An effective technique that you can use to protect yourself from narcissistic abuse is the gray rock method. This technique is designed to significantly reduce the amount of validation, admiration, and reassurance, also known as narcissistic supply, that you provide to the narcissist in your life. The well-being of a narcissist is heavily dependent on this “supply” so it is really important that you’re aware of how a narcissist is going to react to the gray rock method before you use it!
Users of the gray rock method should expect the narcissist to initiate an onslaught of narcissistic abuse that is designed to allow the narcissist to regain power and control over their victim by bullying them into a submissive state of confusion, self-doubt, guilt, and self-blame.
The importance of remaining adamant about the firm boundary that you’ve set with the narcissist in your life by using the gray rock method is immeasurable. Failing to do so could trap you within the narcissistic abuse cycle for years.
This article is going to guide you through seven common reactions that a narcissist will have to the gray rock method and then give you a resource that guides you through exactly how you should go about using this awesome technique!
Baiting & Narcissistic Rage
Two common reactions that a narcissist will have the moment that you decide to use the gray rock method are baiting and narcissistic rage. Baiting is when a narcissist will use your vulnerabilities and insecurities to “bait” you into a confrontation. When a narcissist experiences an ego injury that causes them to either clam up into a silent treatment or explode into a rage, it is called narcissistic rage.
In a healthy relationship if someone were to notice that the other person in the relationship was becoming emotionally detached from the relationship, there would be a conversation about the future of the relationship for some clarity. But with a narcissist, it is an entirely different story.
When a narcissist realizes that their victim is becoming emotionally detached, the first priority is likely going to be to regain control of the narcissistic supply to protect their fragile sense of self. To do this, a narcissist will use baiting to try to get you to engage with them.
Then there’s narcissistic rage. If you remain adamant about the firm boundary that you’ve set, the gray rock method, it triggers their deeply rooted fears of abandonment and rejection and because they’re so emotionally inadequate, they respond with narcissistic rage.
Gaslighting is an incredibly versatile form of manipulation. It occurs when someone doubts or denies reality, not the just reality of someone else, but reality in general. In narcissistic relationships gaslighting eventually causes the victim to question their own sanity and feel incapable of conceptualizing their own version of reality.
The reason it is so versatile is because doubting and denying reality can manifest in many different ways. For example, if you were to criticize the narcissist in your life because of something they did and they responded with narcissistic rage which bullied you into a silence, they’re essentially doubting and denying your reality and causing you to question yourself.
Gaslighting can manifest in nearly every single narcissistic behavior pattern that you can imagine but it is also a very common reaction that a narcissist will have to the gray rock method.
There are a million different things that the narcissist could say in response to the gray rock method, but the point is that the narcissist is trying to manipulate you into a state of self-doubt and self-blame so you will drop the firm boundary you’ve set with them.
The term “projection” is a defense mechanism that we all use from time to time that occurs when we attribute aspects of our identity that we find unacceptable to someone else. For example, if someone bullies and ridicules a peer about his/her insecurities, the bully might be projecting his/her own struggle with self-esteem onto the other person.
It’s very common to see both narcissistic and non-narcissistic people use this defense mechanism. With that being said, narcissists have a tendency to over rely on projection to protect their fragile sense of self.
Suggested Reading: Why Do Narcissists Use Projection
It’s quite possible that narcissists could use projection when you use the gray rock method because projection is a form of emotional regulation for them. They’re so emotionally inadequate that they can’t manage their emotions on their own but they can project them onto others.
The simplest manifestation of projection in response to the gray rock method is baiting. While narcissists will use your vulnerabilities and insecurities to provoke you into a confrontation, it would not be unusual for them to project some of their own attributes onto you as well.
When a narcissist makes one-on-one situations into two or more-on-one situations through comparisons and side comments with the intent of turning people against each other to remain in power and control, it is called triangulation. It is an incredibly manipulative technique that often manifests in very subtle and nonchalant ways.
Take social media for an example. If you were in a relationship with a narcissist, a common way that they would use a subtle form of triangulation on social media would be to like inappropriate/provocative photos of others or leave questionable comments under the photos of others.
It’s very subtle but when combined with the intensity of narcissistic abuse, it could cause a lot of self-doubt, self-blame, and animosity between you and the other person they’re triangulating you with.
Triangulation is a common tactic that narcissists will use when they encounter the gray rock method. They will use triangulation to try to create a power imbalance in the relationship to get you to back down from the firm boundary that you’ve set.
When a narcissist does or says exactly what you need to see or hear to get you to give the relationship, romantic, professional, family, friendship, another chance, it is called hoovering.
“Mike showed up unannounced to my parents’ house with a thoughtful gift that he made chronicling our time together. He put on an amazing display in front of my entire family. This was the performance of his life. He talked about how he had gone to therapy for his mistakes. He detailed how he had worked hard to change his habits, and he told us that he could not imagine a life without me, and on and on. There were tears, and his grand gestures succeeded in winning me over. Perhaps of even more importance to him, he succeeded in winning my family over as well.” Heather Kent, Registered Psychotherapist & Trauma Recovery Specialist In Her Book Heal from Your Narcissist Ex: The Ultimate Guide to Finding Safety and Sanity
Hoovering is a very dangerous form of manipulation because it uses all of the information a narcissist gathered about you during the mirroring phase. When a narcissist mirrors you, they absorb an extraordinary amount of information about your identity and use it to create a falsified identity that is designed to fill a void in your life.
What does this have to do with hoovering?
Because of mirroring, the narcissist already has all of the information that they need to create a narrative that can manipulate you back into the relationship. If you have the slightest amount of self-doubt, self-blame, or confusion about setting a firm boundary with the narcissist in your life, you are extremely vulnerable to the powers of hoovering.
Hoovering is a very common technique that narcissists will use when you set any type of firm, and seemingly permanent, boundary with them.
When a narcissist makes false promises for the future to get what they want in the present, it is called future faking. It is a tricky form of manipulation because it can manifest in both verbal and non-verbal forms.
A simple example of a verbal form of future faking would be if you were using the gray rock method on the narcissist in your life and they made a false promise to start going to therapy if you just talked to them for a while.
Another example of future faking in response to the gray rock method would be promising to have a civil conversation without any baiting or narcissistic rage. It could be tempting to take them up on that offer but it is almost always going to end with baiting, gaslighting, narcissistic rage, and a crippling level of disappointment and confusion.
A very subtle form of future faking would be the narcissist’s demeanor. For example, in the beginning stages of a narcissistic relationship the narcissist is going to use mirroring to create a falsified identity to fill a void in your life AND cause you to see a happy, healthy, and secure future together, which is technically a future fake because that vision is never coming true.
A common way that a narcissist will use future faking in response to the gray rock method would be to simply show compassion, empathy, and thoughtfulness with others. You see, narcissistic relationships are so emotionally starved that the slightest amount of compassion, empathy, or thoughtfulness just might trick you into believing that they’ve changed and removing the firm boundaries that you’ve set.
What Should You Take Away From This Article?
The responses that a narcissist is going to have to the gray rock method are often hurtful and terrifying. However, they should not bully you into a submissive silence, they should serve as a reminder that the narcissist is dangerous, unstable, and doesn’t belong in your life.
We strongly encourage you to check out our articles How to Use the Gray Rock Method on a Narcissist for a thorough guide through this useful technique and Does the Gray Rock Method Work for a unique study among 375 survivor of abuse to determine the success rate of the gray rock method!
About the Author
Hey, I’m Elijah.
I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years.
I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.
Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.