children, or only tells half truths.
For example: If the alienated parent puts up a boundary because of the alienating parent’s inappropriate behaviour, than the boundary is spoken about to the children by the alienating parent; not the behaviour that lead to the boundary.
Example: The alienated parent may decide that they can no longer invite the alienating parent to anymore of the children’s birthday parties because the parent continues to belittle the alienated parent to the guests’ at the party.
The alienated parent uses this new boundary as an opportunity to play the victim, and to become outraged by the alienated parent’s treatment of them.
However, not once throughout this entire scenario has the alienating parent told the children what they did to contribute to the alienated parent’s decision.
If the alienated parent shouts at their child, the alienating parent paints the parent to be someone with anger – management problems, and behavioural issues.
If the alienated parent becomes upset with their child, the alienating parent will tell the child that it is not okay for their parent to be upset with them, to snap at them, or to speak to them in any way that makes the child feel uncomfortable.
Speaks negatively of the fun activities the children engage in with alienated parent:
The alienating parent may say things like:
‘Be careful while camping. I’ve heard that there are a lot of snakes out at this time of year.’
‘Why do you have to go so far away? I worry about you when you go on such long trips with daddy. You know he can’t drive for long without getting tired.’
Why has the alienator become this way?
Creation of a little soldier:
Common behaviours in children which signal they have been turned against the other parent:
What happens if the children expose the alienating parent?
If the children expose the alienating parent, this parent will deny the accusations, feign victimhood, and claim that the children are now turning against them as well.