Home Health & Fitness What Is the Grey Rock Method? Mental Health Experts Explain

What Is the Grey Rock Method? Mental Health Experts Explain

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What Is the Grey Rock Method? Mental Health Experts Explain

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The grey rock method is everything “forgive and forget” isn’t. The technique recommended by mental health therapists is a strategy for handling narcissistic or toxic behavior — and according to Ariana Madix, it’s also her method of choice for navigating her breakup with Tom Sandoval.

In a conversation with Brock Davies on the April 30 episode of “Vanderpump Rules,” Madix shared her opinion that people do not have to forgive someone who has traumatized them, alluding to her ex. “The notion that you have to forgive to move on in your life is outdated therapy,” she said. “Grey rocking and going no contact is literally the only way to avoid the shit, the manipulation, all of it.”

Although the no-contact rule is likely a concept you’re already familiar with, the grey rock method may be something new. To better explain what the grey rock method is, and why it can be so effective, we tapped mental health experts to explain everything there is to know about this approach.

What Is the Grey Rock Method?

Also known as grey rocking, the grey rock method is a technique used to become “emotionally and psychologically unresponsive to someone’s attempts to manipulate or provoke you,” psychiatrist Michael Kane, MD, chief medical officer at Indiana Center for Recovery, says.

Similarly to a rock, the idea is that you remain “dull, short, and unengaging” when someone is attempting to get a reaction out of you, Dr. Kane says. “It’s not about being cold or uncaring, but rather setting healthy boundaries and protecting yourself from unnecessary stress and drama,” he adds.

For example, let’s say your coworker likes to gossip about other employees, but it makes you uncomfortable. Instead of engaging in the conversation the next time, you could respond with simple and neutral statements like “interesting” or “I see,” Dr. Kane says. By doing this, your coworker will likely move on because you’re not giving them a reaction.

In Madix’s case, she may use the grey rock method to remain calm and disengaged with Sandoval — especially when she believes his comments are untruthful or he is trying to provoke her. “Grey rocking could help her stay focused on her own boundaries around not engaging with him, and help her remember that she doesn’t have to convince him of her truth and her reality,” licensed professional counselor Ashley Hamm says.

By using the grey rock method, the goal is that the person exhibiting narcissistic behavior will ultimately become uninterested when they realize you aren’t going to give them a reaction or get caught up in their emotions, Hamm says.

Should We All Be Practicing the Grey Rock Method?

The grey rock method is effective in more than just romantic settings: it can be used in toxic work environments, friendships, and within family relationships, too. Unlike the “forgive and forget” method, though, grey rocking can help you “regain control of a situation and protect yourself from potential harm,” Dr. Kane says. “It allows you to remain calm and unbothered while still addressing the issue at hand in a healthy and assertive manner.”

It can also diffuse a situation quickly. If you’re not giving someone the reaction they’re looking for, it lets the other person know their behavior isn’t working, Dr. Kane adds. However, it’s still important to clearly communicate your issue and boundaries with the person exhibiting toxic behavior, in addition to grey rocking.

Just note that while the grey rock method can be effective in shutting down toxic behavior, it could also escalate the situation. “When they realize you aren’t going to get caught up in their emotions, some people may find it enraging that you are not engaging,” Hamm says. For this reason, you should find a way to create some physical distance from the person or make sure you are in a public place with other bystanders around.

Taylor Andrews is a balance editor at POPSUGAR who specializes in topics relating to sex, relationships, dating, sexual health, mental health, and more. In her six years working in editorial, she’s written about how semen is digested, why sex aftercare is the move, and how the overturn of Roe killed situationships.

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