Certain people, particularly narcissists, feed off of your emotional reactions to things. The best way to not ‘feed’ them is to avoid them entirely, but that’s not always possible. So, what do you do when you happen to be around one of these vampires? Be as boring as possible. Be a gray rock.
I hate dishonesty, but in some cases, with certain people, it may actually be safer not to be honest. If expressing your true opinions and feelings around a person makes you feel unsafe in any way, avoid that person like the plague. If that’s not possible (yet), then that’s where the Gray Rock thing comes in.
How to Gray Rock
Avoid eye contact. Making eye contact with a person transfers a lot of information and energy between you. Don’t give them this. They will suck you dry. Distract yourself. Do something else while they’re talking to you. Play on your phone, read something, look at something, but give them as little of your physical attention as you possibly can.
Keep your interactions as short as possible. Respond with very short phrases, simple yes/no answers. Don’t explain, don’t justify, don’t talk about your feelings at all, ever. If you do, it will surely be used against you.
Act disinterested and detached, don’t show them any emotion. They feed off your emotions, and they will provoke you to try to get you to be more emotional just so that they can get more of that energy. If they can’t figure out how to provoke you, they’ll get bored and find someone else they can feed from.
Give them as little information about you as possible. This is something I learned the hard way from my parents. Especially my dad. Any information he gets about me could be used against me in some way.
Oh, you like art? It’s worthless if it doesn’t make you money. Oh, you’re making some money? That’s nice, but it’s not enough! You need to make at least double that to even be able to survive. And you need to do X, Y and Z or else bad things will happen.
And he’d get so fired up about it, too. To the point of yelling, or telling me I have a “bad attitude” if I’m not obediently listening to him discourage the hell out of me.
So, I’ve learned not to give them any information about things I care about. Nearly every time I have, I have regretted it. If they ask questions, I try to be as vague as possible with my answers. I also use certain topics sort of like decoys. For example, they think I’m extremely interested in computers and video games. It’s true that I like those things, but they are not close enough to my heart that negative comments about them will really discourage me. On the other hand, things like psychology and personal growth are very close to my heart, and have been for many years, but I have literally never mentioned these things to my parents.
If they ask you to do something you don’t want, simply say “No” without offering any explanation. If they ask why, just say “Because I don’t want to”. That’s the only reason you need. A decent person should accept that as a valid reason. If someone won’t take “no” for an answer, or pokes and prods for more information, that’s a warning sign that this person doesn’t respect consent or boundaries.
Of course, the best thing is to avoid these kinds of people entirely, and the Gray Rock method shouldn’t be used as a way to justify spending any more time with them than absolutely necessary. Getting them out of your life entirely will be the best thing for your mental health in the long run, and if you keep up the Gray Rock thing for a long time, it’s possible to get used to it in a way that it can affect your relationships with healthy people. This is only meant as a temporary method of dealing with the occasional energy vampire, not something you can keep on doing all day long every day and still maintain your sanity.
I started Gray Rocking with my parents long before I’d even heard of the concept. It took a few years, but I managed to “train” them to mostly leave me alone. Instead of phoning me once a week, they eventually stopped calling entirely. Now that I know what Gray Rocking is, I’ve gotten better at it, and I’ve managed to gradually get them down to pretty much text-only contact. With my parents, I’m using Gray Rock as a somewhat polite way of ghosting them gradually rather than having any sort of official announcement “ending” the relationship. An announcement will probably give them too much information to use as ammunition, and only make them cause even more drama.
While I will always be honest with people I trust, and I hope that I can be honest with most people in my life, some people will just abuse it, and cannot be trusted with my information and emotions. To them, I will be a boring Gray Rock and they will never know me.