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Illinois Divorce: Dealing with a Narcissist Ex-Spouse

In my practice, aside from managing my client’s important cases, I have some role as a “coach” to help my clients manage interactions with a former spouse with BPD, NPD, or traits thereof, that make communications with the former spouse toxic and stressful.  My colleague Bill Eddy has introduced the BIFF technique of communications with a toxic ex-spouse: Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm.  See: http://www.highconflictinstitute.com.  Also helpful is this article that I found today, that discusses the approach called “Gray Rock.”  Akin to BIFF, the idea is to be nonreactive in dealing with the narcissist. In other words, if you have to interact with them, understand that the narcissist feeds on conflict and chaos, and that you, in communicating with them (as you may be forced to do if there are children of the marriage)  learn to disempower the NPD’s need for chaos and toxic control.

” If you can’t go “No Contact” with a Narcissist because you have children with them, or you are somehow unable to get them out of your life for whatever reason,  you can implement a technique called “Gray Rock”. Gray Rock is where you become as exciting and interesting as, well,  a gray rock. The goal is to blend into the background, and become the most boring, unreactive person they’ve ever met. The reason being is that if you can quit being a source of supply for their drama and attention, they will eventually leave you alone.

How to go gray rock?

Do not respond with any emotion when they try and provoke you. Keep in mind that because they have no values–they have no empathy and no remorse.  They only know what you value by the level of your reaction–so to beat them at their game and don’t react. Practice your non-reactions with a trusted friend or in the mirror, or go over different things you know they might say to incite you–and then practice being nonreactive.  Because Narcissists thrive on chaos and drama, they will eventually become disinterested and turn their attentions elsewhere if they can’t get a rise out of you.

In order to go Gray Rock, when you must engage with the Narcissist, only talk about boring things: your laundry, getting your oil changed, doing your taxes. Do not talk about anything that will make them jealous or in any way encourages them to cause drama. Do not talk about how great things are going for you, or any accomplishments you or your children are having, or how great your life is now that they aren’t in it. Do not talk about upcoming vacations, current boyfriends, sports tournaments the kids are in, weddings or anything that is remotely interesting. When they try and push your buttons (and they will), don’t react. Don’t try and get them to see how hurtful their behavior was (and is). Doing this takes away their ability to argue and create drama and chaos. As far as you are concerned there is nothing interesting about you or your children, and if they blame you for everything just agree. Smile and nod and get away from them.

It is so, so, so hard to do. I get it. I really do. However the only two ways to get them out of your life are to either go no contact or go Gray Rock. And the sooner you can get them out of your life, the sooner you can start to heal.

Stay strong. This isn’t your fault. You aren’t crazy. You aren’t over-reacting. And you aren’t alone. ”   Credit: http://www.thriveafterabuse.com/