When you’ve been in a toxic relationship involving a partner with narcissistic or other problematic personality traits, trying to communicate with that person often leaves you feeling frustrated and miserable. Even if you have already separated or divorced, however, chances are that you will need to communicate about critical issues such as payment of shared debts or responsibilities with children.
That means you cannot avoid communication. You can, however, use gray rock techniques to control communication and limit the grief.
How Gray Rocking Works
When you “gray rock” your interactions with someone, you are essentially trying to make yourself as boring and unresponsive as a dull, colorless rock. Individuals who thrive on conflict and reaction will not gain satisfaction from interactions with a rock, so they tend to stop trying to provoke a reaction and focus their attention elsewhere.
This technique does not literally require you to be as still and quiet as a rock. Instead, you can practice gray rocking by:
- Not initiating conversations
- Revealing as little emotion as possible, regardless of provocation
- Limit responses to simple words such as “maybe” or “I don’t know”
- Ignore or even agree with accusations
Overall, when using gray rock techniques, you try not to show emotion or say anything interesting, particularly something personal. Your responses fail to fuel any drama, so the narcissistic or sociopathic personality will need to move on to someone else to get the reactions they seek.
Gray Rock Techniques Can Help Before, During, and After Divorce
Counselors often suggest using gray rock techniques for those who are struggling to end a relationship or get through the divorce process. After divorce, gray rocking can help tremendously when parents who share custody seem to end up in a shouting match every time they talk.
When one party thrives on conflict and knows how to manipulate the other to gain control, a gray rock response can level the playing field. However, it can be challenging to give someone the cold shoulder, particularly in front of children. Parents dealing with a narcissistic ex can remind themselves that if they react, they will come off looking like the crazy parent. Instead, it is better to let the narcissist get upset by the lack of reaction.
The Dangers of Gray Rocking
Although gray rock techniques can allow you to control interactions, those techniques also require you to shut down your natural reactions and disconnect from your own personality. It is not healthy to keep this up for long periods. Counselors recommend that gray rock strategies be used for a limited time to establish boundaries.
In some instances, an individual with violent tendencies may react to gray rock treatment by becoming physically abusive. Because these individuals may turn violent with little provocation, it is best to assume there is no guaranteed “safe” way to handle interactions and take steps to protect yourself regardless of whether you use gray rock techniques.
An Experienced Virginia Divorce Attorney Can Help When You’re Dealing with a Toxic Relationship
When you are dealing with a narcissistic or other challenging personality, it helps to work with a legal advocate who understands how to use strategies to keep communications in check and help you achieve your goals. The experienced divorce attorneys at DiPietro Law Group, PLLC are ready to help. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.